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September 12, 2015

The OA community gathered with the Rev'd Kenneth Leech for the week prior to taking the promise on January 30, 1988. Ken focused on "silence and ministry". Here's what the Order's newsletter reported later that Spring.

He reflected on the role of silence in our prayer life and Thomas Merton's ideas of confronting our false selves. He used the images of watching/vision; darkness/helplessness; and preaching born in silence. The importance of recognizing the helplessness in the condition of people. There is an incarnational basis of ministry; sharing in the passion; and a need for contemplative attention. This ministry should develop awareness rooted in listening. Silence is often misunderstood, as is noise. There is a need to hear the voice of God.  

Any authentic priesthood must derive from an inner core of silence, a life hid with Christ in God ...Only those who are at home   with silence and darkness will be able to survive in, and minister to, the perplexity and confusion of the modern world. Let us seek that dark silence out of which an authentic ministry and a renewed theology can grow and flourish.

We had other connections over the years. Some of us maintained contact with Ken and had him speak at our parishes. Members of OA visited with him in the mid 1980's in his office in London and later went to mass with him at St. Matthew's, Bethnal Green. We published a small booklet he wrote, Prayer and Prophecy. Here's a few paragraphs from that booklet

Here's a posting by Carl McColman - In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech  In his posting he writes - "I only met Father Ken a few times; we met briefly at a seminary bookstore by chance in the early 1990s; but a few years later when I was receiving spiritual direction from Emmett Jarrett (another Christian rabble-rouser), I had the chance to spend some time with Ken on a couple of occasions. Emmett had studied with Ken and the two were friends, so when Ken traveled in America he usually would stay with Emmett, who always made sure I had time to connect with this man whose work I admired so much."

Kenneth lead our retreat in 1988 and Emmett preached at our first taking of the Promise on January 8, 1988.



More on Ken Leech

What kind of social vision emerges from the Anglo-Catholic tradition?  - by Fr. Leech

Ken Leech: Rest in Peace - on the Congregational development blog "Means of Grace, Hope of Glory"

On Wikipedia

Farewell to the days of birettas and cassocks

Fr Ken Leech (1939 – 2015) - From the parish Ken attended in his last years

Subversive Orthodoxy: In Dialogue with Kenneth Leech - A PDF on J.B. Bartley's take on Kenneth's thinking

At Odds with the World - Places Fr. Leech in relationship to other priests of his tradition.




Lowell recently posted a useful pice of work in the Episcopal Cafe.

"Great Christian doctrines are 'both/and.' Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. God is both One and Three. Great heresies are created by relieving the 'both/and' tension with an 'either/or' decision. The direction of salvation is an ever-widening embrace of 'both/and' until all is brought within the eternal arms of God. As the controversial Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire says often, 'We're all going to have to live together forever in heaven. We'd better start learning to love one another right now.' "

Take a look at the whole piece: Both/And, Not Either/Or



Prison storytelling project

This is a ministry based at St. Paul's, Fayetteville, Arkansas where Fr. Lowell Grisham,OA is rector.

The play bill distributed the following evening at St. Paul’s explained the event’s intent: Everyone has a story, and when people are given the opportunity to listen to the stories of others, we become less likely to dehumanize one another with stereotypes.

This show was not as brutal as the last two; it’s more nuanced, said Erika Wilhite, the project’s theater director.

“It’s maybe one of the best ones yet,” she said. “The biggest job is not to allow melodrama; if it’s too graphic, the audience will draw back.”

The St. Paul’s performance had two objectives, McGregor said: to help people realize that under different circumstances the women’s stories could be their own and to show them that the journey that culminates in prison didn’t happen in a vacuum and that there are consequences to abuse. 

The full story is here.



We give thanks that our brother in Christ, Jeremy, celebrates 50 years as a priest in God's Holy Catholic Church. His ordination was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC on December 22, 1962. He took the Promise in 1993. The Order has been blessed by his loyalty and stability, by his presence and his prayers.






Mary was one of the founding members of the Order. In 1982 she took part in the formative conversations; several of which happened in her apartment when a seminarian at GTS. She was ordained a priest on the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul in 1987. Mary took the Promise in 1988 at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at GTS.


Mary at the OA retreat with Kenneth Leech, 1988



Mary taking the Promise in 1988 




Mary E. Laney, Episcopal priest in city

November 22, 2012|By Vernon Clark, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Rev. Mary E. Laney was an advocate for social justice.


The Rev. Mary E. Laney, 71, an Episcopal priest and advocate for social justice who served congregations in Philadelphia and Gladwyne, died of cancer Monday, Nov. 19, at Lankenau Hospital.

Rev. Laney, a native Philadelphian, was the rector of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in the city's Feltonville section for 15 years until about 2005. Until her death, she was assistant rector of St. Christopher's Church in Gladwyne.

She was a leader of Philadelphia Interfaith Action, a faith-based community advocacy group that pressured public officials and business leaders on issues ranging from gun violence and public safety to affordable housing.

In an op-ed column in the Inquirer in 1997, Rev. Laney and the Rev. Isaac J. Miller, then rector of North Philadelphia's Church of the Advocate, wrote:"We have proposed widespread community policing experiments in the city. We have fought for the sealing and demolition of abandoned buildings.

''And we are preparing to urge the mayor to focus his energies on bread and butter issues - like the hemorrhaging of jobs and families from our city."

Mary Elizabeth Selby was born on July 12, 1941. She was a graduate of Olney High School, Temple University, and the General Theological Seminary in New York, where she earned a master's degree in theology.

In 1960, she married Earl Laney, whom she had met at a church dance about five years earlier. He is the retired president and chief executive officer of the Media Members Credit Union, which serves employees of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com.

"I first met her when she was 13 years old," said her husband. "She was a strong believer in our faith, a strong believer in family, the civil rights movement, and the community development movement."

Bishop Allen Bartlett, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, hailed Rev. Laney as an outstanding cleric.

"She was one of the first priests I ordained and one of the best," said Bartlett. "I ordained her a deacon in 1986 and a priest in 1987."

He described Rev. Laney as "a woman of courage, enthusiasm, and quick humor. She was lively."

Bartlett noted that at St. Gabriel's, Rev. Laney led a culturally diverse congregation.

"Eight to 10 different languages were spoken there," Bartlett said. "She always stood for inclusion and responding to the needs of those on the margins."

Rev. Laney was vice president of the Episcopal Diocese's Standing Committee, the church's board.

 She also urged redevelopment of the area of the sinking homes of Logan, a large tract of rowhouses that were demolished after they were found to be sinking in 1986 because they were built on a creek bed.

Father Miller said Rev. Laney was a dynamic advocate, noting that she spoke out in support of community policing and against gun violence.

"There are folks that you want with you when you are in a serious fight and Mary is probably among a handful of folks who I want on my side in a fight," Father Miller said.


Other information on Mary
Chapter in a book

Blight fight is latest battle for Episcopal priest As a leader of Philadelphia Interfaith Action, the Rev. Mary E. Laney has challenged the city's political leaders.

October 23, 2001|By Cynthia Burton INQUIRER STAFF WRITER 

The first time the Rev. Mary E. Laney got up to preach, she couldn't find her voice.

"I thought my mouth wouldn't open," she said and laughed.

That was probably the last time.

For a dozen years, Ms. Laney, 60, vicar of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Olney, has been a prominent voice for residents of working-class Philadelphia neighborhoods struggling to free themselves from crime and decay.

She has used that voice, sharp and clear, to prod former Police Commissioner Richard Neal, Mayor Street, and Council President Anna C. Verna into action Standing up to power figures in a city that runs on political juice doesn't seem to bother her. She knows she is not alone in the struggle.

She is one of three cochairs of Philadelphia Interfaith Action, an organization of religious and community groups that push the neighborhood agenda.

Sometimes that push comes with an attention-grabbing shove.

In 1996, when members of the group felt that the Police Department wasn't running hard enough after drug dealers, they delivered a Rome-is-burning fiddle to Neal. When Street took too long, in their opinion, to make good on a 1999 campaign promise to fight neighborhood blight, they dumped a pile of bricks outside his City Hall office.

But when Street recently announced his $250 million blight proposal - to demolish 14,000 buildings, clear land for development, and provide home-improvement money - they supported him.

Two weeks ago, they held a "hearing" to attack Verna and City Council for refusing to introduce legislation to fund Street's plan.

Never mind that Verna and others don't want to give money to a program that the administration has not explained to their satisfaction. To members of the interfaith group, City Council is in the way.

Verna's staff dismissed the mock hearing. "A waste of time," spokesman Daniel Fee said.

Still, the group's pressure is relentless. "We understand there is a problem . . . between City Council and the mayor," Ms. Laney said. "But avoiding it and playing games . . . is not going to help. That's not how you deal with it. Do they need therapy?"

Such pointed observations come easily to Ms. Laney now, but it took her about 40 years of private living to find that public voice.

She was born in Mayfair. When she was 8, her mother died; she was reared by two aunts in Olney, a few blocks from St. Gabriel's.


May her soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.