Saturday, November 6, 2010

Church-state dispute fires up justices

From The Pittsburgh Tribune Review-

The Obama administration upset liberals as well as the president's two Supreme Court appointees Wednesday by arguing that ordinary citizens have no legal right to go to court to challenge the government if it uses tax money to fund religious schools.

The surprising argument occurred in this term's most important church-state dispute. At issue is the constitutionality of an unusual, 13-year-old Arizona law that allows taxpayers to direct a $500 tax credit to a private organization, which in turn pays tuition for students in private schools. More than 90 percent of the money goes to religious schools, the challengers said.

Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal joined Arizona in defense of the law, but went further and argued no one had the legal standing to challenge it in court. Because no citizen could prove that "a cent ... of his money goes to fund religion," no one had a right to sue over the alleged unconstitutional subsidy for religion, Katyal said.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer quickly objected. If no one can sue, there would be no way to enforce the First Amendment's ban on laws that foster "an establishment of religion," they said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to agree, commenting that "this is the state's money" going to private groups that fund only religious schools.

More here-

Honus Wagner card brings $262,900

Follow ip to a previous post-

One of Honus Wagner's baseball cards lived up to its "Holy Grail" moniker Thursday night, pulling down six figures for an international Catholic order.

Despite being graded in poor condition, a rare T206 card of the former Pirates great fetched $262,900 at an online auction through Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas. The School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore, which had received the card through a private benefactor, will receive $220,000. The difference -- the buyer's premium -- goes to the auction house.

A nearly mint condition T206 Wagner card sold in 2007 for $2.8 million -- believed to be the most ever paid for a baseball card.

"A lot of them didn't know who Honus Wagner was, but they do now," said Phyllis Brill, a spokeswoman for the sisters' Atlantic-Midwest Province. "It's certainly a windfall, and they are grateful for it."

Doug Walton, a collector with card stores in Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, bought the card.

"For many years, I have been in the hunt for an original T206 Wagner in any condition," Walton said in a statement, "and the back story on this card makes it that much more special."

More here-

New Episcopal leader to be installed

From Utah-

The Episcopal Church of Utah's 11th bishop — Canon Scott B. Hayashi — is a minister who will clearly get to know his church members.

That's what has impressed the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop and primate of the 14 countries that make up the Episcopal Church, about the new Utah religious leader.

"I think the Diocese of Utah has chosen a wonderful priest," she said in an interview Friday afternoon. "I look forward to great things."

The Rev. Hayashi will be consecrated as the 11th bishop in a special service, today at 11 a.m., in the Grand America ballroom, 555 S. Main.

The service will begin with a procession of banners, bishops from around the country, Native Americans and clergy from multiple faiths. The Most Rev. Schori will be the chief consecrator as the Rev. Hayashi becomes bishop of Utah.

The 10th bishop of Utah, the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, is retiring and will turn over her ceremonial "crozier" (a staff resembling a shepherd's crook) to the new bishop as part of the traditional ritualistic service.

More here-

Anglican diocese expects 'tame' convention this year

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh expects its convention in Sewickley this weekend to be a remarkably unremarkable.

In 2008, at what was then an Episcopal diocesan convention, delegates voted to split from the Episcopal Church. Last year the Anglican diocese was regrouping and fighting property litigation that is still on appeal.

"God willing, this will be a tame convention," said Archbishop Robert Duncan, the bishop and leader of the Anglican Church in North America, to which the diocese now belongs. The convention began Friday night at St. Stephen Church, Sewickley, and continues today.

The new denomination -- which is seeking recognition from the global Anglican Communion -- has unusual geographical dynamics. The Diocese of Pittsburgh has taken in congregations from far outside the original 11 counties. Christ Church in Plano, Texas, which draws more than 2,000 worshipers weekly, has asked to join the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, as have parishes from Illinois and Wisconsin.

"That isn't permanent. Our concern is to stand with them while they build dioceses where they are," Archbishop Duncan said.

Read more:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pursuing reconciliation in Iraq: An Anglican cleric in Baghdad offers a view (video)

From Harvard-

On October 21, Canon Andrew White delivered a lecture titled “Pursuing Reconciliation in Iraq: The Art of Mediation Between Warring Religious Factions.” Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School, the lecture focused on the role that religion must play in the peacemaking process in the Middle East.

White is president of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East, and the Anglican Chaplain to Iraq and Rector of St. George's Church in Baghdad. The recipient of the Train Foundation's Civil Courage Prize, White has been involved in the release of more than 50 hostages in the Middle East.

“Although I’m supposedly a religious leader myself, I actually think religion is bad,” he said. “So much of what we’ve seen is religion going wrong, and causing hatred and damage and pain.”

Nonetheless, he said that religion must be a serious consideration if peace in the Middle East is to be an achievable goal, because he has never known of a country in that region where religion was not extraordinarily significant.

More here-

Central New York pastors, church leaders meet to build partnerships, help each others' congregations

From Syracuse-

Nearly 100 people from more than 50 Central New York suburban and urban congregations gathered Thursday to get to know each other and figure out how they can help each other.

In a “speed-dating” style, they sat opposite each other for two-minute chats. Once time was called, each person switched seats to talk with a person from another congregation or group.

The InterFaith Breakfast at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church tried to spark partnerships among urban and suburban congregations. It was sponsored by InterFaith Works of Central New York, a nonprofit organization that works to educate people about different faith groups.

The breakfast attracted people from various faiths - Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Islam, and Jewish as well as other groups like the Zen Center of Syracuse.

More here-

SOUTHERN OHIO: Nine-year-old Madeline Queen receives Barnum Award for community service

From Southern Ohio-

Nine-year-old Madeline Queen, from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, is a recipient of the Barnum Award for her efforts to support a church nursery in her local community.
The award, announced by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, recognizes children ages six to 14 who are making a difference in their communities through their own inventive and pioneering actions.

Madeline is a third grader at Wheelersburg Elementary School and attends All Saints Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Ohio. In her efforts to raise funds for the church nursery, "she recruited kids and adults in the congregation to make items for a bake sale," according to a press release. "She made signs, price tags and donation cups. She called people the week before to remind them.

"Through the bake sale, Madeline raised nearly $500 to buy new toys and books for the nursery. A few months later, Madeline held a craft sale, raising another $300. The nursery has now undergone a complete renovation, with new flooring, a fantastic mural and fun toys."

More here-

New Episcopal bishop will bring Ogden experience to Utah

From Utah-

The Rev. Canon Scott B. Hayashi has special ties to Ogden, and his good feelings toward the city are a big part of why he was interested in what will be his new job.
Hayashi will be installed Saturday as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

Hayashi served as the rector for the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden from 1989 to 1998.

"I really enjoyed being in Ogden," he said. "It was such a wonderful period in my life to be the rector."

He described Ogden as "a big city you could get your arms around," and he named a number of government officials and families with whom he made friends while he was the Good Shepherd rector.

"These were just solid sorts of individuals," he said of his friends while living in Ogden. "There was a whole group of people that were solid."

The father of three said his youngest child was born while he served in Ogden.

Hayashi said Saturday's festivities will be a bit rare for Utahns to see. There have been only 10 such events in the Utah diocese's history since 1867.

More here-

Oshkosh man in Oprah audience

From Wisconsin-

Kevin Kratsch volunteered to tell the world on the Oprah TV show the painful details of his sexual abuse at the hands of an Episcopalian priest in Plymouth for two reasons.

"Number one, I wanted to help victims out there, and number two, I'm really pissed at the Episcopal Church," he said.

Kratsch, 56, of Oshkosh, will be one of 200 members of Oprah's audience when the show airs today. All of them will hold photographs of themselves at the time of their abuse. In some cases the abuse occurred decades ago. In Kratsch's case, 40 years ago.

Oprah Winfrey is taking on sexual abuse in a pair of shows she calls "two of the most phenomenal" she's ever done.

Thousands of men volunteered to appear on the two-part show but only a couple hundred were invited to participate in today's show and on Nov. 12. Filmmaker Tyler Perry and a psychologist who works with male sexual abuse survivors are featured in the first show. In the second show, the men will be joined by spouses, partners and girlfriends to discuss the abuse's impact on their relationships.

More here-

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky Anderson dies at 76

A great manager-

Reds fans were taken aback when Sparky Anderson showed up in Cincinnati for his first day as a big league manager, an unknown taking over baseball's first professional team.

Sparky who?


By the time he was done, this man with the shock of white hair and schoolboy nickname would produce a mighty list of achievements that featured three World Series titles -- including crowns in each league -- and a Hall of Fame entry on his resume.

Anderson, who directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit, died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76. A day earlier, his family said he'd been placed in hospice care.

Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.

"Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for," said former Reds star Pete Rose, the game's career hits leader. "He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players and he loved the game of baseball. There isn't another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game."

More here- (with video)

A Communique from the Anglican/Al-Azhar Dialogue Committee

From ACNS-

The Joint Committee, which is composed of a delegation from the Anglican Communion and from Al Azhar Al Sharif held its eighth annual meeting in Cairo on 27-28 October 2010 corresponding to 19-20 Dhu Al-Qi’da 1431. This was held in accord with the agreement signed at Lambeth Palace on 30 January 2002 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar.

The Grand Imam His Eminence Dr Ahmed el Tayyib welcomed the Joint Committee in his office and members of the Anglican delegation congratulated upon his accession to the position of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, presenting him with greetings and congratulations from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop also invited Dr el Tayyib to visit Lambeth Palace in London. The Grand Imam has accepted this invitation, the details of which will be agreed at a later time.

The two co-Chairs, Sheikh Ali Abdel Baki Shehata and Bishop Alexander John Malik, opened the meeting. Sheikh Baki noted how recent global developments had made positive engagement and dialogue between Muslims and Christians absolutely vital. It was essential for the good of all humanity. Bishop Malik commented on the importance of dialogue becoming an instrument of hoped-for peace and understanding, and noted the need to take positive steps to help achieve this.

Dr Mahmoud Azab, the consultant of Al Azhar for dialogue, gave a speech in which he announced the foundation of the new centre of dialogue by Al Azhar Al Sharif. This centre will benefit from studying past dialogues with all their positives and negatives but will add a new dimension, enlarging the circle of dialogue with different denominations and religions in east and west alike, including those who wish to dialogue with mutual respect, objectivity, wisdom and sound learning, respecting the religious doctrines of others, and strengthening the relations between Christian and Muslim societies.

More here-

Richard Hooker and the Anglican Covenant disagreement

From Ekklesia-

On 3 November 2010, Anglicans commemorate the 410th anniversary of the death of Richard Hooker. Many are also using the occasion to launch a campaign ( against a proposed Anglican Covenant which they believe could stifle or deny the originating gifts he brought to Anglicanism.

My friend and colleague Savitri Hensman has today penned a powerful article (Anglican Covenant ignores the problem of evil) pointing out the considerable dangers involved in the abuse of biblical Covenantal language. This should be about the freely entered-into communion of people before God, not an attempt to win political struggles within an institution by subjecting the internal life of member churches (that need to be guided by the Spirit and communal Christian discernment and practice), to a bureaucratic body aimed at quashing variety, dissent or (heaven forfend!) "embarrassment".

I have personal interests in all this; and not just as an active member of the Anglican Church for nearly 38 years (into which I was voluntarily confirmed aged 15), though that is important, too.

For several years I lived in Heavitree in Exeter, Devon, where Richard Hooker was born, sometime around Easter Sunday, in 1554. There is a statue in his honour outside the Cathedral there, set in the parish where I worshipped for five years.

Two years ago I also edited a book that appeared in time for the Lambeth Conference, Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, which has a Preface by Desmond Tutu and was published by Shoving Leopard in association with Ekklesia.

More here-

EUROPE: French government seeks help from Episcopal convocation in assisting Baghdad's wounded Christians

From ELO-

The French government is looking to the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe to assist in the treatment and resettling of Christians wounded in the Oct. 31 attack on the Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, that left 58 people dead.
Europe Bishop Pierre Whalon said Nov. 2 that he welcomes the initiative of the French government to work with the Association d'Entraide aux Minorités d'Orient (AEMO) to bring relief to the wounded Iraqi Christians.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office on Nov. 1 informed Whalon, who is president of AEMO, that "France will spare no effort to offer refuge and medical care to those victims who request it," according to a press release from the convocation. Eric Besson, France’s minister of immigration, announced the initiative publicly.

The commitment follows French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's Oct. 25 promise to empower AEMO to resettle more Iraqi Christians and members of other religious minorities whose lives are in danger because of their faith, the release said.

Since 2008, Episcopalians in Europe, Iraqi Chaldeans, and French Catholics have assisted with resettling refugees after Whalon urged the French government to support a new immigration program that offers sanctuary to persecuted Iraqi religious minorities. Whalon was a special guest of Sarkozy in September 2008, when the program's first Iraqi participants were invited to Elysée Palace during Pope Benedict XVI's first official visit to France.

More here-

Soon-to-be Episcopal bishop: Don’t let LDS Church define us

From Utah-

The first time the Rev. Scott Hayashi served Utah’s Episcopal Church, he was puzzled by some parishioners’ tendency to define themselves by what they weren’t: Mormons.

He even remembers pointing out the silliness in a sermon at Ogden’s Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, where he was rector from 1989 to 1998.

“I asked, ‘Does this mean if the LDS people are against gambling, we should be for it? If the LDS people have the Mormon diet and believe whole grains, moderation in eating and getting exercise is what you should do, that means we should eat all high-fat foods and not exercise? If the LDS people are against smoking, that means we should all be smoking like chimneys? Does this make any sense?’ ”

The next bishop for Utah’s 5,200 Episcopalians now frames the question this way: “Shouldn’t we have an identity that is formed on the positive, as opposed to being against something?”

Hayashi, 56, will be consecrated as Utah’s 11th Episcopal bishop Saturday by the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, in a ceremony at The Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

Bishops and clergy from throughout the nation as well as Mexico and Myanmar are expected to be among the 700-plus attending the event.

More here-

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

North Dakota Affirms Covenant

From The Living Church-

The Diocese of North Dakota’s annual convention has affirmed the Anglican Covenant. The convention met Oct. 30 in Bismarck. The vote to affirm the Covenant was 73-42.

The resolution adopted by convention said the diocese “affirms the principles of the Anglican Communion Covenant and urges the General Convention to adopt it for the Episcopal Church.”

A pre-convention issue of the diocese’s newspaper, The Sheaf, featured three reflections on the resolution.

The Rt. Rev. Michael G. Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, endorsed the Covenant in his “From the Bishop” column.

“I think to reject the Anglican Communion Covenant would be a grievous mistake and will mark the end of Anglicanism as we know it,” the bishop wrote. “Furthermore, such rejection will continue and further the split in the Episcopal Church.”

The bishop added: “Already so many conservative and traditional Christians have left the Episcopal Church that our discourse and discernment is unbalanced at the national level. My hope and prayer is that our participation in the Anglican Communion Covenant will help to keep us in the orthodox mainstream of Christianity, the diverse center of the Church, where we can hear both sides of any issue we might face.”

More here-

The world is full of foolish chumps – the media should show restraint in reporting what they say

From The London Guardian-

We were talking here only yesterday about the foolish thoughts of British-Bengali Roshonara Choudhry, and how an Islamist website turned her mind from promising academic success to planning a murder. There's a lot of it about.

Open today's newspapers and we are reminded that grandiose folly is not confined to impressionable youngsters. The Times reports how Bishop Wallace Benn, the Anglicans' point-man at Lewes in Sussex, compared supporters of the ordination of women to Hitler's looming onslaught in 1939.

I'd never heard of Bishop Benn and would be happy not to hear of him again. He is patently a silly man in the same way that self-absorbed Islamist radicals are silly and narcissistic. Here's what he told fellow traditionalists at a "reform" conference of conservative Anglicans:

I'm about to use an analogy and I use it quite deliberately and carefully. And it slightly frightens me to use it, but I do think it's where we're at. I feel very much increasingly that we're in January of 1939. We need to be aware that there is real, serious warfare just round the corner. It's actually arrived in some places already. And we're in a challenging and serious situation.

What's Benn on about? Can't you guess? It's the desire of the Archbishop of Canterbury and a majority at the Anglican parliament – the Synod – to ordain more women in general and female bishops in particular. It runs parallel with the running feud over gay bishops, also driven hard by evangelicals like Benn.

More here-

Presiding bishop, other Christian leaders meet with Obama on election eve

From ELO-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined leaders of other mainline Christian denominations in meeting with President Barack Obama on Nov. 1, the eve of the midterm U.S. elections, to express gratitude for his leadership and to address national and international issues of peace, justice and poverty.

"On All Saints' Day, it was very good to gather with the president to speak words of support for him as a leader, particularly his work on behalf of so many people on the margins," Jefferts Schori told ENS. "We expressed our concern for the divisive rhetoric so prevalent in our society today. We also expressed gratitude for his administration's concern for the poor and hungry, and our hopes for continued work on the economic situation in this nation, on Middle East peace, and on the travel ban and restrictions on religious work in Cuba."

The Christian leaders included members of the National Council of Churches, which represents 45 million people and 100,000 congregations in the United States, and the global humanitarian agency Church World Service.

The midterm elections, held near the midpoint of the four-year presidential term, will determine all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and about a third of the 100 seats in the Senate. Furthermore, 34 of the 50 U.S. states will elect their governors.

Regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections "our faithful witness is needed now more than ever," said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, according to a press release. "We cannot stand by while people of goodwill are baselessly attacked for their faith, their political beliefs, or their identity. We have no reason to fear or demonize those who are different from ourselves. Today, tomorrow, and into this next Congress, our country needs to come together and reclaim our values of justice and equality."

More here-

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Church garden provides a ton of food to the needy

From Chicago-

A year ago, the land in front of St. Helena's Episcopal Church in Burr Ridge was just an expanse of empty grass. What a difference a year can make.

On Sept. 27, 2009, the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, bishop of Chicago, blessed the ground on which a new community garden would be planted, and where 2,000 pounds of food would soon be grown to feed the hungry.

"We harvested a ton of food, literally" said Chris Cordin-Blitstein of Burr Ridge, organizer of the Vacant 2 Veggies project. That's in addition to 60 to 70 pounds of honey gleaned from three donated beehives.

Cordin-Blitstein said every green bean, squash, tomato and herb was grown, harvested and donated to the Westmont People's Resource Center.

It wasn't just food that was donated. Every step of the project, from the tilling of the land to the seedlings that were placed into the ground, was the work of generous volunteers and donors, including several local businesses.

More here-,burr-ridge-veggies-110110-s1.article

Queen Elizabeth II to inaugurate Church of England General Synod

From ACNS-

Synod to debate the Big Society and the Anglican Communion Covenant
Her Majesty The Queen will inaugurate the Ninth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 23 November. The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will preside and Dame Mary Tanner (a President of the World Council of Churches) will preach.

This Synod will reflect some significant changes amongst its membership: 35% of the elected members of the General Synod are starting their first ever five-year term; the proportion of elected clergy who are female has increased from 21% to 28%; and women now make up 46% of the elected laity membership (up from 40%).

The November group of sessions will continue with regular business for the afternoon of Tuesday, 22 November, until late afternoon on Wednesday, 23 November. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Other key features are indicated below.

Newly elected and continuing Synod members will also be attending an induction seminar in Church House on the Monday.

More here-

Iraqi survivors tell of hiding in priests' dressing room amid gunfire, blasts

From The LA Times

Reporting from Baghdad — Around 5:20 p.m., as the Christian worshipers stood and recited "Upon this rock I will build my church," the gunfire started on the street outside.

Father Thar advised everyone to stay seated and to keep praying, but Madeline Mikhal and others rushed from their pews.

Suddenly a large explosion rocked Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Bullets whistled by. Some worshipers ran to the church basement. Mikhal darted into the priests' changing room. A barrage of bullets thundered in the main hall.

Many parishioners dived beneath the pews seeking cover. But the dozen or so gunmen, some wearing vests covered with explosives and carrying grenades and other weapons, took aim at the scrambling congregation.

"Those who couldn't find a place to hide were killed," Mikhal said.

She was among more than 70 people who pressed together in the priests' dressing room. The group blocked the door with a dresser, and knocked out the fluorescent lights and waited in the dark. One of the priests, Father Rafael, had taken shelter with them. Mikhal spotted Baan Selim, a relative through marriage.

More here-,0,7651697.story

Breakaway Anglican Bishop Responds to Fourth Lawsuit

From Ft. Worth-

The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker on Friday filed a response to the latest suit, submitted by All Saints' Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, contending that it constitutes "malicious prosecution."

"There can no longer be any doubt that this litigation is intended to harass, intimidate, bankrupt, and divert the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, its Corporation, and its leadership – particularly Bishop Iker – from carrying out the mission of the Church," the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth stated.

Iker is currently affiliated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. A majority of the Diocese of Fort Worth voted in 2008 to withdraw from The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – and realign with the overseas province. They left over what they believe is the U.S. body's departure from Christian orthodoxy and Anglican tradition. A minority remained.

Since then, he has been sued by The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (both the breakaway diocese and those that remained claim the same name), and now two parishes over church properties, assets and trademark and copyright name infractions.

He has referred to himself as "the most sued Anglican bishop in all of North America" and has been in conversation with his attorneys almost every day.

More here-

Monday, November 1, 2010

Anglicans who defect to Rome 'can stay in CofE churches'

From The London Telegraph

Hundreds of priests and parishioners are expected to take up the Pope’s offer to convert to Roman Catholicism and join a new body for Anglicans who disagree with the ordination of women bishops when it is established next year.

Church authorities have insisted that defectors will not be able to retain their parish buildings when they leave the Anglican family.

But today the Church’s most senior official, William Fittall, raised the prospect of a compromise.
Mr Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod, said it would be “entirely possible” for those who convert to Roman Catholicism to be allowed to share their former churches with Anglicans who remain in the Church of England.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the General Synod, the Church's "parliament", later this month, Mr Fittall said: “It would be a matter for the local Anglican bishop concerned whether he was content for that to be the case.”

Church buildings in some areas are already shared with other denominations, such as Baptists and Methodists, he said.

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI announced that a new structure, the so-called Anglican Ordinariate, would be set up to cater for traditionalist members of the Church of England who cannot accept the ordination of women bishops.

More here-

La Verne church offers ministry to the jobless

From Los Angeles

A midday sun streamed through the stained glass windows of St. John's Episcopal Church in La Verne, lighting the bowed head of the Rev. Barrett Van Buren. Cradling a Bible in his lap on a recent Sunday, he breathed deeply and asked the small group in a circle before him to close their eyes.

"How does this relate to your life?" Van Buren, a cheery, former college career director, said as he began to read from Psalms: "`Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked ... but their delight is in the law of the Lord."'

Tara Lott, an earnest brunette and unemployed La Verne resident, was the first to answer.

"I know something's going to turn up," Lott said. "I believe God will provide for me. He always does."

Churches such as St. John's, traditionally places of solace for those seeking sanctuary, are reaching out to the jobless in the Inland Empire. And the churches are drawing job seekers who are thirsty for spiritual guidance during difficult times.

St. John's began holding biweekly Sunday meetings this month for those out of work. Participants gather, pray for each other and exchange ideas about each others' careers.

Churches fill spiritual needs that cannot be found elsewhere, said the Rev. Kelli Grace Kurtz, head of St. John's in La Verne.

Read more:

Episcopal leader stresses core mission


The Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop said Saturday in Buffalo that she believes divisiveness over issues of sexuality and Biblical interpretation has subsided in recent years, and the church is continuing its historical tradition of being at the forefront of the cause for social justice.

Members of the Episcopal Church may not agree with each other on issues such as whether gay people should be ordained as bishops, but those issues “aren’t essential enough to their life of faith” to separate Episcopalians from the church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in an interview with The News.

Jefferts Schori, elected in 2006 as chief pastor of 2.4 million Episcopalians in 16 countries and 110 dioceses, including the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, made her first visit to the area Friday and Saturday to participate in the diocese’s 173rd annual convention.

Jefferts Schori is the first woman to be elected presiding bishop, but she downplayed the distinction, noting that every diocese in the Episcopal Church now has female clergy.

“I think it’s more unusual that I was trained as a scientist,” said Jefferts Schori, who worked for many years as an oceanographer prior to being ordained as a priest in 1994.

More here-

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Historic Pittsburgh home bears benign swastika

Just because I thought it was interesting- From The Tribune Review

Thelma J. Smith and her late husband faced a moral dilemma nearly 30 years ago: As black Americans, they had to decide whether they wanted a universal symbol of hate to remain imprinted on the front of their historic Hill District home.

The swastika was covered for decades by previous owners, and no one in the neighborhood, not even the Smiths until after they bought the house, knew it was there.

Thelma Smith thought of the Jewish neighbors, Holocaust survivors with concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms.

What would they say? she asked herself.

More importantly, what would people in the community say?

The Smiths researched the subject. What they found, combined with what they knew about the house, swayed them.

The swastika predates Nazis by thousands of years. Before fascism, it was viewed as a good-luck symbol. The one in question was an original feature on a house that was then about 69 years old, the second-oldest home on an old street.

Smith, 72, had to explain all of that to the Jewish neighbors, who came to her upset but later agreed the swastika in this case is benign. It differs from the Nazi symbol in that it is not positioned at an angle.

"I just felt it was important historically to keep it," Smith said.

The house on Andover Place was built in 1912 for Herman S. Davis, who christened his new home "Swastika," according to a photograph album that Smith inherited from previous owners and the March 1913 issue of Concrete-Cement Age magazine, which featured a story on the house.

Not your parents' Halloween

From Tennessee-

In the Killen family, some traditions are better left untouched. Especially on Halloween.

“I'd get written out of the will if I didn't take my kids up to their grandmothers' ” to trick or treat, Mark Killen said, laughing.

But his children will make the visit to grandma's in addition to attending the Harvest Festival at their home church, Cross Point Church of Christ in Florence. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. today, they'll join hundreds of other families from the Shoals to enjoy games, inflatables, free food (including 3,000 hot dogs) and trunk or treating — a type of event Killen himself never attended as a kid.

“I'm 41 years old and churches didn't do anything when I was a kid,” said Killen, recreation and outreach minister at Cross Point. “You just went out into your neighborhoods.”

Halloween is more popular, and profitable, than ever, and the National Retail Federation estimates about 148 million Americans will celebrate the holiday this year. But a lot of those Americans are young adults and adults relishing in a holiday that once was focused on children. And with increased concern about safety, many families are opting for trunk-or-treating events or festivals at churches instead of going door to door for goodies.

Trick-or-treating evolved out of the late medieval custom of children asking for treats in exchange for praying for the dead of the household, said Hans Broedel, a University of North Dakota history professor and expert on early traditions.

More here-

Pastor confronts difficult decisions

From Stockton CA-

Stockton's Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, along with the entire San Joaquin Diocese, split off from the mother church in 2007 in a principled but destructive schism over gays.

These conservatives, opposed to same-sex marriage and ordination, affiliated with a distant Anglican church that shares their views.

St. John's soon found itself sued by the diocese it left. The diocese wants its property back - specifically, the downtown church at 117 E. Miner Ave., a building so historic the land for it was donated by Stockton's pioneer founder Charles M. Weber.

A lower court ruled, in effect, the breakaway Episcopalians can go wherever they want, and believe whatever they want, but they cannot take church property with them.

The breakaway diocese has appealed.

The latest twist involves the man who was pastor of St. John's in the run-up to the schism.

Rev. Daniel H. Martins, St. John's pastor for 13 years, has become a bishop-elect in the Diocese of Springfield, Ill. - but in the original denomination.

The denomination St. John's decided to leave while Martins led it.

Some Episcopalians feel betrayed.

"I'm very surprised that he's turned around and has decided to go back to the Episcopal Church," said Al Lingo, "because he was a very, very avid opponent, and he led St. John's parishioners away from the Episcopal Church. And I'm sure it's a great, great surprise to the people of St. John's."

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Pittsburghers can honor at least 16 saints or candidates for sainthood with ties to this region

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

On Monday, All Saints Day, Pittsburghers can honor at least 16 saints or candidates for sainthood with ties to this region.

Two Catholic saints lived here, as did two blesseds and four servants of God. The Orthodox, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also have feast days for Pittsburghers on their calendars.

Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh isn't surprised.

"For Pittsburgh, faith is a very big thing. God isn't on the back burner," he said.

The Catholic and Orthodox churches teach that anyone who has gone to heaven is a saint, who can pray for those on earth. But they honor some as role models by officially declaring them saints. The Episcopal and Lutheran churches avoid the title "Saint" for those who died after about 1500. But they do add new role models to their calendars, which is how saints are honored.

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