Saturday, September 12, 2009

Extra Helping of Welcoming

Washington Post-

Autumn brings the end of beach weekends, boating and picnics and the resurgence of school, football -- and church.

In an effort to refocus the attention of parishioners and possibly attract newcomers and the disaffected, many churches borrow a page from universities and designate a Sunday in September as a "homecoming." Although the idea reaches back a couple of centuries for some parishes, it is taking on a more organized feel in the United States and Britain.

This year, the Christian communications organization Outreach Inc., based in Vista, Calif., started a campaign declaring this Sunday as "Back to Church Sunday" and offering a free tool kit that includes a "campaign planning guide," promotional materials and a booklet, "Rethink Church."

According to Outreach's Web site, the campaign is "designed to increase church attendance by empowering church members with the tools they need to welcome neighbors, friends, and loved ones back to church."

In an interview, Outreach founder and chief executive Scott Evans said a recent study by Southern Baptist-affiliated Lifeway Research sparked the campaign. The study found that "82 percent of people who don't go to church would be somewhat likely to go if invited but that only 2 percent of people who do go to church had invited someone," he said. Outreach, Evans said, is "equipping people to be inviters."

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming moves to Casper

From Casper Journal-

The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming’s new home should be ready just in time to welcome the 400-500 Wyoming church members who will meet in Casper for their annual convention in mid-October. The major renovation of one of downtown Casper’s vintage buildings is turning the 1959-60 era, concrete construction building into a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “green” showcase.

The first formal location of the Episcopal diocese that now numbers approximately 8,000 members was in Fort Laramie in 1849, when the fort’s soldiers and its families were assigned an Episcopal chaplain. Episcopalians built the state’s first church edifice, St. Mark’s in Cheyenne and in 1886, Wyoming as part of the Missionary District of Idaho and Wyoming had its first bishop.

According to a church legend related by executive director of the Episcopal Foundation John Masters, the diocese was headquartered in Laramie because the bishop at the time agreed to settle in the community that would build a cathedral. The denomination now has 47 churches throughout the state, including St. Stephens on the Wind River Reservation, and provides financial support for the Cathedral Home in Cheyenne and Casper’s Youth Crisis Center.

The 40,000 miles of annual travel retiring Bishop Bruce Caldwell put in to serve his far-flung flock prompted a search for a more central location for the diocese, Masters said. The Episcopal Foundation found the former Beech Street Law Office building on South Durbin Street with the help of CAEDA, and reconstruction began in March 2009.

More here-

NAVAJOLAND: Convocation planned for October 17

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church in Navajoland is poised to, at an upcoming October 17 gathering, vote on its own leadership.

That selection, of an interim canon to the ordinary to be put forward to the Presiding Bishop for her appointment, would bring the Episcopal Church in Navajoland (ECN) a step closer toward its eventual goal of selecting a Navajo or Diné bishop by 2013, according to Anna Fowler, of Farmington, New Mexico.

"I am very excited," said Fowler, a member of the design team that helped to craft a proposal for developing Navajo leadership, to be considered at the October convocation.

"In the past we've had interim bishops appointed by the Presiding Bishop's office, and we've appreciated the appointments of those bishops that have helped us. But this time, we're going to do it. We are excited. We have challenges, yes, but we will come together and be proud that we have done this work."

The Presiding Bishop has asked for the input of the people of Navajoland, which is an area mission of the Episcopal Church, not a diocese. At the invitation of the Presiding Bishop's office, the Rt. Rev. Rustin Kimsey, former Assisting Bishop of Navajoland, has agreed to convene the convocation. Delegates attending that meeting will choose between two candidates; each has longstanding relationships with the ECN.

"We're very fortunate to have him [Kimsey] because he was interim bishop here and Navajoland knows him," Fowler said. "He helped Navajoland in a lot of ways as a leader," she added.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Georgia to elect new bishop

From Gerorgia-

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, which does not include Columbus, will elect a new bishop at a special convention Saturday in Tifton. The current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Henry Louttit, is retiring.
One candidate is from this diocese, the Diocese of Atlanta. He is the Very Rev. Dean Taylor, rector of St. Mark's, Dalton. Taylor also spent about a decade of his childhood in Columbus, and attended St. Thomas.

The other five candidates are:

The Rev Scott A. Benhase, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington D.C.
The Rev. William Patrick Gahan. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Wimberley, Texas
The Rev. Frank S. Logue, King of Peace Episcopal Church, Kingsland, Ga.
The Rev. Stephen F. Zimmerman, Chapel of St. Andrew, Boca Raton, Fla.
The Rev. William Willoughby III, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Savannah, Ga.

If one of the candidates is not elected in seven ballots, delegates will dismiss and reconvene in two weeks.

The diocese takes in Albany, Augusta and Savannah and all towns south.
See for more information.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury laments loss of Christian knowledge

I was watching the Jeopardy College Championship the other night and noticed the last category picked was "Bible" and only one question was answered correctly.

From The London Times-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has blamed education and pluralism for Britain's loss of Christian culture. He said the Church does still have its foot in the door but the foot is being 'squashed very painfully'. Writers in the past such as PG Wodehouse could assume knowledge in the reader of the Bible and Hymns Ancient & Modern. No longer. 'It's all gone, gone because of shifting patterns of education not just religious education, it's gone because of a much more anxious awareness of a plural society and not wanting to privilege one religious tradition over another. What to do about it? I'm not sure I have a quick answer. The good side of it is that if not everybody knows it the story isn't necessarily boringly familiar.'

The Archbishop was speaking at a Christian 'gathering', a new form of community meeting that seems to be gaining ascendancy. There was one such last Friday at Canterbury, where the sell-out event was Private Eye editor Ian Hislop in conversation with Dr Williams.

More here-

The Right Reverend Noël Jones

London Telegraph

The diocese of Sodor and Man, comprising the Isle of Man and adjacent islets, occupies a somewhat unusual position in the Church of England. Having only 28 parishes, it is part of the province of York; but although appointed by the Crown, the bishop has no rights to a seat in the House of Lords.

He is, however, ex officio a member of the legislative council of the island's parliament, the Tynwald, and very much the Lord Bishop. This was a role which Jones's senior naval experience equipped him not only to fulfil with natural authority but also to defend robustly whenever the bishop's membership of the Tynwald came into question.

People did not always agree with him, for he could be outspokenly conservative on moral matters and such issues such as Sunday trading. But he was held in great respect and affection, not least because his long episcopate enabled him to be very much at home with the islanders and they with him.

The Rest is here-

Reverend revs up, rides out

From New Zealand-

A "silly random idea" from Oroua rural dean David van Oeveren gave six members of the congregation a day to remember.

Looking for a way to mark Father's Day for all the fathers who attended St John's church in Feilding last Sunday, Mr van Oeveren contacted his friend Andrew Hodgetts of ANZA motorcycles and asked if he would bring his Harley Davidson to church.

Funeral director Peter Beauchamp also took his bike along and they enlisted the help of several of their friends, who also own the big bikes.

The men who attended services on Father's Day were invited to put their names into a hat and names were drawn for rides on the bikes.

Ros and Tony Chapman also provided complimentary tickets for two men to join them in their corporate box at Manfeild that afternoon, for the final round of the United Travel Racing Winter Series.

"The men all had a great day, and I can't thank everyone enough for going along with my random idea," Mr van Oeveren said.

He was also treated to a ride on a Harley, but not until he had changed out of his robes.

Churches Mark 9/11 Anniversary

Living Church-

Many Episcopal churches are observing the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist strikes, and the most prominent church marking the day is the one closest to the horrors of the attacks on the World Trade Center's twin towers: St. Paul's Chapel.

The anniversary services began with a Labyrinth vigil from midnight to 6 a.m. at St. Paul's Chapel, located directly across the street from the World Trade Center site.

Other events at the chapel include a ringing of its Bell of Hope for five minutes, beginning at 8:45 a.m.; an ecumenical service and prayers for healing, beginning at 12:30 p.m.; and musical meditations beginning at 2 p.m.

At Trinity Wall Street, a votive Eucharist will begin at 12:05 p.m. That service will be available for live streaming and on demand, through the parish website and its podcast channel on iTunes.

Washington National Cathedral will observe the day with a Holy Eucharist at noon, including the ringing of the cathedral's bourdon bell. At 5:30 p.m., the choir of King's College, London, will lead a service of Evensong.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lambertville, N.J., will offer a service of comfort and hope at 3 p.m. Sunday. The Rev. Gail Burwa, chaplain to WTC Families for Proper Burial, will preach.

Door is closing on Church’s foot, says Williams

Church Times-

“THE FOOT is still in the door, even if it is being squashed very painfully,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said last weekend when he was asked about the Church’s participation in public debate. He did not think that the Church had yet “dropped off the radar”.
Dr Williams was in dialogue with Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and panellist on the BBC’s Have I Got News for You, at an event during “The Gathering”, a series of activities for all ages at Canterbury Cathedral.

Mr Hislop described the difficulty that Dr Williams faced with the media when people called for a moral lead from the Church. “When the Archbishop of Canterbury says anything, they say, ‘Shut up,’” he suggested.

Dr Williams responded that “the leadership thing is a problem.” It was “a matter of trying to remember that when you’re speaking from the Church you’re trying to give some sort of critical perspective to try and show some thing”. The Archbishop admitted that he was “not brilliant at sound-bites”.

There was scepticism towards the media, Dr Williams said, and “people do know there are other places to go” to get information. “When I go to the theatre, I’m glad theatres are full, and there are ways of opening up the world that don’t depend on news.”
The media wanted simple stories, and “the way that news is hand
led is not neutral.” Dr Williams warned that “the consolidation of the media into big business does pose a problem to independence, truth, fullness, and re flection,” a situation that he described as “concerning”.

Mr Hislop said there was a lack of analysis and history in today’s media. Questions were asked, but there was “no time to digest”.

More here-

US Church cannot sign Covenant, say Wright and American critics

From the Church Times-

THE Episcopal Church in the United States cannot in conscience sign the Anglican Covenant, a group of con servatives says. The group includes the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright.

The criticism of the Episcopal Church comes in a 27-page position paper, “The Anglican Covenant: Shared Discernment Recognized by All”, published on Thursday of last week. The signatories are Dr Wright and four US conservatives: Canon Professor Christopher Seitz, the Revd Dr Philip Turner, the Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, and Mark McCall.

The group contends that the ongoing Covenant process, designed to bring some structure to the Anglican Communion, has inter dependence at its heart. This ex plicitly involves accountability — defined as being open to correction — to other provinces in matters that affect the whole Communion. The obvious case in point is the debate about the blessing of same-sex couples and the consecration of gay priests and bishops.

The paper states: “Without ac counta bility there is no commu nion, and a Church that is unac­countable by definition has ordered its life outside the Communion of Churches.”

The paper cites the recent de cisions of the US General Conven tion to open the door to same-sex blessings, and its statement that “God has called, and may call” gay and lesbian people “to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church”.

The General Convention passed a resolution, D025, which reaffirmed its commitment to the Anglican Communion as an active, partici p ating member. There has since been talk of a willingness to study and sign the Covenent when it is finalised.

The authors of the paper take issue with this, stating: “That the actions of the General Convention constitute instead a provisional rejection of the Anglican Covenant is manifest. . . The actions of the General Convention repudiating the teaching of the Communion on human sexuality can only be seen as the repudiation of the Covenant itself.”

More here-

FORT WORTH: Judge to hear arguments September 16

From Episcopal News Service-

A Texas judge continued until next week a September 9 hearing regarding an aspect in ongoing litigation between the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and a breakaway group seeking to challenge the authority of the attorneys and leaders of the reorganized diocese to institute the litigation.

The Hon. John P. Chupp set 2 p.m., Wednesday, September 16 as a new hearing date in Tarrant County's 141st District Court. Attorneys for the Fort Worth diocese and the breakaway group are expected to argue their group is the legitimate authority for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

"We find ourselves in a ministry of the recovery of identity and resources after the storm of schism," according to a statement by Bishop Edwin F. Gulick Jr. of Kentucky, who was elected provisional bishop of Fort Worth during a February 2009 special meeting of the diocesan convention.

"It is stewardship work and we do it deliberately and prayerfully and with urgency so that we can be the most effective community we can be," said Gulick, who wrote about the litigation in "The Fall -- Season of New Beginnings," a reflection posted on the diocesan website.

In motions filed September 3, attorneys for the Episcopal Church and the reorganized diocese cited both Texas law and the First Amendment in support of their argument that the property and assets of dioceses and congregations are held in trust for the mission and ministry of the wider Episcopal Church.

"Texas authority establishes that a constituent part of a hierarchical church is comprised of those remaining loyal to the hierarchical denomination," according to a statement released to the media September 4.

"The First Amendment requires the courts to defer to a church's own determinations concerning ecclesiastical issues, including the identity of its leaders and constituent parts," the statement said.

More here-

Second Dallas Episcopal Diocese priest steps aside amid investment allegations

From the Dallas Morning News-

The Dallas Episcopal Diocese's stockbroker-priest scandal is getting uglier.

A second clergyman is leaving his pulpit, at least temporarily – and he fired a parting shot Thursday at parishioners who have accused him of misconduct related to their investments.

"I'm going to respond aggressively to these charges," said the Rev. Raymond Jennison, adding that he is contemplating legal action. "I feel I've been defamed."

Jennison said he asked Bishop James Stanton for a 90-day leave of absence from his part-time post at St. David's Episcopal Church in Garland. The bishop, he said, granted the request without showing emotion.

Stanton's top aide, Bishop Suffragan Paul Lambert, later issued a news release whose tone contrasted sharply with Jennison's.

"We are hopeful Ray will use this time wisely in his consideration of this situation," it said. "Every member of the church must have full confidence in our clergy, and we believe that a dual relationship in financial matters and the mission of the church is a serious matter and may affect the spiritual and pastoral relationship which is a sacred trust."

In an interview, Lambert said it would be "unfortunate" if Jennison sued parishioners.

The priest owns First Canterbury Securities, where his disgraced colleague William Warnky worked for years.

More here-

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mt. Pleasant Rector: “You Never Know What God Might Say”

From the Living Church-

One of the largest congregations in The Episcopal Church, St. Andrew’s Church of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., may by December become one of the largest congregations to renounce its Episcopal ties.

On Oct. 11, St. Andrew’s will begin a 40 Days of Discernment program to discuss whether it should sever ties with The Episcopal Church. The congregation will vote on Dec. 9-16, after spending a week in prayer and fasting.

The Rev. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew’s since 2000, wrote to all members of the parish on September 4 to announce the program. The letter included the signatures of 36 other congregational leaders, including all current staff and nine senior wardens whose service dates back to 1989.

“Since 2003 I have felt compromised by continued association with a denomination that I consider to be apostate,” Fr. Wood told The Living Church.

He said he does not know of any significant group in St. Andrew’s that wants to remain affiliated with The Episcopal Church. When he interviewed to become rector, Fr. Wood said, both the search committee and the vestry asked he was open to separation from The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Wood's predecessor was the Rev. Terrell Glenn, who is now a bishop of the Anglican Church in the Americas and rector of AMiA’s mother church, All Saints’, Pawleys Island, S.C.

“We’re going into this with as open a mind as we can,” Fr. Wood said. “There's a little risk in there. You never know what God might say.”

On its most recent parochial report, St. Andrew’s listed 2,698 baptized members, 2,520 members in good standing and an average Sunday attendance of 1,515. Fr. Wood says another 500 to 700 people are active givers who will not join the church formally because of its affiliation with The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Wood was one of three nominees when the diocese elected the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence as its 14th bishop in September 2006. Fr. Wood said he gave advance notice of the program to Bishop Lawrence, and will keep lines of communication open.

Fr. Wood said the founding of the Anglican Church in North America was a significant factor in the church's decision to begin the 40 Days of Discernment program.

“We have a home port we can sail into now,” he said.

Fr. Wood praised the 40 Days of Discernment curriculum because sections of it reflect the writing style of the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church in Virginia.

“The material has a very Yatesian feel to it,” he said. “It's gentle, straightforward and non-accusatory. The material itself will be very appropriate for the people of St. Andrew’s.”

More here-


From Savannah-

This statement was adopted without dissent on August 24th, the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, by the Wardens and Vestry of Saint John’s Church, together with the Clergy. It is not a declaration of war, a line drawn in the sand, or a step towards secession. Amid the confusions and ambiguities of the Episcopal Church, especially those generated at General Convention in Anaheim this summer, it is an attempt to declare with clarity and honesty what we consider our witness to Christ must be. Please feel free to bring your comments or questions to the Clergy or to members of the Vestry (listed on page 2).

Where do we as Episcopalians stand? Our Christian heritage and constitution commit us to uphold the historic Faith taught by the Word of God written in Holy Scripture and set forth for us in the Book of Common Prayer. It is this fundamental commitment to our Lord, to one another, and to our partner churches in the Anglican Communion, that defines us as Episcopalians and unites us with seventy-seven million Anglican Christians world-wide.

Since the 1970’s, the national leadership of the Episcopal Church, through the actions of its General Convention, has repeatedly undermined and violated this fundamental commitment in a series of unilateral decisions. Thereby they have impaired, and even broken, communion and compromised our witness and worship.

We are reluctant to speak out in a way that may cause hurt or embarrassment to anyone, for we are committed to “receive one another, as Christ also received us” (Romans 15:7). We all stand under the judgment of God; we all depend upon his grace and mercy in Christ. That is why we welcome all who come to worship with us in sincere repentance, faith, and charity. Nonetheless, the integrity of our witness requires that we speak out against the actions of General Convention 2009.

More here-

IN GOOD FAITH: Root, root, root for the Red Sox?

From Boston-

“Are there Yankee fans in Hingham?” This was the second question my boys asked me when my wife and I shared the news we’d be moving from New York to Massachusetts this summer. My answer? “Probably not.” And so far we haven’t met any. But for eight and 10-year-old boys amid a swirl of emotions this was a valid inquiry. The first question, by the way, was “Is there little league in Massachusetts.” Uh, yes. We’re not moving you to France after all.

We moved to Hingham last month as I was called to be the new rector at the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist on Main Street. You know, the stone church up on the hill that looks a bit like a castle from the outside.

Lest you think three Yankee fans have invaded Red Sox Nation (my wife, like Switzerland, stays neutral) please know that I’m an avowed Yankee hater. So fear not: I have not come to evangelize in the name of Jeter. Growing up in Baltimore, I’ve been a loyal and avid Oriole fan for the better part of 40 years. I always considered it my parental duty to raise Yankee despising Oriole fans. And I’ve failed.

How did this travesty occur? I actually brainwashed both Ben and Zack they were younger to say “Go Orioles, Boo Yankees.” I dressed them in Orioles garb; we watched games together before they could speak. But then it happened. We moved to Westchester County, New York, from Baltimore when the boys were three and one — this was my first mistake. The other egregious error, in retrospect, was pushing the Oriole fan/Yankee hater issue too hard. It wasn’t long before they realized this was a huge button for Dad. And boy did they push it.

In a sense I can’t blame them. All of their friends were Yankee fans and, well, the Yankees actually won some games. My Birds? Haven’t done squat in over a quarter of a century (come on Red Sox fans, it hasn’t been so long that you’ve forgotten what futility feels like). So I’m left with my own personal fallen angels complete with Yankee posters on the walls of their new rooms and Yankee hats perched on their infidel heads.

More here-

Former Episcopal bishop dies

From Omaha-

The Rt. Rev. James D. Warner, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, has died.

Warner, who was 85, died Thursday. He retired from Trinity Cathedral in Omaha in 1990.
Funeral services are pending.

The native of Sheridan, Wyo., came to Nebraska from Oshkosh, Wis., to be the state’s eighth Episocpal bishop.

He was consecrated Nebraska bishop on Nov. 30, 1976, in a service at St. Cecilia Catholic Cathedral because Trinity was too small to handle the crowd.

In 1983, Warner made another ecumenical move. On March 13, local Lutherans and Episcopalians shared Holy Communion at Trinity for the first time.

“It’s a brand new experience for us and it’s an exciting one,” Warner said at the time. “The Episcopal Church embraces this opportunity with enthusiasm but with caution.”

The service came about because of an agreement among the governing bodies of the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church and the Association of Evangelical Lutherans.

Warner graduated from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Illinois and spent 10 years in Wichita, Kan., in addition to serving parishes in Marinette and Mosinee, Wis., before becoming rector in Oshkosh.

The right gains ground

From The London Guardian-

The Anglican Covenant may never come to pass. Or its doctrinal statements may be so unobjectionable, and its enforcement mechanisms so weak, that every church in the communion will hastily sign on. Or the gay-friendly churches threatened with diminished status may realise that they will always have more opportunities than resources for mission within the communion, and happily agree to run their trains on track number two.

Yet if Rowan Williams succeeds in his misguided effort to establish a single-issue magisterium that determines a church's influence within the communion, a significant risk remains. That risk is run not by the Anglican left, which has nothing practical to lose, nor by the Anglican right, whose leaders embarrass less easily than Donald Trump and don't fear public opprobrium. Rather, the parties at risk are the Church of England and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which may find themselves at the head of a communion synonymous with the agenda of the American right.

If Americans, Canadians and other gay-friendly churches are deemed insufficiently Anglican, the struggle to determine who speaks for the communion will be waged between the dozy dons and preening peacocks who lead the Church of England, and Episcopal schismatics whose public relations are handled by the folks who operated the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against John Kerry in 2004. Early wagering favours the Swifties giving three goals.

More here-

Town column: Bishop's talk will cover reality and hope in Sudan

From New Hampshire-

Here is a shocking statistic: In the southern part of Sudan, a 15-year-old girl has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than of finishing school, according to an Aug. 12, 2009 report from the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

And yet, it is a place of tremendous hope, tremendous activity and tremendous evangelism as the visit from the Most Rev. Joseph Garang Atem, the Anglican bishop of Renk, Sudan to Grace Episcopal Church next Tuesday, Sept. 15 evening is expected to demonstrate.

Bishop Joseph, as he is known, presides over an Anglican diocese that just 20 years ago included a church and several dozen parishioners as it members. Today the Diocese of Renk (pronounced "rank") consists of a cathedral and more than a dozen churches. It is also the sister diocese to the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, (the label "Episcopal" denotes the American branch of the Anglican Church), which is why the bishop is visiting the greater Chicago area.

"He's very charismatic and easy to talk to," said Susan Hickey, a Grace Episcopal Church member who is helping to coordinate the Bishop's visit with the Hinsdale church.

She first met the bishop a few years ago before he was ordained bishop when he was still a priest. At that time, Hickey was an active member of the Oak Park Grace Episcopal Church which included supporting Renk ministries in its outreach efforts. The Oak Park church, she said, enjoyed supporting Anglican churches in Sudan because so much could be done with a little money.

"He's going to talk about what is happening now in Sudan, in Renk," Hickey said.

He is also expected to talk about the explosive growth of the Anglican community as the largest growing Christian community not just in Sudan but in much of Africa and about a new school that the bishop has been given permission by the Muslim-majority Sudanese government to build.

More here-,clarendon-hills-towncolumn-091009-s1.article

Text of Invocation Offered in Congress by the Very Rev. George L. W. Werner

My buddy George-

The Very Rev. George L. W. Werner of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh opened the September 10, 2009, session of the United States House of Representatives with this prayer:

Gracious God,
we meet in a challenging moment of your history.
We cannot control all that may endanger us,
but we can choose our behavior
and the example we set as leaders.
Facing overwhelming challenges,
the signers of our Declaration of Independence pledged
"their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor."
In Romans, Paul, too, encourages us
to "outdo one another in showing honor."

Please send your Holy Spirit among us,
strengthening our vision and courage to do right,
especially when no one is watching.
Not for just this great House, but all levels of government,
corporations, institutions and organizations;
financial, industrial, commercial, academic, military,
including our religious and altruistic communities
which sadly have not been immune from dishonor;
that our beloved country may continue
to be a beacon of light to a troubled world
and that government for, by and of the people,
shall not perish from the face of this Earth.

More here-

St. Michael’s Helps Inner-City Youth

A little shameless self promotion-

St. Michael’s of the Valley, Ligonier, sponsors a Backpack/School Supply Project for students attending The Neighborhood Academy in Pittsburgh.

Parishioners eagerly take one or more of the 80+ book bags and fill them with the necessary back-to-school supplies. The popular drawstring bags, purchased through the Outreach Commission are imprinted with the school logo and in the school colors of navy and orange. Each bag includes a hand written note of encouragement to the student.

More here

Rev. Daniel Sullivan, 81, Episcopal rector

Dan was a friend. May light perpetual shine upon him-

The Rev. Daniel Kilmer Sullivan, 81, of Bear Creek, Pa., retired rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, died Sept. 3 of a staph infection at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn., where he had been visiting relatives.
For 23 years, Father Sullivan served Good Samaritan parishioners, who affectionately called him "Father Dan."

When he announced his retirement in 1995, colleagues described Father Sullivan to a reporter as a charismatic minister who transformed a struggling church into a vibrant parish.

"He's going to be missed," church member David Virtue said at the time. "The genius of the man is that he has been able to maintain a balance in the church with all the divergent forces that are here - from liberal to conservative. He's a pastor's pastor."

In 1989, Father Sullivan told The Inquirer that he had invited an evangelical preacher to Good Samaritan "to stretch the Main Line mentality a little bit. That mentality is preoccupied with money, looks, intelligence, and being cool."

Virtue said recently that Father Sullivan was always welcoming to new church members and had a gift for remembering names. Virtue, president of VirtueOnline, an Orthodox Anglican news service, remained friends with Father Sullivan after he retired.

More here-

Breakaway Episcopalians look to US high court

From AP-

Marcia Kear's three daughters were married at St. James Anglican Church. Her mother's funeral was there. She said she found the Holy Spirit there.

But she may have to give up the bayside sanctuary, where sunlight filters through watery blue stained-glass windows and glints off the flawless copper pipes of an organ purchased with parishioners' tithes.

Kear is among theologically conservative breakaway Episcopalians fighting over parish property in a long-running rift over how churchgoers should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships and many other issues.

St. James Anglican, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, is one of several dozen individual parishes and four dioceses nationwide that voted to split from the national church after the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire.

"It's not just about the building, it's about the church," said Kear, 70, who participates in group prayers for the property even while she says the congregation could continue without it.

The congregation may have to do just that. State courts have sided with the Los Angeles diocese throughout the five-year legal case, most recently in January. St. James has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes that it might take up what has so far been a losing battle. St. James expects to know next month whether the nation's highest court will take the case.

Two other seceding parishes — All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood — are parties in the lawsuit. A high court decision could also affect the Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin, one of the dioceses that voted to split off and is now involved in a complex property dispute with the national church.

More here-

Bishops lift swine flu restrictions

From New Zealand-

Restrictions at Catholic churches brought in because of the swine flu outbreak will be lifted from Saturday.

Bishops banned potentially infective behaviour at Masses in June because of the potential for the flu to be transmitted.

In a pastoral letter, the bishops asked priests to stop distributing communion wafers to the tongues of parishioners, giving communion wine from the chalice and holding anointing Masses for the sick.

On medical advice the bishops recommended people either take communion hosts in the hand or make a spiritual communion, which does not involve consuming the host.

The bishops also asked congregations to avoid bodily contact at liturgies, for example shaking hands at the "sign of peace".

Priests and ministers of communion have been urged to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers before and after distributing communion.

Today the bishops said information from the Health Ministry and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research showed the influenza situation in New Zealand had almost returned to normal for this time of year.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nazir-Ali is right

From The Guardian-

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has been of one of the well-informed voices that has exploded the myth that the Qu'ran really belongs to moderate liberal Muslims and not to the militants who ex animo believe it.

But I would respectfully argue that Nazir-Ali would be better placed to counteract the persecution of Christians by Muslims as a diocesan bishop than he is in the peripatetic role he is anticipating for himself. It is difficult to see how an ex-bishop hopping on and off airplanes can influence foreign governments, such as Pakistan's, to provide proper protection for their Christian minorities.

Apart from a newspaper editor, who is more "ex" than a diocesan bishop?

Whilst an Anglican bishop does not wield the social influence he once did, nonetheless an articulate and proactive bishop representing the Christian communities he is called to serve in his diocese can exercise opinion-forming influence. During his episcopate at Rochester Nazir-Ali was able to demonstrate that the tenets of Christianity and Islam regarding eternal salvation are incompatible – salvation is to be found through faith in the incarnate God the son, the Lord Jesus Christ, a contention denied by the Qu'ran; that Islam is intrinsically opposed to religious toleration as has developed in the west; and that it is a threat to Christian-influenced western civilisation.

In his public statements on Islamic influence in Britain, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has been faithfully upholding official Anglican teaching whilst his ecclesiastical critics have not. The Canons of the Church of England are designed to delineate some theological and practical boundaries within which the spiritual life of the church of the nation can flourish and move forward. Canon A5 clearly states that the biblical doctrine of the Church of England is expressed in the Book of Common Prayer, the 39 Articles of Religion, and the Ordinal.

More here-

Are the Ten Commandments Relevant Today?

From Norfolk-

There’s a restaurant I like to go to in Chesapeake, VA called Piccadilly’s. Food is served 'cafeteria-style.' You can pick and choose if you want a salad, entrée, vegetables, drink, dessert or all of the above. This is not unlike how some of us view the Ten Commandments.

I was taught that the Ten Commandments were etched in stone (pun intended). All ten of them are to be obeyed; not my FAV5 or the ones I deem to be relevant in today's world. Because we are imperfect, there may have been a time that each of us has broken one or two (it could be as simple as taking extra time for lunch; that's stealing from your employer), but then we need to confess our sin, and get back on track.

Okay, so I’m going THERE! I know people who profess to be Christians. They claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, yet they are adulterers and fornicators, or live with someone to whom they are not married. And, I’ve heard all the excuses. “I’m single and that commandment was for back then; not today’s world.” “God gave me these desires.” “We’re going to get married,” or “God understands.” Does He really? We all have desires and needs. Many of us (self included) desire money. Does that justify breaking the eighth commandment (Thou shall not steal)? Oh, and I’ve also heard this justification, “It’s (adultery) not as bad as breaking number six" (Thou shall not murder). Sometimes we Christians act as if there are “degrees or categories of sin ”; i.e., little sins and big sins. I haven’t read anything in the Bible about categories of sin. Sin is S-I-N.

More here-

Ex-stockbroker leaves priesthood amid Dallas Episcopal scandal

From the Dallas Morning News-

The man at the center of the Dallas Episcopal Diocese's clergy-discipline scandal has quit the priesthood, church officials said Tuesday.

The Rev. William Warnky's resignation ends a church inquiry that kicked into high gear last month after a Dallas Morning News investigation revealed a series of problems: He defrauded an ex-parishioner while serving as his stockbroker, lost his securities license, failed to pay child support, was put on probation for contempt of court and didn't pay federal income taxes.

"He made the decision that could have been made for him," said Bishop Suffragan Paul Lambert, the diocese's No. 2 official. But "we weren't [yet] in a position to judge his guilt or innocence."

Warnky, who was the part-time priest in charge of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, near White Rock Lake, declined to comment.

He did not cite specific reasons for his resignation, Lambert said.

"He did it for the benefit of the church," the bishop said.

By renouncing his vows as a priest and not being defrocked, Warnky leaves open a window for returning to the ministry. Lambert called that only a theoretical possibility, because Dallas Bishop James Stanton and his counterparts in five surrounding dioceses would all have to approve.

Lambert described himself as exhausted by a long day of meetings and many days of dealing with unhappy situations.

"I feel like I've been rode hard and put up wet," he said.

More here-

Pittsburgh Episcopal priest to offer prayer for U.S. House

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

A prominent Episcopal priest from Pittsburgh will offer the opening prayer for the U.S. House of Representatives tomorrow at 10 a.m.

The Rev. George Werner, dean emeritus of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Downtown, and a longtime leader in the national Episcopal Church, will offer a nonpartisan prayer asking God to "strengthen our vision and courage to do what is right." He has been an activist on health care and will speak the day after President Barack Obama addresses Congress on the topic, but said that the prayer will avoid all specific legislative issues.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, invited the Rev. Werner to offer the prayer. It will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, and the text will then be posted at

Seven Episcopal bishops urge covenant endorsement at all church levels

From Episcopal Life Online-

Seven Episcopal Church bishops who met September 1 with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams say that dioceses and congregations ought to endorse the proposed Anglican covenant, either in its current partial draft form or when a text becomes final.
The call came in a September 7 statement which also urged the church's General Convention to adopt an Anglican covenant when it next meets in 2012.

Bishops Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, Gary Lillibridge of West Texas, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, Bill Love of Albany, Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, Michael Smith of North Dakota and James Stanton of Dallas met with Williams at Lambeth Palace in London.

The bishops said in their statement that they discussed their concerns in light of some of the actions taken at the July meeting of General Convention and the subsequent episcopal nominations of people "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion," in the words of Resolution B033, passed by the General Convention in 2006.

In early August, the dioceses of Minnesota and Los Angeles included openly gay partnered priests on their slates of candidates for election as bishops later this fall. A majority of bishops with jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the ordination of the two bishops suffragan to be elected in Los Angeles and the diocesan bishop in Minnesota. The church's canons (III.11.4) require such consent in all bishop elections.

The seven bishops said they told Williams that General Convention's actions during its July 8-17 meeting in Anaheim, California "have essentially rejected the teaching of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 [on human sexuality] as the mind of the communion, and raise a serious questions whether a covenant will be adopted by both Houses at General Convention 2012."

The convention passed two resolutions (D025 and C056) that focused on issues of human sexuality and the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Anglican Communion.

More here-

Episcopalian leader hears tense crowd

From Albany-

Albany Episcopal Bishop William Love stood before 125 church members Tuesday night during an often tense give-and-take about the church's future.

"I realize emotions are high, feelings are high,'' said Love, standing at the edge of the altar in St. Paul's Church for nearly two hours.

The Episcopal Church is split by the ongoing debate over the ordination of gay and lesbians and the blessing of sex same unions.

"We are a divided church. There's no question we are a divided church,'' said Sheridan Biggs of St. Paul's Church in Schenectady, who indicated his uneasiness with the direction at the national level to support ordination and the blessing.

"What state we are in when we get through this, only God knows that,'' said Love, who is counted among the Episcopal Church's conservative bishops. He urged Biggs to stay in the church.

Members of Albany Via Media, a group of moderate to liberal Episcopalians, were in a distinct minority at the first of several regional meetings Love is holding to discuss the recent Episcopal General Convention.

Keith St. John, a local board member and Via Media USA liaison, questioned Love on what he's doing to hold the Episcopal Church together and said he was "bothered" by the bishop's references to the decision being "Satan driven."

More here-

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Religious life: The path is less chosen, but young women still hear the call

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Angela Russell was a teenager visiting relatives in France when she prayed in a chapel where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1830. That was where she first felt a call to be a Catholic sister.

"It was an overwhelming sense that I was going to dedicate my life totally to Christ," said Sister Angela, 21, a Beaver native who recently entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn.

Far fewer women than in the past take that path, and those who do are often attracted to traditions that many communities no longer practice. Since 1965, the number of sisters in the U.S. has fallen from 180,000 to 61,000. A Vatican-ordered study is under way of conditions that may have contributed to the decline.

Yet women still answer the call. Sister Angela is among three local women seeking vows in the Nashville Dominicans. Two just made temporary vows in the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, formerly the Millvale Franciscans. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a community in Brighton Heights known for traditional habits and ministry to the elderly, count a medical doctor among two novices. This weekend a half-dozen women were expected at a discernment retreat for the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Ross.

A recent study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that two-thirds of communities have at least one person working toward final vows, which typically takes at least seven years. Their average age is 32. But in less traditional communities, 56 percent of newer members are 40 or older. In more conservative ones, 85 percent of sisters make final vows by age 39.

More here-


From the Post Gazette-

Pirates unmoved by record 17th losing season
On the fateful fall night in 1992 when Sid Bream made his desperate dash home in Atlanta, so many of those who followed the Pirates had to be fretting: Given Major League Baseball's increasingly imbalanced economics, would this be the franchise's last chance?

They had no idea.

With the final out yesterday afternoon at PNC Park -- a Lastings Milledge flyout that ended a 4-2 flattening by the Chicago Cubs -- the once-proud Pittsburgh Baseball Club recorded its annually anticipated 82nd loss and clinched a 17th consecutive losing season, the longest such streak in the history of North America's four major professional sports. There had been a tie at 16 with the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies.

Amid the steady drizzle, slight chill and an unhealthy representation of Cubs blue among the sparse gathering of 14,673, the setting seemed sublime.

"We can't worry about it. It is what it is," Pirates manager John Russell said of the streak. "Unfortunately, we're not happy with where we are in terms of wins and losses, and we've got a lot of work to do. But we believe in what we're doing. We've developed some very good young players, and we're looking forward to continuing to build. Unfortunately, we can't do anything about the 17 years."

About half the active roster is new to Pittsburgh this season, which might explain several players yesterday being unaware of the streak being extended, including losing pitcher Daniel McCutchen.

More here-

Sudanese Archbishop Appeals for Int'l Action in Struggle for Peace

From Christian Post-

The chief archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan is calling upon the international community to urge their respective government officials to be more active in the effort to bring peace to the conflict-stricken country.

In his appeal, the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, archbishop and primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, highlighted the recent attacks on people in the Sudanese states of Western Equatoria and Jonglei, where over forty people – men, women, and children – were killed.

“Consequently in the view of the Church, this was not a tribal conflict as commonly reported, but a deliberately organized attack on civilians by those that are against the peace in Southern Sudan,” Deng stated, referring to the attack last month in Jonglei that also left an archdeacon dead.

According to Deng, Archdeacon Joseph Mabior Garang of Wernyol, who served as the commissary for the archbishop in the Diocese of Twic East, was fatally shot at the altar of the church in Wernyol during a morning prayer service. Tens of others were also wounded as a result of the attack by gunmen dressed in army uniforms and armed with automatic weapons.

“I have learnt from Episcopal Church sources on the ground that the attackers … appeared well-organized and properly trained,” Deng reported.

Just a couple of weeks earlier, there had been an attack in the town of Ezo by the Lord’s Resistance Army – a sectarian guerrilla army based in northern Uganda – that left three people dead, including a member of the Episcopal Church. The attack also resulted included the abduction of children who were in the Episcopal church building in Ezo.

“I hear from Bishop John Zawo of the Episcopal Diocese of Ezo that the attack could have been avoided if better military security had been given to the town,” Deng stated.

More here-

Monday, September 7, 2009

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-—and Found Unexpected Peace

From The Christian Century-

Either you don't believe in God or you're a dope." This is how Newsweek's Lisa Miller sums up the thinking of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. And despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God, Miller writes, plenty of us seem to enjoy the new atheists' "books and telegenic bombast so much that we don't mind their low opinion of us."

Former religion reporter William Lobdell's deconversion narrative, Losing My Religion, refrains from both bombast and suggestions of dopiness. By his very choice of genre—memoir rather than apologia—Lobdell enters a different territory of the new atheism, one already inhabited by several other counter conversion narrators, including John Loftus, who wrote Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity (Prometheus, 2008), and Dan Barker, author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists (Ulysses, 2008). Lobdell is careful to distinguish himself from Hitchens and his truculent allies: "Their disbelief has a religious quality to it that I'm not ready to take on," he writes. He calls himself a "reluctant atheist" and a "skeptical deist." "With all that has happened to me," Lobdell says, "I don't feel qualified to judge anyone else."

"All that has happened" includes, most notably, Lobdell's eight-year tenure on the religion beat of the Los Angeles Times during the breaking of the Cath olic clergy sex abuse scandal. Lob dell had begun religion reporting as a newly minted evangelical after a nominally Episcopal childhood and agnostic young adulthood. After accepting Christ at a men's retreat and beginning to attend a megachurch, Lobdell prayed for a religion-writing job. When he convinced editors at the L.A. Times to let him write a religion column, and when he subsequently was added to the religion beat, Lobdell attributed both achievements to the hand of God. "I needed only to produce solid journalism about faith in America, and I would be fulfilling God's call and my career ambitions," he writes.

More here-

Answer Man: Got nuns? Anglicans can say yes

Q and A from Southern Illinois-

Q. Could you please tell me if there are any Anglican nuns in our area? Perhaps there would be convents in some of our larger neighboring cities. I remember many years ago seeing a picture of Queen Elizabeth's mother-in-law in the habit of an Anglican nun, walking with her son, Prince Philip. I'm certain there are sisters in England belonging to these Church of England religious orders.
-- R.C., of Trenton

A. Guess I had never really thought about it before, but it may surprise some to learn that the Roman Catholic Church doesn't have a lock on convents and monasteries. Monasticism always has been a fixture of the Eastern Orthodox and Buddhism. The Lutherans have a monastery and retreat house in Oxford, Mich.

And, almost since the time that the Episcopal Church planted its Anglican roots in the United States, the church's monastic communities started springing up around the country.
"(The practice) was strongly restored in the 19th century, both in the Church of England and in the Episcopal Church," said the Rev. Dale Coleman Jr., priest-in-charge at St. George's Episcopal Church in Belleville.

Some live in convents; some live in an area and come to the mother church periodically, he said. Some wear a traditional habit. All devote themselves to a life of prayer, service and community outreach as they help the poor and hungry.

More here-

Group wants to question Love

From Albany-

A grass-roots Episcopal group wants to question Bishop William Love on whether he intends to lead the Albany diocese out of the Episcopal Church.

Albany Via Media, a group of moderate to liberal Episcopalians, is lining up parishioners to attend Love's seven meetings around the diocese in September and October.

"We are trying to have members asking the question at every meeting,'' said Clair Touby of Saranac Lake, president of Albany Via Media.

Love will visit St. Paul's Church, 58 Third St., Troy, at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday for evening prayer and to discuss the Episcopal Church's General Convention in July in Anaheim, Calif.

Episcopal bishops voted at the convention to reaffirm that the ordained ministry is open to gays and lesbians. That vote was opposed by conservative bishops, including Love.

Ever since Bishop V. Gene Robinson was elected by the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire as the church's first openly gay bishop in 2003, the church has split over the issue of gay clergy.

Dennis Wisnom of Schenectady, an Albany Via Media board member, said Love would talk at the meetings about the opening of the clergy and the development of blessing for same sex unions. The Albany Episcopal Diocese's rules do not allow same sex marriages or blessings of same sex unions.

Wisnom said Albany Via Media doesn't want the diocese to leave the Episcopal Church as four other dioceses around the country have done.

Last week, Love and six other conservative bishops met privately with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in London, the Episcopal News Service reported.

More here-

NYC church that housed notorious club to convert

From AP-

A church that once housed a notorious New York City nightclub is expected to undergo a conversion.

Once home to the Limelight and later Club Avalon, the 163-year-old former Episcopal church in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood is slated to become a mini-mall.

Limelight Marketplace spokeswoman Jessica Shrier says the mall will have about 80 shops. She says it's expected to open before the holidays.

Residents who remember the Limelight years are skeptical. In the 1990s, it was a sanctuary for recreational drugs. In 1996, a drug dealer at the club was murdered.

Community board member Howard Mendes says residents are worried the mall is a ploy to get a club back in the building.

Shrier says there will be no club or dancing.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Archbishop to divorce wife

From South Africa-

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, 68, is divorcing his estranged wife of 22 years.

Nomahlubi Vokwana-Ndungane, 69, was served with divorce papers this week.

The summons arrived just days after the Sunday Times revealed that Vokwana-Ndungane had turned to the courts in a bid to force the archbishop — who no longer lives with her — to support her financially.

The archbishop’s lawyer, Kaamilah Paulse, said this week that the couple had been in divorce talks for “over a year and a half”.

“It was quite obvious that neither of them wanted to remain in the marriage, but the terms of the divorce could not be agreed upon,” she said.

“His version is that they have not shared a bed in over 10 years.”

Vokwana-Ndungane wants the cleric to support her financially, while he indicates in the divorce papers that he wants their antenuptial agreement to stand. The couple were married out of community of property.

Vokwana-Ndungane applied to the Family Court in July to compel the archbishop to help her financially .

The couple were due to meet at the Family Court in Cape Town last week for mediation. But the cleric sent his legal representative to ask for a postponement — and two days later had divorce papers issued. They were delivered on Thursday.

The cleric’s wife said on Friday that she felt “betrayed and humiliated” by the divorce action.

More here-

Anglican Church donates various products to Congo detention centre

From Angola-

Anglican Church in Angola choir group “Zola” handed over on Friday a donation made up of soap, mosquito nets and others, to prisoners in Congo detention Centre, in the northern Uíge Province, as a way of manifesting their solidarity to prison staff.

The gesture is part of an evangelization programme that the religious group is implementing from Friday to Sunday in Uíge Province.

The religious organization donated also some toys and boxes of soap to the paediatric ward of the provincial hospital, with the same objective.

Members of the Zola Choir group, led by Rodrigues Pedro Banza, visited also the provincial radio station.

According to the programme, the choir will also travel to Songo District for a music concert and visit the Episcopal Delegation of that district.,209042ff-6382-4c9b-b05b-806faa6b710f.html