Saturday, March 21, 2009

Good Stuff in TEC: Missouri

Churches show love for neighbors, planet by planting vegetables

In the middle of the large, green yard behind Ascension Episcopal Church is a rectangular patch of loamy black.

Spots like that, which will soon sprout green vegetables and herbs, are appearing all around Springfield -- in church yards, backyards, even on public land.

For many of the gardeners, the effort is part of an expression of their spirituality, faith in God and love of their neighbor and the planet.

"To me, it's the heart of the Gospel," says the Rev. Larry Lewis, pastor of Ascension. "And it's an ecological ethic."

Alexander Kofi Washington, a reggae musician, and his artist wife, Moonshadow, are among those working in the church's garden. They recently moved here from Michigan, drawn by the area's active interest in the environment, especially the Well Fed Neighbor Alliance, which meets at the church.

"I've never seen anything like this," Washington says of the community gardens. "People of all backgrounds, spiritually and economically, working together. It's beautiful."

Interest Grows

Master Gardener and member of the Well Fed Neighbor Alliance Shelley Vaugine has been working with churches, community associations, schools, even Boys & Girls Town, to help gardens sprout all around town.

She has seen interest in community gardening grow as the economy worsens. Gardening classes that in previous years drew 20 to 30 people have been filled with 80 to 90 this year, she says.

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

Good Stuff in TEC: Connecticut

Teens fast to fight hunger

More than 40 Ridgefield youngsters are getting a taste of hunger this weekend as they participate in the annual “30-Hour Famine” that includes a car wash Saturday morning.

Between 8 a.m. Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday, 42 teenagers from Jesse Lee Methodist and St. Stephen’s Episcopal churches are going without solid food in an effort to raise money for and awareness of world hunger.

“It’s a neat concept because the kids involved get to experience hunger,” said Neal Bowes, youth minister at Jesse Lee, who is working on the effort with Ali Burnside, youth minister at St. Stephen’s.

The event really started last Sunday when 45 middle and high school students built and erected 1,200 small wooden crosses on the lawn of the Methodist Church at Main Street and King Lane.

One sign amid the crosses says, “Hunger kills 1,200 children under age 5...” and the other, “...every hour.”

The 30-Hour Famine included a concert Friday evening for the participants. On Saturday morning at Jesse Lee, the teens will have a public car wash from 9 to noon. At 2, participants will break their fast with a lunch.

Mr. Bowes said the 42 teenagers who have signed up is “a pretty high number. The kids have really grabbed a hold of this and want to respond.”

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

Good Stuff In TEC: Virginia and Louisiana

Break for Katrina Relief

While many of their friends were at the beach or relaxing at home, the Episcopal campus ministry of Virginia Commonwealth University spent their spring break rebuilding a house in New Orleans. The group of 13 students worked through a program with the Office of Disaster Response of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.

The program serves homeowners who, for financial or health reasons, are unable to rebuild their houses. According to Pete Nunnally, mission and volunteer coordinator, the program has rebuilt 50 homes since the storm, 20 in the past year.

Rebuild Coordinator Amanda Davis said volunteers are instrumental in the program. The program hosts volunteer groups on a weekly basis. Groups receive basic training and guidance from their assigned crew chiefs. The VCU group spent the week putting sheet rock onto all the ceilings and walls.

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

U.S. Episcopal bishops say church has neglected economic justice

From The Anglican Journal (Canada)-

Episcopal bishops in the United States say their church has been too consumed with internal controversies and therefore failed adequately to address economic concerns.

"We have often failed to speak a compelling word of commitment to economic justice," the bishops wrote in the letter issued after a March 13 to 18 retreat in North Carolina.

The clerics said the 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, has "too often been preoccupied as a Church with internal affairs and a narrow focus that has absorbed both our energy and interest and that of our Communion - to the exclusion of concern for the crisis of suffering both at home and abroad".

The church has been preoccupied with controversies surrounding the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson - an openly gay man with a male partner - as the Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire.

Robinson's consecration stirred reaction within the U.S. church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. Four U.S. dioceses have left the Episcopal Church, while some Anglican bishops from other parts of the world have boycotted events attended by U.S. bishops.

In the letter, the U.S. bishops said, "We have often failed to speak truth to power, to name the greed and consumerism that has pervaded our culture, and we have too often allowed the culture to define us instead of being formed by Gospel values."

Church of Nigeria in full communion with Anglican Church of North America

From Dallas- (no surprise here)

The Anglican Church of North America, which theological conservatives have organized as an alternative to the Episcopal Church, has been declared to be in full communion by the Church of Nigeria - a province of the Anglican Communion. it's the first province to make such a declaration. Bishop Jack Iker last year led the majority of Episcopal Churches in the Fort Worth Episcopal diocese out of the Episcopal Church, aligning instead with a conservative, Argentina-based province of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church has since reorganized the Fort Worth diocese. Iker and his group are part of the Anglican Church of North America, and the hope is that it will develop into a full-fledged, fully recognized alternative to the Episcopal Church, though many Episcopalians argue that will never happen.

Episcopal Diocese sues former parish again

Back in 2003, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York consecrated a gay bishop and allowed others to perform same-sex blessings.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, an Episcopal parish at the time, disagreed with this move and severed ties. Last year, the Diocese sued for Good Shepherd to leave the church building on Conklin Avenue, and in December, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in their favor.

On Friday, both sides were back in court.

"We've kind of moved on as a congregation and this is almost looking backwards now. So we were dreading it but here it is," said Father Matthew Kennedy, Good Shepherd's head pastor.

This time, the feud centers around a will by former Good Shepherd member Robert Brannan. He died in 1986 and left behind money in a trust fund for his parish.

More here-

KENYA: Prime minister lambastes churches for 'new elections' call

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has dismissed calls by the National Council of Churches of Kenya for fresh elections, charging that the churches were spreading populist politics that could ruin the country.

"That is the height of hypocrisy," said Odinga on 19 March in the capital, Nairobi. "There are no conditions for free and fair elections."

The Rev. Peter Karanja, the NCCK's general secretary, had the day before said Kenya was facing a crisis of leadership and bad governance under President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga. "The impression and expression of most Kenyans is that they have a moribund president and an ineffective prime minister," said Karanja.

But Odinga said the government had undertaken tremendous work against great odds.

"We took over when the global economic environment was in recession and farmers were unable to plant during the post poll crisis," Odinga said. Kenya needed to evolve institutional reforms that would facilitate a free and fair election, the prime minister stated.

Kibaki, a Roman Catholic, and Odinga, an Anglican, agreed on a coalition government a year ago, after mediation by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan following weeks of violence that came after disputed elections at the end of 2007. About 1500 people lost their lives in the unrest and another 300 000 were driven from their homes.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vince Lascheid, well-known organist, dies

Vince was the answer to the trivia question, "who played for the Pirates longer than anyone in history?"

Vince Lascheid, long-time organist for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena, died overnight.

Mr. Lascheid also played organ at Steelers games at Three Rivers Stadium and at Penguins games from 1970-2003. He is a member of the team's Hall of Fame. There will be a pregame tribute tonight before the Penguins play Los Angeles at Mellon Arena.

Visitation for Mr. Lascheid, 85, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon.

His family requests donations to the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, 300 East Swissvale Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218.

The Pirates are planning a special tribute to Mr. Lascheid, possibly during the home opener April 13, according to the funeral home.

In a statement today, Pirates president Frank Coonelly offered his condolences to the Lascheid family.

"All of us at the Pittsburgh Pirates are deeply saddened by the passing of a long-time member of our Pirates family, Vince Lascheid. Since beginning his career with the Pirates with the opening of Three Rivers Stadium, Vince and his music have been a part of Pirates tradition for more than 38 years.

Women theologians barred

From the Church Times in England-

IT HAS emerged that two women theologians, from Pakistan and Tanzania, were refused entry into the UK for the first consultation for Anglican women theological educators from across the Anglican Communion, held in Canterbury between 23 February and 2 March.

The exclusion of the women under lined a growing trend, where people were unable to obtain visas to attend Anglican Communion meetings, a source said this week. Last year, some bishops’ wives were refused visas for the Lambeth Conference.

In the run-up to the conference, a Congolese member of the Lambeth Bible-study team that was to meet in South Africa had first to spend three weeks in Kampala, Uganda, in order to get a visa to enter South Africa, the source said. UK visas from Tanzania were now processed in Nairobi, delaying the process.

In some countries, such as Egypt, visas were no longer dealt with by the British Embassy, but by commercial enterprises, who were less likely to be influenced by the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Anglican Communion Office (ACO) had resorted to issuing letters signed by the secretary general, Canon Kenneth Kearon, to give to UK embassies abroad, the source said.
The importance of having all the relevant people at such meetings was emphasised after the Canterbury consultation agreed that “networking amongst women theological edu cators both from within and outside the consultation was identified by all participants as of great significance.”

Good Stuff in TEC: New Jersey

African orphans to benefit from fish-n-chips dinner

Nestled in the crook of Africa on the Atlantic Ocean lies the small Republic of Cameroon. It is a poor area, and more than 50% of the population lives below the poverty level and more than 7% of the population carries the AIDS virus. Parental deaths associated with the virus have left more than 250,000 orphans there.

The Benedictine Sisters run a home for orphaned children called the Good Shepherd Home in Bamenda, Cameroon, where the children live and receive medical attention and an education.
As part of its outreach program, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 419 South St., New Providence, is hosting a fish-n-chips Dinner on Friday, March 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. to benefit the Good Shepherd Home. All of the profits from the event will go to benefit the orphaned children there.

"Last year the St. Andrew's fish fry raised more than $1,500 to buy mosquito nets to prevent malaria in Africa," said Diane LaPara, event chairperson. "With the support of the community, we are hoping to raise even more for the Good Shepherd Home this year."

Chaplain killed in car accident in Lakes state

A chaplain of Lakes state, Peter Manyok died in a car accident on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. during the visit of the high bishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Daniel Deng Buol. Four others were injured on the road between Yirol West County and Rumbek Central County, at a small circle beyond Payii bride.

The late chaplain had served the church in Rumbek Diocese for two years, said Rumbek Diocese Bishop Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel De Nhieria.

A land-cruiser Prado was carrying the Bishop of Akot Diocese, Isaac Dhieu Ater, with his wife Rebecca as well as two others follower of the church on Tuesday, following the delegation of the delegations of high bishop who had flown out from Rumbek Central County on Monday to Yirol West County via Awerial county.

The day after the accident, Bishop Nhieria told journalists that he was taking medicines to Yirol West County and his car crashed down there due to the bad roads that caused unbalance to his car. He said that he asked over everyone in the car after the accident happened. He asked people seated by the door on both sides but did not hear any answer from his chaplain who was sitting in the middle. Then Bishop Ater told him that the chaplain is dead.

Jerusalem bishop visits Gaza five weeks after being denied entry by Israeli authorities

From Episcopal Life Online-

Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, Greek Catholic Archbishop Elias Chacour and Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan were granted permission to enter Gaza March 10 to make a pastoral visit to the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
Dawani and Younan had both been denied entry into Gaza by Israeli authorities on February 4 despite having been informed that their request for permits had been granted.

While Israel withdrew its military and settlers from Gaza in 2005, it continues to maintain control over entry into the Palestinian territory via land, air, and sea. A March 10 press release from the U.S. Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., said the bishops had been denied entry because they "are legal residents of the State of Israel," adding that "Israeli citizens and legal residents are prohibited from entering the Gaza Strip for security reasons and out of concern for their safety."

More here-

Episcopal Bishops Say 'Preoccupied' Church Missed Crisis

The Episcopal Church's bishops said Wednesday (March 18) that they have been too "preoccupied" with internal disputes to pay adequate attention to suffering caused by the deepening economic recession.

Gathered in Hendersonville, N.C., March 13-18, for their annual spring retreat, about 125 Episcopal bishops unanimously approved the pastoral letter, the bishops' first joint statement on the dire economy.

"In this season of Lent, God calls us to repentance," the bishops said. "We have too often been preoccupied as a Church with internal affairs and a narrow focus that has absorbed both our energy and interest ... to the exclusion of concern for the crisis of suffering both at home and abroad."

The Episcopal Church, which has about 2.2 million members, has been vexed by an acrimonious debate over biblical interpretation and homosexuality since the 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

Four dioceses and dozens of churches have left the Episcopal Church since then and Anglicans worldwide have strongly protested the election.
But the bishops said Wednesday that the church's concerns should be more broad.

"We have often failed to speak truth to power," they said, "to name the greed and consumerism that has pervaded our culture, and we have too often allowed the culture to define us instead of being formed by Gospel values."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thursday is a day off.
Posts will resume Friday.

Kent: ecumenical funeral held for medieval 'witch'

A joint Anglican and Catholic funeral service was held in a Kent church on Saturday for a young woman possibly killed as a witch several hundred years ago.

Six years ago, archaologists working in an unconsecrated part of the Hoo St Werburgh parish church grounds discovered the remains of a medieval body.The head was found removed from the body and placed next to it - meaning the girl may have been a criminal, a suicide victim or suspected of witchcraft. They named the girl 'Holly' as she was found under a holly bush.

The Vicar of Hoo, the Rev Andy Harding, made the decision to re-bury Holly and give her a funeral that was most probably denied her at the time of her death.

More than 200 people lined the streets as the horse-drawn carriage made its way through the village to the church.

During the committal, the grave and coffin were blessed by Father Victor Darlington, Catholic priest at the Holy Family church in Hoo.

Speaking after the service Rev Harding said: "It was lovely to see so many people here having been moved by her story. "I believe everybody should receive a respectable funeral."

Funeral director Paul Hawden who helped organised the funeral with several other local companies, said: "It brought the community and people together, it showed a lot of love. Yesterday was really lovely, as long as Holly is at rest now that's the main thing."

Our Collective Faith and Heresies 1

From Beliefnet -

The word "heresy" appears on this blog every now and then, and I have long wanted to do a series on heresy and heresies and have now found a perfect reason: B. Quash and M. Ward, Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why It Matters What Christians Believe . I want to get this conversation started today. I begin with a set of questions:

How do you define "heresy"? Who defines "heresy"? What have you heard -- profound and absurd -- that was called heretical? Do you think it is important to point out heresy? What are the dangers in pointing out heresy?

This book is an edited collection of readable, brief, and incisive chps on various heresies: Arianism, Docetism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Adoptionism, Theopaschitism, Marcionism, Donatism, Pelagianism, Gnosticism, Free Spirit, and the book closes with a study of Bibical Trinitarianism and the purpose of being orthodox.

Hauerwas writes the Foreword and makes the following (always provocative) statements:

"Given the diminished state of the Church some Christians might even believe that if we could gain more members by being heretical so much the worse for orthodoxy." But, if orthodoxy "is used as a hammer to beat into submission those we think heterodox" it "betrays itself." So instead of a hammer, "orthodoxy is displayed as an act of love that takes the form of careful speech." There are limits, and not all stick to the limits: "orthodoxy is the hard discipline of learning to say what needs to be said and no more." And this one: "Orthodoxy shows why what we believe cannot be explained but can only be prayed." So Hauerwas.

More here-

Good Stuff In TEC: Seattle

Language, laws a challenge for indigenous migrants

When immigration agents arrested 16 farmworkers in a mass arrest of illegal immigrants early this year, legal advocates raced to find interpreters for some of the men, a few who spoke only a language called Mixtec.

But by the time an interpreter was found, most of the men were on their way out of the country after signing away their rights to contest deportation _ a procedure they might not have understood.

The deportations alarmed immigrant advocates in this agricultural city 60 miles north of Seattle. It also raised questions about the deportation proceedings for people who speak little Spanish or English.

"There is no way they knew what they were signing. No way," said the Rev. Jo Beecher of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Mount Vernon, one of the advocates who tried to help the men.

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

Kenyan church leaders say northern military operation must end

A report from the Anglican Journal (Canada). Nifty hats on those cattle rustlers!

Kenyan church leaders are urging the government to halt a military operation in the north of the country to recover firearms and 6,000 animals stolen by cattle rustlers.

"We are saying the operation must stop," Anglican Bishop Charles Gaita of Nyahururu told Ecumenical News International. "Those who have stolen other people's animals should return them voluntarily."

On March 5, the government launched the operation in which soldiers are impounding animals allegedly stolen by the Samburu, a pastoralist community, and redistributing them to the purported owners in Meru and Isiolo districts.

Bishop Gaita said, however, the local people had told the church they were being subjected to harassment and brutality. He warned the operation would not solve the problem of cattle rustling in the region.

"The government must look into the root causes of the problem. It must find out why people are stealing each others' livestock, and end the problem once and for all," said Gaita.

The bishop said the cattle rustling had been fuelled by an age-old tradition in which young men from pastoralist communities have raided cattle to raise bride prices, the wealth by a groom or his family to the parents of his intended bride. Bishop Gaita said the young men should be educated about new ways of finding that price.

Springfield Bishop Calls for Coadjutor

From the Living Church-

Following approval from the diocesan standing committee, the Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield since 1992, has called for the election of his successor.

Bishop Beckwith, who will be 70 in September, is required by church law to step down as diocesan bishop after turning 72. Current plans in Springfield call for the election of a bishop coadjutor, which is an assistant bishop with right of succession upon the retirement or death of the incumbent.

According to the canons and constitution of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, dioceses cannot begin the process to elect a bishop without first receiving consent from a majority of standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction.

Traditionally, dioceses solicit consent from standing committees directly while the Office of the Presiding Bishop takes order for communicating with bishops. It is expected that the House of Bishops will decide whether or not to grant consent for Springfield to hold an election during its spring retreat, which meets through March 18 at the Kanuga Camp and Conference Center near Hendersonville, N.C.

'Kings': Stylish, tantalizing but not deep

I watched this show Sunday night and liked it. ENS has done a piece on it and here it is-

The second book of Samuel (11:1) calls spring "the time when kings go out to battle" and NBC-TV has also decided it's the time for a new drama series titled "Kings" -- a modern version of the extensive Old Testament accounts of the wars of kings Saul and David.

In its two-hour premiere on March 15 (subsequent episodes will run one hour), the show proved to be a stylish production that referred both to ancient tales and current headlines, but didn't probe particularly deeply into some of the themes it opened.

King Silas, played by Ian McShane with world-weary cunning, rules the kingdom of Gilboa from the capital of Shiloh, which looks like a digitally shined-up New York. The names, with Silas standing in for Saul, are straight from the Good Book. (Saul battled the Philistines near the Gilboa mountain ridge and Shiloh was an ancient center of Israelite worship.)

There is a fair bit of God talk from the beginning, as Silas marks the re-building of Shiloh after wartime destruction by telling a huge celebratory crowd, "It's not popular to speak of God. I do so because I feel blessed. Look at this city we built through war and sacrifice." His personal myth includes a story about a time he saw a great swarm of butterflies gather around his head like "a living crown," which he interpreted as "God's signal to begin." The next logical question, "Begin what?" remains unanswered, but Gilboa's national symbol is a butterfly.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Tennessee

Dinner and auction April 18 to benefit Haven of Hope

A community awareness and fund-raising event called "An Evening of Hope" will be held Saturday, April 18, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Tullahoma.

The event will offer dine dining and a silent auction with proceeds going to Haven of Hope, an area shelter for domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking victims.

The silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner provided by Emil’s Restaurant at 6:30 p.m. Bidding for the auction items will close at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $25 each or $45 per couple.

According to Mona Mason, director of Haven of Hope, all proceeds will be used to better serve the shelter’s clients and meet their specialized needs.

Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket for the dinner or donating items for the auction or have any questions about the event to contact Stephanie at 723-6408 of Kelly at (931) 968-4994.

"Violence or abuse is never OK," Mason said. "Please contact us at 1-800-435-7739 if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic or dating violence, sexual assault or stalking."

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

Good Stuff In TEC: Montana

Church hosts dinner for unemployed workers, families

People out of jobs because they've been laid off or downsized have something to look forward to.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church, at 119 N. 33rd St. in Billings, is hosting a free dinner on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for unemployed people and their families. The church would like people to RSVP by Friday, at 252-7186, so there will be enough food to go around.

Guest speaker for the dinner will be Dr. Ann Rathe, a Billings psychiatrist, who will speak on "Keeping Your Sanity in a Bad Economy."

Often, people who lose their jobs grapple with a lot of negative feelings, said the Rev. Gary Waddingham, rector of the downtown church.

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

Fifth Episcopal bishop of Northwest Texas to be ordained Saturday

From the Lubbock Texas paper-

Four months after his low-key election as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, the Rev. J. Scott Mayer will receive a high-profile ordination Saturday.

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first woman elected primate in the Anglican Communion, will preside at the ceremony as chief consecrator.

The Rt. Rev. Sam Hulsey, who served the diocese as bishop from 1980 to 1996, and Mayer's predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Wallis Ohl, who served from 1997 until his retirement on Jan. 1, will serve as co-consecrators.

Seventeen additional Episcopal bishops will participate in the consecration, along with Evangelical Lutheran and Mar Thoma bishops.

More here-

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Episcopal Church wins San Diego property case

The California Supreme Court has backed the Episcopal Church and a local diocese against a breakaway San Diego congregation in a closely watched church property case. On March 11, the Court dismissed the petition for appeal of St John’s Fallbrook, upholding the appellate court’s ruling in the case of New v. Kroeger that a vestry may not vote to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and continue to control over the church property.

“This is a very important decision in favour of the Episcopal Church,” the chancellor of the Diocese of San Diego, Charles Dick, said in a prepared statement as “it vindicates our position that the actions of the dissident congregation were extralegal and in excess of their legal authority.” On Oct 21, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a judgment by a San Diego County trial court, which held that California law permitted a vestry to amend parish bylaws in order to quit the Episcopal Church. Using the “neutral principles” approach, which looks only to the property deeds and legal charters, the trial court permitted St John’s Fallbrook to amend its bylaws to remove its accession to the canons of the Episcopal Church.

However, the appeals court held that a parish vestry was not empowered to make this decision as the diocesan canons and national church canons had been incorporated into the parish bylaws. As the parish’s articles of incorporation stated it would continue "perpetually" as a part of the Episcopal Church, a vote by the vestry to leave would be ultra vires. The appeals court accepted the lower court’s use of “neutral principles,” but then said the trial court had erred in not looking at diocesan canons for guidance.

Following a parish vote to quit the Episcopal Church, the Bishop of San Diego, the Rt Rev James Mathes, replaced the vestry, appointing a new board loyal to the diocese. The trial court held this action would not divest the breakaway vestry of control of parish property, but the appellate court decision reversed this ruling, and vested control with the loyalists.

More here -

Leonard Pitts Jr: Americans are losing their religion

We are losing our religion.

That, with apologies to R.E.M., is the startling conclusion of a new study, the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn. The poll of more than 54,000 American adults found a sharp erosion in the number of people claiming religious affiliation.

A few highlights: The number of people who call themselves Christian is 76 percent, down 10 percentage points since 1990.

Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious ceremony.

Better than one in four Americans do not expect a religious funeral.

It is important to reiterate that we are talking about overall percentages. In raw numbers, there are actually about 22 million "more" Christians now than in 1990. Still, the trend is clear, particularly as illustrated in one telling statistic: In 1990, 8.2 percent (about 14 million) of us said "none" when asked to specify their religion. Last year, 15 percent (34 million) did.

Some have suggested our loss of faith is due to increased diversity, mobility and immigration. I'm sure there's something to that, but I tend to think the most important cause is simpler: religion has become an ugly thing.

The rest is here-

Zimbabwe's Anglicans defy riot police with return to church

Sebastian Bakare, (pictured) the Anglican Bishop of Harare, ignored the riot policeman at the altar trying disrupt his Sunday service, and carried on with worship. In front of the church’s first full congregation for years Bishop Bakare told the representative of Zimbabwe’s security services: “If you want to attack me, I am in your hands.”

Yesterday Bishop Bakare recounting the incident that highlights the tension between Church and State.

Since September 2007 the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been controlled by Nolbert Kunonga, the former Bishop of Harare and a zealot of Robert Mugabe’s repressive regime. He broke away from the Lambeth Palace-affiliated Harare diocese, and defied a high court ruling last year ordering him him to share churches with his Anglican rivals.

A fortnight ago the Church secured an affidavit from Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, in which denied knowing anything about a police operation to force Anglicans away from their churches. It was read to parishioners by Anglican priests wherever they met, and they were urged to return to their churches on Sunday.

House of Bishops gathers in North Carolina to worship, work and blog

Members of the House of Bishops, gathering at the Kanuga Conference Center for their regularly scheduled March 13-18 spring meeting, are expected to engage in worship and Scripture reflection, consider national and church economics, discuss full communion with the Moravian Church, anticipate General Convention 2009, and elect the next bishop of the Diocese of Ecuador Central.

They're also learning to blog, according to Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona's blogiste "Our own cathedral dean, [the Very Rev.] Nick Knisely is here at Camp Kanuga teaching bishops how to blog," Smith wrote. The meeting, which in its spring session traditionally takes the form of a retreat, is closed to the public and media.

During a Tuesday, March 17 evening session bishops are expected to discuss Anglican Communion issues and also to cast their first ballots for Bishop of Ecuador Central, according to the agenda for the meeting. Delegates attending the February 14 diocesan convention of Central Ecuador authorized the House of Bishops to elect a successor to the Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos-Orench, who is retiring.

The nominees will participate in "a 'walkabout' among the bishops so that they may get to know [them]," wrote Bishop George Councell of New Jersey in his blog. "The House of Bishops will then take ballots to elect a new bishop, who is to be consecrated this summer."

Anne Rudig, communication director for The Episcopal Church, addressed bishops as part of a March 16 orientation session for the 76th General Convention, which will take place July 8-17 in Anaheim, California, in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Bishop Suffragan Ken Price of Southern Ohio and retired Bishop Richard Chang of Hawaii also participated in the orientation session.

"I shared my plans for beginning to tell our story, rather than let others tell it for us," Rudig said via email following her presentation. "Part of this is the message strategy work on the positive stories of mission and faith that we are doing, and part of it is just being prepared for controversies."

Bishop silenced by computer virus

THE Bishop of Manchester has been forced to take a vow of email silence after his computer was crippled by a virus.

The Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch has been unable to send or receive messages for nearly 10 days, it has emerged.

And a `significant' number of the 6,000 emails he thought he had sent during the past 10 months probably never found their mark, a Church of England spokesman admitted.

Computer experts are now frantically trying to restore his computer, which was hit by the virus on March 3.

The Bishops of Bolton and Middleton have also been affected, along with the Diocese of Manchester's central offices and its Archdeacons. The virus has prevented any sending or receiving of emails, and messages to the church website have been blocked.

Technicians working for the CoE discovered the virus and while trying to remove it found it had severely corrupted their systems.

Episcopal statistical trends mirror national patterns

While the median size of Episcopal Church congregations and overall membership has declined in recent years, that pattern matches trends in most mainline Protestant denominations and points to larger patterns in U.S. culture, according to analyses of recent data.

The median Episcopal Church congregation in 2007 had 168 active members and 69 people in Sunday worship, according to Episcopal Church reports. That compares to the median congregation in 2003, which had 182 active members and 77 on average in Sunday worship. Meanwhile in 2007, parishes with 351 or more people in worship constitute 3.5 percent of all the church's congregations.

There were 37,823 fewer active members of Episcopal Church congregations in 2007 than in 2006, a two-percent decline. Over the past ten years, the church has experienced a 10-percent decline in active membership, the statistical reports show. Slightly more than 167,000 people left the Episcopal Church between 2003 and 2007, reducing the church's active baptized members from 2,284,233 to 2,116,749.

The number of congregations during the 2003-2007 period declined from 7,220 to 7,055. In 2007, 43 percent of congregations experienced membership declines of 10 percent or more over the past five years, more while 26 percent increased their size by 10 percent or more.

The statistical view of the Episcopal Church comes from two reports by Kirk Hadaway, program officer for congregational research in the Episcopal Church's Evangelism and Congregational Life Center. One is a summary of 2007 Parochial Report data and the other is a six-page report about information gathered through the Episcopal Church's participation in the 2008 version of the on-going Faith Communities Today Survey (FACTS) run by Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. The full results of the multi-denomination survey are due to be released in April, according to the project's website.

St. Patrick

Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 493. Some sources say 460 or 461. --Ed.

He had for his parents Calphurnius and Conchessa. The former belonged to a Roman family of high rank and held the office of decurio in Gaul or Britain. Conchessa was a near relative of the great patron of Gaul, St. Martin of Tours. Kilpatrick still retains many memorials of Saint Patrick, and frequent pilgrimages continued far into the Middle Ages to perpetuate there the fame of his sanctity and miracles.

In his sixteenth year, Patrick was carried off into captivity by Irish marauders and was sold as a slave to a chieftan named Milchu in Dalriada, a territory of the present county of Antrim in Ireland, where for six years he tended his master's flocks in the valley of the Braid and on the slopes of Slemish, near the modern town of Ballymena. He relates in his "Confessio" that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day: "the love of God", he added,

and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.

In the ways of a benign Providence the six years of Patrick's captivity became a remote preparation for his future apostolate. He acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue in which he would one day announce the glad tidings of Redemption, and, as his master Milchu was a druidical high priest, he became familiar with all the details of Druidism from whose bondage he was destined to liberate the Irish race.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Churches talking past each other

I AM a priest from the Episcopal Church in the United States, and I found myself sitting in the gallery of the General Synod last month, watching it discuss the Anglican Covenant pro cess (Synod, 20 Feb ruary). I was in London to speak to an inter national counter-terrorism con fer ence, as I am a Professor of Religious Studies, and my research involves the psychology of religious terrorism.

I felt honoured to attend the Synod. Most of the discussion focused on the possible impact of the Covenant on the Church of England, but, as it progressed, I found it increasingly hard, as I heard the American Church pilloried and de-scribed in misleading, if not incorrect, ways.

As far as I remember (I did not take notes), one speaker said that the American Church was “preaching a new gospel”; another said Americans were “tearing the fabric of the Communion apart”. I got the impression that some of the speakers felt that the schismatics (as I think of them) were being persecuted by lawsuits, and needed to be protected from the American Church.

I wanted to stand up and defend my Church. I have been a priest for 40 years, and I regularly read the church Fathers and the Anglican divines; I hardly feel as if I am “preaching a new gospel”. No self-styled traditionalist has been “driven out”, asked to leave, or forbidden by the Presiding Bishop from teaching or preaching.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Macho pursuit of success triggered economic meltdown

The former head of the Anglican church in South Africa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to apartheid, claimed companies had done "extraordinary things" to please shareholders and avoid failure.

But he said this was a distortion of what God wanted for the world, and that eventually good people will triumph and "the truth will out".

Archbishop Tutu pointed out that dictators and tyrants "bite the dust quite ignominiously" ultimately, and that the people who are most admired worldwide are those who strive for peace and justice.

In a rare appearance in Britain, the 77-year-old told a meeting of the British Council: "You want to think, too, about what is currently happening with the so -called 'economic meltdown', discovering that so many were flying very close to the wind, because you know different.

"On the whole I think we have distorted what God would want to see happen in God's world.
"With this meltdown, we have exalted the principle of success – success at any cost – for the worst thing to happen to any human being in our culture is to fail.

"And so, people have done extraordinary things in order for their bottom line, to please their shareholders, and we have lent in this morass, where the Law of the Jungle has seemed to prevail: survival of the fittest, and the devil takes the hindmost.

Pope expected to accept invitation to visit Britain

From Ireland- Love the hat.

The pope will be “warmly received” if he visits Britain, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said yesterday after reports of a planned papal visit.

Pope Benedict XVI is ready to accept an invitation from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, according to the Sunday Telegraph , which said senior Vatican sources revealed he is planning a trip to the UK next year.

A senior cardinal is expected to arrive in Britain in the summer in preparation for the pope’s visit which could be announced by the end of the year, the newspaper reported.

A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, a permanent assembly of bishops, said: “The Catholic Church in this country would be delighted if the Holy Father was able to come. “He would be very warmly received by Catholics across the country.

“But this would depend on the very busy schedule that the Holy Father has, and there has been no definitive decision on this yet.”

A visit would first require communication from the Vatican with the Catholic Church in Britain. Downing Street said the pope is “very positive about the possibility” of a visit, following Mr Brown’s meeting with the pontiff last month.

Church installs new Dean

Hobart has a new Anglican Dean with the installation of former Sydney pastor Richard Humphrey.

Reverend Humphrey grew up in Tasmania but has worked overseas and in New South Wales, most recently as the rector of Cronulla.

Cronulla was at the centre of race riots in 2005 and Reverend Humphrey played a role as peacemaker in the aftermath.

He says one of his new roles will be encouraging more people who work in Hobart to use St David's Cathedral as a place for quiet reflection.

"That's one of the reasons that we keep the Cathedral open and certainly one of my roles will be to be in the Cathedral as much as time allows, just to meet with people and sit with people and pray with people we're also keen that the cathedral as a glorious space be used for a variety of artistic endevours and creative pursuits," he said.

Bishop orders Episcopal priest to renounce Islamic faith

An Episcopal priest in Seattle is fighting attempts by Rhode Island Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf to defrock her for practicing Islam and Christianity at the same time.
Ann Holmes Redding, who marks the 25th anniversary of her ordination on March 25, says she believes she can practice both faiths and should not have to recant her Muslim beliefs.

Redding, a former Brown University student and parishioner at St. Stephen's Church in Providence, was ordained by Wolf's predecessor. Wolf is her canonical superior because Redding never shifted her canonical residence to Seattle.

Wolf has told Redding that her conversion to Islam constitutes an abandonment of the Christian faith and she must recant by March 30 or lose her status as a priest.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Good Stuff in TEC: Idaho

Boise religious groups ride wake of financial crisis

Beyond the unemployment offices and the rows of foreclosed homes, faith-based organizations have been quietly caring for victims of the economic train wreck.

"You can't just talk about finding God when people's stomachs are empty," said Rabbi Dan Fink of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel in Boise. "On the surface that may not seem like spirituality, but it absolutely is."

The congregation's budget is struggling, Fink said.

It's a time to get creative and to take care of the most vulnerable community members, Fink said.

"(Crises) take us as a community away from abstract issues of philosophy and observance and bring us down to Earth," Fink said. "The first priority becomes taking care of those who are hurting."

One of the ways his congregation is doing that is by collaborating with All Saints Episcopal Church. Ahavath Beth Israel is working to provide another day of staffing at the free clinic housed in one of the church's buildings.

Marie Blanchard opened Friendship Clinic in 2004. It's only open for a few hours on Monday nights.

"I was so excited when the synagogue wanted to partner with us," said Blanchard, who has been a member of the All Saints congregation for 30 years. "Most of our (patients) can't afford a minimum payment. They really can't."

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

Good Stuff in TEC: Mississippi

Volunteers build retiree new home in a week

Marvin Miller arrived at his new home on Sam Road on Saturday morning with a jacket over his head to prevent him from seeing it.

A week ago, he left the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency cottage that he's called home since after Aug. 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Northrop Grumman retiree's house.

On Saturday, after son Billy Miller of Lucedale got his father out of the pickup truck and removed the jacket, Marvin Miller looked up and said, "I love it. I'm no speechmaker. I don't know what to say."

Miller, 66, was flanked by his son and grandchildren, Angela, Ashley and Joseph, as he saw his new house. Daughter-in-law Margie Miller was taking photographs as Lutheran Episcopal Services volunteers cheered and took their own photographs and videos.

The house was the third "Speed Build" for the volunteers in Jackson County since the storm. Construction began March 7, and by Friday, a building inspector was looking over the finished product, said Carla Poole, a Lutheran Episcopal Services case manager.

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

Presbytery rejects gay clergy proposal

Pittsburgh Presbytery voted, 206-105, yesterday against a proposed amendment to the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that would have eliminated a requirement for clergy and church officers to practice chastity in singleness and fidelity in heterosexual marriage.

The vote took place at a special meeting in Northmont United Presbyterian Church, McCandless. To take effect, the proposed amendment -- which would open the door to partnered gay clergy -- must be approved by at least 87 of 173 presbyteries in the 2.3 million-member denomination.

The denomination's news service reported last week that the tally stood 42-69 against the proposed amendment. An unofficial tally on the Web site of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition had the count at 43-72 against the measure Friday.

Prior to the debate yesterday, the Rev. Doug Portz, acting pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery, called Presbyterians to focus on Jesus rather than on their differences, and to spend the next 30 days in intensive prayer for their church, their city and for the world.

A presbytery committee had reviewed more than two dozen amendments and statements proposed by last summer's General Assembly. It stayed neutral on the "chastity and fidelity" amendment but recommended passage of all others.

However, a proposed agreement between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Episcopal Church to recognize each other's sacraments and allow case-by-case acceptance of each other's clergy stirred debate.

Several people were concerned or confused about how it would apply locally, where there are two bodies called the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The larger of the two is aligned with an Anglican province in South America rather than with the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal agreement passed 140-135.
Haven't had many hats lately. Found this in the New Yorker.