Several churches are preparing to be home to car camps for people who live in their cars. A pilot project is already underway at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ballard.
The Ballard Homes-for-all Coalition says they hope to convince other area churches to do the same – essentially creating mini tent cities, but with cars.
Every day, Richard Sexton drives around Ballard looking for a place to park his minivan – his home. Friday night he was outside St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
"I'm pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can't afford a place to live, so this is what we're doing for now," he said.
The Ballard Homes for All Coalition hopes the church can become more of a long-term home for people like Sexton. They have already worked out a trial run with St. Luke's to let one camper stay there with access to water, electricity, and trash services.
In the best of times it can be tough to outfit a young lady for her senior prom, but take the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and it can make that task all but impossible.
But there's an alternative to dishing out the big bucks for a prom gown. Several area organizations are teaming up to collect and distribute prom gowns at the Silver Lining Prom Dress Expo, and for the first time the Valley will be a part of the program.
On March 29 from noon to 5 p.m. dresses will be on display at the LaRosina Room behind the Pilgrim Bar-B-Que at 259 East Main St. in Ansonia. There high school students can browse for the perfect gown -- free of charge.
"So far we have more than 150 brand new sample gowns," said Alberta Vargas, a parishioner at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fairfield who is heading up the project. The gown range in price from $89 to $449, she said.
"If you can't afford to spend much of anything, you could walk out the door with a dress that costs hundreds of dollars brand new," Vargas said. A $10 donation is suggested, she said.
Episcopal Diocese of Texas Bishop Don Wimberly has handed over operations of the diocesan offices and the work of the diocese at large to Bishop Coadjutor Andy Doyle. Wimberly announced his intention to step away from diocesan operations in his February 14 address to the 160th Diocesan Council. Wimberly, who will retire June 6, will continue to chair the diocesan foundations, the diocesan executive council, St. Luke's Episcopal Health System, and the board of the Austin-based Seminary of the Southwest until then.
The transition is earlier than expected, prompted by Wimberly's hospitalization in January, when Doyle stepped in for him. "This time has proven to me that [Andy] is ready and we, as a diocese, are ready to move forward," Wimberly said, adding, "I will work with him as he takes on these new roles; such a partnership is natural for us." Doyle had been Wimberly's canon to the ordinary (a position that assists the bishop in the administration of the diocese) since 2003. He was elected coadjutor (bishop with right of succession) in May 2008.
In his remarks to council, which was held February 13-14 in Houston, Doyle announced a series of town hall meetings this spring to help prioritize goals for his episcopacy.
Doyle also reaffirmed that his leadership would be in "harmony with the [Anglican Communion's 2004] Windsor Report'" and stated his belief in the importance of securing an Anglican covenant. (The Windsor Report is a document that recommended ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid diversity of opinions, especially relating to human sexuality issues and theological interpretations. One of those recommendations was a yet-to-be-agreed-upon Anglican covenant.)
When discussing the Anglican wars, one of GetReligion’s mantras is that reporters must struggle — even in short stories — to place these events in the context of church structures at the local, regional-diocesan, national and global levels.
That’s the bad news.
The problem for reporters is that things are going to get even more complex in the very near future. The structures are all changing and are, frankly, becoming even more confusing and harder for outsiders to understand (and cover in mainstream media).
Why is that? It helps to note that the U.S. Episcopal hierarchy tends to be very liberal when it comes to traditions about doctrine, but almost fundamentalist when it comes to traditions about power and ecclesiastical structure. Meanwhile, the people running the emerging conservative structures are very strict about ancient doctrines, but many of them lean to more open, congregational, even megachurch approaches to church life.
So this brings me to a story unfolding down in the Treasure Coast region of South Florida. Here’s the top of the report from the Vero Beach Press Journal:
A trial over who owns a $17 million church building got down and dirty Thursday as an attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado attempted to depict a group of rogue, all-powerful church leaders lying to their diocese and parishioners about their plans to leave the national church.
The deception, attorney Martin Nussbaum told a packed courtroom, was meant to thwart the diocese from claiming legal right to the Gothic church on North Tejon Street.
Ownership of the property has been in dispute ever since the church vestry voted on March 26, 2007, to break from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with a conservative Anglican group based in Nigeria.
The Anglican group has continued to worship in the building, while the group that stayed with the Episcopal Church is worshiping in another location downtown.
The diocese claims ecclesiastical law gives it rights to the property, while the breakaway group, Grace Church & St. Stephen's, argues that it became its own corporation in 1973 and therefore holds legal title.
Well here I am in Mexico for a weeks vacation at the Yucatan. Thought I'd be able to do a little blogging while I'm down here but all of the search engines are in Spanish. Duh ! So there will probably not be as much activity here for the next week as there usually is. Probably good for me.
The recent move by the Church of England to allow ordination of women as bishops has caused ripples among traditionalists in the Indian church especially in this region, the seat of Syrian Christianity, with top religious leaders opposing it tooth and nail, asserting that episcopacy was not the job of the fair sex.
As the historic decision of the Anglican Church, the most influential Protestant congregation, created a vertical split in the Anglican communion in Britain and rest of the world, top church leaders here lost no time in denouncing the move.
"It is not a question of faith but tradition. Christianity extends all considerations to women. Women are not inferior as they are equal before God," Council of Christian Churches of India (CCCI) President Arch Bishop Stephen Vattappara told PTI.
"Equality does not mean that mother becomes a father as both have distinct features and functions and should be maintained as such," he said here.
The CCCI, formed in 1973 as the Indian arm of the International Council of Christian Churches and comprising Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican orthodox churches, declared its stand on the issue at its three-day national assembly held in Kurici near here recently.
When two retirees founded a soup kitchen in 2003 in Freehold, they didn't know thousands of hungry residents would one day depend on the kitchen for a hot meal. But that's what happened at the Open Door Lunch Program.
Now, as the program enters its seventh year, the need for food keeps growing, says co-founder Jim Benedict of Freehold Township. On a recent bitter-cold day, that need is evident.
An hour before doors open at 11:30 a.m. for the 1 1/2-hour meal, 12 men wait outside St. Peter's Episcopal Church parish center, the soup kitchen's home, on Throckmorton Street. Quiet, moving to and fro in place to keep warm in an icy wind, they are joined by more men.
On this day, 150 to 200 people will be fed, says Benedict, 64. In 2008, 33,926 meals were served, he says.
"By 11:15, 90 people will be in here," says co-founder Stan Rosenthal of Holmdel. "As they leave, we allow another group in."
The program runs four weekdays in winter and three in summer. Most participants are men, with 15 or so women and occasionally some children showing up, Benedict says. About 80 percent are people whose primary language is Spanish, says Rosenthal, 65. A number of area seniors show up, too, he says.
"These people would starve without this program. We aren't all so lucky to have everything that we need," Benedict says.
From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department- Philadelphia division
Philadelphia police are pretty sure they've got a case of animal sacrifice on their hands, perhaps even the ritual of Santeria.
Officers with the SPCA arrived at the cemetery at Trinity Oxford Episcopal Church in Lawncrest Monday night and found the head of a goat and the remains of 5 roosters.
Investigators say animal sacrifices are happening with alarming frequency a half dozen within the past couple of months.
A bag full of organs and a candle were among the items left behind. Investigators found little blood at the scene indicating to them that the animals were used in some sort of religious ritual.
"All the blood is drained for the most part from these animals in these sacrifices and used in the ritual," said George Bengal, the director of law enforcement for the SPCA.
He's trying to track down the butchers responsible for the rash of sacrifices. In December, a similar sacrifice was performed in Pennypack Park on back to back nights in the same spot. 10 goats and roosters in all were killed.
Those pining for garden-fresh vegetables but don't have the land may now have an excuse to buy a pair of work gloves for the garden. The Anderson Cottonwood Christian Assistance is starting a free community garden primarily for residents of Anderson, Cottonwood and Happy Valley.
"There is free land, free water and free seedlings," community garden committee member Lyle Amlin said. "All we need you to do is plant, weed, water and harvest. The hitch is we're asking all gardeners to donate 25 percent of their yield to the ACCA."
Land and water for the community garden was donated by St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Amlin said. Anderson FFA volunteered to do the roto-tilling and provide seedlings from their hot house. Happy Valley Elementary also promised to donate seedlings.
Saying that all property held by or for a diocese can only be used for the mission of that diocese and the Episcopal Church, the church has asked a Pennsylvania court to allow it to join an ongoing case concerning the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. In papers filed February 13 with the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, the Episcopal Church also asked the court to declare:
• that the members of the diocesan leadership now recognized by the Episcopal Church are "the proper authorities entitled to the use and control of the real and personal property" of the diocese,
• that the property may be used only for the mission of the diocese and the wider church,
• that deposed Bishop Robert Duncan and the leaders of the group of Episcopalians that left the diocese on October 4, 2008 must provide an accounting of that property, and
• that Duncan and the breakaway leaders must vacate the diocesan offices and turn over control of the property to the current leadership.
The petition to intervene in the case is available here. It was signed by retired Diocese of West Missouri Bishop John C. Buchanan, who is the parliamentarian for the House of Bishops and is described in the petition as trustee ad litem (Pennsylvania law requires unincorporated associations, like the Episcopal Church, to sue in the name of one of its members as trustee ad litem).
Interesting letter to the editor form the Guardian in London
Given the current debate about Charles Darwin's attitude to the Christian faith, it is worth noting that in 1872 (13 years after the Origin of Species) he gladly accepted honorary membership of the Anglican South American Missionary Society because he was so impressed with their work (Report, 13 February). In reply to its invitation, he wrote, "I shall feel proud if your committee think fit to elect me an honorary member of your society." SAMS continues to do excellent work today."
Among the strike team of 25 Country Fire Authority volunteers from Ballarat battling blazes in the Kinglake area during February's horrific bushfires was Michael Hough, the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat.
He keeps his CFA pager with him, day and night. Even on Sunday, he is on duty, joining a team dealing with local fires. Many, he said, have been caused by power line damage, setting grass alight.
“The contrasts and the extremes are extraordinary in Australia today,” he said. “I just received a phone call from the bishop of north Queensland, which has suffered severe flooding, and he is more concerned about crocodiles bumping into his front door.”
Bishop Hough, aged 56, is a member of the Wendouree brigade – appropriately named after the lake in central Ballarat that has dried up, to the extent that the CFA recently had to put out a fire there.
The strike team he joined to combat the Kinglake fires, contained five tankers each staffed by five fire-fighters. Their deployment meant the volunteers remaining in Ballarat were more likely to be called out to local blazes.
Church of England members who disagree on whether women bishops should be ordained must find a way to co-exist because neither group "will go away", the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said on Tuesday.
Some members may join another church, but many wanted to remain and the Anglican Church must find a way to accommodate them, he added.
Speaking at the General Synod meeting in London, the Church's spiritual head said traditionalists and liberals recognised they had to tackle the issue.
"We may have imperfect communion, but we unmistakeably want to find a way of holding on to what we have and 'intensifying' it," he said.
Anglicans in Canada, the United States and New Zealand already have women bishops.
One in six of England's parish priests is a woman and more than a decade after they were first ordained, liberals say it is insulting not to admit them to positions of power.
Bethlehem churches band together to provide shelter for homeless
A different church will open its doors each night of the week with volunteer "hosts" providing support.The Bethlehem program does not offer any services, just a warm place to sleep.
"Because we're short-term and we don't offer any programs, we don't ask any questions," said Marcie Lightwood, a vestry warden and social worker with Trinity Episcopal. "Our only requirement is that they behave themselves." The program is similar to one that has been operating in Warren County since July except that the New Jersey counterpart uses a weekly, not daily system.
"I'm always impressed by what churches have done," said Bob Frankenfield, executive director of the Warren County Interfaith Hospitality Network. "It's restored my faith.
The national Episcopal Church has asked to join a lawsuit over who owns an estimated $20 million held in the name of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Since Oct. 4, when the majority of the diocese voted to secede from the national church and realign with an Anglican province in South America, there have been two rival bodies called the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The Episcopal Church recognizes only the smaller diocese, which it says is entitled to all diocesan assets. It wants to join a lawsuit filed four years ago by parishes opposed to the looming secession. A court order, which both sides signed in 2005, said that parish property would be negotiated, but diocesan assets belonged to "the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America."
Both dioceses now claim to be that diocese.
Rich Creehan, spokesman for the Episcopal diocese affiliated with the national church, welcomed the filing but said he expected church headquarters to have a limited legal role.
"The presence of the Episcopal Church gives the court a resource to turn to to ask who's who in their eyes," he said.
Calls to leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) were not returned.
The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee filed a lawsuit Monday against St. Edmund's Church, an Elm Grove congregation that split from the Episcopal Church in December and claimed control of the church buildings and real estate.
The diocese contends that it is the rightful owner of the property and is asking a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge to order St. Edmund's, church leaders and others named in the lawsuit to relinquish control of the property.
Eleven people and the church are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
"We are saddened to take this action, and it has not been taken lightly," said Bishop Steven A. Miller in a statement issued by the diocese.
"It's an unfortunate situation for all involved. But under our canon law, all parish property ultimately belongs to the diocese, and we have to enforce that law for the unity and well-being of the Church."
Miller, who is on sabbatical, said all church property is held in trust for the denomination by the parish and not owned by the congregation or local church.
Leaders of Pittsburgh Presbytery believe religious liberty is endangered because civil courts are preventing presbyteries from exercising religious authority over congregations that want to take property out of the denomination.
In response they have organized a convocation, "Our Freedom of Religion at Risk -- A Presbyterian Crisis," for Thursday, from 2 to 5:30 p.m., in Beulah Presbyterian Church, Churchhill. Attendance is free, but a live Webcast for long-distance viewing costs $10. Registration is at www.presbyterianconvocation.org.
Over the past two years, dozens of the 10,000 congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA), including three in Pittsburgh Presbytery, left for the more theologically conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Some cases, including one in Pittsburgh Presbytery, landed in civil court.
Church law says that individuals may leave the church but property is held in trust for the denomination. Nevertheless, some presbyteries, including Pittsburgh, allowed departing congregations to negotiate to keep their property.
"We want to share what we've learned about the church as a body and property issues and what it means to be connected together" said the Rev. Bob Anderson, interim pastor of Pittsburgh Presbytery, which includes 154 congregations in Allegheny County.
On this day in 1977 Archbishop Luwum of Uganda was martyred by Idi Amin. Here's the Time Magazine article from that year-
In the six years since he seized power from Milton Obote, Uganda's mercurial President Idi Amin has accused his enemies of scheming at least a dozen times to overthrow him, and in response has ordered the execution of untold thousands of opponents. Last week three newly discovered "plotters" met with suspiciously accidental deaths. Two of the accused were high government officials: Internal Affairs Minister Charles Oboth-Ofumbi and Land and Water Resources Minister Erinayo Oryema. The third was one of the most highly esteemed churchmen in all of Africa, the Most Rev. Janani Luwum, 53, Anglican Archbishop of Uganda.
In typical "Big Daddy" fashion, the dictator convened a giant rally in Kampala and invited the two ministers and the archbishop to attend. Then, a few lesser "suspects" were paraded forth to read out "confessions" implicating the three men. The archbishop smiled wanly and shook his head in disbelief when he heard his own name mentioned as one of the agents whom the exiled Milton Obote had chosen to help stage a coup. Amid soldiers' cries of "Kill them all!" a gracious Amin declared that, in all fairness, there would be "a proper military trial."
The rally, in fact, was the closest approach to a "hearing" that Archbishop Luwum and the two ministers would ever get. Next day, Radio Uganda reported that the prisoners had been killed when the car transporting them to an interrogation center collided with another vehicle and overturned; the victims, said the broadcast, had tried to overpower the driver in an attempt to escape.
Communion wine, representing the blood of Jesus Christ, might be holy, but that hasn't kept it from being deemed illegal.
Mary Houseman, along with her husband, Roy, own Montana Church Supply on Central Avenue in Great Falls. The store sells everything churches need, from pews to communion bread to candles. Its products list used to include sacramental wine — until Houseman ran into a "glitch" in the law.
Houseman orders sacramental wine about twice a year. However, when she placed her order this fall, it never arrived. That was because the winemaker was told it didn't have a license to distribute wine in Montana, nor did Montana Church Supply have a license to sell it.
"We couldn't get our Christmas wine in," she said. "If they don't resolve this issue, we're not going to be able to get the wine in for Lent and Easter."
Montana Church Supply, previously called Reilly's, has been in business since 1979 and sold wine that whole time without being licensed.
When Houseman got in touch with the Montana Department of Revenue to figure out a solution to the problem, the agency's director, Dan Bucks, was surprised to find out there wasn't a provision in Montana law dealing with the sale of sacramental wine.
"I was astounded that this hadn't been addressed in the past when we found the problem," he said.
Religion is very good at probing questions of meaning, while science excels at exploring the mechanics of the world we live in. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and a participant in the National Prayer Service after Barack Obama's inauguration, began her career as an oceanographer and studied the evolution of squid. She discovered that the Bible's creation stories have more to do with the meaning behind existence than with the particularities of how creation happened. She concludes that science and religion both give us knowledge, but that they are, as she puts it, "different kinds of knowing."
Science is truly godless in the sense that it does not assume that a divine being is at work in every animal, vegetable and mineral. Instead, it finds its answers through proofs based on observation and replication by multiple sources.
Darwin's theory of evolution forms the foundation of modern biology, and it has been proven true — most recently, in a 20-year experiment in which a researcher took a single bacterium and watched it reproduce and evolve for over 44,000 generations. Observation and replication give scientists answers to questions about the mechanics of life, but these approaches don't even attempt to explore the meaning of life.
Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and Rev. Gail Riina were discussing their ideas for different types of living communities, both religious and environmentally friendly, when they realized the two could go hand in hand.
What resulted from the Hendricks Chapel ministers' brainstorm was the Dorset House, a living community centered on a sustainable, Christian-oriented lifestyle, located at 107 Dorset St. near the university.
"As a campus minister, I've seen intentional living communities around the country and thought we could start one in Syracuse," Baskerville-Burrows said.
The house, which is intended to encourage sustainability in a religious context, ended its application process for Syracuse University students to request living quarters Sunday. But since they only received two applications, Baskerville-Burrows said the deadline might be moved back.
This fall, the house will be home to four SU students, who will focus on living eco-friendly lives, while sharing their faith with housemates, Riina said. Rent will cost between $350 and $600 per month, depending on the room.
On the anniversary of the interview in which Dr Rowan Williams said it "seems inevitable" that some parts of sharia would be enshrined in this country's legal code, he claimed "a number of fairly senior people" now take the same view.
He added that there is a "drift of understanding" towards what he was saying, and that the public sees the difference between letting Muslim courts decide divorces and wills, and allowing them to rule on criminal cases and impose harsh punishments. However critics insist that family disputes must be dealt with by civil law rather than according to religious principles, and claim the Archbishop's comments have only helped the case of extremists while making Muslim women worse off, because they do not have equal rights under Islamic law.
The Archbishop, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, faced calls to resign last February when he said it was likely that elements of the religious principles based on the Koran, concerning marriage, finance and conflict resolution, would be enshrined in British legislation one day.
But in July he was supported by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, who was then the Lord Chief Justice, while it later emerged that five sharia courts are already operating mediation systems under the Arbitration Act, and that the Government allows Islamic tribunals to settle the custody and financial affairs of divorcing couples and send their judgements to civil courts for approval.
A yarn popular among local preachers tells of a golden phone that puts a call through to heaven for $10,000, but in Pittsburgh that call sets you back just 35 cents.
It's a local call in "God's Country."
The region known for steel is quietly making its mark as a religious stronghold with influence stretching nationwide.
A strong work ethic and conservative religious bent, the legacy of early settlers from Scotland and Ireland, has created a Bible Belt here as strong as that in the South and Midwest, theologians say, but with a personality of its own because Pittsburgh, with its many faiths and nationalities, has a deep religious commitment that spans church spectrums.
Pittsburgh this month will host a national convocation of Presbyterian church officials that is the first of its kind for the Presbyterian denomination. The conference will explore the religious freedoms put at risk when civil courts are asked to resolve property disputes that arise in church schisms.
Some of the same issues that drove the splits within the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches caused the excommunication of the Rev. William Hausen from the Roman Catholic Church. The pull and tug between conservative and liberal factions in the church bothered Hausen, so in 2004, he started his own church.
Hausen, of Sewickley, maintains that the Catholic Church, the largest denomination in the seven-county region with 988,490 members, needs to modernize its positions on issues such as divorce, birth control, ordination of women and celibacy for clergy.
To Christ Church officials, the Rev. Lorne Coyle was a guiding light in their quest for adherence to conservative Biblical views, church leaders say.
Then two weeks ago came the married minister’s admission of an affair — prompted by an out-of-state woman going to Coyle’s Anglican bishop in Virginia.
“It is a shock,” said Christ Church’s lay leader, senior warden Jim Reamy III.
The bishop suspended Coyle, effective Feb. 1, quickly followed by Coyle’s resignation from the church.
The independent church was expanding in the wake of Coyle’s leadership in the congregation’s breaking off from the Episcopal Church — a national denomination that Reamy said strayed from a belief that marriages should only unite a man and a woman.
From the London Times. (I'm still trying to figure out what the "Open Episcopal Church" is).
There was an arresting picture in the papers last week. It was of an eight-year-old boy perched on the chimney stack above his terraced house in Welling, southeast London, smiling as he read a book. The photograph was taken as an entry for a school competition to show books being read in unusual circumstances. Unfortunately for the boy’s father, Jonathan Blake, a bishop in the Open Episcopal Church, the incident was reported by a neighbour, and Blake’s local police force decided that encouraging a child onto a rooftop was an arrestable offence – one so serious that Blake was arrested, handcuffed and held in police custody for 24 hours, charged with child neglect.
Blake is not a lunatic. He is a mild-mannered, devoted parent. He was encouraging his children to be imaginative and adventurous in response to the school’s challenge. His boys, aged seven and eight, do rock climbing and adventure sports, and on the day they climbed onto the chimney, they were wearing a safety harness and were guided up the roof by him, using secure footholds. The boy in the picture looks happy and proud. The police response has shattered that.
Within an hour of the boys coming off the roof, two fire engines and two vanloads of police roared into the street. Then, says Blake, “all hell broke loose”. Two female police officers asked to see the children, who said they were thrilled by what they had just done. Thirty seconds later, half a dozen male officers burst into the house and – without discussion or questioning – one ordered Blake’s arrest. He was given permission to change, but as he came out of his bathroom, he says a male police officer punched him in the back, twisted his arm behind him and shoved him against a wall, yelling: “We need to handcuff this man – he’s resisting arrest.”
Crossing one more item off his "honey-do" list on Valentine's Day morning, Carman Peltzer lugged old computer monitors, printers, keyboards and processors from his trunk to a nearby trash bin in the parking lot of St. James Episcopal Church.
Peltzer, who retired in October, said he finally had time to tackle the pile of old computer parts in his basement he's been collecting since the mid-1970s.
Peltzer was among half a dozen area residents lined up to take part in an electronics waste collection day at the church.
The church charged participants $20 to cover the expense of recycling older TV screens and $15 to recycle computer monitors. Everything else was free.
Jeannie Pellicier, a church member and volunteer, said members of a St. James environmental stewardship group got the idea of such a collection after learning about the nation's switch from analog to digital television signals.
The switch had been set to take place on Feb. 17, but was delayed by Congress earlier in the month until June 12.
St. James had an electronics waste collection day in January, and about 60 people from three counties showed up to unload old TVs, DVD players, digital scanners, stereos and other items, Pellicier said.
For weeks now, Matt McCarron has been unable to muster the strength to go to Sunday Mass. A lifelong Catholic, he’s often found solace in prayer. And though young, he tries to give faithfully for the needs of the church, $20 a week when he was employed full time.
McCarron, 19, lost his job as a machinist last month and is back at the Milwaukee-area pizza joint where he worked in high school. He moved in with his parents to save money.
“I just feel let down,” said McCarron, who’d prayed that God would spare his job and is embarrassed that he can’t support the church the way he’d like. “I’m not sure I can afford even $5. I hate that feeling.”
Like McCarron, many people of faith are struggling, spiritually and financially, as the economy continues to unravel.
Across the religious spectrum, many congregations and faith organizations say giving is flat or down, at a time when the need for services, from food and clothing pantries to housing assistance and spiritual counseling, is skyrocketing.
Few are immune.
“I’m sure the hardest hit are in the central city, but it doesn’t exempt us at all,” said Father John Yockey of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Oconomowoc, Wis., where a drop in weekly donations has left the church $65,000 in the red.
For Sunday night services of The Wilderness, the high-vaulted ceiling of St. John's Episcopal Cathedral shimmers with purple and green light effects, like an indoor aurora borealis.
Below, dozens of candles flicker near icons in the dark nave. Incense hangs in the air. Congregants can choose to sit in a pew or on thick cushions at the foot of a simple altar. A stringed Moroccan oud gives even traditional songs of praise an exotic twist, but there is also world music, chant and jazz.
"We're using the cathedral in new ways, making it more inviting and even sensual," said the Rev. Peter Eaton. "It's meant to celebrate and bring alive all the human senses. We think that, in metro Denver, there is nothing else like us."
Like Episcopal parishes across the nation, the attendance is dwindling at the cathedral, and Eaton hopes The Wilderness is the ticket for uninspired Protestants, disaffected Catholics and other spiritual seekers who want a more mystical and meditative feeling than what big-box churches or traditional Protestant services provide. "We have what everybody else is wanting," said Eaton, St. John's dean and rector. "We have the theological depth and breadth of a 2,000-year-old spiritual tradition. . . . Yet we also have exploration of new language and religious experience."