Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Christmas Message

Linda Worthiemer (of NPR) shared her  mother's
recipe for Lemon fruitcake.
The carols…the lights…the greens…the stockings hung by the chimney with care…the 78 degree weather…it just feels like Christmas.  And, Christmas reminds me of fruitcake.

An “Ode to a Fruitcake” by Ryan Taylor:

Fruitcake! Fruitcake!

 Oh, what a glorious fruitcake!

 Nothing quite says, “Merry Christmas, Good Cheer!,”

 like a fruitcake.

With raisins, green pineapple, candied orange peel,

 an applesauce batter to make a good seal,

 the walnuts and hazelnuts, pecans and cherries,

 cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves mid dried berries!

Though many may dispute its reputation,

 the fruitcake is a holiday sensation!

 And, though the thought might fill a few with dread,

 I proudly declare that the fruitcake

 is the ultimate queen of quickbread!

Fruitcake! Fruitcake!

 Oh, what a marvelous, glorious, beauteous fruitcake!

 “Merry Christmas, Good Cheer!”[i]

 In ancient Egypt the fruitcake was considered an essential food in the afterlife.  The oldest fruitcake dates back to Roman times. In the Middle Ages they branched out and added honey, spices, nuts and preserved fruits.

By the 1700s, in Europe, a ceremonial type of fruitcake was baked at the end of the nut harvest. By the eighteenth century people got inventive and created the plum cake; they were so “sinfully rich” they were outlawed.  During the Crimean War soldiers carried them into battle.  In the end the fruitcake would find its home at tea. 

Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste.  So it is that, good citizens of her Majesty’s realm, and all Anglican Church men and women have become fine connoisseurs of fruitcake – it’s in the catechism. 

Today the average fruitcake has a 1:1 density ratio with mahogany.

The world's oldest known fruitcake was made on Nov. 27, 1878, by Fidelia Ford, of Berkeley, Ohio.  Today, Fidelia Ford's great-grandson Morgan, who is 92 years old, lives in Tecumseh and still possesses the 134 year old cake.

So you see…the fruitcake has been made, and its miraculous mysteries have been shared, passed down by generations, for over a millennia because it gives life, it nourishes and it sustains you no matter what the world may bring. [Pause]

No matter the darkness.  No matter the loneliness or heartache…God’s love, love, is the most sustaining message of Christmas.  Like an ancient recipe passed down to us tonight we hear the echoes of love in songs and readings.

The truth is we live lives of spiritual uncertainty.  Lives marked by faith and goodness can seem out of reach. The world longs for renewed hope, words of kindness and mercy.

As one philosopher put it, “We try to find cosmic satisfaction in a lifestyle, a career, a self-image, or a romantic relationship.  Some employ therapists to attain self-acceptance, forgiveness, and understanding."[ii]  Yet, that does not satisfy.

We gather to night, to rediscover a spirituality adequate for our times.  On this most holy of nights, we remember the story of love.

We remind ourselves of the sustaining angelic words, “Do not be afraid, love has come.  A light in a land of darkness…  Joy in the midst of sadness… Peace in the midst of war… Justice out of chaos… worthiness instead of relentless guilt…Fear not, God is with you, love is here.”

We put ourselves in the midst of the story of God’s in-breaking love; that it may wash over us and sustain us.

We allow ourselves to feel the love of God which swims within our heart to the deepest corner of our soul where it connects with our intimate quiet longing.

We acknowledge the love which unites heaven and earth.

We rehearse the truth that God’s love comes to the lowly, the weak, the powerless, and the forgotten. 

We recall this love and we name him Jesus.

Tonight we share our love abundantly with one another, with our neighbor, with our family members, and all those we meet; wishing them the very best of life.

We believe in a world where love triumphs over greed, poverty, oppression, malnutrition, abuse, illness, war, and all other dark powers we have created and have come to know.  And, for those who find their life yoked to this sacred story there is an inescapable desire to change the world one small act of love at a time.  The world is being recreated by love. 

Such miraculous mysteries passed down, for over a millennia.  Sustaining truth, that no matter what may come or what the world may bring.  God’s love, love, is the most sustaining message.

 In his letter to a friend, the great American preacher, Philips Brooks (Episcopalian, rector of Holy Trinity, Boston, and author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”) wrote:

 God is seeking us and giving himself to us…that is love, not that we loved him but that he loved us…There is such a thing as putting ourselves in the way of God’s overflowing love and letting it break upon us till the response of love to him comes, not by struggle, not by deliberation, but by necessity, as the echo comes when the sound strikes the rock.[iv]


O holy Child of Bethlehem

Descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in,

Be born in us to-day.

We hear the Christmas Angels

The great glad tidings tell:

O Come to us, abide with us,

Our Lord Emmanuel.[v]

So take your children’s hands, embrace your beloved, welcome your family, hold your friends tight, and share the warmth of God’s overflowing love. 



[i] Ode to a Fruitcake by M Ryan Taylor, Copyright © 2008 M Ryan Taylor
[ii] Helminski, Knowing Heart, p 5.
[iii] Robert Bly, "A Christmas Poem", Morning Poems. © Harper Collins, 1998.
[iv] Alexander V. G. Allen, Life and Letters of Phillips Brooks, London, 870ff.
[v] Phillips Brooks, in English Hymnal, London, 1906, no 15.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons

In this fourth week of our Advent 2012 Book Study on Bonhoeffer's Christmas sermons he mentions the Albrecht Altdorfer nativity scene which his parents at one time had in his home.  Here is the picture as it is worth seeing and keeping in mind the setting for these last pieces of writings we cover in this week's podcast.

Advent Podcast Week 4, 2012

This is the last week of our Bonhoeffer Book Study on the Christmas Sermons. What a delight it has been. I have enjoyed doing them and enjoyed our conversation! Blessings for a wonderful conclusion to your Advent and a joyous Christmastide!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Little Hobbit Theology: fear not

Sermon preached at Trinity Galveston Advent 3 2012, post Sandy Hook, Newtown shooting.

Check out this episode!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts on the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

By the waters
The waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept
And wept for, thee Zion
We remember, thee remember
Thee remember, thee Zion

By the waters
The waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept
And wept for thee Zion
This morning's news of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has taken us all by surprise. We have awakened in the midst of our preparations for the Holiday into a nightmare that reminds us of our vulnerability, and the vulnerability of our children. 
Rachel Weeps
As many of you know I have been leading a book study on Bonhoeffer's Christmas sermons.  During the taping of this third section I spoke on the nature of God's compassion for the most vulnerable.  Boenhoeffer's words are worth repeating today:
Again and again, when the people of God are in trouble and distress, tears flow.  So it was in the time of Rachel, the mother of the people of Israel, whose grave lies near to Bethlehem, Rachel weeping for all her children.  It was in the last days of Jerusalem before it feel to the Babylonians, when the prophet Jeremiah looked down upon the tragedy and wept....A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.  (Jeremiah 31:15)
What has taken place is a tragedy.  We all mourn the loss, and we mourn with these families affected.  The repercussions of this awful event will change us.  In fact they already have. 
Our hearts and our prayers are offered to all those affected.  Our diocesan staff stopped work at 1:00 today and offered prayer.  I would ask you to join our country, and indeed the world, in mourning these losses.   We should pray specifically for peace to be poured upon this town and the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.  As we weep with Rachel let us pray for a healing balm to be given to the children and parents.  For those who have died let us pray that they may rest eternally with the saints in light.  Let us pray for the first responders and for our Episcopal clergy who are already on the scene offering care and support.  Let God hear our lamentation, our intercession, and our hope.
Let us be mindful of the opportunity now before us to work towards a world that has no longer a place for hate, fear, and senseless acts of incomprehensible violence. 
I am aware of our own families here in Texas who dropped their children off today and will embrace them this afternoon.  The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has clergy and lay pastors in congregations all over the diocese who are ready to help all of those who feel in need of conversation and prayer in the wake of this disaster.
I have reprinted below resources for talking with children and the statement from our Episcopal brothers and sisters in Connecticut and invite your prayers for them as well.  Let us weep together. Let us mourn the lost. Let us pledge to work towards the loving kingdom of God that Christ Jesus envisions.  And, let us hope for our future and the future of the Sandy Hook community.
Faithfully yours,
C. Andrew Doyle

This is a comprehensive list of excellent resources compiled by Sharon Pearson and leading Christian educators for those of us needing guidance after Friday's tragic and senseless shooting. Most importantly, turn off the TV.

Statement from Diocese of Connecticut on Sandy Hook Shooting

The Connecticut Bishops released the following statement following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14:

Dear Friends in Christ:

We are shocked and overwhelmed by the horrendous tragedy of the school shooting in Sandy Hook. We hold the victims, their families, and all who are affected by the shooting in our thoughts and prayers for healing and strength. We pray that those who have died will be held in the arms of our loving God whose heart aches for those affected by this tragedy.
We bishops have been in touch with the Rev. Mark Moore, the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook which is adjacent to the school were the shooting took place. We have also communicated with the leadership of Trinity Church, Newtown, and we understand that the Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, rector of Trinity Church is on the scene ministering to the bereaved.
We are departing immediately for Newtown/Sandy Hook to be of whatever assistance we can. We will be in contact when we have additional information.
We invite all clergy to open our churches for prayer.
Please keep all who have died, the one who has perpetrated the shooting, and all affected by this incident in your prayers. May the God who we await this Advent season bring us hope and new life in Jesus the Christ.

Faithfully, Ian, Laura and Jim
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent 2012 Book Study Advent 3 Bonhoeffer's Sermons.mp3

This week we have the third installment of our 2012 Advent Book Study on Bonhoeffer's Christmas sermons.  You can read along and listen to all three reflections.  The fourth and final reflection will be posted prior to the 4th Sunday in Advent.

Check out this episode!

The Word Of God Comes in a Country Squire Station Wagon

Sermon preached on Advent 2 regarding John the Baptist in Luke's Gospel, Trinity Episcopal Church Marble Falls, and Epiphany Episcopal Church Burnet Texas.

Check out this episode!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent 2012 Book Study Advent 2 The Berlin Years.mp3

This podcast covers the second section of reading material from Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons.

Check out this episode!

Advent 2012 Book Study Advent 1.b The Death of Moses.mp3

A number of individuals had conversations following the first Advent Book Study podcast about the death of Moses. I thought you might enjoy this little diversion from the reading of Bonhoeffer.  I hope you enjoy.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Advent 2012 Book Study First Sunday in Advent.mp3

This week in our Advent Book study we read together up to page 40 or the Berlin Years.  The podcast is about 34 minutes. It covers the introduction, the sermon from Barcelona, and the sermon from Cuba.  You can send questions via @texasbishop on twitter or c. andrew doyle on facebook.  Next week we will read the next forty pages.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Book Study Introduction

Advent Book Study
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons

I am inviting you to read along with me this Advent.

We are going to try something different and the plan is for me to lead a book study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons ...
during Advent this year.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of Advent: "The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. Christians rejoice!”

Each week participants will read a selection from the book. During the week you may post your reflections, comments, and questions below via facebook. Then I will post a podcast on Friday with my personal reflections on the material. We already have a good number of people participating and some congregations are doing the study together.

When the podcast is posted you will be able to get it from, itunes, or via We will tweet and facebook update when the podcast is ready.

This week as we arrive at the first Sunday in Advent, December 2, 2012, we will read to page 40 or up to the Berlin years for those using Kindle or another reader.

The next week we will approach Advent 2 on December 9, and read from pages 41-81 or up to the London years.

As we approach Advent 3 on December 16, we will read pages 82-143 or up to the War Conspiracy. And, for the last week of Advent and December 23, we will begin at page 144 and finish the book.

I hope that people will read and send me questions or thoughts in the week previous to each podcasts so that I can respond to those comments in the reflections. I’m excited to see how this interaction works so that we can do additional studies together during Lent and at other times of the year.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Check out this episode!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Dreamed A Dream

Sermon preached at Brad Sullivan's celebration of New Ministry at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Bay City 2012

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When you adopt a new system you adopt the tools embodied in the system

Check out this episode!

Sermon given at the Episcopal Ordination of the Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher

Check out this episode!

Sermon given at the Celebration Eucharist for Fred J. Pearson

Grace Episcopal Church, 10.4.12

Check out this episode!

Sermon delivered at the Rt. Rev. Jeff Fisher's Ordination to the Episcopate

Jesus says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
In the midst of their fear hiding behind locked doors to keep others out and themselves locked in…
In the midst of their excitement about seeing their friend resurrected…
In the midst of confusion about the past and uncertainty about the future…
Jesus comes into their midst and says: receive the Holy Spirit.
Receive the Holy Spirit.
Jeff, you received the Holy Spirit from the first moments of your birth to two loving parents.  They nurtured, they loved, and they cared for you.
This Holy Spirit love was clear as your mother Nancy allowed you to wear your favorite green jeans every day for months on end.  She would wake up in the cold dark of the night to wash them and return them in the morning to your bedside.   Because she knew that your idol was Captain Kangaroo’s Mr. Green Jeans and she knew that it was important for you to have those green jeans to wear; and she also knew that it is important to not be the smelly kid.
That was God’s profound love at work. 
The Holy Spirit was at work in your life from a very early age as you learned to forgive, to let go of the sins of others.   For example, every day you and your brother would religiously watch the cartoon Speed Racer.  You would then reenact the episodes with your loving brother using your hot wheels cars; until the fateful day when your brother stepped on your hot wheels garage like a giant Godzilla and accidently crushed it.  Yes, last year when you finally forgave him, you learned the power of forgiveness that comes from the Holy Spirit and from God’s love. 
Yes, you received the Holy Spirit from your mom and dad who raised you in the Episcopal Church.
You received the Holy Spirit as you attended church services as a child and specifically as you were nurtured by the eccentric Marjorie Blossman in her Sunday school class.  Wonderfully spirit filled she taught you to skip and wear a halo cut out of a Blue Bell ice cream lid. She taught you the words to the Butterfly Song and how to flutter your wings. She modeled a Holy Spirit love through her dancing, singing, and her passion for Jesus.
You learned from her God’s love through the ages and God’s love for you specifically.
You have received the Holy Spirit.
An equally eccentric, if not more so, young priest by the name of Corky Carlisle (God help us all) showed you God’s love through engaging bible studies and worship services as a youth.  He gave you leadership, and I believe he helped you begin to see your call to ministry.  It is his fault…this is all his fault! 
While you were neither the first nor the last of Corky’s young adults to be nurtured into ministry; on this day in the diocese of Texas we are particularly grateful for his keen eye.
You married wonderful Susan who has been “the biggest dispenser of God’s grace” in your life.  She loves you. And, thank God!  And we love her.
You brought up two sons (Scott and John) in a similar home to your own, trying to offer to them this notion of God’s Holy Spirit and God’s love.  I would venture to guess that it is their love for you that has most transformed your life.  It is perhaps their love for you which has so often opened your eyes to see the Holy Spirit at work in the world.
There have been countless moments of your life that you can remember with your heart’s eye and recount where the Holy Spirit has been given to you by others.  You can name their names and you can see their faces.
Yes, Jeff Wright Fisher, you have received the Holy Spirit.  You have been receiving the Holy Spirit your whole life.
Now…Jeff, let’s look back to what you wrote before you went to seminary.  You ruminated to your bishop, in a helpful tone, writing your spiritual autobiography, which I have in my possession, and I would like to quote from at this time “I am a leader. I hire, fire, evaluate performance, organize teams, encourage others to take on new tasks, develop budgets and financial statements…etc.” You wrote, “there is a need for these leadership skills in the ranks of the ordained of the Church today. The priest of this twenty-first century must not just perform ministry, but empower and challenge the laity and the other clergy through leadership.”
Thank you, Jeff.  These are great skills.  
As Napoleon Dynamite recognizes in the movie by the same name, everyone needs skills “like nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills” these are the skills girls look for.  
Certainly the church in the twenty-first century needs people with skills like yours – don’t get me wrong.
But the church also needs today are bishops who are filled with the Holy Spirit.  We need bishops who have received the Holy Spirit and impart the Holy Spirit to others.
Our church needs bishops who love Jesus and not only understand but have experienced the healing power of God’s love and grace through the unique vessel of the Episcopal Church.
You wrote: “I am called to proclaim… the Good News of God in Christ.  This Good News is that Christianity is not a religion [but] a relationship.  The relationship is with a real living person; Jesus Christ…I am convinced that a relationship with Christ rather than religion is what people…are thirsty for.”
This is the quote that got you to seminary. This is the truth of your life experience. This is the truth of the Gospel. This is the meaning of a God involved in the lives of his people.
When you had locked the doors of your life so no one could get in; Jesus got in.
When you were in trouble, at war with yourself, fearful or anxious, God came to you and offered you a small cup, a small measure of peace which changed everything.
When you have not been able to forgive yourself for the secret wrongs, god has forgiven you.  
God sent you out to discover the Holy Spirit working in the world around you.
The world does not need another boss or team leader.  The world is not looking for a church with a good strategic plan. The world is not interested in a church with skills or what we think they need.
The world is hurting and wounded and maimed.
The world is hungry and homeless.
The oppressed are tired of their oppression, the broken-hearted need someone to bind them up, the captives are looking for a liberty, and those imprisoned seek freedom.
You are to go to those who work, or watch, or weep, you are the angel given charge to tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, and shield the joyous.
For love’s sake…the world is looking and longing for a savior.
The world is longing to hear a little bit of good news.
To the individuals you meet on any given sunday, to the clergy and their individual family members you are to tell them about God’s love for them. And you are to tend to them and to their needs. 
And to the world around you, you are to be a herald of good things, a speaker of truth, and a revealer of God’s hand at work. You are to be a public as well as a private minister of the Gospel.
To those to whom you go, and to those who seek you out, as bishop, you will represent God in Christ Jesus. To them you will be the Church.  To them you will be the Diocese.  To them you shall be the one they have been waiting for and to all and to each you are connect them to the greater family through the power of the Holy Spirit, loving them, nurturing them, and forgiving them.  
Let them hear your voice, let them experience your listening ear.  Don’t try to organize, control or create a greater efficiency to deal with the pastoral world you are entering.  Instead remember the words of Jesus, for love’s sake remember them.
And, tell them Jeff: “Peace be with you.  Peace be with you.”
And give the God’s Holy Loving Powerful Spirit to them and show them how to do the same.
Now I will say to you, I know you. I know how you like things. I know how you expect things to be.  There will come in the days and months and years ahead moments when you will be tempted to say, “Why did I do this?”  Why did I make myself vulnerable in this way?” “If I had known this was the job then I would not have put my name forward.”  
Yes, those will be the moments Jeff, the moments most of all, when you will have to pause and to pray.  The moments out of your control and out of your power are the moments in which you will most become the bishop that God is making you out to be.
Hear Jeff one of your favorite quotes from Henri Nouwen in his book The Return of the Prodigal Son wrote: it is “a demand requiring [you] to let go one more time from wanting to be in control, to give up one more time the desire to predict life, to die one more time to the fear of not knowing where it will all lead, and to surrender one more time to a love that knows no limits.”
So, I say to you in this moment.  In this powerful, vulnerable, moment…in this moment when the real you is confronted with all the power and grace of God…a moment from which all life begins to change and unravel in God’s tender hand…I say to you Jeff, peace be with you.
Receive the Holy Spirit and give the Holy Spirit.
Receive forgiveness and give forgiveness.
Jeff, peace be with you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A funny

The Rt Rev C Andrew Doyle
Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Social Media Panel Today

Today I have been invited to serve on a social media panel discussion at the Blandy 2012 Lectures.

If you are on Twitter you can follow the discussion by creating a column with the hashtag #blandy2012. I will also be using the larger church and social media group hashtag #chsocm.

Questions can be sent via the #Blandy2012 hashtag. People are already signing on from around the world.

I am also posting my portion of the conversation on Facebook and followers can join in an off stream conversation there.

I will be taping the conversation and posting it via my podcast site this week. You can find my sermons and follow the weekly posts here:

Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, D.D.
IX Bishop of Texas
Sent while out of office.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Dates and Places

Things are beginning to ramp up again in terms of events, preaching engagements and Sunday visitations.  Here is my September calendar.

5          12:30 p.m.       Galveston Convocation Clericus, Holy Trinity, Dickinson

            7:00 p.m.         Reid Morgan Celebration of New Ministry, St. John’s, La Porte

7          11:30 a.m.       Southeast Convocation Clericus, St. Stephen’s, Liberty

8          6:30 p.m.         Iona School, Camp Allen

9          9:00 a.m.         15th Anniversary Celebration, Santa Maria Virgen, Houston

            4:00 p.m.         St. Aidan’s, Cypress, CF & 10th Anniversary Celebration

11-12                           Executive Board, Camp Allen

13        11:30 a.m.       Central Convocation Clericus, Camp Allen

16        5:00 p.m.         St. Barnabas & San Bernabé, Houston, CF

18        6:00 p.m.         50th Anniversary Celebration, Texas Heart Institute, Houston

19        6:00 p.m.         Holy Comforter, Angleton, CF

23        6:00 p.m.         Grace, Houston, CF

25        3:00 p.m.         Blandy Lecture Series, Seminary of the Southwest, Austin

26-27                           College for Bishops Board meeting, Virginia Theological Seminary

28        9:00 a.m.         Bishop’s Health and Outreach Conference, Camp Allen

30        9:15 a.m.         St. Mary’s, Cypress, CF

Friday, August 31, 2012

Inquiring Minds...

Recently I was asked to post my reading list.  So, I thought I would offer here in a blog post. Then we will switch over to a regular part of the blog so those of you who love books and sharing titles can keep up.  More importantly you might even make a suggestion to me!

Books I am reading currently:

The Yard by Alex Grecian
The Widower's Two Step by Rick Riordan

Non Fiction:
The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir
The M Factor by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman
Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Books I recently finished:

Big Red Tequila by Rick Riordan
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Unholy Night and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Books for consideration from my bookshelf:
Leading God’s People by Christopher Beeley
World Shaped Mission by Janice Price

Climb Higher by Scott McKenzie and Kristine Miller

For Church Leaders:
I think there are some foundational texts that every church leader should be familiar with as they enter ministry.  Therefore I am recommending the following for clergy to have on their bookshelf when they graduate from seminary and to have read in their first three years of ministry.  These are in no particular order.
The shape of liturgy by Dix
Orthodoxy by Chesterton
Missionary Methods by Roland Allen
History of Global Anglicanism by Wingate etc
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman
After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre

Jesus the Christ and Harvesting the Fruit by Walter Kaspar
Fling Out the Banner by Ian Douglas

Primal Leadership by Daniel Coleman
Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Hiefetz

Leading Change by John P. Kotter
The Word Made Strange and Theology and Social Theory by John Milbank

A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McClaren
Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

They Like Jesus But Not The Church by Dan Kimball
Why Study the Past and Ray of Darkness by Rowan Williams

Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent J Donovan
Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times by Peter Steinke

Turn Around Strategies for the Small Church by Herb Miller
Hearing God’s all-Ways of Discernment for Laity and Clergy by Ben Campbell Johnson

The Leader’s Journey-Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation by Herrington; Creech; Taylor

Here are a few pieces that are my recommended reading for guidance, comfort, assurance.  These are the books I turn to over and over again and are well dog-eared:

My Oxford Annotated Bible
Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cruelty of Heresy by C. FitzSimons Allison
Grace In Practice by Paul Zahl
Theological Turning Points by Donald McKim

Books from the recent past:

Burning Chrome by William Gibson
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The New World by Winston Churchill
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill

At Home  by Bill Bryson
Fever Crumb and Mothstorm series by Philip Reeve

The Hunger Games  series by Suzanne Collins

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
Trumanby David McCullough
Semper Fi by Dan Carrison, Rod Walsh
Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins
Club Dead series by Charlaine Harris

Uncle Fred in the Springtime by P.G. Wodehouse
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda
True Grit by Charles Portis
Lonesome Dove trilogy  by Larry McMurtry
Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
Agenda for a New Economy by David C. Korten

Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo  by Stieg Larsson


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

News on Archbishop of Canterbury Search

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Crown Nominations Committee met last week to consider the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Details of the 26-27 July meeting, including its location and whether potential candidates were invited to meet the committee have not been disclosed.

While the committee has maintained its internal discipline and not leaked details of deliberations to the press or favored insiders as in past years, lobbying by pressure groups for favoured candidates continues. A letter seen by the Church of England Newspaper that was written by primates attending the Global South Conference last week in Bangkok has urged the committee to consider archbishop’s pan-Anglican duties when it reviews the candidates.

“At a time when the Christian faith faces challenges from other religions as well as secular worldviews, the new Archbishop of Canterbury must be committed to uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian ‘faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’,” the primates said.

The next Archbishop of Canterbury will be a “guardian of the faith” charged with uniting the wider Anglican Communion, “especially on issues that have led to the present crisis in the Communion”, they said and must be able to “communicate effectively and gain the respect and confidence” of the wider church the 21 July 2012 letter said.

Chaired by the Lord Luce, the committee consists of six members elected by the Diocese of Canterbury Vacancy in See Committee: The Rev Canon Clare Edwards, Mr. Raymond Harris, Mr. David Kemp, the Rev. Canon Mark Roberts, Mrs. Caroline Spencer and Bishop Trevor Wilmott,
Six further members of the committee were elected by the General Synod: Mr. Aiden Hargreaves-Smith – Diocese of London, Prof. Glynn Harrison – Diocese of Bristol, Mrs Mary Johnston – Diocese of London, The Very Rev Andrew Nunn – Diocese of Southwark, The Rev Canon Peter Spiers – Diocese of Liverpool and the Rev Canon Glyn Webster – Diocese of York.

The Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, and the Rt Rev Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester were elected by the House of Bishops of the General Synod, and Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales was elected by the Anglican Consultative Council to serve on the committee as well.

Three non-voting members also serve on the committee: the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments Ms Caroline Boddington, the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary Sir Paul Britton and the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Kenneth Kearon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What People Are Saying About Our Structural Reform

Dear All,

As many of you know the committee I served on regarding structure (#6) proposed  CO95 which will create a task force (reporting back to the next General Convention for Action).  This resolution passed in the House of Deputies unanimously (800+ people voting) and in the House of Bishop's unanimously (200+ voting).  Below is an article highlighting the young adult leadership response; they have been very present, very vocal, and very proactive.  I was grateful that they and many others filled the rooms during the structure meetings.

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle

Beginning to Turn Dreams into Reality

Center Aisle convened a roundtable discussion Tuesday night as a follow-up to the work begun last week by the Acts 8 Moment. Seventeen people gathered to talk about what they had heard at General Convention; ideas for changing and reinvigorating the Church; and where they thought the discussion they have been having might lead.

"I would never have guessed, coming into this General Convention, that there would be such a widespread desire to rethink our Church," said the Rev. Scott Gunn, one of the three originators of the Acts 8 Moment. "The fact that C095 (the resolution on creating a Task Force to restructure the Church) passed unanimously – when does that ever happen? … Honestly, it was astounding."

The Very Rev. Tom Ferguson, dean of Bexley Hall and another co-founder of the Acts 8 Moment, agreed.

"When I was coming to this General Convention," he said, "I confess to having some anxiety. On the one hand, I am pleased, thrilled, astounded. But I'm also realizing there's still a lot left to do" concerning changing the Church. "The proof will be in the implementation."

The Rev. Susan Snook, the third co-founder of the movement, warned that "change hasn't happened yet.  It is a hopeful moment. We set up the process for change. But we will see whether the system can sustain the change that we all hope will happen and what happens at the next convention. Right now, it was such a high today in the House of Deputies."

Those gathered at the roundtable agreed that this convention was filled with energy, and talked about what to do with that energy.

"It's like, 'Yeah, let's do it!'" said the Rev. Martin Yabroff, with the Episcopal Evangelism Network. "There is much less partisanship than I expected to find … there is fertile ground here. I'm not sure what the Lord will plant in it."

The Rev. Jim Papile, a deputy from Virginia, wondered how those interested in changing and reforming the Church would help the leadership of the Church "understand that this is something that will not threaten them but empower them too."

There also was discussion about how those who are what the Rev. Stephanie Spellers calls "margin riders" will deal with the "sea change" of having "bishops approaching them saying, 'Tell me what you people are doing.'"

"The Church that did not know what to do with these prophetic voices, rather than shutting them out, is now listening," said Spellers, a priest at the Crossing in Boston and co-chair of the Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism. "And we're saying, 'All right, you really want this? Here we come!'"

The Rev. Terri Bays, from Northern Indiana, who is also at convention with the Episcopal Evangelism Network, agreed with Spellers. "It hit me," she said. "What I have been witnessing – that there's this willingness to roll up our sleeves, and I think, 'Oh, we're not on the margins anymore,' and we have to make it work. We've got to build this new thing.

"We love this Church," she said, "and we're going to do what we need to do; do what it takes to make it work. I think there's a willingness to listen, to say, 'Oh, wait a minute …' It's really a beautiful thing."

Papile told a cautionary tale of having been "around in the late '60s and '70s … [after a while] we flinched. Somewhere along the line, we thought [everything] was done, or we got distracted or something. The people making change got to a certain point in the institutional Church" and all forward progress stopped.

"How do you maintain the flexibility and that optimism?" Papile asked.

Gunn said that before the Acts 8 Moment held its first open meeting at convention last week, "I had a number of conversations with people asking, 'What's the agenda? What's the plan?' The plan is to get together and pray and see what happens."

He said that what happens next is "maybe occasionally just gathering with complete openness and trusting that something will happen."

Snook said that at that first gathering last week she experienced "a real deep longing for a different kind of church. I experienced a deep inner longing for something new to come. … It seems to be the right time for that to happen. Apparently, the same thing is happening in other mainline churches. It's like the Holy Spirit is doing something."

Spellers pointed out that the conversations begun at this General Convention mirror what is happening in many emergent communities. "Over there, it just popped," she said. "There were people who had some skin in the game and were in a position to make a shift, and [there were] those margins riders. Those groups have merged and clearly something is emerging. What do you do? You link and watch it grow even further and the Holy Spirit does what she does. … Who knows what else is out there? It's exponential what the Holy Spirit is doing right now. It goes way beyond" convention.

Discussing what to do next, Joey Rick, canon for congregational vitality in the Diocese of Washington, wondered: "In all of these conversations, has anybody talked about what they are willing to give up? We have to say goodbye to something …"

The Rev. Canon Paul Lebens-Englund, who serves on the Structure Committee, said that convention would be faced with that very question when B027 – "a gift from Bishop Doyle of Texas" – comes to the floor. "Essentially it suggests that we cut all of the standing commissions except two, Canons and Constitution, and Structure," Lebens-Englund said. "We are well aware as a committee that this is a litmus test. It is intentionally provocative. … These are things we are suggesting are not helpful anymore. … There are a lot of sacred cows."

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel of Olympia warned of how easy it is to "be drawn back into the institution." Groups, he said, "become institutional after a while."

The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton of Maryland agreed. He spoke of growing up in Washington, D.C., as a Baptist, where "everything was kingdom of God. It was Jesus. But then we would get out of church and be on the streets. And so what I'm about to say comes from living in the Kingdom but also living in the streets. Sometimes, to get things done, it's the rule of the streets. … Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. What I wonder about is that sometimes I think the Holy Spirit, in order to make it so that we are not too elated … forces us into the streets and to things as they are."

Structures, he said, are necessary. "Unfortunately or fortunately, we only live in structures. We only live in systems. But no structure is going to bring in the Kingdom. We can think of new structures, and I hope we do, and it may be that some new things will emerge. But guess what's going to happen? They are not going to work forever."

What excites him, Sutton said, is that there are "newer voices in the Church saying, 'You know, we want to do a mission enterprise zone kind of thing,' and then us old fogies go, 'You know, give them a million dollars and then we can get some things done.' That's what excites me. In the old structures, I see sprouts of green. We don't have to tear the whole system down. We grow what we can in the cracks of that cement and see what happens."

Bays agreed. "Part of what cracks that cement so those sprouts can grow," she said, "is the insistent return to prayer. Again and again and again. That it's only God in whichever person God shows up in that's going to make that space so the sprouts can grow. That's going to take hard-packed ground and beat it up. Some things are going to have to go away. Some things are going to be broken. And some things are going to grow strong and we're going to have to graft on to it. We have to have willingness and wisdom to figure out which we're being call to do in which place."

The Rev. Otis Gaddis III, with the Episcopal Evangelism Network, wanted to ask, "What do we think the Church actually needs to move forward? What do we need to do to accomplish it? … There's probably some concrete things we want to see, and to say those things and what we can do to make them happen. What are the resources in this room? How can we use the energy in this room?"

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde of Washington was clear that "the Episcopal Church is never short of vision and visionaries and really great moments. But," she said, "what we lack are moments that build on each other into something that lasts. This feels to me like my life's work. I don't want to invest in [things] that don't bear fruit somewhere down the line. I want to put my oar in the water with things that build upon each other.

"Yes," she said, "it is messy and imperfect, but in some ways, it is coherent and strategic. … If the Acts 8 Moment is so powerful, how do we keep those things going? We talk and pray together."

Gunn agreed. "We create these moments, ideas, and people," he said. "One of the things that was great about" the Acts 8 Moment meeting last week "was where people described in one sentence their dream. Taken together, this is a vision of the Promised Land – if we were all those things that all those people said.

"Acts 8 showed us the Promised Land; how do we get there?" he asked. "The first thing we have to do is to let things go. … What if we say we are willing to give up everything except Jesus? It can all go. There's the Promised Land, and we're willing to go there. I know this is dreamy metaphorical language. But with that direction we can start to make concrete plans."

The Rev. Canon Preston B. Hannibal, canon for academic and transition ministries in the Diocese of Washington, said that "one of the things that we don't do … [because] we spend so much time on parishes that are hurting … we don't lift up parishes that are doing really good stuff in our dioceses." He spoke of parishes that are lay-led, "but we don't lift those parishes up enough as models for other parishes, for what other churches can do."

Ferguson said that "one of the more specific dreams was that Acts 8 might be that group that continues to call the Church to accountability for what it's trying to do. One thing we learned from Exodus is that the fleshpots of Egypt start to look really good after a while. … There is still a whole lot of follow-up and implementation" that needs to take place.

Gaddis concentrated on the need for creating a plan for action, and spoke of the group with which he has been working that created a design "which is flexible and open." It was a group of people, he said, "who have an interest in actually getting something done."

"It was our sense that what is needed is to gather the missional people in our Church," he said. "The first thing that needs to happen is really gathering and networking organizations … that can create the resources we want. And then there are the people. We are a church filled with community organizers. With evangelists. [we believe] that if they were all directed in the same course of action, there would be no way to stop the missional direction of this church."

Snook agreed. "What I think you're talking about is church planters and new missional communities. How do we turn people in our church from chaplains into missionaries so that we're all missionaries, not focused on just taking care of each other? I would like to see somehow this become a movement that helps reawaken the spirituality of everyone in the Church."

Lebens-Englund added, "I want to reinforce again what Susan is talking about. The reality is that we need to be grounded deeply in the work of the Spirit … if we can be a non-anxious crowd that is going to really trust that there's room [in the Church], that's powerful. There's this notion of this new apostolic age that everyone is talking about. It means that you travel light, because your essentials are really basic. … To be that in the midst of all this would make a difference."

Gaddis concluded that "whatever we decide to do will require organization .. the organization of the people of the Church. There has to be a way for us to basically have the scaffolding; that means structure among people, and among organizations not tied to the official structure of the Church."

–Lauren R. Stanley

• • •

The Acts 8 Moment will hold another gathering Wednesday night in the Indiana Rooms A and B at the Downtown Marriott. The meeting will be held at 8 p.m., unless there is a late legislative session. If there is an additional legislative session, the meeting will begin at 9:30 p.m.


  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball