Bloy House News
 September 2019
Bloy House Meets Archbishop Rowan Williams

When Archbishop Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, visited the Diocese of Los Angeles this month and met with the clergy of the diocese to share his thoughts on the current issues facing the Anglican Communion, our Bloy House seminarians were invited to take part in the event.

In a perfect moment of synchrony, Archbishop Williams' visit coincided with the time in our curriculum where the majority of our students are taking Global Anglicanism. Professor Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook and the Global Anglicanism students spent some of their class time on September 28 discussing together the insights and perspectives they gained from hearing from Archbishop Williams as he described both the tensions within the communion and the opportunities for relationship and mutual ministry that are still possible between north and south, conservative and progressive, individuals and churches with differing cultural, pietistic, and theological worldviews.

Neither naive nor cynical in his summary, Archbishop Williams was a compassionate voice of quiet optimism regarding the future of the "Anglican family," even as the debates over authority and sexuality continue to create deep conflicts between institutional bodies and sometimes institutional leaders.

For more on the Archbishop's message, see From the Dean.

Bloy House Professor, the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Hughes Co-Edits Groundbreaking Journal Issue

Dr. Jennifer Hughes, Bloy House Professor of Latinx Spiritualites and Associate Professor of History at UC Riverside recently completed work on a thematic issue of the Anglican Theological Review that will look at issues in Latinx ministry within the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. This groundbreaking work will offer readers the opportunity to grapple with both theological and pastoral issues that make Latinx ministry within our church both an important frontier for ministry and mission for the Episcopal Church and also its own unique expression of Anglican identity. This spring, in a course that Dr. Hughes will be co-teaching with Professor Nancy Frausto , students will have the opportunity to learn about the culture, spirituality, demographics, gifts and challenges of ministering in a Latinx cultural setting. This class is open to any who wish to learn more about this very important topic. The ATR issue Dr. Hughes and the Rev. Dr. Altagracia Perez together edited will be one of the texts for the class.

To find out how to register for this class that will be on Friday evenings from 7-10 p.m, contact Bloy House at . To order either an electronic or a paper copy of this Fall 2019 issue visit
Susie Simpson named Episcopal Relief and Development Representative for Bloy House
Each academic year Episcopal Relief and Development invites each seminary to choose one person to serve as the ERD representative for their school. Each representative then has the opportunity to learn about the ministry of ERD, to inform other seminarians about that work, and to encourage programs and events that can support the work of ERD. This year Susie Simpson of Grace and Peace Chapel of the Episcopal Free Church will be serving as our rep. In addition to learning about the ongoing work of Episcopal Relief and Development, Susie will be sharing with us about the special initiative ERD is beginning called "One Thousand Days of Love," a $3 million grassroots church-wide fundraising campaign dedicated to expanding Episcopal Relief & Development's global programs improving the lives of children up to age six.

To learn more about how your faith community can support the mission of ERD and particularly the One Thousand Days of Love Campaign visit
Worship at Bloy House
Celebrating Hildegard of Bingen
On September 28 the Bloy House community celebrated the feast of Hildegard of Bingen. We were blessed to have the Rev. Marianne Zahn of St. Albans, Los Angeles as our guest preacher and presider for the service which included the art work of Hildegard as well as a reading from her mystical writings. The sermon was deeply inspirational to our community and so we are sharing it here with all of you.
Marianne Zahn
"I'm sure at least some of you have had this experience: while browsing through a bookstore you become aware of hearing female voices singing in Latin, rising and falling like waves, gently in your ears. Chances are, that music was composed by Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard did many other things besides music. She also wrote books about medicine, particularly about plants and their uses in healing, as well as books on science and theology, which was known then as the "queen of the sciences." In the Medieval world, there was no division between science and liberal arts, all knowledge, all excellence, all beauty was God-given and God-generated. So for Hildegard, studying nature, (the “book of nature”), was an act of piety just as studying Scripture, (the “book of revelation”).
         All her studies and writings made her ultimately the most prominent woman in the church, the leader of two abbeys, and although, as a woman, she was not allowed to give official sermons, she traveled throughout Germany and France on preaching tours. She was already in her 60s and mostly traveling on foot, but she was the equivalent of a celebrity in her day as throngs turned out to hear her preach—highly unusual for a woman.
         In addition to all these accomplishments, Hildegard was also a mystic. She began having visions in her childhood but stopped telling people about them, because she noticed they had a poor reaction to it. Yes, even in the 12th century, young female visionaries had to face skeptics just like Grete Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez and Malala Yousafzai in our own times. Hildegard’s visions returned when she was in her 40s along with a stern admonition from God to write them down, and she said that God punished her with illness until she finally did obey and began to record her visions.
         This time in light of all her other accomplishments, her visions were no longer met with skepticism, and she was greatly sought after as an adviser and theologian to scholars, bishops, popes, even kings and emperors. Unlike many Christian mystics, male or female, her visions were actually endorsed during her lifetime by the pope, and they were recorded in manuscripts and turned into illuminations, an example of which is found on our bulletins today.
         For a modern person to attempt Hildegard’s accomplishments, they'd have to get a doctorate in theology, a degree in botany, some kind of medical degree or certificate, a degree or at least quite a bit of coursework in musical composition, and perhaps art lessons. And she did all this in a time when women had little legal standing or protection and certainly not equality. But to me her greatest achievement was something for which she was not acclaimed, but in fact condemned. 
         In the last year of her life, when most people would be content to rest on their laurels, Hildegard controversially granted Christian burial to a young man who had previously been excommunicated but who had since repented and received last rites, thus making him eligible to be buried in sacred ground. For the “sin” of burying this young man, her entire abbey was prohibited from observing most offices of the church including Holy Eucharist. It was further demanded that Hildegard have the young man's body dug up and reburied in unhallowed ground with pagans. Hildegard refused, which resulted in the most cruel and petty of the punishments levied against her, that she and the sisters of her order no longer be allowed to sing. And if you have heard any of the beautiful music she wrote, you must know how painful that would have been.
         In a letter to her superiors, she wrote, "so that we may not be totally disobedient we have, in accordance with the injunction, ceased from singing the divine praises ...As a result, my sisters and I have been greatly distressed and saddened." She then goes on in her letter to make the case, through use of scripture, that music is the only true way to praise God, and that worship without singing is in fact false worship. She then boldly turns the table on her superiors with these words: "Therefore, those who without just cause, impose silence on a church and prohibit the singing of God's praises...will lose their place among the chorus of angels…” At this point in Hildegard's life, she had arrived in a position many of us would covet, being a widely respected and successful leader and a celebrity to boot. But all that apparently meant less to her than defending the eternal soul of this one young man, no longer in a position to defend himself.
         It may seem difficult in this day and age to imagine a church with so much authority that it could ban singing. We assume these medieval forms of punishment no longer exist. But in an interesting irony of history, one of the people most responsible for the revival of interest in Hildegard these past few decades, former Catholic priest and author of several books about her (and incidentally, a former professor of mine), Matthew Fox, was similarly punished for his beliefs, particularly his support of the ordination of women. (A thousand years after Hildegard, the universal church still can’t accept the full equality of women…) Because of Matthew Fox’s radical view, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict, now Pope Emeritus, silenced him--meaning he was not allowed to speak in public settings nor publish any of his writings. In a remarkable show of obedience, Fox served out this sentence of silencing, similar to Hildegard’s obedience in giving up music. He then left the church and made the wise decision to move over to us Episcopalians, where he remains a priest today.
         Why would Hildegard, a woman at the peak of her authority, stick her neck out for a young, outcast dead man, risking her reputation, and sacrificing her ability to sing the music she loved? Why would Matthew Fox risk his career and reputation to speak out for the right of women to be ordained? I like to think it was proper formation. Being steeped in scripture and understanding how to read it properly.
         Earlier I mentioned Hildegard's knowledge of plants and healing. It was her view that the source of all human sickness was a lack of what she called viriditas --"greening-ness" or life-force. She believed that the same thing which causes plants to be alive and green causes our souls to be alive and vibrant and bearing fruit. She found this belief compatible with and even justified by Scripture. She had a special passion for John's Gospel which frequently refers to Jesus as the true vine and urges followers to bear fruit. She also believed John’s use of water and light were associated with viriditas , and we find that word light in today’s Gospel.
         But the most important word to me in this text is not light, it is the first word of verse 17, translated here as “Indeed” or gar in the Greek, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Indeed is definitively a conjunction inextricably linking this sentence to the one that precedes it, the infamous John 3:16, historically used to create division between believers and non- because of its supposed subtext, which is basically, believe in Jesus or burn in hell, your choice. This little “indeed” is an indispensable bridge to the explicit statement that God’s purpose in sending Christ was NOT to condemn.
         There is nothing wrong with looking at John 3:16 as an inspirational text if it helps you to devotionally reflect on God’s love manifested in the gift of Christ. But you can see how much damage can be done by taking devotional, contemplative understanding of a text for yourself and extrapolating it into a theological truism for others. Theology can’t be done with catchy slogans. It requires slow, thoughtful work and has to be done in context, not only scripture in context with itself but also in context with the culture. A text that can make you personally feel loved and included can very quickly become a way to cut other people out. But if in your reading of scripture, if you look for those little “indeeds,” you can uncover evidence that God’s love is woven throughout, even into texts that seem problematic.
         Hildegard, told to condemn for eternity the soul of one already pardoned by God, knew that that demand contradicted the Gospel truth that Jesus came not to condemn but to save. Hildegard was a theologian, committed to scholarly study of the Bible, just like you all here today. Her reading of scripture gave her strength to stand up to those who had every power over her. It matters that you learn how to read scripture so that you don’t make the kinds of errors in theology that lead to defining groups of people as being outside of God’s love. Just like it matters that we learn to understand our government so we don’t make political errors in judgment. And that we learn how to understand basic science so we don’t make errors that threaten to destroy our planet. What you’re doing here is important. You are learning how to think about and understand one of the most valued documents in civilization that has implications not just for spirituality, but for ethics, justice, psychology and many other vitally important areas of life. It is that kind of critical thinking that can give you the strength to stand up, like Hildegard, for the weak against tyrants. 
         As Hildegard and Matthew Fox saw, if we are weak ourselves or on the side of the weak, there will always be those who will try to silence us. Hildegard bravely risked everything to stand up to those in power, and her persistence paid off at least a tiny bit: shortly before her death her punishment was lifted and she and her sisters were able to sing again. Whenever we face those who would impose silence on us, may we have faith as Hildegard did in our own place among the chorus of angels, singing the praises of a God who will forever sing along with the weak despite the attempts of the mighty to silence us. 
         I close with a brief prayer by Hildegard. Let us pray:
O living light, o greening branch! You stand in your nobility like the rising dawn. Rejoice now and exult, and deign to free the fools we are from our long slavery to evil. And hold out your hand to raise us up. Amen."
Below is a reading from Hildegard that was used at that service. The reading came from the Professor Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook 's book Hildegard of Bingen: Essential Writings and Chants of a Christian Mystic--Annotated and Explained. Dr. Kujawa-Holbrook's book is available through Amazon.

On God’s Love for All Creatures
In a true vision of the spirit in a waking state:
I saw a likeness of the most beautiful girl
with her face so aglow with a splendid brightness
that I could not really look upon her.                                                
Her cloak was whiter than snow
and brighter than a star.
She held the sun and the moon in her right hand
and she embraced them tenderly.
And I heard a voice saying to me:
The girl whom you see is Divine Love,
who abides in eternity.
For when God wished to create the world
he bent down in tenderest love
and foresaw every need,
just like a father preparing an inheritance for his son.
In this way he carried out all his works
in a great burning fire of love.
Thus all creatures in every species
and form acknowledge their creator,
because Love was the primal stuff
from which every creature was made.
God said, "Let it be done," it was done,
because Divine Love was the matrix from which every creature was made, in the blink of an eye.
Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook
Bloy House Hosts a Virtual Meeting with
Day Smith-Pritchartt, Director of
Episcopal Evangelism Society

On Saturday, Oct. 12 from 12:20-1:00 Bloy House will host an informational meeting with Day Smith-Pritchartt , Director of the Episcopal Evangelism Society in Haddon Hall on the Bloy House campus. The focus of that meeting will be on highlighting the ministry of EES and offering those interested in exploring their evangelism grants program information on how to create a strong grant request and how to communicate with Day while developing a proposal. Any persons interested in learning more about the ministry of EES or their grants and programs is welcome to attend.

Another program of EES is the upcoming "Rooted in Jesus" conference.
"Rooted in Jesus" is a gathering of those who are engaged in Christian formation, discipleship and evangelism in the Episcopal Church and beyond. Participants will have the opportunity to be inspired by some of the most interesting and innovative practitioners in the church today, and to inspire others with their own experiences and ideas. Bishop Michael Curry will offer one of the keynote addresses, and will help root this conversation about evangelism and lifelong faith formation in the rich soil of our own experiences with Jesus.

Bloy House hopes to send two seminarians to the "Rooted in Jesus" Conference this January. This event will give our seminarians an opportunity to meet and share with other seminarians and those preparing for ministry through local formation programs across the Episcopal Church. EES will sponsor registration for a team of 2 students from each seminary and formation program. Contact the Executive Director, Day Smith Pritchartt, for details and the registration code.
Board of Trustees Tours Future Site
of Bloy House
As we inch closer to being able to announce our new site for Bloy House, the Board of Trustees had the opportunity to tour the site in September and begin to imagine new possibilities for our life together in this new location. We hope in the coming weeks to have a signed lease and be able to announce to everyone our new location. Our current plan is to leave the Claremont campus in late June and be able to be open for business at our new home at the start of our new fiscal year on July 1, 2020.

Currently we are developing a wish list. Moving inevitably involves some expenses that cannot be carried by our current budget. It is our hope that as this wish list develops alumni/ae and friends of Bloy House will help contribute to getting us off to a good start in our new facilities.
Save the Date: Graduation 2020
Our Last Graduation on the Claremont Campus
Saturday, May 16, 2020 11 a.m. Kresge Chapel
Bishop John Taylor Preaching and Presiding

After fifty years, we are fast approaching the time to leave our beautiful Claremont School of Theology campus and proceed to our new home. Please join us next May for one last event on the CST campus as we say goodbye to that sacred space and prepare to enter a new one. The new location has been chosen and as soon as we have a signed lease and move in date, we'll be announcing our new location. But for many of us, Kresge Chapel and the classrooms of CST have been the setting for life transforming moments, deep challenges, and fulfilled dreams. We hope that many of you who share our love for that place will be able to be present for this final graduation on the site. See your spring Bloy House News for more information about our special graduation festivities for that day.
Checks can be sent to
Bloy House, ETSC
1325 N. College Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
or donate online at
Preparing for Liturgical Renewal
From the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549 (which was itself a liturgical revision of ancient liturgies) down through the ages, Anglicans have been a people of the book who understood that the book must speak to the lives of the people praying with it As the Episcopal Church continues to move deeper into a new time of liturgical experimentation and renewal in preparation for a new prayer book and/or new authorized rites, Episcopal liturgical scholars gather at the North American Academy of Liturgy annual conferences to discuss important topics related to liturgical renewal and to talk about ways in which liturgical scholars can be a resource to those exploring renewal in their own communities as well as in the broader church.

One clear imperative that has been identified is the need for materials to help Episcopalians understand the priorities regarding renewal that were established by General Convention 2018. To that end, members of the Anglican Colloquium of NAAL are working with Church Publishing to publish a resource for use in congregations. The book will address issues of renewal including; the importance of affirming and continuing the baptismal ecclesiology articulated in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, expanding our relationship to the created world in our prayers, engaging in more inclusive and expansive language in worship, the need for multi-cultural and multi-lingual sensitivity in prayer book revision. Dean Sweeney, as the convener of the Anglican Colloquium, serves on the editorial board for the upcoming book. Watch future Bloy House News articles for a publication date and title for what will be a very worthwhile resource for clergy and laity alike.
Academic Calendar 2019-2020
August 17 orientation 
August 23-24 
September 6-7  
September 20-21 
September 27-28 
October 11-12
October 25- 26
November 8-9
November 22-23
December 6-7
December 13-14
January 17-18
January 31-Feb. 1
Feb. 7-8
Feb, 21-22
March 6-7-8 (Long Retreat Weekend)
March 20-21
April 3-4
April 17-18
May 1-2
May 15-16
From the Dean

Those of us who had the privilege of sitting at Archbishop Williams feet as students for a morning last week listened as he sought to convey to Episcopal leaders in the Diocese of Los Angeles what the world looked like from his vantage point as Archbishop of Canterbury, and what it in many ways still looks like now under the leadership of Archbishop Justin Welby .
So much of what we see from ground level appears vastly more complex when viewed from a global perspective. Moral choices that are clear and straight forward to one looking in from one vantage point, may not be so simple from a different line of sight. But no matter what our altitude, it is clear to all of us that there are deep and difficult fractures within the Anglican Communion. So much so that the archbishop chose to refer to it as a family not a communion. Because the Anglican family still lives even as the Anglican Communion stands fractured.

When asked what might be the source of healing and hope for us all as Anglicans, Archbishop Williams' response was that what seemed to him most helpful in this moment is simply creating times and spaces where we may invite one another to be recognized across our many differences. Can we find ways to remain in touch enough to see one another and invite one another to be recognized in our full humanity? Can we make a space in which that can happen?

I have found myself pondering that often in the days since his talk and not just in relation to the Anglican Communion, but in terms of everything that divides us and pushes us to disrespect and distrust of one another. How do we make such an inviting space? What does it take to move around the crowded flotsam and jetsam of our biases, opinions, and even moral certainties to make some open space in the crowded rooms of our minds? A space in which to recognize the humanity and the divine spark within those who think, talk, act, and believe differently that I do, than we do.

Archbishop Williams suggested that the most fruitful places for doing this work are not within the official corridors of power. Not at the level of official meetings such as one might engage in when there was real trust that there was more that we share in common than divides us. We already know that our official ecumenical and interfaith conversations prove successful when enough recognizing of one another has taken place that we dare move to formal institutional recognition. But what about the times when we do not trust that there is more that unites us than divides us? What then?

Archbishop Wiiliams shared his observations that one of the places he saw recognition as possible and cooperation as achievable was in the network of mothers' unions across the globe. When Anglican women come together to address poverty and suffering, to care for those with the fewest resources, to reach out in compassion to a hungry and thirsty world, then barriers fall away because the work of bringing God's love to those most in need unites us all. In less official settings, in settings where lay voices can speak with passion, compassion, humility and faith (without the trappings of office); relationships, bonds of affection as we call them in our official documents, may still be possible. In those settings we can invite each other to be recognized as partners in faith, partners in charity, partners in love. Before we can speak or act together, we must see one another.

When I remember back on the earliest years after women were ordained, I remember all too well how often I would find myself in a place where people opposed my ordination. In that day clergy women could not simply walk away and only commune with those who accepted us. If we were to truly be priests of the church we had to dare to venture into hostile places, hopefully bringing our truest, fullest, least armored selves to the encounter. When we did this, we met those who rebuked us, insulted us, and rejected us. But we also met persons who somehow saw us through new eyes, eyes of recognition. Often they would say, "I don't believe in women's ordination, but you can be my priest." And with that bridge came the opportunity to reach across the flotsam and jetsam of complicated privates theologies and social expectations and know one another as sisters in Christ.

Bishop Williams witnessed to us that this kind of moment of chosen recognition of those not like us can lead us to new places: to adjustments in our viewpoint, to active listening to one another, to mutual respect, and to hope. Hope for the future that so desperately needs for the followers of Christ to unite in care for the last and the least.

In the coming weeks and months, in a season of political turmoil and ecclesiastical divisions, let us covenant to invite those with good hearts and strong viewpoints different from our own to a space of recognition. And in that recognizing may we live out our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
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