Category: News

The Anglican Way: Both Catholic and Reformed

By the Most Reverend Ray R. Sutton
This article was originally published at Anglican Compass in March of 2023.

“What is Anglicanism?” I’ve heard all kinds of answers. Some define it as catholic. Others speak of it as reformed. Then most offer the “middle way” (via media) for a definition.

Via Media? It’s true that via media has often become the primary identifier for Anglicanism. But it is not a positive definition. It was implemented out of necessity at a particular time called The Elizabethan Settlement (1559-1563), which emerged after the back-and-forth of English monarchs.

1. Henry VIII separated the English Church from the jurisdiction of the Pope in 1534 over his plea to be granted an annulment. But he still considered himself Roman Catholic.

2. Edward VI took the throne after Henry’s death in 1547, and led the English Church into full reform. He died as a young man succeeded by his oldest sister Mary.

3. Mary ascended in 1553 and quickly took England back under the authority of the Pope. She presided over the martyrdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, two other leading English Bishops (Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley), and scores of clergymen. But then Mary died.

4. Elizabeth, Henry’s other daughter, took the throne in 1558. She inherited an divided nation with constituencies favoring Rome or the Reformation. Finding a via media to reunite England became necessary for Elizabeth to secure some semblance of peace for the nation. The Elizabethan Settlement was not so much about providing a definition as much as unifying two parties into one church and nation.

We can begin to see the problem with the middle way approach in using it to define Anglicanism. It merely presents Anglicanism as somewhere between two differing views of theology and the Church. It’s what I call a non-definition definition. After five hundred years, the middle ways have shifted to different mediums such as between Luther/Calvin, Roman Catholic/Protestant, confessional/Latitudinarian, low church/high church, evangelical/Anglo Catholic, liberal/conservative and so forth. In the end, however, whatever is understood as via media doesn’t provide an actual definition but only a vague description. There’s more connotation than denotation.

Instead, if we closely examine the great defenders of the Anglican Way in the 16th century at a moment apart from the Bishop of Rome, they offer a consistent definition. The primary theologians of this period, for example, were Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury (1522-1571) and Richard Hooker (1554-1600). Both speak of the Church of England with two words joined together, reformed catholic. Let’s begin with the older of the two terms, catholic.

The Anglican Church is Catholic. First, the word catholic is used by the English Reformers with a more ancient meaning than the narrower Roman Catholic understanding. It is a term confessed in the early Nicene and Apostles’ creeds dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries. These creeds speak of believing in the “Catholic Church,” the undivided church of the first millennium. Perhaps the best explanation of the origin of the term catholic is that it comes from a Greek phrase, kata holos, meaning “according to the whole.”

Christianity in Britain was part of this Undivided, Catholic Church. Catholic referred to every ancient See of the Church (Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome), and not to only one part of this historic Church. Furthermore, the Church in Britannia claimed Jerusalem as its founding See, since Christianity had come directly from it in the early centuries long before the Roman See claimed more Western jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the Undivided Church split East and West in 1054. When it did, the Eastern Church took the designation Orthodox. The Western Church claimed the word catholic in terms of its leading See in Rome calling itself the Roman Catholic Church. This set the stage for confusion about the word catholic.

When England was led away from Papal authority, Roman Catholic scholars began to claim that the English Church had left the Catholic Faith and order. They even argued that Cranmer and others had created a new church and theology. Their premise was that a church could not be catholic apart from Rome. English scholars responded that none of this was true. A new church and faith were not being established. They were only returning to the catholic faith of the Undivided Church long before the Western Church was called Roman Catholic.

Jewel’s Defense. Elizabeth I asked Bishop John Jewel of Salisbury to present this counter argument (Salisbury Cathedral is depicted above, as viewed from the Bishop’s garden). He wrote in 1562 his classic Apology for the Church of England to prove that the Anglican Church was not novel, as is so often mistakenly attributed to Henry VIII. The Church of England did not begin with him. The English Church had already been called the Church in England long before the Reformation. Jewel even reminds that Christianity in Britain was even more ancient.

Jewel demonstrates that there was a catholic church in England for almost seven centuries before coming under the jurisdiction of the Roman See. The Gospel spread to Britain in the time of the Roman Empire within the first two centuries of Christianity. It became a fully developed church with bishops, priests, and deacons. Its bishops had even participated in church councils such as Arles (314) and Nicaea (325). In other words, given the ancient definition of catholic, the church in Briton functioned as part of and in submission to the whole without being under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

In addition, the catholic church in Britain had a fully developed theology based on the Scriptures as understood by the Undivided Church of the ancient creeds and councils. When one of their own monks named Pelagius had to be corrected, his theology was answered by the great Bishop of North Africa, St. Augustine (4th-5th centuries). And this theology was used in the 3rd Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431) to renounce Pelagius. The monk fled Britain, but the Church in England submitted to the rulings of the ecumenical council. It was an indigenous part of the whole, catholic Church, in faith and order, but the Bishop of Rome had no jurisdiction over the Church in Britain.

Thus, though the Anglican church had become subservient to Rome in its medieval development, the 16th century break marked a return to its earlier form. The English Reformation was not creating something new, it was returning to the faith once delivered.

Roman Innovation. The final coup de grace in Jewel’s defense was to turn the argument of something novel against the late Medieval Roman Catholic Church. He pointed out that it was the Roman Church who had actually adopted a new faith and order.

As for the faith he highlights the late Medieval problem of understanding grace as automatic apart from faith. This approach resulted in buying and selling grace. Such theology and practices were newer, erroneous developments. They were not the teachings of Scripture and the ancient church understanding that grace can never be bought, Christ’s death alone is the basis of atonement, and faith only is required for justification.

He speaks also of the Roman Catholic way of explaining Christ’s real presence in the Lord’s Supper as a 10th-11th century innovation. This is the view that the substance of the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Christ (transubstantiation). Theologians of the Undivided Church such as Ambrose specifically denied this understanding and only used the phrase “spiritual presence” to explain Christ’s presence in the Sacrament. And the Universal Church had allowed multiple, as long as real presence was not rejected to the point of reducing the Sacrament to symbol only.

Concerning order, there was a Bishop of Rome from the earliest of days of the church. But he did not claim universal jurisdiction until after the split between East and West in 1054. All the Metropolitan Bishops of ancient Sees such as Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, were also called Pope. Furthermore, no Bishop of Rome ever attended or led one of the seven ecumenical councils. Neither did his jurisdiction take on greater authority over the state until later in the Middle Ages. If anyone was subject to the accusation of new, argued Jewel, it was Medieval Rome.

Thus, a 20th century Archbishop of Canterbury named Geoffrey Fisher described the Anglican Communion with the older meaning of catholic as a church having,

No doctrine of our own – we only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic [Undivided] Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and those creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock. It is a reminder to us of the immense treasure that is committed to our charge – the immense responsibility on us in these days to maintain unshaken those common traditions we have inherited from those who have gone before us. (Quoted in the Church Times, February 1951, p. 1)

The archbishop expresses what the early English Reformers like Jewel had meant by the word catholic. Clearly there was need for reform in the late Middle Ages. But this effort was with a view of returning to the Scriptures as understood by the early Catholic Church in Britain before it became Roman Catholic. The word catholic shaped understanding of the other term reformed.

The Anglican Church is Reformed. How does the ancient view of catholic specifically inform an understanding of reformed? At the beginning of the 16th century Reformation, there was a popular descriptive Latin phrase in the Renaissance picked up by all the leading Reformers. It was, ad fontes, meaning “back to the sources.” The sources for the Reformers were the Holy Scriptures and the early church fathers who wrote the ancient creeds and met in the historic ecumenical councils. They were trying to correct the problems of their late Medieval Church by going back to the Scriptures and the theology of the ancient church. They were reformed catholics.

Unfortunately, most of the European countries attempting to reform their churches were limited. Except for Scandinavia and England, the majority of their bishops did not embrace the Reformation. Even if they did, however, they couldn’t leave the Roman Church because of the close tie between Church and State. A bishop could not depart one without abandoning the other, which was virtually impossible. Yet, the Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin never in principle rejected a Scriptural role for bishops. Calvin for example speaks of the need for “godly bishops” in Book IV of his Institutes. But except for isolated instances, reformed catholic bishops were not to be found in Europe. Models of the Church were consequently innovated to compensate for the lack of episcopal government.

The English part of the Reformation, however, was afforded a unique opportunity to reform according to the ancient catholic standard. When King Henry VIII led the nation from the authority of the Bishop of Rome, the entire English Church with bishops, priests, and deacons was able to be placed in a position for subsequent reform. Though Henry remained Roman Catholic, later English monarchs, Edward and Elizabeth, allowed for the English Reformation to apply an ad fontes approach in ways beyond what the greater European Reformation was able to achieve.
At the same time, this attempt to return to the Scriptures and the early church fathers had to speak to the doctrinal controversies of the day.

Liturgical Reform. This English Reformation approach to the meaning of reform appears in the classic Anglican Formularies of the Book of Common Prayer (Book of worship), the Ordinal (Form for ordaining bishops, priests, and deacons), and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (Doctrinal Statement).

Overall, Cranmer used the ancient Mozarabic Rite of Gaul and Spain as the model for reforming the late Medieval Mass in what became The Book of Common Prayer. He didn’t throw out completely the late Medieval Mass. Rather, he reformed it back to earlier models of liturgy. As the saying goes, he “didn’t re-invent the wheel.” In the service of Holy Communion, for example, he restored what was called the Mass of the Catechumenate and combined it with the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The Mass of the Catechumenate was a service around the Word of God to prepare a person for receiving the Sacrament. It consisted of prayers, reciting the Ten Commandments, reading Scripture, confessing the Faith with the Nicene Creed, preaching or teaching by the minister, and concluding with offerings and prayer. Sometimes this service is called ante (before) communion. Cranmer saw the important need for teaching the faith once delivered to the English people. He wanted them to come to Holy Communion with instruction (catechesis) from the Holy Scriptures.

Doctrinal Reform. Moreover, Cranmer reformed doctrine according to the reformation emphasis on the Holy Scriptures. He taught and shaped the English Church in the authority of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith only, and the more ancient view of the real presence of Christ in the sacraments. These were reforms that articulated doctrine in light of ancient understanding. It was back to the old while addressing new challenges.

Cranmer did use the ideas of other reformers in some of his teaching. At points he is strongly influenced by John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland, such as his first version of the Forty-Two Articles of Religion. In contrast to other churches of the Reformation, however, the English Church is not based entirely on the theology of one scholar, even one as great as Thomas Cranmer. Thus, fifteen years after Cranmer’s death, the English Church removed the more Calvinistic articles to provide a more catholic latitude in understanding the Sovereignty of God. The result was the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion in 1571.

Thus Anglicanism, as intended by the English Reformation, was fully Reformed in its proper sense: Re-Formed back to ancient Biblical Catholicism. No doubt there have been and are Anglican theologians who emphasize one of these adjectives over the other. However, the words were not intended to be separated to the point of becoming stand-alone in defining Anglicanism. By themselves, they can take on a life of their own distorting their intended meaning. The challenge today is to restore them as modifiers working together to define Anglicanism. And when we do, perhaps as there was reform five hundred years ago, so there will be true reform again today.

A Conference on Catholic and Reformed Anglicanism. To help us regain this more comprehensive understanding of Anglicanism, I should not fail to mention an important conference coming on May 31st to June 2nd at the Anglican Way Institute. The theme of the conference will be Reformed [or Re-Formed] Catholic Anglicanism. Held at the Anglican Church of the Holy Communion Cathedral in Dallas, Texas, the plenary speakers will be foremost Anglican scholars such as the Rev. Drs. Hans Boersma, Gerald McDermott, and Greg Peters. I will also be offering three presentations. These plenary sessions will introduce the foundation for a Reformed Catholic model of Anglicanism on topics such as Scripture and Tradition, Justification by Faith, the Incarnation, the Church, the Sacraments, Spirituality, and much more. Click here to visit the conference website.

There will also be a host of workshops led by other scholars, both laity and clergy, on the leading models of Reformed Catholic Anglicanism. The subjects presented will include presentations on the leading Anglican Divines such as John Jewel, Richard Hooker, and Lancelot Andrews; the Caroline Divines such as Jeremy Taylor, John Donne, George Herbert; the 17th century Non-Juror movement; the 19th century Anglo-Catholics such as Edward Pusey, John Keble, and John Henry Newman; and 20th century writers such as C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and other Inklings, to name only a few. Please mark the date. Don’t miss it if you want to explore more deeply Reformed Catholic Anglicanism.

A Catholic and Reformed Collect. I close with the opening collect in the Book of Common Prayer service of Holy Communion that is exemplary of Reformed Catholic Anglicanism. It is a prayer originally composed by Alcuin, an eighth century English scholar. Charlemagne the Great brought him to France to establish a Christian school system. The prayer is rich in Biblical theology and early church father spirituality.

Almighty God unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy holy Name. Amen.

An Eastern Orthodox Archbishop once surprised a number of us at an ecumenical dinner by reciting this famous prayer. The archbishop then remarked, “Have you ever heard of such a prayer so perfect with which to begin Divine Worship!” I would say that the perfection of it expresses the essence of what Anglicanism is, reformed catholic Christianity.

FIFNA Bishops Write Primate of Kenya

The Most Reverend Jackson Ole Sapit
Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya

Your Grace,
We, the bishops and members of Forward in Faith North America, write to express our
profound sadness at the decision of the Anglican Church of Kenya to break two
thousand years of episcopal principle and practice, the great tradition in Anglicanism
since the English Reformation, as well as GAFCON protocol, and consecrate a female
Your decision to act unilaterally in opposition to the expressed concerns and
agreements of the GAFCON Primates Council is a break in the fraternal love and
respect that has been a hallmark of GAFCON and witness to orthodox Anglicans
Sadly, the actions of your province directly harm Christ’s Church by failing to uphold the
“doctrine, sacraments and discipline of Christ, as the Lord has commanded and as this
Church has received them.” Specifically, this innovation directly harms the maintenance
of the historic episcopate, challenges our missional and ecumenical relationships
throughout the world, and opens the door for Satan to divide Christ’s One Holy Catholic
and Apostolic Church.

The Historic Episcopate

In a 2017 communique from the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), the
Primates noted: “It is our prime recommendation that the provinces of GAFCON should
retain the historic practice of the consecration only of men as bishops until and unless a
strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of
Scripture among the GAFCON fellowship.” The historic male episcopate provides the
Church a common assurance of sacramental validity. *

Ecumenical Relationships and Christian Mission

Recently the GAFCON Primates Council has reached out to the Roman Catholic and
Orthodox Churches, as well as Protestant denominations such as the Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod, in order to further our relationships and further our common mission in
fulfillment of our Lord’s prayer in John 17, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those
who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father,
are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that
you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21). Our ability to fulfill this prayer, heal division, and
carry out Gospel mission together will only be further impaired by breaking with the holy
Biblical tradition given by all male apostles to all male successors.

Doctrine, Discipline and Division

While the Anglican Church in Kenya currently maintains an orthodox understanding of
the Gospel, it should be noted that every province that has adopted women into the
episcopate has, in time, yielded to the pressures of the culture and left Biblical morality.
Listen to the words of Saint Paul to Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will
not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves
teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and
wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Lastly, your Grace, for the sake of the Gospel and our unity in Christ we call upon the
Anglican Church in Kenya to refrain from further actions of division and to repent of your
actions which have directly harmed your brother and sister Anglican Christians around
the world.

The Rt. Rev. Eric Vawter Menees,
Ordinary of San Joaquin and President of Forward in Faith North America
The Rt. Rev. Richard Lipka
Ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints and Vice President of Forward in Faith
The Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton
Ordinary of the Diocese of Mid-America
The Rt. Rev. Walter Banek
Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Mid-America
The Rt. Rev. Clark Lowenfield
Ordinary of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast
The Rt. Rev. Ryan Reed
Ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker
Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. Bill Wantland
Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. Alberto Morales, OSB
Ordinary of the Diocese of Quincy
The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, SSC
Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth


In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity:
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We, the Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious, and Lay Members of the one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church, and members of Forward in Faith North America,
affirm the following so that the faithful witness to apostolic Faith and catholic Order
may be continued within the Churches of Anglican heritage.

  1. We believe our Lord Jesus Christ has given His Church an Order which
    claims the loyalty of faithful Christians above and beyond any deviation
    sanctioned by any humanly-invented institution, whether secular or
  2. We accept the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as
    “containing all things necessary to salvation,” and as being the rule and
    ultimate standard of faith and morals.
  3. We accept the Apostles’ Creed as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed
    as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
  4. We accept the historic episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its
    administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God
    into the Unity of His Church. We affirm the Christian ministerial priesthood as
    male, and that the churches of the Anglican Communion have no authority to
    change the historic tradition of the male priesthood. We pray that God grants
    us the strength and ability to uphold the Church’s Order, both materially and
    spiritually as concerns the ministerial priesthood of His holy Church.
    Accordingly, we will reject any and all actions that might signify acceptance of
    a deviation from the Church’s Order regarding the Christian ministerial
  5. We recognize the seven Sacraments of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
    Church – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord –ministered with unfailing use of
    Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him, Confirmation,
    Matrimony, Ordination, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction of the Sick.
  6. We believe that, in the Sacrament and mystery of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus
    Christ is truly, really and substantially present in the Body and Blood in the
    outward and visible sign of Bread and Wine. (cf. 1 Cor. 10:16-17, 11:23-29,
    John 6:32-71)
  7. We affirm our Lord’s teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its
    nature the exclusive, permanent and lifelong union of one man and one
    woman. We affirm that God created only two complementary sexes of human
    beings – male and female. We also affirm that a person’s God-given sex is
    immutable and therefore, cannot be changed.
  8. We believe all Seven Councils are ecumenical and catholic on the basis of
    the received Tradition of the ancient Undivided Church of East and West.
  9. We affirm that God, and not man, is the creator of human life. Believing that the
    unjustified taking of life is sinful, we will promote and uphold the sanctity of life
    from conception to natural death.
    In making this Declaration, we accept all the responsibilities which pertain to the
    common witness of all who participate in this endeavor and we ask God’s blessing
    upon our labors.
Forward in Faith

Forward in Faith

Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA) is the catholic voice of Anglicanism in North America.

We worship God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, living and proclaiming the catholic faith as received in the Anglican tradition.

Invitation to the 2021 FIFNA Assembly and AWI Conference July 7-10


It is great relief and pleasure to be able to invite you to attend the 2021 FIFNA Assembly, being held in conjunction with the Anglican Way Institute Conference in Dallas, Texas July 7-10. This event had to be cancelled in 2020, and our abbreviated Assembly was held by phone-in only.

We will begin a new era in our ministry at our Assembly as we elect a new President and vote on significant changes to our Constitution and Ordinances to equip us for the ministry opportunities and challenges we face in a realigned Anglicanism in North America. The list of positions open and current slate of nominees, as well as the proposed changes to our organizational documents, will be posted online here. Our Assembly will open on Wednesday, July 7, at 1:00 pm. All our activities, as well as the Conference, will take place at the Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas.

The important Teaching we have always offered at our Assemblies will happen at the AWI Conference. Keynote Speaker Dr. Peter Kreeft will be giving 4 addresses on The Apologetics of CS Lewis. In my ministry, I have used more books by Dr. Kreeft in adult education than anyone except CS Lewis, so this will be a special blessing to me as well as all who will attend. In addition, Bishop Sutton will give an Opening Address on Lewis, and I will offer one on the Theology of Charles Williams, a friend of Lewis who was also influential in his life and thought. Bishop Sutton will also be the Speaker after our FIFNA Dinner the evening of the 7th.

To facilitate our attendance, we are offering scholarships to attendees of up to $500. These funds will be available upon request to reimburse travel expenses. Registration costs will be $35 for the Assembly and Dinner on Wednesday, plus the special rate of $75 for FIFNA members for the Conference. Further information is found on the AWI flyer.

To register for the Assembly and Conference, please contact Cathy Heissenhuber at or at (972) 896-6458.

Thank you for your support of FIFNA, and I hope that you will be able to attend this important event. If not, please keep it and those who will be attending in your prayers.

Faithfully, Fr. Lawrence Bausch
President, FIFNA

Ash Wednesday

An Ash Wednesday homily by the Bishop of Fort Worth, Ryan Reed.

Every Ash Wednesday, we are confronted with the fact that we are all broken people, living in broken world. The silent procession, the somber liturgy, the stark plain sanctuary, the ashes, the litany of penance: all of these remind us of the truth of our sinfulness, our brokenness, and our rebellion against God and his will for us.

In the early 20th century, an English newspaper editorial asked the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” G. K. Chesterton mailed in a two word reply: “I am.”

We begin the journey of Lent with the difficult task of looking at our own guilt and sin. The journey begins with ashes and the terrible reminder that we are fallen.

The ashes serve as a sign of remorse and repentance and take us face to face with our own brokenness. We are confronted by our own individual rebellion against God which our first parents have imparted to us. With these same ashes we are also confronted with our mortality. We are but dust and to dust we shall return. To quote the rockband Kansas, “All we are is dust in the wind”.

The journey of Lent begins with the harsh reminder that we are held captive to sin and that not one of us can escape the consequence of sin. Unless the Lord returns first, we will all die.

But the journey of Lent doesn’t end there. We will gladly cheer the arrival of our king into his city, and then, just days later, at the drop of a hat, we will shout for his death. We will stand by as he is beaten and whipped, mocked and spit upon.

We will watch as he struggles to make it to his place of execution: as he walks the way of the cross, and we will hear the distinct sound of iron striking iron as the spikes pierce his hands and his feet. We will stand in the crowd as many mock him and laugh at him. We will watch as his mother cries in pain and the most perfect thing in all creation, the man named Jesus writhes in agony. And as he breathes his last, the world will grow dark.

On the surface, this is not a journey that any of us really want to take. When we look at the cross of Christ, we see the wrath of God in all its holiness, and we see the horror and the consequences of our sin. We see the perfect justice of God meted out for our rebellion, as the blood of Jesus drips into the ground.

When we look at the cross, we see the wrath of God. But there are two sides to the cross. When we look again, we also see the love of God in all its holiness. So on the surface, we may not want to take this journey, but deep down inside, we would not miss it for anything in the world.

We start this journey on Ash Wednesday in humility and repentance, recognizing that God loves us so much that he would send his son to die for us, so that if we are willing to believe in him, we might not only be forgiven, but discover eternal life.

We put on ashes knowing that only by the grace of God have we become his children. During Lent, we journey with Jesus towards Jerusalem, as he reveals to us God’s will for his people. We rejoice at his triumphal entry and crown him with many crowns. We sit quietly in the upper room as Jesus demonstrates for us what is at the very heart of the Trinity: a perfect self-giving love which he shows us as he washes our feet. He calls us to share that same sacrificial love for each other. He then institutes a new Passover meal which will allow us to share fully in him even as he comes fully into us.

We walk with Jesus along the way of the cross, adoring him for the love he shows us and thanking him for the suffering that has removed the stain of our shame. Thanking him for taking the place that was rightfully ours.
We stand with Saint Mary and Saint John at the foot of the cross in awe that God loves us this much. And we look through the cross to a tomb where the most surprising, most amazing thing in all of creation will happen.

We stand with the women before the tomb and hear the most incredible words ever uttered by man or angel. And we come to know more fully that sin and death have been crushed and destroyed. We discover that light has overcome the darkness and that victory belongs to God. And for all of that, we will rejoice.

As the prophet Joel says, now is the time to blow the trumpet and declare a fast. Now is the time to fall on our knees in repentance because God is coming with blessings in his hand.

As we begin this journey of Lent, we look upon the cross and realize with St. Paul that now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. We have an opportunity, if we use this gift of Lent, to ensure that our hearts are in the right place. To ensure, as Jesus tells us, that we are storing up treasures not here on earth, but in heaven.

We begin this journey kneeling before the altar and receiving ashes in the sign of the cross. Ashes that remind us we must repent and that apart from God we are nothing.

Ashes in the sign of the cross remind us also that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. The sign of the cross which tells us that Jesus has conquered sin on our behalf. A cross that points beyond itself to an empty tomb in which Jesus now offers us divine life.



Fort Worth Wins

Diocese of Fort Worth Press Release:

For immediate release:

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Texas ruling on Diocese, Corporation

It is with great joy and thanksgiving to God that we receive news today that the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has let stand the unanimous May 2020 ruling of the Texas Supreme Court (TXSC), which found in favor of the Diocese and diocesan Corporation.

Responding to two Petitions and replies, SCOTUS denied the requests of The Episcopal Church and All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth for a review of the May 2020 opinion. That opinion upheld state trust law and statutes governing unincorporated associations, affirming ownership of properties throughout the Diocese is governed by our Constitution and Canons and administered by the diocesan Corporation.

For all practical purposes this ends the appeals process that began in 2015 following the Second Summary Judgement of the trial court in Fort Worth. Shortly the trial court will move forward to enforce the ruling and consider related matters severed from the original suit filed against the Diocese in April 2009.

“Today’s decision marks a turning point for us as a Diocese,” said Bishop Ryan Reed. “After directing so many resources to this dispute, we can now put our entire focus on Gospel ministry and Kingdom work. We are nearing completion on a strategic plan that will keep us focused on sharing the transforming love of Jesus Christ and our mission to equip the saints for the work of ministry.”

We are grateful for the thousands of prayers said over these 12 years, for the faithful leadership of Bishop Jack Iker, the excellent work of our legal team, the solid foundation laid for our Diocese nearly 40 years ago, and most of all for God’s gracious provision with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion with 55 congregations located in
Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, Midland, Wichita Falls and other locations in Texas and Louisiana. It was founded in 1982.

FIFNA Awards Scholarships


The following seminarians have been awarded Forward in Faith Scholarships, funded by the Swartz Trust:

The Rev. Dcn Charles J. Arturo, Missionary Diocese of All Saints Attending Nashotah House.

Mr. Luke A. Childs, Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Attending Nashotah House.

Mr. Andrew Hurt, Diocese of Mid-America (REC) Attending Cramner Theological House.

Mr. David A. Peterson III, Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin Attending Nashotah House.

Mr. Jared M Wensyel, Diocese of Mid-America, REC, Attending Cramner Theological House.

The Swartz Trust was established: “…specifically for the purpose of training male seminarians for the priesthood and furthering the education of priests in evangelism.” Scholarships are for $2,500.

To apply for this financial assistance, click on the Scholarship link on this website or apply by email to Fr. John Himes:

A Holy Wednesday Reflection — Light From Darkness

It is out of that uttermost gloom of My God, my God, why have you forsaken me that the light breaks. The light does not merely shine upon the gloom and so dispel it; it is the gloom itself transformed into light. For that same crucifixion of our Lord which was, and for ever is, the utmost effort of evil, is itself the means by which God conquers evil and unites us to himself in the redeeming love there manifested.

Judas and Caiaphas and Pilate have set themselves in their several ways to oppose and to crush the purpose of Christ, and yet despite themselves they became ministers. They sent Christ to the cross; by the cross he completed his atoning work; from the cross he reigns over mankind. God in Christ has not merely defeated evil, but has made it the occasion of his own supremest glory.

Never was conquest so complete; never was triumph so stupendous. The completeness of the victory is due to the completeness of the evil over which it was won. It is the very darkness which enshrouds the cross that makes so glorious the light proceeding from it. Had there been no despair, no sense of desolation and defeat, but merely the onward march of irresistible power to the achievement of its end, evil might have been beaten, but not bound in captivity for ever. God in Christ endured defeat, and out of the very stuff of defeat he wrought his victory and his achievement.

Archbishop William Temple (1881-1944), Mens Creatrix.

Palms in Liturgy: Lessons for Prayer and the Christian Life

By Lawrence Bausch

One of the things we will miss this Sunday by being unable to gather for Mass is the distribution of palms.  After their use during a joyful Procession, we typically take them home and put them in a visible place, where they will remain until we take them back to church to be burned to make the ashes which will be distributed on Ash Wednesday.  Since we are unable to come together this week, it might be helpful to meditate on the mystery and meaning of palms as we use them in our Church.

In the Old Testament, palm branches are mentioned regarding their use in constructing booths for the annual Feast of Booths (Sukkot). This practice recalls the 40 years of the Exodus, when the Jews had left their homes to trustingly follow God (Leviticus 23:40; Nehemiah 8:15).   In the New Testament, John’s Gospel singles out palm branches as those to be laid before Jesus’ path as he entered Jerusalem (John 12:13). They are mentioned one more time in a fascinating scene in Revelation where, after a vision of the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel, the seer saw “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10).  In the context of these references, we can say that palm branches were used as a sign of trust in God’s providential guidance (OT), to praise Jesus as he entered the Holy City (John), and will be used to worship him eternally in his eternal Kingdom (Revelation).

Ashes are found in two primary contexts in the Old Testament.  One type of occurrence concerns sacrifices or ‘burnt offerings’.  Animal sacrifices began when God provided Abraham with a ram to offer in place of his son Isaac (Genesis 22). In general, sacrifices of any kind are representative of the person or people making the offering. Throughout the Old Testament we read about ‘burnt offerings’ being offered, and many later became ritualized for use in the Temple.  Included among many instructions regarding these sacrifices are guidelines pertaining to what to do with the ashes which result from them (cf. Leviticus 4:12). 

The earliest and most frequent use of ashes in Scripture pertains to penance and humility.   When Abraham appealed to God for mercy upon Sodom, he acknowledges that he is “but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). After God appeared to Job and questioned him concerning his demand for an explanation regarding his horrific suffering, he prayed, “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).  Jesus uses this same image, quoted in Matthew and Luke: “Woe to you, Chora’zin! Woe to you, Bethsa’ida! For it the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in dust and ashes (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13).” In Matthew, he says these words in the context of the debate about the mission and role of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-24), while in Luke it follows his commissioning of the 70 (Luke 10:1-16). 

Palm branches are offered in praise; ashes are received in penance.  We receive palms in the context of praise (many churches sing “All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King!” during the palm procession); we receive their ashes in the context of penitence (as they are placed on our forehead we are told, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return”).  These separate practices are united by the common use of palms.  This link may be useful as we consider our life in Christ this Holy Week.  How are our praises of God and submission to his will for daily living limited by our “unruly wills and affections”? As many have pointed out, our Liturgical link on Palm Sunday between the Triumphal Procession and the subsequent reading of the Passion Gospel, the crowd crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” probably included some who, days later, were shouting “Crucify him!” We intuitively recognize this possibility because of the inconsistency of devotion in our own lives.  At the same time, our ability to praise and serve our Lord beyond our sinfulness can encourage us to see that God accepts even our stumbling steps towards him as we respond to his grace.  God does not scold us for our stumbles any more than a parent does when their young child is learning to walk.

This strange season of physical separation can be a graceful time to invite the Lord to come more intimately into our lives and reveal those elements in our lives that need his graceful help, as well as those upon which we can see his joy.  We can use this time in deep intercession: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:14-15).

Fr. Lawrence Bausch is President of FIFNA