Ben Lomond: When Antiochian Orthodoxy Drove Away its Converts

August 22, 2008

A terrible tragedy happened 10 years ago this month known as the Ben Lomond Crisis. According to these re-published accounts, it was an event characterized by rigidity, intrigue and ethnocentricism on the one hand, and a defiance of legitimate episcopal authority on the other, which ruined Antiochian Orthodoxy’s best hope for a major influx of Evangelical converts. The “Orthodox Moment” among Evangelicals began and ended at Ben Lomond, California.

While there are undoubtedly conflicting versions of this event, here are two accounts of what took place in this historic turn for Orthodoxy in America.

From Ben Lomond Tragedy:

An account from 1998, November 26, 1998 (broken into paragraphs for easier reading)

The parish in Ben Lomond, CA was then the largest parish of the Antiochian Evangelical Mission. In 1997, it was a parish of about 1500. Saturday Vespers had about 200 attendees. The entire congregation sang as the choir. It has a K-12 school, a world class choir, a hospitality house (for visitors), programs for teens, and a publishing house, Conciliar Press, which the evangelicals brought with them. The parish allowed a highly respected spiritual father from Mount Athos to visit them and to hear confessions and give guidance. People began to fast and pray more.

The hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese then forbade any Antiochian clergy or faithful to go for a confession to a non-Antiochian priest. Their practice of having a complete round of daily services, with Matins, Liturgy, Vespers, and everything else, all well attended, was considered bizarre and no longer normal. Moreover, they had some unusual liturgical customs and Russian customs in their services. Certain Arab ladies in the parish got the ear of the local Bishop and started demanding that the thing was getting out of control; a new leadership had to be installed at Ben Lomond. Read the rest of this entry »

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Telegraph: ‘Substantial number’ of clergy will leave over plans for women bishops

August 14, 2008

Here is the bombshell:

A group of 14 traditionalist bishops claim that there are “irreconcilable differences” over historic reforms that would introduce women as bishops without giving proper concessions to oponents of the move.

In a letter to 1,400 clergy who have indicated that they are considering defecting from the Church of England, they are highly critical of a decision by the General Synod – the Church’s parliament – to ignore proposals for a compromise over the divisive issue. Read the rest of this entry »


Anglican Bitterness over Converts to Rome

August 14, 2008

It’s all over the net. All kinds of talk about Anglicans swimming, put on swim trunks, taking the plunge, testing the waters, dipping the toe, crossing over, etc. It will be a wonder if the Tiber can handle the traffic as well as it handles the copious references to the metaphor … if they all come.

Those who do come are deserving of a hearty welcome from those of us standing along the shore. They certainly will have paid a hefty price in strained and even lost friendships as they have made a momentous and meaningful journey to the Catholic Church.

As an Anglican watcher I have noticed a distinct pattern on most Anglican blogs. Whenever something positive about the Catholic Church is posted there is a strong and bitter reaction among many of the commenters. Antipathy toward the Catholic Church is deeply ingrained in the minds of Anglicans and protestants from an early age. So it erupts almost without reflection whenever the moment calls for it. It has been particularly heavy in the wake of word of talks between some Diocese of Fort Worth Episcopal clergy and the local Catholic bishop.

Here is an example of the kind of visceral bitterness that has surfaced at blogs like the Continuum: Read the rest of this entry »


Tiber Crossings, Anglican Mass Conversion in Fort Worth?

August 12, 2008

5 Bob to: Midwest Conservative Journal:

Will the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth make the ultimate jump?

A delegation of Episcopal priests from Fort Worth paid a visit to Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann earlier this summer, asking for guidance on how their highly conservative diocese might come into “full communion” with the Catholic Church.

Whether that portends a serious move to turn Fort Worth Episcopalians and their churches into Catholics and Catholic churches is a matter of dispute.

The Rev. William Crary, senior rector of the Fort Worth diocese, confirmed that on June 16 he and three other priests met with Bishop Vann, leader of the Fort Worth Catholic diocese, and presented him a document that is highly critical of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The document states that the overwhelming majority of Episcopal clergy in the Fort Worth diocese favor pursuing an “active plan” to bring the diocese into full communion with the Catholic Church.

While declining to specify what that might mean, Mr. Crary said it likely would not mean “absorption” by the Catholic Church.

He cast the initiative as following Anglican and Catholic leaders in longstanding efforts to bring the two groups into greater cooperation, with the ultimate goal of honoring Jesus’ call in John 17:21 for Christian unity.

“These discussions between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have been going on for 42 years,” he said. “We would like to bring these down to the local level.”

But other local Episcopalians interpret the meeting and document differently.

“There’s a very serious attempt on the part of Episcopal clergy in the Diocese of Forth Worth to petition Rome for some kind of recognition,” said the Rev. Courtland Moore, who is retired as rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington.

“They make it clear that they no longer believe there is truth in the Anglican Communion, and the only way they can find truth is reunion with Rome.”

Mr. Moore is co-chairman of Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, a group that wants the Fort Worth diocese to remain in the Episcopal Church. He obtained a copy of the document the priests gave to Bishop Vann and made it available to reporters. Read the rest of this entry »


Former Anglican Bishop, Catholic Convert, Jeffrey Steenson on Anglocatholicism

July 17, 2008

Steenson as an Anglican Bishop

Former Anglican Bishop Jeffrey Steenson is widely revered among Anglicans as a man of profound integrity and service in the Lord’s vineyard. Last week he spoke at the Anglican Use Conference. He spoke with his usual clarity and Anglican eloquence. Welcome home, Jeffery.

His full address can be found here.

It all begins with the conviction that the Catholic Church simply is. She is not one option amongst many. People who become alienated from their own churches will sometimes think that the next step is to go down to the marketplace and see what is on offer: which church is going to give me the best deal? Those people seldom find the Catholic Church because they have missed the essential point – the fullness of Christ’s blessings is not distributed across the ecclesial landscape but flows from the one Church.

Read the rest of this entry »


TAC-Related Announcement Post-Lambeth?

June 23, 2008

Traditional Anglicans await ruling from Holy See  

Traditionalist Anglicans applying for communion with Rome, rumor has it, may be receiving an answer after Lambeth 2008.

(One wonders if the Spouse’s Conference is now officially co-ed too…)

Personally, I prayerfully hope so.

Say a Rosary to help effect the co-ordination of the return home of those who are so clearly ready.


Magdi Allam, Benedict. Why?

March 25, 2008

“I realize what I am going up against

but I will confront my fate with my head high,

with my back straight and the interior strength

of one who is certain about his faith.”

— Magdi Christian Allam.

Some voices in Europe and other places are presently criticizing the pope for his high profile baptism of Magdi Allam at the Easter Vigil. They assert that the pope is somehow taunting Islam and unnecessarily putting Mr. Allam’s life in danger, and perhaps the pope’s as well. I cannot know the pope’s mind. But I would like to suggest why he might do something so dramatic and frankly foolish in the eyes of the world:

I think the pope is making all kinds of points.

  • He wants to uphold the example of this man who has stood up to Islam already for many years.
  • He also wants to make an issue of the Muslim practice of assassination of those who convert out of it. Imagine the shame heaped on Islam if Allam is killed.
  • He wants to show Muslims that reasonable and rational people, the very best of Islam are ashamed of what Islam has become.
  • He wants to make a point to sleepy Europeans that Christianity is a faith worth dying for.
  • He wants to give all the world an example of Christ-like willingness to die for the good, rather than to kill.
  • He wants the world to know that it is superior to suffer violence than to commit it.
  • He wants to show the world the moral and spiritual superiority of Christ and Christianity.
  • He wants to show the world that the willingness to innocently suffer violence for one’s faith is not reserved to the earliest ages, but is a very present reality.
  • He wants to highlight that Christians throughout the world willingly suffer violence for their faith every day.
  • He wants to bring about religious freedom, a true liberation of personal conscience in the lands of Islam.
  • He wants to give the Muslim world an example of Christian virtue that they will notice.
  • Should Mr. Allam or Benedict lose their lives, he would want to offer martyrs for the sake of the Muslim world.

Finally, Magdi Allam, now on the world stage, may be safer than if he had not been in the spotlight. Who knows?