Monday, June 25, 2012


PNCC-ACNA Dialogue Press Release
Meeting One

The inaugural meeting of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) met on June 19-20, 2012 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This historic meeting was hosted by the PNCC at the National Church Center located on Pittston Avenue.
In attendance for this inaugural meeting were the Primates of both Churches, the Most Reverend Anthony A. Mikovsky, Prime Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church and the Most Reverend Robert Wm. Duncan, D.D., Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America.
The Dialogue members in attendance were the Right Reverend Paul Sobiechowski as Co-Chairman, Right Reverend John E. Mack, Very Reverend Augustin Sicard, Reverend Jaroslaw Rafalko, Reverend Stanley Bilinski, and the Reverend John P. Kowalczyk, Jr. as Secretary for the PNCC. ACNA was represented by the Right Reverend Richard W. Lipka as Co-Chairman, Right Reverend Ray R. Sutton, Abbot Luis A. Gonzalez, OSB, and the Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, SSC, DD. Also in attendance was the Ecumenical Officer of the PNCC the Reverend Robert M. Nemkovich, Jr.
The two Churches met on Tuesday starting at 12:00 Noon and concluded with Vespers celebrated by the Primates of the two Churches. The dialogue continued on Wednesday morning with Holy Mass celebrated by the Right Reverend Paul Sobiechowski. This was followed by a presentation by Bishop Sutton on the 39 Articles of Religion and a presentation by Reverend Bilinski on the 11 Great Principles of the Polish National Catholic Church.
The PNCC-ACNA Dialogue will continue on January 29-30, 2013 in Bartonville, IL at Saint Benedict’s Abbey and will be hosted by the Anglican Church in North America.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I often speak of a coming new Springtime for the Church, and we are seeing it at Holy Cross parish. While summer is often a slow time for churches, there has been no slowdown at Holy Cross. About the only thing that we have discontinued for the summer is our Christian education program (Sunday School). However, Christian education classes for children, youth and adults will resume in September.

Yesterday (June 17th) was the Second Sunday after Trinity and we had forty-six in attendance at the Eucharist with no "drop in" visitors. Actually, we were missing some of our regulars. We have grown from a small church with an average Sunday attendance of under twenty-five to a medium size church. In fact, our attendance on Sunday equaled the median Sunday attendance for congregations of the Anglican Church in North America. Not bad for summer!

Last Wednesday we had eleven at our 12:10 PM Eucharist, with one of our regular attenders out of State. Participation in the Mid-week Eucharist has grown steadily from two or three to half a dozen, and now to more than ten. Only one couple that attends on Wednesdays is retired. Why do parishioners make such an effort, and sacrifice their lunch hour to come to church? Because they have learned from experience that receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion twice a week can change their lives! We are now planning to increase our weekday Liturgies by adding an early morning Eucharist. After that, I hope to add an early evening celebration, with the goal of eventually having a daily Eucharist. There is nothing that I would rather see than people receiving the Blessed Sacrament throughout the week, and even daily!

We have very active Women's and Men's groups at Holy Cross parish. Last Saturday the Sisters of Holy Cross held their annual fund-raising Rummage Sale. Between a furniture donation that they had auctioned off and the Rummage sale they raised around $1,700.00. The Women's Group plans to send $500.00 to the Board of Foreign Missions in support of the new indigenous Reformed Episcopal Church in Croatia and Serbia, and to buy a new flat screen TV for the parish hall so we can better enjoy our dinner and a movie nights. In August the Sisters of Holy Cross will sponsor our annual Summer Parish Picnic, and will provide scholarships for our fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck. The Men's Group assisted the Women's Group with their Rummage Sale and will be helping out at the picnic as well.

Every month we support the Open Door Mission with food donations. The needs are great. The Open Door Mission is just one of several homeless shelters in the Omaha area, but they serve 1,800 meals every day! Our goal has been to provide them with 100 pounds of food every month, but we have been far surpassing that goal. On Saturday of last week we delivered 236 pounds of food, and that was just for the first half of the month of June!

In Advent and Lent we used Mite Boxes to raise funds for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. The ARDF raises money to help those most in need, whether it be clean water wells in third world villages or disaster relief in Japan during their recent nuclear crisis.

We have a new ministry at Holy Cross parish called the Holy Cross Love Squad. The Love Squad visits nursing homes, hospitals, Alzheimer's units and other institutions, providing music, companionship and more to the residents. This is a ministry to lonely, hurting and often forgotten people. Jack, our Love Squad Leader is a real dynamo, and Fr. Craig Smith who assists me at Holy Cross serves as chaplain to the group providing spiritual counsel to those who want to talk with a clergyman. Once a month our Love Squad leader picks up a bread donation from a local gourmet sandwich shop and delivers it to the Francis and Siena Houses, two other area homeless shelters.

Thanks to Jesse, our Outreach Director, we have a new media site up on the Internet. The new media site works in conjunction with our parish website, but it has a regional, national and global reach.  Holy Cross Media offers video, audio and podcasts that are designed to help people learn about classical Anglican history, theology, liturgics and spirituality. I hope that you will visit Holy Cross Media, use it, tell your friends about it, and check back often. You can find Holy Cross Media at:

Holy Cross Anglican Church is a real parish community rather than just a place to worship. We have fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall every Sunday after Services and a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of every month. Fellowship is so popular that when my wife and I leave for home in mid-afternoon there is always a group of men still there, drinking coffee and talking not about sports but about theology and church history!

During Lent we began providing Nursery Care for children under the age of four during our 10:00 AM Eucharist, and it has become very popular. We are a youthful congregation with a number of young families with small children. The Nursery cares for the children through the sermon, after which they join the adults for the rest of the Service. I even enjoy hearing a little fussing from the little ones in the pews. It is a sign of a healthy and growing church!

Morning Prayer is at 9:30 AM followed by the Holy Communion at 10:00 AM. We have a proper balance of Word and Sacrament in every Sunday Liturgy. We preach real sermons where we explain the Scripture lessons and teach the Faith. Now that we are in Trinity Season I have begun a sermon series on the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer. The first of the series was presented last Sunday, but don't worry if you missed it. The series is being filmed and each week's lesson will soon be up  on Holy Cross Media.

In addition to all of these ministries I have two priests to assist me, three lay readers and chalice bearers, an acolyte, and a Pro-Life Coordinator. We also have an excellent Prayer Chain which has been a real blessing to those in need. Whenever an emergency situation arises the Prayer Chain springs into action, and within a very short time the parish is praying by name and need for the situation.

Less than half of the people at Holy Cross parish come to us from Anglican or Episcopal backgrounds. Our people come from many Christian traditions and none. We have people that come from as diverse of backgrounds as the Assemblies of God and Roman Catholicism, the LDS and Eastern Orthodoxy. 

The Work has prospered here. I am a full time rector and we support our diocese every month. We have already added about 50% more space to our leased facility and have outgrown that. We have a Building Committee and are wanting to build or buy our own church building. Buying would be more cost effective in the present economy, so we are actively looking at church buildings that are for sale. However, we have an immediate need for space, and more space adjoining us to the West is about to come open. Our Senior Warden and I plan to look at it tomorrow.

Don't let anyone tell you that you have to conform to the world and reinvent Anglicanism to grow. Holy Cross is a growing, active and thriving parish, and we are on fire for the Lord. You won't find anything new here. No trendy worship, watered down theology, or compromised morality. We are a classical Anglican parish using the Liturgy of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the 1940 Hymnal.
Our worship is accompanied by a church organ, we use pews and kneelers, celebrate facing the altar, and partake of the sacrament kneeling. We abstain from meat on Fridays, fast during Lent, support the church with our tithes and offerings, and our mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him, and the fullness of the Apostolic Faith to those who do.

Rome has learned the same lesson. They have freed up their traditional Roman Liturgy, and reformed the Novus Order to make it more in line with tradition and to improve its beauty and reverence. Don't sell the Faith short and don't shortchange the people. Preach the truth in love, teach the Word, use the historic Book of Common Prayer, sing the great hymns of the Church, lift the hearts of the people to the Throne of Grace through reverent and inspiring worship, and the church will grow. Rather than repackaging the Faith as some sort of Anglicanism Lite, just give them that Old Time Religion. As the song says, it was good enough for Paul and Silas, and it's good enough for us. That Old Time Religion still changes lives!

Monday, June 11, 2012


Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, spoke at last week's provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America. In his address he reminded Anglicans of the necessity of removing the Filioque clause from the Nicene Creed if there is to be reunion with the Eastern Churches. The Nicene Creed, or more properly the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was written by the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381, two of the undisputed seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church. What is the Filioque clause? Filioque is Latin for "and the Son." The Nicene Creed as found in the Book of Common Prayer says that Holy Ghost "proceedeth from the Father and the Son." In the Liturgy booklet used at the Assembly last week the words "and the Son" were in brackets, indicating that they really didn't belong in the text. 

Some Anglicans are confused about this, and a few are indignant. But Metropolitan Jonah and the Eastern Orthodox are right about the Filioque clause, and the Anglican Communion has been in agreement with them for decades about this matter. It has only been the internal turmoil in the Anglican Communion over the last three and a half decades that have caused a delay in its removal. The Filioque clause was not in the Nicene Creed as originally written, does not belong in the Nicene Creed, and the sooner that it is officially removed the better it will be for our Church and for the cause of Christian unity.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says, "It [the Filioque clause] is no part of the original Creed, but is first met with as an interpolation (acc. to the usual texts) at the Third Council of Toledo (589)." The Third Council of Toledo was a Spanish synod called to combat a revival of the Arian heresy in Spain. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church continues, "In 796 its use was defended by Paulinus of Aquileia at the Synod of Friuli and from c. 800, when the Creed began to be generally chanted in the Mass throughout the Frankish Empire, the words became widely familiar. Its introduction by Frankish Monks in 807 into their monastery at Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives aroused strong but easily understandable opposition from the Eastern monks of St. Sabas, and when the matter was referred to [Pope] Leo III he tried to suppress the addition to the formula while approving the doctrine. He caused the Creed in its original form to be engraved on two silver tables deposited at the tomb of St. Peter. The 'Filioque', however, continued to be sung and soon after 1000 had been adopted also at Rome."

The change in the Creed as formally adopted by the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea and Constantinople was the ultimate cause of the Great Schism or division between Eastern and Western Christendom in 1054. At the time of the Reformation, when the Anglican Church was finally able to regain her self-governing status that had been lost to Rome as a result of the Norman invasion of 1066, the Church of England had been reciting the Filioque clause in the Creed for centuries. We received this interpolation by inheritance from Rome, and continue to include it in our Prayer Books.

More than a century ago the Anglican Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Churches began to dialogue with one another. Soon a great interest in regaining the unity that was lost in 1066, led to serious reunion conferences. Repeatedly over the past century, in the days of its orthodoxy, the Anglican Communion has agreed that the Filioque clause was not part of the original Creed, was uncanonically interpolated into the Creed centuries after it was written, is the cause of division among Christians, and must be removed. 

For instance, The Moscow Agreed Statement of 1976 says, "The Anglican members therefore agree that:
(a) because the original form of the Creed referred to the origin of the Holy Spirit from the Father,
(b) because the Filioque clause was introduced into this Creed without the authority of an Ecumenical Council and without due regard for Catholic consent, and
(c) because this Creed constitutes the public confession of the faith of the people of God in the Eucharist,
the Filioque clause should not be included in this Creed."

The last Anglican-Orthodox agreed statement was in 1984. With the ordination of women by the Church of England in 1994, all serious reunion dialogue ended. The Dublin Agreed Statement of 1984 says, "Further discussions on the Filioque led to the reaffirmation by both Anglican and Orthodox of the agreement reached in Moscow in 1976 that this phrase should not be included in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. Certain Anglican Churches have already acted upon this recommendation, whilst others are still considering it.

"From the theological point of view the Orthodox stated that the doctrine of the Filioque is unacceptable, although as expressed by Augustine, it is capable of an Orthodox interpretation. According to the Orthodox understanding the Son cannot be considered a cause or co-cause of the existence of the Holy Spirit. In spite of this we find certain Fathers, for example St. Maximus the Confessor (7th century), as explained by Anastasius the Librarian (9th century), the opinion that the Filioque, as used in early Latin theology, can be understood in an Orthodox way. According to this interpretation a distinction should be made between two senses of procession, one by which the Father causes the existence of the Spirit and the other by which the Spirit shines forth from the Father and the Son. This second sense of procession must be clearly differentiated from the later Western use of the Filioque which observed no distinction but rather confused 'cause of existence' with  'communication of essence'.  Some Orthodox theologians, while affirming that the doctrine of the Filioque is unacceptable for the Orthodox Church, at the same time, having in mind the position of Professor Bolotov (1854-1900) and his followers, regard the Filioque as a 'theologoumenon' in the West." 

St. Augustine and other early Western Church Fathers may have used the Filioque in their theological writings, but they did not recite it in the Creed. As The Dublin Agreed Statement of 1984 says, "the Filioque, as used in early Latin theology, can be understood in an Orthodox way."  The problem is that the Filioque clause was added to the Creed uncanonically, and that after the Great Schism the Western use of the Filioque changed theologically in a way that could no longer be considered orthodox, although some Orthodox theologians are willing to regard the Filioque as a Western theologoumenon (theological opinion). It is sometimes argued that the Athanasian Creed contains the Filioque clause so it must have been used anciently, and it does in the West just as it is included in the Nicene Creed, but the Eastern Orthodox Churches also make use of the Athanasian Creed in the Liturgy of the Hours where it is found without the Filioque clause.

The goal of the English Reformation was to restore the Faith of the undivided Church. In 1562, Anglican Bishop John Jewel wrote, "We have returned to the Apostles and the old Catholic Fathers. We have planted no new religion, but only preserved the old that was undoubtedly founded and used by the Apostles of Christ and other holy Fathers of the Primitive Church" (Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae).

Metropolitan Jonah has given us an opportunity to complete the reunion talks that were ended after the introduction of the purported "ordination" of women years ago. The Anglican Church in North America must do three things: 1) abolish the ordination of women to the diaconate and presbyterate, 2) remove the Filioque clause from the Creed, and 3) reaffirm the Faith of the undivided Church. After decades of study and dialogue, the Anglican Communion agreed to remove the Filioque clause in The Moscow Agreed Statement of 1976, and reaffirmed that agreement in The Dublin Agreed Statement of 1984. There is really nothing more to discuss. We have rightly agreed to remove an interpolation from the Creed, and it is time that we fulfill our promise.

Let us move swiftly in completing the New Reformation and the renewal of the Anglican Church so that we may fulfill our mission to be a bridge Church, healing the Great Schism between East and West. What a blessing it will be to live in a new era of the undivided Church and to feel the renewed strength of the Body of Christ breathing again with both lungs, Eastern and Western. That will be a New Springtime for the Church, a grace-filled restoration of Christendom, a new hope for the world, and the flowering of the new evangelization. May God speed the day, and may we do our part. Amen and Amen!

Monday, June 4, 2012


On Trinity Sunday Holy Cross Anglican Church went live with its newest outreach: Holy Cross Media. This new ministry has been in the works for more than a year now. Jesse Nigro, the new editor and publisher of The North American Anglican Journal and a parishioner at Holy Cross parish, is the director of this outreach. Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him, and the fullness of the Apostolic Faith to those who do.

Through Holy Cross Media we hope to extend our outreach to people all across the country and around the world. This new website will give people everywhere access to video, audio and print media that will deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Gospel, Church history, and of classical Anglican theology, worship and spirituality.

At Holy Cross Media you will find a video introduction to the historic Anglican liturgy, and a growing number of sermons, podcasts, lectures, discussions and articles, as well as access to my blog, and links to the Holy Cross parish website and Face Book page, the website of The North American Anglican Journal, and more. The content of Holy Cross Media will be constantly changing, so I hope that you will check back often.

I would like to thank Jesse and his wife Ashley for all of their hard work in getting this new outreach launched. I would also like to thank the owners and staff of Big Picture Productions who donated so generously of their time, talent, equipment and resources to produce the video of the Anglican liturgy and to put the media site together.

We would like to partner with other orthodox Anglican congregations in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and advancing the new reformation and renewal of Anglicanism and the ongoing realignment in the Anglican Communion by inviting Anglican churches and ministries in America and abroad to link their websites to Holy Cross Media and to utilize this ministry to assist them in their work. 

Readers of my blog and users of Holy Cross Media can assist Holy Cross Anglican Church in its mission by supporting our work with your prayers and offerings. You can donate to Holy Cross Anglican Church safely and securely through Paypal. Just go to Holy Cross Media and click the donate icon. Together, we can change lives!

You can access Holy Cross Media at: