Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Thoughts

The new year is nearly upon us and with it comes the usual reflections on the year past. The machinations within The Episcopal Church this past year have really saddened me. I love my church and have devoted 45 years serving her in various ways. I am currently a priest without a church since we closed our little Holy Trinity December 9. I am now part of a cadre of priests who regularly supply congregations that have no priests. We call ourselves "Circuit Riders" in homage to those priests of times past who regularly rode a circuit to serve many different congregations in widely spaced little communities. Eastern Oregon is still that way, small towns widely spaced. Few of the congregations in those small towns can afford a full time priest, so they make do with supply priests. Back in the 1980's a movement in Eastern Oregon toward what was then called "local" priests ordained under canon 9 was begun with an eye to providing a full time sacramental presence in those small congregations. That's where I came to the priesthood as a supply to our little congregation in Vale. We had been struggling for years, but mutual ministry seemed to be just the thing for us. Thanks to Jim Kelsey for bringing the vision to our Bishop Rusty. Things went well for a time until Rusty retired and our new bishop didn't feel that we locals were well enough trained to serve our congregations and mutual ministry became dirty words. When our support left, our ministry teams began to dissolve and no replacements were brought forth. There are only 2 congregations left of the old mutual ministry model and there really has been nothing to replace them.

With what has been going on recently in the Episcopal Church, I wonder if I want to remain a priest. I'm certainly old enough to retire and sometimes I feel like just walking away. I get strength from reading the blogs of other progressive priests, but I sometimes wonder if our progressiveness has hurt the TEC in the long run. I sometimes feel as though our victory will be a hollow one with worshippers turning away from the fights within the church. Hopefully the people in the pews will just want to be left alone to worship the God in the way they have done forever. I do not preach about the battles within our Church, rather I preach about the love of our God for his people.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Old Fashioned Christmas Eve

My supply time at St. Thomas in Canyon City corresponded with Christmas Eve, so we just stayed over on Monday and did the Christmas Eve too. St. Thomas is one of several "Carpenter Gothic" churches in our Diocese. They were all built by the same man who traveled from town to town building churches (literally). Most were built in the 1870's and St Thomas was built in 1876 and completely restored in 1976. It is a beautiful little church for the old gold mining town of Canyon City. It is the only Episcopal Church in Grant County so parishioners from all of the towns of the John Day Valley attend. Christmas Eve was special, it was snowing and the streets were white with snow and in the Church the only light was from candles and the original 1876 oil lamps. It was a sell out crowd, the singing was heartfelt and I got to do a baptism as part of the service. (Baptisms, when needed are performed whenever a priest is available, and I was) There were real garlands of pine and fir boughs and the flickering light played on the stained glass windows in a truly wondrous way. Except for the modern clothing, the church service could have been straight from Currier and Ives. I felt honored to have been able to participate even though we had to drive home on Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Dan Fogelberg ,the author of "The Leader of the Band", has just died from prostate cancer and I ran into a tribute to him on another blog. They had a video of Dan singing "The Leader of the Band" and as I listened to it I got nostalgic about my parents, especially my father. My dad died before I was 30 and as I grow into my "Golden Years" I find myself getting that catch in my throat when I hear or read something that refers to the writer's father. In fact, whenever I watch "To Kill a Mockingbird" and it comes to the part where the black parson says, "Stand up Miss Scout, your father, Atticus Finch is passing by", I almost bawl out loud. It is such a touching moment of respect for a father that it never fails to choke me up. I had the same feeling listening to Fogelberg's song, it is a great tribute to his own father. As I face my own mortality I realize that I probably didn't express my feelings to my dad as well as I could have. I have the same thoughts about my mother too, she died too young as well. Maybe those feelings are closer to the surface around Christmas, but they sneak up on me at other times as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cards

As usual I'm behind in my Christmas Card mailings. It always seems that I think about Christmas and all that one does for the holiday and think ,"Oh well, I've got a month to get those things done, lots of time." Then, it seems like the next day is the Monday before Christmas and I've done nothing. Tomorrow I'm going to mail those cards that just have to be sent with a little note about how I'm sorry the card is late. I did most of my Christmas shopping on-line with the gifts sent to the recipients. Just have to get stuff for those who live nearby. I haven't a clue what to get. Oh yes, there is also that little matter of the Christmas Eve service, this year in Canyon City 120 miles away. Jean and I are working out how to handle the Sunday service and the Christmas Eve service in a community 2 1/2 hours and two mountain passes away and still be present on Christmas Day with our friends. Of course, this would be the week that the first winter storms hit the mountains with lots of snow. It will all turn out fine, as it always does. Bring on the snow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

City of God Appeal

Over at Mad Priest's blog he and Elizabeth Kaeton are conducting a fund drive for the Anglican Church of Christ the King in a poor district of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil known as the City of God. This is an extremely poor district and the church serves the very poor with a variety of programs. The people of the church have no money to help the church, so MP and Elizabeth are sponsoring a fund drive for them. So, go to Mad Priest's site and look for the City of God appeal and it will tell you how you can donate. A link to MP is on the right of my page. The title of his Blog is "Of Course I Could Be Wrong". If you want to help those who really need help this is a good cause.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hurray, Hurray, He's Going Away

I see that Bp Schofield and his Diocese have voted to leave the Episcopal Church. I wish them well, bon voyage and all that sort of stuff. Does this mean that an Episcopalian moving into the diocese will have to go through confirmation and maybe even a new baptism to was away the sins of worshipping in a church that welcomes gays? I wonder, will they begin stoning sinners on the main street of Fresno soon. They could charge admission and make a little dough for the church. If I were a woman caught in adultery I would really be concerned for my safety. I'm sure that +John would gladly throw the first stone. He doesn't much like women, you know. Has anyone else noted that the move to move out of PECUSA didn't come after Gene Robinson, but rather after the election of Katherine Jefforts Schori. They claim it's homosexuality they are protesting, but I think Schofield, Iker and the others couldn't stand to be led by a woman.

Who"s next? Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth? Maybe we could have a pool to select the time and order of their leaving.

Enough ranting. I am sincerely saddened by the actions of the dioceses that are leaving the Episcopal Church. I am especially saddened for Katherine because some will blame all this on her leadership. I am also saddened for the people of those dioceses who do not want to leave. They are losing their churches through no fault of their own. Loyalty to PECUSA now becomes a sin in those dioceses.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Football Bowl Games

The bowl games are now set and as usual they're screwed up. LSU with two losses is going to play for the National Championship. I don't know why they call it the BCS, it seems to me that a more descriptive name would be "Play the Winner of of the SEC" series. I am constantly amazed that the sportscasters are so in love with the South East Conference. LSU just lost a game to an unranked team, so how can they still be ranked #2 in the nation? Hawaii is unbeaten, but because they have a weak schedule???? they are denied a shot at the national title. Having watched them play I'm pretty sure they would beat LSU going away. LSU played only a few teams that were ranked in the top 25 and lost to one of them. Oh yeah, Oklahoma is ranked above Kansas even though they lost more games than Kansas. The reasoning, Oklahoma beat Missouri who beat Kansas, so Oklahoma gets the higher ranking. So, how about Arkansas who beat LSU? Shouldn't Arkansas be ranked #2? Let's see, last year they threw a bone to undefeated Boise State and let them play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl thinking that Oklahoma would show the boys from Idaho how to play football. Wrong! I think that Georgia better hang on when they play Hawaii.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Goodbye Holy Trinity

One more Sunday and we will close our doors. Holy Trinity has been a grand old lady and I will miss her. We had a good time today remembering some of the good times that we've had at Holy Trinity. We're going to make it a Good Episcopal funeral, celebrating the life of HT and not its death.