CyberHymnal + 1928 BCP +
Ordo Kalendar + Tracts for our Times

Requiem of a
Former Heavyweight

a postmortem on the ECUSA in the wake of the 1991
General Convention held in Phoenix, AZ

David McMannes

"so fight I, not as one that beateth the air"
-1 Corinthians 9:26 -

On July 9th, 1991, I watched a two hour boxing program on television. Seven fights were scheduled, and all seven ended in quick knockouts. In less than an hour and a half the show was over. There were no more fights scheduled and no more fighters, so the two color commentators spent the remainder of the time rehashing the night's events before they signed off.

The Next day the Episcopal Church in the United States of America - a.k.a. the ECUSA - began its general convention down in Phoenix - A partial eclipse of the sun greeted the conventioneers' beginning deliberations. Was "Mother Goddess Earth" (see below) angry at the impending deliberations? Watching with interest what took place, it reminded me a lot of that night of t.v. boxing. Here's what some color commentators and participants had to say about the ten days of fighting...

on the tone of the convention...

"Problems? We have them. More than enough for a lifetime, let alone ten days." - Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning

a new "Preparation for Mass"?

"A Medicine man from Fort Defiance chanted at the large altar as he consecrated the space for worship. 'To the great Mother Earth,' said Alfred Yazzie Sr. as he gently sprinkled herbs from a pouch. 'To the great Father Sky. To the Great Father above, and to the wonderful spirits of this universe, the great spirits.' Nearby was Yazzie's cousin, Bishop Steven Plummer of the Episcopal Church Navajoland Area Mission..." - Kim Sue Lia Perkes, in The Arizona Republic

at the first mass - on anger...

"Do not make the mistake of thinking that the presence of anger here in this meeting is a sign that the church is in danger. The presence of anger is a sign that the church is alive. The opposite of love is not anger; the opposite of love is indifference." - Bishop Browning

from the liturgy...

[the people are urged to] "...ache because of the decision to meet in Arizona. .. [to be conscious of the winds of change leading the church to seek] "... full status for lay women, liturgical change, racial equality, the ordination of women to all orders, the remarriage of divorced people, the rights of gays and lesbians..." - the Prayers of the People

another"from the liturgy"...

Leader: The hoop, the circle, has been broken by hurts, wars, massacres, discrimination and racial jokes. By stereotypes and mean words and suspicious stares. All the people have hurt others and have been hurt by others.
People: Lord, mend the hoop, the circle of your people.
- American Indian Mass, July 13

on sex...

"I find it incredible that 93 members of this house voted against our Lord's own words on marriage and sexuality outside marriage." - Bishop John-David Schofield, after the House of Bishops voted down - 93 to 85 - a call for clergy to abstain from sexual relations outside marriage.

"It [resolution passed by House of Deputies] doesn't guarantee you'll be ordained, but it means you can't discriminate against someone who wants to enter the ordination process, on account of age, sex, height, and weight, handicap or sexual orientation."
- Fr. David Bailey, delegate from Arizona (in The Arizona Republic)

at the hearing on homosexuality...

(For an interesting article from FIRST THINGS on this subject, click here)

"The Love of God is not the indulgence of God." - Bishop William Frey

"My vocation is to preach the Gospel as received by the Church... I am not aware of any new revelation."
- Bishop Clarence Pope

on the "inclusive language" liturgy ...

"Current proposals... include changes to the Doxology that omit the offending words, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Suggested substitutes in the Daily Office include: "God... the Eternal Word... and the Holy Spirit" and "the holy and undivided Trinity, one God". In other changes, "God" is substituted for "King", "The Lord" is changed to "Christ", or "our God." Eucharistic rites are also subject to similar changes. The opening acclamation... "The Lord be with you" becomes "May God be with you" ... "Lord" changes to "Savior", "he" is now "the one." The covenant now comes to us through 'Abraham and Sarah." Jesus is described as "child of God." - Jon M. Lindenauer

"...the inclusive language liturgies differ from those in the Books of Common Prayer in that they consciously rely upon the insights of modern culture for doctrine as well as for linguistic style. Thus it is not only a matter of revision of the way the Church has named and addressed God, it is also the revision of classic themes of salvation and redemption to fit modern secularism... For the Episcopal Church to continue to authorize work on inclusive language liturgies (as presently understood) is to vote against authentic Christianity. It is to reject that for which the martyrs have died and the Church has stood firm for nearly two millennia. It is to prefer modern western, secular culture to the way of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is to push the church over the Niagara Falls into an abyss of confusion and disintegration, worshipping the cosmos instead of "our Father in heaven." - Fr. Peter Toon

a dubious declaration...

First Prize goes to bishop (sic) Barbara Harris, who declared at the first day's meeting of the House of Bishops that she had not used the Norplant contraceptive.

do muddy waters cleanse the soul?

"Everyone today is describing the church as dysfunctional, and it's true. The Church doesn't really deal with the core issues of its own life. If only it could, it could begin to bear great witness to the glory of Christ. Sometimes I feel like I'm stepping through mud. It's very hard to get through to the spiritual meaning of anything." - Bishop Alden Hathaway

on sex, again...

"I'm 19 years old, I'm a virgin, and I'm proud of that." - Jennifer Craycraft, college student, speaking before the Standing Committee on Human Sexuality.

"God is not a God of culture, He is a God over culture, and we need to be faithful to his commandments."
- Jennifer Craycraft

on ordaining practicing homosexuals...

" This is an issue that never should have come up. This really isn't an issue. .God said its a sin and it shouldn't be condoned. .Decisions like this should be made from the top down... not from the bottom up. " - Chod Bush

let's quiet down and pray...

"At this general convention God will be hard pressed to get a word in between the resolutions and disputations."
- Rev. Dr. James Forbes

after two hours talking about sex...

"After an extended period of silent prayer, the bishops engaged in a frank and spirited discussion of those issues which divide us and those issues which unite us in our common ministry . The bishops listened politely to one anther. At times, this was painful, but all in all, it was a healthy exchange. It was good for us to spend time together. Hopefully it will enable us to work more effectively in this convention. And, in itself, it also set the stage for us to deepen our level of trust, thus establishing a positive tone for the future." - House of Bishops press release

What Barbara Harris said...

"Conscionable acceptance breeds accommodating complacency. We cannot be complacent in the face of what is happening to our people today." [NOTE: Right on, Ms. Harris! Complacency has brought not only your people but your church to where it sits today, too!]

another Barbara Harris-ism...

"You will still be 'queers' to many if not most, just as I am still 'nigger' to many if not most... The Church is willing to use your time, talent and tithe, but not your humanity... They don't want you to leave, or they'll have no one else to beat up on... We must choose our battleground, and it isn't in a confused church." - speaking to Integrity, ECUSA's homosexual rights group

Who's holding whom "captive"?

"It has been reported to me that yesterday the choir was asked by the Integrity lobby not to sing the verse of the opening hymn, "the King of Love my Shepherd Is," which begins "Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed." This illustrates the Babylonian captivity this Church is in by minority pressure groups." - Bishop Edward MacBurney

Democratic platform or Episcopal resolution?

"This convention questions the inordinate and enormous military expenditures, which have the effect of transferring wealth from the public good to the private enrichments of a few, thereby robbing the poor and the middle-class, and placing the nation under the tyranny of the military-industrial complex, of which President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address.' - one of innumerable socio-politico resolutions

on the two religions of the ECUSA...

"One religion is traditional Christianity. To this not a few bishops, priests, and laity belong... The other religion may be called "experientialism" or "secularism," and it uses traditional Christian terminology for its untraditional content... God is viewed in a variety of ways: as the hidden principle of the universe from which comes the progress of human evolution and experience or as the deity whose body is the world and whose identity is iNext ricably intertwined with human history... because this religion is wholly anchored in this world and has no concern for the "invisible world"... its agenda is wholly this worldly. A right relationship with God is having right views about current topics. To remove racism, poverty, injustice, and to bring peace and justice are the goals of the gospel. For example, lesbians and gays are to be affirmed and not healed. People are to be fed but not evangelized. The strength of this approach is that it has immediate appeal to those who are rightly concerned about human affairs and needs. But it has little to say of sin and repentance - and thus does not truly serve human affairs and needs... Gone in the Episcopal Church is the comprehensiveness of which Anglicans here once boasted... At best, there is a double comprehensiveness: a probably doomed attempt to hold together in one church two irreconcilable religions. But at some point they will clash over practical matters, like who may be ordained. That is what we have seen at this convention, most strikingly in the debate on sexual morality and ordination. The situation is not only serious, it is frightening."- Fr. Peter Toon

a pitifully pithy truth...

"Denomination Reflects Views of Mainstream." - headline for article on the convention, in The Arizona Republic


"Jesus gives me porpoise" miscellany - animal t-shirt sold at convention

why political activism?

'As the Episcopal Church becomes less and less secure in its knowledge of who Christ is, and of the importance of Scripture and tradition in its future, political activism provides an avenue for its energies... " - Cameron Humphries

the post mortum...

Although there were several knockout punches delivered at the convention, the ECUSA's condition today has to be seen in conjunction with what has taken place in the years preceding this gathering, in the same way a fighter's ability to take a punch is directly correlated with his past fights.

Of the more noteworthy knockouts of the past, the ECUSA laid face down on the canvass when it got hit with women's ordination in 1976, the '79 prayer book and its inherent heresies, the sociopolitical agendas of the 60's, 70's and 80's, all of which claimed supremacy over the true mission of the Church, the 1988 "consecration" of Barbara Harris as a bishop, the 1989 ordination by Bishop Spong of J. Robert Williams, an open homosexual, and the ordination in June of 1991 of an active homosexual woman, by the bishop of Washington, D. C., Ronald H. Haines.

To be sure, that is not a definitive list of past knockouts, but they do serve to show the ring history of the ECUSA during the last few decades.

Then came Phoenix and its barrage of heresies: the 500+ resolutions, almost half of which had to do either with sexual or socio-political issues; the approval of New Age, "gender-neutral" liturgies and Psalter; the refusal to forbid homosexual ordinations or the blessing of same-sex "unions"; the refusal to censure (at the very least!) heretical clergy the likes of Spong and Haines; and the various and sundry socio-politico resolutions, issues, and agendas which continue to drain the denomination's power and focus from the mission of the Church - and you have the reasons behind the decline and decay of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

In short, neither a boxer or a church can "rope-a-dope" through that many fights without consequences. And that's why the ECUSA acts more like a brain-damaged, punch-drunk old boxer than part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The ECUSA's future is much like the last half hour of the fight telecast I watched on July 9, 1991. It has but one thing to do: to fill the remaining time with talk before it, too, "signs off" the air for good. So brace yourself for more gibberish from Spong and Company. But don't be fooled by what they say. The ECUSA's show is over. Will the last one out please turn off the lights? Thanks.

Tuesday Night at the Fights has been brought to you by Budweiser, the king of beers. Reminding you, "Know When To Say When. "

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem sempiternam.

(All quotes are from The Source - a publication of the Prayer Book Society of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Synod of America - unless otherwise noted.)