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Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Book of Common Prayer

Stir up Sunday collect from 1637 Book of Common Prayer (St Andrews copy)

"The Book of Common Prayer provides for Anglicans worship that is majestic, beautiful, above the ordinary level of their lives, and orderly and dependable.  It is Scripturally based, it has been developed by the Holy Catholic Church through the centuries and it is thoroughly beloved by Anglicans in all its similar forms everywhere." - Perry Laukhuff

I have long lamented the replacement of prayers in the Book of Common Prayer by trendy language which rarely if ever adds anything, and more often detracts from the beauty of the original. Take the beautifully explicit Prayer of Humble Access, admirably explained here, which is frequently dropped from services despite its enduring popularity, or updated by a word here and a word there until it almost becomes - Actually, we really do presume...! It is in that regard that a remark by a speaker at the recent Church in Wales' The Time is Now Conference (here) stuck in my craw, not for what he was trying to say but for what he is reported to have said about the Anglican prayer book, one of the jewels of Anglicanism:

"John explained that the Church has started to get alongside the community and they did this by thinking about the language people use in Caia Park. Now referring to themselves as “St Mark in the Park”, they are starting to work with local voluntary groups in the area. John said the language of the Church has been alien to the culture – especially from the Anglican prayer book. Instead the Church, led by Revd Eric Owen, have started to use positive language that people can relate to."

Now what could be clearer than this? This prayer from what is affectionately known as the Church in Wales 'Green Book' seems to me to go to the heart of the matter without any qualification and should be readily understood from Caia Park to Llys Esgob:


Almighty God, who has taught us that we are members one of another: remove, we beseech thee, from among us all distrust and bitterness; and grant that, seeking what is just and equal, and caring for the needs of others, we may live and work together in unity and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or from the unexpurgated version:

A Collect or Prayer for all Conditions of men, to be used at such times when the Litany is not appointed to be said.
(The Church of England)

O GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for the good estate of the Catholick Church; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those, who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate; [*especially those for whom our prayers are desired;] that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.

And from The Episcopal Church, now with great irony as it follows its liberal agenda:

For the Church
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it
with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is
amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in
want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake
of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

It is not that the language of the Church has become alien, rather congregations have become alien to the language of mystery as they indulge in trendy new-speak, apart from some notable exceptions which liberals are doing their best to get rid of.

If the language of the Church has been "alien to the culture", how are we to respond in a multicultural society? If we are to believe the former Bishop of Oxford, architect of Wales 2020 we will be having readings from the Koran at the next coronation. Would that be "kill the infidel wherever you find them" or "cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers"... Listen here. Christians in Syria, Iraq, Africa, and around the world are being killed or driven out of the homes by people who believe that the only religion is Islam. Is there no limit to the stupidity of some liberal Anglicans?

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The new Church Militant

The Triumph of Bazzer                                                                     with apologies to Cornelis de Vos

A tweet after the Synod vote to allow women bishops which ended centuries of tradition in the Church of England read, #ItisFinished. - But not quite what it seemed, apparently.

From this morning's Telegraph - "Women bishops: The hate mail was always from other Christians"! Having achieved their goal without the desired complete wipe-out of traditionalists, the chip remains firmly embedded on the shoulder of one said to have been "in the vanguard of campaigning for equal rights at the altar for 30 years". She complained: "It’s a huge journey that’s still unfolding, and there’s a very long way still to go,” she says of the protracted and bruising war that has raged within Anglicanism for decades. “There is always going to be some resistance, but then there always has been. There’s been resistance to me taking on every role I have ever taken on." Could it be that it is not her sex which is the problem? She is not alone in complaining.

Members of Synod hardly had time to lower their hands last week before a supposed contender for first woman bishop in the CofE, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin weighed in with "The truth":  There’s a "palpable feeling of fear about the struggles the first women bishops will face". Asked if, after all these years of bitter battle over the ordination of women, the Church is institutionally sexist she answered frankly"It’s there, you can’t escape it. It’s not something I dwell on. You don’t give oxygen to that sort of behaviour."

Somewhat curiously the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons added: "But it’s clear that whoever ends up blazing a trail will have a fight on their hands with the forces of conservatism within the Church if not with Anglican churchgoers themselves – three quarters of whom want female bishops. The public and Hudson-Wilkin’s parishioners in Dalston and Haggerston have shared with her a “real sense of joy and excitement” about the new development." [Note: The CofE is a tiny proportion of the Anglican Communion where the overwhelming majority of churchgoers definitely do not want female bishops - Ed.]

So they have the vote, liberals have all the power, 'three quarters of Anglican churchgoers' want female bishops but they still have a fight in their hands! I suspect that the fight she refers to is the fight hinted at by the Rev Canon Dr Alison Joyce in the Telegraph article:

Moreover, the gains that women priests have made, believes this 56-year-old mother of two grown-up daughters, have come with a high price tag – notably the “protections” built into the new legislation for the minority who continue to resist their advance. "What concerns me most is when the Church sets up structures so that people never have to be ‘contaminated’ by any glimpse of women’s ministry at all. I find that deeply disturbing. We have to encounter each other." So were the concessions made to traditionalists a step too far? "It’s tiresome,” she replies, “but one hopes eventually they will learn to grow in love and grace." Love and grace? Perhaps she could lead by example!

Back in the Church in Wales there is no pretence of showing love and grace following the triumph of Bazzer, the arch disciple of the Presiding Bishop of TEC, after succeeding in allowing women bishops with no meaningful concessions to anyone who remains faithful to the Holy Catholic Church. Over the weekend he and his Bench sitters moved on from playing snakes and ladders, joining delegates at a conference in Llandudno to play with cardboard boxes made for the occasion. The organizer, another "in the vanguard of campaigning for equal rights at the altar", spent some time in TEC country where she witnessed a woman bishop celebrating at the altar. That was enough to convinced her of the soundness of feminist theology despite the pleas to TEC by the then Archbishop of Canterbury not to split the Anglican Communion.

With no sign of love and grace from Dr Morgan or from his chief architect the Archdeacon of Llandaff who no longer has to pretend that she desires unity, their militancy has spread back across the border to the Church of England.

The three main sessions at the Llandudno Conference were: "Where are we?",  "Who are we?" and "Why are we?" They have their answer here:

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

From equality to mediocrity

Source: BBC

The end, on a show of hands.

The mighty Church of England reduced to a debating chamber making up their own rules contrary to the faith of the Apostolic Church and ignoring the wiser counsel of the majority of Anglicans, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

It is said that our Primus inter pares, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had 'worked hard for it'. He summed up his respect for the Catholic faith with the comment that "we rejoice that we have this opportunity to show a point"! He added that "there are some remarkable women - there are some very wonderful ones". An odd statement if one looks at the historic faith of the Church.

Some 'remarkable women' in the past would have been of the standing of Julian of Norwich. In its new, dumbed-down, secularised faith it is the likes of WATCH lobbyists and their supporters who can't tell the difference between faith and equality, basing their 'theology' on the availability of 'promotion' in their chosen careers who are the new remarkable women: "This is the culmination of many people's lifetime's work and we've got there and it's been hard and its been painful and all we've achieved is equality. We are not looking for superiority for women but we do now have equality". - Hence the coaching lessons for women and enthusiasm to appoint "a woman bishop" regardless of the qualities of male candidates, not to mention Apostolic guidelines!

The pain continues for many of us. I am particularly saddened by the attitude of clergy I have worked with who have compromised their faith for their careers, their attitude to those who have not, and by their lack of concern for the souls of the faithful in their parishes who have been led to believe that the Church today is mainly about coffee, tea and crumpet with a little worship to maintain the glue of togetherness.

While the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks for those with a liberal bent, to give him some credit, he has been true to his promise to ensure all are made to feel welcome despite members of the nasty brigade  who suggested to the vicar in the BBC clip that he should now consider his position - echoes of "there is no place for you in this church" (here). In contrast His utter (dis)Grace the Archbishop of Wales continues his exit policy for anyone who follows Him rather than him.

Isn't it remarkable that after two thousand years of teaching from the Apostles, through the Saints and Doctors of the Church that we had to wait for Christina of WATCH and Barry of Neath to open our eyes to what they would have us believe Christ intended in His plea for unity.

If I may borrow a phrase from a 'remarkable woman' in the economic sphere, Christine Lagarde, "It is time that we reconciled ourselves to a “new mediocre”.

As ABC News puts it (here), the Church of England ends centuries of tradition. The historic change was reflected in the Church's short message announcing the news on Twitter, which had the hashtags #Historic #Synod and #ItisFinished.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Challenge to the Archdeacon of Llandaff

Source: BBC video
Recalling the diocesan meetings, I think it fair to say that members on both sides of the 'traditionalist' divide must have been shocked and saddened by the bishops' response to Credo Cymru's request to look again at the provisions of the Code of Practice (here). 

The elements of Episcopal pique and the vindictive tone did not sit well either with the Christian notion of pastoral care or with the explanatory statement by the Archdeacon of Llandaff that the bishops "fulfilled the trust we placed in them to come up with a Code that will make it possible for everyone to be, and to feel that they are wanted and included and valued." ... "Also there was a requirement on her or any other bishop to make provision for those who in conscience can't accept her sacramental ministry".

Watching the BBC interview here it is difficult to reconcile the Ven. Peggy Jackson's expressed desire for unity with the bishop's 'if you don't like it, leave' response. Up until the time when the Code of Practice was released at Governing Body, there had been no suggestion that provision would be provided on terms unacceptable to those for whom it was intended, especially having referred to the example of the Church of England in the explanatory notes to the Archdeacon's amendment. 

The only doubts expressed were by sceptics who were concerned about the Archbishop's ability to be magnanimous in victory after he said that it was for the bishops to decide what provision should be made. The stated aim could not have been clearer: Any member of the Church in Wales who does not want to be confirmed or ordained by a female bishop on grounds of conscience can ask for an "alternative provision" to be made. If the grounds of conscience are not satisfied by the alternative provision made, there is no provision!

If there are areas of doubt in the legislative process, recourse is usually made to intentions expressed in debates leading up to the passing of the legislation for clarification. Nothing in the bishops' original motion or in the successful Jackson/Wigley amendment hinted that there would be anything other than provision acceptable to those for whom it was intended in line with the views expressed at the diocesan consultative meetings; quite the contrary.

Accepting that the Archdeacon was genuine in her plea, she, as architect of the new legislation, and her supporters must join with traditionalists to demand that the bishops keep the promise that all members of the Church in Wales are made to feel wanted and included and valued. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Child of Mine

From WaterAid UK:

Jacinta's family is just one of the thousands affected by the lack of clean, safe water in Mozambique. Full story here.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The lost sheep: the Good Shepherd and the bad shepherd

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me. I know My Father as My Father knows Me. I give My life for the sheep. I have other sheep which are not from this sheep-pen. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock with one shepherd." John 10:14-16

For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour. Philippians 3:18-20

The text of the letter in response to Credo Cymru's plea for a degree tolerance and understanding of their position regarding the Code of Practice is now in the public domain (hat tip LNYD):

"Dear Alan,

Thank you for sending to us the text of Credo Cymru’s response to the Code of Practice.

As your Bishops, whom you have addressed as your Fathers in God, we have always been given to understand by you and the others who have met with us on behalf of Credo Cymru that your members reject any concept of “taint” which suggests that when we ordain women to sacred order we forfeit our catholic and apostolic character. This current response seems to suggest otherwise, namely that your members no longer accept us “as true pastors of their souls and as their link with continuing apostolicity.”

As the Bishops of the Church in Wales, we believe that the apostolic tradition neither denies nor disproves the legitimacy of the ordination of women. We believe that we continue to share with you the substance of that tradition, and we continue to respect and welcome those who cannot accept such ordinations. It is an extremely serious matter if those whom we seek to include cannot any longer reciprocate that fundamental respect and basic recognition. This is especially so, given that, in every diocese, those who are members of Credo Cymru have demonstrated themselves until now to be in Communion with us as their bishops, and to accept a share in our cure as the foundation of their ministry.

In continuing to hold out the hand of fellowship, we have to say, however, that the response as its stands raises fundamental questions about the place of those who now effectively seem to repudiate all the bishops of the Church in Wales as standing legitimately in any way within the catholic and apostolic tradition of the Church. That being the case it is hard to see on what basis they can continue, with any integrity, both to serve in an ordained ministry which is founded upon sharing in our cure, and as representatives of the Church in Wales. If their view is followed through, it would also call into question the legitimacy of any bishop of any persuasion whom we might now ordain, “traditionalist” or otherwise.

We sincerely hope that a more moderated response can be developed which builds upon the faith we share. However, we must state unequivocally that any attempt to approach another bishop in place of the diocesan to provide episcopal ministry would have very serious implications."

The message is clear: GET LOST!

This from Archbishop Morgan who said that the 'Code for Women Bishops aims to keep all included'. The threats are obvious: "It is an extremely serious matter" and  "it is hard to see on what basis they can continue, with any integrity, both to serve in an ordained ministry...and as representatives of the Church in Wales".

The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep, even the lost, but as he heads for destruction, bragging about shameful things, Dr Morgan clearly demonstrates that he couldn't care less about the sheep not in his sheep-pen.

"The names 'Proud', 'Arrogant' and 'Mocker' fit whoever acts with presumptuous conceit."
 Proverbs 21:24

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The supreme sacrifice

The 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' project by artist Paul Cummins

On 11 November, Armistice Day, the last of 888,246 ceramic poppies will be planted, filling the moat of the Tower of London with a sea of blood, each poppy representing the supreme sacrifice of a British or colonial soldier during the WWI conflict which began 100 years ago.

Remember also the living dead. The maimed, battle-scarred, blinded, limbless, shell-shocked survivors. The widows, the fiancees and girl friends who never married after losing the one they loved.

We will remember them!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

When bishops were bishops

Canon Rosie Harper                                                                REUTERS/Yui Mok/POOL

After reading "Bishop 'club culture' will change with the first woman, says senior priest" (here), I was reminded of a dear departed old priest's comment in one of his delightfully erudite and ever witty sermons, "I am old enough to remember the days when bishops really were bishops". His homilies were so well crafted that one couldn't be quite sure whether he was taking a swipe at preferment based on political correctness or whether he was lamenting the passing of towering bishops he remembered with affection and awe.

Calling for the new Bishop of Oxford to be a woman Canon Rosie Harper is reported as saying, "The first woman bishop must find a new way of being a bishop and not merely become a female version. Bishops currently behave like 'little boys lost' who 'posture' that they know what they are doing and find it impossible to escape the gentlemen's club culture until they retire", comments no doubt gratefully received by the wimpish bishops who championed her cause rather than that of Apostolic Church to which they pretend allegiance!  

The Canon's next shot: "We've got to look to the future... obviously, you look for the best person for the job but having made the decision to have women bishops, the Church has to enact it not just leave it on the back burner. The face of the Church of England... is exclusively male and that needs to change very quickly." So having fought against so-called discrimination in the Church - which there wasn't - positive discrimination MUST be used to find the best woman for the job (which sums up the position these days) on the absurd pretext that the face of the Church of England is 'exclusively male'.

'Deeply committed to working for issues of justice and equality within and beyond the church' (self praise here), read also Feminists of Faith for more of Canon Harper's views on men and equality. Also 'OUT 4 Marriage' (here) and a supporter of assisted dying (here), she talks of 'what sort of a God' you believe in and selectively quotes the Bible to justify her views on killing based on suicides recorded in the Old Testament while overlooking the Commandment "Thou shalt not kill"!

The first woman bishop will have to find 'a new way of being a bishop' because a woman bishop contradicts Biblical teaching. But who cares about the Bible, faith and tradition any more - apart from the vast majority of Anglicans around the World! 

The women bishops legislation has completed its passage through General Synod and Parliament and has received Royal Assent leaving the way clear for the Archbishop of Canterbury to move at the 17 November Synod that the canon be enacted. The motion will be put before the Synod for a vote with a show of hands but without a debate. And that will be that. The death of the Catholic and reformed Church of England we knew and loved. 

Killed by secular debate in Synod and in Parliament by MPs who worry about the West Lothian question while happily nodding through without demure an issue which affects the faith of their constituents whether they have any themselves or understanding of the religious issues involved. Going back to that sermon I began with, yes, I hear you Father!


In The Oxford Student (here) the campaign to make the Bishopric of Oxford the first in the Church of England to be filled by a woman is hotting up.

"The women’s rep for Pembroke College, Anna Simpson, commented: 'It is fantastic to see this possible change tying in with wider movements in Oxford for gender equality and more generally that institutions are moving forward with the times' ". 

There will be a Public Meeting on the 11th November at Christ Church Cathedral at 7:15pm to discuss  the appointment. 

Other items offered by The Oxford Studentfor thought to be interest to readers are :

This should please my sternest critic who wrote earlier: "All male lead instutions (sic) have moved on from this decades ago (police, law, medicine) and now it's time for us to do the same. 

Will these people never learn that faith is not about secular institutions and gender politics!