Monday, January 29, 2007

On The Care And Feeding Of Seminarians

Right at the onset, I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not, I repeat, NOT a personal appeal for support or a rant about personal finances. I consider myself quite blessed because I have the ongoing support of my Diocese, my Parish, my parents and many wonderful people throughout Western Louisiana. To all of them, thank you and God bless you.

Rather, my intention is to address the issue of support for those seminaries that are going to be producing the future clergy for the Anglican Church in America. Yes, I am talking about the orthodox, traditional seminaries that are dedicated to the formation of clergy who know and love God, are steeped in the Scripture, trained in the true doctrines of the Church, well read in the history and traditions of Anglicanism, and who appreciate the liturgy and proper use of the B.C.P.

Right now, there are two seminaries in the United States that meet those criteria. In fact, I believe it was the Archbishop of Uganda who recently singled out these two institutions as the only seminaries in the United States to which he would send his candidates for the priesthood. These are Nashotah House Theological Seminary located in Nashotah, WI, and Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry located in Ambridge, PA, just outside Pittsburgh.

As we move into a new era for the Anglican Church in the United States and abroad, there will be a real need for more orthodox clergy. It is a sad fact that historically ECUSA is the only major denomination in the United States that fails to directly support its seminaries or seminarians. It is also a fact that the cost of a seminary education has continued to rise to a point that makes going to seminary cost prohibitive for some who have been called by God to serve in His Church.

Some may say that if one is called to the priesthood, then certainly God will provide, will He not? True, He does provide; and one of the ways that He provides is through the generosity of those faithful who support individual seminarians or who give directly to a seminary. I can only speak with authority about my experience at Nashotah, but we are faced with a tuition in the neighborhood of $10,000 - $12,000 per academic year, cost for room and board, books and supplies, and then add on the normal expenses of a family with three kids. I understand that the size of this year’s Junior class is smaller than expected because there were several students who could not afford the cost.

There is a desperate need for well trained, spiritually sound, orthodox clergy in this country. That is a fact. There is a need for such clergy throughout the world. Nashotah has more seminarians right now that we have had in many years. We have students from all over the country and from several of the Continuing Churches. We are also hoping to make it possible for more overseas students to complete their training here.

God has blessed and will continue to bless these institutions. If you are concerned about the state of the Anglican Church in America, then please consider what kind of support you, your parish or your diocese might be able to provide. Every little bit helps, and the benefits for the Church will be reaped for decades to come.

“Open, O Lord, the hearts and hands of your people, that they may be ready to give and glad to distribute to our necessities. Bless the founders and benefactors of this House, and recompense them with the riches of your everlasting kingdom, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.” From the Prayer for Nashotah House

Nashotah House Theological Seminary – Nashotah, WI

Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry - Ambridge, PA

To God be the Glory; now and forever.

Your Brother in Christ,
Michael W. Millard
Nashotah House ‘08

And Now For Something Completely Different

I just finished watching a rerun of an interview on Meet the Press with Mike Huckabee (R), the former Governor of the State of Arkansas and a newly announced candidate for President in 2008. I have worked for Mike, and he was my wife's pastor growing up. We both know him rather well, and it's safe to say that we both have confidence in his philosophy and his commitment to the Lord.

I would recommend that anyone who is interested in having a President who has been shaped by and continues to be guided by his faith in Christ should take a good look at Mike Huckabee.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Little Insight on Faith from Hebrews

This morning, I was saying the Daily Office before Mass when I was struck by one of the readings. Now, I try very hard not to turn every passage of Scripture into a commentary on the Current Unpleasantness in the Church, but the Word says what the Word says.

The passage is from the Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapter 11, verses 8 - 16. The author praises the faith of Abraham and Sarah. He extols their willingness to trust God and to follow Him into a wilderness unknown to them based solely on what had to sound like a far-fetched promise. And because they ventured forth into the wilderness, without a thought for what they had left behind, they, and all their offspring, were blessed by God.

"If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11: 15-16 RSV)

We must be prepared to step out in faith and trust God. He has called us to follow His Word. He has called us to reach out into the darkness of this troubled and broken world and bring His light to those who wait in fear. He has made in His Church an instrument for bringing the Good News to every corner of Creation.

We must have the faith of Abraham and Sarah and walk into the wilderness and trust that God does indeed have a "better country" waiting for us. This means that we might have to make some very difficult decisions in the coming year. It might mean that a Parish might in good conscience choose to affiliate with a foreign bishop. It might mean that a Diocese might seek Alternative Primatial Oversight. It might mean that a Parish or even a Diocese might have to walk away from property. This is a hard thing to do, but if God is calling us to walk with Him in the light, then that is what we must do.

The time is at hand when the Church must reconcile itself to God. I believe that ECUSA has fallen away from the true Faith. I believe the only way that ECUSA can reconcile itself to the Worldwide Anglican Communion is through a sincere act of penance that would include the resignation of Katherine Schori and many of the revisionist Bishops that have lead us to the brink of schism. Unfortunately, I do not see this happening, but I do believe that God could make this happen, if those involved are open to his Word.

At the end of the day, God will still be victorious, and His Church will prevail. In the interim, we, in our broken states, must find the best way forward to live into the kind of life to which Christ has called us. We must not shrink from our responsibilities to Him or to our neighbors. We must, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, take up the Shield of Faith so we can be protected from the "flaming darts of the evil one". We must wield the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and, most importantly, we must pray at all times. By faith we can, with God's help, persevere in these difficult times; and we, by the Grace of God, will be the better for it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Moment of Truth

The Primates of the Worldwide Anglican Communion will meet in Tanzania in February for what will undoubtedly be a lively discussion about the fate of ECUSA's relationship with the Communion. ECUSA has chosen for the last 30 years to push the envelope on women's ordination, progressive (really revolutionary) theology, and now the issue of homosexuality within the Sacred Order of Priests and Bishops.

My Bishop, +Bruce MacPherson, has been invited to meet with the Primates along with +Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh. Over the last several years, I have come to know Bishop MacPherson quite well, and I know him to be a man of great integrity and prayer. He cares very deeply for the Church to which he has dedicated his life as a servant of Christ. He cares very deeply for his flock and for the pain and uncertainty these last few years have caused.

I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Bishop Duncan during my time at Nashotah House. In fact I was lucky enough to be able to attend the ACN Conference in Pittburgh last year and even stayed in Bishop Duncan's house while we were there. Like Bishop MacPherson, Bishop Duncan has dedicated himself to be a Defender of the Faith which has been passed down to us from the very men who were called by Christ to spread the Gospel "to the ends of the Earth". We are blessed to have two men who have such a depth of love for the Lord and the such an abundance of Grace to be representing the Anglican Church of America to the Primates this February.

The time will be coming, very soon I think, when ECUSA will face the reality of exclusion from the Anglican Communion. I fervently pray that the leaders of ECUSA will concede to the will of the Worldwide Church and step away from the brink. We must once again have a Church that professes a traditional, Apostolic theology that is consistent with Holy Scripture.

We are instructed not to judge a person, for only God can see what is true and what is false within the heart of a man. We are, however, instructed to judge the fruits of what is done in the name of the Lord. If we all take an honest look back over the last 30 years, can we say that ECUSA has born good fruit?