Saturday, December 6, 2008

German priest finds newborn baby left in church nativity scene

An infant was found in the crib of a nativity scene in southern Germany on Tuesday.

"I was in the church shortly after midday to pray and I heard the baby crying," said Father Thomas Rein, the parish priest of Peter and Paul Church in the village of Poettmes. "We prepared the crib in the pre-Christmas period so children could lay fresh straw in it and ponder on the meaning of Jesus and Lo! There really was a Jesus-child in it!"

Fearing the newborn might develop hypothermia Father Rein covered him with the small red carpet that is usually used to kneel on during services and took him inside his house beside the church. It was there that he called an ambulance.

The child, called Peter by the nurses after the church where he was found, remains at the Neuberger Paediatric Clinic. He is making good progress.
Church members are praying for Peter and his mother, who was found by police to be a 38-year-old local Romanian woman. She said that she left her baby in the manger in the hopes that someone could take better care of him.

Now is a good time for Quakers to reassess their priorities and find their tongues, says Michael Wrigh

A commentary from the London Guardian by a former Anglican priest who became a Quaker. He reflects on what the priority of religion should be.

It is easy for faith organisations to get their priorities misplaced - to strain out gnats while swallowing camels, as Jesus vividly put it. When the preoccupation with certain doctrines, traditions and practices blocks the path to spiritual creativity, and turns the focus away from the foundation values of justice, compassion, integrity and peace, it is time to take stock.

I left the Anglican ministry eight years ago because I felt its priorities were awry. It seemed more preoccupied with issues of sexuality than with those highlighted for concern in the gospels: the widow giving her mite, the madman among the tombs, the halt, lame and blind, the victim of robbers, and the wastrel son who returns home a penitent. When a bishop would not ordain our curate because the curate's wife would be participating in the laying-on of hands, I thought the leaders of my part of the church had lost an important part of the plot.

Compassion had taken second place to dogma.
I am heartened that the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers), which I then joined, has recently taken stock and identified a set of priorities for the next six years which I can feel committed to. In a new document, Together in Worship and Witness, new ideas are encouraged from anywhere within the society. This bottom-up attitude is a Quaker characteristic, coupled with an emphasis on evaluating ideas with discernment.

The new Anglican branch will face several significant hurdles.

Christianity Today gives a realistic assessment of the obstacles confronting the "new province". Already Jack Iker (who may or may not be a Bishop (See below)) has declared himself to be in impaired communion with the women clergy in Pittsburgh. Ian Douglas is right, this sort of division is just part of their DNA.

Under Anglican rules, formal recognition of a province usually requires the assent of two-thirds of the communion's 38 primates — or leading archbishops. But Wednesday's unprecedented announcement raises new questions.

Bishop Martyn Minns, a leader in the Common Cause Partnership, estimates that nearly a dozen primates will support its new venture, about half the number it needs for recognition. Gaining the approval of more primates may prove difficult, said the Rev. Ian Douglas, of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"What happens in one province could set a precedent and come back to their own (province)," said Douglas.

Similar concerns could be raised by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), a 70-member international body that must also approve the new province, said Douglas, who sits on the council.

In an essay published online, the Rev. Ephraim Radner, a leading North American conservative, argued that these obstacles are nearly insurmountable.

The new province "will probably not be recognized at the primates' meeting as a whole or even by a majority of its members," he said. "Nor will it be recognized at the ACC. Thus it threatens to be yet another wedge in the breakup of the communion."

According to the constitution released late Wednesday, each diocese, cluster or network in the newly declared province will have significant autonomy on women's ordination and other matters. But already, Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Texas, whose diocese seceded from the Episcopal Church this year, has declared himself in "impaired communion" with female priests ordained in Pittsburgh.

"The new grouping is, in the eyes of many," said Radner, "representative of diverse bodies whose theology and ecclesiology is, taken together, incoherent, and perhaps in some cases even incompatible."

That bodes ill for the denomination's future, Douglas said. "Those who have been quick to separate themselves out in the past have that as part of their operational DNA," he said.

450 Amazing Grace videos invite you to tour the Canadian church

This will make you smile. The Anglican Church of Canada designated November 23rd as "Amazing Grace Sunday" and invited congregations to sing the hymn and make a recording. These have been collected and a sampling of the videos are available at the ink below, Including versions in rap and on steel drums.

The Amazing Grace Project is proving to have been a resounding success, with close to 450 videos received so far and more than $18,000 raised in support of ministry in the Canadian North. As the responses pour in, the world is seeing a glimpse of Anglican church life across Canada: boisterous churches, small churches, grey-haired churches, rural churches, churches with squirming babies, churches with wooden beams led by full-voiced rectors. What a privilege it is to peek in on this world.

The Myth of Growth

The leadership of the "new province" keeps making claims that they are the portion of the church planting churches and growing. I know that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is not growing and posted the chart earlier in the year but here's the link to it again. In 2007, average Sunday Attendance (ASA), the best indicator of vitality, fell below 8000 for the first time.

But much the same is true for the other three diocese who have supposedly left. None have shown growth.

Ft. Worth is down slightly to about 7000 ASA

San Joaquin has been steadily declining for seven years to below 4000 ASA.

As has Quincy whose ASA for the entire Diocese is below 1000.

It is difficult to know what the leadership means when they make claims about growth.

You might also notice that the number who actually show up is a fraction of the Baptized members. This is not unusual but makes one wonder about the 100,000 membership number that keeps getting bandied about.

Incidentally, the charts are from the Episcopal Church Center and represent the numbers submitted by the dioceses.

Pittsburgh Presbytery refuses to change policy on gay pastors

From this morning's Post-Gazette-

Pittsburgh Presbytery, which has a history of opposing gay ordination, has rejected a proposal intended to close a loophole that supporters believed could open the presbytery to openly gay pastors.

Officials of the presbytery don't believe Thursday's 125-54 vote signals a change in the presbytery's views. They say commissioners found it too similar to a 2006 presbytery rule that church courts struck down.

The proposal from Bellefield Presbyterian Church, Oakland, was intended to counter a decision by this summer's General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to allow the ordination of candidates who express "a departure from an ordination standard in matters of belief or practice." The most controversial standard requires pastors to abstain from sex outside of heterosexual marriage. The Bellefield proposal required candidates to reply "yes" when asked if they upheld the "essential tenets of the Reformed faith" -- which include beliefs about marriage.

Reactions Split to New U.S. Anglican 'Province'

A collection of quotes about the Schism of the "New Province". Harmon, Roseberry, Kearon, Frank, Naughton - you know, the usual suspects.

Nearly everyone agrees that a conservative group of Anglicans broke new ground when they declared on Wednesday (Dec. 3) that they had founded a new North American province of the Anglican Communion.

But further reactions to the new Anglican Church in North America, made up of conservatives who are fed up with the liberal drift of the Episcopal Church and Anglican of Canada, have been decidedly mixed.

Religion News Service spoke with Anglican and Episcopal leaders, and scanned the media and blogosphere to see what others are saying. Here's what we found:

Presiding Bishop declares inhibited Fort Worth bishop has renounced his orders

Interesting development in Ft. Worth, Bishop Katherine says Jack renounced his orders in writing and he says he didn't. From Episcopal Life Online-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said December 5 that she had accepted Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker's renunciation of his orders in the Episcopal Church.

The Presiding Bishop's office released a one-page notification on December 5 saying Jefferts Schori had accepted Iker's renunciation with the "advice and consent" of her advisory council. The document says that Iker made his renunciation in writing on November 24; however a spokesperson for Iker denies that such a renunciation has been made.

"I have chosen to follow this course rather than seeking consent of the House of Bishops to Bishop Iker's deposition for abandonment of the Communion of this Church because I believe it to be a more pastoral response to Bishop Iker's clear expression of his desire not to be a part of the Episcopal Church at this time," the Presiding Bishop wrote in a letter to the House of Bishops. "I believe this course best expresses my hope and prayer that reconciliation in the future can be achieved by God's love and grace."

Conservative Anglicans Vow to Press Ahead With Split

From the New York Times. I know sometimes the NYT link won't let you in so I'll tell you that later in the article Laurie says that the primates who met with Rowan Friday issued no statement. The official statements coming from the group (IMHO) seem awfully disrespectful of the wider communion.

Conservative Anglicans in the United States and Canada said Friday that they intended to proceed immediately with plans to create their own branch of the Anglican Communion, separate from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, despite warnings from the archbishop of Canterbury that winning official recognition could take years.

“This is not being put on hold while we wait for a committee in England to tell us which form to fill out,” said the Rev. Peter Frank, a spokesman for Bishop Robert Duncan, who led a majority of churches in the Diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church this year and is to become the archbishop and primate of the new province.

Theological conservatives representing a collection of breakaway dioceses, parishes and church networks announced Wednesday in Wheaton, Ill., the creation of a new province called the Anglican Church in North America. Despite serious differences among them, they are united in their condemnation of what they call the Episcopal Church’s drift to the left, most significantly its decision five years ago to consecrate an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

On Thursday, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, warned the conservatives to slow down and follow the rules of the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest body of churches, with 77 million members. He has been struggling to keep the Communion from schism, with homosexuality as the fault line.

His Holiness Alexy II Dies

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church died yesterday. It may be worth converting to Orthodoxy just for the nifty hats.

His Holiness Alexy II, who died in Moscow on December 5 aged 79, was Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church during an era of profound change.

He became Patriarch in 1990, a year after the Berlin Wall had come down and at a time when the Communist bloc was on the verge of collapse. The Soviet Union had been officially atheist, but under the new Patriarch Russia was to see a remarkable revival of faith and a restoration of the Church's moral authority.

Alexy inherited a Church which, under successive Communist dictators, had seen its places of worship vandalised or neglected to the point of ruin; now many were restored to their former glory, and worshippers flocked to them to attend sumptuous masses, some of which were broadcast on television.

Perhaps the most famous of these churches was the cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, erected in the 19th century in gratitude for the deliverance of the city from Napoleon's armies. It had been destroyed under Stalin to be replaced by an open-air swimming pool, but was now rebuilt, reopening in 1997.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Complete Text of Yertle the Turtle

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about the Yertle references. Thought it might be nice to get the full text up. So here it is - sorry no pictures. If you want to buy the book, Barnes and Nobel is having a "Buy Two Dr. Seuss Books Get One Free" sale!

On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond,
Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.
A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
The turtles had everything turtles might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were… until Yertle, the king of them all,
Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small.
“I’m ruler”, said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.
With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond
But I cannot look down on the places beyond.
This throne that I sit on is too, too low down.
It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown.
“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be!
What a king! I’d be ruler of all that I see!”

So Yertle the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one’s back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see ‘most a mile!

“All mine!” Yertle cried. “Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And, what’s more, beyond that
I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”

“You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
But that isn’t all. I’ll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!” his royal voice thundered,
“So pile up more turtles! I want ’bout two hundred!”

“Turtles! More turtles!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the turtles ‘way down in the pond were afraid.
They trembled. They shook. But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the pond, they came swimming by dozens.
Whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.
And all of them stepped on the head of poor Mack.
One after another, they climbed up the stack.

Then Yertle the Turtle was perched up so high,
He could see forty miles from his throne in the sky!
“Hooray!” shouted Yertle. “I’m the king of the trees!
I’m king of the birds! And I’m king of the bees!
I’m king of the butterflies! King of the air!
Ah, me! What a throne! What a wonderful chair!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack,
Came a groan from that plain little turtle named Mack.
“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack!
Besides, we need food. We are starving!” groaned Mack.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”

But, while he was shouting, he saw with surprise
That the moon of the evening was starting to rise
Up over his head in the darkening skies.
“What’s THAT?” snorted Yertle. “Say, what IS that thing
That dares to be higher than Yertle the King?
I shall not allow it! I’ll go higher still!
I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will!
I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ‘em to heaven!
I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”

But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a bit mad.
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!

And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

by Dr. Seuss

Bishop Ackerman Accepts Call to Springfield

From the Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, who resigned last month as Bishop of Quincy, will serve as an assisting bishop in the neighboring Diocese of Springfield. The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, said the Presiding Bishop’s office had been notified that the new position would become effective Dec. 1.

Bishop Ackerman’s resignation came a week before an overwhelming majority of delegates to the annual synod of the Diocese of Quincy voted to leave The Episcopal Church and to affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina.

Appointments to assistant bishop positions require consent from the annual synod of the diocese and a majority of the House of Bishops, but the position of assisting bishop, which is not defined in the canons and constitution of The Episcopal Church, is at the discretion of individual diocesan bishops unless otherwise constrained by local diocesan bylaws.

Kitschmas stocking fillers

From the London Telegraph and one of them is pretty crude but still they're a pretty good chuckle.
One is pictured for the other 11 you have to go to the link.

The "Jesus Saves" piggy bank, a plaster model depicting Christ with imploring eyes and a slot for coins between his outstretched arms, has been named as one of the best religious gifts of the year in the annual 12 Days of Kitschmas awards.

Roman Catholics who are tempted to spend money they don't have in these straitened times can also reach into their wallets and pull out a credit card-sized rosary, illustrated with a string of embossed marks instead of beads and a painting of Mary and Jesus, then pray instead of pay.

For homeowners desperate to sell as the property market collapses, meanwhile, there is a model of St Joseph that is said to produce a buyer miraculously if it is buried head-first outside the house.

Cathedral in Quincy Votes to stay in TEC

From the Diocese of Quincy web site.

Members of the Cathedral parish of the Diocese of Quincy voted Thursday night to not be “realigned” or “removed” to the Anglican province of the Southern Cone in a 181 to 35 vote. The vote to stay within The Episcopal Church dwarfs the 54 layperson votes cast at the recent Synod of the Diocese of Quincy that purported to remove the Diocese from The Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Canon John Blossom, a member of the group working to reorganize the Diocese said “This group intends to remain faithful to the Christian faith in spite of allegations by those who have left The Episcopal Church for a new version of Anglicanism that to remain faithful to the Christian faith is to leave.” Full communion with the traditional Anglican connection to the See of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Canterbury is a cornerstone of the group organizing the meeting.

The Very Reverend Bob Dedmon, Dean of the Cathedral parish said after the Cathedral parish vote, “This vote demonstrates that when people have an opportunity to study the facts they realize that the information disseminated by the ultra-conservative leadership of the Diocese was misleading. Now this parish must get on with our Christian mission and ministry.”

A meeting at St. Paul's Cathedral in Peoria on December 13 will review options to stay with the more than 90 Dioceses and over 2 million Episcopalians remaining within The Episcopal Church.

Anglicans Toot Somebody Else's Horn

A commentary of the odd way the "new province" was actually declared.

Every major paper covered the formation of the Anglican Church of North America, comprised of 100,000 now-former members of the 2.3 million strong -- make that 2.2 million -- Episcopal Church in the United States. But only evangelical magazine Christianity Today, gushingly enthusiastic about the split -- the breakaway Anglicans seem motivated chiefly by anger over the Episcopal Church's acceptance of gays and lesbians and women priests, none of which are approved by most evangelicals -- notes that the new church declared its creation by blasting a shofar, a Jewish ritual instrument made out of a ram's horn, traditionally blown on certain holidays -- or, as in the Book of Joshua, as a sort of battlecry. Why did the mainstream press ignore this unusual detail? Did it strike the NYT as too absurd? The Washington Post as simply confusing? I suspect this may be a case of the press neatening up some strange religion for broad public consumption.

More here-

I suggest the new 'Anglican Church in North America' isn't actually Anglican

An editorial from the Dallas Morning News about the so called "New Province".

My musing: At this point I put these folks in the same basket as the women who claim they're Catholic priests, Christians who say they are "Messianic Jews" and Mormons who say they are Christians.


Which leads us to the Episcopalian/Anglican kafuffle. Anglican provinces are defined by the Anglican Communion of which they are a part. Until now, a province could no more declare itself to exist than I could declare myself to be a doctor. There are rules, standards, approvals. None of which has this new whatever-it-is gone through.

So what is it? Best I can see, it's a religious organization - a new American denomination - that seeks to be recognized as an Anglican province. News reports about how its leaders plan to seek that recognition are not specific. But until the Archbishop of Canterbury says it is, I can't see calling it "Anglican" without quotes.

All here-

The Episcopal Split: A Battle Over Purity, not Orthodoxy

A brief commentary on the recent schism in North America. I think hits the nail on the head.

In his Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul describes his frustration with members of "the circumcision faction"-an early group of conserative Jewish-Christians from Jerusalem who refused to eat with the Gentile converts in St. Paul's community in Antioch.

What might Bishop Robert Duncan and other leaders of the new conservative rival denomination to the Episcopal Church share in common with this narrow faction of the early church over whom St. Paul's wider vision ultimately prevailed?

The common thread is a confusion between purity and orthodoxy.

Rest is here-

Episcopal split? Not in Maine

A different perspective from New England. Would that it were here.

Episcopal churches in Maine may not always agree, but they stand ready to support one another.

The 66 year-round congregations have been fairly untouched by the controversy since the Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, Heidi Shott, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, said Thursday.

On Wednesday, theological conservatives upset by liberal views of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American church.

"We've certainly had some people leave our congregations because of our bishop's support of (Robinson) becoming bishop," Shott said Thursday. "There were some people upset by that. But because in Maine we have such a broad range of worshiping and one common prayer, there are pretty diverse congregations."

After Robinson was consecrated the dioceses held meetings across the state, she said. Everybody talked and listened, and although not everyone agreed, she said, they at least stayed together as a family of churches.

Archbishops hold Canterbury summit over threat of schism

London Times on an "Emergency" meeting between some Global South Primates and The Archbishop of Canterbury. Funny that these guys were all in town at the same time.

Anglican archbishops will hold an emergency meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury today to discuss the unfolding schism in the Church in America.

The meeting between Dr Rowan Williams and the primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Southern Cone comes two days after conservatives in the US unveiled the constitution and canons of the new Anglican Church in North America.

With a membership of 100,000, drawn from disaffected members of the Episcopal Church of the US and from churches that broke away over the women’s ordination dispute, leaders of the new “province” claim they are not splitting from the 75 million-strong Anglican Communion.

A formal proposal arguing for recognition as the 39th province of the Anglican Communion will be put before the primates at their meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, at the end of January.

However, a statement from Lambeth Palace last night made it clear that no request for recognition as a province had been made and seemed to indicate that this was unlikely.

The Palace said there are “clear guidelines” set out for the creation of new provinces. “Once begun, any of these processes will take years to complete,” it said, making it clear that in the case of the US conservatives no such process had begun.

US Anglican leaders look to replace Episcopal Church

The Guardian reprots that the "New Province" is intended to replace the Episcopal Church.

But observers in the Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members, say the event at an evangelical church at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, the same spot where the Reverend Billy Graham nearly 70 years ago began his evangelism, does not hold much significance for the rest of the Anglican Communion.

"I do not think Wednesday's event is as big a deal as the organisers think it is," said the Reverend Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Yet another threatened line in the sand."

The new church is the first province to be drawn according to theological and not geographic boundaries - a dramatic departure from Anglican policy and procedure that may not get approval from the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams or other bodies that normally would give approval to the new province.

"While claiming more conservative tradition on human sexuality and biblical interpretation, their approach is radical and contrary to church polity," Douglas said.

Its all here

A Worldwide Anglican Melee

Washington Post reports on the behind the scenes politicking to get the "New Province" Recognised by the wider Anglican Communion

Episcopal Church experts and disaffected conservatives predicted yesterday that intense lobbying would soon begin over dissidents' plans to leave the church and create a new Anglican community in the United States.

The two sides will try to convince Anglican leaders worldwide either of the value or the cost of a second branch of the U.S. church, one that would be based less on geography than on theology.

Bishop Martyn Minns, a Virginia-based leader of the breakaway movement, confidently predicted victory. "I think we've got a good basis of support for what we're doing," he said

But experts on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion said approval is by no means guaranteed.

Episcopal Church leader says Exodus is over

From the Los Angeles Times.The Presiding Bishop coments on the "New Province".

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church declared Thursday that church members who joined a newly formed conservative denomination "are no longer Episcopalians," even as she predicted that the exodus had largely run its course and would not trigger further large-scale defections.

In her first public comments since a coalition of 700 parishes announced the formation of a new North American church Wednesday, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori also reiterated that church property must remain in Episcopal hands, a position disputed by breakaway leaders.

"They are no longer Episcopalians," Jefferts Schori said of those who left. "They have made that very clear in their departures.

"Those who were formally bishops in the Episcopal Church are no longer understood to be bishops in the Episcopal Church," she added in a meeting with Times reporters. "They are free to associate with whom they wish.",0,7356324.story

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Compass Rose Society hears Archbishop of Canterbury review Communion's work

Many of the reports about the "new province" have stated that Martyn Minns, from CANA, is meeting with Rowan Williams this week. Martyn is a member of the Compass Rose Society and that's the reason for his being with Rowan as the society met this week. From Episcopal Life-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the annual meeting of the Compass Rose Society (CRS) in November that the tensions within the Anglican Communion are not going to be resolved any time soon. "Deep wounds heal slowly," Williams told members of the CRS, which supports the ministries of the Archbishop of Canterbury by providing annual financial support and enhancing communication within the communion.

The Archbishop spoke at length about last summer's Lambeth Conference of bishops and viewed a "photo cinema" presentation of Lambeth images from the Anglican Communion Office's communications department. The Most Rev. Clive Handford, former primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and Bishop Victoria Matthews of Christchurch in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, offered an update of the work of the Windsor Continuation Group and matters relating to the Anglican covenant.

Holding its annual meeting in Canterbury, the society heard Williams review the year's events and pledged continuing support for his ministry throughout the communion. The group also attended a major fundraising event for the Canterbury Cathedral restoration appeal and heard its dean, the Very Rev. Robert Willis, speak about the cathedral's vision for the next decade.

Praying for a financial miracle

A syndicated column found in the Bellighham (WA) paper about how the church is responding to parishioners financial problems.

A Wayne, N.J., minister, meanwhile, recently shared with his parishioners anecdotes about financial struggles he experienced earlier in his life, and how he and his wife cut back to one car, bought secondhand clothes for their kids and did without new televisions, stereos, furniture and appliances.

The Rev. John
Donnelly, of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, cautioned parishioners against believing in easy answers, such as a "prosperity gospel" that promises riches in return for unwavering faith. "There are times when trusting God is a hard choice, but if we claim to be Christians, it is the only choice," Donnelly said in a sermon. "And something wonderful happens when we make that choice. Our problems are not necessarily solved, but we discover that Jesus is worthy of our trust, and that with his help, we somehow will muddle through."

"Anglican Church in North America" announced

No surprises here. It's what's been expected for months now. Below are a number of links to different stories about the formation of what is being called a "New Province".

Pittsburgh Post Gazette-

Bishop Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) has been named primate- and archbishop-designate of a proposed new body of 100,000 theologically conservative Anglicans in North America, which hopes to win recognition from the global Anglican Communion.

Archbishop-designate Duncan, whose diocese left the Episcopal Church in October, said he was "elated" that 30 representatives of eight groups with ties to the Anglican tradition in the U.S. and Canada had unanimously proposed a constitution for a body called the Anglican Church in North America. They met yesterday in Wheaton, Ill.

"I believe we're at the beginning of something that is very significant for the Christian church in North America and for the Anglican Communion worldwide," he said.

Washington Times

LA Times-,0,526783.story

Washington Post


London Telegraph-

Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

When a schism has a schism of its own

From the Londodn Guardian. "Reform" is the hard line conservatives in England. It looks like there is a conservative split going to take place there.

Reform parishes have for years been refusing to fund liberal bishops, or in some cases even allow them inside, preferring to divert their congregations' money into their own networks. This has made them rich, but not popular; now they believe that they have hit upon a way to be popular too, by adopting the Gafcon statement of principles as the touchstone of orthodoxy: anyone who does not sign up to it, they maintain, has left the Church of England. Whatever the law, the General Synod, and the overwhelming majority of church members may say, Reform regards itself as the only true Anglicans and everyone else, from the Archbishop of Canterbury downwards, as apostates. As the Chairman of Reform's council, the Rev Rod Thomas put it,

"What makes us part of the Church of England is our common commitment to the doctrine of the Church, not our institutional structure … when bishops accommodate themselves to heretical teaching they deny the faith and therefore abandon their sees."

This is a position so ludicrous in its Trotskyite purity that the rest of the Church of England – even the other evangelical parties – had difficulty taking reform seriously until almost too late. Now there is a serious split within the evangelical movement, ostensibly about whether the rest of the church should recognise conservative Americans as the true representatives of the Anglican Communion there, but really about whether the Church of England too is to be split up as the Americans have been.

Christians to be without Bethlehem altar wine at Christmas due to 'security risk'

Another candidate for the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department. From the London Telegraph

The organic wine, made at the Cremisan winery in Beit Jala, a suburb of Bethlehem, by the Roman Catholic order the Salesians of Don Bosco, has been refused permission to pass the Hebron checkpoint into Israel, the UK importer said.

Della Shenton, of 5th Gospel Retreats, in Liskeard, Cornwall, said the move meant that the wine cannot reach the Israeli port of Haifa, from where it is shipped to Europe.

The wine is currently used by a number of Catholic and Anglican parishes as well as university chaplaincies and religious houses across the UK, according to Mrs Shenton.

These include Worth Abbey in West Sussex, where the BBC2 series The Monastery was filmed, Romsey Abbey in Hampshire, Ushaw College, Durham, Oscott College, Birmingham, and Thornleigh College, Bolton.

She said Sheffield University Chaplaincy and Wimbledon College, London are also affected alongside a number of parishes across the country.

Saint Vincent exhibition gives Christian art a chance to shine

St. Vincent's is just up the road from us. This is from today's Post-Gazette.

People who read headlines about record-breaking art auction sales may not realize that there is very fine and affordable art being created by accomplished contemporary artists.

That was one reason Brother Nathan Cochran, O.S.B., director of the Saint Vincent Gallery, initiated the Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition in 2001. The first show was so successful that a second edition was organized and it is being exhibited at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, through Sunday.

His foremost motivation, however, was to "foster the arts of the Western Christian tradition" (although other traditions of Christian subject matter are considered) by providing artists opportunity for exhibition and recognition.

First women priests ordained in Antsiranana diocese

From Episcopal Life.

The Diocese of Antsiranana made history November 30 when it ordained its first three women priests during a joyful ceremony at St. Joseph's Church in Nosy Be, Madagascar.

The Rev. Marie Jeanne Befeno, the Rev. Vitasolo Roline and the Rev. Nivondrazana were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza of the Diocese of Antsiranana, part of the Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean. Three other priests and eight deacons -- including three women deacons -- were also ordained during the service.

The three new women priests were ordained as deacons in June 2007 at the inauguration of the new Cathedral of St Matthew in Diego Suarez.

Led by Church of England Bishop Graham Cray of Maidstone, a delegation of women priests and other dignitaries from the Diocese of Canterbury attended the November 30 service.

Anglican leaders pray for Mumbai victims

Anglican leaders in Britain have applauded the Indian government’s measured response to the terror attacks in Mumbai. The Archbishops of Canterbury, Armagh, Dublin and the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church last week added their voices to the chorus denouncing the killing of almost 200 people.

Church leaders in India and across the world have condemned the violence, while church schools and institutions in Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and other urban areas have tightened security in fear of further violence.

India’s Christians have been caught between fanatical Islam --- which sees native Christians as agents of the “crusader” forces of the West, while Hindu militants --- who have driven tens of thousands of Christians from their homes in Eastern India’s Orissa state --- view Christianity as an “un-Indian” faith and have mounted a campaign to stop its spread and stamp out its influence in the country.
Anglican leaders in Britain have applauded the Indian government’s measured response to the terror attacks in Mumbai. The Archbishops of Canterbury, Armagh, Dublin and the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church last week added their voices to the chorus denouncing the killing of almost 200 people.

Church leaders in India and across the world have condemned the violence, while church schools and institutions in Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and other urban areas have tightened security in fear of further violence.

India’s Christians have been caught between fanatical Islam --- which sees native Christians as agents of the “crusader” forces of the West, while Hindu militants --- who have driven tens of thousands of Christians from their homes in Eastern India’s Orissa state --- view Christianity as an “un-Indian” faith and have mounted a campaign to stop its spread and stamp out its influence in the country.

North American Anglicans to split

The BBC on the announcement of the "new province" in North America. They seem to be clear that this is not a unifying action.

The Communion's Secretary General, Canon Kenneth Kearon, has told the BBC that it is entering what he called uncharted waters, and he is calling on the leaders of the new Church to act in accordance with the Communion's existing regulations.

"The issue as I see it is whether in fact this body, or province as they're calling it, wishes to be recognised as a province of the Anglican Communion," he said. "And I think if they do, there are clear procedures by which that might be explored. And I do urge those involved to address the structures of the Communion."

But those supporting the new North American Church believe that Anglicanism's structures have been unable to safeguard the Church's unity, and they now look to leadership from a group of largely African leaders.

Neither the liberalising American Churches nor this much smaller new Church want to leave the Anglican Communion.

But how they can exist together in the same global communion is looking increasingly problematic.

Good Stuff in TEC

This is a link to a nice bulletin insert that tells the story of St. Nicholas. The feast of St. Nicholas is December 6th. From The Episcopal Church Center.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Breakaway Anglicans Aim for Less Division with New Province

More double speak. Division brings unity? This is from Christian Post. The link doesn't seem to work.

"Division has been there since 2003 (when The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop). There is a division in the [Anglican] Communion," Minns said. "We're trying to find a way to overcome that and become less divided."

The Very Rev. Robert S. Munday, a priest within The Episcopal Church who has friends in breakaway groups, says the best way to preserve unity "is to allow the American church to divide (which is happening anyway, whether anyone likes it or not) and to recognize two North American provinces," according to his blog.

Otherwise, the Communion will be lost, he says.
There are several different breakaway and conservative Anglican groups, representing 100,000 Anglicans, that are coming together to comprise the new province, which may be officially established in the middle of next year.

Conservative bishops propose a competing North American Anglican church

From the Christian Science Monitor. More "Through the Looking Glass" Rhetoric. The new province will prevent schism? (Now that's a hat, or is it a mitre)

The attempt to create an overlapping jurisdiction on the continent is unprecedented. The Communion is a family of Anglican churches in 38 geographical "provinces" around the world. The churches have a longstanding practice of not interfering in each other's areas. Some see the step as a bid to eventually replace TEC as the recognized US church; others say it's a means to prevent a schism in the Communion.

"Better to have two Anglican jurisdictions rather than to have a shattered Communion," says Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, a leader among the global conservatives. (snip) Paradoxically, it may seem as though this step is a division, but it is really to help us not to divide by giving us more flexibility," says Archbishop Jensen, secretary for GAFCON's leadership council. He spoke by phone as a "close observer," not officially for the council. Having two provinces, while not ideal, would enable people around the world to relate to one or the other, or both, he says. GAFCON will consider an application from CCP for recognition as a province, an action that would fall outside the Communion's ordinary mechanisms.

Religious leaders condemn anti-Israel carols in church

From the "You can't make this stuff up" department. The London Times reports on an anti-semitic Christmas service in London. An uprooted olive tree? We all know its a "partridge" in a pear tree.

Leading members of Britain’s Jewish and Christian communities have condemned a prominent Anglican church for holding a service where traditional carols were rewritten to attack Israel.

The Rector of St James’s Piccadilly, the Rev Charles Hedley, said that he would think twice before allowing the service to take place in his church again after he received dozens of complaints.

The offices of Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Carey of Clifton, his predecessor, are among those who have criticised the service. The event was organised by anti-Israel campaigners, including one Jewish group, and featured carols that had been rewritten by an unnamed Jewish parody writer.

The Twelve Days of Christmas was sung as: “Twelve assassinations/ Eleven homes demolished/ Ten wells obstructed/ Nine sniper towers/ Eight gunships firing/ Seven checkpoints blocking/ Six tanks a-rolling/ Five settlement rings/ Four falling bombs/ Three trench guns/ Two trampled doves/ And an uprooted olive tree.”

Can religion help us through the slump?

The Guardian on who really steps up to the faith to help others when times get tough. Its people of faith. Who would of thunk it?

The UK government's 2006 citizenship survey noted that the religiously observant were nearly 50% more likely to be volunteering than their secular or non observant counterparts. Meanwhile, in research that I completed earlier this year, I was astonished to discover that in every county and city in the UK the Anglican and Presbyterian churches alone had turned many of their buildings into community centres, running rural post offices, GP practices, public libraries, community work, and business start-up units for those of all backgrounds. I even discovered that Maeve Sherlock, a sometime Downing Street Advisor and chief executive of the Refugee Council, had decided to write a Phd in theology because she had been so convinced by how much of the best work wit asylum seekers was being undertaken by people of faith.

Now that Woolworths and MFI are down – along with hundreds of other firms whose names we do not know and whose factories, workshops and retail units we may never have entered – such findings take on a new significance.

Good Stuff in TEC: Kentucky

'The chicken man' changes lives

On Saturday afternoons, you'll usually find Curtis Taylor in the kitchen of the St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church. "When I do this, this makes me feel a lot better," says Taylor.

What he's cooking up is no once a year feast. Curtis and his team of volunteers will be back in the kitchen doing it all again next week, because the people he'll be serving are always in need. "I see that people are actually hungry," Curtis said. "When you give them a plate, it's gone. Nothing is wasted."

A few years back, Curtis says he was going through what he calls a crisis. He was depressed, sitting in his car, not sure what would happen next, when he saw something that changed his life. "For some reason, in the midst of praying and going through it in my mind, I happened to look out of the corner of my eye and I see a homeless guy getting half of a hamburger out of a garbage can. So at that moment, it seemed like all the problems that I had totally went away."

You can see all of the Good Stuff posts by clicking on Good Stuff in the labels below.

Rick Warren takes on World AIDS Day -- again

From USA Today. Evangelical Rick Warren continues to take on social issues.

Rick Warren, possibly America's most omni-present pastor since Billy Graham's heydays, is back on the national platform addressing the epidemic.

This morning, he brings his Saddleback Civil Forum franchise -- his most recent event was his pre-election forum with John McCain and Barack Obama -- to Washington DC.

He's set to present President Bush with a medal to honor his HIV/AIDS initiative. Warren is expected to discuss worldwide health issues with the president and Laura Bush and hear from president-elect Barack Obama by video as well at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health, being held at the Newseum.

Warren, prompted by his wife, Kay, has made AIDS a major focus of his international efforts. They are pouring the energy and profits born of his world-wide best selling Bible handbook, The Purpose-Driven Life, into health, social, economic and religious efforts carried out by local churches in African villages.

Basebal Hall of Fame Ballot Announced

The Baseball Writers announced the ballot for the 2009 Hall of Fame election. Yes to stolen base champ, Henderson no to, home run hitter, Mcgwire (In my opinion). Election the first time around is pretty rare. The election is January 12. For you soccer fans out there McGwire has been implicated in the steroid scandle.

It has been 20 years since the Baseball Writers' Association of America has elected a left fielder into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The 2009 ballot that was released Monday features some prominent left fielders who may very well end that drought.

For Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice, there is a case of the first and the last. Henderson is among 10 newcomers to the Hall of Fame ballot. Rice, one of the 13 holdovers from the 2008 ballot, is getting his final opportunity for election by the writers.

Players may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive at least five percent of the vote each year. This is the 15th and final year for Rice, as well as pitcher Tommy John. Of the two, Rice clearly has the best chance. He missed out being elected last year by merely 16 votes. John, on the other hand, was 250 votes short of the 75 percent of ballots required for election.

Monday, December 1, 2008

After 150 years, prayer book makes its way home

All Chidsey knew was that this prayer book had to be a special gift from Mary Gibbs Barnwell or passed down from another family member to the fallen soldier.

Chidsey had all but given up on finding the rightful owner until his brother Stephen, who he describes as "more computer savvy," went to work on the Internet and tracked the Barnwell name to South Carolina and, more specifically, the St. Helena Episcopal parish church in Beaufort. Established in 1712 as the Church of England, it is one of the oldest congregations in the United States.

The Chidsey brothers learned that the soldier who carried the prayer book into the Battle of Antietam was Stephen Bull Barnwell, a member of the parish and a prominent family in South Carolina whose members played significant roles in the American Revolution and Civil War. The first Barnwell was buried on the church site in 1702.

The book had been handed down through the family to Stephen, who was immortalized with other Confederates on a wall tablet just outside the door of the old church. The fallen soldier was a member of the 8th Georgia Infantry in Savannah, was mortally wounded at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, and died in the hospital at Martinsburg, W.V., on Oct. 21. He was 19 years old and had blue eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion and stood 6 feet tall.

The Ven. Richard Cluett named to new position to assist reorganizing dioceses

From Episcopal News Service-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has named the Venerable Richard I. Cluett as pastoral assistant to reorganizing dioceses, serving under the supervision of Bishop Clay Matthews in the Office of Pastoral Development.

Cluett, who hails from the Diocese of Bethlehem, will provide pastoral guidance and assistance to dioceses of the Episcopal Church that are in the process of reorganizing and reconstituting.

“I am honored to be named by the Presiding Bishop to this new ministry,” Cluett said on his December 1 appointment. “I look forward to working with the clergy and laity of our dioceses through their transitions.”

Cluett’s main office will be located at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City.

Prior to his retirement in June 2004, Cluett was responsible for the coordination and oversight of ministry and administration for the Diocese of Bethlehem, which is comprised of 14 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. For 20 years he worked with parishes in planning, problem solving, and ministry development; with clergy in vocational and professional development; with persons in the ordination process; and with the diocesan staff, committees and boards that have responsibility for diocesan life and ministry.

300th anniversary of St. Andrew's brings denomination's leader here for the first time

"Not many churches make it to 300, and this one is thriving and doing new things."


The parish had its start when missionaries from England were sent to Staten Island just after the start of the 18th century.

The Rev. Aeneas MacKenzie, who would become the first rector, sent word back to England in 1704 that he needed money to hire teachers. Three teachers were hired; they taught white children in the daytime and the children of African slaves at night, Bishop Schori said.

"Aeneas MacKenzie and some of the leading citizens here wanted to start a church," she said. Queen Anne chartered the congregation in 1708 and sent a silver communion set that was used in yesterday's service. The first church building was consecrated in 1711.