Ed's Blog

Anglicanism, Bikes, and Random Observations

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The Primates Meeting of 2011 has now ended.  15 of the 38 Primates stayed away.  A slight majority attended.  Much conversation occurred, structures were clarified, and no action was taken with respect to The Episcopal Church.  Let me say this a bit differently.  Previous meetings of the Primates Meeting called for and received the Windsor Report and passed motions calling for repentance from The Episcopal Church for tearing the fabric of Communion.  The Anglican Consultative Council called for the adoption of the Anglican Covenant and for a moratorium on Same Sex Blessings and the ordination to the Episcopate of people in committed same sex relationships.  This is the first meeting of the Primates since The Episcopal Church ordained another Bishop in a same sex relationship and saw one of their bishop’s marry two women clergy in his cathedral.  None of these facts were dealt with in this most recent meeting of the Primates.

An inattention to results is one of the dysfunctions of a team that Patrick Lencioni identifies in his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  Inattention to results is what happens when a group makes a decision and then fails to follow up on results.  When this happens it is clear that there is now weight behind a group’s decisions.  If a decision is not followed up on trust is undermined and finally lost.  In this case it means that the Primate’s Meetings are now irrelevant within the life of the Anglican Communion.  At least for the time being.  There is a lack of trust among the Primates.  This time 15 Primates declined to attend the Primate’s Meeting.  Their absence was noted in passing.  It is likely that real change will only take place when a majority of Primates refuse to attend or Archbishop Rowan Williams retires.

The immediate future of The Anglican Communion is muddy indeed.  The same holds true for the Anglican Consultative Council. I think The Anglican Curmudgeon is correct when he writes

The takeover of the Instruments of Communion by ECUSA, aided and abetted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is now complete. Anything of substance was carefully avoided at Lambeth 2008; the proposed Covenant itself was derailed at ACC-14 in Jamaica, and then carefully defanged by the newly reorganized Standing Committee; and now the Primates’ Meeting has let itself descend into irrelevance — with the primates of the churches having most of the Anglican Communion’s membership absenting themselves, and refusing to prop up the pretense of normalcy any longer.

I do believe the Anglican Communion will recover from this time in the wilderness, but it will not happen soon.  This is a very sad day for the church.

Between Christmas and New Year’s we “refreshed” our guest bathroom.  This was not as extensive as a renovation.  We pulled wallpaper, filed old screw holes, primed, painted, and put in new lights.  The last thing we did was go buy a soap dispenser.  We ended up at Bed Bath & Beyond!  With a name like that it was a safe bet they would have a good selection of bathroom accessories.  They do.  I feel like I stumbled into a slice of our culture I’ve never seen before.  They had 136 different soap dispensers!  This does not include the replaceable pump top that you can use to create your own dispenser.  We bought the third one we saw, but did not succumb to the temptation to buy the matching dish, Kleenex box cover, or tooth brush holder.

We were astonished by the selection and just had to wonder what such a selection says about our culture.  Who knew there was an entire industry dedicated to bathroom accessories.  I am still flummoxed by it.  To the left is a pic of my personal favorite.

In the coming weeks, life in the Anglican Communion will take a turn as the Primates Meeting takes place.  I’ll blog about that soon enough, but for now I’m just wondering if we bought the right soap dispenser.

Brewmaster SantaWell not technically a drunk Santa.  Technically this is Brewmaster Santa.  But he can’t hold his glass upright and his eyes look a bit bleary.  So I’m going with Drunk Santa.  My question is why?

I gave up my membership in the Advent Police Patrol years ago.  Heck my Advent Candles are red, because purple doesn’t look good in our dining room.  I’m not a stickler about the details.  I like Santa under a palm tree.  Of course I also do not like songs like “Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Let it Snow”.  I’d rather it didn’t.  At least not here.  My point here is that I am no “holiday buster”.  I want people to have fun and enjoy the season.

Go ahead and stitch Santa onto Hawaiian Shirts. Make him into a porcelain cookie jar (we have one of those).  I think it highly likely that St. Nicholas drank beer, but I don’t think this Brewmaster Santa does him justice.

Maybe I’m getting old but this bothers me more than “Gramma got run over by a reindeer” It’s just tacky.

Happy St. Nicholas Day.  His feast day is December 6th.  Today I will drink a beer in his memory and hope that no one buys “Drunk Santa”.

I used to be Episcopalian.  I am now part of the Anglican Church in North America.  I still follow the decline of the Episcopal Church for a very particular reason.  It is not to celebrate or gloat.  Actually it grieves me.  I follow the annual statistics in order to know how many Episcopalians left Bay Area Parishes since 2003.  We hear of parishes when they depart The Episcopal Church, but by far the greatest number of people leaving do so one at a time.  They typically do not make a fuss.  They simply depart.  The ones I have spoken to are weary of the struggle and sick at heart over the theological revisionism rampant in the local churches.

When St. James was formed it was with the hope that we could find other refugees from The Episcopal Church and help them start new Anglican Churches in their communities.  We are not solely focused on former members of TEC.  We do however have a heart for them.  We are about to launch our third mission in the last 18 months.  We are actively looking for people throughout the Bay Area and hope to make beginnings in San Mateo and San Francisco in the next year.

So how many have left?  Lets take a look at numbers found on the National Episcopal Church website.  TEC has a wonderful statistics service that documents growth and decline.  I admire the way they make these numbers public.  There are two TEC dioceses in the Bay Area.  The larger is the Diocese of California and it is entirely found within the Bay Area.  El Camino Real includes most of Santa Clara County and stretches all the way south to San Lois Obisbo.  About 60% of the membership of El Camino Real is located in the Bay Area.  As we look at the decline we will need to make an assumption that about 60% of El Camino Real’s losses happened in the Bay Area.

Here are the numbers.

  • Diocese of California members 2003: 30,135 2009: 26,751 a drop of 3,384 people
  • Diocese of El Camino Real 2003: 16,214 2009: 13,195 a drop of 3,019 people (60% = 1,811)

Average Sunday Attendance is typically a better indicator.

  • Diocese of California ASA 2003: 10,221 2009: 8,792 a drop of 1,429
  • Diocese of El Camino Real ASA 2003: 6,025 2009: 4,627 a drop of 1,398 (60% = 839)

Not even clergy attend every week.  Some people attend most weeks while others attend once a month.  Doubling the ASA loss is a reasonable way to estimate actual losses.  Using this basis it would appear that a conservative estimate the departures number between 4,516 – 5,1 95 people.

If you are reading this and are one of these 4,516+ people, please know that you are not alone.  It may feel that way, but there are many of us here in the Bay Area.  If we could get together for fellowship it would be wonderful.  If we could could network together and start more churches it would be incredible.  Please give me (Ed McNeill) a call 408-674-2770.

$695 for a grill

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Hot Rod Grill

I am not sure whether to stand up and applaud the people who brought this grill to market or reconsider joining a monastery and leaving the world’s madness behind.  I am intrigued by some of the details of this grill.  The smoke comes out of the headers for example.  It does have stainless steel burners which is good.  The best part of this is the website.  Check it out.

I Am Theophilus

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Are you on Facebook?  There is a new page entitled “I Am Theophilus”.  Theophilus is the person to whom the Gospel according to Luke & The Book of Acts is addressed.  Theophilus is a greek word that translates “Friend of God” or “lover of God”.  This is what the page says about itself.

We are Theophilus. We are lovers of God. We try to live out the Great Commandment to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We love because God loves. We love everyone that God loves, and since God loves everyone so do we.

We are Christians who are saddened that so many non-believers think Christians are “haters”. Theophilus means “Friend of God” or “lover of God”. We are lovers of God. We are Theophilus.

In an increasingly secular society it is important for Christians to express our loyalty to God in a positive way. Theophilus was begun as an attempt to provide thought and cultural leadership in the places where Christian faith intersects with the values of the spirit of this age.

This intersection is sometimes called “the Culture Wars” as competing visions struggle for cultural dominance. We are not seeking to dominate anyone. We are simply seeking to be faithful lovers of God. We are Theophilus.

We are weary of the labels applied to us that do not describe our core values and commitments. We love God and seek to be obedient as disciples. We are Christians. We are lovers of God. We are Theophilus.

If you are on FaceBook you might want to like I Am Theophilus.

ACNA Head Office

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ACNA Head Office

Provincial Office

Roy Morse and I attended our Diocesan Convention in Sewickley PA last week.  The Provincial Offices are in nearby Ambridge.  Both are historic steel towns.  Sewickley is the town where management lived, while Ambridge and other nearby towns are where the mills were and where workers lived.  Today, Ambridge is the home of Trinity School for Ministry and the Provincial office of The Anglican Church in North America.

Ambridge is a very affordable community.  The provincial Office pictured to the right cost $90,000 to purchase and around $30,000 to renovate.  It has three floors of rooms and a full basement.  The building was once a house, and more recently a law office.  It now houses the entire staff of the Anglican Church in North America.  The building feels solid and comfortable.  It will never be described as luxurious.

It says a great deal about the Anglican Church in North America’s priorities that the offices are simple and inexpensive.  Very nice.

Our efforts to launch new Anglican Churches in The San Francisco Bay Area is dependent on our ability to find people who want an Anglican Church in their community and are willing to help.  Once we find the first couple of households in a community it gets easier to find the third.  Getting the ball rolling is the great challenge.

In 2009 we launched www.NewAnglicanChurch.com, a social networking site, that allows registered users to find other registered users in their area.  This has not been as successful as we hoped.  We are not abandoning this strategy, but we are augmenting it with a second strategy that focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  We are building city specific sites with optimized SEO.  Our first site is now online.  It is www.sanfranciscoanglicans.org.  Our goal is to be above the fold on searches for “Anglican Church San Francisco” and “San Francisco Anglican Church”.  We have accomplished our goal on the terms “Anglican Church San Francisco”, but are currently on page 12 for “San Francisco Anglican Church”. Still it is cool that we accomplished this in less than two weeks.  We will continue to work on the SEO.

Each of these sites will have some pretty cool tech.  One cool thing about www.sanfranciscoanglicans.org is that we publish articles on it via RSS.  In simple english…I publish this article on my blog and it automatically is published on each of our city specific sites.  Its a very efficient way of providing fresh content on all our sites.

You can help with our SEO work.  The simplest way you can help is to visit the new site.  Seriously.  Search engines pay attention to internet traffic.  Please visit www.sanfranciscoanglicans.org. often!  Visiting the site will improve the SEO.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the formation of an Anglican Mission in Los Gatos.  St. Michael’s is the tentative name, subject to Archbishop Duncan’s approval.

Mr. Jess Guy is the leader for this new mission.  Jess is a retired ATF agent, and will soon retire from his second career with the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office.  Jess first felt a call to ordained ministry 30 years ago.  Now he is responding by organizing a new mission in the community where he lives.

St. Michael’s will have a particular focus on the needs of criminal justice system.  This focus will extend to all within the system.  It will include people who work in the system and those who are in prison.  This focus reflects Jess’ heart for the imprisoned and those who serve our society.

Jess’ prayer life went deep while he ran SWAT teams for the ATF.  Now as a church planter we are confident that he will bring the same intensity of prayer to this important work.  Way to go Jess!

Primates Meeting 2011

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In August the Standing Committee of The Anglican Communion met and decided that they did not have the authority to discipline The Episcopal Church (TEC) for violating the moratoria passed by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).  They deferred that conversation and decision to the next meetings of the Primates and the ACC.  This was likely the most favorable decision TEC could hope for.  It kept TEC formally within the Anglican Communion.  I say formally because TEC is actually out of communion with most Anglicans around the world.  They remain in communion with a majority of provinces but a minority of people.  Its a mess.

It is now up to the Primate’s Meeting and probably the next ACC meeting to sort things out.  This is where things get messier.  A significant number of Primates have said they will not attend the Primate’s Meeting if the Presiding Bishop of TEC is invited.  If they do not attend it is doubtful whether TEC will be censored in any way.  If that happens, the Anglican Communion will enter a prolonged period of chaos as the Instruments of Communion (The Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates Meeting, ACC, and Lambeth Conference) will have all failed to maintain communion.  I am sure that there are lots of conversations going on amongst the Primates these days.  I hope all the Primates turn up in Ireland for the Meeting and finally address the torn and fraying fabric of the Anglican Communion.

I am not an Episcopalian.  I am an Anglican and a member of the Anglican Church in North America.  Some might rightly ask why I care what happens with TEC.  There are several answers to that question.

I care because I have friends still within TEC and I am saddened by the grief they have over their wayward church.

I care because I am an Anglican and TEC has unilaterally torn and frayed the fabric of the Anglican Communion and to this day has demonstrated no remorse for doing so.

I care because I am a Christian, and TEC’s actions and continuing behavior harms the Christian witness.

The Primates will next meet at the Emmaus Retreat & Conference Centre in Dublin, Ireland.  The Meeting will take place between the 25th and 31st January, 2011.