Archive for the ‘Special Post’ Category

If your church is cancelled, we invite you to join us.

If your church is canceled, we invite you to join us.

At the request of St. Mark’s, Plainfield in the Diocese of Indianapolis, we will be offering a special, one-time-only Live Webcast Sunday at 10am Eastern, 9am Central Time, especially for people whose regular Sunday services are canceled due to a winter storm emergency. (Note, this is one hour later than our usual Monday-Friday webcasts.)

We can accomodate 25 people for the live “snowcast.” Come a few minutes early so you can do a quick download of free software. Then come back here for the link that takes you to our service.

You don’t need a webcam or microphone to participate. You can also call in, so you don’t even need a computer. At the start of Morning Prayer we’ll explain how it all works.

As always, you can also read Morning Prayer here on your own at any time. But we hope you’ll join us if you can; all are welcome. Our regular weekday congregation finds that the live service is spiritually satisfying, because it’s shared with others. Our aim here is to create a community – not to compete with your church, but to supplement it.

Later, you can play back the service once the recording is available.

Feel free to bring coffee or tea; pets are welcome too.

Here are the links you’ll need, which will also be printed with tomorrow’s service.

Morning Prayer 1/5/14 – 10am Eastern, 9 Central, 7 Pacific Time

Please join us! Click here:


Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is best. Or call in with this number:

United States: +1 (510) 201-0301

Access Code: 735-279-229
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID: 735-279-229


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Breaking ground to build a new church: St. Alexis Orthodox, Lafayette, Indiana. (Tom Baugues/Journal and Courier)

Breaking ground to build a new church: St. Alexis Orthodox, Lafayette, Indiana. (Tom Baugues/Journal and Courier)

(UPDATED with access link below. From now on this will appear at the top of our webpage Monday through Friday. We cannot send individual invitations.)

Dear Congregation,

Starting tomorrow, and for the next three weeks, we will begin live webcasting of Daily Morning Prayer, Monday through Friday, at 9am Eastern Time, for up to 25 participants, in addition to our printed services.

Our excellent volunteer staff of Deacons and Subdeacons, as well as our Grantwriting Committee led by our Missioner, Dr. Maria L. Evans of the Diocese of Missouri, tested the technology last week and found it useful and exciting. It does wonders to bring us together as a worshiping community, seeing and hearing each other as we pray. Now we are inviting you to join us.

For a trial period these next three weeks, we will post access information at the top of each day’s Morning Prayer. Just click on the URL (web address) to join us via desktop and laptop, iPad or smartphone. (Free apps are available for download.) The Vicar will lead the service live with other Ministers of the Day.

At the end of three weeks we will compile your feedback and decide whether to make this a permanent offering. I expect we will, based on our preliminary tests. A big question will be what level of webcast service to buy, at what price level. (We can accommodate 25 participants at a group rate of $49 a month, or 100 participants for $99 a month, paid by our site from your general donations.)

You don’t have to pay anything. You don’t have to commit to coming every day. You don’t have to do anything at all – but we’re hoping you’ll give it a try.

What we’ve learned is that being able to see and hear each other transforms our experience of praying the Office; it makes us a real church, without walls, where we start to know each other and grow together as disciples of Christ.

I can barely describe my delight the first time Deacon Lani and I read the Psalms responsively – the first time I saw Clint live and in person – or got to welcome Alison from our Facebook group. The prayer transaction stopped being “me, alone with God” (who’s silent, of course), and started being “God and us.” We were “two or three gathered together” at last.

For 49 bucks a month, we can’t afford not to do this. The question will likely be, how many of you want to get in on this?

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and our fixed start time will mean we can’t accommodate everyone’s schedules. But get this: we will record our service, and once we’re done you can play it back whenever’s convenient for you.

You’ve heard of video on demand; this will be something like that – not the same as live streaming from a cathedral, but something more intimate and personal, where you can see and hear us online, and add your Amens.

I’m sure many of you will have technology questions, but the application is intuitive, so we’ll gather a few minutes early each morning to walk you through it. At 9am Eastern, I’ll hit the Record button, then hit Stop after the final blessing.

I’ll serve as worship leader at first, while others will be readers and intercessors. At times other worship leaders, experienced laypeople, will take over. We’ll never ask you to read a lesson sight unseen, or try to embarrass you in any way. It will be peaceful and fun, as we follow the printed service (including artwork and occasional videos) onscreen. When we have a bishop, priest or deacon among us, we’ll ask them to lead the final blessing. Come as you are, with coffee, kids and cats.

Let me end with a story. Once upon a time, everyone in the village would walk to the parish church for daily Morning and Evening Prayer. The Vicar would read, the People would say Amen, then they’d leave for work or school or home.

That was hundreds of years ago, once upon a time. We don’t live in villages anymore. We drive cars, we ride buses and bikes and trains, we hop planes; we’ve got places to go. Life is much faster now – though our need for prayer hasn’t lessened at all.

Many parish churches have quit offering daily prayer, because nobody can get there, we’re all commuting. Now, thanks to technology, you can pray during your commute. This is one more reason God invented the internet, so we can talk to each other across generations, denominations, time zones and tribes; so we can tell each other what God has done for us, and what God wants us to do for others.

I can’t wait to introduce you to Lani and Clint, Letha and Cody. I can’t wait for them to meet you. The Holy Spirit reveals God to us in other persons; that’s how the Greatest Story gets told.

Let me repeat: we will continue to publish the same service, on the same screen, you’ve enjoyed up to now. The only change is that if you can make it live, we’ll pray together better than ever before, better than on any other site.

Unlike a static website, we are live, just like Jesus is live. Come join us starting tomorrow, 9am Eastern, 6am Pacific.

Pray the Daily Office every day for 60 days, and you’re bound to get closer to God.

Josh Thomas
Founder & Lay Vicar

P.S. The comments are open; let ‘em rip.


Tuesday Morning Prayer

1. Please join Morning Prayer 11.19.13, a few minutes before 9AM Eastern, 6AM Pacific Time.

Click here.

2. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended for best sound. Or call in using your phone.

United States: +1 (630) 869-1013

Access Code: 777-786-221
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID:777-786-221

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Feeding the 5000 - this is actually a jigsaw puzzle from picstopin.com.

Feeding the 5000 – this is actually a jigsaw puzzle from picstopin.com. It’s neat, and you can enlarge it.

Dearly beloved,

This site is growing so fast that I can barely keep up with it. That means I need help.

The site isn’t going anywhere, but I’m getting in trouble. (None of this is related to yesterday’s power outage, though we can’t have that happening either.)

With site visitors, subscribers, a Facebook group and Twitter followers, we’re serving thousands of people every day now in one of the world’s largest, fastest-growing Anglican cathedrals; we just don’t have bricks and mortar, that’s all. Running this place is now a full-time job, though I’m paid for only one hour a day – if your very kind donations allow even that.

So we’ve got to reorganize the workload, most of which you never see. I can barely manage my e-mail; it’s not like I have a parish secretary here. I worry that if I accidentally fail to act on a prayer request, I’ve failed Robert, who just wrote in.

I also get all the techno problems, the spiritual issues, the lectionary/liturgical questions, the requests from artists and curators, and the theological discussions with kind, helpful members of the clergy. All that attention to persons takes hours and hours, which I love to spend, but not if I’m neglecting the basics.

I kid you not, I see imaginary Facebook posts in my sleep now. It’s too much.

Any rector or business manager will tell you that rapid growth is as much of a headache as stagnation is. So we absolutely have to rebuild the infrastructure here, get adequate resources, including a higher revenue stream, and plan ahead.

It’s a wonderful problem to have, but let’s get cracking – together.

I want someone to write us a grant and pry $20,000 or up to $100,000 out of “815” (the national TEC office) so we can make this place all it can be. Specifically, go here, read the ENS article and follow the links. (Or come up with a better plan.)

Among us we know enough resourceful people to help get this done. I’ve got a redesign contractor on standby, waiting to go. There’s no reason I should be isolated and frantic, while wondering how to pay for everything.

Let us praise God for our success – and pass the peace to each other, because you folks are fabulous. When my internet service went down, I got worried e-mails from all over, with people imagining me lying in the bottom of a volcano in Papua, New Guinea.

Too much depends on me, and therefore we all know what needs to be done. So please, lots of you, go read that short ENS article. If you can help write a grant, check out the particulars. If you have faithful rich friends, please network us with them. Speak to your clergy, including your bishops; we’re doing great but we need help – and our few blessed volunteer Subdeacons are not enough.

Here’s what I’m doing next: writing that contractor to update him and keep him interested – including what I’ve just written to you.

The site I want for God could be 10 times bigger than this one, or 100 times, or 1000.

I don’t want to change what we’re doing, I want to add to it.

The technology exists; the money is there but we have to shake it loose and deploy it. We have to staff up; we have to, because they’re our bricks and mortar. And we have to find ongoing ways to monetize our success so we’re not forever asking you to fork over more moolah, when most of your tithing belongs with your parish, institutions and charities.

The ENS article is here; please, I pray you, take one more minute and look it over. We owe it to Robert, who needs a job; our new way of including the Prayer List in the Office is one of the best things we do. It gives hope to hurting people, and I don’t want one of them going without.

Remember all those baskets of leftover bread and fishes the disciples gathered after Christ fed the multitudes? That’s our model – surplus!

Remember Paul, working like a dog but growing the Church like mad? He’s our model too.

Thank you and God bless you.

Josh Thomas
Evangelist and Founding Vicar


Tentmakers like St. Paul were leatherworkers. It was hard physical labor. (john.do)

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The Philadelphia 11, June 29, 1974

The Philadelphia 11, July 29, 1974


I can tell you where I was 39 years ago today, when 11 women were ordained as Episcopal priests in Philadelphia. It was that kind of historic, cataclysmic event. I’d just turned 23 and was attending the National Institute for Lay Training at the General Theological Seminary in New York.

Our faculty – Capt. Howard Galley, Sr. Brooke Bushong and Capt. Tom Tull, all of the Church Army – canceled classes the next day to deal with women’s ordination and the history that had just been made at Church of the Advocate in Philly.

By the time we were done I was a supporter of women’s ordination, and of course I still am. I believe it’s God’s will. I believe God called those 11 women, and those male bishops who ordained them, and the women who have followed them.

TODAY, Deacon Leilani Nelson of the Diocese of California (and our volunteer staff) read an article by the Rev. Alla Renée Bozarth and made this comment on Facebook:

I was not of this group of uppity women. I was ordained in 1989 – and then to the order of Deacons. I did not consider myself of the first wave of ordained women. But reading this article called up so many memories and plucked so many heartstrings! The group of large pledgers who protested my hiring by lowering their pledges to $52.00 a year and called themselves “The 52 club”. The lies told about my theology and education. The folks who came up to the altar rail to stare into my eyes as they refused to take communion from me. Death threats, too. AND – The women who came up to me with shining eyes to tell me thank you for being a symbol of possibility and inclusion for their daughters. The families who asked me to baptize their babies. The fellowship of women clergy. The Bishop dropping in unexpectedly to check in and offer support. So much pain and so much grace.

I mean, that’s just shocking. And Lani was far from the only woman this happened to; it was common.

The Episcopal Church split over women’s ordination. So did worldwide Anglicanism – though in fact these 11 weren’t the first women priests. The Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained in Hong Kong during World War II because the bishop there didn’t have enough priests to go around. (Does that remind you of any Churches today?)

My message to you on this holy Feast of Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus is this: click that link above to Mother Alla Renée Bozarth’s article.

It’s very long, but it’s chock-full of historic photographs. So if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, do what Christians have always done – just look at the stained-glass windows. That’s why they’re there.

The article, the photos – the 11 themselves, and those who’ve come after, and women clergy of other denominations – all are gifts to God and to the Church; they’re gifts of God for the People of God.

Go! I’m done. Read the article, see those wonderful pictures.

And thank the women clergy as you go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

Josh Thomas
Lay Vicar

The first "regularly" ordained woman, once General Convention approved them after Philadelphia, was the Rev. Jacqueline Means of the Diocese of Indianapolis - my diocese, our diocese - on the first day it became legal, January 1, 1977. Bishop John Pares Craine was the man responsible, though he was too sick that day to lay his hands on her and had arranged for another bishop to be on standby. She was escorted by a bodyguard past protesters in front of the church, and only 75 people showed up the next day for her first Eucharist. Footnote: later that same year, Bishop Craine laid hands on me and made me an Evangelist.

The first “regularly” ordained woman, once General Convention approved them after Philadelphia, was the Rev. Jacqueline Means of the Diocese of Indianapolis – my diocese – on the first day it became legal, January 1, 1977. Bishop John Pares Craine was the man responsible, though he was too sick that day to lay his hands on her and had arranged for another bishop to be on standby. She was escorted by a bodyguard past protesters in front of the church, and only 75 people showed up the next day for her first Eucharist. Footnote: later that same year, Bishop Craine laid hands on me and Sr. Ruth Wraight, and made us Evangelists.

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Vicar’s Note: As videos go this is fairly long, 45 minutes, though it’s actually a brief and entertaining lecture, which I’m posting because I found it very worthwhile for clergy and laypeople. I commend the first five minutes or so to everyone interested in the service of the church and why we do what we do.

For more information, visit Bosco’s excellent website here. It’s one of the most popular sites in New Zealand, and he has a worldwide audience.

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PCP Cover


Today I am announcing a change which, if I didn’t make a point of it, you probably wouldn’t notice.

It’s a development many of your clergy and parishes have already gone through without much fanfare. I’m excited about it.

I have consulted with our Subdeacons and Advisers, and starting Easter Day we will begin to use the inclusive language of the Psalter for the Christian People (Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw, Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1993), a direct, slight and reverent revision of the Psalms of our 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

The PCP differs in only one way: it sets aside unnecessary, exclusive male pronouns in how we refer to God – and the surprising result is a much greater intimacy.

Instead of reading psalms to God as “he,” we’ll address God as “you,” the same way we talk to God in spontaneous private prayer.

Adopting this practice increases our sense of closeness with God – and is therefore a tremendous improvement. God is not distant, “up there.” God is here, and welcomes our prayer!

This intimacy is so valuable that I’m sure men will benefit from the change just as much as women, who often feel alienated by constant references to a male God. (Those references make a lot of men uncomfortable too.)

Nothing else on our sites will change – same calendar, lectionary, collects and saints approved by the General Convention. We will still be as Anglican the day after we change as we were the day before.

As I compare the Prayer Book and the PCP side by side, I mostly see pure Prayer Book – which itself eliminated several unnecessary male constructions that we’ve never noticed and never missed.

This volume simply takes that 1979 effort further, with substitutions that are both ingenious and common-sense.

The original Hebrew psalms often shift from second-person “you” to third-person “he” and back again, which confuses people in English. But ever since Cranmer, the Anglican way is to translate the Scriptures into language we readily understand.

The PCP does not eliminate “LORD” for that Holy Name of God (YHWH) we traditionally do not pronounce in church, nor “Lord” as a translation of “Adonai.”

Some will argue, therefore, that it does not go far enough. They may be right, but it is an active argument among scholars, and one I do not feel a need to resolve today. Let us take a significant step forward, not a flying leap.

This is important: the PCP keeps the same forms, rhythm and language we are familiar with. I have studied it carefully. It is singable with today’s chant tones. It avoids those awkward constructions (“God says to God’s people”) that grate on your ears. It does no violence whatever to our understanding of these ancient Hebrew hymns. It is conservative in the best sense of the word. It preserves our ecumenical Anglican heritage (the Episcopal Church translation is printed in the Lutheran Book of Worship and the Anglican Church of Canada’s Book of Alternative Services) while laying aside unnecessary masculine wording in our approach to the Holy One. It doesn’t exclude men, it includes everyone.

A Closer Look

Here is an example, Ps. 2:4. The Prayer Book says:

He whose throne is in heaven is laughing; *
the Lord has them in derision.

Isn’t that lovely? The Psalter for Christian People says:

The One enthroned in heaven is laughing; *
the Lord has them in derision.

Same number of syllables, no change in meaning. Several psalms (17, 26, 51, 54, 56, 65, 73, 88, 90, 92, 101, 126, 131, 134, 139, 140) aren’t changed by even a syllable.

Here is one of the less poetic changes, Ps. 19:1. The Prayer Book says:

The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.

The PCP says:

The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows forth the work of God’s hands.

It doesn’t change the meaning, but it sacrifices “handiwork,” which I’d rather keep. So I don’t claim the PCP is perfect. It’s just very, very similar, faithful and good.

In several cases it’s more accurate; God didn’t just plant our “forefathers” in Israel, but our “ancestors.” If there hadn’t been any women around, the men wouldn’t have survived.

Our book should reflect Reality – another of God’s holy names.

In a few PCP passages, archaic female forms are neutered and clarified, as in Ps. 46:6. Speaking of Jerusalem, the Prayer Book says:

God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be overthrown; *
God shall help her at the break of day.

The PCP says:

God is in the midst of the city;
it shall not be overthrown; *
God shall help it at the break of day.

Thus, with inclusive language the PCP is careful not to exclude men. Modern English no longer feminizes cities, ships or nations.

Why Change?

“Well,” you ask, “if this new book is so similar, why switch?” Because sexism, derived from patriarchy, is a sin. Referring to God as having human gender diminishes God, which we must never do. We – men AND women  – are “made in the image of God.”

If a woman looks like God, does God look like a woman? Yes.

The point is this: We must not make God in the image of ourselves – especially only half of ourselves.

Consider the world in which the Episcopal Church finds itself today. Our current elected Presiding Bishop is a woman. Our leading legislative officer, the elected President of the House of Deputies, is a woman. Half the clergy are women, and a little more than half the laity. Our Bible translation, the New Revised Standard Version, enjoys near-universal use in this Church; the NRSV is a product of high scholarship – and it employs more inclusive language.

We can’t do evangelism if we can’t speak to audiences today.

Outside our walls, the sinful ideology of male superiority is crystal clear. In 2012 a teenage girl named Malala was shot in the head for promoting the education of girls in Pakistan. A young woman in India was gang-raped on a bus, and finally died of her injuries, prompting mass demonstrations in the streets and new legislation. In the United States, elections turned on whether male politicians control women’s bodies, or women do.

Proponents of male superiority invariably cite religion as their justification. God is blasphemed in every utterance of their mouths.

Jesus Christ was born of a woman, and so were all of us. That woman was acceptable to God, and we need to take our cues from that.

As a Church we’re doing so; but it’s a slow and painful process. Discrimination still exists here; my diocese has a woman bishop, but many parishes have never had a woman rector.

If we say our site welcomes everyone, why are we still using patriarchal language?

Ps. 118:20 offers the ultimate example of why we must change. The PCP says:

“This is the gate of the LORD; *
those who are righteous may enter.”

But the Prayer Book says:

“This is the gate of the LORD; *
he who is righteous may enter.”

That cannot be justified.

The Need for Ongoing Revision

My mentor Howard E. Galley, Jr., General Editor of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, always taught that Prayer Book revision must be an ongoing process, as scholarship continues to produce results and other Communions report their experiences with new versions of the old texts. As General Editor he oversaw the reworking of a Prayer Book that was 51 years old. We waited too long, he said; our Book doesn’t keep up with our scholarship or our faith.

I knew Howard better than anyone living today, and I firmly believe he would support this revision. I have also prayed about this for months, taking my responsibility (Ps. 69:6-7) solemnly into account:

O God, you know my foolishness, *
and my faults are not hidden from you.
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
Lord GOD of hosts; *
let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me,
O God of Israel.

As serious a matter as Prayer Book revision is, I believe the PCP’s alterations are guided by the Holy Spirit, as God’s work is always that of liberating us from sin and oppression. It is time, once and for all, for the Church of women and men to follow God through the Red Sea onto dry land.

If you have an opinion about this, please comment below, and continue to do so day by day as we proceed with implementation. The Subdeacons and I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for praying with us, and God bless you. We think this is going to be a great change. And if it isn’t, I still have all the Prayer Book psalms in my hard drive.

I am betting that once we experience more freedom, we won’t want to go back to slavery.++

Josh Thomas
Evangelist and Founder
March 4, 2013

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Father Bob Solon Jr., a doctoral student at General Theological Seminary in New York and an adviser to our sites, writes as follows:

“Josh, please ask for continued prayers for those without heat or light in Brooklyn and NJ. And if its within your guidelines, please pass on requests for donations at interoccupy.net. I’m there now. Thanks!”


For info on Episcopal relief efforts at St. Mark’s, Keansburg, New Jersey, see this video:

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