This letter from the rector arrived by email:
October 13, 2008
My dear friends, beloved in Christ,
Greetings and all peace to you in the Lord Jesus. I give thanks to God regularly for the marvelous
parish of Blessed Sacrament. In recent years we have been blessed by the coming of five terrific
assisting priests, an apparently unstoppable influx of college students, a large number of
individuals seeking ordination, the growth and health of our Children’s Learning Center, and the
founding of varied and numerous other ministries and programs. We remain fully committed to
the revealed truth of the Gospel and all that that means, in the way of love and generosity of
spirit. In short, we strive to keep Jesus first in all that we are and do.
During these same years, the polarization and conflict within the Episcopal Church have
continued to escalate, becoming particularly rapid in the past two years. It is quite evident that the
convictions of much of the leadership in the Episcopal Church are at variance with Christian
orthodoxy and practice, and their grip on power has produced acts severely lacking in charity and
tyrannical abuse of power, even violating the statutes that govern the Episcopal Church.
Individuals continue to leave the Episcopal Church, and the number of congregations doing so
also continues to mount—many of them among the largest and healthiest. Two entire dioceses
have left and two more appear poised to do so. The most visible response from the leadership of
the Episcopal Church is to step up threats and take action against those of traditional convictions.
Several godly and effective bishops and dozens of priests, including some with international
credentials as fine scholars and pastors, have been deposed without recourse. Those in power in
the Episcopal Church continue to follow the road to disaster in spite of wide outcry from the rest
of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
In these days of Anglican uncertainty and realignment, I am pleased to announce that our
attendance, finances, and morale continue to be good, which is no mean achievement under the
circumstances. This letter to our parish family and our extended family is to inform you briefly of
the status of the actions we have taken in response to the recommendations from our Discernment
Committee. The Discernment Committee was formed in February 2007 to take counsel regarding
the course of Blessed Sacrament in this time of crisis. After fifteen months of careful and
prayerful labor, the Committee made a four-point recommendation to the Vestry, which
unanimously approved it. Those four points were revealed in the sermon preached on May 25.
That sermon has been printed in a tract, posted on my blog, and is available on our parish website
as an audio download. Nearly five months later, I want to inform you of how those four points
have been enacted to date.
First, the home page of the parish website has been recently rewritten. It includes these words: “Our
parish stands without compromise on the faith once delivered to the apostles and outlined in creedal
orthodoxy. We are a congregation grounded on the foundation of the fullness of the Christian faith,
and rich with abundant and joyful love. Striving to obey the Great Commission, we ‘preach the
Gospel to every creature’, and call all our members to the unbounded peace of practicing Christian
virtues such as chastity, generosity, courage, and mercy… Our parish firmly, publicly, and
unapologetically disavows the Episcopal Church’s noted and flagrant departures from Biblical and
historic Christian standards of belief and behavior. We pray for repentance and renewal within our
denomination and we also pray for that unity with all Christians for which Our Lord Jesus prayed.”
Further changes to the website are currently in process. Also, a prayer card has been made available to
the parish with specifics about the current situation, and copies have been taken by those with a gift of
intercession. More copies are available to those who ask.
Second, we have formally entered into an agreement with the Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little, the Bishop of
Northern Indiana, to serve as our “bishop pastor”. Bishop Little holds traditional views and will serve
us as pastor and encourager, and confirm and ordain those in our parish who are duly prepared. The
bishops of our own diocese have withdrawn their immediate oversight of our parish. Our own bishop,
Bishop Jon Bruno, suggested this course of action and entirely supports it. Indeed, it could not happen
without his support. Bishop Little will make his first visitation to Blessed Sacrament on Tuesday,
December 9, to take counsel with our leadership and to preside and preach at confirmation. Details of
his visit will be announced in due time.
Third, we continue to support firmly all of our vocationers in whatever circumstances they encounter.
We recently experienced the ordination of Micah Snell as a deacon and we look forward to the
ordinations of Steve Sterry and Greg Peters early in 2009. Sister Rita Mary made her final profession
as a Third Order Franciscan. Two others are in process of ordination to the priesthood.
Fourth, at Bishop Bruno’s suggestion and with his support, we have redirected our Mission Share
Fund, normally given to the diocese, to causes that both the diocese and our membership can support
without conflict of conscience. We give one-third to support Father John and Susan Park, missionaries
in Peru; one-third to the scholarship program at Nashotah House Seminary; and one-third to local
causes that serve the poor. We continue to give a small amount to the diocese each year. Those in our
parish who have qualms about supporting the Mission Share Fund of the diocese can now give with
the assurance that nearly all of their gift will support traditional causes.
Following the course we have set out will enable us to remain healthy and bear witness to the cause of
Christ within the Episcopal Church. We are fully aware that these arrangements, long-term though
they may be, are temporary. Our Discernment Committee continues to monitor the situation.
Finally, about the time you receive this letter I shall complete thirty years as Rector of this parish, a
ministry I began on October 15, 1978. I did not anticipate at that time that this ministry would become
my life’s work. As I begin my thirty-first year as your Rector, I can say that I have weathered much,
grown much, and (most importantly of all) been greatly blessed beyond my expectations. As always,
God has proven himself faithful to me and this parish. Thirty years ago I did not foresee the intensity
of the assaults on the bulwarks of Christianity that we have seen recently, especially from the
leadership of our own Church. Yet I, and we, stand firm and will continue to do so.
Lovingly and sincerely yours,
The Rev. Canon David M. Baumann, SSC