Friday, October 31, 2008

A Song for All Saints (and All Saints')

No, I'm not BabyBlueOnline... but Dylan plays here too.

This song has always comforted and stirred my heart. Needless to say, my mom's death has my heart and mind stumbling around with thoughts temporal and eternal. And All Saints' Day is here - not for those who are perfect, but for those who struggle and wait until He returns. "They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?'" (Revelation 6:10)


The iron hand it ain't no match for the iron rod,
The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God.
For all those who have eyes and all those who have ears
It is only He who can reduce me to tears.
Don't you cry and don't you die and don't you burn
For like a thief in the night, He'll replace wrong with right
When He returns.

Truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow that it passes through,
He unleashed His power at an unknown hour that no one knew.
How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?
Can I cast it aside, all this loyalty and this pride?
Will I ever learn that there'll be no peace, that the war won't cease
Until He returns?

Surrender your crown on this blood-stained ground, take off your mask,
He sees your deeds, He knows your needs even before you ask.
How long can you falsify and deny what is real?
How long can you hate yourself for the weakness you conceal?
Of every earthly plan that be known to man, He is unconcerned,
He's got plans of His own to set up His throne
When He returns.

Copyright ©1979 Special Rider Music

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mary Fountain, Rest in Peace

My mom died today. She would have been 90 on Dec. 10. Her death was not unexpected and was peaceful.
She was the U.S. born child of refugees from the Armenian genocide of WW I. Grew up in Providence, RI and married my dad, who was an orphan from the Ozarks ("sorta near this, sorta near that") in NW Arkansas. Like so many after WW II they settled in Los Angeles and that's where the four kids, including this one, were born.
My main thanksgiving is for her dutiful reading from a children's Bible at our dining room table (much worse for wear, I have that table with me here in Sioux Falls). She's the one who fixed the Bible's narrative of salvation in my heart and mind, and she's the one from whom I learned to pray daily.
I take my best organizational qualities and passion from her. Also tendencies to be mercurial and harsh.
Rest eternal grant her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her.
I'll be away from blogging for awhile.

Chart shows state of The Episcopal Church

click chart to enlarge

This is from TEC's own data, and presented by the "Elves" at TitusOneNine.

From their analysis:

Median Average Sunday Worship Attendance: 69

Net Change in ASA from Previous Year -37,504

Divide 37,504 by 69

So that’s the equivalent of losing 543 “median-sized” congregations in 2007.

That’s just about 1.5 congregations (median ASA) departing PER DAY.
Meanwhile, TEC continues to sue congregations for property. While losing people left and right, the leadership seeks to hold onto empty buildings.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the temporal power of the Catholic Church reached its zenith, and the result in part was the Reformation. Pope Julius II even marched at the head of an army to retake lands which he claimed for the Church from the princes who had seized it. The Church was obsessed with its temporalities, at the expense of its spirituality.

So I would say of TEC today. With its battles for buildings and physical property, it is acting no better than Pope Julius did, and its heritage is destined to be just as disgraceful. An army of lawyers is no more a suitable spiritual instrument than was an army of soldiers. The legal battles will be won and lost, while souls will only be lost, and not won.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pro-abortion zealots go heavy on deception and out-of-state funds - Please pray, give and VOTE FOR LIFE

The effort to end elective abortion (97% of the abortions in South Dakota) is coming down to election day.
  • The pro-abortion advocates have received and spent twice as much as Vote Yes for Life - and the bulk of the money is coming in from out of state.
  • The pro-abortion advocates have had to pull at least two advertisements from the airwaves. Both of these made claims about health care organizations opposing Measure 11 - in both cases the organizations refuted the claim. A major South Dakota medical association had to get a "cease and desist" order to get the abortion advocates to yank misleading statements.
  • Polls show that committed voters are divided about 44% - 44% on Measure 11, but there is an important group of 12% who have not decided. The good news is, even at 50-50, we've erased the margin of defeat of a previous pro-life measure. People are recognizing that Measure 11 is reasonable.

Please pray. If you are in South Dakota, get to the polls and vote yes on Measure 11.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Local autism coverage... includes our guy

Local ABC affiliate KSFY covered Liberty Center (see my useful links down the right side of the blog).

Good story and video of the coverage. Our son, Joey, is the happy kid you will see playing with a piece of paper.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Being Autistic, Being Human

NPR's Speaking of Faith broadcast a most informative exploration of autism on October 16th. You can download or listen to it here. We have an autistic son, and life with him has opened us up to God in ways we would not have expected.

Grace has been a big rediscovery for me.
  • Grace, in terms of Joey's own relationship with God. Joey will not receive or express faith as an abstract idea or in propositional statements. We must rely entirely on God's inner, invisible work in Joey's life.
  • Grace, in terms of our need for the Holy Spirit when our human capacity seems tapped out. My flesh is not loving enough to meet all of Joey's needs in a graceful way - I need God's help.
  • Grace, to be a servant when I want to be served.
  • Grace, to experience, enjoy and be thankful for blessings that God sends us via Joey.

Thursday, October 23, 2008





Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Has your "love grown cold"? (Lookin' for help here)

Recent morning reading from Matthew 24:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." (vv. 9-13, NKJV)

I think it was Fr. David Baumann in SoCal who said that long-term interaction with people hostile to the Gospel is "corrosive" to a Christian's soul.

Seems like I'm in Corrosionville right now. Readers of this blog know about my disputes with the "lawless" Episcopalian religion and its Diocese of South Dakota. I've just weathered another diocesan convention (half a day was all I could stand). I've been called "liar" by people who hide information, won't answer questions, do business by gossip and, well, lie about everything from administrative decisions to matters of faith.

Then there's the effort to stop elective abortion in South Dakota. I've been F-bombed, flipped off, shrieked at - certainly no more than any other pro-life witness (and much less than some!) - and although I can rejoice at bearing shame for the Name of Jesus, this election season has its share of corrosive stuff.

See? I'm starting to catalog a list of complaints. I'm so stridently aware of the evil that others do. I'm seriously worried that the "corrosion" - a toxic brew of hurt, disgust and anger - is making my "love grow cold."

Recent readings and prayers with others have sounded Jesus' warning: we must be aware of how much we have been forgiven and in turn forgive those who wrong us. That's not what I'm "feeling" (hey, TEC, put that in your "experience" pipe and smoke it). I have info in hand with which I can inflict some pretty heavy personal retaliation on my enemies... the choice to obey Jesus and not use it is grinding and bitter, not light and joyful.

So, you ever been in this place? Ever worried that you are slipping away from God, not from lack of belief, but by a weary disgust with human evil?

What did you do? I am truly interested in such a discussion.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nebraska: another example of how government can't fix every problem

Nebraska is backing out of its "safe haven" law. Intended to protect children from potential abuse and neglect, the law allowed parents to drop off their minor children (up to age 18) at hospitals without fear of prosecution.

But the state just restricted the law to accepting babies no more than 3 days old, and is now trying to discourage drop-offs altogether, according to CBS News.

So, what broke the system's back? Eighteen (that's right, 18... fewer digits than your fingers and toes) kids were dropped off since July. And the state can't handle that kind of "volume."

As we draw near to election day, there is a strong chance that we will elect a government that will seek to control large swaths of our national life and claim power to "fix" all kinds of problems.

Only took 18 kids to shut down Nebraska. Think before you vote.

Rapid City Journal: Pine Ridge churches fighting back

The mainstream media are waking up to the Episcopal Church "disposal" of nine churches on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Mary Garrigan of the Rapid City Journal gives this report that actually gives voice to the Oglala people of those churches:

...the loss of nine churches at once “boggles the mind,” said Lorri Ann Two Bulls. She grieves the possible closure of her home church, but she worries especially about the loss of St. John’s Church in Pine Ridge, a historic building that served as an overflow hospital during the Wounded Knee Massacre. “The blood of the people who died there are still in the floorboards of that church,” she said.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Anglican Prayer Site Will Focus on South Dakota's Pro-Life Movement This Week

Beginning tomorrow and running through Oct. 25th, Lent & Beyond will post daily prayers and readings focused on South Dakota as part of the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign. Do drop in, and post your prayers as comments there!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pheasant Season Underway!

SD residents started last weekend. The rest of the world flies in this weekend to hunt the ring-neck rooster (bright fellow in the masthead picture).

Please pray for travel and hunting safety. We give thanks for the help to our state economy.

Clergy: note the white collar on the pheasant rooster. I advise that you not wear your collar with bright headgear or scarves, and not with earth-tone clothing. And do not - repeat, do NOT - walk in front of anybody wearing bright orange.

Nobody's buying the Episcopalian myth (some amazing stats here)

Fr. Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm raised a very good point. Episcopal leaders keep telling Anglicans in other parts of the world that we (The Episcopal Church) have to embrace the homosexual movement in order to "evangelize in our context." (People won't listen to our message unless we are pro-gay).

But, Matt points out, even very liberal parts of the country (New York, for example), show terrible declines in Episcopal Church membership and attendance. And the Diocese of New Hampshire, with gay Bishop Gene Robinson, continues to shrink away.

In other words, the idea that celebrating homosexuality is a way to reach people for Christ and build up the church is a myth.

When confronted with this, advocates of the "new thing" will respond that they are "prophets" and that church shrinkage actually proves that they are faithful servants of God - the people who leave aren't good Christians.

So, which is it? Is the gay agenda a means to grow the church or shrink it? You can't have it both ways.

How about here in South Dakota? The most liberal areas should be the major University towns and the Cathedral in Sioux Falls. How are they doing with the "new thing"?

Calvary Cathedral, Sioux Falls: Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) down from 250 to 150 in less than a decade.

St. Paul's, Brookings (site of South Dakota State University): No 2007 report submitted. Diocesan journal lists "membership" (this is the high and fuzzy number - actual attendance is always much less) as 113. Served by a retired ELCA pastor and a locally ordained deacon.

St. Paul's, Vermillion (site of University of South Dakota): ASA 27 (twenty seven). Served by 3 (yes, three) clergy - married priest couple and a deacon. (Clergy provide some coverage to Reservation Chapels).

It is no secret that when your church tries to emphasize a particular group of people, you will lose some from another group. There is no perfect "inclusion." If you put all your effort into a church that is kid-friendly, you will turn off some folks who want a quiet, serene, intellectual church experience. If you build your church around recent Chinese immigrants, don't expect a sudden influx of Armenians.

And if you build your church around "gays and those who affirm them", you are choosing a very small, exclusive niche to serve. And that's what will be left - in a very few places with a very few people.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

SD Bishop Election: Nominations Close, Walkabout & Election Schedule Posted

You can see details at the Diocesan Site.

The nominees are being screened at this time. A slate of no less than 3 and no more than 5 candidates will be presented.

The election will be on Saturday, May 9, 2009 - the Consecration is scheduled for November.

Bishop Robertson has not announced a retirement date.

Please pray for us.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2007 Episcopal Church Stats Out

You can see them at the denomination's Church Development site. First select your diocese on the drop-down field, then the parish you want to check out. When the site gets busy (which it will over the next few days), it can be a bit unresponsive. Hang in there.

Our little parish continues to be blessed. Not to us, but to God's Name be the glory.

TitusOneNine posted a link to the "Fast Facts" summary for the Episcopal Church (these numbers final through 2006). The numbers are awful if you care about church membership and attendance. The remaining members are giving more money to keep the thing afloat, so dollar numbers are up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pro-abortion activists use vandalism, Satanism against pro-life movement

No, that's not a sensationalist headline. Check it out. And pray.

Your gifts to the Episcopal Church at work: TEC loses another property claim

Yep, the South Dakota Convention did not think Biblical principles of conflict resolution were worthwhile - instead, unilateral property grabs and litigation are part of the "new thing of the (S)pirit."

In Virginia, TEC loses another case, this one after several prior loses. Many dollars from the faithful tossed down this hole. Oh yeah, the SD Convention didn't think it worthwhile to ask how much it's costing.

And here in SD, the effort to take and "dispose of" churches on The Pine Ridge Reservation is headed to court.

Maybe that Bible thingy has some useful things to say? Maybe we might learn something from, I dunno, this guy?

A denomination that's lost its soul

When I point out that the Episcopal Church has taken a radical pro-abortion position, some of folks call me names. But Stand Firm just posted a link to Resolution NAC 017, adopted by the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church on January 9, 2006:

It must also be noted that Council was in error in its 1978 statement that RCAR “appears to advocate an unconditional right to abortion” and is thus inconsistent with this Church’s position. This Church does advocate an unconditional legal right to abortion, as expressed in its oft-repeated “unequivocal opposition” to legislative abridgement of that right; the RCAR/RCRC is a coalition of faith communities that, among other things, seeks to preserve that legal right. In addition, although different faith communities may express their positions in different ways, all members of the coalition share this Church’s further position that the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made according to individual conscience and should not be made lightly or for frivolous reasons.

There is so much wrong in this, it is hard to know where to start.
  • The Council disowns its own 1978 (barely a generation old) observation that the abortion group RCAR is too extreme to be consistent with church teaching. Now, RCAR is church teaching. Only an organization which has lost its core values can make such sweeping changes in so short a time.
  • Episcopalian leadership used to leave much to local congregations and regional dioceses. Now, moral teaching can be dictated by a few old bureaucrats around the buffet on one of their subsidized vacations. (This resolution was passed at a meeting in Iowa - but now they fly to places like Ecuador on our dime). Only an organization that has lost its vision of shared leadership can allow leadership by a small elite.
  • If abortion shouldn't be for "light or frivolous" cases, why shouldn't people be able to ban the use of abortion for such cases? And why is there no admission that the vast majority of abortions continue to be a crude, reactive form of "birth control" - exactly the kind of "frivolous" abortion that the church ought to condemn? Only an organization that has lost its core appeal to Scripture, tradition and reason could accept such a garbled and bizarre resolution as moral teaching.
  • The Episcopal Church continues to make puffy statements about "social justice" and asserting that we are all responsible for one another in every way. But on reproduction, God's fundamental testimony to our communal life, TEC opts for radical individualism. Only an organization that has lost its sanity can do this.

The Episcopal Church has lost so much, so quickly. No finger pointing - all of us share in its vanity. All of us who ever said, "We're more intellectual than those other churches." All of us who liked the tons of available money. All of us who liked the dress-up, titles and pretty things of church. We liked it all too much, and now God is taking it all away. May He have mercy upon us - especially those who don't see the problem.

Friday, October 10, 2008

EPISCOPAL NEWS SERVICE: Bp. of South Dakota now refusing certified letters from Pine Ridge church members

Yes, this coverage is from Episcopal News Service (ENS), the official news outlet of The Episcopal Church. This is not from some "right wing blog" or any of the other excuses used by lying, gossip-mongering excuses for clergy here in South Dakota.

Go to the link and read the whole thing. Here are some lowlights:

The strongest public challenge to the closings to date has come from members of Christ Church, Red Shirt Table, who sent a six-page letter to Robertson dated September 10. Copies were also sent to members of South Dakota's Standing Committee, as well as national church officials. The letter was also circulated to local media.

In the letter, members of Christ Church said they were given a copy of Robertson's August 6 letter on September 5 and raised several "questions and concerns." Among them are:

A claim that Robertson "has not once crossed the threshold of Christ Episcopal Church, Red Shirt" for a visitation since he became bishop;

A question regarding the closing of "these particular churches when it is a reality that financial hardship and low attendance are real and the same for all the churches on all the reservations;"

A question as to whether other churches on other reservations will be closed;

A question as to "timing," wondering why the action is being taken just as a search is beginning for a new bishop; and

A suggestion that criterion used to judge church attendance across the Episcopal Church may not be "an accurate measure of success in Indian ministry."

"Indian ministry in the Episcopal Church is a uniquely rich and challenging arena understood by a very few in the Episcopal Church, clergy and laity combined," stated the members of Christ Church. "Abandoning the challenge at this point would only result in deepened pain and suffering. It will be experienced by our people as yet another act of racism and sin."

The letter also notes that Robertson is "our first Native American diocesan bishop" and solicits his thoughts on "why our people are not coming to church on a regular basis."

Christ Church leaders also said that "the expectation that members can or will drive 50 miles roundtrip for communion is ludicrous and is a poorly thought plan given the high cost of gas.

"Today we stand with our other Lakota Episcopal brothers and sisters and say enough is enough. Something has to be done and we all need to be in conversation about it."

The letter also includes a detailed history of Christ Church, Red Shirt Table, suggesting it is still a viable center of a living faith community.

"With all due respect to your office, you would know all of this past and current history if you had found the time to be with us. We would meet and converse while breaking bread together. Sadly and inexplicably, this has not yet occurred."

When asked to comment on the letter, South Dakota Diocesan Administrator Randy Barnhardt said the bishop's office had not received a copy.

Lorri Ann Two Bulls, a member of Christ Church, reported that the certified letter sent to Robertson "was returned and had been refused by the bishop's office."

Barnhardt subsequently confirmed that the diocese had refused to receive the letter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something Beautiful (NOT about Episcopal garbage, ideological crud, etc.)

This picture is fuzzy, but you can go to this local news link to see the video and read the article about the huge buck hanging out on the NE side of Sioux Falls. Given his adult rack and stature, it is clear that he's smart enough to stay on city land where there's no hunting, and off of the Interstates where many of his peers meet their ends.

Former Pine Ridge Vicar Gives Some Background Info... Why Does This Diocese Roll in Crap Instead of Just Communicate?

Former Pine Ridge Mission Vicar Pat Barker emailed some pertinent facts about church closings on the Reservation. Some names are omitted at his request:

The first deanery meeting I called was crowded and lasted over two hours because we were even then discussing the disposition of property should churches be closed. I made the group (although they will not remember it this way) take up a resolution that I had circulated earlier to the effect that should a church be closed, the property be returned to "the original Indian owner." This language was verbatim from some of the deeds that I had inspected prior to the meeting. Not all the deeds I read (and there are some I didn't read--they are spread out over three counties), specify that when the property is no longer used for religious purposes that it "reverts to the original Indian owners." Some property is deeded to the Episcopal Church (actually PECUSA, etc.) for "perpetuity."

Second, the deanery voted in favor of the resolution. XXXXX and YYYYY [diocesan representatives] were there, and both said that they would speak for the resolution at the next council meeting (forget which, but the one that makes recommendations to the bishop about these things; the bishop's "vestry"). The council voted for it and the bishop agreed. However, as I understood it then, the council can only recommend; the bishop decides.

... the council's decision was to recommend that the property of a church that was closed be given to the Tribe (assuming that the Tribe paid any debts on it, taxes, etc.). Please note that this was not precisely what the deanery recommendation stated (although I can appreciate the difficulty of finding the "original owner"). However, and a point I made to YYYYY was this: the diocese cannot legally give property to the Tribe when the deed says that it is to "revert to the original Indian owner." For the original Indian owner who "loaned" the land to the church for "religious purposes" is not the Tribe, but an individual (this was after the Dawes Act that parceled the reservation lands to the "competent" Indians). The point being: church property on the reservation is differently deeded, and disposition of it would have to fit the individual case.

Finally, of the two churches that were closed while I was there, I know that people from one of them (Messiah, Wounded Knee) were trying to make arrangements with the Tribe to use the building on an as-needed basis. Don't know how that turned out. And, one of the points of concern was the graveyard (nearly every church has one on its property).

Anyway, that's about all I think I know.

Will remember you and the diocese in my prayers.

Pat Barker


OK, so there are historic and legal complexities. There have been discussions going on here and there in the past. Why can't the Diocese just come out and say some of this? Instead, the Diocese tries to hide its actions and this is what gives off an odor of dishonesty and bad motives. And that odor is heavy in the air.

The profile for the upcoming Bishop election lists "communicator" as one of the desired qualities. That's an understatement given the propensity of this current administration to ignore questions, work by gossip, have in- and out-groups when it comes to information flow, punish people who ask questions and, most of all, cause thousands of members to leave over the last decade or so.

The Diocese of South Dakota has not needed the larger church controversies in order to shrivel and blow away. What we have here are textbook examples of bad leadership, apart from any ideology. And in the current regime, like promotes like.

Pray for us, indeed.

Was this guy at Diocesan Convention?

Western Christianity is obsessively institutional....

Its religious officials are a powerful class of 'spiritual middlemen' whose job seems to be to dole out access to the Divine. They keep pushing God further upward and the ordinary Christians further downward.


"Powerful" in the sense of inflicting damage and serving their self-interest, not in the sense of doing abundant work for God.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NORTH Dakota affirms Windsor/Anglican Covenant Process

Here's the resolution passed over the weekend (text rec'd by email from the Rev. Jaime Parsley, Communications Officer for the Diocese):

Resolved, That the 38th Annual Convention of the Diocese of North Dakota express its desire for General Convention to support the ongoing "Windsor Process" which includes the development of an Anglican Covenant and reaffirm that the Diocese of North Dakota is a diocese of The Episcopal Church. We express our desire for The Episcopal Church to remain a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion of churches in communion with the See of Canterbury.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Thumbs-ups vastly outnumber middle fingers at the Sioux Falls Life Chain

Yesterday there was a pro-life human chain across Sioux Falls. From 2 - 3 p.m., witnesses lined 41st Street, the major East - West axis of the city.

Our parish had a team there, including yours truly. We were at 41st & Louise, one of the busiest intersections in town. This was also rewarding because the abortion advocates had tried a demonstration there (using snarly, aggrieved college students from out of state), but it fizzled because of rain. It rained on the Life Chain, but we didn't leave.

A few of the enlightened, progressive types flipped us off, and some threw the F-bomb, but mostly we got supportive honks and thumbs ups.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bishop of South Dakota & his apologists continue to violate canon law

Bishop Creighton Robertson has refused to visit or provide Episcopal visitation (including Confirmation for prepared candidates) to at least two South Dakota parishes for three years or more.

The parishes have made both formal and back channel requests to the Bishop or through his staff.

As I posted here, this is a violation of the Bishop's duty under Episcopal Church Canon law.

The state of the diocese under this bishop and his inner circle is on display here and here.

South Dakota Chancellor: TEC Lawyer to deal with "exposure"

In a comment during debate on resolutions, Diocesan Chancellor Steve Sanford mentioned that he had spoken with Episcopal Church Attorney David Booth Beers.

Booth Beers apparently told the Chancellor that the lawsuit problem would decrease in the future because TEC would deal with "the exposure issue."

In other words, get prepared to sign your life away. Something will come out of General Convention '09 that will give TEC the keys to your church.

"Springtime, for Booth Beers, and Schooori!"

Bishop Robertson blames predecessor for closing Pine Ridge Churches

Bishop Robertson's convention address (text not yet available) included the assertion that "disposing of" the Pine Ridge Reservation churches really began under Bp. Craig Anderson (bishop from 1984-1992).


South Dakota Convention Rejects Calls for Financial Accountability, Christian Reconciliation; Declares Presiding Bishop Infallible

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41

It was a strange experience, but our delegation left the Diocese of South Dakota Convention feeling peace and joy about our witness.

We left after both of our resolutions were defeated - although we were pleasantly surprised by the number of folks who voted for them and who listened to what we had to say.

The first resolution called for detailed accounting of the Episcopal Church's lawsuits against Christians. As debate went on, a motion was made to remove any specific dates as to when the information should be requested and provided. That amendment passed on a close vote, 62 - 51.

This left a weakened resolution - but even so one that had sparked the interest of the people. At this point, the Chancellor of the Diocese asked to speak, but not as a parliamentarian. He opined that budget info can be "extrapolated" from national church figures, and that asking the Presiding Bishop for such information would be taken as "disrespect."

Bishop Robertson, the chair, then asked for a point of personal privilege and made two points. 1) He announced that some of the funds that had been cut from Native American ministry had been temporarily restored - "So what Tim says about the National Church taking away funds is false." 2) He said that he'd spoken with Helen Leonard of the Church Pension Group, and that no CPG money had been used for lawsuits. He then implied that I'd made up the well-documented quote from Bp. Stacy Sauls about having CPG funds available for the lawsuits.

It was a classic sandbag. Bp. Robertson had this info, and simply chose not to reveal it when I had written him about the funding issues and and then submitted the resolutions when he didn't respond. In other words, rather than communicate and answer questions when asked, he held info in order to imply that the arguments for the resolutions were based on falsehood. It was manipulative and untrue (the Sauls quote is still on record, and the bishop couldn't rebut other documented facts about budget cuts that impacted SD), but it was effective, especially for those who wanted some excuse to hide the national church budget from the people.

After raising the specter of national church displeasure (e.g. more funding cuts) and branding me a liar, the Bp. called for the vote, and the amended resolution was defeated, 87 - 37 (some voted "no" because of the weakened language). The Bishop then called for a 15 minute break.

The second resolution called for the national church to use negotiation and/or mediation rather than litigation to resolve disputes. There were no comments after I presented it - the bishop opined that the debate on the first resolution had gone on too long - and the resolution was defeated, 79 - 47.

At this point, our delegation decided that a vote against the Biblical model of reconciliation was enough. Some other trivial resolutions - the usual busy work about how many priests, deacons and laity to put on committees and designating a Sunday for this or that special collection - did not need our participation.

So, yeah, we got outmaneuvered, although it took two lawyers (+Robertson is one of those diocese-shrinking "lawyer bishops" of which TEC is so enamored these days) and a gossip campaign to do it.

In the days preceding convention, at least three priests began spreading rumors about me. Mainly, they said that the resolutions were "cut and pasted, word for word, from some Anglican site." I called them on it in my opening remarks. Interestingly, none of the three came to microphones to debate.

A couple of female clergy argued against the first resolution (I'm still processing that dynamic - revisionist women are able to stand up and speak - the male revisionist clergy gossip and hide.) Here were some of their arguments:

"We are a church of hierarchy - we have to trust our leaders and believe that they had no other choice but to sue." (Ah, the "thinking person's church" of democracy and empowerment! We now have an infallible Presiding Bishop.)

"We are tied together as a family of Episcopalians. I don't know what's going on in California or Virginia. It doesn't matter here." (???)

One speaker argued for the
Matthew 18 conflict resolution model (although she said it was from "Paul") - only to conclude that the final step is to sue the other party!

Another argued that I was asking the Convention to look "only at the fourth act of a play", and that the first act was the parishes who wanted to withdraw. It was all their fault and the only reason our budget was cut was because of these Anglican troublemakers. (N0, the bishop didn't speak up here to imply that our budget wasn't really cut).

So, there ya go, sports fans. We failed... but we actually made contact with folks and outed some of the corruption, not only in TEC's lawsuit mania but in Bishop Robertson's uncanonical shunning of parishes. Met other delegates who haven't had an Episcopal visitation in ten years because the bishop is mad at their rector. So, the next step is to see which folks are willing to look soberly and honestly at some of these issues. Those of you who were praying for evil to be exposed did well - more than we expected got pulled into the light of day.

I was so grateful for some prayer warriors and AAC witnesses who came and supported our delegation. Our preconvention reading included Ezekiel 2:4-8

The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. So we had a good day of prophetic witness and obedience to the Lord in an uncomfortable setting.

Another benefit was that some of my lay folks got their first up close & personal look at "Episcopalianism." One of them leaned over and said to me, "Have they mentioned the Lord's name at all today?"

And God got in a couple of good ones - the Morning Prayer service before the business session included Luke 6:29, If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. There's God's vote about suing departing congregations.

And there was a rainbow across the sky as we drove home.

Today we take part in a pro-life witness in Sioux Falls.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Prayer Requests for Diocesan Conventions

There are several Conventions this weekend.

South Dakota's Convention is underway. The American Anglican Council Chapter will have an information table for the first time, and the Convention will hear resolutions calling on the Episcopal Church to account for lawsuit funding and to sit down with (rather than sue) Christians who can't accept Episcopalian departures from Christian faith and practice. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will transform the Convention environment and that any spiritual evil will be exposed and rejected.

  • Delegates from Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls - Fr. Timothy Fountain, Bonnie Makinson, John Daucsavage (also Larry & Marlene Weires, unable to attend due to a death in the family).
  • Prayer Support & Witness - Tammy Briggs and Gene Makinson
  • AAC/SDK Table Hosts - Dale and Ingrid Dobrovolny

The Common Cause Partnership Prayer Blog has prayers, readings and reflections for the hours of this weekend's Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention. Pittsburgh will vote on leaving the Episcopal Church to join another Anglican entity.

Lent & Beyond is another good prayer resource.

Stuff that spooks me after the VP debate (Updated w/ transcript)

The moderator asked a very clear question* as to when the candidates (hypothetically as President) would authorize the use of nuclear weapons.

Neither candidate answered the question. Both talked about the awful destructive power of nukes. Both fretted about nuclear proliferation. But neither could articulate a policy for the use of nuclear weapons.

One of the glories of our Constitution is civilian control of the military. The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is an elected civilian President. But this carries the awesome responsibility of callling for the use of force, up to and including authorization of a nuclear strike.

It seems like the candidates (except John McCain so far) are disowning the Commander in Chief role that they might have to fill.

During the Presidential candidates' debate, Sens. McCain and Obama got into an exchange about wearing bracelets to honor military casualties. What bugged me about Sen. Obama was how he quoted the soldier's mother, asking that the President make sure that no other mother ever suffer the same pain.

In all fairness, Sen. Obama did not say he promised that. But he left it hanging in the air. Can we really elect the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces with the expectation that s/he will never send troops into action, and that there will be no casualties?

If that is our expectation, we are in serious denial. And if a candidate thinks there can be a "no casualties" promise, this is even worse than Pres. Bush Sr.'s "Read my lips: no more taxes" gaffe.

The would- be Commanders in Chief need to articulate a view of the appropriate use of military force.


*TitusOneNine linked to a transcript of last night's debate. Here's the question on nukes:

IFILL: Governor, on another issue, interventionism, nuclear weapons. What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?
PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.
Our nuclear weaponry here in the U.S. is used as a deterrent. And that's a safe, stable way to use nuclear weaponry.
But for those countries -- North Korea, also, under Kim Jong Il -- we have got to make sure that we're putting the economic sanctions on these countries and that we have friends and allies supporting us in this to make sure that leaders like Kim Jong Il and Ahmadinejad are not allowed to acquire, to proliferate, or to use those nuclear weapons. It is that important.
Can we talk about Afghanistan real quick, also, though?
IFILL: Certainly.
PALIN: OK, I'd like to just really quickly mention there, too, that when you look back and you say that the Bush administration's policy on Afghanistan perhaps would be the same as McCain, and that's not accurate.
The surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan, also. And that, perhaps, would be a difference with the Bush administration.
Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.
That's not what we're doing there. We're fighting terrorists, and we're securing democracy, and we're building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in -- in Afghanistan, also.
IFILL: Senator, you may talk about nuclear use, if you'd like, and also about Afghanistan.
BIDEN: I'll talk about both. With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen.
The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge -- the surge principles used in Iraq will not -- well, let me say this again now -- our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan.
He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.
Look, we have spent more money -- we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.
Let me say that again. Three weeks in Iraq; seven years, seven years or six-and-a-half years in Afghanistan. Now, that's number one.
Number two, with regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported.
John McCain has opposed amending the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty with an amendment to allow for inspections.
John McCain has not been -- has not been the kind of supporter for dealing with -- and let me put it another way. My time is almost up.
Barack Obama, first thing he did when he came to the United States Senate, new senator, reached across the aisle to my colleague, Dick Lugar, a Republican, and said, "We've got to do something about keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists."
They put together a piece of legislation that, in fact, was serious and real. Every major -- I shouldn't say every -- on the two at least that I named, I know that John McCain has been opposed to extending the arms control regime in the world.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tolerance & inclusion: blessings and unintended consequences

Why notions of tolerance and inclusion are so vital:

The Iranian Parliament is moving to mandate death for "apostasy" - that is, leaving Islam for another faith or philosophy.

Our Western political notions mean that ideas proliferate - even ideas we don't like - and that they are to be protected from suppression. This makes work hard for the church but it also strengthens it. Converts are more likely to be sincere than nominal - they must really be convinced. And the church is protected from its own corruption when it is not able to force people to join or obey.

Where notions of tolerance and inclusion get off track:

They can fall victim to the law of unintended consequences. Tolerance and inclusion can become a code for entitlement and elitism.

Our Minnesota neighbor, Anglicat, reports that St. Mark's Cathedral in Minneapolis is using October 12th to celebrate a homosexual "National Coming Out Day."

Now, here's a fact: St. Mark's, unlike many Episcopal Churches, has grown robustly . St. Mark's stats are here, and they are impressive.

But, this is the Cathedral of an entire diocese. How is that diocese doing while St. Mark's bulks up on ministry to the well established, very "out" gay community of Minneapolis?

Not so good. The diocese of Minnesota stats are here. Membership is in free fall; Average Sunday Attendance is withering (and would be even worse if not for the "blip" of St. Mark's growth.)

In other words, tolerance and inclusion of a small, geographically limited interest niche might be good for this or that congregation. But for the whole church, "tolerance and inclusion" of just one faction means hoarding and deploying resources for the factional few while sacrificing others.

This says much about why the Episcopal Church is so intent on declaring itself a centralized "hierarchy" and grabbing up real estate and bank accounts wherever possible. It is positioning itself to serve a small niche group and abandon any "inclusion" of other folks.

I've commented before about how the homosexual community's most familiar social model is the "pink ghetto." Having suffered rejection and hostility, many homosexuals congregate in certain districts, usually in larger cities. These neighborhoods become a safe haven for a homosexual culture and lifestyle. It makes sense and works because it is just one manner of life in a pluralistic (there's another word!) society.

But to take that model and impose it on a more diverse organization (a religious denomination, for example) destroys the very "tolerance and diversity" that are proclaimed to gain entrance to the organization. The larger organization might be able to carve out a niche for a subgroup, but once the subgroup defines the organization it can no longer tolerate and include others.

The architects of American Democracy feared "faction" (rule by elite) as much as they feared oppressive majority. Tolerance and inclusion can become a means to elitism and entitlement, pretty much what we are seeing in the Episcopal Church under homosexual direction (don't look at who holds public office, look at who controls the budget and bureaucracy. Katharine Jefferts Schori answers to Louie Crew and the homosexual Integrity organization, who are over-represented on the Executive Council of the denomination and now make pretty much all decisions about church policy, spending and all else of consequence).

40 Days for Life Prayer Campaign Underway

Visit the Lent&Beyond site each day for Christian prayers and readings for life! There will be a special prayer focus on South Dakota, Oct. 19-25. Blessings on Jill Woodliff, who is following God's inspiration and guidance to pray for life, and to intercede specifically for South Dakota's campaign for life.

Attorney General's Summary of Measure 11

The "vote no on 11" crowd will make all kinds of efforts to confuse voters. Those who favor abortion have a fanatical belief system and financial profit incentives that lead them to oppose any restriction on any act of abortion. They can't discuss the reality of life (and death), so they try to create and exaggerate legal technicalities.
So, in the interest of clarity (and keeping the discussion where it belongs, on LIFE), here's the actual summary of Measure 11, as it will appear on SD ballot materials:
Title: An Initiative to prohibit abortions except in cases where the mother’s life or health is at a substantial and irreversible risk, and in cases of reported rape and incest.

Attorney General Explanation: Currently a woman may obtain an abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond 24 weeks, abortions may be performed only if necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman. Measure 11 would prohibit all abortions performed by medical procedures or substances administered to terminate a pregnancy, except for: abortions medically necessary to prevent death or the serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily organ or system of the woman and abortions to terminate a pregnancy of less than 20 weeks resulting from rape or incest reported to law enforcement.

When an abortion is performed as a result of reported rape or incest, the woman must consent to biological sampling from herself and the embryo or fetus for DNA testing by law enforcement.
Measure 11 would allow the provision of contraception substances prior to the time pregnancy can be determined by conventional medical testing, or assistance in obtaining abortions in states where the procedure is legal.

If approved, Measure 11 will likely be challenged in court and may be declared to be in violation of the United States Constitution. The State may be required to pay attorneys fees and costs.

YES- A vote “Yes” will adopt the proposed law.

NO- A vote “No” will reject the proposed law.
h/t voices carry