Friday, June 29, 2007

Fill in the Blank...

Luke 7:36-50 came up on a recent Sunday (1979 Sunday lectionary) and it was a morning lesson today (1928 daily lectionary).

Read it with your name in the blanks. See what the Lord might be saying to you...

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, _____ who was a sinner, when _____ knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and _____ began to wash His feet with _____'s tears, and wiped them with the hair of _____'s head; and _____ kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of (person)this is who is touching Him, for _____ is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to _____ and said to Simon, “Do you see _____? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but _____has washed My feet with _____'s tears and wiped them with the hair of _____'s head. You gave Me no kiss, but _____has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but _____has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, _____'s sins, which are many, are forgiven, for _____ loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to _____, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to _____, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ridin' the Rollercoaster

The struggles in Anglican Christianity make church life like a roller coaster ride - sometimes exhilarating but just as often frightening and even nauseating.

But we are in good company. Talk about some "highs":
  • St. John the Baptist was formed in the womb to proclaim the Savior's arrival, and leapt in his mother's womb when she met with the mother of Jesus.
  • John baptized Jesus, saw the Spirit descend like a dove and heard the heavenly Father's voice say, "This is my Son, the beloved."
  • John identified Jesus as "The Lamb of God."
  • John had the clarity and confidence to say, "Jesus is greater than I. I must decrease, and he must increase."
But even John had his moments of doubt - the lows. One of our morning readings today is Luke 7:18-35. Even with all of God's anointing and signs, John wavered about whether or not Jesus really was the Savior.

John sent some of his own disciples to ask Jesus for reassurance. Jesus did not get angry with them or accuse them of waffling. Rather, the Lord:
  • Did a series of healings in their presence.
  • Reminded them of other signs he was performing on the earth.
  • Sent them back to John with words of reassurance.
  • Publically praised John's ministry and witness.

The bad experiences many of us have had with TEC and its terrible leadership can lead us to profound "lows." We might wonder if we are crazy, or if Jesus really cares at all about what's going on.

But Jesus' response is to speak praise and comfort for all of us who, with John, ride the roller coaster as we follow the Savior:

"For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

Jesus, Lamb of God, help us to rejoice that we are among the least in the kingdom, and great because we are yours. Amen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From Sublime to Ridiculous on the Northern Plains

The former Bishop of North Dakota, Andy Fairfield, has been welcomed into the orthodox Anglican Church of Uganda. The story was reported on Stand Firm and passed on to us by The South Dakota Anglican. Fairfield was one of the Biblically faithful Bishops who voted against consent for the consecration of V. Gene Robinson, the actively homosexual Bishop-elect in New Hampshire. We wish Bishop Fairfield fruitful and joyful work as he shepherds faithful Anglican Christians.

Meanwhile, Calvary Cathedral, Sioux Falls (Diocese of South Dakota) has a spiffy new web site with the following:

"The Episcopal Church strives to offer a moderate and inclusive approach to faith. While the church presents clear, biblically-based teaching and guidance on most subjects, we also understand there are some issues in life that can be experienced and interpreted in different ways by different people. We encourage respectful listening, dialogue rather than debate, and “unity in diversity” among our members as we seek to live faithful and fruitful lives."

TEC presents clear, biblically-based teaching? If it is all subject to "experience and interpretation" by different people, how can it be a basis for anything? TEC's forte is twisting the Biblical message beyond recognition or application.

Respectful listening? That must be what happens when the diocesan leaders refuse to answer letters (we get lots of testimonies from folks who wrote and never heard a thing).

Dialogue? That must be when the diocese posts sarcastic broadsides on their website (yep, that happens here, too).

Faithful and fruitful? Calvary Cathedral's average Sunday attendance went from 260 in 2000 to 170 in 2005.

Evidently, the flat expanse left by the old glaciers seems to have made North Dakota better than South Dakota for raising up faithful Anglican leaders.

Let Jesus Open the Way

The Episcopal Church, in its insane rush to self-destruction, is suing congregations and even individual church members who dissent from its unbiblical teachings and practices. (I Corinthians 6 warns against such lawsuits and describes them as a spiritual defeat, even for the "winner.")

The times are stressful for those still in TEC congregations, or in congregations and dioceses at which TEC is grasping. How long should one endure, and what is a Godly path when it is time to leave?

Today's morning lessons (1928 Book of Common Prayer) are challenging and comforting at the same time.

The Collect (focal prayer) for this week (Third Sunday after Trinity) is:

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dangers and adversities are in our path through this world, but the Holy Spirit is within us, offering up prayer at all times, and seeking the mighty aid of the Father to defend and comfort us. Pray and be in God's presence.

With prayer in our hearts and on our lips, let's look at the first lesson (portions of Judges 6). It tells about similarly bad times in ancient Israel:

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

Part of our work is to stop looking at TEC's hostile leaders and start confessing our own complicity in the mess. As Canon Kendall Harmon said in one sermon,

...the whole Episcopal Church is under judgment including us. The so-called orthodox, that’s us, have an enormous amount to answer for in this time. Our sins of compromise, timidity, denial, ignorance, careerism, self-interest, party spirit, the list is very long.

Be honest and uncompromising in examining and confessing your own sins. They are blocking your way forward.

And speaking of moving forward, the 2nd morning lesson (Luke7:11-16) begins on a blocked road:

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out...

Here at the gate to Nain, Jesus is trying to come in, but a procession of death and loss is coming the opposite way, blocking his path.

Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people."

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that is stronger than death. He has come to help his people. He can touch what is lifeless and lost and bring back life and a future. Praise him, really open up your heart to the awe of who Jesus is and praise him. Praise him for all you are worth because you are worth his life sacrificed on the cross.

The raising of a dead body is unexpected. The path that Jesus will open for you, for us, might well be something we never "asked or imagined." Stay close to Jesus and let him open the way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Canopy of Prayer

A wonderful Christian prayer ministry, Command 2, is calling on Christians all across South Dakota to take part in next week's Canopy of Prayer.

Anglicans might find this a valuable undertaking. Anglicanism always considers the "parish" in broad terms. We are placed in some part of God's world to minister to the whole population around us. Canopy of Prayer provides an opportunity for us to step out in prayerful ministry to our neighbors - right next door and across the whole state.

Recommended observations include:

A Three-day Fast - Beginning on Wednesday July 4th at 7:00 PM through Saturday July 7th to 7:00 PM (please remember that a fast need not be complete abstinence from food - it can be a modified or simplified diet, denying ourselves whatever is familiar and comfortable to be more in the perfect presence of God).

Prayer Walking - Friday July 6th. Go to or call Pastor Dwayne @ 338-7596 for details... do you walk your dog? Ride your bike? Take some time on Friday to walk around the area where you live or work, and lift up prayer (some great resources are at the Command 2 site or of course in The Book of Common Prayer) for the following intentions:

1. Pray for homes, families and marriages - against spiritual destruction
2. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s purifying fire - subduing the old nature
and all destructive habits.
3. Religious institution/ Pray for a servant spirit to be embraced.
Stand against religious controlling spirits and vain imaginations.
4. Pray for young people, for the outpouring of faith and devotion
in our children, youth, and young adults. Pray protection from
negative media influences.
5. Pray the church would be a house of “Living Stones” rather than
a place of social interaction.
6. Pray for pastors/leadership. Pray for pastors and leaders to disciple
their families as well as their flocks.
7. Pray against a lukewarm spirit in the church and the lack of substance
8. Pray for institutions - Health care and businesses - Pray that institutions
would stop seeking a false prosperity at the expense of
lives being destroyed in their midst.
9. Pray for Ambassadors of Christ to be raised up and stand in the
gap, speaking boldly in the counsel of God for our cities, state,
nation, and world.

In Sioux Falls, Church of the Good Shepherd will host a free drive-thru coffee stand in their parking lot from 6 - 9 a.m. on Friday, July 6th. Hosts will offer to pray for the concerns of any drivers who stop by.

Please consider a prayerful, loving witness in your community. Share any information about such events by leaving a comment on this thread!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Prayer for the Reservations - Violent Crime is Rising

Violent crime is out of control on the Reservations here in the Dakotas. The problems are so severe that they are under discussion in Washington, DC.

Anglicans should have a special prayer burden for the Reservations. Under government direction back in the days of President Grant, The Episcopal Church was ceded most Reservation ministry in the Dakotas.

Lakota/Nakota/Dakota men, in particular, had their traditional roles as hunters and warriors destroyed by White control. Add to this poverty, generational cycles of addiction and other significant health issues, and a hellish environment is not hard to imagine.

Itancan, onsiundamiye; Lord, have mercy; Itancan, onsiundamiye;
Christ, onsiundamiye; Christ, have mercy; Christ, onsiundamiye;
Itancan, onsiundamiye; Lord, have mercy; Itancan, onsiundamiye.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

More False Teaching from TEC and Canada

The following is posted at The Diocese of South Dakota Information Exchange:

I ask your prayers for the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada which began meeting in Winnipeg yesterday (Tuesday 19 June). A new primate will be selected on Friday. On Saturday a decision is to be made whether to officially allow blessings of same sex couples. Archbishop Hutchinson has called for attention to our baptismal covenant, our conscience, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Italics ours - NPA) Fr. Martin Brokenleg

Fr. Brokenleg is a TEC Priest from SD, currently teaching at the Vancouver (BC) School of Theology. He is a partnered gay man, married under Canadian law.

Obviously, he would like the Anglican Church of Canada to vote in favor of Same Sex Blessings, in spite of the worldwide Anglican (and general Christian) consensus against that. He posits three sources of authority (citing Archbishop Hutchinson of Canada). Let's look at each and expose the flaws:
  1. "our baptismal covenant" - TEC and other revisionists say that "if one is baptized, one is entitled to anything and everything in church - ordination, marriage, you name it." The flaws in that assertion are too many to list, but the main problem is that the "baptismal convenant" is divorced from what the New Testament says about baptism. Romans 6 teaches that baptism is death to an old, sinful way of life so that we walk in a new, transformed life in Christ. It does not mean we are free from teachings about sin and righteousness - that there are "no rules" as some have argued. I Timothy 5:22 warns against "laying hands" (ordaining to leadership) those who are entangled in sin, and I Timothy 3 gives strict criteria limiting who should be a bishop. And the full message of the Bible assumes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Baptism does not entitle church members to sacraments or offices. The baptismal covenant argument depends upon willful ignorance of the Bible and seeing "Episcopalian" or "Church of Canada" as something above and against being Christian.
  2. "our conscience" - If each individual's conscience is the authority in church matters, then don't argue any corny stuff about a "baptismal covenant." It is inconsistent to say that the Prayer Book carries any weight if our own individual preferences overturn what it says. The Bible refutes the chaos of this "me, myself and I" religion by appealing to the example of Jesus himself: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11) The Bible also warns that the consciences of sinners are too damaged to give useful guidance. An individual consciense cannot overturn plain Biblical and traditional teaching about marriage.
  3. "the leading of the Holy Spirit" - Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will only lead us to what Jesus has taught! And Jesus affirmed the message of the Father in Creation, that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is no less than the Christian teaching of One God in Three Persons, the Holy Trinity. To argue that Father, Son and Holy Spirit work against and contradict one another is false teaching of the worst sort (and TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada are the best at being worst these days).

The major flaw running through all three of Archbishop Hutchinson's and Fr. Brokenleg's criteria is the exclusion of the Bible - which in their ordinations they vowed to uphold as "the Word of God, containing all things necessary to salvation." And it is a telling flaw that ordained leaders in the church can treat their vows and God's people in so sloppy a manner.

Wake Up, Episcopalians - Your Church is Deceiving You

If you or your friends in The Episcopal Church are still saying, "I don't see a problem" or "Why are these conservatives picking on the nice gay people?", then you have not been paying attention. And TEC is working actively to keep you from paying attention.

In an excellent investigative piece, blogger Greg Griffith of Stand Firm exposes actual messages from TEC communications personnel, describing their desire to hide controversial information about FALSE TEACHINGS and pagan, anti-Christian clergy.

In the post called Under the Radar... and Over the Cliff, Griffith quotes Jim Naughton, the Communications officer of the Diocese of Washington (DC). Naughton, worrying about news coverage of an Episcopal Priest who is a self-proclaimed Muslim, writes:

I fervently hope that it will be possible to ignore this story until it slips back beneath the radar.

Griffith then lays out specific cases in which TEC clergy were outed as pagans, not by their own superiors but by bloggers and investigative reporters:

May 2004 - The Diocese of Michigan co-sponsors "Together in Faith," a seminar featuring workshops by a witch and a trans-gendered pagan.
October 2004 - In the Diocese of Pennsylvania, ordained Episcopal husband-and-wife priests Bill and Glyn Melnyk (who for years had moonlighted as Druid priests) ran into trouble when 815's Office for Women's Ministry published one of the couple's pagan liturgies. Bill Melnyk, known in Druid circles as "Oakwyse" (and occasionally, though inexplicably, "Bran"), left the Episcopal priesthood soon afterward, to become a full-time Druid priest.
April 2006 - Maury Johnston, an Episcopal lay leader whose articles had been published by a number of prominent blogs on the Episcopal left, turned out to be a very active pagan whose nom de coven was "Shadwynn."
May 2006 - The Episcopal Church Center Bookstore in New York was found to be offering a book titled "Love Spells," which contained "...a host of tried and tested spells, potions, and rituals that will help you find out just how to bring love into your life."

TEC church leaders are not looking out for the good of our souls. They are disciplining (and even suing) church members who hold the Biblical faith that we affirm in Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination vows, and turning a blind eye to clergy and others who publically break and disown those vows.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And Still MORE Problem...

Neal Michell offers a devastating critique of TEC leadership in The Living Church.

He quotes TEC's Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori:
“That’s one of the great joys I’ve had in my first six months, getting to travel and see the health and vitality that exists in this church. I know it’s not always what you read in the newspaper or hear on the news, but it’s true.’’

But Michell points out:
(The) numbers indicate that we are a denomination that is growing smaller. Say what you will about the health and vitality of various churches, the overall direction of our statistics indicates a church that is declining . . . precipitously. Evidently fewer and fewer people want what we have to offer. Since 1999 our average Sunday attendance has shrunk by 132,134 persons per Sunday, or nearly 15 percent.

And who is Neal Michell to contradict the Presiding Bishop? Well, he is the Congregational Development Officer for TEC's Diocese of Dallas, where he helped plant and grow new churches in one of the few dioceses to actually have growth.

And, he was the overwhelming choice of lay people to become the TEC Bishop of Tennessee... but his election was blocked by anti-tradtional (and seemingly pro-failure) clergy.

Michell knows something about the reality of church health and development. Such clergy are increasingly unwelcome in TEC, which seeks to create a small club for a few like minded people. Even TEC's own Congregational Development Officer told a South Dakota clergy conference that TEC insiders are hostile to growing churches.

TEC has embraced a culture of decline and death.

Problem? What Problem?

For those wondering why we should fret about or even leave the Episcopal Church (TEC), here's some truth-is-stranger-than-fiction news:

"She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim."

So she's just an eccentric, you say? Then explain this:

Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.

And think about this:

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Episcopal Church -- Stay In or Get Out? (Part 3 of 3)

Fr. Chip Johnson, from Hot Springs, SD, contributes the "get out of TEC now" position at The South Dakota Anglican.

Here's a snippet, which puts forward one of the most common and compelling reasons to leave: TEC's institutional, hostile rejection of those who hold to Biblical, traditional Anglicanism:

...we (Chip+ and his wife) were both called into ministry at St. Luke's Church (TEC), Hot Springs, as a part of their new mutual ministery team; me, as sacramentalist, preacher and catechist; and Linda as a member of the pastoral care team and team coordinator. We both entered into the diocesan program of study with the congregation and I read for Episcopal Orders for two years.Two days before my scheduled ordination, my then TEC bishop, Creighton Robertson, 'pulled the plug', saying that my application (which he had on file for over two years) raised some 'red flags'. Yeah, sure, at his first question in my first interview of how I saw myself as an Anglican, I told him that I would describe myself as an evangelical Anglo-catholic, and that ended the interview.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Episcopal Church - Stay in or Get Out? (Part 2 of 3)

A model that might be called "stay and fight it out" can be found here. These are folks who will try to keep their leaders, property and organizational structures, relying on leadership from the worldwide Anglican Communion to recognize and support them.

This model is best suited to the few dioceses (or, in some cases, groups of congregations or very large congregations) that have Biblical, orthodox leadership and a majority among members. South Dakota is not in this position, nor is there any large parish in financial position to engage in extended litigation with TEC and the Diocese.

A quote from the linked site:

Should the Diocese elect to stay with the Anglican Communion and reject the Episcopal Church, angry and unprincipled actions by the Episcopal Church can be expected. They could attempt to depose our bishops and clergy, installing rogue bishops and priests in their place. They have already unleashed a cascade of law suits against persons and parishes who can no longer abide with what appears to be apostacy and heresy. These suits are in contravention of Scripture, but procede apace. This, in spite of the stated request of the Tanzanian Communique to forswear such legal tactics.

God bless these faithful Anglicans in whatever lies ahead.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Episcopal Church - Stay In or Get Out? (Part 1 of 3)

Over the next few days, we will be posting some perspectives on the choice between staying in TEC or leaving it to practice Anglican Christianity under other leadership.

One point of view is that we should stay in for now, and act according to how TEC responds to the worldwide Anglican Communion by September 30th (a deadline set by the presiding bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces).

This position is expressed by Father Noel Rich, of Minnesota Anglican Connection.

I can tell you why I am still here in the Episcopal Church, though now retired. I am still here because I am part of the Anglican Communion! So is the Episcopal Church, for the moment, even though it is so apostate in so many ways.

I notice that the Bishop's from AMIA and CANA, Godly men that they are, were not sent invitations to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Why? Because they are not at this time recognized by the Anglican Communion.

As a faithful Anglican, I will remain a part to the Anglican communion until the day I die. When the Episcopal Church is no longer a member of the Anglican Communion (probably not much longer); and, when there is a recognized Anglican entity recognized by the Anglican Communion... then I will leave the Episcopal Church and establish my membership in that recognized new American Anglican entity. Until then, I am as aligned as I can be with the AAC and the ACN while still "officially" a member of the Episcopal Church (TEC).

What do I do in the mean time? I continue to serve on the Board of SAMS (the South American Missionary Society). I continue to publicly teach, wherever I can, on the errors of TEC, the deception that has overtaken the leadership of TEC, and warn other denominations not to follow the path that TEC has taken and still is taking.

I am, and always will be an Anglican through and through.

In Jesus' love and service, Noel+

Thursday, June 14, 2007

1928 BCP Services Available...

East River:

Church of the Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls, offers Evening Prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

If there is sufficient interest and attendance, the parish will consider offering a monthly Holy Communion according to the 1928 rite. That service would take the place of Evening Prayer one Wednesday per month.

Contact information for the church is here.

West River:

St Francis Anglican Mission offers Holy Communion (1928 BCP) daily and at several Sunday services:

346 S. Chicago St, Hot Springs SD 57747
605-745-5586 or 605-890-2313, cell
Fr. Charles E. A. (Chip) Johnson, vicar/missioner
Web page

On line:

WWW.COMMONPRAYER.ORG gives you the 1928 Daily Offices (Morning & Evening Prayer, with Psalms and Readings) and then some!

Telling the Truth

Because The Episcopal Church (TEC) and diocesan bureaucracies control and distort news, bloggers are an important source of truth about what's really going on in church.

The Anglican Watchman is speaking up in the Diocese of Newark (NJ), one of the worst of the worst when it comes to dioceses that betray the Gospel.

His article is really worth a look. Notice how
  • The "inclusive, diverse" church hammers minority congregations that don't bow down to the idolatrous LGBT agenda;
  • How decisions are made that enrich the bureaucrats and abandon the congregations;
  • How diocesan staffs manipulate the process to employ their clergy cronies (especially LGBT);
  • How the congregations wither while the bureaucracy persists.

This fall, the Diocese of South Dakota will call for the election of a new bishop - expect to see all or some of the above corruptions in play.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Photo Op a Comin'

The Niobrara Convocation takes place in Fort Thompson, South Dakota June 21 - 24.

This once proud event was formed to gather Lakota/Nakota/Dakota Episcopalians once a year, and even served as a kind of second Diocesan Convention at times.

Like all things TEC, the event is a shadow of its former self, with smaller and smaller attendance and more and more aged attendees.

This year's event will have "several guest Bishops and other dignitaries in attendance including the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, the former Presiding Bishop. We are expecting a large number of people..." (this from a letter circulating in the diocese).

Look for this to be another piece of the current TEC media campaign. We had Rowan Williams on Time Magazine, Katherine Schori with Bill Moyers, and all kinds of favorable stuff in the mainstream media.

Look for photos and inflated claims of "a diocese where half the communicants are Native Americans!" But as we showed here, the diocese exists mainly on paper. There are 92 churches, but only 2,300 in church on Sunday... many of the Reservation Chapels have no functioning congregations. Fort Thompson, the host congregation for Convocation, had a 2005 ASA of only 19 (yes, nineteen).

Mission Vicars (compensated by funds from a large TEC grant) come and go through a revolving door, discouraged by isolation and by their only ministry being funerals and drive-by baptisms. TEC's insistence on '79 Prayer Book norms (Holy Eucharist with a priest as the only valid worship) undid traditions of lay leadership that had been strong on the reservations.

Perhaps the most telling comment came last winter at a meeting of the Diocese's Eastern Deanery. A Native American delegate stood and said, "We need you to get your spiritual message back. We have our traditional religion, and can go back to that. You send us priests who want to do scholarship funds, but we have tribal government money for that. We need Vicars who want to bring the Christian message."

He received a smattering of polite applause and some throat clearing. The meeting then turned back to a discussion of what properties might be sold to fund Diocesan needs.

Feelin' Angry?

It can be about church stuff, or traffic, or bills, or your spouse or just about anything... anger is there within us, waiting to flare up.

You can't ignore it, God tells us. You must address it truthfully, with the goal of healing your relationship with those around you. If you hang onto anger, you "give place to the devil."

This morning's Psalm (1928 Book of Common Prayer lectionary) is one of the best bits of Biblical first aid for anger. Read it s-l-o-w-l-y and let the LORD speak to your troubled heart.

Psalm 37:1-24

FRET not thyself because of the ungodly; * neither be thou envious against the evil doers.

For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, * and be withered even as the green herb.

Put thou thy trust in the LORD, and be doing good; * dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

Delight thou in the LORD, * and he shall give thee thy heart's desire.

Commit thy way unto the LORD, and put thy trust in him, * and he shall bring it to pass.

He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light, * and thy just dealing as the noon-day.

Hold thee still in the LORD, and abide patiently upon him: * but grieve not thyself at him whose way doth prosper, against the man that doeth after evil counsels.

Leave off from wrath, and let go displeasure: * fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil.

Wicked doers shall be rooted out; * and they that patiently abide the LORD, those shall inherit the land.

Yet a little while, and the ungodly shall be clean gone: * thou shalt look after his place, and he shall be away.

But the meek-spirited shall possess the earth, * and shall be refreshed in the multitude of peace.

The ungodly seeketh counsel against the just, * and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.

The Lord shall laugh him to scorn; * for he hath seen that his day is coming.

The ungodly have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, * to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be upright in their ways.

Their sword shall go through their own heart, * and their bow shall be broken.

A small thing that the righteous hath, * is better than great riches of the ungodly.

For the arms of the ungodly shall be broken, * and the LORD upholdeth the righteous.

The LORD knoweth the days of the godly; * and their inheritance shall endure for ever.

They shall not be confounded in the perilous time; * and in the days of dearth they shall have enough.

As for the ungodly, they shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall consume as the fat of lambs: * yea, even as the smoke shall they consume away.

The ungodly borroweth, and payeth not again; * but the righteous is merciful and liberal.

Such as are blessed of God, shall possess the land; * and they that are cursed of him, shall be rooted out.

The LORD ordereth a good man's going, * and maketh his way acceptable to himself.

Though he fall, he shall not be cast away; * for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Patience, Prayer, Pain

Dear Friends in Christ,

Those of us baptized according to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer's order were embraced and lifted up with this prayer,
We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Child with thy Holy Spirit...

Because the Holy Spirit is at work within us, we are capable of bearing "fruit of the Spirit." Patience is a fruit specifically listed in the Bible.

How we need patience right now! God is doing something new, and it might involve a terrible shaking of familiar things in our lives. Certainly, outcomes are uncertain and worries can flourish like weeds. But if we ask our faithful God, the fruit of the Spirit can grow up and give us peace, self control and patience in the face of our struggles.

Today's Morning and Evening Prayer lessons (1928 BCP) give some wonderful encouragements to wait patiently on the Lord's action:
  • Psalm 31:27 says, Be strong, and he shall establish your heart, all ye that put your trust in the LORD.
  • Luke 2:21-40 has two saints remarkable for their patience:
  • Simeon "was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ." Simeon was willing to wait his whole life, trusting the promise that he would see the Savior promised by God.
  • Anna "was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Widowed and probably impoverished at a young age, she spent the decades praying and fasting. And in His time, God showed her the Redeemer, Jesus, and she became a witness in her city.

Anna's example in particular connects patience with prayer. We find that prayer is essential to keep us looking for Jesus and not wallowing in the muck of The Episcopal Church and the sinful world to which it is in bondage. Just keeping up the Daily Offices (Morning and Evening Prayer) gave us the wonderful readings we are sharing here. Let us keep up our prayers. Let us open our Bibles as God's Word for us and listen for His wisdom.

Finally, do not assume that pain means we are defeated by men or rejected by God. When Jesus' parents presented him in the Temple, "the old man Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There are five important truths in Simeon's words:

  • God's blessing in upon us, if we are with Christ.
  • Jesus' purposes are "set" and will come to pass.
  • Many will speak against Jesus and his sign, the cross.
  • Our hearts will be wounded.
  • The truth will come out.

Patience, friends in Christ. Stay at your prayers. And let us comfort and encourage one another through inevitable seasons of pain. We must be strong in every connection and commitment to Christ and to one another.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Storm Clouds?

Bishop Robertson of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota says something cryptic and troubling in a statement on his Diocesan Information Exchange: "Diocesan Council will meet on July 6-7 in SF [Sioux Falls] at the Cathedral. Special guests have been invited to be with us and discuss future business of the Diocese."

Could this be about wringing more money out of local churches to support the anti-Gospel bureaucracy of The Episcopal Church (TEC)? TEC's Executive Council is militating for dioceses (who get most of their funds from their local congregations) to give more money to the national church. Steve Waring of The Living Church reports, "Among the steps taken was creation of the task force to 'develop strategies for increasing participation and accountability by dioceses that are not fully meeting their commitment to the budget for The Episcopal Church.'”

And why does the national church need more? There are all kinds of reasons, but one of the most disgusting is the unbiblical practice of suing congregations and individuals who don't agree with TEC's rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Martyn Minns is one target of such litigation. As reported in this Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, Bishop Minns and other faithful Anglican Christians in the U.S. are " facing potentially the largest lawsuit the Episcopal Church has ever initiated against congregations. They are trying to evict us and indeed to take all of our property and all of our resources away from us. ... Our replacement cost is estimated at about $30-million, and we're just one of the churches."

The Diocese of South Dakota is made up of mostly small congregations. They are not affluent and, in the case of the Reservation Chapels, some exist in the poorest counties in the U.S. It would be more than a shame - we would call it a profound evil - to take money from such congregations and give it to clergy, lawyers and church bureaucrats in New York who are suing faithful Christians.

Meanwhile, Katherine Jefferts Schori, TEC's Presiding Bishop, looked at TV interviewer Bill Moyers with a straight face and said, "I think if we're willing to hold our positions a little more lightly. To say, 'Yes, this is where we come to as a conclusion out of faithfulness. We understand you may come to a different conclusion, also out of faithfulness. Perhaps we don't have to decide one way or the other immediately.' If we're willing to live in that place of a little more humility, yes, we can live together."

TEC has slipped from ineffectual, incoherent and inconsequential leadership into complete spiritual and moral pollution. And there are going to be few, if any "safe places" for Anglican Christians within TEC.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Quit Grumbling: Look and Live!

Numbers 21:4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Any of this sound like Anglican life in South Dakota?

This reading was assigned for Morning Prayer today (1928 Book of Common Prayer Lectionary). Discouraged people, worn down by the journey into which God himself called them, were "loathing the worthless bread" (might this be how some of us regard the sacraments of the apostate Episcopal Church?)

But the result of the discouragement and grumbling (which God perceived as an insult, by the way) was the lethal bite of fiery serpents. We need to recognize that our own discouragement and complaining, however bad TEC might be, is destructive to our souls.

What help can we find in this lesson?
  • They made confession. The people went to Moses and specifically admitted what they had done.
  • They relied on prayer. The people asked Moses to intercede for them.
  • They accepted God's solution. God told Moses to make a bronze figure of the fiery serpent, and hold it up on a pole. Wierd though it seemed, the people obeyed, and all who looked at it lived.

We can do the same today. Jesus himself is God's solution. If we confess our sins of despair and grumbling (and our resultant failure to form a fresh Anglican witness), and pray in Jesus' Name, he is like that bronze serpent lifted up by Moses. All who come to Jesus will live. Moses held up the sign of death to bring life; Jesus was lifted up on the cross to bring life.

Around the country, reform and renewal of Anglican witness begins in confession and prayer. We all had a part in letting the Episcopal Church turn away from Christ. We need to confess that, turn back to Christ in prayer, and let him give us new life in his Name - a life that requires us to come together to hear the Word and celebrate the sacraments. (See Number XIX here).

Friday, June 8, 2007

Update: Responses from Public Officials

We encourage Anglican Christians and all of our readers to pray for public officials, as commanded in The NewTestament.

Our prayers and contacts received a couple of responses this week:

From Senator Tim Johnson's Chief of Staff: you may know, Senator Johnson suffered an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), causing him to be hospitalized and undergo neurosurgery. While we are heartened by his progress and expect him to make a full recovery, he is not yet able to return to work or personally respond to your comments...Thank you again for your thoughts and patience during this time. Sincerely, Drey Samuelson.

From Governor Mike Rounds' Deputy Chief of Staff: Your prayers and support mean a lot to Governor Rounds. Sincerely, Connie Tveidt.

Of your charity and as an offering to God, pray for our public officials, their labors and needs, their families and their staffs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

News Flash: Buffalo Herds Doing OK; Episcopalians Endangered

Super Duper Ueberblogger Kendall Harmon offers a discussion of truth in advertising – using the fuzzy statistics from the Episcopal Diocese of Montana as a case study.

So, we figured we would look in on the Diocese of South Dakota. At their website, they boast 92 Churches .

But, if you investigate their Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), you find it was 2238 in 2005(the last reporting year), down from 2583 in 2004, and THAT was down 10.1% from ’03…

92 congregations sharing 2,238 folks per Sunday yields an average of just under 25 per congregation (and falling).

The largest ASA is 170, at Calvary Cathedral in Sioux Falls. But, as blogger Sarah discovered, that's down from 260 in 2000 - a 34% loss over five years. And that’s in a growing city with some robust economic stuff in play.

And in case you didn’t catch it on another thread, the Diocese of South Dakota is subsidized to the tune of almost ¾ of a million dollars by the General Convention of TEC, and so can probably exist on paper for awhile. And, no worries! The Diocese of South Dakota now boasts a very vocal chapter of Integrity, the Episcopal Church club for LGBT (lesbi/gay/bi/transexual) entitlements. That's sure to bring vital new energy to the churches.

Now, on a serious note, there are many small communities and South Dakota really is a place where towns just go out of existence from time to time. We are not denying the potential for small but healthy churches (and that is the defense often mounted by TEC loyalists around here - "Growth isn't the only measure of success").

But the numbers from the Diocese are not about small, healthy communities. The numbers show decline - in many cases precipitous. And the historic Reservation Missions are vitually empty save for funerals and drive-by baptisms. We still hear TEC folks from other places boast about how "We have a diocese where over half the members are Native Americans!" Yeah, guess that's true on paper. But in terms of vital Christian community, well, you really need flesh and blood - regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Just for fun, we looked in on Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls, a church teaching the Biblical Gospel and emphasizing prayer and strong lay ministry. Their ASA went from 42 in 2004 to 85 in 2006, and they report that Sundays this year frequently have more than 100 at worship.

South Dakota Prayer Needs

Rain & Weather are big issues. South Dakota seldom gets it "just right" - too little rain has been hard on "West River" (the area west of the Missouri River). Drought conditions last year impaired hay production and forced ranchers to sell off their cattle. Give thanks that this year's spring rains have been more hopeful.

East River folks have worries about too much rain. Farmers have trouble getting their crops in the ground if fields stay too wet too late.

Flood recovery continues in several areas around the state.

And we are in tornado season.

O GOD, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom, and the righteousness thereof, all things necessary to their bodily sustenance; Send us, we beseech thee, in this our necessity, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and to thy honour; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wet weather means mosquitos, and we just had this year's first reported case of West Nile Virus.

O MOST mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succour. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Economic Development and Employment are big issues. We give thanks that the large medical facilities in Sioux Falls continue to expand and generate research as well as excellent care. A new development dubbed "The Gorilla" (rumored to be a fuel refinery) might create 2,000 jobs. But there are always stories of layoffs and closures along the way. South Dakota has one of the nation's highest rates for women in the workforce and also folks holding multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who declarest thy glory and showest forth thy handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men; for the sake of him who came among us as one that serveth, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

After recent sexual misconduct cases, the State Legislature is contemplating a new code of ethics.

O GOD, the fountain of wisdom, whose statutes are good and gracious and whose law is truth; We beseech thee so to guide and bless the Legislature of this State, that it may ordain for our governance only such things as please thee, to the glory of thy Name and the welfare of the people; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Please pray for all of these needs and the Lord's blessing of our state.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Single Issue?

Father Chip Johnson at The South Dakota Anglican recently posted The Know Nothings , a very worthwhile meditation on St. Paul's words: "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (I Corinthians 2.2)

If our Anglican witness is to avoid unhelpful whining and grousing about old, dead church stuff, we need to lock onto this single issue as our positive reason for existence. A healthy focus is good for the Body of Christ on earth; as we showed here, most of us are coming out of a "church" that is undoing itself over an unhealthy, unbiblical single issue obsession. (This has been confirmed by a South Dakota Lutheran pastor who emailed us and by item #7 here. )

As the preface to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer tells us, Anglicanism has a purpose:

"For they so ordred the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greater parte thereof)
should be read ouer once in the yeare,
intendyng thereby, that the Cleargie, and specially
suche as were Ministers of the congregacion, should (by often readyng and
meditacion of Gods worde) be stirred vp to godlines themselfes, and be more
able also to exhorte other by wholsome doctrine, and to confute them that were
aduersaries to the trueth. And further, that the people (by daily hearyng of
holy scripture read in the Churche) should continuallye profite more and
more in the knowledge of God, and bee the more inflamed with the loue of his
true religion."

Our single issue, informing all else we might do, is to help people know and live from the Biblical message of Jesus Christ crucified.

Pray for South Dakota's Elected Leaders

I Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior...

President George Bush (R)

Senator Tim Johnson (D)

Senator John Thune (R)

Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D)

Governor Mike Rounds (R)

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Some Friendly Changes to our Blog

We will keep trying to make this blog as hospitable and useful as we can! Here are a couple of improvements:
  • You can post comments without a Blogger or Google account now - anybody can comment.
  • We've put an email at the top (it's not "hot" - you'll need to copy and paste it) or you can click here.

And here are some things you can do to help our work:

  • If you are interested in being part of an Anglican ministry in South Dakota, send us an email with your contact info.
  • Please join the discussion: comment on the threads or email us - we especially want your comments on what an Anglican ministry in South Dakota should be doing - what kind of ministry should be offered? Where should our efforts and resources go? Where are there people in need and people willing to get involved?

Welcome - the Lord is up to something and we look forward to being part of it with you!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Eve of Trinity Sunday, 2007

As thunder storms roll over the Plains tonight,
I feel the power of the Father, who claps thunder and throws lightning, and turns the dry land green;
I know the love of the Son, who shared my tent of flesh in the pelting rain and now makes a home for me in the heavens;
I hear the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, troubling my heart with holy fear and calming it with the Son's comfortable words.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit is beyond, is near, is within.

One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.