As we receive the announcement concerning the resignation of The Rev Stephen Peay as Dean of Nashotah House and the appointment of Dr. Garwood Anderson as Interim Dean, we offer our prayers for all involved in this transition. The House has a critical role to play in the future of Anglo-Catholicism, as it has been the premier Seminary in embodying and teaching the fullness of our faith and practice since the mid-19th Century. Many of our priests and bishops trained there, and we pray that Nashotah will continue in this mission for generations to come.
Beloved in Christ,
This morning I needed to be surrounded by a parish. Why? Last night it was reported on the local news that a man had been involved in a dispute with his brother which resulted in a knife being drawn, a gun being produced, an automobile abduction, a chase, a SWAT team, a shot……………and a death. The name of the victim has not been released. I am releasing it. His name was Keith Allen and I baptized him. I knew his father who died when Keith was a toddler, I know his mother who is somewhat disabled, I know his brother whom we cannot find, and I know his eldest brother with whom he had the fight. Keith was Schizophrenic. Keith had been ROTC. Keith had wanted to be a doctor to save lives, and now he is dead.
As the days go on we will read reports about what happened, but Keith was a child of God, and we cannot even imagine what was going through his mind in the final hours of his life. I had the privilege of visiting with him at various points in his life, and since my “retirement” as Bishop of Quincy and my return to the State of Texas, I have seen him both at the Church where I baptized him, and where his father’s cremains are placed, and at the church which I currently am serving. He was shy, withdrawn, sad and at the same time searching to discover how to function with all that he had endured. Indeed, it was reported by the local news that authorities had had various contacts with him. So have I, and so has God.
Now we live within the realm of mercy. A mother has lost her child, two brothers have lost a brother, and a mind that was occasionally trapped within the complexities of mental illness has ceased to function in this world.
So…why did I need to be surrounded today by a parish? This is not about me!!! This is about the fact that far too many people believe that their rationalizations and excuses for being apart from the Body of Christ are reasonable. Today is a day when people need to hold closer to one another. What would you say to that mother, and to that brother who now wonders what he could have done? This is why the Body of Christ holds fast. This is why we get up on Sunday mornings even when we are sick or tired. Most of the conflict in families and churches are insignificant in the light of the tragic elements related to Keith Allen. For the media it is a story that will be old news tomorrow, but for those who knew him, this will be ongoing pain.
Mental illness, in a general sense, is on one hand either an excuse for bad behavior, or an explanation for misunderstood behavior, but last night a young man died. In a few days he will be buried….but in the realm of God’s love he had a name that should not be buried ..Keith Allen.
Today I baptized two precious girls. We named them, and we commended them to God as He adopted them as His own.
Rest In Peace Keith Allen. You had very little in this world, but at the font you were named, reborn, regenerate, and became an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven. May the Angels lead you into Paradise.
Bp. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC
Beloved in Christ,
I can hardly imagine that I was consecrated a bishop – a successor to the Apostles – 23 years ago today. Yesterday at Mass at St. Timothy’s in Fort Worth, I celebrated a Vigil Mass of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and I focused on the incongruities that exist in the celebration of two diverse individuals.
In the midst of the day, I recalled a question asked of me recently, “Why do you and your family seem to be so happy?” It’s true – in our 55 years of dating and our 50 years of marriage, Jo and I rarely argue. I do not ever recall having an argument with our children, and, in spite of the fact that I come from a volatile part of the country – Western Pennsylvania, my family did not engage in conflict – there was enough around us! My parents did not use profanity, and my father claimed that his Swedish heritage resulted in his being “neutral” in a variety of ways.
I think what I learned, and have experienced is that people can choose to be angry, but that, in fact, we do not make people angry. Some people simply choose to make every “slight” in life become an unnecessary component. In the Diocese of Quincy it was said that the Bishop of Quincy reserved his right to be angry when righteous indignation was indicated, but in retrospect, it meant that with all of the truly tragic circumstances of the world in which we live, anger is a waste of energy. Conflict is a luxury that those who are engaged in international tragedy cannot endure. In the funny book, “Who moved my Cheese?” The author points out that for people with an extraordinarily small worldview, minuscule matters are elevated to a level of absurdity. As I have often said, traditional Christians are regularly adept at shooting their own people, or, perhaps more particularly, we all too often have traded in the Foot Washing Ceremony for the Foot Shooting Ceremony.
So…if I do not seem to be angry very often, it is because I have reserved that decisional emotion for something really important – like the persecution of Christians or Heretical Teaching, and a departure from what God has revealed. Far too many people today maximize matters that are truly minimal in importance. Egocentric behavior is all too often more prominent than Christocentric behavior, and the task of the Christian is to present Christ to the broken – not to sing the hymn “How Great I art.”
So…..why do my family and I never engage in arguments and disagreements? It is because we know that being a Christian family is far more important. Jo always told the children to thank God that Daddy was following Jesus and helping others, and our children spent more time in prayer than in conflict. I am blessed. Twenty-three years later I must strain to recall conflict in my Diocese. If I eliminated outside interference from ecclesiastical bodies, and limited egocentric behavior – there is nothing to report.
Those who enjoy the art of anger and conflict are welcome to entertain it, but God is not a God of chaos – He is a God of Order – and His Son has demonstrated His Love – with His arms stretched upon the Cross ready to embrace you and me.
Bp. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC
Our President, Fr. Larry Bausch, joins Michael Howell and Louisa Brooks at the ACNA Assembly.
A group of representatives of The Society, led by the Bishops of Ebbsfleet, Fulham and Richborough, have held a seminar in Rome. Its purpose was to present and explain to an invited audience both the official provisions put in place to enable Anglican Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals to flourish within the Church of England following the ordination of women as bishops (notably in the House of Bishops’ Declaration) and The Society as the anglo-catholic structure which builds on those provisions. The group also included Dr Colin Podmore (Secretary of the Council of Bishops of The Society) and the Revd Ian McCormack.
The seminar was held at the Anglican Centre in Rome by kind permission of its Director, Archbishop David Moxon, who participated in the seminar with the Associate Director and the Director-designate, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi. The British Ambassador to the Holy See was also present. The Roman Catholic participants included staff members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other dicasteries of the Holy See, together with a number of Roman Catholics prominent in Anglican – Roman Catholic relations.
In addition to presentations by the members of the group and responses by Roman Catholic participants, the seminar also included a presentation by the Revd Alexander McGregor, Deputy Legal Adviser to the General Synod, on the legislation and the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, said, ‘The seminar has been a very positive experience, and warmly received. It has given us a valuable opportunity to set out for our friends and colleagues in Rome how The Society is responding, in an anomalous situation, to the challenges, on the one hand, of obedience to an ancient common ecclesiology we share with Roman Catholics, and on the other of confidence in those aspects of mutual recognition and witness we have with our fellow Anglicans. We are very grateful to the Anglican Centre for making it possible.’