THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Please, please have a seat. Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the White House.
Of all the freedoms we cherish as Americans, of all the rights that we hold sacred, foremost among them is freedom of religion, the right to worship as we choose. It’s enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution -- the law of the land, always and forever. It beats in our heart -- in the soul of the people who know that our liberty and our equality is endowed by our Creator. And it runs through the history of this house, a place where Americans of many faiths can come together and celebrate their holiest of days -- and that includes Ramadan.
As I’ve noted before, Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia -- perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago. And some of you, as you arrived tonight, may have seen our special display, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress -- the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. And that's a reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam -- like so many faiths -- is part of our national story.
I don’t know when I’ve been happier to see someone walk up the street to my home! I feel like I’ve been weeding this flowerbed for hours, and in this heat, why I’m just about to melt! I was going to keep going, but now you’re here I can get myself a nice cold glass of lemonade and we can sit on the porch for a spell. Would you mind taking these gloves and my hat? There. That’s a help. Come right up and have a seat and I’ll be out in a minute just as soon as I freshen up. I”m going to bring you a nice lemonade dear, and would you like a slice of key lime pie with that? Just shoo that cat off the chair. He doesn’t mind.
There now, that’s better. Phew! You know I used to complain about the heat and how much I used to perspire, but then I realized that it’s just the way the good Lord made us–we’re supposed to perspire. It helps cool us down! So I don’t complain anymore, and if I’m inclined to complain just a little I think of the poor sisters in Africa who wear those long habits and don’t even have air conditioning! I get a letter from Sister Mary Magdalene once a month. She’s the Benedictine nun I sponsor out in Ghana. Sweet thing.
They rescued her from the most horrible life and she’s so happy at the convent. Why yes I did go to Chick-fil-A last week dear. Went three times just for fun! What a nice, gentle and American way to make your voice heard! Just as ordinary as going out for a chicken sandwich, and so many people turned up and nobody shouting and screaming and making a fuss! Then you know my grandson Danny showed me a video on the computer.
Well, I never! It was shocking! He said that when he went to Chick-fil-A with some friends he was accused at college of eating ‘hate chicken’. Well I laughed! As if a chicken sandwich could hate anybody!
Nussbaum’s practice not only covers First Amendment issues, it also deals with church property rights, tax law, secession issues and other legal cases that are unique to religious institutions.
“The whole subject of the intersection of church and civil law — it’s a huge issue,” he said. “Many things fall under it, because of the special protections under the First Amendment.”
For example, he was the lead attorney in the case to keep property within an Episcopal church after a secessionist group laid claim to it.
“That was a highly important religious freedom principle,” he said. “The freedom to discipline a minister and operate according to canon law was at stake.”
The case involved longtime minister Rev. Donald Armstrong at Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Colorado Springs. Armstrong was accused of embezzling money from the church. The main body removed him, but a section of the congregation chose to retain him — and tried to retain church property as well.
The secessionist group lost the case, and the church was able to move back into the property on Tejon Street.
Seventeen bishops and archbishops write to the chairman of the Crown Nominations Commission:
At a time when the Christian faith faces challenges from other religious as well as secular worldviews, the new Archbishop of Canterbury must be committed to uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian “faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). To [fulfill] his calling and vow as Guardian of Faith, he must have the capacity to collectively put into effect the decisions taken at Lambeth Conferences and Primates Meetings, especially on issues that have led to the present crisis in the Communion.
From West Virginia- Kelly served in our diocese for many years.
The Reverend Gordon Kelly Marshall, 61, died Friday, August 3, in Boardman, Ohio, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He served congregations in Alabama, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio over a 40-year ministry. Throughout his ministry, the Rev. Marshall emphasized the development and revitalization of Christian education programs for all ages. For much of his career, he specialized in guiding congregations in the exploration of innovative models of ministry.
The Rev. Marshall began his career in the United Methodist Church, and in December 2011 he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination in the Episcopal Church. He most recently served in the Diocese of Ohio as the Rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Boardman. Prior to moving to Ohio, he served as the Missioner to the North Central Regional Ministry in the Diocese of West Virginia. While in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he served as the first Episcopal chaplain of the interfaith Episcopal-Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University and as Assistant Rector at Calvary Episcopal Church. He also taught as an adjunct in the Classics Department at Duquesne University.
After nearly eight years and three General Conventions, the Rev. Canon Gregory Straub, executive officer and secretary of General Convention, has announced his retirement effective Jan. 1, 2013, according to a press release from the church’s Office of Public Affairs.
“It has been a great privilege to serve the church and its governing bodies these past seven years,” Straub, 63, wrote in his resignation letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. “I shall long remember with fondness the many volunteers who staff our committees, commissions, agencies and boards with whom it has been my honor to work.”
Straub was appointed executive officer in 2005 by then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and then-House of Deputies President the Very Rev. George Werner.
The executive officer oversees all aspects of the work of Episcopal Church governance, from site selection for the meetings of General Convention through supervision and funding of the work mandated by the convention, according to information here. The executive officer may also be elected to serve as the secretary of the House of Deputies and, if elected by both houses of General Convention, secretary of the General Convention.
The world’s 80 million Anglicans are much more aware today than they were 10 years ago that they belong to a global communion, a realization that has led to a flourishing of international relationships between the Episcopal Church and other provinces, dioceses and individuals.
The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said that although he did not attend the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, he is “more than heartened” by the passage of Resolution D008 that reaffirms the Episcopal Church’s commitment to building Anglican Communion partnerships.
“There is obviously a huge well of goodwill and commitment,” he told ENS in a recent interview at his London-based office. “The Episcopal Church has worked very hard at its relationships and more so in the last few years. Those relationships have paid off and are valued throughout the Anglican Communion. The question is how we are going to build on that commitment.”
Kearon said he also is “very impressed” with the extent to which the Episcopal Church has taken seriously the Anglican Covenant, a document that initially had been intended as a way to bind Anglicans globally across cultural and theological differences.
A JUDGE has ruled that a ten-year-old Jewish girl may be baptised as a Christian, even without the consent of her mother.
In May, His Honour Judge John Platt, sitting at Romford, heard the case of a child whose parents are both Jewish, but had not observed religious festivals or had her instructed in the faith. The girl's father converted to Christianity after he separated from her mother in 2010; she has been attending, at her own request, an Anglican church with him on the alternate Sundays when she is in his care.
During the summer of 2011, with the mother's agreement, the father took the girl to New Wine, a Charismatic Evangelical festival. On the way back from the festival, Judge Platt's judgment says, the girl "told her father that she had experienced an encounter with God and wished to be baptised". The father "was initially sceptical, being concerned that the child was . . . 'on a high' coming from the intense experience of the festival, and that she might later calm down and go off the idea". The father said that his daughter would have to wait, and he informed her mother of the idea.
In November 2011, the girl, without her father's knowledge, asked the leader of her Sunday school whether she could be baptised. The mother applied for a court order forbidding the father from having the girl baptised. The mother believed that her daughter should wait until the age of 16 to make a decision about being baptised.
In Oregon, the number of Latino Episcopalians has increased more than five-fold over the past decade. Church leaders say the influx is, in part, because the denomination's worship services look and sound familiar to Hispanics raised in the Catholic Church. But Northwest Episcopal Churches are luring Latinos with a focused marketing campaign.
The 10 o'clock high mass at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon probably sounds a lot like it did when the congregation was founded nearly a century ago.
Father Kurt Neilson leads the liturgy, as he has for the past 17 years. He says attendance at the two morning services has been relatively flat. The real growth is in the afternoon.
A few years ago Saints Peter and Paul added a weekly Spanish language mass, or misa. The English-speaking members of the congregation wanted to reach out to the growing number of Latinos in this working class neighborhood. Neilson says the new service took off quickly.
"These are folks who are very unselfconscious about inviting one another to church," he says.
Public reactions to the churches' views on gay marriage currently range from weary indifference to head-scratching bewilderment to angry consternation and all the way to incandescent outrage. Andrew Brown's blogpost attacking two recent church interventions on the question tends towards the third of those responses. It is certainly the case that some such interventions needlessly place the churches in the line of fire.
One of the things attracting Brown's ire was a letter to David Cameron from Anglican Mainstream, an association of conservative Anglicans, responding to the PM's remarks at a reception for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups at 10 Downing Street. The letter was within its rights to challenge Cameron's ill-informed misrepresentation of the churches' attitudes towards gay people. But it included the unsustainable claim that people of homosexual orientation "have always been fully welcomed" in the churches. Whatever the official teaching of the churches may have been, their practice has all too frequently fallen lamentably and hurtfully short of the goal of "welcome". Many homosexual Christians – including some I have known, and including many who would call themselves theologically conservative – will readily confirm this, at least if asked by someone who by their practice and tone of voice has earned their trust.
In the wake of Monday night's killing of 19 worshippers at a pentecostal church in Okene, Nigeria's central Kogi state, the Prelate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, has warned that the country is drifting to anarchy. “At the rate we are going, the country is drifting fast into anarchy and if people now capitalise on that situation, it will degenerate to dog eat dog,' the Prelate said in an interview published by the private Punch newspaper Wednesday.
“If dog eats dog, that is the end of the country. So for me, we go back to government whose responsibility it is constitutionally to provide defence for the people,” he said.
Archbishop Okoh also described the attack, which left many injured, as a 'damnable thing; it is evil'.
On Monday night, gunmen invaded the premises of the Deeper Life Bible Church in the town, switched off the power generator so the church was thrown into darkness and opened fire on members who were attending the weekly Monday bible study.
Bishop Steven Miller has asked that the following information, provided by the Wisconsin Conference of Churches (WCC), be circulated to all clergy and parishes in the Diocese of Milwaukee.
In the wake of the tragic shootings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, the Wisconsin Council of Churches is calling for Day of Prayer for the Sikh Community in Christian congregations throughout the state next Sunday, August 12. Download a bulletin for your church.
It is hoped that next Sunday will provide an opportunity for Christians to pray for the victims, their families, and for the Sikh community, which has experienced much tragedy and hardship in this country since the Sept. 11 attacks (Sikhs are at times mistaken for Muslims). It is also hoped that next Sunday will be an occasion for Christians in Wisconsin to learn more about the Sikh religion. For more information, see (http://www.sikhs.org/summary.htm).
In the coming days and weeks there will be opportunities for Christians to stand in solidarity with the Sikh community. Two vigils were held Sunday night, in Madison and Milwaukee, and more are planned. The WCC will assist in getting the word out as events and other opportunities for support are planned; please check their website http://www.wichurches.org/ .
James E. Solheim – the Episcopal Church’s news director in an era bookended by the election of Anglicanism’s first female bishop and the ordination of its first openly gay bishop – died August 8 after several weeks’ hospitalization. A resident of Trenton, New Jersey, Solheim was 73 and suffered respiratory failure, said his nephew, Kurt Kaisler.
Of his career, Solheim said he “followed an ecumenical path, working first for the Lutherans, then the Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ.” Later, “when the Lutherans went off to Chicago to form a new church in 1988, I accepted the position as director of communications in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts,” he recalled in November 2003, shortly before his retirement.
“Of course I had no idea that, a few weeks after I moved to Boston, the diocese would elect Barbara Harris as the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop. The next year was a blur but it provided a dramatic introduction to the Episcopal Church.”
Joplin churches are holding a special ceremony for members of a mosque destroyed in a suspicious fire.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Joplin churches planned to gather Wednesday evening at St. Philip's Episcopal Church as a show of support for the Islamic Society of Joplin. They'll be taking part in an "iftar," which is a meal to break a fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Islamic Society of Joplin's mosque was destroyed in a fire early Monday. Federal officials have been working to determine whether the fire was arson, but said Wednesday it's unclear when they'll know if the fire was set.
CAIR says the groups participating Wednesday night include the South Joplin Christian Church, United Hebrew Congregation, First Community Church and Peace Lutheran Church.
The Church of England has sold its shares in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. over its handling of a phone hacking scandal at one of its newspapers.
Anglican leaders said in a statement Tuesday that they were not satisfied that News Corp. was likely to show a commitment to reform its business practices following evidence of illegal eavesdropping at the defunct News of the World newspaper.
Church official Andrew Brown said the decision to sell the 1.9 million pounds (US$3 million) in News Corp. shares followed a year of inconclusive dialogue between News Corp. executives and members of the church’s ethical investment committee.
‘‘Our decision to disinvest was not taken lightly and follows a year of continuous dialogue with the company, during which the (ethical investment committee) put forward a number of recommendations around how corporate governance structures at News Corporation could be improved,’’ Brown said. ‘‘However the (committee) does not feel that the company has brought about sufficient change and we have accepted its advice to disinvest.’’
A room within St. Agnes Episcopal Church is stocked with canned soups, meats, fruits, and vegetables alongside cereals, pasta and pet food. It is the church's newly expanded food pantry and is open to anyone in need.
The church has always collected and distributed food for the needy, but several weeks ago they took it a step further and officially opened a food bank.
Patrick Keating, a warden on the church vestry who has been volunteering his time to organize the food bank, said they have seen an increasing number of people coming in with food emergencies, which was why the decided to expand the collection effort.
Walking through the food pantry, which consists of a large storage closet with a freshly painted red floor, Keating pointed toward the dozens of grocery bags, which he said are prepared with $35 to $40 worth of groceries each.
Peter Ng, the Episcopal Church’s partnership officer for Asia and the Pacific, has been named an honorary lay canon of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines’ National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John in Quezon City, Philippines.
The appointment was formally conferred by the Most Rev. Edward P. Malecdan, prime bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), during Holy Eucharist on Aug. 5 at the cathedral.
Introducing Ng to the cathedral congregation, Malecdan described Ng as a very close friend to the ECP, acknowledging “his huge task” in taking care of “cooperation and companionship between TEC and other Anglican/Episcopal churches in our region.
“According to Anglican and Roman Catholic tradition, the ceremonial position of an honorary lay canon ‘is conferred or given to a person who performs distinguished services such as establishing and strengthening relationships and partnerships between governments or churches, and between groups and individuals,’” Malecdan said. “In short, the person is an ambassador of friendship and reconciliation, to say the least. Peter Ng has been more than that to us in the ECP.”
On Wednesday, July 25th, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence met with the clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina at St. Paul’s Church, in Summerville, to discuss decisions made at General Convention 2012 and their significance for us as a diocese. In particular, he shared the address he made to the House of Bishops, while in executive session, announcing his decision to depart from Convention with five members of our deputation.
The central purpose of his presentation to the Bishops was to convey his understanding that with the passage of Resolutions D002 and D019 (making all possible variations of “gender identity and gender expression” protected categories in the canons of the church), and the adoption of authorized provisional rites to bless same gender relationships, the doctrine, discipline and worship of this church have been profoundly changed.
He told the Bishops that the magnitude of these changes was such that he could no longer in good conscience continue in the business of the Convention. In fact, he was left with the grave question of whether he could continue as a bishop of an institution that had adopted such changes. It was with that question on the table that he took his leave from the House of Bishops.
THE Anglican Bishop of Awka Diocese, Rt. Rev. Alexander C, Ibezim, has charged Nigerians to be patriotic and pray for peace in the country.
Rev. Ibezim also urged the various ethnic groups in the country to love one another and live as one family.
He spoke at the Bishops’ Court in Awka, yesterday at a press briefing to mark his 50th birthday.
Speaking on the state of the nation, the cleric called on Nigerians to stop condemning the country and giving others bad names, stressing that good could come out from bad.
He said, “let people bless Nigeria, and confess positively for the nation. Love and pray for our institutions,” insisting that Nigeria would emerge a great nation.
He also charged the leaders in the country to motivate and carry the masses along with them and also help improve lives of the people.
The bishop cautioned leaders to work on policies that impact on people’s welfare, warning that even if they evade the wrath of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), they can not escape God’s punishment on the Judgment Day.
He equally condemned the insecurity especially in northern part of the country, saying the development called for prayers.
Anglicans in Zimbabwe's Diocese of Masvingo are again facing arrest for trying to commemorate the life and work of Arthur Shearly Cripps and for carrying out their ministry, reports the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS).
Last year, clergy and pilgrims were prevented from holding their celebrations at the Shearly Cripps Shrine in Maronda Mashanu by excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga, supported by police. Kunonga claimed to be in charge of the shrine and 78 Anglican churches in Masvingo Diocese.
"This year we had arranged to hold the celebrations from 27 to 29 July," the bishop of Masvingo, Godfrey Tawonezwi, wrote to supporters, "but Kunonga and the police have once again stopped us from doing so. Last week Kunonga put up posters … advertising that he … will be going to Shearly Cripps Shrine the same weekend we had planned to be at the shrine. The police wrote us a letter saying that all Anglican Church property is under the custodianship of Kunonga."
The group has moved the event to the beginning of August, but police have labelled the planned gathering "illegal" and participants could face arrest, ACNS reports. Kunonga is a well-known ally of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe and has often had police backing for his actions.
Tawonezwi said he has informed police that court cases they are citing refer to a property dispute in the Diocese of Harare, not Masvingo.
We are writing as a follow-up to our May 2012 “Episcopal Epistle” and Clergy Conference “indaba” with respect to the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian couples seeking to be married in The Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
As expected, the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church engaged deeply with questions related to the blessing for same-sex couples. Holy listening and a generosity of spirit characterized the discussions and decisions of the Convention related to such blessings. In Resolutions A049 and A050 the General Convention provided for a rite of blessing for same-sex couples and called the church to study canonical and liturgical limitations related to marriage equality. Resolution A049 states in part:
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention authorize for provisional use “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” from “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing” beginning the First Sunday of Advent 2012, under the direction and subject to the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority; and be it further
Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That bishops may authorize adaptation of these materials to meet the needs of members of this Church …
As your bishops we commend the entire report of The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music known as “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You will be a Blessing,” which can be found on our diocesan website. In the resource you will find both the rite as adopted by the General Convention as well as valuable theological, and legal and canonical discussions related to the blessing of same-sex relationships. We particularly commend the pastoral resources for preparing same-sex couples for a liturgy of blessing.
Co-operation may be a natural thing, but it isn't easy. It requires a real willingness to work together across different world views. That was the message of keynote speaker Dr Stephen Cherry, from the Anglican Diocese of Durham, as he helped launch the 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh.
The launch event for the Festival focused on 'Sharable Futures', and took place at St John's Episcopal Church in the heart of the Scottish capital.
The Festival of Spirituality and Peace, in its twelfth year, features 400 events across 21 venues from 3-27 August. It is sponsored by a wide variety of faith and civic groups, the Scottish government, the think-tank Ekklesia and the University of Edinburgh.
The Anglican leader said that a rich cultural mix and a meaningful religious exchange requires more than polite toleration or middle-class liberalism. Rather it involves a much more gutsy, world-changing effort. We need leadership that makes for peace.
Hundreds stood in line Monday morning outside the doors of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church where the Washington County School Supply Drive was handing out backpacks, helping students and parents prepare for the new academic year.
For more than a decade, the locally run non-profit organization has been providing free school supplies to students who might not otherwise have been able to afford them.
“It's the best example of organized chaos you can have,” WCSSD board member Bob Wesnesky told 2NEWS. He was inside the building working with more than a dozen volunteers — some sitting at desks checking names and others bustling about delivering backpacks to the parents and students as they approached the desks.
The state's Episcopal Church formally installed its newest spiritual leader Saturday, as Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld was ordained as the next Bishop of New Hampshire.
“There's something as wonderful and amazing as the welcome, and that is the unique gifts that I've noticed in the Diocese of New Hampshire in each of you that I've met,” Hirschfeld said. “We are more than the sum of our parts here today.”
In a consecration ceremony that combined centuries-old rites with optimism for the future of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire, Hirschfeld assumed the office of Bishop coadjutor.
He will serve in that capacity through the last months of the tenure of Bishop V. Gene Robinson.
The Rev. Ronald Gauss was preparing in his office moments before the last service inside the church the Bishop Seabury Episcopal congregation has always called home.
"All of a sudden it might hit me," said Gauss, 73, putting on the traditional dressings for the 10 a.m. service Sunday. Gauss, who has been with the 137-year-old church for 37 years, wasn't sure what exactly would happen that morning, or how big a part emotions — his and his congregation's — would play.
Gauss' parish parted ways with the Episcopal Church of the United States in 2007 after the church ordained an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and then chose a woman as presiding bishop. The state Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that Bishop Seabury Church was to return everything — the 6.5-acre church site, the sanctuary and its contents — to the Episcopal diocese. The church appealed the decision to theU.S. Supreme Court, which in June declined to hear the case.
Gauss described the mixed feelings among the parishioners – confusion, anger and sadness – but he was planning to express a different and greater understanding on Sunday.
"I don't have any animosity," Gauss said. "I don't have time to be angry. I have too many people to take care of."
To Gauss, having to leave the church at 256 North Road is simply another act of God, another challenge thrown at his parish, and he believes there must be a reason for it.
"For some reason we are going out," said Gauss. "There's some importance in what [is happening]."