Archive for the 'Episcopal Church' Category

Arkansas Episcopal diocese deals with transgender priest

February 28, 2014

An Anglican website reports on a transgendered priest who, until recently, served at an Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff.

The Rev. Greg Fry, priest-in-charge at Grace Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, told his congregation Sunday morning that he is transgendered and identifies himself as a woman, apparently becoming the only working member of the Episcopalian clergy in Arkansas ever to make such an announcement.

Arkansas Episcopal Bishop Larry Benfield announces that the pastoral relationship between the priest and Grace Church has been dissolved. Benfield observed, “I hope that we never reduce the struggles that we all face in our lives to snap judgments that are best suited to sound bites, just as I hope that we do not make decisions based on fear of the unknown.”

If I may be allowed an observation, and these are my personal opinions, it might be good for everybody to take a long deep breath and try to remember that we profess to be followers of Jesus. Let us presume, for the sole purpose of making a point, that the minister being discussed is the rottenest, low-down, depraved sinner on earth. Would it not follow that he is most in need of our prayers? Are we not required to help restore sinful people to a right relationship with God? Or does that apply only to people with whom we are comfortable?

The reporter notes, “a transgender person is one who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one that corresponds to the person’s sex at birth. Transgender orientation is independent of sexual orientation.” This is a somewhat technical matter and one must presume the general accuracy of the definition. All stories have space limitations and every reporter has a deadline. News is never comprehensive.

There is, I think, I general misconception that gender identity at birth is always a matter of instantaneous observation, but there are a surprising number of cases in which determination of gender is not at all straightforward. There are medical experts who routinely deal with such cases. Moving on from that starting point, it is not difficult to imagine that an individual might be misidentified from the earliest stages.

We all need to understand that there is a difference between gender “dysphoria” (the predicament of the priest in Pine Bluff) and cross-dressing. The former is a condition of gender confusion. I learned all this during my almost 40 years in radio, but am by no means an expert. So far as I can tell, the situation this young man finds himself in is yet another symptom of the Fall. Paul reminds us in Romans 8 that the creation is groaning in expectation of a coming time when everything will be back in a proper relationship with God.

Whether this individual should be in public ministry is another question altogether. I am not part of the Episcopal diocese, so it would be wise to show some restraint. As a traditional Anglican, I have nothing to brag about. Our bishops have shown themselves to be broken men. We all struggle against our fleshy nature. None of us have any right to do anything other than pray for the Episcopal Church and get on with the business of spreading the gospel to those who need it most.



Did Presiding Bishop Schori denounce schismatics as terrorists and murderers?

February 1, 2013

An  article bearing the by-line of George Conger carries a headline that reads, “Presiding Bishop denounces schismatics as terrorists and murderers.” Really? No kidding?  You can read it all here.

Presiding Bishop denounces schismatics as terrorists and murderers | Anglican Ink.

But is that actually what Bishop Schori said, and does it matter anyway? Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon Jan. 26 at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.Here is a link to the text. Read it for yourself and see.

The first observation that comes to mind is that the Bishop would be well served by better press relations. It is not too comforting when your best professional defense goes something like,  “she did not identify any group in her sermon.” My goodness. Who do you suppose she was talking about? The Dallas Cowboys? The context is a special convention to set the Episcopal Diocese back in “order,” and the reference to Bishop Lawrence is obvious.
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The Church Year: Living in Sacred Time

December 23, 2012

During the Advent Season of 2012, it was my privilege to teach a four-week Sunday school class dealing with the church year. The recordings of the classes are available in my Dropbox and I am pleased to share them. Many of you may wonder why we have liturgical seasons and so-called “feast” days. I have taken great pains to answer all of your questions.

But seriously folks, it is a big subject and it is tied to church history, a study of over 2000 years. The lessons are lecture based, which I concede is not the most effective method of education. Under the circumstances of a relatively short time (45 minutes) and a substantial load of information, the ancient method of instruction turns out to be most practical. Except for week three (I messed up the class recording) these are the actual lessons.

Week one is an introduction to liturgical time and the Advent season. The audio file is available here.

Week two presents Lent, Palm Sunday and the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday) The recording is here.

Week three concerns the Great Vigil of Easter, the Rogation Days, Ascension Thursday, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday. The link for week three’s recording is here.

Finally, week four is all about the Easter and Epiphany cycles. The recording is here.

‘Historian’ David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson pulled from stores | The Raw Story

August 11, 2012

David Barton, an evangelical activist and writer often cited as a “historian” by conservative political figures like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, stirred up such a firestorm of controversy with his latest book “The Jefferson Lies” that his publisher now claims to have “lost confidence” in the text, opting Thursday evening to pull it from stores.

The announcement by Christian mega-publisher Thomas Nelson comes after readers of The History News Network at George Mason University elected Barton’s latest work as “the least credible history book in print.” It was also challenged by an assemblage of “10 conservative Christian professors” in the recently released book, “Getting Jefferson Right,” which accuses Barton of grossly misrepresenting the nation’s third president.

‘Historian’ David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson pulled from stores | The Raw Story.

You may be wondering why this story matters. In fact, unless you are an Evangelical Christian who believes that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,” it is of little consequence. As the Second Person of the Trinity and the living personification of truth; however, loyalty to Jesus and his gospel demands an unswerving devotion to honesty.
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GC2012: Rum, sodomy and the cash: The Episcopal Church 2012 » GetReligion #GC77

July 14, 2012

This review in the Get Religion blog deals extensively with one of the worst instances of analytical reporting on the just-concluded Episcopal Church General Convention. This is an important item because a devotion to truth and justice demands that one criticize based on facts and not a hysterical disdain.

Rum, sodomy and the cash: The Episcopal Church 2012 » GetReligion.