Friday, April 27, 2012


The Rev. George Herbert is a great Anglican Saint. I say is rather than was because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of the living, not of the dead. The saints of God are alive with the Lord and see Him face to face. 

George Herbert was born in 1593 and died in 1633. Although he only lived to the age of forty, he was a holy priest and a faithful shepherd of his small country parish. His example impacted the clergy of his day, and he has served as an example for Anglican clergy for centuries. Writing of Herbert, his famous biographer Izaak Walton said, "Thus he lived and thus he died like a Saint, unspotted of the World, full of Alms' deeds, full of Humility, and all the examples of a virtuous life." Another saintly contemporary of Herbert, Nicholas Ferrar, said that Herbert's "faithful discharge [of his ministry] was such, as may make him a just companion to the primitive Saints, and a pattern or more for the age he lived in." The life of St. George Herbert is commemorated on February 27th (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, c. 1963, p. 85).

The New Reformation in Anglicanism will not be advanced and completed by sound theological reasoning and teaching alone. Like all movements of spiritual renewal it will be advanced through a renewed commitment to personal holiness. What the Church needs most right now are holy priests. If there is one book that I could recommend to the Anglican clergy, seminarians and men discerning a priestly vocation today it would be George Herbert's, A Priest To The Temple, Or, The Country Parson His Character And Rule Of Holy Life. Prayerfully read this book. It will change your life and ministry. But don't just read it once and put it back on the shelf. Keep it on your desk or night stand and read it often. Just as Benedictine monks often read The Rule of St. Benedict, so should Anglican parish priests read Herbert's ...Rule of Holy Life. Read it, meditate upon it, reflect on it and learn from it, and then put what you learn into practice in your parish ministry. 

Paulist Press, in its series, The Classics of Western Spirituality, has published a wonderful edition of Herbert's book, bound together with The Temple. Sacred Poems And Private Ejaculations, by Herbert. This second book is filled with spiritually uplifting poetry that would be a blessing to everyone, clergy and laity alike. One of my favorite poems is titled simply, The British Church.


I joy, dear Mother, when I view
Thy perfect lineaments, and hue
Both sweat and bright.

Beauty in thee takes up her place,
And dates her letters from thy face (1)
When she doth write.

A fine aspect in fit array,
Neither too mean, nor yet too gay,
Shows who is best.

Outlandish looks may not compare: 
For all they either painted are,
Or else undrest.

She on the hills (2), which wantonly
Allureth all in hope to be
By her preferr'd,

Hath kiss'd so long her painted shrines,
That ev'n her face by kissing shines,
For her reward.

She in the valley (3) is so shy
Of dressing, that her hair doth lie
About her ears:

While she avoids her neighbor's pride,
She wholly goes on th' other side,
And nothing wears.

But dearest Mother (4), what those miss
The mean (5) thy praise and glory is,
And long may be.

Blessed be God, whose love it was
To double-moat (6) thee with his grace,
And none but thee.

(1) The Anglican Church in George Herbert's time 
dated the first day of the year as March 25th, the 
Feast of the Annunciation, commonly called
Lady Day.
(2) "She on the hills." The Roman Catholic Church.
(3) "She in the Valley." Genevan Protestantism.
(4) "But dearest Mother." The Anglican Church.
(5) ""The mean." The Anglican via media.
(6) "double-moat." The Anglican Church is protected
against both Roman ostentation and Genevan bareness.

Friday, April 20, 2012


The New Reformation in the Anglican Communion continues to advance. Next week some 200 Archbishops, Bishops, leading clergy and lay leaders representing twenty-nine of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion will meet in London. The meeting has been called by the Primate's Council of the Anglican Communion. The meeting will be chaired by Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sidney, Australia, the Secretary General of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the body organized by the GAFCON Conference in Jerusalem in 2008, and charged with advancing the New Reformation and realignment in the Anglican Communion. The Telegraph of London reports, "They want to restore 'orthodox' values to the worldwide Anglican Communion and outlaw liberal church leaders who have rejected traditional teaching."

The vast majority of the Anglican Communion is essentially orthodox as can be seen by the fact that twenty-nine of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion will be represented, and the orthodox provinces are committed to Reformation and Renewal throughout the Communion. In North America, where communion had to be broken with the Episcopal Church and her Canadian counterpart because of apostasy and the faithful remnant reorganized as a new orthodox province, renewal and new growth has been swift. Although only established in the summer of 2009, the Anglican Church in North America and its ministry partners now consist of more than 1,000 congregations and is already larger than twelve of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion. In the last two years more than two hundred new congregations have been planted, with many more in the planning stages.

While next week's meeting in London will be a closed meeting, there will be a press conference held afterward. I will keep you informed. The following is an article from The Telegraph in London. I know that you will find it encouraging. The devil has done his worst to us over the past generation. We have lived through a long Good Friday, but Easter Sunday always follows Good Friday. Christ knows His way out of a grave, and the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church! 

"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a lamb as it had been slain... And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:6, 11-12).

UK: Traditionalist Anglican leaders to meet over homosexual bishops 'crisis' 

A high-powered group of traditionalist Anglican church leaders are to gather in London to address a growing "crisis" over openly homosexual bishops. Dr Rowan Williams will this year step down amid criticism he has failed to heal divisions over sexuality.

By Edward Malnick 
April 15, 2012

They want to restore "orthodox" values to the worldwide Anglican Communion and outlaw liberal church leaders who have rejected traditional teaching.

They will meet for the first time since more than 200 bishops boycotted an official summit for Anglican leaders in 2008 in protest at the presence of bishops from the US Episcopal Church, which consecrated the first openly homosexual Anglican bishop.

The decision by the leaders to hold talks in Britain is likely to increase tensions between the traditionalists and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who will this year step down amid criticism he has failed to heal divisions over sexuality.

Its timing means that it will provide traditionalists with an opportunity to call for Dr Williams's successor to be sympathetic to traditionalists.

The gathering of 200 clergy and laity will be led by Dr Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, who is General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), the body set up by traditionalists at their 2008 "alternative" Lambeth Conference in Jerusalem.

Many will be bishops from the Global South - a group which includes churches in Africa, Asia, South America and the West Indies - who say they have been ignored in the face of controversial steps by liberal churches.

Dr Jensen said: "The major concern is the contest that continues to go on over major doctrinal issues. It's a contest which has not gone away. The contest has, if anything, heated up.

"The impetus towards the secularisation of Christianity, particularly with modern communications, is growing everywhere.

"It is perfectly clear, for example, that the Global South is being challenged to rethink its faith and hence the existence of the FCA movement is really to defend and proclaim the gospel, and to restate biblical faith in modern terms."

The five-day conference starting on April 23 will include addresses by Church of England clergy including the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester.

They will be among leaders from 29 countries calling for churches to adopt the Jerusalem Declaration - a 14-point manifesto intended to reaffirm orthodox values and condemn moves by liberals away from traditional church teaching.

Dr Jensen said: "I think that the Global South is looking for an Archbishop of Canterbury who will unambiguously and from the heart endorse the teaching of scripture on human sexuality and therefore be able to gather the Communion in a way that Archbishop Rowan was not always able to do."

But he added that "the route to heaven does not go through Canterbury", suggesting more weight should be given in the future to prominent primates, in the Global South.

Shortly after Dr Williams announced his resignation the Anglican Covenant - his own attempt to heal divisions in the Communion - was defeated in the Church of England.

The unity document was intended to stop national churches breaking away from traditional practices without seeking agreement from other provinces. It would effectively have halted the appointments of openly homosexual bishops.

It followed the consecration in 2003 of the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual, non-celibate Anglican bishop, by the US Church.

Unlike the Covenant, the Jerusalem Declaration - borne out of the breakaway talks - deals explicitly with sexuality, stating that the "proper" place for sexual intimacy is between "one man" and "one woman" in marriage.

It also pledges to reject the authority of churches and leaders who have "denied the orthodox faith".

Bishop Nazir-Ali said the manifesto was now "the only game in town" to prevent the fragmentation of the Communion.

"The Covenant has gone, the primates have been unable to gather, Lambeth had a significant number of bishops missing, a large number of leaders from the Global South have resigned from the main Anglican committees - so that causes us all a great deal of concern," he said.

He added: "The Jerusalem Declaration is not perfect by any means and no doubt can be improved, but at the moment it seems to be the only thing that a large number of people could subscribe to in good conscience." 


Friday, April 13, 2012


I hope that you had a blessed Easter and are having a happy and blessed Easter week. I have some very good news for you. Easter is one of a handful of important Christian feasts that have an octave. That means that Easter is so important that we celebrate it for eight days, and then the Easter season continues on until Pentecost.

What does this mean to you? First, it means that if you missed being at church on Easter Sunday, we will still be celebrating Easter this Sunday. So please come and join in the celebration. There will be Easter Lilies, Easter hymns and Easter joy! Alleluia. The Lord is Risen indeed. O come let us adore him. Alleluia. Second, if you were at church last Sunday, the celebration continues. This Sunday the Holy Communion will begin as it ended last week. We will hear the proclamation that Christ is Risen and rejoice because, as the Apostle Peter says, "we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pet. 1:16).

So if you were not at church on Easter Sunday, you have a second opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of Christ this Sunday; and if you were at church last Sunday, the celebration of the feast of feasts continues! "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, Not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (I Cor. 5:7). "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:9). 

Christian Education classes (Sunday School) begin at 9:00 AM on Sunday, with Morning Prayer at 9:30 AM. We celebrate the Holy Communion at 10:00 AM, with Nursery care for children under the age of four available during this Service. Fellowship and refreshments in the parish hall follow worship. We are a faithful, friendly and growing congregation, and we have a place for you!

Monday, April 9, 2012


We have had a spiritually profitable Lent, blessed Holy Week and joyous Easter celebration at Holy Cross Anglican Church.  We had forty-one at church on Palm Sunday, an attendance of thirty-nine on Good Friday, and forty-nine on Easter Sunday. At Holy Cross parish we continue to grow spiritually and in numbers.

When we began meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in the summer of 2007, we had eight in attendance on our first Sunday, including my wife, daughter and myself; but we immediately began to grow. Like all churches, we have had some move away or not persevere, and we have been visited by death, but we have grown steadily. I remember when our regular attendance broke into double digits, and then went from the upper teens to the lower twenties, and finally surpassed twenty-five — making us statistically a medium size congregation.

There are approximately 325,000 non-Roman Catholic churches in the United States, and the median average Sunday attendance is seventy-five. Churches with an average Sunday attendance of twenty-five or less are considered small churches, twenty-six to seventy-five are considered medium churches, and churches with an average Sunday attendance of seventy-six or more are considered large churches. The largest non-Roman Catholic denomination in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention, with over fifteen million members. Yet, more than 3,500 of their congregations have an average Sunday attendance of twenty-five or less. The United Methodist Church has more than 35,000 congregations, but their median Sunday attendance is only fifty-seven. There are more than 7,500 United Methodist congregations, 21% of their total, that have an average Sunday attendance of twenty-five or less.

Holy Cross Anglican Church has grown to be a medium size congregation. We are united, financially stable, and with our focus on advancing the Great Commission and building up the Body of Christ, we are poised for further growth. In the fall of 2009, we moved from the Holiday Inn Express to our own leased building in the Ralston suburb of Omaha. A year later we added about 50% more space to our facility. On both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday we had to put out folding chairs to accommodate our growing attendance. Outgrowing our building is a good problem to have; and we have organized a Building Committee to find a solution. We may add to our present space, or build or buy our own church building.

Jesus prayed that His disciples would all be one, but Christians are badly divided today. In addition to taking the Gospel to those who do not know Christ, and teaching the fullness of the Faith to those who do, Anglicanism sees its vocation to be a bridge Church to reunite Christians. 

Popular Anglican theologian J. I. Packer put it this way, "Ideal Christianity, the Apostolic religion of the New Testament without addition, subtraction or distortion... Anglicanism is ecumenical. Always has been...Anglicanism pays attention to all Christian traditions, thus seeking both the fullness of the Catholic faith for itself and the fullest communion with the rest of the Christian world as well... I do think that the Anglican heritage is the richest heritage in Christendom... The ecumenical dimension, seeking the riches of wisdom that God has given everywhere in Christendom is one of the qualities of Anglicanism that I most admire" (Packer, Anglicanism for Tomorrow).

Most of the members of Holy Cross parish were not born into Anglican families, but they are committed Anglicans today. Members of our church-family have come from many different Christians traditions, and none. As Anglicans, we never re-baptize Christians coming from other Christian traditions, but receive them by transfer. Because Anglicanism is both thoroughly Evangelical, and fully and authentically Catholic, we serve as a healing balm to a divided Christendom. Holy Cross Anglican Church is a faithful, friendly, growing and welcoming church, and we have a place for you!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The 1662 Prayer Book: the touchstone of faith

The following is an article found on Anglican journalist David Virtue's website, Virtue Online, about the importance of the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer for Anglicans. Although we use the American 1928 Book of Common Prayer in our worship at Holy Cross Anglican Church, it is merely an adaptation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for use in the United States. 

The edition of the Book of Common Prayer found in our pews at Holy Cross parish contains both the 1662 and 1928 Eucharistic liturgies, as well as elements from the 1662 Prayer Book that were not included in the American edition, such as the Athanasian Creed and the Commination for use on Ash Wednesday. There are also prayers for the Queen, the Royal Family and for government officials in Canada because this edition was designed for use in both American and Canadian parishes. 

While various national Churches of the Anglican Communion have often adopted revised versions of the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer for use in their particular countries and cultural settings, the 1662 Prayer Book remains the touchstone of Anglican faith and practice. Why? Because our worship both reflects and teaches what we believe, and every national edition of the historic Book of Common Prayer is but a modest adaptation of the 1662 Prayer book. I hope you will read this article. You will learn a lot and will be blessed!

The 1662 Prayer Book: the touchstone of faith

by Christopher Bantick
March 2012

This year marks the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, a testament both to its beauty and scriptural basis, writes Christopher Bantick.

Besides this being a notable commemorative year in itself, the Book of Common Prayer or more familiarly known, the Prayer Book, has remained as the mainstay of Anglican church services. While the 1662 edition of the Prayer Book, in its pure form, may be reserved for particular services, later manifestations of Anglican Church orders of service, look back to the Book of Common Prayer. It is a foundation stone of worship.

The maintenance of the Prayer Book for 350 years is a remarkable achievement. On one level one could say that this is because there has been nothing that comes close to its magisterial language and the inclusion of Scripture as a feature of corporate worship. Yet, on another level, the Prayer Book is a reflection of "orthodoxy, dignity and beauty in the Church's worship," as the Prayer Book Society puts it.

The historical antecedents of the 1662 edition are grounded in the vision of Thomas Cranmer who compiled the first Prayer Book in 1549 before it was revised in 1662. Even so, while the Prayer Book is enshrined in Anglican services, to a lesser or greater extent, after the Bible, it happens to be the most often cited book in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. The Prayer Book is therefore not just apposite for church worship either. Many quotations have entered into literature and have been influential on everyday speech.

So much of an influence is the Prayer Book that a book such as Frank Colquhoun's Prayers that Live has an extensive section based on the Prayer Book and its inclusion of Collects. Add to this the fact that the Book of Common Prayer appears in over 50 countries and is in over 150 languages.

"Traditional Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian prayer books have borrowed from the Book of Common Prayer, and the marriage and burial rites have found their way into those of other denominations and into the English language. Like the Authorised King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare, many words and phrases from the Book of Common Prayer have entered popular culture," as the Prayer Book Society notes.

Significantly, the version of the Prayer Book published in 1549 was the first prayer book to contain the forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English and importantly, it included morning and evening prayer, the Litany and the Holy Communion.

Beyond this, there is another particular feature. According to Derek Wilson's book, The People & the Book:

"The Prayer Book was itself saturated in Scripture. The preface to the new book clearly stated that nothing was to be read in the services 'but the very pure word of God, the holy Scriptures, or that which is evidently grounded upon the same.'

"In the same preface Cranmer pointed out why the Book of Common Prayer was necessary. In the early church Cranmer urged:

"...the congregation should (by often reading and meditating on God's Word) be stirred up to Godliness themselves, and be more able to exhort others by wholesome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the truth. And further, that the people (by daily hearing of Holy Scripture read in church) should continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be more inflamed with the love of true religion." Perhaps more simply, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Edited by F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, makes this comment on the longevity of the Prayer Book.

"The book was compiled originally through the desire of Cranmer and others to reform, simplify, and condense the Latin services of the medieval Church and to produce in English a single, convenient and comprehensive volume as an authoritative guide for priest and people.

"In 1548 Cranmer discussed the draft of a new Prayer Book with a conference of scholars, and in 1549, Parliament had the 'First Prayer Book of Edward VI printed and by the first Act of Uniformity, enforced it as the national use." But it was not for some entirely welcome, as Derek Wilson makes clear:

"Only in the south-west did confusion and frustration manifest itself in the so-called Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549. The name is misleading, for there were deeper motives for the revolt arising out of economic distress and social change. But to the simple peasants of Devon and Cornwall, all the evils of the age seemed to be summed up and symbolised in the new services."

Their cause ended with disaster, as Wilson says:

"The movement, though it caused several anxious weeks, was ill-conceived, ill-led and doomed to failure. It crumpled in August before the ponderous brutality of a large force led by Lord Russell. Thousands of rebels were massacred, martyrs to a cause they scarcely understood."

While there have been further proposals for reform most notably in 1689, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer has, "remained almost unchanged," as The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church notes. Why?

The answer to this is relatively easy to give. The Book of Common Prayer is peerless in its embodiment of the Scriptures as an integral and mandatory part of Anglican Church services. I have before me a very well used and well-worn leather bound family Book of Common Prayer. The pages fall open at the orders of Morning and Evening Prayer and Communion. Here is the touchstone of faith, the structure of individual and collective worship and the daily observance of the Scriptures.

One is immediately at home with the 1662 Prayer Book as the Collect resonates with the irreplaceable words: "Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known..."

A favourite selection from the prayer book, by Christopher Bantick

The Vesper Collect:
"Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy Son, our saviour Jesus Christ."

The Lenten Collect:
"Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou has made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord"

For Fair Weather: "O Lord God, who hast justly humbled us by thy late plague of immoderate rain and waters, and in thy mercy hast relieved and comforted our souls by this blessed change of weather; We praise and glorify thy holy Name for this thy mercy, and will always declare thy loving-kindness from generation to generation; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen

The Visitation of the Sick: "O Saviour of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us, Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord."

The Communion:
Priest: "Let us give thanks unto our Lord God." Answer: "It is meet and right so to do."

Christopher Bantick is a Melbourne writer and Anglican layman.