Skip to comments.Former Episcopal priest grateful to Pope for Catholic ordinariate
Posted on 12/08/2012 2:34:25 PM PST by NYer
.- Former Episcopal priest Laurence Gipson, who became Catholic in October, says his reaction to the Catholic ordinariate for former Anglicans is one of “gratitude.”
“The ordinariate, I think, is a wonderful opportunity for people like me, Anglican clergy and Anglican laity, who are seeking Catholic faith,” he said.
On Jan. 1, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI established the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to allow Anglican and Episcopalian groups in the U.S. to become Catholic as groups, not only as individuals. It follows the Pope’s November 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus,” which authorized the creation of the special church structures.
Gipson, a 70-year-old native of Memphis, Tenn., said he is grateful to Pope Benedict for establishing the ordinariate. He said it is “advancing the cause of unity in the Church.”
“It offers Anglicans a way to affirm the Catholic faith, that is, a way to affirm orthodox or right belief, while at the same time being able to worship God and practice the Christian life according to the Anglican tradition and patrimony,” he told CNA Dec. 7.
“The Catholic faith and Anglican use are a great combination,” Gipson continued. “Catholics have welcomed us warmly. They’ve extended the right hand of fellowship to us, and I’m really grateful for that.”
Gipson and his wife Mary Frances were received on Oct. 28 into the Catholic Church at Houston’s Our Lady of Walsingham Church through the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1971. He served as rector of the Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tenn. and was dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Ala.
For 14 years before his retirement in February 2008, he served as rector at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. The church’s parishioners include former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush.
Gipson and his wife have been married for 48 years. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.
He said he was drawn to the Catholic faith in part because of the Church’s “clarity” in teachings and the “unity of faith amongst the faithful.”
“What I yearned for and sought was a more centralized understanding of authority, the magisterium, the teaching authority, which could much more quickly and much more definitely interpret scripture and decide on the faith when it was in dispute and settle those issues.”
Gipson said Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, the head of the U.S. ordinariate, and the theology faculty of the University of St. Thomas were among those who helped him become Catholic.
“My hope is to be ordained to the priesthood of the Catholic Church,” Gipson said. “I would like to practice that priesthood in any way that’s useful to the ordinariate.”
“I’ve been a parish priest all of my life in the Episcopal Church, for 42 years,” Gipson said. “That’s where my enthusiasm is, at the level of the parish, teaching and preaching, pastoral ministry.”
There are at least 69 candidates for the Catholic priesthood undergoing formation for possible ordination in the ordinariate. The ordinariate has ordained 24 priests since its launch in January. Many of them are married men ordained under a special dispensation in place since 1983.
Gipson said he is “deeply grateful” for his 58 years in the Episcopal Church
“The clergy and the people of the Episcopal Church gave me and my family more in the way of acceptance and support and generosity and love than we could ever have imagined or have deserved,” he said. “Each day serving was a blessing. It prepared me for, and gave me a yearning, for the Catholic Church in its fullness in all aspects of Christ’s Church.
The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have faced much controversy in recent decades over the interpretation of Scripture, the ordination of women as priests, Christian sexual morality and other issues.
“I see the controversies as an outcome of the nature of authority in the Anglican Church and the Anglican Communion,” Gipson said. There are 34 provincial churches in the communion which are autonomous.
“Without a magisterium to interpret and define the faith, what Anglicanism relies on is dispersed authority rather than centralized authority,” he added.
“What I realized of course is that the Anglican tradition about authority is a part of the identity of Anglicanism, and Anglicanism does not wish to change that manner of authority,” Gipson explained. “The Anglican Communion wishes authority to be dispersed. I decided that I could not ask Anglicanism to change its identity for me, so I was the one that had to do the changing.”
He asked Catholics to show “patience” towards new members of the ordinariate and the Catholic Church.
“We’re just learning how to be good Catholics and there’s a lot to learn,” he said.
Since leaving the corrupted Episcopal church back in the 90s, I have been only to Catholic churches in Slovakia and now in the Philippines.
It is tragic what has happened to the once great ECUSA, where I was a senior warden in Tennessee.
Thanks for the ping, Albion.
We Methodists originally were Anglican until the Revolutionary War. We are not, however, covered under the Pope’s ruling about Episcopals. Being honest, I think rightfully so. While there are “High Church Methodists” (as we would call them), even they do not approach the involved liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Besides that, I also have a few doctrinal points of disagreement with the RCC. Far fewer than in the past, but nonetheless, there are still a few there.
I've come into contact with some Methodist hymnody via shape note singing. It's musically and spiritually very good stuff, as far as I can see: i gives me a favorable "slant" towards Methodism.
Interested also in what you'd call an "involved" liturgy. At my Catholic parish, our weekday Masses never take more than half an hour. I don't know but that might be just about what y'all have except of course you'd have a LOT more sermon. :o)
Not Methodist here, but I seem to remember that both of the Wesley Brothers were Anglicans who launched reform movements within the Anglican Tradition, neither of them I think ever left the church of England, but after they passed on, some of their followers broke away and Methodism became a separate community apart from Anglicanism.
33 retired (UMC) bishops urge end to gay clergy ban
by Heather Hahn
February 2, 2011
Thirty-three retired United Methodist bishops have released a statement calling on The United Methodist Church to remove its ban on homosexual clergy. The bishops noted that the church has lifted other restrictions on clergy before. ...
At the UMC's General Conference in May 2012, delegates voted 60% for and 40% against to maintain the Book of Disciplines position that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings. The American branch of the UMC is far more liberal in this matter than the overseas branches.
Retired Bishop blames church's decline on not affirming homosexuality
by James-Michael Smith
July 6, 2012
In a statement during an ordination ceremony of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, retired Bishop Melvin Talbert (who is black and past-President of the National Council of Churches USA, 1996-1997) called on newly ordained clergy members to go against the church's Book of Discipline and perform same-sex weddings because it's the right thing to do. ...
... Bishop Talbert is not alone in his rejection of his church's doctrine on sexual issues. After General Conference, Bishop Minerva Carcano patronizingly called on African United Methodists to "grow up" after they voted to uphold the historic Christian position on same-sex sexuality.
Perhaps after 4 decades of seeking to overturn the United Methodist position on sexual ethics, it's time for the Talberts and Carcanos of the UMC to lead the way in forming their own denomination where they can be free to celebrate and affirm whatever they wish in terms of doctrine and ethics. Surely that would be better than encouraging newly ordained clergy to violate the vows they are gathered together to affirm on such occasions, would it not?
Former Episcopagan here who fled TEC in 2003 after 48 years. CTrent1564 is correct regarding the history of the Wesley brothers.
I like the Methodist hymns from the 1866 edition of Christian Harmony, which is what our shape note group sings from. The Wesleys were clearly very gifted men.
Welcome home, Larry Gipson.
The mess in the American Methodist Church is a disgrace. Certainly this is not the reason people "fled" -- the bleeding started long ago, with the radical leftism in the seminaries of the 60s. Also, the missionaries funded by the UMC were infected with cultural Marxism in Africa around the same time.
Catholics are doubtless familiar with Protestant complaints against their denomination; however, this politically correct pressure to change the plain meaning of the scriptures has become endemic in the mainline Protestant churches over the past 40 years and points to the value of the Catholic magisterium. There is a vacuum at the top of Protestantism.
U.S. Protestantism is also a victim of its own success, having come into sociopolitical power when the U.S. was young and ascendant. Its members often found themselves to be the "respected families" or "leading businessmen" in small-town America, and the political class -- Presidents, Senators, judges, university faculty, etc, came mainly from the ranks of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and a few Methodists. This was true up until the end of WWI. Individuals forgot the gospel of humility as they equated church attendance with self-importance, political power and influence in the community.
The rot in the UMC came to a head in the 60s and 70s, which is when the Methodist Episcopal Church began selling off its universities (which are now leftist bastions like Duke), nursing homes (which are now politically correct Medicare outposts), etc., and consolidating with the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968. Attendance dropped dramatically in the 70s, 80s and 90s, way before anyone dreamed the U.S. would accept homosexual "marriage." The mainline Protestant denominations may never recover.
Many, if not most, of Charles Wesley's lyrics are drawn directly from the Gospels or the Psalms.The Wesleys believed that singing was an important part of learning the gospel and participating in worship. Every service contains four to six hymns sung in harmony, as well as sung responses and one or more choir pieces. I found this method to be true, as I have difficulty consciously hearing lyrics of music; yet when I hit a bad time in my life and had fallen away from church, the lyrics of the hymns I had sung throughout my youth started coming back to me and provided comfort and inspiration to keep me going and help me return to security in the Word.
Some early Methodist hymns were new lyrics attached to familiar tunes, even drinking songs and folk songs from the pubs, as the Wesleys reached out to people who felt intimidated by the high church. Temperance was another important feature of early Methodism, continuing until very recently.
There is a slim volume by John Wesley that illuminates his "methodical" way of discipline in the Christian life, called A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. The socially conservative, disciplined, and modestly fervent Christianity of Wesley (he even instructed followers not to bellow or call attention to oneself when singing, but to temper one's volume to all the others in the congregation), a beautiful community that I remember so fondly from early childhood, has given way to just another outpost of the Democrat party.
I left after five generations of my family in the Methodist church due to a crescendo of shocking liberalisms, including the fights over homosexual affirmation in the 90s. For just one example, as we planned a prayer service open to the community for the day after 9/11, a Democrat committeewoman in our congregation chided me for suggesting that we pray, among many other things, that the teachings of Christ would become more clearly understood to all the world. She said it would offend any non-Christians who might come to our service. The pastor took her side. I could not believe my ears. It was only the tip of the iceberg.
Interesting commentary. I did not know how narrow the Pope’s ordinariate is.
Recently I attended a “traditional Anglican” church. The liturgy reminded me of my youth as a “Methodist Episcopal”, before the UMC merger.
I, too, am having fewer arguments with the RCC as I continue to study the Bible. I still value the freedom of Protestantism; but unfortunately, many of our denominations or congregations have become as corrupted as the church Luther sought to reform.
Hi, Mrs D. Forgive the brief post, but duty calls on weekends (especially Sunday), so I’ll condense a bunch of history into a few lines.
Essentially, both Episcopalian and Methodist Churches come from the Anglican Church. The Revolutionary war saw most Anglican (fore-runners of ECUSA) ministers either shut down or flee due to suspicions about their allegiance. Methodism at the time was a movement within those churches in the same way that you might have a charismatic movement within a church today. (Charismatic is not a denomination)
The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley was an Anglican priest. He became concerned at the inability of “methodist” Anglicans to receive sacraments and rites of the church due to the lack of Anglican priests.
Therefore, relying on the ancient “in extremis” practice of the church, he ordained a man to come to the Americas and be a bishop to ordain others. These American “methodist-episcopals” were left alone, essentially, until pretty much after the war of 1812, so some 40 years+.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Should have pinged you to #16
Should have pinged you to #16
Thank you for this good explanation. I say to myself: Awake and sing!
That’s a pretty interesting history. The “in extremis” ordaining of priests, consecration of bishops is something I hadn’t known about. I’ll -— thanks to you — be motivated to do some reading on the subject.