Have you ever tried to discuss an idea and, when mentioning that you disagree with what someone has proposed, you are told that they are a good person? This emotional blackmail is meant to end the discussion rather than risk a conversation.
All religious groups I know about seem to have many people who are afraid of conflict. They cannot distinguish between disagreement and condemnation.
Afraid to say ''no,'' they live with things they cannot agree with or do jobs they do not really want to do. One day they explode. Then the situation often cannot be repaired, and the group has a problem that may take years to overcome, if it can be overcome.
Because people are afraid of conflict, religious institutions and community groups often tolerate behavior that would be unacceptable at any other level of society.
The Very Rev. Edward O'Connor, dean of St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral, said the church operates a breakfast and coffee club for the homeless beginning at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday and a full breakfast Tuesday mornings in the parish hall.
"We've noticed, over the last month or so, a significant increase," he said. "We usually average 80-90 and are now feeding 100-120, and it's not just men.
"There's also a great number of women coming to breakfast and a great number of young people, so that might lead one to believe that the homeless population is expanding to include those who are not traditionally homeless, those who may have lost their homes and those in significant economic distress."
O'Connor said it takes about 15-20 weekly volunteers and costs about $17,000 a year to fund the program. The church welcomes donations.
The Rev. Keith Tonkel of Jackson's Wells Memorial United Methodist Church on Bailey Avenue, said Wells' food pantry has expanded to offer health, social and psychological services each Monday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Some 20 weekly volunteers usually serve around 100 people.
"The hope is to help people move away from the cycle of poverty," he said. "It's important for churches to seek the needs that exist in the area where they find themselves."
Warren Yoder, executive director of the Public Policy Center of Mississippi, said hunger is a serious problem.
"Families are cutting back on quality," he said. "They don't have enough money for food. That means kids who are not going hungry are having so many health problems because of their food. In some ways, we've gone backwards on nutrition issues for children.
"The food pantries and food banks have reported big increases in the number of people coming to them for food. Our unemployment is high. Food is, unfortunately, something you have to buy every week, and people have more month than they have money.
"We're publicizing the importance of working with churches to provide food, and to make sure they are providing good, quality food to help families through this tough time."
While some churches work independently to feed the hungry, others are working together.
Cyclists, including Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, head of the Espicopal Diocese of Ohio, which includes Stark County, are on a 10-day journey across the country to raise money for Netsforlife, an Episcopal Relief and Development’s program that battles malaria in 17 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
They will enter Wooster, Canton and Alliance this weekend. The purpose of the journey, entitled “Riding for Their Lives,” began in Anaheim, Calif., and will end at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
The goal of the Bishop’s Bike Ride is to raise at least $100,000 and spread awareness about malaria, which kills nearly 1 million people each year.
Riding with Hollingsworth are Carl Petterson of Hudson, Greg Daniels, the Rev. Kelly O’Connell of Toledo, the Rev. Stephen R. Sedgwick of Lorain; the Rev. Daniel Orr of Fremont, Isaac Hollingsworth, the bishop's son, and Michael Obel-Omia of Cleveland Heights.
THOUSANDS of people from parishes all over Harare gathered in the city on Sunday to celebrate a double ceremony.
In the morning, the city’s sports stadium was packed for the consecration of the new Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, which took place during a jubilant four-hour eucharist. The preacher, the Rt Revd Khotso Makhulu, the former Primate of Central Africa, said: “Chad, you have your work cut out. But love God, proclaim Christ, and help your people understand the responsibilities of discipleship.”
Canon Edgar Ruddock, the deputy general secretary of USPG, described the atmosphere throughout the service as “at times electric, always prayerful, and above all pervaded by a sense of hopefulness”. Messages of solidarity included one from the Arch bishop of Canterbury.
In the afternoon, the enthronement was set to take place in St Mary’s Cathedral. Last-minute attempts by the excommunicated former bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, to stop the event meant that bolt-cutters had to be used to gain access to the cathedral; but the ceremony went ahead as planned.
Kunonga, an apologist for President Mugabe, has waged a campaign of violence against Anglicans in Harare.
On Friday, he applied to the High Court for an injunction to prevent Bishop Gandiya’s enthronement.
Justice Ben Hlatshwayo ruled in favour of Kunonga in what the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Trevor Mwamba — a former barrister — described as “a political ruling devoid of any grains of law”. The courts have no jurisdiction over internal church matters. The diocesan lawyers had foreseen the ruling, and had an appeal ready to submit to the Supreme Court. The judgment is now in abeyance until the case is heard. Bishop Mwamba said: “There is no way this judgment will be upheld on the basis of law. We pray for the triumph of justice and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.”
The Anglican Communion's newest province has condemned General Convention's approval of two resolutions, D025 and C056, regarding human sexuality.
“We are of the view that the passing of these two resolutions, when on a plain and ordinary reading, constitutes an abrogation by TEC of the agreed-to moratorium on the consecration of practicing homosexual clergy as bishops and rites of blessing for same-sex unions,” said a statement by the Standing Committee of the Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia.
“This effectively moves TEC irretrievably away from the orthodox position of the rest of the Anglican Communion as a whole on these issues,” the statement said. “This is a negative development. It is also a repudiation of the listening and consultation processes put in place in an attempt to resolve these issues.”
The province encompasses the Diocese of Singapore and three dioceses in Malaysia: Kuching, Sabah, and West Malaysia.
The province was founded in 1996, and the Most Rev. Moses Tay was appointed as its first archbishop. In January 2000, Archbishop Tay joined the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini in consecrating the first two bishops of the Anglican Mission in the Americas. The province has since dissolved its ties to AMiA.
The Most Rev. John Chew became the province's third archbishop in 2006. The province has an estimated membership of more than 98,000.
The province’s standing committee added its encouragement to conservatives who remain within the Episcopal Church.
“We also wish to reaffirm those orthodox parishes and dioceses within TEC who have chosen to remain within the existing structures,” they wrote. “We believe that the Anglican Covenant is appropriately inclusive so as to allow for their continued membership within the Anglican Communion. We would like to assure them of our continued support and prayers.”
How's Alberto Cutié's marriage going? Find out in the new issue of People en español, which features the former Catholic priest, along with his new wife, Ruhama, on its cover.
In the story, the newlyweds open up about the scandal that unfolded when tabloids published romantic photos of the two while he was still wearing the collar. The issue also includes snaps from their wedding and honeymoon in Greece.
``I felt at peace,'' Cutié said of the ceremony, held June 26 at St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church in North Miami Beach. ``I wasn't nervous at all.''
Becoming a husband fulfilled a lifelong dream, he told the mag.
``Ever since I was young, I thought about being married one day and having children,'' said Cutié, who was surprised by the interest in his personal life. ``I never thought this would be exposed so publicly, that so many people would pass judgment.''
Marriage hasn't changed him.
``Those who choose not to accept [my situation], fine, it's a free country.''
Cutié continues to work on becoming a priest in the Episcopal Church.
The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, has announced the creation of the Center for Religion and Environment, which connects its College of Arts and Sciences, School of Theology, and All Saints Chapel in a partnership to strengthen its mission in education, church and society. The center and the public programs it will offer reflect Sewanee's commitment to sustainability and its mission as an institution of the Episcopal Church.
Dr. Robin Gottfried, the center's founding director and professor of economics, notes that there is a need to change minds and hearts, to bring together the resources of the university to address the challenge he calls "environmental formation" -- integrating "faith, practice, and the understanding of environmental issues for our students."
The center offers several environmental majors in the sciences as well as one in environmental policy and related humanities courses, all drawing on the expertise of 30 faculty members. It also seeks to serve the surrounding community, the wider Episcopal Church and other faith communities in addressing environmental challenges.
In an interview with ENS, Gottfried mused about the kind of programs the center might offer that could help dioceses and congregations involved in creation care. One possibility could be to provide resources for best practices, he said. The center might also foster environmental formation at various levels, such as for Bible study leaders and youth ministers seeking to strengthen eco-spirituality in their programs.
As pastor of the Episcopal Church in Enid I wish to respond to the comments about the Episcopal Church in the Cal Thomas editorial “Church of What’s Happenin’ Now.”
Mr. Thomas claims the church, at its recent national convention, voted “to end the ban on the ordination of gay bishops and permit marriage “blessings” for same-sex couples.” This is a misrepresentation of the resolution to which Mr. Thomas refers. In fact, the very reason the Bishop of Oklahoma voted against the resolution was he feared it would be oversimplified and sensationalized by the media, exactly what Mr. Thomas has done.
The second century theologian Marcion removed the parts of the Bible he did not agree with; Mr. Thomas appears to do the same. He quotes Scripture to support his views, yet ignores passages that might hold him accountable for his attack on Christians. St. Paul tells us gifts are given for “building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity” (Eph. 4:12b-13a, emphasis added). It is easy to create attention-getting headlines without knowing the underlying truth of a document. To then use those assumptions to call Christians “heretics” does not build up the body of Christ nor is it very mature.
Mr. Thomas is excoriating those who in good faith have read scripture and reached different conclusions than he has. Whether one agrees with Mr. Thomas’ position or not, it is inappropriate to attack the character of Christians with whom we disagree.
What in fact the church convention did was to recognize that, in light of changing laws in various states regarding same-sex unions, the church needs to have serious discussions about how to best represent Jesus Christ.
We are not “putting (ourselves) through theological makeovers,” society is placing these issues in our path and to be faithful Christians we must trust the Holy Spirit to lead us down them.
While many may protest the comparison of sexuality with the issues of slavery or women’s roles in church leadership, they are all issues that have divided the church. We have decided slavery is wrong, even though it is condoned in the Bible, but not until after much hard discussion and theological work. Churches still disagree about women’s ordination, and supporting scripture can be cited for either position, but for the most part we don’t call one another “heretics” when we disagree.
Finally, in accusing the Episcopal Church and President Jimmy Carter of worshiping the god of inclusivity, Mr. Thomas seems to have torn another page from his Bible. John 3:16 tells us God sent His Son so “all who believe” might have eternal life, not just those who believe and think like me.
I have come to know both “liberals” and “conservatives” in the Episcopal Church, and I have found those with whom I had little common ground theologically were nevertheless often very faith-filled, committed Christians who studied the Bible and did the hard work it sometimes takes to discern the will of God.
The familiar hymn “Amazing Grace” contains the line “I once was blind but now I see.” Let us as Christians extend the grace of prayerful dialogue and study together to see the truth instead of denouncing one another.
More from the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department.
TO PREVENT the spreading of swine flu via the chalice at holy communion, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have advised the use of intinction, a technique developed as part of the African Churches’ response to HIV/AIDS.
The advice, sent to all bishops and published on the Church of England’s website last week, is based on research findings that HIV/AIDS is not trans ferred by the use of the common cup, but other infections could be.
The Archbishops recommend that “during this wave of pandemic flu” the celebrant only should receive in both kinds. A priest who still wishes to offer both kinds is advised to intinct each wafer and place it in the communicant’s hand. “This is a practice widely observed in Anglican churches throughout Africa.”
Congregations should be offered guidance about precautions to take in receiving communion and exchanging the Peace, the Archbishops wrote. The use of individual cups was not authorised.
Dr Williams followed his own advice when he celebrated the eucharist on Sunday in Canterbury Cathedral. He was the only person in the mother church of the An glican Communion to receive communion under both kinds, a cathedral spokesman said.
“There was an announcement by the Dean at the start of the service explaining the changes and why. There was no panic in the aisles. Only the celebrant, who was Dr Williams, received in both kinds. The Peace was offered by people nodding at each other. When will these restrictions end? Who knows?”
Wakefield, Norwich, and Oxford dioceses were among those that emphasised the need for common sense. A spokes person for Oxford diocese said: “It’s important to get the balance right between being cautious and causing panic.”
In an Ad Clerum, the Bishop of Wake field, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said that “common sense” should dictate if passing the Peace had become “self-defeating (as the passing of more than the Peace)”.
In Oxford, the Revd Hugh Lee, celeb rating his final communion service at St Michael at the Northgate before he leaves, borrowed three racks of individual cups from a neighbouring Methodist minister in order that the congregation could continue to communicate in both kinds. In Sherborne Abbey, Canon Eric Woods said in his sermon on Sunday that he was “hugely grateful” that the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd David Stancliffe, had chosen not to follow the advice of the Archbishops and order his clergy “to deny the faithful the common cup altogether”. The Rural Dean of Bath, Canon Patrick Whitworth, said that he had no reports of any grumblings. “The guidance has been been willingly received, as a means of pre vention. People are aware of the difficulties, and they are quite accepting of what has been asked of them.”
With a dozen beds to a dormitory and chilly winds seeping through open windows, this could be a 1950s boarding school. In a converted stately home, children are learning how, in a cold climate, Christianity can be fun.
There are also tennis courts, cricket pitches, gardens, a heated swimming-pool and playing fields. Drawn from Anglican and Baptist churches, the 60 girls and boys are spending a week in Berkshire at one of 100 Venture summer camps run by the evangelical Church Pastoral Aid Society — founded in 1836 by Lord Shaftesbury.
They are discussing how to live as a Christian in a world increasingly hostile to faith. Here, they say, the key feature is that they are not made to feel foolish for believing in God.
Most of the young people, aged 11 to 14, are already committed to Christianity, and the emphasis of the programme is as much on fun as faith.
The day begins with ball games. Breakfast is followed by Bible study, and more games, plus arts and crafts workshops. At “buzz groups”, children can discuss issues such as peer pressure and self-esteem. Lunch in the dining-room, a lively affair, is followed by group activities such as role-playing. Sport, jewellery-making and cookery continue through the afternoon. There is free time, and a sung celebration in the evening before the leaders put on party games, acting and dancing.
George Heath-Whyte, who is 13, said that he was among the few Christians in his year at school. “It is really encouraging to come here where most of the people are Christian. It is fun being encouraged to faith. How can you be encouraged to be an atheist? That would be pretty boring.”
Zimbabwean Anglicans are urging the new leader of the Anglican church in their country to move to reconcile the strife-riven diocese of Harare which has been locked in a battle with excommunicated former bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a close supporter of Robert Mugabe, the country’s president.
The new bishop of the Anglican diocese of Harare, Chad Nicholas Gandiya (right), was consecrated on July 26 at a gathering of more than 10,000 people, Harare diocese information officer Precious Shumba told Ecumenical News International.
“The dean of the Anglican Province of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama, presided over the ordination and he urged the new bishop to heal and reconcile the diocese of Harare which was riven by division,” Ms. Shumba said.
Bishop Gandiya succeeds Sebastian Bakare (left), a retired cleric who served as the diocese’s interim bishop from December 2007 when Bishop Kunonga was deposed. The church said Bishop Kunonga had illegally separated from the Province of Central Africa by installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe. Bishop Kunonga said he believed the church that deposed him was too cozy with homosexuals.
As an avowed supporter of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, many Anglicans say Bishop Kunonga has supported the intimidation and persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe who have opposed his leadership and that of Mr. Mugabe, in the devastated country.
The Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said it shares the concerns of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that the Anglican Communion’s unity be maintained through common faith and practice based on scripture and tradition. The July 29 statement from the Vatican office came two days after Archbishop Williams issued his reflection on actions taken at this month’s General Convention. The statement said the Vatican “supports the archbishop in his desire to strengthen these bonds of communion, and to articulate more fully the relationship between the local and the universal within the church.
“It is our prayer that the Anglican Communion, even in this difficult situation, may find a way to maintain its unity and its witness to Christ as a worldwide communion,” the statement concluded.
Archbishop Williams noted that if a two-track structure for the Anglican Communion emerges, representatives to ecumenical and interfaith dialogues would be drawn only from members who accept and adhere to a covenantal structure. If those who instead choose local autonomy “do not take official roles in the ecumenical interchanges and processes in which the ‘covenanted’ body participates, this is simply because within these processes there has to be clarity about who has the authority to speak for whom,” the archbishop wrote.
Episcopal church announces its plan to share $12,000 Pay It Forward money
The Episcopal Foundation of Wyoming recently sponsored a Mustard Seed Mission and forwarded a check of $12,000 to each Episcopal congregation in Wyoming. To quote the Rt. Rev. Bruce Caldwell, Bishop of the Diocese of Wyoming, regarding the mission project, “I imagine a Kingdom tree growing out of this small mustard seed: a Kingdom tree so large that the poor, the lonely, the old, the young, the sick, and the hungry can find within it a place of refuge and peace.” May God bless your efforts – all for Christ’s sake and God’s glory.
In response, St. James Episcopal Church members in Kemmerer, have prayerfully pondered the mission project and planting $12,000, like a mustard seed in Kemm-erer/Diamondville. Our local “Pay It Forward” project is intended to plant, grow, and pay it forward, in our community, through the members of our community.
As in the movie “Pay It Forward”, an action to help another person, benefits the giver, the receiver and the community when paid forward from person to person. We may be in need, our neighbor may be in need, or a shut-in down the street may not be able to pay a utility or buy a needed prescription. Or perhaps, a job is lost or hunger exists. The real life situations we are all too familiar with, go on and on. Most all of us can remember when someone lent us a much needed helping hand sometime in our lives. Now is an occasion when we can be a helping hand.
For Kemmerer / Diamondville, St. James members will hold a Pay It Forward event on August 9th at 7 p.m. to give $100 in cash to individuals in our communities. All we ask is that you use the $100 to pay it forward and then send back a short explanation of how you used the money in a self-addressed stamped envelope we provide. For example, give the $100 to someone poor, old, young, sick, hungry, jobless. Invest in someone in need. That someone could be you.
Please join us in lending a helping hand to those in need by taking part in the Pay It Forward event, August 9th, 7 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church.
Use the gift of $100 to pay it forward to someone in need. It is our prayer that by using these gifts of $100 to help those in need that God’s grace may turn this small gift into a huge blessing.
St. John’s Episcopal congregation returned home this month, and Sunday marked a full-circle journey.
Visiting Bishop Barry L. Beisner presided over a choral service and the baptism of baby Cali Ann Louise Joyce.
“There are world struggles, changes, challenges and gifts,” Beisner reminded the congregation Sunday. “Amazing grace, and here we are. It’s not the end; only the next step in the journey. We have arrived in this place, and now (have) the additional gift to serve.”
For St. John’s, June marked the return of church members to the historic Fifth Street church after a 21⁄2-year odyssey to re-establish its legal right to regain the building and the majority of its $450,000 outreach endowment.
In December 2006, members of the original congregation split from St. John’s Episcopal Church as part of a larger national break by conservative congregations over same-sex blessings, ordination of a gay bishop and the authority of Scripture. The breakaway St. John’s Anglican Church continued meeting in the church, an 1890 shingled sanctuary and rectory.
The remaining Episcopal members re-formed under the Rev. Norman Cram, who came out of retirement to conduct services — first in a parishioner’s living room and later at Elim Lutheran Church.
A settlement recently was reached with St. John’s Anglican congregation after a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling involving churches in a similar situation in Southern California.
“To be back home means we can reach outside of our border to the community of Petaluma,” said Cram. “Currently, we have been exploring areas in which there are vacuums in ministry.”
Has Rowan Williams just set the Church of England on the road to disestablishment? Or does he envision it as standing outside the central body of Anglicanism that he is trying now to erect? I have just read carefully throughhis response to the American Church's recognition of equal gay rights, and there are two things that are really striking about it. The first is familiar from his earlier struggles with the matter: a certain airy disdain for the facts of the struggle in hand and the simple mutual hatred which has driven it for the last 20 years.
Who is going to believe him when he writes that "It needs to be made absolutely clear that, on the basis of repeated statements at the highest levels of the communion's life, no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the body of Christ."?
He may remember "repeated statements at the highest levels of the communion's life" – I remember two African bishops at the 1998 Lambeth conference walking past two American women priests, and one saying in a voice designed to be overheard "When I said there were no homosexuals in our country I should have added that this is because we have killed them all", a remark which struck both men as pretty damn funny. It was at the same conference that an English bishop said to me that his preferred solution to gay clergy was "to sew up their arseholes and throw the scissors away."
These attitudes haven't changed at all since then. And it is of course true that there are liberals who despise the conservatives along with the bigots just as much. But when I read Rowan's grand assertion that after the church has split in two, "a competitive hostility between the two would be one of the worst possible outcomes, and needs to be clearly repudiated", I ask "repudiated by whom?" If there weren't already a competitive hostility between the two factions of the American church we wouldn't be in this mess.
How many times do you really want to read the word “nuanced”? You better like it a lot if you intend to glance at recent press accounts of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William’s recent statement in the wake of the Epspocpal Church’s decisions at General Convention. Denominational leaders removed canonical barriers to consecrating (more) gay bishops — and officially began the process of moving towards the creation of a gay-union liturgy. Some of the stories are a lot more detailed than others, some more balanced than others. And it’s safe to say that if anyone is happy with the Archbishop’s latest reflections, they aren’t quoted.
But all of the ones I’ve read, without exception, would have been broadened by some more diverse quotes.
The reporters elicit reaction from the usual suspects, reliable partisans geared to crank up the volume a bit in an already changeable situation. And while the articles attempt to interpret what Williams has said (admittedly, often a challenge), no one, outside of the parties most invested, is asked to analyze what it is the Archbishop hopes to achieve.
Here’s a sampling of some of the stories published and posted in the last few days.
Kudos to Julia Duin of the Washington Times for interviewing Archbishop Robert Duncan of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America, the Rev. Susan Russell of the Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity and the Rev. Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, another separatist group. She gets some powerful quotes from them. Duin’s story also conveys well a sense of across-the-board impatience with Williams that certainly is reflected in many blogs and some of the British stories.
From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department- (and the London Telegraph)
Do you believe Jesus is present in a Communion wafer consecrated by a woman? Then have one of these. You don’t? Then you’ll want one of those over there.
Seriously: Blackburn Cathedral is offering worshippers a choice of wafers consecrated by its new residentiary canon, Dr Sue Penfold, or by one of its male clergy. That way, traditionalists who can’t accept women priests don’t have to consume a host that is (in their view) just a piece of bread because Dr Penfold’s orders are invalid. (And yes, Catholic readers, I know that our Church teaches that all Anglican wafers are as transubstantiated as a slice of Hovis. Though it doesn’t put it quite like that.)
Canon Andrew Hindley from the cathedral has defended the arrangement. “It was agreed by all the clergy and cathedral chapter that this was the best way to handle what we call a mixed economy,” he said. Mixed economy? Is that the new euphemism? When I was religious correspondent of this paper in the 90s it was “two integrities”. (By the way, I’ve just noticed that my colleague George Pitcher has had a go at Blackburn Cathedral over this. He says: the Church of England ordains woman priests, and soon women bishops. Get over it. He’s quite right.) Meanwhile, Dr Rowan Williams has come up with a fresh piece of doublespeak, this time relating to the gay issue. The Churches of the Anglican Communion now teach that homosexual relations are (a) sinful or (b) not sinful, depending on which province you’re in. Archbishop?
“Perhaps we are faced with the possibility rather of a ‘two-track’ model, two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage …”
You can read +Rowan Cantuar’s full argument here. It’s actually very ingenious. And very silly.
The link to the ABC's remarks is in the article below-
Vatican concerns about how some recent decisions of the U.S. Episcopal Church will impact the search for full Anglican-Roman Catholic unity are echoed in a reflection by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Communion.
Writing July 27 about the Episcopal Church's recent general convention, Archbishop Williams repeatedly referred to the need to keep in mind the ecumenical implications of local church decisions in addition to their impact on the unity of the Anglican Communion as a whole.
Archbishop Williams' reflection, titled "Communion, Covenant and Our Anglican Future," was published on the archbishop's Web site at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/2502.
In a statement July 29, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity noted Archbishop Williams' concern for maintaining the unity of the Anglican Communion through common faith and practice based on Scripture and tradition.
The Vatican office "supports the archbishop in his desire to strengthen these bonds of communion, and to articulate more fully the relationship between the local and the universal within the church," the statement said.
"It is our prayer that the Anglican Communion, even in this difficult situation, may find a way to maintain its unity and its witness to Christ as a worldwide communion," it added.
Someone in the secular press finally gets it right. From Fredricksburg Maryland-
TWO WEEKS in Anaheim, Calif., and 44 years in the news business have convinced me that the Episcopal Church and the media are not a good mix.
A church that champions nuance and balance doesn't talk in ways that translate easily into sound bites and headlines. That's certainly the case with this month's 11-day-long Episcopal General Convention in a sprawling convention hall next to Disneyland.
Read the stories about the hot-button issues of the day (if you guessed sex, you're right), and you'd think the Episcopalians had: 1) lifted the moratorium on gay bishops and 2) as a headline in The Free Lance-Star suggested, OK'd prayer for gay couples.
To which I, as the editor of an opinion journal at the convention published by the Diocese of Virginia, say: 1) not necessarily, and 2) no.
Let's begin with the issue of prayers for those in same-gender unions.
It's no secret that informal blessings of such unions have been going on for some time in the church, particularly in those jurisdictions where such partnerships have legal standing.
But it's incorrect to suggest, as some reports have, that changes in church-sanctioned prayers have been authorized.
Indeed, a reference to such "rites" was deleted from the resolution passed by the convention. So was a reference to "action" that the next General Convention might take on this matter in 2012.
What was approved was the "collection and development" of materials to be "considered" by the next convention. Bishops also were authorized, in a wonderful touch of Anglican vagueness, to offer "generous pastoral support" for those in same-gender unions. And that's it.
As for the lifting of a moratorium on gay bishops, some will certainly interpret the actions of this convention as doing just that. But, as is so often the case, it's a bit more complicated than that.
For starters, there never was an official moratorium on such consents to gay bishops. Three years ago, the convention asked dioceses to exercise "restraint" in such matters.
Second, this year's resolution does not explicitly repeal the call for "restraint" from 2006. It states that God has called and may call in the future gay and lesbian people to all levels of ordination--deacons, priests and bishops. But it leaves these decisions where they've always been--in the hands of dioceses, which are free to continue to exercise restraint.
Leaders of the church have stressed that this resolution on ordination is meant to be an honest description of where the church is now, not a prescription for future action.
Too much nuance, you say? Why indulge in such legalistic hair-splitting, you ask?
Call it dithering, if you like. But I consider this heavy dose of Anglican ambivalence to be an honest effort to reflect a church that is still striving and discerning on these issues. This is a church where passions are being tempered by humility.
It's also a church whose actions will never fit into the first paragraph of a news story, much less on a bumper sticker.
So my husband fell ill with the flu last week — likely swine flu. We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, which include not attending Divine Service today at our church. While much of the hoopla surrounding swine flu is overblown — we’ve learned it’s basically the same as normal flu, just scarier sounding — the pandemic is affecting the way congregations handle communion.
This is an old story, in that every time there’s a particularly bad flu outbreak we get stories about the matter, but this piece that ran on CNN.com seemed a bit brief and problematic.
The headline, to begin with, struck me as a bit irreverent:
Poisoned chalice? Swine flu hits church wine
It also makes it seem as if, well, swine flu actually hit church wine. Nothing in the story supports that idea. It’s just that the archbishops of Canterbury and York in the Church of England have recommended that parishioners stop sharing the chalice during communion because of fears over swine flu.
Moves by the Episcopal church to include lesbian and gay people more fully have been controversial among their fellow-Anglicans elsewhere. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has warned that a "two-track" communion may be required.
But developments in religious circles, as in wider society, have often taken place despite strong opposition. Deep disagreement in the church is nothing new, and Anglicanism, from its beginnings, has aroused controversy. Church unity cannot be founded on refusing equal treatment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people while allowing all kinds of other disputed practices.
A recent gathering in the US made the headlines because it recognised that, in the view of most of Episcopalians, partnered lesbians and gays as well as heterosexuals might be called by God to be deacons, priests or bishops, and offered greater flexibility on services of blessing in areas where the law allowed same-sex partnerships, as well as calling for more work on the issue. Delegates were aware that, in their own province as well as Anglican churches elsewhere in the world, different people had different opinions, but took the view that there was far more that united Anglicans than divided them.
Some bishops and archbishops elsewhere, however, have argued that it is time to bring an end to the freedom which Anglicans have traditionally enjoyed to worship and witness to God's love in their own national contexts. While those most passionately opposed to full inclusion have been given almost unlimited scope to do as they please, moves have been underway for some time to expel, or at best treat as second-class churches, those who do not treat LGBT Christians as second-class. Though himself a moderate, Archbishop Williams has largely gone along with this to avoid a split, and probably also to promote closer links with Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
A well-connected Rome source reports that Forward in Faith, the umbrella group for conservative Anglo-Catholics in the C of E, is talking to the Vatican about corporate union. Here’s the odd thing about the rumour: it claims that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna is meeting with Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham at the suggestion of the Holy Father.
The model for the move to Rome could be the proposed reception of the Traditional Anglican Communion into the Catholic Church. But Broadhurst has very firmly denied that Forward in Faith is throwing in its lot with the TAC, a rebel Anglican group that has already submitted to the Magisterium.
Now, if there’s one thing I know about Bishop Broadhurst is that he’s a wily old fox. He blows hot and cold on the subject of Rome, perhaps because he was baptised a Roman Catholic. I’m sure he wouldn’t dream of joining the TAC in any shape or form - but he’ll be jolly interested in the details of any deal it does with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
But why involve the Archbishop of Vienna, Count Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert von Schönborn? (OK, so he doesn’t use his aristocratic title, but what a cool name.) I don’t know. Perhaps it was just a suggestion that Vienna and Fulham should meet. But my source is close enough to high-level figures in the curia for me to be sure that there’s something significant going on.
The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester emphasized hope as he reflected on the just-completed consent process to his election as Bishop of Northern Michigan. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori informed Linda Piper, president of the diocese’s standing committee, on July 28 that Fr. Thew Forrester failed to gain the required number of consents from the standing committees or bishops of The Episcopal Church.
“I have been extraordinarily blessed and honored to walk with my friends from the Diocese of Northern Michigan over these past months as their bishop-elect,” Fr. Thew Forrester said. “I treasure the support they have extended me and my family, as well as that I have received from Hong Kong to Holland and from Great Britain to New Zealand, and indeed from so many throughout The Episcopal Church.
“As we live and move and have our being in Christ, there is truly a holy wisdom in all that is unfolding, and as St. John of the Cross affirms, a grace in ‘all that happens,’” he said.
The diocese's seven-member standing committee released a statement through Ms. Piper.
“We are disappointed and saddened by the outcome of the consent process,” the statement said. “We invite the wider church to reflect with us on what this experience can teach us about the episcopal search and consent process. Among the issues ripe for discussion are how bishops and standing committees can best be made aware of the particular needs of individual dioceses, and how new communications technologies affect the consent process. We hope that out of our disappointment can come a deeper understanding of the ways in which we can all be accountable to one another as members of the body of Christ.”
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has prevailed in its initial lawsuit against Anglican Bishop John-David Schofield, who was the first in the nation to lead his diocese away from the Episcopal Church over the interpretation of Scripture and the 2004 ordination of an openly gay bishop.
Thursday, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Adolfo Corona ruled that Bishop Jerry Lamb, not Schofield, is the one true Episcopal bishop of the diocese.
In his ruling, Corona said the 2008 changes made to the diocesan constitution to switch allegiance from the Episcopal Church to the Anglican province of the Southern Cone were "void." He also said the diocesan documents are clear: All property in the diocese belongs to the Episcopal bishop, which in this case is Lamb.
Monday, Lamb called the court's decision "a pretty good ruling." He recently moved the Episcopal diocesan office from Stockton to St. Paul's Church in Modesto after the Anglican majority of that church's congregation relinquished its property, partly to avoid a lawsuit.
"The court was very clear, at least in my reading of it," Lamb said. "They found that I am the Episcopal bishop, that I have charge -- I mean that the Episcopal Church has charge -- of all property and assets."
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on July 27 notified the standing committee of the Diocese of Northern Michigan that the necessary consents to the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as bishop were not received within the prescribed time period and therefore his election was "null and void." In Thew Forrester's case, standing committees had until July 19 and bishops with jurisdiction had until July 25.
"I have been extraordinarily blessed and honored to walk with my friends from the Diocese of Northern Michigan over these past months as their bishop-elect. I treasure the support they have extended me and my family, as well as that I have received from Hong Kong to Holland and from Great Britain to New Zealand, and indeed from so many throughout The Episcopal Church. As we live and move and have our being in Christ, there is truly a Holy Wisdom in all that is unfolding, and as St. John of the Cross affirms, a grace in 'all that happens,'" said Thew Forrester in a statement.
Members of the standing committee couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Thew Forrester, chosen during a special convention on February 21 to succeed James Kelsey who died in June, 2007, had come under intense scrutiny since his election.
Initially, concern centered on Thew Forrester's status as the only candidate at the convention and the question of whether his practice of Zen Buddhist meditation diluted his commitment to the Christian faith, making him unsuitable to serve as a bishop. That attention led to the internet publication of some of Thew Forrester's sermons and writings along with a revision he made to the Episcopal Church's baptismal liturgy, raising further concern among some about his theology.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to bishops in the Church of England advising them to halt the sharing of the chalice during communion to help prevent the spread of swine flu.
During communion, members of the congregation typically drink wine from a chalice before it is wiped clean by the presiding minister and administered to the next communicant.
The Archbishops have issued the latest guidelines following new advice from the Department of Health against the sharing of “common vessels” for food or drink.
Some churches have halted the use of wine during communion altogether and are now offering only bread, while other churches have taken to administering communion wine in separate glasses for each member of the congregation.
Church members showing symptoms of swine flu are being asked to refrain from attending services or church meetings.
For churches still wishing to offer bread and wine, the Archbishops recommend the use of “personal intinction by the presiding minister”, in which the priest may dip communion wafers in the chalice before handing them out to communicants.
The archbishop of Canterbury today reiterated his opposition to ordaining gay clergy and authorising same-sex blessings, warning liberal churches that such practices would lead to isolation and relegation in the Anglican communion.
Rowan Williams was responding in a statement today to developments in the US Episcopal church which earlier this month voted to open the ordination process to gay people and to consider developing blessings for same-sex couples.
In typically lengthy and nuanced prose, the archbishop said that the church's stance on these matters was unlikely to "repair the broken bridges in the life of the other Anglican provinces" and that "very serious anxieties had already been expressed" in the communion.
Same-sex blessings were "at the very least analogous" to Christian marriage and people living in such unions could not "without serious incongruity" have a representative function in a church whose public teaching was "at odds with their lifestyle", he said.
This disparity in theology and practice between conservatives and liberals – exacerbated by the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 as the communion's first bishop in a relationship with another man – would lead to a "twofold ecclesial reality", he added.
"Perhaps we are faced with the possibility of a two-track model, two ways of witnessing Anglican heritage, one of which had decided that local autonomy had to be the prevailing value."
In a 2,800-word reflection on The Episcopal Church's relationship to the broader Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury on Monday again emphasized that the Communion may follow a two-track model in its future structure.
Archbishop Rowan Williams twice described the blessing of same-sex couples as involving a chosen lifestyle, and mentioned blessings’ possible ill effects on ecumenical relations, or decreased involvement in such dialogues.
In the archbishop’s description, one Communion track favors the proposed Anglican Covenant as a way of uniting Anglicans, while a second track may decide that local autonomy must prevail.
“If those who elect this model do not take official roles in the ecumenical interchanges and processes in which the ‘covenanted’ body participates, this is simply because within these processes there has to be clarity about who has the authority to speak for whom,” the archbishop wrote.
For those Anglicans who do not favor a covenant, “there is no threat of being cast into outer darkness—existing relationships will not be destroyed that easily,” he wrote. “But it means that there is at least the possibility of a twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance: that is, a ‘covenanted’ Anglican global body, fully sharing certain aspects of a vision of how the church should be and behave, able to take part as a body in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; and, related to this body, but in less formal ways with fewer formal expectations, there may be associated local churches in various kinds of mutual partnership and solidarity with one another and with ‘covenanted’ provinces.”
Archbishop Williams renewed his often-expressed hope that all provinces of the Anglican Communion ultimately will support the covenant, which faces a new round of possible revision.
“But in the current context, the question is becoming more sharply defined of whether, if a province declines such an invitation, any elements within it will be free (granted the explicit provision that the Covenant does not purport to alter the Constitution or internal polity of any province) to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with other parts of the Communion. It is important that there should be a clear answer to this question.”
From the Hall of Fame Cooperstown- (Joe Gordon who was elected posthumously is pictured)
Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice stood on the same stage as baseball's all-time greats on Sunday, taking their rightful places among them as the newest inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Amid a few droplets of rain at Clark Sports Center in baseball's historic burgh, the two left fielders -- Henderson, the quintessential leadoff hitter; Rice, the perennial power man -- saw their status as legends cemented at the annual ceremony, which this year was attended by 50 members of the Hall of Fame's 65 living members.
In front of an announced crowd of about 21,000, Rice and Henderson were joined in the hallowed Hall's Class of 2009 by former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe "Flash" Gordon, who was honored posthumously.
With broadcaster Tony Kubek and sportswriter Nick Peters also receiving honors for their achievements, the ceremony rolled on through threatening skies that never quite followed through on the threats.
In fact, the sun occasionally broke through with impeccable timing as Induction Day once again became a beacon of light into baseball's grand history.
There stood Rickey, smiling that familiar smile, and Rice, smiling a newly familiar smile almost never seen on the field, among the greats literally and officially.
"It's like being welcomed at home plate after hitting a walk-off home run," Rice said, beaming throughout most of his gracious speech. "I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than right here, right now."
Henderson -- whose loose, fun personality made his induction speech a highly anticipated one -- played it mostly straight and finished in a sincerely respectful tone, once again invoking his idol, Muhammad Ali.
The Archbishop Canterbury responds to the 76th general Convention-
1. No-one could be in any doubt about the eagerness of the Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church at the General Convention to affirm their concern about the wider Anglican Communion. Their generous welcome to guests from elsewhere, including myself, the manifest engagement with the crushing problems of the developing world and even the wording of one of the more controversial resolutions all make plain the fact that the Episcopal Church does not wish to cut its moorings from other parts of the Anglican family. There has been an insistence at the highest level that the two most strongly debated resolutions (DO25 and CO56) do not have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria, if the wording is studied carefully. There is a clear commitment to seek counsel from elsewhere in the Communion about certain issues and an eloquent resolution in support of the 'Covenant for a Communion in Mission' as commended by ACC13. All of this merits grateful acknowledgement. The relationship between the Episcopal Church and the wider Communion is a reality which needs continued engagement and encouragement.
2. However, a realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed. The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour, although a significant minority of bishops has just as clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion. The statement that the Resolutions are essentially 'descriptive' is helpful, but unlikely to allay anxieties.
3. There are two points which I believe need to be reiterated and thought through further, and it seems to fall to the Archbishop of Canterbury to try and articulate them. To some extent they echo part of what I wrote after the last General Convention, as well as things said at the Lambeth Conference and the ACC, but they still have some pertinence.
Nearly 400 arrive for youth work campHome repairs on tap week
Nearly 400 youths have come to Elizabeth City to repair the homes of elderly, handicapped and lower-income residents through the Group WorkCamp program.
The program is sponsored locally by River City Community Development Corporation. The church youth groups from 14 states will be helping residents of Pasquotank, Camden and Chowan counties.
“I love it,” Jeff Wibben, 17, of Long Island, N.Y., said Sunday afternoon as he prepared to attend an opening assembly for the work camp at Pasquotank County High School.
Wibben and some of his friends are participating in the work camp for their sixth consecutive summer.
“We tried it and we’ve just loved it ever since,” Wibben said. Although he’s a work camp veteran, this is Wibben’s first time in Elizabeth City. The work camp program grows by contagion.
Wibben said he has asked a number of his friends to come on work camp weeks. They have come, had a good time, returned the next year and recruited others.
Kallie Epperson, 15, of Winder, Ga., is attending her first work camp.
Hearing her mother talk about her own work camp experiences prompted her to come on this trip. Her mother had talked to her about the joys of meeting new people, of being accepted and accepting others.
“It’s a nice idea to know that you can help somebody by fixing up for them when they’re maybe not able to do it for themselves,” Epperson said.
John Fulton, camp director, said more than 375 kids from 16 church youth groups have come to Elizabeth City for the week. States represented include North and South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, New York and Kansas. Denominations with groups in Elizabeth City this week include Methodist, Lutheran. Presbyterian and Episcopal.
Our parish does a similar ministry for an inner-city Pittsburgh school
Backpacks fill lots of students' needs
There are those who thank God for Fridays, but Melinda Wesneski is living for a Monday.
It's the day each year when months of work culminates in a joyful celebration as the Washington County School Supply Drive hands out hundreds of backpacks filled with markers, crayons and paper to about 1,800 children from throughout the region. This year backpacks will be handed out Aug. 10 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Bartlesville.
"I do all of the work for Monday because it is a joy to see the children and the looks on their faces," Wesneski said. "They are patient; there is no complaining while they wait. They come and they line up early, sometimes in the rain. They really do appreciate this."
There are many school supply drives in communities across the United States, but Wesneski, who is president of the supply drive, sees Washington County's effort as unique because it has an organized system that matches the exact supplies needed for each school with the student who will be receiving them.
Organizers work with the schools to find out what is needed and then pack the backpacks accordingly.
Teachers in one elementary might want five glue sticks, while teachers in another school might want students to have glue bottles instead. It's covered — thanks to an organized effort that has been honed to a science through years of conducting the supply drive.
"We are actually making sure the students have exactly what they need," Wesneski said.
Sign-ups are under way through Friday for students who would like to receive a backpack filled with the school supplies they need for the year. Sign-up forms are available at Agape Mission, CONCERN and Mary Martha Outreach. The drive has grown from serving 900 students in 2003 to double that number last year.
The Rev. Joseph M. Constant, director of Ethnic Ministries and Student Life at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), has just release a new book, "No Turning Back: the Black Presence at Virginia Theological Seminary" (Evergreen Press), which endeavors to capture the story of racism in the life of the institutions of the Bishop Payne Divinity School and the VTS.
"No Turning Back" was written in response to the 2006 General Convention Resolution A123 in which The Episcopal Church resolved to "acknowledge its history of participation in [slavery and the deep and lasting injury which the institution of slavery and its aftermath have inflicted on society and on the Church." The letter of apology from Dean Markham included in the book is an explicit acknowledgement of the Seminary's own failures and is reflective of the commitment of the Seminary to address its own failures in eradicating racism.
"No Turning Back" also ensures that the rich history and tradition in the Episcopal Church amongst African Americans--particularly as it relates to theological education at VTS--is not lost.
"The total impact of this book is striking," said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary. "It is a powerful analysis and narrative of an institution's interaction with unjust structures and a powerful challenge to us all to make the world different for the future."
In addition to an introduction by the Rev. Lloyd A. Lewis, Ph.D. (VTS '72), the Seminary's Molly Laird Downs Professor of New Testament, the book includes a historical narrative and interviews with several of the black graduates of VTS. "My interviews with the graduates of Virginia Theological Seminary," said Constant, "bear witness to the fact that those who are concerned with racial justice must pay close attention to the future of theological education since there is 'no turning back.'"
A 2003 graduate of VTS, Mr. Constant comes to VTS following service at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. Born in Haiti, Mr. Constant is the founder of the Haiti-Micah Project, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to addressing the most basic needs of impoverished and uneducated street children in Haiti.
Asserted Constant, "It is my hope this book will open a dialogue at a Diocesan and local Church level and at seminaries as we examine the future of the Episcopal Church and the future of our black membership."
Copies of "No Turning Back" are now available in the Cokesbury bookstore on the VTS campus and can be purchased by calling 703-461-1768.
As the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh neared a split, Betsy Hetzler could not follow her beloved Church of the Atonement in Carnegie out of the Episcopal Church.
She moved to the Church of the Nativity in Crafton, but she still supports Atonement's rummage sales and collects the baby items that it gives to her favorite charity.
"I have friends there, but I feel a release not being there any more. My heart is in the parish where I belong now," she said.
Such words come from both sides after the Oct. 4 vote by the Diocese of Pittsburgh to secede from the 2.1 million-member Episcopal Church, one of 38 provinces in the 80 million-member Anglican Communion, a global body of churches that grew out of the Church of England. The vote hinged on whether the denomination had abandoned biblical faith in matters ranging from salvation to sexuality.
There is sadness over broken relationships and anger over property litigation. But relations are more amicable than in most other fractured dioceses.
Both are called the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, though the 57-parish Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) isn't affiliated with the Episcopal Church. It is part of the newly formed Anglican Church in North America, whose spiritual leader is Archbishop Robert Duncan, of Pittsburgh.
"The Lord is blessing us. There aren't any glum faces around here," Archbishop Duncan said.
While Archbishop Duncan builds a 100,000-member international body from scratch, Bishop Robert Johnson ministers part time to the 28-parish diocese that remains in the Episcopal Church. It now has an office in Monroeville.
"When I arrived it was just me -- a bishop, a cell phone and a car. It was like being a missionary bishop," said Bishop Johnson, the retired bishop of Western North Carolina.
When he visits parishes, "I don't talk about the problems we face in this diocese unless they ask me. I find that most people are focused forward," he said.
The Presiding Bishop's Office announced that on July 21, 2009, the Superior Court of Fresno County, California, issued an order resolving most of the legal issues in litigation involving the identity and property of the Diocese of San Joaquin. The court ruled in favor of the church and the diocese on all issues that had been presented to it. In its opinion, the court sustained the position of the church and the diocese that Bishop Jerry Lamb is the bishop of the diocese and the officeholder in the diocesan corporations, and that former Bishop John-David Schofield is no longer the bishop and has no claim to any of the corporate offices.
In reaching this conclusion, the court found that there is no question that The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, of which the diocese is an integral part. It also held that The Episcopal Church's rules did not permit the diocese to revoke its accession to the church's constitution and canons or to join a different denomination. Finally, the court ruled that the continuing Diocese of San Joaquin is "not a new organization" created after former Bishop Schofield attempted to remove the diocese from the church, but that the diocese "is the older organization from which (Schofield and the other) defendants removed themselves."
The motion for summary adjudication was briefed and argued for the church by Goodwin Procter, the law firm of the Presiding Bishop's chancellor, with Heather Anderson and Adam Chud taking the lead in assisting the diocese and its chancellor and counsel, Michael Glass.
The Superior Court's decision is the first involving a dispute over the property of a diocese of The Episcopal Church, and is expected to be helpful in cases involving other dioceses.
After months of deliberation, a California Superior Court judge in Fresno has rejected a breakaway group's attempts to remove the Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church and affirmed Bishop Jerry Lamb as the leader of the diocese. "It is beyond dispute that the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church," concluded Judge Adolfo M. Corona when issuing his July 21 ruling. He rejected such arguments by defendants, including former bishop John-David Schofield, that the hierarchical nature of the church is something to be determined on a "case by case basis."
Corona also ruled void the attempts by the breakaway group, led by Schofield, to amend the diocesan constitution and canons to disaffiliate the diocese from the Episcopal Church and to reaffiliate with another province. An overwhelming majority of the diocese's congregations voted to realign with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in December 2007 but attempted to retain diocesan property and assets.
"If the Constitution of the Diocese incorporates and accedes to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, which require accession, then the Constitution of the Diocese cannot be amended to remove such language," Corona wrote in the 21-page decision.
Bishop Jerry Lamb hailed the ruling, the full text of which may be found here.
"I am very, very pleased with this decision," said Lamb, who was elected Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin at a March 29, 2008 special convention.
"The judge was extraordinarily clear on the fact that we are the Episcopal diocese, that I am the Episcopal bishop and that we control all of the properties that are now part of The Episcopal Church or were part of The Episcopal Church before the separation occurred nearly two years ago," Lamb said in a telephone interview late Friday.
He said the ruling is a first step toward regaining disputed property worth "millions of dollars" including the diocesan offices in Fresno, at least 30 church facilities, and the diocesan camp and conference center.