Friday, August 26, 2005

Continuing Anglican Smackdown!

The archflack for the Episcopal Diocese of Easton wrote a snooty letter to the local newspaper objecting to a continuing Anglican church daring to use the name “Anglican” in their church name. He also objected to the paper not adding a disclaimer every time that church is mentioned. (:SNORT!:)

Star Democrat, Easton, Maryland
Letters to the Editor for August 25, 2005

Anglican connection?

Recent articles printed in The Star Democrat about the St. Andrew Anglican Church and its purchase of what had been Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Easton are misleading to your readers.

The name this group has chosen for itself — Anglican — implies it is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. In fact, this local group of Christian worshippers has no relationship whatsoever to the Archbishop of Canterbury or any of the other agencies that define Anglicanism. The only denomination in this country that is part of the Anglican Communion is The Episcopal Church in the United States of America, of which the Episcopal Diocese of Easton is the regional representative.

We trust that in any future articles you will note that St. Andrew Church, regardless of its name, is not a member of the Anglican Communion.

REESE S. RICKARDS, Archdeacon and Communications Officer, Episcopal Diocese of Easton

So today, if all went well, St. Andrew’s ran this ad in the paper. My comments are in italics.

Saint Andrew Anglican Church

Corner of Goldsborough & Aurora Streets

An open letter to the Episcopal Diocese of Easton:

In a transparent attempt to damage the little Saint Andrew Anglican Church, corner of Goldsborough and Aurora, Reese S. Rickards, Archdeacon and Communications Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, treads upon black ice in his livid letter to the editor of August 25, 2005.

That Saint Andrew's is not part of the Episcopal Church has always been among its most desirable and distinctive characteristics. (Ow! That’s gotta hurt!) Saint Andrew's has no ardor to be part of it, but to offer safe haven for the those who, by conscience and the desire to remain within the classic Christian, Anglican tradition, have left the Episcopal Church or have been forced from it.

Certainly, we grieve that we must walk apart from the Archbishop of Canterbury, his various contradictory opinions having so badly compromised his position, his unsteady hand at the helm of the Anglican Communion in the wild seas created by the Episcopal Church.

As for the hundreds of traditionalist Anglican parishes across the United States, like St. Andrew's, which are not part of the Anglican Communion, the 1998 Lambeth Conference of all of the bishops of the Communion recognized these and the need for their existence.

Not to mention the several primates who support and are even in communion with continuing Anglican churches. Or are they not Anglican, too, Mr. Archdeacon?

Because of the crisis in the Episcopal Church, and the steady loss of laity because of its arbitrary, massive changes and substitutions in doctrine since the 1970s, these traditionalist bodies took firm root and would not go away. The Conference urged the U.S. bishops to initiate relations with these orthodox bodies, such as St. Andrew's and the Diocese of The Chesapeake. Instead, in 2003, the Episcopal Church went on to promote a new bishop, a man who had abandoned his wife and children to live in an open and adulterous relationship with another man, further distancing the denomination from the mainstream of the Anglican Communion.

I do not understand the sea change in attitude of the Episcopal Diocese toward our traditionalist body. The good Bishop Martin Townsend, the previous ordinary, gave permission for my episcopal consecration in Christ Church-St. Michaels, and even attended vested in choir, full witness to the Apostolic Succession conferred upon myself by four regular bishops, thus legitimizing St. Andrew's and its companion traditionalists of the Diocese of The Chesapeake. We enjoyed an occasional lunch. However, even though I called to congratulate the present Bishop of Easton upon his election, he has never reciprocated with the suggestion of a similar relationship as that enjoyed with Bp. Townsend.

Sounds like yet another ECUSA diocese where a decent bishop is replaced by a sorry one.

Once again, and for the public record, I extend my hand in Christian charity to James J. Shand, Episcopal Bishop of Easton, and I invite him to lunch. He can call me at 410-819-0731.

Very charitable . . . and a great P.R. move, heh heh.

We could talk about why the monolithic Episcopal Diocese of Easton would launch an angry assault upon such a suffering servant as St. Andrew's. Would it be because of the great fear in the Episcopalian heirarchy, as the denomination is being eased out of the Anglican Communion? Is it because of the Windsor Report calling for the Episcopal Church to repent or walk apart? Is it because at the February meeting of all the Anglican primates (heads of the 38 national churches), the vast majority of the primates would not celebrate the Eucharist with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, because they already are out-of-communion with him and with it? Is it because those primates called upon the Episcopal Church to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council, Anglicanism's only constitutional body? Is it because the Anglican Consultative Council at its meeting in July suspended the Episcopal Church until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008? Is it because of fears that the American bishops will not be invited to Lambeth in 2008?

So who is calling who not Anglican? Any ECUSA flacks who complain that continuing Anglicans are not Anglicans are on thin ice indeed.

Is it because of fears that the Episcopalian laity will learn of all these events, and swell into a grassroots uprising, demanding to be told the truth?

I counsel Reese S. Rickards, in the friendliest way, to refrain from his arch-pharisaic persecution of the little, struggling St. Andrew's. He should pick on somebody his own size. With the crisis in the Episcopal Church, he should have enough to do, already, explaining things to the faithful communicants of the Easton Diocese who have been kept in the dark on the fate looming over the Episcopal Church.

The Right Reverend Joel Marcus Johnson,

Rector, Little St. Andrew's and Bishop, Diocese of The Chesapeake

Saint Andrew Anglican Church

Corner of Goldsborough & Aurora Streets

Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m., weekdays at 8 a.m.

Beginning and ending with a little promotional information. Very good!

And that, my friends, was a continuing Anglican smackdown! Methinks the diocese’s snooty little letter backfired like the Masked Kahoonga getting clotheslined after bouncing off the ropes. A hat tip to St. Andrews for applying the punishment and for turning negative publicity into something positive.

And a hat tip to the Good Professor for sending me these letters.

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