Thursday, December 31, 2009

Southern Anglican Archbishops to Affirm Covenant in Singapore

From Christian Post-

Archbishops representing Anglican churches in the southern hemisphere will formally accept a covenant aimed at promoting unity within the worldwide denomination when they meet in Singapore 2010.

The Global South Anglican, which brings together 20 of the 38 provinces (churches led by archbishops or their counterparts) in the Anglican Communion and in which the Bishop of Singapore and Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Southeast Asia The Most Revd Dr John Chew serves as incumbent general secretary, will be holding its fourth meeting or ‘encounter’ from 19 to 23 April.

The Anglican Communion Covenant as it is called was developed over the past number of years to salvage unity within the communion after the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop by The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, threatened to split it.

In a video message posted online, the spiritual leader of the 80 million member Anglican Communion the Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams said: “In recent years in the Anglican family, we’ve discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have often been strained, that we haven’t learned to trust one another as perhaps we should, that we really need to build relationships, and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another and responsible for each other.

"In other words, what we need is something that will help us know where we stand together, and help us also intensify our fellowship and our trust," he said.

More here-

Anglican Churches sent final text of Covenant — ‘not a penal code’

From The Church Times-

THE proposed Anglican Covenant will not solve all the Communion’s problems, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned, as the final draft went out to all the provinces for approval last week.

It was not going to be a constitution, “and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply,” Dr Williams said in a short video address, posted on YouTube, after the Communion’s Standing Committee had met from 15 to 18 December.
The meeting approved the revised Section 4, a sticking-point at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Jamaica in May. After long debate and a confused voting procedure, that meeting delayed the dispatch of the full Ridley Draft until a working party had made any revisions consequent on consultation with the provinces (News, 15 May 2009).

At issue was who was entitled to adopt the Covenant, which hinged on what “Churches” meant in the sentence: “It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant.” It was also deemed unclear from the draft whether groups (the Anglican Church in North America, for example) not currently recognised by the Instruments of Communion could sign. There was also concern that systems of dispute resolution had not been assessed by the provinces.

Eighteen provinces responded in time for their views to be considered. All had been given “serious attention”, the working party wrote in an explanatory note that accompanied the final text. The responses show opinion as divided as ever: Uganda is asking for expulsion to be made specific as a penalty for “erring members”, while Japan, Southern Africa, and Ireland all gave the briefest of responses, approving the Ridley text without alteration.

Tanzania had “NO [sic] issues over unclarity or ambiguity”. The President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Revd Mouneer Hanna Anis, suggested that any province that had not signed by the end of 2011 should be barred from taking part in any Anglican councils until it had adopted the Covenant.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States cannot consider the Covenant until its next meeting, in 2012. If a change to its constitution were required, that could not be made until 2015.

More here-

Neighbors oppose church’s ‘gift from God’

From Boston-

When the roof leaks at St. James’s Episcopal Church, water seeps into the sacristy and soaks the organ case and baptistry.

“It’s baptism by rainfall here,’’ said the Rev. Holly Lyman Antolini, as she pointed out holes in walls, stained-glass windows that have buckled, and a parish hall that will have to be torn down and replaced.

Antolini would like to have repairs done. But St. James’s, a fixture in Porter Square for more than a century, is strapped for cash.

So imagine her delight when Oaktree Development, a Cambridge company that creates urban multifamily housing, came tapping at the church’s door a year ago, offering a financial lifeline.

At the church’s urging, the two formed a partnership and proposed to build a four-story, 78,000-square-foot development on St. James’s historic property at Massachusetts Avenue and Beech Street. If finalized, the church would lease the bulk of its property to the developer for 99 years, and the developer would get plenty of room to erect its proposed L-shaped building around the sanctuary that would include 46 condo units, retail space, an underground parking garage, and a new parish hall on the first floor.

More here-

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Covenant and the Fullness of Time

From The Living Church-

In the course of a very long sentence, full of visionary flight and theological ballast, Paul tells us about God’s plan “for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10 NRSV). The unity envisioned here is breathtaking in its cosmic scope. Everything will be gathered up in Christ in the culmination of God’s plan being worked out through history.

The implication is inescapable: the Church anticipates the end of the plan by living in peaceful unity here and now. Unsurprisingly Paul follows the theological first half of Ephesians with an application second half in which he begs his readers “to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called … making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1,3). There is more, much more, in a similar vein in this chapter (e.g. “the unity of the faith,” v. 13).

The situation of the Church in the world today is a travesty of the vision articulated in Ephesians, itself a vision in harmony with the prayer of our Lord “that they may be one” (John 17:11,20). For the Anglican Communion as a particular expression of God’s Church, what Paul says in Ephesians is, or ought to be, a sober dose of theological medicine healing our ills of division.

It is not just that the Communion should be unified, but also that the whole Church of God in the world should be one Church. All this, incidentally, is not only so the mission of God may be strengthened through the witness of a united Church. A united Church, as a precursor to a united world, is the mission of God. For the Anglican Communion to continue fracturing is a sign that collectively we do not understand God’s will for the world. If this line of thought is correct then there is a deep irony when the final text of the Covenant talks of “the ecumenical vocation of Anglicanism to the full visible unity of the Church in accordance with Christ’s prayer that ‘all may be one’ ” (from 2.1.5). The Anglican Communion, with its roots not only in the Catholic and Reformed but also ancient orthodox Church in England, is uniquely placed to fulfill this ecumenical vocation. Yet at this time the Anglican Communion is unable to offer itself, let alone other churches, a sure sign of vocation to “the full visible unity of the Church.”

At precisely this point a huge strength of the proposed Covenant is identifiable: it is a document intended to serve the full visible unity of the Anglican Communion in accordance with the ultimate plan of God. Yet critics of the Covenant find much to complain about. It will impose uniformity, stifle prophetic action, and lead to a Communion ruled by Canterbury — so we are told.

The rest is here-

Anglican churches file appeal

From Canada-

St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Abbotsford is among those involved in an appeal filed against a B.C. Supreme Court decision that could have forced them to vacate their properties.

Cheryl Chang, in-house legal advisor for the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), said the appeal was filed on Christmas Eve in order to meet a 30-day deadline since the judgment on Nov. 25.

Chang said trustees of the four congregations decided to file the appeal now and then weigh their options after the holiday season. An appeal can be withdrawn at a later date, but it cannot be filed once the deadline passes.

"The trustees felt it was necessary to file the appeal now in order to protect their rights and keep their options open," Chang said.

She said it has been difficult for the congregations to "properly consult" over the Christmas season, and they need more time in the new year to better consider their options.

More here-

‘Begging Burglar’ Breaks Into Church To Avoid Freezing Temperatures

From Pittsburgh- (Video too)

One local church reported a series of unusual break-ins.

Police said a burglar broke into a church on East Jefferson Street in Butler County and it turns out he may have had a change of heart.

According to police, the person responsible for the break-ins may be homeless, freezing and just trying to get out of the cold.

One parishioner said the person is being called the begging burglar.
Police said the begging burglar broke into St. Peter’s Episcopal Church looking for a warm place to stay.

He left a note behind using a child’s crayon asking for forgiveness.

The note said, “I’m sorry about the window, I needed a place to stay tonight. I will repay you when the time is right. P.S. I think God forgives me.”

Police said he cleaned up the mess then left a second note to warn children to avoid the mess.
“It’s very sad that somebody had to break in then sleep in the room,” said a member of the church.

The pastor of the church said he would never press charges and would have helped the person responsible including a voucher for a night or two in a hotel.

Silencing of church bells riles some in Pittsford

From New York State-

Two schools of thought are clanging together at Christ Episcopal Church in Pittsford over its church bells.

After complaints from neighbors that the bells, which sounded every hour, disrupted their sleep, church officials decided to silence the bells after 11 p.m. But some church members are upset that the church's governing body decided to end that more than century-old tradition without discussions with parishioners and the community.

Church officials said they talked at length about the issue and felt their decision was appropriate.

The Rev. Winifred Collins, pastor at Christ Episcopal Church, said other churches quiet their bells after 11 p.m., so she didn't see anything extraordinary about the request.

"We are trying to be considerate neighbors based on our Christian values of hospitality and compassion," said Collins. "As a church, we are called to be respectful to people's needs."

Lisa Cove, a neighbor, said she appreciated the church's diligence in researching how other churches handle this situation. She was happy that church officials understood that the majority of people wouldn't notice the bells not ringing at night since they would be asleep.

"The church has always prided themselves as being a good neighbor and listening to all sides and they did what was best for everyone involved," said Cove. "You have to remember that the area is residential and it can disturb someone at midnight to hear the bells ringing 12 times."

More here-

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rating baseball's Hall of Fame candidates

A week and a day away! I'm rooting for Bert.

Ranking the candidates

. Best bets for the Class of 2010

Andre Dawson: Got 67 percent of the vote last year, the most of anyone not elected. In four of the last five years, the player with the most returning votes has been elected.

Bert Blyleven: Had 62.7 percent of the vote last year. Eventually, 287 wins and 3,701 strikeouts will get him in.

Edgar Martinez: First year on the ballot. A short career and being stuck at DH will hurt, but a .418 on-base percentage is hard to ignore.

Roberto Alomar: First year. Make 12 All-Star teams and you're going in sooner rather than later.

Barry Larkin: First year. Also has 12 All-Star appearances, and an MVP award for good measure.

. Maybe someday, but not this time

Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Lee Smith

. Only way they get in is with a ticket

Kevin Appier, Harold Baines, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Alan Trammell, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile

Is the Roman Catholic Church poaching Anglican members?

From Louisiana-

Late in life, the mother of the Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., began attending mass at a Southern California church, the congregation of which soon became Spanish-speaking. Services were conducted entirely in that language, which she could not understand, yet she happily continued attending. When her son asked why, she replied: "It is just like the Latin Mass, I don't understand a word of it. It is even better, I don't understand the homily."

We have all listened to a speaker and wished: If only he were incomprehensible. As G.K. Chesterton said of Times Square, it would be beautiful if you could not read.

Mrs. Reese's son, now 64 and a senior fellow at a religious-issues think tank at Georgetown University, was raised experiencing the liturgy in Latin. He entered seminary in 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council convened. By the time Reese was ordained, the council had essentially proscribed the Latin Mass.

Having seen much change — and much resistance to it — Reese is relaxed about 2009's most intriguing development in Christianity, the Vatican's enticement of disaffected Anglicans. Rome is saying to individuals, and perhaps to entire parishes and even dioceses: "Come on over." It is trolling with rules, recently written, that will enable Anglicans-become-Catholics to retain some of their liturgy. The church will accept some already married priests, and perhaps married seminarians, but not bishops.

More here-

Both Church and state have common vision

From Ghana-

The Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Miss Sherry Ayittey, has said that both the church and state had a common vision of seeking the development of the country.

She said whilst the state continues to focus its attention on the secular needs of its citizens, the church provides the spiritual needs of the citizens.

"It is therefore imperative that with unity of purpose by both the state and church, the agenda of government is implemented in the interest of all Ghanaians".

Miss Ayittey said this at the 70th Anniversary celebration of the Saint Luke Anglican Church at Ajumako Bisease.

The Minister said the "password should be loyalty, collaboration, cooperation and support for the achievement of common objective".

She said government was happy that the church was interested and acting actively to assist in its quest to achieving a better Ghana.

Miss Ayittey said beyond the traditional role of providing hospitals, schools and other social amenities, the government was ready and willing to cooperate with the church.

The Anglican Bishop for Cape Coast, Right Rev. Bishop Daniel Sylvanus Allotey, called on the society to strive for peace because it is essential for development, adding that "we must learn to tolerate one another".

The Parish Priest, Rev. Father Josiah Myles Abadoo, said the parish would soon lunch a 10-year development plan.

More here-

Church billboard in increasingly secular New Zealand causes controversy

From The Washington Post-

The Christmas season in sun-kissed New Zealand is normally a chilled-out, festive time more likely to involve beaches and barbecues than robust debates on the story of Jesus's birth.

But this year, many here are caught up in the latter (on the beach and around the barbecue, of course), because of a billboard outside St. Matthew-in-the-City, a towering neo-gothic Anglican church on a bustling street in downtown Auckland.

The poster features Mary and Joseph in bed and apparently naked under the sheets. Joseph looks dejected, while Mary gazes sadly toward the heavens.

The caption reads: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow."

The church insists that the billboard is an attempt to spark a discussion about faith in an increasingly secular nation. Some say it has at least prompted a laugh or two.

"I think it's brilliant," Lesley Underwood, 60, a customer service representative, said in an interview next to the defaced billboard. She called it "humorous" and "very much a conversation piece in the city."

Many others disagree, saying it is jarring -- if not deeply offensive.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Warming Center adopts open door policy

From Kentucky-

Organizers of a warming center ministry in Murray have revised their policies from the ground up, with hopes of making it easier to stay warm this winter.

A more “open door” policy will greet anyone needing a place to stay during the cold winter months ahead, and the center itself has been relocated from First United Methodist Church to St. John's Episcopal Church on Main Street.

“We wanted to revise the policy and started with what was the most ‘open door' but still allowed us to host. St. John's insurance company was the most flexible with the policy,” said Matt Bradley, priest at St. John's Episcopal Church.

The center is open nightly from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. No pre-registration is required and while the doors are locked at 11 p.m., Bradley said someone will answer the door for late arrivals. Smokers are welcome but must step outside to smoke. If anyone arrives at the center appearing intoxicated, they will be given the option of going straight to bed or leaving the center. A hot dinner meal will be served, and breakfast will also be provided. In the past, organizers asked for pre-registration and kept the doors locked after a certain point in the night, along with having a stricter policy on intoxicated persons.

“The only thing we ask is that you surrender any weapons on you at the door. We'll lock them up and give them back the next day. We also will have a male and female volunteer staying the night,” Bradley said.

With a looser policy, Bradley said he and the other sponsoring churches are not worried about incidents arising. Anyone appearing physically or verbally aggressive will be asked to leave.

More here-

Monday, December 28, 2009

Religious clashes in bomb suspect's state have killed thousands

From The London Times-

Nigeria is devoutly religious, one of the most religious countries not just in Africa but in the world.

About half of Nigeria's fast-growing population of more than 150 million is Muslim and a third Christian, with many others practising indigenous religions. There are small numbers of other religions, including about 40,000 Jewish people, one of the oldest-established Jewish populations in the world.

The alleged bomber's family compound is in Katsina, an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim northern Nigeria where its famous 50-foot 14th century Gobarau Minaret is a popular tourist attraction and has become a worldwide symbol of African Islam.

Katsina is one of several states that have introduced criminal Sharia in the last decade, sparking clashes, often between Muslims and the Christian minority, that have led to thousands of deaths.

Under criminal Sharia, penalties can include flogging for drinking alcohol, chopping off hands and feet for thieves who reoffend and stoning of adulterers.

Christianity is also growing fast in Nigeria, in particular Protestant, charismatic Christianity, in the south. Nigeria is the second biggest province in the Anglican Communion, with 19 million baptised church members compared to 25 million in England. The big difference, though, is that in Nigeria, most are practising. Catholics are in the majority also in some areas.

One particular brand of radical Islam, Izala, is among the Islamic sects in Katsina and is comparable in some respects to extremist Islamic movements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Izala, a Sunni sect, attracts the academic elite and supports the universal application of Sharia.

More here-

Archbishops condemn police intimidation against Anglicans in Zimbabwe

From Christian Today-

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have condemned fresh police intimidation against members of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe in the last week.

Churchgoers, including clergy and local bishops, were barred from entering their churches on Christmas Day by police, who also threatened them with arrest and violence.

Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu hit out at the intimidation, saying that the church was the only lifeline for people “ground down by unceasing unemployment and lack of basic services”.

“We condemn unequivocally any move to deny people their basic right to worship. To prevent people from worshipping in their churches on Christmas Day - unable to receive the church’s message of hope - is a further blow to civil liberties in Zimbabwe,” they said.

“Such unprovoked intimidation of worshippers by the police is completely unacceptable and indicative of the continued and persistent oppression by state instruments of those perceived to be in opposition.”

Earlier in the year, the Diocese of Harare brought charges against the police chief of Zimbabwe for sending police to block Anglicans from entering their churches for Sunday services.

Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri was accused by the diocese of working with the excommunicated Bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga to destabilise the Anglican Diocese of Harare.

Kunonga, a supporter of President Robert Mugabe’s regime, set up his own province following his expulsion from the Anglican Church in 2007. He has refused to heed a high court ruling to share churches with Anglican congregations and has since been locked in a wrangle with the new Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya over ownership of the Church’s property within the diocese.

More here-

Researchers report big drop in Christian adherence in UK

From the Church Times-

BELIEF in God in the UK continues to lag a long way behind the United States, a new study suggests. In the US, 61 per cent of those surveyed said that they had “no doubt” that God existed; in the UK, the percentage was just 17. In the US, just four per cent said that they were not religious at all: they don’t believe in God, attend religious services, or even identify with a religion; in the UK the percentage was 31.

The figures come in a paper by David Voas and Rodney Ling, to be published in British Social Attitudes: The 26th report, to be released on 27 January. The US figures are based on the American General Social Survey 2008; the UK ones come from the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey, which interviewed 4486 people.

The authors suggest a significant decline in religious practice in the UK. “Over the last quarter of a century, the number of people describing them selves as Christian has dropped from 66 per cent to 50 per cent.”

The Church of England has suffered the biggest fall, they state, from 40 per cent in 1983 to 23 per cent in 2008. Of those who identified them selves as Anglicans in the interviews, fewer than one fifth attend a service once a month or more; half never attend. Some of these make up the category “fuzzy faithful”, who do not act on their stated belief.

The full survey material is not yet available, and Prebendary Lynda Barley, head of research for the Archbishops’ Council, expressed some doubt about the findings. “In surveys about belief, the wording of the question is all-important. If you ask: ‘Do you belong to a Church, the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church, etc.?’ you will get one figure. People in the 21st century are not membership-oriented. The voluntary sector, political parties, all are suffering because people no longer join things, and the Church is caught up in this.

Census, and independent “If, on the other hand, you ask: ‘Do you regard yourself as a Christian, an Anglican, etc.?’ you get a consistently higher figure. This is the form of question asked in the 2001 UK Governmentsurveys continue to confirm its find ing that seven people in ten describe themselves as Christian.

More here-

A touch of luck slips from finger

A nice story from Buffalo-

The tears force Frances Campbell to stop talking.

She looks down at her hand, lightly touches her wedding ring, and begins once again to speak.

“I didn’t even know when it slipped off,” Frances says touching the ring again. “I knew it was too big because I had trouble with my face lately and I had trouble eating, I knew my fingers had gotten small. I knew my ring needed to get fixed but it was just one of those things that you keep putting off.”

Francis was working the Episcopal Church’s “Surprise You Sale” on Dec. 5. She was assigned the task of loading bags for patrons and after a few hours of work, she prepared to leave. That’s when she noticed her diamond wedding ring was gone.

“I thought for sure it had just slipped off in my glove,” she said. “But when I got home and looked, it wasn’t there.”

One can’t understand the height of the loss without considering the importance of the object.

To put it in Francis’ words, “diamonds don’t mean anything unless they mean something to you,” and these diamonds meant a lot to Francis.

“Jerry was pretty sly when he got the ring made,” Francis said. “He told me that he was taking it down to get his cleaned and asked if I wanted him to take mine too.”

What Jerry really did was get the ring fitted with two diamonds, one coming from his mother’s and before that grandmother’s wedding ring and the other from Francis’ engagement ring.

“He took it to a local jeweler named Charlie Witt. Charlie only made one of each ring. He never made duplicates,” Frances said. “I can remember the day Jerry gave it to me. It was such a surprise, it was our 30th wedding anniversary and we were having a family picnic in Story, I was so surprised to get it.”

In November of 2004, Jerry passed away. As the first athletic director at Buffalo High School, he made a lasting impact on students and faculty. As a football coach he was a fixture in the community and as a loving father and husband his absence was deeply felt by his family.

The rest is here-

At churches, it's let us pray - for repairs

From New London CT-

The massive stained glass window behind the altar at St. James Episcopal Church is coming loose.

"The job was poorly done ten years ago, the company is now out of business and the window is about to fall out again," said senior church warden Alma Peterson, speaking Sunday of the most recent repairs to the aging window designed by renowned artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The congregation is scrambling now to repair that Tiffany window and another donated by Lawrence & Memorial Hospital founder Sebastian Lawrence.

The small congregation is slowly raising money to finance the repairs, which could cost more than $100,000, Peterson said. After those are complete, the church has its sights set on a burdensome boiler that must be replaced.

In New London, St. James' woes are not uncommon.

All eight of the churches in New London's Downtown National Register Historic District have similar troubles, said Sandra Kersten Chalk, executive director of New London Landmarks, which led two tours through the eight churches on Sunday afternoon. Nearly all were built in the 19th century, many by prominent architects, Chalk said.

"People aren't paying attention to these beautiful churches," Chalk said. "They are such important pieces of the historic district, both in terms of their past and what they do for the community. What would we do without them?"

More here-

New L.A. Episcopal bishop's historic journey

From The LA Times-

The Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce still remembers the moment 23 years ago when she fell in love with the Episcopal Church.

Raised as a devout Roman Catholic, Bruce happened to visit an Episcopal parish in New Mexico, where the mother of a friend was officiating.

Bruce was moved by the joy inside the sanctuary and delighted by the sight of the female priest, something prohibited by the Catholic Church. She found unexpected similarities between the two approaches, including the Eucharist.

"There was something about being in an Episcopal church that felt like I had come home," she said.

Two decades later, Bruce would make history by becoming the first woman elected suffragan, or assistant bishop, in the 114-year history of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruce's ascent at the diocese's annual convention earlier this month was eclipsed to a large degree by controversy over the election at the same event of an openly gay priest, the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool of Maryland, to a second assistant bishop's post.

But many in the Los Angeles diocese speak of Bruce, the longtime rector of St. Clement's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, in reverential tones.

More here-,0,6483401.story

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why Otunnu missed Museveni handshake

From Uganda-

STATE House has reacted to complaints by Olara Otunnu that President Yoweri Museveni refused to shake his hand at the consecration of the new Anglican bishop of northern Uganda.

According to presidential press secretary Tamale Mirundi, former UN diplomat Otunnu remained seated as the Museveni walked in during the ceremony last Sunday, making it difficult for him to offer him a handshake.

It is normal practice and a gesture of respect for people to stand up when the President approaches to greet them. Remaining seated can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect.

Mirundi added that Museveni could not shake hands with the UPC presidential aspirant because he wanted to use it for opportunistic goals.

“Otunnu refused to stand up as all other people did as a trick to force Museveni bend in order to shake hands with him. Otunnu had staged a photographer ready to photograph Museveni bending to shake hands with Otunnu.”

Museveni and Otunnu found themselves at the same place for the first time since the failed peace talks in 1985.

Otunnu was at the time foreign affairs minister in the Okello regime that was overthrown by Museveni’s National Resistance Army in January 1986.

Otunnu had expressed his disappointment that Museveni refused to shake hands with him.

“President Museveni came around greeting people in the tent. I was eagerly waiting to shake hands with him but he avoided me and passed over to other people,” he told journalists on Monday.
He said since they were all Christians in a holy place, they should have shaken hands.

More here-

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Episcopal Church In Homewood Thankful For New Roof

From Pittsburgh-

For the congregation of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross in Homewood, this Christmas Eve Mass was the answer to their prayers.

"This church has been needing a roof for quite a while and we finally get the roof put on. And this is our first celebration since that has been done," Hugh Blackman, a parishioner, said.

It's a welcome new beginning compared to what the congregation had to endure prior to the repairs.

"We had a leaky roof. It was leaking in many places. We had problems with the walls, paint peeling from the walls, the plaster falling on people," Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre explained. "The clear story windows – two had already fallen in."

The roof and other restoration work totaled over $220,000 paid for partly by a church loan, the Diocese and generous donations.

More here-

Video here-

Vatican goes trolling

George Will In The Miami Herald-

Late in life, the mother of the Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., began attending mass at a Southern California church, the congregation of which soon became Spanish-speaking. Services were conducted entirely in that language, which she could not understand, yet she happily continued attending. When her son asked why, she replied: ``It is just like the Latin Mass, I don't understand a word of it. It is even better, I don't understand the homily.''

We have all listened to a speaker and wished: If only he were incomprehensible. As G.K. Chesterton said of Times Square, it would be beautiful if you could not read.

Mrs. Reese's son, now 64 and a senior fellow at a religious-issues think tank at Georgetown University, was raised experiencing the liturgy in Latin. He entered seminary in 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council convened. By the time Reese was ordained, the council had proscribed the Latin Mass.

Having seen much change -- and much resistance to it -- Reese is relaxed about 2009's most intriguing development in Christianity, the Vatican's enticement of disaffected Anglicans. Rome is saying to individuals, and perhaps to entire parishes and even dioceses: ``Come on over.'' It is trolling with rules, recently written, that will enable Anglicans-become-Catholics to retain some of their liturgy. The church will accept some already-married priests, and perhaps married seminarians, but not bishops.

More here-

Chaplain blames 9/11 for lung problems

From Wisconsin (by way of Omaha)-

When the call came, the Rev. Tom Winslow did not hesitate.
Terrorists had destroyed the World Trade Center, and rescue workers needed the spiritual support of clergy.

So for one week in November of 2001, Winslow, an Episcopal priest and the chaplain for the Wisconsin FBI, ministered to rescue workers in an area of ground zero dubbed "the pit."
Winslow was one of many clergy attached to federal agencies who rotated through ground zero. He remembers praying over a rib cage, the only body part left of one victim.

Now, eight years later, Winslow thinks the toxic air he breathed that week led to a life-threatening health crisis. He received a lung transplant at UW Hospital three weeks ago and was back Monday for his first clinic visit.
"There are a lot of people out there who are still victims of 9/11, and they are going to be showing up in a wave at hospitals in the years ahead," said Winslow, 65, of Pewaukee.

At ground zero, he wore an air-purifying canister respirator at all times around his neck, he said. However, he breathed through it only when he traveled below ground, the common practice of those at the site, he said.

A 2009 report by the World Trade Center Medical Working Group says thousands of exposed people continue to suffer from chronic mental and physical health conditions but that a relationship between exposure and more serious illnesses such as cancer is unknown.

Winslow said he had no lung problems until after his work at ground zero, then suffered an asthma-like attack within a week or so. Serious sinus and bronchial problems developed, leading to pneumonia, gastric reflux disease, and, ultimately, lung failure.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Christmas spirit alive and well at soup kitchen

From Connecticut-

The Christmas spirit was alive and well at the Trinity Episcopal Church soup kitchen Friday morning, where around 60 of the city’s homeless and hungry received a hot meal from volunteers.

Attendees ate, drank coffee, and chatted as they enjoyed a traditional holiday meal of ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and green bean salad, all to be followed by slices of homemade pie.

The team of volunteers who took time out of their Christmas day said the work was not just about helping those who are down on their luck, but also giving those who work in the kitchen regularly a chance to enjoy their holiday.

“It’s a way to give back to the community and give our Christian friends and workers time to spend with their families,” said Alan Matisoff.

The crew at the kitchen included numerous Torrington Rotary Club members and current Superintendent of Schools Ed Arum, who took up dishwashing duties.

More here-

Fort Worth's Episcopalian split tops 2009's religion news

From Ft. Worth-

When reviewing the major religion news stories in the Fort Worth area over the past year, one subject kept rising to the top — the Episcopalian split.

Two groups of Episcopalians — the breakaway group led by Bishop Jack Iker and the other that voted to stay in the national Episcopal Church — went separate ways, each claiming the title Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Members of Iker’s group voted to leave the Episcopal Church, saying it has strayed from biblical principles in many ways, including ordaining an openly gay man, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Area Episcopalians who stayed in the national church reorganized the Fort Worth diocese, naming a provisional bishop, now the Right Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, to replace Iker. Also, they, along with the national church, filed suit in Tarrant County’s 141st District Court, seeking that Iker’s group give up all church property in the 24-county diocese.

Iker’s group voluntarily gave up church properties where a majority of members had voted to stay in the Episcopal Church. But it says that all other properties belong to the diocese, not the national denomination. Iker also holds that he is still bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and that the diocese has just shifted its allegiance to the Argentina-based Southern Cone province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Courts will ultimately decide the issue.

Highlights of the dispute:

More here-

Friday, December 25, 2009

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas sermon at Canterbury Cathedral

From The Anglican Communion-

This morning’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews begins with the boldest and most unambiguous statement possible of what’s new and different about Christmas. God has always been communicating with humanity, in any number of ways; but what we need from God is more than just information. The climax of the story is the sending of a Son: when all has been said and done on the level of information what still needs to be made clear to us is that the point of it all is relationship. God speaks at last through a Son, so that we can grasp the fact that really knowing God, really responding to his Word of promise and life, is a matter of relationship. It’s becoming God’s child. And the consequence is that we ourselves learn to speak and act in such a way that others want to share that relationship.

The Son, says the writer to the Hebrews, is the heir of all creation; the Son is the lifegiving principle of all reality; the Son radiates and reflects the unimaginable beauty and light of the source from which he comes. When the Son is born among us, what happens is that this unlimited, unending torrent of light and glory, of intelligence and order and loving contemplation is poured into the container of a human mind and body. Through what he then does in that human mind and body, the possibilities for human life are changed for ever, and we are invited into the same place in heaven that the Son occupies for ever – the place that St John’s gospel defines as ‘ nearest to the Father’s heart’. And the letter-writer triumphantly claims that our human destiny is thus to be even closer to God than the angels are. Christian poets and thinkers have often imagined the angels looking at us with amazement – such very unpromising material, such limited capacities, such a genius for self-deception and pettiness, yet promised such a future.

Relationship is the new thing at Christmas, the new possibility of being related to God as Jesus was and is. But here’s the catch and the challenge. To come into this glorious future is to learn how to be dependent on God. And that word tends to have a chilly feel for us, especially us who are proudly independent moderns. We speak of ‘dependent’ characters with pity and concern; we think of ‘dependency’ on drugs and alcohol; we worry about the ‘dependent’ mind set that can be created by handouts to the destitute. In other words, we think of dependency as something passive and less than free.

More here-

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Archbishop of York attacks Uganda's anti-gay bill

From The Seattle Times-

A top Anglican cleric spoke out Thursday against a proposed Ugandan law that would impose the death penalty on some homosexuals.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu - who along with the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is one of the global fellowship's most senior priests - made what he said was the Anglicans' first public condemnation of the anti-gay law now being considered by the East African nation's parliament.

"I'm opposed to the death sentence. I'm also not happy when you describe people in the kind of language you find in this ... bill," he told BBC radio.

The issue of homosexuality has triggered a debate that has divided the global 77 million-strong Anglican fellowship. Sentamu chose his words carefully, restating the content of a 2004 Anglican statement that condemned "the victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex."

Nearly 40 percent of Ugandans are Anglicans, and the country has become a rallying point for Anglican conservatives angry over blessings given to gay marriages and the ordination of gay bishops, with some U.S. Episcopal denominations switching their allegiance to the Church of Uganda following the 2003 ordination of openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson.

More here-

People of faith recognize plight of immigrants during three-day retreat

From North Carolina-

In the days immediately following Christmas, an interfaith group of local laity and clergy will join together Dec. 26-28 to honor the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28). This is the day set aside in the Christian church to remember the harrowing escape of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus to Egypt and the slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:13-18). It is a biblical story that often goes untold and is typically excluded from the Christmas narrative.

In addition to a shared worship service, participants will fast and vigil as they seek to make an explicit connection between the experience of the Holy Family and the plight of immigrants in our community. Rabbi Rob Cabelli, of Temple Beth Israel, will reflect on the core Jewish teachings with regard to the “aliens and strangers” in our midst, a topic to which the Hebrew scriptures frequently refer. He states that the “bond of fellowship” we experience in our faith communities is nurtured in the “easy place first, the community defined by shared religious, ethnic, or cultural practices,” so that it then can be extended to “all those outside that smaller circle.” Cabelli adds, “If the second part is not fulfilled, in my opinion the first part is in vain.”

The first gathering will be from 7-8:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 1 Dundee St. Rabbi Robert Cabelli will discuss “Understanding Immigration Through the Lens of Exodus, the Jewish Faith, and the Hebrew Scriptures.”

More here-

2 new bishop candidates emerge

From Wyoming-

The list of finalists to become Wyoming's new Episcopal bishop has expanded to six, as two new candidates have emerged.
Casper resident Margaret Babcock and Sandra Casey-Martus of Corpus Christi, Texas, are the latest to apply for the office. Wyoming's current Episcopal bishop, Bruce Caldwell, is retiring next summer after 12 years in office.

Both of the new candidates have connections to Wyoming. Babcock works for the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming as the canon for congregational and ministry development.
Casey-Martus, who is currently rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Corpus Christi, served as executive director of the Alta Retreat Center for 10 years and was vicar of St. Francis in the Tetons from 1996 to 2005.

The four other finalists are the Rev. Rebecca "Becky" Brown of Foxborough, Mass.; the Very Rev. Canon F. Michael Perko of Albuquerque, N.M.; the Rev. Canon Dr. Clark Michael Sherman of Bozeman, Mont.; and the Rev. John Sheridan Smylie, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper.

Clergy and delegates from Wyoming congregations will elect a new bishop in March.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The New Season: The Emerging Shape of Anglican Mission

From The Anglican Communion Institute-

Advent now shifts into the manifestation of God’s good will in the Nativity feast. So too the church takes its self-scrutiny and penitence, and turns in hope to the gift of God’s own and new life among us.

The final text of the Anglican Covenant has now been sent out for adoption by the churches of the Communion. The slow process by which this text and its official dissemination for action has occurred has frustrated some, yet its persistent progress forward to this point at last puts the lie to the naysayers and early eulogists of the Covenant’s purpose. Joined to the restarting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic international dialogue, to be focused on substantive matters of ecclesiology and moral decision-making, what seemed merely slow now appears to be the visible sign of a tectonic shift in global Anglicanism and Christianity itself. It is one in which the Episcopal Church in the United States has placed itself on the far side of a widening channel separating the ballast of Christian witness, Catholic and Pentecostal, from marginal spin-offs of liberal Protestantism in decline.

And so some stock-taking is in order. I would like to speak as honestly as I can about the Episcopal Church, of which I am and remain a member, as we enter this new decade. The purpose of doing so is not to provoke response or to encourage reactive apathy. Honesty is necessary, simply and straightforwardly, for anyone who seeks God’s will, and surely that is all of us, and especially those of us who are Anglicans in America and in the Episcopal Church.

To be sure, this is not a favorable time or place for honesty. I am about to speak what, from my point of view, are hard things to receive. But I do not wish at all to play into the greed for TEC’s failure that is fueled by the anger of some former Episcopalians and former Anglicans. I do not count myself in this group. Nor do I want to confirm the consistent dismissal of traditional Episcopalians by others as defeatist and in love with misery. The moment of the Covenant’s finalization and ARCIC’s reinvigoration are far from miserable; they betoken new promise! More importantly, I do not want to discourage the many faithful Episcopalians who look for hope in the face of too many voices of hopelessness about their church and about most Christian churches. There are many people, especially among the young, who are seeking to serve because they are in fact called; and I believe they are called by God to serve in this strange Anglican place, but they are rightly questioning. And there are many who are wearied of the struggle in this church over the past few years, and simply afraid of their own anger; they neither wish to be challenged anew nor reminded again, and in so doing have failed to speak to the genuine questions that are now in our midst.

Much much more here-

Catholic Voices: Four Responses to the Covenant

From The Living Church-

Interdependence and mutual accountability have always been the key features of the earlier drafts (Nassau, St Andrew’s, and Ridley) of the Covenant. It is encouraging that these are still at the heart of the final text.

The working party charged with producing this text, especially focusing on section 4, is to be commended. The final text is profoundly Anglican, consonant with the trajectory of the Windsor Process and, it seems to me, is likely to lead to the majority of provinces of the Anglican Communion adopting the Covenant. In the light of recent developments, it may well be that not all provinces will enter the Covenant. Tragically, that may be appropriate at this time.

The working party has explained their guiding principles as “minimal revision” but with some “clearer definition” and “change of tone in language.” I believe they have achieved their aim admirably.

Four key questions are now answered:
Can dioceses commit themselves to the Covenant?
The Covenant is designed primarily for “Provinces of the Anglican Communion” — these are the “Churches of the Anglican Communion” referred to in the text. However, dioceses are included in the phrase “any ecclesial body” and some dioceses, for instance Communion Partner dioceses in the Episcopal Church, which may wish to commit themselves to the Covenant if their provinces do not, will be allowed to do so. The working party quote again the principles of “The Lambeth Commentary” (September 2008):

If, however, the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not commit itself to the covenant, thus strengthening its commitment to the interdependent life of the Communion.

More here-

Illegal immigrants 'used loophole to create sham marriages' for the right to live in Britain

From The Daily Mail-

Illegal immigrants used a 'loophole' to bypass a government crackdown on sham marriages and pay cash to wed European women with the right to live in Britain, a court heard today.
They fooled Anglican Church officials into believing they were genuine couples in love and agreeing to allow the 'bogus' marriages to take place.

But a registrar suspicious about the number of Nigerian men marrying women from Slovakia and the Czech Republic tipped off police who uncovered a major conspiracy.

After making covert recordings they made a series of arrests on the day of a double wedding in July, taking a groom into custody at a motorway service station on the way to the ceremony and arresting two 'brides' dressed in wedding gowns outside a church.

Today Judge Peter Collier, QC, told the seven defendants who admitted offences at Leeds Crown Court they had 'carried out an assault on controls of immigration in this country.'

The scam involved African immigrants paying up to £15,000 each to 'fixers' to arrange for them to marry a woman from Europe so they could stay in the country legally.

Read more:

Christians in Britain Wondering Why “Equality and Diversity” Don’t Apply to Them

From England-

Christians in the U.K. are continuing to warn that the government’s planned “equality” legislation will drive Christian believers out of public life. The Christian Institute, Britain’s leading evangelical Christian lobby group, has issued a report titled “Marginalising Christians,” detailing the many recent cases of Christians who have been disciplined or lost work because of conflicts between faith and the government-sponsored and increasingly aggressive secularism.

The government’s recent equality and diversity laws, the group says, leave Christians “the first to be punished and the last to be protected.”

The report cites a poll taken in January 2009 that found that 84 per cent of Britons felt that freedoms of religion and of speech are at risk in the UK.

The report said that this “growing sense of intolerance felt by Christians is made all the worse when they face hostility in the name of ‘equality and diversity’.”

“Christians wonder why they are not being treated equally and why diversity does not include them. They feel that a hierarchy of rights has sprung up which leaves them bottom of the pile. This has led to a growing feeling that ‘equality and diversity’ is code for marginalising Christian beliefs.”

George Pitcher wrote Monday in The Daily Telegraph that the Labour government’s Equality bill, currently working through the House of Lords, was being used by “parliamentary secularists to drive religion from the public sphere.”

“Any issue will serve as a means for secularists to marginalise believers. You could call that discriminatory, but to do it under the banner of equality is peculiarly hypocritical,” wrote Pitcher, a liberal Anglican minister and religion editor for the Telegraph.

There is, he said, “a delicious irony in equality being thrust upon the household of faith.”

More here-

Other seminaries facing changes

From Louisville-

Lexington Theological Seminary is hardly the only seminary to experience upheaval due to the economic freefall and changes in the numbers and types of students they are attracting:

Among others:

Salt Lake Theological Seminary, an independent evangelical school in Utah, has closed.

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y., an American Baptist school, is in merger talks with Andover Newton Theological Seminary in suburban Boston, affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and Union Theological Seminary in New York City sold or leased out campus buildings to stabilize finances.

McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), plans a announced plans to move to less expensive buildings.

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an Episcopal school in Evanston, Ill., has stopped admitting master of divinity students but is offering a doctoral program in conjunction with another school.

Claremont School of Theology, a Methodist school in California, decided in 2008 to expand into training non-Christian clergy.

In Kentucky, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville laid off 35 non-faculty employees, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary laid off nine and Asbury Theological Seminary laid off 16 workers. St. Meinrad School of Theology in Southern Indiana made some budget cuts but no staff cuts.

Covenant to bind Anglicans sent out to churches

From Pew Forum (RNS)-

The final draft of a document aimed at mediating disputes between liberals and conservatives in the global Anglican Communion was sent on Friday (Dec. 18) to its 38 provinces for approval.

The Anglican Communion, which is the world's third-largest body of Christians with 77 million members, has been bitterly divided over homosexuality since the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the communion.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of Anglicanism, said the document, called a "covenant," is "not going to be a penal code" but rather "a practical, sensible and Christian way of dealing with our conflicts."

"We've discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have been strained," Williams said in a statement, "and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another."

Each Anglican province is autonomous, limiting the power of Williams and other Anglican leaders to police the communion. In fact, earlier this month, Episcopalians in Los Angeles openly defied Williams by electing an open lesbian, the Rev. Mary Glasspool, as an assistant bishop.

Since then, Williams and an international panel of Anglican leaders have asked the Episcopal Church to "exercise restraint" by not confirming Glasspool's election. In addition, the Anglican Communion's Standing Committee on Friday asked Episcopalians to exercise "gracious restraint" with respect to "actions that endanger the unity of the Anglican Communion."

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury coming to Yonkers

From New York-

Archbishop of Canterbury Roman Williams, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will speak on Jan. 30 at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers.

He will speak about "Theology and the Contemplative Calling."

The seminary will also give Williams on honorary doctorate to honor his contributions to the study of Orthodox theology and spirituality.

The Anglican Communion includes more than 80 million Christians in over 160 countries.

In recent years, the Communion has been increasingly divided over questions of sexuality, in particular whether gays and lesbians can serve as clergy and whether Anglican ministers should unite same-sex couples in union ceremonies or marriages.

The Episcopal Church, the official American arm of the Anglican Communion, is far more liberal on these matters than the Communion as a whole. Williams recently chastised the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for electing a lesbian as a bishop despite knowing that the move may harm internal Communion relations.

More here-

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dr. Radner: Covenant Part of a Global Shift

From The Living Church-

The final text of the Anglican Communion Covenant pleased the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, who has served on the document’s design group since its inception in 2006. Dr. Radner, an Episcopal priest, is professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto, Ontario.

“My sense about it is that they didn’t really change anything substantial,” he told The Living Church, referring to the working group charged with revising the document from its previous iteration as the Ridley Cambridge draft.

“They salvaged what could have been a bad mess from May [2009],” when the Anglican Consultative Council met and, after a chaotic legislative session, ultimately asked for revisions to the document’s fourth section, which proposes how provinces will be accountable to the Anglican Communion as a whole.

Because changes to the fourth section did not reflect what Episcopal Church leaders were seeking, Dr. Radner said, the document helps change that province’s standing. He described it as being part of a pattern, along with the ecumenical dialogues of the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission and the recent meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury with Pope Benedict XVI.

“You take this, with the restarting of the ARCIC dialogue and what Rowan was engaged in at Rome, and there is a shift going on, and that shift is leaving the Episcopal Church behind,” he said. “There’s nothing the Episcopal Church can do about it at this point.”

While acknowledging the archbishop’s explanation that the Covenant is “not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply,” Dr. Radner said of Episcopal Church leaders: “They’re not going to be able to claim any moral high ground. They’ve been sidelined.”

Those leaders are not being shown the exit, he said, but “they’re on a path that’s going around the side of the building.”

He highlighted Section 4.1.6, which says simply, “This Covenant becomes active for a Church when that Church adopts the Covenant through the procedures of its own Constitution and Canons.”

Conservative provinces in the Global South “ought to be able to go ahead with it,” he said about adoption of the Covenant, “whatever problems there are with this or that detail.”

More here-