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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bells at Trinity Episcopal Peal Today for Anniversary
by Kate DeForest, Times Staff Writer
First published: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The bells at Watertown's Trinity Episcopal Church will peal all day long from its recently restored bell tower to celebrate its 105th anniversary today.

Or at least for about seven hours, to be more precise.

"Not everyone can play them because it requires not only musical knowledge, but also some brute force," Trinity's organist and choirmaster Jason D. Comet said.

He organized the event, which will take three to four "chimers," or bell-ringers, to pull off. The chimers will play the church's nine 105-year-old cast bronze bells from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with periodic rests of 10 to 15 minutes.

"We wanted to play the bells for the church's 100th anniversary, but the steeple wasn't structurally sound enough for us to do so," Mr. Comet said.

Since the early 1990s, the bell tower had fallen into such a state of disrepair that the bells could not be rung without chunks of stone and building materials falling off the steeple because of the bells' vibrations, Mr. Comet said. At one point in the late 1990s, the tower was close to being razed.

In 2000, the tower was repaired, and the church was once again able to ring the historic bells, which it does on a regular basis to call parishioners to the 10 a.m. Eucharist and at various times during the week, on the hour.

The bells, cast by the Meneely Bell Foundry of Troy in 1899, were shipped to the church on July 28 of that year, a present of Roswell P. Flower, who also funded the construction of the church.

The bells range in size from 300 pounds to 2,100 pounds, and the largest one is the size of a small Volkswagen, Mr. Comet said.

Played by a plow-handle clavier, or keyboard, three stories below the bells, they are rung completely by hand. Mr. Comet said Trinity is the only church in Watertown that plays real bells, instead of relying on an electronic system that plays recordings of bells.

The nine bells form an F-major scale, with an added E-flat, and allow the chimers to play a variety of songs.

Mr. Flower, who was born in Theresa, served as New York governor from 1892 to 1895. He also served two terms in Congress, from 1881 to 1883 and from 1889 to 1891.


I have a friend being ordained in the Wesleyan Church. I believe he'll have to sign a lifestyle covenant that will forbid him from drinking alcohol. When I ask "Why?" the immediate response is, "We don't want to cause anyone to stumble."

I wonder what that means. Does it mean that we don't want to cause anyone to drink? Or, we don't want to cause anyone who has a drinking problem and is sober or not, to drink again? Or, we don't want people who are not Christians to stumble in coming to the cross because they see Christians drinking and that is taboo?

Obviously there is no Biblical commandment to refrain from consuming alcohol. Drinking wine was clearly the practice of Jesus. I frequently hear the argument that the wine during NT days would have been so watered down that it would have not been truly alcohol. But if that is true, how would it have been medicinal when Paul recommended it to Timothy, or how would the guests at Cana possibly have gotten drunk from it, or how would people that Jesus was accused of cohorting with become drunkards?

I wonder if at some point, not drinking for supposedly religious reasons might cause someone to stumble in coming to the cross. In the culture of the earlier to middle parts of last century, people expected that Christians abstained and if they didn't they were backslidden. But now, if people abstain for "religious reasons", do they just appear like Mormons who won't drink caffeinated beverages ... kinda spooky & weird?

One could make the argment that they do not purchase (i.e. consume) alcohol because they don't want to contribute to the whole alcohol industry. I think good arguments could be made there. But certainly it leads to all sorts of other ethical questions of "What other products am I not going to buy because I don't want to contribute to whatever industry?"

So do we really cause people to stumble when we consume alcoholic beverages?


My boss, The Very Rev. Donald Turner has announced his retirement in a letter to the Vestry dated Monday, July 26. He will officially finish his ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church on November 1.

I have really enjoyed working with Fr. Don. I am a better person and will be a better leader because of his influence. Don is also one of the finest liturgists I have ever seen. When he leads mass it is not done by rote but comes from his calling as a priest and Chrsitian. I have learned so much from him.

I will miss him a lot. But there is part of me excited just because I love change. I like it when things are kind of up in the air and we're waiting to see how they will play out. Certainly in this situation there is great opportunity for things to play out badly for me. But it will be fun just to see what happens.

Come thou Fount of every blessing
tune my heart to sing thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
And teach me some melodious sonnet
sung by flaming tongues above.
Here's the mount I'm fixed up on it
Mount of thy redeeming love. Amen.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Eucharistic Wine

I don't know that I could go back to having grapejuice during communion.

In my church in OH I began using a non-alcoholic wine for communion. Some complained of the taste. I said, "The cross wasn't sweet and I don't think our memorial ought to be either. Jesus didn't hold up a cup of Welch's. He had wine in the cup."

Is part of the Eucharistic symbol of the blood of Christ neutralized when we use grape juice instead of wine?

"Well, what about alcoholics who can't have wine?" Yeah, well what about those carboholics on the South Beach diet who can't have bread or wine, or more seriously, those with various kinds of allergies? Certainly there are ways to serve those with special needs but in general, could our symbol be more powerful when wine is used instead of grape juice?

Of course, I have more questions about the Eucharist ...

Does intinction make us look like Judas?

Shouldn't we really drink from a common cup (which of course would encourage using alcohol to help kill the germs)?

Just some thoughts.

Where is God?

I listened to Greg Boyd's sermon of July 4th yesterday on The Dark Night of the Soul, which I believe was originally dubbed such by St. John of the Cross. Xorey described it as "pretty raw" and that is accurate.

Sometimes God seems distant. There are times when you know his leading as if he's walking right there in front of you. Sometimes you can see the familiar pattern for how he has led you in the past and is there once again.

Over the years I experienced that kind of leading to my first Covenant church, college, my first jobs, marriage, seminary, my first church in OH. Admittedly it has been pretty foggy for the past 2 and 1/2 years since, but I see God's history in my life.

Other times it seems like I grope for Him as if I were drugged and then dropped off in an unknown land, a frozen tundra, with no compass, no voice to lead me and no clue about where to go next or how to survive (oh yeah, that did happen to me — that's how I got to the Episcopal Church in Watertown, NY!).

Henry Blackaby in his wildly popular book Experiencing God once said (paraphrased), if you don't know what to do next go back to the thing you were confident that God led you to last and stick with that.

Bobb Biehl of Masterplanning is the master of asking questions to one discern God's leading. Those are really helpful.

But other times I just feel like asking, "Where are you God? Won't you come back?"

Sure. I'm aware "maybe it's not God who moved but you" and yes, I know the footprints and butt prints poems. But it doesn't always feel that way. And I wonder if that is really true? I understand that God is the same yesterday, today and forever but isn't His presence closer some times versus others at his choosing?

I'm aware that perhaps God is maturing me and leading me to a deeper faith. And that has happened to me. My current job instability does not threaten me nearly as much as the last time I lost my job.

In the Bible, I'm not sure that God has a history of being vague yet He is certainly mysterious. Reading Acts & I Corinthians 12-14 leads me to believe we ought to be hearing more from him but as Blackaby also points out: God doesn't give you all the details up front, He just tells you what you need to know next.

"O God may your Spirit fall afresh upon us that we may trust your leading when we hear you and even when we don't. Amen."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Everyone needs a diversion. In recent times, mine has become Photoshop. Photoshop is just a software program that does photo and image editing or creation. It can do just about anything you want graphically.

There is a new sport on the net: Photoshop Tennis. It's a game where players pass an image back and forth and modify it with Photoshop and some creativity. I haven't got the courage to participate yet but will soon. I'm still such a beginner but my skills are growing.

Worth1000.com is one of those Photoshop competition sites. It's wild to see what they do in some of the advanced competitions. If you go to the site, click on Contests and then look for some that are finished to see what they have done. Very kewl.

Here's a more basic Photoshop Tennis site.

I like Photoshop because it is allowing me to become an artist again. When I was a kids I was an artist. I used chalk, charcoal, craypas ... whatever. Some how I lost that but its coming back a little. I have started my own art gallery to help chart my own progress.

This is becoming very soulful for me.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

North Country Evangelism

Evangelist Steve Wingfield

Yesterday we had a pastors meeting to continue the discernment process for having evangelist Steve Wingfield come to the North Country. Tentatively we have dates of June 1-5 at the Fairgrounds Arena.

This was the second such meeting we had. The first was on May 27 with about 10 pastors present and had meetings with several others that day. This time we had about 20 people present with about 16 new faces. We need about 30 churches to be on board. By my count, we have about 27 who have expressed some degree of support and about nine others who will likely do so.

Do you ever have those experiences when you just know something is of God's plan? It's nothing tangible that you could explain .... kind of a sixth sense type of experience. Here's mine but I would love it if you would post any similar experiences you have had.

So far I have been the one leading this project. Back in May, several days before our meeting I made calls to set-up things up for the day. Normally very busy pastors were available or made time for us. I knew something was up even before we go to our breakfast meeting that day.

The day of the breakfast came and the pastors were arriving. I didn't know what to expect. The North Country is littered with little pentecostal/charismatic and Bible/Baptist/fundamentalist type churches. They don't normally mix well. The senior pastor of one of the larger Baptist churches arrived. He and one of the pastors from one of the larger independent charismatic churches greeted each other like they were old friends, glad to see each other. Right then, I knew. I just knew it. I knew that this whole event was going to happen.

Every time I work on this project everything seems to fall together. We have no finalized dates or even a committment from Steve Wingfield for the event. But I know that a year from now, in June 05 there will be a great harvest in this land.

In 1983, John Wesley White came and did a crusade. One pastor told me his preaching was awful. Another said his style was weird, he was unattractive but his preaching was anointed. But others have told me, there are several area ministers of vibrant ministries that trace their conversion to that event.

I read the first few pages of Charles Finney's Autobiography in a Christian bookstore the other day. Finney's life is intimately linked to the North Country. He was born in CT but early in life moved to Oneida Country (just southeast of here) but then moved during his teen years to Sackett's Harbor, a little North Country town right on Lake Ontario.

After returning to CT for sometime and then NJ, Finney returned to the North Country moving to Adams to study law. It was during his time here that he was converted and began following Christ. After sometime, the Lord's miraculous revival work began working through Finney as great spiritual awakenings begain happening in North Country towns like Evans Mills, Antwerp and elsewhere. His work spread all over NY State including the city of my birth, Utica but also into Rome, Auburn, Rochester, Buffalo, New York City and then into PA and OH.

"Almighty God, you have started revival here before. May a new wave of your Spirit come over this land as in the days of Finney O God, that you would be exalted here again, and throngs of people all over the North Country would again repent and follow You. And may it spread like a fire that cannot be quenched through our land. Amen."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Steve Wingfield

Ever heard of Steve Wingfield? He is an evangelist, who does crusade style evangelism like Billy Graham or Luis Palau, but he works in smaller cities in the midwest and the east. He calls them "Encounters".

One of my close friends, Dustin Bouldin of B&W Sound, does all the sound, video and lighting for Steve. I buy all my audio and visual equipment from Dustin also.

We're having meetings this week to continue the discussion about having him come to the North Country next June. There is some excitement here in Watertown about this possibility. Many pastors are expressing a desire to work together cooperatively. It's exciting to be a part of it.

We are looking at a possible 5 night event held at the Watertown Ice Arena in June 2005.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Advice: Never Bajulgate Your Crozier

Bajulgating one's crozier is bad. It makes people angry.

I still haven't learned if I am spelling the word correctly but it sounds like it is spelled: bajulgate, as in to bajulgate one's crozier — sort of like bearing one's cross (crozier). This means that one is exercising epsicopal (a bishop's) authority in a diocese where one is not authorized to exercise such authority. A recent example is pasted below, where 5 retired bishops confirmed 110 persons in an OH diocese that was not their own. The ECUSA House of Bishops was outraged and censured these Bishops.

But when Bishop Charles Bennison of PA says that, "Jesus was a sinner who knew himself to be forgiven." or "We wrote the scriptures, we can rewrite the scriptures.", the House of Bishops is silent. No censure there.

They seem to be more concerned with form over substance. These folks seem like knuckleheads some days.

I hope your vocabulary is expanded today and that you will go out and bajulgate something somewhere.
URL: http://www.AmericanAnglican.org/News/News.cfm?ID=995&c=21

Senior Bishops Cross Diocesan Lines: Confirm 110 at Unprecedented Service
March 14, 2004

In an unprecedented and historic move, five senior [retired] Episcopal (ECUSA) bishops, and one international diocesan bishop, crossed diocesan boundaries and confirmed 110 individuals at a multi-congregational Service of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist in Akron, Ohio.  Approximately eight hundred people, representing five Episcopal churches and one Anglican church plant from various communities in northern Ohio, as well as other guests, gathered Sunday, March 14, 2004 at 2:00 PM at Presentation of Our Lord Orthodox Church.

Local diocesan bishops, or those bishops they designate, preside over confirmation for churches in their jurisdiction.  In the Anglican tradition, the Service of Confirmation represents “a mature public affirmation of faith and commitment to the responsibilities of baptism.”   However, these congregations consider their relationship with the Rt. Rev. Clark Grew, Bishop of Ohio, to be “impaired” due to his support of divisive decisions at ECUSA’s General Convention last summer.  Many participants refused to be confirmed, or have their children confirmed, by Bishop Grew.

The service began with a statement from participating bishops read by the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired bishop of Texas and spokesman for the group. “We come as pastors who care very much about you, the Clergy and Lay members of the six congregations gathered here today.  We come because the lay persons among you have asked us to come.  We come knowing well your predicament in feeling estranged from your bishop, your diocese and the Episcopal Church.”

The actions of General Convention not only plunged the Episcopal Church into an internal crisis, but also severely damaged its relationship with the Anglican Communion as well as the ecumenical community.  The bishops said their presence was a “direct response to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, who called for ‘adequate provision for episcopal oversight’ in their statement of October 2003.”

“Our participation in today’s Service represents ‘emergency measures’ for those ECUSA congregations in revisionist dioceses who cannot in good conscience accept the radical actions taken by our General Convention last year and who now find themselves alienated from their bishops and diocesan leadership who voted for and support such actions,” the statement reads.  “Our active bishops are currently seeking means for providing Adequate Episcopal Oversight, and if an acceptable plan is approved, these kinds of measures may no longer be necessary.  But right now, we consider these actions an essential and imperative response to a pastoral emergency in northern Ohio and around the country.”

As churches that uphold the orthodox Anglican doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, these six congregations have felt abandoned by ECUSA. “The trust so necessary for Christian fellowship and effective pastoral leadership in our diocese has been shattered by the actions of General Convention,” congregational leaders explain.  “Since those events, there has been a growing hostility to many biblically faithful parishes, both here and around the country.”

Since the divisive actions of General Convention, the churches have all faced significant losses in membership and giving and have experienced alienation in the diocese.  Bishop Benitez emphasized that the crisis extends beyond the presenting issue.  “We want to emphasize that the heart of the matter is not sexuality or sexual orientation but rather the authority of Holy Scripture in the life of the Church,” he said.

“Our congregations do not have freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom of action with our finances, freedom to call new pastors of our own choosing, or the freedom to successfully put forth candidates for ministry who are biblically faithful,” church leaders said.

Ohio congregations assert that without emergency measures, their survival and their mission are at risk.  “We have every reason to believe these risks will significantly escalate under the leadership of Mark Hollingsworth, the Diocese of Ohio’s Bishop-elect.”

“We are in an interim season of great significance as the Anglican Communion prepares its response to the actions of ECUSA,” they added.  “During this season, and as we look to the future, we are determined to follow the lead of our godly Primates.  We are grateful to receive emergency measures of pastoral care and spiritual oversight for our congregations, offered by our senior bishops, until such time as Adequate Episcopal Oversight, called for by the Primates, is negotiated with the Episcopal Church. The events of today are a great sign of hope that the godly episcopal leadership and spiritual guidance needed by our congregations will be supplied.”

Senior bishops will continue to make themselves available for emergency measures, and additional bishops are expected to join the effort.  Church leaders anticipate such assistance to be extended to numerous congregations around the country that are experiencing intimidation and harassment.  

In addition to Bishop Benitez, those participating in the confirmation were Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison, retired Bishop of South Carolina; Bishop William Cox, retired Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma; Bishop Alex Dickson, retired Bishop of West Tennessee, and Bishop William Wantland, retired Bishop of Eau Claire.  Bishop Wantland was celebrant at the Eucharist, Bishop Allison preached and the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, Bishop of Northern Brazil, was a special guest, illustrating international support for the measures.  The six congregations whose laity requested emergency measures are Church of the Holy Spirit, Akron; St. Anne’s in the Field, Madison; St. Stephen’s, East Liverpool; St. Barnabas, Bay Village; St. Luke’s, Akron; and Hudson Anglican Fellowship, Hudson.

The American Anglican Council
1110 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 800-914-2000 or 202-296-5360
Fax: 202-296-5361
E-mail: info@americananglican.org
God Changes Lives for Good!

A Tender Heart

This past week I had the opportunity to be camp pastor for 16 jr high students at Mission Meadows. One of the most tender moments I have ever seen occurred. I'm not sure words will do this justice.

Of the 16 kids, one boy is a rascal ... probably ADHD. He's the center of attention. He is the shortest kid there by a lot ... maybe 4' 8" ... he's blond and handsome/cute. He's in that inbetween stage from being a cute little boy and becoming a handsome teenager. He's also half Jewish and doesn't really know a lot of about Christianity or Judaism. He says he understands that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that Jews believe that but don't believe he is the son of God. How he got to Mission Meadows I don't know.

On the last evening together around the camp fire, I spoke with the kids about doing great things for God and that God is not waiting for them to get older, smarter and richer before they can be ministers for Him. I asked the kids to dream for a moment ... if they could do anything for God, and money, age, etc. were not limitations, what would they do? Of course they answered with solving world hunger, world peace, world evangelization, saving the planet, etc.

But this one short, Jewish boy, in a very serious & vulnerable moment says, "I don't know if like maybe he could do this for himself, but I would want to give God his son back some how because you know he died for us." The other kids were quick to point out that Jesus rose from the dead and were trying to capitalize on an opportunity to evangelize him.

But I was just awestruck by this young boy, who didn't know the whole story, and his heart was so tender toward God that he wanted to relieve God's suffering from losing His son. He really wanted to do something for God with seemingly no ulterior motive. It was a beautiful tender hearted moment.

Church Wanted.

The conversations keep happening over and over. They're with colleagues and friends my age and younger. They're searching for a church. A church experience that is different from the options they have available to them. They're searching for something that they don't know what it looks like.

There's this feeling that what we have as church here in the US is either wrong or missing something or .... I dunno. Something is just not right. And amongst some of my ministerial colleagues there's this feeling that we just don't seem to fit anywhere.

Personally, I long to be part of a church that manifests the power of God in signs and wonders as in the days of the Acts of the Apostles. They seem to be missing from the churches I have been connected to and I can't find a good Biblical reason to justify their absence.

I like the liturgy of the Episcopal Church I serve. I like Eucharist every Sunday with real wine. But I don't know that I want the trappings of having to have it that way EVERY week and all of the rules and regs that go with that. I like contemporary worship music but I don't like just that. Does it have to be every week at the same time for the same length of time? I want to be part of church that participates in conversions taking place in their midst, where they then grow up to be die-hard followers of God. I want to be part of a church that sees life transformation — that transforms my life.

But does it really matter what I want? Worship is supposed to be about God not me, yet I want some place to connect to God and His people. Where is that place?

Why are we dissatisfied with what we have? Why can't we learn to live with the imperfections of what is church today? I vacillate between feeling like there's something wrong with me and there's something wrong with the church. Its probably both. At some point I just have to grow up and adjust. But it doesn't seem to be happening.

I think about planting a new church but I worry about just creating more of the same ... making little difference, arguing about petty things, losing focus, overly influenced by strong personalities, searching endlessly for money, etc.

I want to be part of a movement of God. But I also worry that I am part of a movement of God and it's not nearly as exciting as I think it should be.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

No blogging this week ...

I will be Camp Pastor at Mission Meadows on beautiful Lake Chautauqua near Jamestown, NY for the week.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

One Month

Hey, I've had this blog for a full month and I haven't talked about sex in detail once. Thank goodness for Xorey's blog.

The UPS man also brounght me Sheet Music and Sex Begins in The Kitchen by Kevin Leman from in my amazon order. I have a feeling I'll break my silence soon! Excellent books! I got the books in the morning and finished Sheet Music by bedtime. Seemed kind of anticlimactic to have waited for days to get the book and then to finish so quickly. I wanted it to last longer.

Argument doesn't work for me ...

Have you read St. Brad of SoCal, patron saint of church planters, recent posting entitled The Whole Homosexuality Issue II? It's an interesting dialog. I posted some follow ups to it and want to post another here ...

I don't buy this argument: "Jesus never even mentioned homosexuality once." therefore if it wasn't a big deal to him then it's not to me. If it was such an important issue Jesus would have said something about it. This is a Trinitarian problem. Jesus did say something about it.

Now certainly part of the issue is one of hermeneutics, where the OT and Paul are given lesser authority than Jesus. The reasoning goes ... it isn't as important whether it was mentioned in the OT or elsewhere by St. Paul. Jesus is preeminent and he didn't mention it. Yet ...

"All Scripture is God breathed ..." It all has it's genesis in God. It exists today at His choosing.

Another problem is: Just because Jesus isn't on record in the Gospels as addressing a particular issue doesn't give us license. That's silly. I don't recall Jesus addressing child internet pornography but I am very sure He doesn't want us anyplace near that stuff.

My main point today is this ...

The UPS man came this week with my amazon.com order: Is God to Blame? "Beyond Pat Answers to The Problem of Suffering." by Gregory A. Boyd. A quote from page 15 "This book offers a very different picture of God. Though it will be new to some, it really is not new at all, for it is rooted in the biblical depictions of Jesus Christ. When someone asked Jesus to show him God the Father, Jesus said, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father' (Jn 14:9)"

This got me thinking ... Jesus as part of the Trinity DID speak on this issue. If we believe that God is the ultimate genesis, inspiration, and author, Jesus did speak on homosexuality throughout the testaments. Was it just God the Father or God the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets and St. Paul? No!

Leviticus 18:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, ... 18:22 "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a women, that is detestable." Who is the Lord? Was God not then as now the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Has God changed and only become the Trinity after Jesus? Certainly not.

We believe in a preincarnate Jesus, who has always been, and will always be God. He was there at creation and is as much the author of the entire Bible as He is the red words in my KJV.

Blessed are you Lord Jesus, ruler over all creation and lover of our souls. To you be praise and honor and glory forever more. Amen.