Posts Tagged ‘Anglican Communion’

Nations United

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

We who live in Manhattan are thinking a lot this week about the United Nations–not least, because world leaders and delegates to the annual General Assembly are tying up traffic all over our island!

And concerned citizens around the world should be thinking about how the United Nations might become more effective in promoting world peace. The organization currently seems helpless is resolving conflicts like the war in Yemen or the worldwide flood of refugees.

The Anglican Communion has had a representative at the UN for many years, but in recent years, little has been heard from that office. Anglican women from around the world come to a UN conference every spring (at considerable expense), but it is unclear what effect that meeting has on the welfare of the world.

Still, if there were no United Nations, we would have to invent it! Let’s hope that in the very near future, it will reinvent itself into a respected and effective voice for a better world. —J. Douglas Ousley


For the Little Ones

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Last Friday, I attended a reception at the home of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry.

The occasion was the launch of a new capital campaign by Episcopal Relief and Development, the major international relief organization run by the Episcopal Church. The campaign is called, “One Thousand Days of Love.” The 1000 days are the first three years of a child’s life–the period when so many decisions are made that are critical to the child’s future development.  The program will aid Anglican partners throughout the world in providing nurture, healthy diet, housing, and medical care to newborns, infants and toddlers of many nations, races, and creeds.

This strikes me as a particularly worthy project. So many children lack one or more of these necessities, and they never get a chance to grow and thrive in later childhood.

One more good program for Episcopalians to support and be proud of. —J. Douglas Ousley


Expecting to Dance

Monday, June 10th, 2019

As I mentioned in my sermon yesterday, there are many churches, particularly in Africa, where Anglicans come to worship on Sunday expecting to dance.

This is not the case in most American Episcopal parishes. Yet that doesn’t mean that our faith has to be, in the old phrase, “high and dry.” We can still look for an emotional element in our religion; in fact, we need to find such an element. We need at least on some occasions to feel the Spirit within us.

These experiences can range from enjoyment of a favorite hymn to a walk on a sunny day to a dinner out with friends. In the season of Pentecost, we can be grateful that the Holy Spirit is always reaching out to us. In that Spirit, we can, as the Twelve Step movement says, let go and let God. —J. Douglas Ousley


Leadership in the Church of England

Monday, May 20th, 2019

I’m just back from a week in London and, as usual, I had many conversations with church people there.

And also, as usual, I heard many comments on the present Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. Both leaders are relatively new in their positions. Both had secular careers before being ordained later in life. Both have Evangelical backgrounds.

And it must also be said that neither the Archbishop nor the Bishop come off in person as particularly attractive or exciting. Bureaucratic might be more accurate.

They don’t seem to have come up with stimulating new programs that would be likely to inspire the church. Nor have they impressed the high-powered businesspeople in the ancient City of London, where Incarnation’s sister parish is located.

While this is regrettable, the church will have both leaders in place for some years to come. All the more reason to pray that other, Spirit-filled persons will also be raised up to share the governance of our mother Church. —J. Douglas Ousley


Christians in the Arena

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Christians worldwide reacted in horror to the news of the bombing of Sri Lankan churches on Easter Sunday. More than 250 persons were killed and hundreds more were maimed or injured.

A prominent Wall Street Journal columnist, Gerald Baker, chided the Anglican Archbishop of York for not being more forthright in his expression of solidarity with the Sri Lankan Christians. Baker was concerned that Archbishop John Sentamu emphasized that he was against all forms of anti-religious violence. For Baker, this seemed to undermine the support the Archbishop should have expressed for the recently martyred.

This is a very tricky issue. Christians are “people of the Book ” but so are Jews and Muslims Especially given the secularization of Western culture, we Christians shouldn’t find ourselves blaming all Muslims for the crimes of a few. Faithful people have to stick together.

Nevertheless, the tragedy of Easter Sunday was all Christian. May the Sri Lankans be uplifted by the prayers and witness of all their fellow Christians–and by observant Muslims as well. —J. Douglas Ousley


Second Largest Church in the World

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

I had lunch yesterday with the Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is located on Amsterdam Avenue near Columbia University. Known as “St. John the Unfinished” because parts of it have never been completed according to the original divine, it is reputed to be second in size only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Maintaining such a huge edifice (and many accompanying buildings, including a school) is a task I can’t even imagine.

Yet cathedrals have in general fared better than the local parish church. In the Church of England, attendance at cathedrals has been growing while regular congregations are declining. People seem to enjoy the relative anonymity of the large buildings and the stately, even mystical worship–often accompanied by excellent music. St. John the Divine on large festivals greets crowds of 3,000 people.

I like to think that Incarnation shares some of the attractions of cathedrals. It is larger than many, seating 800 persons. We have a fine choir and formal liturgy. People can be pretty anonymous unless they want to be part of the parish family. All the better to welcome strangers in Christ’s name. —J. Douglas Ousley


The Richness of Faith

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

The Anglican Communion has inherited what we call the “Catholic” tradition of liturgy and sacraments. I was particularly struck by the depths of this tradition last week, when I was involved in a funeral, an ordination to the priesthood, several celebrations of the holy eucharist, and a wedding.

Our Episcopal Church offers all these forms of worship and more. And the Prayer Book also includes many forms of individual prayer, as well as personal sacraments such as private confession and anointing of the sick.

We also permit a wide variety of understandings of these liturgies. At the wedding, perhaps 100 out of the 150 persons present elected to receive communion. We invite all baptized persons to communicate because we have a broad definition of the meaning of holy communion, and we hope that as many people as possible will feel included.

The Catholic tradition. The richness of faith. The gifts of God for the people of God. —J. Douglas Ousley


Talking the Talk

Monday, May 21st, 2018

American Episcopalians could be pleased with the reception given to the sermon by the Most Rev. Michael Curry at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last Saturday.

I have been surprised at how few of the Episcopalian laypeople I have talked to knew of Bishop Curry or were aware that he is the Presiding Bishop of the whole Episcopal Church. Even fewer knew that he preached in the pulpit of the Church of the Incarnation last December 6, at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Church Pension Fund.

To those familiar with the free-wheeling preaching style of African-American clergy, the sermon wasn’t surprising. But in the formal atmosphere of the royal chapel of St. George’s Windsor, Bishop Curry’s energetic oratory came as a bit of a shock. It could not have been more different than the cerebral reflections I heard the previous Saturday from the new Bishop of London, during her installation in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Episcopalians could also be proud of the precise Anglican liturgy, immaculately executed with lovely music. All in all, it was more than an elaborate ceremony; the wedding, even to the skeptic, was clearly a compelling act of worship. —J. Douglas Ousley


Middling Way

Monday, October 16th, 2017

For centuries, the Anglican Church has been proud to see itself as the via media–the “middle way” between the Roman Catholic Church on the one hand and the Protestant churches on the other hand.

We have hoped that are unique traditional structure and our freedom of thought might even combine the best of both worlds. In any case, we want to be a meeting ground where other Christians could gather.

And it is true that we are probably the most diverse church body in Christendom. For example, we have within our communion conservative and liberal Evangelicals, conservative and liberal Anglo-Catholics, and extremely liberal and traditionalist Broad Church Christians.

Unfortunately, these factions seem far apart–though maybe less so than five years ago (the current Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have lowered the temperature of the conflicts.) Nevertheless, at this moment we are all still together. At this moment, we still represent a middle way. —J. Douglas Ousley


Most Reverend

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

At a clergy luncheon recently, I found myself sitting at a table next to a former Archbishop of Canterbury. He was erroneously introduced as “the Most Reverend Rowan Williams;” in fact, archbishops go back to being mere bishops when they leave office. The bishop has an interesting additional title, though, which he was given upon his retirement: “the Rt. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Lord Williams of Oystermouth.”

Bishop Williams has been writing furiously since he stepped down a few years ago. One hopes he will offer a memoir of his extremely controversial time in office, when the homosexuality debate rocked the Anglican Communion and caused a number of bishops to limit their contacts with the rest of our church. For this cautious, brilliant intellectual, the harsh politics of the worldwide church must have been painful.

On the surface, at least, things seem better today. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby had a good deal of diplomatic experience as an international businessman. The next Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2020 looks to be better attended than the last one.

A nice thought as we prepare for Easter. —J. Douglas Ousley