I pray that the Father will somehow show me how to find time to write a newsletter to you on a more frequent basis, or at least apply his foot to my posterior as encouragement to do so. The point is that I realize that I need to be more proactive in letting the friends and clergy of Saint Michael’s know what is going on as well as just touching base occasionally.
1. The remodel or remuddle—as the case may be—of an existing program.
As some of you know, years ago this Episcopal See came to recognize that travel to St. Michael’s for the purpose of being ordained as a Priest, was in fact an impediment that was preventing some individuals from answering the call to ministry. So I initiated the Episcopally Appointed Missionary program. To be honest, there was an independent Bishop that I was acquainted with that initiated an Episcopally Appointed Missionary system in his jurisdiction, so I thought why not copy his sucess? This program eventually morphed into the Lay Minister program that is currently in effect, and is about to go through another metamorphosis.
Our college of Bishops have conferred and we will be changing the name and scope of the Lay Minister program, along with a few minor changes to the faculties granted to a minister not ordained with the laying on of hands in an Eucharistic setting. In essence, this class of minister will have the same faculties and responsibilities as a Protestant minister, they just will not have the faculties granted to a Eucharistic Minister.
The existing letter of faculties reads:
- To assist in the conferring of the Sacrament of Exorcism to those individuals whose cases have been reviewed and approved by the Presiding Bishop of this Archdiocese.
This is going to be dropped completely from the letter of faculties granted to licensed Ministers, but will given to all licensed ministers and Priests upon successful completion of the soon to be released course on Exorcism.
Why are we doing this?
I never, ever, claimed to be psychic, a fortune teller, a seer, or even something more rooted in Christianity—a prophet. I will say that I have been blessed, by God, with the ability to occasionally spot emerging trends.
Years ago I foresaw the growing need for Exorcists, or as our Protestant friends call it, Deliverance Ministry. With that said, the period of about 2010 through 2016-17 has been labeled the golden age of Exorcism by some writers who produce articles designed to appeal to that particular audience.
A decade ago, I realized there was a need for education on the subject and began to collect source material for the purpose of putting together a program. I now have a large collection, sufficient enough, to piece together something that will work.
All seminary applicants, both those on the path to the Priesthood as well as licensed Minister will take the seminary course. Protestants will be required to take courses parallel to Introduction to Sacramental Ministry 101 to 103 and The Priesthood 100 to 201-3, courses more relative to the Protestant experience. All students will take Homiletics, Pastoral counseling and other courses common to all Christian traditions.
The reason why we are making these changes, to not only have a sacramental Priesthood but to also have a licensed protestant styled program is to be able to serve the emerging spirituality that we are watching taking shape around us.
2. The Asbury Revival.
As news of the Asbury revival broke, I began to collect research, I just knew I had to write about this. I mean after all, isn’t this—revivals—that which we have all been praying for? Haven’t I even wrote articles stating that “Aslan is on the move?” So I was determined to throw my ten cents into the fray as just about every Christian writer was opining on the event. But something told me to wait a minute.
Over the next few days after the news of the event broke, there was a disturbingly wide range of reviews, form the very positive to the absolutely negative. Then I came across a measured response from the editor of a Christian magazine, and then a day or two later an article from the same guy in response to those attacking him for not heaping praise onto the Asbury Revival in his first editorial.
Basically he was saying that he sincerly hoped that this was a genuine conversional event in which vast numbers of young people were finding a genuine conversion to Christ, but he thought it prudent to set back and watch to see the outcome months later if not a year on down the road.
Why wait and watch?
First we have to look at the historicity of wide spread revival events, One such event took place about the time of the Civil war period. They say there were even camp meetings and baptisms among the combatant soldiers. However there was not a strong teaching of repentance, educational discipleship (catechisis) and solid conversion to Christ in that series of revivals that spread across the New England and seaboard states. This mid-nineteenth century event shortly gave way to the spiritualist movement that became startlingly popular and wide spread, that had the opposite effect—instead of conversion to Christ—the spiritualist movement begot psychics, palm readers, seances, alternative religious orders, cults and culminated in the creation of devices such as the Ouija board; the result of the revivals were hardly a sound conversion to Christian precepts.
In the first sermons of Christ he said “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” So the question arises, as many of the churches promoting this movement are in fact progressive, are these youthful conversions true conversions with repentance and resolution to be born again—a life free of sin—as Christ instructed? Or are they being indoctrinated with some sort of perverted Calvinistic teaching of saved by grace alone without repentance? Are they being taught traditional doctrine and truths of the Church or rather some mamby pamby Jesus loves inclusiveness and “loves you just as you are” nonsense regardless of how traditional interpretation of the bible condemns certain lifestyles? If they are being taught the later and not the former (traditional doctrine) then we can expect this event to wilt and we will have a massive number of people searching for the truth. Our job is to be prepared to help those that come this way in search of an authentic Christianity.
In my opinion, there is a need for an online source that offers either traditional Holy Orders (catholic style) as well as a more protestant path to ordination. Granted the Universal Life Church has been ordaining people for years, including some dogs, as members of the liberal media thought it funny to get their canines a certificate from an ordination mill that never checks the applicants.
Many independent minsters started out with the ULC then moved on to more serious paths of ministry when they realized how much a joke it (the ULC) was not to mention the embarrassment they felt when they learned of the heretical views of the founder.
The “face of religion” is changing in the United States. The old main stream denominations are bleeding membership proportionally to how far to the left the leadership drifts. The United Methodist Church is no longer united, introducing inclusiveness chased many away to form a new world wide conservative Methodist church. The same has happened to the Anglican/Episcopal church as well as the Presbyterians and now the Baptists who are excommunicating churches that ordain women but are bizarrely silent on those churches baptizing openly GLBT, unrepentant sinners.
The Roman Catholic faithful are holding their breath right now to see what Pope Francis and the synodal movement are going to do. Francis’ recent opinions of the Latin Mass have inflamed many and if he sides with the German Bishops and changes the Catechism to allow gay marriage and gay priests, well, I hate to think of what will happen to a tradition that has existed for hundreds of years. Can it survive such radical change?
The facts are more than obvious. Empirical evidence continues to demonstrate that the majority of Christians reject the so called progressiveness that normalizes that which the Christian faith (and many others) have traditionally rejected. So as some church leaders rush full steam ahead to embrace inclusion and abandon all tradition and doctrine, what will the face of Christianity be tomorrow?
Churches that have maintained or rediscovered traditionalism are retaining membership or growing exponentially. Other indicators are showing that the Home Church movement is exploding in the wake of the Covid-19 lock-downs and the shuttering of churches. Forced to find a means of worship when the chapel doors were locked in compliance with Caesar, the faithful discovered the timeless value of family and friends worship groups leading some to speculate that small group ministry will be the wave of the future. However at this time, while there are independent groups helping to facilitate the planting of home churches; the bulk of the promotion of small group/home church ministries are larger churches that seek to use these movements as a means to lure people back into the larger congregations.
The promotion of Home Church Ministries is exactly what groups such as the Archdiocese of Saint Michael’s have been about from the beginning. Most congregations of the Independent Sacramental Movement meet in spare rooms converted into chapels or backyard type buildings are remodeled into “Garden Chapels.” We wrote the book, so to speak, on home church. Saint Michael’s will be developing programs to help build Anglo-Catholic as well as Protestant home churches/small group ministry.
Traditionally, the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church as well as lay people who are professionals but yet accept the existence of the demonic, have insisted that Demonic Possession is very rare. However some are quietly admitting that our greatest fears have materialized. Possession is not as rare as we thought. Regardless of how wide spread or common possession is, empirical evidence again, is indicating that many people stand to benefit from a spiritual approach to healing, perhaps in conjunction with medication, to alleviate their emotional and sometimes mental issues.
Many young people have been attracted to Wicca and other Pagan systems. The internet has made rites, rituals, and spells available to the novice. Etsy and other shopping venues are actually selling turn key witchcraft sets, everything to start casting spells in a box. So much so that we are seeing older experienced practitioners of these paths voicing their concerns of new people messing with that which they have no idea of what its capabilities are. The question arises; “What happens when some young girl playing witch, actually manages to summon a demon?” How many have already come under demonic attack because they, or a friend messed with that which is best left alone?
And we wonder why the reports of paranormal activity are increasing exponentially. We wonder why our streets are full of people committing horrendous crimes with no remorse, no empathy for the victim. Reports of people who display the worse traits of Malignant Narcissism seem to indicate that we have a pandemic of the disorder on our hands. The victims of these monsters need intensive care.
Even though it appears that the Pentecostal churches and other protestant denominations have adopted deliverance ministries—the Protestant version of Exorcism—the demand far exceeds the number of ministers trained in the field. It is our goal to address this issue, thus the changes that are about to be implemented, we hope, will contribute to this mission.
4. Podcasts, Blogs, and Social Media, the publishing ministry of St Michaels
Saint Michael’s Chapel, the Podcast, admittedly is not as successful as I had hoped. Perhaps my homilies are boring, maybe it is my delivery, I don’t know. The Episcopal Comtemplationes Podcast is just as unsuccessful. Perhaps the take away from this is that the audience attracted to these two venues are more inclined to read the material than to listen to it. However the Saint Michaels Journal of Exorcism, since the date that I split the three programs into separate podcasts, has only ten episodes published but (at the time of this writing) 190 “plays” while St Michael’s chapel has had only 62 plays of the 19 episodes. Some of those 62 plays reflect plays of the Journal and my editorials before I moved them to their own channels.
At this point, the plan is to continue to develop Saint Michael’s Journal, perhaps even taking it onto video via YouTube, and include “advertisements” promoting our seminary, The Priesthood, and licensed Minister programs.
The Saint Michael’s Chapel page on Facebook now has 9900 followers. The other pages have a large number of followers, not as much as the chapel, but they are holding their own.
With the fall out from censorship of conservative voices and the introduction of new alternatives to Facebook, I have tried to establish a following on these other venues, and finally are beginning to pick up followers on Parler and Gab. People outside of our beloved “choir” on Facebook are now receiving our message.
Once some of these other goals have been met, it is my plan to return the St. Michael’s Ministry pages on WordPress and Facebook back to educational ministries focusing on Exorcism and demonic possession. That was the original intent of the blog and corresponding Facebook pages.
In conclusion, you now perhaps have an inkling as to what is going on. Sometimes the immense number of projects required to make Saint Michaels a viable ministry for the future seem overwhelming. And at times it is hard to see progress, but it is happening.
Finally, to all my brothers, sisters, and dear friends, May the Peace of the Lord be with you now and for ever more. Amen