Bryn Athyn Regional Clergy Meetings

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
June 25, 2019

This past week, after the wonderful indoor pageant celebrating June 19th on a day that was too rainy for a picnic, Bryn Athyn Church hosted the regional clergy meetings. About 25 ministers attended, and there were eleven presentations. The following were the topics discussed:

• New Bishop’s Session (Rt. Rev. Peter Buss, Jr.): Pete discussed the things that he is proud of and not so proud of in the General Church, and how he plans to approach his new job.
• What Do We Mean by the Term “Use” (Rev. Stephen Cole): Stephen showed us that we don’t know what the Writings mean by the term “use.” It is not our job, but is really about our ends and loves.
• Permission not Will: Swedenborg’s Theodicy
(Rev. Dr. Andy Dibb): Theodicy is the attempt to answer the question of how God could allow evil to come into being and persist. Andy talked about the history of this line of thought.
• The General Church Approach to Doctrine
(Rev. Jeremy Simons): Jeremy Simons discussed the hypothesis that genuine scholarship in the Word is an important part of the answers to the questions that trouble the church. Part two of this hypothesis is that the methods that guide this kind of scholarship are defined in the Heavenly Doctrine itself.
• Themes from Donald Rose’s 1980s Council of the Clergy Papers (Rev. Eric Carswell): Don Rose’s clergy papers were greatly loved. Eric discussed his themes and points from the 1980s.
• Canoeing the Mountains (Rev. Chuck Blair): Lewis and Clark discovered that their canoes were of little use to them once they reached the Rockies. The tools and methods that have carried the church to this point may need to be modified for the way ahead.
• New Parents to ANCSS (Rev. Barry Halterman):
Barry discussed how much he enjoys his work in the high school with the families who are new to the church.
• What was abrogated at the First Coming and how was it known to be abrogated (Rev. Kenneth Alden): The Writings speak frequently about the laws and teachings that the Lord abolished at His coming, such as the sacrifices, polygamy, and the dietary laws. But when we look into it we may wonder how He did this, since most of these things are barely mentioned in the Gospels.
• Divine Providence and Leadership (Rt. Rev. Peter Buss, Jr.): Pete described how the theme of each chapter in Divine Providence describes a principle of leadership.
• How good does one have to be to get to heaven, or how bad can one be and still get to heaven (Rt. Rev. Brian Keith): Brian showed us how many passages there are that address this common question, and that there are no easy answers.
• New Church Pro-Slavery Thoughts (Rev. Chris Barber): Early New Church members took varying positions on slavery in the first half of the 19th century, a fact that is as disturbing as it is surprising. What mistakes of judgment may we be making today that future generations will find similarly shocking?

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