From Maine, the Kennebec Journal updates us on the plan for former president George H. W. Bush to celebrate his 85th birthday with a parachute jump. According to the Journal, he's due to jump (tethered to a member of the U.S. Army "Golden Knights" parachute team), at 1 p.m. ET -- and it will take about seven minutes for them to come down from 13,000 feet.
They're due to land, the Journal says, in "the churchyard of St. Ann's Episcopal chapel in Kennebunkport."
In my consulting work with churches, time and again I see the cumulative impact of poor customer service:
---Parishioners who form tight circles.
---More attention paid to setting the table than to greeting guests.
---Fussy liturgy designed for insiders.
---Facilities with poor signage (or Web sites).
---Congregants fighting each other.
---Music that pleases only the trained musician.
---Clergy who don't call --- the list is long.
When I ask former congregants why they worship elsewhere or stay home on Sunday, that's the list they recite, detail by detail. Some were hurt, some were offended. Some said, "Who needs this?"
It wasn't doctrine or change that drove them away. In a world of many choices, the quest for faith simply won't tolerate poor customer service. People stay where they are treated well --- and leave where they aren't.
Pay attention to details, I tell church leaders. Look at how you respond to visitors, for example. Reconsider the maze you impose on anyone asking for care. Watch people's faces sag as they sit through worship. Don't let the prickly long-timer force you to stick with methods that clearly aren't working.
Be customer-driven, not provider-driven, I tell them. Visit a successful church and see lively gathering spaces, helpful signage, friendly greeters, cheerful atmosphere, worship designed to help people worship, leaders who are excited and not dodging bullets --- that list is long, too.
Alberto Cutié will tie the knot within weeks, say sources close to the former Roman Catholic priest who joined the Episcopal church in May.
Cutié and his fiancé, 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis, recently hired several off-duty police officers to work security at the high-profile private wedding, which will take place at an unnamed Episcopal church in the next two weeks.
The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, will officiate at the ceremony.
One church not on the wedding list: Miami's Trinity Cathedral, the diocese's flagship church and one that dozens of reporters flooded after Cutié and Canellis switched Christian denominations on May 28.
Cutié left his position at St. Francis de Sales Catholic church in Miami Beach when photographs showing him nuzzling Canellis on a Florida beach -- a violation of his vow of celibacy -- were published in a tabloid in early May.
St. Christopher's Episcopal Church holds first service
The final construction phase of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church astonishes Karen Poyser.
The chairwoman of the architectural committee for the Carmel church likes the 65-foot-tall ceiling and the painted ornamental trusses. She also likes the library with its bay window and French doors that open to a memorial garden. Stained-glass windows, she says, reflect a sense of history and a sense of place.
St. Christopher's Episcopal opened a new sanctuary and narthex Sunday at 1402 W. Main St. The opening celebrates 10 years of planning and hard work, Poyser said. "We were struggling with trying to balance a great vision with somewhat limited finances," she said. Building in three phases allowed the church to achieve its long-term goal without taking on huge debt.
Poyser called it fortunate that the design lent itself well to building in phases. The complex is divided into three functional elements: worship space, administration and education space and fellowship space.
The main entrance court has a soaring gable and a grand scale gothic portal. There is a separate drive-up entrance for accessibility needs and deliveries.
On Wednesday evenings this summer, Trinity Episcopal Church will offer a special series of seven lectures on Episcopal Church History by Dr. Edward L. Bond. They began on June 10 with a review of the Church of England in Colonial America and conclude on July 29 with an examination of the church in the early and mid-20th century.
Bond is widely recognized as one of the pre-eminent scholars of the Episcopal Church in early America. He holds degrees from The College of William and Mary, the University of Chicago, and Louisiana State University.
Bond is a professor of history at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Ala., and he teaches Episcopal Church History in the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. He also serves as editor of Anglican & Episcopal History, the quarterly journal of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. He and his wife Kathleen are parishioners of Trinity Church in Natchez.
The Penguins rang in a new era tonight, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992 and the third time in franchise history.
A year after the Red Wings won the Cup at Mellon Arena, the Penguins knocked off defending champion Detroit, 2-1, in a winner-take-all Game 7 of the final at Joe Louis Arena.
Goals by Max Talbot staked the Penguins to a 2-0 lead after two periods and they held on to win the 2009 NHL championship.
The Penguins played most of the second half of the game without star center Sidney Crosby, who got an apparent knee injury. He returned for the third period but played very sparingly.
Crosby left the ice at around 5:35 of the second period. He and Detroit's Johan Franzen were chasing the puck along the boards. Crosby ended up riding Franzen's back briefly, and his knee got pinned along the boards as Franzen checked him.
He slowly made his way to the Penguins bench favoring his left leg and went to the locker room.
The Penguins outshot the Red Wings, 10-6, and did not score on the only power play in the first period.
Talbot got the game's first goal at 1:13 of the second period. Evgeni Malkin forced a turnover by Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart in the right corner and got the puck out to Talbot, who scored from the lower right circle.
Talbot finished off a two-on-one break with Tyler Kennedy against Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall by lifting the puck past goaltender Chris Osgood's glove to make it 2-0 at 10:07 of the second period.
Kronwall spoiled the shutout bid by Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at 13:53 of the third period. He took a cross-ice feed from defense partner Nicklas Lidstrom and put the puck off Fleury's arm from the right point to make it 2-1.
CHRISTIANS in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan are providing healthcare to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda, the Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Revd Mano Rumalshah (pictured), said last Friday, on a visit to the UK.
The Bishop appealed for the Anglican Communion to support the 100,000 Christians in the province, who are living in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.
“Neither the laws of Pakistan nor the laws of Afghanistan function here in the tribal areas. For al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the godfather is the same: Osama bin Laden; the motivation is the same, and the strategy is the same. The only difference is that the Taliban are the locals, and al-Qaeda are the foreigners. They are our neighbours. In Bannu, every other person in the street I meet could be Taliban. They lead an ordinary life, until they are called to fight.”
Then the differences emerge. “The schools and the madrassas are training children from 12 years old and upwards to be suicide-bombers.” There were between 50 to 60 suicide attacks in Pakistan every couple of months, he said.
One of his clergy, in the North Waziristan region, had described how the community commissioned a young man as a suicide-bomber. “Prayers are said, and the Holy Qur’an placed on his head, and on top of that a metal key to symbolise the key to paradise. It is a day of celebration for the community.”
In this volatile setting, Christians — 85 per cent of whom work in menial jobs — provide care for all in need. “We are trying to recreate God’s love as we have experienced it in Jesus Christ, and those people of God are the Taliban and al-Qaeda and Chris tians, whoever they are. This is our heritage through mission, and it is our privilege. Our three or four health centres are services in diakonia.”
He spoke of the work of six Lutheran women in a hall that they share with an al-Qaeda camp. “They are working in an area where even the bravest of the brave would shudder to go. We clean the wounds of the children, and that gives us the right to be of service there. But how do we serve others if we do not get support? This is why I yell at our global Christian siblings for support.”
"Unjust discrimination is fundamentally wrong." So say the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales in evidence to parliament on the equality bill. But doesn't this terminology imply there might be another category of "just discrimination" which is slightly less awful, or even in some circumstances righteous?
Anglican and RC church representatives, giving evidence to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, were very concerned that a new definition of "the purposes of an organised religion" would curtail their own existing right to discriminate against lay people for reasons other than religious belief. William Fittall of the Church of England told MPs:
A faith organisation is entitled to look at the totality of someone's life. The distinction that is drawn in most employment situations between private life and the workplace does not hold where people have a representational, pastoral or teaching role. The position of a church youth worker was cited several times as an example of such a role, no doubt with the recent tribunal case of Reaney vs Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance in many people's minds.
But this is not just about sexual orientation. Existing equality regulations already give religious organisations a pass for various other reasons, including the circumstances in which a marriage came to an end, gender (female bishops are not compulsory) and marital status itself. Fittall said: "You might believe that some of our rules and disciplines are wrong, but our view is that that is a matter of religious liberty – a matter for the Church of England, Roman Catholics, the Jews or whoever."
"We are not seeking carte blanche, but if a religious organisation is employing someone in a role for which you have to be a member of that faith, it is reasonable that restrictions – whether they be on marital history or whatever – can be part of the requirements."
The Diocese of Peshawar's ongoing relief efforts in Pakistan continued this week with a coordinated evacuation of Christian families from Malakand following a surge in terrorist activity and the intense military operation against the Taliban in the Swat valley and neighboring districts.
The evacuation was led by a diocesan survey team that visited St. George's Church in Malakand, located in the north of Peshawar, to assess the needs of local Christians. It is the most recent example of the diocese's commitment to embrace internally displaced persons (IDPs) and its concern for the wellbeing of a terrorized community.
"The area is under curfew, shops are closed, medical services are not available, and there is no transportation," said a news release from the Diocese of Peshawar, which forms part of the Church of Pakistan, a united ecumenical church and one of 38 provinces in the Anglican Communion.
The evacuees in Malakand were 18 Christian families that had been granted special travel permission by the Pakistan armed forces. They were transported by bus from Malakand to Mardan, where they have joined a further 43 families that are being provided with food, shelter and medical care in the Diocesan Relief Camp at the Christian Vocational Training Center.
The annual meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church opened yesterday in Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh with the election of a new Primus one of the key issues on its agenda.
The Church is a small but significant part of the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion. It has around 53,000 members and a reputation for strong social involvement and for a generally progressive outlook.
Ecumenism - working with others, both in the churches and beyond - has also been a key concern for many in the Church.
Representatives from Episcopal parishes across Scotland are attending the three day meeting, where matters ranging from church policy to a variety of pressing social issues will be discussed.
Highlights of this year’s Synod agenda include a debate on what the mission of the Scottish Episcopal Church is in 2009 and the approval of a partnership statement on working together with the Methodist and United Reformed Churches in Scotland.
For the first time in the history of General Synod, members will witness the election of a new Primus. This will take place on the morning of Saturday 13 June 2009, where all seven bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church will elect a new leader following the retirement of the Most Rev Dr Idris Jones.
The role of Primus, which is taken from the Latin ‘primus inter pares’ – meaning ‘first among equals’ is to preside over the College of Bishops and to represent them and the wider Church at home and throughout the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Dr Idris Jones delivered his final 'Charge' (address and call) during a Eucharistic Service marking the official opening of the General Synod.
Speaking earlier this week he commented: “Although this Synod may not be described as groundbreaking, it will certainly be ground-clearing, preparing the way for new and exciting developments for the next few years. This will be done within the context of significant financial pressures facing the Church at this time."
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has scored its second legal victory this year in a battle with conservative churches that have sought to take their property with them as they break away to affiliate with overseas Anglican leaders.
A California appellate court this week affirmed a lower court ruling that said the property at St. Luke's Anglican Church in La Crescenta is held in trust for the diocese and the national Episcopal Church.
St. Luke's broke with the Episcopal Church in 2006 and aligned itself with Anglican leaders in Uganda. St. Luke's leaders said at the time that the U.S. church had strayed from its "historic faith."
St. Luke's had argued that the parish remained the rightful owner of the stately stone church because it held the deed, according to its attorney.
But the 4th District Court of Appeal said on Tuesday that a rule adopted by the national Episcopal Church in 1979 made clear that local parishes owned their properties only as long as they remained within the larger body. The court also said the parish had agreed from its inception to abide by the rules of the diocese and the national church.
The appellate court said it was bound by a California Supreme Court ruling in January that cited the 1979 rule in a separate property dispute between St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach and the Los Angeles diocese.
The high court said that St. James had forfeited its rights to the property when it decided to switch its affiliation after the national church consecrated a gay bishop in 2003. St. James said it intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The bishop of the Los Angeles diocese, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, said he planned to install a new priest at St. Luke's after the appellate court ruling takes effect in 30 days.
The apparent rejection of a controversial candidate for bishop in the Episcopal Church could be a historic move. As reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester has not received the necessary consent of the majority of diocesan standing committees. Unless some of the votes are re-cast before the July deadline, Forrester's election will be denied.
The Episcopal Church has not denied consent to a candidate for bishop since 1936, when the house of Bishops declined to consent to the seating of John Torok, nominated for Bishop Suffragan of Eau Claire (Wisconsin) on procedural grounds. The last candidate rejected on purely theological grounds was James de Koven, denied consent as bishop of Illinois in 1875.
Forrester's election has drawn opposition from all corners of the 2.2 million-member denomination, with both conservative and liberal camps finding fault with different aspects of Forrester's election and practices.
Forrester first drew attention for his Zen Buddhist "lay" ordination, earning him the moniker of the "Buddhist Bishop". Further investigation of his practices revealed unilateral editing of the Book of Common Prayer's baptismal rite and the inserting of a verse from the Koran into a church service as the Word of God.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has nominated the Rev. Canon David E. Bailey, canon to the ordinary and deployment officer for the Diocese of Utah, to be the next Bishop of Navajoland.
The Navajoland Area Mission was created from parts of the dioceses of Utah, Arizona and the Rio Grande by General Convention in 1979. The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, has been serving as assisting Bishop of Navajoland since 2006.
Canon Bailey must receive a majority of votes from delegates to the annual convocation which meets June 12-14 at Church of the Good Shepherd in Fort Defiance, Ariz. Because the election falls within 120 days of General Convention, should Canon Bailey be elected, he will need to obtain consent to his consecration from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and deputations to General Convention.
In contrast to recent General Conventions, which featured a significant number of applications for consent to episcopal elections, this year only South Dakota and Navajoland are scheduled to be considered.
A tentative consecration date for the Navajoland consecration has not been announced.
A California appellate court's June 9 ruling was the latest in a series of recent developments that return disputed church properties to three California Episcopal dioceses.
On June 9, the San Diego-based Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the Diocese of Los Angeles is legal owner of property currently occupied by St. Luke's Anglican Church. The congregation had cited theological differences when severing ties to the Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2006 and realigning with an Anglican diocese in Uganda.
In unrelated agreements, displaced Episcopalians will return July 1 to two other disputed properties, St. John's Church in Petaluma, in the Diocese of Northern California and St. Paul's Church in Modesto in the Diocese of San Joaquin.
"The long history of the Episcopal Church in La Crescenta will continue with new leadership and the potential for sustained growth, and as an open source of full inclusion for all humanity," Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles said June 9 after learning of the court's decision.
"It is important that we preserve the essence of St. Luke the healer and the ongoing maintenance of the historic church building. It is a jewel in the crown of La Crescenta, and a blessing to the people of the Diocese of Los Angeles."
SMcK foreword: RJS's question below stunned me this morning. Did God create in such a way that the laws of nature were how he created, so that expecting something outside the laws of nature is looking for the wrong thing? And I wonder how you define miracle: Is it an "interpretive" word or the event itself? Anyway, here's the post by RJS:
John Polkinghorne has written an excellent little book Quarks, Chaos & Christianity ruminating on questions related to science and religion. Polkinghorne is a theoretical physicist and an Anglican priest - and his thoughts are always worth considering. Today I would like to look at the chapter in this book on miracles. This discussion, I think, has bearing on the issues related to evolution, creation, and Intelligent Design.
Should we expect the effects of God's intelligent design of creation to be empirically discernible? Did God use natural or miraculous means?
First we must consider what is meant by "miracle." Polkinghorne considers three kinds of miracles in scripture. Miracles arising from normal human abilities possessed to an extraordinary degree, miracles involving the timing or occurrence of natural events, and miracles involving events contrary to nature.
A pastor accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars from a church he led, has appeared in court to face theft charges from a grand jury indictment.
Authorities say the Rev. Donald Armstrong may have taken as much as $392,000 from Grace Episcopal Church and St. Stephen's Parish, and used some of the money to pay for his children's college education.
Armstrong headed the congregation before he and his followers broke away in 2007 to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America after the allegations against him surfaced.
A judge on Wednesday scheduled Armstrong's next hearing for July 22. Armstrong's attorney says the move will give the judge time to review transcripts from the grand jury.
He has denied wrongdoing.
The followers at his new church are standing behind him, saying, "We are looking forward to having a judge and jury determine the merits of these allegations. Father Armstrong has done nothing wrong and will be found innocent."
Police say Rev. Donald Armstrong took the funds to pay for his kids' college tuition. "It has been a very lengthy investigation," says Lt. David Whitlock with the Colorado Springs Police Department, "[investigators] have been putting a lot of hard work into it and they're not done yet."
An affidavit from CSPD states that Armstrong misused $392,000 and that he wrote monthly checks from July 1999 to March 2006. Those were the years Armstrong's children were in college. "There are hundreds upon thousands of pages of information that need to be looked at," says Whitlock of the lengthy investigation, "as well as computer records."
'Holy ground' Horseback riding, archery, arts and crafts remain summer staples at the Sheldon Calvary Camp in the reorganized Diocese of Pittsburgh, said David Dix, a third-generation camper whose daughters Maddy, 16, and Abby, 14, "are already packing. They can't wait to go, even though it doesn't start till next month."
Especially appealing is the camp's intentional lack of technology, he said. "It helps my kids appreciate what they can do when they get away from Play Stations, Game Boys, TVs, phones and iPods and all the stuff that is so demanding and all the pressures of being a kid," said Dix, 46, in a telephone interview from the East End Cooperative Ministry, where he is development director.
For Dix and, he hopes, also for his daughters, camp becomes a place "to be yourself.
"The friends I've had for 30 years are those I met at the camp. I haven't made any friendships comparable anywhere else in my life."
On the shores of Lake Champlain, enrollments are slow as the Diocese of Vermont's Rock Point Camp there faces "a transitional moment," said Interim Director Jenny Ogelby, 56. A former camper, she still passionately yearns for the experience of "holy ground," she said. "No matter what happens, I feel safe here. Here, I've discovered a lot about Christian community, and I am very, very passionate about that."
Facing an operating deficit and major capital repairs, she hopes to draw at least 85 summer campers as Rock Point experiments with its marketing and programming in the increasingly competitive world of athletic, computer, music and other special-interest camps, she said. "This year, we've added a day camp. It's a little less expensive; it competes with some of the local recreation camps."
Sheldon Calvary Camp also added two "mini" programs for just a few days for 7- to 12-year-olds, and also for their parents, in response to another recent trend – parents reluctant to send their children to camp for an entire week.
Calvary, which typically draws about 1,000 summer campers and a total of 2,000 yearly from 25 states, is experiencing increased enrollment, said Executive Director Tim Green, 40, who discovered Christian camping as a boy in 1980 when his father took a job as caretaker at the camp.
Amazed by the community "and being in an environment where people could appreciate you for who you were, I realized this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, to preserve an environment where young people can be raised and valued and supported in ways you don't just find anywhere else," he said.
Camps are "a point of access" for the church for young families, he said. "It isn't just about going out and having a fun time. It's a place where, when run well, the most integral piece of church we have going happens, where young people can interact with faith, spirituality and religion and make sense of it.
I've been very moved by Sunday's blog posting at De Cura Animarum by Jeffrey Steel, pictured here in Rome at Easter. Father Jeffrey, a friend of the Anglican Bishop of Durham Dr Tom Wright, has resigned from his ministry as a Church of England clergyman in the Durham diocese and is in the process of becoming a Roman Catholic, along with his wife and six children. He writes, 'Sometimes crossing the Tiber looks like an easier swim than it really is. I told my Catholic bishop that I sometimes feel like the Tiber has stretched as wide as the Atlantic and I've been cast into the middle and told to swim. He said, 'Yes, Jeffrey but there are devices out there to keep you above water, grab onto them and do not fear.'
Father Jeffrey is one of my Facebook friends and has been keeping us all up to date on his journey.
Most recently he posted:
'Time clears up all errors: the untruth of today is driven out by the contrary untruth of tomorrow, and the many-coloured impressions of particular minds are all eventually absorbed by the consistent light of truth.' John Henry Newman. Received on book mark today in post from my former PEV Bishop Martyn.'
On his blog he writes:
'My PhD studies really set me on my Catholic journey in a deep theological way though I did not realise it at the time. I have been looking at Bishop Lancelot Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism with the Catholic Church in the area of Eucharistic sacrifice. Andrewes was in regular dialogue with S. Robert Bellarmine SJ and it is in this dialogue and Andrewes’ other writings that I saw how Catholic he was with regards to the Eucharist being the Christian offering which consisted of more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It was and is propitiatory as well as other things.
A RARE copy of one of Scottish history’s most important documents has been saved by an ex-pat in America – for six times its value.
Known as “a contract with God”, only 12 copies of the National Covenant are known to exist in library records.
Experts expected it to fetch around £5,000, but the new owner forked out a whopping £32,137 for the 370 year-old document.
Bidders from across the globe battled it out in a bid to take it away from Scotland. But the auction winner, who is based in America, vowed to ensure the book’s Scottish roots remained intact.
The new owner, who wished to remain annonymous, is a former St Andrews university student. They said: “It is a hugely important historical document and my main interest in it lies from me having studied for my Phd in Church History at St Andrew’s University in Fife. “I am looking forward to studying the document in more detail.
“It will remain in Scotland for the time being in the care of my son who lives in the country.” Church leaders drew up the “contracts” to document Scotland’s opposition to a bid by King Charles I to introduce a controversial Anglican prayer book into the Scottish Kirk. It is signed by over 100 Covenanters including the Earls of Montrose, Cassillis, Eglinton, Wemyss, Rothes, Lindsay, Lothian and Lord Blamerno.
Simon Vickers, a book expert at auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull said: “This is an incredibly good price for a copy of the National Covenant, we had a lot of interest in it with phone bidders from around the world.”
The Rev. Donald Armstrong today made his first appearance in 4th Judicial District Court, where he faces 20 counts of felony theft.
The brief hearing went without the hitch that occurred last month when a communications mix-up led to a bench warrant being issued briefly for Armstrong, who failed to appear at a hearing he thought had been rescheduled.
This time, Judge Greg Werner set a July 22 date for Armstrong's next court hearing.
Armstrong's lawyer Dennis Hartley said that will give the judge time to review the transcript of the grand jury proceedings that led to an indictment.
The indictment accuses Armstrong of committing theft while he was rector at Grace Church & St. Stephens in downtown Colorado Springs, a position he held from 1987 to 2007.
In March 2007, the Grace vestry voted to leave the Episcopal Church to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America with Armstrong as rector. The CANA parish, now called St. George's Anglican Church, meets in the Mountain Shadows area.
Hartley said he hasn't seen the evidence against his client yet, but added he's not aware of anything Armstrong did that was wrong.
"I think the case is defensible," he said outside the courtroom.
Clergy have a lot in common with journalists, which might explain why so many children of the cloth are to be found in my 'profession'. I use that word advisedly, to grace my hackery with a status some might feel it lacks. One of the things we perhaps have in common with clergy is the busyness of lives which stop us writing that best-selling novel, or Bible commentary. How many clergy quietly kick themselves when the Archbishop of Canterbury announces the latest Michael Ramsey prize for theological writing, as he just has to Richard Bauckham, that they haven't found the time to pen the epistle that would get them a nice reception at Lambeth Palace in the company of true grace?
Kicking myself is what I've been doing with John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's book 'God is Back'. This book is of the moment, the zeitgeist, whatever. I was fortunate to have the chance to review it for The Times but why didn't I, couldn't I, write that book?
For a start, even had I thought of it, I could never have found the time within the daily turnover of religious news and the sheer pleasure of blogging - God could have invented blogs to reward me for the hard times - to do the sheer depth of research that these two authors have put in to their compelling 375 pages. But also, immersed for years in the doings of his representatives on earth, I have for years taken it as a given that God was back. It just never occurred to me for a moment that to millions of others, this thesis might come as something of a surprise. For me, as probably for a lot of you reading this, He never left.
What is particularly great about God is Back is that it is grounded in fact, a substance that can be in short supply in the competing doctrines of world religions, which is the matter of their work.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the composition of a Working Group to review section 4 of the Ridley Draft of the Anglican Covenant. On May 28, Dr Rowan Williams named the Archbishop of Dublin, the Archbishop of Singapore, the Bishop of St Asaph and Dr Eileen Scully of the Anglican Church of Canada to the team.
However, the selection of two liberals and two conservatives for the working group, and with only two days allotted for review of the material make it likely that few changes will be made to the disciplinary sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
The mandate for the working group arose from the failed debate on the Anglican Covenant at ACC-14 in Kingston. Disquiet with the management of ACC-14 has also been voiced by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who contrasted the transparent and thorough deliberative processes of her church’s General Convention, with the opaque and confused workings of the ACC.
Birthed in the confusion of the May 8 debate on the Anglican Covenant, ACC-14 asked that a “small working group” be appointed by Dr. Williams to “consider and consult with the provinces” on Section 4 of the Ridley draft “and its possible revision,” and report its findings to the members of the Primates and ACC joint standing committee for action.
Copies of the Ridley Draft have been circulated amongst the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion seeking comments on section 4. Dr Williams has requested that these responses be submitted by Nov 13 for the working group to review on Nov 20-21 in London. Their recommendations will then be presented to the Dec 15-18 meeting of the joint standing committee.
In a pastoral letter released on May 26, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated the ACC’s deliberative structure was far from ideal or efficient.
Debt relief and contraception were the two topics of the latest session of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States (ARC-USA). Theresa Notare, assistant director of the Natural Family Planning Program at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, presented a paper entitled “The Moral Regulation of Birth: Roman Catholic Teaching on Conjugal Love and Responsible Parenthood.”
In October, participants “will explore the fact that while the two churches share a range of convictions regarding the moral aspects of many questions of social justice, there are serious differences regarding issues in personal morality, especially those pertaining to sexuality.”
Eight decades ago, the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion were united in teaching that contraception was immoral. The Anglican Communion changed its position at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, prompting Pope Pius XI to write:
Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
Military bases, federal hospitals and prisons, and armed forces chaplains wherever they may be – that has been Bishop George Packard's world-spanning ministry for nearly a decade. He has announced his retirement, effective May 31, 2010, and the Episcopal Church has begun a search for candidates willing to accept a call to be the sixth bishop suffragan for federal ministries.
Beginning with the formation of a discernment committee with representatives of the various ministries, and a special committee of bishops, the process will include the posting of a “call for nominations” form on September 1.
After interviews with a nominating committee in the fall, a list of nominees will be announced in January 2010. The new bishop suffragan is scheduled to be elected at the March 2010 meeting of the House of Bishops. Consecration is scheduled for June 2010 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
For detailed information regarding the search process and election, including the timeline and committee members, click here.
Packard brought both military and pastoral experience to the post. Shortly after graduating from college in 1966, he enlisted in the Army and served as a lieutenant with the 1st infantry division in Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for valor.
A Petaluma congregation that split from the Episcopal Church over the issue of gay ordination but retained a 118-year-old church building has agreed to return the property to the church, ending a nearly three-year stalemate.
Under terms of a settlement, St. John’s Anglican Church will move out of the building at 5th and C streets by July 1 and give up claim to about $450,000 in endowments.
In exchange, its leader, the Rev. David Miller, will receive a greater share of ownership of his family’s Petaluma house, which was purchased in part with church money.
The Rev. Norman Cram, whose Episcopol congregation has been waiting in borrowed space to take over the building, said he looked forward to “a focus on ministry.” His first service in the church is July 1.
“It’s been a tough struggle,” said Cram, leader of St. John’s Episcopal, who sued Miller’s congregation last year over rights to the property. “It’s so nice to have the litigious process behind us.”
A spokesman for St. John’s Anglican, administrator Mike McIntosh, declined to comment beyond saying a new location for his group has not been selected. The congregation’s last service in the building will be Sunday, June 28.
From the "Rock of Ages", said to be the inspiration for the hymn of that name, you climb steeply out of Burrington Combe, skirt the northern side of the combe (valley) and then cross it. You walk along the flank of Black Down moor and enter the Mendip Forest for lunch in the village of Rowberrow. Then pass Rowberrow church and return over Dolebury Warren, stopping at the iron age hill fort to admire the view across the Vale of Wrington to the Bristol Channel and south Wales, and Crook Peak, the most prominent summit in the Mendips, with Bridgwater Bay and the Quantocks beyond.
Why it's special According to a famous (but unsubstantiated) story, the Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was inspired to write Rock of Ages in 1763, while sheltering from a storm in a cleft of rock in Burrington Combe. Struck by the title, he scribbled down the initial lyrics on a playing card. Regarded as one of the four great Anglican hymns of the 19th century, Rock of Ages was a favourite of Prince Albert, who asked it to be played to him on his deathbed.
Keep your eyes peeled for Knotted pearlwort and slender bedstraw, two rare plants found at Dolebury Warren. Open areas of this walk are blessed with a profusion of flowers. If you are lucky you might see black and red six-spot burnet moths in summer. There are also a number of bronze age burial barrows on Black Down, and one at Rowberrow. But bear in mind Don't get caught out on the moor in bad weather or you might be looking for a cleft of your own to hide in.
Recover afterwards The Burrington Inn at the bottom of the combe serves standard pub fare all day. burringtoninn.co.uk
THE world's richest and largest Anglican diocese has lost more than $100 million on the stockmarket and is investigating ways to cut programs and ministries across Sydney.
Two years ago the Anglican diocese of Sydney was able to allocate $30 million to educate new ministers, spread the Gospel and reach out to young people. But returns from investments have plummeted so steeply that the funds available next year have been slashed to $5.6 million.
The cuts will probably jeopardise funding for places at the ministry training institution, Moore College - causing either lower student numbers or higher fees - and Youthworks, which recruits young people for mission work.
They will also eat into allocations for clergy, including the archbishop, bishops and regional offices, and some resources have already been restructured.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has written to clergy warning that the global financial crisis has caused significant losses. He said the diocese had borrowed money to invest and used the profits to build churches in 2007.
"In the extraordinary conditions at the end of 2008, as the whole market fell, this strategy also accentuated our losses," Dr Jensen said.
"As a result, our investments have fallen by more than half and distribution of money from our investments has been cut by 50 per cent."
The national leader of 2.4 million Episcopalians -- including 20,600 in Oregon -- hung out Sunday at a Northeast Portland church, participating in what she defines as old-school conversation.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who's been at the center of an often-tense conversation about the ordination of gay clergy, told a full house on Sunday at Grace Memorial Episcopal Church that the word "conversation" slipped into English usage in the 1300s.
"From the Latin, conversatio, it meant 'to turn about with,'" she said, "'to live with, to spend time with.' We'd say, 'to hang out with.' It didn't mean to talk." And so the first woman elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States shared some impressions of the church in the 21st century and then hung out as audience members reflected on interfaith partnerships, support for the military and the role of religious schools.
A scientist educated at Oregon State University and a former assistant rector at a Corvallis church, Jefferts Schori visited Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland on Saturday morning and then spent time with teenagers at Camp Magruder, near Rockaway Beach. On Sunday, she also confirmed 15 people at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salem and marked Grace Memorial's centennial. She was scheduled to meet on Monday with Eugene-area clergy.
The Anglican Bishop of Kurunagala in Sri Lanka, the Rt Revd Kumara lllangasinghe, has written to Anglican churches throughout the world to appeal for crisis aid for refugee casualties following the bloody end to the war there.
Explaining that the situation in Northern Sri Lanka has reached crisis point, the bishop writes from the the North Western Province of the country:
"I have just returned to the island after the 14th Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston. Jamaica. I have had to return to a very disturbing situation, which we will try to explain below. I am sure that you have already heard about the worsening situation of the innocent casualties of the civilian population, due to the conflict in the North East of the Country.
"The situation in Northern Sri Lanka has reached crisis point. As fighting continued, thousands of civilians were caught in the crossfire trying to escape to safety. Civilian casualties increased daily and hospitals have gone beyond their breaking point. Hospitals on the border and in the refugee camps do not have sufficient staff, medicines, food or beds to treat the daily arrivals. The injured are now being evacuated to hospitals across the country, (Places such as Anuradhapura, Kandy, Gampola. Hingurakgoda, Polonnanruwa and Kurunagala which are in the area that comes under the Diocese of Kurunagala) to try to share the burden and deliver the necessary emergency treatment
"Here in Kurunagala, a large town in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka, we have received over one thousand (1000) evacuated patients and internally displaced people to our hospital in the last few days and are imminently expecting more. Resources here are now stretched beyond capacity. There are severe shortages of medicines, particularly pain relief and antibiotics, a lack of staff, beds and mosquito nets and not enough food or clean drinking water. The evacuees arriving are in need not only of medical care. They have been forced to leave everything behind, are separated from their families and have no clothing, money or belongings,
Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is partnering with the Diocese of Bukavu in the Anglican Church of the Congo after renewed violence between government and rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo caused massive displacement in the eastern part of the African country.
According to the Rt. Rev. Bahati Bali-Busane Sylvestre, Bishop of Bukavu, the rebel soldiers have focused their attacks on civilians in the form of rape and murder. An estimated 7,000 families have been forced to flee their homes in the city of Goma and surrounding areas. The majority of the evacuees are women and children, many of whom are vulnerable to disease and malnutrition made worse by the poor sanitation and crowded conditions in the camps.
In partnership with the Diocese of Bukavu, ERD is providing food and sanitation supplies.
“The threat of attack persists in the regions surrounding Goma and it is uncertain when families will be able to safely return to their homes,” said Janette O’Neill, senior director of Africa programs for ERD. “We remain in close contact with our partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo and ask for people around the church join us in prayer for a peaceful end to the conflict.”
The Episcopal Church has bought a block in downtown Austin where it plans to build a facility to house its national archives and provide space for meetings, exhibits, research and other purposes.
The church purchased the block, now a parking lot bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Trinity and Neches streets, from Jimmy Nassour, an Austin real estate attorney. The purchase price was $9.5 million, said Mark Duffy, director of the Archives of the Episcopal Church.
The church, which borrowed against its endowment to buy the land, plans to launch a capital campaign next year to raise money to repay that loan and pay for the new facility. The cost of the project, which is in the "very preliminary" planning stages, will be almost $40 million, Duffy said.
The building probably will be five stories, with up to 70,000 square feet and a garage with some public spaces. Duffy said the start of construction is at least two years away.
In addition to archives and meeting space, the building will be a place "for Episcopalians nationally to gather and to study, reflect on and feel proud of their heritage," Duffy said.
"The idea is to build something that will be a visible presence for the Episcopal Church in the community, as well as a place where church members and the public can explore issues of vital importance to the church today," Duffy said.
The archives — the official repository for the church's papers, electronic records, photographs, memorabilia and artifacts — are now housed in three locations in Austin, including leased space at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, and at one site in New York City.
From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" department (England Bureau)
No more haven't-got-time-to-get-to-Mass misery! Bishop Jonathan Blake of the Open Episcopal Church is offering "Host in the post", the genuine body and blood of Christ on your doormat for just £2 to cover postage and packing.
The theologian John Drane has written about "the McDonaldisation of the church", so maybe the Dominos Pizza-ization of the church was only a matter of time. Delightfully whacky as home delivery eucharist sounds, it's only the latest step in experiments in adapting Christianity to a changing world.
Time was, of course, when church was somewhere you generally had to go to get the benefit of it – unless you could persuade the priest you were close enough to death to bring it to you. But since the early days of radio we've had hymns and sermons beamed into our houses.
More recently websites have experimented with online confession, and offering a "sacred space" for communal prayer from the convenience of your own desk. The Blessed Sacrament Webcam allowed visitors to look at pictures, updated once a minute, of a chalice in a box in Florida whenever they felt the need.
There are now churches that only exist on the internet, such as St Pixels, where, as you would expect services focus more on prayers, short sermons and liturgy than on sacraments or singing.
But every technology has its limitations, and its likely to be a good while before we can download wafers. The internet maybe making us all into consumers, but there are limits. So it's back to the postbag.
Barring a last minute change of heart by opponents, it appears certain that Episcopal Church leaders have rejected the consecration of a bishop-elect who denies traditional Christian teachings about sin, salvation, and Christ's atoning death at Calvary.
Evangelicals inside and outside the Episcopal Church say they would have been concerned if Kevin Thew Forrester had been given a ceremonial shepherd's staff and a sacred charge to "feed and tend the flock of Christ" in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, where he was elected on February 21. But few are seeing the rejection as a cause to celebrate.
According to church rules, elections of bishops must be confirmed by a majority of the church's House of Bishops (though not all members are allowed to vote) and a majority of its 111 diocesan governing boards, known as standing committees. While the results will not be official until mid-July, a majority of standing committees have voted to withhold consent, according to a survey by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Unofficial surveys show the bishop-elect trailing badly among bishops as well.
Church must walk the talk on unity BY The Daily Times 18:38:09 - 08 June 2009
The consecration of Brighton Malasa as Bishop of the Upper Diocese of Anglican Church is a positive development in as far as recent events in the church are concerned.
Members of the church should now a heave a sign of relief that a new chapter has been open in their church, looking at the not-so-pleasant past that they have gone through.
We recall that not so long ago, some members of the Anglican Church in the country were engaged in running battles and spat venom at one another over who should be consecrated their bishop.
It would be understating facts to claim that the fights were a family matter and therefore only affected the church. However, the bare bone truth is that the fights were a dent on the entire Christian church and it shook the very foundation of the country’s unity.
This is why President Bingu wa Mutharika’s call for unity when he joined the consecrated service of Bishop Malasa in Mangochi had come at such a very right time.
There is much more need for unity in the country now probably than ever before; and as the president rightly noted, it must start within the church itself which has the privilege to position itself at the grassroots level in society.
The call for care, support and love of one another should not just come from the lips of the clergy just as a matter of duty as churchmen, but should be seen to exist within the rank and file of the church.
It is not healthy for men of the pulpit to be engaging in open fights and public outbursts over leadership issues when politicians who themselves have their own leadership problems look up to the church for guidance and inspiration.
With a slogan like "Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had!", what more could the everyday atheist ask for? Debaptism it is. A new badge of honor has been introduced for Atheists in the United Kingdom and it is called "debaptism". The National Secular Society is leading the charge to get debaptism recognized and registered in churches across the UK
After becoming the "Word of the Week" on the Macmillan English Dictionary website, the National Secular Society says that over 100,000 people have downloaded a debaptism certificate from their website.
John Hunt is a 50-year-old Brit who was baptized by the Church of England (Anglican/Episcopalian). He wanted his baptism cancelled because he views the church as a "hypocritical organisation." However, as the Bishop of Croydon, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, recently told the BBC:
You can't remove from the record something that actually happened. Whether we agree whether it should have happened or not is a different matter. But it's a bit like trying to expunge Trotsky from the photos. Mr Hunt was baptised and that's a matter of public record.
This particular diocese has suggested that those who want to renounce their baptism could run an advertisement it in the London Gazette, and then the Bishop will have those notices inserted into the baptismal roll. However, the Church of England was quick to note that this is not an official policy.
The Church of England has no reason from its point of view for maintaining a formal record of those who have renounced their baptism: it is content simply to accept that those who have explicitly repudiated their baptism and take no part in the life of the Church should not be regarded as members of it in the more general sense.
A farewell service for outgoing Anglican Church Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi was held on Sunday in Nairobi with calls on the church leadership to remain focused.
Reverend Stanley Ntagali who delivered the sermon at the All Saints Cathedral said church leaders were accountable to the people they served and to God, hence the need to be responsible.
He urged the clergy to emulate Archbishop Nzimbi whom he termed as a true servant of God.
“You preach the gospel with no compromise, your Grace you will always be remembered for that and you are one of the few leaders in the global south preaching the gospel to transform the Anglican Church,” Rev. Ntagali said.
“You led the house of Bishops here in Kenya and the clergy and Christians of the church of Kenya to stand in truth and to reject and condemn sin.”
Archbishop Nzimbi who will officially retire at the end of this month after 31 years of service to the church said he was not retiring as a minister and would continue to serve the church in his new capacity as a retired archbishop.
“The spirit of poverty is killing this nation. We are all looking for gold and silver and because of that the spirit of poverty is there and many people have become corrupt. This corruption is killing this nation. This nation should rise above corruption,” he said.
LAUGHTER may be the best medicine, but God is no joke, according to an Anglican bishop who has chided Christian church leaders who think of themselves as stand-up comedians and resort to making jokes during sermons.
The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, says there is nothing funny in "lame-fisted attempts" to crack jokes and be funny during services and church meetings. Humour has its place, but God and church, he says, is no laughing matter.
"I am frankly sick of 'leaders' ruining the atmosphere of the meeting/service and disrupting the focus on God with half-baked comic lines," he wrote for a Sydney Anglican online ministry resource guide. "Or they detract from my reflection upon some important point made in the sermon with smart cracks or attempts to make funny comments about the preacher or the sermon."
This, he said, interfered with the congregation's relationship with God.
Bishop Forsyth came to public prominence as the minister who wittily crossed words with the publican Arthur Elliot across from St Barnabas Anglican Church in Broadway. While humour was a good tool to connect with a congregation, it should not compromise the message of salvation, he said.
St. Brendan may be the patron saint of sailors and navigators, but the boats and boaters in Muskegon have been blessed by Father Tom.
The Rev. Thomas C.H. Scott, that is, the priest at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which on Sunday held its sixth "Blessing of the Boats" in Muskegon's outer harbor.
It was the first of the series to be officiated by Scott, who was formally installed as rector of the downtown church on May 19 after taking over 11 months ago.
The event took place aboard the Port City Princess, a former Mackinac Island ferry that Ralph Precious brought to Muskegon for conversion into an excursion boat. Ralph's widow Sylvia and son Randy began the annual event in part to honor him, and Sunday's boat-blessing was preceded by a prayer in his memory.
The Precious family are longtime members of the church. All told, about 80 people from St. Paul's went aboard for the two-hour cruise, which included brunch.
Although there weren't many boats in the vicinity, one or two got close enough to receive a shouted blessing and a few drops of holy water flung from Scott's silver aspergillum, something that looks like a long-handled ice cream scoop.
Nevertheless, the blessings were intended equally for all Muskegon watercraft, including the now-retired USS Silversides and Milwaukee Clipper.
"Absolutely," said Scott, standing fully robed in the bow of the Princess. "And every drop of water that lands in the channel just makes this a holier place."
Monday is a big day here at the Globe: the paper’s largest union, the Newspaper Guild, is scheduled to vote on proposed wage and benefits cuts that the company says are neeeded to keep the struggling paper afloat. As the prospect of labor unrest at the paper looms, a friend who works for the Episcopal Church called my attention to the memoir of Bishop William Lawrence (right), the so-called banker-bishop, who claims to have brokered peace between Boston’s newspaper publishers and their employees a century ago.
Lawrence, who served as the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts from 1893 to 1927, was cut from a different cloth than most of today’s prelates. He was the scion of an immensely wealthy, influential and philanthropic Boston family that made a fortune in textiles, founded the cities of Lawrence, Mass. and Lawrence, Kansas, and had a long association with Harvard University and the Episcopal Church. Bishop Lawrence travelled in elite circles – he was a familiar of Theodore Roosevelt and a visitor to Buckingham Palace. So when he was called in to arbitrate the pay dispute in the newspaper industry, he immersed himself in the unfamiliar workplace before working out a deal.
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington has drastically revised its 2009 budget, largely because of paltry giving from the bulk of its congregations plus a drop in its investment income.
In an approximately $3.9 million budget approved in May by its diocesan council, the diocese made a series of staff and budget cuts to make up for a shortfall of more than $400,000 from initial revenue projections. The income projections included $357,800 less in pledges than the diocese anticipated from its 93 churches, plus an estimated $26,400 the diocese could lose in investment and interest income.
The 40,000-member Washington Diocese will undergo "an aggressive and rapid reduction in staff, across all levels," according to Paul Cooney, canon to the ordinary for the diocese. Three staff members were let go in February.
The diocese also chopped off a $126,000 gift to denominational headquarters in New York by eliminating an annual contribution from the $21 million Ruth Gregory Soper Trust fund; overall, it plans to give $649,230 to the national church.
Part of the problem is that less than a quarter of the diocese's 93 congregations tithe - or give 10 percent of their money to the diocese - according to diocesan spokesman Jim Naughton. The diocese does not mandate a set amount churches must give.
It was the made-for-TV ending to a weeks-long saga of fame and faith: Alberto Cutié, the telegenic priest embroiled in a magazine-photo scandal, would leave the Roman Catholic church to become an Episcopalian -- and would marry his girlfriend of two years.
But when Cutié's new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, stood inside Miami's Trinity Cathedral to announce the news to dozens of international reporters, he created his own waves.
The ''Inquisition is over,'' Frade said in widely broadcast remarks after Catholic Archbishop John C. Favalora admonished him for a disrespectful ``public display.''
The style is typical of Frade's nine-year tenure, say those who know him well: casual, off-the-cuff and, to some, a bit too in-your-face.
For three weeks in May, the 65-year-old Cuban American became the face of the traditionally white Episcopal church, granting dozens of interviews about Cutié, who has kept a low profile since preaching at an Episcopal church in Biscayne Park last month.
The first Hispanic to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, Frade has campaigned for gay rights, expanded church missions to the Caribbean and the Americas and, as his courtship of Cutié shows, is intent on recruiting Hispanics to the Episcopal fold.
''He has an entirely different personality,'' says Calvin O. Schofield Jr., a former Navy chaplain who preceded Frade as South Florida bishop. ``He's expanded the influence of the church.''