Table Rock Talk March 2018

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

World Religions come to Lawrencefield

May study series features local author

By popular request, Lawrencefield will sponsor a series on World Religions on Wednesday evenings in May taught by the Rev. Bonnie Thurston, PhD. The sessions will begin at 7pm, last about one-and-a-half hours, and be open to the public. The schedule is as follows.

May 2
May 9
May 16

In preparation for this series, Dr. Thurston suggests that interested participants may wish to read Huston Smith's The World's Religions (Paperback, Harper San Francisco.) Please contact Alan at Words and Music to order your own copy.

Lenten Study series continues

The schedule of the March sessions of “Why?”, the Episcopal Lenten Study series taking place at St. Matthew’s is as follows:

March 7—Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered?
Hosted by Lawrencefield and presented by the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Byers Walter
March 14—Why Can’t I See God’s Will for My Life?
Hosted by St. Matthew’s and presented by the Rev. Richard L. Skaggs
March 21—Why God’s Love Prevails
Hosted by St. Luke’s and presented by the Rev. Mark E. Seitz

A sign-up sheet for soup-makers for the March 7 session, for which Lawrencefield is responsible, is in the Narthex.

Holy Week worship schedule

March 25—Palm Sunday — Services at 8am and 10am. We remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, then recount in dramatic form the narrative of Christ’s Passion.

March 29—Maundy Thursday — Service at 6pm. We remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples before his arrest, his institution of the Holy Eucharist, and his giving of his “new commandment” to the disciples.

March 30—Good Friday — Services at noon and 6pm. We remember the condemnation, torture and assassination of the innocent Jesus. At noon we walk “The Stations of the Cross,” reliving Jesus’s walk to his death, and at 6 we will receive communion from the Reserve Sacrament.

March 31—The Great Vigil of Easter — Service at 8pm. After sundown, we anticipate the resurrection of Jesus.


The Rector’s Study The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Byers Walter

Catholics and Episcopalians

This month I continue to draw my inspiration from the “ask the priest” cards people filled out at Lawrencefield’s last Congregational meeting in November. One of those cards read, “What are the differences between the Catholic and Episcopal beliefs?”

The great Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw is widely supposed to have said, “The United States and Great Britain are two countries divided by a common language.” Superficially that is the nature of the difference between Catholic and Episcopalian belief these days. It wasn’t always this way of course, and in the 16th and 17th centuries particularly both Catholics and Anglicans (from which American Episcopalianism grew) suffered for their respective faiths, and were even killed for them.

The differences between Catholics and Episcopalians, as I see it, can be broken into three categories: Liturgy (worship), governance (who’s in charge), doctrine (belief) and moral teaching.

Liturgically Episcopalians and Roman Catholics are very close. If you’ve ever attended Catholic Mass you know this. Both churches use the same order of worship: Liturgy of the Word (including sermon and prayers) followed by Liturgy of the Table (communion), and we do this every Sunday, if we possibly can. In this we both differ from many Protestant denominations, which have communion more rarely and in regular Sunday worship emphasize preaching and music. Catholic Mass is so familiar that I have attended Mass in countries where I don’t even understand the language and have known what is going on. There are some relatively minor differences. The specific words may be different but the substance is the same.

Clearly Episcopalians and Roman Catholics have their own systems of governance that are completely independent of each other. Episcopalians do not recognize the authority of the Pope or other Catholic bishops, and Catholics do not recognize our authorities. However the episcopal structure is the same: that the church is divided into dioceses each of which is overseen by a bishop, and we call our clergy priests. The Catholic Church also has archbishops, monsignors, and cardinals, about whose range of authority I am not absolutely clear. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part, does not have the same authority to proclaim orthodoxy and enforce consistency that the Pope has, and serves more as a “First Among Equals.” Obviously, the Episcopal Church ordains women as priests, and allows priests to marry, which the Catholics do not.

In theological doctrine, Roman Catholics and Episcopalians are close enough these days that if I have a choice between appealing to a Catholic theologian and a non-Anglican Protestant in researching my sermons, I usually find the Catholic far more reliable. We use the same creeds, appeal to many of the same saints, and approach the Holy Scriptures in much the same ways. Originally, however, Catholics and Anglicans split bitterly over the question of how Christ is present in the Eucharist. The official Catholic position is that the bread and wine at consecration literally and substantially turn into the Body and Blood of Christ, with only the appearance remaining unchanged. (This is called “Transubstantiation” if you’re interested, or are ever on Jeopardy.) Some Anglicans did and do believe this as well. Others believe that the Eucharist is a primarily a memorial of Christ’s Last Supper. (This is the line usually adopted by Protestants.) Many Anglicans take a middle way and believe that something mysterious happens in the Eucharist, and that one way or another, Christ is uniquely present in the bread and wine, we know not how. Episcopalianism thus embraces a range of beliefs about the nature of the Eucharist.

Moral teaching also differs between the Episcopal and Catholic Churches. The Catholic Church famously disallows birth control, abortion, and divorce, allowing remarriage only if the first marriage has been annulled. The Episcopal Church makes no pronouncements on birth control, officially discourages abortion but is ambiguous in cases of rape or the mother’s health, and regards divorce with both sorrow and compassion, allowing remarriage of divorced persons with the bishop’s permission. The Catholic Church officially does not offer communion to non-Catholics, and discourages Catholics from receiving Communion at non-Catholic churches. Locally, many Catholics, including priests, unofficially disregard this stricture in the interest of ecumenism and harmony, but are subject to discipline if reported to the bishop. The Episcopal Church offers communion to all the baptized, and allows Episcopalians to share Communion at other churches.

Below, I provide some websites for you to consult for verification and greater detail. The bottom line is that although there are serious differences between Catholics and Episcopalians, there is more that unites us than divides us.

Websites comparing Catholicism and Episcopalianism

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the February 18 meeting:

Narcan—The Rector had just gotten ahold of Mr. Gamble from Ohio county Health Department when her life became especially hectic, so she was not able to get anything set up with him. She will try to get a hold of him again as soon as possible.

Budget Committee has not met yet. The Rector said she would contact Tom Farnsworth and ask him to call the other members and make a time to meet. She strongly suggested that this be taken care of soon.

Education—The Rector announced that she regretfully has to postpone the noon Bible study meetings during Lent. She spoke about the upcoming “World Religion” program that Bonnie Thurston will conduct the first three Wednesdays of the month of May. Dr. Thurston is fine with opening the sessions to other churches in the diocesan, including First Christian Church, of which she is a member. The Centering Prayer Group met for the first time today between the services.

Rector Absence—The Rector will be on a rescheduled vacation from next Wednesday through Sunday. Rev. Richard Skaggs will officiate.

Chase CD has been closed out and the money is in the general fund at this time but will be moved eventually to the rector’s discretionary fund. Rev. Walter said no other advantageous options were mentioned by the people she dealt with at the bank. If something else does come up we will discuss moving that money to a place where it can grow.

Primary Election will be held at Lawrencefield on May 8. Fran Schoolcraft reminded us that we were going to make sure people that used our facility knew about and where the defibrillator is kept.

Junior Warden—Scott Duymich said painters have been notified and funds have been withheld until repairs can be made on ruts that were left after their last job here. Perhaps in April or May this can be looked into again.

Financial Report—Presented and accepted

Pew cards have been found and replaced in the pews. They had been displaced when clearing the pews for the VonTrapp concert.

Vestry missing meetings—Bylaw issue about missing consecutive vestry meeting was reviewed. It is up to the vestry to refill the position if an absence issue is not able to be resolved by the rector.

January Minutes were presented and approved.