Archive for August, 2017

The End of “Churchmanship?”

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Past generations of Episcopalians were familiar with the term, “Churchmanship.” It referred to the liturgical style and other customs of a given parish.

Thus, a “high church” parish had incense and elaborate vestments, while a “low church” parish preferred Morning Prayer to Holy Communion. The rector of the former was addressed as “Father;” the rector of the latter was known as “Mr.” (or “Dr.” or “Canon,” if he was lucky.) Moreover, in those days, “churchmen” referred to all Episcopalians. It wasn’t regarded as sexist, as all persons were included under the word, “men.”

Since those olden times, there have been so many changes to the styles of worship in the Episcopal parish that the high/low church distinction barely registers any more. Rectors of parishes with very relaxed liturgies go by “Father”–or “Mother;” “Mr.” is hardly ever heard, these days.

Perhaps the most important change with the years has been a general coming together of both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical styles. Most churches wear vestments and favor the Eucharist on Sundays. Most clergy also attempt to preach engaging sermons; they don’t see preaching as “low church.” While in Manhattan, individual parishes are still distinguished by their historic practices–St. Mary the Virgin being the paradigmatic High Church and Grace the example of Low Church–still, the majority of churches wouldn’t see themselves under either banner.

For what it’s worth, I classify the Church of the Incarnation as “Broad Church!”–J. Douglas Ousley


To Charlottesville from Ferguson

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

As I shook hands at the door after one of our services on Sunday, a parishioner came up to me. He was nearly in tears. He reminded me that he had recently moved to New York City from Charlottesville.

Even at that early moment, he could probably sense that Charlottesville–one of the most liberal cities in the South–was about to become a by-word for racial hatred and violence.

Another parishioner rightly urged our parish to take a strong stand on this issue. I believe we can do that, because racial tolerance is not an optional virtue to be acquired or not as the spirit moves you. This is no place for Anglican comprehensiveness. The Broad Church of Jesus Christ isn’t broad enough to include racists and anti-Semites. —J. Douglas Ousley


Fire and Fury

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Following the President’s threat against North Korea yesterday, a CNN correspondent was reporting from Hawaii. She was an expert in nuclear war damage and gave a long list of things Hawaiians should do in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack. For example, if they are in the city, they should go to the basement of the biggest building around; if they are in the country, they should go into caves.

A later commentator observed that this might have been an extreme reaction. War was not that imminent, he felt.

Whoever is right, the situation is alarming to any American. I was reminded of the nuclear war nightmares I had growing up during the Cold War of the 1950’s.

Whoever is right, Christians everywhere should be praying with all their might for peace. —J. Douglas Ousley