Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good Stuff in TEC: Missouri

Mission team will spend Christmas in Sudan

In the latest development of the companion relationship between the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and the Diocese of Lui -- part of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan -- a team of eight missioners will spend the Christmas and New Years holidays in Sudan. Eight Missouri Episcopalians, including the wife of Bishop Wayne Smith, arrived in Lui on December 18. They will return to the United States on January 8.

The Dioceses of Lui and Missouri entered into a companion relationship in 2006.

The purpose of the trip is to pursue four major objectives:
• a medical assessment to ascertain how the Diocese of Missouri can contribute to health care in the Diocese of Lui;
• assist in the set-up of a grinding mill operation, which Missouri is helping to fund through a United Thank Offering Grant of $19,000;
• explore how parish-to-parish relationships between Missouri and Lui congregations might be established; and
• further establish infrastructure (buildings and technology) in Lui.

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

Good Stuff in TEC: Georgia

‘This is what Christ had in mind … a church without walls’

They just showed up. On foot. From all directions. As if risen right out of the same downtown streets that many of them live on.

About a dozen homeless men and women, joined by volunteers and other churchgoers, sat shoulder to shoulder in the cold last Sunday in front of the fountain at the north end of Woodruff Park. They wore hats and gloves and heavy coats. They toted backpacks and black plastic garbage bags. One guy chewed on a cheese sandwich.

They were ready for church.

“I appreciate all you huddled people,” began Carole Maddux, the Episcopal deacon leading the service. “Let us take a moment to be silent and claim this place. And call on God … to make his presence known.”

A MARTA bus rumbled by, drowning out her last few words. A car horn bleated. Dry leaves skittered past Maddux’s sneaker-clad feet.

Surrounded by downtown skyscrapers, she stood in front of a folding table topped with a silver cross, a chalice, a plastic bottle of grape juice to be served with communion —- “Some of our people don’t need to drink wine,” Maddux said.

The Church of the Common Ground was in session.

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

Statement from the Diocese of Virginia

Looks like the Diocese is bringing out the big guns now.

The Fairfax County Circuit Court today affirmed that petitions filed by the CANA congregations do not include the endowment fund of The Falls Church (Episcopal) in Falls Church, Va. As a result, the endowment fund was not subject to the congregational vote and the following legal action taken by the CANA congregations seeking to take this property.

Despite the positive aspect of this ruling, the Diocese believes that serious constitutional issues remain. In order to pursue those issues and restore constitutional protections for hierarchical churches in Virginia, the Diocese also announced today that Professor A.E. Dick Howard has joined the diocesan legal team to assist in its appeal of this case to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Professor Howard is a professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law and is a renowned constitutional scholar. He served as the executive director of the Commission on Constitutional Revision, which revised the constitution of Virginia. Professor Howard has also served as counsel to the General Assembly of Virginia.

“We continue to believe the Division Statute is a violation of the United States and Virginia constitutions because it intrudes into the freedom of the Episcopal Church and other hierarchical churches to organize and govern themselves,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, bishop of Virginia. “Within the Episcopal Church, we may have theological disagreements, but those disagreements are ours to resolve according to the rules of our own governance.” Bishop Lee further stated, “We call on the CANA congregation occupying The Falls Church property to drop their claim on the endowment fund, and thus allow The Falls Church Episcopal to use the endowment for desperately needed outreach in the Falls Church area, in line with the original purpose of the fund.”

“We are grateful to have someone of Professor Howard’s stature and talent on our team,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop coadjutor of Virginia. “There may be no other legal expert in Virginia who is as knowledgeable of the state constitution. We are preparing our appeal now and are confident in our position that this law cannot stand constitutional scrutiny. Together, we will explore every option to ensure that faithful Episcopalians in Virginia are guaranteed the right to worship as they please, without interference from the state.” The Diocese expects to file its appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia shortly.

Conservatives win court case in Va. church dispute

AP story on yesterday's decision in the Virginia property case. Virginia has a unique statute that deals specifically with this situation. No other state has such a law. The Episcopal Life article follows the AP link

Nearly a dozen conservative church congregations in Virginia have won a lawsuit in which they sought to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute over theology and homosexuality.
The final rulings came Friday from a Fairfax County judge who said the departing congregations are allowed under Virginia law to keep their church buildings and other property as they leave the Episcopal Church and realign under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops from Africa.

Several previous rulings had also gone in favor of the departing congregations. The diocese said it will appeal.

Eleven Virginia congregations were involved in the lawsuit, including two prominent congregations that trace their histories to George Washington — Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church.

The congregations voted to realign in late 2006. Since then, the rift in the Episcopal Church has grown, and entire dioceses have voted to leave the denomination. Similar property disputes are expected there as well.

Episcopal Life Online-

Randy Gumpert -Former Red Sox pitcher dies at 90

Randy Gumpert who had a ten year major league career with six teams died recently. He is known for giving up Mickey Mantel's first home run. For you soccer fans out there Mantel retired with 536 home runs (15th of all time).

The brief news item on the sports page noted that former major league pitcher Randy Gumpert had died at age 90 in Wyomissing, Pa.

What a flood of memories were released by that name.

In the summer of 1956, Randy Gumpert was the manager and third base coach for the Kearney Yankees in the rookie Nebraska State League. Ol’ Clark was an umpire in the league.

The Yankees were a solid club. The center fielder was Deron Johnson, who had a 16-year major league career; Phil Mudrock, who pitched a no-hitter (which Ol’ Clark umpired) and logged one major league inning; and Ken Bracey, who never made it to the big leagues but spent more than 40 years as a major league scout, mostly with the San Diego Padres, led the pitching staff.

The third baseman was Jay Ward, a native of Brookfield, who eventually played in 27 major league games, and hit .163 in 49 at bats over three short stops with the twins and the Reds. Jay was a career Triple A guy and later a longtime minor league manager and instructor. He hit exactly zero major league home runs.

Gumpert had pitched in the majors for 10 years with five organizations, finishing in 1952 with a 51-59 record and a 4.17 earned run average.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Judge Rules in Favor of Breakaway Va. Congregations

Washington Post article filed less than thirty minutes ago. I'm sure there will be more later.

Nearly a dozen conservative church congregations in Virginia have won a long-running lawsuit in which they sought to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute over theology and homosexuality.

A Fairfax County judge made the final rulings today. He said the departing congregations are allowed under Virginia law to keep their property as they leave the Episcopal Church and realign under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops from Africa.

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia argued it was the true owner of the church property and that the congregations' votes to leave the Episcopal Church were invalid.

The diocese said it will appeal the rulings.

Baseball loses one of its true good guys

Dave Smith, one of the best relief pitchers of his era dies young of a heart attack. For you soccer fans out there, a relief pitcher is brought in late in the game to "relieve" the starting pitcher.

Former Astros reliever Dave Smith was a giving person, and he made sure his younger teammates learned to value others as they adjusted to life in the majors. Smith’s name is atop or near the top of several of the Astros’ relief categories.

But as his former teammates coped with his death Wednesday, they didn’t talk about his 199 saves for the Astros or his team records for appearances (562), relief wins (53), relief innings (760) or most games finished (400).
Instead, Smith’s friends and former teammate remembered the former San Diego State pitcher’s generous nature and cool California demeanor after he died of a heart attack Wednesday at age 53.

Smith’s mark extended far beyond the mound and into clubhouses, restaurants and airports throughout America.
“He was probably one of the most giving people I ever met,” former Astros reliever Charlie Kerfeld said of Smith via phone Wednesday. “He was probably known around the league as the best tipper around the league. (The news of his death) is a tough one. You ain’t supposed to go this early.”

Good Stuff In TEC: Oregon

Children donate to help fight rising hunger on South Coast

For three decades the Ecumenical Emergency Food Cupboard has been feeding the hungry in the Bay Area, but long-time volunteers say this year they could be seeing their biggest need yet.

Located beneath the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Downtown Coos Bay, the Food Cupboard has been very busy of late, but Thursday was a good kind of busy.

On that day they were busy unloading two huge donations from area school children(over 2,000 items from Bunker Hill Elementary students in Coos Bay and over 3,000 items from Hillcrest Elementary students in North Bend).

And it really is true that every little bit helps, but perhaps this year more than ever.

Margaret McMullen, who has been with the Food Cupboard for 20 of their 30 years, is the group's President. She says they've been pleasantly surprised that, given the economy, they have not seen any drop in their number of donations at this time of year.

Good Stuff in TEC: New York & Hawaii

"I wish I had a river I could skate away on"

NY churches offer ``Blue Christmas'' services

Not everyone is happy around Christmas time.

Two Westchester churches are offering "Blue Christmas" services this week for people who are grieving, upset, or just not in the holiday spirit.

The Rev. Gawain de Leeuw (Gah-WAIN' de LEE'-oh), rector of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in White Plains, says "the holidays are tough on people."

The Katonah United Methodist service is Thursday evening. St. Bart's gets blue at 5 p.m. Sunday.,0,2150233.story

A Christmas that’s blue? This service is for you

A special “Blue Christmas” service will be hosted by Lahaina’s Holy Innocents Episcopal Church on Christmas Day at noon.

“Christmas can be a painful time for some,” said Holy Innocents’ Priest-in-Charge, Father Bill Albinger.

“It may be their first Christmas without a loved one who has died. It may be the loss of a job, a family member serving in Iraq, or other causes of great anxiety and worry. Christmas may be a time that, for whatever reason, has always been difficult.”

We are constantly reminded of the happiness of the season in stores and malls, on television and radio, and that, according to Father Bill, may make people even sadder. It may remind them of their loss or their present economic concerns.

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

Staying out of fight - Churches avoid Episcopal schism

From North Carolina. Apparently the "new province" is a non-event there.

The sky is not falling on the Episcopal Church.

The church gained national attention this month when a breakaway group formed a North American province to rival U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans. Despite the split, local Episcopalian pastors are not worried it will have an adverse affect on their congregations.
Less than 5 percent of the Episcopal Church made the split and formed the new Anglican Church in North America, said the Rev. Bill Smyth, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Tarboro. None of the six Episcopalian churches in the Twin Counties were among the dissenters.

“Other than reading about it in the newspaper, I have had very few conversations initiated by parishioners on this subject. ... The Episcopal Church is going right on, and I have to say that I do not think this particular movement, like other dissenting movements in the history of the Episcopal Church, is really going to go anywhere,” said Smyth, who is also the vicar of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Tarboro.

The Rev. George Greer, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Rocky Mount, has seen almost no impact on his congregation.

“Like a lot of people, as far as their church is concerned, it is their church. You don’t necessarily think about your national body. I doubt when the Southern Baptist Church went ultraconservative that every Baptist felt as though they were affiliated with everything the national branch was saying,” Greer said.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop: Battle Vs. Schism Continues

From the paper in Fairfax Virginia more on the Presiding Bishop's address to the National Press Club.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, assured reporters and others that the legal battle between her denomination and defectors who've formed an alternative body and claimed control over Episcopal properties in Virginia will be appealed to the state's Supreme Court, no matter circuit court outcome.

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, commenting on the case and others elsewhere in the U.S., noted that in Virginia's suit, the defectors have based their claim on what she called "a Civil War law that permitted the division of churches based on their attitudes toward slavery."

While the Fairfax Circuit Court has ruled the law is applicable in the suit pitting defectors occupying the historic Falls Church downtown in the City of Falls Church, and others, against the Diocese of Virginia, its constitutionality remains at issue. The ultimate outcome of that ruling, whether at the state or U.S. Supreme Court level, will be profound for all major church denominations dealing with schismatic pressures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' Rescued his Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits"

An interesting piece on the History of Christmas. Tip your hat, I prefer Kermit over Gene Lockhart any day.

For all the strengths that are evident to the modern eye in A Christmas Carol, and despite his own confidence in the power of his tale, Dickens had at least two good reasons to be apprehensive as publication day for his story approached. One had to do with the nature of the holiday itself, and the other with the dire financial straits he found himself in.

As for the first, Christmas in 1843 was not at all the pre-mier occasion that it is today, when Christmas stories and their Grinches and elves and Santas abound, when "Christ-mas stores" purvey Yule decorations the four seasons round, and a marketing effort that begins sometime in mid-October is said to determine the fate of an entire year for retailers.

There were no Christmas cards in 1843 England, no Christmas trees at royal residences or White Houses, no Christmas turkeys, no department-store Santa or his million clones, no outpouring of "Yuletide greetings," no weeklong cessation of business affairs through the New Year, no orgy of gift-giving, no ubiquitous public display of nativity scenes (or court fights regarding them), no holiday lighting extrava-ganzas, and no plethora of midnight services celebrating the birth of a savior.

In fact, despite all of Dickens's enthusiasms, the holiday was a relatively minor affair that ranked far be-low Easter, causing little more stir than Memorial Day or St. George's Day does today. In the eyes of the relatively en-lightened Anglican Church, moreover, the entire enterprise of celebrating Christmas smacked vaguely of paganism, and were there Puritans still around, acknowledging the holiday might have landed one in the stocks.

How Williams changed views on splitting church from state

Rowan has been busy lately. Thus is from the Guardian.

Rowan Williams's remarks to the New Statesman on the issue of disestablishment were characteristically cautious, a pattern which many of his critics within the Church of England will recognise. He used to be in favour of the disestablishment of the Church of England before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, just as he was then rather more in favour of greater tolerance and understanding within the church for gay relationships.

More recently, conscious of his position at the head of a
fissiparous church, he has been much more unsure. Maybe there's a touch of what, in other circumstances, he has described as "institutional double-think" - what outsiders (and some within the church) see as hypocrisy.

Actually, the archbishop knows very well that the dismantling of the Church of England's embedded position in the state is unlikely to happen under any current party - least of all a government which took seven years to abolish fox hunting, an extremely simple legislative matter compared with dismantling the complex web of historic legislation defining the church's position in the community, its rights and responsibilities.

Anglican leader welcomes credit crunch 'reality check'

Anglican leader Rowan Williams said Thursday that the global credit crunch was a welcome "reality check" for Britain, in comments rejected by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, also likened the government's 20-billion-pound economic stimulus plan to an "addict returning to the drug".

Asked by BBC Radio whether the international financial crisis and its impact on Britain were beneficial, Williams replied: "It is a sort of a reality check, isn't it -- which is always good for us.
"A reminder that what I think some people have called fairy gold is just that -- that sooner or later you have to ask: 'What are we making or what are we assembling or accumulating wealth for?'."

Williams, who acknowledged that he would likely come in for criticism for what he himself described as "suicidally silly" remarks, also said of the stimulus plan: "It seems a little bit like the addict returning to the drug."

Baby Jesus statue stolen in Philadelphia

National Park Service employees are poring over hours of recorded video hoping for a lead into the theft of Baby Jesus from a nativity scene on Independence Mall.

The model Christ child was bolted down near heavily traveled Fifth and Market streets, but no witnesses have come forward since it was stolen sometime over the weekend.

"We don't know if we have video of the theft occurring," said Jane Cowley, spokeswoman for Independence National Historical Park. "We're looking at hours and hours of footage."

A replacement Baby Jesus is being supplied gratis by a Havertown family business.

Philadelphia is not the only city to suffer such a crime.

After a Christ child was pilfered two years in a row from a Palm Beach County, Fla., community center, a GPS unit was hidden inside the replacement. When the figure was stolen a third time last year, the miracle of modern technology led to its recovery and an arrest.

Execution isn't path to a peaceful society

Maryland Bishops sound off on the Death Penalty (and I agree).

Execution isn't path to a peaceful society
As Christians, church leaders and bishops in the Episcopal Church, we urge the General Assembly to act to abolish the death penalty ("Report fuels death debate," Dec. 13).

As Christians, we are guided by the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Here he specifically rejects retribution by stating that even the teaching in the Old Testament of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is to be rejected in favor of the teaching that calls for reconciliation (Matthew, 6:38).

Responding to killing with more killing will not make society less violent. Retaliating for death with death is not simply punishment but a further justification of violence as a way of life. We simply cannot kill our way out of the violence.

The uneven application of the death penalty also points to its fundamental unfairness. And the reality is that, as a result of prosecutorial discretion, the death penalty is most often used against people of color and poorer people.

Full statement is here-,0,6223869.story

Episcopal Church Needs Evangelicals

Richard Mouw , President of Fuller Seminary encourages conservatives to stay as a witness.

This is a complicated issue for many of us who worry about the theological direction of the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA). For one thing, I hate to see conservatives leave over women's ordination. What that means, among other things, is that they are abandoning many dedicated women clergy who are themselves conservative on the other two issues: biblical authority and homosexuality.

But we do have to be clear that it is not enough to say that the departing conservatives are simply setting up "a separate denomination." In this case they are aligning themselves with the growing majority of Anglican churches around the world--an alignment that liberal Episcopalians are choosing to abandon by their recent actions.
For me, though, there is a further complication.

The evangelical seminary that I lead was founded six decades ago to counter the "separatism" of much of the evangelicalism of the day. One of the founding purposes, then, was to prepare persons for evangelical ministries in mainline denominations. While I respect and support those who sense God's call to depart from a denomination like ECUSA, I also want to respect the call of those evangelicals who choose to hang in there. I don't want to see ECUSA left without an evangelical presence.

Henderson to leave the Episcopal Diocese helm

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, who has led the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina since 1995, announced today that he is calling for the election of a successor.

Henderson will be a year away from the mandatory retirement age of 72 at the end of next year and said he feels he has done all he can do for the diocese.

Henderson, who played a key role in the national controversy over the ordination of a gay bishop, doesn't believe any more parishes in Upper South Carolina will be splitting away from the denomination and believes things are in good shape going forward without him.

Henderson voted against the ordination of a gay bishop and led a committee that studied the issue. His role in that controversy absorbed some physical, emotional and spiritual energy, and dulled somewhat the edge of my creativity," he wrote in a letter to Upstate Episcopalians. "It has not, however, reduced my love of the Lord and the Lord’s Church, nor the sheer joy I have as a deacon, priest and bishop."

Witnessing theology from inside

Report on the situation in Virginia and one of the parishes that decided to stay in TEC and why.

"I respected the congregation's wishes," he told me. "I struggled with the decision to stay in the Episcopal Church. As things dragged out, we were late in taking that vote."

St. Peter's ended up losing 50 percent of its members. Mr. Koth went on a leave of absence, then left the church in December 2007. By that point, the congregation was down to 150 members.

"We were a small mission church," Mr. Koth said, "so they didn't have the strength to withstand what happened."

In April, he was hired at the Falls Church, the largest of the 11 departing congregations. Amazingly, the 11, now part of the Anglican District of Virginia, have won a series of legal battles with the diocese to keep their property. A fourth and final court decision comes out Friday.

Marvin Lawley, senior warden at St. Peter's, told me things there are looking up and that 14 new families have arrived.

"We made more impact by staying than by going away," he said.

Episcopal Head Addresses Controversies, Challenges Media

The PB at the The National Press Club this week-

"On two occasions in the last few days, leaders in my own church have said to me that the church only makes the front page if it’s about schism or sex – and in the current era, preferably both," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who leads The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.

The Episcopal Church has made headlines over the last several years ever since it consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003. The move, which conservatives see as part of the national church's departure from Anglican tradition and Scripture, created deeper rifts within the global Anglican Communion and forced a number of congregations to break from the U.S. body.

Now The Episcopal Church is prominently back in the spotlight over a rival Anglican church that conservatives are forming in North America. Conservative groups, representing 100,000 Anglicans who severed ties with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, have expressed a desire to live out their faith separate from the current existing North American bodies but aligned with the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Its all here-

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Children real victims of credit crunch claims Rowan Williams

From the London Times. Apparently Rowan is pro-life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a strong message in support of children, giving a further indication of his traditional, Catholic stance on "life" issues. He warns that in the present credit crisis, it is children who are among those likely to suffer most.

Dr Rowan Williams, in his Christmas message to the 75-million strong Anglican Communion, makes it clear that he considers the unborn child from the moment of conception to be a full member of the human family. And he speaks out strongly against the abuse of children forced into being child soldiers, and of those who suffer unacceptable cruelty at the hands of those close to them, such as Baby P.

Dr Williams, drawing on the Christian tradition that God was born as a baby in Jesus Christ at Bethlehem on Christmas Day, says the concept of divinity manifesting itself as a defenceless baby is both "shocking" and "deeply challenging." He also reiterates the Christian stance against assisted dying by emphasising the value of human life even when disability or deprivation leaves a person with hardly any signs of "freedom or thought".

Its all here-

The tumultuous history of Christmas caroling What's this about drunkeness?

Ok, now I understand the "wassailing" thing!

In 1607, the first settlers at Jamestown managed to observe the holiday while their leader, Captain John Smith, was out bartering for food. Carolyn writes, "the majority of the early settlers in Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas were Anglicans of English descent. Perhaps because their history in the new world was grounded in hardship, struggle and uncertainty, they maintained a reasonable balance between observing Christmas as a sacred time and as a time of relaxation and rejoicing. Their Christmas celebrations emphasized feasting, drinking, dancing, card playing, horse racing, cock fighting and other games, rather than worship. The old English Christmas customs they brought along with them included Christmas carols, Yule logs, kissing under the mistletoe and decking homes with greenery."

Much to the Puritans' chagrin, settlers to the area kept bringing their own Christmas customs. The Dutch, who settled in New York, brought Sinter Klaas, who would later be known as Santa Claus. Germans, settling in Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia, were known to celebrate Christmas despite the opposition.

Good Stuff in TEC: New Jersey

Project Homeless Connect

Though we know it is "rough" economy to say the least, there are many people who have had economic hardships for quite some time right here in Morris County. Homelessness is a situation that people may find themselves due to job loss, when a primary care taker becomes ill or due to generational poverty. The Interfaith Council for Homeless Families in Morris County offers assistance to families in a homeless situation by providing long term emergency shelter, counseling and programs to help people acquire more stable and financially sound jobs. The result? Families once again living independently in affordable housing with the support they need to sustain themselves for the long term.

Amongst many organized efforts, Project Homeless Connect is an extraordinary event organized by Joann Bjornson, Executive Director of Interfaith Council for Homeless Families in Morris County. On Thursday, December 4th the second annual Project Homeless Connect was held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. With over one hundred visitors, Project Homeless Connect served as a means for people in need of assistance to meet with counselors, receive free medical exams and literally "connect" with organizations in the area that can help get them back on their feet again. The event drew about two dozen agencies and is sponsored in part by the United Way of Morris County and St. Clare's Health Services.

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

Good Stuff in TEC: Georgia

Holidays come early for hundreds in need

More than 450 people lined up Tuesday night outside Macon’s Christ Episcopal Church downtown to receive a free meal, clothes, toiletries and children’s toys at the annual Mentors Project Christmas event.

The crowd, the largest in the event’s nine-year history, reflected an ever-varying melting pot of midstate residents who are feeling the impact of the tough economy and worsening job market — part-time employees, large families, teenagers caring for young siblings, college students, senior citizens and the homeless, who rely on help from others that is increasingly sparse.

Throughout the Walnut Street church, volunteers manned charity stations, passing out bowls of soup and sandwiches in a large auditorium and donated women’s and men’s clothing and toys for kids in three smaller back areas.

June O’Neal, who organized the event this year, worked a moving line where adults waited to take a bag with two blankets, a flashlight and thermos, hats and gloves, fruit and other items to make do in the cold.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pity the poor Anglicans? They'll decline. (The offer)

From the Vancouver Canada paper-

The threat of schism in the worldwide Anglican communion, focussing on dust-ups in the U.S. and Canada, has been much in the news for almost a decade. The media and some Anglicans have created a sense of overwhelming crisis in the 70 million-member denomination.

It's enough to make you pity the poor Anglicans.

But I think most would decline the offer.

Many don't seem to want pity, which can have a condescending quality. They recognize some shifts are happening in global Anglicanism, not to mention global Christianity. But most Anglicans just want to get on with the "business" of being a vibrant, caring church. Many congregations around the world, including in Canada and the U.S., are doing just that.

There was media fanfare in early December when the Common Cause Partnership, a group of 700 conservative Anglican congregations in the U.S. and Canada, announced they're want to create their own "province" of the Anglican church. It was no small event, but such "news" now has a certain tiredness for most Anglicans.

It's also not the whole story in the Anglican church, including in Metro Vancouver, which has been one of the Anglican denomination's hot spots, with its years-old debate over same-sex blessings.

Even the Religion Newswriters Association, which represents almost 300 religion writers at secular news outlets in North America, added a "reality check" to the Anglican "crisis" this week.

Worth Reading the rest here-

New Mexico diocese votes to stay Episcopal

The Diocese of the Rio Grande votes to leave the Network and stay in the Episcopal Church. (Now those are hats!)

Episcopalians in New Mexico have voted to leave a conservative umbrella group and "reaffirm" their commitment to the Episcopal Church rather than join a new rival Anglican province on U.S. soil.

The Albuquerque-based Diocese of the Rio Grande on Thursday (Dec. 11) said it could not support plans to launch a new Anglican Church in North America and voted to end its four-year membership in the Pittsburgh-based Anglican Communion Network.

The Anglican Communion Network is one of 11 conservative groups that joined together to launch the new province on Dec. 3. Four Episcopal dioceses that belonged to the Pittsburgh group and have already left the national church plan to join the new province.

But other Episcopal dioceses that supported the Pittsburgh group, like Rio Grande, do not plan to join the new province and are likely to remain in the Episcopal Church, officials said.

"The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande disaffiliates from the Anglican Communion Network and rescinds its motion of support … and reaffirms the Diocese of the Rio Grande’s commitment to the Episcopal Church," the diocese’s elected leadership said in a unanimous resolution.

Re-Established Pittsburgh Diocese Convenes

From the Living Church

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh held its reorganizing convention Dec. 13–14 at St. Paul’s Church in suburban Mt.Lebanon. The special convention, “Coming Together in Faith,” adopted a budget and elected more than 50 people to positions vacated by those who followed Bishop Robert Duncan out of The Episcopal Church after the annual convention vote Oct. 4 to realign with the AnglicanProvince of the Southern Cone.

Twenty-seven congregations sent voting deputations to the meeting, including Trinity Cathedral, which previously announced plans to serve as the cathedral for both dioceses and had sent deputies to the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) as well. Deputies approved a $789,198 budget for 2009. The amount includes a grant of $270,000 from The Episcopal Church.

GPS Being Used To Protect Holiday Displays

Not quite from the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department, but pretty close.

Electronic tracking devices are being used in a new way this holiday season. They are being used to protect some old traditions. CBS 2's Mai Martinez reports.

Pranksters should beware: big brother may just be guarding those nativity scenes and Menorahs on lawns across the country.

Every year, churches around the world put out nativity scenes and every year without fail the baby Jesus disappears from a display or two.
Sometimes, it's not just the baby Jesus. In fact at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, two wise men and a cow have also gone on holiday hiatuses.

"Ten years ago two of the wise men disappeared from the scene and they reappeared on a ski slope in Lisle," said Father George Smith.

The wise men were recovered, but the cow is still missing. That is why St. Mark's is joining a growing number of churches and synagogues turning to GPS devices and hidden cameras to help them track their holiday displays.

Amazing Grace documentary released

An update on Canada's Amazing Grace Project where congregations sent in videos of themeslves singing the hymn. Oh Canada !

The long-awaited Amazing Grace compilation video is released today as a gift to the Anglican Church of Canada. Called Amazing Together, the 10-minute documentary includes video clips from hundreds of congregations that sang "Amazing Grace" on Nov. 23 and submitted their renditions to the national office before Dec. 1.
Over 500 videos were sent in out of 2,000 congregations in Canada. Singers were asked to donate a toonie to the Council of the North, a group of dioceses involved in work and ministry in Canada's north, and to date over $30,000 has been raised.

Canadian Anglicans sang the hymn on beaches, in remote chapels, a cappella, in labyrinths, and with jazz ensembles.

"I think the program is absolutely beautiful," Lisa Barry, senior producer of Anglican Video wrote in an online reflection. "It's folksy and wobbly and full of Spirit and hope and I love it."

In a press release about the video's success, Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of General Synod, said "Amazing Together stands as a strong example of what Canadian Anglicans can do when something captures their imagination. We often hear church unity described as a fragile thing. This demonstrates conclusively that in the hearts and minds of Anglicans from coast to coast to coast, the church is strong and it is united."

Pittsburgh Episcopalians reorganize diocese

Episcopal Life reports on Saturday's Convention-

Members of 28 congregations took part in the December 12 convention, representing 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, according to a diocesan news release. Members of 18 congregations had declared their plans to remain with the diocese in the days just after the October convention.

"They're realizing that this is a better place to be," the Rev. James Simons, president of the Standing Committee and rector of St. Michael's of the Valley in Ligonier, told ENS. He said he expects the number to grow over time. "There's no time limit as far as we are concerned" for people who want to join or re-join the diocese.

The convention passed four resolutions, including one affirming that the diocese continues to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church; approved a $764,000 budget for 2009; and elected people to diocesan leadership positions.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Phillips Brooks

One of the great preachers of the 19th Century, Phillips Brooks was born on this day in 1835. He served in Philadelphia before being called to Trinity Boston where he served for many years and then briefly before his death he was Bishop of Massachusetts.

His "Lectures on Preaching" delivered at Yale in 1871 are still worth reading. In the opening pages he writes-

"Let us rejoice with one another that in a world where there are a great many good and happy things for men to do, God has given us the best and happiest, and made us preachers of his truth".

He also wrote the lyrics to "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

There's some more here-

With regrets, several hundred local worshippers leave Episcopal Church

If you have to leave this is the way to do it. From near my wife's hometown of North Tonawanda, not to be confused with Tonawanda or in this case the Town of Tonawanda.

Don and Gladys Miller worshipped weekly for 53 years in the sanctuary at 1064 Brighton Road.

But Sunday, the Millers walked away from the Town of Tonawanda church building they’ve known as their spiritual home since 1955.

“We’ve been here a long time, and it’s hard to leave,” said Don Miller, dabbing at tears. “We decided a long time ago that we would move with the church.”

The Millers are joining an expected several hundred parishioners of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in a highly unusual journey: Not only are they moving into a new facility, they’re also leaving the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Western New York.


The membership chose not to contest ownership of the property in court and instead purchased the former Temple Beth El for $750,000. The congregation will celebrate its first liturgy in the new sanctuary this Sunday.

The Episcopal diocese will continue to operate a parish called Church of the Holy Apostles at 1064 Brighton Road. Bishop J. Michael Garrison will host a meeting and compline service at 7 p.m. today.

All you need is love, archbishop tells the regulars

ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury Rowan Williams has declared a desire for people of different religions to unite to tackle global environmental crises.

He further said that Christian Christmas decorations in city centres will not cause offence to people of other faiths.

Dr Williams presented a vision of a multi-faith society based on tolerance and respect during a visit to a Cardiff church which meets in the upper room of a bar.

The Swansea-born nominal leader of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion said religious decorations were rarely removed at the request of people of faith.

He said: “[It’s] hardly ever because Muslims or Hindus are complaining. It’s usually because uncomfortable agnostics in the council offices think: ‘Oh, panic! It’s a multi-religious society. We’ve got to be careful, otherwise we’ll offend people.’”

He continued: “I have yet to hear any real-life Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or Hindu complain about the public presence of Christian symbols. They know they are in a country whose history is Christian... Most of them are happy to live with that if they feel, too, that their convictions are fully respected.”

33 bishops, deacons ordained in Breakaway Province

Apparently North America is not the only place dealing with an Anglican schism. From Africa-

THE Anglican Province of Zimbabwe yesterday ordained 33 bishops and deacons to serve in its dioceses.

The province is made up of dioceses that broke from the Church of the Province of Central Africa early this year following disagreements over homosexuality.

Of those ordained, 23 were serving deacons with the remainder being new office-bearers.

Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga said the deacons and bishops should truthfully serve the province and not tolerate homosexuality within the church.

"This is confirmation that we are going ahead with the building of the new province after breaking away from the Province of Central Africa.

Good Stuff in TEC: Mississippi

Priest turns broken glass from church into a cross

The Rev. Bruce Cheney worked a year to create a stained-glass cross for Holy Cross Episcopal Church's building. Using pieces from windows broken at Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis during the storm, Cheney didn't just place colorful glass into an eye-catching pattern.

He told a story.

One section of blue glass symbolizes the surge. Nine red pieces - three circular, three rectangular and then three more circular ones - reflect the international Morse code distress signal of dot, dot, dot; dash, dash, dash; dot, dot, dot.

Silvery-white chunks arranged in a swirl represent the hurricane. More blue glass represents sky, and at the top, using yellow-orange pieces, Cheney made a cross.

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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bishop faces rebellion over women clergy

From the Telegraph. (Looks like he's wearing the same hat Peter Cooke did in The Princess Bride.)

On one side of the row is the Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, who has a black belt in judo and a staunch opponent of the ordination of women.

In the opposing corner is a growing group of clergy and worshippers in his diocese, who are dismayed by the bishop's intransigence.

Bishop Hind has told his diocesan synod that when he appoints a new junior bishop, they will not be permitted to ordain women.

He has been bombarded with letters of protest against his stance, and faces a growing revolt. Behind closed doors, influential figures in the diocese are holding clandestine meetings to consider what action to take. Several of his priests have also already written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, believing that the bishop's attitude discriminates against women.

One senior cleric in the diocese has accused the bishop of trying to establish a refuge for anti-women priests. He claimed that the decision to block the appointment of a new bishop who would ordain women was an attempt to create a haven for traditionalists opposed to female priests.

Avery Dulles, 90; Prominent Catholic Cardinal, Theologian

I think it was Dulles who said of Fletcher's Situation Ethics that the problem wasn't the situational aspect the problem was that the concept of "love" ran through the book like a greased pig. From the Washington Post. (That's Avery in the nifty hat along side the President of Fordham College.)

Cardinal Avery Dulles, 90, a former professor at Catholic University who was born into a family of elite Protestant diplomats and became one of the country's most prominent Catholic theologians, died Dec. 12 at an infirmary at Fordham University in New York. Stricken with polio when young, he had post-polio syndrome, which led to progressive muscular and pulmonary deterioration.

Cardinal Dulles, who was appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 2001, was the first academic to be named to the Catholic Church's highest advisory council, as well as the first who had never served as a bishop.

Cardinal Dulles, a very tall and thin figure, was known for his unusual spiritual journey and came to be considered a calm statesman of Catholicism during a time of great turmoil.

Non-seceding Episcopalians hold South Hills convention

Post-Gazette report on the convention in The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh yesterday.

Tribune Review Report is the second link below-

Leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that remained in the Episcopal Church after a majority of the diocese seceded, named retired Bishop Robert Hodges Johnson, formerly of the Diocese of Western North Carolina, to serve as its interim spiritual leader with limited powers.

"He is, we believe, the right person at the right time," the Rev. James Simons, president of the diocesan Standing Committee which governs the diocese, told a convention of 71 laity and 42 clergy yesterday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mt. Lebanon.

Bishop Johnson, who did not attend, is expected to arrive soon, and serve two weeks per month through July.

The announcement came at a special convention to elect new leaders to replace the many who voted Oct. 4 to realign with the more theologically conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America. It represented 27 churches.

From the Trib