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 8 December 2008
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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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 Canadian 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 1 to 7 December 2008

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.

Mind your own beeswax

Reading this week's letter brought to mind the candle-wars of my alma mater, Virginia Seminary. There are still alumni who remember living through the great conflict when a cross and candles were introduced to the Seminary Chapel, Immanuel-on-the-Hill. It was of course an Innovation, probably designed by crypto-papists to lead the Holy Hill down the incense-scented road to perdition—or so it was thought.

Then there was the alt—,er, Table. A hermaphroditic piece of furniture was introduced that is half-altar, half-table (with two legs). Another controversy—one cannot see clear between the legs!

Now, of course, VTS' chapel looks like most Episcopal churches, with paraments, candles, cross, etc. Except that it still deliberately faces West...

But we don't reserve the Eucharist, for there is not (and apparently never shall be) an aumbry. Student sermons used to be taped for future reference, on a machine kept in a little closet under the main Cross. We used to say, "At Virginia we don't reserve the Sacrament, we reserve the Word!"

Last I looked, it too was gone. O tempore, O mores!

Pierre Whalon, VTS, MDiv '85, D.D., '03
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
1 December 2008

Consensus and truth?

I read with interest Alan's letter to Anglicans Online which was an interaction with mine of the previous week.

The points Alan raise highlight how different the Anglican church in Sydney is, because of our history and development over time, as well as our theology.

Sydney is a very secular city. “Post-Christian” would be a good description. That is the context in which we are trying to proclaim Christ.

Most people in Sydney have very little in the way of church background. The terms ‘Rector’ and ‘Curate’ are completely foreign to them. So we use the more descriptive and accessible terms of “Senior Minister” for Rector and “Assistant Minister” for curate.

The Sydney Diocese has deliberately shyed away from the word ‘priest’. In fact, I am now 49 years old, and when growing up, I never heard the word. Or if I did, it referred to Roman Catholic clergy. We have stopped using it because there is no way of distinguishing our use of the word (which in fact means ‘elder’) from the Roman Catholic or even Old Testament use, where the priest is a mediator. We have only one priest - Jesus Christ. He is the only mediator now under the new covenant.

Alan comments that he is baffled as to “why Sydney so firmly resists the ordination of women to the priesthood, while apparently seeing no function which is restricted to a priest”. Our Diocese (and I don’t always agree with everything that happens in our diocese), considers that the essence of priesthood is oversight of a parish and teaching the Bible. So, it has no problem with women leading the Lord’s Supper, but considers that oversight and leadership of a church, the Lord has given uniquely to men.

But in the end – these are surely matters which may legitimately differ between us.

The church in Sydney diocese is growing.We ordain between 30-40 deacons each year. Our training college is full to overflowing of people wanting to train for ministry.

I’m not saying any of this by way of pride. But something good – from our good God is happening here, as we endeavor to engage our culture and win people to the Lord Jesus that they may be saved.

And that is what drives Sydney: a love of the gospel, a desire to preach the Word, a passion for the lost and a desire to see people converted. Cramner would have thought that was very Anglican!

The Rev Mark Calder
St Andrew's Roseville (
Roseville, Sydney, AUSTRALIA
3 December 2008

(Ed: We're going to let Mark Calder have the last word in this dialogue, and revert to our usual policy of not publishing letters about letters.)

Truth and dare?

I am now reading that some of the more conservative bishops that have broken away from the Episcopal Church USA and affiliated with other Dioceses, are now trying to form "a rival North American province."

I do not claim to understand all of the reasons that these parishes, dioceses, priests, and bishops have for their recent actions. I know what I have read and I still lack considerable understanding.

Rather than all of the debate, name-calling (on both sides), and future legal wrangling, we should look to our own Anglican past and a great Anglican leader and his methods.

I propose that Dr. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Anglican Communion and specifically the Episcopal Church USA. If The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu can help heal the wounds in South Africa, perhaps a similar mechanism can be used to heal the wounds in the Church. (I am not comparing Apartheid to our current situation).

Please, my fellow believers in the Great Reconciliator, Jesus Christ, pray with me to seek guidance towards our own truth and reconciliation.

Stuart Ravnik
Episcopal Church of the Ascension
Dallas, Texas, USA
3 December 2008

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 <a href=""></a> about information on this page. ©2000 Society of Archbishop Justus