Saturday, August 30, 2008

FAQ #6 The Episcopal Church and Paganism

Q. Is it true that the Episcopal Church will soon be using pagan fertility rites and occult liturgies?

A. No. People have always experimented with liturgies and there are certainly isolated extreme examples of such experiments in every church. One of the temptations we must avoid is to take some extreme anecdote reported in the press and portray the entire church as such. We need to remember that regardless of what happens in isolated places that the Book of Common Prayer is the official liturgy of the Episcopal Church. Ironically enough, one of the problems facing the church in other parts of the world is the widespread (not isolated) participation in pagan and occult practices by professing Christians. Christianity Today reports that nine out of ten Christians in West Africa (including Nigeria) are involved in the occult. That story can be found here -

You can see all of the Frequently Asked Questions by typing FAQ into the blog's search engine.

Good Stuff in TEC: Western Mass.

A report from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts about their clergy conference and new vision for mission that has captured their imagination.

“The Holy Spirit was moving at clergy conference, touching the hearts and minds of the clericus,” said Archdeacon William Coyne. “We are looking at effective new ways to live the Gospel.” Now, clergy and congregations from across the Diocese are excited about the potential for commitment to the Partnership for Missional Church process through the Church Innovations Institute. Bill says that 15 congregations have expressed interest in the program and others are interested in facets of the program. “There’s a wave here of the Spirit moving and people saying, ‘Tell us more,’” he said.

You cans see all of the "Good Stuff" posts by typing "God Stuff" into the blog's search engine.

Police: Pa. man's remains snatched during service

From the "What were they thinking?" Department. Found in the Philadelphia Inquirer and in its entirety here. Maybe what Mr. Sutherland is really saying is "They went that-a-way!"

The Associated Press

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - An eastern Pennsylvania woman says a dispute over a final resting place for her fiance has led to a startling disappearance , of the urn containing his cremated remains.

Nancy Kempa of Wilkes-Barre says her 25-year-old fiance, Aaron Lohnes, died Aug. 11. She planned to bury him in the same cemetery as his father. Kempa says Lohnes' brother gave the funeral home consent to release the remains to her.

But she told Wilkes-Barre police that during Thursday afternoon's memorial service at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, two friends of Lohnes took the urn and ran down the street.

Sgt. Joe Novak says theft charges are possible. He says police have been called to funerals before for disputes over arrangements, or the property of the deceased. Novak says, "I don't ever recall having disputes over the actual remains."

In case you think I'm making it up the link is here -

Can Gafcon convert its gaffe?

This is an opinion piece from The London Daily Telegraph about how the abbreviation of long organization names sometimes works against the image of the organization. Couldn't find a picture of a gaffe.

"Yet it seems this important lesson in branding has only just been learned by the new orthodox Anglican movement.

When they set out to give a name to their inaugural meeting they chose a name that sounded positive, inclusive and informative: the Global Anglican Future Conference.

But all too soon it became known as Gafcon - amazingly managing to combine widely used terms for a mistake and deceit in one short word."

Friday, August 29, 2008

GAFCON Primates drag their feet on creating a North American province

The Common Cause Partners petitioned the GAFCON primates (6 out the 34 in the communion) to recognise them as the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in North America. The GAFCON primates met last week and it looks like Common Cause is going to have to wait. (Photo by Julia Margaret Camer 1815-1879)

"At the same time, the Council and its Advisory Board will seek to deal with the problems of those who have confessed the biblical faith in the face of hostility and found the need on grounds of conscience and in matters of great significance to break the normal bonds of fellowship in the name of the gospel. For the sake of the Anglican Communion this is an effort to bring order out of the chaos of the present time and to make sure as far as possible that some of the most faithful Anglican Christians are not lost to the Communion. It is expected that priority will be given to the possible formation of a province in North America for the Common Cause Partnership."

The communique is here -

The Common Cause Petition is here -

Defend the Orphan: An Age-Old Christian Lesson Gets a New Lease on Life

An interesting piece in today's Wall Street Journal about adoption as a Christian responsibility and how it might impact the presidential campaign. (says Sandy)

"If John McCain is looking for a way to shore up his support among evangelical voters, he might start talking about adoption. In 1993, the McCains adopted a daughter from Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, and the senator has co-sponsored legislation to aid adoption, including measures that would provide tax credits for expenses and would remove barriers to interracial and interethnic adoption. But his efforts are rarely mentioned on the campaign trail at a time when adoption is a hot topic in the evangelical community."

FAQ #5 - Revising the Book of Common Prayer

Q. Is it true that The Book of Common Prayer is being revised to reflect more liberal theologies?

A. No. The Book of Common Prayer has not changed since 1979 and is the official doctrine and liturgy of The Episcopal Church. The book can only be revised by an act of General Convention. There has been no authorization given for its revision nor is one expected at the next General Convention. Additionally, the last time there was a revision authorized it took twelve years to complete. It's unlikely that we would see any revision of the Book of Common Prayer within the next twenty years.

You can see all of the Frequently Asked Questions by typing FAQ into the blog's search engine.

More Good Stuff: Nativity Crafton (Pittsburgh)

Congratulations in particular to Scott Quinn who's been the rector at Nativity for a quarter of its history and nursed it back to life.

Episcopal church has three reasons to celebrate

It's a year of anniversaries for the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Crafton. On Sept. 13, the congregation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its church; the 25th anniversary of the Rev. Scott T. Quinn, rector; and the 10th anniversary of organist Dianne Peebles. The celebration already is under way.

Good Stuff in TEC: Feeding the Hungry

A report from Central Florida on the wonderful work that is being done by the church in helping those in need (it even has a baseball angle).

"Mustard Seed has a tradition of community support, as one of the best-run and most effective charities in St. Lucie County. Its mission is to coordinate the energies of the Christian Churches of Saint Lucie County, Florida, to meet the spiritual and material needs of the whole person and to make referrals to all available relief agencies in our community to take care of those in need. Mustard Seed Ministries is a social service agency incorporated in 1986, springing from a community outreach program of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Fort Pierce. One of the founders was St. Andrew’s Rector Fr. Ernie Bennett, now Canon to the Ordinary for Bishop John W. Howe."

You can see all of the "Good Stuff" reports by typing "Good Stuff" into the blog's search engine.

Lambeth exceeded expectations, Dr Williams reports

The report from two British publications on Rowan's enthusiasm for the way Lambeth went.

Church Times

"In a letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion, Dr Williams said that the Conference allowed every bishop’s voice to be heard, and helped to rebuild trust. “I believe the Conference succeeded in doing this to a very remarkable degree — more than most people expected. At the end of our time together, many people, especially some of the newer bishops, said that they had been surprised by the amount of convergence they had seen. “And there can be no doubt that practically all who were present sincerely wanted the Communion to stay together.”"

Manchester Guardian-

Thursday, August 28, 2008

News on the court's decison in San Joaquin

From The Living Church: the court has decided to divide diocesan assets between the two competing dioceses. There's also a link to the court documents.

"In his order and stipulation decree, Judge Adolfo M. Corona awarded some endowment accounts to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and other accounts to the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. Drawing from some endowment accounts will require the consent of both dioceses. The court will retain an oversight interest in management and expenditures from the endowment funds."

Not Quite the Davinci Code

Move over Dan Brown, apparently Anglicanism has the real thing !

Decoding a 270-year-old diary reminds us of the power and uses of shorthand

"Now we have a fresh opportunity to marvel at its magic. After nine years of deciphering, an Anglican priest has managed to decode the personal shorthand that Charles Wesley used to record his diary, while simultaneously keeping its contents a mystery to prying eyes."

Archbishop's Pastoral Letter to Bishops of the Anglican Communion

I've just returned from my trip to Charlotte (which went very well, thank you for asking). This is a couple of days old but I thought for the three or four of you who hadn't seen it I would post it. Rowan is pictured center (guess he didn't need a big hat).

"For the vast majority of bishops, it seems, this has been a time when they have felt God to have been at work. The Conference was not a time for making new laws or for binding decisions; in spite of the way some have expressed their expectations, Lambeth Conferences have never worked straightforwardly in this way. The Conference Design Group believed strongly that the chief need of our Communion at the moment was the rebuilding of relationships – the rebuilding of trust in one another – and of confidence in our Anglican identity. And it was with this in mind that they planned for a very different sort of Conference, determined to allow every bishop’s voice to be heard and to seek for a final outcome for which the bishops were genuinely able to recognize an authentic account of their own work."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jeff Murph reflects on Spiritual Authority

Questions of Realignment
What about being under the ‘spiritual authority” of the Episcopal Church?

By The Rev. Jeff Murph, Rector St. Thomas Episcopal Church Oakmont PA.

Though this is not usually a question that progressives tend to ask (or even frame in the same way), many traditional and conservative Christians have expressed the concern about being spiritually connected (or even worse, spiritually under) the Episcopal Church. This view is one that perceives not only human beings but even Creation itself as having a greater dimension than what can simply be seen or tested empirically. It is a view that accepts that there is a spiritual reality to the world in which we live, a reality that has an effect and interconnection with all of God’s Creation.

Perhaps the most familiar passage of Scripture that reflects this perspective is Ephesians 6:12, which comes immediately before the famous “armor of God” section. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The New Testament, of course, makes it clear that Jesus, by his work on the cross, has completely defeated these spiritual powers in rebellion against God. Now, all authority has been given to him (Philippians 2: 9-11, 1 Peter 3:22). This removal of authority from spiritual evil does not, however, mean that they no longer have any power. Indeed, as Martin Luther’s famous hymn says of the Enemy, “his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal” (Hymn 688). As a consequence of being transferred from darkness to light (Colossians 1:13), however, we are now citizens of a different kingdom. The last thing we would want would be to return to that darkness and to that cruel ruler.

In the question of realignment (especially in light of theological statements made by the Presiding Bishop that do not seem to find any warrant in Scripture), one principal reason for leaving the Episcopal Church is to escape to a safer spiritual pasture. No longer is it safe, many realigners say, to stay in such a foggy and confused and fatally compromised church. Many point to the danger of the spiritual authority of a heterodox Presiding Bishop, reflecting the general Anglican understanding that bishops are shepherds, charged with spiritual authority for a diocese.

It is true that the bishop is charged with spiritual authority over a diocese. In fact, the priests exercise their ministry under his. It is not, however, true that the Presiding Bishop exercises this same kind of authority over the whole United States. Unlike an Archbishop, the American Presiding Bishop is primarily a convener (calling the leaders of the church together) and the enforcer of discipline set by the whole church. She has no authority to articulate doctrine. Neither does she have any authority in any diocese at all unless the canons of the Episcopal Church are broken in that diocese. In fact, she cannot even enter a diocese to function ecclesiastically without the local bishop’s permission. With these limits, it is hard to imagine any Presiding Bishop as the spiritual authority over the American Church.

What does articulate doctrine for the Episcopal Church? Quite simply, the Book of Common Prayer. General Convention can approve a prayer book after a lengthy trial period and with two consecutive conventions voting affirmatively. The current Book of Common Prayer, approved in 1979, contains all the historic formularies usually recognized in the Anglican Communion: the three creeds, the Thirty-nine Articles, the Outline of the Faith (called the Catechism), and, of course, the liturgy.

Finally, Anglican Christians have always understood that the real spiritual authority of the Church is Jesus, of course, who is the actual Head of the Church. It is not really St. Peter who will determine who will enter heaven or not but the blood of Jesus Christ. Those congregations who place themselves squarely under the authority of Jesus have nothing ultimately to fear either from powers and principalities nor from unfaithful bishops. Over the centuries, there have unfortunately always been unworthy shepherds; sometimes the Church has been in great suffering because of their unfaithfulness. Yet Jesus the Head always has brought his Church back to the Truth by the power of his Holy Spirit, raising up obedient shepherds and leaders for his people. “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

Three Rivers Episcopal will be taking a few days off

I'm making a trip to Charlotte NC to visit with my grandfather's brother's daughter (I think that makes her a second cousin?) She has some Simons family items she wants me to have so I'm going down today. My guess is that with the exception of the one above there won't be any postings again until Thursday.

Good stuff: TEC- Youth - Guatemala

We hear a lot about the problems in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Here's a bright spot. The youth of the diocese have been doing work in Guatemala. From the diocesan web site.

Experiencing God in a Whole New Way in Guatemala
by Charlotte Abbott, A Youth Council Representative, Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr

In the Stations of the Cross as Jesus’ life on earth comes to an end, a question is raised, “Is my soul worth this much?” Ever since I was a little girl, I was told of the extraordinary things God has done for me, and the same question has plagued my mind. Is my soul worth this much? I think a huge part of having faith in God and all God’s gifts, is realizing your own self-worth.

On the very first day of July, I traveled to Guatemala on a diocese mission trip with 18 other peers, and 7 adults, including the Bishop. Once we arrived, we were joined by a group of loving, spirited young people from different parts of Guatemala. Together we visited one of the few schools in Guatemala City. Whether we were painting a mural on their walls or just playing with them, I began to realize that I was capable of making a difference. This experience was one that I will surely remember for the rest of my life. Not only did I learn so much about a culture completely different from my own, but I was able to experience God in a whole new way.

One Saturday morning our group crammed under a makeshift awning. Then, sitting side by side with a Mayan tribe, we shared communion. I saw that morning first hand the amazing things God does for us. I am privileged to live in the conditions that I do. I have an incredible education, family and my future is filled with opportunity. As we were introduced to our Guatemalan friends that shared the first week with us in our travels, we were given the opportunity to talk about what we saw in our futures. One youth had said that God would support her in what she chose to do, and if he did not then she would move on to the next thing. She does not have the opportunities that I have, yet her faith is so strong that even in a place so full of violence and poverty she is hopeful. God has given me so many gifts to make it possible for me to live up to my full potential and make a difference. Throughout my travels in Guatemala I began to see my potential ability to use my gifts to serve others. I have begun to appreciate the value of the human soul for which Jesus has sacrificed his life.

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by typing "Good Stuff" into the blog's search engine.

Virginia Judge Rules For Breakaway Episcopal Groups

While I'm happy for the eleven churches in Virginia (I have many good friends there, including John Yates (pictured)) its astonishing how protracted the legal battle is. Its even more so when its understood that Virginia has an unique statute which deals explicitly with the situation of a congregation leaving a denomination. One has to believe that such disputes will be even more drawn out and expensive in most other states. After three trials there's a fourth set for October !

"The diocese said it was disappointed. "While we are disappointed in today's ruling, we are committed to exploring every option available to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia," the diocese said. Adding that more issues will be taken up during a trial set for October, it said, "the diocese remains firmly committed to ensuring that loyal Episcopalians, who have been forced to worship elsewhere, will be able to return to their Episcopal homes."

The ‘Last” Lambeth Conference?

John Howe Bishop of Central Florida says that Lambeth was a significant moment for the communion.

"But now that the Conference has ended, I would like to venture a final impression. In doing so I find myself in sharp disagreement with many who are saying that this Conference “accomplished nothing,” that the Communion itself is disintegrating, and that what has just concluded will turn out to have been the “last” of the Lambeth Conferences. It is true that the Conference passed no Resolutions, offered no Teaching Statements, and took no votes – on anything. But, on the final afternoon, in his Third Presidential Address, Archbishop Rowan Williams (in the words of one of the senior English Bishops) “decisively tipped the balance for the first time in the Conference.”"

Monday, August 25, 2008

There's a time to laugh

Moscow in warning to Anglican Communion

Now we got the Russians mad at us ! But you gotta love the hat.

"In a report printed last week, Moscow said that its representative told Dr Williams of its distress over the July decision by General Synod not to provide legal safeguards for traditionalists opposed to the consecration of women bishops. The consecration of women bishops would be an “additional obstacle” to Orthodox-Anglican dialogue, Bishop Hilarion (Pictured) told Dr Williams, adding that such a move would exclude “even the theoretical possibility of the Orthodox churches acknowledging the apostolic succession” of Anglican bishops."

Obituary: The Right Rev Anselm Genders: Bishop of Bermuda

Interesting read about one of the last "colonial" Bishops - from the London Times.

The Right Rev Anselm Genders, CR, was a member of the Community of the Resurrection, often known as the Mirfield Fathers or even more simply CR, for all of his ministry. He was also one of the last “colonial bishops”. For a century from about 1,860 bishops were sent from Britain to run dioceses in the far-flung parts of the British Empire. Although this practice largely ended in the 1960s, Genders was sent to the tiny colony and diocese of Bermuda in 1977 after many years’ service in the West Indies and southern Africa.

Philip Wainwright responds to Stephen Noll

On Friday I reposted a paper by The Rev. Philip Wainwright which dealt with the Biblical reasons for staying in the Episcopal Church. One of our faithful readers posted a comment with a response to Philip's paper from Stephen Noll. Below is Philip's response to Steve. It was written last year when the original exchange took place.

The original post is here-

The text of Philip's response follows.

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your comments on my essay, which pointed out several weaknesses in it, and I appreciate the opportunity to be sharpened. Now that it's gone as far as TitusOneNine, I do need to correct the record concerning where I stand in the spectrum of conservatives here, and I'm going to take the opportunity to respond to your comments at least in a general way.

I think the root of the difference between us is that we are each going to the Scriptures with a different question in mind. You describe the issue as 'what to do when a fellow Christian or a Christian leader openly violates the clear teaching of Scripture', and quite rightly proceed to the discipline found in scripture and the duty to exercise it. On this I agree with you completely; if I were in a position to exercise discipline, I would do it. (I read Rob Gagnon's piece, as you recommended, and am still not persuaded that Matthew 18.15-17 is about the matter under discussion, but the passages that are about it are clear enough that I think we can set that aside.)

My piece was written for parishes in PECUSA, and the question I was asking, but didn't express clearly enough, was 'what is the biblical response for the rest of us when those who are in a position to exercise discipline aren't doing so?', or aren't doing so fast enough, or don't seem to be willing to do more than admonish and so on. And it still seems to me that the guidance of Scripture for those who can't exercise discipline is continued faithful witness. In Corinth, Paul was able to persuade the congregation that the person whose immoral lifestyle they had been tolerating was to be expelled from the church. In III John 10, it is the false teacher Diotrephes who was more persuasive, and who convinced the church to expel some of the godly and faithful. What were the rest of the faithful to do about this? To avoid any fellowship with them that might suggest toleration of their false teaching, but to continue to live faithfully in the church until John can visit and set things right. It's true that my argument is partly (but only partly) an argument from silence, but the silence of the Pharisees is persuasive against them in their encounter with Jesus in Luke 14.5f, and every reader of Sherlock Holmes knows that some silences force us to re-examine our assumptions. I can find no example in Scripture of someone leaving the church because of its failings, nor do I understand how it would be discipline if there were such an example. A PECUSA parish leaving PECUSA is not exercising discipline, it is leaving a problem that it does not know how to deal with.

As far as the history of the Reformation functioning as an example, I think it possible to find support for both sides of the issue there: for many decades the gulf between the Reformers and the Roman Church was much like the gulf currently existing between reasserting and reappraising Anglicans, and it was the Roman Church that excommunicated the Reformers in the end. But I don't believe Evangelicals should be bound by any historical tradition, even their own; if Scripture shows the Reformers to have been in error in some point, a committed Evangelical will follow Scripture.

Because the question I am asking is different from yours, your point about common sense also doesn't apply. It would not make sense for the pastor of a PECUSA parish to put himself in the position of the father in your parable. I feel like a brother, watching my father trying (not very successfully so far, it has to be admitted) to discipline my brother, and my question is about how I should behave while this agonising and embarrassing process goes on. It is the Lambeth Conference and the Primates (as a body) who, for want of any other, are in the father's role here, and to whom I have appealed as those over me in the Lord, and so far they haven't told me that I should disown my brother.

It may come to that, I realise, which brings me to the assumption I want to correct about where I stand in the reasserting spectrum. I do not believe that separation is never warranted, and I do believe that we need to exercise patience until the Windsor process is fully worked out, which (sadly) I don't believe will be in 2008. It certainly cannot be September 30th 2007; that is merely the day on which the Primates will have the information they need in order to determine their next step. They may take that next step soon, or wait and ask Lambeth to join them in it, or wait longer than that; patience is still what I must exercise. I voted with my diocese to appeal to the Primates, and having appealed to them I believe I must support them as they take up the matter. They have not yet given me a reason to take the law into my own hands.

Finally, I want to echo the point made by some commentators on T19 that the Lord may be doing something for His purposes among both those who feel they must go and those who feel they must stay. The New Testament frequently uses the image of an army to describe the Church, and uses all aspects of the military life as an example for the Christian--not only the sacrifice that a soldier is sometimes called upon to make, but the other aspects of a soldier's life too, and holds them all up as an example of the Christian life. The grunt work, the discipline, even the pay--all of it is used in the Bible as a way for Christians to understand themselves, and as an example for them to follow (Philippians 2.5, Philemon 1.2, II Tim 2.3f, Matt 8.8-10, I Cor 9.7).

In an army, different units are given different orders, and sent in different directions, in order that the final victory may be achieved. Some units are sent into situations in which it's not just that there appears to be no hope, there actually is no hope, they are sent into combat in the absolute certainty of defeat, like the 2nd Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps sent to cover the retreat of other units from Calais in 1940. Some who serve must go behind enemy lines, hoping to hold a piece of essential territory till the 82nd Airborne Division arrives, like those dropped at Arnhem in 1944. Others are sent to cut totally new pathways and fight in new and untested ways that might or might not work, like the Chindits in Burma in 1943. But all made their contribution to the final victory, even those who with their earthly eyes never saw that day come.

As many of us have been reminded in some of our discussions here in Pittsburgh, we are to look for what God is doing, not rely on our own understanding. When I look at the consciences already so firmly formed, by so much prayer and searching of Scripture on this matter, I have to consider the possibility that God is giving different units different marching orders. If we trust the Holy Spirit to do the strategic thinking, we can be content not to understand the full picture for many years to come.

Nor need our fellowship cease as we carry out our different roles. Evangelicals have always sat loose to denominational differences. Our unity is in the Lord, not in our choice of bishop or primate. If we do end up on different sides of yet another denominational divide, I have no doubt that you and I will remain brothers in Christ, that the different structures in which we will serve will be no more significant than those already obtaining between us and our brothers and sisters across the denominational spectrum.


Interfaith service boosts importance of evangelical vote

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Its not clear to me how an interfaith service including Muslims and Hindus is going to attract evangelicals. Or maybe its just a sort of "we got religion too" statement.

"Democratic strategist Dane Strother said the interfaith service event, called "Faith in Action," sends an important signal.

"We cannot cede the evangelical voter any longer," he said.

Christian conservatives played a significant role in President George W. Bush's victories in 2000 and 2004.

"The Democrats are doing a much more inclusive job this year in reaching out to people of faith," Strother said. "And, we are showing much more respect beginning with the convention having the interfaith service and asking various religious leaders to give invocations at the convention.""

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Anyone for Schadenfreude? What Roman Catholics fear from an Anglican split

From The Economist earlier this month

"But there are other, less sentimental reasons why the Catholic hierarchy dreads a split. In particular, the acceptance into the Catholic church of large numbers of married Anglican clerics would make it harder for the Vatican to hold its already shaky line on priestly celibacy. Since 1980, when rules were drawn up for the reception of Anglican clerics (some of whom were unhappy at the prospect of women priests in their Communion), more than 80 have taken the leap worldwide. Most are married. Catherine Pepinster, the editor of a liberal Catholic weekly, the Tablet, says that in Britain most Catholics feel that these priests “bring something beneficial to their ministry. They understand people’s married lives, and that is appreciated.”

Good Stuff in TEC: Prayer is weapon of choice for group

A wonderful article about a prayer ministry at an Episcopal church in Houston

"We started this right before the Iraqi Study Group came out," founder Nancy Doss said. "Things were really bad at that time, and we just felt like the Lord wanted us to pray. He said: 'I've given you a great weapon in the world ... and that is prayer. I'd like you to begin right now.' "

So instead of feeling angry or frustrated about the war, that's what they did. There are about 15 steady members in the group, from several different churches. The only agenda is prayer, a better use for their energy, they all believe.

Members arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church west of Memorial Park at 4 p.m. on the dot and almost immediately bow their heads and fold their hands in prayer. At 5 p.m. they stop. If someone is late or has to leave early, that's just fine — everyone understands hectic schedules and bad traffic.

You can see all of the Good Stuff postings by typing "Good Stuff" into the blog's search engine.