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THE DUTIES OF A CHURCH MEMBER

[The following is an abridgment of a sermon written by Bishop Charles Edward Cheney]

 

"Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to
the generation following" (Psalm 48:12,13)

It is natural to find in Mount Zion a type of Christ's visible Church.
It was the center of the Hebrew worship. There every religious rite
was performed by God's appointed priesthood. There sacrifice and
incense, the appeal of prayer and the gladness of praise consecrated and
hallowed the chosen seat of Israel's God.

We surely may transfer to the Christian Church, where "a royal
priesthood" of all true believers offers up spiritual sacrifices, something of
the honor with which the Jew regarded Zion. That honor,says the
Psalmist, demanded a survey of the holy mountain. It only required that
God's people should know how glorious their seat of worship was, to lead
them to feel a profound love and reverence for it.

Above all, such study of the towers and palaces of Zion, would enable
them to teach their children how beautiful and holy was God's house.
They were to "go round about Zion, that they might tell it to the
generation following."

I. THE DUTY OF THE REFORMED EPISCOPALIAN INVOLVES AN INTELLIGENT
ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLES AND METHODS OF HIS OWN CHURCH

A Christian who is ignorant of his own church, ought to be as rare as
the man who knows nothing of the house in which he dwells.

The reasons which demand intelligent acquaintance with one's own branch
of the universal Church, lie upon the surface.

One of these is that thorough knowledge of His own household of faith
will always tend to make the Christian a better member of the whole
family of Christ.

Then too, let it not be forgotten that a thorough acquaintance with
one's own Church, is like an anchor which keeps the Christian from aimless
drifting.

Now and then Reformed Episcopalians are asked to explain precisely the
nature of their Church; how it differs from that out of which it
sprang; and what are its doctrinal positions. And only too often, they are
compelled by their own ignorance to admit their inability to give any
satisfactory reply. Yet if there is any Church in existence whose
members need an intelligent understanding of its principles it is the
Reformed Episcopal Church. But how shall our own people obtain such thorough
comprehension of their own doctrines and methods?

First of all, by a searching study of our Book of Common Prayer. Ours
is a distinctively liturgical Church. Its ministers are bound by their
ordination promises to "conform to the worship" which is prescribed in
the Prayer Book. And within the covers of that formulary of public
devotion, brief as it is, can be found the whole system of this Church.

I plead then, with every Reformed Episcopalian that he will make his
liturgy something more than a mere directory of public worship. A
serious private study of the Prayer Book cannot fail to furnish him such
knowledge of his own Church as will put it in his power to answer every
question which honest inquirers may make as to the principles of the
Reformed Episcopal Church.

Next in importance as a source of information stands the history of
this Church.
Its real history dates back to the English Reformation. Its Prayer
Book is, in its main features, as old as the reign of Edward the Sixth.
But the causes, which working in the hearts of evangelical Episcopalians
produced at last a separate organization in the year 1873, are unknown
to thousands of our own people.

In the form of tracts and pamphlets published by our Reformed Episcopal
Publication Society, the member of our Church who really desires to be
informed as to what this Church is, and why it exists, can find the
history of conscientious struggles which resulted in the formation of this
communion.

Such is the first duty to his own Church resting on every Reformed
Episcopalian. If other Christians can afford to be ignorant of the
principles and methods of the branch of Christ's Church to which they may
belong, he cannot. The world around him, the religious sentiment of our
time, and the interests of his own communion imperatively demand that he
shall be able to "give an answer to every man that asketh ... a reason
of the hope that is in" him.

II. THE DUTY OF THE REFORMED EPISCOPALIAN INVOLVES EARNEST WORK IN THE
UPBUILDING AND STRENGTHENING OF HIS OWN CHURCH

Faith and works are bound together by a ligament which it is always
perilous to sever. When Saul of Tarsus was stricken to earth as he
hurried along the Damascus road, he recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the One
who spoke from the skies. It was but the germ of faith. Weak,
ignorant, imperfect, he nevertheless believed that the once persecuted Galilean
was the "Lord." But how quickly did works follow in the track of his
faith! He cannot conceive of believing on Christ, without obeying
Christ. Forthwith he cries. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" From
that day onward Saul's question has been repeated by every soul which has
truly believed on Christ. A living faith always kindles a fire which
blazes forth in fervent desire to work in the cause of the Saviour.

But the Reformed Episcopal Church is entitled to your loving and
earnest work because of what it is in itself. Your own Church is above all
things else a Church faithful to the Word of God. It knows no doctrine,
nor form of service, no religious practice, which cannot bear the test
of the plummet and line of the Bible.

The Anglican Church in Great Britain, Canada and the United States is a
vast, wealthy and powerful organization. Its adherents in England and
America are numbered by millions. But the steady drift of that Church
for most of the years it has been in existence has been toward a false
and unscriptural view of the sacraments and the ministry.... As a
result there is a deep unrest among some members of that Church. Where can
they go? Some, it is true, drift into other evangelical communions.
But they rarely find themselves at home. They want an Episcopal Church.
They crave liturgical worship. They miss the ancient order of the
Christian year. Their taste cultivated in the forms of the Book of Common
Prayer, revolts against a thousand things which are attractive to those
differently trained. We are the only organized body of Christians who
can offer to them the old-fashioned Episcopal Church, which our fathers
of the revolutionary epoch founded. We can give them the historic
episcopate, the liturgy in its purity, and the church year with its orderly
teaching.

How can you most effectively enlist yourselves in work for this beloved
Church?

Begin at home. Realize your own responsibility for the Church to which
in God's sight, you solemnly gave yourself when your name was enrolled
among its members. Say no yourself, "This is the church, not of my
bishop, my pastor, my church officers, but of myself. It is my Church.
God holds me responsible for the work to be done by this communion. I
am not responsible for what the other churches are doing, but for the
success and usefulness of the Reformed Episcopal Church."

Such a sense of responsibility will lead you first of all, to hold up
the hands of your pastor by a regular attendance at your own appointed
place of worship.

This sense of responsibility will lead parents to train their children
in the principles and the ways of their own Church.

Last, but not least, such a sense of responsibility will lead us to
liberality in giving, and constancy in praying for our Church.

So I say to every Reformed Episcopalian, because the times in which we
are now living are so difficult, the responsibility and the honor of
building the superstructure of our church upon the foundation so strongly
laid by our founding father, has a double claim upon our self-denying
liberality.

For the very same reason this Church appeals to you for your earnest
prayers in its behalf. We are living in perilous times. These are days
of distress and tribulation throughout the world. Our only hope is
that the Church of Jesus Christ, of which our Reformed Episcopal Church is
a vital part, will meet the challenge of the times. To be so
strengthened we must prevail upon God in prayer.

The greatness of a Church can only be measured, however, by the
greatness of its people. If our Church is to become ever greater in its
influence, outreach, and witness, it will be because Reformed Episcopalians
have given, taught, and prayed to that end.

Parish News
Easter Sunday began with a breakfast in the parish hall sponsored by
the Women's Guild. A group of children sang several songs following the
breakfast. At 10:30 a.m. Holy Communion was celebrated. We thank
those of you who purchased the lilies which beautified the chapel.

The Mother/Daughter Salad Supper was held on Saturday, May 3, 2003.
Approximately 31 mothers and daughters gathered in the parish hall for a
most enjoyable evening. Mrs. Nancy Hall was the guest speaker, Mrs.
Frances Chessman was the Mother of the Year. Her four daughters and five
grand-daughters were present and offered tributes to their mother.

The Annual Parish Meeting took place Sunday, May 4, 2003. Reports were
read and elections were held for open Vestry positions. There was
discussion of church growth issues and proposed programs.

Vacation Bible School
June 16-20 9:00 a.m.- 12 noon

Missionary of The Month
Pray for Judy King, Bible Translation/Discipling. Amazonas, Brazil.

Domestic Missions
Pray for Rev. & Mrs. Paul Howden (Beth) and their children, Malachai,
Mark, Timothy, and Charissa. St. Luke's Reformed Episcopal Church,
Santa Ana, Ca.

Happy Birthday!
June 3 - Madeline Levi
June 7 - Grant Chessman
June 8 - Mildred Buescher
June 8 - Melissa Drobnak
June 9 - Patty Levi
June 14 - Carl Spencer
June 16 - River Alathia Christenson
June 17 - Dave Sellers
June 18 - Jacqueline Robertson
June 18 - Paul Sellers
June 21 - Anita Rago
June 23 - Brian Stultz
June 30 - Frank Levi, Jr.

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL
June 15, 2003
by Ruth Lommatzsch

Now and then it's time to say
Something in a special way,

And so to father's everywhere;
May God grant you His special care.

Give you health and happiness
And all your families richly bless,
Not just while Father's Day is here,
But on each day of every year!

I am Old Glory
I am Old Glory: For more than nine score years I have been the banner
of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans. Born
amid the first flames of America's fight for freedom, I am a symbol of
a country that has grown from a little group of thirteen colonies to a
united nation of fifty sovereign states. Planted firmly on the high
pinnacle of American Faith my gently fluttering folds have proved an
inspiration to untold millions. Men have followed me into battle with
unwavering courage. They have looked upon me as a symbol of national
unity. They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue
to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been
granted to every American as the heritage of free men. So long as men
love liberty more than life itself; so long as they treasure the
priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the
principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in
human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United
States of America.

Written by Marine Master Sergeant
Percy Webb (1879-1945).

Greetings from sunny Florida, Bishop & Mrs. Franklin Sellers


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