Thursday, May 31, 2007

Methamphetamine: Oppression on the Plains

Northern Plains Anglicans welcomes this contribution from Mr. Hal Perry, a faithful Anglican Christian and a staff member at Glory House, Sioux Falls. Glory House offers both residential and out-patient care to men and women coming out of correctional institutions and to those grappling with substance abuse. Your prayers and support are appreciated:

Methamphetamine inflicts a devastating toll on our Community. The Statistics are alarming; more than 12 million American have tried methamphetamine, and 1.5 million are regular users, according to federal estimates. Meth-making operations have been uncovered in all 50 states. Cops nationwide rank meth the No. 1 drug they battle today: in a survey of 500 law-enforcement agencies, 58 percent said meth is their biggest drug problem. Nationwide 47 percent of all female and 39 percent of all male arrests are for meth use. Meth truly has become like an elephant in our living room.

In South Dakota, Methamphetamine use is of epidemic proportion. Of the 350 plus females in prison in Pierre over 50 percent are there for meth use. Because of meth use the Department of Corrections budget has escalated to 100 million dollars annually. Minnehaha County (Ed: includes most of Sioux Falls and a number of other cities) and the surrounding area have experienced a 400 percent increase in the last year, destroying many individual and family lives. In 2005, 16 meth labs were discovered in our state. In the last 30 days 5 meth labs have been found in just Minnehaha County.

Friends, this is the kind of stuff that churches often avoid, but this is right where our enemy, the devil, is oppressing people that Christ longs to save. What can we do?
  • Pray - ask Jesus to deliver and heal those who are addicted, and pray that God will break the devil's terrible meth-weapon (Psalm 46:9).
  • Give - if you are one of the many Anglicans leery of putting your money into The Episcopal Church, find ministries like Glory House and fund their work.
  • Work - sponsor information nights in your community. State and local officials, law enforcement, medical, education and substance abuse professionals are all potential resources to speak to your community.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Serious Priorities Problem

On earlier posts, we noted how the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota had nothing to say in response to recent flooding, even though a TEC parish and its people suffered losses in the disaster.

So, what's important to the diocese? The following just arrived in Episcopal Church/Clergy email from the offices of the Diocese of South Dakota:

Episcopal clergy and laity are invited to assist important research to locate former Lutheran ministers, lay and ordained, who now make their spiritual home in the pews and pulpits of the Episcopal Church. This research is concerned with gaining an accounting of the many lgbt persons who left, or were removed from, the lay and ordained ministries of the Lutheran church, the ELCA or its predecessor bodies, as well as those whose pathway to ministry in the Lutheran church was blocked, due to issues related to orientation or gender identity. Some of those missing from Lutheran ministries may now be in Episcopal churches. If you know lay members in your local congregation, or clergy within the Episcopal Church, who may be interested in this research, please have them contact (deleted). More information about this research is available on the web page of Lutherans Concerned/North America at www(deleted) .

For those who might not know, "lgbt" = "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered."

That's right. It's more important to the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota to support Lutheran lgbt entitlements than to care for Episcopalians in a state disaster area.

We'll leave the obvious "disaster area" jokes to you, dear readers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day - South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Military and Veterans Affairs site gives the history of South Dakota military personnel in combat. Scroll down the page and you will come to lists of recently recently deployed units.

Please pray for the troops and their families. Of your charity remember those who have died and pray for those wounded in action.

We welcome prayer requests/information from around the Great Plains.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Aberdeen Update

In response to our posts about flood recovery needs in Aberdeen, SD, women from Church of the Good Shepherd, SiouxFalls sent a pack of Wal Mart and Target gifts cards. In addition, an East Coast friend checked out this blog and sent $500. We praise God for these initial responses.

You can help - check out our post here. Wal Mart, Target and Menards gift cards are most appreciated for the church families recovering from the floods.

Also, go here and join the discussion! What should Anglican ministry look like here on the Northern Plains? Is Christ calling you to help it happen?

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Signposts on the Anglican Way"

Theological Education for the Anglican Communion (TEAC) met in Singapore during the second week of May. This working group released a statement called "Signposts on the Anglican Way," which in their own words "is not intended as a comprehensive definition of Anglicanism, but it does set in place signposts which guide Anglicans on their journey of self-understanding and Christian discipleship."

The four suggested signposts for the Anglican way are:

  1. Formed by Scripture
  2. Shaped through Worship
  3. Ordered for Communion
  4. Directed by God's Mission

It is a document worth reading, and a worthwhile follow up to our last post, "What Way Forward?"

What "signposts" should mark an Anglican way on the Northern Plains?


A few encouragements to prayer:

May the power of the Holy Spirit be with us at Pentecost. What a great day to contemplate what our God can do with just a few disciples, even people hiding out and not sure what to do. Pray that Christ will walk through locked doors and breathe the Spirit on all of us. If you aren't presently attending a local church, make it a point to study the Bible Lessons for this Sunday.

And blessings to all on this Memorial Day weekend. Let us pray for safety and refreshment for all travellers. Let us give thanks for our freedom and abundance. Let us prayerfully remember all those who have given their lives in military service, and intercede for all present military personnel and their families. Let us pray for peace and for the coming of Christ's kingdom.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What Way Forward?

The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, in a long article found here,

describes and laments how The Episcopal Church lost trust with the rest of the Anglican world.

Now, most of us who call ourselves "Anglicans" nod our heads in agreement with that, but Dr. Radner goes on to say,

And to add to this confusion, the unconscious attempt to rediscover an integral character has led to a proliferation of alternative manufactured “histories” and “characters”, especially among reactionary groups driven to uncover some new basis for Christian trust in their ecclesial existence. Hence, the appeal to the 39 Articles, this or that edition of the Book of Common Prayer, a particular scriptural hermeneutic or conversionary paradigm, etc., as if an embrace or establishment of this ecclesial criterion, fixed now de novo in the midst of a historical map that simply doesn’t lead to this singular destination, could create a cohesive authority capable of garnering the wide trust of any but a small group of local devotees.

OK, that's hard to understand. What he's saying is that many of us, rightly upset by the insanity and faithlessness of TEC, will grab onto some little bit of Anglican treasure like a piece of debris and hang on with a few friends (or maybe alone, with just our own opinions).

This need not be our way forward - indeed, it is a retreat. When we look at Anglicanism in Africa, or in the Diocese of Sydney (Australia), or Christ Church, Plano (Texas), we see missionary growth and vitality in the body of Christ.

So, whaddaya think? What is our way forward here on the Northern Plains?

Monday, May 21, 2007

My boundaries enclose a pleasant land... (Psalm 16:6)

Folks who pray from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) recently observed "Rogation Days." The prayers for these spring days emphasize agricultural needs such as seasonable weather and ask for the blessing of a good harvest from the seeds we plant now.

Rogation days also emphasize spiritual health and righteousness of life. There is a strong theme of moral accountability in Rogation prayers - our way of life can help or hinder the arrival of God's blessings. The 1928 BCP appoints a portion of James 1 for Rogation Sunday (the Fifth Sunday after Easter):

"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves... Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

In Britain, the ancient practice of "beating the bounds" involved prayer walks around the boundaries of communities. Although many associate this with agriculture alone, prayers for the spiritual and moral well being of the community are most prominent in this custom.

It is an important spiritual practice, and one well supported by the BCP, to open our hearts in prayer for all those with whom we share the land. Prayers for our own neighborhoods, communities and states can bring God's blessing on those around us, and move us to serving their needs in Christ's Name.

Here are a few ways to pray for the land you share with others:
  • Pray over a map. Sometimes, looking at a map brings to mind important prayer needs. Looking at a map of South Dakota, for example, can be a reminder to pray for rain in the dry western half of the state. You might look at a map of your city and notice schools, hospitals, churches and other institutions for which you might pray.
  • Prayerfully walk your neighborhood. Just take a walk (baby stroller or dog optional). Quietly pray for each home you pass, for people you see, for anything that God puts on your heart.
  • Know and pray for your public officials (all of them - not just the ones you like!) The Bible "exhorts" us to pray for them (I Timothy 2:1-3) and tells us that such prayers please the Lord. Drop public officials a note or email now and then, simply letting them know that you are praying for them.
  • Use the news. Internet, TV, radio and newspaper items provide prayer concerns. What blessings have come to your town? Thank God for them. What problems and needs exist? Lift them up to God.
  • Ask. Go to local officials or social service providers. Ask them about needs and concerns in the community, and pray about these. A really good question is, "What are the unmet needs in our community?" Such information is a great source of prayer, and can lead to action in Christ's service.

Some churches emphasize themselves as separate from the world around them. But Anglicanism believes in a call to engage the world. We see "the parish" as all the people and territory around us, not just church members and a building. If we are prayerful and serious about Christian life, this large understanding of "parish" opens up great missionary possibility. As the translation of Psalm 16:6 in the 1979 BCP puts it, "My boundaries enclose a pleasant land..."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

You can help in Aberdeen

Northern Plains Anglicans has been in touch with the TEC parish, St. Mark's, in Aberdeen.

Several parish families were affected by the floods. There is need of a double size box spring mattress and of bedding for several families. Also, gift cards for shopping will help out several families with kids.

St. Mark's address is:
1410 North Kline
Aberdeen, SD 57402-0022

You can email the rector, the Rev. Kathryn Costas, at

In addition, the city of Aberdeen continues to request physical help for seniors who are trying to clean up their homes.

And of course, please pray for those who are recovering from the floods.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fighting for Irrelevance

During recent severe weather, the city of Aberdeen, SD suffered destructive floods.

There's been nothing from the Diocese of South Dakota about Aberdeen - nothing on the diocesan website, no emails or letters to parishes - nothing. And this is all the more shocking since there is an Episcopal parish in Aberdeen.

Now, in humility and honesty, we have to admit that this isn't a conservative vs. liberal, traditionalist vs. revisionist issue. Nobody of any Anglican stripe is saying anything about Aberdeen.

We are fighting about all kinds of stuff, so much so that we can't do Christian basics. "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." Galatians 5:15

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's Jesus doing - and what are we doing with it?

Today is the Feast of the Ascension. In our Creeds, Christians say, "he ascended into heaven." Our human nature - body, soul and spirit - now has a place in paradise because Jesus has opened the way that was closed by our rejection of God.

But there's more! Our ascended Lord...
  • prays for us at all times. "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)
  • gives us spiritual gifts to make us more like him and to do his work. "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men...And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ..." (From Ephesians 4:1-16, assigned for Ascension Day Morning Prayer in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer).

Now, it is important that would-be Northern Plains Anglicans go to the Ascended Lord, Jesus Christ, to receive these precious gifts. The Episcopal Church has lost them. The proof of that?

  • The gifts should "perfect the saints" - but ungodly lifestyles and behaviours proliferate among ordained leaders as well as lay people. Confirmations and baptisms are fewer all the time, and many baptisms are "drive by" affairs without any spiritual preparation or follow up.
  • The gifts should foster "the work of ministry" - but Episcopal churches on the Plains are shrinking. They are not bringing new people to faith in Jesus Christ, they are not impacting their communities for the kingdom of God, and they worry about their own survival and comfort rather than the lost souls all around them.
  • The gifts should "edify" (build up) the church, which is Christ's body on earth. But the Episcopal Church as a whole is in "systemic decline" with "incoherent leadership" (these are admissions made by its own New York headquarters). The Diocese of South Dakota has lost more than 20% of its reported members over the last two decades, and Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) is only about 2,500 for the whole state.

The Feast of the Ascension is easy to overlook - it is 40 days after Easter, which always falls on a Thursday (not prime time for church!) But this celebration tells us that Jesus Christ lives for us and blesses us now, if we will pay attention to his word and come to him in faith. We need more Northern Plains Anglicans to take up his gifts. He warns us,

"For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:29-30)

Jesus Christ is praying to our Heavenly Father for all of us right now. And he is giving us gifts through the Holy Spirit at work in us right now. Let us take up the treasure and use it in his service.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Treasure Hunters Wanted!

Sure, another blog. But over the great distances here on the Northern Plains, and with real forces of nature to deal with, it is hard to stay in touch. What's this blog about?

Northern Plains Anglicans seeks to connect treasure hunters. Back in the late 1800s, William Hobart Hare travelled about by horse and buggy sharing the treasure of Anglican Christianity:
  • God's good news in Jesus Christ, carried in the Holy Bible and ancient forms of Christian worship and ministry
  • Faith that does not reject reason, but blesses and completes it
  • God's love for all "races, tribes, languages and nations"
  • The Book of Common Prayer as a great spiritual resource, helping people gather in prayer with or without clergy

For a long time, The Episcopal Church was the steward of this treasure. Missionary clergy and people, both white and Lakota/Dakota, worked together in witness to Jesus Christ.

Sadly, over time, The Episcopal Church lost the treasure. The good news of Jesus in the Bible was replaced by passing political fads. Faith and reason gave way to emotionalism and junk science. Traditions of strong local leadership gave way to "one size fits all" models from New York.

The Episcopal Diocese exists largely on paper today. Churches are closing. A proud cadre of Lakota/Dakota clergy are dying off, without new leaders being lifted up from their communities. Trendy causes from coastal urban centers are talked up while real Plains issues are ignored.

Northern Plains Anglicans has no illusion about fixing The Episcopal Church. But Anglicanism is a worldwide Christian movement, not just a tiny, eccentric American sect. Tens of millions of people are finding spiritual treasure all over the world via Anglican Christianity.

So, here we are. Let's bring back this lost treasure and share it with people all over the Plains. Welcome!