Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pope defends invitation to Anglicans to convert

From The Washigton Post-

Pope Benedict XVI defended his decision to invite disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church en masse, saying Friday it was the "ultimate aim" of ecumenism.

Benedict told members of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the invitation wasn't an attack on the church's reunification efforts with other Christians but was rather designed to help them by bringing about "full and visible communion."

The Vatican in October announced it was making it easier for traditional Anglicans upset over women priests and gay bishops to join the Catholic Church while retaining many of their Anglican traditions, including married priests.

The move roiled the 77-million Anglican Communion, already on the verge of schism over woman and gay clergy, particularly since its spiritual leader, Archbishop Rowan Williams, wasn't consulted and was only informed at the last minute.

More here-

Group Of Park Students Will Serve Lunch To Poor On MLK Day

From Kansas-

About 20 students, faculty and staff from Park University will help prepare lunch at the Kansas City Community Kitchen on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 18.

The group will volunteer as part of a service day, said event organizer Caroline Heckman, coordinator for student leadership and engagement, at Park University.

"I think it is important for our students to spend at least part of our holiday honoring Martin Luther King," she said. "Being a servant to others is big part of Dr. King's message, and as students, faculty and staff at Park University, we want to honor that message with the giving of our time."

Located at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral at 13th and Broadway, the Community Kitchen has been serving noon-time meals at no cost to people who are hungry and homeless for the last 25 years. The cornerstone of the Episcopal Hunger Relief Network, the kitchen has a volunteer base of 400 people who come from area Episcopal and other congregations, civic groups and businesses. Each day dozens help with food preparation, serving and clean up.

Episcopal Church ‘out of tune' with members on immigration

From Religious Intelligence-

The official stance of the Episcopal Church on immigration is not representative of the belief of the people in its pews, a survey conducted on behalf of the non-partisan Washington think tank, the Center for Immigrations Studies (CIS) reports.

The survey of over 42,000 Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, evangelical or born-again Protestants, and Jewish voters found a sharp disconnect between the official stance of their religious communities and the beliefs of individual members.

“Because religious communities often do not represent the public policy views of their members, if there is a full-blown immigration debate next year, it will be all more contentious,” Steven Camarota of the CIS said.

While religious leaders have pressed the government to relax the country’s immigration laws, permitting more immigration and providing opportunities for existing illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, an overwhelming majority of American religious voters believe the current level of immigration is too high and favour stricter enforcement of current laws.

One out of eight US residents, or 38 million people, are immigrants, while over the past decade 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants have settled in the US each year.

A supporter of the Interfaith Statement in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Episcopal Church has backed “comprehensive immigration reform,” which calls for a significant increase in the number of legal immigrants to the United States.

At its July 2009 General Convention, the Episcopal Church called for the removal of sanctions against illegal immigrants. Resolution B006 called for the “millions of undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States” to have “a pathway to legalization.”

The resolution argued that immigrants fill jobs that American workers will not do, and are often better workers than native-born Americans as “workers who are US citizens often quit after only a few days of work.”

More here-

'A different way of being Christian'

From Savannah-

The Rev. Scott Benhase to be consecrated as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

The Rev. Scott A. Benhase believes God has repeatedly placed him in the middle of tension in the church.

Throughout his career as an Episcopal priest, Benhase has entered parishes in which a heated issue has members at odds.

Bridging the spiritual divide requires patience, he said.

"When we're in dilemmas, the worst thing we can do is try to force a resolution before one appears," Benhase said. "I think God's m.o. (modus operandi) and the holy spirit's m.o. throughout this for the church is that if we remain faithful and stay together and bare one another's burdens long enough, the holy spirit almost always has a tendency to provide a way forward."

Soon, the Ohio native will apply that strategy on a larger scale.

On Jan. 23, Benhase will be consecrated as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia in a formal ceremony taking place at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.

Benhase replaces the outgoing Rt. Rev. Henry I. Louttit who is retiring after serving 15 years as bishop of the diocese.

Benhase received strong support from the voting lay members and clergy at the diocese's 188th convention in September 2009. Out of a field of six nominees, Benhase drew 42 percent of the vote on the first ballot. He won the election on the second ballot with 54 percent of the vote.

More here-

Clergy makes plans to help Haiti

From Staten Island-

After reading the newspaper and watching accounts of the devastation in Haiti, people want to know what they can do to help -- no matter what their denomination.

Vigils, masses and prayer services have started around New York City.

Rt. Rev Mark S. Sisk, Episcopal Bishop of New York, called on the people of his diocese to pray for and contribute to relief of the earthquake victims.

"For the people of Haiti, already struggling with a level of poverty incomprehensible to most of us in the United States, it is truly catastrophic," Rt. Rev. Sisk said in a statement.

"I urge you to join with me in prayer for the dead and the injured, for those in Haiti who survive amid ruins, and for our Haitians brothers and sisters here in the Diocese of New York, who have loved ones at home.

"I urge you also to contribute in a practical way by sending donations to help the people of Haiti either through the Diocese or through Episcopal Relief and Development."

More here-

Friday, January 15, 2010

Alaska Nominees Address Evangelism

From The Living Church-

The Episcopal Diocese of Alaska has nominated four people in the search for its eighth bishop, and its first question to all of them concerned evangelism.

The diocese will receive nominees by petition until Feb. 12, and it is planning “fly-abouts” for nominees to visit regional deaneries. The electing convention begins April 9.

The nominees are:

• The Rev. Canon Virginia “Ginny” Doctor, the diocese’s canon to the ordinary and assisting vicar, St. James’ Mission, Tanana.
• The Very Rev. Mark Lattime, rector, St. Michael's Church, Geneseo, N.Y
• The Very Rev. Timothy W. Sexton, provost and canon administrator, Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Honolulu, Hawaii.
• The Rev. Suzanne Elizabeth Watson, former congregational development officer at the Episcopal Church Center, who now works with the church center as a consultant. She is also a priest associate at Christ and Holy Trinity, Westport, Conn.

This was the first question posed to the nominees: “Alaska has a rich history of evangelism. Yet even while new ministries spring to life, we struggle to attract new people to our churches. What would you propose as an evangelism strategy for Alaska?”

Canon Doctor cited four factors: leadership development, culturally relevant music, social and recreational ministry programs, and good preaching.

“I have heard many times that many Episcopalians are getting fed by other denominations where there is ‘evangelical preaching,’” she wrote. “I think a week-long preaching course for both lay and ordained is needed. There needs to be an excitement created when preaching the word. There are several gifted preachers both inside and outside of Alaska.”

More here-

Unholy Alliances The limits of Anglican soulmating.

From Newsweek-

In 2004 the members of St. James Church in tony Newport Beach, Calif., voted to secede from the Episcopal Church of the United States. Like dozens of other conservative Episcopal churches at the time, St. James found the theology of its denomination insufficiently orthodox (and the consecration of a gay Episcopal prelate unbiblical). So it, and others, sought—and found—protection among the conservative Anglican bishops of Africa. For administrative and theological purposes, St. James became an African church. It submitted to the authority of an African bishop and paid dues to an African diocese.

Church members were thrilled about their new connection. The church of the global South "is growing and exploding because we took the Bible to those countries, and they believed it," explained a St. James lay leader to a PBS news reporter in 2005. "They have seen the power of the Bible … and we wanted to be part of that."

The prelate who took St. James under his wing was Henry Luke Orombi, the archbishop of Uganda, a man who campaigns relentlessly against homosexuality. And though the spiritual head of the Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has condemned the anti-homosexuality bill now before Parliament in Uganda—which proposes the death penalty for gays in some cases—Orombi has not. In a statement, the rector of St. James, Richard Crocker, reminds us that his church now belongs to the recently established, L.A.-based Diocese of Western Anglicans, though it continues "to engage" with the Ugandan churches. "We do not condone the excessive sanctions in the legislation being considered by Ugandan politicians," he says. "Criminalizing homosexuality is unjust. God's love and compassion for humanity is not reflected in this bill."

American culture wars are kindergarten play compared with those in places like Uganda, where democracy is a sham and tolerance rare. And American conservatives who insist on romanticizing Africans for the purity of their Christian belief must guard against escalating those wars and endangering lives—intentionally or not—by giving support and money to Christian leaders with insufficient regard for human rights. "The culture war which has been fought in the U.S. has been exported to Africa," says Ochoro Otunnu, a Ugandan human-rights lawyer based in New York. But, he adds, there's a big difference. "In America you can have an open debate about homosexuality knowing full well you have an array of legal and constitutional protections. Those protections don't exist in some of the African countries—Uganda being a case in point. When this debate is conducted in public you can actually endanger an entire minority community."

More here-

Mainers seek ways to provide relief to Haiti

From Maine-

As news of the crisis in Haiti spread after Tuesday’s earthquake, some Mainers on Thursday waited for word of their loved ones while others rallied support for the devastated country.

The parents of a 20-year-old Eddington woman learned their daughter, Colby College senior Jessica Frick, was unhurt in the earthquake along with her roommate, Yanicka Faustin. Cindy Frick said Thursday that the two students were unharmed and staying with Faustin’s father in his home in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. She had received the news in a call Wednesday evening from Faustin’s mother in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“We had been holding our breath for 24 hours,” Cindy Frick said. “We don’t know how long it will take to get her home, but just knowing she’s safe is enough right now.”

There has been no news yet of the status of Margarette Saintilver, the 26-year-old Haitian seminarian who visited the Bangor area for two months last summer. According to the Rev. Marguerite Steadman of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bangor, the Episcopal Cathedral in Port-au-Prince was demolished in the earthquake along with the seminary and a nearby school for children.

A Newburgh man still is awaiting word of his relatives in Port-au-Prince. Carrel D’Haiti, an engineer with Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, said Thursday that a niece and a nephew have died in the ruins of Port-au-Prince. Two other nephews were rescued alive from the rubble, but their conditions were not known, D’Haiti said.

More here-

Minnesotans launch Haiti aid efforts

From Minnesota NPR-

Thousands of miles away from the disaster, Minnesotans were doing what they could to help the people of Haiti after an earthquake left the country's capital city in ruins.

People offered donations and prayers, while local aid organizations worked to mobilize teams of people to help in the relief effort.

Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley plans to transform itself into a huge food-packing facility on Saturday, with the goal of packing one million meals for struggling Haitians in a week.

The effort will be coordinated by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian hunger relief agency. The organization has asked community members to donate money or volunteer to package the meals at the church.

St. Mark's Cathedral in Minneapolis plans to hold a prayer service Thursday in support of the victims of the massive earthquake in Haiti.

The service at 7 p.m. will be presided over by Minnesota's presiding Episcopal bishop, the Rev. James Jelinek. The bishop visited Haiti in 2008 and says he was impressed by the hopefulness and faithfulness of the Haitian people.

More here-

Episcopal Relief and Development bulletin inserts address Haiti crisis

From Episcopal Life Online- What we learned from Katrina is that the church is he most effective organization for dispersing aid. Haiti s the largets Diocese of the Episcopal Church.

Episcopal Relief and Development has released a set of bulletin inserts addressing the crisis in Haiti as that country and its Episcopal diocese struggle with the after-effects of the earthquake that devastated the island nation on Jan. 12.
The inserts, which may be downloaded here, detail some of the losses the nation and the Diocese of Haiti have sustained and ERD's immediate efforts to assist.

According to the text, "Episcopal Relief and Development has disbursed emergency funding to the Diocese of Haiti to help meet critical needs such as food, water and shelter for those affected. As communication improves and recovery plans develop, we will continue to provide updates. We are standing ready to support the country's ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts in the days to come."

The inserts are black-and-white, one-sided, and are available in a full-sheet and half-sheet versions in English and Spanish.

To contribute to ERD's Haiti fund, click here or send contributions to Episcopal Relief and Development, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058, or donate by using a credit card by calling 1.800.334.7626, ext. 5129.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bishops recommend Anglican Covenant 'for consideration' by General Synod

From The Anglican Journal (Canada)-

The Canadian House of Bishops has approved a resolution recommending that the final text of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant be presented for consideration to the General Synod meeting in June.

It stopped short, however, of recommending the adoption of the Covenant, after some members expressed the view that it was up to General Synod to make that determination.

Provinces of the Anglican Communion are being asked to consider adopting the Covenant, which has been recommended as a way of healing divisions triggered by debates over the issue of sexuality.

Distribution of the final text was delayed after the Anglican Consultative Council decided that a controversial section dealing with dispute resolution and which entities can sign on to the Covenant needed further review and revision. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion released the final draft last December.

The final draft now makes it “absolutely clear” that it is the “family of national churches and provinces, not dioceses” that can sign on to the Covenant, said the diocesan bishop of Ontario, George Bruce. Bishop Bruce chairs the Anglican Communion Working Group of the Anglican Church of Canada. Earlier there were concerns that the Covenant’s Section 4 was too ambiguous on the nature of church that it could include entities other than those who are members of the Anglican Communion.

More here-

Election to decide if Britain to have first female Anglican bishop

From Canada-

Britain might soon have its first female Anglican bishop, serving the 38,000-member Scottish Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Rev. Alison Peden, 57, is one of three candidates for the post of bishop of Glasgow and Galloway. The election is scheduled for Jan. 16.

Observers say that if Peden is elected it is likely to increase pressure on the neighbouring (Anglican) Church of England to allow the appointment of women bishops.

"This news is a real boost as it comes at a time when the Church of England is in the process of preparing its own legislation for women bishops," Christina Rees, chairperson of WATCH (Women and the Church) and a campaigner for female bishops, was quoted as saying by The Times newspaper.

Peden, the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Stirling and canon of St Ninian's Cathedral in Perth, is facing two male rivals for the post of bishop in the Scottish diocese.

more here-

Church's identity crisis goes back to '79

From Charleston SC-

The problems besieging the Episcopal Church in this country are complicated because there are no readily convenient solutions. The church has moved left in recent years, and now the bull in the living room fundamentally involves elevation of acknowledged homosexual clergy to higher levels of office (as was the case with Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire).

Conservative elements of the Anglican Communion are trying to figure out ways to juxtapose rigid interpretation of scripture against looser interpretation, with the realization that Christian Bible study has evolved over 2,000 years and will continue to do so.

How, then, does one oppose elevation of gay clergy to higher office (assuming individual nominees preach the gospel and not their lifestyles) based on certain literalist interpretations, when there may be no room for literalist interpretation?

After all, "literalist interpretation" is oxymoronic. How can one "interpret" anything that inherently requires the absence of thought? So the issue is not so much disagreeing with the idea of having gays preach as it is justifying the banning of it without appearing prejudiced and exclusionary. It would be difficult to move forward with the rest of humanity under such circumstances if one is interested in so doing or believes in it at all.

On the other hand, and not that I'm a biblical scholar (anything but, in fact), but a lot of Scripture seems fairly straightforward and not really amenable to that much intellectual machination.

So it's a really divisive conundrum, and I can appreciate the arguments on both sides. On the one hand, some people feel as if the church is leaving them and should separate from those (i.e. the Anglican Communion) who wish to impose unwanted policy. Others want the policy.

More here-

Haiti earthquake prompts the desire to help, asks the question of how

From Episcopal Life Online-

Whether it is a tsunami overwhelming southeast Asia, hurricanes demolishing the U.S. Gulf Coast, or an earthquake devastating Haiti, many people feel the need to give of themselves to help those who suffer.
The question is how best to do that at each stage of the aftermath and how best to meet the needs of those hurt by the disaster.

As people contemplated how to respond to those needs in the hours since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook the Port-au-Prince area to its foundation at just before 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, governments and the United Nations began moving bulldozers, cranes and hospital ships into position.

"It's heavy disaster logistics," Robert Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief and Development, told ENS.

Organizations like ERD, the Diocese of Haiti and other international non-governmental organizations typically get involved in the second stage of post-disaster work as recovery efforts begin and they discern how to help local efforts to supply victims with emergency and transition housing, food and clean water for the "medium to long term," Radtke said.

ERD has already disbursed emergency funding to the Diocese of Haiti to help them meet those needs, according to Radtke. ERD "stands ready to support their ongoing recovery as they rebuild their ministries," he added.

Beyond that stage, much of the sustained work is done by faith groups, he added.

"The ministries of the faith communities, including the Episcopal Church, are the ones that endure," Radtke said. "And so when people ask what can they do now -- today -- to help the people of Haiti, the reality is that the most important thing you can do is to give money because money moves quickly."

More here-

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Professor Constantine Scouteris: theologian

From The London Times-

Professor Constantine Scouteris was one of Greece’s foremost theologians, specialising in ecclesiology, the mystery of the Church as a theanthropic institution, and in Christian anthropology, the nature and purpose of human existence.

Never swayed or distracted by the passing fashions in his approach to theology, Scouteris was attuned to the more serious concerns of the day, and always focused on the perennial, ultimate questions of life. He was deeply convinced that communion — personal communion — was the key to world unity and peace, and so the greatest question for him was how to enter into real communion with others and attain to true unity.

Professor Scouteris was a man of considerable culture and learning, who worked tirelessly, for nearly 40 years, as a responsible and faithful representative of the Orthodox Church in ecumenical dialogue at the highest level, and constantly strove to build bridges by which reconciliation could take place. But the answer to the question of unity was to be found, ultimately, in the person of Elder Porphyrios of Athens, Scouteris’ spiritual father and the personification of the Orthodox Patristic tradition, with whom he enjoyed a long and enduring friendship. For Scouteris, Porphyrios was nothing less than “an angel incarnate”, who in his life bore witness to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Paraphrasing Porphyrios, Scouteris would say, “The goal of the Christian is not to receive gifts from God. It is love,” which is “an exodus from selfishness”. This “exodus from selfishness” and this love come as a direct result of communion with God.

“Communion,” he said, “is the greatest gift that God has bestowed on the human race” — communion with one another, the ability to enter into a personal relationship with one’s neighbour.

More here-

Australian churches rally to support Egyptian Christians

From Australia-

Australian Christians from many denominations are set to rally with the country's Coptic community against violence directed towards Christians in Egypt.

A specially-organised liturgy and demonstration is to start on January 14 at St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, process to the Egyptian consulate and then on to offices of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.

"We want the whole world to know what is happening in Egypt to the Christian community: that every week, every month, there are continuing attacks against Christians and it's escalating," Coptic Bishop Suriel of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions told Ecumenical News International.

The prayer service and demonstration are being held in response to the reported killing of six Coptic Christians and a Muslim security officer who were sprayed with gunfire in a drive-by attack in the southern Egyptian city of Nag Hamadi, on January 6, the Coptic Christmas Eve.

Australia has an estimated 20,000 Coptic Christians, "and about 10,000 of them will be there" at the rally, Bishop Suriel said.

After the service, the congregation will follow six black coffins through the streets of Melbourne to the Egyptian consulate. A delegation of ecumenical leaders will call on the consul-general, "demanding that the Egyptian Government act against the persecution against Christians", Bishop Suriel said.

The bishop said he was "very shocked" at the killings, "especially as people were leaving church so happy on Christmas Eve only to be met with bullets and violence".

The Associated Press news agency reported that the attack may be to avenge the alleged rape of a 12-year-old Muslim girl by a Christian man in Nag Hamadi.

Bishop Suriel described the slayings as the latest in a string of attacks on Copts, "which amounts to religious persecution and harassment — but these attacks are not taken seriously" by the Egyptian police, he said.

Leaders of Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches are planning to join the Coptic Christians at the Melbourne church service and rally in the Australian state of Victoria.

"It will be far better that justice and peace comes with integrity rather than authorities 'turning the other way' as if nothing was happening," the president of the Victorian Council of Churches, the Rev. Jason Kioa, told ENI.

Mr Kioa, a leader of the protestant Uniting Church in Australia, said, "We offer our prayers for peace, justice and goodwill for all. But for that to occur, people of peace, justice and goodwill must act together, to bring these things into reality."

Bahati: The unlikely gay basher

From Uganda-

At the Imperial Hotel in Entebbe last month, MP David Bahati moved around the room handing out copies of his anti-gay bill to religious leaders of all the major faiths and denominations. Muslim imams in their embroidered skull caps, Anglican and Catholic priests in their collars were joined by Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Bahais and others at the gathering, a meeting of the Inter-religious Council of Uganda.

The event was only one of a number of appearances that the honourable member is making to get his controversial bill passed. “Through these people we will reach about 95% of the people who believe in God,” said Bahati.

The MP has also done at least a dozen interviews with international media and he plans to fly to the US and the UK to make his case this month. Here at home, he has spoken at Makerere University and other public venues; he also plans to go to over 20 secondary schools before the private member’s bill comes before parliament again. “We are working day and night to make sure that this bill gets passed,” he said.

No less than President Obama and his secretary of state Hilary Clinton have opposed the legislation; the delegation of the European Union has filed a formal protest against it; Rick Warren, a former ally of conservative pastors in Uganda, has spoken out against it; and it has received media attention from CNN, BBC and Time. Despite the criticism, Bahati steadfastly defends it. “In my heart I believe that we are doing the right thing,” he said.

More here-

Archbishops issue urgent plea for peace in Sudan

From Episcopal Life Online-

Drawing attention to Sudan's faltering peace process, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Episcopal Church of Sudan Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul met with U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown Jan. 11 to underscore the urgency for the international community to take action to ensure that the country doesn't plunge back into civil war.

The meeting with Brown was supported by the Sudan365 campaign, a year of advocacy for Sudan that is being organized by a coalition of advocacy groups and human rights organizations. The campaign organized a Jan. 9 demonstration when hundreds of activists gathered outside Brown's residence at 10 Downing Street in London to call on the U.K. government urgently to increase their diplomatic engagement on Sudan.

In advance of their meeting with Brown, Williams and Deng were joined on Jan. 11 by Diocese of Salisbury Bishop David Stancliffe for a press conference at Lambeth Palace to draw attention to the challenges threatening Sudan five years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

"The urgency of the situation in Sudan is something which has escaped the notice of a very large number of commentators here and elsewhere," Williams told reporters gathered at his London residence. "We are as an international community in danger, I believe, of sleepwalking into a situation of real nightmare in Sudan."

More here-

Crowds return to hear Obama's former pastor in Detroit

From Detroit-

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. continued to draw large crowds to a three-day revival at Oak Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church on Detroit's northwest side, this time concentrating on a spiritual message.

Wright, known as the former pastor of President Barack Obama, has drawn attention for fiery and sometimes controversial sermons on social issues.
Wright spoke to the standing room-only crowd about being more like Christ and changing their lives for the better by changing their behavior.

Tuesday's sermon was part of the "What Does The Lord Require" theme of his three-day revival.
During his sermon, Wright took the American public to task for its fixation on the Tiger Woods scandal involving the pro golfer's extra-marital affairs while "two unwinnable wars are being waged" by the United States.

Wright chided Americans for paying too much attention to the "latest woman to claim that she had the tiger by the tail."

"Americans are fascinated by Tiger Woods'infidelities," Wright told the crowd, which clapped loudly in agreement.

Wright is pastor emeritus at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where the former president attended.

Wright speaks again 7 tonight at Oak Grove, 19801 Cherrylawn.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Don't Write Off British Missionaries' Contributions: Lichfield Bishop

From Christian Today-

Missionaries of the colonial era may have made their mistakes, but it would be wrong to forget the heroism, love and faith with which they ultimately brought the Gospel to new people groups, the Bishop of Lichfield has said.

The Rt. Rev. Jonathan Gledhill said Sunday night that it was “not fashionable” to talk about missionaries, as he referenced "The Poisonwood Bible" and its caricature of a western missionary who makes numerous cultural mistakes, including telling locals that “Jesus Christ is poison wood” instead of what he really wanted to say, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

“Although we have to go on apologizing for our colonial mistakes we mustn’t get so apologetic that we forget the heroism, the love, the faith of the missionaries,” the Anglican leader said.

“The first time I went to a long house in Borneo they showed me all the human skulls in the rafters, of people their forbears had eaten. The bishop turned to me and said: ‘You keep apologizing for the colonial missionaries; and it is true that they made some mistakes. But at least we don’t eat people any more!’”

Bishop Gledhill made the comments in a homily to welcome the diocese’s new director of world mission, the Rev. Philip Swan.

He said the Good News of a loving Creator and salvation through Jesus Christ would never have reached others if it had not been for Christians who had a world vision and risked their lives repeatedly to obey the Lord’s command to go into the world and make disciples of all nations.

“Every Christian and every congregation is called to take its part in God’s plan for the whole world,” he said.

More here-

Roman Catholic Layman Drawn to Anglican Use

From The Living Church-

A Roman Catholic layman hopes that the Vatican’s provision for Anglicans may also create a liturgical space for Catholics who love Anglican forms of worship.

Shane Schaetzel has founded Anglican Use Catholics of Springfield, Mo., to explore how many people share his desire for such an arrangement.

Mr. Schaetzel told The Living Church that within Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States, traditionalists who wish to worship in English have precious few places to go.

“I can’t think of any liturgy that better addresses that issue than Anglican Use,” he said.

Mr. Schaetzel said he grew up in a non-practicing Lutheran home and became a member of the evangelical Calvary Church for about eight years. He discovered Christianity’s Jewish roots and began reading the Fathers of the early Church, which led him to spend two years as a member of St. James’ Church, Springfield.

“I was extremely happy with the Episcopal parish we were attending,” he said. “When we left, it was a bittersweet experience. We left behind this church that we loved and this liturgy that we loved.”

Mr. Schaetzel had theological reservations about the Episcopal Church’s ordaining women to the priesthood, and deeper reservations still about its understanding of human sexuality. By the spring of 2000, he and his wife became Roman Catholics. While Mr. Schaetzel gained a greater theological confidence in Rome, he also bumped up against the post–Vatican II environment of contemporary music and more colloquial styles of prayer.

“I often felt I was in a Lutheran parish rather than a Catholic one,” he said.

He found some solace in a Tridentine Mass celebrated at St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield.

“I have been attending the extraordinary form pretty frequently now,” he said. “That has been an oasis for me.”

When the Vatican announced that it would welcome Anglican pilgrims into its ecclesial life and allow them to keep aspects of their patrimony, Mr. Schaetzel began asking friends whether that might also apply to former Anglicans already within Rome’s embrace. To test the idea further, he’s inviting kindred spirits to gather together for prayer that does not include Communion.

“Let’s get Christians praying together,” he said, describing his project. “Let’s do that with Anglican Use Evening Vespers, and then let the Holy Spirit do what he wants to do.”

Regardless of how this venture turns out, Mr. Schaetzel said, he is committed to Roman Catholicism.

“I have reconciled my faith with Rome. I can never unreconcile it,” he said.

“This group, whether it thrives or fails, is not of consequence to me,” he said of his fledgling experiment. “I feel convicted that I have to give it a try.”

McGwire opens up about steroid use

As Gomer would say ...

Mark McGwire apologized profusely and repeatedly for his actions on Monday. Just as emphatically, though, he refused to apologize for his statistics.

McGwire ended more than a decade of speculation when he acknowledged that he used steroids during much of his Major League playing career, including in 1998, when he broke Major League Baseball's single-season home run record. However, he insisted that he took the substances only to aid in his recovery from injury and only in low doses. And he said repeatedly that he did not believe the drugs had increased his ability to play once he took the field.

McGwire initially made the revelation in a statement issued to news outlets on Monday afternoon, then addressed the situation further in an interview with Bob Costas on MLB Network.

"I did it [for] health purposes," McGwire told Costas. "If you look at my career, injured '93, '94, '95, '96, I was a walking M*A*S*H unit. I told my dad yesterday when I finally had to tell him about this. I remember calling him in '96. I was so frustrated with injuries, I wanted to retire. He's the one who told me to stick it out. At that time I was using steroids thinking it was going to help me. It was brought to my attention that it was going to help me heal faster, make my body feel back to normal."

Asked repeatedly by Costas if he believed that his statistics and records were legitimate in light of the disclosure, McGwire did not budge.

"Absolutely," he said. "I truly believe so. I was given this gift by the man upstairs. My track record as far as hitting home runs ... my first at-bat in the league was a home run. They still talk about the home runs I hit in high school. They still talk about the home runs I hit in [American] Legion. They still talk about the home runs I hit in college [USC] -- I led the nation in home runs. They still talk about the home runs I hit in the Minor Leagues.

More here-

SPIRITUAL LOBBYISTS Religious leaders push immigration reform

From Texas-

A coalition of top religious leaders, including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, on Monday urged the heads of local congregations and synagogues to help persuade their faithful to support a push for comprehensive immigration reform.

The more than 400 Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Jewish leaders who attended the interfaith service and conference at Houston's St. Paul United Methodist Church seemed receptive to the call to overhaul the nation's immigration system and legalize the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Though DiNardo warned that congregations will not be so united, he said they are not “nasty because they misunderstand, or are fearful, or are opposed” to immigration reform. DiNardo encouraged leaders to respect the views of their congregants, while still expressing an urgent need for reform.

Some religious leaders questioned how to best share a pro-reform message with their congregations, particularly in the midst of a recession. One Methodist pastor with a suburban, Republican congregation called the immigration issue a potential “powder keg.”

The local push for reform, organized by Houston's non-partisan The Metropolitan Organization, comes just a week after the leadership of the Catholic Church renewed pressure on the Obama administration to help pass an immigration bill. Ali Noorani, the president of the pro-immigrant organization the National Immigration Forum, said more than 100 events in support of reform were scheduled across the country this week.

DiNardo called the immigration issue “massively important for our time, critical for our communities and for our nation, and also critical and crucial for us as churches, as synagogues, as believing communities.”

But anti-illegal immigration advocates are pushing back against the religious lobby, charging there is a large disconnect between the pulpit and parishioners on the immigration issue — a contention that local religious leaders denied.

More here-

ALASKA: Diocese announces four nominees for next bishop

From ELO-

The Episcopal Diocese of Alaska has chosen four priests to stand for election as its next bishop.
The candidates are:

• The Rev. Canon Virginia Doctor, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Alaska, and assisting vicar, St. James' Mission, Tanana.
• The Very Rev. Mark Lattime, rector of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Geneseo, New York (Diocese of Rochester)
• The Very Rev. Timothy W. Sexton, provost and canon administrator, Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Honolulu (Diocese of Hawaii)
• The Rev. Suzanne Elizabeth Watson, former congregational development officer, Episcopal Church Center, New York.

"We're thrilled, joyous and very excited about these candidates," said Dan Hall, the chair of the bishop's search committee. "We're satisfied that each is the kind of candidate we need to move the Diocese of Alaska forward," he added.

Hall said a previous bishop search ended without an election when "for various reasons and circumstances … we ended up with only one candidate and the standing committee decided not to go to an electing convention with just one person."

The Jan. 11 announcement also opens the way for a process by which clergy and laity in the diocese can nominate other candidates. The deadline for those nominations is Feb. 12, according to Stacy Thorpe, diocesan communications officer. Information about that process is available here.

The election will take place during an April 9-10 electing convention at the Meier Lake Conference Center in Wasilla, Alaska.

More here-

Monday, January 11, 2010

Archbishop Accuses China Over Role In Sudan

From The New York Times-

The Archbishop of Sudan accused China on Monday of pursuing a damaging policy of economic gain in his country and urged Beijing to use its influence to help ease rising tension ahead of elections.

Archbishop Daniel Deng said Beijing, which imported $6.3 billion (3.9 billion pounds) of Sudanese crude oil in 2008, should try to help bring together parties at loggerheads over the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including the delivery of credible elections.

"China is looking only for minerals, they are looking for economic benefit. That is all. That is damaging the country. They are not even making peace," the Anglican archbishop said during a visit to Lambeth Palace in London.

"They are not interested in whether Sudan goes to war or not. That is not their mission, that is not their problem."

Sudan, which emerged from a north-south civil war in 2005, is due to hold its first multi-party elections in more than two decades in April, followed by an independence referendum in the south next year.

But tensions are increasing in a country divided along ethnic, religious and ideological lines. Last year 2,500 people died and 350,000 people were displaced from their homes during violence in the south.

Last week, Britain's Minister for Africa Glenys Kinnock, warned failure to deliver credible elections could result in instability, not only in Sudan but the whole region.

Deng said it was in China's long-term interest to work in a peaceful and stable environment.

"If they want to have a long process in Sudan, they are supposed to help Sudan not go back to war because if Sudan goes back to war, China will lose," he said.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, called for a single senior negotiator to unite the different parties.

"I would like China to say how do they use their influence to make a united Sudan advantageous to the people on the ground themselves," he said.

Religious women tend to live longer lives, according to new study

From Indiana- (the photo isn't of anyone in the story)

Annetta Wildermuth of Mulberry is four years away from having lived 100 years. But during that time she has seen many of her friends and relatives pass away.

"I think my long life is a blessing," the 96-year-old said. "I don't think that it's something I have earned."

Wildermuth is a woman of faith. She attends Faith Baptist Church just about every Sunday, teaches a science and religion class at Faith Christian School and volunteers at a retirement home in Mulberry.

Her pious lifestyle may be linked to her long life, according to a psychology study. The study titled, "Does Devoutness Delay Death? Psychological Investment in Religion and Its Association with Longevity in the Terman Sample," was published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

It is known that religious people, especially women, tend to live longer lives than people who are not religious but the reason for this link was not yet understood, according to Howard Friedman, study co-author and professor of psychology at University of California at Riverside.

More here-

Covenant aims to mediate disputes within Anglican Communion

From The Christian Century-

The final draft of a long-debated document aimed at mediating disputes between liberals and conservatives in the global Anglican Communion was sent in mid-December to the communion's 38 provinces for approval.

The Anglican Communion, which is the world's third-largest body of Christians with 77 million members, has been bitterly divided over homosexuality since the election and approval of an openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003.

The document, called a "covenant," is "not going to be a penal code," said Archbishop Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of Anglicanism, but rather "a practical, sensible and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts."

"We've discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have been strained," Williams said on December 18, "and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another."

Each Anglican province is auto nomous, limiting the power of Williams and other Anglican leaders to police the communion. Earlier in December, Episcopalians in Los Angeles openly defied Williams by electing Mary Glasspool, who is openly lesbian, as an assistant bishop, subject to approval this year by other Episcopal Church bishops and dioceses.

The rest is here-

Episcopal Church Bishop Impressed

From Philadelphia-

Following a short stay in the country, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts-Schori says she is deeply impressed by the endurance and persistence of Liberian people and also by the sense of hope of a stable future in which this land must become once again.The Episcopal Bishop told a news conference on Friday that Liberia has much to offer to the rest of the world and moreover, the rest of the world is looking up to Liberia for their partnership and hope for the establishment of a peaceful and a just society.

According to her, she had a wonderful talk with the Liberian Leader, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and they discussed about the need for development in Liberia, and the many challenges she has as a President. She said they also talked on the means in which the United States and other nations can be better partners in facilitating development in Liberia, particularly the means by which they could help Liberia build a society of justice and peace since one doesn't come without the other. Bishop Schori pointed out that there is a need for a greater transparency in the Liberian Government. She said following series of discussions with the President and others, she gathered that the biggest need the Episcopal Church may provide for the country is the assistance in training teachers rather than spending funds to pay teachers. She assured the country that they will bring in few experts and train teachers to better serve the country.

More here

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pasadena woman celebrates 106th birthday

From Pasadena-

Lydia Wilkins was the life of the party at her 106th birthday celebration.

Dozens of friends, family members and fellow church members gathered around her to celebrate Friday at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, where she has been an active member for decades.

"I feel great to have even lived this long," Wilkins said with a smile. The church celebrated her birthday Friday, although Wilkins turns 106 on Tuesday.

Wilkins' daughter, 76-year-old Marjorie Jones, said she and other family members were not surprised to see the energetic matriarch live well past 100.

"I call her the Energizer Bunny," she said.

When asked how she managed to live to 106, Wilkins said, "I have no secret."

Wilkins, who was born and raised in East Orange, N.J., moved to Pasadena with her late husband, William Wilkins, in the 1930s when he became a priest at the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, family members said.

She previously studied education at Temple University in Philadelphia before working as a school teacher.

Wilkins' grandson, Wendell Jones, said his grandmother has seen a lot in her long lifetime.

More here-

New Episcopal dean to be installed today

From Jacksonville FL-

You'd think being a wife, mother, author and blogger would be enough to keep someone busy.

But not the Very Rev. KatherineBingham Moorehead, who will be installed today as dean of St. John's Cathedral and the Jacksonville-based Episcopal Diocese of Florida.

As dean, she'll oversee the 1,500-member cathedral parish and serve as Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard's second-in-command of a diocese of 77 congregations in 25 North Florida counties.

As the cathedral's first female dean, she'll also be hitting the Internet and pavement to promote existing cathedral ministries to the homeless and other needy people, expanding educational offerings and working with city officials to revitalize the urban core.

Moorehead, 39, said it's an odd feeling, knowing the cathedral is where she preached her first sermon as an intern in 1995. She spoke with The Times-Union about the job she started Nov. 1.

As one of the highest-ranking religious officials in the city, what are you going to do about this cold weather we're having?

(Laughs). Pray.

For all the non-Episcopalians out there, can you explain what a dean is and does?

The dean is the head pastor of the cathedral and hosts the cathedral on behalf of the bishop. ... I'm also here to care for the clergy. I'm second to the bishop in authority, and I offer retreats or education for clergy.

More here-