March 12, 2010

Reviving Cursillo, Follow-up

This is a brief follow-up to my last post on the project of reviving Cursillo in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, ten lay and ordained Cursillistas, including Bishop Kenneth Price, met for 2-1/2 hours at the diocesan office in Monroeville. We shared our Cursillo experiences and discussed the future of Cursillo in the diocese. I found the airing of our personal histories encouraging. Those of us who have been a part of Pittsburgh Episcopal Cursillo have had remarkably similar experiences and hold similar views about Cursillo’s successes and failures in our diocese. This shared understanding will help us plan for the future with confidence. I was also pleased to learn that some members of our group had experienced Cursillo elsewhere, thus bringing broader perspectives to our discussion. One participant, for example, played a role in establishing a formal Cursillo organization within The Episcopal Church. Others had attended Cursillo weekends sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, including an event conducted in Spanish, the native tongue, as it were, of Cursillo.

It is not necessary to recount everything that was discussed in the meeting, but I do want to list some of the major decisions that were made by the group. Most importantly, perhaps, we agreed that we want to reinvigorate Cursillo in the diocese, and, when we can, begin to sponsor the weekend events for which Cursillo is best known. We were each given a copy of the pamphlet “Strategies for Restarting and Renewing Cursillo Movements in Dioceses” from National Episcopal Cursillo, and this booklet informed our discussions. In particular, based on advice in “Strategies,” we designated a temporary governing board of three people. We assigned tasks and set a date for our next meeting. We also set a date for an Ultreya—a kind of reunion and pep rally—to be held in mid-June [a correction to my original post—sorry]. This will be our first gathering of the larger Cursillo community. We will take our time and plan carefully for future events. We do not expect to be sponsoring a Cursillo weekend for at least a year.

We left the diocesan office with a sense of accomplishment, and most of us adjourned to a nearby Mexican restaurant for more fellowship, sharing, and an overdue meal.

Meanwhile, In the Other Diocese

The Rev. David Wilson, a Cursillo leader who is now in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, left a comment on this blog about “Reviving Cursillo.” He questioned some statements I had made in that post. I thought I had been misunderstood, but it was also clear that I was not aware—and am still not aware—of all the relevant facts. A little research gave me a better appreciation of the history of the Cursillo movement and understanding of what is happening in the Anglican diocese. I hardly wanted to engage in a long-running on-line dispute with Fr. Wilson, but I did want to correct the record and share something of what I had learned from my research. If you have not done so, you may want to read Fr. Wilson’s comment and my response.

Since the congregations of the Anglican Church in North America are not in The Episcopal Church and are not in dioceses led by Episcopal bishops, they cannot participate in Cursillo under National Episcopal Cursillo. ACNA has therefore created an analogue of National Episcopal Cursillo called Anglican 4th Day of North America. It has not done so under license from the Roman Catholic Church, which holds the rights to the name “Cursillo, so A4D, which seems to be Cursillo in all but name, cannot use that name. This certainly causes National Episcopal Cursillo no grief and, I suspect, the Roman Catholics have no problem with the arrangement either. (Anyway, this is not my problem.)

I have hardly done a complete review of the A4D Web site, but it does seem that A4D has its act together. I was disappointed that many of its publications, even those delivered free electronically, are not directly available from that Web site. One important document can be read by the casual visitor, however, and that is “The Anglican Fourth Day Handbook” dated (both) December 4, 2009, and December 5, 2009.

“Handbook,” I think, gives some insight, if any more is needed, into the orientation of ACNA, which seems to combine the extremes of Protestant theology and Catholic polity. Below, I have reproduced two brief sections of this document, taken from is pages 7 and 8. Although I will not comment further on “Handbook,” I have highlighted text I found particularly interesting. Make of this what you will.

Fundamental Beliefs of the A4DTM Servant Community

As A4DTM affiliate members we believe in being a part of the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ; we believe and confess Jesus to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father, but by Him.

We accept and uphold the authority of Scripture (Old and New Testaments) and accept them to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard to Christian faith and life.

We confess as provided by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the Church as declared in the Apostles‟ and Nicene Creeds.

We receive the 39 Articles of Religion (Year 1571) as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

We seek to be obedient disciples of Jesus Christ our One Lord and Savior.

We accept The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine, discipline, and worship.

We accept the original intent and methodology of the Cursillo movement which includes 15 talks and 5 meditations; including the full expression of the sacraments as found in the context of the historical, orthodox, Anglican Tradition.

We continue in the tradition of keeping with the essence and core principals found in the original Cursillo methodology/movement.

Goals of the Anglican 4th Day
  1. To build Christian fellowship, raise up empowered Christian leaders, so the church can reach the world for Christ Jesus.
  2. To allow for an appropriate opportunity for pilgrims to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ (to be born-again), to call the wayward back to the Lord, and for each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit during the three-day weekend or other A4D activity. A4D is intended to make saints and apostles. Saints are people who know God, who know His love and grace, and who live their lives from this relationship. Apostles are saints who have the mission to share that same knowledge with others." Thus A4D is committed both to making saints (believers with “a vibrant faith in Jesus”) and apostles (those on a mission and way of life for others to evangelize their communities and transform their environments).
  3. To claim the world for Christ as Christians and to build His Kingdom on earth through the transformation of the environments (family, church, neighborhoods, marketplace, etc.) we encounter in our daily lives and to move into new environments the church is not presently reaching. The 4th Day Servant Community shall live out its faith daily (Piety, Study, Small Group Accountability with Apostolic Action) using the tools taught during and after the three-day weekend.
  4. To exist as “Fourth-Dayers,” as believers, and servants to assist the Body of Christ, the Church, in its mission - to know Christ Jesus and make Him known to others (Matthew 28:18-20). The A4D servant community is called to be a public friend of Jesus Christ in the marketplace in which we sojourn daily and to stand firm in our Biblically-centered Christian Faith. (Luke 12:8-10).
  5. To witness to the world both in and outside of the Church as a servant community under the authority of the Church’s leadership. To minister to the least, the last, and the lost. To increase the capacity of the church to serve locally, nationally, and internationally.
  6. The A4DTM community and all of its activities are to be open and transparent to all in the Church.


  1. Thank you Lionel for your new blog entry and for clarifying your statements about Cursillo funds and property and thanks to Bruce Robison from which "never is heard a discouraging word".

    And thanks especially for finally recognizing and referring to us as the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh rather than an entity or a group. Now if you can use Bishop or Archbishop when referring to our bishop rather than simply "Duncan", we will really be making some headway :)

  2. David,

    Referring to people and organizations when we had two entities claiming to be the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh” was a nightmare for journalists and church members alike.

    When there is no danger of confusion, journalists usually prefer to call people and groups by the names they give themselves, and I am content to follow that convention in most circumstances. It is pointless to argue about whether Robert Duncan is a “real” archbishop; he leads a group that calls him Archbishop Duncan, and that’s good enough for me. (Even I wince when an Episcopalian calls him “Mr. Duncan,” by the way.)

    Another journalistic convention uses a person’s title when his or her name is first mentioned in a story and refers to the person by surname only in subsequent references. I often, though not invariably, adhere to this convention, so I may occasionally write “Duncan” or “Jefferts-Schori” with no disrespect intended.

    More to the point, I hope that we can resolve any residual disputes over Cursillo and move on. I am encouraged by your most recent comment.

  3. Whoa – Two Cursillos? How far is Duncan’s group going to go in creating a parallel universe? All the way? Do we get a 49 star flag? (no New Hampshire!) Do we get new jokes? (Where ever you find four Anglicans you’ll find a fifth?) What happens if the Episcopalian’s get copyright to then term “Ten Commandments (The Anglicans will have “The Fourteen Minus Four Divine Imperatives”?

    I’m weary of everything in two rows. How about this – let’s work together on something?

    Geoff Hurd

  4. Well Geoff, If you want to start working together, a good start would be refraining from calling us Duncan's group. There's no one on this side of the aisle calling your Diocese Price's group

  5. Several weeks ago the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, labeled the Episcopal Church, of which I am a member, as “ungodly” and “demonic”. Yep, this stuff is not very productive. OK. Here is my post, reposted:

    “Whoa – Two Cursillos? How far is the Anglican Church in North America, headed by His Grace, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, Robert Duncan, going to go in creating a parallel universe? All the way? Do we get a 49 star flag? (no New Hampshire!) Do we get new jokes? (Where ever you find four Anglicans you’ll find a fifth?) What happens if the Episcopalian’s get copyright to the term “Ten Commandments” (The Anglicans will have “The Fourteen Minus Four Divine Imperatives”?)

    I’m weary of everything in two rows. How about this – let’s work together on something?”

    Is that better?

    So, David, where do you stand? Is your highest priority to legitimize the institution of which you are a member or do the work of the Gospel working with the rest of us sinners? Is there anything on which we could cooperate?

    Geoff Hurd

  6. Geoff

    I understand your concerns about Abp Akinola but he doesn’t speak for me, for the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh or for Abp Duncan just as Bishop V Gene Robinson does not speak for you, Bishop Price or the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

    My highest priority is to serve the One who sought and rescued me from a life of sin and death, to share the transforming gospel of the unconditional love, unbounding grace and incredible mercy of God in Christ with others and to lead them into a saving relationship with Christ, to disciple them in the truth of God’s word so that they might do the same all in the fellowship of His Church.

    As for legitimacy, as far as I’m concerned God will be the arbiter of whether the Episcopal Church and /or the Anglican Church in North America are legitimate. I was converted, confirmed and ordained in the Episcopal Church and I served it as faithfully as I knew how in the parish, in the diocese and nationally for 27 years. Finally, I concluded, it was no longer the same church I joined in 1981, it did not hold to or teach the same gospel in which I believed. Sadly, it had left me so I had to leave it.

  7. David,

    I agree that name-calling, per se, is not helpful. All sides have used words for rhetorical effect, however, either as euphemisms to disguise the truth or as exaggerations to make a point, often in frustration that others seem unable to see the “obvious.”

    You, for example, claim that The Episcopal Church “left” you, thereby justifying your abandoning it. This is effective rhetoric, but it disguises a more complex reality. True, the church changed. But other churches changed, just as every other social institution changed. The alternative to institutional change is death or irrelevancy.

    Clearly, in your mind, The Episcopal Church changed in ways incompatible with your own conscience. It is not for me to judge whether this is true or not. On the other hand, I have every right to suggest that, given your beliefs, you should have resigned your special position as an Episcopal priest and walked away empty-handed.

    I can think of only three explanations for your behavior: (1) Your interpretation of your ordination vows is radically different from their plain and obvious meaning and intent; (2) You believe that you have a higher commitment that allows you conscientiously to act contrary to your ordination vows; or (3) You acted without integrity.

    At the time of ordination, one has to assert: “I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church.” In the interest of sticking to the truth, which of the three explanations applies to your behavior regarding your departure from The Episcopal Church? Am I missing a fourth possibility?

  8. Thank you Lionel for your raising up the issue of my faithfulness to my ordination vows. You left out a small but important phrase when you quoted those vows. On page 526 of the 1979 BCP it reads: The Bishop says to the ordinand: Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?

    “As this Church has received them” is that small but important phrase and it all hinges on that. I am as faithful today as I was when I was asked to answer that question to the received doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church. It is not I who has revised the doctrine, misapplied or ignored the discipline and disrespected the worship.

    That’s the fourth possibility that you missed.

  9. David,
    This morning Kendall Harmon posted a good article on his TitusOneNine blog, "Ecumenism is Antidote to Credibility Crisis." It's a good reminder that denominations need to recognize that we have more in common with fellow Christians than not. Yes, David, you choose to no longer be Episcopalian, and I say, go in peace. Your new ACNA denomination is in its early stages, and with that comes certain growing pains...pains to those you leave as well as to those who go with you. Taking shots at either TEC or ACNA isn't helpful to anyone. Nonetheless, you are still a priest in the larger sense of the catholic church. Instead of bickering, let's role up our sleeves and get to the work God has for us. I mean it when I say peace be with you.

  10. David,

    Thank you for offering an honest answer to my question.

    I find your answer interesting, and I would like to discuss it further. Doing so in another comment is cumbersome, however, because comments are limited both in length and in the formatting that one can introduce.

    In the interest of clarity, therefore, I am going to continue this discussion in a new blog post titled “A Question of Ordination Vows.” I invite you to continue our discussion by commenting on that post. In the interest of fairness, should you feel the need to respond at greater length or with greater flexibility in formatting your reply, I will be happy to create a guest post on this blog for you to say what you want to say.


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