Anglicans Online
 Worldwide Anglicanism    Anglican Dioceses and Parishes
Home News Centre A to Z Start Here The Anglican Communion Africa Australia Canada England
New this Week News Archives Events Anglicans Believe... In Full Communion Europe Ireland Japan New Zealand
Awards, Staff Newspapers Online B The Prayer Book Not in the Communion Scotland USA Wales World
Search Official Publications B The Bible B B B B B
This page last updated 15 May 2006
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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 May to 14 May 2006

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

The Milwaukee presentment

Regarding the News Centre article of 4 May 2006: Presentment and inhibition against Wisconsin priest

I'm at a loss to understand what in the presentment's charges merits a presentment in the first place and proceedings in an ecclesiastical court. It appears the Bishop of Milwaukee has used an extremely heavy hand in this matter. I must be missing something; I shall follow this story with interest, as it has potentially dire consequences for a parish and its rector. Surely an episcopal power play wouldn't be set in motion at the expense of a parish community? In most places, I would think these matters could be worked out through some frank discussions. But a presentment for allegedly saying some offensive things? I don't get it yet.

Scott Knitter
Church of the Ascension, Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
8 May 2006

I would hope to hear from Bishop Miller what pastoral and dispute-reconciliation efforts the Diocese of Milwaukee made to avoid this sorry situation. My late father, +Frederick B. Wolf, Bishop of Maine, would never, ever have permitted a parochial situation to degenerate to the point where a presentment against an incumbent seemed like the only option. He would have seen that as being a terrible failure on his part as the pastor's pastor. I have never heard of presentments being used in the Anglican Church of Canada, although I may have missed hearing of a case.

Presentment is a terribly destructive weapon and should never be used until all other efforts have failed. It is a last-ditch response to really flagrant behavior, not a way of handling parochial turmoil or minor clerical indiscipline. I believe that a presentment should meet the same standards of evidence and argument as those that obtain in a court of criminal law.

Molly Wolf (member of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, 2001)
St. James Anglican Church, Kingston
Kingston, Ontario, CANADA
8 May 2006


I am deeply moved by your article this Monday morning on churchyards. I love churchyards. I was drawn to my first rectorate in part because the church had a churchyard. It symbolized for me the charge to serve and care for a people from birth to grave in a very concrete way. I did not enjoy the administration of it. But there is nothing for me like being able to process behind the cross and the casket out the doors of the church and straight across the grass between the graves among which the newly departed will take her or his place.

I now serve a displaced church in Boothwyn Pennsylvania. The congregation was moved from Marcus Hook Pennsylvania forty years ago, their land and church sold, and the churchyard, in the midst of which stood the church, was given over to the local government.

I looked forward to my first pilgrimage to the old original St. Martin's Marcus Hook because of its churchyard. The congregation of St. Martn's was founded by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1704 and I hoped for some old gravestones. When I got there, my heart broke. The building now stands surrounded by the towering holding tanks of oil refineries. But worse than that, the churchyard was a shambles. All the old gravestones were in disrepair from vandalism and the ravages of time, and none of the damage had been seen to by the town which now owns it. It looks much like the photos to which you linked in your article.

However, along the back property line at old St. Martin's stretches a long, pristine, well kept line of markers to the military dead going back to the American Revolutionary War and forward to the present, thanks to the town. I guess it's all in what are one's priorities. I haven't returned to that place. Although, now that St. Martin's in Boothwyn is closing for the final time on the Feast of Pentecost, as reported on Episcopal News Service and The Living Church, I may make one more pilgrimage of mourning. Maybe.

Lois Keen, Priest in Charge
St. Martin's Boothwyn

Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, USA
8 May 2006

This week's opening essay on graveyards touched a chord in me. St. John's Cathedral is surrounded by its graveyard (more rightly, I'm told, referred to as a cemetery in the case of a Cathedral - such quaint hierarchical notions as we Anglicans have!). The parish was founded in 1820 by the Rev. John West, first Anglican missionary to Rupert's Land, and is the oldest Anglican Parish in Canada west of the Great Lakes. The graveyard, however, pre-dates the parish by some eight years, having been established in 1812 by the Selkirk Settlers, Scottish crofters who had been turned off their land in Scotland and who were sponsored to a new life in the new world by Thomas Douglas, fifth Earl of Selkirk, who was something of a philanthropist.

The earlier graves were washed away in the great flood of 1826, and the oldest marked grave extant is that of eight-month-old George Simpson, son of Sir George Simpson, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. St. John's Cemetery is a history of Winnipeg in stone (mostly marble and granite) with graves of the founding fathers (and mothers) of Winnipeg, soldiers and statesmen, Hudson's Bay officials, and ordinary folks, and it is frequently visited by genealogists compiling their family trees, historians, students, etc. It is also a favourite 'morning stroll' site for residents in the neighbourhood. It is also home to birds, squirrels, the occasional raccoon, and other assorted wildlife.

The moment one enters the graveyard one is surrounded by a sense of peace. It is well-treed, grassy, and beautifully maintained - even though it has been subjected to the worst kind of vandalism - the latest perpetrated by two youngsters aged nine and 11, who seemed to think that overturning gravestones was no big deal. The graveyard typifies for me a visual understanding of the 'Cloud of Witnesses' referred to in the letter to the Hebrews.

Every year, at the end of May (by then, the winter frost is out of the soil) a team of Cathedral parishioners volunteers to plant annuals like petunias and patience on many of the graves. The Cathedral eventually plans to build an outdoor labyrinth in one corner of the graveyard - along with an outdoor Columbarium, and until that day comes, we have set up a Prayer Path that winds along the paths between the rows of graves, which is used for meditative prayer.

On an unrelated subject - newsletters - ours is called the Cathedral Chronicle and is issued weekly, along with the pew leaflet. Once a month, a collection of the Chronicles for that month is mailed out to homebound parishioners.

Thnk you for your thoughts on graveyards - and everything else. I love Anglicans Online.

Rene Jamieson
St. John's Cathedral
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
8 May 2006

My sisters and I are trying to trace our family tree. We have been given the information that our grandfather was drowned in the river Douglas in 1928 and that he was buried in Parbold. We wondered if it was your church he is in. His name was William Evans.

I thank you for your time and hope you can shed some light on this for us.

Doreen Swales (neé Evans)
St Luke
Pontefract, West Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM
12 May 2006

(Ed: In general we refer people to the excellent GENUKI site for genealogical inquiries. But we know that Parbold is in the diocese of Blackburn. The parish has a website where you will find the vicar's email address. We suggest that you contact him.)

Your article about graveyards was important. My family, all those descended from a John Redman Clark, master mariner, have just been brought together by searching for him. We found what happened to him, held an interstate reunion and a smaller number of us arranged for a plaque for his grave. Since I live closest to the grave I'm the one who cleans it. Some would call this onerous, but I've two other family graves in the cemetery. Your point about the communion of saints was good news to me.

One of the family graves has my ancestress who was a drunkard, infanticide & suicide. Everytime I go to the cemetery I check on her grave. No marker, no headstone, and she shares it with an executed felon. I wrote a prayer for her and trust she shares the peace which passes all understanding. We found her grave after 140 years of family ignorance. Cemeteries provide pause for thought, but I would argue a chance for bringing folk together, relatives or not. Communion for all.

The Jews call the graveyard the "House of the World" I've found it so. G-d bless you for Anglicans Online—you are appreciated!!!

Steve Duke
Reservoir, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
13 May 2006

Three stories about resurrection and burial

Your essay about Anglican burial practices reminds me about a Resurrection story in this Easter Season 2006!

A suicide pilot from Okinawa survived WW II, discarded his tribal religious orientation which had compelled him to offer his life for the Imperial Majesty of heaven when he was introduced to and embraced the universal God of all Creation, who sent Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the Savior of the whole World! He was Paul Saneaki Nakamura who was to return to Okinawa to become a Priest and Bishop of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (literally translated, “Japan Holy Catholic Church” – the name of the Japanese Anglican-Episcopal Church).

Now retired, Bishop Nakamura tells of his return to Okinawa by saying that because he had recruited numerous fellow high school students as recruits for the elite corps who died giving their lives, while he survived because there were no longer any more planes, no human torpedoes, and the war ended before he could give his life by carrying explosives on his back to blow up landing tanks. Because he couldn't face the families of those who had died, he felt he could never return to Okinawa, but my father, a Priest from Canada, while making an evangelistic tour of Japan in the immediate post-war years, met Paul Nakamura when he was a seminary student. Discovering he was an Okinawan, he said to him, “You must go to Okinawa to share the message of the Good News!” Paul replied he could not return because he could not face the families of all who had died when he had survived. My father responded, “You have been Baptized, haven't you? If you have been Baptized, you have died with Christ, and have a new life because you have been raised with Christ in his Resurrection! You must go back to Okinawa, in the power of the Resurrection!” Paul Saneaki Nakamura returned, eventually succeeding the first Bishop of Okinawa, Edmond Lee Browning, to become the first native Bishop of Okinawa.

Two other stories – about the significance of Christian burial in Japan.

After being in Okinawa as American Missionaries and coordinating the building of the new All Souls’ Church in 1991, we were privileged to build the Diocesan Columbarium on the All Souls’ church property on a hill overlooking Chatan beach. The purpose of this columbarium was to provide a place for those desiring a respectful burial. In particular, it was built as a place of burial for those who had been the victims of Hansen’s disease. Heretofore, the ashes, (actually the bones) of people who died were buried within the Sanatorium grounds. The members of the House of Prayer Church within the Sanatorium expressed the desire to be released after their deaths into the outside world! Their desires were accomplished by building the Diocesan Columbarium where the cremated remains could be placed in the niches of the columbarium in the outside world. In the last year of the 20th century the Japanese government finally declared that Hansen’s disease was no longer the dreaded incurable communicable disease, so that legislatively the discrimination against them was being erased at last. In the USA this disease had been declared cured back in the 1960’s!

When I went to the Diocese of Tohoku in NE Japan from 1998-2000, it was my honor and privilege to serve as Priest of St. Michael’s Church within the Sanatorium for those who had been victims of Hansen’s Disease. This close knit community of devout Christians were an aging congregation. It was important to be careful, respectful, and provide so far as possible the same rites and ceremonies for each person who died. The Nippon Sei Ko Kai Book of Common Prayer provides many Services for the Burial of the Dead, such as receiving the body into the church, sending the body for cremation, receiving the cremated remains, burying them, and subsequently to observe various memorials at appointed intervals of time.

In comparison, our American practices are relatively simple… but each in their own order! “Blessed are the dead who died in the Lord….” “Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!”

The Revd Timothy Makoto Nakayama
St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle - Diocese of Olympia
Seattle, Washington, USA
11 May 2006

Horizontal rule
Earlier letters

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


This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2007 Society of Archbishop Justus