Saturday, October 31, 2009
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota is pleased to announce that the Rev. Brian Prior has been elected IX Bishop of Minnesota.
Prior has been the Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Spokane, Washington since 1996. Among the many boards and committees on which he serves, Rev. Prior is the Vice President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. He received his M.Div. from Church Divinity of the Pacific in Berkeley, California in 1987. Rev. Prior has been married to Staci Hubbard Prior for 21 years. They have two teenage sons.
"I am thrilled to have the privilege of being among the first to welcome Rev. Prior as our new bishop," says Scott Crow, chair of the Standing Committee, which is charged with overseeing the election. "Our process has been filled with prayer, discernment, and the movement of the Spirit in our midst. It has been a powerful experience to witness the church at work and I look forward to the joyful Ordination and Consecration of our new bishop on February 13, 2010."
The election, which was conducted in accordance with the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota and The Episcopal Church, was held in downtown Minneapolis on the second day of the 152nd Annual Diocesan Convention, with balloting beginning after a service of Holy Eucharist. Rev. Prior won on the 5th ballot. Clergy and laity votes are counted separately and a majority is needed in both orders to win the election. Rev. Prior had 118 of 205 clergy votes needed, and 153 of 117 lay votes needed.
Upon accepting election as the IX Bishop, Rev. Prior said, "I feel overwhelmed and blessed at this moment for the opportunity to come and serve in a place with such a rich history and with so many saints both past and present."
According to the canon law of The Episcopal Church, consent to the election must be secured from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of diocesan Standing Committees. If received, Rev. Prior will be Ordained and Consecrated as the IX Bishop of Minnesota on February 13, 2010, in a service at the Minneapolis Convention Center with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding.
The diocesan bishop heads the geographic diocese of Minnesota, which encompasses the entire state and includes 106 congregations with approximately 22,000 baptized members. The diocesan bishop serves as the chief pastor to the 303 clergy in the diocese. The Diocese of Minnesota is one of 110 domestic and overseas dioceses in The Episcopal Church, which is one of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.
From The AP
The Vatican says it will admit married Anglican priests to the Catholic priesthood case by case.
Vatican officials recently announced changes to make it easier for Anglicans to convert, as many conservative Anglicans are disillusioned by their own church's allowing women priests and gay clergy.
The new move left some wondering whether Rome would embrace married Anglican priests in large numbers.
A Holy See statement Saturday quoted Cardinal William Levada as saying the Vatican would consider accepting married Anglican priests into the Roman Catholic priesthood as it has in the past -- evaluating each case on its own merits.
As for possibly admitting married Anglican seminarians to the Catholic priesthood, the Vatican says criteria are being developed.
Levada said "technical work" on rules should be ready soon.
From the Modesto Bee-
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI made what many called a startling offer to Anglican priests: Become a Roman Catholic priest and bring your wives, children and book of prayer with you.
While the specific details have yet to be worked out, the offer was aimed mainly at priests who have left or are considering leaving the Episcopal Church in the United States and priests in the Church of England, many of whom disagree with their denomination's stand on social issues, such as the ordination of women and gays, and on theological issues, such as the inerrancy of Scripture.
Those divisive issues caused the San Joaquin Diocese to become the first diocese in the nation to leave the Episcopal Church in December 2007. The theologically conservative Fresno-based Anglican San Joaquin Diocese represents about 40 parishes from Lodi to Bakersfield, including St. Francis in Turlock, St. Matthias in Oakdale, the historic "Red Church" (St. James) in Sonora and St. Luke's in Merced.
By the end of the day Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota will elect a new bishop.
Day No. 2 of the diocese's annual convention includes a vote on five candidates, two of whom would represent a first: the first openly partnered lesbian to be elected a bishop, or the first Native American. Both insist that making history is not their primary motivation.
"I'm not a cause, I'm a candidate," said the Rev. Bonnie Perry. The Rev. Doyle Turner struck a similar tone, noting that while he's proud of his Ojibwe heritage, "I'm not the pastor of a Native American church, and it's my church that has encouraged me [to run]."
The winner will succeed Bishop James Jelinek in overseeing 106 congregations representing 22,000 members. Jelinek is retiring in February.
All of the candidates are pulpit preachers (as opposed to academicians or administrators). Three come from Minnesota churches: Turner is from Trinity in Park Rapids, the Rev. Douglas Sparks is from St. Luke's in Rochester and the Rev. Mariann Budde is from St. John the Baptist in Minneapolis. Perry is at All Saints in Chicago, and the Rev. Brian Prior is at the Church of the Resurrection in Spokane, Wash.
Friday, October 30, 2009
From the Baltimore sun. Did he have to say "swings both ways"?
In the wake of Vatican plans to make it easier for Episcopalians to become Catholic, the Episcopal bishop of Maryland would like to make one point clear: The door swings both ways.
Lost in talk of the splintering of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton says, is the appeal that the 45,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has held for former Roman Catholics and others looking for a big-tent church.
While attention focused on the conversion en masse last month of a Catonsville-based order of Episcopal nuns to the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has received three former Roman Catholic clergy in the past couple of months, Sutton says.
"We just want to remind people that this switching from Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics goes both ways," Sutton said. "Many, many laypeople in our churches came from the Roman Catholic Church. We get many clergy."
He spoke a week after Vatican officials said the Roman Catholic Church would create structures to welcome the Anglican (called Episcopalian in the U.S.) clergy and laypeople who have asked about joining. The surprise move comes amid a growing divide among conservatives and liberals in the worldwide Anglican Communion over the ordination of women, acceptance of gay clergy and the celebration of same-sex relationships.
From Georgis Public Radio.
The Catholic Diocese of Savannah will pay $4.2 million to a 40-year-old man who says he was sexually abused by a former priest.
Diocesan officials announced the settlement Wednesday.
Savannah native Allan Ranta sued the church in 2008, claiming former priest Wayland Brown molested him from 1978 to 1983, when Ranta was 10 to 14 years old.
At the time, Brown was associate pastor and Ranta a student at St. James Catholic School in Savannah. Ranta's lawsuit claimed the Diocese ignored signs that Brown was a danger to students.
Later, in 2003, a Maryland court found Brown guilty of molesting two boys, ages 12 and 13, also about 30 years ago. He was in prison for five years when he was released on parole. A Maryland sex offender registry lists him with a Baltimore address.
A diocesan statement says, the church reached a settlement "to avoid the expense and burden of a lengthy trial by all parties."
"I am sorry for all the pain and suffering experienced by Mr. Ranta and my prayers go out not only to him, but to all victims of child sexual abuse that each may find the healing they seek," says Bishop J. Kevin Boland.
Leaders of Christ Church of Savannah are asking the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a decision earlier this week granting ownership of the historic building and property to the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
Christ Church member and attorney Neil Creasy said church officials filed a notice of appeal Thursday in Chatham County seeking to reverse Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf's ruling Tuesday granting the diocese "immediate possession" of the church property.
Creasy said the process should allow the congregation to remain on the property in Savannah's historic district until the state Supreme Court responds. "This is another step in what we knew would be a long process," said Christ Church rector the Rev. Marc Robertson in a written statement released Thursday afternoon.
The Diocese of Georgia followed up with a statement Thursday saying the appeal was expected. "We are confident that the Superior Court ruling was the correct ruling, and we look forward to the Georgia Supreme Court affirming that," said the Rev. James Parker, spokesman for Bishop Henry I. Louttit. Creasy said Christ Church officials felt encouraged to continue the battle for church property by a recent South Carolina Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of a Pawley's Island parish that broke away from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette story #2-
A group of 55 congregations that split from the Episcopal Church last year plans to appeal a court ruling awarding all centrally held diocesan assets to the 27 congregations that remained, they announced yesterday.
"We believe we have to make this stand," said the Rev. Jonathan Millard, chair of the Alliance for an Anglican Future and rector of Church of the Ascension in Oakland, one of the 55 congregations that left.
The group also announced that it was changing its name to The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. It was formerly known as the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican). The group it split from is the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States.
The split was created on Oct. 4, 2008, when the majority of clergy and laity at a diocesan convention voted to follow then-Bishop Robert Duncan out of the Episcopal Church, which they believed had failed to uphold biblical doctrine on matters ranging from salvation to sexuality.
On Oct. 6, Common Pleas Judge Joseph James ruled that in accordance with a 2005 agreement, the 27-congregation Episcopal diocese was entitled to all centrally held diocesan property.
The Anglican diocese said it was appealing that decision because it feared it would set a precedent that would lead to the Episcopal diocese taking not only $6 million of centrally held diocesan assets, but also $14 million of diocesan assets that are held in trust for local parishes.
Rich Creehan, a spokesman for the Episcopal diocese, said the value of all diocesan assets is estimated at $16 million to $18 million, but he said he could not divide the amount into centrally held assets and parish assets until an inventory by a court-appointed special master is completed.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The ENS take-
The organization headed by former bishop Robert Duncan that claims to have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church in 2008 said October 29 that it will appeal a court ruling that said it cannot continue to hold any assets of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
"Left uncontested, the award of all diocesan assets to the minority party, a group that comprises only a third of the parishes that were a part of our diocese when we withdrew from the Episcopal Church, would establish a precedent that we believe the minority would use to take steps to seize all the assets of all our local parishes," the group said in a statement.
That statement also said that the group was "pleased to introduce ourselves as The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh," adding that it was "previously known as The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."
The group also said that it was appealing because "the question of the legal right of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to separate from its former denominational affiliation (The Episcopal Church of the United States) … has never yet had its day in court."
The leaders of the Episcopal Church's Diocese of Pittsburgh issued a statement later in the day saying they were disappointed by the announcement of the group's plan to appeal. They said that the October 6 ruling "clearly and unambiguously requires that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States be the rightful trustee of those assets."
"We stand ready to defend our position and the court's ruling on appeal," the leaders said. "At the same time, we will continue to cooperate in the orderly transition of diocesan property, and when the time is right, to engage in a dialogue on other issues between us that still need to be resolved."
On October 4, 2008 a majority of the delegates to the diocese's 143rd annual convention voted to approve a resolution by which the diocese purported to leave the Episcopal Church. The leaders who departed have said that they remain in charge of an entity they had been calling the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) that is now part of the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. And they say that in that capacity they control all the assets that were held by the diocese when they left.
First Story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-
A group of 55 congregations that split from the Episcopal Church last year announced this morning that they will appeal an Oct. 6 court ruling that awarded all centrally held diocesan assets to the 27 congregations that remained in the Episcopal Church.
The group also announced that it was changing its name to The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. They were formally known as the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican).
The Anglican diocese is appealing the decision because leaders feared it would set a precedent that would allow the Episcopal diocese to take not only $6 million of centrally held diocesan assets, but also $14 million of diocesan assets that are held in trust for local parishes.
"We believe we have to make this stand," said the Rev. Jonathan Millard, rector of Church of the Ascension in Oakland and chair of the Alliance for an Anglican Future.
If the Anglican diocese were to lose parish assets as well, it would hurt not only the 55 congregations that directly use them, but also the communities that benefit from church programs like food pantries and outreach to the homeless, said the Rev. Karen Stevenson, rector of Trinity Church in Washington, Pa.
Rev. Millard said the Anglican diocese thought an equitable split would involve "sharing assets, not winner-takes-all."
"That just seems manifestly unfair," he said.
Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican diocese said he hopes to "open those conversations" about sharing assets with Bishop Kenneth Price, Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese soon. Both parties are scheduled to meet today with a special master appointed by the court to inventory the assets involved.
The split was created on Oct. 4, 2008, when the majority of clergy and laity at a convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to follow Bishop Duncan out of the Episcopal Church, which they believed had failed to uphold biblical doctrine on matters ranging from salvation to sexuality.
The Episcopal diocese did not immediately have a comment this morning, said spokesman Rich Creehan.
Press Release from newly named Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh-
Today, we are pleased to introduce ourselves as The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Previously known as The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, our diocese is comprised of fifty-five congregations; 51 local congregations with a very long record of service to Pittsburgh area communities (in eleven southwestern Pennsylvania counties), and 4 congregations beyond the immediate region. We were the majority (67%) on the vote to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and are the majority now: 55 Anglican Church congregations as compared to 27 Episcopal Church congregations.
Our purpose in asking you here today is to announce our intention to appeal the recent ruling of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The court ruled that a minority of our former parishes, which now claim to be a diocese affiliated with the Episcopal Church, shall hold and administer all diocesan assets. The appeal will be filed once the court issues a final directing the transfer of all diocesan property to this minority group.
Our decision to appeal is for the purpose of protecting the mission of our fifty-one local congregations. Left uncontested, the award of all diocesan assets to the minority party, a group that comprises only a third of the parishes that were a part of our diocese when we withdrew from the Episcopal Church, would establish a precedent that we believe the minority would use to take steps to seize all the assets of all our local parishes. Indeed, the minority's website proclaims as much. This litigious action, which is supported by the aggressive leadership of the Episcopal Church, is unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable.
A further reason for the appeal is to address the question of the legal right of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to separate from its former denominational affiliation (The Episcopal Church of the United States). This essential question has never yet had its day in court throughout the legal action in which the Episcopal Church minority is the plaintiff and is suing for all the assets. Many of these assets were donated in good faith by generations of families in our fifty-one congregations. There must be an equitable agreement and distribution. There is a Christian way to resolve this dispute.
The Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh are actively engaged in effective, caring ministry and the planting of new congregations, both regionally and nationally. Our local congregations stretch from Slippery Rock to Somerset to Waynesburg. We are urban, suburban, town, valley and mountain congregations. Shepherd's Heart in Uptown, Seeds of Hope in Bloomfield, and Church of the Savior in Ambridge are among our most celebrated ministries to the urban poor and to urban youth. Half of all mission agencies in North America are headquartered among us and are led by our people. Unhesitatingly, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh is committed to protecting and expanding the extraordinary ministries of these dynamic congregations and agencies.
The appeal announced today will be funded from several significant contributions, the first of which is in hand. An Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Defense Fund (The Staying Faithful Fund) has been established and is receiving donations. None of the ordinary gifts of our people or assessments of our congregations will be used to support the appeal.
We are building for the future, not dependent on the past or controlled by the culture. We proclaim the Christian Faith as once for all delivered to the saints. We rejoice in the generosity of our people and stand firmly on the solid Rock who is Our Lord Jesus. We share what we have, whether much or little. We are Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We are the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.
From Christianity Today-
An InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter can look very different in the fall than it did the previous spring. But the chapter at George Washington University (GWU) in the nation's capital is dealing with change of a more uncomfortable kind than absent graduates and incoming freshmen.
Shortly before students left for summer vacation, the D.C. chapter split when all ten student leaders resigned to form a new campus ministry called University Christian Fellowship.
More than half of the chapter's roughly 100 students joined them. At issue was student leaders' worry that the national ministry confuses the gospel by cooperating with Roman Catholics, and has a mission statement that Catholics could sign without violating church teaching on the doctrine of justification—how sinners are declared righteous before God.
Over the past decade, justification has become one of the most hotly debated doctrines at conservative Protestant theology conferences and in the catalogs of highbrow Christian publishers. But it has almost entirely stayed in the academy and a handful of churches and denominations. The GWU clash suggests the debate may divide parachurch ministries and reshape evangelicals' relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.
From USA Today-
While Pope Benedict XVI hopes to encourage conversions by allowing disaffected Anglicans to continue to use traditional forms of worship, the Catholic tradition of celibate clergy may be an insurmountable obstacle for some potential converts.
The Vatican announced Tuesday (Oct. 20) that it will create new national dioceses tailored to Anglicans upset with their church's growing acceptance of homosexuality and female clergy. The dioceses will feature not only distinctively Anglican music and prayers, but also the trait that till now has most conspicuously distinguished Anglicanism from Roman Catholicism: married priests.
FAITH & REASON: Is Vatican inviting or poaching Anglican converts?
But the provision for married clergy, which the Catholic church has made on a limited basis since at least the 1980s, remains a qualified one. Only unmarried men will be eligible to serve as bishops in the new dioceses, the Vatican said, consistent with a "long historical tradition" in both the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Other details of the new rules remain unclear pending their still-unscheduled publication, but Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, suggested on Tuesday that the new dioceses will not ordain married men unless they have already started their preparation in Anglican seminaries, or permit unmarried priests to take wives after ordination.
For some potential converts, those qualifications are a deal breaker.
"I find the lack of a permanent provision for a married priesthood to be a serious obstacle to unity," said Anglican Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, who has considered joining the Catholic church in the past.
From The Washington Times-
More than a week has passed since Pope Benedict XVI put out a call for disgruntled Anglicans to cross the Tiber after a nearly 500-year separation.
Some are calling this an open door. I see it as Pandora's box. It raises myriad tricky questions that hopefully will be answered with the Vatican's release of Apostolic Constitution, the document that will spell out the details of how whole congregations, even minidenominations along with their bishops, can transfer their allegiance.
Numerically, it's tough to tell how many may take the pontiff's offer. At the initial press conference, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal officer, estimated 20 to 30 bishops along with groups of "hundreds" of laity would switch over. Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, who was also at the press conference, said the number of bishops was closer to 50.
But the bishops who want to defect all seem to be overseas, notably in Britain. The reaction on this side of the pond has been cool.
"The pope has invited Anglicans to join him, sort of," said the Rev. Larry Johnson, the bishop of Virginia for the Anglican Church International Communion, an 800,000-member group that includes former Episcopal clergy. "In reality, it appears he has made only slight provision for us. What I understand is that our people will be accepted fully, but bishops will be what is called "ordinariates" or "personal prelates."
He adds, "Anglicanism as we know it will have no place in the Roman Catholic Church. The pope has called the people while only vaguely accepting their leaders."
From the Wall Street Journal (thanks Stephanie)
The Vatican's announcement this week that it will allow former Anglicans who join the Catholic Church to retain a collective identity, using many of their traditional prayers and hymns in their own specially designed dioceses, is an event with profound implications for both Anglican and Catholic life.
The decision, made to accommodate Anglicans upset with their church's growing acceptance of homosexuality and of women clergy, is likely to transform ecumenical relations between the churches. It will also heighten the internal Catholic debate over the requirement of priestly celibacy (which is to be routinely waived for married Anglican clergy who convert under the new rules, extending an exception made on a limited basis till now).
Perhaps the most striking effect of the Vatican's move is the likelihood that, within the next few years, Catholic priests around the world will be celebrating Mass in a form that draws largely from the Book of Common Prayer. This resonant text, in its many versions, has informed Anglican worship since shortly after King Henry VIII led the Church of England away from Rome nearly five centuries ago.
Startling as that may sound, the Vatican's adoption of a liturgy with Protestant origins is merely the latest—and hardly the most exotic—addition to the Catholic church's liturgical smorgasbord. The range of worship forms has grown ever wider in recent years as the global church has become ever more diverse.
Millions of Charismatic Catholics today, most commonly in Latin America but also in Africa and the Philippines, regularly attend spectacular Masses featuring Pentecostal-style faith healing, speaking in tongues and preaching that echoes the upwardly mobile aspirations of the Prosperity Gospel. Catholic Masses in sub-Saharan Africa typically feature exuberant dancing, not only by designated performers but by the congregation at large, and music derived from popular local traditions.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
From the London Telegraph-
Our Church of England bishops can be such flirts. They were at it again over the weekend, as traditionalists met to consider Pope Benedict XVI's bombshell decision to welcome disaffected Anglo-Catholics, even the married ones, into Roman Catholicism, while keeping some of their Anglican ways.
Since the Vatican's announcement last week, Anglo-Catholic bishops and priests have been lifting the hems of their copes to show Rome a glimpse of silk-gartered ankle. But they're coy and demure, too; they make it clear that they'll want a decent dowry from the Archbishop of Canterbury before they throw themselves into the arms of Rome. Perhaps a few well-appointed rectories and some beautiful churches. A bit of cash would be nice, too.
But property matters and theology are not the only stumbling blocks on the road to Rome. There is another elephant in the vestry. It is one that is not spoken about openly; it is suppressed by a potent mixture of political correctness and traditional church hypocrisy. But it's high time it was aired. It is this: a very significant proportion, perhaps even a majority in some dioceses, of Anglo-Catholic clergy are homosexual men. Everyone with a ministry in the Church of England knows this.
I haven't conducted an empirical survey, but from briefings at Synod, to dinner parties in Sussex, I have spent much time in the company of my Anglo-Catholic brothers and, frankly, I'm invariably the only straight in the village. Now, before you accuse me of competing with Jan Moir to be most controversial columnist of the year; and before Stephen Fry reaches for his BlackBerry to Tweet how "loathsome" I am; and before tens of thousands of outraged liberals weigh down our returning, recalcitrant postmen with mail sacks for the Press Complaints Commission, let me make something abundantly clear. Unlike the untimely death of popster Stephen Gately, sexual orientation is highly relevant to this ecclesiological issue.
From The London Telegraph-
My colleague, George Pitcher, described Church of England bishops as “flirts” yesterday, but reading recently issued statements from the bishops of Rochester and Chichester, they sound more like confused old dears.
They have objected to reports that they are considering leaving Canterbury for Rome following the Pope’s invitation to disaffected Anglicans – a group of which they are most definitely members.
I’m reluctant to point out how flawed the Bishop of Chichester’s denial is, as John Hind is a black belt in Judo, but he appears to have got himself trapped in a stranglehold of illogicality. It’s worth bearing with me, if only because this highlights why some bishops fail to ever get across their message.
Admitting that it is impossible for the Roman Catholic Church to now reopen the question of how it sees Anglican orders, he continues: “In the light of that I stated that in the event of union with the Roman Catholic I would be willing to receive re-ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood but that I would not be willing to deny the priesthood I have exercised hitherto.”
So, in the light of an impossibility, he then talks about the possibility of him being re-ordained as a Catholic. Thanks for clearing that up, John. During his address to the Forward in Faith conference, he made clear that much will depend on what traditionalists are offered by the General Synod to protect them from women bishops, also adding that he couldn’t see how the Anglican Communion can exist if “bishops are not in full communion with another”.
Is that a denial, John? Are you ruling out becoming a Roman Catholic? Call a spade a spade like the fantastically frank Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst, if you want people to understand what you’re on about. For those wanting to try and work out what he said at the Forward in Faith Conference, you can hear it here, but unless you’re an insomniac I advise you to save half an hour of your life.
From Georgia Public Broadcasting-
Members of a breakaway Anglican church in Savannah will have to give historic Christ Church back to the Episcopal Diocese.
Savannah Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf ruled on Tuesday that the 276 year-old church belongs to the diocese.
The church's more conservative members broke away from the diocese two years ago over theological issues, claiming the historic sanctuary as theirs.
Since then, the church's more liberal members have been meeting at another local church and hoping to return to what both sides consider their spiritual home.
The ruling paves the way for the more liberal faction to return, but Christ Church officials say, it's very likely that they'll appeal the ruling.
"That's obviously an option," says Marc Roberston, a pastor at Christ Church. "But right now, we're reviewing the ruling and calling people together for prayer."
Robertson said, a formal decision to appeal the ruling could be made at a vestry meeting on Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, for those Christ Church members who have been meeting at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, there's some relief.
"We are looking forward to working with the church in the restoration of the property to the Diocese in an orderly and prayerful transition," says Jim Parker, a spokesman for the Diocese. "Having gone through the process of losing the church facility, we understand that the folks on the losing end are also going through those same feelings."
From Huffington Post-
I may be a bit late in weighing in on the Roman Catholic attempt to poach Episcopal priests, but that's because I've been busy ministering to an Episcopal congregation that's quickly growing, largely thanks to all the disaffected Roman Catholics (we fondly call them "recovering Catholics") who keep showing up at my church. In the past three Sundays alone, they've increased the size of my congregation by nearly 15%. Of the rest, about 70% are former Roman Catholics, and my church is probably not unusual among Episcopal churches in these statistics.
Back when I had more time, though, I was a member of the Episcopal Diocese of New York's Episcopal-Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee, which met every couple months at the Roman Catholic Archdiocesan offices in New York City to discuss areas of "convergence" between our two traditions. I was also involved at that time with the American Friends of the Anglican Center in Rome, which is how I wound up in Rome in 2006 for the 40th Anniversary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, a week-long affair involving the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the president of the Pontifical Council Promoting Christian Unity, and Pope Benedict.
That trip and those dialogues taught me two interesting lessons: first, that the clergy scene in Rome certainly seems very gay -- and, particularly once cocktail hour was well underway, fun. But more importantly, I realized that the relatively few Anglicans ("Episcopalians" in the U.S.) involved in these dialogues -- and thus the Anglicans that the Vatican probably comes into the most (perhaps sole) contact with -- seem to wish they were Roman Catholic.
Read more at:
A two-year legal battle over ownership of the 276-year-old Christ Church came to a close in Chatham County court Tuesday with a judge ruling in favor of the national Episcopal Church's claims to the historic property.
Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf rejected the argument of former members and clergy who broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2007 that the church belonged to them.
The ruling grants "immediate possession" of Christ Church Savannah and its property in the city's historic district to the Right Rev. Henry I. Louttit, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
Louttit was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday. The bishop's spokesman, the Rev. James Parker, said the diocese will work with attorneys and leaders of the breakaway group to arrange "an orderly transfer of the property."
"The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia is pleased with today's court ruling returning the historic property of Christ Church to the Diocese and to the Episcopal Church," Parker said.
Carol Rogers Smith, senior warden of Christ Church and a defendant in the law suit, said attorneys and leaders are reviewing the order.
"We have received Judge Karpf's ruling. We are in consultation with our counsel, and we are in prayer," she said.
From the Dallas-
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was long known as one of the most conservative in the Episcopal Church, and one measure was the refusal by its bishops to ordain women to the priesthood.
When a large majority of clergy and lay delegates of the diocese voted to follow Bishop Jack Iker's recommendation and leave the Episcopal Church, that split the diocese into churches leaving the denomination (most of them) and those choosing to stay.
The group choosing to stay has long wanted to ordain women to the priesthood - and that will finally happen in Fort Worth this Sunday. Deacon Susan Slaughter will be the history-maker. Details in the press release below:
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to Ordain First Woman to Priesthood
It is with great rejoicing that we make the following announcement.
Thirty-three years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, the first woman will be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
From the Living Church-
The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams Jr. says he has a ready answer when people ask why he would return to parish ministry after only seven years as a bishop.
“If you’ve ever been a bishop, you would know,” he said.
“In 20 some-odd years as a parish priest, I never missed a day of God’s joy,” he said. “Being a bishop today is not what it once was. It’s more of being an administrator.”
Still, Bishop Adams, who has served the Diocese of Western Kansas since 2002, also speaks with clear affection for the Episcopalians he will leave behind in March 2010, when he moves to Lecanto, Fla.
“I have a lot of respect for these people. They have endured and survived every situation that has come their way,” he said. “They have survived, despite everything that has happened in the church, everything that has happened in the economy and everything that has happened in the world. That says a lot about them and their love of their Lord.”
Indeed, Bishop Adams saw himself as a possible obstacle to the small and geographically scattered diocese transforming itself into something more viable. He would be senior bishop if Western Kansas were to merge with any contiguous diocese, but he doubts that he would receive approval to function as bishop of such an expanded territory. Bishop Adams believes his departure gives the diocese a chance to work through its own future, and an alternative arrangement such as sharing a bishop with another diocese.
“If I had any anxiety, I would stay,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the clergy here. The hard part is maintaining collegiality over so many miles.”
Many clergy in Western Kansas are bi-vocational priests, which makes the logistics of clergy gatherings difficult. Of the 30 congregations in the diocese, several are very small and are served by clergy shared with other small congregations.
I'm reading this and finding it fascinating especially since I know many of the characters.
It was the late summer of 1986 when Julia Duin moved to Houston as the new religion writer for The Houston Chronicle. At the invitation of friends, she visited the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Houston's blighted East End and fell in love with its gorgeous music and charismatic worship. After she met Graham Pulkingham, the spellbinding priest who had led Redeemer into a powerful renewal starting in 1964, Duin became convinced the world needed to know the story of this gifted man and his church. As she began investigating the story, many warned her there was a darker history behind Pulkingham. Now the journalist who first broke that story reveals the details of the scandal that rocked the charismatic and Christian community movements, and the Episcopal Church. Duin provides a fascinating portrait of the glorious days of the renewal and its sister movements within Catholic and Pentecostal churches. Book includes 8 pages of photos.
From the Living Church which has link to the statement-
Responding to the Vatican’s announcement for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans, the six-member Global South Primates Steering Committee has said the Anglican Communion’s covenant “sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion.”
In their statement, “A Pastoral Exhortation to the Faithful in the Anglican Communion,” the leaders urge that Anglicans remain Anglicans and that the Archbishop of Canterbury help them do so.
“In God’s gracious purposes the Anglican Communion has moved beyond the historical beginnings and expressions of English Christianity into a worldwide Communion, of which the Church of England is a constitutive part,” the leaders said. “In view of the global nature of the Communion, matters of faith and order would inevitably have serious ramifications for the continuing well-being and coherence of the Communion as a whole, and not only for provinces of the British Isles and the Episcopal Church in the USA. We urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to work in close collegial consultation with fellow Primates in the Communion, act decisively on already agreed measures in the Primates’ Meetings, and exercise effective leadership in nourishing the flock under our charge, so that none would be left wandering and bereft of spiritual oversight.”
The leaders add about the covenant: “At the same time we believe that the proposed Anglican covenant sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion. It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine purposes together in the one, holy catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ. We urge churches in the Communion to actively work together towards a speedy adoption of the covenant.”
The statement bears the names of the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Nigeria (chairman); the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini, Rwanda (vice chairman); the Most Rev. John Chew, Southeast Asia (general secretary); the Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East (treasurer); the Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Myanmar; and the Very Rev. Albert Chama, dean of Central Africa.
If “the devil is in the details” when two groups seek a merger, where will he be hiding when the Vatican talks with disaffected Anglicans who want to join the Roman church? Neither the agenda nor the schedule for these talks are clear, but some issues are starting to emerge as possible hurdles to a smooth switchover for Anglicans who want to “swim the Tiber.”
(Photo: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Tiber River, 23 Dec 1999/Mario Laporta)
There is little clarity yet on either side. The Vatican has not spelled out the conditions of the “Apostolic Constitution” to accept Anglicans who want to join Catholicism while maintaining some of their own traditions. Additionally, there are varied faces of Anglicanism, which in its dogmas and practices stands somewhere between Roman Catholicism and Protestant traditions such as the Lutheran or Reformed churches. This will clearly take a while to work out.
The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, played down any problems when the offer was announced. But several reactions from Anglicans to Tuesday’s announcement, including from some inclined to make the switch, have begun to trace the outlines of the looming doctrinal debates among Anglicans worldwide and between the Vatican and Anglicans knocking at its door.
More trouble in River City. From Fresno Bee-
Three Presbyterian congregations in the San Joaquin Valley are breaking with the faith's national denomination in a rift over the Bible and homosexuality.
Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clovis, First Presbyterian Church in Fresno and Fowler Presbyterian Church all have held services this month to join the conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church based in Michigan.
A similar break of conservative Episcopal congregations from the national church has sparked property and other financial disputes. But local leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) say this divorce has been amicable.
The breakaway congregations will keep their church properties and have agreed to fulfill financial pledges for ministries run by the Presbytery of San Joaquin, which has about 7,000 members.
From Catholic News Agency
A Pennsylvania Episcopal church which joyously greeted the announcement of a provision to assist Anglicans who wish to become Catholic could be among the first to take advantage of the church structure put forward by Pope Benedict XVI. The Church of the Good Shepherd, an Episcopalian parish in the Philadelphia Maine Line suburbs, is an “Anglo-Catholic” parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
According to the Rosemont Journal, its liturgy is celebrated in the “high church” style reminiscent of traditional Catholic churches: with incense, elaborate vestments, and a choir that may sing in Latin. The parish has objected to recent changes in the denomination, such as its allowing women and homosexuals to become priests and bishops. Bishop David L. Moyer, who leads the Church of the Good Shepherd, said that for two years the parish had been praying daily for the Pope’s action towards Anglicans. “When I heard the news I was speechless, then the joy came and the tears,” he told the Rosemont Journal.
Following a Mass devoted to church unity, Rev. Aaron R. Bayles, the assistant pastor, reported that the majority of parishioners would be “on board” with the development. He said he himself was exultant when he heard the news because he had always hoped for the unification of Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christianity. The new provision for Anglicans may be “a step in that direction,” he commented.
For 17 years the parish has refused to allow the local Episcopal bishop to come for a pastoral visit or confirmation. It also stopped paying its annual financial assessment to the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. The diocese sued to take over the Church of the Good Shepherd’s building in 2009. It is a replica of a 14th-century English country parish that was built in 1894. The property is estimated at $7 million in value.
Monday, October 26, 2009
From the London Times-
A senior Church of England bishop has attacked the former Archbishop of Canterbury as a “moaner” for complaining about the timing of the Pope’s offer to Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England to join Rome.
The Bishop of Fulham, the Right Rev John Broadhurst, told The Times that the Church of England, including the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had been aware for years of the Vatican’s plans to admit disaffected Anglicans. “The Archbishop of Canterbury knew that this was happening, but didn’t know when,” Bishop Broadhurst said.
Asked about complaints by Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, about the Pope not consulting widely enough and seeking Dr Williams’s advice before announcing the plan, he said: “Well, he’s just moaning. Rowan is big enough and old enough to speak for himself.”
Bishop Broadhurst, chairman of the Forward in Faith traditionalist group and a campaigner against women priests, said Rome’s offer must be viewed as a positive step in the name of religious unity. “I think that a major chance for realignment is sitting around, and I think that’s what God wants,” he said.
Martin Marty weighs in-
Martin E. Marty, one of the leading Protestant theologians here in this country, and an estimable presence in the ecumenical world has a strongly worded commentary on the Vatican's gambit to attract more Anglicans into the Catholic Church.
Bypassing forty years of Anglican-Roman Catholic conversations-cum-negotiations and blindsiding Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the seventy-million-member Anglican Communion, Vatican officials announced that they were taking steps to receive Anglican (in the United States, Episcopal) clergy through conversion into the Roman Catholic priesthood. Headlines had it that Rome wanted to “lure,” “attract,” “bid for” or “woo” priests and congregations to make the drastic move, while the Vatican front man, as he fished for Anglicans, said he was not fishing for Anglicans....
Some Episcopal priests seemed ripe for plucking, and Rome set out to harvest, even if the Church will thus be accepting some married priests, while leaving their own home-grown priests-who-marry in exile. Those with even slight suspicion suspect that the Vatican initiative is also a desperation move to help solve the shortage of priests in the Roman communion. Some of the only half-gruntled Anglicans have uttered some “not-so-fast!” or “count-me-out!” cautions. As one leader among them reminded, “there was a Reformation, you remember,” as he spoke for those who knew that being received by Rome, even with gestures that would allow Anglican converts some liturgical and traditional free range, still demands a great doctrinal gulp. Converts would have to accept papal infallibility and, with it, the infallible doctrine (1950) of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and other teachings which long offended non-Roman Catholics.
Read the rest on his blog on Sightings at the University of Chicago's Divinity School's website.
text of above appears here-
From The Boston Globe-
Massachusetts Episcopalians and Catholics this weekend weighed the Vatican’s invitation for traditionalist Anglicans to become Catholics, with some vehemently rejecting the idea and others saying its impact is unclear until more details are known.
The Vatican’s announcement last week that it would ease the way for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church prompted strong negative reactions from some progressive Episcopal priests and parishioners, who saw Pope Benedict XVI as capitalizing on divisions in the Anglican Communion over the ordination of female priests and an openly gay bishop. The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the Anglican church.
During his sermon at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salem yesterday, the Rev. Paul B. Bresnahan said the Catholic Church was essentially offering itself as a “safe refuge for bigotry,’’ and he “must respectfully decline’’ the pope’s invitation.
“This really sends a terrible message to the gay community, as well as to women, which is half the population of the world,’’ he said in a phone interview. “It’s about time we embraced these folks in a kinder, gentler way than we are now.’’
Episcopal priests are allowed to marry, unlike most Catholic priests (some Eastern rite Catholic priests, and Catholic priests who were formerly Episcopal priests, are married). And the Vatican’s proposal raises other theological issues, including the nature of papal authority and the meaning of the Eucharist, as well as practical issues, such as who would own the real estate of Episcopal congregations that joined the Catholic church.
During a news conference last week, Vatican officials said Anglicans would be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,’’ but did not release details.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The first ballot hinted at the outcome, and on the second ballot Connecticut Episcopalians broke a centuries-old tradition Saturday, electing the Rev. Ian T. Douglas as the 15th bishop of the nation's oldest diocese. He becomes the first outsider to hold the post.
Douglas, a divinity professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., who is also associate priest in that community, downplayed the significance of his election, rejecting the notion it was a repudiation of current leaders in Connecticut.
Douglas will succeed Bishop Andrew D. Smith, who is retiring.
The Rt. Rev. Jim Curry, who will continue to hold the post of the diocesan bishop suffragan, was expected by many to prevail in Saturday's election.
"I'm still a little stunned," said the Rev. Jim Bradley of St. John's Church on the Waterbury Green, moments after the historic vote. "I really thought that Bishop Curry would win handily ... it certainly was a vote for change."
Douglas, reached by telephone in Massachusetts soon after the results of the second ballot were announced at Christ Church Cathedral, said Smith, Curry and other current leaders have brought the diocese "to a place of new energy, new commitment."
As for his place in history, "I would take it as a sign of newness," Douglas said.
Bradley said the church would have been well-served by any of the four candidates, a field that also included the Rev. Mark Delcuze, rector of St. Stephen's Church in Ridgefield, and the Rev. Beth Fain, rector of a Texas church.
From the New York Times-
When the Vatican announced last week that it would welcome groups of traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church, leaders of one Episcopal parish celebrated as if a ship had arrived to rescue them from a drifting ice floe.
“We’d been praying for this daily for two years,” said Bishop David L. Moyer, who leads the Church of the Good Shepherd, a parish in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia that is battling to keep its historic property. “When I heard the news I was speechless, then the joy came and the tears.”
This parish could be one of the first in the United States to convert en masse after the Vatican completes plans for a new structure to allow Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining many of their spiritual traditions, like the Book of Common Prayer and married priests.
The arrangement is tailor-made for an “Anglo-Catholic” parish like this one, which has strenuously opposed the Episcopal Church over decisions like allowing women and gay people to become priests and bishops. Mass here is celebrated in the “high church” style reminiscent of traditional Catholic churches, with incense, elaborate vestments and a choir that may sing in Latin.
From South Carolina-
Episcopal officials voted Saturday to distance the Diocese of South Carolina from the national church and engage other disaffected orthodox Episcopalians in response to recent church actions affirming the rights of gays and lesbians and to other theological concerns.
The resolutions presented at the special convention, held at Christ Episcopal Church in Mount Pleasant, were meant to reinforce the autonomy of the Diocese of South Carolina and assert a theology that, in the words of Bishop Mark Lawrence, rejects “the false gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity.”
Four of the five resolutions passed overwhelmingly, including one that calls on the bishop and standing committee “to begin withdrawing from all bodies of The Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.”