Ingham praisedDear editor,
The condensed version of Michael Ingham’s essay, “The Episcopate” (March, 2002), is excellent. The bishop of New Westminster has proposed a clear way for the church at all levels to examine the role and function of a bishop in the Anglican Church as we enter the 21st century. Bishop Ingham says that we exhibit some of the co-dependent behaviour of a dysfunctional family. He also says that people are complicit in supporting a system that disables talented individuals, inhibits healthy relationships and frustrates reform. Both statements are accurate. We need open, frank and loving dialogue throughout the church, for bishops to be partners in mission with lay and ordained leaders. Let that same dialogue also include the role and function of lay, deacon and priest leadership. The ordinal and the baptismal covenant are good starting points. Ken Genge Edmonton
I am in agreement with Bishop Michael Ingham who suggests that “the church ought ?to look seriously at setting terms for ?all clergy” (March 2002). Bishop Ingham also recommends regular annual performance appraisals and accountability for bishops. I would like that for rectors too. I would go one step further and suggest that contracts be signed with a new rector. A contract would clearly state what is expected, thus protecting the parish from priests who perhaps may have overstated their abilities in order to be hired. It would also protect any priest from accusations of not fulfilling the expectations of a parish, in the case where a parish gets what it asked for and doesn’t then want it. The term of the contract could be three or four years and could be renewed by either party for a similar term While some may blanch, I would point out that it is congregational giving that supports all clergy. Discontent gives rise to parish fractures, people leaving and consequent financial instability. Not all parish and rector marriages are made in heaven, no more is linking of a diocese with a bishop. The Holy Spirit may move us, but we always have to use our intellect in hiring those we believe are called to serve the church. Sheila Welbergen Winnipeg
Some important information was not included in the Episcopal News Service item (April 2002) regarding the Anglican Mission in America (AmiA). The Episcopal church’s executive council denounced the AMiA’s existence as “untenable” and spoke of “the inherent danger which comes from schism.” But responsibility for the danger of schism actually lies with the majority of bishops and other Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) leaders who have drifted from the moorings of apostolic faith and practice. Right wing Episcopalians have reacted to the growing agnosticism of their leaders in different ways. Some have taken refuge in the continuing churches – the traditional Anglican Communion. Others have resolved to remain in (ECUSA) and contend for the ancient faith through the work of the American Anglican Council (AAC) or Forward in Faith (FiF). But others have chosen to remove themselves from ECUSA while remaining within the Anglican Communion by forming the AMiA. I do not support or condone the AMiA, and would like to have seen its members throw in their lot with the AAC instead. However, I do understand why the AMiA was formed. Many of its opponents speak as if the issue were only a turf war (“the coexistence of parallel bodies within one province”) when in reality it is a spiritual war for the soul of the Episcopal Church, in which the AMiA, AAC, FiF and others are fighting hard to wrest their beloved church from the false teachings and agnosticism of such Episcopal hirelings as Bishops John Spong, William Swing, Jane Dixon, Charles Bennison and others. Rev. Ian C. Wetmore Zealand, N.B.
It is my understanding that the Palestine state was partitioned out to make room for the new Israeli state. It is my understanding that many Palestinians are living in refugee camps. Perhaps we need to investigate further before calling the Palestinian leader a terrorist (March 2002). This is a sad way for people to live. I am not against Israelis and still suffer when I witness the suffering they have gone through. I pray for peace for this troubled area of our planet. Phyllis R. Parker Prince George, B.C.
Konunga a concern
Archbishop Pius Ncube rightly states that the Anglican bishop of Harare, Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, has aligned himself with evil. At a prayer service before the election (in Zimbabwe), he stood in the presence of president and Mrs. Mugabe and praised the president’s Christianity. He spoke like this even though the ZANU-PF government had waged two years of terror against its own citizens. One of the worst features of ZANU’s lawlessness is its consistent and violent attacks against the tribal minority of Matebeleland. Another is the recruiting and training of youth who roam through the countryside threatening and torturing citizens who support the opposition party. I served in the diocese of Harare in 1987-1988 and have many contacts now with Zimbabwean citizens seeking asylum in Canada. It is a great shame for me to hear the enthusiastic support of Bishop Kunonga for the man and party that kills its own citizens and destroys the democratic rights of its citizens. A spokesperson for the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has said that Bishop Kunonga is entitled to his personal political opinions. However, when he publicly and enthusiastically praises the president, his political stance is no longer a private matter, but a concern to all Anglicans. Don R. Skowronski Montreal
Richard Harstone’s rebuttal of the support for Bishop John Spong was defensive and mean-spirited. Where is the evidence to back a statement such as “Spong’s own scholarship is lacking and his knowledge of scripture is at times sloppy,” particularly since Bishop Spong is a lecturer at Harvard? It is unlikely that Bishop Spong is making a lot of money from his writings, as Mr. Harstone nastily implies. As everyone knows, the real money lies in pandering to the literalists, as the author of “The Prayer of Jabez” could probably tell you. Mr. Harstone needs the claims of Christian orthodoxy to enliven his faith. That’s fine. To me, they are an impediment. I have always believed that the Anglican church was big enough to embrace both views but recent events I have experienced are leading me to think that this is not so. The modernist-fundamentalist debate is indeed becoming more rancorous and, as far as I can tell, will continue to keep the Anglican church in a divisive state. George Vona Toronto
Bible not perfect
I see we have another letter from someone who believes that every word of the Bible is the word of God. Janet C. Jacques (March 2002) forgets, or perhaps never knew, that the Bible has been edited by frail and sometimes biased human beings. May I suggest that those who believe the Bible to be infallible read Leviticus 11:20 “All winged insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you.” I’m sure that God, who made them, knows that insects, by definition, have six legs. See also Deuteronomy 21:18-21 “If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him then (they) shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders of his town. They shall say ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. For you shall purge the evil from your midst and all Israel will hear and be afraid.” I very much doubt that Jesus himself would approve of this law. Fundamentalism is misnamed. The fundamentals are: love God, love your neighbour. Ina Roelants Vancouver
I was surprised that Bishop John Spong took up so much space in the March 2002 issue. While there is nothing new about the intellectual emasculation of biblical texts which by their own testimony are not intended to be intellectually dissected (I Corinthians 2:1-16), I am reminded of the general dependence of churchgoers upon the clergy to interpret the Scriptures for them. I am always amazed at how little most clergy know or understand about the Bible. It is one thing to make the Scriptures fit the popular mind set, and quite another to bring one’s mind into line with an eternal perspective – by prayerfully taking the time to understand the Bible’s scope and intent. Scriptural revelation and insight require humility and openness to the presence and intervention of the Almighty God in one’s own life, mind and heart. Intellectual aloofness and manipulation of one’s Creator simply will not do! Thomas Ransom Knowlton, Que.