Bishop Duncan published a "prophecy" sent by the Rev. Mark Stibbe, from England. There has been considerable traffic on the House of Bishops / Deputies and other list services and an analysis by Fr. Jake. You can read the whole of the remarks of Bishop Duncan and Fr. Stibbe HERE.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh Trinity Newsletter included not only the "prophecy" but as well an interesting short note from Canon Mary Hays, Canon Missioner of the Diocese. She writes,
"We in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are in the midst of a huge transition. It is very tempting to read this season as a sunset – to think that we are leaving a time of light, and are facing an increasingly dark future. Some worry that our diocese will be destroyed by our realigning with another province in the Anglican Communion. But I'd like to challenge that contention. Our culture of prayer, partnership, collegiality, and mission has the best chance of being preserved if we align with a province whose values better match ours. Please do not misunderstand me. The days ahead will include tough times, difficult decisions and very real heartbreak as the ground shifts and the sky changes color. But none of this changes the fact that we serve a God who brings light into existence. We can trust God with our future."
Bishop Duncan makes it clear that he believes the written word from the Rev. Mark Stibbe constitutes a prophecy.
It seems that the words are up for interpretation, which is not unexpected, since prophetic utterance often needs to be accompanied by interpretation. The Episcopal introduction to the prophetic word, if that is what it is, asserts that, "Our God loves us and loves His bride, the Church" and then suggests that Fr. Stibbe's words are an encouragement. That is, they relate to events of this year in ways that affirm the actions contemplated.
Fr. Stibbe begins with a strange number game, one that I found of no particular value as information, but then again, maybe there is something there to be mined. Condensing the rest I was particularly interested in the following:
"And I sensed the Holy Spirit saying simply this: 2008 is the year of the open gate. Prepare to pass through the gate. There are new beginnings ahead for those who have been waiting patiently for their moment to come. Obstacles are being removed. The Father is breaking his children out of a sense of captivity to past restrictions. The anointing for new beginnings is on many in this year. The time of frustration and exile is coming to an end. This is the Lord's time for his people to rise up and follow him through the gates of opportunity. New starts are looming."
"…the true church – even though it will know many trials - is on the point of experiencing new life, a new season of vitality and creativity, a brand new Reformation."
"…So get ready… and do not be afraid. Do not be anxious. 2008 is the year of the gate…"
Bishop Duncan has on previous occasions referred to his belief that what is happening is a New Reformation, not just a change in the way the Anglican Communion is put together or the Episcopal Church realigned and reformed, but a new Reformation for the whole Church.
This New Reformation is in the prophecy identified with "the true church." Bishop Duncan has a vision of "a Church that is truly evangelical, truly catholic, and truly pentecostal." (see his report to the ACN meeting 2007). It is not surprising therefore that Bishop Duncan finds the words of Fr. Stibbe to be prophetic in character. They affirm what he already believes to be the case: That what he is about concerns a new reformation toward being the true church and that that church will be "truly" evangelical, catholic and pentecostal.
The link between the comments of Canon Hays and Bishop Duncan, and between those and the confirming words of Fr. Stibbe, is that they all point to the purposeful realignment of the Diocese of Pittsburgh with another province of the Anglican Communion THIS YEAR. This is of course in line with the timeline of the Common Cause Partnership which calls for a "Constitutional convention for an Anglican union held at the earliest possible date agreeable to all the Partners." 2008 is the year for Pittsburgh to make its stand, yes or no, to the Common Cause Partnership effort. Both Bishop Duncan and his Canon Missioner are pushing the matter. Fr. Stibbe sees the year 2008 as the Year of the Gate. He is pushing too.
This should put to rest any question as to whether or not Bishop Duncan intends to abandon the communion of this Church. I have stated previously that I believe Bishop Duncan when he says he will continue to be loyal to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church so long as he is active. He will be true to his word.
Still, assuming the decision of the Diocesan Convention in Pittsburgh is to leave, he might well resign or retire effective immediately and reconstitute his ministry in a Province far away, against the day when he and fellow bishops in temporary exile there might return to be the true true church in North America.
Abandonment is a process, dear friends, not just a conclusion. Two of the three senior bishops determined that the Moderator has not cut the ropes and is still tied to this dock. One believes that the Moderator has already determined to start something new and is outside the building setting fire to the wreckage of the old.
Is this a New Reformation in the making? I think not. The Moderator's prophet believes this is the year of the Gate. I have remarked in an earlier post that some consider this the year of the Rat. Knowing what I do about rats, here are certain merits to that position, although I am not convinced by either a proclaimed prophecy related to already developed strategies or predictions on a restaurant place mat.