Sunday, September 30, 2007

Choir solution

Zion hasn't had a choir for most of the 15 years I've served her. This is tempting.

Update Sept. 1, 2008: Naturally, with the auction long gone, the link no longer works. So, while missing some of the formatting:

Anglican Choral Tradition (SATB) (Bristol Based)

Venerable Anglican scarlet-robed choral tradition (SATB), of St Stephen's Church, Centre of Bristol. Good condition.

Reason for sale: The choir have (with extreme sadness) decided that even though they would have liked to have assisted with the future plans for the church, they essentially have no place in the new worship arrangements that will soon be imposed, and that little opportunity for negotiation now exists.

Over the past few years the choir have sung in guest appearances at: Notre Dame de Paris, Wells Cathedral, Buckfast Abbey, Bristol Cathedral, and St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and produced well reviewed concerts.

Example Repertoire: Works by composers like:

de Victoria
(and many more....)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Is it that obvious?

Coming home this afternoon from the Lutheran CORE gathering (of which I'll say more later), I stopped off to visit one of the Chicagoland's Catholic / Christian supply stores. They've been sending their catalog to Zion for years and I figured this was a good chance to check out another such store (we have a fine Catholic / Christian supply store here in Peoria, too) to see what they had. I was traveling mufti (contrary to popular opinion, I both own and wear "normal" clothing), attired just as I am in the photo here, with black trousers and dark-brown Top-Siders.

And so, standing in an aisle looking at some books, the proprietess walks by and asks, "You finding everything fine, Father?"

"Gee," I responded, "you could tell that easily, eh?" (Maybe it was the black trousers.)

Anyway, had a very nice conversation with her, she made sure I made a visit to the second level to see the vestments and other ecclesial goods, and the third floor (not usually opened on Saturdays) for the gallery.

Naturally, I came home with a few more books. And copy of the Rublev icon of the Holy Trinity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

But there is good news...

In our home while growing up, on the davenport lamp table by the front door we kept, during the baseball season, bobbleheads of the Dodgers and Angels. And, as taught by Grandpa Hutchinson, when the team won a game the doll looked out, while when they lost, the doll turned away in shame.

Well, in my youth we saw the back of the Angel more often than not. But, even though they lost this evening, the Angel faces you now for -- the Los Angeles Angels have won their third American League Western Division pennant in four years.

And that's something to celebrate!

Oh. How about this World Series: the Angels and the Cubs???

The Other Episcopal Bishops' Meeting

At this moment, Google News shows the following headlines about the meeting of The Episcopal Church's House of Bishop's that just concluded in New Orleans -- a meeting which included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and the HOB's response to the Anglican Primates:

Episcopals give ground on gay bishops says the Chicago Tribune, whose article begins, "Yielding to international pressure and trying to avert a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion, Episcopal bishops on Tuesday pledged restraint in approving another openly gay bishop who is in a relationship."

The New York Times headlines, Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders. "Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday rejected demands by leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to roll back the church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, increasing the possibility of fracture within the communion and the Episcopal Church itself," reads the first paragraph.

And, Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism headlines the Boston Globe article. "The Episcopal bishops of the United States, attempting to head off a schism over gay rights and biblical interpretation, yesterday promised to "exercise restraint" by not approving more gay bishops and not authorizing a formal ritual for blessing same-sex couples," the Globe begins. The second sentence, though, is telling: "The statement is expected to have little practical impact in the United States."

Details, of course, are all over the Anglican blogosphere: two sources I've been reading are TitusOneNine and Stand Firm.

But even as the House of Bishops was concluding A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners, the Bishops associated with Anglican Common Cause are holding their first-ever Bishops' Council under the leadership of Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. I presume that our two local Episcopal Bishops, Keith Ackerman (Quincy) and Peter Beckwith (Springfield), both of whom we at Zion pray for regularly, are among the attendees here.

Bishop Duncan has opened the Council with the following address (tip of the biretta--well, as soon as I finally get one--to Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine):

"Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate"
Welcome to Pittsburgh ! Welcome to the Common Cause Partnership Council of Bishops! Welcome to three days of worship, fellowship, teaching, sharing and incredibly hard work.

Welcome Bishops, Bishops-elect, Bishops-designate, Wives, Presenters, Intercessors, Staff, Friends. Welcome to Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Seminary, our keynote speaker tonight, and welcome to Prof. Justyn Terry of Trinity School for Ministry, our Scripture expositer for the next three mornings.

During the early hours of yesterday, the Lord reminded me of the word "conclave." Bishop's meetings are sometimes "with the key withheld," the literal meaning of the Latin root. Bishops gathering in conclave cannot come out until they have a successful result. While there will be no one "locking us in," the whole Anglican world is expecting something great of us in this meeting. They are expecting some "key" to unlock a more hopeful future. Let us not fail them, or our God.


Most of our work here is behind closed doors. This is an intentional decision on the part of the seven lead bishops who did the planning: Bishops Ackerman, Grundorf, Harvey, Minns, Murphy, Riches and myself. We need to speak the truth to one another. We need to do some hard thinking and hard talking. The future of Anglicanism in North America is at stake.

On Trinity Sunday in 2004, the leaders of the first six (now ten) Partners wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury "signifying our commitment to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America."

The Primates of the Global South, writing from Kigali exactly one year ago, stated that the time had come for a "separate ecclesiastical structure in the United States [ North America ]." What we come together to do is to see whether we can so re-order the relationships among us that the way might be opened for such a structure to emerge.

Our shortcoming is not "right Faith." Our shortcoming is "right Order" and "right mission."

- Can we agree to interchangeability of those in holy orders?

- Will we work actively together at the local level?

- Will we consult with one another as we seek to plant congregations?

- Can we agree to mutual review of candidates for bishop before consecrations?

- Will we share ministry initiatives or needlessly duplicate efforts?

- Can we agree about appropriate ratios of bishops to congregations, attendance and membership?

- Would each one of us be willing to give up episcopal function for the good of the whole, were that in the best interests of all?

- Could each one of us become a missionary bishop over a growing Church?

Our theme for this Council of Bishops is "Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate." The whole world is watching. After speaking the truth to each other, we will need to speak the truth about what we have done - or not done - to the world.

Anglicanism appears to be failing in the West. We cannot answer for how others have failed, or are failing, but we must surely answer for what we do - or do not do - here in this place, in this conclave, wherein we hold the key.


Again the warmest of welcomes, for the most important of tasks. Almost upon us is Global Anglicanism's September 30th deadline for bishops in America to make response about "walking together" or "walking apart." It is to walking together that we are called, is it not? I am confident in the company gathered here and, above all, in the Lord who has called us. We are here to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and here to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America . We have our work cut out for us, we whose highest calling is as servants of the servants of God, and God's servants all across the land very much have their eyes set upon us and upon this place for these days. May God's help be ours in abundance.
The election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire has indeed tossed everything in the air, and now it looks like some of what was tossed is finally fallen to the ground. And with the ELCA being in communion with The Episcopal Church, and the relationship we have here with Bishops Ackerman and Beckwith, I can't help but wonder how all this is going to impact the nature of that "walking together."

Let our prayers rise as incense...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lutheran CORE Press Release

News Release
September 24, 2007
Lutheran Coalition for Reform

For immediate release
contact: Pastor W. Stevens Shipman, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

More than 200 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America plan to gather in Lindenhurst, Illinois, on Friday, September 28, to reflect on their concerns regarding actions taken at the recent churchwide assembly of the ELCA and to plan for the next such assembly in 2009.

The meeting, at St. Mark Lutheran Church, will begin with a Bible study by Dr. James Nestingen, professor emeritus at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, followed by a presentation by Dr. Robert Benne, director of the Center for Religion and Society, Roanoke College in Virginia. Both will address the theme, "'This Church' and God's Church." Pastor Paull Spring, retired bishop of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod and chair of the Lutheran Coalition for Reform (Lutheran CORE), will speak to issues facing the ELCA. During the afternoon, attendees will meet in regional groups to plan and organize "grass roots" efforts to uplift their hopes and goals for the ELCA.

Lutheran CORE called the meeting even before the churchwide assembly in August to advocate more effectively for the authority of the Word of God in the ELCA, which it believes is in danger of being marginalized by directions the denomination is taking. Specifically, CORE uplifts the authority of the Bible by insisting on the priority of the revealed Name of God as "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" and upholding the doctrine of marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life. The group also will work to raise up leadership across the ELCA who share these goals.

While the Chicago assembly of the ELCA declined to change the policies of the denomination forbidding pastors to be in same-sex sexual relationships, it did urge "restraint" in discipline of such persons until a 2009 report from a task force is received. The ELCA also recently issued a new worship book which provides for other names for God than "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," and it is preparing resources for reading the Bible which, based on some preliminary indications, causes concern among Lutheran CORE members for possibly eroding the authority of the Bible.

The Lutheran CORE traces its roots to meetings in the early 1990s when pastors and theologians began to express concerns over the theological directions of the denomination, formed in 1988 by a merger of three predecessor bodies. An ad hoc group called Solid Rock Lutherans worked to uphold the standards of the ELCA regarding homosexuality at a churchwide assembly in Orlando in 2005. Lutheran CORE was formed in 2005 to continue these efforts to reform the ELCA.

Lutheran CORE is an independent group which intends to be a coalition of individuals, congregations, and reform groups within the ELCA. Members are committed to remain within the ELCA at this time and work for reform of the church body. It is led by a steering committee of ten persons elected by members who gather for its annual meetings.

note: spelling of Paull is correct.

# # #

Friday, September 14, 2007

Why Attend the Lutheran CORE Gathering?

For reminders of how important this is to me, see this blog entry and this one for the story of this photo.

On Friday, September 28, Lutheran CORE is holding a gathering, 'This Church' and God's Church, at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lindenhurst, Illinois, on the north side of metro Chicago. From 10 am to 4 pm CORE will review what happened at this Churchwide Assembly and plan for the next two years' Synod and Churchwide Assemblies. Dr. James A. Nestingen, Dr. Robert Benne, and retired Bishop Paull Spring will speak. And ELCA Lutherans, clergy and lay, from across the land will be there because they want to have the ELCA we were promised 20-25 years ago, not the one we're getting. Here's the brochure.

CORE has just sent out this message:
If you are planning to attend the Lutheran CORE gathering in Lindenhurst, Ill., or know someone who is, it is important that you register by Sept 21. In addition to making sure we have enough lunches ordered for everyone, we will have a working lunch during which people from within regions can meet each other and start networking. You'll miss that valuable time if you have to run out for lunch because you didn't pre-register for the gathering.

The registration information is at:

Please mail your check to the WordAlone office in New Brighton, Minn. or call (toll free: 888-551-7254 or 651-633-6004) by Sept 21 to register.
I'll be there and hope you are able to be there, too. I also know that there will be several folks from the Champaign-Urbana area traveling together, so if you are near there on the way to Chicago, contact me and I'll put you in contact with those folks.

Lutheran CORE is a reform movement within the ELCA which intends to serve as an effective coalition of individuals, congregations, and reform groups. It's four emphases are:

1. To uphold the authority of the Bible as the primary source an dnorm of faith and practice, in conformity with the Lutheran Confessions and the Constitution of the ELCA.

2. To insist upon the priority of the revealed Name of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in worship and educational materials produced by and for the ELCA.

3. To uphold the doctrine of marriage of one man and one woman for life, as maintained by the Chruch throughout the centuries.

4. To encourage and recruit leaders in congregations, synods, and theurchwide organization, including bishops, who will commit themselves to these goals.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fifteen Years, Today

O Lord God, dear Father in heaven, I am indeed unworthy of the office and ministry in which I am to make known thy glory and to nurture and to serve this congregation.

But since thou hast appointed me to be a pastor and teacher, and the people are in need of the teaching and the instruction, O be thou my helper and let thy holy angels attend me.

Then if thou art pleased to accomplish anything through me, to thy glory and not to mine or to the praise of men, grant me, out of thy pure grace and mercy, a right understanding of thy Word and that I may also diligently perform it.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, thou shepherd and bishop of our souls, send thy Holy Spirit that he may work with me, yea, that he may work in me to will and to do through thy divine strength according to thy good pleasure. Amen!
That is Luther's Sacristy Prayer, and I pray it every Sunday as I vest for the Divine Service. I'll sometimes think then that it would be good to post it here and it is particularly fitting to do so today (thank you, Pastor Weedon, for the idea), for it was 15 years ago today that the Rev. J. Roger Anderson, Bishop of the Southern California (West) Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America addressed me as we stood in the Chancel of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Canoga Park, California, about 15 feet from where I had been baptized 33 years (less one week) earlier:
According to apostolic usage you are now to be set apart to the office of Word and Sacrament in the one holy catholic Church by the laying on of hands and by prayer.
Bishop Anderson was joined in the addresses that followed by the pastor loci and my pastor, the Rev. C. David Olsen (of blessed memory, who preached that afternoon), the Rev. Brian Eklund (pastor then and now at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, who had supervised my seminary "Cross Cultural Experience"), and the Rev. Jeffrey Frohner (a friend and seminary classmate who had just begun serving his first call at Trinity Lutheran Church, Santa Barbara). With them standing around me, the Bishop then examined me:
Before almighty God, to whom you must give account, and in the presence of this congregation, I ask: Will you assume this office, believing that the Church's call is God's call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

The Church in which you are to be ordained confeses that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and are the norm of its faith and life. We accept, teach, and confess the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds. We also acknowledge the Lutheran Confessions as true witnesses and faithful expositions of the Holy Scriptures. Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and these creeds and confessions?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures and in your use of the means of grace? Will you pray for God's people, nourish them with the Word and Holy Sacraments, and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you give faithful witness in the world, that God's love may be know by all that you do?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.
After the Prayer of the Church and Come, Holy Ghost, they (though Brian and Jeff aren't really visible from this angle) were joined in the laying on of hands by the Rev. John Stump (Pastor Olsen's predecessor and my pastor at Resurrection during most of my college years) and the 2 nearest neighboring ELCA pastors, the Rev. John Lundeen (then of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Woodland Hills, and one of the Augustana Synod's Lundeen clan) and the Rev. Bryan Woken (then and now at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Canoga Park (West Hills). And thus they committed the Office of the Holy Ministry to me. Every time I attend an ordination, or simply take a few moments during devotions to review those promises -- many of us who have been in the Society of the Holy Trinity for a longer time have a card with them imprinted on the obverse of a holy card of Rublev's icon of the Old Testament Trinity -- I am struck once again by what I have been called to. How awesome! And how inadequate I am to bear that office.

Being reminded of that is a good thing. There is another similar Sacristy Prayer of Luther's that I don't use, but it always makes me smile, then ponder:
Lord God, thou hast appointed me a bishop and pastor in thy church. Thou seest how unfit I am to undertake this great and difficult office, and were it not for thy help, I would long since have ruined it all. Therefore I cry unto thee; I will assuredly apply my mouth and my heart to thy service. I desire to teach the people and I myself would learn ever more and diligently meditate thy Word. Use thou me as thine instrument, only do not forsake me, for if I am left alone I shall easily bring it all to destruction. Amen.
What an exciting day it was 15 years ago. And despite all I've done since, somehow it's not yet been destroyed. What a gracious Lord God we have!