Saturday, November 5, 2011
At a recent reception for Bishop Henry N. Parsley, who steps down as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama at the end of year, the Rev. Fritz Valdema, a priest from Haiti, presented him with a container of water drawn from a well near a Haitian school.
"Water never tasted so sweet," Parsley said.
Valdema and his wife, Carmel, flew in from Haiti for a surprise visit to Alabama to thank Parsley for the state's outreach to Haiti.
"It was a great surprise," Parsley said. "I didn't know they were coming."
Parsley says the five-year partnership between the Diocese of Alabama and the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti has been one of his proudest achievements as he prepares to retire next month.
From the Post Gazette- (The center field wall at Forbes Field was so deep (456ft.) that they used to push the batting cage out there. I can remember watching Alou climb it to catch along fly ball)
Matty Alou, once part of the all-Alou outfield for the San Francisco Giants with older brother Felipe and younger brother Jesus and who won a National League batting championship in one of his five seasons with the Pirates, died Thursday in his native Dominican Republic. He was 72.
He died of complications from diabetes, according to his former Dominican team, Leones del Escogido. The Giants also confirmed his death and said Alou had been sick for several years.
"Matty was a special ball player and a special human being," said Manny Sanguillen, a catcher who joined Alou on the 1967 Pirates, one year after Alou won the National League batting title with a .342 average.
"When I came in to the big leagues, he made sure I could understand the big leagues and get ready to play. He took me to lunch a couple times. He loved the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Alou spent the first six of his 15 major league seasons with San Francisco from 1960-65, the next five seasons with the Pirates. He also played for St. Louis, Oakland, the New York Yankees and San Diego.
The Alou brothers made history in 1963 when they appeared in the same outfield for several games.
After consultation with diocesan leadership, the Rt. Rev. Russell E. Jacobus, bishop of Fond du Lac, has announced he will withhold his approval to form a new diocese.
Separate conventions of the Dioceses of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire, meeting in October, had mutually agreed to form a new diocese pending consent of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
Church law also requires approval by the bishop of each diocese.
The vote to junction in the Diocese of Fond du Lac is now in question.
At the request of members of the Standing Committee, the ballots were recounted and an irregularity discovered.
The clerical order of 32 "yes" votes and 28 "no" votes was confirmed.
However, the lay order of 53 "yes" votes and 51 "no" votes may have been in error.
The recount by two members of the Standing Committee — who voted on opposite sides — found a result of 51 "yes" and 53 "no" votes.
From San Joaquin-
Holy Family Episcopal Church – Fresno's only remaining Episcopal congregation – has cleared the way to build a community labyrinth.
Construction crews demolished the church-owned, 2,200-square-foot home in front of the church last week. The home had been used for church services, offices and community events over the years. Now the area, at 1135 E. Alluvial Ave., will be turned into a labyrinth, which has been a church goal for some time.
"It's a very meditative and contemplative tool – and can be used by people of all faiths and walks of life," says the church's pastor, the Rev. Michele Racusin, adding that the church hopes to complete the labyrinth by Easter, which is April 8. "That's what the Episcopal Church is all about."
In 2007, three Episcopal congregations in Fresno – St. Columba, St. James' Cathedral and St. Mary's – joined a Diocese of San Joaquin movement out of the U.S. Episcopal Church over debate about same-sex blessings, consecration of a partnered gay priest and interpretation of the Bible over these issues. St. Columba, St. James' Cathedral and St. Mary's are now part of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. Holy Family Episcopal Church remained an Episcopal congregation.
From ENS (The Diocese of Pittsburgh grew by 1.5% between 2009 and 2010)
While membership in 16 of the Episcopal Church's domestic dioceses and eight of its non-domestic ones grew in 2010, recently released data shows that overall membership has declined.
The decrease is part of a trend that has seen membership decline by just more than 16 percent since 2000.
Membership in the Episcopal Church in 2010 was 2,125,012, with 1,951,907 in its domestic dioceses and 173,105 in the non-domestic dioceses, according to a report here. Membership in the church's domestic dioceses in 2009 was 2,006,343, showing a decrease of 54,436 in 2010.
The 16 U.S. dioceses that grew in the past year were Alabama, Arkansas, Atlanta, Central Gulf Coast, East Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Navajoland, North Dakota, Northwest Texas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and Wyoming. The eight non-U.S. dioceses that grew in membership were the Convocation of Churches in Europe, Dominican Republic, Ecuador-Central, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.
St Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston had the largest number of active congregants with 8,406.
The average pledge was $2,346 in 2010, compared with $2,314 in 2009 and $1,948 five years ago. Overall plate and pledge income declined 1.2 percent in 2010, going to $1,273,709,000 from $1,289,458,871 in 2009.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
When the Rev. Miguel Briones took a job as a sexton at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn 13 years ago, he didn’t know he would go from doing maintenance work to fulfilling a childhood calling to become a priest.
“It was God,” said Briones who will become the first native Mexican to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago early next year.
Briones credits members of St. Mark’s with encouraging him along the way.
“I was working here and I was part of the congregation,” Briones said. “I was a different kind of sexton.”
Briones didn’t just maintain the church property. He befriended members of the congregation and supported the church’s activities, said the Rev. George Smith, who as rector has led St. Mark’s for five years.
“His gifts for worship and leadership in the church were clear early on,” Smith said. “Worship was important to him, something he loved.”
Times are tense for North Sudan's Christians, said Episcopal Bishop of Khartoum Ezekiel Kondo, who was visiting the U.S. in October to meet with the Department of State and major nongovernmental organizations and to speak on a panel at an anti-genocide conference sponsored by Save Darfur.
Since July 9, when South Sudan became an independent country, Christians in the majority Muslim north have been under increasing pressure, Kondo said.
"As far as the north goes, the independence has brought a difference," he said. Christian government officials and private sector workers have been laid off; the government is introducing full Islamic Sharia law which poses a challenge to the church; and South Sudanese are not being given citizenship. People are leaving or being forced out, and the church in Khartoum has been diminished.
Additionally, there has been an influx of refugees from Southern Kordofan, an oil-producing state under northern control in central Sudan, where southern sympathizers have been under attack.
From New York-
In the weeks since rains from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee flooded parts of the northeastern United States, Episcopal congregations in affected areas have continued to respond to the needs in their communities.
In the Diocese of New York, St. Mary’s-in-Tuxedo Episcopal Church (Tuxedo Park, NY) has housed community meetings and played a key role in coordinating response efforts since heavy rains broke a dam upstream from the town, causing severe flood damage to local homes and businesses. According to the church’s Rector, the Rev. Elizabeth McWhorter, members of St. Mary’s pitched in immediately to help clean up debris and clean out damaged homes. “Using word of mouth and cell phones, we encouraged people to simply take a shovel, gloves, bleach, rags and whatever else might be helpful in shoveling out mud, sewage, fuel oil and water,” she wrote in an email to Episcopal Relief & Development.
The second week after the flood, McWhorter and a fellow priest, along with two volunteers from the community, worked together to coordinate volunteer teams and keep the local government – which was liaising with the Red Cross, FEMA, and state and federal officials – informed of their activities. The Church’s approach focused on listening to people who had been impacted by the disaster, and working with them to assess needs and figure out solutions. McWhorter wrote: “As we began to figure out how we could help in this next step, two things were basic to our thoughts and decisions: 1) we did not want to be ‘Lady Bountiful’, dropping off items we thought were needed and then going about our daily life; [and] 2) living out the baptismal vow of ‘will you respect the dignity of every human being’? Our neighbors had experienced tremendous loss and devastation in their lives yet they still had their human pride and dignity.”
From The Washington Post-
The Washington National Cathedral says it is planning to celebrate its reopening by installing a new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington on Nov. 12.
The ceremony for the Rev. Dr. Mariann Edgar Budde will be the first event at the cathedral since it sustained significant damage in the 5.8-magnitude quake that shook the nation’s capital and much of the East Coast on Aug. 23. Stonework fell off the cathedral’s towers, and other areas were severely cracked.
District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray is seeking emergency funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for the restoration.
The cathedral says there will be concerts, worship services and other programs in the week following the service for Budde to thank the community for its support.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
From Staten Island-
When it was her turn to share at a bereavement group meeting at a hospital in Jersey City, the woman had a surprising confession.
"Most of you know that my mom died, but I’m not here for my mother," she admitted. "I know it sounds silly, but I can’t stop grieving the loss of my dog."
The woman went on to explain that she had a wonderful relationship with her mother. Because she had done everything to make her mom’s last moments on earth as comfortable as possible, she felt at peace over her death.
"But I don’t have the same kind of peace after my dog died," she said.
The statement made Rev. Michael Delaney, who was leading the bereavement group and related the anecdote, realize just how devastating the loss of a pet can be.
The Very Rev. William S. Stafford, dean of The School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, said Oct. 31 that he plans to retire from the seminary on June 30, 2012.
"Bill Stafford has served as dean with great distinction," said John McCardell, vice-chancellor of the University of the South, of which the Episcopal Church-related seminary is a part.
McCardell said in a press release that Stafford has "strengthened the faculty of The School of Theology and been an articulate voice for the importance of residential theological education. His intelligence, his humility, and his understanding of the whole Church, broadly defined, in all its richness and diversity, have set an exemplary standard of leadership." He added that Stafford's "remarkable career will shape that church for many years to come."
As dean of The School of Theology, Stafford said, the nature of his work "up until now has been primarily internal, overseeing the greatest transition the school has known since the '50s."
Stafford, 63, has been dean since January 2005 and during his tenure the school launched a new doctor of ministry in preaching program and is preparing to offer new master's degrees in religion and the environment and in theology and literature. He oversaw the development and execution of a strategic plan for Education for Ministry. Stafford hired an associate dean for community life (a new position for the school) and new faculty in New Testament, church history, Christian ethics, homiletics, and pastoral and systematic theology, according to the release. He coordinated a committee to assess the Education for Ministry program, which culminated in the hiring of a new director and a recently approved comprehensive strategic plan.
A report outlining the mission and ministry work of the Episcopal Church Center in 2010 has been posted online here.
The Report to the Episcopal Church details the work accomplished through the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society budget throughout 2010, according to a press release from the church's Office of Public Affairs.
"I hope that this report will assist Episcopalians in having a greater understanding of the work done at the churchwide level by a team of very committed women and men in support of God's mission and in service to dioceses and the people of our church," Bishop Stacy Sauls, the church's chief operating officer, said in the release.
The programs and offices featured in the report range from programs such as church planting and chaplaincies to global and national partnership work to offices such as the treasurer's and the General Convention. The office of the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies also are included in the report.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
It is a national icon, rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire of London, which became a symbol of British resolve during the Blitz, but the clergy of St Paul's Cathedral have through their bizarre and indecisive handling of the protest on their doorstep conspired to create a crisis unprecedented in the institution's history.
Two leading figures in the clergy have stepped down in less than a week along with a part-timer, another member of staff is off sick with stress and there is the possibility of a violent Dale Farm-style eviction from the steps of the cathedral.
Even if that can be avoided, as all parties say they want, the decision to start legal proceedings against the Occupy the London Stock Exchange movement will almost certainly lead to an expensive and lengthy court battle.
Paul Handley, editor of the Church Times since 1995, cannot remember a crisis to have engulfed an Anglican cathedral on such a scale or with such publicity. "It's not just about the Church, it's the Church and a political event. The Church is capable of shooting itself in the foot. All those rows about gay sex that occupy it, we're used to it. But when it's something that touches the life of the nation, it's on a different scale altogether. It's beyond their ken.
"St Paul's is a place where many different forces collide, it is a national icon, it is in the City of London. The dean has had the mayor of London, the home secretary and David Cameron all on his back. There's been a huge amount of pressure."
From The Living Church-
In whatever ways we justify and reinterpret the Communion instruments of the Anglican Communion, it is clear the instruments no longer unite Anglican churches worldwide. Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings have become obstacles rather than means of healing the Communion ills.
The reasons are clear. The Anglican Communion itself, understood as a Christian World Communion alongside the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other families of churches, is a novel idea in the post-Western missionary era. The instruments emerged in haphazard ways amid the devolution of metropolitan authorities from Canterbury and New York to churches in the southern continents. To be sure, they were useful to connect churches with one another in years surrounding the independence of the southern churches.
They have now become part of the problem, and have lost their legitimacy in the new conditions of the new century. For one, international conferences are expensive exercises, which are hardly sustainable in present-day economic conditions. More important, there is a worrying disconnect between what happens at Communion levels and what occurs at local levels. The faithful in their parishes are expected to remain loyal Anglicans week in and week out. To them, the Anglican disputes are irrelevant. Many of them perhaps have not heard about the Anglican Communion Covenant. Churches of weaker numerical strength and in more fragile conditions are sidelined as well in a high-stakes and wasting religious war.
Members of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, which held its annual convention over the weekend in Minneapolis, passed a resolution opposing the marriage amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.
The church is joining other denominations and non-profit organizations in signing the “Resolution against the Constitutional Amendment to Ban Marriage for Same-Sex Couples” as prepared and presented by Minnesotans United for All Families.
That group is trying to defeat the amendment set for a vote on the November 2012 ballot, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
“The Episcopal Church in Minnesota has always stood with the marginalized,” said Bishop Brian N. Prior, IX Bishop of Minnesota, said in a released statement. “Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender orientation or immigrant status, Episcopalians in Minnesota have always embraced both the Gospel mandate of love of neighbor and the Baptismal Covenant imperative to respect the dignity of every human being.”
Episcopalians (which number about 22,000 members in Minnesota) join other faith-based groups already gearing up for the heated political battle ahead this year.
Monday, October 31, 2011
The dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, has resigned saying his position "was becoming untenable" due to mounting criticism of the way the cathedral has responded to some 200 anti-capitalist protestors who've been camped outside since Oct. 16.
Dean Graeme Knowles, who made the announcement during an Oct. 31 press conference, said that the last two weeks have "been a testing time" for the chapter (senior cathedral clergy) "and for me personally." He said that he believes he is no longer the right person to lead the cathedral.
Knowles' resignation comes four days after the Rev. Giles Fraser left his post as canon chancellor because the cathedral had decided to support legal action to remove the protestors.
Fraser said he could not support what he said might be "a course of action that could mean there will be violence in the name of the church."
Since the arrival of the Occupy London protesters, Knowles said that the cathedral staff has "been put under a great deal of strain and ... faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues. I hope and pray that under new leadership these issues might continue to be addressed and that there might be a swift and peaceful resolution."
London's Anglican Bishop Richard Charters ducked questions on the church's plans to smash the anti-poverty protest camp at the foot of St Paul's today.
Dr Chartres met face-to-face with members of Occupy London Stock Exchange for the first time yesterday morning - but his message was much the same.
The bishop has repeatedly called for the 300-odd protesters to abandon their camp, erected in St Paul's Square more than a fortnight ago after police barred them from a privately owned square directly outside the exchange.
But the cathedral's clerics sparked a public outcry on Friday when they said in a statement that they were prepared to take legal action to evict the protesters.
The move cracked open a rift within the church, pitting church leaders, who said the protest had made its point, against grass-roots groups who accused the cathedral of abandoning Christian principles - and the building's ancient tradition of sanctuary.
Others have alleged pressure from the City itself in light of the Cathedral's dependence on wealthy, well-connected trustees and FTSE-listed corporate donors.
From New Zealand-
The landmark Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, severely damaged in a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 February, will be deconsecrated, partially demolished, and the remains made safe, according to the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch - writes David Crampton.
After losing its bell tower and famed rose window, the cathedral suffered further damage during another 6.3 magnitude quake on 13 June. It also withstood earthquakes in 1881, 1888, 1922, 1901, and on 4 September 2010.
Bishop Victoria Matthews said the controlled demolition - a stone-by-stone deconstruction - will start before Christmas. This will enable heritage items and artifacts such as the pulpit, carvings and religious icons to be removed from the building.
"We're going to get what is important out. The future of the cathedral, which is so symbolic, will have a combination of old and new. At all times we have proceeded with a deep commitment to being faithful to the gospel we proclaim. We must be responsible and above all faithful stewards as we make decisions about the mission of the Church," Matthews told a news conference.
Safety work alone is expected to cost NZ$4 million (US$3.2 million), with rebuilding options leaving a NZ $30 million (US$24 million) shortfall after insurance, church officials said. Until demolition work is under way it won't be clear how much more of the cathedral will be brought down.
Through the middle of November, in honor of Veteran’s Day, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church of Westborough will be collecting socks for the veterans to be distributed by Veterans Inc., a veteran support agency in Worcester that feeds, clothes and provides training and support for veterans. For more information on Veterans Inc. please go to www.veteransinc.org.
Although the requested item from Veterans Inc is for socks, good condition jackets and coats for the veterans would also be appreciated.
All contributions can be dropped off at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 3 John St., Westborough, 9 a.m. until noon, Monday to Thursday. If you have contributions to drop off at a different time please call the church office at 508-366-4134. For more information, please go to St Stephen’s website at www.ststeph.com. This is one of the many projects of Mission & Outreach to help those in need in the community. Please help support our veterans.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
The sprawling eastern Iowa cornfields made famous by the movie "Field of Dreams" are being sold to a company that will preserve the site's baseball legacy, the owners announced Sunday.
Don and Becky Lansing said they have accepted an offer from Mike and Denise Stillman and their company, Go the Distance Baseball LLC, which will develop the site near Dyersville as a baseball and softball complex. A purchase price was not disclosed.
"We worked hard to maintain its wholesome allure, and our success says a lot about our nation's love affair with its national pastime," Becky Lansing said in a statement. "It truly is a special place."
The land has been in Don Lansing's family since 1906. The couple put the property up for sale at $5.4 million in May 2010. The parcel includes the two-bedroom house, baseball diamond, six other buildings and 193 acres -- mostly cornfields -- from the movie.
The film, released in 1989, was based on the book "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella and starred Kevin Costner. The site has been a popular tourist destination ever since.
The Lansings said earlier this year that they had gotten several inquiries about the site but were committed to finding a buyer that would preserve its legacy.
Two groups that help rescue foreigners from war and oppression say they are arranging what they say will be the most significant refugee resettlement in Wichita since hundreds were resettled here from southeast Asia 30 years ago.
The Episcopal Wichita Area Refugee Ministry and the Wichita office of the International Rescue Committee say that refugees from Myanmar — also called Burma — Somalia, Bhutan, Iraq, Eritrea and other nations will begin arriving in the next few weeks.
The groups say as many as 180 refugees a year could come in for several years; the first few individuals and families will arrive in the next few weeks. The Episcopal group says it will bring in as many as 35 Burmese a year; the International Rescue Committee says it could bring in as many as 150 from other countries.
Officials from the rescue groups point out that the United States — though many of its citizens vigorously debate illegal immigration — has had a long-standing policy of inviting in tens of thousands of legal immigrants every year, including refugees in danger of death.
Bill Gress, a past director of immigration and refugee services for Catholic Charities in Wichita, said the refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos worked hard from the moment they arrived here, getting jobs, establishing businesses, learning English, doubling up in housing and saving money in other ways. They enriched our community and tax base, he said.