Saturday, October 14, 2017

Continuing Anglican Liturgy in Atlanta

Liturgy was at the center of this month’s Jt. Synod of four major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions — the ACA, ACC, APA and DHC. My own experience suggested both the potential and challenges of integrating this “G-4” in terms of practice, if not ecclesiology.

The heart of the Jt. Synod was the intercommunion agreement signed by the G-4 bishops, followed by a joint mass. But long before Atlanta, Continuing Anglicans have been defined by the Congress of St. Louis, their use of the 1928 BCP and rejection of the 1979 prayer book, one the late Peter Toon termed a “Book of Alternative Services.”

G-4 jurisdictions represented at this month’s Joint Synod both agreed to intercommunion, and also repeatedly worshipped together One of the things I enjoy most about'

Joint Worship at the Joint Synod

The culmination of the Jt. Synod was the “Solemn High Mass for Christian Unity” on Friday October 6. However, it was proceeded by twice daily services from October 2-5, with each day beginning with a Morning Prayer and Mass, and ending with an Evening Prayer. The worship took place in one of the hotel ballrooms, with an altar set up on a raised platform. The earlier services had a capacity of around 250 people, while for the high mass, the capacity was more like 750 (I guessed about 400-500 were in attendance).
Evening Prayer, Wednesday October 4
Fighting jet lag after the trip from California, I was unaware of the Wednesday MP, but attended the Wednesday EP, Thursday MP & Mass and joined the opening hymn of the Thursday EP. The jurisdictions took turn leading these services — the last three being led by the APA, the ACA, and the DHC. (I have uploaded scans of these service booklets for posterity).

Insights into Congregational Practice

There are often variations in the congregational practices of any liturgical church between parishes. These are generally smoothed out over time, as people get used to the culture and other norms of their home parish. Thus, joint worship with no dominant constituency highlights some of the differences in practice — and, I would argue, some of the challenges faced by newcomers to traditional Anglican worship.

We were told to bring our prayer books — but for the Daily Office a slight majority of us were reciting the familiar prayers from memory. (I would guess for communion it was over 80%). Prayer books were not needed for the closing High Mass, which had a detailed nine-page as well as a ten-page musical insert.

The greatest confusion was over standing, sitting and kneeling. There were times when the congregation was split among all three. As in other churches, the degree of kneeling was greatest on key prayers — such as on the confession. Also — as in many storefront churches — I suspect that the kneeling (on the hotel carpet) was less than might have happened if there were pews and kneelers. Still, for the psalm at the Wednesday EP, many of us remained standing until we noticed that so many others were sitting.

Another interesting variation was the congregational response bracketing the reading of the Gospel, which (fortunately for those of us who go to ACNA or FIFNA events), includes the same “Glory be to thee, O Lord” beforehand and “Praise be to thee, O Christ” afterward. The rubric in the 28 BCP (p. 70) says
Then, all the People standing, the Minister appointed shall read the Gospel, first saying, The Holy Gospel is written in the — Chapter of —, beginning at the — Verse.
Communion at the October 5 morning service.
Some in the congregation started the “Glory be” before the introduction was completed — suggesting at their parishes the deacon omits the chapter and verse — and perhaps even the author of the Gospel.

While the congregation was consistent in making than the threefold sign of the cross before the Gospel, there was also significant variation in the bowing and crossing at other times during the service. Lacking a communion rail, the Eucharist was (of necessity) administered standing up, although some clergy (or seminarians) knelt on the carpet — either to receive the elements or because (at least in the final service) they were being administered by the princes of the church.

Variations in the Liturgy

The worship reflected many common variations among 28 BCP parishes. Perhaps the most theologically significant is the Gloria, which in the service — as in the BCP — was recited after the Eucharist. In Rite I (of the 79 prayer book), the Gloria is said near the beginning, immediately after the Kyrie; this is also the practice of our parish (and many other California 28 BCP parishes).

Another variation is in the Prayer of Humble Access and post-communion prayer, which the 28 BCP commands to be said by the priest, but are congregational prayers in the 1979 prayer book. Many 28 parishes have adopted the latter practice — which I believe to be an improvement — and this is also what we did at the Thursday morning mass. I am guessing this practice must be common, because the booklet for Friday’s mass says “Celebrant Only” after the Prayer of Humble Access.

After carefully following the prayer book, the High Mass included two non-prayer book additions that seem common at Anglo-Catholic parishes. One was the threefold prayer “Lord I am not worthy” that references the centurion’s statement of faith in Matthew 8:8. While the prayer is a standard element of the Roman rite (Domine, non sum dignus), and also included in early 20th century “Anglo-Papalist” practice in England, it does not appear anywhere in the 28 BCP.

The High Mass also included the Last Gospel (John 1:1-14) of the Roman rite, but read in King James English rather than the Latin of the Tridentine Mass.

Finally, most of the services I attended did not use an altar bell, but it wasn’t clear whether it’s because they didn’t have one, they didn’t have an acolyte ready to ring it, or they didn’t believe it was an appropriate practice.  Although common in today’s Anglo-Catholic parishes, it’s nowhere mentioned in the BCP, but rather a medieval Roman practice codified in the Tridentine Mass and largely abandoned after Vatican II. (As a musician, I happen to like the sound — and also missed it because because at our parish the second bell helps signal when we should cross ourselves).

Unity in Ecclesiology and Worship

The G-4 are working towards a common hierarchy, one they hope will eventually include other groups as well. The Continuing churches are united by a common liturgy, even more so than the Anglicans going back to Cranmer’s day, but the reality is that today there are numerous deviations from the nearly 90-year-old American BCP. It seems as though most of these differences could be handled (for now) by supplemental rubrics.

In doing so, I think it would also good to write down and disseminate congregational practices such as standing, kneeling, crossing, ringing and genuflecting. Over the long haul, I'm hoping that parishes will indicate these into the seat booklets, particularly since word process and web pages can easily include unicode symbols (e.g. ✠, ✣) that are instantly recognizable and self-explanatory. Certainly agreeing on a supplemental document would be a better way to kick off a joint committee on liturgy than to start with the more complex (and contentious) issue of a prayer book revision.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reflections on the 2017 Joint Synod

Last week I attended the Joint Synod of four Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, held Oct. 2-6 in Dunwoody, an Atlanta suburb. The complete program is uploaded here.

The event was timed to a few weeks after the 40th anniversary of the Congress of St. Louis, the largest of the 20th century schisms from the Episcopal Church. The 1977 congress created an Anglican Church in New America — followed by the 1978 consecration of the first four continuing Bishops by Albert Chambers. But the groups fractured repeatedly over the next decades, showing that (as often in the last 500 years) Protestants have demonstrated a unique talent for fragmenting.

Joint Communion Agreement

This month’s event featured four of the seven major continuing (pre-80s schism) Anglican groups: the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of America and the Diocese of the Holy Cross.

The most significant event was the formal agreement for intercommunion, which stated:
We acknowledge each other to be orthodox and catholic Anglicans in virtue of our common adherence to the authorities accepted by and summarized in the Affirmation of St. Louis in the faith of the Holy Tradition of the undivided Catholic Church and of the seven Ecumenical Councils.

We recognize in each other in all essentials the same faith; the same sacraments; the same moral teaching; and the same worship; likewise, we recognize in each other the same Holy Orders of bishops, priests, and deacons in the same Apostolic Succession, insofar as we all share the episcopate conveyed to the Continuing Churches in Denver in January 1978 in response to the call of the Congress of Saint Louis; therefore,

We welcome members of all of our Churches to Holy Communion and parochial life in any and all of the congregations of our Churches; and,

We pledge to pursue full, institutional, and organic union with each other, in a manner that respects tender consciences, builds consensus and harmony, and fulfills increasingly our Lord’s will that His Church be united; and,

We pledge also to seek unity with other Christians, including those who understand themselves to be Anglican, insofar as such unity is consistent with the essentials of Catholic faith, order, and moral teaching.
The heads of the four groups stood Friday after signing of the agreement.
Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett (DHC), Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf (APA),
Most Rev. Mark D. Haverland (ACC) and Most Rev. Brian R. Marsh (ACA). Photo by J. West
and a video of the ceremony can be found on YouTube.

Rev. Clendenin
Photo by J. West
Other aspects of the joint synod included joint worship all week, and a closing high mass after the intercommunion agreement. A joint dinner on Thursday night featured a speech by Fr. George , who recounted the highlight of his career, his role in the 1977 Congress. A video of his talk was recorded and posted by Anglican.TV.

News Coverage

Despite its historic nature, there was surprisingly little coverage. There were brief articles on Virtue Online and Anglican Ink. By comparison, almost any story about the ACNA — about 5x-6x larger — gets widespread coverage in the US Anglican media.

Anglican.TV recorded a joint press conference with the four leaders. Perhaps even more insight can be gained from the audio recorded by Quad City Anglican Radio — a podcast by two Anglo-Catholic leaning ACNA priests. Their interviews included Bp. Hewett, PB Marsh, as well as pre-recorded interview with Bp. Chad Jones (APA), whose Dunwood parish (St. Barnabas) co-hosted the conference with Abp. Haverland’s Athens cathedral (St. Stephen’s).

Friday, September 8, 2017

Holy Orders and the Future of the ACNA

Today the ACNA released a statement from the special College of Bishops meeting this week to consider the future of Women’s Ordination in the ACNA. The bishops met to follow up on the Holy Orders Task Force report that was completed in January and released in May.

Abp Foley Beach said the statement was “unanimously adopted”; the key paragraph says:
…we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women's ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women's ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.
As with the original report, there was no news coverage and surprisingly little commentary on this decision to keep the status quo (at least for now).

A critic from the Continuing Anglican movement wrote:
Clearly, one cannot tell, despite their name, if they are a church or a confederation of churches. In reality, it is confusing even to many on the inside; actually they are both in certain ways.

The tragedy of their decision regarding Women's Ordination is that they are following on the same road, in the same direction as the Episcopal "Church" from which they claimed independence only eight years ago.…
A conservative REC priest layman saw it as a permanent endorsement of “dual integrities”:
Although disappointed with their decision, I do have to give them credit on one thing – they did not kick the can down the road, but went ahead and made their decision.  Whatever one feels about WO, it’s better to know where we stand now than later.

However, I do not think the bishops realize, or at least are not admitting in this statement they realize, what danger ACNA is in.  Archbishop Beach’s statement that the bishops are “more unified than ever” seems wishful to me.  Maybe the bishops are very unified but many of the rest of us in ACNA are not. But I will have to put that subject aside for another post or two.

And perhaps the bishops are not all that unified.  I do not have privy information nor should I speculate.  But a close reading of the statement may reveal divisions.  
In the most detailed commentary, today’s Anglican TV webcast by Kevin Kallsen and George Conger spent almost a half hour of their 39 minute broadcast on the COB decision and the earlier report. They stated that there were clearly enough anti-WO votes in the House of Bishops for a moratorium (which many expected).

The two noted that the Internet — both their own comments page and Facebook — were burning up with comments; however, I consider this somewhat disingenuous as Conger posted a link to the Anglican Ink press release to two ACNA and one Continuing Anglican discussion groups.

An anti-WO comment on Anglican Ink said:
Essentially, ACNA is TEC with the clock rolled back to about 1980. With the exception that ACNA has now institutionalized multiple episcopal jurisdictions in all places- since that is the only way this works. There will be a WO and a non-WO jurisdiction overlapping everywhere for the foreseeable future, and the resulting "impaired" communion within the church. Essentially, 2 churches that have a common hierarchy and home office. If you ask "who is the bishop?" you will get 2 answers.
The general reaction of the pro-WO posters on Facebook was relief that there was no change. A longtime WO supporter wrote in support of dual integrities and thus the status quo:
WO is unique within Anglicanism as it is a doctrine under reception. This means that any province may ordain women priests and bishops and none must. This basic attitude within the Anglican Communion is the model the ACNA was founded upon and which our Constitution and Canons reflect, and which the College of Bishops just affirmed. Many believe the biblical witness is clearly in support of their side, so we agree to disagree and carry on.
Kallsen and Conger were more positive than most on the decision, thinking a brilliant political (and perhaps ecclesiastical) decision — and showing stronger leadership and unity than (for example) the Church of England or GAFCON. Conger — an official in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida — predicted that if the ACNA ended WO, then many of these women would join TEC which would be a PR nightmare.

Kallsen and Conger read the statement as deferring a decision for now. Others (as with the REC priest) see it as confirming that dual integrities will never be revoked. Some on the anti-WO side, drawing parallels to TEC, predict that the dual integrities will continue until enough dioceses elected pro-WO bishops to change the policy and allow female bishops.

I don’t know how it will turn out, but it’s hard to see how two different integrities will still be in a single jurisdiction a generation from now: it’s an unstable compromise that nobody will accept in the long run rather than a permanent solution.

It seems like a more stable solution would be dual integrities, dual provinces — perhaps sharing custody of their liturgy and seminaries, and both members of GAFCON. Each province would be true to its core beliefs — presumably including female bishops for the C4SO province. Over time we could see whether these are both orthodox provinces that differ only over women’s ordination, or whether they fundamentally have two incompatible theologies.

Update Sept. 12: While news coverage is limited, there were three newer reports posted:

On Sept. 9, Anglican Ink posted an open letter from Bp. Todd Hunter (of C4SO) — the leading advocate of women’s ordination in the College of Bishops — that implies that the outcome was a victory for his cause:
Thankfully, the outcome of the conclave permits C4SO to continue our practice of ordaining women of character and integrity as priests and deacons, enabling them to serve in whatever way their spiritual gifts, calling and temperament call for. We continue to conduct this practice in humility toward those who disagree with us, and we do so with a laser focus on mission and being ambassadors of God’s kingdom—male and female alike. I am proud to serve alongside our women. They have shown extraordinary patience and grace during a particularly difficult period of waiting to receive the outcome of this conclave.
On Sept. 12, Pittsburgh Bp. Jim Hobby — successor to retired Abp. Robert Duncan who created the “dual integrities” — published a letter that emphasizes more conciliatory nature of the decision and less the victory of his side.

On Sept. 10, journalist David Virtue of Virtue Online called it a “Solomonic Decision” in a commentary that read in part:
In a decision that will not please everybody, but one that goes against the grain of progressive Anglican provinces like The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Australia and AOTEAROA; the Anglican Church in North America vetoed women bishops and women priests, but left open the door to those dioceses that still wish to ordain women.
He then listed the status of women’s ordination in the global Anglican Communion, as well as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church,. He concluded by quoting former ECUSA priest  (and onetime philosophy professor) Alice Linsley arguing against women’s ordination.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

We believe as we sing

Although they have broken from the Episcopal Church, many AMiA and ACNA churches continue to be guided by the liturgical “reforms” of the Episcopal Church, including the theology that led up the 1979 prayer book.

In his article on the theology of worship in the standard textbook on Anglicanism, Prof. Louis Weil of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific states
Anglicanism gives force to the ancient adage, Lex orandi legem statuat credendi, ‘the law of prayer establishes the law of faith. (Weil, 1998: 61).
From this, he emphasizes the ongoing need to update the liturgy to keep it relevant (emphasis added):
[T]he Prayer Book plays a dynamic role in shaping a new liturgical mentality in which the odd [sic] truths are seen afresh. Such a transition never takes place easily, because there seems to be a natural conservatism in worshippers in regards to the rituals through which faith has been articulated. … [C]hange must come so that we may be faithful to the gospel as it speaks to the real world in which we live.  [66]
Singing is Liturgy

In their modest revision to Rite II of that prayer book, the ACNA rejected the most glaring doctrinal errors of the words of that prayer book. But as lex orandi makes clear, the experience of liturgy is not just words.

It seems as though (outside the REC and Continuing churches), there are many 21st century Anglican clergy who consider themselves theologically orthodox, and yet choose (or allow their music minister to choose) the most contemporary form of worship music, up to and including songs off the top 40 list of the Contemporary Christian Music radio station.

By any definition, congregational singing during the service is part of the liturgy and the liturgical experience. (At many evangelical churches, it is the only part that in which the congregation participates). And thus the nature of how we worship is not just the words we sing — the explicit hymn doctrine — but how we sing them.

Of course, today we instruments that didn’t exist in 1st century. The invention or improvement of instruments didn’t stop with the perfection of the pipe organ in the baroque period or even the invention of the fortepiano in the 18th century.

But the idea that we must constantly update how we sing and other aspects of worship means — by the principles of lex orandi — that we must constantly update what we as Anglican believe. The latter means that we are thus rejecting the idea of Anglicanism as being a Protestant manifestation of the historic, undivided church, in continuity with Christian beliefs throughout the millennia.

I am hoping that most readers of this blog would find the latter a step too far. I can’t claim that this principle means banishing all CCM from the nave, but at least it should cause the clerical and lay leadership of an orthodox parish to think about what it says to the culture — and the congregation — to choose such music for the weekly worship.

References

Weil, Louis, “The Gospel in Liturgy”, in Booty, John E., Stephen Sykes, and Jonathan Knight, eds., The Study of Anglicanism. Rev. Ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998, pp. 55-83.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hymns for Trinity 9

As part of my Sacred Music class at Cranmer the class was required to select hymns (and explain the selection) for a Sunday communion service, weekday morning and evening prayer, and for a special service (in my case, ordination of a priest).

My assigned Sunday was Trinity 9 (next Sunday). Since it seems germane to the theme of this blog, below is my assignment and what I submitted. Ground rules for the assignment:

  1. All hymns should be taken from Hymnal 1940;
  2. For this hymn only one “obscure or unfamiliar” hymn was allowed. Since the seminary is headquartered at the Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas, the hymns regularly used at CHC were used by the class to define “familiar” hymns.

9th Sunday after Trinity (Holy Communion)

Readings:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, which emphasizes the unity of believers while calling out human sins of the Old Testament that displeased God
  • Luke 15:11-32, The Prodigal Son

There are not obvious hymns about the Prodigal Son in Hymnal 1940, and so all the hymns chosen for this week are tied to the Epistle.

These hymns touch on three aspects of the first lesson: Conformity to God’s Will, Church Unity and Brotherhood. Each of these is a topic listed in the Topical Index of The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 1940 (hereafter Hymnal 1940). The first topic relates to our union with God — sometimes called vertical communion — while the latter two both relate to our union with other Christians, otherwise known as horizontal communion. All of the hymns selected for this Sunday fit one of these two themes.

Processional: 535, “Rise up, O men of God” [1]

In the Hymnal 1940 Topical Index, the topic “Brotherhood” (page 800) lists 17 hymns. One of these is “Rise up, O men of God”, written in 1911 by William Person Merrill, an American Presbyterian minister, for the Presbyterian brotherhood movement.[2]

This brief hymn — four verses of Short Metre (6.6.8.6) — touches on both types of communion and unity. On the one hand, a part of each verse emphasizes unity with fellow Christians, as with verse 2 (“Bring in the day of brotherhood”) and verse 4 (“As brothers of the Son of man, Rise up, O men of God.”) At the same time, the brief hymn emphasizes obedience to God, as in verse 1 (“Give heart, and soul, and mind, and strength to serve the King of kings”), in contrast to the disobedience and sin that Paul laments in 1 Cor. 10:6-10.

It is relatively singable: except for the first phrase, the melody has simple voice leading, and the first four notes are in unison. It also has simple meter, with 20 of the 26 syllables on a quarter note (the remainder split between paired eighth notes and dotted half notes). According to Hymnary.org, it appears in more than 200 hymnals — known to multiple denominations, but not among the most popular. It did appear in all three Episcopalian hymnals of the 20th century: Hymnal 1916, Hymnal 1940 and (in inclusive language form) Hymnal 1982, and is familiar at the Church of the Holy Communion (hereafter CHC) in Dallas.

Gradual: 465, “Nearer, my God to thee”

In the Topical Index, nine hymns are listed under “Conformity to God.” The most familiar would appear to be “Nearer, my God to thee” (#465). According to Hymnary.org, the hymn has been published in more than 2,000 hymnals. The hymn was originally written in 1840, based on the Old Testament dream of Jacob, in which God renews his covenant with the children of Abraham and Jacob vows to tithe all that he has to God.

All five verses emphasize how Jacob will get nearer to God through obedience and worship to God. In other words, Jacob is the model of Old Testament obedience to the Law sought by Paul, rather than the disobedience that he specifically chastises.

Sermon: 536, “Turn back O man”

In the rare week when the focus of the sermon is known before the bulletin is printed, I would choose a hymn that ties directly to that focus. Otherwise, my preference for something that is reflective, to help each parishioner think about his or her role as a Christian and prepare his/her heart to hear the message being preached.

Among the 17 hymns listed in the “Brotherhood” Topical Index in the Hymnal 1940, the most familiar to me is “Turn back O man” (#536). The hymn begins on a reflective note, opening with a call for us to think about and repudiate our “foolish ways”. It builds up to a call for church unity with its final verse:

Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
Nor till that hour shall God’s whole will be done.
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky
Peals forth in joy man’s old, undaunted cry.
Earth shall be fair, and all her people one.

The voice leading of the melody is simple. It is a relatively recent text, written in 1916 for a tune and arrangement by Gustav Holst (based on an earlier tune from the 16th century Genevan Psalter). It appears in two Church of England hymnals edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams — Songs of Praise (1925) and Songs of Praise Enlarged Edition (1931). However, according to Hymnary.org, it appears in only 56 hymnals — a relatively small number — and so I would have to assume that it would be unfamiliar to Americans not raised on Hymnal 1940.

Recessional: 396, “The Church’s one foundation”

A key theme of the first lesson is Paul exhorting the faithful in Corinth to be united in their love of and obedience to Christ. In the Topical Index on page 801, Hymnal 1940 lists six hymns for “Church Unity.” Hymn 396, “The Church’s one foundation”, discusses both the horizontal communion between the members of the Church, and the vertical communion of the Bride of Christ (i.e. the Church) to Christ. This latter role of the Church is emphasized throughout the hymn through the use of the female pronoun to refer to the Church, as in the second verse:

Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.

The third phase of this verse recalls 1 Cor. 10:3 in the first lesson: “all ate the same spiritual food” (ESV, New KJV) or “did all eat the same spiritual meat” (KJV).

The hymn is both familiar and has a singable tune with simple voice leading and straightforward harmony. It should also be known to most English-speaking Protestants and Catholics, appearing on a list of 150 ecumenical hymns compiled by the Consultation on Ecumenical Hymnody.[3] According to Hymnary.org, it appears in more than 700 hymnals, and it is a familiar hymn at the CHC.

Footnotes

  1. Normally I would consider this as a recessional hymn, but that could be risky in some parishes where the Hymnal 1940 text would be considered sexist and have people leave church with an un-Christian attitude. If I had a newer text, e.g. “Rise up ye saints of God” (#551) in Hymnal 1982, then I would probably use it at the end. Otherwise, I am counting on people to forget any imagined slight over the next hour of the service.
  2. Except as noted, all historical and biographical details about hymns and hymnwriters is taken from The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd rev. ed., New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1956.
  3. This list of 150 ecumenical hymns is reported by Gary D. Penkala, “Core Hymnody,” CanticaNOVA Publications, URL: http://www.canticanova.com/articles/hymns/art241.htm