For those who want high protein Christian stuff, sans bull... Religious Imagineer is the ticket.

OK boys and girls in Episcopal and Anglican Land. Time to move to the big time. All the petty squabbles about just who is most orthodox, who is most Anglican, who is mostly the most, mostly the best, and all that, fall by the wayside.

Jim Friedrich is an Episcopal Priest, but who gives a damn?  Not most of the Episcopal Church, it seems. He is an astounding theologian, but no seminary is much interested. Why? Because Jim (now getting to be a genuine ol fart), was post modern before there was post modernity, and has been working beyond the edges of the liturgical multi-media flab that passes for innovative creative liturgies for so long that all but his closest followers simply accept him as weirdly, well ... Christ centered.

The thing is, Jim is about as good a theologian as we get in Anglican Episcopal Land. He is articulate, passionate about art of all sorts in life and liturgy, astoundingly provocative and insightful about political and social matters, and like all of us, sometimes blind as a bat.  But he sees more than most of us see, hears more than we hear, and speaks the truth as he knows it.

Go over to The Religious Imagineer and read his stuff. It is fine reading, and deeper than the average pile of stuff you can find on the net as regards life and times for Christian folk in these times.  His current article suggests taking seriously this Dies Irae business, particularly in the light of pipelines to no good. He recalls drum circles and lightening flashing in the sky. He calls us back to the wonder of really profound shaking of our complacency.

I'm linking his stuff from mine, but hell, in these days when I am more interested in printmaking than much of what passes as stuff in Anglican Land, don't just link from me to him. Put him on your own watch list. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest - except of course for the few bits that fall short.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Jim is gifted as a writer, and we are the better for it.


Retired Bishop Peter Beckwith has left the house.

The retired bishop of Springfield, Peter Beckwith, has been taken in by the college of bishops of (The Anglican Church in North America) ACNA. So he has landed solidly in ACNA land.

It's about time. It took him long enough to resettle, but the signs are all there that he was on his way. 

In 2003 he was a founding member of the Anglican Communion Network, the precursor to ACNA, whose work it was to help and encourage realignment.

In 2005 he became a pastoral reference for parishes who had left TEC and sought refuge in the Province of the Southern Cone.

In 2008 Beckwith became the "Episcopal Church Desk" person for the American Anglican Council (AAC):

Here is what AAC said about the possibility of being in but not of The Episcopal Church (as reported on the Stand Firm site):

"Bishop Beckwith and myself and the other bishops on the AAC Board of Trustees do not have our episcopal orders through the AAC but are and remain tied to the Anglican Provinces that hold our Letters. This means that some of our AAC bishops and members who are in TEC might well remain in TEC for the long term, and those who are in other judicatories might do the same, or might go through a time of dual membership with their sponsoring Province of the Communion and with ACNA as well."

Perhaps Beckwith was already out the door then, but running with supposed dual membership.

In 2009, when ACNA was still in formation,  Beckwith was on the ecumenical relations committee of what was the run up meeting to the formation of ACNA.  See ENS article HERE.

But he didn't leave then. He didn't go to the formative assembly for ACNA. Covenant reported,

"As a result of developments in the Diocese of Springfield, The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, will not be attending the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) Assembly which is scheduled to begin [Monday] at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas.

Bishop Beckwith was previously reported to be among the list of attendees at the meeting composed largely of former members of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada by Episcopal News Service. The group is seeking official recognition as another North American province of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Beckwith said he had been invited and that he had intended to attend solely as an observer and that his association with the AAC was limited to being a "liaison to the Ecumenical Relations Task Force," adding that "[i]n no sense is he a structural part of either the Task Force, or the ACNA."

At the time of his retirement in 2010 the State Journal Register in Springfield reported that "
Beckwith recently said he had “no immediate plans to join ACNA.” However, he acknowledged that he has more in common with the secessionist church than the Episcopal Church. (Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20100221/News/302219946#ixzz3IgPiylmh)
He didn't leave then. 

Following retirement Beckwith became chaplain at  Hillsdale College in Michigan. 

Apparently he didn't leave then.

I find no reference to his either leaving, being deposed, or otherwise announcing his departure from The Episcopal Church. Perhaps there is such a reference. (I am sure readers will inform me.)

But this year is different.

In May 2014 Beckwith signed on to the Jerusalem declaration and became the assistant bishop in the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes, which began its formation as a small group of dioceses that sought protection from the Southern Cone. (Note above his relation to that group.)

On October 10, 2014 ACNA announced that Beckwith had been received into the College of Bishops of that church.

Well, there it is.  So, now I guess Peter Beckwith will no longer be getting invitations to the House of Bishops meetings. He has in all likelihood not been for a while.  He has left the circle. 

The question is, "is that it?"  It took a long time, but Beckwith has up and left, one might even say he as abandoned the communion of this church (The Episcopal Church). In his heart he may have done so long ago.  So a formal cutting of the ties needs to happen - whatever its form.

I don't much like using deposition for having "abandoned the communion of this Church" as the next step, but there at least has to be a formal acknowledgement that he is no longer a bishop in The Episcopal Church.  What form will that acknowledgement take now?  Is Bishop Beckwith willing to at least write the Presiding Bishop and say, "I quit?" Perhaps he has done so.

There's a lot to like about Bishop Beckwith. Earlier today I read a long interview with him about his life and career. It is quite something.  Apparently his career has not ended.  I wish him well.

He does not seem to have taken his personal feelings and concerns and made them the banner under which the Diocese of Springfield had to march.

Still, there is the strong sense that Beckwith was gone a long time ago.

Now at least its clear:  he has finally completely left The Episcopal Church.


New Anglican Congress? Open how wide?

Last week there was a bit of a splutter of, dare we say, new thought out there in Anglican Land. It's about an Anglican Congress.

A small group of bishops from various dioceses in the Episcopal Church and Africa met at General Seminary in New York. They were: 

The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi
Archbishop of Burundi

The Most Rev. Albert Chama
Archbishop of Central Africa

The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba
Archbishop of Southern Africa

The Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya
Archbishop of Tanzania

The Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo
Archbishop of West Africa

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

The Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls
Chief Operating Officer,

The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves
TEC Bishop of El Camino Real

The Rt. Rev. Ogé Beauvoir
Bishop Suffragan of Haiti

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III
Bishop Provisional of PA

Six Primates and four bishops from TEC, one being non-diocesan, one provisional and one from Haiti. 

It was a fairly "big gun" sort of meeting. In their final statement they suggested:

"Over our time together, we found ourselves referring repeatedly to the spirit of the Anglican Congress of 1963, which contributed greatly to the transformation of our understanding of mission in the Anglican Communion. It gave us the language of mutual responsibility and interdependence in the body of Christ and helped lead us to understand ourselves as partners in mission rather than in categories of givers and receivers. In that same spirit, and with eagerness to share the blessings we have received in these days, we express our fervent and urgent hope that another Anglican Congress might be held in the next two years, and encourage the active leadership of all who might help to make it a reality for the good of God’s mission to heal and reconcile the world. We hope that representatives of all the baptized—bishops, priests, deacons, and laypeople—will be present and heard. We hope that the Communion’s strategy to address the next iteration of the United Nations Development Goals might be part of the agenda. Aware that Africa is now the demographic center of the Anglican Communion and has always been mother to us all, we deeply hope that our leaders will take this opportunity to call us home to Africa for such an important gathering of our Anglican family."

Aside from a bit of fluff regarding Africa as the mother to us all and the demographic center of the Anglican Communion, the basic idea is:

(i) An Anglican Congress in the next two years,
(ii) Held somewhere in Africa
(iii) representing all the baptized from within "our Anglican family." 

What are we to make of this suggestion, particularly in the light of the growing sense that Lambeth will not meet in 2018, and GAFCON's most recent bit of triumphalism that it has become an instrument of unity in the Anglican Communion where the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates, Lameth and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) have failed?  It would take a bit of generosity of spirit on all parts to see this idea through, that and a high dose of patience, and perhaps some desire for reconciliation. 

It seems to me the time is right for an Anglican Congress, but one which will dare to included not only representatives from dioceses within the member churches of the Anglican Communion as now constituted (ACC membership being and communion with Canterbury being the touchstones), but also those churches of "Anglican descent" that are in communion with one of the member churches of the Communion, but not necessarily Canterbury.  This would include then members of ACNA, a body with which GAFCON memebers are in full communion, but not Canterbury, the US and who are not part of the ACC. or members of churches with which the CofE is in full communion, but not part of the Anglican Communion. It would include members of the Old Catholic Church, several European Lutheran churches, The Philippine Independent Church, and so forth. 

Perhaps a rule for invitation would look something like this:
"Churches part of the Anglican family of churches throughout the world are invited to send members to the Anglican Congress. Inclusion in the Anglican family of churches is defined by each church being
(i) in communion with the See of Canterbury and part of the Anglican Consultative Council,
(ii) in communion with a church in communion with the See of Canterbury and part of the ACC.

"In communion with" will be understood to mean that the churches "in communion" welcome inclusion of the members of each church in the full life of the other - participation in the sacramental life of each church, recognizing the validity of orders and having a mechanism for easy interchange of ministry assignments, and affirmation of the distinctive life of each church.  

Additionally invited churches would have to understand themselves as part of "the Anglican family" of churches, either by direct historical and episcopal connection or by strong bonds of theological, sacramental and common prayer life formed from the influence of Anglican thinking and witness. That is, they would have to think of themselves as part of "the Anglican family."

There would be some fine lines of distinction and perhaps some quarrels along the way about who to invite. But the trail of links would have to be (I believe limited to two) - Either a church of the Anglican Communion as defined above, or a church in communion with one of those churches.

The question is, would this sort of Anglican Congress make it possible for churches who have broken communion or have impaired communion status with The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, or the Church of Southern Africa or the Church of South India, and so on, to sit in the same room with those they left?  Would The Episcopal Church really be interested in sending attendees to a meeting with those who constantly trash their leadership and the actions of their churches?  Would GAFCON get off its high horse and come to a meeting where Canterbury, Primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council still were considered touchstones for Anglican unity?

The one thing that would have to be avoided at all costs would be to make such an Anglican Congress a PRODUCT of two supposedly world wide agencies - the Anglican Communion offices and instruments on the one hand and GAFCON instruments on the other. The Anglican Congress should not become itself an instrument of further power politics in the church.

My thought is that the invitation to an Anglican Congress should come from a group of bishops (including Primates), priests, deacons and lay people who, of their own volition and with the support of Canterbury and the leadership of a growing number of Churches in the "Anglican Family," JUST DO IT.

Two years out sounds about right. So, think late 2016 or early 2017.  By all means meet in Africa.  Maybe the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia could offer an invitation for us to meet there. Speaking of "mother," pretty close to ground zero, and with not too much Anglican family problems in place.



Anglican Mission Pioneers seen from another perspective.

The Church Mission Society recently held a meeting of 120 "Pioneers" in Oxford.  Apparently it was a lively meeting.

The phrase "mission pioneers" was used several times in the report, based, I suppose in part on our following Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 2).  It's a catchy evangelical sort of phrase - one which makes missionaries the front edge, leading us into the world, as well as making missionaries a kind of extension of the work of Jesus, who is pioneer, etc.

Still, given experiences this summer in South Dakota among the Lakota, and now in Haiti among a people who freed themselves from slavery and are aware of their continued slavery to the masters that still linger, willing to control them, "pioneer" is a word that means exploitation, struggle and death.

The pioneers were, it turned out, carriers of many diseases, some biological, killing off large numbers of people by just being there, some economic and social, some theological. The record of pioneer activity is a graveyard of tragic results for either the people who already lived on the lands the pioneers entered, or for the people they brought as chattel to work for them.  Pioneers, viewed as noble and life giving in many tellings - settling the west, opening the new world, and so forth, are in the accounts of those who suffered their presence, awful pioneers of death.

CMS needs to rethink the use of this notion that the 120 enthusiastic and well intentioned attendees at this conference are "pioneers."  Find another name.  Better yet, find another reason for being in the world in Christ's name than bringing Christianity to the spiritually impoverished.  Being hungry, having no hope, being without money, and being without faith, these are all conditions that are real and need to be met as real. Being poor is a condition often cast on people making them choice subjects for conquest, even conquest by care.

We can do better than send out "pioneers."


Doing Art in Haiti: Another kind of pilgimage.

Its been months in the preparation and years in the making.

 Friday I leave the little town on the edge of the bay and near the big waters and head for Haiti. I am going to be an artist in residence at the National School of Art of Haiti. - ENARTS - for four weeks.

It is a very different sort of trip there, a very different sort of engagement.  

It is a sort of pilgrimage into the land of the imagination - not just the land of my imagination but of the imagination of Haiti as well. I will spend  a bit over four weeks in an intensive time of creative work with Haitian artists and artisans, and hopefully my imagination will explode into new visions. We will see. But mostly I will, God willing and some friends in Haiti consenting, walk for a short while in the company of artists, who I hope are also visionaries. I can't wait.

Earlier in the summer ten young people and eight adults went from St. Peter's, Lewes, on another sort of walk - a holy walk - with Lakota friends. At the close of our time there was an honor ceremony and I was given a scallop shell in memory of the trip. The scallop shell is a traditional sign of pilgrimage and it served to remind me that our pilgrimage in South Dakota was also a kind of strange pilgrimage, in that there was no destination apart from the walking together, no certificate at the end, no completion. It was a walking with.

Sunday evening those of us who went from Lewes had a chance to thank those in the parish who sponsored us by buying "shares" in our engagement there. Several of the young people spoke powerfully of the walk with Lakota young people and how the act of walking with others was so very different from learning about others.

So in some ways my trip to Haiti this time is a "walking with".   I hope to walk with Haitians trying to sing, dance, write, make marks on paper, distress metal into art, and on and on. And the act of walking with these friends will, I sense, be very different from learning about their art, or even learning to do art as they do.  In the end I will be walking my own walk, in terms of creative activity, and my aristic work will stand or fall on its own. But I will walk for a time with others who have found vocation in this way, and maybe (God willing) I will find greater clarity in the work I do.

I will take the Shell with me.  Thanks to the Rev. Margaret Watson, of Eagle Butte, SD, for the shell and the jog forward. Thanks to Kathryn, my beloved, for the support of  my years of dreams and visions and trips to Haiti.  And of course to Yvan and Cecile, friends for very many years, who are family wherever I am. And thanks to St. Peter's for encouragement both for this, and for my engagement with youth work there, and for a place where that other vocation of mine - the ministry of priest - gets mostly played out.

It turns out walking with the young in Lakota Land makes me younger, young enough to test vocation again, to taste the delicious idea that there might be a "new thing" in living, even as the years remaining are, shall we say, limited.

What I will be doing at ENARTS is working as a printmaker, working in relief printing (mostly from wood blocks carved there).  I hope to spend two days a week at an atelier for iron art makers, and three days in open studio time at ENARTS. If the reader is interested, examples of my work can be seen at www.preludiumarts.net 

I've been to Haiti in good times and bad for over forty-five years. Mostly I have been there to be with my good friend  Yvan Francois and his good friends and family.  I've been involved in life there on all sorts of levels. 

But this is something new for me. At long last I will be a contributor, not to Haiti the needy (but it never needed me) or Haiti "the poorest country in the western hemisphere" (Yvan and I hate that intro) but Haiti the creative and wonderous. A very small contributer, for sure, but there none the less. 

In a world that celebrates disaster and pain (for there our attention is often drawn) it is a blessing to be present in celebration of the small acts that reflect the larger Grace and greater will of The Creator, who had something god-like in mind for our hands and hearts. 

In the rubble that is the world, may we all find ways to mark the presence of Joy.