God alone may proclaim on my salvation

Published January 1, 2005

Dear editor,

I am writing in response to letterwriter Nathan Douglas (The flock, December letters).

I was your age, Nathan, when I left the Pentecostal church, and did not darken the doorway of another church for several decades. I left because as a 15-year-old gay youth I encountered nothing but condemnation, ridicule, and even outright acts of hatred. I heard sermons full of hellfire and damnation which were directed at me. I had had enough of the pastor refusing to shake my hand as I left the building. I had become sickened with the hypocrisy, with hearing the proclamations of love but witnessing the most hateful behavior.

You state you are “… 99 per cent ready to move to a Pentecostal church … ” I would encourage you to take that leap, for there you will find a multitude who are unwilling to look at themselves, their beliefs, and ultimately their Christian walk, with anything other than self-congratulations for being morally and spiritually superior to their neighbor.

You have no right to make proclamations regarding the state of my salvation. That right belongs to God alone.

Bart Wittke

Mayne Island, B.C.

Beyond media’s ability

Dear editor,

I was intrigued by Wendy Beard’s notion (Secular media starting to see religion not as a threat, November letters), that the so-called secular media has begun to view religion as neither a threat nor something to be sidelined. As a daily newspaper editor and an Anglo-Lutheran Franciscan, I am thoroughly familiar with the argument that religion has long been relegated to the back pages, except when there has been a sexual issue.

The main problem for the media is that nobody can honestly speak for spiritual people. There is no chief executive officer to contact for any clear official statement of policy. Christians, Muslims and Buddhists are all over the board in their beliefs, and anybody who claims the right to speak authoritatively for all is looking to have his or her peace of mind thoroughly disturbed.

This is an obstacle and a matter of frustration for the media. Since media organizations are loaded with spiritual people, it is absurd to interpret this frustration as hostility or indifference. It is simply that there are some vital subjects that are truly beyond any mass medium’s ability to cover adequately. Religion will always be one of them.

Rolf Pedersen

Guelph, Ont.

No second apology

Dear editor,

It is interesting to note that the concert by a gay choir, which was due to perform in St. John’s Cathedral, Saskatoon and was cancelled, received an apology from Bishop Rodney Andrews (Bishop apologizes after flap over ban of gay choirs, December).

But the Anglican Essentials group whose meeting he also cancelled two weeks before it was to meet in All Saints church, Saskatoon, did not receive any apology to my knowledge. Apparently this cancellation was due to pressure from other sources. It appears that the feelings of homosexuals are more important than the feelings of people of orthodox belief in the Anglican Church. The Essentials meeting of 125 people was graciously hosted by the Nutana Park Mennonite Church, Saskatoon.

Jerry Dixon

Sintaluta, Sask.

Into a corner

Dear editor,

May I applaud your decision not to attend and report on the recent Essentials gathering in Ottawa (Why it was impossible for us to sign declaration, November editorial). As an original member of this group and a long time representative from Anglican Renewal Ministries to Essentials, I say this with much sadness. I would have welcomed reading about this meeting on the pages of Anglican Journal, but the cost was too high. Freedom of the press is a necessary part of our society and should be preserved. If they disagreed with your reports, they can always challenge you in the same press! I do not always agree with everything in the Journal, but I will defend your right to say them.

I am concerned for Essentials and its partners. They seem to be removing themselves from the mainstream of the church and are pushing themselves into an ultra-conservative corner which may no longer appeal to many, such as me.

As a card-carrying, charismatic, conservative Anglican, I support your stand in this matter and pray that the Essentials body will realize its mistake.

Don Beatty

Mississauga, Ont.

Where the money went

Dear editor,

Reading the Journal, I see that money coming into the Anglican Appeal is getting less each year. Also, donations to the Anglican Journal Appeal are down.

Of course this is because so many once proud Anglicans have left the church for other churches, which uphold the Bible as the word of God.

When a church no longer believes in the Bible as the way of life, it is on the way out.

I know that worldly ways are forcing their way into the Anglican church, but just pray that it is not too late.

Robin Lang


End the fiction

Dear editor,

Where is Monty Python when you really need him?

With all the antics going on in the Anglican Communion something is needed to lighten up the atmosphere. The Church of England appears to be a confused parent as it moves from what appears to be “a church within a church” (flying bishops et.al.) to becoming “a church within a church within a church,” as it contemplates the prospect of female bishops. The Church of Nigeria, all 17 million of them as we are constantly informed, appears to want an Anglican Vatican so that it can legislate who can and cannot be an Anglican. The diocese of Sydney in Australia would like to approve “lay presidency” at the Eucharist as long as “lay” doesn’t include women! Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church in the United States and the diocese of New Westminster have taken action to remove those of homosexual orientation from the status of leper in the Christian community. The prospect of maintaining a worldwide fellowship does indeed appear bleak.

Perhaps it is time to end the fiction of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which was never more than a colonial expansion of the Church of England in the days of the British Empire until the 1960s. Has the time come in our global village for a national church’s first loyalty to be its witness within its immediate culture rather than trying to enforce global dogma?

The recently issued Windsor Report is an interesting document; probably the most important statement in it is found in the foreword by Robin Eames, chairman of the Lambeth Commission: “During its work the Lambeth Commission has recognized within the Anglican Communion a large constituency of faithful members who are bemused and bewildered by the intensity of the opposing views on issues of sexuality … At times they have felt their voices eclipsed by the intensity of sounds on opposing sides of the debate.”

He could have added “bedeviled” to the mix as those intense voices have adopted increasingly a take-no-prisoners stance – you are either for us or against us! What really hurts is when it is all covered with a piety which must make even God blush!

Canon Gordon Baker


Bonds and shackles

Dear editor,

Re: the Windsor Report. Our Anglican Communion prides itself on believing in unity in diversity as one of the reasons we stay together. Why does this not apply to the differences in belief and action related to same-sex blessings and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy? When a friend does something we regard as wrong, we do not usually end the friendship, but we do dissociate ourselves from the action, as Canada did to her credit, regarding the request from the United States for help in invading Iraq. Why can our differences not be part of our diversity?

My position is one of strong support for honouring homosexual unions and ordinations. However, I am not asking those who do not agree with me to apologize for their actions or the “consequences of those actions” in refusing to enact these beliefs, a position which I hold to be a violation of God’s will.

I see God-fearing men and women leaving the church because of its rigidity, and I will be ashamed if it agrees to trade its integrity and capacity to change in return for keeping the bonds (shackles?) of friendship, phrased as the “communion principle of interdependence.”

June Pinkney Hunter

London, Ont.


Dear editor,

Your December editorial (A sorry state of affairs) states, in reference to Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster and Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. (ECUSA), that, “It is futile to ask them to apologize for something they continue to believe is right, even though they could not have anticipated the fallout that has resulted.”


Bishop Ingham’s actions violated the guidelines of the Canadian House of Bishops, the resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference regarding human sexuality, and his own solemn oaths at his ordination and consecration to uphold the faith and to be a symbol of unity both within his own diocese and to the wider church.

Both Bishops Ingham and Griswold were warned at the highest levels throughout the Anglican world, what the consequences of their actions would be. The final and most serious warning was issued at Lambeth in October 2003, in a unanimous document signed by all the Anglican primates. The document warned that, for Bishops Griswold and Ingham to further proceed along the paths they had chosen would “rend the fabric of [the Anglican] Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division.” Bishop Griswold was fully aware of the contents of this sombre warning – he was one of the signatories!

Knowing the history of these events, how is it possible to say that these two could not have anticipated the fallout which has resulted?

Desmond Scotchmer


Short-sighted approach

Dear editor,

In the Windsor Report, the Lambeth Commission chastises both our Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. I am disgusted at the view taken by the commission that the diocese of New Westminster should, despite both the desires of the majority of its members and the support of its bishop, hold a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions.

Rather than encouraging all churches to engage in a respectful dialogue, they have capitulated to the intransigence of conservative factions from both within the Anglican Communion and other denominations.

The reality within Canada is that, as specified by the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as provincial and territorial statutes, discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited.

The commission examined same-sex unions solely within the context of the Anglican Communion and ignored the broader legal and social climate extent within the individual church provinces. Ignoring this reality is indicative of the shortsighted approach used by this commission and calls into question the reliability of its findings.

Given that the findings of this commission are not binding, I hope that our primate can search his conscience, pray for wisdom, listen to the members of our church and find the courage to say “thanks for the advice” to the commission and then continue to proceed with our own enlightened course of action. Lastly, if the more conservative churches of the Anglican Communion continue to find this course offensive, then I would encourage us to feel sorry for them, but not to apologize to them.

Tim Wakfer

Lower Sackville, N.S.


Dear editor,

I just received my November Anglican Journal. Out of it fell a World Vision booklet with a request for money and a letter requesting money for the Anglican Appeal. A few months back there was an appeal for money for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. Why are we supporting three campaigns for money for the Third World and the North?

Would someone explain to me what is the purpose of three organizations asking for money for the same thing?

Winnie Hammerlindl



Dear editor,

The 2004 Canadian Church Calendar, which featured photographs of flowers, was pure delight, beautiful photographs, very evocative and with appropriate and sensitively selected texts. I was anxious to know what creative ideas were in store for 2005, but my heart sank when I read, “The 2005 edition … has returned to the more traditional photographs of churches.” Oh, dear!

My misgivings were confirmed when I purchased my copy and saw such bland, unimaginative and sterile pictures, some quite unflattering.

I thought it was a real let down, very disappointing, a missed opportunity and furthermore, if our church is that dull, no wonder people are turned off! Maybe we could see inside the buildings next year and see the people; Christians at worship even! What about some new buildings to celebrate?

I hope our combined churches (the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada), as publisher of the calendar will do better next year. I have used the calendar as a gift item in the past but I shall not be purchasing extra copies this time. Pity.

Beric Graham-Smith



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