Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We are not alone!

Go over to the "Useful Links" on the left side of the page. Check out ANGLICAT...welcome to this new Anglican Christian witness next door in Minnesota.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Giving thanks...and keeping up prayers for public health

No reported flu cases so far in South Dakota. And the state is providing free vaccinations for kids & teens. Please keep up prayers for good health around the state.

Recent research gave the state low marks for women's health* and noted on-going health problems on the Reservations. Pray for available preventive care, and for people to make use of it. Pray for smokers and people with unbalanced diets. Pray for those who drink to excess.

* South Dakota came out 22nd of the 50 states. Smoking and obesity were among the problems. Also, the research listed "access to abortion providers" as a women's health measure - one might argue that the state is healthier without the widespread presence of that particular industry. Pray for families and sex lives based in love and commitment.

For a Blessing on the Families of the Land.
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families; We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vain-glory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh; turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we be evermore kindly affectioned with brotherly love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For all Poor, Homeless, and Neglected Folk.
O GOD, Almighty and merciful, who healest those that are broken in heart, and turnest the sadness of the sorrowful to joy; Let thy fatherly goodness be upon all that thou hast made. Remember in pity such as are this day destitute, homeless, or forgotten of their fellow-men. Bless the congregation of thy poor. Uplift those who are cast down. Mightily befriend innocent sufferers, and sanctify to them the endurance of their wrongs. Cheer with hope all discouraged and unhappy people, and by thy heavenly grace preserve from falling those whose penury tempteth them to sin; though they be troubled on every side, suffer them not to be distressed; though they be perplexed, save them from despair. Grant this, O Lord, for the love of him, who for our sakes became poor, thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

A General Intercession.
O GOD, at whose word man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening; Be merciful to all whose duties are difficult or burdensome, and comfort them concerning their toil. Shield from bodily accident and harm the workmen at their work. Protect the efforts of sober and honest industry, and suffer not the hire of the labourers to be kept back by fraud. Incline the heart of employers and of those whom they employ to mutual forbearance, fairness, and good-will. Give the spirit of governance and of a sound mind to all in places of authority. Bless all those who labour in works of mercy or in schools of good learning. Care for all aged persons, and all little children, the sick and the afflicted, and those who travel by land or by sea. Remember all who by reason of weakness are over-tasked, or because of poverty are forgotten. Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before thee; and according to the greatness of thy power, preserve thou those that are appointed to die. Give ear unto our prayer, O merciful and gracious Father, for the love of thy dear Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California Fire Relief

The American Anglican Council has opened a California Wildfire Relief Fund option at their contributions page.

Or, you can send contributions to:
AAC South Dakota Chapter
P. O. Box 90203
Sioux Falls, SD 57106-0203

"Running on Empty"

(2 Kings 4:1-7)
"Did you know that emptiness can be a wonderful gift? That's the lesson a destitute woman learned from the prophet Elisha.
One day Elisha meets a woman with nothing - no husband, no income, no food, no prospects. The prophet tells her to gather what she has, and she returns with a jar of oil and several empty jars from neighbors. Elisha begins to pour her oil into the empty jars, and he just keeps on pouring until all the jars are full. Only then does the oil in the first jar run out. Interestingly, the woman gets as much oil as she has empty jars.
There is something about "nothing" that moves God's hand. He loves leading us to empty places where we can lean on nothing except His provision. If we are not experiencing God's presence and provision, could it be that we aren't empty enough? Could we still be distracted and dependent on ourselves? This story teaches us that...
1. Emptiness is a gift from the Lord.
2. Emptiness tells us we have a need.
3. It is possible that we may not be empty enough.
4. We must admit our emptiness.
5. Only God can truly fill us."
Dr. John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Time of Calamity

O GOD, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We are known for extreme conditions here in South Dakota, but right now we are enjoying a lovely, gentle autumn, while others around the nation really suffer.

Of your charity pray for the people of California, where wildfires are out of control. Pray for Governor Schwarzenegger, for all firefighters, and for weather that favors their efforts. Pray for those who have died or been injured, for several hundred thousand displaced people, for those who are suffering property loss.

Of your charity pray for the people of Georgia, where drought conditions threaten the water supply. Pray for Governor Perdue, for President Bush and federal authorities considering the state's requests for help, and for all the people, especially in the counties most at risk. Pray for rain.

Monday, October 22, 2007

An Interesting Discussion

Go over to the "Useful Links" on the left side of this page... click on JUST GENESIS and check out a vigorous discussion of how to interpret the first book of the Bible!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Please pray for protection from MRSA, flu and other health threats

News reports about MRSA are quite frightening. There is a documented history of the antibiotic-resistant staph infection in Nebraska, our neighbor to the south. Please pray for protection from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Also, it is flu season. Pray for protection from the flu and for good availability and prudent use of vaccine.

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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is there a gracious way to separate?

I was trying to write a gracious summary of the many comments here over the last few days, but the words were not coming. Fortunately, TitusOneNine posted a link to this piece by Fr. Clark West. Now, he's a "progressive, liberal, revisionist or reappraiser." He and I would disagree on many things. But his point is a good one - there is a time where gracious separation, with hope of reconciliation and reunion over time - is better than trying to beat one another into submission and humiliation.

Please give it a read. Don't worry about the little blips of disagreeable stuff you might encounter - look to his main point. And pray and think on some ways that such a gracious move might emerge in The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.

Monday, October 15, 2007

South Dakota "Safe Place" Resolution...How is it being applied?

This resolution was passed at the 2006 Diocesan Convention (highlights added):

Submitted by The Rev. Timothy Fountain, Sioux Falls and amended by the Resolutions Committee
RESOLVED, that the One hundred Twenty-Second Convention of the Diocese of South Dakota
recognizes the presence of faithful members, formed by the Episcopal Church with Scripture,
Anglican tradition and reason, who cannot affirm teachings which detract from proclamation of Jesus
Christ as Lord and Savior of all, and who cannot participate in innovations and experiments which
depart from the Book of Common Prayer (1979 and prior), such as “open communion” for un-baptized
persons or the blessing or ordination of those involved in same sex unions.
AND RESOLVED, that because we are historically a diverse diocese, we are committed to being a
safe space for all members of this diocese, including both those whose faith and practice is consistent
with that of the wider Anglican Communion and those who believe the Holy Spirit is leading the
Church in new directions.
AND RESOLVED, that a “safe space” is defined as freedom from personal attack and from
discrimination on the basis of differing opinions on controversial issues.


How does this square with the diocesan characterization of the The American Anglican Council, The Church of the Good Shepherd and other Biblically traditional Anglicans in these words (highlights added):

"As I said at the convention, this whole splinter conversation is not about being the church, it is about power, authority, biblical interpretation or rather the holding of everyone to one interpretation, and it is about control. It is about dishonesty and it's about holding one group accountable to one standard and another accountable to a different standard (NPA note: he's calling us hypocrites)"


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bishop Criticizes Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls - his statement and the rector's response

It is very hard to reply to Bishop Robertson's attack. One the one hand, he says that traditional Anglicans are a few malcontents, and good riddance as they leave. On the other hand, he says they are devious conspirators, trying to take over the diocese and force a way of life on people. I guess that's TEC leadership - throw out a bunch of inconsistent insults and hope something sticks.

For what it's worth, the American Anglican Council letter that went out was simply an invitation to take part in the AAC as a way for Biblically traditional folks to support one another. It included FACTS, from both diocesan and TEC publications, about the terrible membership and attendance declines afflicting the church, and documented actions and statements by TEC leaders.

Comment by Bishop Robertson of South Dakota, October 12, 2007 (http://www.diocesesd.org/ click on Information Exchange):

"Some of the clergy, some lay folks as well, were upset that a letter had been mailed out from a group of folks at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Sioux Falls, asking folks to leave the Episcopal Church and join their Anglican group. The usual reasons were cited for their leaving, the issue of human sexuality, same sex union blessings, our failure to interpret scripture as narrowly as they do, and they ask all of us to consider leaving the Episcopal Church and join their splinter group. I spoke about some of their concerns in my convention address.I believe that the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has addressed the HOB statement and finds that it has met the conditions set forth in the Windsor Report, which is the document being touted by these splinter groups as the standard for belonging to the Anglican Communion. Whether or not the Primates will follow the ACC's lead is questionable. But as I said at the convention, it doesn't matter, since the Primates do not have the authority to either ask or remove someone from being a part of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church in South Dakota will continue to be the Anglican expression of faith here in South Dakota. I suppose that some folks will be unhappy with that and will likely leave us. They can do that if they wish, and they can go with my Blessing. We, the Diocese of South Dakota, will use whatever resources we have to ensure that folks at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church will be able to worship in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition as they have since that church was started. As I said at the convention, this whole splinter conversation is not about being the church, it is about power, authority, biblical interpretation or rather the holding of everyone to one interpretation, and it is about control. It is about dishonesty and it's about holding one group accountable to one standard and another accountable to a different standard.I trust that you will see it for what it is worth, an attempt to force on the good people of this diocese, a way of life in the church which is at odds with the Anglican/Episcopal tradition as they have been expressed and handed down to us in this Diocese over time. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.I am preparing a letter to be sent to all congregations in this Diocese concerning the House of Bishops statement at the New Orleans meeting in September. It can be made available but not read from the pulpit."


Comment by Fr. Timothy Fountain (posted by diocesan staff Saturday morning):

The preceding comment by the bishop is not accurate. American Anglican Council mailings are not sponsored by Church of the Good Shepherd. Good Shepherd did not pay for the mailing. The Vestry of Good Shepherd has not aligned the parish with any particular advocacy group in the church. Our financials, vestry minutes and all other records are totally open to diocesan staff at all times.

I do provide pastoral care to people who share a traditionally Biblical and Creedal practice of Christian faith. Several of them have been told to "keep their views to themselves" in other congregations of this diocese. The Presiding Bishop recently stated that the church needs "all of its voices" - that is not the actual practice in many settings.

Prior to convention, the diocese provided a list of congregations that don't turn in annual reports, lists of convetion delegates and other requested documents (I would add to this parishes which now ignore requests for letters of transfer). Good Shepherd holds to a much higher standard of honesty and cooperation than many congregations in this diocese. It is unfortunate that the bishop has characterized Good Shepherd in uncharitable and unflattering terms.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Agony of the Episcopal Church

By any honest judgment, this denomination is a mess. Its own staff people speak of “precipitous” membership losses fueled in large part by fights in the church, of an aging membership that is not inviting new people to meet Christ or passing faith on to a new generation, and of “incoherent” denominational leadership that can’t create unity and positive momentum.

Why is this church suffering? Some would say that we are under God’s judgment. Too many years of too many compromises – from the old country club captivity of “The Republican Party at Prayer”; to a complete cave-in on acceptance of divorce and remarriage; to the coddling of addicts, egomaniacs and anti-Christians as bishops; to the current coastal urban elitists and their obsession with church entitlements for homosexuals. All of us bring our sins, “known and unknown, things done and left undone” to this sorry state of affairs. We’ve tried and tried to define the Episcopal Church by something – anything – other than the Gospel of Christ crucified. Maybe God is fed up with the denomination. Maybe we are like a fruitless tree, just taking up space, with our only hope an undeserved season of merciful tending by Christ himself (Luke13:6-9).

And there are other forces working against us. The Episcopal Church was once part of a Christian “mainstream” that contributed to an American moral consensus. That consensus no longer exists. Americans are polarized. There is no one culture to which we can be a chaplain, and this makes us more “sideline” than mainline.

Because some of us have set up shop as chaplains to this or that faction in the polarized nation, we have no internal unity as a church. There is no common teaching and, despite much noise about “baptismal covenant” and “unity in the eucharist”, there is no agreement about what these sacraments mean and how the church should live them out. In fact, there are ferocious disagreements about the sacraments and a multitude of liturgies, authorized and not, by which we claim to celebrate them.

Our leadership bodies are a disaster. The House of Bishops has no real unity. Meetings degenerate into shunning, name-calling and profanity. The Bishops, who are ordained to “be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 517), speak little of Christ and much of church rules and procedures. They are enthralled with lesser “lords and kings” and treat Christ as little more than a symbolic figure.

Increasingly, secular journalists are catching Bishops in statements that are at best word tricks and at worst lies. Bishops appear more interested in scoring victories for their own egos, wallets or some small faction they serve, rather than looking to the good of all God’s people as called for in the ordination vows.

The General Convention, long a source of pride as a Christian leadership body with the voice of elected clergy and laity together, is an unwieldy joke. Ten days long, with hundreds of dense pages of material for delegates to consider and hundreds of resolutions covering every topic in the cosmos, this expensive boondoggle cannot possibly give quality attention to any issues and is as gridlocked and disreputable as any political game played in DC or a state capitol. And the long, expensive event is impossible for many working lay people, giving a decidedly elitist advantage to clergy and subsidized lay activists for narrow interests.

With ordained and elected leadership in such sad repair, unaccountable bureaucrats wield considerable power. Something called “The Executive Council” has decided the Episcopal Church’s affiliation on one of the most divisive issues of our time – abortion. And nobody seems able to say how the denomination changed its name from The Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) to its current “TEC.” The supposedly “democratic” church had no broad based discussion of the sectarian change.

Meanwhile, the sad fact is that many of the most energetic and creative leaders are leaving the denomination, while parasitic church-shrinkers and bureaucrats without a leadership clue claim all kinds of titles, positions and perks.

The problems are not new to Christianity. The Apostle Paul agonized when a confused church suffered under corrupt leaders:

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough… For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves! For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face… And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?” (II Corinthians 11:4,19-20,28-29).

Where is that Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, Gospel-preaching, empathetic and passionate leadership for God’s people in the Episcopal Church? With maybe a few anomalous examples, it is not in the House of Bishops or the General Convention. And it is not in the sorry bureaucracy that manipulates things in their stead. And that lack of apostolic leadership is the agony of the Episcopal Church.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Welcome, Montana Anglicans!

Check out the Montana Anglicans site over in our Useful Links!

Seth Bullock moved from Montana to Deadwood, SD, where he became Sheriff and a revered town leader. Canadian by birth, he used the Book of Common Prayer when called upon to conduct burials in the absence of clergy. So we are glad to renew this historic connection!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Prayers - Hunters, Public Works

Pheasant season is on the way, bringing folks from all over the world to South Dakota. Deer and other larger game will be hunted, too. Please pray for safe travel, safe and enjoyable hunts, and with thanks for God's gifts of abundant land and creatures.

Give thanks for South Dakota's tourism industry and the help it brings to the state economy.

Fall will turn to winter quickly (a few inches of snow in NW Minnesota today!), so please pray and give thanks for all in public works - those who maintain roads and utlitities, emergency services and all who work for our comfort and safety in challenging weather.

And of course pray for those who are in need of clothing, heat and other necessities during the cold months. Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls has mounted a very good winter clothing drive, and Anglicans from Virginia have been delivering winter coats to the Standing Rock Reservation. Look for opportunities to meet such needs.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Comment Moderation

We have enabled comment moderation, so please be patient if your post does not appear immediately. With the end of the South Dakota Diocesan Convention and an information initiative by the American Anglican Council chapter, we want to make sure that discussion and debate are conducted without name calling, personal attacks or other unhelpful behaviors.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What's Are the Issues?

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) just met. CAPA includes most of the world's Anglicans in the largest and fastest growing provinces.

The Primates (presiding bishops) of CAPA have issued a statement, which you can read in full at TitusOneNine. Paragraph Five of that document is a perfect summary of the real issues facing the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. It's not about "the rights of nice gay people" and all the other smoke that is being blown. While people are distracted by that kind of argument, here's what's really at stake:

5. We are convinced that what is at stake in this crisis is the very nature of Anglicanism – to understand it simply in terms of the need for greater inclusivity in the face of changing sexual ethics is a grave mistake. It is not just about sexuality but also about the nature of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the authority of the Bible. We see a trend that seems to ignore the careful balance of reformed catholicity and missionary endeavor that is our true heritage and replace it with a religion of cultural conformity that offers no transforming power and no eternal hope.

We need to keep warning people. While the Episcopal Church exploits the current cultural sympathy for homosexuals to distract people, it is busy denying that Jesus is our Savior, that the Christian message is more than just myth and symbolism, and that the Bible is the source of authority for Christian teaching. The Episcopal Church wants you to be known as a "nice", culturally approved, politically correct person in this life. It does not care about (and might not even believe in) your hope to share eternity with God.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Is Your Church Using Your Money Well? What Can You Do?

Jesus says, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21)

If you are giving money to your Episcopal parish or mission budget, does this mean that
  • Your heart is full of zeal to sue other Christians?
  • Your heart doubts that Jesus, by his death on the cross, is the savior of the world and the only Name by which we can reach the kingdom of God?
  • Your heart longs for the victory of abortion-on-demand activists?
  • Your heart delights in Church bylaws rather than the Holy Bible?

All of these and more are supported, financially, by the Episcopal Church at the national level. Where do they get the money? From us. When we give to our local church, some of that money goes up to the diocese, who then passes a good chunk of it on to the national church. And the Diocese of South Dakota lists giving to the national church as a priority for the coming year! (Go here and scroll down to p. 8. This is also in the 2008 diocesan budget material sent out to its convention delegates.)

What can you do? A new initiative lists some of the problems and how to respond. You have to take charge of your money and see that it goes to truly Christian purposes rather than a corrupt church bureaucracy. Check it out, consider signing the petition, and most of all become a better steward of the treasure God gives you!