Saturday, June 26, 2010

Firing-squad execution spurs theological reflections

From Indianapolis-

The Rev. Harold V. Smith, retired Episcopal priest

A few days ago, a man was executed for having committed murder. Now comes the question: "How does the condemned man's victim's family feel? What is their reaction to the execution of a man who caused them pain?"

The natural reaction -- probably the impulsive reaction -- might be, "Good riddance of bad rubbish!" Someone has hurt you, hurt you badly, and you find yourself wrestling with a question that's popped into your head: "Should I forgive him? How can I forgive him? Why should I forgive him? And if I forgive him now, will he turn around and hurt me again?"

Many of us have found ourselves in such a quandary. Our natural inclination, when we've been hurt by someone, is to hurt back. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," some would cry, as if revenge for the wrong is justifiably called for. But contrary to a common practice of the day, Jesus called instead for the wronged one to "turn the other cheek." Our Lord's counsel was always to counter evil with good. When Peter, asking Jesus how many times -- perhaps seven times? -- he should forgive someone, Jesus responded, "Not seven times . . . but 77 times." In other words, forgive as many times as you have been offended.

Jesus gave us the supreme example of forgiving. As he was dying upon the cross, he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

More here-

On July 4th, St. Anne’s Oceanside will celebrate return to the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

From San Diego-

On July 4th, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Oceanside, California will return to their church at 701 West Street. San Diego bishop James Mathes invited the whole diocesan community to “celebrate Independence Day and the return of the Episcopal Church to St. Anne’s Oceanside” at a 10 am Eucharist Sunday July 4th over which he will preside.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is slowly getting its properties back from breakaway Anglican churches. On November 10, 2009, San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven Denton ruled that the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is the true owner of the Oceanside church building and grounds, as well as property inhabited by another Anglican congregation in Ocean Beach. Denton said that the parishes agreed

from the beginning of their existence to be part of a greater denominational church and to be bound by that greater church’s governing instruments . . . Those instruments make it clear that a local parish owns local church property in trust for the greater church and may use that property only so long as the local church remains part of the greater church.

Both congregations left the Episcopal diocese in 2006, St. Anne’s following the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, the Bishop of Bolivia who visited the congregation to help them transfer to his diocese.

More here-

Research desk responds: How generous is the United States?

From Thw Washington Post-

wintday asks:

how do Americans compare with the people of other countries as to charitable contributions, in total, per capita, in proportion to GDP or some other measure of wealth. And if possible, please break out contributions to churches, which, I think, are in large part payment of the cost of mutual member benefits, rather than "charity" which benefits the larger community.

A comparison of non-military foreign aid (international "charity," if you will) would also be interesting. And if you can, note aid which is truly disinterested from aid which is tied to purchasing donor goods.

I'm afraid there's no data that breaks out churches, and I'm not sure, contra wintday, that would be wise. Some church contributions go to spending benefiting the individual congregations, but some go to organizations like Episcopal Relief & Development or Catholic Relief Services that do on-the-ground charity work. The UK's Charities Aid Foundation did a comparison (PDF) of nations' giving as a percentage of GDP and, sure enough, the United States comes out ahead by a wide margin:

More here including charts-

Friday, June 25, 2010

guest column: Soundings in Anglican Ecclesiology

From The Living Church-

It is arguably true that there has never been a time in the history of what we now call Anglicanism that was essentially stable and free from serious conflict. Yet, it certainly does seem as though the last ten to 12 years have been particularly fraught with crisis — crisis of the sort that threatens not just to alter the course of Anglicanism’s evolution, but to radically redefine how we think and talk about it.

In casual conversation, sexuality is often presumed to lie at the heart of our travails. Indeed, it is undeniably the presenting issue. But many have also realized that if it had not been sexuality, it would inevitably have been something else, that forces at work within Anglican life at least since the 16th century would have brought about the same sort of crisis. The sexuality squabble is like the tremor of a quake on the surface of the earth. Yet, it is underneath the surface, in the shifting of tectonic plates, where the source of the tremor lies. These shifting tectonic plates beneath the surface of Anglicanism have to do with ecclesiology: What is the Church? What is the relation of Anglican “churches” to “the Church”? When conflict arises, how should churches, and church members, behave? How can their action be most consistent with the Church’s identity and mission, and what it means to live as a network of Christian communities? Are we accountable to one another? If so, how?

Conflict in any organization that includes human beings is necessarily political in nature, and politics invariably produces winners and losers. Within global Anglicanism, the Lambeth Conference of 1998 overwhelmingly passed resolution 1.10, which “reject[ed] homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.” This political process made “losers” out of those who advocate reassessing the Church’s traditional position on sexual ethics. But in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, those who argue for such reassessment hold majorities in the councils of the Church.

More here-

Nigeria: The Challenge of Modern Christians - Bishop Chukwunenye

From All Africa-

Thursday, May 6 to Sunday, May 9, 2010, will remain evergreen in the annals of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Diocese of Oru as Emmanuel Church, Ubulu in Oru West local government area of Imo State hosted the 2nd session of the 1st Synod, with the theme, "Who is on the Lord's side".

The ecclesiastical, which had at the helm of its affairs the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Oru, His Lordship, Rt. Rev. Geofrey Chukwunenye played host to dignitaries from different walks of life. It also featured Anglican bishops and other clerics from the South East.

Reading the 2010 Presidential Address, Bishop Chukwunenye gave a brief history of Emmanuel Church Ubulu. He also gave, among other things, insight into the first church building, church workers and clergies from 1913 to date, first generation members of the church, indigenous priests, influence of the church, diocesan issues, mission work, radio programme, the Amagu land case, the land acquired at Eziama, Ubulu, Women and Girls Ministry, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Amadechi, Ubulu, Train A Priest fund (TAP) and inauguration of parishes and archdeaconries.

More here-

Don't ignore our voices, archbishops

From The London Guardian-

Dear Archbishop Williams and Archbishop Sentamu,

It is with great dismay and disappointment that I read your proposed amendments to the women bishops draft legislation issued on Monday 21 June. I doubt there are many who will feel this offers good news. Far from being attentive to the full diversity of voices within the Church of England, these amendments suggest that you, our archbishops, are primarily concerned with a particularly vocal minority. Neither do you seem to trust that the legislative drafting committee have, in fact, been extremely attentive to the diversity of voices for the past year and have worked hard to come up with the current proposals. There is nothing to suggest, for example, that you are listening to the voices of those who signed petitions in 2008 requesting a single clause measure. Or those, like Watch, who have made it clear that the proposed legislation already demands many concessions and compromises from the simple single clause measure they requested and which has been favoured by all other Anglican provinces who have chosen to open the episcopate to women.

There will be many who will be unable to support the proposed transfer arrangements and continual public undermining of women's spiritual authority implicit in these amendments (paragraph 6), even if it means proceeding sooner rather than later.

More here-

HAITI: Clergy and their families strengthened for the journey ahead

From ELO-

"Kouraj pou vwayaj la -- Ayiti. (Strength for the Journey -- Haiti)," a four-day conference for Episcopal Diocese of Haiti clergy and their families, is underway in Santo Domingo in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

The conference is being conducted and sponsored by the CREDO Institute Inc. and the Church Pension Group, of which CREDO is an affiliate. The Rev. Ron Crocker is leading an 11-person CREDO faculty team and there are 85 participants, including Haiti Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin, 41 clergy, and clergy family members. CREDO Managing Director Bill Craddock is also attending the June 21-25 conference.

"As we start to rebuild our churches, we must rebuild our personal selves to give us the strength to carry on," Duracin said in a CREDO news release. "We now have a deeper understanding of the feelings that come with a disaster and how to cope with the stress and the pain. For many of us, it was the first opportunity to relax in a safe place because we feel the earthquake within us."

CPG's Church Pension Fund is underwriting the cost of the gathering which is meant, the release said, to offer "clergy and lay leaders an opportunity for respite, reflection on the crisis, and rejuvenation for the ongoing recovery in Haiti."

More here-

Amid shared grief, town bids farewell

From Boston-

Mourners sang hymns through tears, their voices filling the brick cathedral with an anguished, quavering strain. As relatives tenderly draped palls over four caskets carrying a slain family to rest, some lifted moist eyes to the wooden rafters, as if in search of answers.

But most stared forlornly at the coffins that stretched the width of the majestic church.

In a raw, heart-rending funeral service, hundreds of relatives, friends, and neighbors of the slain members of the Stone Mortimer family gathered yesterday at the Parish of The Epiphany near the center of this picturesque suburb, sitting shoulder to shoulder in the pews in an outpouring of shared grief. Among them were those who hardly knew the family, but felt personally obliged to extend their sympathies for such a staggering loss and horrific crime.

“I can’t even imagine what they are going through,’’ said one Winchester resident, who declined to give her name out of respect for the family. “How can you? It’s beyond all comprehension.’’

Earlier this month, the bodies of Ragna Ellen Stone, 64; her daughter, Laura Stone Mortimer, 41; and Stone Mortimer’s children, 2-year-old Charlotte Mortimer and 4-year-old Thomas “Finn’’ Mortimer V, were discovered inside their Windsong Lane home. They were bludgeoned and slashed to death, and authorities have charged the children’s father, Thomas Mortimer IV, with four counts of first-degree murder. A 43-year-old sales executive, Mortimer is being held without bail after authorities captured and arrested him in Western Massachusetts.

More here-

New twist in saga of ‘Mitregate’

From The Church Times-

It began when the US Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, was requested by Lambeth Palace not to wear her mitre during a service at Southwark Cathedral a fortnight ago. Dr Jefferts Schori described the ban as “bizarre — it is beyond bizarre”.

Since then, the “Mitregate” saga has refused to die down. Last week end, another woman bishop from the United States, the Bishop of El Camino Real, the Rt Revd Mary Grey-Reeves, presided at the eucharist in Gloucester Cathedral. She was in Gloucester with the Bishop of West Tanganyika, the Rt Revd Gerard Mpango. Bishop Grey-Reeves was permitted to wear her mitre.
The Bishop of Gloucester, Dr Michael Perham, who invited Bishop Grey-Reeves, said in an ex­planatory note that the law governing visiting bishops from overseas needed urgent revision. He had none the less applied for, and been granted, permission for Bishop Grey-Reeves to officiate, under the pro visions of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure of 1967.

Dr Perham writes: “The Measure makes no reference to what the bishop wears. . . On Sunday, when she stood at my side when I presided at the eucharist, and again when she preached at a Partnership Service later in the day, she did . . . wear her mitre.”

Concerning Dr Jefferts Schori, the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Colin Slee, was told that “canon law does not recognise women bishops, and women bishops cannot officiate in this country in any episcopal act”. Many believe that presiding at the eucharist is a priestly, not an epis copal act; but mindful of sensitivities over the forthcoming Synod debate, he chose to be “hugely diplomatic and careful”.

More here-

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Liverpool Cathedral partners with Beatles Day for charity abseil

From England-

Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral is to partner up with Beatles Day for a charity abseil in aid of the cathedral's Centenary Fund.

All participants who register for the 150ft abseil over the Main Entrance at west end of the Cathedral will receive two complimentary tickets for the official Beatles Day – The Concert featuring Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Show (plus special guests) at the Echo Arena that night.

The best dressed Beatles on the day (spectator or participants) will also win free family or couple tickets to the show.

The abseil will take place on Saturday 10th July. Registration is £35 and participants are required to raise a minimum of £120 in sponsorship. There will be a back-up date of July 17th in case of bad weather.

There are just 100 places available for the abseil – the first time the Cathedral has organised such an event. All proceeds raised will go to the Cathedral Centenary Fund, which helps keep the Cathedral free to visitors as well as funding projects that help the Cathedral engage with the wider community through music, activities, building improvements and visitor facilities.

More here-

Anglican followers assured of security

From Zimbabwe-

The Ministry of Home Affairs has assured Anglican followers of Bishop Chad Gandiya that they will have adequate security when they conduct their commemorations of the late Bernard Mizeki at the martyr’s shrine in Marondera this weekend.

Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi said this in an interview yesterday.

"People have freedom of worship as enshrined in the Constitution and as a ministry what we can only do is to ensure that there is no violence.

"There have been judgments passed here and there and we do not want to be on the wrong side of the law. Let there be law and order and besides, I do not think the Anglicans want to tarnish their name and image.

"If anyone tries to disturb them we will intervene. The other group was allowed and they did it peacefully, so why should we not allow the other group to do the same?"

The Church of the Province of Zimbabwe — led by Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga — held their commemorations last weekend.

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe split in 2007 over homosexuality.

Archbishop Kunonga broke away after some figures in the church were reluctant to openly castigate homosexuality.

More here-

'Mitergate' latest Anglican-Episcopalian rift

More from North Jersey - "Mitergate"?

In a public snub that's been dubbed "mitergate," Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was told not to wear her miter — a tall, triangular hat — during services in London earlier this month.

Some observers say it's a stark sign of how relations have deteriorated between the Church of England, Anglicanism's mother church, and its headstrong American offshoot, the Episcopal Church. Others call it an attempt by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, to keep conservatives from seceding.

Jefferts Schori called the whole affair "nonsense" and "beyond bizarre."

Lambeth Palace, Williams' London headquarters and home, told Jefferts Schori not to wear her miter when she presided at a service at nearby Southwark Cathedral, according to the Episcopal News Service. Photos from the service show Jefferts Schori carrying the miter under her arm as she processed down the cathedral's nave.

More here-

Town stops church trash pick-up

From North Jersey-

As the July 15 cut-off date for commercial garbage collection in Rutherford grows closer, borough businesses have had since March to prepare and find outside contractors. But the administrators of local churches were surprised recently when they discovered that the cessation of collection would include them as well.

In March, the borough decided that it would reduce residential garbage collection to once-a-week and cut commercial garbage collection entirely, a decision that took many business owners by surprise and that prompted the Rutherford Downtown Partnership to start looking into finding a contractor that could cover the district’s businesses. At the request of business owners and the RDP, the council ended up postponing the cut-off date twice, moving it back to July 15.

Many church representatives said they didn’t realize the commercial cut-off applied to them as well until they received the DPW’s May 29 letter recommending business owners choose from among three preferred contractors.

More here-

Episcopal women already planning Back to School Literacy Fair for August

From Central Gulf Coast-

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Gulf Breeze will sponsor a Back to School Literacy Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at church Parish Hall.

The event is being spearheaded by Dottie Kilpatrick, Vice President of ECW, and everyone in the south Santa Rosa and Pensacola Beach area is invited to come and bring the children. Many children are needed to make this event a success; the first 100 schoolage children will receive a bag of school supplies. There is no charge for this event.

“This is a unique event for the church women, and we feel it is St. Francis’ gift to the communities,” ECW President Sarah Lee Menzer said.

The group recognizes that there are many children who love to read and need no encouragement to pick up a book, but there are numerous others who for various reasons avoid reading whenever possible. They would like to foster a love of reading in all children.

more here-

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill a Wake-up Call: Episcopal Charities Launches Environment Action Network

From San Fransisco-

"We cannot just sit by and watch. We must do something to ensure this type of disaster never happens again," comments Episcopal Charities' Executive Director Jan Parkin. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has affected not only the waters, but the lives of thousands of working professionals including fisherman, lifeguards, and the countless others whose livelihood is directly connected to the Gulf. A letter written by Louisiana Governor’s Administration to BP cited that more than 12,000 jobs could be lost in Louisiana alone. Parkin explains, "This is a wake up call to all businesses and economies that are linked in any way to the bays and waterways that surround our coastal cities."

The San Francisco Bay, for example, is an example of a major estuary that is both highly valued and in many ways threatened by human influences. Through the disaster in the Gulf, as a nation we witness how chemical pollutants in the water, sediments, and food web affect not only the natural world, but the lives of thousands of individuals.

Episcopal Charities, Inc., based in San Francisco, has launched an Environmental Action Network to gather a taskforce of volunteers who are committed to addressing environmental issues in the counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay. The concerns in the Bay Area expand far beyond just the water. Particulate matter-related illnesses cause Californians to miss almost 5 million work days a year, a loss to the state's economy of more than $880 million. Additionally, in the Bay Area, more than 70 percent of estimated cancer risk from ambient air toxins comes from traffic.

Jan Parkin explains, “The The Deepwater Horizon disaster magnifies the link between a healthy environment and people’s ability to thrive.” She explains, “Any holistic approach to addressing the root causes of poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area must take into account the effect of the environment on one’s ability to succeed.” Episcopal Charities’ Environment Action Network meets monthly, and is seeking members. For more information visit or contact Episcopal Charities’ Executive Director Jan Parkin at jparkin [at] or (415) 869-7809.

Megaparish affirms the Covenant

From The Living Church-

The vestry of St. Martin’s Church in Houston, Texas — the largest congregation in the Episcopal Church — unanimously affirmed the Anglican Communion Covenant on June 15.

The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., rector of St. Martin’s, is on the advisory committee of Communion Partners. He said St. Martin’s does not plan to urge other parishes to take similar actions, but “If somebody asks, we’ve been willing to share the resolution.”

“We just wanted to say — as a growing, thriving parish — that we’re fine with the Covenant, and we’re glad to live within its parameters,” Fr. Levenson told The Living Church.

St. Martin’s, founded in 1952, began experiencing explosive growth during the tenure of its second rector, the Rev. Claude E. Payne, who was elected Bishop of Texas in 1993. The parish now has nearly 8,500 baptized members and more than 6,000 communicants, Fr. Levenson said.

“We don’t issue resolutions or statements very often,” Fr. Levenson said. “We are very intentional about staying engaged with people who disagree with us.”

Fr. Levenson said St. Martin’s clergy do not preach on conflicts.

“Many people are drawn, to use C.S. Lewis’s term, to mere Christianity,” he said.

Fr. Levenson sees St. Martin’s ministry as rooted in the Great Commission: a stained-glass window honors that cultural mandate, and the parish pulpit will soon bear the engraved text of 1 Cor. 2:2 (“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified”).

“What draws people in, and it always has, is the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Fr. Levenson said. “That’s what feeds the human heart.”

Catacombs yield images of saints

From The Pittsburgh Tribune Review-

Twenty-first century laser technology has opened a window into the early days of the Catholic Church, guiding researchers through the dank, musty catacombs beneath Rome to a startling find: the first known icons of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Vatican officials unveiled the paintings Tuesday, discovered along with the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew in an underground burial chamber beneath an office building on a busy street in a working-class Rome neighborhood.

The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were uncovered using a new laser technique that allows restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the brilliant dark colors of the paintings underneath.

The technique could revolutionize the way restoration work is carried out in the miles of catacombs that burrow under the Eternal City where early Christians buried their dead.

The icons were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb of an aristocratic Roman woman at the Santa Tecla catacomb, near where the remains of the apostle Paul are said to be buried.

More here-

Nigeria: 2011 - Cleric Calls On Countrymen to Pray for Free And Fair Election

From All Africa-

A head of 2011 general elections, Nigerians have been called upon to be prayerful, draw nearer to God and seek His face for the success of the elections.

Bishop of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ikereku, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Rt. Reverend Dapo Asaju made the call on Sunday during the first anniversary thanksgiving of the burial of the mother of the wife of Osun state governor, Mrs. Omolola Oyinlola, late Madam Juliana Modupeolu Majekodunmi.

A statement by the media assistant to the wife of the governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Alege quoted the clergyman as saying that Nigerians need to be prayerful for peace to continue to reign in the country especially as the country prepares for the 2011 general election.

Bishop Asaju further observed that since it was the civic responsibility of every eligible Nigerian to participate actively in the electoral process all must ensure that they pray fervently for the success of the process.

According to him, "I enjoin servants of God and pious people to join politics because we are the ambassadors of God who must join hands with politicians to move this country forward."

More here-

200,000 Disapers !

From Illinois-

The area's only diaper bank, the St. Paul Diaper Bank at the St. Paul Episcopal Church in McHenry, receives a donation of 200,000 diapers from Huggies through Huggies' "Every Little Bottom" program.

Video here-

Body of missing Kansas City man, a former cleric, found in private lake

From Kansas City-

A retired Episcopal priest and Methodist minister from Kansas City was found dead Tuesday morning in a private lake southwest of Topeka.

Bruce Rahtjen, 77, had been missing since Sunday evening. Authorities said his wife last saw him alive while he was fishing at Lake Edun, a nudist camp. JoAnn Rahtjen said Monday that her husband had fished at the lake for several years.

Rahtjen, who retired from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in 1999, is remembered by family and former colleagues for his intellect, service and good nature.

“St. Mary’s was an unusual place,” said Barbara Beam, a retired Episcopal priest who went through Rahtjen’s diaconate school at St. Mary’s. “People found a home at St. Mary’s that wouldn’t find a home at most churches. You could be yourself there, and he fostered that.”

Beam said Rahtjen established the church’s outreach program and food pantry, and some of the food pantry recipients eventually became parishioners.

One of Rahtjen’s sons, Don Rahtjen, said, “He saw the church as an instrument of care to the community and a home for those who had nowhere else to go.”

Read more:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Zambia: Bishop Mchombo Tips Church

From Zimbabwe- ANGLICAN Diocese of Eastern Zambia Bishop William Mchombo has advised the Church leaders to desist from taking part in partisan politics but to play an advisory role to all the political parties ahead of the 2011 Presidential poll.

The Anglican bishop said it was imperative for all the Church leaders not to be involved in partisan politics but advocate for good governance. In an interview in Chipata yesterday, Bishop Mchombo said it was sad some Church leaders were supporting certain political parties ahead of the 2011 polls.

The Anglican prelate said the Church members were affiliated to different political parties of their choice adding that by supporting a particular party, the Church risked alienating some of its members.
"The Church is suppose to play an arbitration role in the governance of the nation. It is supposed to advocate for good governance and not involving its self into active politics," he said.

Bishop Mchombo said the Church should preach love and reconciliation to all the Zambians despite their political affiliation.

More here-

North Carolina Interview With The PB

Blogging from Canterbury

From The Living Church-

Leigh Edwards, The Living Church’s first junior fellow, is in Canterbury attending a two-week conference for young seminarians and clergy. This is one of her posts on what she is experiencing and learning. Follow her regular posts at Reviving Hope.

Beside worship, prayer and meals, the “main activity” for this conference is hour-long classes or discussions scattered three or four throughout the day. I hope to write more about our courses to encourage discussion on your part as well as to sift through my own thoughts. There is a chosen topic for our talks for this two week that certainly took me aback. The topic is care of creation.

Father Ed introduced the topic with the five marks of mission for the Anglican Communion:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.
To respond to human need by loving service.
To seek to transform unjust structures of society.
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

More here-

Tax the Church? In Spain, it Saves the Govt Billions

From Life site-

As liberal groups continue to push governments to tax Christian churches, data recently published by the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) found that the Catholic Church actually saves the Spanish government billions of dollars per year in social service expenditures.

The Catholic Church receives approximately 252.7 million euros per year ($311.8m) from voluntary taxpayer contributions, coming from only 7.2 million taxpayers who check a box indicating that they wish 0.7% of their tax to go to the Catholic Church, rather than to a government fund. The rest of its income is through private donations.

However, the Catholic bishops contend that taxpayers realize a massive return for their investment, resulting in billions of euros in savings from social programs and other services that would have cost much more if they had been left to the private sector.

Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, vice secretary of Economic Affairs for the CEE, says that "the Church is at the disposition of society, and gives much much more than what it receives...each euro invested in the Church returns to the society multiplied 2.73 times."

The "immense labor of assistance" by the Catholic Church in Spain involves 20,000 priests, more than 70,000 pastoral assistants and more than 60,000 volunteers, according to Gimenez Barriocanal.

The Church spends approximately 2.8 billion euros per year on assistance programs, including 68 women's shelters to aid victims of spousal abuse and ex-prostitutes, and 870,000 poor who are clothed and fed by Catholics. In toto, 2.8 million people receive such benefits from the Catholic Church.

In addition, the Catholic Church in Spain provides educational services to almost 1.4 million students, saving the government more than 4.1 billion euros annually.

Canterbury, York to propose amendments to women bishops legislation

From ELO-

The archbishops of Canterbury and York have "signaled their intention" to propose amendments to draft legislation on women becoming bishops in the Church of England. The amendments would preserve a female bishop's episcopal authority while providing an alternative for those who are "unable to accept the new situation," according to a June 21 press release from Lambeth Palace.

The amendments "seek to give effect to the idea of a 'co-ordinate' jurisdiction" in which the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop "remains intact" while provision is made for another bishop to provide episcopal oversight for those who oppose female bishops, the Lambeth release said.

"We want as many people as possible to feel that there is good news for them in this process, and we hope that what we are suggesting may help secure the broadest degree of support for the legislation without further delaying the process of scrutiny and decision," the archbishops said in the release.

The full text of the press release is available here.

General Synod voted in February 2009 to send a draft measure on women bishops to a revision committee so it could rework the legislation.

All 470 members of General Synod will have the opportunity to amend the reworked legislation, called a measure, clause-by-clause. A measure is a piece of legislation that, once passed by the General Synod, requires approval by the British Parliament. The draft measure and a report from the revision committee are available here.

The archbishops' amendments would mean that two bishops could exercise episcopal functions in the same jurisdiction, while ensuring that a "Code of Practice would contain guidelines for effective co-ordination ... so as to avoid duplication or conflict in the exercise of episcopal ministry."


Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visits Raleigh

From Raleigh

Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, was in Raleigh over the weekend.

Schori, who was elected to the nine-year term in July of 2006, is the first woman to hold the post. She said her biggest surprise was learning how interconnected the church has become.

"The Episcopal Church is vibrantly engaged in missions in most places that I go. It is not growing numerically in most parts of the United States, but it is growing in most of our overseas dioceses," Schori told WRAL's David Crabtree.

Watch more of Crabtree's interview with Schori.

Schori said the church is working to do a better job of engaging the nation's growing parts of the population.

Former priest missing

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department - Kansas City

Authorities searched Monday for a 77-year-old Kansas City man who was reportedly last seen Sunday afternoon fishing on the property of a nudist camp southwest of Topeka.

Lt. Jay Simecka with the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Department said Bruce Rahtjen of Kansas City was reported missing about 5:30 p.m. Sunday near the 5500 block of Indian Hills Road.

After suspending the search effort Sunday night due to inclement weather, water rescue teams with the Mission Township and Shawnee Heights fire departments continued to survey the lake and woods throughout the day Monday, Simecka said. A canine unit with the Kansas Search and Rescue Dog Association was also on the scene.

Simecka said Rahtjen, a former Episcopal priest, was last seen wading through water on the property of Lake Edun. Rahtjen’s wife, JoAnn, said Monday that her husband was fishing at a location he had visited for several years.

Read more:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Anglican Bishop Chased Out Of Church

From Nigeria-

The Bishop of the Metropolitan See Of Anglican Communion, (Lagos West), Bishop Peter Adebiyi got what he did not bargain for from members of St. Paul’s Anglican Church Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria, when he went there yesterday.

He was prevented from conducting church service and booed out of the church by the angry members of the church.

The bishop had gone to the church along with over 50 Vicars of Anglican Communion in Lagos West to conduct the Sunday service and possibly make peace between the bishop and church members.

But they were shocked that the members did not allow them to enter the church and when they were eventually allowing the church members disconnected the light and public address system and started singing negative songs instead of praises.

This continued for about five hours between 7 a.m – 12 noon after which Bishop Adebiyiwas booed out of the church.

The bishop and the members of the church have been at loggerheads over the sack of their former Vicar, Rev. C.E Mgbeokwere. The members protested that the Vicar was wrongly removed and since then they disowned the bishop and nobody has replaced the sacked one. The crisis got to a stage that the bishop ordered the closure of the church. But the members broke the lock and reopened the church and started conducting service on their own.

Efforts to settle the rift have so far failed.

More here-

Former Grace Church priest enters Catholic world

From Colorado-

The Rev. Michael O’Donnell honors paradox.

A committed Episcopal priest, O’Donnell works for Catholic Charities and his office is in the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs.
He praises the Catholic Church for its dedication to helping the needy, and barely follows the ongoing theological scuffles between the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, the U.S. arm of Anglicanism. He’s also a conservative in the liberal-leaning denomination.

Yet O’Donnell will remain Episcopalian, despite Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to Episcopal priests to join the Catholic body.

And in perhaps the ultimate paradox, his love for the Episcopal Church derives from its openness to theological diversity, even though that diversity may have indirectly resulted in his resignation at Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church downtown.

“I don’t like living in paradox,” O’Donnell told me over lunch. “But I’ve been forced to live in paradox. Paradox is your friend.”

O’Donnell was the leader of the Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal parish during a difficult time.

more here-

Priest resigns over bullying claim

The Ballarat church leader at the centre of a bullying investigation has announced his resignation.

Anglican Bishop Michael Hough is being investigated by the Episcopal Standards Committee after accusations of harassment and bullying.

Bishop Hough is currently on at least one month's sick leave.

The parish priest of the Hamilton Anglican Church Father Richard Silk says a lot of people are saddened by the resignation.

"We're just kind of breathing in and taking in what's happened," he said.

"I would say in a way there's a sense of almost like a time of grief or grieving that we're just having to cope with as we come to terms with what's been decided."

Moravian Church's Northern Province enters full communion with Episcopal Church

From ELO-

The Northern Province of the Moravian Church voted June 18 to enter into full communion with the Episcopal Church.
The nearly unanimous voice vote came during an evening session on the second day of the church's June 17-21 quadrennial Provincial Synod at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"This is an important day in the life of our churches," said David L. Wickmann, president of the Provincial Elders' Conference, Moravian Church North America. "This communion means our church has the opportunity to engage with one of our historic partners in a more complete and meaningful way."

"I am abundantly delighted, and look forward to growth in mutual relationship and mission," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after learning of the decision. "I believe we have much to learn from the Moravian tradition."

Diocese of Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller told ENS by phone shortly after the vote that "at a time when so many people are trying to divide, this is a witness to our church's commitment to Christ, who wants to make us all one."

Miller, co-chair of the Moravian Episcopal Dialogue, addressed the synod just after the vote and he said he told the participants "that there's much that we can share with one another in terms of mission and ministry and that it was as exciting and moving a moment for the Episcopal Church as it was for them."

The Rev. Thomas Ferguson, interim deputy to the Presiding Bishop for ecumenical and interreligious relations, told ENS after the vote that "this is a sign that the Episcopal Church is committed to ecumenical conversations."

More here-

Sunday, June 20, 2010

1,200 bid farewell to Byzantine Catholic leader

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

As the Byzantine Catholic cathedral filled with 1,200 mourners, many made their way up the center aisle to where the body of Metropolitan Basil Schott lay, still wearing the golden crown of an Eastern archbishop. After a brief prayer, they bent to kiss the cross in his right hand.

Eight years earlier he was enthroned as archbishop of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh in this same Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Munhall. The faithful had chanted "God grant you many years," but it was not to be. The 72-year-old Franciscan died of cancer June 10.

"The archbishop heard the call of God and answered it," said Bishop William Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, N.J. "We rejoice in his passage into life with the Lord but ... we will miss him."

Metropolitan Basil had led the only self-governing Eastern Catholic Church based in the United States. Eastern Catholic Churches are in union with the pope but follow many traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy.

Hundreds of priests led his procession, followed by many Eastern and Latin bishops including Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh. Bishop Nicholas of Johnstown led an Orthodox delegation, and Protestant leaders also took part.

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Lightning strikes down Jesus!

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

It appears God has sacrificed his only son. Again.

A lightning bolt struck a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ Monday outside a church in Monroe, Ohio, and the statue erupted in flames. All that remains is a charred steel skeleton, its spindly arms stretched toward heaven, a gesture that once earned the structure the nickname "Touchdown Jesus."

Darlene Bishop, co-pastor of Solid Rock Church, says she's simply relieved that the lightning hit Jesus and not the home for at-risk women next door. "I told them, 'It looks like Jesus took a hit for you last night."

Act of God? Act of nature?

In 2008, lightning singed the fingers and eyebrows of Christ the Redeemer, the 130-foot Jesus statue that stands over Rio de Janeiro. In 2007, a bolt blasted the 33-foot Jesus statue at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colo. One of Jesus' arms fell off.

The saints and angels are not safe either. The Notre Dame de Chicago's Virgin Mary burst into flames from her perch atop the church's dome in 1978; the Engineering News Record covered the construction of a new, lightning-resistant statue with the headline: "Burned once, dome reMaryed."

A bolt that struck St. Joan of Arc's statue in New Orleans sliced her brandished staff in half. Statues of the Angel Moroni, which frequently top Mormon churches, have been hit by lightning with such frequency -- Moroni's horn is particularly susceptible -- that the Salt Lake Tribune once fretted over their safety in a front-page story.

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