received during the week of 14 December 2003
thanks and Happy Christmas to all who wrote to us since we launched
our Letters page in March. We're grateful!
HAVE BEEN A LONG TIME READER of
AO, and have appreciated its varied content over the years. I
am, however, quite dismayed
at the onesided coverage of the current controversies in the
Anglican church. I have read many calm, reasoned arguments on
the net from people who are on the conservative side of these
issues, and yet they never seem to appear on AO. Not all conservatives
are zealots; we too, have come to our position on these issues
with much prayer and Bible reading; many of us are also deeply
hurt by what is going on (talk to any of the dissenting priests
in the Diocese of New Westminister, or some of the members of
their congregations, if you doubt this). If you truly do want
to contribute to finding the via media in this crisis, you would
do well to cover both sides of the issue.
St Alban the Martyr, Ottawa
South Mountain, CANADA
15 December 2003
YOU SO MUCH for
Anglicans Online and for its sane and eirenic ministry. I have
just returned from the celebration in Pietermaritzburg
and Durban of the 150th anniversary of the Consecration of Bishop
John Colenso and of the founding of the Diocese of Natal. The
word) that John and Frances Colenso experienced and the years
of isolation and abuse that they suffered for their 'heresy',
and their defence of the Zulu people, have long since ended,
and the schism in the Church long since healed. The
Church there now honours the contribution of both Colenso and
one time rival bishops).
Week' saw the launching of a new book on Colenso, now seen as
one of the great figures
of the 19th century. It is The Eye of the Storm, (Cluster
Publications, Pietermaritzburg). As a retired priest of Sydney
Diocese, I am distressed by Sydney's narrow intolerance that
so many of its members, and what seems to me a lack of sensitive,
pastoral concern for people.
any like myself (as an honorary hospital chaplain) who walk through
the wards of any hospital,
or to any aware of the vast problems faced by a country
such as South Africa — deep poverty, high unemployment, frightening
crime, and a pandemic of AIDs — the petty frenzies of
this year seem almost obscene.
this Christmas and in the new year, God bless you in your ministry.
Revd Dr John Bunyan
St Paul's Parish Church, Bankstown, Diocese of Sydney
New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
15 December 2003
sound of one hand clapping
INITIALLY APPLAUDED the American Anglican Council's (AAC) prophetic
voice within the
Church though they are not my 'cup
of tea'. Their stated mission was to reform the Episcopal Church
from within, indeed to help the pendulum swing back toward the
right. However, after having read their rhetoric over the last
weeks, it appears that the AAC leadership is on a determined
course to create schism rather than be prophetic. Indeed their
rhetoric has already gone to the breaking point in its judging
of the rest of the Episcopal Church, in their impoliteness to
our Presiding Bishop (Politeness being a traditional mainstream
value in the Anglican and Episcopal Church) and in sometimes
demonizing anyone or any group who does not step in line with
their interpretations of the Bible. The Episcopal Church is family
and I am offended by their presumption of righteousness and their
rudeness and judgment of “my Church family.” Their harsh voices
are not historically mainstream or traditional in the Episcopal
or Anglican Church, but are extreme voices that sometimes sound
like the echo of the dark side of fundamentalism.
invite the AAC to reclaim their prophetic voice and put it to
use within The Episcopal Church. The Church needs your voice
and your hands. The right hand should not say to the left hand, “I
have no need of you.” It makes clapping for joy very difficult.
Reverend James B. Shumard
St. Francis of the Islands
Savannah, Georgia, USA
16 December 2003
WORDS OF 'IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE' and 'Away in a
manger' can be switched between their traditional tunes to
render new meanings! When this novelty wears off, the tune
of 'Da Doo Ron Ron' can be used, with the repeated line for
the chorus being at the behest of the musical director!
St Luke's, Slyne-with-Hest.
15 December 2003
READ CYNTHIA'S ESSAY and
found it very
sad, indeed. I am very sorry that she had to leave
her parish. We are certainly living
difficult times. While
our diocese has parishes and individuals on both sides of our
controversy, St. John's has stayed essentially
united. Because St. John's is a National Historic Landmark,
we have thousands of visitors, including some from New Hampshire
on recent Sundays. They are clearly feeling the pain of the
and understand the role they have played. I wish she could
have found a way to stay in her parish. Cynthia is in my
Online is my first read on Mondays.
Reverend Bruce A. Gray
St. John's Episcopal Church
Richmond, Virginia, USA
17 December 2003
REGULAR READER AND BROWSER for
a few years with an urge to say thank you. As
I read 'The Parting
of Friends' this morning, one of my first
and strongest thoughts was 'I really do like these people'. It
is surely one of the saddest experiences of our life together
when that life can no longer be such; when we find ourselves
outside of each other's Garden.
so, with thanksgiving, I would include you both in one of my
regular prayers and simply say 'God blesses and keeps us all',
as you continue to be a blessing to us all.
St Agnes Church, North Vancouver, Diocese of New Westminster
Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
17 December 2003
EXPECT THIS MISSIVE WILL BE one
of many in response to Cynthia's reflections on leaving the parish
where she had been worshipping. Our
experience at St. Matthew's Abbotsford had some parallels.
After 18 months of objecting to withdrawals by the parish from
the life of the diocese, including, in particular, withdrawal
from the financial life of the wider church, we asked to be taken
off the parish roll. We now drive a half hour or so to an Anglican
parish in the neighbouring community.
were not told directly that we are apostate, though I expect
many thought and think this without actually saying so. Some
of the kind folk at St. Matthew's did express a wish for us to
stay. But it was clear that our staying would require us to stand
impotently by (and no doubt, in the hopes of the folk at St.
Matthew's, quietly by) while the other parishioners continued
to countenance and in most cases support withdrawals from diocese
and all that goes with that those behaviours.
with Cynthia, we recognize that we have not undergone anything
more serious than a dislocation we wish had not become necessary.
The upside is that the parish where we now worship has been most
accommodating, has received us as the refugees we consider ourselves
to be, and has not pressed on us calls for participation and
commitment at levels we are not ready to sustain. The liturgy
continues to refresh. The more preaching which refers to issues
of human sexuality and church governance in context rather than
making these topics a focus is providing nourishment. The company
of the others as they support parish life and prepare for relocation
back to renovated premises teaches that the church for the most
part is alive and is equipping itself and us to do God's work.
And the sense of relief at being out of a black hole is wonderful.
hope for Cynthia is that her transition will prove to be as
fruitful as ours has been.
St George's Fort Langley, formerly of St Matthew's, Abbotsford
Abbotsford, British Columbia, CANADA
15 December 2003
who would valiant be
YOU FOR REMINDING US once
again of the holy experience of pilgrimage in your December
7 issue. In the summer of 1992 I went with 19
members of our parish EYC on an Anglican Heritage tour of England,
the places we visited will always be dear to my heart. Seeing
and praying at the site of Thomas a Becket's maryrdom was especially
moving for me, reminding me of all the challenges of separating
the mandates of faith and politics. The parish church in Windsor,
with its wonderful memorial tablets and the sidewalk composed
of old gravestones running alongside the church is a vivid memory.
And the beauty and color of York Minster is unforgettable.
journey we made was a living experience and participation in
the history of our faith, and strengthened all of us in our sense
of being members of a greater whole. From what I read of the
account of Egeria, a fourth-century pilgrim from Spain to Jerusalem,
her life was changed by visiting the holy sites there. Little
did she know her pilgrimage would enrich the whole church by
preserving memories of early Holy Week and Easter liturgies that
would otherwise be lost. Some of those memories have gone into
the development of our present Holy Week liturgies — once again
underlining our part as individual members of a past, present,
and future greater whole.
a wider sense, we are all pilgrims through life, doing our best
to follow Christ as we journey through the perils, sorrows, and
delights that rise to meet us. If we have experienced the immediacy
of the Holy at some holy site, perhaps we will be better equipped
to recognize the Holy encountering us every day, at every stop
along our life's journey. What better intention could we have,
then, but 'to be a pilgrim'.
Reverend Peggy Blanchard
St. Elizabeth Episcopal, Knoxville
Kingston, Tennessee, USA
18 December 2003
WRITE IN YOUR COLUMN 'As
long as we are separated not from God but merely from each other,
[the separation within our communion] will likely not have a
think the premise that we are separating ourselves from ourselves
and not from God is plain wrong. Emmanuel, God is with us, within
us. We are in Christ, Christ in us. Right? When we push people
away, any people, for any reason, when we marginalize people
who we disagree with, or don’t like, we marginalize God within
us, we push away Christ in us, we push away God. God have mercy
on us and pray we are not condemned, for pushing each other away,
separating ourselves from each other, is separation, and misses
the mark, is 'hamartia' (sin). We are called to seek Christ in
all persons, respecting the dignity of every human being. We
are not called to separate ourselves from each other.
should always — always — be reaching out toward one another.
St Stephen's Episcopal Church
Houston, Texas, USA
19 December 2003
adjustable and the inadjustable
SNOWING HERE AND I'M IN THE OFFICE eating a chicken pot pie and
watching the tiny flakes pile up.
homily for the third Sunday of Advent spoke sad truths. What
are the faithful called to do? To love God, ourselves, and each
other. That's pretty much it... well, and to sneak over and shovel
the walk to the vicarage or the pensioner's home under cover
of darkness, look after the little squids in the nursery or for
the neighbors, yodel with the choir, etc., as directed by Heaven.
what is it to love ourselves and each other? Seems to mean that
we recognize the Divine in our own grubby little hearts and souls
and in the hearts and souls of others. Doesn't
mean we adopt or approve of their political views, sexual orientation,
or feelings about broccoli. It
just means we acknowledge that all of us are wonderfully and
mysteriously made, and that God is indeed present in us. Think
of it — not only does God love us as we are, perceived imperfections,
warts, weirdness, and all, but BECAUSE we are: the mere fact
that we exist is enough to recommend us!
snow continues indiscriminately, falling, to quote my daughter's
paraphrase of the scripture, 'on the adjustable and the non-adjustable'.
I guess the adjustable faithful stay, and the non-adjustable
look for another church.
Christmas to you, and a blessed New Year!
St Mary's Episcopal Church, Anchorage, and St Peter's Church, Seward
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
19 December 2003
We launched our
'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are
in our archives.