Saturday, February 14, 2009

What will Twittering bishops do for their next trick?

From the Londodn Telegraph-

Given that they follow the teachings of someone who lived 2,000 years ago, revere a book filled with "thou shalt nots" and worship in some of the country's oldest buildings, one could be forgiven for assuming that Church of England bishops are not keen on all things new and fashionable.

Certainly there are some innovations they resist, most notably in the vexed areas of human sexuality and equality of opportunity for women.

But when it comes to new technology and embracing the power of the internet to get their message across, they are getting surprisingly close to the cutting-edge.

Not that long ago I treated a text message from an Anglican primate as a real novelty.

But now we've got blogging bishops by the dozen, Facebook groups for all denominations and even the Pope has a YouTube channel. The appointment of the new Bishop of St Albans has already been announced on the video-sharing website, and it seems increasingly likely that a film clip of white smoke emanating from the Vatican will herald the next pontiff.

Mixed reaction to Anglican Primates' Meeting

LIBERALS and conservatives have voiced mixed reactions to the Alexandria letter to the church from the 2009 Primates’ Meeting. Pressure groups on the left and right have reacted with dismay to the centrist approach taken by the document, while primates on both sides of the political spectrum have endorsed the document.

On Feb 5 US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a reporter from the Episcopal News Service that she was encouraged by the tone of the communiqué. However, the call for continued “gracious restraint” made by the primates would have to be addressed by the General Convention in July.
Debrief on the primates meeting from last week-

“We are going to have to have honest conversations about who we are as a church and the value we place on our relationships and mission opportunities with other parts of the Communion and how we can be faithful with many spheres of relationship at the same time," she said.

"That is tension-producing and will be anxiety-producing for many, but we are a people that live in hope, not in instant solutions but in faithfulness to God,” the Presiding Bishop added.

Conservative primates gave the agreement high marks. “Archbishop Peter Akinola is pleased, I’m pleased, my brother Henry [Orombi] is pleased” with the outcome of the meeting, Bishop Venables told The Church of England Newspaper on Feb 5.

When it comes to layoffs, lay on the thanks

I held the door for a neighbor. She breezed through without a word of thanks.

No eye contact. No acknowledgment. No gratitude. Just an attitude of entitlement, a princess on parade.

As the economy crumbles and millions lose their jobs, this scenario happens again and again. The enterprise stumbles, and loyal employees are shown the door without a hint of gratitude.
Some are marched off the premises by security guards, lest they sabotage, say, the computer network. It is humiliating, and it brands the fired employee as unstable, a problem to be managed, certainly not a person deserving respect.

Some receive impersonal notices telling them not to report for duty on Monday; they're no longer needed. It's time for "lean and mean," and sloths must go. Or so goes the implied message.

Higher-ups get golden parachutes and severance packages and don't face the same economic peril as paycheck-to-paycheck wage earners. Even so, they experience the same cold conversations and lawyer-designed exit interviews.

On their way out the door, they sense the same averted eyes, shunned handshakes and thinly disguised relief that the one's going enables the other's staying.

Friday General Synod Report

A report on the activities of General Synod for Friday-


Report on Diana Butler Bass talk in Fort Worth

A report on growth in mainline denominations-

Bass has written extensively, and with some optimism, about the mainline Protestant churches. She was recently in Fort Worth for a talk sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (the area churches loyal to the Episcopal Church, as opposed to the churches that have left TEC but continue to call themselves the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth) and Brite Divinity School. Here's a report from the Episcopal group:

Speaking at an event sponsored by The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and Brite Divinity School, Dr. Diana Butler Bass debunked the myth that only evangelical and Pentecostal churches are growing. Nationally recognized scholar, speaker and author of Christianity for the Rest of Us, Dr. Butler spoke to an enthusiastic audience of over 125 people, including newly elected Provisional Bishop Ted Gulick.

The common denominator of thriving mainline congregations, she said, is their decision to adopt spiritual practices. Vital congregations generally embrace three or four several spiritual practices that reflect the needs and gifts of the congregation. Typically, those practices include theological reflection, hospitality, contemplation, and embracing diversity.

Friday, February 13, 2009

General Convention legislative committee chairs announced

Legislative chairpersons for this summer's 76th General Convention in Anaheim have been announced.

According to the Bishop and Deputy Handbook:

Legislative committees are appointed. The President of the House of Deputies appoints the deputies. The Presiding Bishop appoints the bishops. A Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary are designated for each committee by the Presiding Officers.

In the House of Deputies the appointment process begins when each diocese notifies the General Convention Office of the election of its deputies and alternates. Data sheets containing committee preferences are collected from each deputy and are used in the appointment process.

The list of committee chairs is as follows:

Church hires PR firm to get more worshippers in the pews

A CHURCH in London’s deprived East End has hired a top public relations outfit to boost its image and pack more worshippers into the pews.

The Elders of St Paul’s Anglican in Shadwell have appointed Gateway Media to run their promotions.

There was even a hard-fought competitive tender process before Gateway could seal the deal with the growing congregation of 300.

The agency, part of City Gateway social enterprise charity, beat the competition on a wing and a prayer through its local knowledge, being based in the East End itself not far from the church.

“We thought their work was creative and were impressed,” said St Paul’s curate Adam Atkinson.

“They’re a similar organisation to us, working with the people of Tower Hamlets with their social enterprise and their links with City Gateway local charity.”

The agency ran a strong media presentation put together by their graphic design, video production and web development team.

Archbishop Sentamu reflects on implication of the financial crisis

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu (shown in a hat the rivals Katharine's) comments on the financial crisis and the state of the world.

The Anglican Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, yesterday highlighted the significance of the world financial crisis and discussed the implications for ministry for those struggling with the practical consequences of the downturn in the economy.

Reflecting on the need for active solidarity, Dr Sentamu said: "We have heard the predictions. This slough of economic despond is deep and we are told it will get deeper. For every statistic on the hundreds of jobs lost, there are hundreds of stories of individual hardship and of families in need. Their struggle must be our lament as we face up to our responsibilities.

He said: "England, you think you've got problems? It's time to get real.

"We live in a world where:

· a child dies every three seconds due to extreme poverty, almost 10 million children a year.

· One person dies from HIV/Aids every 11 seconds.

· Approximately 1 in 7 children in the world 270 million children have no access to healthcare.

· Every single day unsafe water coupled with a lack of basic sanitation kills 5,000 children.

· Poor Governance, in countries such as Zimbabwe, has led to malnutrition, a crumbling health system and the outbreak of avoidable diseases, like cholera, claiming thousands of lives in Zimbabwe."

Dr Sentamu explained that the challenge for the Church is both to engage with policy makers and to stand alongside those at the sharp end of the financial crisis.

Spring preview: Pirates' top 10 issues

My beloved if hapless Pirates open spring training today with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. For you soccer fans out these, pitchers and catchers are always the first to report in. From the Post-Gazette-

A new spring dawns today for the 123rd edition of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club, with pitchers and catchers required to report to Bradenton by midnight tonight. And with it will come a stated expectation -- too nebulous, too low or too optimistic, some might say -- that these Pirates will "improve" over their standard 67-win output of a year ago.

So spoke owner Bob Nutting last month, and so it was echoed down the corporate ladder.

The charge, then, for manager John Russell and his staff in the six-week camp that formally opens with a Pirate City workout tomorrow is this: Take essentially the same group that collapsed to a 17-37 finish last season -- meaning the group that was left in the aftermath of the Jason Bay/Xavier Nady trades -- and make them, somehow, better.

That, Russell is adamant, can come not only from instruction but also from natural improvement.

"We have young players, a lot of them, guys who haven't spent much time in the big leagues," Russell said. "And we have faith in them. It's a good group. And I'm excited about this season, to be honest with you."

In England, Anglican covenant debate reveals mixed expectations

From Episcopal Life On Line-

Members of the Church of England's General Synod have signaled their overall support for an Anglican covenant but remain divided on how much authority or influence it should marshal in the communion's 38 provinces.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of the Diocese of Rochester told the church's main legislative body February 12 that the covenant "is one way of ensuring that the common life of the communion is healthy and effective."

In the past, the Anglican Communion "has been held together by a common history, similar … ways of worship and the so-called 'bonds of affection,'" he said. "In a rapidly globalizing world and a fast-developing communion, these are no longer enough."

Nazir-Ali was introducing a motion that synod "do take note" of a Church of England report that responds to the latest draft (St. Andrew's Draft) of the Anglican covenant.

"The main purpose of the covenant is inclusion rather than exclusion," Nazir-Ali said. "We cannot forget, nevertheless, that these questions have arisen for us because of the need for adequate discipline in the communion on matters which affect everyone."

Approval of women bishops clears its latest hurdle

From the Church Times in England-

LEGISLATION to bring in women bishops passed its first hurdle in General Synod when it was carried by a majority of about two-thirds during a debate on Wednesday morning.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, who chairs the legislative drafting group which drew up the proposals, moved that the Measure be considered for revision in committee.

He said that the debate marked a new stage in the process, and that “it is open season once again, and every thing is reviewable”. He also spoke of the difficulty faced by the drafting group in trying to strike a balance between prescription and flexibility.

He said the final code of practice would come from the House of Bishops, and warned that there would be searching and unwelcome dilemmas over the next 18 months. “Let none of us expect others to set aside convictions that they hold as deeply as our own. Instead, let each ask what it might mean for each of us to go the extra mile for our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Christina Rees, from the group Women and the Church, expressed concerns over the proposal for specially nom inated suffragan sees, and questioned the relationship these bishops would have with the House of Bishops. She suggested that aspects of the provisions perpetuated the idea of a woman being a “flawed creation”.

Va.'s new Epsicopal bishop to face tough challenges

Some might say the Rev. Herman "Holly" Hollerith IV will land between a rock and a hard place when he's consecrated today as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.

In the national sphere, the Episcopal Church is facing a lasting rash of breakaway parishes that call it out of step with religious traditions on homosexuality - an accusation repeated by many of the denomination's peers overseas.

Meanwhile, the diocese is still mending after a corrosive in-house feud centering on the last permanent bishop, who was pushed into retirement by 2006.

Sandwiched in the middle will be Hollerith, 53, who was elected last fall by clergy and lay representatives to lead the diocese, which includes Hampton Roads.

Out of six candidates, he was the only one from inside the diocese. He led Bruton Parish Episcopal Church in Williamsburg for nine years.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

General Synod Day Three

This the summary of day three from the General Synod in England

and here-

Hallmark Channel to air Archbishop Desmond Tutu interview

"Odyssey Networks Presents" to Air Archbishop Desmond Tutu Interview on Hallmark Channel Sunday, February 15

New York- Odyssey Networks and The Fetzer Institute have partnered to air an in-depth interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu on "Odyssey Networks Presents" Sunday, February 15, at 7:00AM ET/PT on Hallmark Channel. Speaking to a crowd at Western Michigan University, Tutu discusses the transformative power of love and forgiveness and the impulse toward goodness in all of us. "Imagine! We are a gift to one another...the world is in our hands." are reminders Desmond Tutu shares in a conversation with Fetzer Institute President Tom Beech.

Beech explains what makes Archbishop Desmond Tutu such a remarkable figure: "Throughout his life, he has countered war with peace, injustice with justice, violence with truth and reconciliation, bitterness with forgiveness, fear with love, hope, and an unfailing belief in human goodness. He's done this with wisdom, humility, strength, perseverance and if you've ever been anywhere near him, you know that he's also done this with a warm sense of humor." Nobel Peace Prize winner Tutu is well-known for his participation in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and his work as Chairman for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Anglican Bishops attend consultative meeting

Anglican Bishops from West Africa are attending a week’s Consultative Meeting to deliberate on specific projects to build deepened partnerships to inspire other Anglican and Episcopal Faith communities to care and empower each other in Kumasi.

The meeting under the auspices of Global Partners Trinity Grants Programme would in addition, strengthen ties within the Anglican Communion through mission-based partnerships.

It is being attended by Anglican Bishops from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Cameroon and areas of mission including the global support for Anglican partnership for development, eradication of extreme hunger and poverty and improving gender equality and empowerment of women.

Fort Worth Episcopalians engaged in struggle that’s not new in Christian history

From the Ft. Worth Star Telegram-

The good bishop has it wrong. Or so I think. Which bishop, you ask? That’s the point. Which bishop indeed?

As one who is not a part of the Episcopal side of the Christian family, I look on as a concerned outsider. But perhaps that is the best vantage point to hold in the midst of a family squabble (See: "Reorganized diocese elects new bishop," Feb. 8).

There is no doubt that the unity of the whole church includes both sides of this unhappy family, because our unity — not uniformity based on sameness — is based on God’s love manifested in our common life in Christ.

But after making this most basic of Christian affirmations, we must say that this dispute, as so many others, is not new to Christian history. In fact, it is not new to any other of the living religious traditions, either.

More than once in Christian history, disagreements and conflict have eventuated in schisms, some of which led to competitions for ecclesial authority.

Will the Holy See find its home in Italy or France? Is the center of authority lodged in Rome or Constantinople? And a favorite one for Anglicans: Is it Rome or Canterbury?

And now the runoff du jour: Will the real Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth please stand up, and with it, its bishop?

Church minister 'arrested on suspicion of child neglect after putting sons on chimney'

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department- (and by the way, what is the "Open Episcopal Church?)

Mr Blake, an archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church, placed his children on top of his home and took pictures of them reading for a school project.

But worried neighbours called the police and Mr Blake, 52, was handcuffed before being taken away for questioning.

The pictures of his sons Nathan, eight, and Dominic, seven, were taken for a school book week competition themed on people reading in unusual places.

Mr Blake, a father of five, insisted the boys were used to rock climbing and adventure sports and were not worried by scaling the house in Welling, south east London.

He said the boys had climbed onto roof by clambering up onto a flat-roofed extension after he had attached them in a secure harness.

And he said the boys were already back in the house "full of excitement at what they had done", when police burst through the front door, marched upstairs and slapped him in handcuffs.

A Flock Divided

From Atlantic Monthly-

Rowan Williams—reader of Tolkien and prolific author, opponent of nuclear weapons and the Iraq War, Latin note-taker and distinguished scholar at Cambridge, husband and father—presides over 80 million Anglican believers around the world. Elected as archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, he is now, as Paul Elie describes in his March Atlantic piece, “The Velvet Reformation,” uniquely poised to guide his flock through a controversy that threatens to split it in two: whether to accept gay bishops and how to open the church to lesbian and gay members.

As the gay rights movement has come into its own over the past several decades, and as cultural norms and understanding of sexuality have evolved, many religions have had to grapple with how to address these changing frames of mind and experience. Even just within Christianity, there have been stark differences over how to address homosexuality: the Presbyterian and Congregationalist Churches, for example, have committed to embracing equal-rights for all, whereas Evangelical churches and the Roman Catholic Church have opted to hold gay people firmly at a distance. The Anglican Communion alone, Elie writes, “has sought to have it both ways: at once affirming traditional Christian notions of marriage and family, love and fidelity, and adapting them to the experiences of gay believers.”

But straddling such a tendentious fault line has not been easy. Schism seemed imminent last summer when the Anglican bishops met for their once-a-decade gathering in Canterbury. Shortly before the conference, a group of traditionalist bishops had held a rival meeting in Jerusalem, upset with what they perceived as Williams’s tolerance of gay clergy. Progressive church leaders expressed disappointment, too, after Williams decided not to invite Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the only openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, to the conference. In the end, despite a boycott by the Communion’s most conservative members, more than 600 bishops assembled and affirmed their unity and commitment to forging ahead on the issues facing the Church in the 21st century.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Summary of Day Two of The General Synod

The following links give a summary of the resolutions of the Church of England's General Synod for today February 11.


and here-

Church of England will not see first female bishops until 2014

From the London Guardian-

The first women bishops in the Church of England are unlikely to be seen before 2014 after the Church of England today embarked on its most significant legislative exercise in two decades.

Members of its national assembly, General Synod, agreed to send the draft law allowing women to be ordained as bishops for amendments, a decision reached following two hours of debate and doubt.

Despite overcoming this hurdle, the first of many facing Synod regarding the matter, the Church of England would not welcome its first female bishop before 2014 at the earliest. The legislation process will see revisions bounced back and forth between Synod and committees.

There also remains the possibility that the legislation will be rejected in its final form, an outcome that would seriously undermine the prospect of women ever becoming bishops.

Church of England inches closer to approving women bishops

From Episcopal Life Online-

The long and arduous road towards accepting women bishops in the Church of England became an inch shorter February 11 as the General Synod passed a motion to send a draft measure on the matter to a revision committee that will spend the next 12 months reworking the legislation.

The draft measure has two principal objectives: "to give the General Synod power to make provision by canon allowing women to be consecrated as bishops; and to set out the legal framework for the arrangements to be made for parishes which, on grounds of theological conviction, feel unable to receive the ministry of women."

The synod was not asked to amend the draft legislation, only to decide on whether it should be "considered for revision in committee." With a majority affirming that decision, synod members now have until March 16 to submit proposed amendments for review by the revision committee.

Oldest living former MLB player Bill Werber dies at 100

Werber is the last surviving teammate of Ruth and Gehrig. From the Charlotte Observer

Bill Werber, the oldest living former Major League Baseball player and the first basketball All-American at Duke, died Thursday in Charlotte.

He was 100.

Werber had lived in Charlotte since 1998 at the Carriage Club retirement community to be near daughter Pat Bryant, who closely supervised his day-to-day care.


In the 2008 Observer interview, Werber also recalled a story about his first at-bat in the major leagues in 1930. He played for the New York Yankees then and drew a walk because, he said: “I was too scared to move.”

Ruth came up soon thereafter and slammed the ball to deep right field.

“I knew it was going into the right-field bleachers,” Werber said. “But I said to myself, ‘I'll show these Yankees how fast I can run.' So I put on a burst of speed and ran around the bases. The third-base coach was hollering for me to slow down, but I ran on in at full speed.

“I crossed home plate before Babe got to first base – he took those little mincing steps, you know. When Babe came in to the dugout, he sat on the bench beside me. He patted me on the head and said, ‘Son, you don't have to run like that when the Babe hits one.'”

Signs, signs everywhere signs #6

General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Tuesday 10th February 2009

Here's a summary of what happened at the General Synod yesterday. Includes an audio of the Archbishop of Canterbury's address.

Vatican buries the hatchet with Charles Darwin

From the Londodn Times-

The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes.

A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin’s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a “higher power” for the complexities of life.

Organisers of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species said that at first it had even been proposed to ban Intelligent Design from the event, as “poor theology and poor science”. Intelligent Design would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, but merely as a “cultural phenomenon”, rather than a scientific or theological issue, organisers said.

CofE Synod passes BNP membership ban

The Church of England General Synod has passed a motion banning its clergy and lay staff, from being members of the British National Party (BNP). The motion was passed by 322 votes to 13, with 22 people abstaining.

The motion points to the policy used by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which prevents police officers from becoming members of the BNP or other organisations whose aims contradict the duty to promote race equality.

The BNP campaigns for the voluntary repatriation of immigrants and for the interests of indigenous people of Britain. The party has been charged with being extreme and racist, although its leader Nick Griffin denies this charge.

The motion was put forward by Vasantha Gnanadoss, who works for the Metropolitan police. She claims the motion is needed to prevent parties like the BNP associating themselves with the Church. A ban on membership would also send a clear message against racial prejudice, she claims.

Good Stuff In TEC: ERD

Episcopal Relief & Development assists victims of attacks in Sudan

The brutality of the rebel organization, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has destroyed villages and caused massive displacement in southern Sudan. The recent LRA attacks have included murder, child abductions and torture. Many survivors of the attacks have been driven from their homes and are now turning to Episcopal churches for shelter. Church leaders have become overwhelmed by the influx of displaced people.

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Church of Sudan and its development arm, the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), to provide emergency assistance to five of the dioceses most impacted by this ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The Diocese of Ibba, a small and isolated community, has recently taken in 69 families who fled their homes after the LRA destroyed the village of Wowo on January 22nd. The severity of the violence that they witnessed in Wowo has cause panic and people are unwilling or unable to return home. Buck Blanchard, the Missioner for World Mission from the Diocese of Virginia, recently visited Ibba and reported that families are now living behind the church property under trees and makeshift tarps. "They have nothing… Recently, they have been sending the men back to Wowo during the day; while some stand guard, others collect what food they can and then walk the 14 miles back to Ibba," said Blanchard.

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

Archbishop of Canterbury spotlights challenges, priorities of 'imperfect' communion

From Episcopal Life Online-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has told members of the Church of England's General Synod that while the Anglican Communion may be "imperfect … we unmistakably want to find a way of holding on to what we have and 'intensifying' it."
Williams' message came as part of his February 10 presidential address as the Church of England's main legislative body convened for a five-day meeting at Church House in Westminster, London.

Underscoring "the significance of a climate in which every participant is guaranteed a hearing," Williams opened his address with some reflections about last summer's Lambeth Conference and last week's primates meeting.

He noted that one important thing to emerge from the Lambeth Conference of bishops was "a strong sense of what might be lost if the communion fragmented further or found itself gathering around more than one center."

Orthodox Anglicans Don't Expect Unity for Long

Days after Anglican leaders came out of a global meeting pleased with the respect and graciousness that were exchanged despite ongoing internal conflicts, one prominent conservative bishop demanded that the "bitter truth" be acknowledged – that their differences are irreconcilable.

In an open letter addressed to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, who is considered the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Nigerian Archbishop Peter J. Akinola expressed his discontentment with the churches in North America and their continued pro-gay actions.

"It now seems increasingly clear that without a radical change of behavior on the part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada the only possible outcome of such a process is acknowledgment of a bitter truth that the differences in the words of Archbishop Idris Jones are 'irreconcilable,'" Akinola wrote in the letter, released Tuesday.

During a Feb. 1-5 meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, Anglican leaders agreed to maintain a moratorium on the ordination of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions as they try to move forward to mend their rifts and re-establish mutual trust.

Iker reflects on statement from Primates of Anglican Communion

The former Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth in the Dallas Morning News-

So what are we to make of the latest Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion? By "we" I mean those of us who have separated from the General Convention of TEC, while remaining full members of the Communion by realignment with another Province. Is it good news, bad news, or no news at all, for those of us who are working towards the establishment of an orthodox province for Anglicans in North America?

My first reading of the Communiqué left me rather disappointed. I wanted to ask, "Is that all there is?" After hearing some of the comments made about the Alexandria meeting by GAFCON Primates, I have come to the conclusion that reading the Communiqué is not sufficient for understanding what actually transpired during the course of the meeting itself. Evidently the document released by the Primates does not tell the whole story. If Archbishops Greg Venables and Henry Orombi are encouraged and hopeful about what will come of all this, then so am I. Time will tell.

Independence is the crux of church trial

From the Colorado Springs Gazette-

Grace Church & St. Stephen's has operated since its inception as a corporation separate from the Episcopal Church, the plaintiff's attorney said in opening remarks Tuesday in the $17 million trial to decide ownership of the gothic-style church building at 601 N. Tejon St.

As such, the property belongs solely to the vestry of Grace Church & St. Stephen's, attorney Gregory Walta said.

Walta then spent nearly an hour giving examples to show that, since its founding in 1874, Grace has been independent of the national church - buying and selling property, establishing other churches and adopting its own bylaws.

Arguments by defense attorneys that the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado in Denver was unaware of Grace's independent status was likened by Walta to a last-gasp "Hail Mary pass."

Ownership of the Tejon Street property has been in dispute since March 2007, when the Grace Church & St. Stephen's vestry led part of its 2,500-membercongregation away from the national body because of theological differences.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Analysis: Primates Offer Support, Warnings to Both Sides

From the Living Church

In addition to a six-page communiqué and closing press conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primates of 35 of the Anglican Communion’s 38 autonomous provinces made available a wealth of reports and other written communication at the conclusion of their meeting Feb. 1-5 in Alexandria, Egypt.

As was anticipated in recent weeks, the meeting produced no decisive resolution, but it would be inaccurate to state that the primates have given up trying to bring about reconciliation. The reasoned and well-documented statements they produced provide significant insight into the additional incremental steps toward a global understanding of what constitutes an appropriate level of mutual accountability among an autonomous Communion of churches.

In perhaps the most thorough and impartial communication from the primates in recent years, a report by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Windsor Continuation Group described the increasing number of “fractured relationships” that have occurred since the consecration of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire in 2003.

The final press conference perhaps may be best understood as an attempt by Archbishop Rowan Williams to highlight some of what the majority felt were the most widely shared priorities. The archbishop released two documents: a communiqué titled “Deeper Communion: Gracious Restraint,” and the Windsor Continuation Group’s (WCG) “Report to the Archbishop of Canterbury."

A Dallas Episcopal priest comments on the split in Fort Worth

From the Dallas Morning News

I wish that those who are so adamant to pull away from TEC and align with the Southern Cone would realize the damage they do to people who simply want a place to worship God without controversy or involving themselves in any fight. The actions of the previous councils of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth affect us all, especially as we try to prepare people for membership in our parishes. Lay people struggle with whether to believe in a church of bishops, if bishops lead only to schism. People reject church experiences where there is fighting over anything, and rightfully so.

What I cannot agree with is the pretense that there are two Episcopal dioceses of Fort Worth. Bishop Iker needs to come to terms with the fact that his argument is an emperor without clothes. The historical position of all our bishops for centuries is that there cannot be two different ecclesiastical authorities over one geographical area. Bishop Iker knows that if an Episcopal priest failed to show up for services or at any diocesan function he would be compelled to remove that priest. Likewise it is the duty of the Presiding Bishop to remove any bishop who is not participating in the life of the Episcopal Church. There are priests in Texas who claim to be Anglican but not part of the Episcopal Church (TEC). I guess I could pretend to be Roman Catholic but it would not make it so. At the very best these congregations are "faux Anglican." The Archbishop of Canterbury has never approved a separate Province inside the US. He cannot without violating all historical precedents and furthering schism. I do not doubt that Bishop Iker is a good man who has done wonderful things in his ministry. How sad, it is most likely that history will record him now solely as a schismatic bishop.

Archbishop Freier launches Bush Fire Appea

Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier has today launched a Bush Fire Appeal to assist in the rebuilding of Victoria’s fire ravaged and grieving communities.

He said he had been deeply touched by the many offers of donation and assistance made to the Melbourne Diocese by individuals and parishes. “Those wishing to donate can now do so via a donation form on the diocesan website.” (You will need to download and print off the form to fill in - fax or post. Details on form.)

The Appeal Fund is being administered by the Melbourne Anglican Benevolent Society.

After visiting fire affected areas in Kinglake yesterday, Dr Freier said he was profoundly saddened by the scale of the devastation and loss of life, and also greatly moved by the love and care people were showing for one another in the face of such pain and grief.

“Through this Appeal Fund we will be able to assist these devastated and grieving communities to rebuild and start again,” he said.

“We learned important lessons after the 1983 bushfires about working with the community to rebuild a sense of hope and purpose. Our recovery co-ordinating committee is ready to respond now and in the months ahead – please support our efforts.”

Please donate to the Bush Fire Appeal by downloading a donation form here. (You will need to download and print off the form to fill in - fax or post. Details on form.)

Signs, signs, everywhere signs #5

Church of England opens national meeting

From The International Herald Tribune-

The Church of England opened its national assembly Monday to discuss draft legislation on allowing the consecration of women as bishops and other church matters.

The General Synod will be addressed Monday by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, a Roman Catholic who is expected to discuss relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. It will be his first address to the assembly.

The specifics of the proposal to allow women bishops are to be discussed Wednesday morning. Church officials agreed in principle last year to consecrate women bishops for the first time, but details of how it would work have yet to be finalized.

Unfortunately, during this synod, the Christian spirit is likely to be overshadowed by infighting and obscuratism

Commentary from the Guardian in London-

This week the Church of England's parliament will debate once again the subject of women bishops, global capitalism, whether membership of the BNP is compatible with being an Anglican, and the deadly question of the covenant, a new set of rules for what counts as being a true Anglican which (though the higher-ups all deny this catagorically) is designed to exclude the US church from the communion because it had the temerity to make a gay man a bishop.

This is the church putting its worst foot forward. Question time allows petty doctrinal point-scoring or score-settling. Other speakers are so bound up with procedural obscurantism that they make the question of angels dancing on a pin look like a model of practicality and relevance. The only thing that keeps me from falling asleep is my anger at the wastefulness of the whole thing. So I trudge home in the rain deeply miserable about the state of my church.

Yet as I write, two dozen or so churchgoers are sitting in our back room, discussing new ways of raising money for AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe or the Christian Aid appeal for Gaza or the local homeless project. They visit the sick and help look after the needy. They offer a space for people to come together to share their hopes for a better world and to seek means for personal transformation. And then I remember once again why I do it all. Of course, you don't have to be a Christian or even religious to do any of these things (but given that it's a pretty safe bet that there are very few secularists having an equivalent meeting in Putney tonight, I suspect that it helps).

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor: All churches "impoverished" by Anglican division

From The London Times-

The Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor today spoke of his regret at the divisions in the Anglican Communion that have taken it to the brink of schism.

Addressing the General Synod in Church House, Westminster he said the Anglican Church's struggles affected all churches or "ecclesial communities", as the Pope has instructed Catholic bishops to refer to non-Catholic and non-Orthodox churches.

"Divisions within any church or eccclesial community impoverish the communion of the whole Church," he said. "We Roman Catholics cannot be indifferent to what is happening to our friends in the Anglican Communion and, in particular, in the Church of England.

"All I can say – and I would not want to be misinterpreted - is that it is only in a fuller and deeper unity that the truth and the demands of the Gospel are to be discerned. In this sense, unity is a prerequisite to truth and you should not settle for less – even if it takes time."

Convocation a home for Europe's Christians

From Episcopal Life Online-

In Europe, there's no such thing as an average Episcopalian, and it may not be the most obvious place you'd expect to find a group of Episcopal congregations. But the Convocation of American Churches in Europe ministers to a unique and culturally diverse demographic of Christians throughout Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
Charité Nrusi, for example, fled from Rwanda during the genocide in the mid-1990s. She since has settled in western France, where she joins other Rwandan refugees at the Mission Saint Emmanuel in Rennes.

The Rev. Dorothee Hahn, a German native and former lawyer, is assistant rector at Church of the Ascension in Munich and vicar of mission congregations in Augsburg and Nuremburg.

Most of her pastoral work is bilingual, and her ministry takes her 174 miles round trip, covering terrain that is almost exclusively Protestant.

Denis le Mollac, a lifelong Parisian, fi rst experienced the community at the American Cathedral in Paris in 1977 and was so impressed by the hospitality that he's been a member ever since.

Trial to determine owner of Parish property in Springs

From the Denver Post-

A civil trial to determine ownership of the multimillion-dollar Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish property on Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs begins today in El Paso County District Court.

In March 2007, Grace pastor Don Armstrong and a majority of his congregation decided to leave the Episcopal Church to affiliate instead with the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

Armstrong and his followers retained possession of the church buildings, but both the breakaway congregation and the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado claim ownership of the landmark church property, for which the insurance-replacement value is $17 million.

The trial is expected to last weeks.

The fight is one of more than 50 property disputes across the country involving former Episcopal congregations and their former dioceses.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Stuff In TEC: Ohio

Shelter rewarding to homeless, volunteers

Mount Vernon’s homeless shelter, housed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church parish house on East High Street, is beginning its third month of nightly operation.

The shelter houses four to five men each night, according to the volunteers who staff it. The male-only shelter was designated as such by volunteers because of lack of space that could be partitioned to house families and women with children. Women and families who come to the shelter for aid are referred to Interchurch or given a voucher for a stay at a local motel.

Volunteer Kim Bradley said the work at the shelter is rewarding and enjoyable.

“I work during the week on the 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift,” she said. “On that shift, we get to know the guys, so that’s the shift I prefer. The guys have become comrades, friends with each other. One man has a truck, so he takes them all to Wal-Mart or they listen to his radio. I really like the guys. They laugh and tell jokes. They’ve become a group, which is neat because they all need someone.”

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

Australian church leaders express horror over fire devastation

Anglican leaders in Australia have expressed their horror at the devastation caused by wildfires sweeping through parts of Victoria.

In a letter sent out to clergy in his diocese, the Archbishop of state capital Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, spoke of his sense of disbelief at the “enormity of the devastation” caused by the firestorm.

“We think of those who have lost their lives, those under care in hospitals, of those waiting for news of family and friends, those now homeless and the many still threatened by fire,” he said. “The loss of property, while secondary, is beyond imagination, with homes, businesses and even whole townships destroyed.”

At least 130 people have died and more than 750 homes have been destroyed in the wildfires, branded “mass murder” by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Judd.

The fires are the worst in Australia’s history and police suspect that at least two in drought-hit eastern Victoria were started deliberately.

Dr Freier added that God was with those suffering as a result of the fires.

“Never forget that God is with us in our grief, our pain and our despair,” he said.

For the first time, Christians in Qatar worship in church

From the Christian Science Monitor-

Mr. Schwartz is overseeing construction of the Anglican church complex going up next door to the Catholic compound. Under an agreement with the government, the facility will also be used by several other Protestant and Evangelical denominations. Schwartz anticipates that it will serve 20,000 worshipers in any given week.

The complex, likely to cost around $12 million and take years to complete, is being built in stages. Schwartz is hopeful the first phase can be ready for use by the end of 2009. "We're asking for money from anybody who'll give it to us," he says. "It is very much a work of faith, including on the part of the contractor."

Schwartz ministers to a dispersed congregation of about 30 nationalities. On Fridays, the day of worship for all faiths in Qatar, he presides at services in a school gym. But scores of other services are held in villas, hotels, and restaurants, he says.

Besides the Anglican and Roman Catholic compounds, buildings are also under construction for Copts, Greek Orthodox, and Indian Protestants at the leased site about eight miles from downtown Doha.

The government's move to permit church building, which began to surface after it established diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 2002, was controversial among Qataris. A final decision was taken only after a 2003 referendum approving the country's new Constitution, which guarantees freedom of worship.

Bishops resist moves to outlaw BNP membership

From the London Times-

Church of England clergy could be barred from membership of the far-right British National Party under a controversial motion to be debated this week, The Times has learnt.

The move, which coincides with intense public debate over race and equality, is backed by Sir Ian Blair (pictured) , the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who will attend the General Synod to support a policy borrowed from the Association of Chief Police Officers, which bans officers from joining the BNP.

In his first interview since leaving Scotland Yard, Sir Ian said that his Anglican faith had been a great comfort and support during difficult times as the country’s most senior policeman. “I used to say to my wife, if I did not have my hour and a half on a Sunday morning, the week was going to be much more difficult,” Sir Ian said.

He saw a parallel, he said, between the Church and the police in that both “need to be able to welcome people from all backgrounds”. He added: “The issue around race is about equality. I am on that wing of the Anglican Communion that is very much in favour of women priests.”

Four decades of rule: How the General Synod works

The Church of England's General Synod meets later this month. here's the Londn Times explanation of how it works.

The General Synod is a legislative body for the Church of England. It has 467 members, from the House of Bishops, House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

In 1970, the Synod replaced the Church Assembly, which since 1919 had enjoyed autonomy over Church policy. Previously all development in the governance of the Church was exclusively by Act of Parliament, rendering progressive change difficult.

The Synod has the power to pass measures that can result in law. Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords can block these measures but they cannot amend them.

There are two annual sessions of the Synod, each lasting between four and five days. The first is at Church House in London and the other at the University of York. If required a third meeting can take place in London in the autumn.

Waiting for the women bishops

From the BBC-

The debate on whether to appoint women bishops returns to the Church of England's General Synod this month.

The parishes of the pretty Kent commuter town of Sevenoaks will send four delegates to the Synod, and Anglicans in the town hold a wide range of views on the women bishops issue.

The parishes of Sevenoaks

"Certainly I am very well aware that at the end of the road we will have women bishops," says the Reverend Angus Macleay, "But the real question is - what sort of a church will we have?"

Mr Macleay is rector of the ancient parish church of St Nicholas, a General Synod member, and a trustee of Reform, the main evangelical group opposed to women bishops.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Signs, signs, everywhere signs #4

The Darwins: Charles the scientist married Emma the Christian

An interesting piece from today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Charles Darwin and his wife's Christian faith.

On Jan. 29, 1839, in the little chapel in the English village of Maer, a religious 30-year-old woman named Emma Wedgwood put on a green silk dress and got married. She believed firmly in a heaven and a hell. And she believed you had to accept God to go to heaven. She married Charles Darwin.

As we head into a new era for a country that has struggled for too long with the marriage of science and religion, we should consider the marriage of Emma and Charles.

When Charles came home in 1836 from his five-year voyage around the world, which included the visit to the Galapagos Islands, he was already seeing life and creation in a new way. And as he courted Emma, he also was secretly scribbling notes about a new idea, his theory of evolution, in leather-bound notebooks marked "private."

He knew that his view of creation would rock the faith of Emma and almost everyone in England, and as he prepared to propose to her, he agonized. Charles' father advised him to keep his mouth shut. "Conceal your doubts," he warned.

Its all here-

Good Stuff in TEC: North Carolina

Dads, daughters bond at dance

The color of choice for dresses was red, though there were numerous shades of all colors. Daughters danced with their dads to YMCA, forming the letters in the air together at Fletcher’s Valentine’s Day father and daughter dance Saturday at Cavalry Episcopal Church.

“The dads really have a hard time finding things to do with their daughters. This is for the two of them. It’s become a tradition,” said Cheyenne Youell, Fletcher recreation program supervisor for events. “(The daughters) like to show their dads off.”

The dance has grown considerably from last year. The 6 to 8 p.m. dance continues to be sold out, with a limit of 125 people. Last year, 58 people attended the 3 to 5 p.m. dance. This year, they were up to 102 dads and daughters. There are also more non-Fletcher residents attending each year.

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

Court fight over historic church starts Tuesday

The church building on North Tejon Street is, inarguably, an architectural treasure.

Its stone-on-stone Gothic construction, highlighted by an iconic tower crowned with turrets, is "a marvelous display of ecclesiastic architecture," said Colorado Springs project manager Tim Scanlon.

But the beautiful church is at the center of an ugly fight over who owns it - the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado or a group that broke away from the U.S. Episcopal Church but has continued to worship in the building.

The winner of the fight will likely be determined in a trial that begins Tuesday in El Paso County District Court and is expected to last six weeks.

Ownership of the $17 million property has been in dispute ever since a group led by the Rev. Donald Armstrong broke away from the 2,500-member congregation because of theological differences with the Episcopal Church