Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I've Moved To WordPress - Good Bye Blogspot

I am in the process of getting my new blog together. I hope it will have a different ethos than this blog. I also hope to be able to post more often over there. Please update your links and favorites as this will be my new blog. Thanks and I’ll be unpacking there so check back often.

www.bobbyjacksonkennedy.wordpress.com

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Open Letter to Episcopalians considering leaving the Episcopal Church

To My dear Brothers and Sisters in the Episcopal Church who are discerning departing the Episcopal Church:

I write to you as one who has trod the path that lies open before you. Many fears and doubts assail you regarding what you should do as an individual, or what you and your family should do together. I have stood in your shoes. Not knowing what lies ahead is a fearful thing, but our comfort in fear should be the resilience of Christ. If you truly trust him, and are desirous to follow him wherever he leads then you should take the great plunge into the future and walk where your heart pulls you.

If you are concerned about the direction the Episcopal Church has wandered into, or more accurately, the direction the Episcopal Church has charged in, then you share in the concerns of many countless Christians, throughout all the ages, who peer down upon the sad state of the Episcopal Church and do not see in her the characteristics and qualities that exists in the Church that these Saints lived for, and often, gave their lives joyfully to protect and uphold.

If you are discerning leaving the Episcopal Church it is because you detect error in the path of this body which claims the mantel of Church. Perhaps you can’t articulate what you feel is error, or perhaps you are well versed on all the issues. Either way, you, as the Scriptures say, recognize the voice of Jesus, and for some reason, his voice is either stifled in the Episcopal Church, or no longer heard in her walls. Yes, we know that Jesus promised that he would never leave nor forsake those who he loved and called by his name. Therefore, you consider leaving the Episcopal Church to find that place where once again, you can hear the voice of Jesus with clarity and sincerity.

I read the Episcopal blogs, though not as often now as I did before I left the Episcopal Church. Many people have indicated on these blogs that they also consider leaving and many already have. A great many have departed for other Protestant Churches. Still others have come to the Roman Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion in general, has historically proclaimed itself to be the “Via Media” or the middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. This attempt to be both was unique among the Protestant Churches which broke from the Catholic Church at the Reformation. The English situation was highly political and this attempt to be both Catholic and Protestant was largely motivated by politics. In reality, there were two different parties in the Church and in England. One was Catholic and one Protestant. Catholics didn’t want to be Protestant and Protestants did not wish to be Catholic. The English Church settled upon a middle way, a least common denominator religion, a compromise Church, in order to avoid civil unrest as much as possible. This experiment has run its course and the Roman Catholic party in the Church was largely vanquished at the moment of compromise. The only elements of Catholicism which remain in the Episcopal Church are the historical data, the vestments, and any other element which externally resembles Roman Catholicism. The inner heart of the Episcopal Church is Protestant at best and apostate at worst, despite the fact that the pews are full of good and well meaning people on all sides of the issues. It is a most unfortunate situation and my heart goes out to all who are discerning leaving and those who desire to keep the ship afloat.

If you are considering leaving the Episcopal Church the first order of business you must conclude is are you Protestant or Catholic? How do you arrive at this? If you are at all familiar with the historical situation in England at the time of the Reformation I might suggest that you do a little role-playing. If you lived in Reformation England would you have been part of the old Catholic party or would you have been part of the “New Church” of the Protestants? Would you have wanted the Church to remain in tact as it had been in England for generations before you, or would you have been open to the innovations of the Protestant Reformers? This may help you visualize and better understand which side of the fence you gravitate toward.

If you feel you don’t have the ability to make such a judgment call, then perhaps this is another way to look at the issues. If you were to leave the Episcopal Church, for a Protestant Church down the street, and the very same novelties of religion began to creep into that denomination that are ravaging the Episcopal Church at this time, would that Church stand a better chance, than the one you are in, of surviving secularism? Does that Protestant Church have the ability, or authority springing up from within, to decisively deal with secularism of all varieties? If that Church locally or nationally or internationally can change its teaching based on democratic means, such as the Episcopal Church is able to do, then your new Protestant denomination is no better off, or no more safe, than the Episcopal Church. Even if the particular congregation is strong, can a church based on democratic vote be safe for the future? Even if you enjoy stability in the here and now, will your grandchildren?

The conclusion I draw is that Protestantism is incapable of holding together and incapable of standing up to the onslaught of secular ideology. Look at the history of Protestantism since the beginning. The original Protestants agreed that the Church needed Reformation. They began with ideals of reform and ended up in revolt. They could not agree among themselves and unite their followers and congregations into one church. Denominations sprung up around personalities, and these even split. Here in America, with the construction of every new community worship center, a new cult of personality is born. While Protestantism may well have began with noble goals in view, the end result is that chaos has been born. The Catholic Church was able to reform itself, and clean up its house in light of the Reformation. We know this as the Counter Reformation and the Council of Trent. Why was Catholicism able to survive the Protestant Reformation, recover the loss of many of the faithful, and today remain the single largest body of Christians in the world, not to mention largest body of adherents of any religion? The singular most reasonable conclusion is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church” and “I will be with you always, until the end of the age.” The Catholic Church is the historically founded Church which Christ founded in and by his Apostles. The Catholic Church is the Mother Church from which each Protestant Denomination has its ultimate genesis. The Catholic Church is able to stand against the assaults of secularism and the proof is in the pudding. It has proven that it can stand against these assaults for two thousand years.

When you are considering leaving the Episcopal Church, if you choose to go to another Protestant Church, I feel that you are simply allowing for history to repeat itself in another generation. If you want to end the cycle of chaos and revolt, and be in a place where you are free to worship Jesus in the Spirit and in truth, then the Catholic Church is the only natural conclusion. It is the Church of your fore-fathers in the faith. It is the Church in which your denomination finds its roots. It is the Church that is able to withstand the assaults of the Evil One. It is the Church that the heroes of the faith lived and died for. The Catholic Church calls you home.

I tell you the truth, as dogmatically as I have stated my position here tonight, the plunge for me was not without hesitation. I had doctrinal concerns and practical concerns as well. I intentionally mapped out a course of study for myself and began to deal with my heart and mind and work toward a resolution to my concerns. If you are bothered enough by the situation in the Episcopal Church that you are considering leaving, then please turn your worry and concern into something constructive and delve into whatever it is that would keep you from coming home to the Catholic Church.

When we first come to faith in Jesus we can’t explain everything about the faith. We may not even be able to do that now. Yet we still believe and know in our heart, with our conscience, that Jesus is truly Lord. If you feel in your heart that Jesus truly wants you to come to the Catholic Church then run to it. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. You may not have an answer for all of your questions but don’t hesitate any longer just as you did not hesitate to run into the arms of Jesus at the hour you first believed.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI, Jeffrey Steenson, and My Journey Home

Next Sunday Morning, at the 9:30 A.M. Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston I will undergo the Rite of Acceptance into the Catholic Church, with the others who are leaving the stage of inquiry about the Catholic faith. I will then enter the Period of the Catechumenate. This Rite will most formally set me on the road to Easter and the time of my Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.

My understanding of the Catholic Faith is getting stronger. My sponsor for Confirmation, Josh Jordan, and his fiancĂ©e, came over to my house today. We were talking and I mentioned that I am, for one, amazed at the sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life that I am encountering after I’ve made the decision to come to the Catholic Church. I feel like it is a confirmation of the fact that I have made the right decision and that I am doing the correct thing, despite some of the challenges. I am also amazed how my thought process, and my understanding of theology and the faith, has changed and matured in the last month alone. I am a different man than I was in October and at the beginning of November. I am certainly a different man than I was a year ago.

I remember when Pope Benedict XVI came to America and hearing these words of the Pope from his homily on April 17th, 2008, at the Washington Nationals Stadium.


In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles (cf. Lk 22:32). I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead (cf. Acts 2:14ff.). I have come to repeat the Apostle’s urgent call to conversion and the forgiveness of sins, and to implore from the Lord a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country. As we have heard throughout this Easter season, the Church was born of the Spirit’s gift of repentance and faith in the risen Lord. In every age she is impelled by the same Spirit to bring to men and women of every race, language and people (cf. Rev 5:9) the good news of our reconciliation with God in Christ.
Source: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20080417_washington-stadium_en.html

When I heard this statement I couldn’t help but think it was for me, and that his prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this country would find me one day. What I mean is that I somehow knew, in my heart, that sooner or later, as a result of this Petrine invocation of the Holy Spirit, I would find myself coming into the Catholic Church, though I knew not when, or how, or under what circumstances. It was this summer that I firmly sat down and decided to read through the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and began to work trough those areas that I had concerns about. I, therefore, firmly believe that this Petrine invocation for the Holy Spirit to be outpoured on the Church in this country has been answered, and if you were to speak to other people about this prayer, they might bear witness to the fact that this prayer has been answered since the coming of our Pope to the United States of America.

One other statement has come to me and is generally responsible for giving me the final push that I needed to jump whole heartedly into the Tiber and swim from Canterbury to Rome. Jeffrey Steenson, a former Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and I understand may a Catholic Priest now, though I may be mistaken, gave a lecture at the 2008 Anglican Use Conference which spurred me onto my final departure from Anglicanism. In this lecture, which I wholeheartedly recommend for everyone to read, he says two things which had a profound impact on me. First he says,

As a seminary student I sensed that my own personal destiny would be connected with John Paul II… In October of 1993, I had the great privilege of meeting the Holy Father at the general audience, when a group of us were in Rome to explore how Catholic unity might be realized corporately by smaller Anglican communities. The Holy Father greeted us personally on that occasion. My heart told me to kneel and kiss his ring. But my head
told me I really ought to remain standing and take his hand, because I was still an Anglican and should not presume a relationship that, strictly speaking, did not exist.
How I wish I had listened to my heart! It troubled me for years afterward – a little thing
really, but a missed opportunity that I will always regret…On April 2, 2005, I was in my first year as an Episcopal bishop and driving across central Wisconsin for a meeting, when I heard the bulletin from Rome that John Paul II had died. This news cut me to the quick, for I had resolved those many years before, when I was still a seminary student, that I would become a Catholic while he was pope. With tears in my eyes and a heavy foot, I sped through a speeding trap. The officer put away his citation book when he heard what I was listening to on the radio. I would like to think of this as the first little miracle in John Paul’s cause for sainthood! I do not doubt that my unfulfilled resolution to be in full communion had now taken on a real measure of urgency in my own life.

The reason this struck me so hard is because I have a very strong love for Pope Benedict XVI which is similar to that which he felt for Pope John Paul II. When John Paul II died I was Episcopal but I followed the news with great interest, especially concerning the election of a new Pope. I told a friend of mine, who I was visiting at the time in Baton Rouge, that Joseph Ratzinger would be the new Pope. He laughed at me, one for the absurdity that I would be able to “know” that, and two because he knew that part of my reasoning for saying that was desire, rather than knowledge, though I was firmly convinced in my heart of hearts that he would be the next Pope. One level of this is also my great love for the nation of Germany and so it was only right of me to desire this man as the new Pope. When it was finally announced that Joseph Ratzinger was elected I called my friend right away, partly to rub it in (ha, ha). When he answered the phone he knew right away why I had called because he had just heard and was thinking of calling me. I told him, with some seriousness, that I was tempted to convert to Catholicism right then because of his election as Pope, but I did not because I still had theological questions that I needed to address, and it would have been unwise of me to convert to Catholicism for the sake of a personality and not for the truth of the faith. However, like Jeffrey Steenson, I felt as if I would not be able to let the opportunity pass for me to become Catholic while Pope Benedict XVI is exercising authority as the successor of St. Peter. He is “my Pope” as it were, and I am very thankful to know that I have been able to begin the process of becoming Catholic under the spiritual leadership of this Pope. I did not want to miss the opportunity to figuratively kiss the ring of Peter that Jeffrey Steenson literally missed the opportunity to do.

Secondly, Jeffrey Steenson pierced my heart when he said,

But this is what I should like to say to my dear friends who have put one toe into the other side of the Tiber. Listen to your conscience! The good conscience is a precious gift of faith, the Apostles regard it as the telos of all Christian acts, and it is our right by baptism. In the acrimonious Anglican wars, the liberals are acting from conscience (albeit misguided), the courageous Evangelicals are equally as clear, so why, dear friends, is your conscience so conflicted? God does not intend for it to be so but desires that we serve him with a good conscience (Acts 24:16).

Source: http://anglicanuseconference.com/

When I read these words I became the man that Jeffrey Steenson was speaking too, though he didn’t know it. I was in a period when my conscience was very conflicted. My heart, as I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere, was burning within me, and longing for the Catholic Church, in a way I feel is akin to what the disciples felt on the Road to Emmaus when they walked with Christ and did not recognize him until he broke bread and then their eyes were opened. I had been going to RCIA, reading Catholic books, and researching the Church and my heart longed for the Churches embrace. My toe was in the Tiber but I was afraid to swim. Jeffrey Steenson swam the Tiber in a situation which was markedly more difficult than my situation, and in a situation which required more faith and sacrifice then what it required from me. If he could do it, and I remember reading about it when he did it, on the Anglican blogs, then why shouldn’t I dive in deep, with a good conscience, and come home to Rome? The effect of his worthy lecture was immediate on my heart and proved to be one of the final, if not the final, push I needed to get the pilgrimage of faith toward Rome underway.

The past month has been joyous and yes, there have been challenges. I am confidant that I am moving in the right direction. As gravity pulls us toward the Earth so the Spirit draws us toward the truth. I stand in awe of the Church I am entering.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic - Part I

I want to attempt to provide some reflections upon the nature of the Church, as it is expressed in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I have chosen to use the Compendium due to its brevity and the blog is usually best suited for brief articles. We will see if I can keep this brief!

The Catholic Church offers stability to me. This is one of the reasons I was compelled to seek union with the Catholic Church. I think I am not alone in the world, among people searching for security, stability, and a place to call home. The Catholic Church offers the world a place to rest in Christ, but to also work toward the conversion of the world. The Catholic Church is securely planted on the Chief Corner Stone we know as Jesus, the rock of St. Peter and his Spirit inspired confession, the foundation of the apostles, and we are united to them in the Church as living stones. What do we know about this Church?

“The Church is one because she has as her source and exemplar the unity of the Trinity of Persons in one God. As her Founder and Head, Jesus Christ re-established the unity of all people in one body. As her soul, the Holy Spirit unites all the faithful in communion with Christ. The Church has but one faith, one sacramental life, one apostolic succession, one common hope, and one and the same charity.”

The God of the Church is a perfect community which has existed from all eternity. We are created in the image of God, and we, by nature, reflect His nature, even in spite of our wounds suffered as a consequence of the Fall. Our unity with God and with one another was damaged by sin and death and Jesus came to restore our relationship with God and each other. The damage caused by sin is being reversed in Christ and His Church. The Holy Spirit unites all people in communion with Christ. The chief way in which this is accomplished is through the Sacraments of the Church. Everything we experience in Christ is relational.

"The one Church of Christ, as a society constituted and organized in the world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him. Only through this Church can one obtain the fullness of the means of salvation since the Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone whose head is Peter. "

In the Catholic Church the totality of the faith is available to Christians. My experience has been that each Christian community I have been in prior to seeking union with the Catholic Church, affirms and believes many of the teachings of the Catholic Faith. Some stress particular elements of the faith (such as a particular sacrament, or Church government) while other areas of the faith are downplayed or neglected. In the Catholic Church the entire faith is expounded and affirmed as being the faith handed down from Jesus Christ. Jesus gave all authority and power in heaven and on earth to Peter and the other apostles. We see in the New Testament Christ specifically charging Peter with the task of feeding the sheep, and it is Peter who stands and leads the Church from the day of Pentecost. Communion with Peter is communion with the Church which Jesus established. Many communities of Christians have, for various reasons, separated from the Church. Partly this has been due to the fault of the Catholic Church and partly because of those who left. It is the duty of all Christians to seek unity again and restore the harmony which should exist among all Christians under protection of the shepherd of the sheep Peter.

"In the churches and ecclesial communities which are separated from full communion with the Catholic Church, many elements of sanctification and truth can be found. All of these blessings come from Christ and lead to Catholic unity. Members of these churches and communities are incorporated into Christ by Baptism and so we recognize them as brothers."

The Catholic Church is quick to point out what is good about those churches which are not in full communion with her. The members of these churches are Christians united to Christ, and united to Catholics, by the sacramental grace of new birth in Baptism. This is something to be cherished and praised. In light of the fact that these churches are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, it is recognized that many elements of truth and sanctification are found outside of the Catholic Church, among these churches and communities. These areas of commonality should serve as bridges which span the gap of schism and allow us to work toward full communion and restoration of relationships among brothers.

"The desire to restore the unity of all Christians is a gift from Christ and a call of the Spirit. This desire involves the entire Church and it is pursued by conversion of heart, prayer, fraternal knowledge of each other and theological dialogue."

Unity is not an option but an imperative. How should we strive to seek unity with all Christians? Conversion of heart is needed because often, though wrongly but understandably, the Catholic Church is not judged by her objective truth but by the sinful lives of some of her members. Catholics should strive for conversion of heart, and right living, so that other Christians may see and know that the claims of the Catholic Church are reflected in out lives. Prayer is a powerful means of change and it is a key ingredient toward Christian union and charity. Fraternal knowledge requires us to know one another, spend time with one another, and to seek to understand one another. Brotherly love and devotion is key. Theological dialog must occur between the Vatican and other churches, but theological dialog must also take place between individual Christians on the local level. It is easier to have theological dialog, which is productive and charitable, when the parties involved have already practiced the conversion of heart, prayer, and grown to know each other and served alongside one another.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nunc dimittis - Departing in peace.


Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace

Anyone familiar with Evening Prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer, is familiar with the Nunc dimittis. This canticle is based on the passage of Scripture we call the Song of Simeon. Simeon uttered these words after the fulfillment of a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he beheld the Messiah. When the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph presented the child, born to save the nations, he proclaimed the above words which we now liturgically render and commemorate. I have chosen these words today as my theme as I depart from one chapter of my life, and begin to walk another.

The departure is one that I never expected to happen. When I went to Anglicanism in 2004 I thought I was on the final leg of my pilgrimage which had started in the Southern Baptist Church, found its way into the Presbyterian Church, and then ran straight into Canterbury. Now, the old catch phrase, “All roads lead to Rome” is becoming surprisingly true in my life. Yet, this post is not about the path, or the reasons why I am converting. This post is an ode to my parish I am leaving; a parish which has strangely prepared me to go to Rome.

Grace Church, Monroe, has been good to me. I’ve experienced some of the most beautiful liturgies I have ever been part of at this parish. The reverence of the worship, the seriousness of the ritual, and the solemnity of the music is majestic. Further, for me, there have been many opportunities to serve the parish. I’ve served as Head Usher, Acolyte, Lay Reader, Thurifer, and Chaplin of our chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. I’ve led the Brotherhood through the first five chapter of Acts of the Apostles, and though I will not be able to finish the study, I know it has been an enjoyable experience for me and the other Brothers. I’ve also developed many close relationships at Grace Church which I hope to maintain as I continue down my path on my spiritual pilgrimage.

I can thank my rector, Canon Gregg Riley, for his support of my decision to walk the Roman Road. He has been there for me many times when I have needed his advice in the past, and also allowed me to function in many capacities at Grace Church which have been very enjoyable. I particularly thank him for training me as a thurifer. His Anglo-Catholic character, as well as the High-Church ethos of Grace Parish, have been huge influences on me, in a positive way. I will fondly remember the rector of Grace Church and the parish.

Though I now walk the Roman Road, and leave the Canterbury Trail, I began to realize more and more that this new road is the spiritual road which leads to the Church which founded the Church I am leaving. Everything we have which is beautiful, good, or holy, in Anglicanism, is rooted in, and was founded by, Roman missionaries which were sent by Pope Gregory the Great to ensure the evangelization of the English peoples. St. Augustine of Canterbury, the first Archbishop of that ancient and revered See, is the missionary who was sent to convert the pagan peoples. It is this heritage which we English speaking people, and we Anglicans and converting Anglicans, owe our Christian foundation.

I wish Grace Church, her rector, vestry, and people, the best for the future. I close with this familiar Irish Blessing for Grace Church.

May the road rise up to meet you.May the wind always be at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields.And until we meet again,May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leave TEC Now

I am witnessing the approach of a decision in my home parish of Grace Church concerning whether to sever itself from the Episcopal Church. The decision has been a long time coming. Few institutions or individuals would wallow in indecision over any serious matter – finances, personal relationships, career choices – for such a protracted period of time before having some sort of resolution. We have done so for 6 years as a Communion. Remarkably, some still argue for more delay, awaiting the “next thing.”

I think I can assess this situation with a little detachment, having finally given up on Anglicanism itself. The issue is an issue of authority, and Anglicanism has been in a constant struggle of authority since it departed from the leadership of the Pope. Anglicanism, lacking effective mechanisms to maintain discipline, is entering upon a period of ecclesial and theological anarchy. I am speaking of Anglicanism minus the Episcopal Church, which is entering a period of apostate hegemony. It (TEC) is likely to survive as a curious blend of secular humanism cloaked in a thin veil of Christianity… non-belief masquerading in Christian costume. Anglicans, on the other hand, will contend for orthodoxy, but will remain unstable and fragmented within and beyond the United States. Even so, this is better than the Episcopal way of “walking apart” from Christendom. Though I will depart for the Roman Catholic Church, at a yet undetermined point, I still consider myself a friend of Grace Church and I want what is best for this parish. I am attending RCIA classes, and Roman Masses which do not conflict with my service to Grace Church. This is the honorable way of serving my parish, even as I am making plans to depart. I will fulfill my duties at Grace Church, as best as I am able and allowed to fulfill them, until the end. This is part of my service in offering my unreserved opinion.

But back to the decision Grace Church faces. The parish has entered upon a “discernment” period, in which an effort will be made to educate (without indoctrinating) the “ostrich party” within the church of the serious issues dividing the Episcopal Church, and the need to come to grips with them. I feel most parishioners are very well acquainted with the situation, and either favor or oppose separation, but there are still those who are in denial that anything is wrong that benign neglect won’t cure.

Then there are those who want to be done with the Episcopal Church, but think waiting just a little longer will surely take us to a “soft landing.” These will listen to any remotely plausible theory which will get us past the necessity of incurring any risk or pain. They are ready to wait for the next rosy best-case scenario which will get us to the promised land – a safe orthodox Anglican province which has the full approval of Canterbury.

Here is the latest theory of a safe landing:

a. As the final act of the “Windsor” process, an Anglican Covenant will be produced in final draft in May of 2009.

b. Provinces will be able to embrace this Covenant (or suggest revisions) any time thereafter, thereby establishing their authenticity as truly Anglican.

c. The Episcopal Church in its General Convention (July 2009) will decline to take up the Covenant.

d. Canterbury will signal its acceptance of approval by “renegade” covenanting dioceses such as our own, which will establish our membership in the Communion, while The Episcopal Church is left as a less-than-Anglican outsider.

e. This solves our problem.

NO IT DOESN’T.

Here are several reasons why it won’t work, i.e. it will not result in Grace Church’s separation from The Episcopal Church. While many snags and wrinkles are as yet unforeseen, we can clearly see this much: The Diocese of Western Louisiana may indeed endorse the Anglican Covenant; it will not leave The Episcopal Church. The two are entirely different matters. Leaving the Episcopal Church to affiliate with a new orthodox Anglican Province cannot get the approval of a majority of lay and clergy, as the last two diocesan conventions have shown. Much milder resolutions, neither involving canonical changes, failed to receive a majority of both orders. This would require radical canonical changes like those passed in Pittsburg, for two successive years. Ain’t gonna happen here.

The Diocese of Western Louisiana has been Windsor compliant, while the National Church has not. Western Louisiana can be “Covenant compliant” in the same way, while the National Church is not. In two years most of the “Communion Partners” may well have accepted the Covenant, all the while remaining as much under 815 (National Headquarters) as they were before. One or two may take the next step and leave TEC. Western Louisiana will not. Those who try will face the same legal onslaught as has been visited upon the departing Network dioceses.

We have to face it: the time to leave is NOW, not later. Our Bishop is not immortal. While he would not be happy to lose a strong “resource parish” like Grace Church, he is not going to persecute Christians whose witness impels them to separate themselves from the “New Episcopal Religion.” Like John Howe of Florida, he is likely to negotiate settlements with departing parishes. He is no cat’s paw for Katherine Jefferts-Schori, and Louisiana law is not the fertile field for legal contests that have met success for the national church in New York, Massachusetts or California. Has any diocesan bishop simply refused the Presiding Bishop’s instructions to sue? Not that we know of. We only know that some are not suing and are getting away with it. Maybe the financial resources of TEC to conduct litigation on so many fronts are indeed running out.

The argument that we have "no where to go" is dead. The new Province will be reality before the end of 2008, according to those who are creating it, like Bishop Duncan. This positions Grace Church to vote on joining this new Anglican Province in January, at our annual parish meeting, if the leadership of Grace Church will allow it to be brought to a vote. I hope this is the case.

As long as Grace is part of the Diocese of Western Louisiana, its contribution to the diocese (restricted or otherwise) helps the diocese send an apportionment to The Episcopal Church. Part of that is going to fund the legal assaults on orthodox entities. In contributing to the diocese we are enabling these un-Christian actions against our brothers and sisters in Christ. One more reason to

LEAVE NOW.

In closing, I saw a sign in West Monroe this past weekend which said, it is better to have a backbone than a wishbone. I feel Anglicanism has counted on its wishbone for far too long.