Primate 2019

Earlier this month Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, announced his intention to resign on 16 July, 2019 which will be the last day of the 42nd General Synod. ++Fred was originally elected to the position in 2007.

I may or may not make a video on all this later on, but here it goes.

What is the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada?

The Primate is the “presiding bishop of The Anglican Church of
Canada” and its “Senior Metropolitan”, as well as being the “Chief Executive Officer of the General Synod”. What does that mean?

Effectively, the Primate is responsible for overseeing the functioning of the Church as a whole, represents the Church as a whole, gives pastoral support to the rest of the Bishops of the Church in Canada. However, unlike most other Churches in the Anglican Communion the Primate does not have a see as they must resign it within 90 days of being elected Primate in a similar matter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Even thought the Primate has no Diocese nor a Province to oversee he (or she) is still considered a Metropolitan.

Who is the current Primate?

The Most Reverend Fred Hiltz is the current Primate, having been elected to the position in 2007. Before becoming Primate he was the Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Why is he resigning?

Is there a massive scandal or something? No. Not even close. Essentially, he wants to retire and hand over the reigns crosier to someone else. While ++Fred can serve until he turns 70 he will be 65 (which is the nominal retirement age here in Canada) during General Synod in 2019.

How will the new Primate be Elected?

The Canons, specifically Canon III Part II, require that the Primate is elected by General Synod.


Between 30 and 100 days before General Synod all the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada will gather together and nominate three or more Bishops. Any Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada can be nominated: Diocesan or Suffragan.


After the Bishops have “withdrawn” from the remaining Clergy and Lay members of General Synod the two Orders will vote on the nominations which follows a process in which the nominees will proceed through a number of ballots, seeing nominees dropped (if required) until just two remain and/or a nominee has reached a majority of votes in both Orders. If there is an impasse they can request new nominees from the Bishops and continue the process, or the Bishops can vote on the final two nominees in order to break the impasse.

From my reading of the Canon if the Clergy and Laity elect someone the Bishops don’t have to confirm, nor can they veto.

Who is going to run?

Alright, that would be massive, massive speculation at this time. As of my writing of this there are 37 Bishops I am aware of who are eligible. However, Archbishop Colin Johnson of Toronto, Bishop Michael Bird of Niagara, and Bishop Don Phillips of Rupert’s Land have all announced their retirements. At the same time it is possible that their replacements could nominated for Primate.

The Future of Maple Anglican

Hello all,

This blog post is about the future of the ministry that is Maple Anglican. Before you think “Oh, no! MA is going to shut down.” Please, be calm.

For the past few years that amount of content I have produced has reduced quite a lot. There have been far fewer videos, fewer blog posts, and alas even far fewer memes. There are some reasons for that and now that I feel comfortable enough to share and begin a discussion about the future of this ministry.

This will not come as a surprise for many, however, for a few years now I have been discerning the call to ministry, and I made this more formal in April of 2016 when I began a Master of Theological Studies degree online. Thus, a lot of my time online has been devoted to course work. I just finished up two courses earlier this week and I have nothing on my plate there until September.

As well, four years ago I was promoted in my company to do a very wonderful career in Information Security which takes up a lot more of my time but it much more rewarding.

Finally, I have been coming to grips with the fact that I suffer from depression, that is largely caused by me not treating my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) since I began University in 1998. I would have occasional bouts of depression since starting University, however, the coping mechanisms I used since then stopped working, and my ADHD driven brain which was unable to deal with the world putting me into depression. I am currently medicated for the Depression while getting my ADHD under control, however, the later has been a bit of a challenge as some of you will recall I was in the ER during June.

When I first began this ministry the purpose was to use social media as an medium much like the way books were used with regards to the Protestant Reformation. However, since starting this I have come to realize that social media has come to become a very nasty place, full of much vitriol and hatred as can easily be seen in the US political scene.

I really don’t want to give this up. I have about two months to do some work here and trying to pan some things out, however, I need a bit of a muse.

Which is why I reach out to you as ask you what should I do?

Is there a video or two I should try and do during the summer? Should I try and re-boot this Ministry, reveal who I am, make this a bit more personal?

Thus, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I prayfully look for your input.



Random Thoughts on May Day, (Neo-)Paganism and “Cultural Appropriatation”

Today is May Day, sometimes known as International Workers’ Day, which is can be a bit of a big deal in the Labo(u)r movement.

But today in the Church is also the Feast of the Apostles St. Philip and St. James … unless you are Roman Catholic in which case the more modern Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

And for (Neo-)Pagans yesterday, 30 April, was also a Feast known in some circles as Beltaine.

This might come as a shock to a few people but for a time I “flirted” with (Neo-)Paganism. In fact, when I originally enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 2004 I explicitly said I was one, and to this day there are people I still call good friends that I had meet in the (Neo-)Pagan Community of Edmonton. Because of this “flirtation” with (Neo-)Paganism I ended up not only coming back to Christianity more historically and liturgically minded but also with an better understanding of the importance of a yearly cycle of festivals.

Depending on what particular flavour of (Neo-)Pagans you run into there are claims that certain Christian feasts, or even traditions surrounding said feasts, were solden/borrowed from ancient Pagan rituals. Now, some of that is true and some of that is historically false.

Neo-Paganism (notice I didn’t include the brackets there) generally highlights a series of festivals called Sabbats that are linked with the year, hence the collective name given to them called The Wheel of the Year. (There are also a series linked with the Moon called Esbats) There are 8 such festivals with four being major, and four being minor. And, they do match up with some festivals on the western Christian Calendar. See table below, and be aware there are a lot of missing asterisks.

 (Neo-)Pagan Christian
 21 Dec Yule  25 Dec  Christmas
 2 Feb  Imbolc  2 Feb  Candlemas
 21 Mar  Ostara  25 Mar  Annunication
 30 Apr  Beltaine  1 May  St. Philip and St. James
 21 Jun  Litha  24 Jun  St. John the Baptist
 1 Aug  Lammas  6 Aug  Transfiguration
 21 Sep  Mabon  21 Sep  St. Matthew
 31 Oct  Samhain  1 Nov  All Saints’

At first glance you might think “Wow! Christians might have stolen a lot of dates from Pagans.” but that can be a bit deceiving.

Generally, (Neo-)Pagans consider the cross-quarter days to have a bigger significance than the quarter days (Solstices and Equinoxes), and I seriously doubt any Christian would view the Feasts of the Presentation (Candlemas), Ss Philip and James, the Transfiguration and All Saints’ Day being more important than Christmas, the Annunciation, or St. John the Baptist.

At the same time some of the points they have about Pagan traditions making there way into Christian ones does have some validity. For example, the decoration of eggs from Ostara, that is the celebration of the Spring Equinox, however that gets used at Easter and not the Annunciation. Others, like the claims that May Poles were used by Pagans in the British Isles for Beltaine and continue to be used in those nations by Christians has merit, but if you know anything about Beltaine it’s a vastly different feast than one for two Apostles.

On top of all that there are other Christian feasts that aren’t on the previous table that don’t have a matching (Neo-)Pagan feast with the same or similar date. This includes Ss Peter and Paul on 29 June, St. Michael and All Angels on 29 September, and the Epiphany on 6 January.

With regards to “Cultural appropriatation” I think it is important that Christians recognize that when the Gospel is genuinely spread to another people the whole of their culture does not disappear. This is clearly shown in the peoples of the British Isles, the First Nations in North America, and the peoples of Africa. Heck, if you look at the two other major religions that cross ethnic boundaries (Islam and Buddhism) you can see this as well.

In closing, I would like to point out that we are now coming to live in a #FakeNews era. Social Media has a way of spreading around a lot of falsehoods with regards to not just what a Presidential candidate said or the list of people who mysteriously died with a connection to them, but also were falsehoods with regards to religion, tradition, and historical facts occur. Because of this it is always healthy to double check what you see online. And, yes, that means this blog post too.



5 Ways a Diocese Could Help Make Social Media Easier for Parishes. Number 2 Will SHOCK You!

Okay, now that I have lured you in with a click-bait title I can actually get on with it.

I had been at All Saints’ Cathedral from when I started attending Anglican services in March 2008, went briefly to Good Shepherd Church the first half of 2014 as part of my discernment process, and instead of going back to the Cathedral I started attending St. Stephen the Martyr’s at the end of August 2014. I have loved, truly loved, each of these parishes I have been at. Each has been very different how they operate: one is a Cathedral located in a downtown core, another is an Evangelical leaning Parish, and the other is decidedly Anglo-Catholic.

When I came to St. Stephen’s in 2014 the Parish has a stop-gap website without a lot of information, it had no Facebook Page, no Twitter account, no social media advertisement and an average Sunday attendance of around 40. I’d like to say that I came in, set up the website, did a little work and the parish was bursting at the seems. Truthful, it didn’t help us a lot, but it was a good start.

I work full-time, and part-time (being the the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves), I am a father, and also a part time student.

I don’t have a lot of free time.

And the ads felt like a waste of money at a parish that didn’t have a lot of money to waste.

Last year, after realizing I did not have the time needed to do as much as should be getting done for social media I decided to reach out to other members of the Parish for assistance… and I am slowly getting it.

I have always felt that Social Media needs to be a vibrant part of Parish life. It helps connect parishioners, it can help draw people in. And, for an Anglo-Catholic Parish like my current one helping to stand out is very important.

For a few years I have wanted to do a blog post on this, and I only today decided to have the courage to say it: Social Media in Ministry needs to be a full time gig.

Now, before anyone goes “Maple, that’s insane. You’d have to be a Parish with major funds like Trinity Wall Street, St. Martin’s Houston, or St. Paul’s Bloor Street to be able to justify having someone whose full time job was doing Ministry via Social Media”.

Firstly, I am not saying that every Parish needs a full time employee handling their Social Media. Yes, if you are a really, really rich parish go ahead and hire someone. For the 99% that doesn’t apply.

What I am saying it that pooled resources among several parishes can make a difference.

Now, I did compile a list so the click-bait title wasn’t a complete lie. Here it goes.

1. Dioceses Should Operate a Social Media Crew for their Parishes

Rather than have one or two members of a congregation be trying to take on the monumental task of:

  • Updating the Website,
  • Sending out Tweets,
  • Setting up Events on Facebook,
  • Adjusting Ads,
  • etc

It may make more sense for a Diocese (depending on their size) to have a crew that helps front requests for the Parishes from either a coordinator at the Parish, or from their Rector. They could make request by phone call, or email. They could even be their to make suggestions.

2. Dioceses Should Hold Bulk Web Hosting for Their Parishes

With the exception of the Church of Ireland the general standard is that each parish is on their own when it comes to web hosting. It is up to some Parishioner to build the website from scratch and maintain it, or the Parish spends a tonne of money having someone else do it for them.

In view this as Economies of Scale it makes much, much more sense to have a Diocese have a central Web Hosting solution, either with their own servers, or wit a bulk account with a hosting provider. As various contracts the parishes are in come up their move their hosting to be under the diocese, including their domain name.

To top it off a designated person or team at the Diocese is the one with Root/Admin privileges for everything, handing out accesses to authorized users at individual parishes when they need it.

If a Parishioner who was the Website Administrator dies, moves, or suddenly decides to leave the parish in a huff then the Parish is less likely in a lurch.

Smaller Parishes would know that they have access to have a pro do all their work for them. Medium to Larger Parishes would know they have a back up at the Diocese and a way to get access if they need it.

And, yes, I recognize the obvious chance a Bishop or other Diocesan Staff might get on a power trip. However, I think the savings in time, energy and resources would offset that.

3. Dioceses Should Be Encouraging and Enabling Their Parishes to Use Social Media

Every single year in my Diocese the Rector or Incumbent Priest is required to file a slew of paperwork with the Synod Office. This is everything from who was elected and appointed to positions in the Parish at the AGM, to mission plans.

Dioceses should be encouraging and Enabling their parishes to use social media, and actually ask each Parish “What are you doing? What would you like to do? If you need it how can we help you do that?”

4. Dioceses Must Encourage Parishes to Use Their Resources Wisely

Print is Dead.

Actually, that is a lie.

Print isn’t dead yet, but it is in the Hospice … and will soon go the way of video rental stores.

About five years ago I got into a discussion with an Elderly parishioner who was very insistent that the Parish needed to put more ads in the two main newspapers for Edmonton. I regret being as blunt with him as I was, however, the truth of the matter is that Newspapers are a dying industry. You might be able to attract the attention of someone middle age and older with a newspaper ad to your Church, but most of those people already have a Church and are set in their ways.

Newspaper ads do almost nothing to attract Millennials, or teenagers.

Do not waste your Parish’s money on Newspaper Ads.

This is probably the best example I have of money being wasted. There are other ways, and Dioceses should be a driving force behind getting their Parishes to spend their funds wisely.

Last but least

5. Bishops Need to be Visible on Social Media

Before I go any further I want to say this comment is not pointed on any one Bishop or Diocese in particular. So, if you are reading this, and you are a Bishop, this is not aimed at you.

Bishops are supposed to be the Chief Pastors of their Diocese. The very nature of Episcopal polity has in it that Parishes, and each of the faithful, has a relationship with their Bishop.

Is your Bishop on Twitter, or Facebook? They don’t have to be, but are they? If so, how often do they post something? Did they post something they did last time they visited your Parish? Do you know what was the last parish they visited? Do you know when the last time was they were at a House of Bishops meeting, were involved in a local community project, or were at an Ecumenical service with local clergy of another denomination?

Bishops should be very visible on Social Media. I would not dare suggest they should try becoming Social Media Celebrities, however, Bishops should carry a vibrant profile on Social Media.

Visiting a Parish to do Confirmations? Do a post a few days before you show up. Post a picture with yourself with the Confirmands et al on Facebook/Twitter. Tag the parish you visited, and possibly anyone else you interacted with.

Heading to a meeting with the House of Bishops? Post about how you “Look Forward to seeing my fellow Bishops” beforehand, or on your way to the airport. Get a few pictures with yourself and a few of them and post them. Mention some of the stuff you have done, or some of the talks that have occurred.

It doesn’t have to be a lot, however, it should be enough so that you are seen as being more “out and about” then some strange who works in an office and occasional comes to peoples Churches to Confirm their kids, and shake their hands.

Oh, and if by some chance you are a Metropolitan or a Primate reading this it goes double for you.

At the same time you should be encouraging, but certainly not forcing, the clergy of your diocese to be more active. Don’t get after them if they don’t feel comfortable.

The internet, and social media, can be a wonderful way of connecting to people. Using it ineffectively might be very costly in people’s time, and parish funds.


My Random Thoughts on the Epiphany

Today, 6 January, is the Feast of the Epiphany, the day that ends Christmastide. The Epiphany is one of those parts of the Christian Faith that in our modern world has lost its relevance and meaning… which pisses me off.

The story of the Epiphany comes from Matthew 2 with the visit of a number of Wise Men/Magi from the East to Christ to pay homage to him as the newborn King of the Jews. For many that might mean a “Well, Duh!” moment, but let me re-iterate that:

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew (who was a born and raised Jew) Foreigners Gentiles come to pay homage to Christ by giving him:

  • Gold, since this is a fitting gift for a King as he was King of the Jews
  • Frankincense, since he is High Priest, and
  • Myrrh, because he was to die and be buried thus needing  something to be anointed with

The importance of what is happening with this also comes in the traditional alternative name for the Epiphany that we find in the Book of Common Prayer: Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

The Epiphany is about salvation, specifically the salvation of the Gentiles. Epiphany is about salvation now being extended to Gentiles, those persons who were previously not part of God’s chosen people.

The Traditional Epistle reading for this feast comes from Chapter 3 of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. St. Paul (someone born and raised as a Jew, but outside of the Holy Land) speaks about the importance of the Gospel being able to be spread among all nations, and that the promise of salvation is available to all.

The Traditional Collect for this feast explicitly states this as well:

O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Now, I might shock you with this revelation: I am not certain that the visit of the Magi actually occurred. I am willing to believe that St. Matthew (or someone else) invented the this part of the gospel narrative. However, the theological truth remains in place:

Salvation in Christ is available to all mankind

and not just the descendants of Abraham who were God’s original chosen people.

St. Peter (again, another born and raised Jew) said in his First Letter

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9

I could go on ad nauseam citing the New Testament on this with point but the New Testament is full of examples of people who were born and raised Jews, believing that they were God’s only chosen people because of their bloodline going back to Abraham, suddenly going out and spreading the Word of God to non-Jews.

It is also important that we are seeing this in St. Matthew’s Gospel. We view this Gospel as one being written by someone who was (here I say it again) born and raised a Jew, and his target audience is his fellow Jews. St. Matthew finishes his Gospel account by stating the Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ Matthew 28:19-20

Salvation in Christ is available to all mankind


Failed by One Vote!

Greetings. It has been too long friends since I posted anything here. Now that the 41st General Synod (aka #GS2016) of the Anglican Church of Canada has concluded I would like to release the following official statement:

Oh, FFS! One vote! One Bloody vote!

Now, you might be thinking to yourself: “But, Maple: the resolution to authorize the changes to the Marriage Canon succeed! The recount found it passed by one vote in the House of Bishops and House of Clergy.”

Firstly, I’m not referring to the horribly bungled experience with the non-passing/passing/reconsideration/re-count debacle that was Resolution A051-R2. That, in my view, has resulted in a lot of unnecessary pain and heartbreak for people on both sides of whether to allow Same-gender marriages to occur under Canon Law.

What I am referring to was Resolution A030-R1B. This resolution would have removed a prayer from the “Prayers and Thanksgivings Upon Several Occasions” in the 1962 Book of Common Prayer, specifically Prayer 4 “For the Conversion of the Jews.”. The prayer is as follows:

O GOD, who didst choose Israel to be thine inheritance: Look, we beseech thee, upon thine ancient people; open their hearts that they may see and confess the Lord Jesus to be thy Son and their true Messiah, and, believing, they may have life through his Name. Take away all pride and prejudice in us that may hinder their understanding of the Gospel, and hasten the time when all Israel shall be saved; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“We still have something like that in the BCP?”

Yes. Yes we do

“But no one ever uses the BCP. Let alone that prayer!”

  1. Er, thanks. I go to a BCP-only Parish, and
  2. The 1962 Book of Common Prayer remains the de jure source of prayers.

Based on the principal of Lex orandi, lex credendi that prayer is still an official doctrinal profession in the Anglican Church of Canada.

As I noted in a previous entry we really do need a new BCP, but doing so is incredibly difficult. In fact, as the vote today proved even altering the BCP is frigging difficult.

The only other alteration to the BCP occurred in 1989 when the Third Collect for Good Friday was removed. It was as follows:

O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather the he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon the Jews, thine ancient people, upon all who reject and deny thy Son; take them from all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

If you think that is pretty bad the prayer it is based on from the Church of England’s BCP is this:

O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

It is super-obvious that the two prayers are very similar in composition and purpose.  Now, I will admit that I delve into supporting some Supersessionism to support positions to such things as the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist from time to time, however, I recognize that prayers like this can seem incredibly insensitive in today’s world. For that reason, either the prayer needs to be revised or the prayer needs to go.

That brings us to a simple resolution that was called Housekeeping Amendments in the handbook for General Synod. Constitutional, Canonical, and Prayer Book revision requires a two-thirds majority in all three Houses of General Synod: The Laity, The Clergy, and the Bishops. Thus, in order to remove the offending prayer it would have had to pass First Reading at the 41st General Synod in 2016, and then passed Second Reading at the 42nd General Synod in 2019 in order to be enacted in 2020.

This should have been a no-brainer. It wasn’t

Vote result of A030 – R1b
Vote result of A030 – R1b

As you can see, the resolution succeeded in the Houses of Clergy and Laity, but failed with the bishops.

By one vote!

One Bloody Vote!

The result(s) of the Marriage Canon vote, the negative/positive press that has come with it, and the bitterness that has accompanied people who were on both sides of the issue while massively overshadow this failure to remove the offending prayer. While there is good cause that it should overshadow the vastly minor attempt at BCP revision the very fact that we couldn’t get such as simple, super-obvious revision done to the BCP pains me greatly.

It shows that the Canadian Church is dysfunctional.

If anyone is thinking: “Please, Maple, don’t leave Anglicanism/the Anglican Church of Canada/the Anglican Communion” don’t worry; I am here to stay. You can’t get rid of me that easily.

The major lesson we are talking away from General Synod this year is that one vote matters. And while those who support Same-Gender Marriages come away at the end rejoicing that we are on the road to making these Marriages a reality we are also coming away having damaged not only our internal relations with one another but also our relations with the Jewish Community.

Because at the end of the day General Synod just said it is still our belief to pray that God will take away the hardness of hearts of the Jews.

No, the RCL is not the Best Lectionary

This blog post is a response of sorts to one by the Rev. Bosco Peters, @Liturgy on Twitter, on a critique of the Revised Common Lectionary which is itself a response to another blog post by the Rev. Chris Duckworth.

For those of you who might not know the Revised Common Lectionary, or RCL, is a Lectionary implementing a a three-year cycling of readings and is used by a number of different Protestant Churches. It is based, in large part, on a Lectionary developed for the Novus Ordo Mass for the Latin-Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.

Before the 1960s the Church in the West (Protestants and Catholics) had being using Lectionaries based on one (purportedly) developed by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th and 7th Centuries A.D.

The overwhelming argument in favour of a three-year cycle was that it would greatly increase the amount of Scripture being read at Mass and/or Sunday services allowing for a greater biblical education for the laity. It also was different from the the Gregorian style Lectionaries in that it had Three readings (Old Testament or Acts, New Testament, Gospel) rather than Two readings (Epistle/Lesson and Gospel).

However, the fact remains that the RCL isn’t a great lectionary. Without going into great detail on why I can say that I have preached three times, and each of those three times I massively lucked out on the readings I had to work with. The issue is that for a lot of the year the three readings in anyone service don’t match up, and then it is difficult for the Preacher to compose a sermon covering the readings. In many cases someone can bridge together two of the three, and during the seasons of Advent, Lent, Easter and Holy Days all-three readings will work but many times a Preacher is left with “material” that just doesn’t let them Preach as effectively as they could.

The older, one-year lectionaries that trace themselves to the time of Gregory the Great have two-readings that were purposefully chosen to work together, or being preached on separately. Examination of the Lectionary though the Church year reveals a two types of themes intended for Preaching

  • From Advent Sunday through Trinity Sunday is based on Credal issues, and
  • After Trinity Sunday is based on Moral issues.

Now, I do not want to make this post, or anything else for that matter, about Morals. Very truthfully Moral Theology bores the snort out of me. However, given our “Post-Christendom” world that we live in now it is extremely important to focus on issues of Doctrine, and more importantly, carrying out the Mission of expanding the Church.

This is not to say that the RCL is a horrible Lectionary. There are a number of ways it is better then the earlier Lectionaries. For example, the readings for Holy Week are superior.

However, we have to accept that the RCL has flaws. It’s use originally assumed a Congregation that was going to turn up every Sunday thus allowing them to hear more of the bible spoken of in Church. The truth is that many Christians do not attend services every Sunday.

We also have to accept that compared to the older lectionaries the RCL is much more challenging to make a sermon from. Our Clergy are overworked enough as it is. Throwing them softball readings to Preach on would make their lives easier.

So, to paraphrase on Father Bosco who paraphrased on Churchill, the RCL is not the worst Lectionary… except all the others that have come since the 1960s. We tossed aside ones much better in the name of progress when what would have made more sense would been to have revised the Gregorian-style lectionaries already being used.

In Christ,

Christian Zionism is False. There, I said it.


Before I go any further into this bringing down the wrath of God only knows what on my head I want to make this absolutely, crystal clear: I am not talking about the State of Israel, it’s right to exist, nor am I in any way supporting or encouraging the hatred of Jews in general or Israelis in particular. So, without further ado

Christian Zionism is False. There, I said it.

With the recently agreed on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany, and the European Union we have seen some very negative reactions to the agreement, primarily from conservatives in the United States and Israeli politicians. This post is not about the JCPOA nor any of it’s details, but it was very striking to see the reaction of persons were against a “bad deal” who actually hadn’t read the 109 page agreement. [Disclosure: Neither have I] What was more shocking was a short video produced by AJ+ showing the reactions of some at a conservative summit in Iowa. The video is just below, is quite short, and I encourage you to watch it:

Well wasn’t that fun. Sigh

Now, let’s be fair to the interviewees that is a short video, and we only get small tidbits of the reaction from the persons being interviewed. However, we do get a sense that some of the interviewees are holding to their position on the JCPOA because they think it is bad for Israel and then suggest their support for the modern nation of Israel is required of Christians. This concept is part of something bigger called Christian Zionism.

Christian Zionism is (I’m doing the horrible thing of quoting Wikipedia) “is a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy. The term began to be used in the mid-20th century, superseding Christian Restorationism.” It is massively problematic beyond Christians have nearly blind support for the State of Israel. This modern idea began with English and Scottish clergy but it is much more identifiable with North American Christianity particularly with Evangelical Christians.

In 2006 four prominent Bishops for Christians in the Holy Land signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism and it was responded to by another statement published by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The response is rather telling as it actually points out some major issues theologically and politically:

  1. “God, by a sovereign choice, gave the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people, for His kingdom purposes. (Genesis 17:7-8)”
  2. “Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our ‘royal family'”
  3. “Christian Zionists .. base their theological position .. on the faithful covenant promises of God given to Abraham some four thousand years ago”
  4. “[T]here are biblical considerations that regulate Israel’s national existence”

Firstly, the modern State of Israel is not spoken of in the Bible any more than the modern Arab Republic of Egypt is spoken of in the Bible. Secondly, we have to remember that the creation of the modern State of Israel rests on the formal end of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948 and the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 which was suppose to carve up the mandate into three areas: a Jewish area, an Arab one, and the City of Jerusalem to be under a “Special International Regime”. The modern State of Israel should in no way be viewed as a legal continuation of the Roman Province of Iudaea nor any other political division that was jurisdiction for the Jewish people. And while I point out this blog post does not speak to Israel’s right to exist I will point out that the State of Israel’s right of existence does not come from Scripture, more importantly not from the New Testament.

The passage in Genesis that is quoted deals with the offspring of Abraham through his son Isaac and deals with the Old Covenant. However, the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant revealed to us through the Incarnation, Birth, Baptism, Ministry, Passion, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3 Saint Paul wrote “those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.” If this is extended to Genesis 17 then this not mean that we Christians have a claim to the land promised to Abraham’s descendants?

When it is said that “Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our ‘royal family'” are we not ignoring what Saint Peter said of us, the Christian people, his First Letter when he said “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” he also points out that Jews (unlike those like Saint Paul and himself) who rejected Christ had rejected the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7Psalm 118:22). In fact, if one reads Saints Peter and Paul close enough one has to come to accept that they believed the Jews of their day had lost their status of being God’s chosen people and that status came to lie exclusively with those in the Church.

If there are Christians among us that are wanting to hold to a view that the Covenant given to Abraham was not transformed into the New Covenant of the Gospel then we have to be willing to point out that their Theological position is one of a selective interruption of Scripture that involves ignorance of a large portion of the New Testament because the New Testament is very clear that Christians have become God’s chosen people: the new IsraelThe Circumcision of the Old Covenant has been replaced with the Baptism of the New Covenant, the Passover meal has been replaced by the Eucharist, and the Law of Moses has been fulfilled.

Christian Zionism must be rejected as False Doctrine. This goes beyond what anyone thinks about the right of existence of, and the actions of the modern State of Israel. Given the Apostles writings in the New Testament it is scandalous to accept that both Christians and Jews can simultaneously be God’s chosen people. That should in no way be a reflection that Jews should be the target of ridicule, bigotry or hatred for they (like any non-Christians) are still Children of God and made in his Image. Nor does it mean that it is acceptable to target the State of Israel with violence or hatred. But we as Christians must be prepared to point out that Christian Zionism is False Doctrine, Heretical, and a horrible reason for which to base foreign policy and political decisions.

Reflections on Waterloo and Edmonton

In 2001 the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada reached an accord officially named Called to Full Communion but is better known as the Waterloo Declaration. The accord established a relationship of Full Communion between the two Churches in which the validity of the Sacraments and Ordained Ministers of each Church were recognized, among other things. This was the result of discussions between Anglicans and Lutherans going back decades worldwide. The Waterloo Declaration is one of several Full Communion agreements between Churches of the Anglican Communion and Churches of the Lutheran World Federation, the most noteworthy being the Provoo Communion Statement of 1992 which established inter-Communion between Six Anglican and Seven Lutheran Churches.

It is no secret that I am a proud Anglican. I also have made it no secret that I consider myself a Nordic Canadian with ancestry from Denmark, Norway, Sweden along with Volga German and Lowland Scots. Thus, for me the fact I am in Full Communion with fellow Nordic and German Canadians is really cool, and I have proudly exercised Full Communion by receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist from a Lutheran Pastor (and Bishop) twice.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of dropping in on the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada here in Edmonton, notably to have a beer with the Rev. Erik Parker, host of the blog The Millennial Pastor. While I was enjoying my Keith’s IPA Erik had told me about a motion to be debated the next day that might “Test Waterloo”. That motion (which passed) started hitting the Anglican blogosphere yesterday in part due to the Anglican Journal’s story entitled ELCIC approves lay communion presiders and preachers, and the reaction has been primarily negative and for good reason.

The ELCIC motion (see pages 1-3) allows for authorized lay ministry to be approved by the Bishop of a Synod (equivalent of a Diocese) where in some situations a lay minister would be appointed to Preach and Preside at a service of Holy Communion. It specifically does not allow said lay ministers to conduct baptisms, weddings, funerals or “or other activities which are normally in the purview of ordained ministers.”

Now, if you are not an Anglican you might be thinking “I don’t see the problem”, and if you are Anglican (or Catholic, or Orthodox) you might be thinking “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?!?!”.

The reason for this motion is that some isolated Lutheran Congregations do not have a Pastor, nor an Anglican Priest or some other Ordained Minister that can fulfill the need to preside over the Eucharist for them. Most Anglican Parishes celebrate the Eucharist weekly, or bi-weekly at worst. The frequency for Lutheran parishes is less than the frequency for Anglican Parishes. However, for many Lutherans it is difficult to get an Ordained Minister to Preside over a service of the Eucharist monthly.

Anglican and Lutheran Theology differ on a number of issues, not least of which is the nature of Ordained Minister which even Anglicans will debate among themselves. Lutheran Theology is very much confessional (What do our Confessions say), while Anglican Theology is very much Liturgical (The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief). For example in the Augsburg Confession the early Lutherans stated that “no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.” (Article XIV, Augsburg Confession) while the closest thing in Anglicanism would be from Article XXIII of the Articles of Religion. However, Anglican liturgical resources such as the Books of Common Prayer are quite clear that only Priests (or Bishops) can preside over the Eucharist. The only jurisdiction in the Anglican Communion willing to contemplate otherwise is the Anglican Diocese of Sydney in Australia.

With the recent change to practice within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada does present a question: Can the Anglican Church of Canada continue to be in Full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and does this action violate the Waterloo Declaration. I am going to answer with a definite Yes, and No.

But, Maple, you attend an Anglo-Catholic Parish and are a stuck up guy on rubrics and liturgy.

Yes, I do presently attend an Anglo-Catholic Parish, and I can be a bit of a rubrics snob but I am knowledgeable enough to understand what is going on.

Firstly, if you take the time to read the Waterloo Declaration you will notice that while the validity of the Ordained Ministers of each Church is recognized and the encouragement of members of either Church to communicate in the other Church the document does not indicate the necessity of an Ordained Minister to Preside at the Eucharist.

The Waterloo Declaration defines Full Communion as:

Full communion is understood as a relationship between two distinct churches or communions in which each maintains its own autonomy while recognizing the catholicity and apostolicity of the other, and believing the other to hold the essentials of the Christian faith. In such a relationship, communicant members of each church would be able freely to communicate at the altar of the other, and there would be freedom of ordained ministers to officiate sacramentally in either church. Specifically, in our context, we understand this to include transferability of members; mutual recognition and interchangeability of ministries; freedom to use each other’s liturgies; freedom to participate in each other’s ordinations and installations of clergy, including bishops; and structures for consultation to express, strengthen, and enable our common life, witness, and service, to the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

So, the Waterloo Declaration does not force the Anglican Church of Canada to recognize the validity of a service of the Eucharist which was presided over by an authorized lay minister. If an Anglican would find themselves at a Lutheran Parish and such a lay minister was to preside nothing requires them to receive the sacrament in order to keep up the appearances of Full Communion.

Secondly, while the Waterloo Declaration would put the Anglican Church of Canada in the position of being in “mutual recognition and interchangeability of ministries” with the Evangelical Church of Canada this in no way would require us to allow such lay ministers to preside over the Eucharist in one of our own services. They would effectively be the equivalent of Lay Readers in our Church.

Thirdly, and I am not going to lie, this act by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada might represent a threat to continued Full Communion depending on where this action takes the theology of the Lutherans. I could speculate for a number of paragraphs, however, the best thing to say is that this very well could create a problem in the future.

The Waterloo Declaration, and the path that brought both Churches there, forced both Churches to examine their own beliefs and doctrine, along with having to make some changes within their Churches to make Full Communion work. By far it was the Lutherans that had to accept more compromise then the Anglicans have.

If there are persons among us in the Anglican Church of Canada who believe that this change by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is important enough to end our Full Communion then they have the ability to voice that concern at General Synod next year in Toronto. However, this change for a very small amount of Lutheran Parishes is unlikely to affect any Anglicans or Anglican Parishes. If it did then I would say there is more cause for concern.

So, my fellow Anglicans (especially all my High Church friends): let’s calm down, take a deep breath, and relax. It is best to wait and see what develops. The only way this is going to affect you is if you show up at a Lutheran Parish in a rural community and you see someone wearing an Alb but no stole trying to preside at the Altar. If you happen to see it happening just don’t take Communion and be polite. If something else develops in the next decade or so we can politely withdraw from Full Communion, but until then this isn’t that bad.

Thoughts on CWOB: Communion without Baptism

The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church is currently going on in Salt Lake City. One of Resolutions being considered was C010 “Invite All to Holy Communion”. The Resolution had the purpose of forming a task force to look at allowing all persons to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion. The Resolution originated in the House of Bishops and was defeated 79-77.

While The Episcopal Church, like my own Anglican Church of Canada, does allow Christians of other traditions to receive the Eucharist such persons must be baptized. The reason why many clergy and laity seek to do this is that they very honestly feel that having the barrier of requiring someone to be baptized is unwelcoming. This viewpoint is actually one held in the Church I grew up in, the United Church of Canada, however the Eucharistic Theology in the United Church of Canada is very different from Anglicanism. (No! I will not be bashing the United Church in this, or any other post of mine.)

When I first started attending Anglican services in 2008 I was just coming out of being an Apostate for some 5 years. (There you go: you know one of my dreaded secrets.) Thus, before I took Holy Communion for the first time in an Anglican Parish I checked to confirm I could out of respect for the Parish. (At the time I didn’t know I would be staying. Ta da!!!) Thus, my being baptized and raised a Christian enabled me access to Holy Communion some 5 years after I had left the Church. And while I greatly appreciated the fact that I could, and that I did commune that Second Sunday after Easter in 2008 (yes, I remember the date) I can tell you I would have very likely come back the next Sunday had I not taken Communion.

However when it comes down to it there are some major issues with Communion without Baptism (CWOB).

The first, and very obvious reason, is that it simply not been part of the Christian tradition as the standard practice of the Church. Heck, if we want to get technical the Catechumens, that is people seeking baptism (hence unbaptized) got kicked out of the Church and didn’t get to witness or be present at the consecration of the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. However, one could easily and honestly retort that Tradition on its own isn’t enough and that things change. Okay, I will give them that… but this is a rather important tradition.

Second, we have scripture. Now, there is nothing explicitly saying we aren’t allowed to Commune the Unbaptized. But, it is pretty clearly that at best the New Testament points to it being a bad idea. For example in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 St. Paul tells us:

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves.

If someone has little to no experience of the Christian faith how can we expect them to be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord? How can we put that on someone? I mean, we can barely put that on ourselves.

Scripture does speak to us a great deal more on Baptism then it does the Eucharist. There are seven I usually like to point to when discussing Baptism:

  1. Matthew 28:19-20 which states Christ’s Great Commission to spread the Gospel, but also importantly to Baptize.
  2. Mark 16:16 which states that Baptism is necessary for Salvation
  3. Romans 6:3-11 in which St. Paul links our Baptism to Christ’s Death, Burial and Resurrection.
  4. Titus 3.5-7 which states that we are saved through the “water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”
  5. 1 Peter 3.18-22 which states that Baptism “now saves you”.
  6. Colossians 2.11-15 which effectively establishes Baptism as either a replacement of Circumcision, or as the Circumcision of the New Covenant
  7. 1 Corinthians 12.12-13 which states that being Baptized makes one part of the mystical Body of Christ a.k.a. the Church, and therefore Christians.

It is very apparent that Scripture tells us that Christ told us to Baptize people abd that it was key to our salvation, and that the Apostles said it saved us, and that it made us Christians. It is also very likely the Circumcision of the New Covenant as in the Old Covenant the act of Circumcising a male made him Jewish.

Chapter 12 of the Book of Exodus deals with the institution of Passover, which was (and still is) an important part of the Jewish. The festival involves the slaughtering and consumption of an unblemished young male sheep or goat in celebration of their deliverance from Slavery in Egypt. The Chapter ends with the relatively important Verses 43 to 49 which makes in fantastically clear that the uncircumcised were not to partake of the Passover. What does this have anything to do with the Eucharist? In short, I would argue that the Eucharist is Passover meal of the New Covenant. For, as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8:

Christ our passover is sacrificed for us

So, if we were to postulate and hold that the Eucharist is the Passover of the New Covenant, then those uncircumcised according to the New Covenant (the unbaptized) are to be excluded.

I will admit that my analysis can seem cold and harsh but the truth is that the Christian doctrines surrounding the receiving of the Eucharist to the Baptized in good standing has an incredibly strong foundation in Scripture and Tradition.

The Didache (which is not part of our Canon as Anglicans but is still an excellent reference) states in Chapter 9 that only those baptized can Commune. It is from the 1st or 2nd Century AD.

The Apostolic Constitutions (Book VIII, Chapter XXXV) also states that the unbaptized are not to receive. It also states that if such a person has to instruct him and baptize him quickly. The Constitutions are argued to be from the late 4th Century AD.

Heck, it was not until the mid-20th Century that in Anglicanism that a unconfirmed person would receive the Eucharist.

I do not, in the least, want to seem disparaging to my brothers and sisters in Christ who honestly think that the Church is being unwelcoming to the unbaptized. However, we have good case not to admit them. No one is expecting that Priests be carding people at the Altar rail, or to be giving a long winded speech after the Consecration to tell the unbaptized to come up. However, if they are aware of someone attending that is not yet baptized they should not be communing them. And if at the altar rail says they never have been baptized the Priest should refrain from communing them. Beyond that our Clergy should assume likely any newcomers or visitors are baptized when they come to the Altar Rail.

In Christ, MA~

Note: Please note that an Earlier version of this post said that the Resolution was D051 and did not mention the proposed Task Force.