Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heresy trial may lead to schism

Interesting New York Times article from 1906. Even if they don't know the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth. The Rev. Algernon Crapsey is pictured.

SCHISM PREDICTED IF CRAPSEY IS DISMISSED; Shepard Warns Court of Review Hearing Priest's Appeal. THOUSANDS HOLD HIS BELIEF Counsel for Clergymen Convicted of Heresy Says Episcopalians Are Divided on the Questions at Issue.

Signs, signs everywhere signs #8

I didn't get the memo !

Non Sequitur

Good Stuff In TEC: Montana

New Butte soup kitchen to open

A new soup kitchen will open in uptown Butte next week.

Meals will be served Saint John's Episcopal Church at Broadway and Idaho Streets every Thursday at noon.

This week, church volunteers are busy preparing the kitchen and the tables. While Saint John's is providing the space, Shepherd's Fold Pastor Dallas Doyle is providing the food and much of the labor.

"There is a great need, a great need, and especially in this uptown area, ever since the Salvation Army closed their doors there's been nothing up here for people, like living in these apartments up here or sleeping in vacant houses they find. So, they need something," Pastor Dallas Doyle of Shepherd's Fold said.

"It's a tough economy right now and so many people going without food and having to decide if they're going to pay their rent, or buy medicine or buy groceries. And, people should not have to make those kinds of choices," Fr. Elton Smith of Saint John's Episcopal Church said.

Food will be served from noon to two every Thursday at the soup kitchen.

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

In this sobering time, only 1 path offers hope

Tom Ehrich in Indianapolis-

These are sour, sobering and scary times for many people. Not only are their assets dwindling, but so is their self-confidence, and their trust. People are being forced back onto their own resources.

For some, that is a reasonably smooth transition. They paid enough attention to their families to have homes capable of providing succor and new direction. They kept their skills sharp. Others, however, find themselves adrift.

I see four paths lying ahead:

» Some will turn vengeful and indulge in wild swings of blaming and recrimination.

» Some will turn their anger inward and slide into depression.

» Some will "ride out the storm," hoping that yesterday's normalcy will resume.

» And some will do the hard work of repenting, not so much in the traditional Lenten sense of confessing sins (although confession is always good for the soul), but in the broader sense of rethinking values, lifestyles, assumptions, attitudes and purpose.

Only the fourth path offers hope. We must rethink who we are, what we value, how we intend to pour out our lives, and whose star we will follow.

Update: Grace Church building trial

From Colorado Springs-


Grace Church & St. Stephen's and the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado are battling for legal ownership of a $17 million Gothic church and other property at 601 N. Tejon St. The trial started Feb. 10 and is expected to last at least until mid-March.

Grace Church & St. Stephen's is a congregation that broke away from the Episcopal Church in March 2007 over theological differences, but has continued to worship in the Tejon Street building that has housed an Episcopal parish since 1926. The breakaway congregation - the plaintiff in the case - maintains that since 1973 it's been a separate corporation from the diocese and therefore owns the property. The diocese says it owns the property because Grace has always been within the national body, and canon law states that church property is owned by the Episcopal Church.


Testimony centered on Grace's contention that it holds legal title to the Tejon Street property. The highlight of the week was testimony from the Rev. Donald Armstrong, rector of Grace Church. Armstrong, who was on the stand Tuesday and Wednesday, testified that the diocese was aware that Grace Church, acting as an independent corporation, was buying and selling property without diocesan approval, yet never objected. He also pointed out the millions of dollars of renovations Grace has done since he became rector in 1987, and how the church did not seek renovation approval from the diocese.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury to go to GenCon

From the London Times-

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is definitely to attend The Episcopal Church's General Convention this summer, The Times has learned. He will fly out on 7 July and return on 9 July in time for General Synod at York that weekend, Lambeth Palace told me today. What a turnaround from the last GenCon when all was in uproar over Gene Robinson, when a woman, Katherine Jefferts Schori, was confirmed as the first female head of an Anglican province, and when schism seemed inevitable. The rain for the last few summers seemed undending, a pathetic fallacy of the state of affairs in world Anglicanism. Today, the 'sun' is out. Remember the wonderful button badge slogans everyone wore last time? My suggestion this year, when I hope to persuade my newsdesk to let me attend for the first time in 20 years in this job, is: 'Let it shine, let it shine.'

QUINCY: Diversity embraced as steering committee leads reorganization

From Episcopal Life Online-

A newly appointed steering committee, representing persons in the Diocese of Quincy who want to remain in the Episcopal Church, has met with the Presiding Bishop in New York, welcomed a bishop as consultant, and released a vision statement and immediate goals for the reorganizing diocese.
Last November, a number of clergy and laypersons in the Peoria, Illinois-based diocese voted to leave the Episcopal Church due to theological disagreements and align with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The reorganization moves are in preparation for a special synod meeting which has been called by the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Shori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, for Saturday, April 4 to be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Peoria. In a notice issued February 27, Jefferts Shori called for the synod, saying there was "no bishop of the Diocese of Quincy, or any qualified members of the standing committee of that diocese."

She said the primary purpose of the meeting will be the election of a provisional bishop and that "thereafter, the synod is expected to proceed to the election of members of the standing committee, diocesan council, and other officers of the diocese; adoption of a budget; and consideration of resolutions related to recent purported amendments of the constitution and canons of the diocese as well as other resolutions relating to the organization and governance of the diocese."

In a separate statement released on February 27, the steering committee said it was committed to being a "fully participating, constituent part of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion" and said it will work to "ensure that everyone is welcome and that diversity is celebrated in this diocese."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Extremists thrive in crisis, says Williams

From the Church Times - England

BRITAIN is at risk from political extremism as a result of the financial crisis, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned this week.

Speaking during a meeting of the Christian Muslim Forum in London on Tuesday, Dr Williams said that the recent election of a BNP coun cillor to a county council in Kent served as a “straw in the wind”.

Many people felt angry as a result of the economic crisis, he said. “I think we do ignore at our peril the very high risk — which history should have taught us — the very high risk of financial stringency leading to political extremism.

“Anger finding its expression in xenophobia, prejudice, rivalry — all the tactics that both sociologists and psychologists remark on as the dis placement of unease and fear.
“It’s no small thing that the BNP can win a seat in Sevenoaks. It’s a straw in the wind, and we have to watch the horizon very carefully.”

Dr Williams is the patron of the Christian Muslim Forum, which was launched in 2006. At Tuesday’s meet ing at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, he also spoke of the need to “dust off” the Christian virtues of prudence and temperance and “see what they mean in a contemporary context”.

He praised the work of credit unions, and spoke of the difficulty in finding the right balance between democratically elected governments and unelected financial institutions. He also questioned whether faith groups had really said “enough is enough” during the period of eco nomic growth that preceded the downturn.

Ultimately, Dr Williams said, people of faith needed to recognise the world as “a gift to be stewarded.. . . Our own will and desires don’t define what is good for everyone. We need to understand we belong to a world that’s limited and not wholly under our control.”

Police: Man stabs son for wearing hat in church

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department. Baltimore Division-

Police said a 58-year-old man stabbed his teenage son after he refused to take off his hat at church earlier in the day. The father and his 19-year-old son got into an argument on Sunday afternoon. That's when police said the father went to a car, got a knife and stabbed his son in the left buttock and fled. The son was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center for treatment. The father's name was withheld pending his arrest.

Zimbabwe needs the church

From the Guardian-

When states and institutions collapse in Africa through war or bad government, or when a government stops outsiders travelling, the churches become the only source of support and hope. Like the monasteries in bad times in medieval Europe, they become bastions of safety as well as providers of food and medical care. Unlike the foreign NGOs whose workers have to pull out when the going gets tough, church workers are usually local people, so the churches and their humanitarian operations never close.

In Congo in the war in the early 1990s I found one parish that was operating as a clinic, school, food store and feeding centre, hotel, shop, post office, airline, workshop, garage – and church. Even soldiers completely out of control are sometimes too frightened of the churches' spiritual power to attack or loot them.

In Zimbabwe, foreign NGOs have found their work obstructed by the government and food aid has been persistently diverted to areas that support Mugabe and away from those in greatest need. NGO workers have been prevented from travel because they report back on repression by the security forces.

The aid donors are not providing help on the scale it is needed. They have decided to hang back until they can judge whether the new unity government is going to work before stepping in with a major rescue plan for Zimbabwe. That is probably the right decision. If they injected cash into the government at this stage it would probably be seized by Zanu PF.

Episcopal Church welcomes White House's consultations with faith groups

From Episcopal Life Online-

Beginning with his transition team in the days after Barack Obama's election November 4, and continuing now with his administration, members of the 44th U.S. president's administration have been routinely inviting representatives of faith communities to offer policy advice.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori recently called the administration's desire to listen to religious leaders "refreshing and exceeding hopeful." The Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations (OGR) has already participated in a number of meetings on policy issues, she said, "and we only expect that to grow."

Maureen Shea, OGR director, told ENS that during the transition between the Bush and Obama administrations OGR staff members attended meetings with Obama's staff on eco-justice, domestic needs, torture, reauthorization of foreign aid, immigration, and the Middle East. Those conversations have continued into the new administration, she said.

Jefferts Schori recently joined with other members of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program to meet with Carol M. Browner, who is Obama's energy coordinator at the White House.

Obama announced on February 5 the formation of a 25-member President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The council is meant to advise the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Formation of such an office is not an entirely new idea. In fact, Obama amended a January 29, 2001 executive order by then-President George W. Bush which established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

I'm back

I am back from a week in the Yucatan for a much needed vacation. Returned to Pittsburgh and a relatively balmy 55 degrees ! Had a wonderful and restful time. While I was gone I read Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood" a dark portrayal of what its like to not have Jesus in your life and Carson McCullers "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". I recommend them both.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'Pray and fast' plea for Zimbabwe

From the BBC complete with video.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on Anglicans to "pray, fast and give" to highlight Zimbabwe's slide toward starvation.

Dr Williams and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, have chosen the growing crisis in Zimbabwe for their first joint appeal for funds.

They said people should give now rather than wait for a political solution.
Dr Sentamu said if people did not give, disease and starvation would mean "more and more graves".

In a joint interview with Dr Williams for BBC News, Dr Sentamu said he will spend Wednesday fasting in St Helen's Church in York, as well as leading hourly prayers for Zimbabwe.

Global issues a priority for General Convention

Global concerns and Anglican Communion issues will be a major focus of the Episcopal Church’s 76th General Convention when it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California.

The church’s main legislative gathering, which meets every three years, also will welcome many international guests from various Anglican Communion provinces. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will attend General Convention for the first time July 8-9. He will participate in Bible study and be a keynote speaker at a global economic forum on the evening of July 8.

Convention will devote extensive conversation to global issues through its Committee on International Concerns, which will prepare legislation to be addressed by convention’s House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

Some of the key issues will focus on the crises and peacemaking efforts in conflict areas such as the Middle East, Sudan, Sri Lanka and the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Convention addresses global concerns for two reasons, said the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, the Episcopal Church’s senior director of mission and director of the Advocacy Center.

"One is in response to God’s mission to reconcile all things to Christ. We join in Christ’s work of salvation of the world. Secondly, we undertake this work as an expression of our partnership with other provinces of the Anglican Communion. These are life-and-death matters"

Bishop Williamson is in Britain. Traditionalists should avoid him like the plague

From the London Telegraph-

The sad, sinister and silly figure of Bishop Richard Williamson is back in Britain, having been expelled from Argentina. Traditionalist Catholics - including those in the Society of St Pius X - should turn away from him, as they would from a ranting loony on the top of a bus.

Oh, to be sure, Williamson is a bishop: that has never been in dispute. He is also now no longer technically excommunicated. But he is a suspended bishop, a suspended priest, as are all the clergy of the SSPX. Rome failed to make this clear before lifting his excommunication. (Actually, it failed to make anything clear.)

Williamson's presence in this country should deeply embarrass British members of the SSPX, for it was on their society's behalf that Benedict XVI made his controversial decision. The Pope wishes to see the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre back in the fold, and he knew that the excommunications were a barrier to reunion.

Lent: Listen, look, and watch for "a burning bush"

I recently read Cathleen Falsani's "Sin Boldly= a Field Guide to Grace" and highly recommend it. This is from USA Today-

For a fresh look at the spiritual dimensions of a Christian holy day, I always check in at Cathleen Falsani's blog, The Dude Abides.

Sure enough, her essay on Lent takes you in new directions. She shares a sermon from one of the priests at her Episcopal parish near Chicago. Mother Katie, she writes,

... talked about the typical approaches of marking the Lenten fast by either giving something up or adding a new spiritual practice. Whether we add or subtract is up to us, she said, and we should choose something that honestly will help us focus on shaping the spirit (and not just taming the flesh).

"How can you mark this time before Easter as a special time of year, a time to examine your life and what controls it? What will help you proclaim to others that you have and . . . are listening to the world around you?"

"We are called to listen," Mother Katie said, "to look at the world as it is, not just as we would have it to be."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My oh Mayan

Went to Chichen Itza today. Fabulous, but I like Tikal in Guatemala better. One more day in the sun before the return to the snow and cold.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weather here is fine

85 degrees and partly cloudy here in Puerto Aventuras. Tomorrow is the trip to Chichen Itza.

Good Stuff In TEC: Indiana

'It's the most fun I've ever had in church'

The crease lines of neatly pressed trousers broke ever so slightly as their owners swayed forward during communion service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Syncopation has that effect on legs.

For the third year, the Valparaiso congregation has celebrated the last Sunday before Lent with a Jazz Mass.

Under the direction of guest music director J.D. Struckmann, people moved to off-beat renditions of their favorite hymns, while Struckmann, the Jeff Brown Trio and trumpet player Tom Reed wove in and out with jazz improvisations.

"It is the most fun I've ever had in church," said L.P. Manning of Valparaiso. "I knew the words to everything they played."

Not just the hymns, but some "adapted" standards played before and after mass, too. Struckmann, a specialist in liturgical jazz music, who studied under Valparaiso University Professor of Music Jeff Brown, now lives in Houston, Texas, where he teaches music at Lutheran High School North and jazz history at Concordia College.,vjazzmass.article

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

Anglican heads take dim view of would-be rival North American church

From the Christian Century-

Leaders of the Anglican Communion say that they, not dissident conservatives, will decide what role a newly formed traditionalist North American church will have in their worldwide fellowship.

Concluding their weeklong meeting February 5 in Alexandria, Egypt, the Anglican leaders also said a new North American church should not "seek to recruit or expand [its] membership" by attempting to convert others.

Conservatives angered by liberal trends in the New York-based Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada set up a rival church in December, calling it the Anglican Church in North America. Led by deposed Episcopal bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, ACNA aims to be recognized as the official Anglican franchise in North America.

But the 30-some Anglican primates, or archbishops, put a damper on those plans. While acknowledging that "there is no consensus among us how this new [church] is to be regarded," the primates unanimously agreed that "it is not for individual groups to claim the terms on which they will relate to the communion."

What’s left of recently divided church focuses on fresh thinking.

For the few remaining members of the former St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal church in the Town of Tonawanda, starting over meant staying right where they were.

Just a dozen-or-so in number, they represent the beginning of a brand new church in the same old building, now called Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, since the majority of their members left citing philosophical differences with the greater Episcopal Church late last year.

Those who remain sat in the very same pews they’ve occupied in some cases for decades Sunday, listening to a sermon about seeing beyond the old veneer.

“Allow your responses to change,” the Rev. Sarah Gordy told worshippers young and old, elaborating on a theme encouraging spiritual growth and leaving old assertions at the door as Lent approaches.

“Refuse to be satisfied with the old answers ...” she said from her position at a lectern in the church near the corner of Brighton And Fries roads built in the 1950s. Until just a few months ago, the place was spiritual home to about 1,000 additional souls.

Just as the new church tries to redefine its place in a house which seems suddenly very large for the few who gather there each week, its members are being encouraged to unseal old doors into their hearts and minds.

“This is Holy Apostles; this is not St. Bartholomew’s,” Gordy, 30, later said. She has since Feb. 1 administered service to those few who remain.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

HIV-positive Ugandan priest is awarded 2009 Niwano Peace Prize

The Rev Gideon Byamugisha, a Ugandan who became the first known African cleric to declare publicly he was HIV-positive, breaking stigma-induced silence that often hampers combating the illness, has been awarded the Niwano Peace Prize - writes Peter Kenny.

The award is often seen as akin to a Nobel Peace Prize for members of the faith community. It is awarded by the Japan-based Niwano Peace Foundation. The prize comes with 20 million yen (US$213 000), the Buddhist group said in a 20 February statement. This is the second time in five years the prize has gone to Uganda.

In 2004 the prize was awarded to the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative, a northern Uganda organization in which the members of different religions, including Islam and Christianity (Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican), work together in a region wracked by armed conflict.

A teacher by profession, an Anglican pastor by calling and a theologian by training, Byamugisha will be presented with the prize in Tokyo on 7 May.

One member of the prize committee said, "Canon Gideon has turned personal suffering into a religious message of hope and courage and has matched it with constructive action that has provided inspiration and help to so many who have fallen victim to the HIV/AIDS pandemic."

Primates greet new Patriarch

Why is it the Orthodox get all the cool hats?

The Primates of the Anglican Communion have written to Cyril I (Kyrill) congratulating him upon his election as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

In a letter dated Feb 2 sent from the 2009 Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams conveyed the primates’ “warm and fraternal greetings to you, our brother in Christ, on your election to the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia. This is an ancient and noble office, and one to which all the Christian world looks for an exemplary Christian witness.”

The Churches of the Anglican Communion, Dr Williams said, had “always valued and respected their links to the Orthodox Churches, and not least their warm relations with the Patriarchate of Moscow, and we trust that these fraternal bonds may be upheld and sustained in the years ahead as you embark on your ministry.”

Pope Benedict XVI earlier welcomed Cyril’s election writing, “May the Almighty also bless your efforts to seek that fullness of communion which is the goal of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration and dialogue.”

Metropolitan Cyril of Smolensk and Kaliningrad was elected Patriarch in a secret ballot Jan. 27 at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. The son and grandson of priests, Cyril has led the church’s department for external relations since 1989. He received 508 of the 700 votes cast by delegates to the church’s Senior Council, defeating conservative rival, Metropolitan Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk, who received 169 votes. The third candidate nominated by bishops, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, withdrew before the vote and urged his supporters to back Metropolitan Cyril.

Lent is coming, so why eat pancakes?

Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, means pancakes for supper. Why is that?

During Medieval times, Christians practiced shriving — confessing their sins in preparation for the 40-day fast of Lent. Once absolved, they could party before the fast.

Shrove Tuesday wasn't necessarily the drunken bash that Mardi Gras has become, but it was a time to get rid of all the foods containing animal fats — eggs, milk, butter, meats — that were forbidden during the time of Lent (40 days, excluding Sundays and other holy days).

Pancakes are one of the best and simplest foods for that, since you only need to add flour, and they go well with bacon and sausage, said Ann Spruance of Calvary Episcopal Church.

“You had to be penitent for 40 days, so you feasted beforehand,” she said. “It got rid of the things that would go bad and it let you fill up on the things that would be denied.”

The strange phenomenon of 'wandering bishops'

Another follow-up on the bishop of the Open Episcopal Church and his controversial stands. More importantly its a reflection on the plethora of bishops which have historically been the result of schism in the church. From the Telegraph.

A hundred years ago, Britain and America were awash with episcopi vagantes, "wandering bishops" who were no sooner made bishop than they would fall out with their denomination and found another one. Peter Anson's classic study Bishops At Large (1964) details the contorted "successions" produced by these manoeuvrings, and also contains pictures of splendidly robed Primates consecrating each other in their "cathedrals" (which often served a double purpose as the front room of their terraced house).

A few years ago, the episcopi vagantes had all but died out; but furious schisms in Anglicanism have revived their number. Archbishop Blake is a former Church of England priest who leads the Open Episcopal Church, a liberal, gay-friendly denomination which offers itself as a "an alternative to Rome and fundamentalism": "We have an authentic and traditional mandate inherited through the unbroken succession of laying on of hands from the first apostles. For the rejected and marginalised we can offer a valid church which will not turn you away from the sacraments simply because you are a sinner. The divorced, the homosexual, the drug addicts and thieves, all are welcome at the feet of Jesus and, yes, at his sacramental table too. Rome may choose to exclude you from communion but we will not and, with us, you have a church every bit as "valid" and every bit as "Catholic" in liturgy and tradition."