Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sanctuary Sights and Senses: Gospel Procession

Well, I think my last "Sanctuary Sights and Senses" post was back on January 28, 2011!  For those who do not recall, or those who were not reading this blog during 2010, "Sanctuary Sights and Senses" originated as a series of bulletin inserts for my local church.  I would write the inserts, and I would then post them on the blog.  And, after almost a year, I have a new insert; this one on the Gospel Procession.

I have to say I am excited about this, because this will be the first time we have actually processed the Scriptures for the Gospel reading, but, as you will see, what better time to begin this act of worship than on Christmas Day?!

The other exciting thing is that, after talking with colleagues (especially the Rev'd. Dr. Brook Thelander at Epworth Chapel on the Green ), I found out that one can purchase liturgical binders, in which one can place copies of each Sunday's lectionary readings, and which is designed for liturgical processions.  These binders are considerably less expensive than purchasing the entire Lectionary book for liturgical readings or the Gospel Books.  Then, while talking with my Administrative Assistant, she informed me that she and her husband could simply make an appropriate, decorative covering for one of my binders!  -  I'm quite excited!

Anyway, the actual "Sanctuary Sights and Senses" follows:

Gospel Procession  -  In many churches, when it is time to read the Gospel lesson, the Scriptures are processed out into the center of the congregation.  As this takes place, the congregation stands for the reading of the Gospel.

Often it is said, prior to the reading, “The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to [Scripture reference].”  And the congregation responds, “Glory to you, Lord Christ.” 

During this announcement, Christians may choose to make the sign of the cross on their foreheads, lips and over their hearts.  This signing symbolizes the prayer that the Word will be in our minds, upon our lips, and in our hearts.

Following the reading of the Gospel, the declaration is made, “The Gospel of the Lord,” to which the congregation responds, “Praise to you, Lord Christ!”

The Old Testament reading points us ahead to Christ.  The Epistle reading points us back to Christ.  But, in the Gospel reading, we hear the words of Christ, Himself.  (Though, in a very true sense, we hear the Word of the Lord in every part of Scripture.)

Because, we hear Christ’s words in the Gospel, the procession of the Gospel into the midst of the congregation symbolizes for us the Incarnation; the coming of God in Christ to us, in our very midst; the Word made flesh.  -  This symbolism is heightened for us during Christmas, of all times, when we especially celebrate the Incarnation of Christ our Lord!

Friday, December 16, 2011

CBN Reports on the Church Planting Efforts of the ACNA

CBN recently produced a video report on the new Anglican Church in North America.  Readers of this blog are likely to be at least somewhat familiar with the ACNA
The interest in the report, however, should go beyond those connected with the ACNA to most of the readers of this blog.  That is to say, most of the readers of this blog would likely be interested in liturgical and sacramental expressions of worship.  (Why else would you be reading a blog called Wesleyan/Anglican that often deals specifically with those topics?!)  -  In particular, this report highlights the church planting movement within the ACNA and how it is especially appealing to college students and Hispanic populations.  -  These are encouraging words for all of us Wesleyan/Anglican types!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiness Leaders Form New Global Wesleyan Alliance!

The Wesleyan Church has reported that on December 2-3, 2011, leaders of the Church of the Nazarene, The Wesleyan Church, Free Methodist Church USA, Church of God (Anderson), Churches of Christ in Christian Union, The Evangelical Church, Evangelical Methodist Church, Congregational Methodist Church, Church of Christ Holiness (USA), and the Pilgrim Holiness Church have met together to form a new partnership group called the Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA).

The Alliance is supposed to be a means for providing greater cooperation without bringing about denominational mergers.  They list some of their initial objectives as including:
  • Creating greater community through intentional relationship building;
  • Collaborating to pool resources, share best practices and ministers, and generate new ideas and tools;
  • Convening events to promote the personal experience of holiness and collective ministries for discipleship, church health and multiplication, leadership development, prayer and networking;
  • Communicating with one another more intentionally and addressing contemporary issues and public concerns with a more united voice.
According to the report, the GWA’s first joint effort will be a call to prayer for spiritual awakening and revival. An exciting major effort is the establishment of procedures for the mutual recognition of minister’s credentials among the Alliance’s covenant partners.  The report indicates that an online, free library of classic holiness literature is already available at  The Alliance will also sponsor regional “Holiness Summits” ( in order to introduce others to the personal experience of entire sanctification.

Dr. Jerry Pence, General Superintendent in The Wesleyan Church, was elected as the GWA's first president.  He commented, “This alliance will enable holiness denominations to achieve a historic level of cooperation and unity for evangelism, discipleship, church multiplication, compassion and justice. Our passion is to pursue the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment—making Christ known through words and deeds and millions of lives filled with perfect love.”

Each of the denominations will, of course, have to officially approve GWA partnership.  According to the report, they are expecting several other denominations to participate in the GWA’s first official assembly when it is held in Circleville, Ohio, November 30-December 1, 2012.

This is exciting news!

Readers of this blog will recall that I, through my district committee, sent a resolution to the last Nazarene General Assembly that would have Nazarenes approach The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church to explore merger possibilities.  That resolution was amended to leave out merger, but seek greater cooperation.  -  Since that time, I have come to the conclusion that denominational merger likely is not the way to go.  I am very pleased with the news of this new Global Wesleyan Alliance!

Some question do remain.  Will this organization be the successor of the now dormant Christian Holiness Partnership?  It has been pointed out that the CHP was national in scope.  It is clear from the name of the new group that the intent is that it be global in scope.  Still, it should be noted that the denominations at this organizational meeting (even the global ones) are based in the U.S.  Even the Free Methodist Church is specified as the U.S.A. branch of the FMC.

Will Wesleyan-Holiness denominations based outside of the U.S.A. align with the GWA?  Will the GWA membership simply mirror the CHP membership?  Will the Alliance reach out to some of the more conservative World Methodist Council denominations?  Will this new Alliance have a negative affect on Nazarene, Wesleyan and Free Methodist membership in the World Methodist Council?  (I hope not!)  Will this "Wesleyan" Alliance be broadened so as to include Pentecostal holiness denominations, like the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium has done?  (Personally, I think that such a move may dilute the Wesleyan-holiness message.) 

For all of these answers, only time will tell.

For now, if anyone at the Nazarene Global Ministries Center happens to be reading this blog (yeah, right!), I would love to be a Nazarene representative to the GWA!  (In the past, I have been appointed by the General Secretary as a denominational delegate to the Christian Holiness Partnership and the World Methodist Conference.)

The full story about the GWA can be read on The Wesleyan Church's site, here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Anglicans Have Set A Timeline For New Liturgies

I just receive in the mail a magazine type report from the Anglican Church in North America.  I'm not sure what to call it!  It seems to bear the title The Apostle, but it does seem to be a report, rather than a denominational magazine or newsletter.  Further, below the title and the name of the church comes what I suppose is a subtitle, "Ministry In Review."  So, it is, as I said, "a magazine type report" and a review of the ministry of the ACNA.

Within the report, one finds much interesting information, but this blog post is only going to mention two items.

First, as the title of this post indicates, the ACNA has set a timeline for their new liturgies.  -  Many of us have been waiting a long time for the development of their new Book of Common Prayer.  It looks like we will have to continue to wait for some time.  What we do know is that the Ordinal has been produced and is being used throughout the province.  -  I blogged about that back in August, though it was actually made public in June!  -  A copy of the Ordinal can be found, here.

The exciting news is that the task force is working hard on TWO forms of the Holy Eucharist liturgies, and they hope to present them to the College of Bishops at the June 2012 meeting.  Once the bishops approve the liturgies, they will be made available through the ACNA website.  -  So, Eucharistic liturgies may be available as soon as the end of June 2012.  Since this will constitute the primary worship service, this is the liturgy (or liturgies!) for which people are really waiting.

No indication was given as to why two Eucharistic liturgies are being developed, or what the differences may be.  Will it be a matter of contemporary versus Elizabethan English?  Or, will one see some influence of the '79 BCP in one of the liturgies?  -  To the latter suggestion, the report indicates that the "Theological Lens" of the task force has been concerned to root the liturgies of the church "in the tradition of our Anglican heritage while also being accessible to both long-time Anglicans and those new to the tradition."  The report goes on to say that the liturgies "will not be innovative but clearly founded in the historic Anglican Prayer Book tradition."  This last statement makes it sound like those who are used to the '79 BCP will have some adjustments to make.

However, the report also indicates that +Duncan hopes that the liturgies will "commend themselves.  In other words, there will be no coercion."  -  That seems to indicate that the province will not be saying, "This is the book we will be using."  Rather, it seems, that bishops will be allowed to continue approving whatever Prayer Book they choose (e.g., the '28, '79, or Reformed Episcopal version, etc.).  It would be a shame, though, if this new province, as it is trying to continue to coalesce, could not produce a Prayer Book that is seen as common for all ACNA parishes.

The report also indicates that they are working on the liturgy for Baptism and Confirmation, as well.

A second item from the magazine that caught my eye is the Ecumenical Relations report.  It seems that the ACNA, to one degree or another, has had some form of dialogue or conversation with (or are anticipating discussions with) the Eastern Orthodox (via the Orthodox Church in America), The Roman Catholic Church, the new North American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (the only non-Lutheran group with which the Missouri Synod folks have ever dialogued!), the Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Messianic Jewish movement, the Assemblies of God, and the Presbyterian Church in America.

I think that it would be great if the Church of the Nazarene would enter into some kind of dialogue with the ACNA.  Nazarenes do not have a great history of these types of dialogue with those beyond our own tradition.  We talk with and partner with Wesleyan-Holiness churches quite a lot.  We are members of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Christian Holiness Partnership (which is now, really defunct, and, in some ways, superseded by the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium, of which we are a part), and the World Methodist Council.

Nevertheless, Nazarenes do have Anglican roots through John Wesley.  Our Articles of Faith have a clear line of decent from the Anglican Articles, as does our ritual for the Lord's Supper.  Further, the Anglicans could see in Nazarenes something of a connection regarding the way that they relate to The Episcopal Church, and the way that Nazarenes relate to The United Methodist Church.  That is to say, certain Anglican priests have been known to indicate that Nazarenes left the Methodists for becoming too liberal, just like they left TEC.  -  Now, I'm not arguing that such a statement is quite accurate, but I would say that there may be some parallels in that Nazarenes are the largest of the Wesleyan-Holiness denominations, and therefore present an alternative expression of Methodism when compared with the UMC.

Such a dialogue could help Nazarenes clarify their muddied understanding of deacons and elders orders, as well as help us begin to more clearly own a Wesleyan understanding of the sacraments and worship.  On the other hand, Anglicans could gain from us in the areas of evangelism and Wesley's understanding of Christian Perfection.  The latter could especially be pointed out in connection to the Collect of Purity.

The AMiA Says Goodbye to Rwanda

Virtueonline is reporting that the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) has finally broken with the Anglican Province of Rwanda.  I say, "finally," because rumors have been circulating for a while, now.

It seems that Bishop Murphy and others in the AMiA were working toward changing their status so as to become a Missionary Society instead of a Personal Prelature, while still remaining connected to the Rwandan church.  As I understand it, they will continue this pursuit, just outside of the realm of Rwanda.

One, as an outsider, does have to observe that the AMiA first moved away from being a full partner within the Anglican Church in North America, and now has pulled out of their Rwandan oversight.  There have also been comments that their canons reflect more of a Roman Catholic view than an Anglican one.  That is not to say that they have any interest in the Roman Catholic call for Anglicans to "come back home to Rome," but it is to say that some seem to be questioning their identity as Anglicans.  -  Nevertheless, they still have the support of "their founding Archbishops Emmanuel Kolini, (Rwanda) Moses Tay (Singapore) and Yong Ping Chung (Singapore)" who have agreed "to provide oversight until they find their new provincial home and move forward with the process of developing a missionary society."

It will be interesting to see how the AMiA will continue to develop, especially in relationship to the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church in North America.  It will also be interesting to see if there will be any exodus of clergy from the AMiA.

The full story from Virtueonline can be found, here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Great Book!

I just finished reading a book that every pastor in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition ought to read.  It is John Wigger's, American Saint: Francis Asbury & the Methodists.  It is (as the title implies!) a biography of Francis Asbury, the "Father of American Methodism."

I think it is fair to say that American Methodism (as seen in the United Methodist Church, specifically, but also in it's various other branches, from African-American expressions to Holiness expressions) would not be what it is today, if it were not for Bishop Asbury.  In fact, one could argue that Methodism would never have spread and grown to the size that it is, if it were not for Asbury.

The book provides, not only insight into Asbury's life, but also insight into the life of other early American Methodists, as well as the inner workings of Methodism, itself.

I really think that this book, in a number of ways, is foundational for understanding our Wesleyan/Methodist denominations, today.

Let me quickly mention a few areas of insight:

The relationships between Asbury and Coke (and Wesley), and between the two bishops and the presiding elders and other preachers was illuminated in this book.

As one might suspect from my blog, I found the information about Bishop Coke's attempt to bring together the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Episcopalians to be fascinating.

The nature of the Methodist superintendency/episcopacy was interesting.  -  In comparing Asbury's episcopacy to that found in the current United Methodist Church, The Wesleyan Church, and the Church of the Nazarene, I think that it can be argued that none of these denominations have maintained the kind of episcopacy that Asbury favored, though each have certain areas of connection.  For example, I think that both the Wesleyan and Nazarene general superintendents function much more like Asbury had in mind when it comes to itineracy (Nazarenes even more so than the Wesleyans, given the nature of their global structures).

United Methodists speak of an itinerant episcopacy, but the bishops really reside within their (usually) one conference for a term of multiple years.  On the other hand, the Nazarene general superintendents, while rotating between the six of them (!) their assignments, nevertheless do not reside, but rather travel the entire globe to cover all of their districts.

On the other hand, Nazarenes and Wesleyans break from Asbury by having the district superintendents (presiding elders) elected by each district/conference.  At this point, the United Methodist's maintain Asbury's vision by having pastors and district superintendents appointed by the bishop.

So, while Wesleyans and Nazarenes have democratized the Methodist polity (which Asbury opposed), United Methodists have made their bishops much more residential (which Asbury would have opposed).

Interestingly, during Asbury's time, a proposal for residential bishops did come up which would have made Asbury a kind of "Arch Superintendent," or "Arch Bishop" (his language).  This he opposed.  And yet, given the development of the district superintendency within the Nazarene and Wesleyan denominations, this really is the way that the boards of general superintendents function, with district superintendents being "residential" (i.e., district!) bishops.  -  This will be even more so for The Wesleyan Church, if the 2012 General Conference reduces their number of general superintendents to one (c.f., previous article).

There were a couple of things that I found disappointing in the book.  I would like to have had more information on the worship structure of the Sunday worship services.  There was no reference (as I recall) to Asbury ever using any part of Wesley's Sunday Service.  (I know that the Methodist Episcopal Church early abandoned the use of the Prayer Book, but Wigger doesn't give us much of anything along those lines.)  Likewise, I would like to have seen how the Lord's Supper was administered.

Also, I found Wigger to be a bit biased when it came to his discussion of Asbury's position concerning the doctrine of Christian Perfection and Entire Sanctification.  He left one with the impression that, while Asbury was keen on teaching and preaching on Christian Perfection, and even on pressing for others to experience it in this life, nevertheless (Wigger implied) Asbury really believed that we all should strive to "go on to perfection."  That is, consistent with much of United Methodism, Wigger pictured Asbury as not really believing that we can reach such perfection or really be entirely sanctified.

Nevertheless, the concern that Asbury did show, along with the reports from around the connection of those who were sanctified, work to point out Wigger's bias on this point.  (One also wonders if this isn't a part of what Wigger means when, in his notes, he refers to Darius Salter's biography of Asbury as assuming "a decidedly Wesleyan perspective.")

Still, with those two complaints aside (especially the last one, where the material counteract Wigger's bias), this was a truly fantastic read!

One final comment concerning Christian Perfection:  The reports given by Asbury, presiding elders and other preachers show that the "sloppy" use of the broad term sanctification when meaning entire sanctification was a part of American Methodism even before the advent of the "Holiness Movement," as such.  Thus, it is difficult to blame later holiness leaders for using the imprecise language that had been part of their heritage for years.

Wigger's book is a 2009 publication of Oxford University Press.  It is 543 pages long, inclusive of end notes and Index.  It is available as an e-book, but it is not much more expensive to have a hardback on your shelf!

Are the Wesleyans Moving to One General Superintendent?

The Wesleyan Church (the closest "sister denomination" to the Church of the Nazarene) may be changing their administrative structure come their 2012 General Conference.  At least, that is the proposal of their General Board.

The proposal would include reducing their number of General Superintendents from three to only one.

Such a change would raise some interesting and some practical questions.  For example, in their current structure (as I understand it), the General Superintendent is still the one who ordains their clergy.  (The fact that they have drifted far away from their Wesleyan/Methodist . . . and biblical? heritage by calling those so ordained, "ministers" rather than elders/presbyters is an issue for another time.)  -  My guess would be that such a change would place the authority to ordain back in the district/conference and in the hands of the District Superintendent.

From my perspective, that would be an interesting move, because, elsewhere, I have proposed that District Superintendents ought to be called upon to ordain in the Church of the Nazarene, when General Superintendents are unavailable.  (Currently, the presiding General Superintendent can delegate that responsibility in such rare cases, but to whom they are to delegate the act of ordaining is not specified.)

In some ways, this would demonstrate the correspondence of the District Superintendent to Bishop and General Superintendent to Archbishop, which really is the way that those positions seem to play out in at least The Wesleyan Church and the Church of the Nazarene.

Of course, one difference between the two denominations is that the Nazarene General Superintendents really are General Superintendents rather than simply "regional."  That is, due to the more "federated" structure of the worldwide Wesleyan Church, their General Superintendents are actually elected by regions, for regions.  On the other hand, the Church of the Nazarene is a global denomination wherein all of the General Superintendents are elected by the (global) General Assembly, and they all itinerate throughout the global denomination.  -  This move, should it happen, would make the United States much more like other world regions/nations within the worldwide Wesleyan Church.

One also wonders what impact this move would have on the regular joint meetings that take place between the Nazarene and Wesleyan Boards of General Superintendents.  I would assume that such meetings would continue, but without a Wesleyan Board of General Superintendents, would the meeting be expanded to include others from the denomination?

It will be interesting to see what the 2012 General Conference does.  It will also be interesting to see if this move will influence the Church of the Nazarene (or other Wesleyan-Holiness denominations.)  It has been noted that some within the Church of the Nazarene have favored reducing our number of General Superintendents.  (On the other hand, some have been in favor of expanding it; perhaps by doing away with our Regional Directors and replacing them with General Superintendents.)

Time will tell.  At this point, it is a proposal by the General Board.

The full story can be read, here.