Friday, August 15, 2014

R. Marion Canfield, R.I.P.

In the spring of 1994 I was a senior in college who had just come under care of Catwaba Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and was preparing to enter Erskine Theological Seminary in the fall. I was also then serving as a platoon leader in Detachment 1, Troop B, 202d Cavalry, which was in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Learning of what was then known as the Hardeeville Presbyterian Church nearby I stopped by the minister's house one Sunday afternoon and introduced myself to the Rev'd Marion Canfield, who was serving as the mission developer for that small work. It was officially a mission -- a new church being planted by the presbytery -- and being rather off the beaten path from the rest of their congregations Marion appreciated the visit and the interaction. We sat on some chairs on his back lawn and had a very pleasant visit getting to know each other and discussing the trials of ministry and how God's Providence had brought us to our respective stages of out lives.

During the years that I was under care of and later licensed by Catawba Presbytery, I always enjoyed seeing Marion at presbytery meetings and other gatherings. He was a gentle soul and an encourager -- I remember the day I was licensed and, having to preach from a manuscript (something I don't usually do) preached roughly a twelve minute sermon he told me that no presbytery in the world would reject a candidate who preached that brief a sermon --who used his love for photography and knowledge of cameras to supplement the modest income that the church was able to pay him. His love for his people was evident. Sometime in the late 90s the congregation was organized as a churchand renamed the First Presbyterian Church of Hardeeville,  but it remained small and he remained its pastor. After I moved to the Reformed Episcopal Church and Anglicanism, I saw less of Marion, although I did stop by Hardeeville one evening in 2005 and enjoyed my visit with him.

Early this morning I learned of Marion's death yesterday. He was still serving as the Minister of First Church. I give thanks for his friendship, his example of steady shepherding and love for his flock and for Christ's Church. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Friday, August 8, 2014

More sad news this week from the attack that killed MG Harold J.Greene.

Georgia Military College, my Alma mater whence I was commissioned, is not a large school -- it's one of five military junior colleges where one can receive an associate's degree and a commission in the Army Reserve through the Early Commissioning Program (all of the graduates of which are then naturally required to complete a bachelor's degree whether or not they will serve out their obligations on active duty or the the Army Reserve or National Guard) and while the commissioning classes are, as I understand it, among the larger ones in the Army ROTC program they are nowhere near as big as, for instance, a class at West Point, Texas A&M (which has a larger Corps of Cadets than the Service Academies) and I am fairly sure that they're smaller than the ones at The Citadel or VMI. Because of that it's fairly unusual for two graduates to run into each other out in the Army. In light of that, the following information about the attack that killed MG Greene earlier this week was unusual and sad:

Earlier today, LtGen William B. Caldwell, IV, President of Georgia Military College, was informed by CPT Aurlbrio Fennel (GMC Class of 2004) that two of Fennel’s classmates, CPT Jeremy Haynes and CPT Ibrahim Tantawi, were critically wounded in the attack that killed MG Harold J. Greene in Afghanistan on August 5, 2014.

CPT Haynes was the Aide de Camp to MG Greene and CPT Tantawi is the Aide de Camp to MG Kevin Wendel. Haynes and Tantawi are in stable but critical condition in Germany.

LtGen Caldwell said, “This was my command for two years, and where BG Curt Rauhut (GMC’s Chief Operating Officer) served for two years, so we do fully appreciate the challenges that are associated with this mission. We will unite in prayer for our young grads, and for their families, as well as for all who were wounded and their families, especially the Greene family.”

Fennel, Haynes and Tantawi, all 2004 graduates of GMC’s Early Commissioning Program, posed for this photo just a couple of weeks ago while all were together in Afghanistan. [End quote]

Of your mercy, pray for CPTs Haynes, and Tantawi.

From the Charleston Mercury, August 2014

Margaret Sanger, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

By Charles A. Collins, Jr.
Shortly after moving to Texas in early 2001, I needed a couple of diplomas and my diaconal ordination certificate framed. After consulting with some friends in the area, they were nearly unanimous in their recommendation of where I should get the work done — a place that I’d not heard of in South Carolina, but about which people were effusive in praise. I’m speaking, of course, of Hobby Lobby, a store that has followed me as I returned to S.C. — and has been much in the news of late.
In 1970, David Green, an Assemblies of God minister’s son from Oklahoma, took out a $600 loan and began assembling and selling miniature picture frames out of his garage. The family business grew quickly: within a couple of years he was shopping for retail space and soon after upgraded to a larger shop, by then using the name Hobby Lobby. More stores followed as the company expanded: it currently has some 575 stores nationwide (including one in Mount Pleasant). This has made Green a billionaire, but despite the growth the company hasn’t gone public — it’s privately held with the Green family owning a controlling share. In addition, the son of a preacher man has sought to remain true to his faith, not opening Hobby Lobby on Sundays and living out his beliefs in other ways: “We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles,” Green explains.
Because of their Christian principles, the Greens were compelled to oppose the Affordable Care Act because of its requirement that the company provide coverage for forms of birth control that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. (The company had no opposition to funding the most commonly used forms of birth control such as most birth control pills, prophylactics, sponges and sterilization.) Hobby Lobby filed suit, and in the June 30 ruling of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 ruling that closely held corporations such as Hobby Lobby couldn’t be compelled to fund procedures that conflict with the religious convictions of their owners. Conservatives were, generally speaking, pleased; those on the left, less so.
Amid the hue and cry, this observer noticed two telling ads opposed to Hobby Lobby and the decision. The first, from the American Humanist Association, encouraged people to boycott businesses that unfairly impose their religion — Hobby Lobby is listed under the “crafts” category and Fox News is listed under the “news” category and Chick-Fil-A for “chicken.” The listing for “clothing,” however, was the Salvation Army. Perhaps, the American Humanists missed it, but, despite the fact that many think of the Salvation Army as a social service agency that has thrift stores, it is first, foremost, and always a church, with local congregations and clergy — and it should come as no surprise that a church would seek to influence others for their religion.
That listing betrays a larger agenda, namely the removal of faith from public discourse. In our culture today, it is perfectly fine to hold religious convictions provided they don't actually influence the way one lives. Such a privatized, marginalized faith is unlikely to bear much fruit.
The other ad was from the Freedom From Religion Foundation and prominently featured Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger noting with approbation her motto, “No gods — no masters.” This highlight of Mrs. Sanger reveals more that the FFRF might have wished. Mrs. Sanger was a staunch advocate of eugenics, a social philosophy aimed at improving the genetic quality of human beings, boldly proclaiming the goal of “more children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the goal of birth control,” and referring to blacks, immigrants, and indigents as “human weeds, reckless breeders, spawning human beings ... who should never have been born.” It is both telling and troubling that the Freedom From Religion Foundation seeks to make Sanger an exemplar.
I’m certainly not trying to demonize all who disagree with the ruling inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby. I have friends who take issue with it. I am encouraging readers to look at the world and life view undergirding some opposition to the ruling, and the demand for compliance with government programs and progressive social causes, that seeks to remove the voices of people of faith from public discourse.
            The Rev'd Charles A. Collins, Jr., is vicar of the Church of the Atonement, a Reformed Episcopal parish in the Anglican Church of North America in Mount Pleasant.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How Well Do We Know Bowe?

Yesterday morning I was sleeping in after a late night of riding along with a Sheriff's Deputy as part of my chaplaincy duties when a friend and former parishioner contacted me to tell me that the BBC was reporting that SGT Bowe Bergdahl had been released from Taliban captivity. She knew of my concern for his captivity, that I'd kept him in prayer, and that I'd done what I could to keep him within people's awareness -- until yesterday many people weren't aware of his existence and captivity. Much of the public's emotions seemed to go from joy (at the release of a U.S. soldier), to questions (about the prisoner swap), to in many cases anger and accusations that he is a traitor.

I had followed his case to one degree or another since shortly after learning of his capture in 2009. LTC Ralph Peters, a military analyst whose work I'd followed for a number of years, famously made some indelicate comments to Bill O'Reilly that caused controversy. Following that there wasn't much news other than occasional releases of film clips and a report -- later dismissed as Taliban propaganda --that he'd joined the Taliban. Then, in late 2011, there were reports that he had escaped captivity for several days before becoming re-captured. I was, quite frankly, convicted of having forgotten him; I added him to the "all military personnel and those currently deployed" section of my prayer list and purchased (and have since worn) a bracelet with his name on it (see below).

I will continue wearing it until he's back on U.S. soil, probably later this week.

Does this mean that I'm comfortable with the prisoner swap? No, I'm not. It almost certainly wasn't a wise move and may have serious ramifications for our security in the future; it also was a decision about which SGT Bergdahl, who was a Private First Class when captured (servicemen and women who are classified as prisoners of war or missing in action are automatically promoted up to the grade of Colonel or Navy or Coast Guard Captain), almost certainly wasn't consulted. Was his father's now-deleted tweet something I would've written? No, but neither was it particularly traitorous (a number of friends of mine, particularly of a Libertarian bent have expressed similar sentiments) nor do they indicate that he's secretly converted to Islam (for the record, the homeschooling family are members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church a quite conservative denomination that is unequivocal about the uniqueness of Christ), but, again, those comments weren't made by SGT Bergdahl.

The circumstances surrounding Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance and capture need to be examined and no doubt  they will. He remained under the Uniform Code of Military Justice throughout his captivity (and does to this day) and the United States Army will no-doubt examine and investigate his conduct and take appropriate action, which is as it should be. We as a country do not leave soldiers in the hands of our enemies. Period.

So give thanks for his safe return and hope for and demand a detailed accounting for what happened, but I would urge those reading this to withhold judgement until all of the facts are in.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Former Missionaries to France to Speak at the Church of the Atonement


     The Rev. Canon William S. Jerdan, Executive Secretary of the Reformed Episcopal Board of Foreign Missions, will preach at the Church of the Atonement, a Reformed Episcopal parish of the Anglican Church in North America, on April 6 at 10am; he will be accompanied by his wife Dianne. The Church of the Atonement is located at 324 Fifth Avenue in Mount Pleasant.
      Canon Jerdan is no stranger to the South Carolina Lowcountry as his father, the late Rt. Rev. William H.S. Jerdan, came to South Carolina in 1958 to oversee what was then known as the Southern Missionary Jurisdiction of the Reformed Episcopal Church and led in its organization as the Diocese of the Southeast in 1973; Bishop Jerdan later served as Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church from 1987 to 1990. Canon Jerdan is a graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois) and Reformed Episcopal Seminary. Following pastoral ministry in Pennsylvania he and his wife Dianne went to France as missionaries in 1972 where he worked in church planting with the Evangelical Reformed Protestant Church of France, founding four congregations before returning to the United States in 2009. In conjunction with his current work with the Board of Foreign Missions, the Jerdans participate in missionary work in countries and regions as diverse as Germany, Croatia, West Africa, Cambodia, and Nepal. They have four grown children and a number of grandchildren.
      For more information, contact the Rev'd Charles A. Collins, Jr., Vicar of the Church of the Atonement, at (843) 608-1796 or at drew.collins (at)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bishop Jefferts -Schori to Give Inaugural Beers Lecture

In a year that has seen her presented an honorary degree from Oxford University and invited to give the Second Annual C.S. Lewis Legacy Lecture at Westminster College, the first woman in the history of the United States Episcopal Church to become Presiding Bishop, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, will deliver the inaugural David Booth Beers Lecture on the Practice of Law at the University of California Hastings School of the Law in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 5.

Her 11am lecture on Litigation and Suing Traditional Christians will be held in the Louis B. Mayer Multipurpose Room in Snodgrass Hall and will be open to the public with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Following the lecture, which was endowed by an anonymous donor in honor of Bishop Schori's Chancellor, David Booth Beers, both Bishop Schori and Mr. Beers, a 1960 graduate of the Hastings School of the Law, will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters and Law (Honoris Causa).

“We are quite honored that the Presiding Bishop has accepted our invitation to lecture,” said John Leshy, the Harry D. Sunderland Distinguished Professor of Real Property Law. “Neither her divinity degree nor her two graduate degrees in oceanography give her any expertise on this subject, but she more than makes up for it in real world experience suing both individuals and churches. Her track record is, quite simply, unparallelled.”

Bishop Jefferts-Schori was an oceanographer before being ordained in 1994 and has continued to use her knowledge of invertebrates in dealing with the House of Bishops. She remains an active, instrument-rated pilot. Before her election as Bishop she was a priest and university lecturer but remarkably never had charge of a parish.

The Presiding Bishop is the Chief Ecumenical Officer of the Church and Pastor and Primate of this national church with around 1.8 million members claimed in the United States alone. The Presiding Bishop is charged with responsibility for leadership in initiating, developing, and articulating policy and strategy, overseeing the administration of the national church staff, speaking for the church on issues of concern and interest, and putting a stick to them and making them jump.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Culture, Context, and Liturgical Exuberance

A recently posted video of "a spontaneous expression of great joy" that occurred at the end of the recent consecration of the Rev'd Stewart E. Rausch III as the first Bishop of the Upper Mid-West for the Anglican Church in North America has generated a number of views and no small amount of comment, including an interesting post by my friend the Very Rev'd Dr. Jonathan Riches, Dean of Reformed Episcopal Seminary. In the interest of full disclosure, my own admittedly snarky comment "Swing your curate dosey doe, they start that I'd have to go" may have been one of the "disparaging and insensitive remarks" to which Dr. Riches refers. He is certainly free to disagree with my appraisal of it as I am to differ with the display as videoed.

While noting that this worship was not his own style of worship or preference, Dr. Riches writes 

there are many Anglican Churches throughout the globe that have a vibrant worship style much more akin to this video then a staid reading of the 1928 or 1662 BCP. Further there are churches in our own Reformed Episcopal Church that have events before, after, or during worship that have similarity to this. Anglicanism holds that traditions and customs in every place do not need to be the same.
 I will not for a second dispute that one of the strengths of Anglicanism is its very roominess -- ours is a church in which the spikiest Anglo-Catholic and the most decided Evangelical and the even the Charismatic can peacefully co-exist, not will I disagree that many Anglicans throughout the world, particularly in the Global South, are far livelier in their worship than WASPs like me tend to be. Although my own preference is for traditional 1928 Book of Common Prayer worship I have worshiped in and led services that were considerably more contemporary and have been edified in doing so. In fact, just a few weeks ago I was the only Reformed Episcopalian in attendance at the consecration of the Rev'd David Collins Bryant as a Bishop for PEARUSA; while there were parts of the service that tended more toward the contemporary than is my norm, it was excellently done and downright old school compared to the Upper Mid-West expression. In sum, I am certainly not saying that contemporary, lively worship cannot be done well.

Dr. Riches' comment about "churches in our own Reformed Episcopal Church that have events before, after, or during worship that have similarity to this" particularly caught my attention because I strongly suspect that his comment largely referred to my own Diocese, which is unique among the Reformed Episcopal Church in being predominately black. I came to Anglicanism in this diocese in 2000 and have been associated with it ever since, save for a brief sojourn in Texas during that time where I was canonically albeit not physically resident here. He is correct in that there are parishes that feature Praise Dance Teams (I'm not a fan) but he overstates the case -- I have never seen anything that could compare to the display in the video in any of our parishes. Also, a careful viewing of the video and the procession at the service showed that the attendees were hardly multi-ethnic save for one bishop and a few other attendees, so the cultural argument is a bit forced.

A good deal of my ordained ministry thus far has been spent in majority-black parishes -- I currently serve as the Vicar or just such a parish -- and one of the things that I have found distressing is that instead of tapping into the rich heritage of spirituals the music that is often thought of as such shows far more of an influence from TBN than from the interweaving of African and Celtic music that is the uniquely American Spiritual. The result is often a worship service that can be so bound to one culture that it can be off-putting to other cultures. 

Last weekend it was my privilege to hear a series of lectures by the Rev'd Dr. Douglas F. Kelly at St. John's Chapel, a parish of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina that has been revitalized on Charleston's Eastside. Its Vicar, and my fellow Coastal Carolina University alumnus, the Rev'd Dr. Dallas Wilson, has sought " bring uncomplicated worship to Charleston's Eastside Community." Dr. Wilson came to Anglicanism after many years of ministry in the Assemblies of God specifically because he saw that fractionalized black families of the Eastside could benefit from the structure of liturgical worship found in the Book of Common Prayer. On Sunday following my own services in Mount Pleasant I slipped into St. John's Chapel to hear the last of Dr. Kelly's sermon. The worship at St. John's Chapel was far from stiff-upper lip and featured a number of spirituals but were done decently and in order. One inescapable element feature of the congregation was that it was multi-racial, with an fairly mixed age demographic as well.

Am I seeking to condemn Bishop Rausch or his newly-formed diocese? Not in the least. I hope that they minister faithfully in the Lord and that He blesses their labors. I would, however, dispute the notion that those of us who are less than approving of this portion of the service are not merely old liturgically fundamentalistic fuddy duddies but are instead seeking to worship the Lord with reverence, decency, and order.