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A Prayer For This Web Site
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices; Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"For those who Influence Public Opinion,"
Book of Common Prayer, page 827

In our church, neither a person's gender nor their sexual orientation matter; what does matter is how they serve Jesus Christ as Lord.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Arguments and Squabbles are Nothing New For Us

Arguments are nothing new around the Espiscopal Church. Today, I am presenting some historical documents regarding such a squabble which occurred over a century ago regards an Episcopal church, its rector and its Bishop in Chicago. Read through this and notice how similar it sounds to the fighting which is going on now. PAT
Project Canterbury
The Lambeth Conference and the Reformed Episcopal Church

Joint Commission on Approaches to Unity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.
no place: no publisher, 1941.

The Right Rev. E. L. Parsons, D.D., Chairman
The Right Rev. G. R. Fenner, S.T.D.
The Right Rev. W. B. Stevens, D.D.
The Right Rev. R. E. L. Strider, D.D.
The Right Rev. F. E. Wilson The Rev. F. J. Bloodgood, Secretary
The Rev. Angus Dun, D.D.
The Rev. T. O. Wedel, Ph.D.
The Rev. A. C. Zabriskie, S.T.D.
The Rev. H. R. Robbins, D.D. Wm. L. Balthis
Clifford P. Morehouse
Dr. K. C. N. Sills
J. C. Spaulding
Alexander Guerry Associate Members

The Right Rev. G. A. Oldham, D.D.

The Right Rev. Spence Burton, S.S.J.E.



At the Lambeth Conference of 1888 a statement was presented on behalf of the American Bishops regarding Holy Orders in the Reformed Episcopal Church. No action was taken by the Conference but the statement was received and printed in the record (see The Lambeth Conferences of 1867, 1878, and 1888—pp. 359-363).

In the past few years conversations have been held between a Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U. S. A. and a similar Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church, resulting in further investigation and the uncovering of information which was evidently not available to the Bishops in 1888. In view of what has been brought to light the Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church believes that the statement presented to the Lambeth Conference in 1888 should be reconsidered as the first step toward reaching a working agreement with the Reformed Episcopal Church. Since no action was taken on the original statement, there is no resolution to be rescinded or amended. But since the statement does appear in the record, it seemed proper and courteous to the members of our Commission that a review of the whole matter should be laid before the present members of the Lambeth Conference, raising the question as to whether any objection would be felt toward such a reconsideration and toward working out a possible plan of intercommunion between the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Reformed Episcopal Church based on the information contained in this brochure.

Accordingly the following resolution was presented and adopted by the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church meeting in General Convention in October of 1940:

RESOLVED, That the House of Bishops authorize the Commission on Approaches to Unity to prepare a brochure on the question of Holy Orders in the Reformed Episcopal Church with special reference to the report made to the Lambeth Conference on this subject in 1888; that copies of the brochure be sent to all the Bishops of the Anglican Communion; that the replies of the Bishops be presented to the House of Bishops and that any further action should be contingent on the nature of these replies.

To carry out the purpose of that resolution the following pages have been written. They are sent to the Bishops with the request that replies should be sent to

Bishop of Eau Claire,
510 S. Farwell St.,

For the Commission on Approaches to Unity,
All Saints Day, 1941.



Perhaps it was a case of nerves following a great war.

In any case, whatever the cause, the years immediately after the close of the Civil War (from 1865 onward} saw a wave of controversy sweep over the Episcopal Church in the United States. The points at issue had to do with Churchmanship, ritual and ceremonial. Arguments waxed stormy and feelings were brittle. People were easily offended. Matters which might have been passed over at other times were magnified into vital issues.

In this highly charged atmosphere a difference arose between the rector of a parish in Chicago and his Bishop. The rector was the Rev. Charles Edward Cheney and the Bishop was the Rt. Rev. Henry John Whitehouse, both men of strong character. Whatever other factors may have contributed to the general situation, the issue as it finally emerged centered around the use of the word "regeneration') in the baptismal office. Dr. Cheney refused on conscientious grounds to use any parts of the office which contained references to "regeneration". The matter was brought to the Bishop's attention and he called Dr. Cheney to account for mutilating the service and for denying the Church's doctrine. So the issue was joined and the controversy over Churchmanship was for the moment focused at this point, partisans ranging themselves on one side or the other.

On June 12, 1869, Bishop Whitehouse appointed a committee consisting of two priests and one layman to examine the case and, if the evidence appeared to warrant it, to present Dr. Cheney for trial before a diocesan court. This committee made its presentment on June 21, 1869, and on the same date a citation was issued by the Bishop to Dr. Cheney giving him a list of eight Presbyters from which, in accordance with the canons of the Diocese of Illinois, he was requested to select not less than three or more than five to act as assessors at the trial over which the Bishop would preside as Judge. Dr. Cheney having failed to respond to this request, the Standing Committee of the Diocese, again in accordance with the diocesan canons, selected five assessors from the list submitted.

Thereupon Dr. Cheney entered a formal protest to the assessors who now constituted the Ecclesiastical Court, raising various technical objections to the procedure. These objections were overruled by the Ecclesiastical Court. Dr. Cheney then filed a bill in the Superior Court of Chicago (a secular court) asking an injunction against the Ecclesiastical Court from proceeding with the trial. A temporary injunction was granted. The question was carried to the Supreme Court where the action of the lower court was reversed, the injunction dissolved and the Ecclesiastical Court left free to proceed with the trial.

However, during the course of this legal sparring, one of the assessors on the Ecclesiastical Court, the Rev Henry Niles Pierce, was consecrated Bishop of Arkansas, thus severing his connection with the Diocese of Illinois and disqualifying himself as a member of the Court. Over Dr. Cheney's objection the remaining four members sitting as a Court, found him guilty as charged and recommended his suspension from the exercise of his ministry. The Bishop pronounced the sentence of suspension. Dr. Cheney objected that the Court was incompetent to act because the vacancy of Bishop Pierce had never been filled and the diocesan canon provided that "the court being duly constituted by the presence of the requisite number of Presbyters, they shall receive such evidence as may be adduced etc." He therefore refused to recognize the sentence of suspension and continued to exercise his ministry in his parish Church without interruption.

On March 27, 1871, a second presentment was made to the Bishop against Dr. Cheney charging him with contumacy because of his disregard of the sentence of suspension. A new Court was formed consisting of five assessors. Dr. Cheney was adjudged guilty and his deposition was recommended. The sentence of deposition was duly pronounced by the Bishop, June 2, 1871. This also was completely ignored by Dr. Cheney who continued to hold services and exercise his ministry as before in his parish Church with the consent and approval of his Wardens and Vestrymen.

At a convention of the diocese held later in the same year, 1871, a long resolution was adopted in which the antecedent course of events was reviewed and it was resolved "that legal proceedings shall be taken to prevent the further diversion and maladministration of the property and revenues of the said parish of Christ Church, Chicago, and to effect the rescue of the same for their legitimate and godly uses". In pursuance of this resolution a civil suit was instituted in the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking to enjoin the Wardens and Vestrymen from continuing Dr. Cheney as rector and from allowing him to occupy the rectory and use the Church building for conducting services and from paying him a stipend from the funds of the parish.

It was in the trial of this civil suit that Dr. Cheney and his attorneys argued the incompetency of the original Ecclesiastical Court. They claimed that the sentence of deposition issuing from the second Court was void because it depended on the sentence of suspension issuing from the first Court and that the first Court was incompetent to act because the vacancy created by the removal of one of its members had never been filled as the canons required. Under date of August 15, 1874, Judge E. S. Williams handed down his decision in which he said:

"I cannot avoid the conclusion that the court, which the standing committee of the diocese had selected for the trial of the defendant Cheney, was, in view of his express stipulation and their election, under the well settled rules of law, a court of five presbyters, and their presence and consequent action was necessary at all stages of the trial . . . and that the action of the four assessors (no one of them having willfully withdrawn), in finding said Cheney guilty, was unauthorized and void . . .

"The second trial of Mr. Cheney was based upon his contumacious conduct in not submitting to the former sentence of suspension . . .

"If the views above expressed are correct, it follows that neither of the verdicts of the assessors was of any validity. Upon the first trial there was no court present during the examination of witnesses nor at the rendition of the verdict. The second presentment was based wholly upon the contumacious conduct of the accused in not obeying a sentence which I have declared void, and therefore the finding of that court was of no validity". [1]

Thus the civil court presumed to invalidate the sentence of deposition and left Dr. Cheney in full possession of his rights and privileges as rector of the parish of Christ Church, Chicago.

Counsel for the Diocese of Illinois thereupon appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The decision of the lower court was upheld by the Supreme Court but (and this point is significant) on other grounds than the invalidity of the sentence of deposition. In fact the Supreme Court said quite plainly that as a civil court it was concerned only with the question of property rights and not at all with matters of ecclesiastical discipline. The following paragraph written by the Supreme Court simply disregards the bulk of the argument written by Judge Williams for the lower court:

"We shall, in considering the question, assume, although the fact is denied by Cheney, that he was, by the proper church judicatory, deposed from the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church, because of non-conformity with certain of its tenets." [2]

Parenthetically it should be added that this whole question was recently submitted to Mr. James G. Mitchell, a Churchman, an attorney of New York City, and a member of the Presiding Bishop's Commission on Ecclesiastical Relations. After careful examination of all the records he has prepared an extended memorandum in which he finds the argument of Judge Williams regarding Dr. Cheney's deposition to be entirely unwarranted and considers the above paragraph taken from the decision of the Supreme Court to be a rebuke to the lower court from which the appeal was taken. Mr. Mitchell cites authorities in support of the thesis that a civil court in the United States has no jurisdiction for the review of a question of ecclesiastical discipline under the provisions of canon law. [3]

Whatever anyone might think about it, Dr. Cheney and his Vestry retained control of the Church property while the Protestant Episcopal Church continued to count him as a deposed priest.

Naturally these proceedings created quite a furor throughout the Church and those who sympathized with Dr. Cheney on grounds of Churchmanship largely rallied to his support. In fact the situation became so acute that a separatist movement was definitely launched under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. George David Cummins, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky. Under date of Nov. 10, 1873, Bishop Cummins addressed a letter to the then Presiding Bishop stating briefly his case and saying "I, therefore, leave the communion in which I have labored in the sacred ministry for over twenty-eight years, and transfer my work and office to another sphere of labor". He then issued a call to clergy and laity who held convictions similar to his own to meet with him in New York City on Dec. 2nd to revise the Prayer Book and reform the Church.

Seven clergy and about twenty laymen attended the meeting over which Bishop Cummins presided. Out of it came forth the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Proposed Prayer Book of 1785 was adopted as the official formulary and standard of worship. [4] It was also at this meeting that Dr. Cheney was elected to be their first Missionary Bishop. Twelve days later, on Dec. 14, 1873, in his own parish Church in Chicago Dr. Cheney was consecrated to the episcopate by Bishop Cummins.

This was the origin of the Reformed Episcopal Church and it was through these two men that their Orders were derived and their ministry constituted.


To the Lambeth Conference of 1888 was presented "A statement in regard to Ordinations or Consecrations performed by Dr. Cummins, or others claiming Ordination or Consecration from him, prepared by the Presiding Bishop of the American Church, the Right Rev. John Williams, D. D., L.L. D." At the end of the Statement appear the names of A. Cleveland Coxe, Wm. Croswell Doane, and George F. Seymour, "Committee on behalf of the American Bishops". A perusal of the Statement impresses one with the fact that the atmosphere surrounding the whole question was still highly inflammable. It is almost entirely concerned with the circumstances connected with the consecration of Dr. Cheney and says that "four things must be taken into account—(1) the condition of the Consecrator; (2) the act itself; (3) the service used; and (4) the condition of the person said to be consecrated . . . "

(1)—Regarding the first of these four points, "the condition of the Consecrator", the Statement goes on to say: "Bishop Cummins had not been deposed, and therefore his act, however inconvenient, cannot, so far as he is concerned, be counted as having no force. He was, however, acting in the face of canonical obligations".. [5] This would appear to concede that the condition of the Consecrator, however unfortunate, was not such as would impair the validity of the consecration.

(2)—Regarding point two, "the act itself", the Statement says: "The Consecration itself is, clearly, utterly uncanonical, though, of course, not, PER SE, invalid". In other words, it was obviously irregular without being invalid.

(3)—Regarding point three, "the service used", two questions are raised. In the first place the Statement says that it is not known what form was employed and therefore it is impossible to say whether it was sufficient. In the second place, exception is taken to certain remarks contained in Bishop Cummins' sermon preached during the consecration service, which, it was said, impeached his "intention" of conveying the historic episcopate. Let us consider these two objections as (a) and (b).

(a) Evidently somebody saw to it that a public record should be preserved of that service of consecration. It was reported in full in the Chicago Tribune of Dec. 15, 1873—not merely a description of the service but the service itself in full form covering several closely printed newspaper columns. [5]. After the reading of the Gospel Bishop Cummins made the following announcement: "I desire to state to the congregation, before announcing the next hymn, that the prayer-book used on this occasion is the Prayer-Book of 1785, as set forth by the First General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in that year, presided over by the Rev. Dr. White, afterwards Bishop White. The Litany to be used this morning, and the Communion Service, are also from the Prayer-Book of 1785". Now it happens that the Proposed Book of 1785 contains no Ordinal but Article 19 of the Articles of Religion in that Book simply adopts the Ordinal of the English Prayer Book "excepting such parts as require any Oaths inconsistent with the American revolution".

An examination of the service used for Dr. Cheney shows that it actually was the Service of Consecration taken from the English Ordinal with a few verbal changes which we shall note. The important features are all present. The special suffrage in the Litany was used without change; the Interrogatory is the same except for one additional question; Veni Creator was said over the kneeling candidate; and the prayer for grace, immediately following, was used without change; at the laying on of hands Bishop Cummins used the following form—"Take thou authority to execute the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost''; the delivery of the Bible followed together with the exhortation as in the English Book; the special prayer before the benediction was used without change.

Certain variations from the English service are to be noted. The presentation was made by two presbyters (of course, there were no other Bishops available), using the following form:

"Reverend brother in Christ, we present unto you this godly and well-learned man, to be consecrated to the office and work of a Bishop".

The following question was added to the Interrogatory: "Will you faithfully feed the flock of God, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; nether as being lord over God's heritage, but being an example to the flock?"

The form used at the laying on of hands is different from that in the English Ordinal but is the equivalent of the alternative form in the present American Book for the ordination of priests. It is also to be noted that the presbyters joined in the laying on of hands but not in the recitation of the words.

The opening words of the Collect are slightly different: "Almighty God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, give grace, we beseech Thee, to all Bishops and other pastors of Thy Church . . . " The Epistle and Gospel are among the alternatives provided in the English service—namely ACTS 20:17 and ST. MATTHEW 28:18 FF.

Other changes are trifling, such as using "we" instead of "I".

Bishop Cummins officiated alone as Consecrator at this service. There were no co-consecrators. There was not the minimum number of three Bishops which has been the historic practice of the Church at least as far back as the Council of Nicaea. This constitutes an irregularity but does not in itself create invalidity. For instance, the whole Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States was initiated when John Carroll, Roman Catholic Bishop of Maryland, alone consecrated four Bishops—and Carroll himself had previously been consecrated by a single Bishop in England.

Thus it would appear that the form of service used for Dr. Cheney which was unknown to the American Bishops in 1888 is now available for public scrutiny; that it contains the elements which are historically essential to the transmission of valid episcopal Orders; and that this portion of the objection contained in the Statement to the Lambeth Conference may no longer be considered sound.

(b) It is quite true that some things were said by Bishop Cummins in his sermon at this Consecration service which were scarcely up to Anglican standards. But certain facts must be kept in mind. It must be remembered that this service was the culmination of a heated controversy which had been gathering momentum over a period of years and that the preacher was undoubtedly driven to extreme statements to justify his extraordinary action. It must also be remembered that however inadequate his interpretation of episcopacy may have been, he did intend to convey the Historic Episcopate as is clearly indicated by the fact that he used with only trifling variations the "matter" and "form" of the Ordinal of the Church of England. And it must further be remembered that Dr. Cheney understood himself to have been made a Bishop in the full sense of the word, that he said so repeatedly, and that he so comported himself during more than a quarter of a century of his subsequent episcopate in the Reformed Episcopal Church. It should also be added that the careful preservation of the Episcopate has been one of the peculiar marks of the Reformed Episcopal Church from that day to this. An adaptation of the unanswerable arguments pronounced by the English Archbishops in their reply to the papal encyclical "Apostolicae Curae" in 1896 should be sufficient to resolve any doubts as to the "intention" connected with the consecration of Dr. Cheney.

(4)—Regarding "the condition of the person said to be consecrated" a curious analogy is adduced dating back to the year 457 A. D. when the Emperor Leo I circularized the Bishops preparatory to extruding Timothy Aelurus, the Monophysite candidate, from Alexandria. The Bishops of Cappadocia and the Bishops of Galatia both replied that a deposed presbyter was ineligible for the higher order. This is said to constitute a precedent affecting Dr. Cheney's eligibility for consecration. It is difficult to see a real parallel between these two situations separated by so many centuries and under such totally different conditions. Moreover one might well be reluctant to press the analogy too far in view of the cloud resting over the proceedings against Dr. Cheney which resulted in his deposition. If one is dealing in technicalities, one cannot escape the fact that the decision of a secular court is a matter of record which invalidates Dr. Cheney's deposition under the provisions of the Church's own canons. One might question the right of a secular court to render such a decision (just as one might question the position of the Emperor Leo as a secular ruler) but one can scarcely ignore it in passing judgment on the whole complicated state of affairs. And it is ignored completely in the Statement made to the Lambeth Conference, in spite of the fact that there was a body of opinion in the Church at that time which quite agreed with the scholarly Dr. Fulton, editor of the Church Standard, that the "sentences of suspension and deposition pronounced upon Dr. Cheney were illegal, uncanonical, and therefore utterly void; hence he was never suspended nor deposed".

The Statement to the Lambeth Conference also makes incidental mention of the only other consecration at which Bishop Cummins officiated—namely that of the Rev. W. R. Nicholson, a presbyter who left the Protestant Episcopal Church in order to enter the newly constituted Reformed Episcopal Church. The real burden of the argument, however, rests on the Cheney case and the Nicholson case simply goes along with it. Through these men the Historic Episcopate has been preserved in the Reformed Episcopal Church and the episcopal succession has been carefully maintained from this beginning.

It is well known that there have been irregularities among the Reformed Episcopalians in the course of more than half a century of struggle to maintain an effective ministry. On one occasion when there were only two bishops available for the conferring of episcopal Orders a Methodist bishop was called in to make a third and on another occasion a Moravian bishop was used for the same purpose. Such departures from Anglican tradition are disconcerting but they do not necessarily affect the technical validity of the Orders conveyed. It is also true that there have been instances of ministers received from Protestant communions into the ministry of the Reformed Episcopal Church without any episcopal ordination at all. On Feb. 16, 1938, an officially appointed Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church gave assurances that there were no such instances existing at that time. Again it is disconcerting but it would have to be expected that irregularities would occur in times when the storms of controversy were raging. The question to be decided is whether they are of sufficient weight to warrant an entirely negative answer regarding the validity of Holy Orders in the Reformed Episcopal Church.


Conversations have been initiated between a Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church and a similar Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church. There are hopeful indications that the acerbities of a past generation are ready to be set aside in favor of a frank discussion of the possibility of reconciliation. The Statement of the American Bishops to the Lambeth Conference stands definitely in the way of progress in this direction. A fresh and probably less biassed study of the whole situation has brought to light information which was evidently not available in 1888 when the Statement was prepared. That information is presented herewith.

Therefore it is now proposed that the Statement to the Lambeth Conference of 1888 should be considered as a significant document of an earlier generation but with no current authority and that it should not be allowed to stand in the way of negotiations looking toward the healing of this particular schism—provided always that necessary safeguards should be erected on those matters which have been or still are points of issue between these two bodies of Christian people.


[1] Decision of Judge E. S. Williams taken from the Chicago Legal News, Vol. VI, pp. 382-384, 389-392.

[2] Calkins v. Cheney (1879) 92 Ill. 463.

[3] Again parenthetically, the writer of this pamphlet would like to express his agreement with the conclusions reached by Mr. Michell—namely, that it is an intrusion for the civil courts to venture decisions in matters of ecclesiastical discipline. Furthermore I believe the objection raised by Dr. Cheney was purely technical and outside the merits of the case. I also believe that if his objection had been entirely met and a new court appointed in the first place, the outcome would have been exactly the same. Nevertheless, these legal complications are deserving of consideration because they have a bearing on one of the points raised in the statement of the American Bishops to the Lambeth Conference, in which statement they are completely ignored.

[4] The Proposed Book of 1785 was a suggested revision of the English Prayer Book for use in the United States after the Revolutionary War. It was withdrawn in favor of the revision of 1789 which was adopted as the official formulary of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

[5] On Nov. 15, 1866, Bishop Cummins had been regularly and canonically consecrated a Bishop. No question has ever been raised as to his own Orders.

Project Canterbury

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trinity Church Starts British Bell Ringing Practice

Wall Street church starts British bell-ringing practice
The Associated Press


October 28, 2006

You think you just pull the rope and the bell rings, but there's a rhythm to it and you have to pay attention. It's not as easy as it looks. Wall Street heard the sound of 12 bells on Saturday _ announcing God, not money.

While the bell that opens the stock exchange was silent, the landmark Trinity Church at the top of the street rang $1 million worth of new chimes, pealing for hours according to a mathematical formula dating to the Middle Ages.

The so-called 'change-ringing' bells _ the only 12-bell set in the United States _ were installed about five years after the terrorist attack on the nearby World Trade Center that filled Trinity with ash and debris. The church was closed for two months after the attacks.

'I am delighted to continue the tradition begun in the 18th century when the British introduced change bell ringing to the colonies,' said Martin 'Dill' Faulkes, a British computer entrepreneur who worked on Wall Street in the 1980s and financed the project. 'The glory of change bell ringing is perhaps even more resonant in today's stressful environment.'

Starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, a 'band' of British ringers started pulling the sallies at the Episcopal church for a full peal of at least 5,000 'changes' _ each a mathematically calculated sound sequence for all dozen bells, instead of a particular melody. The rich cascade of sound was to be heard again on Sunday morning.

The Rev. Mark Sisk, bishop of New York's Episcopal Archdiocese, was at the altar to bless the ringers, including Faulkes, himself a change-ringer since he was 12.

He had first contacted the church about the project before the terrorist attack. Last year, Faulknes donated $1 million to refurbish the bell tower and 10 older chime bells, and to install 12 new swing bells that were created at the Taylor Foundry in Loughborough, England.

The bells _ ranging in weight from a few hundred pounds to over a ton _ were cast by pouring a molten bronze alloy into molds that were hand-crafted using a mixture of sand, water, chopped hay and horse manure.

On Friday, the inaugural chime was rung, but not a full peal.

'I had a rope-handling lesson, and it was quite humbling,' Trinity's vicar, the Rev. Anne Mallonee, said after a practice session earlier in the week. 'You think you just pull the rope and the bell rings, but there's a rhythm to it and you have to pay attention. It's not as easy as it looks.'

The bells swing 360 degrees from their frames as they're rung using 30-foot ropes, producing the shimmering sounds whose patterns change hour after hour. The more bells are involved, the longer they can be rung without repeating a pattern. For instance, six bells have 720 permutations, while 12 can go through 479,001,600.

'The hardest part is learning to control a half ton of metal with a rope,' said parishioner Tony Furnivall, who is organizing Trinity's own 'band' of ringers. 'The way you control it is by pulling not too hard. The bell does the work.'

At the end of three and a half hours _ as long as the dozen-bell peal usually takes _ 'many of the ringers will be in a trance,' he said.

Change ringing dates back to the Middle Ages, with techniques refined in the 18th century still being used now. The first peal in England was rung in 1715; the first in North America in Philadelphia in 1850 _ but with fewer bells than those at Trinity. The National Cathedral in Washington has 10 bells.

Starting Nov. 13, Trinity will offer training to anyone interested in change-ringing, which is practiced at about 50 American churches including Boston's Old North Church. The teenage Paul Revere was a ringer there.

Trinity, a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture consecrated in 1846, dominated the lower Manhattan skyline as a beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor. With Alexander Hamilton buried in its graveyard, Trinity is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


On the Net:

Trinity Church: http://www.trinitywallstreet.org
The North American Guild of Change Ringers: http://www.nagcr.org

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Archbishop Williams Meets With Presiding Bishop-Elect Jefferts-Schori

Lambeth Palace in background, Griswold on left, Rowan Williams in center, Jefforts-Schori on right.
Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts-Shori met Oct. 27 with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in a closed-door session at Lambeth Palace in London to discuss the state of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Introduced to Archbishop Williams by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, the three met for 90 minutes without aides present in Archbishop Williams’ office. The meeting was requested last spring by Bishop Griswold in order to introduce the person elected to succeed him.

Bishop Griswold told Anglican Communion News Service afterward that the discussions had been “cordial and collegial.” Bishop Jefferts Schori said she welcomed the opportunity to meet with Archbishop Williams and noted the three had shared a “frank conversation about challenges in the Communion.”

Prior to the meeting, sources close to the archbishop told The Living Church that Archbishop Williams intended to ask Bishop Jefferts Schori what her response would be as Presiding Bishop to the recommendations found in paragraph 144 of the Windsor Report. Paragraph 144 states:

Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites [of same-sex blessings], and recommend that bishops who have authorized such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorization. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion.

The question holds particular pertinence for Bishop Jefferts Schori, who as Bishop of Nevada authorized clergy to perform same-sex blessings. Archbishop Williams’ question should not be viewed as an attack on the presiding bishop-elect, sources said, but an example of the didactic method he frequently uses in examining difficult issues.

Archbishop Williams has also dismissed suggestions that the request for alternate primatial oversight (APO) was schismatic, privately telling the bishops in a recent letter that he considered them to be “faithful catholic bishops” within the Anglican Communion.

Writing in response to a private letter sent to Archbishop Williams in which the Camp Allen bishops affirmed their desire to be fully compliant with the recommendations of the Windsor Report, Archbishop Williams responded that he was grateful for the “tone” and “direction” of the meeting. He also expressed a desire for the Camp Allen bishops to be “magnetic” among The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. At the same time, he also made known that he has no desire to expel anyone from the communion of the Church.

His preferred solution, according to a bishop who has read the letter, remains an Anglican Covenant which would allow bishops and dioceses to opt in or out of full membership within the Anglican Communion.

Following the Lambeth Palace meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council announced that its secretary general, Canon Kenneth Kearon, would attend the Nov. 4 investiture of Bishop Jefferts Schori, while the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England would be represented by the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt. Rev. John Saxbee. The choice of Bishop Saxbee, president of the Modern Churchpersons Union, observers note, was made as a mark of respect for the presiding bishop-elect, as the MCU is one of the Church of England’s leading progressive advocacy groups.

Article written by (The Rev.) George Conger for Living Church.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sexual Abuse of Children Among Anglicans

I was a little reluctant at first to print this item in the blog. By contrast to the Roman Catholic Church in the USA, we Episcopalians have seen very little of this sin. We did have the instance of Father Bennison who has since been relieved of his duties, but we have seen nothing similar to the situation of the Anglicans in Australia as described in this report prepared by Jill Rowbotham. We Episcopalians know that Bishops who have same-sex attraction to others but who live quietly with a single partner for years and female Presiding Bishops are NOT the problem, regardless of what many Anglicans may claim about us. PAT

Paying for sins
The sexual abuse of children has had an expensive and long-lasting impact on the churches that let it happen or tried to cover it up, writes Jill Rowbotham

October 24, 2006

Seeking redress:

AFTER more than a decade of damage control over the sexual abuse of children, the churches are still picking up the pieces. Spectacular revelations are few and far between these days, but look no further than the plight of Adelaide's Anglicans to see that many dioceses will go on compensating victims for years to come.
In the City of Churches, Anglicans face servicing a $9 million loan that's needed to finance payouts to more than 70 alleged victims of pedophile church workers. More than 30 in that group have received $4.5million collectively after accusing former church youth worker Robert Brandenburg of abuse. Brandenburg committed suicide on the eve of his arrest in 1999.

Archbishop Jeffrey Driver will oversee a lengthy program of financial recovery that will involve a 10-year levy of 1 per cent of income, to be paid by parishioners, and asset sales including the tennis court at his historic residence, worth up to $2 million, and a church camp site in the Barossa Valley.

It is not the first time churches have had to sell off their assets to make up the shortfall in funds available for payouts to victims of pedophiles: the Anglican diocese of Tasmania sold its bishop's residence for a similar purpose.

In August, arguably the most notorious Anglican case was settled when Beth Heinrich was paid $100,000 in compensation for sexual abuse she claims began in 1954, perpetrated by then church warden Donald Shearman, in Forbes, NSW. She was in her mid-teens at the time and her relationship with Shearman dominated her life. Although she subsequently married and had five children, she later lived with Shearman and miscarried his baby before finally breaking away from him.

Shearman, now 80, went on to become the youngest Anglican bishop in Australia, and the first to be defrocked after Heinrich's story became public.

The Bishop of Bathurst, Richard Hurford, wrote Heinrich a letter in which the church apologised unreservedly for Shearman's "sexual abuse and moral corruption of a minor". But Shearman was not the only bishop to take a fall over the tragedy. Notoriously, then governor-general Peter Hollingworth, who had been archbishop of Brisbane when Heinrich first complained about Shearman in 1995, also came unstuck in the scandal.

In a television interview in 2002, Hollingworth defended Shearman with the fateful words: "There was no suggestion of rape or anything like that, quite the contrary. My information is that it was the other way round." Outrage followed and Hollingworth resigned in May 2003.

It was Hollingworth's second damaging controversy: the first had been a year earlier over whether he had responded adequately to victims' needs when it came to light that there had been sexual abuse at the Toowoomba Preparatory School in 1990. In December 2001, a Supreme Court jury ordered the Anglican diocese of Brisbane to pay more than $830,000 damages to a female former student of the school who had been sexually abused by the boarding master.

The court case and the size of the payout left the Anglicans shaken. "That scared everybody," recalls the Sydney Anglican diocese's professional standards unit director Philip Gerber. He dates the flurry of victim claims on the churches from the mid to late '90s, triggered by the Wood royal commission into the NSW police force, which released a report on pedophilia in 1997, and to the Toowoomba and Shearman cases.

Church lawyer Rodger Austin notes the rise in reporting of sexual abuse cases reflected a societal trend towards troubled people seeking counselling or family therapy. "Once they were able to talk about it to a counsellor, to acknowledge it, that changed things," he says. "Once that started to happen, people did have the courage to come forward."

But although most cases may have dated from the mid-'90s, victims' groups were forming earlier than that. Broken Rites Australia dates from 1992 and opened a telephone hotline for victims in 1993, staffed by volunteers who are survivors of church-related sexual abuse.

About 90 per cent of the victims who have contacted the organisation since 1993 have been from a Catholic background and more than half have been males who were abused as children.

It is a problem, Gerber says, that has occurred in the vast majority of dioceses in the country, and metropolitan dioceses occasionally contribute some of the costs in settlements made by less cashed-up rural or regional parishes.

For example, the Sydney and Grafton dioceses helped with the payout to Heinrich, although Bathurst bore the brunt.

Although those emboldened by reports of former victims successfully holding the churches to account for its sins over previous decades have stepped forward, innocent people also have been caught up in the momentum. The best known of these is George Pell, who stood down from his role as Archbishop of Sydney in August 2002 while claims he had sexually molested a 12-year-old boy 41 years earlier were investigated. He was cleared in October that year.

Pell's biographer Tess Livingstone quotes his statement from that time at length, including his reference to the ordeal as those "dark weeks", and the strength he found in "the great Christian teachings about suffering, death and resurrection".

The Catholic Church made some significant payouts, including one in 2002 when the St John of God Order paid $3.6 million to 24 men with intellectual disabilities for abuse they suffered in residential care units in Melbourne. Another potential multimillion payout could be in store for the Sydney Catholic diocese if lawyer John Ellis succeeds in his claim. It hinges on abuse he alleges took place when he was a teenage altar boy in Sydney's western suburbs in the '70s. Claiming repressed memory, Ellis has mounted a civil action against the archdiocese, seeking redress against it although the alleged perpetrator, Aidan Duggan, is now dead.

While churches have fought actions brought against alleged pedophile priests and religious workers in the past, it is the exception rather than the rule these days. They have also introduced or finetuned policies that enable them to adopt a methodical approach to complaints and the needs of those making them.

In the Catholic Church this emerged in 1996 as the "Towards Healing" process, which is observed in every diocese except Melbourne, which has its own set of protocols. Since then more than 1000 cases have been brought to "some level of resolution", Catholic national office for professional standards executive officer Julian McDonald says.

"Towards Healing does not attempt to say we give victims compensation but payments have been made in recognition of the fact that some harm has been done," McDonald says. Payments are not capped and there is no national register of how much the church has paid to aggrieved parties.

The Anglicans also operate a set of professional standards units across all dioceses that manage grievances. Gerber concedes Sydney's financial strength in terms of assets and income has been a boon. "We have not had to put any particular funding aside for it," he says.

Gerber estimates about 20 cases have been paid out for various sums under the scheme, but none has topped $75,000. He says ballpark figures for the financial cost to the Anglican Church in Australia to compensate for sexual abuse total about $15 million. This includes $3 million in setting up systems and processes to deal with victims and complaints, $500,000 to $1 million in counselling and meeting immediate needs such as paying bills or paying for retraining, and about $10million in legal expenses including compensation payouts.

"It's tapering off now," he says of the claims. "As far as you can tell, people who wanted to raise issues in the main have done so, although others may come forward."

What's happening in Australia is reflected in overseas dioceses, particularly in the US, where there is no shortage of staggering claims. In 2002 the US Catholic hierarchy held hastily convened talks with John Paul II in Rome over how to manage the worsening situation. In a society as litigious as the US, the realisation that potentially catastrophic financial implications would follow was swift. That year, the Catholic Church in Boston paid $US30 million to settle claims of abuse against one priest.

In 2004 the Catholic archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, dramatically filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which effectively protected it from a $US155 million action involving 50 molestation charges against one priest. Two abuse trials had been set to begin just hours after the announcement but were halted. During the previous four years the archdiocese and its insurers had paid $US53million for the more than 100 claims, the highest per-capita payments made by any diocese.

A year ago, Canada's Supreme Court ruled on a case involving tens of thousands of indigenous people who were sexually abused through many years in schools run jointly by the federal government and the churches. Its decision was that they should receive 75 per cent of their compensation from government and 25 per cent from the churches.

Gerber believes payouts in Australia will never come within range of those in North America: "It's an American phenomenon; even one of our biggest cases was only $800,000. We have probably, by not being litigious, reduced the bill."

Jill Rowbotham is The Australian's religious affairs writer.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Episcopal Nun Begins a New Life

A former nurse becomes Episcopal nun, devoted to prayer in monastery she began ...

By Liz F. Kay
Sun reporter

October 15, 2006

Irene Forbes Perkins has already accomplished a lot during her life. The registered nurse was the chief executive of a home health care company in Florida. She led a healing ministry and served as senior warden of her Episcopal parish.

But yesterday, she took the final step toward a new life of contemplative prayer as Sister Teresa Irene of the Heart of God, the founder and coordinator of the first Carmelite order in the worldwide Anglican community.

At a ceremony at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in North Baltimore, the nun dedicated her life to God and to the Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa, a monastery she has started in Rising Sun with the guidance of Roman Catholic Carmelites.

"In a sense, when you look back, it seems most of my life prepared me for what I'm doing," she said in an interview, listing marketing, running a corporate board and a business among her skills.

"God knew what God was doing," said Perkins, 55. "God usually does."

The Anglican Church began in the 16th century when England's King Henry VIII dissolved monastic communities because he wanted to tax church lands, said Bishop Robert W. Ihloff, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. But the orders re-emerged in Anglicanism in the mid-1800s, the Rev. Gregory Fruehwirth, the vice president of the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders in the Americas, said in a telephone interview from Wisconsin.

Some Roman Catholic religious orders have counterparts in the Anglican communion, which includes the Episcopal Church in the United States. Like their Catholic equivalents, the approximately 2,400 members of Anglican religious orders worldwide vow to live celibate, obedient lives and don't have private possessions, Fruehwirth said. There are about 300 members in 23 different Episcopal orders in North America today. In Maryland, 16 members of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor live in Catonsville.

Perkins, who grew up in Cincinnati, said she began the process of becoming a nun at the age of 21, but she left the Episcopal Community of Transfiguration after five years.

Many years later, "my sense of vocation came back to haunt me," she said.

Ultimately, unsure of the right next step, Perkins moved to a cabin in Georgia until "I discovered I was not a very good hermit," she said.

She didn't want to be ordained an Episcopal priest - Perkins said her calling was different. She wanted to join a contemplative Episcopal community - one that maintains a deep life of prayer, rather than emphasizing direct social service - but there weren't any in the United States. So, Perkins spent four years with the Sisters of the Love of God in Oxford, England, who draw on the Carmelite tradition, she said.

Perkins came back to the United States after the attacks on the World Trade Center. "I just had a sense that I needed to be here," she said. "I needed to be in this country, with, so to speak, my own people."

But returning to America meant she would have to form her own contemplative community. Perkins did so with the assistance of the Baltimore Carmel, a community of Roman Catholic Carmelite nuns in Lutherville.

The Baltimore Carmel was founded more than 200 years ago - the first group of women religious in what were then the 13 American colonies. "In a way, she's made contact with us in a view of that long tradition, that long history that we have," said Sister Constance FitzGerald, the prioress, in an interview. She gave the sermon yesterday.

"We believe that the world can be transformed by how we live together and how we pray," FitzGerald said.

Carmelites "live a large part of their day in silence," Perkins said. "If I wasn't founding a community, it'd be easier to do that," she said.

People work in silence and alone as much as possible. "I just painted a whole house," Perkins said, referring to the house in Cecil County her order is using. "I did a lot of praying with a roller in my hand." But two hours is set aside for purely recreational talk each day.

She's not alone. In addition to Perkins, one man and one woman have formally promised to join the Episcopal Carmel as lay oblates and two more are preparing to do so. Perkins' group also will receive its 15th associate tomorrow. (Associates follow a less strict rule of discipline than lay oblates.)

The community purchased a 3 1/2 -acre property in Rising Sun this summer. They're supported not by the diocese but through donations from "people who believe that what we're doing has value," Perkins said. "So far, the bills are paid."

Three years ago today, on the feast day of Carmelite reformer St. Teresa of Avila, FitzGerald and Ihloff heard Perkins' profession of first vows. Yesterday, Perkins, wearing an off-white cape on top of her brown-and-white habit, prostrated herself before the altar of the cathedral.

Ihloff then blessed a gold wedding band by sprinkling it with holy water and placed it on her ring finger as a symbol of her consecration and covenant with God.

Sister Alice L. Reid, a member of the Episcopal Community of Transfiguration in Eureka, Calif., who was Perkins' first novice master, said afterward that Perkins' act was courageous.

"I guess none of us would be here if our own foundresses hadn't done it," she said.

Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So They Want Something to Complain About, Eh?

Is anyone here old enough -- other than me -- to remember back in the 1950-60's when _our_ priests faced the altar and largely chanted the BCP (1928 edition, but of course)? About the time the Roman Catholics decided to revise things and have _their_ priests begin facing the congregation and doing such other 'strange' things as inviting congregational participation in the mass (such as singing hymns) _our_ priests began facing the congregation also.

Until that point in time, early 1960's, when the RC Church made that major overhaul, Catholic congregations had absolutely _no idea_ what singing hymns was all about,(and we Episcopalians were not a lot better); RC had no experience in doing so, no examples, etc. When the Vatican decided all should sing -- and the Pope got that idea from the Protestants, in an effort to make their services 'more relevant to the common man' -- their Bishops had no idea how this would be implemented, but a Commission was established by the Catholic Bishops who formed a non-profit entity to compile hymns and publish a book of them. That Commission or committee was known as FEL, or Friends of the English Liturgy.

Although mostly Catholic musicians, choir directors, etc were on the committee, a few of us who were there as 'token Protestants' were also on board to assist with the editing, the choice of hymn tunes, etc, otherwise the Catholic Bishops would still be scratching their head wondering about it.

Now as you probably know, hymns are a sort of 'religion unto themselves'; that is, most hymns appear in _everyone's hymnal_. Our Hymnal 1982 (actually it was published and distributed in 1984) contains many of the same hymns which appear in the Baptist or Methodist hymnals. Our hymnal (and the ones used by Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and whoever) contain poems and matched-up hymn tunes written by whomever. No one in the hymn book business cares about anyone's _religion_, just if their poem touches the heart, and the tune is lively enough. Go through our hymn book or anyone else's: a mishmash of tunes and poems from God-only-knows who and what formal religious beliefs the author had. It is very rare than a tune and poem were written by the same person or at the same time.

With that in mind, that compilers sit down and pick lots of poems, 'meter them out' and then match up lots of well known tunes, the Roman Catholic Bishops asked the Protestant church musicians to help them compile their own. The Catholic bishops sort of gave imprimateur to the whole thing, oversaw the process to make sure none of the poem lyrics were that much away from accepted Roman Church theology, etc.

A dozen or so of us worked in an office in Chicago, down the street but in the complex of the Archdiocese of Chicago; an office on the back side of the Cathedral of the Holy Name, the archdiocese church there. For about a year and a half, early 1960's -- we met in the cathedral with an organist and a choir; we went through at least two dozen protestant hymnals; the choir sang the hymns one after another; the committee members would listen to the singing, note the words, decide which ones to include and what to drop, etc. The committee even decided to include the well known "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", with the tune of J.S. Bach and the poem attributed to a monk named Martin Luther; the monk who started the rebellion against the R.C. church as it was modeled in the middle ages.

Finally we had narrowed it down to about 200-250 hymns for the 'new' (really first time) Catholic Hymnal from Friends of the English Liturgy. Off we went, back to our office to begin editing and proof-reading our selections. Each of us had a 'signature' (a collection of several pages) which was our personal responsibility. Make certain all the musical notes were correct; all the words were correct, etc

Then we had to 'sign off' on our work and pass it to the person next to us, who rechecked all our work. Then they signed off on it and passed it around again, sort of round-robin style. Each of us had to proof-read the poetry and the musical notes for everyone else's 'signature' or part of the book. The theory was a set of fresh eyes would catch further errors, etc.

Finally we got it all finished after another year or so and off it went to the printers and the bindery. As it began coming back from the printer, the proof reading process began all over: each of us took a section of the finished book looking for errors, initialed it and passed it around the room. Finally it appeared all was finished, our product was ready for the final printing, binding, and distribution, etc. We were so proud of our work! And the Catholic Bishops all liked it as well ...

The first print run started in distribution to Catholic parishes ... about a week afterward, the FEL office got a rather strange note from a Catholic nun -- a sister -- at a small parish in Iowa. Her letter said,

Dear Hymnbook Editor,
I know that as a result of the Vatican Council, our church has become a lot more liberal than in the past ... but did you really mean what you said in Hymn 93?
Yours sincerely,

(signed by the nun).

Assuming that the nun was merely lodging a complaint about the theology presented, and not liking the new format, we sat her letter aside saying, "What is the old biddy complaining about? This is the new church, and a new era." Just as casually, and with a straight face I walked over to the bookshelf and took down a copy of the new hymnal and flipped to that page. I read it over and over, checked out the tune, the meter, etc. I could find nothing wrong at all. I casually asked a co-worker to look at it and he read it over for five minutes or so then suddenly he let out a gasp and said "My God, take a look at verse 3!" I looked at it again and still saw nothing wrong.

It was the hymn "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, God of Glory, God of Love" by Henry Van Dyke. And sure enough, in the line which proclaims "Jesus Giver of Life Immortal" the /T/ in immortal had been dropped by accident, so the nun was complaining about 'life immoral' . We very quickly got the proof-reading plates and somehow managed to squeeze a 't' in the proper place when the next batch of books was going out.

And just imagine: some of the more conservative Episcopalians (the ones who are grumbling now and threatening to leave -- or have left the church) are not merely complaining about Vickie Gene Robinson -- although he is the icing on their cake -- but they also complain about the newer BCP and in some instances the 1982 Hymnal. I sure am glad we got that 'Jesus Giver of Life Immoral' caught before another set of books was printed for the Roman Catholic people!


Monday, October 09, 2006

A Bit More Early History of Epiphany and St. Paul's in Coffeyville

The first dozen years of our parish in s.e. Kansas (1872-1884), we shared priests-in-common with Coffeyville our neighboring community to the south. We attribute our founding to The Reverend Archibald Beatty, who met with a group of interested persons to form Friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Independence, Kansas on April 22, 1872.

St. Paul's Church in Coffeyville [which had been founded in 1869 by Colonel Coffey] was also started by Reverend Beatty, whom they have described in their historical documents as a missioner. Reverend Beatty served Coffeyville for two years in 1872-73.

But St. Paul's says that Reverend Levi Holden was their first full time vicar between 1873-76.

Our historical records show that Levi Holden was our second full time pastor, between 1876-78. Apparently, Reverend Holden left Coffeyville and 'came north' to Independence that year to stay with us for a couple years.

Then, Reverend Beatty returned to Epiphany in Independence for another year in 1878-79. In 1879-1880, Reverend Charles H. Canfield -- whom our records indicate was a missioner -- served Independence in that capacity, however St. Paul's records in Coffeyville show 'Reverend C.H. Canfield' was the rector there between 1878 and 1881. Apparently Reverend Canfield did 'double duty' during much of that time serving both Independence and Coffeyville.

On the first meeting of Epiphany Parish in April, 1872, Bishop Vail attended services, administered confirmation to a small class, and conferred with the newly formed Vestry regards other duties for Father Beatty. Father Beatty would be given a salary of $500.00 per year, and his duties would include missoner work in Neodesha, Elk City, Fredonia, and Coffeyville (my emphasis).

Reverend Beatty was primarily employed as a chaplain for the Santa Fe Railroad while all this was going on. Santa Fe, then as now, ran passenger trains from a terminal in Chicago, Illinois to the west coast, passing through Topeka, Kansas en-route. (Thus the name, 'Atchison [Kansas], Topeka [Kansas] and Santa Fe [New Mexico] Railroad'. Its a good thing Father Beatty had some other source of income (the railroad). Southeast Kansas was /still is a very rural area and we were not able to pay him all that well. Plus which, in 1873 his rectory burned to the ground, and among other tragedies for the Beatty family, an epidemic of Spiral Menengitis spread through town and affected one of the children.

Then November 23, 1879 through February, 1880, Reverend C. H. Canfield took charge of Epiphany Parish in Independence. He is listed as the third rector at St.Paul's in Coffeyville, 1878-1881.

Coffeyville then had a succession of pastors over the next twenty years through the early years of the twentieth century while Epiphany/Independence was essentially dormant. Arthur S. Freese, the pastor at St. Paul's in Coffeyville, 1903-1908 took on Independence as one of his responsibilities in 1903 for about one year.

Then, as you know, if you have been following this blog for a few months now, 1904 saw a renaissance at Epiphany Church in Independence, and lots of very nice, very major changes. But just as Epiphany and Ascension Church (Neodesha) have much in common from our early years, so does Epiphany and St. Paul's in Coffeyville. Where we were incorporated in 1873, St. Paul's was incorporated in 1878 and Neodesha in about 1900. St. Paul's opened their 'new' building at 7th and Elm in Coffeyville in 1912, Ascension in Neodesha opened their 'new' building in 1904 and of course we at Epiphany opened our new building in 1924-28 at 4th and Maple Streets in Independence.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Arson Suspected in Church Blaze

Arson suspected in church blaze
3-year-old building in Hartford sustains estimated $1 million in damage
Posted: Sept. 30, 2006
Hartford - Shocked parishioners were left hoping to rebuild after St. Aidan's Episcopal Church sustained an estimated $1 million in fire damage Saturday in what might have been the latest in a series of local arsons.

St. Aidans Episcopal Church Fire

Firefighters were able to save a cross from the steeple after an early morning fire Saturday destroyed St. Aidans Episcopal Church in Hartford.

The building can be rebuilt, but our church is our congregation.

- Brian Schrunk,

a congregation leader

"It's terrible," said Elda Sexton, a member of the church, which was built just three years ago at 670 E. Monroe Ave.

Investigators said they believed the fire that broke out about 3 a.m. was intentionally set.

Fire Chief Paul Stephans said investigators were trying to determine whether the blaze was related to other suspicious fires that have occurred recently in a Hartford garage, some vehicles and trash bins.

Noting that the church fire was the most serious yet, Stephans said, "It does appear that, if this was the work of the same person, it has escalated."

Joining the investigation were Hartford police, the state fire marshal's office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Investigators posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to a suspect.

In a prepared statement, the Fire Department cited evidence of "a rash of other arson fires" in Hartford.

The Rev. Michael Tess, pastor of the church, said his devastation grew more intense after he heard that an arsonist had targeted the church, which opened just three years ago after a lengthy fund-raising and building effort.

"This is malicious," Tess said. "It hurts even more now."

According to the Fire Department, the church was found in flames shortly after 3 a.m. after a nearby resident telephoned authorities to report smelling smoke. Firefighters battled the blaze for about three hours with help from neighboring fire departments.

Although the structure was not destroyed, Stephans said, damage was nearly $1 million - roughly the same amount it took to build the church.

"It may be damaged to the point of being beyond repair," the chief said.

Parishioners gathered for a prayer service Saturday outside their charred sanctuary, and they planned to return today for regular Sunday services under a tent.

Brian Schrunk, a leader of the congregation, said he was grateful that the fire did not break out while worshippers were inside.

"The building can be rebuilt," he said, "but our church is our congregation."

St. Aidan's began five years ago with about 30 families and has grown to 120 families.

Church members said they had no reason to believe that an arsonist would target the Episcopal congregation for any specific reason.

Stephans would not say what caused investigators to conclude the fire was intentionally set, although he said there were "indicators left on the scene."

William Boswell, an investigator with the state fire marshal's office, declined to comment.

Parishioner Barbara Lindert said the fire made her angry, because the congregation's many years of planning and fund raising had nearly been undone.

Lindert, however, was already thinking about rebuilding.

"We've got a tough row to hoe," she said. "Just say a prayer for us, because I think we're going to need it."

Anyone with information about the St. Aidan's Church fire can call the Wisconsin Arson Hotline anonymously at (800) 362-3005

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Thanksgiving Service at the National Cathedral

In the message from last week giving an invitation to the National Cathedral for the installation of the new Presiding Bishop, I did not realize how many readers here had never had an opportunity to visit the Cathedral before, or see its beauty, so to give you an idea of just what you missed there, you might enjoy seeing a video production of last year's Thanksgiving service. This is a 56-minute production, which aired on Thanksgiving last year. It includes the adult and the children's choir of the Cathedral, and the Washington Choral Society. The Dean and Vicar of the Cathedral is the morning preacher.

Watch it here