Wednesday, November 28, 2001


In the traditional service of holy matrimony of The Book of Common Prayer [1549-1662], these words said by the man, after the solemn promises have been made both by the man and woman, are most significant:

“With this ring, I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.”

Note – “I thee wed” & “I thee worship” & “I thee endow.”

Here the object comes between the subject and the verb (as in French or
Italian) and is a structure that is uncommon in English of any period. One would expect in normal English “I wed thee” & “I worship thee” & “I endow thee.”

Why did Cranmer choose this odd form of the English sentence in his writing/editing of the Service of Holy Matrimony?

Apparently, because he did not merely want to identify & describe what was happening in the marriage but rather to provide a form actually to perform & to enact the marriage.

The unusual order of words used by the husband for this “till death do us part” commitment & union has two specific merits --- first, there is the actual solemnity of the words for the unique moment, and secondly, the order of the words “I thee wed” tends to put equal stress on each word when spoken. And this is good and proper for an equal stress on each word brings together the three elements of the act of bodily union in/with an equal significance (man, woman and being wed).

[Note that the 1928 BCP of the ECUSA retained the “I thee wed” even though it did not retain either the “I thee worship” (because the word no longer is used of a human relation) or the “I thee endow” (because of modern property laws etc.).]

The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon (with thanks to Professor Andor Gomme for the above insight).

November 25, 2001

Monday, November 26, 2001


“Woe to the Shepherds who destroy the sheep and scatter the sheep of my pasture”

These words, from the first Lesson [Jeremiah 23:1] in the ECUSA Lectionary for the last Sunday before Advent, have been ringing in my ears since I first heard them today. [It is of interest that the Epistle reading in the classic BCP Lectionary for this same Sunday is also from Jeremiah 23, but begins at verse 5 and so does not contain the above words.]

As I prepare to leave canonical residence in the diocese of Quincy in the ECUSA and move soon to Christ Church, Biddulph Moor, in the diocese of Lichfield in the Church of England, I cannot but think that these words apply very particularly as a word of the Lord today to the Bishops and clergy of the ECUSA, especially the Bishops.

The very name, The Episcopal Church, puts emphasis on the Episcopate and thus on each Episcopos [Bishop]. If the Bishops of the ECUSA fail to be what they are called to be then the whole Church suffers deeply for they are the chief pastors of the flock.

The content of the service for the consecration of a Bishop (whether in the ordinal of the classic BCP or in the 1979 prayer book) makes clear the high calling and onerous duty of each bishop to teach and safeguard the Faith, to care for the clergy and people, and to live in such a manner as to adorn the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the Chief Shepherd.

Unless my eyes deceive me and my mind wrongly interprets the empirical evidence, the clearest fact in regard to the ECUSA in my 11 years in the USA is that the Bishops have failed to be genuine pastors of the flock of Christ because they have failed to teach and guard the Faith, morals and divine order, and at the same time they have encouraged and abetted heresy, error and immorality.

They have rejected the authority of Holy Scripture over the Church; they have rejected the witness and guidance of holy Tradition in and over the Church [tradition in the dogma and teaching of the ecumenical Councils and in the classic Anglican Formularies]; they have accepted the dominant liberal, secularized, western view of human rights, sexuality, self-worth (self-expression etc.) and given to this human-centered ethos God-names and language of Zion reference. They have turned from Trinitarian Theism to forms of Unitarianism, panentheism and pantheism. And they have done this with their clergy and laity in the General Convention, in diocesan conventions and in their pastoral relations, letters and permissions.

The few bishops who have opposed some or all of this new episcopal agenda have not (it seems) declared themselves out of communion with their sisters and brethren and so are [whether they like it or not] participants in this general reality, and upon them the “woe” falls.

It needs to be noted that often these same bishops who claim to be “orthodox” have actually redefined orthodoxy to make its content significantly less than it has been in the life of the Church over many centuries. Further, some of them tend to allow in their own dioceses flagrant examples of clergy practicing the new Episcopalian religion and morality [immorality]. Thus the “woe” remains.

What applies to the chief shepherds of the ECUSA also applies to all the clergy – all of us -- for they/we share in the ethos and content. Woe to all the shepherds, woe to all of us under-shepherds. Being members of one society we all share in its disease and judgment.

Unless all the shepherds repent and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ in all his Advent glory and in all his Advent holiness, and humble themselves under the mighty hand of the LORD GOD, the Father almighty, then the WOE will be for each of us a judgment that sooner or later will cause us to tremble, really tremble…

How many people are starved, how many people have been scattered, how many are walking in the way towards hell, because of the failure of Shepherds to care for the flock for which Christ died!

I wish that I could state that ALL the Bishops (circa 104) of the Anglican Jurisdictions outside the ECUSA gave a clear and unambiguous portrait of godliness, sound teaching and good order. Regrettably, too many of them seem to be ruled by ideas and passions that do not adorn the Gospel of Christ. This said, there are some fine examples of bishops in these churches who genuinely care for the flock in terms of biblical standards, thinking not of their own promotion but that of the kingdom of heaven.

Having said all this, I cannot say that the Bishops of the Church of England are a lot more faithful, holy and well ordered than those of the ECUSA. But I have not been canonically resident in Britain for the last 11 years and have no near view.

What seems very clear to me is that if the Anglican Way is to survive in the West/North as a godly form of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, then it will be despite most of the Shepherds and not because of the Episcopate. Thus, the sheep must find ways to green pasture and to still waters on their own if they are to preserve the true faith and enter into life eternal. I hope and pray that they will do this and be the means in the divine providence of causing the Episcopate to repent!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon (Sunday before Advent, 2001)

Thursday, November 08, 2001

The Eleventh of the Eleventh

This coming Sunday will be November 11th. This date is engraved in the history of Europe for it is the day when the First World War ended and also the date since then when the dead of one and then two world wars have been remembered publicly by Church & State. In recent times in Great Britain the Remembrance has been moved to the Sunday nearest the 11th.

However, this year the 11th is a Sunday and so the Nation will keep a two minute silence at 11.a.m. Led by the Queen and Government in London, services will also be held at local memorials throughout the nation, as all keep the silence at 11.a.m. as an act of national unity in remembrance and thanksgiving.

Some of the most solemn moments of my life have been at such services in the 1970s-1980s when, surrounded by the military, the Guides, Scouts, British Legion etc., in small towns I have read out the names (a long list) of those who died in World War I and then (a shorter list) of those who died in World War II.

Because of the ongoing campaign (war) against terrorists and terrorism, and because the armed forces are being increasingly used in this dangerous activity, there will be for many present a special poignancy to this year’s Remembrance.

In the USA the tradition of keeping the 11th of the 11th is not as strong as in western Europe but this year, in the light of the campaign against terrorists/criminals and their evil deeds, it will be well for Americans to make a special effort to devote time to silence & remembrance, as well as to fervent prayer for the armed forces and their leaders as they are espeically active in the campaign against terrorism presently centered on Afghanistan.

In all our prayers and thoughts we need also to remember the innocent victims of war wherever they be and whatever be their backgrounds.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon November 8, 2001
ACNS 2750 - AUSTRALIA - 3 November 2001

Sydney Synod moves to forward lay and diaconal presidency at the Lord's Supper
By Margaret Rodgers

[Anglican Media Sydney] Sydney Synod passed resolutions on lay and diaconal administration (presidency) on Saturday 27 October. At the conclusion of the debate Archbishop Peter Jensen informed the Synod of his discussions on the issue with other Anglican leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The first resolution requested the appointment of a Committee on lay and diaconal administration "to investigate the options, if any, consistent with law, that are available." The committee is "to report to back the next ordinary session of the Synod [2002] together with any appropriate legislation."

The second resolution requested the Sydney representatives to the General Synod to "promote a bill for a canon to permit a deacon to administer Holy Communion" when General Synod next meets in 2004.

Archbishop Jensen had previously indicated, in his Presidential Address, his own support of lay and diaconal administration in his Presidential Address, while at the same time saying it must "be legal."

"The theology of lay administration is linked to lay ministry and especially lay preaching, and flows naturally and properly from the theology of the Bible and our reformed heritage as it applies to the contemporary world," the Archbishop said. "Other dioceses have developed novelties such as local priests and extended communion to help with ministry.

"Lay administration, should it be legal, would be a contribution to the common task of bringing the gospel to Australia."

North Sydney Bishop-elect, Dr Glenn Davies and the Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth combined to argue the initial resolution before the Synod. Dr Davies stressed that the matter had been before the Sydney Synod since 1977, with six (6) reports from the Diocesan Doctrine Commission and five (5) other reports from Synod Committees. He was following on Archbishop Jensen's earlier reference to his astonishment at suggestions in Australian dioceses "that we {Sydney} wish to adopt this course as a sort of adolescent pay back aimed at the National Church for ordaining women."

Bishop Forsyth said that he didn't "come with much enthusiasm for lay and diaconal administration of holy communion", but he was most concerned "that any way forward must follow a constitutionally legal way to proceed.". Anything less, Bishop Forsyth said "would be unworthy of us and massively divisive here in this diocese."

This resolution received an overwhelming affirmative vote in the Synod, though it was not unanimous. The Rev Dr James MacPherson, Rector of Granville, argued that the work of the proposed committee "may have the
(unintended) effect of straining even further relationships within the Australian Church."

Ms Linda Hughes, lay representative from Mt Druitt parish, and Dr Chris Forbes brought the second motion calling for a canon for General Synod on diaconal presidency. Ms Hughes said that the Synod had always linked lay and diaconal administration and that it should consider diaconal administration in its own right.

"Diaconal administration at Holy Communion is the logical first step," Ms Hughes said. "We should have done it years ago."

This motion also received strong support from the Synod, though not without a lay representative from Christ Church St Laurence, a large Sydney city church, saying that such an act would require the calling of a worldwide ecumenical council.

After debate concluded, Archbishop Jensen informed Synod members of the discussions he had held with other diocesan bishops at the General Synod held in Brisbane last July. He said that there had been frank and courteous discussions, and that he had been able to present his opinions and hear from the other diocesans.

Dr Jensen also said that he had some initial correspondence from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the matter, and that he was glad to have commenced this dialogue.

Dr Davies' motion, was carried in the following form:

"Synod noting its own frequently expressed desire for lay and diaconal administration of Holy Communion and the Archbishop's comments that he wishes to find a constitutionally legal way to proceed, requests that the Standing Committee appoint a committee to investigate the options, if any, consistent with law, that are available and report back to the next ordinary session of the Synod together with any appropriate legislation."

Miss Hughes' motion, was carried in the following form:

"Synod requests that our representatives on General Synod, at the next session of the General Synod, promote a bill for a canon to permit a deacon to administer Holy Communion."

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.