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This page last updated 1 July 2013
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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 We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.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.

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Letters from 24 to 30 June 2013

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All of the letters that came in last week were in response to our front page essay of 23 June.

The writing on the wall

My visceral negative reactions to church services occur on those rare occasions when I travel and I end up visiting one of those churches that puts the praise somgs on the wall with a projector. The "music" is awful! The writer of this article describes a church very similar (except for the all-male altar party) to the one where God found me while I was in deep spiritual pain and crying out against him.

I was confirmed in this church (St. Mark's, Philadelphia), a "nose-bleed" high parish that calls the liturgy "mass" and uses many pounds of incense each year, where Benediction on Sunday evenings features a beautiful monstrance, "Tantum ergo" is sung in Latin, and the entire service of Compline is chanted entirely in Latin in a church lighted only by candles . . .  And this is the context where I find the deepest comfort and spirit of worship. I feel repelled and nervous in churches where they project cheap praise songs on the wall.

Dorine Houston
Now St Thomas'; for decades, St. Mark's Locust Street in Philadelphia
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
24 June 2013

Lightening up

I believe the article you wrote describing the service you participated in tells more about you than the church you were in. I have many times worshiped where the whole altar party was female; should I have assumed that there was a statement being made? Or would it be better to assume that perhaps these were just the folks assigned for the day. The comments sounded a bit snarky to me.

Now that I am retired, at times I find myself wrestling spiritually not to be judgmental when things are done differently than I would have done. I am not there to be some sort of liturgical Clive Barnes, but to worship God and enjoy being his presence.

Perhaps all of us, and I include myself here, need to lighten up and just enjoy worshiping God with our brother and sister Christians, no matter what their churchmanship.

David Sutcliffe
All Saints Cathedral
Albany, New York, USA
24 June 2013

Finding the media along the via

Too bad you didn't give the service a chance. I, of course, have a church with "low southern leanings". I grew up in a very "high" one. I have no problem with women and children in our service, but I really love getting to a "nose-bleed high" parish.

In my own spiritual life I still use the Anglican Missal and Father Field's Prayer Book. I am 82 and I can enjoy what each has to offer. I feel closer to the holy in the Mass, though.

Takes all kinds.

JC Eriksen
Grace Calvary, Cartersville, Georgia
Blairsville. Georgia, USA
24 June 2013

See you later

When I lived in Mexico, Guadalajara City in the 1980's I was in the process of transitioning from RC to Anglican, teaching in an Anglican Seminary there. On a Sunday that I went to Mass at the beautiful "espiatorio" church where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed every day — a tradition in large cities — when an older and somewhat disagreable priest preached a sermon, saying "unbaptized children were children of the Devil". That was enough: So long, see you later.

I had a similar expericence in New York City at Guadalupe Parish 14th Street while I was at General Theological Seminary in December. The preaching was so condemning of all of us present — including the Mexicans — that I knew it was time to step out. I recall something about "the Mexican girls come to NYC and end up dressing and acting as prostitutes". . .

Father Vincent Schwahn
St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Van Nuys, California
Sherman Oaks, California, USA
24 June 2013

Reading the ratios

I read last week’s cover story with some interest and eventually with some dismay. I cannot criticize what is in someone’s heart, but walking out of divine service due to an unease (bordering on panic?) because of an all male altar party? Retreating to your hotel to read prayers alone rather than part of a community of Christians? That truly seems to me to be an act no better than that of a person who would do the same because the altar party was all female or had females in it. I don’t believe that currently there is any regulation stating that there must be both sexes participating in every service, is there? Perhaps that could be the 40th Article?

I belong to a catholic-minded urban parish in the midst of a university city with a long history of the inclusion of women both as priests, seminarians, and service at the altar. We currently have a woman as a part-time assistant and one as a priest associate, and will have a female deacon again in the fall, the third in as many years. We always try to schedule a mixed complement of servers, but with three Masses on Sunday during the academic year, transiency, and school/work schedules being what they are, it’s not always possible to spread people evenly.

Each year in the fall, we actively recruit to add numbers to our acolyte corps, however this year, few women signed on. Thus the visible ratio of males and females in the sanctuary could be tilted, with some Sundays at our principle Mass all male, especially if our assistant priest was unavailable. All through no fault of the parish, but because no women stepped up to volunteer.

I wonder if you came to my parish, with its history of “diversity and inclusion” on one of those Sundays, would you also hit the door before the party got to the altar?

John Kohanski
Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut
Rocky Hill, Conneticut, USA
25 June 2013

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Earlier letters

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


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