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This page last updated 17 August 2004
Anglicans Online last updated 20 August 2000

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from 8 to 15 August 2004

If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.


I AM INTERESTED IN YOUR COMMENTS that 'Holy Orders are indelible -- as Anglicans believe'. (Front-page letter, 8 August) I am hard-pressed to find (as usual) where such statements of absolute belief are defined for Anglicans. At best such 'beliefs' might be inferred, but I don't think that you have to go very far to get a spirited discussion on that topic. And indeed Anglicans of catholic persuasion might have quite a different view from those of an evangelical persuasion.

What is of interest to me is that, in these days when the disciplining of clergy has increasingly reached the point where priest and bishops might be 'deposed' (I think this is the correct term rather than ... 'defrocked') is whether that action actually removes the orders. It seems to me that it might, a person would no longer BE a priest or bishop or deacon.

Stephen Clark
Parish of Coromandel Valley, Diocese of Adelaide
Blackwood, Adelaide, South Australia
9 August 2004

Holy Orders are generally considered by Anglicans as one of the 'sacramental acts', if not a dominical sacrament itself. As the sacrament of baptism is not 'reversable', we do not see how Orders can be. But we do see how this can be a spirited discussion.

But where would you have it tattooed?

AS A PRIEST, I HAVE NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED IT PROPER to have a tattoo. Having seen the one of the Lord Jesus on last week's front page, I have changed my mind. Where can I get one like that?

Sign me,

Feeling Wild in Yorkville

The Reverend Donald Lowery
Good Shepherd, York
York, South Carolina
12 August 2004

We'll ask around and let you know, Feeling Wild.

More heroes: weighing in from New Zealand

I AM A LITTLE BELATED IN REPLYING to your 'Anglican Heroes' question, but as two of them are bishops, it works with your discussion of bishops this week!

My heroes: Archbishop Rowan Williams, Bishop Tom Wright, and my parish priest, the Reverend Frank Nelson. Archbishop Rowan is a hero because he writes luminous poetry and prose that deepens my journey towards God (sometimes even when I don't want to), that is strengthened and grounded in a rich theology. His gentleness and love for God are evident in every word he writes and in everything he says. He takes seriously the ministry of words -- co-operating with God in creating life. He inspires me.

Bishop Tom Wright is a hero because he managed to unravel the intricacies of St Paul's theology for me, and in the process, he showed me that theology could become poetry and poetry theology, without losing the depth of either.

The Reverend Frank Nelson (currently Vicar of St James' Lower Hutt, and Dean-elect of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul) is my last-but-definitely-not-least hero. Frank's clear preaching, passionate and profound celebration of the sacraments, pastoral heart, and passion for the church local and universal have inspired me. He would be the first to say that he's no hero, but he has shown me what it is to be Anglican more than anyone else has, and for that I salute him.

Robyn Parkin
St James' Lower Hutt
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
11 August 2004

And from Nigeria

MY HERO IS the Archbishop, Metropolitan, and Primate of all Nigeria, the Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, DD. For standing against that, which do not conform to the teaching of Christ. (The issue of homosexualism in the church). May God continue to strengthen him the more for his service.

Bara Igoniwari-Brown
St Cyprian's Anglican Church. Niger Delta Diocese
Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
9 August 200

We're blushing

RE ANGLICAN HEROES: Dare I add Brian, Cynthia, and the others who toil to bring us Anglicans Online?

D. C. Toedt
St John the Divine
Houston, Texas, USA
9 August 2004

Thank you... We're honoured.

Another hero from Australia

YOUR INVITATION TO SUBMIT written pieces about Anglican Heroes followed a reference to heroes of the Anglo-Catholic revival, so I am sending you a short account of Father John Hope, Rector of Sydney's Christ Church St Laurence from 1926 until 1964. I am sure many who know Christ Church and who can recall Father John Hope will agree with me that he stands firmly in the tradition of the great parish priests who, in the words of Desmond Morse-Boycott, 'shone like stars' in the Anglican firmament and by their devoted pastoral labours won a place for Anglo Catholicism in the Anglican Communion.

Father Hope showed early in his career as a priest that he was not frightened to risk unpopularity by taking a stand on his principles. In his first and only appointment before coming to Christ Church he served as rector of a small country town in Queensland where he found the division between Roman Catholics and Protestants (generally tense in those days) to be exceptionally bitter. His first attempts to bridge this social division, together with his church practices, led to his own flock boycotting him as a 'Jesuit in disguise'. Noting that horse racing seemed to be the only thing that interested everybody in the town, he decided that the local racetrack was the place to win their mutual confidence. He purchased a horse and, riding it himself, took out the main race on one of the town's chief racing days -- the St Patrick's Day Meeting.

As happened so often later at Christ Church, his varied skills and readiness to act with daring in support of his principles misfired making him as many enemies as friends. By winning on 'Flying Angel' he became the darling of his Anglican parishioners but alienated for ever the Roman Catholics who never forgot how 'the Protestant devil', as they dubbed him, had beaten their favourite, the publican's horse, on what was after all their special day.

The parish of St Laurence, to which Father Hope came in 1926 had become one of the inner city area's poorest neighbourhoods and a place where commercial development was relentlessly reducing the residential population. The story of the transformation of a local church, that might have been heading for closure, into a vibrant centre of faith, worship and social welfare (something that happened frequently in England under the heroes of the Catholic revival) is parallelled at Christ Church St Laurence under Father John Hope. Before long Christ Church had become a flagship for the Catholic revival, known throughout the country and beyond.

Within a few years of Father John's arrival at Christ Church the Great Depression was beginning to bite and, under his inspiration, the parish established a number of welfare agencies, the best known of which was the bureau for helping young men (a thousand of them a year) to acquire the clothes, personal dignity and skills to find jobs. Other projects assisted children, families, students and young aboriginal men from the country. All sprang from Father John Hope's commitment to the principles of Catholicism as a religion of the Incarnation ie to the principle that all aspects of life were to be valued because the Son of God had assumed human form and that, accordingly, one could not serve Him in the sanctuary without serving Him in the bodies of the needy.

If the incarnational approach inspired Father John so greatly in his approach to welfare , for many he was to an even greater extent a spiritual giant. He was no academic and his sermons, like his faith, were basically simple but his deep spiritual wisdom and commitment shone through them. Like some of the other great priests of the revival he was more of an evangelical than many of those who criticized him.

Processions of witness were held regularly through the streets of the parish to strategic points like the central Sydney Markets where Father John would speak undeterred by heckling and by direct hits from the odd vegetable missile.

Like other priests pioneering Anglo-Catholic teaching and practice in their parishes, Father Hope faced opposition that was often public, vociferous and punitive. Speakers at diocesan synod and writers of letters to Sydney newspapers fulminated against Christ Church and its Rector. During the depression years the synod persistently blocked interest on trust funds held by the diocese for the parish so that there were occasions when, being unable to pay electricity or gas bills, the church had to hold its evening services by makeshift lighting. Christ Church School was forced to close and to dismay all the trust funds were transferred by the synod to other church schools in the diocese, most of them already wealthy.  Christ Church became increasingly isolated in the diocese and it was a particular source of sorrow to Father Hope that he and his church were excluded from the small and diminishing group of moderate and liberal clergy who seemed to fear the consequences of being associated with him in a diocese that was growing not only more evangelical but more intolerant of diversity.

It was not until the last years of his time at Christ Church that Father Hope received the recognition from the diocesan authorities that many felt he had long deserved. His great influence which extended far beyond the parish could no longer be ignored. Archbishops of Sydney, and others who acknowledged that their churchmanship was diametrically opposite to his, now praised him in public for his social ministry at Christ Church and especially for his pioneering work in the church’s healing ministry, in which he had acquired a great reputation.

During Father John Hope’s forty years as Rector of Christ Church St Laurence he lost count of the number of young men from the parish who were ordained. A recent writer gives an estimate of two hundred. Many of them, like myself, lived for periods in the parish rectory with Father John. There were usually at least half a dozen officially resident with one never knew how many transients of all kinds. It was a place where everyone was welcome. One of Sydney’s best known eccentrics, the vagrant, free-thinking, free-acting Beatrice Miles had a spot in the doorway where she slept regularly. I will finish by giving her the last word which was how many people on the streets of Sydney saw Father John.

Seeing Beatrice Miles walking in one of the parish street processions, a bystander called out 'Hey Bea, what are marching for? You’re not a Christian'. 'No', Bea replied, 'I’m not, but I’m marching for the only man in this bloody city who is'.

The Reverend Jim Brady
St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
13 August 2004

Cybergrafting a 'communion'?

IN ADMIRATION OF THE CAREFUL ANALYSIS that you undertook in classifying Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) as 'not in communion', in spite of its sponsorship by the Anglican provinces of Singapore and Rwanda, I am wondering whether a similar analysis might be forthcoming for the so-called American Anglican Council that appears to have been grafted onto the Anglican province of the Southern Cone.

Tony Price
St David's Episcopal Church
San Antonio, Texas, USA
11 August 2004

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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