Saturday, February 6, 2010
February 4, 2010
To All Clergy in the Diocese of Southern Virginia
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
I am writing to inform you that I have decided not to consent to the election of the Rev'd Mary Glasspool as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.
This decision comes after much prayer and reflection and after considerable struggle with what I believe to be a most difficult situation.
Everything I know about Mary Glasspool assures me that she is an experienced, faithful priest with extensive diocesan experience and strong leadership skills.
I believe she would make a wonderful bishop and that she is an excellent match for the Diocese of Los Angeles. Her election there was logical and appropriate.
Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the ordination of an openly Gay woman to the episcopate will - at this time - have a serious negative impact on our relationship with the wider Anglican Communion, and that it may very well strain - to the breaking point - those bonds of affection which we have come to value with others, even with those who may agree with us.
This, in turn, would limit or damage our future ability to offer leadership to the wider church around matters of sexuality and social justice, as well as limit our participation in shared programs for mission.
Let me assure you that this decision has not been an easy one for me. I believe that Mary Glasspool is the "right" person for the Diocese of Los Angeles.
I am and will continue to be an advocate for the inclusion of Gays and Lesbians in the Church.
Yet, I also believe that timing does matter and that sometimes it is necessary to practice restraint for the sake of preserving and maintaining relationships.
At this time, there are precious relationships at stake in this decision, ones that go a long way in defining who we are as people of a common table.
During the next few months in particular, please keep the entire leadership of the Church in your prayers.
+ Herman Hollerith IV
In his first convention with the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, the Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase called for Episcopalians to establish three guiding principles: To proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to serve "the lost and the left out," and to be good stewards of the church's resources.
"As your bishop, it is my expectation that when I visit your congregation, I will see clear evidence that these guiding principles and these core identities are present in your common life."
About 250 clergy, church leaders and others attended the Friday morning address at the diocese's 189th convention.
The Diocese of Georgia includes 70 parishes spread over the southern two-thirds of the state.
Through his half-hour speech at the DeSoto Savannah Hilton, Benhase set ministerial goals and addressed the diocese's financial struggles.
Revenue in 2010 was expected to decline 4 percent, mostly due to a smaller carry-forward from the previous year, according to a financial report posted on the diocese's Web site.
The budget showed tithing - described as "pledges"- remained about the same.
"Some of the financial challenges we face are due to the larger economic recession in which this country still suffers," he said.
But some problems preceded the recession, he said.
"It's been there much longer. We've been drawing on past financial reserves to fund current ministry. This must stop."
I read this several months ago. It is fascinating-
Gin was the "quickest way out of Man-chester," the Marxist historian Eric Hobs-bawn observed in "The Age of Revolution." Flight from the difficult and dreary often found its wings in alcohol or narcotics, while ecstatic religion could also provide the opiate that relieved the pains of life.
It has been ever thus. Religious movements that release the believer from his trials through connection with the divine can be found in most faiths: Sufism in Islam, the Hasidic movement in Judaism and Pentecostalism in modern Christianity are but a few examples. Some ecstatic movements flower under the guidance of a charismatic leader then fade upon his passing.
But from its roots in working-class Los Angeles 100 years ago, Pentecostalism has flourished in Africa, South America and in parts of Asia. It has become the fastest-growing segment of American religious life - even moving into the political spotlight with Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race.
In the early 1960s, the Christian charismatic renewal movement of signs and wonders made the jump into the "mainline" - and Julia Duin, religion editor of The Washington Times, deftly chronicles its meteoric rise and collapse in the Episcopal Church, focusing on the saga of the Rev. Graham Pulkingham and Houston's Church of the Redeemer.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Bishop appeals to Episcopal Relief and Development after ice storms down 3,000 power lines
From Episcopal Life Online-
Bishop John Tarrant of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota has requested emergency disaster relief funds from Episcopal Relief and Development to assist residents affected by winter storms and massive power outages on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
Ice storms downed an estimated 3,000 utility poles, leaving about 30,000 residents in two communities without water, electricity or heat for at least a week, said Randy Barnhardt, diocesan canon to the ordinary, during a Feb. 5 telephone interview from his Sioux Falls office.
"We are gathering relief funds and have designated Feb. 14 as a day for all the churches in this diocese to help with ice storm relief," he added.
The diocese had been able to disburse about $2,000 for purchase of propane gas for those with propane heaters. "But you can't help 30,000 people with $2,000, so we do the best we can," he said.
Tribal Chairman Joe Brings Plenty declared a state of emergency on the reservation, which is about the size of the state of Connecticut and encompasses 14 Episcopal congregations.
"The loss of electricity has also knocked out the reservation's aging water system," said the tribal chairman, who had also asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the reservation. "We have no running water on the entire reservation, it is also affecting reservation communities such as Faith, whose water is supplied from pipes running through the reservation," he added.
Meanwhile, snow continued to fall Friday and another storm system was on the way, said Virginia Traverfie, senior warden of Emmanuel Church in White Horse, who lives on the reservation.
While Haiti ranks as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Honduras is second.
That's why the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi has conducted an annual Honduras Medical Mission since 1982.
Every two years, participating Mississippi parishes pass on the responsibility of leading the mission. Madison's Chapel of the Cross is in charge for 2010-2011.
Scott Lenoir, Chapel of the Cross priest associate, will be taking his fifth trip as a member of the Honduras Medical Mission Team when the group leaves next week to spend a week in San Joaquin. The city serves as a hub for outlying villages.
"Even in light of the Haitian tragedy, our friends in San Joaquin need us this year more than ever," Lenoir said.
A team of around 30, including those from medical, dental and veterinarian fields, are sent to Honduras annually.
Physicians see up to 3,500 patients during the five-day clinic, supplying free medicine and treating patients for intestinal parasites. Dentists pull hundreds of teeth, and vets treat hundreds of animals.
For the past decade, the mission has also sponsored Kinder Mississippi, a Christian education and feeding program. It pays for transportation, uniforms and school supplies of San Joaquin children who want to study in San Antonio, a nearby town with a public middle school.
Completely off topic but I sure am glad I'm in South West Florida right now!
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-
Ideally, you're sitting in the comfort of your home right now, reading your favorite newspaper with the heater working and the refrigerator stocked.
And, if you're following the advice of local authorities, you're just going to hunker down and stay put.
Because of the snowstorm that blanketed the region with a projected 8 to 12 inches during the night, getting around today could be complicated at best and, at its worst, dangerous. A winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service for Western Pennsylvania remains in effect through 6 tonight. Areas to the south and east of the city were expected to be hit hardest.
"It's coming down thick, and we're going to get it all night," said Dave Bowers, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Centre County. "If you do decide to go out, you're going to have a lot to dig out of."
Early this morning the Port Authority announced it would offer limited service today because of continuing problems with road conditions. Read more details about the restricted service.
Duquesne Light was reporting about 9,000 customers without power last night due to the storm. Most of the outages were scattered throughout Allegheny and Beaver counties.
Friday, February 5, 2010
The Anglican Communion should reshuffle its executive leadership, said a conservative archbishop who has resigned from the body citing its failure to challenge liberal developments in two Western national churches.
He pointed out that Western churches have been smothering opposition to their acceptance of homosexuality from churches they are financially supporting by threatening to withdraw that aid.
“The current ACC and SCAC (the executive body of the Anglican Communion) should resign,” said The Most Reverend Dr Mouneer H Anis, who leads the physically largest and most diverse Anglican province.
He said: “It is incomprehensible to think of dioceses (an administrative territorial unit administered by a bishop) or provinces (mostly national or regional churches but also city or subnational churches) that have not committed themselves to covenantal relationship to participate in the decision making processes that affect the life of those dioceses or provinces that have adopted and signed the Covenant. A new Anglican Consultative Council and SCAC, or at the very least an ad hoc Standing Committee, must be formed.”
The archbishop was expressing his personal views on the Anglican Covenant in his January 30 letter of resignation from the standing committee of the executive body of the worldwide Anglican Communion because of its failure to challenge, in its December 2009 meeting, The Episcopal Church’s (the U.S. national church) recent public declarations that homosexuals may be appointed as pastors and bishops and that the church may bless same-sex unions.
From The London Telegraph-
He left the Anglican Church in 1995 however after its decision to ordain women priests. Received into the Antiochian Orthodox Church, he became Dean of its communities in the United Kingdom and Ireland and held the office of archpriest.
Harper embraced the Anglican evangelical tradition following an intense conversion experience while attending a service in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge during his first undergraduate year at the university. He decided to seek Holy Orders, and spent six years as a curate at All Souls, Langham Place, in London's West End; the rector there, John Stott, was leading the revival of evangelicalism in the Church of England.
Between 1958 and 1964 Harper was chaplain to the Oxford Street stores, and in 1962 he had another dramatic experience while reading the Epistle to the Ephesians. "It was earth-shattering," he said, "everything leapt off the page." As a result he concluded that he had received "Baptism in the Spirit", which linked him with the so-called neo-Pentecostal movement that was then spreading rapidly in North America. This involved "speaking in tongues", healings, casting out demons and other unusual events.
John Stott was unhappy about this development in a member of his staff, as he regarded the movement as "unbalanced and unhealthy", and Harper was asked not to preach on the subject in All Souls. Their personal relationship was affected for a time, but harmony was eventually restored.
From New Zealand-
The Anglican clergyman behind a controversial Christmas billboard of Joseph and Mary in bed is no longer Archdeacon of Auckland, but the city's Anglican Bishop denies he has been sacked.
Bishop John Paterson said Archdeacon Glynn Cardy's position was always going to come up for renewal in April and his leaving had nothing to do with the billboard.
The bishop told a parishioner in a letter many people had found the billboard offensive and he had asked Mr Cardy to apologise to his fellow clergy, Newstalk ZB reported.
Bishop Paterson added he would no longer be the Archdeacon of Auckland.
The billboard posted in December outside St Matthew in the City showed Mary and Joseph in bed with a caption reading "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow".
It was vandalised three times before the church took it down permanently.
From Afrik.com- (Interesting take on the genesis of discrimination against gays)
U.S. President, Mr. Barrack Obama has condemned the sponsor of Uganda gay bill, and questioned Uganda’s conscientiousness, in a breakfast meeting he held with religious leaders in Washington.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has distanced himself from the bill, saying it does not represent the views of his government. "We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it is here in the United States or... more extremely, in odious laws that are being proposed more recently in Uganda,” Mr. Obama was quoted as saying.
Discrimination against homosexuals in Uganda has its root in the doctrines of the St. James Church after it seceded from the Episcopal Church of the United States, claiming resentment over the idea of gay bishops. St. James church subsequently sought—and found—protection among the conservative Anglican bishops of the Anglican Church in Uganda.
According to reports, the archbishop of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, took St. James church under his wing and has since campaigned relentlessly against homosexuality. However, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has condemned the anti-homosexuality bill that is before the Ugandan Parliament.
From The Church Times-
A SENIOR CLERIC of the Anglican Church of Canada has identified inaccuracies in Lorna Ashworth’s briefing paper for her private member’s motion, which will come before the General Synod next Wednesday. Similar concerns are coming from the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Mrs Ashworth’s motion will urge the Synod to “express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA}” (News, 22 January). Canon Alan Perry, a lecturer in ecclesiastical polity and former Prolocutor of the Province of Canada, rebuts allegations on clergy and property in her paper.
The Revd Brian Lewis, a Synod member from Chelmsford diocese, circulated the note to all members on Monday.
Mrs Ashworth states that six bishops and 69 priests are involved in ACNA, and that bishops and priests who have not left Church of Canada “are deposed without due canonical process”. Canon Perry says that only three former bishops of Church of Canada have associated themselves with ACNA: Bishops Donald Harvey, Ronald Ferris, and Malcolm Harding.
None of these has been deposed, he says. “All three were already retired, and all three voluntarily relinquished their ministry pursuant to Canon XIX of the Anglican Church of Canada.” The other three bishops are “former presbyters recently consecrated as bishops by ACNA: Stephen Leung, Charles Masters, and Trevor Walters”.
Canon Perry also questions Mrs Ashworth’s figure of 69 of the clergy. Fifty-two were former Church of Canada clerics, he con firms; the remainder “includes the newly ordained and possibly some other transfers”. In contrast, he gives the total number of Church of Canada clergy in June 2009 as 3861.
He continues: “Not a single Canadian priest has been deposed for joining ACNA. The term is almost entirely unheard of in Canada. It is one of the penalties provided for in the Canon on Discipline. However, none of those who have left to join Rwanda or Southern Cone have been canonically disciplined.”
The note suggests it is “quite incorrect to imply that there are not proper avenues of appeal of canonical decisions” in Church of Canada. Three levels of appeal are open to any cleric who feels mistreated. Nor is it true, he says, that “relinquishment of ministry is simply a mechanism to transfer jurisdiction”.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
From Central Florida-
The annual convention of the Diocese of Central Florida has passed four resolutions regarding its place in the Episcopal Church and the broader Anglican Communion.
Meeting Jan. 30 at the Lakeland Center, delegates approved resolutions that:
Affirmed the Anglican Communion Covenant.
Joined the diocese's bishop, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, in affirming the Anaheim Statement, issued during the 76th General Convention.
Said bishops of the Episcopal Church will walk apart from the diocese if they participate in the consecration of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles. Canon Glasspool still must receive consent from a majority of bishops and standing committees.
Asserted that Episcopalians “currently have, within the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, all of the needed liturgical resources at our disposal to minister to all of our members with respect to marriage and human sexuality.”
Dissociated the diocese from the Episcopal Church's affiliation, through its Executive Council, in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Bishop Howe's annual address touched on many themes, including support for earthquake victims in Haiti; long-term planning for the diocese; and a review of the diocese's rejection of any property-related lawsuits against departing congregations.
From The Washington Times-
Nearly 50 years ago, an Episcopal priest shocked his listeners during a Palm Sunday sermon at St. Mark's Church in Van Nuys, Calif. On April 3, 1960, the Rev. Dennis Bennett announced he had received a personal Pentecost or "baptism in the Holy Spirit;" an infusion of spiritual power that brought with it the gift of speaking in tongues.
His congregation took the news calmly but some of his fellow clergy and vestry members did not, and Mr. Bennett resigned that very day. His story hit the local media, then Time and Newsweek, then national TV. A sympathetic Episcopal bishop invited him to pastor a dying church in the Seattle suburb of Ballard and in short order St. Luke's/Ballard was turned around, eventually attracting guests from around the world to its famous Friday night meetings.
Modern-day Pentecostalism had been around since 1901, but Mr. Bennett was the grandfather of the charismatic renewal, which brought Pentecostal practices into mainline Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church. Today, about 500 million Christians are pentecostal or charismatic worldwide.
When St. Paul’s Episcopal Church opened its food pantry in September, the giving and getting got off to a slow start.
“It was just me and my daughter and four other people,” said Martha, a Jeffersonville resident who declined to give her last name for this story.
A few months can make a world of difference. Within the first 10 minutes that the food bank opened its doors on a recent Wednesday, residents from a number of area households packed the church basement where the food bank takes place.
A line of people stretched around metal pantry shelves, industrial refrigerators and checker-clothed tables seeking out items. Trays of meat, paper cartons of juice and boxes of cereal were grabbed andshoved into bags as quickly as they were laid out.
Martha said she shops at local grocery stores as well, but having a food bank available “really helps” when it comes to making ends meet on her disability income.
It’s a free-choice bank, rather than one wherein preloaded boxes of food are handed out. Residents can take the items off shelves and tables similar to the way patrons shop a grocery store.
“This is a lot better,” she said.
On the last Wednesday in January, in the two-hour period that the bank stays open each Wednesday, about 23 people came into the church basement, said The Rev. Steve Benner.
From Wilmington NC-
Look for a mobile Episcopal church rolling down Myrtle Grove Road soon. . .
Holy Cross Episcopal Church, the area’s newest Episcopal parish, is taking a quicker approach to building its first church than just building it from the ground up.
Two words: mail order.
Yep, the church ordered a pre-fabricated church building that will be a permanent structure on its property off Myrtle Grove Road. Sometime in mid-February the church will be moved in sections down the road near Monkey Junction to the church site, 5820 Myrtle Grove Road. The site has already been cleared and graded for the church building. It will be set on pilings and finished on site. Later, as the church grows, its congregation plans to build a bigger church and use the pre-fab church as a multi-use space or fellowship hall.
The church was in a Catch 21 when it came to actually building a physical place.
“We couldn’t get our membership up enough to get the Diocese (of East Carolina) to loan us the money to build a site. But you can’t do that when you’re meeting in a cafeteria,” said Carolyn Moore, the church’s publicist. The church has been meeting each Sunday in the cafeteria at Myrtle Grove Middle School.
The new building “will at least allow us to have services on our property,” she added.
I’ll keep you posted on when to look out for the church being moved in Myrtle Grove.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
From The Bahamas-
Revealing details of the "embarrassing scandal" that has hit the Anglican Church in The Bahamas, retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez said in an affidavit filed late yesterday afternoon that during his tenure he had permitted Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg to remain as rector of Holy Trinity Church until he received information from one of the priest's siblings about his age and the unequal treatment of other clergymen of the same age.
Gomez said in his affidavit that the audited accounts relating to Holy Trinity revealed that the vestry of the church was making monthly payments of $3,000 to provide an annuity to Bowleg upon his retirement.
The archbishop's affidavit was made on behalf of the Anglican Church and Bishop Laish Boyd in support of their applications to discharge or vary an order issued by Senior Supreme Court Justice Jon Isaacs.
Isaacs recently granted an injunction blocking Boyd or anyone else from removing Bowleg until his matter is heard in court.
After fighting unsuccessfully to get the public record altered to have his birth year recognized as eight years later than what is recorded on his birth certificate, Bowleg filed another court application, alleging that Boyd has no authority to remove him as rector because the church regulation under which the bishop acted was never gazetted.
The retired archbishop said that on October 8, 2007 he wrote Bowleg advising him that as he had attained the retirement age he was required to vacate his office as of December 31, 2007.
Gomez said Bowleg wrote him on October 28, 2007 asserting that his date of birth is December 18, 1945 (although his birth certificate states the year of his birth as 1937).
From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James has issued an order detailing which assets are among the centrally held properties that he earlier awarded to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh rather than to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which broke from the Episcopal Church in 2008.
The order, issued Friday, doesn't apply to parish property, which is to be negotiated later. Leaders of the Anglican diocese had earlier said that they would appeal the October decision. The Rev. Mary Hays, canon to the ordinary of the Anglican diocese, said the appeal can be filed now that this order has been issued.
The original diocese split when a majority of clergy and laity at its 2008 convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church over theological differences. Prior to the split, some parishes now in the 28-parish Episcopal diocese sued for the property of the 57-parish Anglican diocese. The funds have been frozen by financial institutions until the litigation is resolved.
Friday's order said that as of September, the Episcopal diocese had $22 million in cash and investments, of which $2.5 million was held for parishes.
A footnote in the special master's report that formed the basis of the decision said, "it is believed that the individual parishes have the right to withdraw the value of their investment accounts" from the diocese.
A brief statement from the Episcopal diocese said that its leadership "plans to quickly make arrangements so that all parishes may again have access to their investment funds."
Asked if that applied to Anglican parishes, Rich Creehan, a spokesman for the Episcopal diocese, said, "any parish that had been participating in that fund from whatever time, we are making arrangements so they can access those funds."
Should Canadian Anglicans be able to break through the impasse on sexuality, “it could well become a vibrant model of the kind of renewed Christian community that has much to teach the wider church,” say two U.K. pastoral visitors.
Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Bishop Colin Bennetts, the retired bishop of Coventry, were deputized by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to accept an invitation to attend the House of Bishops last November in Niagara, Ont. Archbishop Williams is seeking ways to heal divisions across the Anglican Communion.
The visitors’ report, discussed at a January meeting here of the House of Bishops, also noted that General Synod 2010 is bound to be “a watershed both for the [Anglican Church of Canada] and for its wider relations with the Anglican Communion”…no matter what decisions may be reached.
The visitors said they were “very encouraged” by the general desire that the church be more mission focused. They noted “…a very positive approach to church growth, a strong commitment to ministry among indigenous people and a determination to deliver better, more integrated forms of theological education both for ordinands and for laity.”
They called Archbishop Fred Hiltz one of the church’s “greatest assets” and said the Anglican Church of Canada “punches way above its numerical weight when it comes to involvement in affairs of the Communion,” a commitment that the visitors found “deeply moving.”
From that other "Pittsburg"-
A measure being considered by the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee to repeal the state’s death penalty picked up eight supporters on Friday.
In a letter to the Kansas Legislature, eight bishops of the Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church and United Methodist Church in Kansas signed a letter asking for reconsideration and repeal of the Kansas death penalty.
Signing the letter, dated Jan. 28, were Bishops James M. Adams Jr., Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas; Paul S. Coakley, Catholic Diocese of Salina; Ronald M. Gilmore, Catholic Diocese of Dodge City; Michael O. Jackels, Catholic Diocese of Wichita; Scott J. Jones, Kansas Area United Methodist Church; Gerald L. Mansholt, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Joseph F. Naumann, Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City; and Dean Wolfe, Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.
“As bishops leading the Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church and United Methodist Church in Kansas, we write to share our deep concern about the continuing practice of condemning persons to death in Kansas,” the letter said.
Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee opened four days of hearings on the bill.
The state passed the death penalty law in 1994, making death by lethal injection the possible penalty for some murders. However, the state has not executed anyone under the provision since it was enacted.
“We had it last year and we had it for a day and it went to the floor,” said committee chairman Tim Owens, R-Overland Park. “There were so many questions then, I asked the President of the Senate to send it back to committee.”
Owens said that there has been additional information received since it was on the Senate floor during last session.
From Christian Post-
Episcopalians in central Florida have committed to stay in The Episcopal Church as faithful, orthodox believers despite their disagreement with the liberal direction of the denomination.
"I think many of us have some pretty deep disagreements with some of the recent decisions of The Episcopal Church," the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe said Saturday at the 41st Annual Convention of the Diocese of Central Florida.
"But, as Bishop Bob Terwilliger put it when someone asked, 'Are you threatening to leave?' he responded, 'No, I’m threatening to stay!' We are not about winning political battles. We are about bearing faithful witness."
Since 2004, a year after The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, nearly a dozen congregations have left the Central Florida Diocese. Their disaffection was not with the conservative diocese, but rather with the national church body.
While both the diocese and disaffected parishes believe The Episcopal Church has departed from Christian orthodoxy and traditional Anglicanism, Howe has chosen a different path for the diocese – to stay.
By staying, Howe knows he is risking more churches leaving the diocese but he says he's committed to standing faithfully.
"We know we are part of something much larger than The Episcopal Church, and while we may be in a minority in TEC we are squarely in the center of the great majority of orthodox Anglicanism around the world," the bishop said.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department" Front page of the New York Times Division-
In the back room of a theater on Beale Street, John Renken, 42, a pastor, recently led a group of young men in prayer.
“Father, we thank you for tonight,” he said. “We pray that we will be a representation of you.”
An hour later, a member of his flock who had bowed his head was now unleashing a torrent of blows on an opponent, and Mr. Renken was offering guidance that was not exactly prayerful.
“Hard punches!” he shouted from the sidelines of a martial arts event called Cage Assault. “Finish the fight! To the head! To the head!”
The young man was a member of a fight team at Xtreme Ministries, a small church near Nashville that doubles as a mixed martial arts academy. Mr. Renken, who founded the church and academy, doubles as the team’s coach. The school’s motto is “Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide.”
Mr. Renken’s ministry is one of a small but growing number of evangelical churches that have embraced mixed martial arts — a sport with a reputation for violence and blood that combines kickboxing, wrestling and other fighting styles — to reach and convert young men, whose church attendance has been persistently low. Mixed martial arts events have drawn millions of television viewers, and one was the top pay-per-view event in 2009.
From Catholic News Agency-
Pope Benedict once again commented on the theme of Anglican-Catholic relations, this time as he met with Welsh and English bishops at the Vatican on Monday. During their meeting Pope Benedict confirmed the importance of his recent Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
The Holy Father welcomed bishops from England and Wales in audience on Monday morning in the Consistory Room of the Apostolic Palace as they complete their “ad Limina” visit.
After encouraging the bishops' important work in the areas of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, given the "varied demographic profile" of their flocks, Pope Benedict added, "I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum Coetibus,' so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church."
"I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.”
From The London Times-
When Pope John Paul II arrived in Britain in 1982, he famously kissed the ground and declared: “Today, for the first time in history, a Bishop of Rome sets foot on English soil. This fair land, once a distant outpost of the pagan world, has become, through the preaching of the Gospel, a beloved and gifted portion of Christ’s vineyard.”
He went on to preach in Canterbury Cathedral and during the visit became friends with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. It seemed to set the seal on an end to centuries of anti-Catholicism in Britain, and open the door to a new era in ecumenical endeavour where anything, even reunion, seemed possible.
But that was in a different century, and that Pope and that Archbishop are dead.
This Pope will walk into a storm of protest. Secularists are already planning a series of marches against him wherever he goes. The National Secular Society will launch its Protest the Pope Coalition later this week.
From The Living Church-
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, who has resigned his position on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, told The Living Church that discussions at the committee’s meeting in December 2009 are what prompted his resignation from the committee.
“I had been in communication before the meeting that I needed to discuss the participation of the Episcopal Church on the standing committee. I found some resistance to this,” said Bishop Mouneer, who is Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
Bishop Mouneer announced his resignation in a five-page letter dated Jan. 30 and distributed by his diocese [PDF].
“I didn’t see a way forward to follow through on the recommendations made by the primates and by the Windsor Report itself,” Bishop Mouneer said regarding the Episcopal Church’s continuing representation on the standing committee.
“Many sing praises of ‘inclusiveness’ while at the same time they exclude others,” Bishop Mouneer wrote in his resignation letter. “I am deeply disturbed in my conscience when I see a kind of double standard in dealing with different issues. While emphasizing the importance of caring for the marginalized in our communities, like the LGBT community, the orthodox Anglicans are marginalized.”
He expressed a similar concern in a brief telephone interview with The Living Church.
“When it comes to who will sign and adopt the Covenant, there is exclusiveness,” he said. “This double standard hurts me.”
From Allentown via Chicago-
New Bethany Ministries, which has attacked the homeless problem in Bethlehem for nearly 25 years, has the final $250,000 it needs to launch its first project in Allentown.
At a news conference Monday, community leaders announced the funding that completes a $460,000 plan to turn a former Grace Episcopal Church building at 112 N. Fifth St. into a group home.
Unlike the temporary housing shelter nearby at Allentown Rescue Mission, the six single-occupancy rooms at the old Grace building would be permanent residences for those without a home.
''While we aren't going to end homelessness immediately, we can take small steps toward that end,'' said Jeff Miller, New Bethany Ministries interim executive director. ''Grace House will effectively end homelessness for six people. For those six people, that's all the difference in the world.''
The facility is part of Allentown's 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness, defined as living on the streets for more than a year or having four episodes of homelessness in three years.
In October, Allentown officials announced the plan is on track to end chronic homelessness by 2017. At that news conference, officials identified 214 chronically homeless people.
New Bethany is one of dozens of groups working on the plan.
From Episcopal Life Online-
A judge has told the organization headed by former bishop Robert Duncan that claims to have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church in 2008 that it must turn over control of the Diocese of Pittsburgh's assets.
In a Jan. 29 order County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James accepted as accurate an inventory of diocesan property submitted by a "special master" he had appointed earlier and told Duncan's organization it must transfer the assets.
The inventory includes $22 million in cash, cash equivalents, receivables, and investments including about $2.5 million in pooled parish investments and real estate and other real property.
"The diocese plans to quickly make arrangements so that all parishes may again have access to their investment funds that were frozen by financial institutions during the legal proceedings," according to a news release from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
On Oct. 4, 2008 a majority of the delegates to the diocese's 143rd annual convention approved 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 have been calling the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh 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.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James, however, ruled Oct. 6 that all diocesan assets must be held by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that is recognized by the Episcopal Church. James' opinion and order are here.
The group led by Duncan said Oct. 29 that it would appeal the ruling once the court issues a final order directing it to transfer the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.
Monday, February 1, 2010
From Central Florida-
The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida signaled its intent Saturday to remain a conservative voice within The Episcopal Church, even as the national denomination moves ahead to liberalize its policies toward gays.
The diocese, meeting in its annual convention at The Lakeland Center, approved four resolutions that in one way or another declared its opposition to recent decisions of The Episcopal Church that may lead to gays being consecrated as bishops and their unions being blessed in church ceremonies. But the mood of the convention was calm, and diocesan leaders seemed eager to turn away from controversies and focus on strategies to strengthen the diocese's spiritual health.
About 380 clergy and lay delegates representing the diocese's 88 parishes, including 11 in Polk County, gathered for the convention. There was little of the tension and sharp debate during votes on resolutions that marked the diocese's conventions between 2004 and last year, mostly because a strongly conservative wing of clergy and lay persons who advocated that the diocese withdraw from The Episcopal Church has left to form independent churches or join a traditionalist Anglican denomination.
The diocese is "committed to being faithful (and) orthodox" and holding to traditionalist views within The Episcopal Church, said Bishop John Howe in his address to the convention.
"This is not about winning political battles but about bearing fruit for the kingdom of God. ... I believe we are called to stay," Howe said.
Fifty years ago, on Feb. 1, four black college students sat down at a whites-only Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. The "Greensboro Four," along with friends and supporters, returned to the counter every day for six months until the lunch counter was desegregated.
Their determination to resist Jim Crow laws inspired thousands of peaceful sit-ins and helped to end official segregation in the South. On Monday, in the same building that once housed the Woolworth's store, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum opens.
More Than Just A Lunch Counter
In the museum, the original room that housed the Woolworth's lunch counter has been essentially left intact. A row of metal stools with red and green vinyl cushions accompanies a black counter that stretches across the whole room. This is where the young men sat and asked to be served just as white customers were. And so for a lot of people today, it is more than just a lunch counter.
"We feel that this place here and this entire building is holy ground," says Skip Alston, Guilford County commissioner. "What took place here on Feb. 1, 1960, was very holy and ordained."
Alston's expression is somber as he describes how back in 1994, this downtown building was on the verge of demolition. He and his friend Earl Jones, then a city councilman, decided to buy the dusty, abandoned store and turn it into a civil rights museum.
From Christian Post-
If the world wants an ethical economy, it must build ethical people.
That was the message from the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion at the end of a three-day conference at Trinity Church on Wall Street this past week.
Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, asserted that the question of how to build an ethical economy could not be separated from the question of what kind of people we want to be.
“Moving through the question of how we define ‘economy’ and ‘ethical,’ we find that we are actually discussing what we mean by building persons at the end of the day – which implies that a critique of economics is always also a cultural critique,” the Church of England cleric said.
“What sort of persons are needed to make economies work well and constructively is a question that leads to what sort of persons we think ourselves to be and want to be. And that’s an important warning against simply offloading blame onto the places where it seems to sit most easily," he added.
Addressing the function of schools in building humanity, the archbishop recommended further reflection on the kind of "humanist" education that could produce in children "that blend of financial and cultural and moral literacy that we’d all like to see".
More important than education in the formation of people, he contended, was defining the self, which according to the Christian tradition is “always and invariably invested in the good of the neighbor”.
“Faith carries with it the vision of the social self, and the sense also of humanity overall as a community of communities. The language of Christian theology says that we are created in the image of a God who is eternal, relational, good. Christian theology speaks of the optimal form of global society as organic and mutual," Williams said.
THEY are happy and they are clappy, but they do not talk in tongues, says Wellspring's minister Rev David Rietveld.
"I have never heard anyone speak in tongues as part of our service," he said.
"Someone might do it in the back corner and I might not know about it.
"There would be members of our congregation who practise this [speaking in tongues] in private or in small groups."
Mr Rietveld was responding to complaints from traditional worshippers, who say happy clappers who "froth at the mouth" and "speak in strange tongues" are taking over Tasmania's Anglican Church.
Wellspring was formed when the Anglican Church sold North Hobart's historic Holy Trinity and three-quarters of Holy Trinity's congregation has left for more traditional churches.
Mr Rietveld said all organisations had to evolve and re-invent themselves.
"Some people want the Anglican Church to worship only as it
did in the '60s and '70s," he said.
"The Anglican Church has services to look after traditional Anglicans but we also need to accommodate young families, university students, overseas students, and they have different needs.
"Any organisation that does not move with the times risks dying with the generation it attaches itself to."
Mr Rietveld is a very modern minister.
Thousands of churchgoers held an open air protest service in Harare on Sunday in a row over property belonging to the Anglican Church.
At least 4,000 worshippers from around Zimbabwe gathered in a square adjacent to the city's Anglican cathedral, complaining about what they said was police harassment.
Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya said police had stopped worshippers entering the cathedral and had made threats.
"The custodians of the law are the ones denying us access, threatening to arrest us or use teargas to force us out. There are church wardens who have been arrested and some who bear marks of beatings," he said.
Zimbabwe's Anglicans have been embroiled in a feud since 2007, when the former bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga refused to hand over property in protest at what he said was the church's pro-gay stance.
Kunonga, a supporter of President Robert Mugabe who once described the president as "more Christian than myself", set up his own diocese with a clique of supporters.
For two years Kunonga and his followers have stopped the majority of churchgoers, led by Gandiya, getting into church buildings, forcing them to hold services in the open air.
From The Washington Post-
Washington Episcopal Bishop John B. Chane's announcement that he expects to retire in the fall of 2011 wraps up nine years at the helm of a diocese he acknowledged had not grown or prospered during his tenure.
"I call for this election not because of any health reasons, or because I am burned out or bored," Bishop Chane, 65, told about 325 people Saturday at the annual diocesan convention at the Washington Cathedral. "I don't know how any bishop could ever be bored serving this diocese. It's a very lively place.
"I love what I do and I deeply love this diocese. When the time actually comes to turn over the crozier to another, it will be a very emotional time for me."
Saying it was time to elect someone younger "to lead what I consider to be the best and one of the most influential dioceses in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion," he suggested that his successor be elected in June 2011 and be given several months to train under him before he departs in the fall.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
From The Living Church-
Upon his reception of the prestigious Erasmus Prize in 1982, an award given annually for contributions to the advancement of European culture, the late Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. [TLC, Jan. 24], noted that he was especially proud that the Protestant members of the award committee described his theology as “transconfessional.” When asked in a subsequent interview about this term, the Belgian Roman Catholic theologian commented that the committee recognized “that my arguments were not based on my Catholic confession, but that I took the great Christian tradition and especially the Old and New Testaments as my point of departure.” He went on to emphasize that all of his work — more than 60 years of theological writing — was rooted in the notion, underscored at Vatican II, that the Church, like God, is a mystery.
Because theology, or any talk about God, can never exhaust what it seeks to express, Schillebeeckx believed that theologians should avoid limiting themselves to the language of any one confession and, instead, seek language that transcends divisions. For himself, he wanted his words to cross boundaries and offer a convincing account of the Christian hope to all people.
Schillebeeckx rightly perceived that one of the greatest challenges facing the Church in the 20th century was effective communication of its message in an increasingly diverse, scientific and skeptical culture. He observed, after a tour through the United States in the 1960s, that “the problem narrows down to how we, as men of faith in a secularized world, can still speak of God.” Accordingly, he sought to bridge the gap between religious and modern or secular experience, particularly in the wake of the pronounced suffering of World War II.
From The Washington Post-
John Bryson Chane, the Episcopal bishop of Washington and one of the mainline denomination's most prominent advocates of marriage equality for gay men and lesbians, announced Saturday that he will retire next year after leading the 42,000-person diocese since 2002.
Chane, 65, made the announcement at the diocese's annual convention at Washington National Cathedral, where he received a standing ovation. He told the delegates he is not "burned out or bored," but believes it's time for someone younger to take over.
"I love what I do and I deeply love this diocese," Chane said in the annual bishop's address. "When the time actually comes to turn over the crosier to another, it will be a very emotional time for me."
Chane's exit from the diocese, which includes 89 congregations in the District and suburban Maryland, follows that of his counterpart in Northern Virginia, Peter James Lee, who retired in October as bishop of the diocese that includes eastern Virginia.
While Lee was known as a moderate on the social issues that have embroiled the Episcopal Church -- as well as mainline Protestantism -- Chane was an unabashed liberal on the rights of gay men and lesbians to marry. He allows clergy in the diocese to bless same-sex relationships and blesses such relationships himself. He made outreach to the Muslim world a priority and extended a controversial invitation in 2006 to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami to speak at the cathedral. It's likely he will focus on Muslim-Christian dialogue after his retirement.