Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bishops Brainstorm to Reach Unchurched

A group of bishops and church growth specialists, writers and consultants gathered in Chicago April 28-29 to explore paths for developing a revitalized church, one more attuned to post-modern sensibilities, and more nimble in developing new leaders and responding to evangelism opportunities.

The group identified places where revitalization work is showing promise, structures and systems that hinder such work, and actions at the diocesan level that could move this work forward. Out of the discussion the group drafted a presentation plan for the House of Bishops’ 2010 spring retreat.
In a paper prepared for the meeting, author and church development visionary Brian McLaren contended that The Episcopal Church is uniquely situated—theologically, liturgically and spiritually—to be a gateway for non-churched and de-churched spiritual seekers.

This is not the first time that Mr. McLaren has singled out Anglican churches as perhaps best suited for worldwide evangelism in the 21st century. During his plenary address to bishops and spouses at the Lambeth Conference in July, he said the Anglican Communion, with its worldwide network of episcopally led, locally governed churches, is the prime candidate to bring culturally divergent people into a closer relationship with a church community.

But if that opportunity is to be grasped, he said this week, bold and critical action is needed by a cohort of creative and courageous bishops. These bishops must create “a zone of innovation and empowerment, a zone in which creative young and emerging leaders can be supported to plant new faith communities relevant to the needs of young adults.” Such a move, Mr. McLaren said, could do for the 21st century Episcopal Church what the Church of England failed to do for the followers of John Wesley in the 19th century.

The rest here-

In Egypt's Nile Delta, Christian Doctors Run Hospital for Muslim Patients

Tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt often make headlines. The Christian minority is said to comprise 10 percent of the country's population. But the work of a group of Christian doctors paints a more upbeat picture of coexistence. The doctors run a hospital for mostly Muslim patients in Egypt's heartland, the Nile Delta town of Menouf.

The afternoon call to prayer permeates the predominantly Muslim Nile Delta town of Menouf as doctors examine patients at Harpur Memorial Hospital run by the Anglican diocese of North Africa.

Unlike most hospitals in Egypt, Harpur receives no money from the government and its staff of mostly Christian doctors works beyond the call of duty, caring for the hospital's primarily Muslim clientele.


Anglican Bishop Mouneer Anis oversees the hospital. He says the doctors here are applying the Christian teaching of compassion. "In a way it gives us opportunity for us as Christians to serve our neighbor, the Muslims here," he said. "And to love them, real love, genuine love. Not just a love with hidden agendas. But a real love."

More here-

Church and lawyers differ on polygamy clause

Kenya church leaders and lawyers have expressed varied views about the draft Bill on gender and marriage.

The Anglican Church maintained a big No to its proposal to recognise polygamous and “come we stay” marriages.

The church’s provincial secretary, Bishop Lawrence Dena, said a man should only have one wife. “The church’s position remains the same, that man shall only have one wife,” said Bishop Dena.

He also opposed the clause that presumes marriage for a man and a woman who have lived together under the “come-we-stay” arrangement for at least two years.

Among the highlights of the draft Bill that are likely to trigger debate among Kenyans is a provision that allows either party to declare, at the time of marriage, that they will in future consider polygamy.

Currently, both Christian and civil marriages, under the Marriage Act, prohibit either party from re-marrying without dissolving the first marriage.

More here-

The Rev. Peter Toon, priest and theologian, dies at 69

The Rev. Peter Toon, president emeritus of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A., died April 25 in San Diego. He was 69. Toon suffered from amyloidosis, a rare protein disorder.

Toon was best known as a vocal and prolific defender of Anglican Reformation theology and the traditional Book of Common Prayer; he wrote and published more than 25 books, numerous essays and articles, and frequently wrote opinion pieces on the Internet. He was the former president and CEO of the Philadelphia-based Prayer Book Society, which focuses on maintaining the Anglican tradition of common prayer and promoting the use and understanding of the traditional books of common prayer. (The Prayer Book Society considers the 1928 Book of Common Prayer the last genuine publication of the prayer book in America.)

He was a graduate of King's College, London, and Christ Church, Oxford, and was ordained in the Church of England in 1973. In addition to being a parish priest, Toon taught theology in both England and the United States, and was also a visiting professor and guest lecturer at various seminaries and universities in Asia, Europe and Australia. He edited the monthly parish magazine Home Words in England from 1985-2001 and The Mandate, the Prayer Book Society newsletter, from 1995 to 2008.

Toon was born in Yorkshire, England. He is survived by Vita, his wife of 47 years, and their daughter Deborah, who lives in California. A service was held for the family based on the classic Book of Common Prayer, according to the society’s website.

St. Louis churches confront first swine flu weekend

The Episcopal Church has posted two educational resources online, "What is Swine Flu?" and "Planning for Pandemic Influenza." Bishop George Wayne Smith, leader of 14,000 members of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, said he expected church leaders "to use pastoral sense," and had not contacted them with any directives about what to do, or not to do, this weekend.

"If the situation worsens and this threatens us locally, I will be in direct contact with our congregations," Smith said.

Sherry Habben, director of connectional ministries for the the United Methodist Church's Missouri Conference, said leaders will leave it up to the state's 850 churches to decide what precautions to take.

"We have not officially put an alert out there," Habben said. "We would have to confer with some of our health personnel and health wards, and if anything it would be more of a suggestion at that point, rather than something we'd force them to do."

The Rev. Linda Harris, senior pastor of University United Methodist Church in University City, said she had no plans to worship differently this weekend. "At this point, it will be a normal Sunday," she said. "Obviously if there's an outbreak in St. Louis, we'd be thinking differently about what precautions to take. But we're not there yet and we don't want to worry people."

More here-

Members of Anglican Consultative Council prepare for meeting

From Episcopal Life Online-

Hopes for renewing relationships and recommitting to common mission ran high May 1 as members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) began gathering here for their twelve-day meeting.
Diocese of Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga, who represents the Province of Central Africa, told ENS May 1 that he hopes that this 14th meeting of the ACC will mean "a recommitment to each other as we meet again and, of course, welcome those that are coming for the first time. Fellowship is important. My hope is that we will truly have fellowship and therefore a helpful interaction."

Canon Elizabeth Paver, one of the Church of England's ACC members, referring to conflicts about homosexuality and other theological differences, said in an interview that while "many things within the communion seem to be dividing us," the meeting is "our opportunity to say that there's huge possibility of a positive way forward to bring people together, rather than to divide them."

The outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus in Mexico has prevented Sarai Osnaya-Jimenez from attending the meeting as the only representative of La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico. The Ven. Paul Feheley, ACC media relations officer, said that Osnaya-Jimenez withdrew over her concern about the spread of the virus.

She is among nine of the ACC's 82 delegates who will not attend, for various reasons. Visas are still pending for three other participants.

The ACC is the Anglican Communion's most representative decision-making body and includes bishops, clergy and laity. It makes policy, approves the Anglican Communion Office's budget and guides the communion agenda for mission and ministry.

While it has no jurisdiction over the 38 individual provinces of the communion, its constitution says that among the council's duties is a mandate "to develop as far as possible agreed Anglican policies in the world mission of the church and to encourage national and regional churches to engage together in developing and implementing such policies by sharing their resources of manpower, money, and experience to the best advantage of all."

More here-

Pa. church fights to keep disputed property

PHILADELPHIA - An Episcopal church in suburban Philadelphia is fighting to keep its priest and its property in a legal battle with the Pennsylvania diocese.

Attorneys for the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont say a civil courtroom is not the proper venue to mediate a religious dispute.

The diocese filed a petition in Montgomery County Orphans Court in February seeking to remove the Rev. David Moyer and take ownership of the property.

Moyer was defrocked in 2002 over a religious rift. Yet he has refused to leave the rectory, and Good Shepherd continues to pay his salary.

The diocese argues that Good Shepherd has effectively left the Episcopal flock, but church attorneys say in documents filed Thursday that no formal action has been taken.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pope’s words fall short

WHAT can be said of Pope Benedict XVI’s failure this week to formally apologize, on behalf of the Catholic Church, for its role in the suffering of thousands of Canadian native children who were physically and sexually abused at church-run, state-supported residential schools for almost a century?

First, there’s no question Pope Benedict’s words of sorrow, anguish and acknowledgement of the unacceptable nature of what happened – offered when he met former students and victims, including Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, at the Vatican on Wednesday – are welcome indeed.

To Mr. Fontaine, the fact the word "apology" was not used by the Pope did not lessen the significance of what happened.

"We are very pleased with what we heard from His Holiness," said Mr. Fontaine.

"He made it very clear that it’s intolerable and unacceptable to have abuse in its many forms perpetrated on innocent children. He talked about the anguish," said Mr. Fontaine. "In my view, it was a very important statement."

For some survivors, however, the absence of that particular word – "apology" – marred what should have been a day to finally close the door on the past.

"You can’t forgive when somebody hasn’t apologized," said Doreen Bernard of Indian Brook. Ms. Bernard attended a residential school for more than six years in the 1960s, and her parents’ and grandparents’ generations were also sent to the schools. Ms. Bernard pointed out that the Pope, in the past, has apologized for church involvement in physical and sexual abuses of children in other countries.

More here-

Woman admits embezzling thousands from Va church

ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (AP) - A former secretary has admitted embezzling more than $300,000 from a Smithfield church.

Debra Lee Epps pleaded guilty Thursday in Wight Circuit Court to eight counts of embezzlement and one count each of forging and uttering checks. The 51-year-old Epps apologized to the congregation of Christ Episcopal Church.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer says Epps took the money over a 10-year period beginning in 1998.

Farmer says Epps told investigators she used the money to pay school tuition and credit card debt, and to pay for horseback riding lessons and her family’s annual trip to Florida.

Epps faces up to 180 years in prison when she’s sentenced July 7.

Financial executive supported job training, church

Very few people have affected my life like Toby did. I will miss him very much.

Toby Biddle helped many achieve their visionary projects -- such as reaching out to Bill Strickland and his Bidwell Training Center in Manchester -- which changed Western Pennsylvania for the better.

The Very Rev. George L.W. Werner, dean emeritus of Trinity (Episcopal) Cathedral, Downtown, said Mr. Biddle was among the individuals who was able to provide Strickland with necessary funding to continue his work when he faced financial problems.

Livingston L. "Toby" Biddle III of Ligonier and Boca Grande, Fla., retired executive vice president of Parker/Hunter Inc., died on Sunday, April 26, 2009, in his home. He was 82.

"My father understood the necessity of gainful employment for those who didn't have the means or the contacts for obtaining an education," said Nick Biddle of Bend, Ore.

"Dad felt the training at Bidwell was a positive step for men and women to enable themselves to pull up their bootstraps and become successful citizens of a community, much as he did in his youth," his son added.

"Dad loved this country and enlisted in the Marines in 1943, after he graduated from Woodberry Academy in Warrenton, Va. And although he spent the war as an MP in Hawaii, he was proud to have served when his country needed him."

By working, and with the help of the GI Bill, Mr. Livingston, upon being discharged from the Marines in 1946, earned his degree from the University of Virginia.

More here-

Swine Flu at Church: Fear Not?

From the Washington Post-

Clay Morris, the Episcopal Church USA's program officer for worship and spirituality, said research shows that the practice of sharing the common cup at Eucharist generally carries a very low risk of infection. But the practice of dipping the wafer, called intinction, may carry a higher risk since fingers are also often dipped into the wine.

So far, the best and most faithful advice I've seen comes from Rev. Diana Holbert, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in East Dallas. Wednesday, she sent church members an email with these words of counsel:

"1. If you are coughing or sneezing, it's probably a good idea to stay home. Let us know and we'll send you a cassette tape of the service if you like!" says the pastor.

"2. If you are well, I encourage you to come together to worship and to pray for those who are sick or panicked."

She said she planned to preach this Sunday on the 23rd Psalm ("The Lord is my shepherd...") "Let's take a deeper look at what Psalm 23 has to say to us today. It may just be what the Doctor ordered," she wrote.

"Breathe peace, not germs."

More here-

Poor countries not prepared for swine flu

In Mexico City, churches suspended their services on Sunday and for the first time in almost 160 years a statue of the Christ of Health was carried through the streets. Mexico’s bishops have called on people to show their solidarity with those infected with the virus and not to panic.

There are five confirmed cases of the virus in the UK so far. The Government said it has enough antivirals for 33 million people but is looking to increase that amount as well as stock more face masks.

The Catholic Diocese of Lancashire is considering whether to halt Holy Communion and Mass at its churches in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has stipulated that an emergency plan made during the bird flu outbreak three years ago will be updated and sent to priests.

With the spread of the virus to the USA, the Episcopal Church there is providing information about how to prepare for a pandemic, as well as advice on pastoral care, liturgy and spiritual practice.

Abigail Nelson, from the Episcopal Relief and Development Agency, said, “It is our hope that by pre-paring for the possibility of an influenza pandemic, the Episcopal community will be better able to protect each other and serve those in need,” reports Church Times.

Included in the guidance is advice that groups consider whether their usual activities might contribute to the spread of the disease.

The rest is here-

New Archbishop-elect of Kenya is a ‘spiritual reconciler’

From the Church Times-

ONE of the six Kenyan bishops who attended the Lambeth Conference, as well as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem last year, has been elected Archbishop of Kenya.

He is Dr Eliud Wabukala, who is 58, has been Bishop of Bungoma since in 1996, and chairs the National Council of Churches of Kenya. Bungoma has a diocesan link with Peterborough. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Ian Cundy, described Dr Wabukala on Tuesday as “a reconciler both politically in the country and within the House of Bishops”. He succeeds Arch bishop Benjamin Nzimbi.
Thousands of Christians are re ported to have thronged the streets of Bungoma to welcome the Archbishop-elect on his return home from the election. The election process at All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi last Friday was described by the local press as “peaceful, joyous and orderly”.

In his acceptance speech, Bishop Wabukala urged political leaders to put aside divisive politics and work on developmental issues that would benefit all Kenyans. Kenya is still in crisis after the disputed election of President Kibaki in December 2007. Bishops and others at a provincial meeting of the Anglican Church of Kenya in February were outspoken about government corruption, moral decadence, and a self-inflicted lack of food security.

The National Council of Churches was even more trenchant in a press release it issued in March. It described government ministers as spending their time quarrelling about peripheral issues and “pea cocking around their country”; the President as “moribund”; and the Prime Minister as “ineffectual”. It urged reform of the judiciary, and prosecution of the perpetrators of the post-election violence.

More here-

Dallas Church Plans Prayer for ACC

The Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, is organizing a prayer vigil to coincide with the May 1-13 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Jamaica.

The foremost items on the agenda for the ACC meeting will be consideration of a proposed Anglican Covenant and reception of the final report of the Windsor Continuation Process. “Both of these documents are key to discerning a way forward for the Anglican Communion in light of recent stresses caused by differences over matters of human sexuality,” according to a recent media release by the Anglican Communion News Service.

In addition to having individuals pray at the parish during the times that the ACC will be in session, the parish is also encouraging individuals to volunteer to pray via the internet.

Organizers at Incarnation decided to create the prayer vigil after being challenged to do so by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of the Province of Kaduna in the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

“Let all Anglicans who believe in the power of prayers get to work,” Archbishop Fearon said. “My conviction is that our praying together is able to make [The Episcopal Church] and the Canadian [Church] part of our family discuss(ion) and (will help them) miraculously accept the proposed Covenant for the Communion. Nothing is beyond the Lord who owns his Church.”

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prince of Wales watches Christianity v Islam football game

From the London Times-

In the end it was the Hand of God that saved the Christians.

As the Prince of Wales, who would like one day to style himself Defender of Faith, moved towards the sidelines of the Christianity v Islam football tournament, the big German vicar Heribert Süttmann just managed to get his keeper’s glove to the ball and save the honour of the West.

“Quite a match,” the Prince said as he handed the gilded inter-faith cup to the captains of the Vicars and the Imams. The scoreless draw in the Berlin game was a triumph for the ecumenical movement and a relief for the Prince, who argues for mutual respect between competing faiths — but it was a close-run thing.

Before the game, staged in a scruffy stadium in the centre of the Turkish district of the German capital, the odds were strongly on the Muslims thrashing the Christians. Last year they won 9-0. This year they looked even slicker. “My God,” the Christian captain, the Rev Roland Herpich, said, “there are hundreds of them.”

It was seven-a-side but the Muslim clerics, wearing white shirts marked “Imam”, had brought along 15, a sign of how rapidly the Islamic community is expanding in the German capital. They were muscular, well-trained Turks, Tunisians and Egyptians, and as they rolled out their prayer mats in the changing room it was plain that they were counting on Allah.

More here-

New York Assistant Bishop to Retire

The Rt. Rev. E. Don Taylor, assistant Bishop of New York, will retire in early June to assume a new assignment as rector of the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle in Kingston, Jamaica. The parish’s church committee requested that the Bishop of Jamaica invite Bishop Taylor to return to the city of his birth.

After completing his bachelor's degree in history at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, he was among the first class of students to participate in the newly established Toronto School of Theology, graduating in 1970 with the S.T.M. Degree. After serving for a time as headmaster of his alma mater, Kingston College, he served parishes in the dioceses of Western New York and Atlanta until he was elected Bishop of the Virgin Islands in 1986.

Bishop Taylor made evangelism a priority, and worked to unify the far-flung parishes of the diocese by establishing a diocesan radio station. In 1994, Bishop Richard Grein invited him to serve as an assistant Bishop in New York. He now holds the title of Vicar Bishop of New York City.

“I have spent a lot of time with people, clergy and lay, during times of joy and difficulty,” Bishop Taylor said on the diocese’s website. “This has been an intentional ministry and what I am most happy about. Another is the education of laity for ministry. I have been training lay ministers—wardens, vestry members, catechists, Sunday school teachers. There's hardly a Saturday when I am not teaching.”

A Mass to mark the conclusion of Bishop Taylor’s pastoral ministry in New York will be celebrated May 16 at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

Anglican presence in Burundi makes a difference

From Canada-

“I WANT TO tell you how I lost my arms.”

That is the opening line of a feature article on page 1, and the words are spoken by Francine Nijimbere, a 26-year-old mother living in Burundi. Her story is both alarming and tragic, almost incomprehensible to our Western sensibilities.

Anglican Journal staff writer Marites Sison spent time visiting Burundi, accompanying a delegation from the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). Her stories and photographs appeared in the April Journal, on the Journal Web site, and will conclude with this edition.

This isn’t, however, an editorial about the 13 years of civil war in Burundi nor of the brutality that has claimed thousands of lives. This editorial is about the Anglican church’s response to Burundi and the other “Burundis” in the world.

Amazingly, most of the pictures of the women, men and children who welcomed Archbishop Fred Hiltz, PWRDF director Cheryl Curtis and others consist of joy-filled, life-loving, God-glorifying faces. One would expect faces that reflect despair amid a life of poverty; hopelessness in a world filled with HIV-AIDS; anger in the daily reality of violence against women.

The rest-

Churches struggle with recession

During tough economic times, many people turn to churches for support and guidance.

With the country in the worst recession since the Great Depression, area churches are feeling the effects in different ways, from cutting back on expenses to trying to offer help and comfort to those in need.

First Parish Senior Minister John Gibbons has heard cries for help from parishioners.
“Anxiety has increased dramatically over the last several months,” said Gibbons. “We certainly have people on edge and some have already lost their jobs. Many people are scared and apprehensive about the future.”

While some churches may not be affected by the struggling economy, Gibbons says that isn’t the case at First Parish.

“We have been trimming costs where we can,” said Gibbons. “During the winter we kept the building cooler in order to conserve energy.”

How has the economy affected the offerings that the church receives on a regular basis?
“There are some people that can’t contribute to the church and we understand that,” said Gibbons. “There are also people that have been extra generous in order to try and help other individuals. We have also been donating half of the offering to the Habitat for Humanity once a month.”

In an attempt to try and help people, First Parish recently started a new support group called New Yous.

More here-

Communion Partners push covenant actions

The spokesman for a group of Episcopal Church bishops and clergy who released an April 22 statement challenging the polity of the church pledged the group's commitment to remaining in the Episcopal Church, but said that his diocese would consider signing onto a proposed Anglican Covenant if General Convention did not agree to do so.

Meanwhile, an expert on Episcopal Church polity labeled as "bizarre" the idea that individual bishops or dioceses could take that step, and questioned what meaning it would have in the wider Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion.

Diocese of Western Louisiana Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson told ENS April 28 that "one common thing [the Communion Partners bishops and rectors who signed the statement] have, and this has been shared from the beginning with the Presiding Bishop, [is that] we are committed to remaining a part of the Episcopal Church as opposed to some of the other directions that have been taken by others."

MacPherson, who said he helped organize the crafting of the statement and is the group's spokesman, acknowledged that the Communion Partners and some clergy and lay people who left the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin and Quincy share "a concern for the constitution, the canons, the polity of the Episcopal Church being lived out in the manner they are designed to be by General Convention."

MacPherson said those concerns center on how the statement signers perceived the Episcopal Church's governance structure wielding power, including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's effort to reorganize the four dioceses which lost many of their clergy and laity, and her actions in removing some of bishops involved.

More here-

Houston gets its first local swine flu patient

Swine flu arrived in Houston Wednesday as a Fort Bend County teenage girl became the first local resident confirmed to have the disease and a 2-year-old Mexico City boy who fell ill in Brownsville and was taken to Texas Children’s Hospital became the disease’s first U.S. death.

The Fort Bend girl was treated over the weekend — she was not hospitalized — and has recovered, said Fort Bend County health department officials. She attends Episcopal High School in Bellaire, which announced Wednesday evening it will close starting today and at least through the weekend.


The girl, who has not been in school this week, was ready to go back when the CDC confirmed she had swine flu, said county health officials.

“I am pleased to say that this student is feeling better,” said Ned Smith, the head of Episcopal High, after talking with her by phone Wednesday evening. He said he did not know about any other suspected cases at the school, which has 659 students and 94 faculty members.

A letter to students and faculty on the school’s Web site said that the school will remain locked while closed and that administrators will share any new information as it becomes available.
“We will reopen the school as soon as we are advised by Harris County that it is appropriate to do so,” it adds.

More here-

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Signs, signs everywhere signs #18

Thanks to Lee Hicks who passed this along.

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Jamaica

The Archbishop of Canterbury is scheduled to arrive in Jamaica this afternoon for his first official visit to the island.

The Right Reverend Rowan Williams is expected to arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport approximately 3:35 p.m.

The Archbishop, who is the head of the worldwide family of 80 million Anglican and Episcopal members, will be presiding over the 14th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

The event takes place from May 2-12 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

About 150 delegates, including laity and clergy from 164 nations, will participate in the meetings.

The ACC meets every three years and its current policy is to meet in different parts of the world.

This is the council’s second meeting in the Caribbean since delegates gathered for the third ACC meeting in Trinidad in 1976.

Good Stuff in TEC: Virginia

Tornado Charities Raised More Money Than They Could Give Away

SUFFOLK - About a dozen charities raised more than $1.1 million dollars after the tornado, far more than they could give away, according to some of the groups.

NewsChannel 3 this week contacted seven charities who began collecting cash for those hardest hit a year ago. All but three said they had either given away the money, or had transferred funds to other charities. The remaining groups raised $114,000 more than they distributed, according to charity officials.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Main St. collected $120,000 and has $5,000 remaining in its tornado account. Church officials said the money was used to help congregation members who suffered losses.

The United Way of South Hampton Roads raised $635,000 according to a spokeswoman. Of that, about $17,600 remains. Charity officials said when Suffolk residents stopped applying for the money, organizers transferred the funds to a different account for future disasters. That money is no longer available for Suffolk tornado victims, a spokeswoman said.

The Suffolk Foundation gathered $189,000 and has the most money remaining. The charity's officials said $17,000 is still in the Tornado Relief Fund while another $75,000 has been transferred to other disaster-preparedness accounts. The transferred money could be sent back to the relief fund, according to Billy Hill, the foundation's executive director.

Also a video-,0,6917061.story

Miracle declared in cure of Mass. man

Miracle in Massachusetts.

A Marshfield man once debilitated by crippling spinal pain says he is now healed thanks to a miracle. And it seems the Catholic Church agrees. John Sullivan says he prayed to a renowned nineteenth century Catholic Cardinal and now is free of pain.

It's springtime and John Sullivan has been doing some gardening his little patch out back of his Marshfield, Mass home.

Sullivan is seventy years old, a native of South Boston. He says he briefly lost his Catholic faith in college, then came back to the Church, married, raised three children and worked all his life in the public sector.

Nine years ago, he decided he'd like to be a Deacon at his parish church in Pembroke, Mass. and began a lengthy course of theological studies.

Those studies were interrupted suddenly in early 2000 by crippling back pain. Doctors told him he had a serious spinal condition.

He faced either serious, risky surgery or the possibility of paralysis. He was depressed and frightened.

More including video here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Wisconsin

Loaves and Fishes fill in the gaps

Sunlight streams through stained glass illuminating an elegant dining room. Sinatra plays on the radio as the staff bustles to set tables with vibrant cloths and arrange sugar wafers for the afternoon service. The menu features a rustic shepherd’s pie topped with creamy potatoes, fresh coleslaw with a touch of raspberry vinaigrette, and a simple dessert of ice cream with a choice of bananas or mandarin oranges. The dress code is informal. As I escort one of the patrons toward the stairwell, he tugs on his collar, “Would you believe this shirt is 47 years old?”

The gentleman is a former serviceman and cancer survivor. His clothes are worn and he walks with a slight limp. There are hazy memories of Army days in the Southwest and more immediate worries about his health. On the first and third Saturday of each month he joins friends for the Loaves and Fishes free lunch provided by Trinity Episcopal Church for needy citizens of Oshkosh. The word “Arizona” is stitched above his breast pocket and he points to his chest, “I was stationed in Arizona. That’s where I bought this shirt 47 years ago.”

Reservations are not required, there is no identity check, and those who walk through the doors at 311 Division Street continue up the stairs to a great hall where they enjoy a homemade entrée, side dishes, hot coffee and sweets. For some, it will be the only meal of the day.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Tennessee

Episcopal Priest Helps Former Prostitutes Pen First Book

Becca Stevens may well be the fastest-talking woman in Tennessee. Although the Episcopal priest speaks with a gentle Southern accent, the velocity is rapid-fire New York, so it's no surprise to learn her parents hail from there. Tragically, her father—also a pastor—was killed by a drunk driver when Stevens was just five years old. That experience, she says, changed her life and made her more aware of the pain that women can feel. "We went from being this hopeful young family to looking for the Social Security check," she says. To add to her suffering, the senior warden of the church began sexually abusing her.

Today, however, Stevens has channeled that pain into a compassionate and unique ministry to women from the streets. In 1997, she founded Magdalene, a Nashville-based program for women with a history of prostitution and substance abuse. Most of those women, Stevens says, were physically and sexually abused as children. "Because women don't get to the streets by themselves—it takes all kinds of failed systems to get them there—they're not going to get off the streets by themselves. It takes a community to bring them back." Magdalene is that community, a two-year residential program that gives women job training, drug rehabilitation and a house of their own to live in. It has been so successful that there are now five houses in Nashville, two in Charleston, one in Chattanooga, and even one in Rwanda. Another is planned for Ecuador.

PENNSYLVANIA: Bishop Bennison wants new trial or charges dismissed

Claiming to have "over 200 letters" that prove Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison "was deceived and duped," the convicted bishop's attorneys have asked that the charges against him be dismissed, or that he get a new trial.
In February, the Court for the Trial of a Bishop issued its final judgment and sentence that Bennison should be deposed from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church for having engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.

Bennison, who has been inhibited or barred from exercising his ordained ministry since October 2007 when he was first ordered to stand trial, appealed his sentence of deposition in mid-March.

The appeal is due to be heard by the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop, which is essentially an appeals court. Canon IV.6 of the Episcopal Church's canons outlines the appeal process. The appeal court will not begin its process until the trial court rules on Bennison's latest motion.

The bishop, 65, was tried in June 2008 on charges that 35 years ago as rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Upland, California, he failed to respond properly after learning that his brother, John Bennison, a 24-year-old seminary student whom he had hired as youth minister, was "engaged in a sexually abusive and sexually exploitive relationship" with a 14-year-old parishioner. The abuse lasted for more than three years.

The rest-

CENTRAL NEW YORK: Departing parishioners not entitled to bequest

A New York state trial court justice has ruled that members of Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton who left the Episcopal Church over theological differences are not entitled to keep a 1986 bequest of jewels and money.

Justice Ferris D. Lebous had ruled in January that Good Shepherd's property had been held in trust for the Diocese of Central New York and the entire Episcopal Church. The details of those rulings are available here. This part of the case dealt with a trust.

In his earlier ruling, Lebous had required the departing members to provide an accounting of the status of parish property. The diocese told the justice that some known property, including stock shares, was not produced. The justice found that no income had been flowing into the parish since April 2008.

Lebous found that "the parish was doing everything it could to spend down the assets, divert new income, and perhaps actively interfere with the diocese's right of ownership." He ruled that the diocese "has every right to conduct an investigation into the income and property of Good Shepherd."

The justice told the treasurer of the breakaway congregation and the Rev. Matthew Kennedy, the rector, that the investigation would begin with them being questioned within 45 days about what they had done with other church property.

“We are glad to know the judge was able to uphold how the church understands its own polity," Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams of Central New York told ENS in an emailed statement. "Although we are saddened by all that has occurred, we are glad it is moving towards final resolution in order that we may place all of our energy on our central work of the good news of the Gospel of Christ. We also appreciate the court’s expression of concern regarding Good Shepherd’s accounting, both financial and of other items, and its directive for further questioning into the usage of such funds."

More here-

Congo elects Henri Isingoma as primate

The Anglican Church of the Congo has elected Bishop Henri Kahwa Isingoma of the Diocese of Boga as its next primate, or national bishop.
Isingoma will succeed Archbishop Fidèle Dirokpa, who has served as primate of the French-speaking province since 2003. A date has not yet been set for Dirokpa's retirement or Isingoma's enthronement.

Isingoma was elected during an April 28 bishops' retreat in Goma out of a field of two nominees. He received four of the seven votes cast in a secret ballot.

The other candidate was Bishop Masimango of Kindu, who also serves as dean of the province.

Isingoma is married to Mugisha. They have six grown children and one grandchild.

Isingoma became bishop of Boga in April 2007 after having previously served as bishop of Katanga. He is a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, the most representative policy-making body in the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican presence in the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, was established by Ugandan evangelist Apolo Kivebulaya in 1896. Following independence in 1960, the church expanded and formed dioceses as part of the Province of Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Boa-Zaire. The new province was inaugurated in 1992 and changed its name in 1997.

The civil war and ethnic strife in the Congo has claimed four million lives since 1994 and is widely recognized as the bloodiest conflict since World War II.

Today, a lack of resources in the Congo prevents the Anglican province from being financially self-supporting, and many of the church's clergy and bishops are unpaid.

In light of swine flu outbreak, churches consider procedures

From Episcopal Life Online-

As health officials around the world monitor an outbreak of swine flu that has killed more then 150 people in Mexico and spread to six other countries, Episcopal churches are examining liturgical practices and reviewing emergency plans.
"Swine flu is currently being handled by the health authorities. We are, however, prepared to respond through our church networks should we be needed," said Abagail Nelson, senior vice president for programs at the New York headquarters of Episcopal Relief and Development, the church's disaster-relief and economic-development agency.

About 1,600 people have been sickened in Mexico and 50 cases have been reported so far in the United States, but no deaths. After the outbreak was confirmed on April 24, a number of churches in Mexico City on Sunday, April 26 canceled services.

Information about preparing for a potential pandemic influenza outbreak is available on Episcopal Relief and Development's website here. The site carries a list of questions and answers about pandemic influenza and contains links to information and resources for church people in the areas of preparation, care-giving, liturgy and spiritual practice.

"It is our hope that by preparing for the possibility of an influenza pandemic, the Episcopal community will be better able to protect each other and serve those in need," said Nelson in an statement.

In Denver, the Diocese of Colorado sent its clergy a brochure from the Northeast Colorado Health Department with advice about preparing an emergency kit, disease prevention and web links and phone numbers for further information.

The Diocese of Texas distributed an information sheet for churches to give to parishioners at Sunday services. The dioceses in the Episcopal Church's Province IV, which includes the U.S. southeast states, recently released a disaster preparedness plan that includes disease pandemics.

More here-

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fifty refugee families will receive support from PWRDF and federal government

Good stuff from Canada

As celebrations of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s 50th anniversary get under way, PWRDF representatives and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, met with Jason Kenney, minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, to discuss the federal government’s support for one of PWRDF’s anniversary programs that will help parishes and dioceses across the country sponsor 50 refugee families.

PWRDF is providing about $2,000 for each family sponsored by a parish, and the federal agreement has agreed to match those funds. The exact amount will be pro-rated depending on the size of the family, says Carolyn Vanderlip, PWRDF’s 50th anniversary facilitator. “A larger family obviously is going to require more financial support, but it averages to $2,000 per family,” she said. Combined with the matching government funds, Ms. Vanderlip says the money should provide about three months of income support to each family.

PWRDF invited Mr. Kenney to come to General Synod offices in Toronto on April 24. “We want to establish a positive working relationship with the minister,” said Ms. Vanderlip.


Solomon Islands to reconcile?

SOLOMON Islands, wracked for five years by internal strife that saw hundreds killed and at least 20,000 driven from their homes, is launching a national reconciliation process with the help of South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tutu opens the South Pacific nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Wednesday - six years after Australian-led peacekeeping troops and police arrived in the troubled islands to help restore civic order.

Prime Minister Derek Sikua said Tutu's presence would inspire Solomon Islanders to help to heal old wounds caused by the violence and civil unrest.

The commission, made up of three eminent Solomon Islanders and two international members, is expected to sit for a year, with a provision to extend it for another year.

'It represents a turning point in our efforts to move away from bitterness and resentment, and to create a shared future as a unified nation,' PM Sikua said on Tuesday.

The retired archbishop Tutu is deeply revered in the largely Anglican South Pacific state, both for his role in chairing South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and for his commitment to promoting human rights and opposing racism.

The hundreds of troops and police of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands have provided security for villagers to return to their homes and resume normal lives.

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Bishop makes case against kidnapping

Igbo leaders have been reminded that fleeing their ancestral homes is not the best way to tackle the scourge of kidnapping in the land and neither is the situation going to be made any better by having police escort.
The Anglican Bishop of Okigwe Diocese, Dr. Edward Osuegbu, who stated in an interview with Vanguard in Owerri, urged Ndigbo to find a lasting solution to the problem of kidnapping and other crimes militating against the welfare of the citizens and development of the area.

“It is no longer news that while many prominent Igbo sons and daughters now fear to come home, others have sent their children overseas and to neighbouring African countries”, he said with grief.

While condemning kidnapping in very strong terms, the Anglican cleric however, blamed the crime on crave for material wealth and lack of the fear of God.

“Let me use this opportunity to plead with our public office holders and wealthy people in our midst to please stop exhibiting their wealth carelessly. Such acts send the wrong signals, especially to fickle minded individuals”, he pleaded.

On the proliferation of churches, Dr. Osuegbu lamented that people now run churches as business concerns, because of the level of joblessness in the land, pointing out that gullible people run to them because they promise instant miracles, security, prosperity, easy marriage and every imaginable thing under the sun.

More here-

Former parishioner invaded minister's house, court told

A woman accused of a ''bizarre'' Sunday afternoon attack on an Anglican minister and his family in Canberra's north was overpowered by her intended victims, the
ACT Magistrates Court was told yesterday.

The court was told that 32-year-old Nadine Busacker was trying to rob the clergyman of the church collection when she allegedly staged a daylight invasion on the Kaleen home demanding the ''day's takings''.

Constable Christopher Carter said that Busacker was armed with a knife and a toy gun and had a bandanna tied across her face when she arrived at the Reverend Stephen Simkus's home just after lunchtime on Sunday.

Mr Simkus, the minister of nearby St Simon's Anglican Church, was at home with his wife Robyn, his son David and his nine-year-old grandson when police allege that Busacker, a former member of their congregation, came knocking on their door.

Police allege that when Mrs Simkus opened the door about 12.45pm, she was confronted by the masked Busacker who grabbed the 60-year-old grandmother by the wrist and forced her back inside. According to Constable Carter, Busacker then demanded money from the stunned family. ''Give me the day's takings,'' she is alleged to have said.

The rest-

New Kenyan archbishop will 'keep stand' against same-sex unions

Eliud Wabukala of Bungoma, who becomes the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya in July, will not likely reverse his predecessor’s opposition to same-sex unions.

This is the view of bishops and church leaders who spoke to Ecumenical News International after Wabukala was on April 24 elected to replace Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, who retires on June 30.

"We know there are challenges of building bridges among our communities, reconciling and healing the people. That's basically what I will do," said Wabukala, adding he would ensure that God's word is preached, taught and lived out. "I want to thank the electoral college for a very peaceful election and for maintaining the dignity of this church," he told journalists after his election.

In an interview with Canada's Anglican Journal published on April 26, Nzimbi had said, "When we talk about same-sex unions, it is to us a big challenge because missionaries, when they came here, taught us that we can't change the word of God … We never knew that something that we're hearing now would happen."

More here-

Why diocese is reluctant to let go of new ACK head

Although St Crispin’s ACK Church Bungoma Diocese would have loved to see Dr Eliud Wabukala continue serving them as bishop, they nonetheless had to contend with the reality of the departure of a man who has been like a father for 13 years.

New ACK head asks leaders to mend rift
But he had to leave, following his election as Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

Rev George W. Mechumo, the administrative secretary, ACK Bungoma Diocese, says it was after the arrival of Bishop Wabukala in 1996 that Bungoma earned national recognition.

It was through the bishop’s efforts that Bungoma became a diocese, hived out of Nambale.

As bishop, he trained 89 priests up from just 19, whom he found. He further ordained 51 parishes.

Fifty-six primary schools were set up under his tenure, up from 36. He also helped to establish four secondary schools, making them eight.

Besides, he initiated the Wycliffe Centre for Theology and Mission and Development in Bungoma, an affiliate of St Paul’s Theological College, Limuru.

Eight medical clinics were set up.

“Many of these projects got funding from Peterborough in England, an indicator that the bishop could create links,” said Rev Mechumo, adding that the greatest challenge Bishop Wabukala had to contend with was lack of training among the clergy.

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The Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt: Statement on the Consent Process in the Episcopal Election in the Diocese of Northern Michigan

The process of consent to an episcopal election does not always generate a great deal of interest in the Episcopal Church, but it has done so in the case of the Rev’d Kevin Thew Forrester, bishop-elect in the Diocese of Northern Michigan. The process for election of a bishop in this case requires consents from a majority of bishops and Standing Committees in the various dioceses of the Episcopal Church before a bishop is consecrated. This is one of the many ways in which we are reminded that our obligations to each other go beyond the local Church.

I voted against consent to his election. Hesitations have been expressed in many quarters on a number of grounds. Decisive for me has been the fact that the Rev’d Thew Forrester has used liturgies not authorized for use in the Episcopal Church, on a regular and ongoing basis. The permission of one’s bishop is beside the point. No bishop of the Episcopal Church is able to authorize liturgies for use in our Church, as alternatives to the regularly appointed services, that have not been approved by the General Convention as supplements to our Prayer Book liturgies. Certainly no individual priest or vestry is able to do so. The clergy of the Episcopal Church are not free to use in church other Anglican liturgical formularies, including those authorized in other provinces of the Communion, or liturgical resources from other traditions, except within the limits set forth in our own Prayer Book. These limits have not been observed by Thew Forrester.

This discipline of the Church may be thought too narrow or unsuitable to our own age. Yet it is the order we have. The theologically inadequate baptismal rite used at St Paul’s Church, Marquette, under the aegis of Thew Forrester, is a reminder of why individuals are not allowed to write their own liturgies. Liturgies which are formulated around idiosyncratic statements of what we are renouncing and exactly what we are embracing beg the question of what community we are being initiated into, and whose disciples we have become. If there is a moment for liturgical and theological clarity, Holy Baptism is it.

More here-

Americans not losing their religion, but changing it often

Ingrid Case was a devoted church-goer as a child, not only attending Sunday school, but also serving as an acolyte at her Episcopalian church in Greeley, Colorado.

"Basically, it's the priest's assistant," she explained. "You carry a cross in front of them, get the things they need to perform the service, scurrying around doing what they need."

But after college, Case drifted away. She didn't feel like she fit in socially at the Episcopalian church in Princeton, New Jersey, and found herself uncomfortable with some of its theology.

"I began to see there were some things I wasn't able to get on board with fully. I don't like the traditional Episcopalian focus on the afterlife," she said.

Today she's a Quaker.

She got involved with the Society of Friends, as the denomination is formally known, through the man who later became her husband, Nat Case. He wasn't raised a Quaker either, she said, though he went to a Quaker-run boarding school as a child.

Her shift in religion was gradual, said Case, 41, a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"It wasn't so much 'You people stink and I am out of here,' as 'I like this better and this is what I want to do.' "

More here-

and here-,0,689954.story

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rwandan Reconciliation

Bishop John Rucyahana is an old and dear friend. Our parish has actively supported his work and I had the privilege of visiting in 200o during the sixth anniversary of the genocide. This is a Religion and Ethics interview from earlier in the month.

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: We have a moving story today on reconciliation in Rwanda. In 1994, for 100 days while the world looked away, one group slaughtered another at the rate of 10,000 a day. This Spring for another 100 days Rwandans are reliving what happened with public trials and the unearthing of mass graves. There is also repentance, forgiveness, and hope. Lucky Severson reports on Rwanda’s recovery and one of the remarkable men who’s helping lead it.

LUCKY SEVERSON: The dormant volcanoes that loom over the hazy Rwandan countryside can erupt as suddenly and violently as the country itself did 15 years ago. Over a million Rwandans, about an eighth of the population, were massacred in one of the worst cases of genocide in recent history. Then the volcanoes were silent, and it seemed that only the gorillas that live alongside of them were safe from slaughter.

Today Rwanda is a much different place thanks, in part, to this man—Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana

Bishop JOHN RUCYAHANA (Chairman, Prison Fellowship Rwanda): People are smiling because they have the hope, but the wounds and the healing is a process that we’ll continue to engage deliberately to tell people that they just can’t cover it up. We need to be able to unearth it and deal with it head on.

SEVERSON: That’s what the bishop has been preaching from the pulpit of his beautiful church in northern Rwanda since the killing stopped: deal with it head on. And it was personal for him. How could it not be after so many members of his extended family were murdered, including his niece?

Bishop RUCYAHANA: I have forgiven those who killed my niece, and they peeled off the flesh off her arms to the wrist, and they left bare bones, and they gang-raped her, and I forgive them because forgiving is not only benefiting the criminal, it benefits me.

SEVERSON: There are still tens of thousands of people convicted of genocide in Rwandan prisons, but as many as 30,000 have been released back to their communities through a restorative justice program that Bishop John chairs called Prison Fellowship Rwanda. These criminals, shown in a Prison Fellowship video, killed their neighbors and even there friends.

The rest is here-

Successful youth vocations conference continues on Facebook

Eighteen would-be priests aged 16 to 19 attending the Church of England’s first specially organised vocations conference for young people in more than 30 years are to continue meeting on Facebook as they listen to their calling. The conference was held at Westcott House and Ridley Hall theological colleges in Cambridge on 17th-19th April, 2009

As well as offering engaging talks from priests serving in the Church, the Call Waiting… Conference 2009 offered a chance to ‘grill’ an ordinand as a group, and spend a time in reflection and prayer at Stations of the Resurrection.

Eight ordinands were on hand from Ridley Hall and Westcott House colleges to offer one-to-ones on what it is like to train to be a Church of England priest.

The young people also worshipped together at choral evensong at which a choir of 16 choral scholars performed a work by Thomas Tallis.

They intend to continue the conference online, having set up a group on Facebook, to encourage one another to listen to their ‘calling'.

Revd Jules Cave Bergquist of Ministry Division said: “It was a fabulous weekend for everyone involved. The young people showed just that sort of enthusiasm, vitality and ‘can-do’ attitude that we need from young people in any ministry within the Church. Now it’s over to the dioceses to set-up appropriate was of encouraging, nurturing and discerning vocations amongst young people.”

The prince, the pope, and the women

From te London Guardian-

Prince Charles's meeting today with Pope Benedict XVI is a curious snapshot of the progress that women have made in the last 500 years. The most interesting detail here was not visible in the photographs, but mentioned in all the copy: it was the veil that the Duchess of Cornwall had to wear to meet the pope. Protocol demands it. The pope might now condescend to meet a couple married to each other only because their adulteries put an end to their previous marriages, but a woman received by him formally must still wear a token covering over her head and face.

The first divorce in the history of the Church of England could not be accounted a victory for the equal treatment of women. After he married Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII only left one of his discarded wives alive – Anne of Cleves. All the others who displeased him were not divorced but killed. Charles, his 14th great-grandson, treated his ex much better, if not entirely of his own free will – his better instincts had a lot of help from her divorce lawyers.

But Charles is also in the religion business, as the prospective Defender of Faith and supreme governor of the Church of England, and when he met the pope, there must have been some residual sense that they were both concerned with global forms of Christianity. In the pope's case this is actually true. The Catholic church is still a coherent global entity. The Anglican communion is not. Some of the reasons for this are political, in the sense that the Church of England only looked like a global phenomenon when England and her empire was one too.

More here-

Run for your wife: Couple marry while taking part in London Marathon

Rachel Pitt, 37, ran up the aisle with fiancée Garry Keates, 44, after taking a half-mile detour from the route to become the first couple to tie the knot in a Christian ceremony during the race.
The couple were among 35,000 runners battling warm temperatures of up to 68F (20C) over the 26.2 mile course.

The pair managed a quick wash before taking their vows at 3.15pm in front of 50 guests at St Bride's Church on Fleet Street. Mr Keates, a fireman, carried his bride over the line at 4.50pm, seven hours and five minutes after the start.

"It had been the best day of my life but I'll never do it again," said Miss Pitt, who flung her bouquet into the crowd after finishing.

Nell McAndrew, the model, was the first celebrity over the line, with a time of 3 hours, 10 minutes and 20 seconds, followed by former glamour model Katie Price, her husband Peter Andre, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and Keith Duffy of Irish band Boyzone.

Many competitors were dressed up for the race, which is expected to raise millions for charity. Paul Simons, 45, from Edgware, north London, set a new record for the fastest Father Christmas by finishing in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

More here-

A happy alliance: royal divorcees swap gifts with the Pope

From the London Times-

The Prince of Wales today presented his second wife to the Pope for the first time, at the start of a visit to Italy largely dedicated to climate change and sustainable agriculture.

The Duchess of Cornwall met Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff offered the couple a private audience at the Vatican. The royal couple arrived yesterday and are staying with President Napolitano at the Quirinal Palace, before travelling to Venice tomorrow and then to Germany.

Under Vatican protocol the Prince was expected to first hold talks with the Pope before being joined by the Duchess. However, the royal couple were received together for the 15-minute audience, with the Duchess wearing a black silk dress designed by Anna Valentine and a matching veil or mantilla. The prince also held talks with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, for over half an hour.

A Vatican communique said there had been "cordial discussions" and an "exchange of views" on "the human promotion and development of peoples, environmental protection and the importance of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for furthering peace and justice in the world".

The rest is here-

Post-Christian? Not even close.

From USA Today-

In the endless debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation, the "ayes" no longer seem to have it.

The "ayes" might have the 1892 Supreme Court ruling describing the United States as a "Christian nation," but the "nays" have the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797, which affirmed that "the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

Now comes President Obama, who in January in his inaugural address spoke of this country as "a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers." On April 6 in Turkey, Obama added that the United States "does not consider itself a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation" but "a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

One week later, in a mournful black-and-red cover reminiscent of Time magazine's 1966 "Is God Dead?" cover, Newsweek proclaimed "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." Setting off this alarm was the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), released in March by researchers at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. This survey of more than 50,000 American adults contains all sorts of interesting tidbits about the rapid growth of Islam in America, and the relative strength of new religious movements such as Wicca. It tells us that Pentecostals are more likely to be divorced than the average American, and that Mormons are far more likely to be married. But almost all the news coverage this survey has garnered, both at home and abroad, speaks of the gains of the religiously unattached (or "nones" as they are often called) at the expense of Christianity.

More here-

Caribbean meeting to discover third draft of covenant

The Anglican Consultative Council is to consider the third draft of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant when it meets in Kingston, Jamaica, this month (May).

The Covenant Design Group met under the chairmanship of the former Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, from 29 March to 2 April at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, to prepare a third draft of the covenant.

This draft follows a 12-month consultation requested by the joint standing committee of the ACC and the Primates since the production of the second, Saint Andrew’s, draft in February last year. The group worked with about 20 provincial responses to the St Andrew’s draft and also received many responses from individuals, diocesan synods and other institutions, including ecumenical partners.

The 14th meeting of the ACC will also consider reception of the final report of the Windsor Continuation Process. Both of these documents are regarded as critical to discerning a way forward for the Anglican Communion in light of recent stresses caused by differences over matters of human sexuality.

In a letter sent to all ACC members, Anglican Communion secretary-general Kenneth Kearon said: “Our 11 days together will provide an opportunity for us to engage with the Mission of the Anglican Communion through the work of its commissions, networks and working groups as well as experience something of the life and vitality of the local Anglican Church.”

Joyful return home for ACK Archbishop elect

Thousands of Christians and friends thronged the streets of Bungoma to welcome the Anglican Archbishop-elect Eliud Wabukala.

Dr Wabukala, elected on Friday takes over the church leadership from archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi who retires in June this year.

Dr Eliud Wabukala trounced three other contestants including Joseph Wasonga of Maseno West diocese, Samson Mwaluda of Taita Taveta diocese and Stephen Kewasis of Kitale diocese to become the fifth ACK Archbishop of the second largest Christian denomination in Kenya.

He won on a simple majority, after they all failed to garner the mandatory two thirds of the votes in a ceremony that lasted for over five hours at the All Saints Cathedral.

In his acceptance speech Wabukala urged political leaders to put aside divisive politics and work towards developmental issues that will benefit all Kenyans.

The new archbishop will formally assume leadership of the church upon being consecrated at the All Saints Cathedral on July5 , six days after Nzimbi officially retires, having attained 65 years of age.

He is expected to serve up to 2016 when he will attain the age of 65. Dr Wabukala has served as bishop for the last 13 years.

Good Stuf in TEC: Virginia

Richmond church group departs today for missionary work in Sudan

A five-member mission team from Richmond's St. James's Episcopal Church departs today for southern Sudan.

As they spend 12 days in the northeastern Africa country, the mission work they do complements that of the nonprofit group Hope for Humanity.

The missionaries from St. James's will help with projects around Hope and Resurrection Secondary School in the southern Sudan village of Atiaba, do some teaching at the school, and interview teachers and students at the school built with funds raised by Hope for Humanity.

The interviews "will connect the reality of what life is like for them to Richmond," said the Rev. Randy Hollerith, rector of St. James's. "It will bring the two places together."

While in Sudan, the mission group also will work with an interfaith program called "Pads for Power," which seeks to address the needs of adolescent and post-adolescent girls who may not have adequate hygiene products and have to miss a week or more of school each month.

More here-