Saturday, January 17, 2009

Signs, signs everywhere signs 3

The British state mustn't let go of the church

An opinion piece by Michael Portillo in the London Telegraph. What he does get right is that Christians are supposed to be dangerous.

It would not be the end of the world if the Church of England were disestablished, the Archbishop of Canterbury said recently. Rowan Williams evidently recognises that being the official religion saddles the church with problems as well as privileges.

In truth, an established church is for the benefit of the state not of bishops. Rulers like their populations to be religious, because god-fearing people will be more obedient. If citizens think that a supernatural being sees their every action, they will conform. No secret police could be as effective.

But religious fanatics pose a threat to government. Fixing their eyes on the after-life and recognising no earthly authority, they are obviously dangerous. An established church enables the state to institutionalise moderate religion. A ruler – such as our own Queen – has authority over the church. The church gains wealth and prestige, but it has to compromise too. It must renounce militancy.

The Church of England is a brilliant construction for which Queen Elizabeth I deserves most credit. Her Catholic predecessor, Bloody Mary, had burnt Protestant bishops at the stake, and religious controversy tore the kingdom apart. Elizabeth was Protestant, but carefully avoided making life impossible for Catholics. What her subjects did in private, she said, was a matter of conscience and not an issue for the state. If people wanted incense and candles, her church would let it pass.

Father Richard Neuhaus: Catholic conservative commentator

This is a couple of days old but Richard Neuhaus has died. From the London Times-

Father Richard Neuhaus was the most visible, prolific and influential Christian thinker in the US, and he was, in natural consequence, among the most reviled, despised and denounced figures in modern public intellectual life.

A convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism, he may have had his most obvious parallel in the Anglican-turned-Roman Catholic John Henry Newman, whose conversion struggles enthralled and enraged England in the 1840s. Neuhaus belonged, however, to a distinctly American line of thinkers, and his death seems to bring to a close the long run of America’s theological writers — from Jonathan Edwards to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Orestes Brownson to Reinhold Niebuhr — with the strange gift of inspiring, infuriating and fascinating the intellectual class of the nation.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Alabama

New Bible study, healing class set at Christ the King

A new topical Bible study will start Wednesday at Christ the King Charismatic Episcopal Church near Sharpsburg.

Theme for the study will be "God's Purpose and Plan for Us!" Sessions for the 12-week study will start at 7 p.m.

Topics will include:

* the blessing to God's people now in and in the life to come

* tools for effective Bible study

* the unconditional promises of God

* the Kingdom of God

* the Government of God

* the real conflict in the earth

* this present age

* the full inheritance of Christ's followers.

There is no fee, but participants are urged to bring their Bibles. The class will meet in the church's parish life center.

A course on Healing, sanctioned by The Order of St. Luke the Physician, will also be held starting Feb. 4 at Christ the King. OSL is an interdenominational healing ministry.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Good Stuff in TEC: Texas

Episcopal Church of Our Savior to hold community garden workday

This small church in Dallas' Pleasant Grove area has a community garden that produces tons (literally) of organic vegetables for local food banks. The church will have a garden workday on Saturday, and volunteers are needed.

Join us for a Workday of winter Garden Chores, a Pot Luck Lunch at Noon, and the 2009 Our Saviour/Gardeners In Community Development, Gardeners' and Volunteers' Meeting at 1pm. At the meeting we will go over 2009 contracts/fees, share 2008 garden photos and stories (bring yours!) and 2009 goals and projects. Don Lambert, Executive Director, GICD, will be there to discuss GICD projects, plans and expectations.

If you are interested in continuing your plot at Our Saviour Community Garden, being a regular volunteer at OS and/or other GICD projects, beginning or participating on a garden project team (ie composting cooks, mighty mulchers, weed whackers, sign makers, etc. ;) or volunteering and growing toward becoming a future plot owner, or interested in beginning a garden of your own.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Friday, January 16, 2009

No Lay Discipline in Proposed Canon Changes

One of the arguments which was frequently offered in the Diocese of Pittsburgh for realignment was that the next General Convention was going to pass disciplinary canons aimed at the laity. Language such as "they're going to come after you" was sometimes used in congregational forums advocating realignment. Some of us (who have actually been to a General Convention) kept saying that the proposal was being considered by an interim body and would then go to a convention committee which would reshape it and then have to pass both houses to become a canon. We also said that this was unlikely as similar proposals were not well received in the past.

The Living Church is now reporting that the Title IV task force has dropped all of the lay discipline language from the revised canons. The article is not on line but here's a section of it from the January 18 edition-

In a change from an earlier draft, the Title IV Task Force on Disciplinary Policies and Procedures will not propose new canons to address discipline of members of the laity.

The much anticipated new draft of its proposed changes to The Episcopal Church’s canon on discipline will be included in the church’s Blue Book of pre-filed General Convention legislation.

“It is the judgment of Task Force II that the time is not yet propitious for the inclusion of disciplinary provisions for the laity other than as already provided in the Book of Common Prayer, and no inclusion of laity is contemplated at this time,” the task force wrote.

The 48-page document includes a six-page introduction that summarizes the work of the task force, and lists the underlying theological principles upon which the task force based its revisions, and a brief description of the extent of changes.

“The large bulk of Title IV is or will be unchanged,” the task force said. “Task Force II did not attempt to reinvent the wheel, but simply to express in new language much of what already existed. The abandonment provisions, appeals, modifications are essentially untouched, as is most of the other content of the canon. What has changed is the process by which complaints are brought and heard.”

Good Stuff in TEC: Wisconsin

Homeless shelter for men will open tonight in Waukesha

- With quotes from the Gospel and even the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty - "give me your tired, your poor ..." more than a dozen people let the plan commission know Wednesday night they supported granting a conditional use permit for a new homeless shelter.

By unanimous vote, with the exception of commissioner Alderman Paul Ybarra, who was absent, the commission approved the permit for a temporary drop-in shelter at St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 111 E. Main St., for up to 35 single men.

Bernie Juno, executive director of Hebron House of Hospitality, said the shelter will open at 7 p.m. today. It will be open seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. until April 30 to handle the overflow from existing shelters.

John Miller, who lives adjacent to the church, was one of the few members of the public that overflowed the council chambers to speak against granting the permit.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Ousted congregation moves to Baptist church

Church of the Good Shepherd Anglican, which was ousted from its Conklin Avenue building last week, will worship in the gymnasium of Conklin Avenue Baptist Church, 91 Baldwin St., Binghamton.

Worship services will be held at 8 and 10:30 a.m. each Sunday, with Christian education at 9:15 a.m.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled Good Shepherd must vacate its properties after the regional Episcopal diocese challenged the congregation’s attempt to keep its church building and rectory.

Primates to address international concerns at February meeting in Alexandria, Egypt

From Episcopal Life Online- (Almost didn't recognise the primates without their hats !)

The primates and moderators of the Anglican Communion will be hosted by the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East for a February 1-5 meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, a January 15 press advisory from the Anglican Communion Office has confirmed.
Meeting behind closed doors at the Helnan Palestine Hotel, the primates will discuss international concerns such as the proposed Anglican covenant, the situation in Zimbabwe, global warming, and Christian responses to the global financial crisis.

The primates will also hear an update from the Windsor Continuation Group and receive a report the group is presenting to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The group, which last met in December 2008, is charged with addressing questions arising from the Windsor Report, such as recommended bans on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

The Primates Meeting will open February 1 with a quiet morning led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams followed in the afternoon by worship at St. Mark's Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria. The week will also include visits to the Alexandria School of Theology and the city library, where Williams will deliver a lecture.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will attend the meeting in her capacity as presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. She announced in November 2008 that the Episcopal Church Executive Council's January meeting was being rescheduled one day earlier to enable her to attend the meeting.

Good Stuff in TEC (I think): Pennsylvania

Episcopal church thinking outside the box to put more bodies in the pews

If there's a stereotype of a clergy person who initiates a Goth service, the Rev. Lou Divis defies it. At nearly 60, Divis, the mother of four and stepmother of four, with her first grandchild on the way, is one of the softest-spoken, sweetest-looking people you could hope to meet. Her "day job" is in early childhood education.

But unlikely or not, Divis has introduced Goth services at St. George's Episcopal Church, where she serves on weekends as a deacon-in-charge in tiny Nanticoke, Pa., population 10,000, where the average age is 43.

Goths—usually people in their teens and 20s—are associated with a world outlook as dark as their eyeliner and a fashion sense that mixes body piercing with black period dress from earlier English eras.

The meaning of their frequently worn crosses and other religious jewelry ranges from satire to a sincere expression of faith.

Divis first learned about Goth services while studying at General Theological Seminary, and further research taught her that such services are not uncommon in England, even at such venerable institutions as Coventry Cathedral and St. Edward King and Martyr, Cambridge.

Divis often drives past a closed car lot in the greater Scranton area. One day she found herself thinking that the church could go out of business as well.

Like automobile manufacturers who are struggling to meet consumers' expectations for more energyefficient vehicles, she thought, "We need to market a 'product,' if you will, that meets people where they are today. Maybe Goth services can provide an alternative energy of some sort."

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Evangelicals have new leader

From The Church Times (England), The new face of evangelicalism.

STEVE CLIFFORD has been appointed the new general director of the Evangelical Alliance (EA), succeed ing the Revd Joel Edwards as head of the interdenominational network.

Mr Clifford, aged 54, is married and has two children. He was chair man of both the Hope 08 mission initiative and the leadership team of the Soul Survivor festivals, and be lieves his new job is a “fantastic op por tunity” to encourage Christians to “unite and change society”. But he acknowledges that he takes over at a time of “instability and change”.

“The world is being shaken by the financial crisis, the credit squeeze, and spiralling unemployment, but that creates us with all kinds of opportunities. I would like to see the EA engaging with these issues, and asking the question: What kind of society do we want to live in?
“What about relationships and what about kindness, and what does it look like in the society and com munities we live in?”

He picked out for praise those Christian groups “getting their hands dirty” in community work across the country, and highlighted the work of the Street Pastors scheme, in which Christians take to the streets of towns and cities on Friday and Saturday nights, and assist revellers.
“There’s so much we can see that’s fantastic among local churches engaging with their communities, with kids’ clubs, and the homeless, but we’re not always very good at telling these stories.”

He acknowledged that the Evan gelical wing in the UK was a “broad family”, but that it should not be “frightened of disagreement” and should “disagree agreeably”.

Episcopal Church in decline (1929)

From Time Magazine Dec. 30 1929. Seems nothing really changes all that much-

Baptized in 1929 by the Protestant Episcopal Church: 3,338 fewer persons than in 1928.

Confirmed in 1929 by the Protestant Episcopal Church: 2,027 fewer persons than in 1928.

Such was the prime news of The Living Church Annual, official P. E. almanac, out last week.

The falling figures were partially accounted for by The Living Church Annual, thus: ''It should be remembered that the attempt to count membership on a basis of baptized persons instead of communicants goes back only two years, and the reports for the previous years included estimates in a number of places, the exact record not being available . . . the decrease shown this year is probably not an actual decrease, but rather a closer approximation to exact figures."

Total P. E. membership (baptized persons), as given in the 1930 Annual: 1,876,119.,9171,929168,00.html

Church Adds Staff to Address Declining Numbers

From The Living Church-

Facing declining membership, the Episcopal Church plans to look at emergent church models in efforts to reach “new generations,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said.

Reflecting on the state of the church in a wide-ranging interview with Episcopal Life Media, Bishop Jefferts Schori said there are “many plans to address the trend” of decreasing attendance.

“Among the new staff at church center [in New York] are ones dedicated to church planting work, one dedicated to work in evangelism, and one for work with small congregations,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “We're going to bring aboard another person who will help to teach the rest of us and challenge the rest of us to think about emergent church models—how the church can as a whole be more effective in presenting the gospel in language and images and idioms that can be more readily understood by new generations.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Martin Luther King's Birthday

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

You can hear the whole speech here-

Al Ahli Arab Hospital brings hope to Palestinians amid Gaza crisis

From Episcopal Life On Line-

As the embattled residents of Gaza struggle for survival 18 days into a bloody Israeli military operation, the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City continues to bring some semblance of hope to the local Palestinian community through its commitment to providing critical healthcare services to anyone in need.

One of 37 institutions run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the hospital has struggled to meet the increased demands on its already-overburdened staff, who have tended to the wounded despite being surrounded by conflict, the challenges of diminishing medical supplies, and their own fatigue.

A January 14 update from the diocese's healthcare department reported that much-needed supplies, including medicines and blankets, had finally been received by the hospital as several trucks arrived in convoys coordinated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Presbyterian Church parishes leaving, but ‘with grace' and property

The Episcopal Church isn't the only denomination facing a split between liberal and conservative interpretations of Scripture. The Presbyterian Church USA also has seen individual churches leave the national church.

There are similarities between the denominations: Both have had more than 100 churches leave the national churches, mainly over differences about the authority of Scripture and the ordination of gay clergy. Both national churches claim more than 2 million members.

But there are differences: For example, the First Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif., and Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clovis, Calif., have asked to be reassigned to the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church, based in Livonia, Mich. The Episcopal Church, so far, is the only approved Anglican body with oversight in the United States.

And many of the Presbyterian churches have been allowed to leave "with grace" and their property, as opposed to the Episcopalian parishes and dioceses that have been sued across the country.

Why the difference?

For one thing, other denominations, such as Lutherans and Presbyterians, already have survived church splits. The U.S. Episcopal Church is facing its first real schism threat. Despite the claim by individual parishes and four U.S. breakaway dioceses that they are still Anglican and as such are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion to which the Episcopal Church belongs, the national church is taking a much narrower stance: Leave if you'd like, but the property belongs to us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where have you gone ?

55 years ago they got married but for less than a year.

Joyeux Noel

If you follow 3RE with any regularity you know that most of the posts are about the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion (with the occasional baseball story thrown in). I don't deal a lot with popular culture (pictures excluded).

However I have watched twice, in the past week, one of the most extraordinary films I have ever seen, entitled Joyeux Noel. It was made in 2005. It is based on the true story of French and Scottish troops and their German enemies who left their trenches, laid down their arms, and called a truce for Christmas eve in 1914. It then tells what happened to them and how they changed after worshipping together that night. It is extremely powerful and works as an extended metaphor about much that we are going through as a church.

It was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe in 2006 for Best Foreign Language Film. If you can't find it at the local video store (its in three languages with subtitles) do yourself a favor and buy it.

It’s a lovely church, shame about the cross, say TV crew

Coronation Street is a British Soap Opera. From the London Times and maybe a candidate for the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department.

When millions of viewers tuned into Tyrone and Molly’s wedding on Coronation Street this week, they probably did not notice anything amiss with the beautiful 14th-century church. The rector was not among them.

It was not the absurd storyline that so incensed the Rev James Milnes, of St Mary’s Church, Nether Alderley, Cheshire. Nor was it the ornate horse-drawn carriage, the dry-ice machine used to create atmosphere or even the harpist in the nave.

The clergyman was furious that the show’s producers had decided to hide the solid brass cross that formed the centrepiece of the altar for fear that it would cause offence to viewers.

Denouncing the decision to hide the cross behind a garish candelabra and artificial flowers, Mr Milnes wrote in his monthly parish magazine that Granada Television had “emptied the church of the very thing that makes it a church”.

The Horror Mugabe Doesn’t Want the World to See

Dr. Chris Beyrer, Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at Johns Hopkins University told Religion Dispatches that the scale of human suffering and death may be worse than Pol Pot’s Cambodia in the 1970s, and that regional and international inaction is analogous to the international community’s failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. He estimates that about half of the population of Zimbabwe is either dead or has fled to neighboring countries. “I have been at this for a long time,” he said, his world-weary voice seeking to convey the urgency of the accelerating Zimbabwean disaster. “I’ve never seen so total a collapse of a health system.”

The origins of the PHR investigation extend back to last summer when Frank Donaghue (pictured) visited to train medical students in human rights activism. Circumstances were grim even then. In November when he checked back in to see how things were going, his contact implored PHR to come right away: “We are just waiting to die.” Donaghue scrounged for funds, quickly assembled a team of public health investigators, and headed to Zimbabwe in the week before Christmas.

“There are brave people who need our help,” he said. “Nobody is telling the real story about a country that is a wasteland.” Donaghue, a former Catholic and current Episcopal priest, carries his vocation with him into his human rights work. “Telling stories is what it’s about,” he said. “It’s what the gospel is about.”’t_want_the_world_to_see

Good Stuff in TEC: West Virginia

Shelter Struggles

On a normal night you can find about 75 to 80 people staying at the Grace Episcopal Drop In Shelter in Madison.
But as the temperature dips the number of people turning to them for a hot meal and a bed has doubled.

"At the current time I am homeless and this helps me out considerably."
For now 45-year-old Brent Mack calls this shelter about a block away from the Capitol home.

Without it, he doesn't think he'd be able to survive.
"I mean it's very, very cold out there and that's all there is to it and it's supposed to get colder."

The other 140-people that are expected to stay there probably wouldn't survive either.
"The weather is supposed to get pretty bad and you can go out there for 30-minutes and freeze."

James Willis manages the shelter.
Recently he says he's seen a lot of new faces come through the door.

Good Stuff in TEC: Arkansas

Silver Tea presents its largest check to Salvation Army

The women of the St. James Episcopal Church, ECW, on Friday presented Ed Leswig, County Coordinator of the Carroll County Service Unit of the Salvation Army, a check in the amount of $3,868.50. The funds were proceeds from the Episcopal Women's 42nd annual Silver Tea, held Dec. 4 at the Crescent Hotel's Crystal Dining Room. More than 250 donations were received, leading to the largest check ever given by the group.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Historic Church Will Host President-Elect on Big Day

You got to wonder why pew 54? Who gets the first 53?

President-elect Barack Obama will attend a private prayer service on the morning of his inauguration at the historic St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, according to the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Kevin Griffis, spokesman for the inauguration committee, said yesterday that the prayer service will not be open to the public.

St. John's, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, is known as the "Church of the Presidents." Since James Madison, every president has worshiped there at some point during his tenure in the Oval Office. The church has kneelers embroidered in tribute to each president, and Pew 54 is traditionally assigned to the chief executives when they visit.

Episcopal Economy

How the Episcopal Church weathered the great depression. From Time Magazine 1932. In that year $15,000 was equivalent to about $235,000 today. Thank God for those rich wives.

Presiding Bishop James De Wolf Perry began the move for voluntary retrenchments last week by pruning his $15,000 salary 10%. He has a rich wife, an independent income. New York's small Bishop William Thomas Manning, who also has a rich wife, a fine Bishop's Palace, a salary of $15,000 and a $5,000 "discretionary fund," followed suit. In response to an emergency call for retrenchment from Bishop Perry, Massachusetts was the first diocese to act as a unit in salary cuts. Bishop Henry Knox Sherrill. who gets $15,000 per year, joined with 300 Massachusetts clergymen in contributing $28,000 in the form of reduced salaries. From retirement emerged wealthy, 81-year-old Bishop William Lawrence to lend sage counsel.

The general clergy was spared salary adjustments. No salary cut could Long Island's wealthy Bishop Ernest Milmorc Stires take because on assuming office he refused a salary, has only an impressive residence in Garden City with a liberal maintenance allowance and discretionary fund.,9171,743344,00.html

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Clerics join Tutu in fasting for 'suffering people of Zimbabwe'

Two clerics have joined Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, in fasting in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, which faces a collapsing economic and political order and reports of a military alert amid fears of a coup.

Tutu made a call for support for the fast on South Africa's Radio 702 on 11 January. Bishop Paul Verryn, who runs a refugee operation at the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, to which up to 4 million Zimbabweans have fled, announced he would also fast. They were joined by Pastor Raymond Motsi of the Bulawayo Baptist Church in Zimbabwe.

Tutu said he was now fasting once a week. "If we would [only] have more people saying 'I will fast', maybe one day a week - just to identify myself with my sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe," said Tutu in his interview

Former Archbishop of Canterbury: atheists use 9/11 as excuse to attack all religions

From the London Telegraph-

Lord Carey said the destruction of the World Trade Center by Muslim fanatics marked the start of a new war waged by "aggressive and strident" writers such as Professor Richard Dawkins.

He claimed the "unpleasant and reactionary" tone of those who dismiss all faiths has widened the divide between religion and science, creating a "dialogue of the deaf".

However Lord Carey, who was the most senior cleric in the Church of England between 1991 and 2002, conceded that atheists are right to criticise the "pseudo-science" of creationism.

He claimed Christians are playing into the hands of anti-religion campaigners by defending Biblical accounts of the earth's history, and praised Charles Darwin, the pioneer of evolutionary theory, as "one of the greatest human beings of all time".

His comments come as Britain's first atheist advertising campaign launches, with 800 buses taking to the streets emblazoned with posters declaring: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."


More on the situation in Binghamton NY-

They don't know where they're going, but they know they can't stay.

From the pulpit to the pews, everything you see here at the Church of the Good Shepard belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.

The Binghamton congregation is being forced to move out.

A state supreme court ruling issued last week says the property and funds of the Good Shepard belong to the diocese.

It comes after the church disaffiliated with the diocese in 2007 over a move to ordain gay bishops.

Pastor Matthew Kennedy says the thing he'll miss the most is looking out at the pews while preaching to his people.

"One thing I love about this fellowship is theres a great deal of warmth and love between members here. I know that's going to continue but its just that the building was part of that. Its grown up with us. Its difficult." says Pastor Kennedy.

Pastor Kennedy says his church has been given no deadline to move out.
The parish has no immediate plans for a new location, but says it's considering all options.

Clergy targeting gun dealers

From Philadelphia. Be careful or you'll put your eye out.

Citing frustration with the legislature's reluctance to pass tough laws against "straw" handgun purchases, a coalition of religious leaders stood outside a gun store yesterday and announced a plan to pressure retailers directly.

"We . . . cannot stand by while towns and cities suffer senseless violence," said Bishop Allen Bartlett, assisting bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

He was joined on the sidewalk in front of Colosimo's Gun Center in the 900 block of Spring Garden Street by representatives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Friends Yearly Meeting, and a synagogue.

Called "Heeding God's Call," a group of about a dozen area religious institutions is urging Pennsylvania gun retailers to sign a 10-point "code of conduct" to curb the supply of weapons to criminals.

'Reject practice of torture,' religious leaders tell President-elect Obama

From Episcopal News Service-

A broad coalition of religious leaders, including Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has written to President-elect Barack Obama asking him "to restore our nation's moral standing in the world by rejecting the practice of torture."

Backed by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), the religious leaders represent a diversity of faith traditions. In their January 9 letter, the 34 leaders noted that "torture is incompatible with the tenets of our faiths and is contrary to international and U.S. law" and underscored that "respect for the dignity of every person must serve as the foundation for security, justice and peace."

On January 11, NRCAT began its "Countdown to End Torture: 10 Days of Prayer" campaign, designed "to unite the religious community in a final push" to ensure that President-elect Obama makes the signing of an executive order ending torture one of his first official acts in office.

Good Stuff in TEC: Georgia

Free course will let public ‘explore’ life of Jesus

What if you could go to a meeting where the theme was, “Everything you wanted to know about Jesus but were afraid to ask?”

Well, just such a meeting right here in what is often referred to as the “buckle of the Bilble belt” is scheduled. And now you can ask. No questions are considered out of bounds, said promoters of this project.

Starting Wednesday, Jan. 28, all those interested can examine the teachings of Jesus in the friendly, “ask anything” atmosphere of the ALPHA Course, being held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, located at 609 S. Main St.

The 10-week course begins at 6:30 p.m. with a Welcome Dinner where guests can make new friends as well as find answers to life’s big questions, says course promoters.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice elected to Hall of Fame

Rickey Henderson on the first ballot and Jim Rice on the last. Perfect symmetry ! For you soccer fans out there, Henderson's on the right and Rice on the left.

Rickey Henderson sped his way into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot Monday, and Jim Rice made it in on his 15th and final try. Henderson, baseball's career leader in runs scored and stolen bases, received 94.8 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well above the 75 percent needed.

Rice, among baseball's most feared hitters in the late 1970s and early 1980s, got 76.4 percent of the vote after falling just shy with 72.2 percent last year.

"The only thing I can say is I'm glad it's over with," Rice said. "I'm in there and they can't take it away."

The undisputed standard for leadoff hitters, Henderson became the 44th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Rice was only the third elected by the BBWAA in his final year, joining Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1975).

The pair will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be joined by former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon, elected posthumously last month by the Veterans Committee.

"I feel great about it. It's been a long time coming," said Henderson, who wanted to be a football star before excelling in pro baseball. "I was nervous, waiting."

Good Stuff in TEC: Oklahoma

Iron Gate open to hungry

Iron Gate, a soup kitchen and food pantry in downtown Tulsa that feeds the hungry and homeless, held a recent "friend raiser" luncheon to strengthen the network of people who serve the city's less fortunate.

Representatives of social service agencies, churches and the media gathered in the soup kitchen's newly renovated dining area, which now features a full-wall mural of the Arkansas River funded by Steve and Shelley Jackson, and a tiny outdoor dining area with landscape funded by Clayton and Pat Woodrum.

Iron Gate is located in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Church and although it shares space it is a separate, nonprofit organization. Each morning volunteers serve 450-500 meals and every week, volunteers distribute 100-125 grocery bags.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Judge finds in favor of Episcopal diocese

From Binghamton NY-

The parishioners at Church of the Good Shepherd went to worship Sunday to pray for their future after a state Supreme Court judge ruled late last week that the regional Episcopal diocese owns the property.

The local congregation, which withdrew from the diocese and the Episcopal Church in November 2007, must vacate the church building at Conklin Avenue and Livingston Street on the South Side, the court ruled.

"It could be a matter of days, it could be a month or more, we simply do not know," said the Rev. Matthew Kennedy, pastor. "This is painful news."

Judge Ferris D. Lebous ruled the diocese owns all real and personal property, according to an Episcopal canon that states a local parish's property is held in trust for the larger denomination. Good Shepherd disagreed and took the dispute to court, but Lebous said the diocese is entitled to immediate possession.

Good Stuff in TEC: Ohio

St. Thomas Episcopal Church hosts fundraiser for Magpocs

Valerie and Reynaldo Magpoc have friends in high places.

Last month, this Brunswick couple narrowly survived a serious car accident that left Val in a halo neck stabilizer for four months to mend broken vertebrae and Rey with a sprained neck.

Their church family at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 50 E. Bagley Road in Berea, has pulled together to run errands for the couple, shuttle them to doctors appointments, prepare meals and even help clean their home.

The church has taken its helping-hand approach a step further by organizing a benefit gourmet dinner and silent auction to assist this family that is without insurance with medical bills. Both Val and Rey were working part-time jobs and did not have health care.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Anglicans in L.A. and Newport Beach discuss the split

From today's LA Times-

At St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, the Rev. Richard Crocker told parishioners Sunday to await the "good news of a God who's with us," an upbeat message despite a recent legal ruling that could strip the congregation of its property because of its break with the Episcopal Church.

At St. John's Cathedral near downtown Los Angeles, whose congregation has remained within the Episcopal fold, the Very Rev. Canon Mark R. Kowalewski told parishioners that the Episcopal Church is "one church, one family."

The two messages came just days after the California Supreme Court ruled that congregations choosing to leave the Episcopal Church may lose church buildings and property because they belong to the national church.,0,1178653.story

Religious orders are offering 'taster' weekends to stem a near-terminal decline in numbers

From the Guardian in London-

It may be the ultimate relaxation break: beautiful medieval buildings, smiling hosts and a spot of gentle gardening to pass the time. But the 5am prayers could be a nasty jolt.

Monasteries and convents are advertising "try being a monk/nun" weekends as a way of encouraging men and women into religious orders. The number of monks and nuns is falling so quickly that very soon there could be none left. In 2000, there were about 710 nuns and 230 monks in Anglican religious orders in Britain and Ireland. Eight years later, numbers are down more than a third - to 470 nuns and 135 monks.

It is no better for Roman Catholic orders. The Vatican revealed last year that numbers worldwide fell 10% in 2005-06 alone. The Conference of Religious in England and Wales represents around 80% of Catholic communities, some 4,930 nuns and 1,320 monks. In 2007, just 13 men and 16 women became novices. Numbers have been declining steadily for at least 20 years and the average age of entrants is much higher.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lemming Pledge #15

Flood City Pulls the ripcord

St. Mark's Johnstown to Remain in TEC

St. Mark's Johnstown Votes to stay in The Episcopal Church.

I've just received word that St. Mark's Johnstown voted today to remain in the Episcopal Church. The congregational vote was 64 to stay and 36 to realign. The vestry vote would have been 7 to 5 although not all of the members were present. Seven votes were cast for staying.

I received this clarification from a member of the vestry

Of the five Vestry members who voted to realign with Southern Cone, one did attend the meeting and tendered his resignation. Two others had to leave immediately following the vote due to prior commitments.

Good Stuff in TEC: North Carolina

Episcopal rector faithfully teaches about icons

In the cold back room of the Church of St. Peter the Fisherman, three women are coaxing images etched on a board from darkness into light.

Sunlight glints off of gilding as Jesus, John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene slowly take shape under the watchful eye of retired Episcopal rector Timothy Dols, who teaches the "Images of the Holy" icon-writing class here every Saturday.

The materials are tricky and the pace is slow, but students say it's worth it.
"A lot of paintings, to me, are on the surface," student Pamela Stringer said. "These are like the night sky in the Sinai Desert - you can almost see the layers."

The Star-News of Wilmington reported that icons, stylized religious images that usually depict saints or Biblical figures and events, "use the symbols of faith to help people understand the presence of God," Dols said.

Gaza protesters clash with police in London

"I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals." Mark 1:7. A modern day example of the way shoes/sandals/feet are thought of in the middle east.

The violence started when police tried to move protesters away from the gates of the Israeli embassy. One police officer was knocked unconscious and two more were injured. Many people were pleading with police to allow them out of the cordon as they were trapped between two lines of officers.

There were running
skirmishes between the officers and groups of young men, each time prompting a further charge from the officers and sending the crowd running screaming in the opposite direction. Demonstrators also hurled shoes over the heads of riot police. In Edinburgh, three police officers suffered minor injuries.

Week of prayer aims to make unity strong

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Local churches, where attendance is declining, collections are dwindling and conflicts are splintering congregations, will pause for a week to pray for Christian unity.

"In the midst of the conflicts, we have a core faith," said the Rev. Donald B. Green, executive director of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, an ecumenical agency of 24 Christian faiths from 10 counties.

Christians around the world will celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25. The event is supported by the World Council of Churches, the Vatican and the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute.

Former big-league pitcher Dave Roberts dies at 64

David Arthur Roberts, a left-handed pitcher who played for eight Major League teams including the 1979 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates, died of lung cancer Friday. He was 64.

Roberts died at his home in Short Gap, W.Va., according to his wife, Carol, and stepdaughter Kristy Rogan.

Rogan said Roberts had developed lung cancer from asbestos exposure as a young man. During offseasons, he worked as a boilermaker and was regularly exposed to the cancer-causing material.

Roberts went 103-125 with a 3.78 earned-run average in 13 seasons, beginning in 1969 with the San Diego Padres and ending in 1981 with the New York Mets. The Pirates acquired him from the San Francisco Giants in a five-player, midseason trade in 1979 that also brought Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh.

Roberts also played with the Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Mariners.