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More trouble in Alabama [ECUSA]
Prydain ^ | 4/20/2005 | Will

Posted on 04/20/2005 6:27:41 PM PDT by sionnsar

From Stand Firm Alabama, we have this post with the text of a letter from the Rev. Mark Brown of the Church of the Ascension in Montgomery, to Bishop Henry N. Parsley of the Diocese of Alabama. As Rev. Brown had stayed at the Church of the Ascension after the recent split in which a number of the vestry, parishioners, and clergy of that church left to form a new church, it is really strange that Bishop Parsley would not allow Rev. Brown to preach at the Church of the Ascension next Sunday. Indeed, the Bishop even told Rev. Brown not to attend a meeting between him (Parsley) and the church members that was billed as a "pastoral conversation."

This truly saddens me because recently there really doesn't seem to be much "pastoral" behavior among ECUSA bishops--look at this situation in Alabama, and in Connecticut. Rather than being shepherds, their focus seems to be on power and maintaining that power, and rather than being guardians of the truth, bishops in ECUSA often seem to be more prone to error than those whom they are supposedly guiding in the truth. Rev. William Cox, D.D., wrote in The Heart of the Prayer Book:

The Form for the consecration of Bishops clearly implies that when a Priest is thus elevated to the Episcopate he is placed in a position of responsible leadership, supervision and direction, much like that to which St. Paul ordained Timothy. Emphasis from the start is put upon being a good shepherd to the flock of Christ, and that emphasis reaches its climax in the short exhortation read by the Presiding Bishop, when he says: “Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, devour them not.”

Would that these bishops would heed those words, and obey them.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: angpost5; ecusa
[The linked article: --sionnsar]

Am I Inhibited or Not?

Rev. Mark Brown, associate rector for pastoral care at Montgomery’s Church of the Ascension, sent this letter to Bishop Parsley yesterday after being “ordered” by voice mail that he was not to attend the pastoral conversation hosted by Bishop Parsley at Ascension last night. Evidently Bishop Parsley also told Fr. Mark that he will not be preaching the sermon next Sunday, even though earlier he promised to let him do so. Parsley has asked retired Bishop Miller to preach in his stead. In his sermon at Ascension last Sunday, Bishop Miller focused on the importance of staying together. Does the place where all should stay together not have a space for people like Mark Brown to even visit?

About two weeks ago I said Stand Firm Alabama would be posting fewer warnings and more messages of hope. Where is the hope in this letter from Fr. Mark? Is it not simply stirring up more trouble and a cause for more suffering? Some will say it is. But it shows us the degree of suffering, and there is hope even in suffering. Pain and suffering are a cause for us to be joyful, because we know that suffering eventually produces hope (Romans 5:3-5). We also know that when we suffer for doing right as Fr. Mark is doing, we are assured of our being co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17); we can begin to imagine how much greater our glory will be than our current suffering (Romans 8:18); we can know we suffer with Christ (Phil. 1:29, 3:10); we will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God (2 Thess. 2:15); and we develop perseverance as we withstand tests of faith that come in the form of suffering (James 1:2-3). If you are suffering right now, what do you think is the cause? If it is for the sake of the gospel, will you rejoice in the promises that accompany this suffering? Regardless of the reason, will you turn to our only true source of hope, Jesus Christ?

There is also hope in the act of Stand Firm Alabama posting this. God tells us that those who do evil fear that their deeds will be exposed (John 3:20). But there is nothing hidden that will not one day be made known (Matt. 10:26). We are called to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but to expose them (Ep. 5:11). What exposes these deeds? The light of Jesus! (John 3:19) If we do not recognize deeds of darkness, will we ever see the need for a Savior? As Christians, will we continue to see what deeds of darkness exist in our midst and see our continuing need for the Holy Spirit to work in us? (Luke 12:12; John 14:17, 16:13; Romans 8:1-9) Stand Firm Alabama will continue to provide hope by proclaiming the name of Jesus to everyone and exposing darkness where it exists.

I do not know if Fr. Mark defied the bishop’s “order” and attended the event last night. Perhaps some who were there can say. Some of you might also use this post to continue the threads that have already begun under other postings about what words of hope or darkness you heard during the conversation.

No matter what happens, our source of hope is first and foremost Jesus Christ (Matt 12:21; Romans 15:12; 1 Tim. 1:1). As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

The letter from Fr. Mark follows:

Dear Bishop Parsley,

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your message on my voice mail today. It is my day off, but after the senior warden gave me the same message, I did check and found your message on my answering machine. I will assume in the interest of charity that you did not know it was my day off.

I must tell you that I cannot and will not stay away from this evening's "Pastoral Conversation with the Bishop" as you suggested in your message. You seem to think it would be best for me to desert my flock and allow you to come in and have their undivided attention for an hour and a half without my being present. That is NOT, in military parlance, a "lawful" order, and I cannot obey it.

As for your decision to have retired Bishop Miller back for a second Sunday, rather than letting me preach and celebrate as we had decided in our conversation last Monday, I can only ask, am I inhibited? Last Sunday, I was graciously allowed to lead the congregation in the Psalm, and to distribute the Sacrament. Is that to be my lot in life for as long as I remain on staff? I am, as we discussed, moving into a very active search mode, but to attempt to prevent me from ever preaching again in the parish is simply not what the canons seem to address when they indicate that if the wardens have failed to provide for the worship of a parish and the celebration of the sacraments in 30 days, the bishop may appoint a supply.

The other priests and lay persons in the diocese, to whom I have copied this information, will certainly wonder what is in store for them. The Ascension is a fully self-supporting parish of the diocese. What possible canonical authority gives you the right to tell them who may or may not preach at their parish? The last time I checked, I was not inhibited and still canonically resident in Alabama. I would appreciate knowing what it is that excludes me from carrying out my ordained duties in the parish I serve. The wardens have asked me to remain on staff, and I am ready, willing, and able to preach and celebrate the sacraments.

I know that I promised you not to write any more of these letters that get “shotgunned” around, but then you promised to let me preach and celebrate on the 24th; so, I guess we're even. For what it's worth, I was planning to use the passage in 1 Peter 2:1-10 and talk about not just trying to find one’s place in the "new pecking order" but rather to lay one’s life down beside that chosen and precious cornerstone, allowing the Lord of the Church to rebuild the Ascension as the true Body of Christ.

More's the pity.

Mark Brown+

1 posted on 04/20/2005 6:27:45 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Peanut Gallery; tellw; nanetteclaret; Saint Reagan; Marauder; stan_sipple; SuzyQue; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-7 pings/day).
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Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 04/20/2005 6:28:05 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
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To: sionnsar

If you choose to sit among the rattlesnakes, don't complain when you get bitten.

3 posted on 04/20/2005 7:07:56 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: PAR35
That's not fair when it's the rattlesnakes that have moved into and tried to take over your house that's been in your family for, oh, two or three hundred years.

It's hard to leave. I know. I was a sixth generation Episcopalian. Now I'm a Catholic. But it wasn't easy.

Show some charity to the suffering.

4 posted on 04/20/2005 8:09:51 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother
Show some charity to the suffering.

I went through this a generation ago in another denomination. Some churches kept their property, some lost it, but almost all that left feel better for what they have done. Those that chose to remain and try to resist the liberals are now having to fight to retain their ordination or their pulpits. That doesn't leave a whole lot of energy to care for the flock and to try to enlarge it.

In this case, much of the congregation has already departed, and this pastor chose to stay with the Bishop. The Bishop then turned on him. He had a choice and he made it. Now he will have to bear the consequences.

5 posted on 04/20/2005 11:08:55 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: PAR35
Just consider that he could be an older priest with a family.

We had a similar situation here - a priest was left sitting in an empty church after the congregation departed. He has a family (I think but am not sure that he has at least one kid in college) and he's a bit old to start over - he's at least 55 and may be nearer 60. Unless he wanted to render his family destitute and himself penniless, he couldn't leave.

(is this an argument for priestly celibacy? Choosing between God and your family . . . . not easy.)

6 posted on 04/21/2005 5:16:39 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother

He does appear to be an older man, judging from his picture - perhaps around 60. The irony is that if he did pick based upon personal considerations, he is still being stripped of his job. View photo here:

7 posted on 04/21/2005 8:51:04 AM PDT by PAR35
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To: PAR35
Poor fellow. I'd say he was a well-preserved 60 something (or a rode hard and put up wet 58 ;-) )

My only point is that we ought to be charitable, because he probably felt like he was in a box from which there was no escape. And he was right.

The fellow who lost his congregation here has fallen into limbo. Nobody has heard from him for months. I can't even find a recent posting or pic on the web.

His church website was up for awhile, with "position vacant" in almost every church office except his secretary. I guess that was too embarassing for the Diocese, because they took the website down a couple of months ago and there's been an "under construction" sign there ever since.

It kind of reminds me of the "damnatio memoriae" of the Roman Emperors, or the depersoning of the unpopular under Stalin.

8 posted on 04/21/2005 8:56:44 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother

I admire your compassion. That isn't one of my spiritual gifts. The liberals are doing the psycological equivalent of shooting prisoners. They punish conservatives who try to stay loyal; that will just encourage more to leave - which may be what they want at this point.

9 posted on 04/21/2005 10:57:09 AM PDT by PAR35
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