Friday, November 7, 2014

Jesus likes Connecticut Episcopalians

A while ago, perhaps on another site, perhaps here, I have made the point that we should not use the title 'Father' for priests because Jesus expressly taught against it (Matthew 23:9). Vigorous response was the reply. Paul likened himself to a father to new converts, etc.

Anyway, some Anglicans 'get it'. Step forward the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. You can read their resolution seeking the abolition of gendered titles here.

Sorry, Fr. Ron. It is just going to be plain 'Ron' from now on :)


Tregonsee said...

I have never been on board with calling priests by their title and first name. They are neither royalty nor popes. How about we go back to the usage of my childhood, circa 1955. Mr. Hill was how I address the minister who baptized me. Of course, we would need to update it to include Miss, Mrs, and Ms.

hogsters said...

Lets widen the topic and introduce a question. Is priest a legitimate New Testament term other than in respect to Jesus in Hebrews from ch 5 onward?


Paul Powers said...

I wonder why "Deacon Jones," "Bishop Victoria," "Chaplain Bob," "Canon Rogers," etc. sound so natural, but "Priest Williams" sounds so awkward.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

I'm back : )

'father' re title of people in church - yeah, nah

Yeah, the biblical verse says we shouldn't call anyone father, teacher, leader or instructor, because all those titles belong to Christ, or the one in heaven; and as his children we all submit to Him. No doubt this probably also rules out gender nuetral titles such as Rev, Vicar, Priest as well.

Nah, I can live with titles, although outside of what appears in writing I usually address any clergy by their first names - except perhaps the Bishop - if the greater point is abidied by.

The greater point, the context is the Pharisees it appears 'did not practice what they preach'. Not least of which was refusing to submit to the teaching of justice and mercy and holiness of the One who ordained their authority.

Yeah, lets lead a new campaign. I quite like the idea of brother and sister. This is definitely biblical.....

What do you think Ven Peter?

God Bless, Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Excellent comments, thank you everyone. Some interesting questions arise! Anyone for an Anglican review?

A couple of quick comments:

I have no problem with titles such as 'Bishop' or 'Vicar' or 'Archdeacon' which clarify currently held functional role in the life of the church. This makes for transparency as to who holds the power and who does not.

Whether we should call 'Reverends' Reverend is a moot point: are we reverent enough to deserve the honour?!

On the specific matter of 'Venerable' for Archdeacon, I think that is the worst title the church has ever invented. It makes me seem quite elderly ... :(

Incidentally, title usage does change: in my childhood bishops were addressed as 'my lord.' No more! And praise the one true Lord for that change.

Father Ron Smith said...

You may call me what you like, Peter. My tradition is so different from your own. However, common courtesy might require that you conservative evangelicals accept the fact that some people in Anglicanism think differently from you on this matter. It's called 'being charitable'.

I will be keeping my lawfully accessed title - as accepted by my diocesan Bishop and other catholic Anglicans - so if you choose not to use in in my postings to your blog, just let me know, on line, and I will consider no longer adding a catholic voice to your web-site.

Let's come out into the open on this. If you prefer not to receive comments from Anglo-Catholics, who blog under their own titles, perhaps you ought to admit that fact.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Father Ron,
I am very happy for you to continue posting here, to use your title, and I comfortably belong to an Anglican church which has a diversity of views on titles.

My point in making the post, however, is that the Diocese of Connecticut doe not share my genial tolerance of differing views but would abolish 'Father'.

I would be interested in whether you think the whole of TEC - much praised by you on other matters - might go along with this intolerance?

liturgy said...

I hope people have actually clicked on Peter’s link. I had to check twice whether it was dated April 1, but no – it’s akin to the energy expended when our church wanted to change the spelling of “breech”.

This isn’t the usual anti-catholic, anti-ecumenical, anti-tradition tosh that picks and chooses when Jesus is to be taken literally and when not. The purpose is to “sensitise the whole church to avoiding inappropriate gendered language in other areas of our common life.”

So, Peter, I will support your motion to our next synod that our diocese cease using gendered language, and that our diocese promote a similar motion at General Synod.

We will no longer use the following words:

Son, Son of Man, Son of God
Bachelor of Theology
Master of Theology
He, Him, His,…

“This resolution, by ending the use of gendered titles, encourages experimenting with various gender-neutral titles.”

I expect you, Peter, to lead the way by excising and replacing every occurrence of words in the above list on your website, preaching, teaching (including at Laidlaw for "Bachelor" or "Masters" degrees), and in any services that you lead, including in readings, hymns, and songs.

As for your advocating the use of the word “Archdeacon” – we will have to agree to disagree on that. I think only deeply-in-church folk have any idea what that is. I remember a bishop’s PA treating archdeacons as deacons, much to their consternation.



Peter Carrell said...

You will be waiting a long time, Bosco, re the motion.

But on the title Archdeacon, I would be very happy with an alt such as 'Regional Co-ordinator'!

Kurt said...

Oh please. Priests who want to be called "Father" or "Mother" will still be so called no matter what silly resolution some convention "decides."

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Jean said...

Not surprised Peter I just looked up the meaning of Venerable and in the Roman Catholic Church it is the title of: "a deceased person who has attained a certain degree of sanctity but has not been fully beatified or canonized."

I like gender language as I like all language, it adds breadth and depth to understanding. Like many things it has been used inappropriately, but lets not discard it just yet.

Fortunately my only experience of being considered of lower estimation because I was a female was when I presented a friend for ordination. Here no titles were used, but I was simply 'politely ignored' except by my own Minister, when talking in a group of men. It took me by surprise more than anything as I belonged to a church where all were equally esteemed and respected.

Unknown said...

When I started in my parish, everyone asked me "what would you like to be called?" I always answered with "Jon," to which they replied, "ok Father Jon."
I've decided that, as much as I don't like Fr, it's not about me or my preference but of the one doing the addressing. Personally, I like Parson, but that went over like the proverbial lead balloon. BTW, I would consider my theological leanings to be anglo-catholic, but I'm no ritualist and would happily be Jon, Mr Jon or Mr White.
Jon White

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, regarding your question of me:"

"whether you think the whole of TEC - much praised by you on other matters - might go along with this intolerance?"

On this matter, Peter, I might hink like you; that TEC is sufifciently 'broad' in scope on such matters, it might leave the Diocese of Connecticut to make its own diocesan polity. But, their could be comments from the A.C. constituents there and at Head Office.

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh dear; there goes my credibility for the correct spelling of the English language. My recent 'their' in my last sentence should have been 'there'.

Andrew Reid said...

What's even better than the title Archdeacon or Venerable is the service for appointing someone as Archdeacon - a "collation"!!
My former vicar was given a stapler by his staff when it happened to him.

liturgy said...

As to “Parson” – that’s obviously the same word as “person”. It’s bad enough that clergy are seen to be the ones who are the true Christians, let’s not encourage language describing clergy as the only true humans.


Unknown said...

I like Parson mostly because of its use in the song 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland;' a perrenial Christmas favorite here inthe US. Though I actually think Parson works well if one sees (as I do) the role of the presider as embodying the desire and intent of the community to be present to Christ through the eucharistic prayer. The presider is the "person" called and chosen for the role.

I see the Protestant Reformation as the desire to open up the 'religious' life to all believers and so there has been an ongoing tension between those called to serve as ordained members of the church and those called as lay members of the church. There should not be a hierarchy - all calls are equal IMO, and yet the roles of the ordained are constricted in ways that we feel a need to call it out.

It would be nice to construct terms that acknowledge all of our calls without implicitly supporting a hierarchical ordering that says one role is superior to another. Your suggestions?


Kurt said...

Okay, Bosco. How about "your reverence"? That term may have been used for Anglican/Episcopal priests during our Colonial Period as much as "Parson."

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY