Saturday, December 13, 2008

Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention Address

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven"

These familiar words, from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, are often read at funerals and were turned into a popular song in the 1960’s. The preacher, Koheloth, begins to pair opposites such as in "a time to be born and time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh." Of the fourteen pairings, one has always troubled me, or, I should say, didn’t make a lot of sense to me and seemed to be out of place with the others. It occurs in the fifth verse: " A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones together".


As we seek to rebuild the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, we are not starting with a clean slate. As we move forward we carry the burden and scars of our recent past history. In short, we have developed a culture over the past several years that has not been one of grace and charity. We bring with us patterns of behavior which sought to categorize and judge others by what were in many cases arbitrary measures. We have not thought the best of each other and we have assigned motives for others’ actions, often without speaking to that person or seeking to obtain accurate information. It was a culture of fear and control, and many in this room, including myself, cooperated in the creation of that culture. It was a culture of throwing stones, and I stand before you now to say, "Today that culture ends."

It's all here-

Robert H. Johnson - Assisting Bishop in Pittsburgh

From the Diocesan web site.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has asked a respected senior bishop in The Episcopal Church to be its spiritual leader for the near future.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Hodges Johnson, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, has accepted a call to serve as Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Johnson’s appointment was made public today at the Special Convention of the Pittsburgh Diocese, which was called to reorganize the Diocese following the decision in October by many diocesan leaders and clergy to leave The Episcopal Church.

“Bishop Johnson will help us begin the healing we so badly need. He is, we believe, the right person at the right time,” the Rev. Dr. James Simons told the convention. Simons is President of the Standing Committee which has led the Diocese since October and chose Johnson.

From "Breaking News" in the Post-Gazette

Friday, December 12, 2008

News Release About Saturday's Convention in Pittsburgh

A Special Convention to reorganize a diocese with an increasing numbers remaining in The Episcopal Church is set for this weekend, Friday and Saturday, December 12 and 13, 2008. Beyond business, the event offers a celebration of vitality for The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, culminating with the priestly ordination of the Rev. Kristian Opat.

At least 27 congregations will take part in the convention. That number is substantially higher than the 18 parishes that said they would remain in The Episcopal Church when a majority of diocesan leaders and clergy opted to leave the church in early October 2008.

This higher participation represents 40% of both the number of parishes and total membership — as measured by the benchmark Average Sunday Attendance — in the Pittsburgh Diocese prior to October.

“Our numbers will grow higher over the next months, even years,” said the Rev. Dr. James Simons, President of the Standing Committee, the current diocesan leader. “We never set a deadline for anyone to say whether they remain with us or not. All are welcome at anytime”

ERD receives historic $300,000 pledge from Puerto Rico diocese

From Episcopal Life Online. (I wouldn't mind being on that beach right now)

The Diocese of Puerto Rico has made a three-year commitment to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to contribute a total of $300,000 to the organization in support of the Millennium Development Goals Inspiration Fund. "This will be the largest gift ever received from a single diocese in Episcopal Relief and Development's history," an ERD news release said.
In 2007, the Millennium Development Goals Inspiration Fund was launched by ERD, Jubilee Ministries and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to stop the spread of malaria in Africa, develop a pilot project in Asia and promote health in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"We are proud to support Episcopal Relief and Development in their work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals," said Bishop David Alvarez of the Diocese of Puerto Rico. "We hope that our gift will inspire other dioceses and Episcopalians to partner with Episcopal Relief and Development in their work towards alleviating poverty and disease."

"This historic gift from the Dioceses of Puerto Rico will significantly help Episcopal Relief and Development in their work towards achieving the Millennium Development goals. This support truly represents Christianity in action," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Religious leaders worry that faith is being marginalised

From the Church Times (England)

RELIGIOUS faith in Britain is more marginal to society than ever before, faith leaders believe, says a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published this week. The report, Faith in the Nation: Religion, identity and the public realm in Britain today, is a collection of essays by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh religious leaders.

In his foreword, Gordon Brown says that Britain has had a strong Christian tradition, but is now “resolutely multifaith”. The debate about the place of faith in British society is “a national conversation” from which people should not “shy away”.

But contributors to the report say that there are signs “of a growing consensus . . . that the position of faith within the national public culture has become more marginal”.
In the name of multiculturalism, politicians had responded to new religions and cultures that came to Britain as though each had a fixed identity. They saw them as “static silos rather than dynamic communities possessing complex and changeable identities”, Professor Michael Kenny says in the report’s conclusion.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An Hysterically Relevant Cartoon

If you can't read it here's the link-

In the name of God, sod off

The Guardian on the Letter that Bishop Chane sent to Rowan. The article also has a link to the New York Times article about the "new province".

Here is the Bishop of Washington explaining the Anglican schism to his flock. To understand what follows, you have to know something that none of the British press actually reported last week, which was the latest stage in the Anglican schism. A number of splinter groups, with perhaps 350 congregations between them, in the USA and Canada announced they were leaving the Episcopal church there and forming their own, which they hope will be recognised eventually by the rest of the Anglican Communion, whatever that may be. In the first place, they want recognition from the Gafcon grouping, some of whose members have already consecrated some of the new splinter groups' bishops.

Anyway, it all made a front page story in the New York Times.

The bishop of Washington, Dr John Chane, is one of the more important leaders of the majority church and he was worried that his flock might be confused by the newspaper. So he explained the story from his angle:

From physicist to priest - John Polkinghorne talks about science and religion

An interesting piece in which science and religion's interface is talked about. Also has a link to an audio interview. (I have a feeling the "Quark" he discovered isn't the one pictured.)

John Polkinghorne truly was a great physicist. His work helped lead us to the discovery of the quark. Quarks are a type of subatomic particle that do not occur on their own in nature. They are always found together in composite particles known as hadrons, the best known of which are protons and neutrons, the particles that make up the nucleus of atoms.

It is not much of a leap of faith to say that someone who is involved in this type of research is a rational, reasonable person with more than average intellectual abilities. So, when someone like John Polkinghorne decides to become a Christian believer, one listens, and one listens very attentively.

John Polkinghorne was recently interviewed by Mary Hynes on CBC radio and that interview has now been posted on the Internet. A friend brought it to my attention and I strongly encourage everyone to listen to it. I cannot describe the entire interview here, as it is more than 40 minutes long. I must confess that I am thoroughly disappointed in what I heard. While it is certainly his inalienable right to believe in whatever he wants to, I had thought and hoped to hear some convincing arguments for the belief in the Christian God he claims to believe in. However, his arguments weren’t even remotely convincing.

Evangelical leader quits

More trouble in the evangelical ranks in Britain.

A new era beckons for evangelicals as the Church of England’s Evangelical Council (CEEC) announced the retirement of its chairman, and apologised for its ‘serious mistake’ at the recent National Evangelical Anglican Consultation (NEAC 5).

Dr Richard Turnbull had served as chairman for three years, but had recently attracted acrimony for ‘bullying’ evangelicals into a more conservative stance. He cited family commitments and responsibilities as Principal of Wycliffe Hall as reasons why he would not have time to continue as chairman.

The executive officer of CEEC, Canon Michael Walters, said council members were “shocked” at the resignation. Dr Turnbull has accepted an invitation to remain as a member on the council.

On November 15 the council sprung a surprise vote on NEAC 5, asking attendees to support Gafcon’s Jerusalem Declaration, which they refused to vote on. A statement by the council said: “CEEC apologises for the fact that we failed to circulate the proposed resolutions prior to the Consultation day. We acknowledge that this was a serious mistake which understandably caused consternation on the day.”

Archbishop of Canterbury accused of creating confusion in the church

From the London Telegraph. Bishop Chane speaks his mind.

The Rt Rev John Chane, the Bishop of Washington, has criticised Dr Rowan Williams's handling of the crisis over gay clergy in the Church.

In a letter to his clergy, he claims that the archbishop has encouraged conservatives who are determined to destroy the Anglican Church by listening to their demands for a breakaway province.

Dr Williams last week met with the primates of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, who boycotted this summer's Lambeth Conference and instead held their own conference, called Gafcon, which proposed the creation of a rival global network of traditionalists.

They have supported moves to set up a new Church in America opposed to gay clergy and led by the deposed bishop of Pittsburgh, Bob Duncan.

"It would be folly for the Archbishop to even consider recognising a non-geographical province because it would unleash chaos in the Communion, with theological minorities in every jurisdiction seeking to affiliate with likeminded Anglicans in other provinces," said Bishop Chane.

Tuba Carol Fest set in Gettysburg

I almost listed this as a "Good Stuff" post but I'm not sure. Well at least its not accordions. From Central PA.

It's the uncertainty of how many people will come that keeps event organizer Ben Jones guessing every year at the Tuba Carol Fest, in Lincoln Square in Gettysburg.

"People ask every year how many are going to be playing," Jones said. "I never know until they walk in the door."

With no advance registration, anyone who plays a low brass instrument is invited to join the group of players on Saturday. Not only are tuba players welcome, but anyone who plays a low brass instrument, including baritone and euphonium.

Players begin registration at 5:30 p.m. at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church, at the corner of Baltimore and High streets. Rehearsal follows at 6 p.m. at the church. Then the carolers proceed to Lincoln Square, where they perform in front of the Gettysburg Hotel, beginning at 7 p.m.

"It's just one of those events that sets the tone for the holidays," said Karen Hendricks, Gettysburg Festival public relations/marketing director. "I think it's one of the most unique Christmas events in all of central Pennsylvania."

Charles Crump, deputy to 17 General Conventions, retires at 95

Charlie Crump a staple at General Conventions since 1958 decides to retire from the House at the age of 95. Charlie is a good guy and often fought for conservative causes. He's pictured in his infamous convention blazer. We'll miss you Charlie.

The 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be unlike the 17 that preceded it. Charles Metcalf Crump, 95, who has served as a deputy from the Diocese of West Tennessee at every General Convention since 1958, won't be serving, citing "age and future health" as reasons he decided against running for election to the 2009 event.
In an interview, Crump said that his desire to serve as a deputy "naturally arose" out of his lifelong involvement as a parishioner and his adult involvement in the Episcopal Churchmen of Tennessee, which he eventually served as president.

Crump recalled his first General Convention more than 50 years ago. "It was in Miami Beach, and we were crowded into a little hotel room seated in folding chairs jammed together." Working conditions aside, the biggest surprise to him was the way in which resolutions were made. After a short oral summary, a vote was taken. Deputies did not know until the summary was presented what was going to be proposed, nor did they have a written record of what had happened the day before or what was on that day's agenda.

Court to decide dispute over church property

From New York State the law suits go on even though the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Denomination previously.

State Supreme Court Judge Ferris D. Lebous will be asked Friday to decide whether a local church or a regional diocese owns property on Conklin Avenue, which is occupied by Church of the Good Shepherd.

The decision, whether rendered Friday or more likely reserved by Lebous for a future date, could be a precedent in ongoing legal disputes in New York state and elsewhere between the Episcopal Church and individual congregations that have withdrawn from the national denomination.

That split came when V. Gene Robinson, a self-avowed homosexual, was ordained a bishop in 2003.

Already, a state appeals court sided with the denomination in a similar case involving the Rochester diocese and a congregation in Irondequoit, which withdrew in January 2006. All Saints Church claimed it was entitled to church property, but the court ruled in October in favor of the diocese.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anglican Communion Network to Morph into New Province

The Network announces that is going to become the infrastructure of the "new province". Those offices are already just down the hall from those of the Southern Cone Group in Pittsburgh.

Delegates to the Anglican Communion Network’s fifth annual council meeting in Overland Park, Kansas, voted today to begin handing over ministries as well as financial and administrative support services to the forming Anglican Church in North America.

Network members spoke of how much the organization has meant to them since its founding in 2004. “This has been my lifeline. Without the Anglican Communion Network and you all, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Episcopal Church Bishop Jim Adams of Western Kansas.

During the approximately six months the hand over is expected to take, the Network office will continue to provide key organizational, administrative and other services for Network members and the Common Cause Partnership as it completes the creation of the Anglican Church in North America.
The hand over will not be complete until the summer of 2009. When it is complete, the Network as it is currently configured will cease operation.

The Amazing Grace Project: What else can we do together?

Past posts have reported on the Amazing Grace Project in Canada. Here's a reflection on what some have learned from it. Oh Canada!

As Ali Symons notes in a recent web article, the Amazing Grace Project gives us a wonderful window into the national life of the Anglican Church of Canada.
It also says a great deal about what we are and what we can be.

Watching the videos over the past 10 days, it has become very clear to me that the "national church" is far from just a building and staff in Toronto (though they're part of it.) Rather it consists of ministries from coast to coast to coast through which God touches and transforms the life of the world. The life of the Anglican Church of Canada is intensely local. It takes place not "anywhere", but in thousands of somewheres where people celebrate, learn and serve.

At the same time, our national church is something more than just the sum of Anglican ministries across the country. Our Primate, Fred Hiltz, captures some of what that "something more" is when he speaks of "our beloved church."

The Amazing Grace Project goes behind the headlines—quarrelling and division, hurt and suspicion—to the common life of our church. Canadian Anglicans know we are part of something that is alive and purposeful, and that our diversities—racial, linguistic, geographic and theological—are part of that purpose.

Quote of the day

"I think we're on the downhill side. I think by far the majority of those who are going to seek a spiritual home elsewhere have done it. I don't see any other diocesan leaders on the sideline about to do this. I think we're past the worst of it."

-- The Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, on the departure of some conservatives who say they are forming a rival organization, the Anglican Church in North America. (She was quoted in the Los Angeles Times.)

Good Stuff in TEC: Maine

Blue Christmas service is Dec. 18

Are you having a Blue Christmas season? All the joy of decking the halls with boughs of holly can be a stark contrast with the interior realities of those of us who have experienced loss in the last year. The pain of broken relationships, lost employment, ill health, loneliness, the gut-wrenching loss of a child, the emptiness of no longer having a beloved spouse to share each day, the death of a dear family pet — all these can contribute to a feeling of being alone, of feeling "blue" in the midst of the society around us that seems bent on being happy and celebrating.

There are years when people hurt at Christmas time and can't get into the festivities others seem able to enjoy.

It's at such times that they need to make the space and take the time to acknowledge their sadness and concern.

For these reasons, St. George's Episcopal Church in York Harbor at 407 York St. will host a Blue Christmas service at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, that will feature prayers, Scripture and music that acknowledge that God's presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle — and that God's Word is meant to shine light into our darkness.

Note: I believe that Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh) is also having one of these.

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

Solemn rite or happy meal?

Dug LeBlanc reflects on our attitude toward communion. From Episcopal Life.

News Item, October 21: The Diocese of Sydney's General Synod has voted again to allow laity to preside at celebrations of Holy Communion and to allow deacons (both men and women) to preside as well.
My reaction, once news of the synod's decision began circulating in U.S.--based weblogs: Wake me when the argument is over.

I have exaggerated my lack of outrage, but not outrageously. My longtime friend and colleague Terry Mattingly grew up Southern Baptist, spent more than 10 years as an Episcopalian and then became Eastern Orthodox.

He enjoys telling the story of attending Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, where robed choir members processed with reverence down the center aisle and some bowed before sitting in their pews.

Terry asked about the significance of the bowing, and the answer he heard was remarkable: That's what you're supposed to do. Despite its stained-glass windows and the liturgical calendar it observed, this church had no concept of a Communion host being the body of Christ, in some form, and therefore worthy of brief reverence by choir members.

From that experience, Terry concluded that if a Southern Baptist congregation had a higher-than-average interest in liturgical symbols, its members likely had little understanding of the doctrine behind the symbols.

I wonder if, for many Episcopalians, this could be an accurate summary of what we understand about Holy Communion.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message 2008

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5).

The world settles into winter, at least in the northern hemisphere, and life to many seems increasingly bleak. Foreclosures, layoffs, government bailouts and financial failures, continuing war on two fronts, terrorist attacks, murders of some identified only by their faith -- this world is in abundant need of light. We know light that is not overcome by darkness, for God has come among us in human flesh.

Born in poverty to a homeless couple, to a people long under occupation, Jesus is human and divine evidence that God is with us in the midst of the world's darkness. Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Divine Counselor is come among us to re-mind, re-member, and re-create. A new mind and heart is birthed in us as we turn to follow Jesus on the way.

The body of God's creation is re-membered and put back together in ways intended from the beginning. And a new creation becomes reality through Jesus' healing work. Christians tell the story again each Christmastide, and the telling and remembering invites us once again into being made whole. Our task in every year is to hear the story with new ears, and seeing light in the darkness of this season's woes, then to tell it abroad with gladsome hearts to those who wait in darkness. Where will you share the joyous tale of light in the darkness?

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church

Faith cannot be denied a voice

From the Guardian in London a reflection on Religion's place in the public square.

The Institute for Public Policy Research is one of the government's favourite thinktanks. Today it has launched what I judge to be a ground-breaking and important report entitled Faith In The Nation. It is a fascinating read that will unnerve many of those who, in one short grunt of contempt, lazily conflate secularisation, secularism, freedom and the dispatch from the public square of religious voices. Better than that, the report calls on us to rework liberalism so that people of faith are genuinely involved in public conversation in pursuit of a renewed British identity.

IPPR outlines what academic sociologists of religion have been observing for an age: the secularisation of societies does not necessarily go hand in hand with so-called "modernisation", and if secularisation theory ever worked it only did so in parts of Europe rather than internationally. The reality is that religion is experiencing growth globally, is deeply entangled with what it means to be British today and that Britian has found its own flexible means to incorporate religious habits into its culture, albeit often after great struggles. Faith today is also a dynamic and moving force, as new waves of migration change and renew religious communities of all kinds – and not just those of Muslim origin. These are good points when Anglican congregations are increasing in size and diversity in London while the UK Catholic community is internationlising at speed due to South American, south Asian, east Asian and eastern European migration.

European leaders say Robert Mugabe must go

More on the situation in Zimbabwe and the Church's response to the crisis. From the London Times. (Got to wonder who his tailor is. Not a very presidential hat he's wearing.)

Leading churchmen John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, also today called on Mr Mugabe to stand down, as did Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, and David Cameron, the Conservative leader.

The Zimbabwean government has continued to brush away the voices of criticism from abroad, often accusing Western governments of colonialism and of plotting to bring down the Zimbabwean state.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Information Minister, dismissed Mr Sarkozy's remarks.

"Zimbabwe is a sovereign state with a president elected in accordance with the constitution of Zimbabwe," said Mr Ndlovu.

"No foreign leader, regardless of how powerful they are, has the right to call on him to step down on their whim."

Good Stuff in TEC: New Jersey

Meeting Thursday in Salem to focus on helping the incarcerated and their families

Community representatives have banded together to help make a difference in the lives of children of incarcerated adults.

Their goal is to make sure these children have the opportunity and help needed so they don't follow in their parents' footsteps.

This Thursday, they are inviting the public to attend a meeting at St. John's Episcopal Church at 7 p.m. to learn how they can play a role in this important mission. Those attending will learn how they can play a role in mentoring these youth.

In preparation for the public meeting, a wide-ranging group met Nov. 25 in Pennsville to explore the many opportunities they can provide to aid the children of incarcerated adults.

They hope to expand the idea of the Amachi program -- which aims to mentor the children of adults in jail -- into the SAFARI program (Strengthening American Families and Reducing Incarceration).

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

Good Stuff in TEC: Florida

Rally raises awareness about Darfur victims

The Save Darfur Coalition of South Palm Beach recently organized a rally at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church, 100 NE Mizner Blvd. The coalition has been fighting to end the West Sudan genocide for five years.

Dr. Rosanna Gatens, director of the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education at FAU, was one of two featured speakers.

"The primary objective is to make people realize that just because Darfur may not be in the headlines as often, the suffering is still ongoing and very real," Gatens said in an interview before the event.

"We have a unique opportunity in this time of transition to really get things done. President-elect Barack Obama and [Hillary] Clinton made Darfur a priority during campaigning, and we need to make sure they put Darfur at the forefront," Gatens said.,0,2592939.story

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

Five of Six GAFCON Primates Endorse "New Province" in North America

The only surprise here is that the GAFCON Primates Council is comprised of six not five Primates and The Most Rev Valentino Mokiwa, Primate of Tanzania, the sixth Primate, is missing from the endorsement.

Five Anglican archbishops have backed the introduction of a new Anglican province in North America, a significant, though unsurprising boost for the conservative-led initiative.

"We fully support this development with our prayer and blessing,"
said the archbishops, who are called primates because they lead regional branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. "It demonstrates the determination of these faithful Christians to remain authentic Anglicans."

Last Wednesday (Dec. 3), a group of conservative dissidents announced that they were starting a branch of the Anglican Communion called the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The group claims 100,000 members, including most of four dioceses that have split with the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the communion, in the last year.

The new province faces several obstacles before it is officially admitted to the Anglican Communion, however, including the approval of two-thirds of the communion's 38 primates.

Released on Dec. 6, the primates' statement was signed by:
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone (South America), and Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

Story here-

Official Statement here-

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rain answer to their prayers

A report from Tasmania about the power of prayer. Get out the rain hats !

On November 1, about 60 people congregated at St Peter's Anglican Church at Oatlands in Tasmania and prayed for rain to help the state's farmers, the Hobart Mercury reports.

The response: above average rainfall for the month in most areas of the state.

Yesterday about 20 people met back at the church, thanking God for the rain and asking that he bless the state with more of the same.

As the sun shone down outside they sang, "Let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven, let it rain".

Within a few minutes the skies clouded over and it started pouring. They don't believe it was a fluke.

Organiser Anne Magnay says the power of prayer was working in front of their eyes.

"I firmly believe our prayers have been answered," Ms Magnay told the Hobart Mercury. "Within a week of our last meeting people were starting to say their tanks were full. Now we want to fill up the dams and the lakes too."

She said the November 1 meeting had been organised to respond to a bone-dry October.

The Bureau of Meteorology says most of Tasmania has less than a 50 per cent chance of exceeding the median rainfall this summer.

Hobart's long-term average rainfall is 622.4mm, but so far this year only 381.4mm have fallen.

Split in Episcopal Church a 'sad' reality, say Norwalk pastors

Another report from Connecticut, this time from Norwalk. Rectors are saying the "new province" will have no effect on their congregations.

Both Lang and Keen say the announcement this week will not change the day-to-day routines of their churches and will not affect the way their parishioners view their faith.

"What happened in Illinois won't affect my congregation at all," Keen said. "For the most part, parishioners in the Episcopal Church will go on worshipping. The issue of gay and lesbian ordination and promotion to bishop doesn't really affect their lives in the church. They will go on worshipping as they did before Wednesday."


The proposed split would further divide the already troubled community but would bring together nine groups who have cut their ties with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over the years. Membership of this new community is estimated at 100,000 individuals. The Episcopal Church's worldwide membership numbers more than two million.

"There isn't going to be some sort of mass exodus from the Episcopal Church in order to join this new group," Lang said. "Those who are here are here because the Episcopal Church is an accepting community and because they don't agree with excluding people based on gender or sexual preference. This conservative group would rather everyone stay in the closet."

Episcopal election methods due for revision

From Episcopal Life Online - The church is revising the way in which Bishops are elected and if you read the whole article you'll see that here are theologians involved !

The way in which the Episcopal Church elects its bishops could change as the result of a survey being conducted now by the Episcopal Elections and Transitions Project.

The project, sponsored by the Episcopal Church's College for Bishops, the Presiding Bishop's Office of Pastoral Development and the CREDO Institute, is attempting "to obtain insights into the existing best practices of episcopal elections and to identify possible new directions for the best-practice models of the future," according to a news release.

The Episcopal Church has revised its recommended method for the election of bishops approximately every ten years. That method takes the form of a manual of best practices to follow during the course of a search and election process which the Presiding Bishop's Office for Pastoral Development offers dioceses. (General Convention is responsible for making constitutional and canonical changes governing election of bishops.)

Bishop Clay Matthews, who heads the Office of Pastoral Development in New York, told ENS December 5 that he or his designee meets with a diocesan standing committee prior to the public announcement of a call for an episcopal election to guide them through the manual and help the diocese create the process and its timetable. His office also offers a search consultant to work with the diocese as the process unfolds.

Area Episcopal leaders: no plans to join split

An article from Daytona Beach (the conservative diocese of Central Florida). It would appear that the "new province is a non-starter there too.

Anglicans know quite a bit about Puritans and separatists. After all, those movements in the Church of England helped create the colonies that became the United States.

On Dec. 3, religiously conservative bishops from four Episcopal dioceses in North America announced they were forming a new province in the Anglican Church. Rowan Williams -- the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the church -- has dismissed the claim of forming a new province as premature, according to the church's news service.

Local Episcopalian ministers sympathize but don't offer much support for the newly-forming Anglican Church in North America -- which includes dioceses in Fort Worth; Texas; Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill.; and Fresno, Calif.

Don Lyon, dean of the Northeast Deanery of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, said he was distressed but not surprised by the recent announcement. The Deanery covers all of Volusia County. Lyon is also the rector of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand.

"Schism is always a great sadness in the church," said Lyon. "I mean, the scriptures call us to have one shepherd and one church, and Jesus' prayer was for unity. From God's point of view the (Body of Christ) cannot be broken or separated."

Episcopal Schism: Both Sides' Leaders Unsure Of Next Step

Reaction from Connecticut (Hartford) regarding the "new province". Chris Leighton was priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh for many years. Sounds like some of the conservatives there aren't buying it.

But the Rev. Christopher Leighton, whose church — St. Paul's in Darien — is one of the original "Connecticut Six" churches, still isn't sure what will come next for his congregation. St. Paul's has yet to leave the Episcopal Church and, as such, is one of the more prominent "fence-sitters" in Connecticut.

Leighton, who attended last week's meeting in Chicago, was elated to have been part of the decision to form a new province and called it a time of "healing, restoration and vindication" for conservatives who have felt alienated by the Episcopal Church.

But that doesn't mean he was willing, or able, to predict whether St. Paul's will leave the Episcopal Church.

"I'm sure there are some people who are thinking, 'When are you going to get moving?'" Leighton said. "The answer is, when the Lord leads us. I have confidence in that and I think the people at St. Paul's Darien have confidence that the Lord is leading us."

The Rev. Tom White, who leads St. Peter's Episcopal Church in South Windsor, said he doesn't believe the creation of a new province will have any immediate impact on his congregation.

"I think it's just too early to know how that will go and how the Episcopal Church will respond," White said.

White and his congregation disagreed strongly with Smith's decision to support the ordination of an openly gay bishop in 2003 and requested they report to another, more conservative bishop. But White said he can't see his church making any further changes now.,0,6235375.story

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mugabe must be toppled now - Archbishop of York

Dr John Sentamu, (shown in a hat which rivals Bishop Katharine's) the Ugandan born Archbishop of York speaks out about the situation in Zimbabwe

In an extraordinary and passionate outburst, the Archbishop of York is calling for President Robert Mugabe to be toppled from power and face trial for crimes against humanity,

Dr John Sentamu, writing in The Observer, said the world must recognise that the time for talks was over and Mugabe should be forced out. 'The time has come for Robert Mugabe to answer for his crimes against humanity, against his countrymen and women and for justice to be done. The winds of change that once brought hope to Zimbabwe and its neighbours have become a hurricane of destruction, with the outbreak of cholera, destitution, starvation and systemic abuse of power by the state,' he says.

'As a country cries out for justice, we can no longer be inactive to their call. Robert Mugabe and his henchmen must now take their rightful place in The Hague and answer for their actions. The time to remove them from power has come.'

Church attendance rises as recession deepens

From the London Telegraph - a reflection on the connection between the financial crisis and people moving back towards a Christian spirituality.

There is a perhaps an element of stock-taking going on; a belated recognition of how decadent and greedy we have been in Christmases past. Now that they are in sharp focus, the bonuses paid to investment bankers in the boom period look obscene. Perhaps they always were, but they seemed too abstract and unreal to latch our minds on to. Nothing to do with us. None of our business.

Not any more. Perhaps we are coming to see that greed should not be worshipped; that actually it is something to be ashamed of. A profit motive – making money out of your fellow man – cannot be the sole purpose of society. The Christian message, by contrast, is that society is about how we live with each other; about loving thy neighbour, honouring your mother and father, and doing unto others as you’d have them do to you.

This is not to say that recession is good for the soul, nor is it to trivialise the crushing psychological damage caused by unemployment and debt, but it does force people to examine their lives and work out what matters. Traditional values tend to be Christian values in this country — we do, after all, have an established Church and we are, according to our constitution, a Christian country. Not Muslim. Not Hindu. Not atheist.

Good Stuff in TEC: Georgiagood

Giving gifts that keeps on giving at St. Peter's

Mason Atkinson knows a thing or two about animals, and where the animals inside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church were going after the Living Gift Market ended this afternoon.

"They're going to poor people that need the animals," the Berry Elementary Kindergarten student said.

The animals on show today at the church are part of an effort to raise money for Heifer International, an organization that chairperson of the market Laura Davis said would provide livestock to those in need in third world countries.

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St. Paul's Kittanning Votes to Stay in TEC

I've been notified by the leadership of St. Paul's Kittanning that the vestry voted Thursday night to remain with the Episcopal Church. The former rector of the parish, who left in June, is the current President of the Standing Committee for the Southern Cone group and a strident supporter of the realignment.

This brings the total number of congregations, in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, publicly declaring to stay to 22. In the past several weeks, Christ Church Indiana and St. Peter's Blairesville have decided to stay. More will be coming. For the reorganizing convention next Saturday 27 congregations have, so far, registered to send deputies.

First woman priest of the Anglican Church ordained

While the "new province" moves away from women's ordination the Province of Ghana breaks new ground.

The Reverend Hannah Dwomoh, a citizen of Nkoranza was at the weekend ordained as the first woman priest of the Anglican Church of Ghana at a colourful ceremony at St. Anselm's Anglican Cathedral in Sunyani.

Rev Dwomoh had her theological education in Canada and St. Nicholas Theological College in Cape Coast.

Also ordained was Rev. Father Martin Bonsu, a tutor.

The Right Reverend Thomas Ampah Brient, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Sunyani presided, assisted by the clergy of the diocese, while the Chancellor of the diocese, Justice W. K. Anderson, administered the ordination oath.

Before the Holy mass, Bishop Brient challenged the new priests to follow the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ with all zeal.

He noted that it was his late father, the Reverend Canon E. A. Brient who baptized Rev. Dwomoh and was therefore excited to ordain her into priesthood.

What would Jesus blog?

An article from Jacksonville Florida about how blogs fan the flames in church disputes.

While the Internet spread the outreach of the Chabad movement, it was also instrumental in the ongoing split within the Episcopal Church.

The schism began to pick up speed after an openly gay priest was elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Since then, three dioceses and thousands of theologically conservative Episcopalians have left the denomination and aligned themselves with like-minded Anglican groups in the United States and around the world.

"A slew of liberal bloggers and a slew of conservative bloggers" have helped galvanize the opinion and action that has caused the split, said David Virtue, founder of Virtue Online, a news site critical of the Episcopal Church.

While some of them are clergy, most of the bloggers are lay people who are "kicking and screaming" about the issues dividing the denomination.

"This is all coming from the bottom up, not the top down," he said.

While it's good that blogs and other Web-based technologies have given lay people a voice, it's also spawned an unfortunate trend in anonymous carping - on both sides of the issue, Virtue said.

"People want to be able to smack someone without ever being discovered who they are."

'People are the problem'

Good Stuff in TEC: Illinois

Pastor turns Christmas party into gift drive for wounded soldiers

The Rev. Rod Reinhart believes in taking care of the troops.

The Sunday after the Fourth of July, the Blue Island pastor did what he does best - prayed. He gathered his congregation for a day of prayer and supplicated.

We prayed for the physical and emotional health of the men and women in uniform," said Reinhart, 59. "And we prayed for the end of the war."

On Saturday, he's putting a different twist on the annual Christmas party at St. Joseph and St. Aidan Episcopal Church, 2453 Oak St. in Blue Island. In addition to the party, there will be a gift drive for wounded soldiers.

"Christmas can be a time of loneliness and depression for wounded soldiers and hospitalized veterans," Reinhart said. "This would make their Christmas more joyful."

By bringing Christmas gifts for soldiers or their families, Reinhart believes the community can send a message of gratitude to the soldiers.,120708inuniform.article

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Viewing Episcopal split through historical lens

From Fort Wayne- My good froend Bishop Ed Little is quoted.

With another schism in the headlines this week - a possible split in the Episcopal Church due in large part to the appointment of an openly gay bishop in 2003 - it's good to remember that such conflicts are neither new, nor unique to Christianity.

That's because, while God may be perfect, we human beings most definitely are not.

All of which is of little comfort to the Rev. Edward Little, Episcopal bishop for the Diocese of Northern Indiana. Even though he opposed the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson because it required “changing Christ's doctrine in a serious way,” he said this week he is saddened by the proposed split and wants no part of it. Neither, he said, do his diocese's 36 congregations, including three in Fort Wayne.

“In John 17 Christ prays that we ‘may be one.' Schisms never solve anything, they make us less effective,” Little added. “Many of the people with whom I disagree love the Lord. This isn't the same as disagreeing about the resurrection or the nature of the Trinity. We need to work out these issues, even though it may take decades or even centuries.”

In other words, disagreement over fundamentals of the faith is one thing. A schism over the church's response to homosexuality does not.

He's right, although - no pun intended - the devil is, as always, in the details.

Lemming Pledge #13

Another Lemming (I think his name is Kittanning) Sees the Light