The ACNA Provisional Constitution: A Blueprint for Radical Innovation in Church Government

April 11, 2009 at 2:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

By Robin G. Jordan

The following paper related to the provisional constitution of the Anglican Church in North America and the three proposed amendments to the provisional constitution and the proposed constitution in its appendix were submitted to Hugo Blankingship, the chairman of the ACNA Governance Task Force, and Bishop Robert Duncan, Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership and acting Primate of the ACNA, in response to Bishop Duncan’s letter of April 3, 2009. This writer is also preparing a similar paper related to the proposed code of canons for the ACNA. It must be noted that the 17 days that the ACNA has provided for public comment on these documents is totally insufficient for interested parties to study the documents, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to weigh the implications of their contents. A minimum of 90 days is required, preferably 6 to 12 months.

In building a house, it is wise to go over the plans of the house with the architect rather than entrusting everything to him. There may design flaws and hidden costs that a careful perusal of the plans may reveal. Those who do not take the time to look at the details end up spending more on the house than they anticipated and may discover that the house is not quite what they had in mind. However, once the house is built, they are stuck with it. As the old proverbial saying goes, having made their bed, they must lie in it. Suing the architect takes time and money and renovations take more time and more money. And their dream house still may not be what they had hoped it would be. It is better to make sure that things are done right from the outset.

In this paper I examine the first sheet of the blueprint of the Anglican Church in North America—the final draft of the provisional constitution and the three proposed amendments thereto that are to be presented at the Inaugural Provincial Assembly—and propose a number of changes to that document and its proposed amendments. One of these changes would make the Anglican Church in North America more comprehensive from an Evangelical and Reformed standpoint without making it less comprehensive from an Anglo-Catholic and charismatic standpoint. A number of the changes would preserve the North American Anglican heritage of the autonomy of the diocese, the long tradition of a diocese electing its bishop, and a synodical form of ecclesiastical governance. Several of them address issues that the Governance Task Force in drafting the provisional constitution and its proposed amendments did not address.

To read the rest of this paper, go to: http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2009/04/acna-provisional-constitution-blueprint.html

The Episcopate in the Anglican Church in North America

March 30, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This article posted on Anglicans Ablaze may interest the posters and readers of The Heritage Anglican Network. It is on the Internet at: http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2009/03/episcopate-in-anglican-church-in-north.html

Praise the Lord with Cymbals…Loud Clashing Cymbals

March 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 108 Comments

By Robin G. Jordan

 

O praise God in his holiness : praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him in his noble acts : praise him according to his excellent greatness.Praise him in the sound of the trumpet : praise him upon the lute and harp.Praise him in the cymbals and dances : praise him upon the strings and pipe.Praise him upon the well-tuned cymbals : praise him upon the loud cymbals.Let every thing that hath breath : praise the Lord.

 

In reading the comments posted on the Heritage Anglican Network, a number of them relating to the use of music and musical instruments in Christian worship caught my attention. There was considerable difference of opinion over what kinds of music and what musical instruments are suitable for use in Christian worship. Disagreements over what kinds of music and what musical instruments should be used in Christian worship are not something new. Such disagreements have been occurring since the first century.

 

In the early Church all musical instruments were prohibited. Their prohibition was not on biblical grounds. It had to do with where musical instruments were commonly played at the time—at orgies, in brothels, and at pagan sacrifices. Among the instruments prohibited were the organ, the nose flute, and a variety of stringed instruments.

 

Singing in the early Church was unaccompanied and usually in unison. The early Christians also sang responsorially, the congregation repeating a common refrain after a cantor sung each verse or group of verses, a method of congregational singing that had its origin in the Jewish synagogue. Antiphonal singing, from side to side, was a later development and originated in the early monastic communities of the sixth century. During the period of the Arian controversy the Arians lured orthodox Christians into their churches with women choirs. The orthodox Christians responded with women choirs of their own. The Church would eventually ban women in choirs.

 

By the height of the Middle Ages singing in church had become the preserve of professional men’s choirs who sung not only in Latin but also in elaborate polyphony that deliberately sought to make the words of the song unintelligible to the listener. Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformers rejected the continued use of polyphony in worship for this reason. It was not edifying to the people. Cranmer advocated the composition of settings for the canticles and the psalms in which each syllable of a word or each word of a psalm or canticle is sung to one note. This had the affect of discouraging congregational participation in the singing even though it was intended to encourage that participation because it is much harder to sing to this kind of setting than it is to sing a setting in which a syllable or word is sung to two or more notes or two or three syllables or words to a single note.

 

The Reformation saw a revival of congregational singing. In Lutheran churches in Germany the chorale became the popular form of congregational song. In Reformed Churches in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, and Switzerland, however, the metrical psalm became the dominant, if not exclusive form of congregational song. The leaders of the Reformed churches commended the Psalms for singing, citing James 5:13, “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise,” and  Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

 

This was also the case in the Church of England. While choirmasters and church music composers were highly critical of metrical psalm singing, it was extremely popular with the English people. Large crowds gathered at St. Paul’s Cross in London to sing metrical psalms for hours on end. The singing of metrical psalms was the primary form of congregation participation in the Prayer Book services. The Sternhold and Hopkins “Old Version” of The Psalms of David in Metre enjoyed a popularity that we do not fully understand today. England became a nation of psalm-singers. The common people sung metrical psalms as they went about their daily occupations. Elizabeth I, however, did not like metrical psalm singing. She derisively referred to the tunes as “Geneva jigs.” The metrical psalm tunes may in part account for their popularity. They were often sung to familiar popular melodies, the tunes of folk ballads and dances. These tunes were frequently played on the lute and other stringed instruments, the oboe and other woodwinds, and the tabor, a small hand drum. In church, however, metrical palms were usually sung unaccompanied. The parish clerk would line out a verse and the congregation would sing it after him. In a few parish churches was introduced the use of a barrel organ as a form of accompaniment. Pipe organs were found only in cathedrals and collegiate chapels, as were choirs.

 

In addition to the psalms, the Prayer Book canticles, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers were also rendered into metrical form. In Puritan churches these metrical versions of the Prayer Book canticles, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and other prayers were sung instead of the prose versions. Charles I, however, when he ascended the English throne, suppressed this practice. Charles I, like his Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud, was a High Churchman.

 

The Prayer Book, the organ, and the choir were banned during the Commonwealth period. The use of the organ and the choir was restored with the use of the Prayer Book at the restoration of the monarchy and the ascension of Charles II to the English throne.

 

In the seventeenth century developed what is now called “west gallery music.” Local musicians and singers began to accompany the congregational singing. Galleries were built against the west wall of the church for these groups of village musicians and singers. Hence the name “west gallery music.” A number of local composers wrote settings for the metrical psalms and the small number of hymns that were used in the Church of England. Among the instruments used were the fiddle, the viola, the mandolin, the oboe, the serpent, and the penny whistle. The singers sat around the musician who played the music part that they sang. They did not sit together like a choir.

 

In the nineteenth century the High Church Oxford Movement introduced the hymnal, the organ and the vested choir into the English parish church. West gallery music was suppressed and the groups of village musicians and singers were disbanded. Some of these groups took refuge in the local Non-Conformist chapel. West gallery music has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years. It is particularly suited for use with services from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

 

Nineteenth century Evangelical hymn collections included a substantial number of gospel songs, which were popular in Evangelical parish churches. The hymn collections composed almost exclusively of hymns, including a large number of hymns translated from Greek and Latin, that many Anglicans associate with Anglican hymnody, were for a large part an Anglo-Catholic development.

 

By the twentieth century the hymnal, the organ, and the vested choir had become ubiquitous in Anglican churches, not only in the United Kingdom but also around the world. The west gallery musicians and singers had been forgotten. Even Evangelicals came to assume that the hymnal, the organ, and the vested choir were normative for Anglican worship.

 

The late 1950s-early 1960s saw the beginning of experimentation with other musical instruments beside the organ, the harmonium, and the piano to accompany church music. In the 1970 and 1980s the domination of the guitar and the drum set replaced the domination of the keyboard in a number of churches. Praise bands and small ensembles replaced the choir. Choruses and other informal worship songs replaced hymns. In a number of denominations the “worship wars” heated up, with proponents of the organ, the hymn, and the choir on one side and the proponents of the guitar, the worship song, and the praise band on the other side.

 

A few brave souls took an eclectic approach to church music, using the organ, the guitar, the hymn and the worship song. This approach is known as “blended worship,” which seeks to creatively use the old and the new together. It has led to the development of what is called the “new traditional” style of church music, a mix of traditional hymns, metrical psalms, spirituals, gospel songs and more recent compositions, including the older choruses and worship songs.

 

The twentieth century saw an explosion of new compositions and tunes—hymns, metrical and responsorial versions of the psalms and canticles, anthems, and other forms of church music. That explosion turned into a great mountain of church music. Hymns and songs from the Roman Catholic Church and the World Church found their way into the newer Protestant hymnals. Hymns and songs from the Anglican Church found their way into the newer Roman Catholic hymnals.

 

In the twenty-first century church then a visitor is likely to find one of three styles of church music—“contemporary,” nothing older than the past 10 years; “old traditional,” nothing newer than the 1950s, and “new traditional.” The visitor is also likely to find a number of styles of church music that reflect the ethnicity and national origin of the congregation.

 

Can any one style of church music be regarded as distinctively “Anglican”? A number of years ago the new music director in my former parish told the choir that she was going to use more “Anglican” music on Sunday mornings. In my mind I asked myself what kind of music was she intending to use. In Africa Anglican congregations sing to the accompaniment of drums and foot stamping. They also sing without accompaniment in natural four-part harmony. In Central and South America the acoustical guitar is a common form of accompaniment for congregational singing in Anglican churches. At All Souls, Langham Place, a flagship Evangelical parish in London, England a full orchestra, including brass, percussion, strings, and woodwinds, accompanies the congregational singing. All of these styles of church music are “Anglican”. The music that she had in mind was “old traditional,” largely drawn from the Episcopal hymnal. It would not have dawned on her that these other styles of music are also “Anglican.”

 

In learning to appreciate the different forms of church music it is helpful to think of each form as being a part of the witness of a particular group of Christians in a particular time and a particular place. It is their proclamation of the excellencies of him who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. It is their testimony to their faith in God and Jesus Christ. It is their contribution to the upbuilding of the Church of Jesus Christ. In using these forms, we are like the householder who takes from his storage room treasures new and old. Some people want to quarrel with the design of a particular object, the materials from which it is made, its decoration, and its workmanship instead of valuing each object for what it is—a unique creation reflecting a particular group of Christians, a particular place, and a particular time.

 

The use of percussion instruments is a major source of controversy in both Anglican and non-Anglican churches. Some congregations will tolerate the use of the guitar and other stringed instruments in worship but draw the line at the use of percussion instruments. The controversy over the use of percussion instruments largely stems from the association of percussion instruments in most people’s minds with the drum set of a rock and roll band. They are often oblivious to the fact that the piano is a percussion instrument. The pianist strikes a key that causes a hammer to strike a taught wire producing a musical sound. For teaching new hymns and songs and leading and supporting congregational singing, the piano is the best musical instrument. A congregation is better able to hear notes played on a piano than an organ and a pianist cannot drown out the congregation’s singing with a piano. The only drawback of a piano is that some hymns benefit from the fuller sound of an organ.

 

The piano is not the only percussion instrument that can be used in worship. Other percussion instruments include the glockenspiel, stacked bells, hand bells, cowbells, the djembe—an African hand drum, conga drums, West Indian steel drums, the bhodran—an Irish hand drum, the xylophone, marimbas, the kalimba—the African finger piano, wooden box drums, claves, finger cymbals, and the human hand. These percussion instruments can be put to a number of good uses. For example, hand bells can be used to give pitches, accompany psalm chants and hymns, and to enrich the great songs of the liturgy such as the Te Deum, Benedicite, and Gloria in Excelsis.  A djembe can be used to establish the rhythm of a number of songs, especially those using African and West Indian tunes, and to maintain their tempo. A tune that comes to mind is LINSTEAD, Doreen Potter’s adaptation of a Jamaican folk tune, that is used as the setting of a number of hymns, including Stephen P. Stark’s metrical paraphrase of the Benedicite. “All You Works of God, Bless the Lord!” All of these instruments can be coupled with the human voice to give glory to God.

 

As with any instrument the key is how the instrument is used. The drummer who plays so loudly that he drowns out the voices of all but the amplified voices of the vocalists in the praise band is no different than the organist who plays so loudly that he drowns out the voices of both choir and congregation. At the same time it must be recognized that there are generational differences that enter into the equation. Younger congregations that prefer contemporary Christian and praise and worship songs do not want to hear their own voices. They also want to “feel the beat.” Older congregations who share the younger generations’ preference for contemporary Christian and praise and worship songs, prefer the sound system to be turned down a few notches so that they not only can hear the vocalists but also themselves.

 

Evangelicals have just begun to recognize the problem of worship leaders whose electronically amplified voices dominate the singing in the worshiping assembly. Roman Catholics have recognized this problem for a number of years. The dominance of the voice of a cantor with a microphone discourages the assembly from singing. In an excellent article that he wrote a few years ago Marty Haugen urged Roman Catholic worship leaders to get rid of their microphones and musical instruments and lead the assembly in singing simple hymns and songs without accompaniment from the midst of the assembly and not from upfront. 

 

In a number of emerging churches the praise band has been moved from the front of the room in which the assembly gathers for worship to the back of the room. Putting them at the back of the room changes their relationship with the congregation. They are no longer seen as performers and the congregation as an audience. The members of the congregation are restored to their proper role as performers and God to his rightful role as the audience. At the back of the room the praise band can also provide better support to the singing of the assembly.

 

The organ is regarded in some quarters as the only suitable musical instrument for Anglican worship. But the organ has had a checkered history in the Church as noted above. In the sixteenth century “Puritan Churchmen” objected to the use of the barrel organ in English parish churches to accompany congregational singing. They took the position that some Reformed churches such as the Scottish Free Presbyterian Church retain to this day, that congregational singing should be a cappella. Like the Churches of Christ they argued that there was no Scriptural warrant for the use of musical instruments in Christian worship. The use of the organ did not become widespread in the Church of England until the nineteenth century and then due to the growth and increased influence of the High Church Oxford Movement. The nineteenth century also saw the substitution of the harmonium, a keyboard instrument with metal reeds, for the larger pipe organ in a number of small parish churches and mission halls. A harmonium has a foot-operated bellows that the player of the harmonium pumps while playing. In the twentieth century the electronic organ replaced the harmonium but the quality of the sound was not much better than that of the harmonium. The quality of the sound of electronic organs has improved greatly over the past 40 years but a good quality well-tuned upright piano is still the best musical instrument for accompanying congregational singing in a small church. It is also much easier to find a competent piano player than a competent organist. With a piano other musical instruments can be used to embellish a hymn or song.

 

In a number of churches congregational singing is experiencing a decline. Behind this decline is the failure of these churches to not take the right steps to encourage and foster congregational singing. Church sanctuaries and worship centers are built with padded seating, carpeted floors and platforms and the wrong kind of acoustics for congregational singing. Songs that are difficult for congregations to sing are selected for Sunday worship. Congregations are not given an opportunity to hear themselves sing as a congregation. Worship leaders have abnegated their role as leaders of congregational song, which include helping the congregation to learn and master new songs, as well as leading the singing of the assembly.  Churches do not produce CDs and downloadable MP3s and I-pod broadcasts of the songs used in Sunday worship so that members of the congregation can sing them at home, on the way to work, and elsewhere. Churches are not stressing the importance of congregational participation in the singing on Sundays.

 

A number of cultural factors have also worked against congregational singing. The decline of singing as a family, community, and school activity and the stress of TV and radio on singing as an activity of professionals are among these factors. However, the popularity of karaoke and TV shows like American Idol suggest that Americans still sing. People also sing along with the CD player, radio, or I-pod.

 

One style of church music does not fit all churches. The situation of each church is unique. Factors such as the ministry focus group that it is trying to reach, the musical resources of the congregation, the musical preferences of the community and region in which the church is located should all be considered in determining what styles of music should be used in the worship of a congregation. A congregation’s choice of music can become an obstacle to its gospel ministry. A congregation that adopts classical music for its worship in a community and region in which only a very small number of people are attracted to classical music significantly limits the size of the segment of the population to which it can proclaim the gospel.

 

Thom Rainer in his research interviewed the newly churched to determine what part that the music used in worship played in attracting them to a particular church and keeping them in that church. He found that it was not so much the style of music as it was the attention that the church paid to the quality of the music that it used in its worship. This attention showed to the unchurched that the members of the church put a high value on worship. This is what attracted them to the church and kept them in it. This finding, however, does not rule out the importance of considering the ministry focus group of the church and musical preferences of its community and region in the choice of music for its worship. The implication, however, is that whatever music a church uses in the worship of a congregation should be done well. In choosing the styles of music to be used in the worship of a congregation, the capacity of the church to do these music styles well should also be a consideration. It is important to select what the church can do and do well.

 

This leads to a number of other important considerations in the choice of music for worship. The first of these considerations is theological content. Are the language, images, and motifs in a hymn or song biblical? Is what the hymn or song is saying agreeable to Scripture? Is what it is saying theologically sound? A hymn or song may have a very appealing, singable tune but its wording may teach something other than what the Bible teaches.

 

A second consideration is the type of song and the juncture in the service in which it will be used. By “song” I am referring to hymns, canticles, psalms, anthems, choruses, worship songs, acclamations, service music, and the like. Among the types of songs are calls to worship, invocations of the Holy Spirit, songs of praise, songs of adoration, songs of exhortation, songs of encouragement, songs of invitation to discipleship, songs of dismissal or sending-forth, and songs of response. The latter includes songs of affirmation, songs of commitment, and songs of self-dedication. A song may fit in a number of these categories or it may fit in only one category. Knowing the type of a song is helpful in deciding where it can be used to best advantage.

 

A song needs to make sense where it is used. It fits that particular juncture in the service. Choosing, for example, a post-communion hymn or a dismissal hymn for the beginning of the service not only invites the congregation to sing nonsense but it devaluates the place of music in the service. It is critical in planning the music of a service to treat songs as an integral part of the service and not as something ancillary to the service. Care should also be taken that the lyrics of the song do not contradict what precedes it or follows it. A classical example of a worship planner not paying attention to what preceded or followed a song is the accompanist who picked “Shall We Gather at the River” for the hymn after the sermon. In the sermon the pastor urged the drinkers in the congregation to stop drinking and to throw into the river the bottles of whatever they drank so they would not be tempted to keep drinking. The song urged the people to gather at the river.

 

The mood of a song should also match the mood of the juncture in the service in which it is used. A fast upbeat praise song, while it might be a good choice for the opening of the service, would be a poor choice for a more meditative part of the service such as the distribution of the Communion.

 

A third consideration is the accessibility of a song. Can the congregation be expected to master the song within a reasonable interval of time? If it takes the choir, the cantor, or the vocalists in the praise band more than a couple of rehearsals to learn a song, the song may be too difficult for the average singer in the congregation. The primary role of the choir, the cantor, or the vocalists in the praise band is to lead and support the congregation in praising and worshiping God in song. It is not to worship on the behalf of the congregation. Special music is secondary. The Revelation to John gives us a picture of heavenly worship. The redeemed are not listening to the heavenly choir lauding and magnifying God and the Lamb. They are part of that choir! Life on earth is a preparation for life in heaven. Those who attend church services in which the choir, cantor, or vocalists in the praise band do most of the singing may come away from these services feeling that they have worshiped God. However, they have not been prepared for the worship of heaven.

 

When the choir, the cantor, or the vocalists in the praise band do most of the singing, it is a denial of the New Testament doctrine that we need no one to represent us before God since we have Jesus Christ as our mediator and advocate and he is the only representative that we need. It is also a denial of the New Testament doctrine that God has called us to serve him as a royal priesthood proclaiming the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We proclaim his excellencies—his great merits—through reading aloud his story from the Scriptures in the assembly of the faithful on Sunday morning and other times; through telling the children in Sunday school what he has done; through giving our testimony in the assembly how his story and our story intersect; through sharing the gospel, the story of salvation, with friends, neighbors, and relatives; and through singing God’s praises and extolling his mighty deeds in the assembly. 

 

It is useful to think of the songs in a church service as a part of conversation that is going on not only between God and ourselves but also among ourselves. In the songs we speak to God and God speaks to us. We speak about God and ourselves. We also speak to each other. In all parts of this conversation God is speaking. He is giving us the words, as well as prompting us to speak.

 

One of the complaints that is commonly heard about contemporary Christian and praise and worship music is that it focuses too much upon the individual and his relationship to God and not enough upon God himself, his attributes, his promises, and his dealings with humankind. Most songs fall into one of two categories—songs to God and songs about God. Both kinds of songs have a place in worship. If we look in the Bible, we will find both kinds of songs in the Book of Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible. A song to God usually begins with these or similar words, “ I will extol you, my God and King…” or “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth….” A song about God typically begins with words like, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel…” or “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain….” A skilled worship planner will seek to strike a balance between the two kinds of songs. This balance will vary from Sunday to Sunday. The lessons, the sermon, and the occasion are the principal determining factors. However, they are not the only determining factors. There is no set formula that worship planners can follow. Some Sundays the lessons, the sermon, and the occasion will require more songs of one kind than of the other. As a rule of thumb it is generally best to start with songs about God and then to switch to songs to God but this is not a hard and fast rule. At the conclusion of the service a song that reminds the congregation of how they are expected to serve God in the world is desirable. This may require a song that is directed at the congregation.

 

A fourth consideration is the tunefulness of a song, that is, the melodiousness of the setting to which the song is sung. Tunefulness is to a large extent a subjective judgment. What may be a tuneful series of notes to one person’s ear may not to another. In evaluating the tunefulness of a song, it is helpful to ask the following questions: Will this song sound tuneful to the larger part of the congregation? Is it a tune that they will over a reasonable interval of time come to like and enjoy? Will it sound tuneful to a larger part of the church’s ministry focus group? Is it a tune that they too will come to like and enjoy? And so on.

 

A congregation that has been exposed to a wide variety of different forms of church music and a wide range of tunes can be expected to consider a much larger number of songs as tuneful than a congregation that has been exposed to only one or two forms of church music and a limited range of tunes. Our sense of what is a tuneful series of notes is acquired. A musician trained in classic music may not consider tuneful a series of notes that a congregation that has no classical music training considers tuneful. The culture or subculture to which we belong also influences what series of notes we are likely to consider tuneful.

 

A fifth consideration is the suitability of the tune to the mood of the song. This is one of the weaknesses of a number of the older hymn tunes. They do not capture the tone, or mood, of the hymn with which they are used. The lyrics of a hymn may speak of joyfully praising God but the tune to modern ears is mournful, more suitable for a dirge or a lament. One option is to substitute a new tune for the old one, a tune that matches more closely the tone of the hymn.

 

Our choice of music for church services, the songs that we select, are a part of the welcome that we extend to first time worship visitors. For eight years I collaborated with the first music director of my former parish in planning the music for Sunday mornings. At my suggestion we adopted the policy of using for hymns tunes that would not only be familiar to Episcopalians but also Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. We used as a guide the Ecumenical Hymn List that listed the most commonly used tunes for the most widely used hymns. We also picked from this list the hymns that we used. In their selection of hymn tunes for The Hymnal 1940 its editors had chosen the tunes to which certain hymns were set in English hymnals rather than American hymnals. Consequently the tunes were unfamiliar to visitors from non-Episcopal church background.

 

Unaffiliated Episcopalians comprised a very tiny segment of the unchurched population of our community. Rather than confining ourselves to these rare and difficult-to-catch fish, we baited our hooks for the fish that swam in our pond, our target area, in larger numbers—unchurched families and individuals with a non-Episcopal church background and those with no church background at all. Our church was at the time a small mission congregation that met for worship in a storefront. The church had no organ, no pews, no stained glass windows, no polished brass, no flickering candles, no needlepoint embroidered kneelers, and the like. The trickle of Episcopalians new to the community who did visit us generally did not stay for any length of time. They missed these things. The honest ones told us that they could not worship God without them. They did not feel like they were “in a real church.”

 

In addition to hymn and hymn tune selections from the Ecumenical Hymn List, we also used a number of new hymns and new metrical versions of psalms and canticles from the Hope Publishing/Jubilate Hymns hymnal and music collection series as well as a number of what were then called “celebration songs” from Come Celebrate, the Scripture in Song series, Songs of Celebration, the Songs of Praise series, the Sounds of Living Water series, and other sources. The latter are fairly simple hymns and songs, a number of which are so easy to learn that they seem to sing themselves.

 

When asked what kept them coming to our church, newcomers put at the top of the list the friendliness and warmth of the congregation, the type of music used in the church services, and the enthusiastic participation of the congregation in that music. This is what brought them back Sunday after Sunday. In the process they heard the message of the gospel not only preached from the pulpit but also proclaimed in the adult Bible study classes that set the church apart from all of the churches in the deanery and most of the churches in the diocese. 

 

In the nineteenth century Anglican missionaries traveled to Africa and other parts of the world in order to proclaim the gospel to the peoples of these parts of the world. Yet they often made little headway. This was largely due to their approach. They established a mission station. The handful of people they were able to attract the mission station were expected to learn the English language, to adopt English customs, to wear English clothes, to sing English hymns, and to cross a number of other hurdles in order to hear the gospel. Consequently, these missionaries made few converts. Contemporary missionaries and contemporary missiology has learned from this experience. The task of the missionary is to spread the gospel and not to spread his national culture or church ethos. But many churches in North America have yet to apply this lesson to the world’s largest English speaking mission field, Canada and the United States. They continue to act like nineteenth century missionaries, expecting those to whom they should be bringing the gospel message first to acquire their tastes in music and worship. Instead of advancing the gospel, they are erecting barriers to the gospel. We need to take care that we do not fall into the same trap.

 

When I advocate tailoring the music used in the services of a church to the particular circumstances of the church and making it friendlier to outsiders, I am NOT advocating modifying the gospel message to make it more acceptable to a particular ministry focus group. Too often latter is erroneously equated with the former. The use of a particular style of music other than that favored by the individual equating the three is then criticized as diluting the gospel message. Songs are not the only means by which the gospel is conveyed. Scripture readings, sermons, study groups, newcomer orientation sessions, membership classes, and discipleship training seminars are important means of communicating the gospel.

 

Songs are certainly an important means of reinforcing the gospel message. Whatever forms of church music are used in a service, I do recommend that worship planners should select a number of songs to highlight or emphasize different aspects of the gospel at each service. These aspects should not be the same ones Sunday after Sunday. At the same time a careful balance needs to be struck between the devotional and the didactic elements of a service. The songs of the service are there to help us to voice our praise and adoration of God as well as to inform and instruct.

 

Heritage Anglican Network Posters: Please Take Note

March 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 54 Comments

Due to the sudden increase in comments containing accusations, innuendos, name-calling, personal attacks, and disparaging and scurrilous remarks, I am going to be looking more closely at comments and approving only those comments in which the poster displays a measure of charity and civility toward others consistent with being a Christian.

 

Some comments I may not approve because they in my judgment will inflame the tensions being manifest on this web log. The Heritage Anglican Network is a cyber meeting place for confessional Anglicans and those sympathetic to confessional Anglicanism or wanting to learn more about confessional Anglicanism. It is not a set for “Flame Wars.”

 

The sudden increase of  derogatory comments followed my response to the comment of a recent visitor from the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church to this blog, in which I asked for an explanation of why an Anglican church body that claimed to be Protestant and Reformed would continue to use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer when the 1928 Prayer Book is the most Catholic of the American Prayer Books and shows the influence of Broad Church Liberalism, and why it would want to use the original name of The Episcopal Church when that denomination had not been Protestant and Reformed since the late 1800s. These are legitimate questions that I have raised in a number of articles.

 

I am willing to post a carefully-worded, well-reasoned explanation of the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church position (or that of any other Anglican church body) on these questions on this blog. (The email address for the Heritage Anglican Network is heritageanglicannetworkatgmaildotcom.) I am also willing to post comments observing the inconsistencies between the various statements of a specific poster provided that such comments do not include negative remarks concerning his personality, his intellect, his mental status, and the like.

 

I have posted Bishop Del Murray’s explanation of his departure from the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church and Phil Vietch’s letter to Presiding Bishop Charles Morley. Phil raises a number of legitimate questions. If Bishop Morley chooses to respond, I will post his letter (if I judge that it will not further add to the tensions being manifest on this blog.) However, I am not going to post a blow-by-blow account of the back and forth between any poster on the blog and another party or parties. The more appropriate means of communicating this information to interested parties is by private email and not in a public forum. One of the aims of the Heritage Anglican Network is to foster positive relationships between individuals who may not agree on every key issue. Such accounts do not serve this purpose.

 

If anyone would like to submit an article on a topic relevant to confessional Anglicanism, please send an attachment containing the article to me at the above email address. Please limit the article to 1500 words. I do reserve the right to reject an article, to edit it, or to return it to you for necessary changes or clarification.

 

Robin G. Jordan,

Moderator,

Heritage Anglican Network

A Warning from the City Wall

March 6, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

By Robin G. Jordan

Bishop Bob Duncan recently announced that the Inaugural Provincial Assembly of the new Anglican Church in North America to be held in Bedford, Texas had been moved up to June 22, 2009. In his announcement Bishop Duncan stated that the meeting would be more like the annual Winter AMiA Conference than the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The last two items on the agenda would “the consideration of the ratification of the (Provisional) Constitution” and “the consideration of the ratification of a Code of Canons.” The meeting will be what I anticipated in my article, “The ACNA Constitution: What You See Is What You Get,” a carefully orchestrated media event at which those groups of churches wishing to become constituent bodies of the ACNA will be invited to ratify the seriously-flawed provisional constitution and an expanded version of the provisional canons.

The rest of this article is posted on the Internet at: http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2009/03/warning-from-city-wall.html

Can An Apple Tree Bear Oranges?

March 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

By Robin G. Jordan

Dom Walker in one of his posts raised a question that prompted this article. Can the new Anglican Church in North America bring about a revival of Confessional Anglicanism in North America? In this article I examine a number of factors that affect the ACNA and the likelihood of the ACNA producing such a revival.

 

No one has surveyed the actual theological make-up of the ACNA. While number of Anglo-Catholic clergy and congregations in the ACNA is unknown, Anglo-Catholics have historically exercised an influence both in North American and elsewhere disproportionate to their numbers. A number of Anglo-Catholic bishops hold leadership positions in the ACNA. Forward in Faith North America, an organization that promotes “Catholic order,” is a founding constituent body of the ACNA as are three Anglo-Catholic breakaway dioceses from The Episcopal Church.

 

Confessional Anglicans, on the other hand, do not have anyone in the ACNA leadership. They do not have any organization like FIFNA to represent their interests. They do not to my knowledge form a majority in any of the founding constituent bodies of the ACNA. Rather they are dispersed throughout these bodies and are largely isolated from each other and from confessional Anglicans outside the ACNA.

 

Charismatics in the ACNA do not form a homogenous group. Some come from an Anglo-Catholic background within The Episcopal Church. Some originally come from outside of The Episcopal Church from an evangelical background. However, when they joined The Episcopal Church, they were influenced by Anglo-Catholicism and then later became charismatic. Some joined an ACNA body from a charismatic denomination; some joined an ACNA body from an evangelical denomination and later became charismatic. Some are former Episcopalians who attended Episcopal churches that, while seemingly High Church in style of worship, were moderately Protestant in doctrine, and while still Episcopalians became charismatics or became charismatics after joining an ACNA constituent body.

 

Some whom traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and confessional Anglicans classify as charismatics are not really charismatics. They are simply attracted to a charismatic style of worship, including the use of contemporary praise music and praying and praising God with uplifted hands and other expressive forms of worship. A large number of the members of ACNA constituent bodies fit this category. I believe that we should take a close look at this group. They form one of the larger segments of the ACNA membership, and they may represent the emerging face of the ACNA.

 

As far as the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, this group show the influence of Anglo-Catholicism and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, holding to the doctrinal beliefs that the Lord’s Supper is more than the commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice but that Christians somehow participate in Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist, and that Christ is present in the bread and wine of the Holy Communion. They are comfortable with Catholic terminology like calling a pastor a “priest,” addressing him as “Father, and calling a communion table an “altar,” and have no reservations about Catholic practices like wearing a stole or a chasuble, making the sign of the cross, putting candles, candlesticks, and crosses on the communion table, reserving the sacrament of the Holy Communion, and the like. At the same time they reject Catholic beliefs like purgatory, the invocation of the saints, and relics. They have a high view of the Bible and share the beliefs of contemporary American evangelicals outside of the ACNA.  They, however, are not well acquainted with British evangelicalism and conservative Anglican evangelical groups such as the Church Society and Reform in the United Kingdom or The Episcopal Church’s own evangelical past. In the ACNA churches where they are the dominant group, there is often a deliberate blending of Anglo-Catholic, charismatic, and evangelical elements and the celebration of what are described as the three streams of Anglicanism. A frequently heard catchword is the “ancient-new church.” This group, while opposed to the ordination of gays and lesbians and the blessing of same gender unions, is generally open to the ordination of women.

 

There are no strong voices in the leadership of the ACNA speaking on the behalf of confessional Anglicanism. Those whom were thought to be staunch proponents of evangelical and Protestant principles have shown a willingness to put the maintenance of unity in the ACNA and the Anglican Communion’s recognition of that body before everything else. They have on a number of occasions compromised these principles in order to prevent the forming of divisions in the ACNA that might jeopardize these aims.

 

The Reformed Episcopal Church is a constituent member of the ACNA. In 1873 Reformed Episcopal Church was formed in response to the growth and increased influence of Anglo-Catholicism and ritualism in the then Protestant Episcopal Church and the incipient unreformed Catholic theology of the 1789 Book of Common Prayer then in use in that denomination. Reformed Episcopal Church’s adoption of a new constitution, new canons, and a new Prayer Book in 2005 marked that church body’s retreat from the evangelical and Protestant principles of its founders. The Reformed Episcopal Church has been experiencing a Catholic revival of its own in the past few years. The changes in the REC constitution, canons, and Prayer Book reflect the influence of this homegrown Oxford movement in the REC. The segment of the REC membership that has embraced this movement to the greatest degree, express not only rejection of the principles of the REC founders but also contempt toward those within the REC who still espouse these principles. They derisively refer to the latter as “Presbyterians.” The conservative evangelical Church Society in the United Kingdom no longer classifies the REC as a Reformed church body.

 

The ACNA Provincial Council meeting in Bedford, Texas has been moved up to June 22, 2009, and according to a recent announcement will be more like an AMiA Winter Conference than a TEC General Convention. It will be what I anticipated in my article, “The ACNA Constitution: What You See Is What You Get,” a carefully orchestrated media event at which those groups of churches wishing to become constituent bodies of the ACNA will be invited to ratify the seriously-flawed provisional ACNA constitution and to consider the ratification of an expanded version of the provisional ACNA canons. The provisional ACNA constitution’s Fundamental Declarations, like the Common Cause Theological Statement upon which they are based, give a token place to the Anglican formularies, to the Articles of Religion of 1571, the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, and the Ordinal of 1661. The form of church government embodied in the provisional ACNA constitution is not synodical but corporate, with most of the power concentrated in the small, clergy-dominated Provincial Council rather than the larger, more representative Provincial Assembly. The Provincial Council is comparable to a board of directors and the Provincial Assembly to a stockholders meeting. In the synodical form of church government commonly found in the Anglican Communion the Provincial Assembly would be the governing body and the Provincial Council would be its executive body, subject to its control and direction.

 

The provisional ACNA constitution’s corporate form of church government is analogous to TEC striping the General Convention of its powers and giving them to the Executive Council. The liberals in TEC would love to implement this kind of church government in TEC. It would give them absolute control of that church body and they could pick up the pace of reshaping it to their liking.

 

Under the provisional ACNA constitution’s corporate form of church government the existing leadership of the ACNA will retain their hold on the reins of power in the ACNA and will continue to determine its direction. The present leadership of the ACNA and its constituent bodies and the extent that they shown by their actions that they are sympathetic to confessional Anglicanism and its concerns should give confessional Anglicans, both in and outside the ACNA, an accurate picture of how confessional Anglicanism will fare in the ACNA.

 

Under the provisional ACNA constitution’s corporate form of church government the Provisional Council is not accountable to the Provisional Assembly. The latter has no real power. It elects the Provincial Council and ratifies the amendments and additions to the ACNA constitution and canons. As the provisional ACNA constitution is worded, it must ratify these changes. It cannot initiate legislation of its own. It cannot conduct hearings and investigations. It cannot demand reports from the Provincial Council or ACNA officials. This corporate form of church government is particularly susceptive to manipulation. One theological affinity group can eventually come to dominate the Provincial Council and impose its agenda upon the ACNA—women’s ordination, Catholic order, or whatever. There are no safeguards to prevent the possibility of such a takeover happening.

 

The provisional ACNA canons require that a group of churches seeking to become a constituent body of the ACNA—cluster, diocese, or network—must have at least twenty churches with an ASA of at least 50 each and total combined ASA of 1000. This effectively excludes the recognition of small groups of churches or groups of smaller churches as constituent bodies of the ACNA, thereby barring a small group of confessional Anglican churches or a group of small confessional Anglican churches from becoming a constituent body of the ACNA and forming the nucleus of confessional Anglican witness in the ACNA. In order to be admitted to the ACNA such a group must affiliate with a group of larger churches with which it may not have any real theological affinity and to which it can be expected to play second fiddle. The provisional ACNA canons also require that the ACNA College of Bishops select the bishop of the new constituent body from a list of candidates nominated by that body. This means that whatever theological affinity group dominates the new constituent body would nominate the candidates for the body’s first bishop and that whatever theological affinity group dominates the College of Bishops would pick the candidate that they found most supportive of the direction in which they wished to take the ACNA. The first bishop of a diocese or other judicatory plays a key role in shaping the culture of that body and in turn the direction that it will take.

 

While the provision ACNA constitution makes provision for the formation of constituent bodies on the basis of territory or theological affinity, what has been happening since the ACNA began to accept applications for recognition of groups of churches as ACNA constituent bodies is that the bodies that have been seeking recognition have been largely forming on the basis of territory. Already different theological affinity groups are vying for dominance of these forming constituent bodies. The formation of constituent bodies solely on the basis of theological affinity would have reduced the occurrence of this kind of power struggle and would have given each theological affinity group a place in the sun. Confessional Anglicans in an ACNA constituent body dominated by another theological affinity group can expect a future of marginalization and minority status.

 

The provisional ACNA constitution and canons replicate conditions in the ACNA very similar if not identical to those in TEC. Confessional Anglicanism has not flourished in TEC. The replication of these conditions in the ACNA suggest that confessional Anglicans and confessional Anglicanism will not thrive in that body.

 

As one can tell from the results of this assessment and the title of this article, I am not optimistic about the prospects of ACNA bringing about a revival of confessional Anglicanism. I do not rule out the possibility. Anything is possible for God. But conditions in the ACNA do not appear to be conducive to the ACNA producing such a revival.

 

In North America the plight of confessional Anglicans outside the ACNA is not any better than that of confessional Anglicans in the ACNA. There are no truly confessional Anglican church bodies in the Continuum. The two Continuing Anglican church bodies that claim to be Protestant and Reformed belie their claim with their continued use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer with its unreformed Catholic and incipient liberal theology, their retention of High Church practices, including the wearing of distinctive clerical garb, and in the case of one body, its intermittent use of the original name of The Episcopal Church, a body that has not been Protestant, much less Reformed, since the 1870s.

 

The Episcopal Church experienced a revival of evangelicalism in the 1970s but the new evangelicals did not comprise a large segment of the membership of The Episcopal Church. By 2008 most of them had left TEC, joining an ACNA constituent body or an evangelical denomination. The presence of these evangelicals in TEC in the closing decades of the twentieth century does not qualify TEC as a Protestant church body except in the most broadest sense of the term “Protestant.” It certainly does not qualify TEC as a Protestant church body at the time of the adoption of the 1928 Prayer Book when Anglo-Catholics and Broad Church liberals were the two dominant theological affinity groups in TEC, all vestiges of genuine evangelicalism having disappeared from that denomination by 1900. Any Continuing Anglican church body claiming to be Protestant on the basis of its use of the 1928 Prayer Book and the original name of The Episcopal Church is deluding itself. It is claiming to be the successor of a denomination that has not been Protestant since the nineteenth century. A truly Protestant and Reformed church body would want to distance itself as far as possible from The Episcopal Church in that period of its history.

 

At this stage I believe that it is crucial for confessional Anglicans in the ACNA to network with other confessional Anglicans in ACNA and those in the ACNA who, while they do not identify themselves as confessional Anglicans, have theological affinity with them. Right now many in both groups are caught up in the excitement of the establishment of the ACNA and do not see the need for networking with like-minded individuals. However, when the excitement wears off and the disillusionment sets in, as it will, they will need the support of such a network. I also believe that it is crucial for confessional Anglicans outside ACNA to network with other confessional Anglicans outside the ACNA and those outside the ACNA who have theological affinity with them. These two networks need to network with each other and form a network that crosses denominational and provincial boundaries. A revival of confessional Anglicanism in North America is more liken to come from within such a network than from within the ACNA. I do not see the ACNA producing teaching material, service books, and other resources for confessional Anglicans. I do see confessional Anglicans producing such resources for themselves. If one looks at the history of evangelicalism in the Church of England, it is not the institutional church that helped to spread evangelicalism. It was the evangelicals themselves and their voluntary organizations. A number of dioceses of the Church of England were not friendly to evangelicals and evangelicalism.

 

It may be more accurate to speak of a reintroduction of confessional Anglicanism in North America rather than a revival. The heyday of evangelicalism in the former Protestant Episcopal Church was in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. While evangelicalism saw a revival in that denomination in the second half of the twentieth century, it largely was not confessional.

 

This is the situation that confronts confessional Anglicans in North America. I am not inclined to urge confessional Anglicans in the ACNA to leave that church body nor am I inclined to urge confessional Anglicans outside the ACNA to join that church body. Rather I believe that God has placed those in the ACNA there for a purpose and that God has also placed those outside the ACNA there for a purpose. I further believe that the networking together of confessional Anglicans in the ACNA and outside the ACNA and of those who have theological affinity with them is a step toward accomplishing that purpose. I do not pretend to know what that purpose is. But I do sense that God is not well served by confessional Anglicans isolated from each other.

 

Networked together confessional Anglicans and those who have a theological affinity with them can build each other up and in turn build up Christ’s Church. Isolated from each other they are like the coals in a fire that are raked apart. They cool and then die. Dying coals, when raked together, often burst into flame. Add more fuel and they become a blazing fire.

 

Individual sticks are easily broken. Bound together in a bundle with a cord wrapped tightly around them from one end of the bundle to the other, they are much harder to break.

 

I could give other illustrations. They all point to the same conclusion—networked together confessional Anglicans and those who have theological affinity with them can accomplish more they can separate from each other and alone.

The First Reformed Episcopal Prayer Book: Morning Prayer

March 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

By Robin G. Jordan

This article is the first in a series of articles on The Book of Common Prayer authorized for the use of the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1874. It was the first Prayer Book of the newly formed Church. Like the 1786 Proposed Book of Common Prayer and the 1789 Book of Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the 1874 Book of Common Prayer of the Reformed Episcopal Church was a local adaptation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This article briefly examines the Order for Morning Prayer of the 1874 Prayer Book, and compares it with the 1786 and 1789 Prayer Books.

To read the rest of this article, go to: http://exploringananglicanprayerbook.blogspot.com/2009/03/first-reformed-episcopal-prayer-book.html

Note: After repeated unsuccessful attempts to post the article on the Heritage Anglican Network, I was forced to post it on  Exploring An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). If you have not read the other articles on Exploring An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), you may wish to. In a number of these articles I have examined how the 1928 Book of Common Prayer has moved the American Prayer Book away from the Biblical and Reformation theology of the 1662 Prayer Book and its predecessors, the 1552, 155, and 1604 Prayer Books, and revived the unreformed Catholic theology of the pre-Reformation medieval service books. This is why I maintain that any Anglican church body that is truly committed to the Bible and the Reformation would not use the 1928 Prayer Book or recommend it for use. You may post comments on the Heritage Anglican Network or Exploring An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). But if you post a comment on Exploring An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), please also post it on the Heritage Anglican Network.

Where’s the Reformation now?

February 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

I found this brief article by Glenn Davies on sydneyanglicans.net.

“It was reported in the Church of England Newspaper (6 February 2009) that over 1500 people attended a Roman Catholic Mass which was celebrated in York Minster in January to mark the achievements of a Yorkshire Roman Catholic woman, Mary Ward, whose three uncles had died in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

York Minster is arguably the second most significant Anglican Church in England, being the Cathedral of the Archbishop of York.

Does it not strike you as strange that the great Reformation truths which were hammered out in the 16th century could be so blatantly set aside by the celebration of a Roman Catholic Mass in the Church of England? “

You can read the rest of the article at: http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/insight/has_cofe_forgotten_the_reformation/

A LOOK ACROSS THE POND

February 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

A Brief Analysis of the Status of North American Evangelical Anglicanism

Chris Pierce

This article, originally published in Cross†Way Issue Summer 2003 No. 89, the quarterly journal of the Church Society, accurately describes the state of North American Evangelical Anglicanism today as it did almost six years ago.

 

It has often been said that the people of the United States and the United Kingdom (really the British Isles) are a common people, separated by a common language. This aphorism is especially true when one starts discussing ecclesiastical matters. One must always define one’s terms in order to be clear.

 

Take for instance the word evangelical. It is a good word, a very biblically derived and descriptive word. It is however, a loaded word, and carries with it all sorts of historical definitions and qualifications. One has to know his audience and how it defines terms if he intends to effectively communicate.

 

In the C of E and the C of I traditional evangelical Anglicanism (at least historically speaking) is clearly defined. The Scriptures are the final authority in all matters. The Three Creeds and the XXXIX Articles define the biblically derived summations of precise Christian doctrine. The BCP, ordered after the received theology of the Creeds and Articles, defines matters liturgical. Ceremony and clergy attire is traditionally evangelical, Morning Prayer and monthly communion…no bells or incense…no sacrificial vestments. The XXXIX Articles are more than minimally assented to, they are believed wholeheartedly. In earlier times English and Irish evangelicals would have read Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Ussher, and Ryle, and would unreservedly agree with Dean Litton’s assessment that (quoted by Dean Paul Zahl, in his work ‘The Protestant Face of Anglicanism’), “The Anglican Church, if she is to be judged by the statements of the Articles, must be ranked amongst the Protestant Churches of Europe.”

 

Evangelical, Low-Church Anglicanism in North America, whether in Canada or the United States, is in the main, very different than that found in the Church of England or Church of Ireland. In preparation for these articles, I interviewed clergy and laity in varying capacities in both countries. Some were serving in the ECUSA and the ACC, others in Anglican jurisdictions not in official communion with the See of Canterbury. Interestingly, many asked not to be directly quoted. Those that did not mind being quoted for the record were very clear in their understanding. All were in agreement that traditional Evangelical, Low-Church Anglicanism of the English and Irish variety is presently at a low ebb.

 

Dean Peter Moore, President of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania has served in both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church USA. TESM is the ECUSA’s only official seminary that describes itself as evangelical. When asked for his take on evangelical Anglicanism in North America Dean Moore responded;

 

 “Radically low church Anglicanism has almost disappeared in North America, save for pockets in Canada such as the redoubtable Little Trinity Church in Toronto which was founded by Irish Protestant Anglican immigrants in the mid Nineteenth Century.”

 

Dean Moore continued; “One still finds quaint Episcopal Churches in places like Virginia that affect a low church image, occasionally with central pulpits (usually dating back to Colonial days) and discretely de-emphasized Holy Tables. But this is frequently combined with a vague liberal theology rather than being a thought-out position derived from clear biblical principles. There are, of course, many Anglican and Episcopal churches in North America that are charismatic in feel – if not also in theology. These frequently have informal services that have a low church appearance; but celebrants may be in chasubles or albs, and choirs may be robed with processions, while candles on the altar illuminate the sacramental action. Very occasionally one finds a celebrant who elects to wear a sports shirt and open collar at one of these informal services — even when it is the main service on Sunday. But this practice, now common in the UK, is very rare in North America.”

 

He seems to go straight to the heart of the North American evangelical Anglican position when he stated; “The fact is that churchmanship issues do not feature strongly in the North American Anglican picture. The real dividing lines are theological rather than ceremonial, and go to the heart of the deeper issues: biblical authority, classical Christian ethics, and whether or not one has a real Gospel to preach.” This writer would add that in his experience that the average self described evangelical Anglican in the United States is at best only vaguely familiar with the historical and theological backdrop of the churchmanship issues that Dean Moore references.

 

His description of the churchmanship practices at the lone official evangelical ECUSA seminary would not provide that much comfort to many traditional evangelicals within the C of E or C of I…who remain acutely aware of the historical and theological churchmanship controversies of days gone by; “Churchmanship at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, for example, would be considered relatively broad by low church English standards. There are Gospel processions (not every week), the normal wear is cassock and surplice or a cassock alb with stole, many cross themselves at key points in the service, ashes are dispensed on Ash Wednesday, and so forth. Variations are normal, and occasionally there will be a service with incense and the celebrant in a chasuble. Bells are not used. As students come from a wide variety of churchmanship traditions, the seminary tries to demonstrate that Gospel-centeredness can coexist with a wide variety of traditions.”

 

Canon John Newton is the rector of St. Paul’s parish, a large evangelical congregation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and his description of evangelical worship in Canada is reminiscent of the eclectic approach to churchmanship and worship set forth by Dean Moore. In commenting about the various evangelical parishes throughout Canada he writes; “In most cases (including our own at St Paul’s) these churches have adopted contemporary (or, in Robert Webber’s terms, “blended”) worship patterns. I personally have serious qualms about the Christology, soteriology and eucharistic theology of the liturgies in the Canadian Book of Alternative Services (1985) and I know that many evangelicals share this. We would be much more comfortable with the Kenyan, Australian or English alternatives. St John’s, Shaughnessy, is the only parish I can think of that still holds exclusively to the BCP for its morning worship–and it is the largest Anglican congregation in Canada (although not large by US standards.)”

 

The Rev’d Doctor Peter Toon, Vicar of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor, Lichfield Diocese, served in North America for a number of years and is a keen observer of all things Anglican on the North American continent. His position is that evangelicalism has gone soft doctrinally and that due to the adoption of the 1979 ECUSA Prayerbook.

 

In a recent editorial in Mandate, the official bi-monthly publication of the American Prayer Book Society, Toon commented on ECUSA’s version of evangelicalism’s embrace of the 1979 Prayerbook. “…Rite II services in “contemporary language” provide the necessary ingredients of intelligibility, simplicity, accessibility, relevance and meaningfulness and so are a means of making their services and outreach popular and attractive. So they pay little attention to the actual doctrinal content — i.e., they do not check it against the doctrinal content of the classic BCP & the Articles of Religion in terms of who is God, who is Jesus and what is salvation.”

 

Toon’s comments were in agreement with those made by Dean Paul F.M. Zahl, Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent (ECUSA) in Birmingham, Alabama, in his 1998 book, The Protestant Face of Anglicanism, “What we are left with now is amnesia regarding what once was; a negative judgment placed on any service but the so-called Rite II Holy Eucharist; and a false smile of “celebration,” like the Cheshire Cat’s, which covers over the mystery and tragedy of human pain. With the approval and lightning ascent of the 1979 Prayer Book came the end, for all practical purposes, of Protestant churchmanship in what is now known aggressively as ECUSA.” Up until the 1979 Prayer Book, the word Protestant preceded Episcopal. A minor row was started a few years ago when an ECUSA bishop concerned about the direction of the church, decided to incorporate the name Protestant Episcopal Church, USA, which had never been duly incorporated. In the next installment, I will endeavor to explain the practices of evangelicals who are not in official communion with the See of Canterbury.

 

Christopher Pierce is a 46-year-old convinced evangelical Anglican. He and his family live in Antigua where he is a deacon in the Province of the West Indies. At the time Chris Pierce wrote this article, he was a presbyter of the Reformed Episcopal Church. He has since that time left the Reformed Episcopal Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May We Dare to Hope…?

January 20, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 181 Comments

By Robin G. Jordan

“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18 ESV)

 

In 1869 B.B. Leacock wrote then Assistant Bishop of Kentucky George David Cummins:

 

“The fact is impressing itself more and more fully on observant minds in the Evangelical party that we are not only to have a Revised Prayer Book but a Reformed Church. This means a new Church. The Lord is working out the problem. Our Evangelical bishops must not think that they can stand in the way and stay the progress of this movement. Before they know it, the swelling wave will sweep over them, and past them, and will leave them high and dry, without friends and supporters, in the old Romanized Church.In my judgment the new Church is a fixed fact. The men are deeply in earnest who are working and praying for this thing, and their numbers are on the increase, and when we get our new Church we want its foundations laid solid on the Word of God, and its doors opened wide enough to receive within them all who love the Lord Jesus Christ. We hope to see it, with God’s blessing, the Church of this land.”

 

Cummins would found the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1873. But one wonders whether he would recognize that church today.

 

When the 2005 revised Constitution and Canons of the Reformed Episcopal Church are compared with the Constitution and Canons of the Reformed Episcopal Church as adopted by the Seventeenth General Council of 1903 and revised by subsequent Councils through the Forty-fourth General Council of 1984, one is struck by how sweeping have been the changes in the Reformed Episcopal Church. In a space of less than twenty-five years the Reformed Episcopal Church has shed its Protestant and Reformed identity.

 

In 1984 the Constitution of the Reformed Episcopal Church did not contain any affirmation of the doctrine in the three Ecumenical Creeds, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion in their 1801 form, or the Lambeth Equilateral of 1886-1888. Article VIII—Of Erroneous Direct or Symbolic Teachings states:

 

“Nothing calculated to teach either directly or symbolically that the Christian Ministry possesses a sacerdotal character, or that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice, shall ever be allowed in the worship of this Church. No Communion Table shall ever be constructed in the form of an altar, no retable erected, and no candle, candlestick, or cross shall ever be placed upon any Communion Table.”

 

In 2005 the General Council replaced the provisions of Article VIII with those of Article IV, Section 1 of the new constitution:

 

“Nothing calculated to teach that in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the elements of the bread and wine are changed into the natural Flesh and Blood of Christ, shall ever allowed in the worship or teaching of this Church. Nor shall any practice that teaches or promotes doctrines or practices specifically prohibited by the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion be permitted in this Church.”

 

These provisions take advantage of the fact that the Thirty Nine Articles specifically prohibit only one particular doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice, the doctrine of “the Sacrifices of the Masses” that claims that the Church repeats Christ’s sacrifice or adds to it. Under the provisions of the new constitution Reformed Episcopal clergy can teach and promote the 1958 Lambeth Conference’s doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice that claims that the Church does more than commemorates Christ’s sacrifice: the Church participates in it. However, J.I. Packer has shown in The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today that, while the Articles say nothing about this twentieth century development directly, they say a good deal about it indirectly. The Articles rule out the Lambeth doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice as misshapen. [1]

 

Reformed Episcopal clergy are also free to teach and promote the idea that they act as intermediaries between God and humankind.

 

In contemporary Reformed Episcopal parishes one can now find altars and retables with candlesticks and candles upon them. One can see clergy in stoles and eucharistic vestments.

 

In 1984 the Reformed Episcopal Church was not organized into dioceses but synods like a number of Lutheran church bodies in Australia, Canada, and the United States. The parishes within a synod elected lay deputies to the General Council. A synod consisted of at least ten parishes and at least ten presbyters. It could adopt its own constitution. Its ecclesiastical authority was its standing committee or its bishop if it had one. The boundaries of Reformed Episcopal parishes were not geographical.

 

In 1984 the Constitution of the Reformed Episcopal Church did not state that bishops held their office and ministry for life. An ordained minister in good standing of another denomination could become a presbyter of the Reformed Episcopal Church without being reordained. A deacon could be licensed to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion under special circumstances. This included consecrating the bread and wine. The Reformed Episcopal Church had no licensed lay eucharistic ministers who brought the reserved sacrament to the sick and to shut-ins. Indeed Reformed Episcopal presbyters did not reserve the sacrament.

 

These are just a few examples of how the Reformed Episcopal Church has retreated from the Protestant and Reformed doctrine and principles of its founders.

 

How would B.B. Leacock react if he were to visit a Reformed Episcopal parish this coming Sunday? He would think that he was in a Protestant Episcopal parish of his day. He would take one glance at the Prayer Book now used in Reformed Episcopal churches and call for a revised Prayer Book. He would hear the parishioners addressing their pastor as “Father” and referring to him as their “priest” and call for a reformed Church.

 

The intention of this article is not to bash the Reformed Episcopal Church. Rather it is to draw attention of one of the realities of the twenty-first century. We have no Anglican church in North America like the one Cummins founded that seeks to be thoroughly Protestant and Reformed in its doctrine and principles. The emerging Anglican Church in North America has no judicatory that fully espouses such doctrine and principles. The Reformed Episcopal Church has abandoned its Protestant and Reformed heritage. The Anglican Orthodox Church and the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church, while they claim to be Protestant and Reformed on their websites, belie their claim with their continued use of the Protestant Episcopal Church’s 1928 Book of Common Prayer, a service book that is decidedly not Protestant and Reformed in its theology of the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and confirmation. This leads to our next question: Do we need a Protestant and Reformed Anglican Church in twenty-first century North America? 

 

The answer to this question depends upon how much we personally value the Protestant and Reformed tradition in Anglicanism—evangelical Christianity as Anglicans have understood that faith and practiced it, whether we believe that it is valuable enough to pass on to another generation, and whether we think that another generation can get along without it. Does it matter if no Anglican Church in North America accepts and unfeignedly believes all the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as given by inspiration of God, and containing all things necessary to salvation” and continue profess to the faith of Christ as professed by the Primitive Church? Does it matter if no Anglican Church in North America continues to minister the doctrine, and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord has commanded? Does it matter that no Anglican Church in North America as a Protestant and Reformed Church maintains a constant witness against all the innovations in doctrine and practice by which the Primitive Faith has been from time to time defaced and overlaid, and which at the Reformation the Church of England did disown and reject?

 

We need to reflect upon these questions in the coming year. We need to pray over them. At the same time we should not give too much time to reflection and prayer. We must make up our minds. Where do we stand?

 

Do we have any less observant minds than those of the Evangelical party of B.B. Leacock’s day? Are we to have a revised Prayer Book and a reformed Church—a new Church? May we dare hope to see that new Church, with God’s blessing, the Church of this land? 

 

Endnotes:

J. I Packer and R. T. Beckwith, The Thirty Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2007), 81-85.

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