Archbishop’s actions shake my loyalty to church
As Archbishop Terence Finlay hoped (Archbishop weds lesbian couple, November Anglican Journal), I have reflected carefully on his decision to marry his lesbian friends – this, despite the fact that this is contrary to canon law, which apparently does not apply to archbishops, but only to more lowly clergy!
I cannot help but note that the couple in question are prominent people. Of course these people could have been married in a civil ceremony, or by a minister of another denomination, but these are prominent people, and nothing less than an archbishop will suffice. I also note without surprise the severity of the punishment handed out by the Bishop of Toronto: Archbishop Finlay’s licence to officiate at marriages was suspended to the end of 2006. Not the busiest season for weddings.
In a church deeply divided on the question of gay marriage, where does all this leave the average person in the pew? I shall continue to try to follow the teachings of Jesus, but my loyalty to the Anglican church has been badly shaken.
Mount Hope, Ont.
It is fine that Archbishop Finlay could bless this marriage; unfortunately he should not have tried to do it in God’s name. Putting words in God’s mouth is called “blasphemy.” The archbishop could bless anyone and anything as he sees fit, but it is the archbishop’s blessing, not God’s, for God made it abundantly clear in Scripture that he calls homosexuality not wrong, but rather “an abomination.” Pretty harsh stuff if you ask me. But don’t ask me, for my opinion is no better than the readers who wrote in praising the archbishop. God alone has that authority.
We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord, equal in love, grace, mercy and sin. The chaff from the wheat is demonstrated by accepting what the Lord has made acceptable in his eyes and repenting of that which is not.
The log in one’s eye
Setting aside the rights and wrongs of the present confrontation on homosexuality, it seems that the anger generated is out of proportion to the issue. Everyone on both sides is an object of God’s love for whom Jesus lived, was crucified and rose again. The strong emotions are a smoke screen, it seems to me, covering deeper issues, dragons which we are not willing to face. So we project them on to those with whom we disagree.
We need to consider the impact of these words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye’ and behold the log is in your own eye. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
South Bolton, Que.
No popularity contest
I have quite a few homosexual friends and I do not want to belong to a church that sends them to limbo. If you love homosexuals, then lead them to forgiveness and healing. The Web site www.joedallas.com helps with both family acceptance and a healing ministry. He has overcome this himself.
Perhaps some of the leaders in the church should ask the Lord for some guidance and not play with the lives and souls of the people I love. This church needs priests to teach the people what the God of the land requires and how to worship the Lord. God’s word was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is truth. It breaks my heart to see my beloved church wear itself out for popular love.
Being a Christian has never been a popularity contest and the enemy is Satan, the great deceiver. You do not appease the devil and demons – you fight against them. This is Christianity 101.
It was unkind of Canon William Portman to make commentary in a negative manner about Sue Careless’ book Discovering the Book of Common Prayer (BCP: a finished product or a work in progress? December Journal). Canon Portman must know that the traditional Book of Common Prayer is still the authorized liturgy of the church in Canada. The uplifting and spiritual language of our Prayer Book has been the hallmark of our church for centuries and has endured. Tossing our heritage aside for modern and experimental language liturgies has not brought new members to our church but only served to alienate those willing to attend.
Ms. Careless has given long hours of research and dedicated her time for what she believes in and she deserves our encouragement and support.
We are “The Prayer Book People” – that is our Anglican heritage and maintaining traditional forms of worship preserves what has been handed to us by previous generations who built up our church in this land. Let us keep this high standard of worship and pass it on to the next generation.
Thomas A. Wardle, Jr.
Not nostalgia junkies
It is a shame that Canon William Portman feels that Disovering the Book of Common Prayer “suffers from a kind of ‘prayer book fundamentalism.'” As someone who values the “clones of the 1662 BCP,” I found Discovering to be an invaluable resource. It is unfortunate that the Prayer Book has become consistently less appreciated since the 1980s, the benefits of the Book of Alternative Services notwithstanding. All over the English-speaking world, young Anglicans my own age find themselves “bored” by the treasures of Thomas Cranmer’s poetry. The Prayer Book may indeed be a “work in progress,” but some of us prefer to see some continuity with previous Prayer Books and the option of retaining traditional language and a sense of the joy of penitence.
While some of Sue Careless’s treatment of the Eucharistic Liturgy may be anachronistic, she speaks for a number of Anglicans who are concerned about the rapid abandonment of the traditional liturgical gems of our shared tradition. It is lamentable that Canon Portman has fallen into the trap of seeing Prayer Book Anglicans as crotchety, change-resistant, nostalgia junkies. Some of us happen to be young and liberal, but even those who are neither have a deep and abiding love of the Anglican church and a profound fear of losing sight of hundreds of years of liturgical heritage.
Trusting the spirit
The Anglican Journal is a treasure that waxes and wanes. The December issue waxes with more reports than one can easily take in due to the many issues facing the Anglican Church of Canada. I particularly appreciate the fact that the Journal has an independent editorial policy not directed by General Synod or the Council of General Synod (CoGS). Now we read (in news story ABC storefront will close) that there are calls to re-examine this policy, “which publishes only bad news,” to “a resource that reflects positive stuff, that does not continually drain huge resources.”
The last thing Anglicans need is a house organ that reflects only what General Synod wants us to know. The value of the Journal lies in its independence as the only informed source that keeps the feet of the bureaucracy to the fire.
It seems that most of the bad news actually emanates from General Synod and CoGS. Examples abound in the issue. Church to sell its option to move (p.6), reads like a French farce. First you make the disastrous decision to close the bookstore because of its poor location and lack of parking, then you decide that you do not need to take up the option to move the store to a better location because of the recommendation to shut down the storefront operations, even if this would have provided better visibility and parking facilities.
One can almost see the cogs in the bureaucratic minds turning. But lack of parking and visibility were not the downfall of the ABC storefront. Mismanagement at the upper levels was! General Synod’s lack of vision is entirely to blame for the death of Toronto’s oldest bookstore.
For more bad news you only have to read Bishop Sue Moxley’s views on the Letting Down the Nets initiative. She suggests that it was unreasonable to expect the program to produce financial results in two years. A fund-raising program that needs infusions of cash for its operation without showing positive returns in two years is a failure. Is this another example of timidity in not appointing a competent person to head the initiative?
All this against the background of Reginald Bibby’s assessment that church attendance is up to 31 per cent in 2005 from 26 per cent in 1995 (Faith on the rise among boomers). The church is growing and the powers-that-be are shutting down all kinds of programs. So much for trusting the Spirit.
I am truly amazed that our church leaders cannot see the damage this gay issue is doing to our church. Surely seeing the damage control that the United Church of Canada is trying to do would give them a hint. I believe most people could not care less about the gay lifestyle. But when our leaders are willing to change the true meaning of marriage to satisfy a minority, then of course we will object. The church’s financial situation will worsen, because not all Anglicans support the gay issue. Stop the gay marriage issue ? let them get a blessing, never a marriage. Let the real meaning of marriage prevail.
I was interested to read your report of the concerns for General Synod voiced at the December meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) which included “The presence of the Essentials Network, a group of conservative Canadian Anglicans opposed to same-sex blessings,” and “The divisive interference from lobby groups who will be renting space in our hotel.” I would like to correct some misconceptions and allay some fears.
First, the presence of Anglican Essentials Canada at General Synod will be largely that of the Essentials Federation, with input from the Network. Both groups are constituent parts of Essentials and are within the Anglican Church of Canada. The Federation’s focus is renewal and repentance within the ACC while the Network’s is to be an option should the Canadian church decide to walk apart from the bulk of the Communion.
Second, it is unfortunate that our defining characteristic was stated as “opposed to same-sex blessings.” While this is obviously a focus at this present time, the vision of Essentials is far broader: “To be the theological and spiritual rallying point for historic orthodoxy in the Anglican Church of Canada.”
Third, the statement that Essentials is a divisive “lobby group renting space in our hotel” is very unfortunate as it sets up a “we/they” attitude towards interest groups that are an integral part of the ACC. Essentials is composed of thousands of loyal Anglicans from coast to coast to coast and we have had a presence at General Synod since 1995.
It would be comforting to CoGS members to know that I and two others of the Essentials Federation had a most profitable meeting with national church staff in late November to ensure clear communication and co-operation between us with respect to arrangements at General Synod. Essentials looks forward to being a positive presence next June and invites all delegates to take part in our pre-Synod event and to visit our display and presentations during Synod.
Rev. Brett Cane
Chair, Essentials Initiative at General Synod 2007