Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bishop of Rochester to resign a decade early

From the London Times- (another hat you got to love)

One of the Church of England's most outspoken bishops has announced that he is to resign a decade early to devote the rest of his life to work with Christians in Islamic areas.

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church's only Asian bishop, who is just 59 and could have stayed at Rochester until his 70th birthday, intends to use his expertise as an Islamic scholar to work in Pakistan where he was born and in the Middle East to build bridges between Christians and Muslims.

A conservative evangelical, he will step down in September after nearly 15 years in the diocese.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali was one of the favourites to succeed Dr George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury. Opposition from some in Britain's Muslim community is thought to have been one factor that cost him the job.

In February last year he was placed under police protection after he and his family received death threats over his claim that parts of Britain had become “no-go areas” for non-Muslims.

The diocese said this morning: "Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation. Details of this arrangement are still being worked out."

More here-

God won't rescue world from 'stupidity,' says top Anglican

From USA Today-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in one of his sharpest attacks yet on threats to the environment, has warned that God will not save mankind from his own environmental "stupidity."
The spiritual leader of the world's 77 million-member Anglican Communion said in a lecture at England's York Minster on Wednesday that the world faces "a whole range of doomsday prospects," ranging from global warming to threats from what he called "bio-terror" weapons.

In such end-of-the-world scenarios, Williams said, "the ultimate tragedy is that a material world capable of being a manifestation ... of divine love is choked, drowned or starved by its own stupidity."

But "to suggest that God might intervene to protect us from the corporate folly of our practices is as un-Christian and un-biblical as to suggest that he protects us from the results of our individual folly or sin."

Signs, signs everywhere signs #13

Now they tell us !

Good Stuff In TEC: Texas

Trinity students fight famine

Youth from Trinity Episcopal Church went to bed without any supper Friday night — not because they were bad, but because they were good.

The six students were fighting famine by hosting a 30-Hour Famine event at the church to raise awareness and money to fight the hunger of others.

"We have raised $500, and money is still coming in," said youth minister Brad Hamil. "We are hoping to raise a total of $2,000."

Last year, a large donation was made during the "break-fast" meal following the short "famine." Hamil hopes to see a similar response this year.

"It helps the kids be more aware of what we take for granted," said Hamil. "Something as insignificant as buying a candy bar can change someone's life for an entire week."

Each of the six students took the name from a Latin American country to use in a series of learning games. Devotionals were also held during the lock-in.

More here-

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Muslim Priest and Buddhist Bishop-Elect Are Raising Questions About Syncretism

From Christianity Today-

Jesus saves, the Episcopal Church teaches, but a growing number of its clergy and leaders believe other faiths may lead to salvation as well. Long divided and distracted by questions of sexual ethics, the Episcopal Church (along with most mainline Protestant communities) are facing a cultural and theological shift towards religious pluralism—the belief that there are diverse paths to God.

The debate is not just academic. In two current cases, Episcopal clergy are under scrutiny for practicing and promoting other religions. On February 12 a devotee of Zen Buddhism was elected bishop of the Episcopal Church's Northern Michigan diocese. Meanwhile, a Seattle-area priest has been given until March 30 to decide whether she is a Muslim or a Christian as her bishop will not permit her to profess both faiths.

The Episcopal Church's problems with syncretism—the blending of belief systems—comes as no surprise to Wade Clark Roof, professor of Religious Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara and a leading sociologist of religion. "Clearly there are people, including religious leaders, [who find] spiritual wisdom in faiths other than their own," he told Christianity Today.

The rest is here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Missouri

‘March Gladness’: Episcopal charity uses Final Four to raise money towards UN goals

This weekend excitement in the college basketball world is reaching a crescendo as teams vie for spots in next weekend's NCAA men's basketball Final Four in Detroit.

St. Louis undoubtedly will be one of the centers of that enthusiasm with the Missouri Tigers having advanced to the West Region finals Thursday night. For the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (EGR) aid organization, their interest in the tournament extends beyond their location in the "Gateway to the West."

EGR is sponsoring "March Gladness," offering a unique spin on the annual ritual of the most casual sports fans filling out NCAA tournament brackets. Entrants paid a $10 entry fee for filling out their brackets from start to finish. The pool of money is divided identically to ordinary pools: 50 percent to the winner, 25 percent for second place, 15 percent for third place and 10 percent for fourth.

That is where the similarities end.

Also as part of their entry contestants have to pick a non-profit where their winnings go. Who the beneficiaries are is entirely up to the contestant and a very wide open. The only requirement is the match up with the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which EGR uses as guiding principles for its philanthropic efforts.

More here-

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Affording Grace: Upkeep of building a financial tightrope

The return of the Episcopal parish to Grace Church downtown on Palm Sunday is a joyous occasion for its 500 members.

But the move doesn't come without baggage - namely, the cost of the church itself.

A $2.4 million mortgage remains on the North Tejon Street property. Monthly upkeep is about $25,000.

And in a structure more than 80 years old, unexpected repairs are, well, an expected part of maintenance; in January, the occupying congregation shelled out more than $20,000 for a boiler repair.

"If you're going to have this building, you got to know it will cost you a lot of money," said Donald Armstrong, rector of St. George's Anglican Church, formerly known as Grace Church & St. Stephen's, which has been meeting at the majestic church for two years. "It takes $1.2 million a year to keep the church open," he said.

The annual budget of the returning parish is about $500,000.

"It will be a stretch, but we are confident we can make it," said Martin Pearsall, priest-in-charge of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal, which, following a judge's order this week, will return to the Tejon Street church no later than April 3.

Brite Divinity to add Episcopal Studies Program

Brite Divinity School at TCU has announced the establishment of an Episcopal Studies Program rooted in classical Anglican tradition.

The Episcopal Studies Program will begin on Aug. 24 with the opening of the fall 2009 semester. The Rev. Fred Barber, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, has been named part-time acting director of the new program, which will allow candidates for the Episcopal priesthood to complete the Master of Divinity in preparation for ordination without leaving North Texas. The program has the enthusiastic support of the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. (Ted) Gulick Jr., provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
It will follow the model of the other denominational studies programs at Brite.

Brite is affiliated with Texas Christian University and related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). President Dr. Newell Williams notes the school has long been committed to serving the whole church. In addition to enrolling students from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Brite offers specialized programs in Baptist Studies, Presbyterian Studies and United Methodist Studies. Each denominational studies program has a program director that helps students maintain connections to their denomination. Brite also offers courses addressing distinctive traditions and contemporary issues of African American, Hispanic and Asian American faith communities, provides courses in Jewish Studies and sponsors a Catholic lecture series.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blue Book's reports posted on General Convention's website

The Blue Book, the collection of reports to the Episcopal Church's General Convention of the work done by its committees, commissions, agencies and boards (CCABs) during the 2007-2009 triennium, is now available online here.
The Blue Book, which has a red cover for the 76th General Convention, also contains the resolutions that each groups will propose to the convention when it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California.

The online version, available here, is divided into individual reports.

The print version of the Blue Book will soon be mailed to members of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, the two legislative houses of General Convention. It will include a CD-ROM with all the reports, supplemental materials that could not be included in the book and an indexed list of the "A" resolutions proposed by the CCABs.

Review Group Cites Lambeth Missteps

An independent group reported that it found no evidence of financial malpractice or dishonesty in its review of the 2008 Lambeth Conference’s finances. But the group said poor communication and risk management contributed to the conference's shortfall of more than half a million dollars.

Although the $564,000 deficit was less than the $1.74 million shortfall that was projected late last summer, the Lambeth Conference Funding Review Group said the smaller deficit was primarily because fewer bishops than originally expected attended the conference. Planners for the July conference committed expenditures before confirmed funding, a practice the review group called “precarious” and which made a shortfall “arguably inevitable.”

The group also said that “reporting lines, responsibilities and authority were sometimes unclear,” despite the formation of the Lambeth Conference Company in 2006 to manage the administration and finances of the conference. The reviewers said that having a company “to own the cost and contractual implications of decisions and to provide legal and financial accountability” was positive, but said the company had been “set up too late in the planning process to be able to inform key decisions.”

Recommendations for future conferences included having an approved operational and financial plan in place by 2013 for the 2018 conference; setting attendance fees to more realistically “factor in overall costs and financial need;” and “ensuring sufficient fundraising capability as part of future conference planning.”

The Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council and the board of governors of the Church Commissioners established the review committee after the Lambeth Conference Company came to them after the conference for financial help.

Good Stuff In TEC: Florida

Program offering discounts on the cost of food is for rich or poor

Gainesville residents have a new option when it comes to saving money on food.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church, on the corner of NW 43rd Street and 23rd Avenue, is now offering a program that allows participants to purchase frozen meats and fresh produce at about half of the normal cost.

SHARE Florida, a nonprofit food cooperative, is in charge of the host site, as well as many others throughout the state.

SHARE sponsors another site in Gainesville at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church downtown.

The entire program in Gainesville is run by volunteers from the community.

Kathy Ratican, site coordinator, said the program is not only for those in need.

"A mistake people often make is that they immediately think it's just for poor people and it's not," Ratican said. "There are no eligibility requirements. You could be a millionaire and come just to save some money."

The economy is one reason why everyone involved thought that this would be a good program to start in Gainesville, Ratican said.

"We decided to do it because we figured this was a really good outreach program for the community right now because of the tight economy," she said. "A lot of families are struggling to make ends meet, so this is a way to help them."

Why Lambeth 2008 had to look for a bail-out

FAILURES to face the true costs of last year’s £5.2-million Lambeth Conference are catalogued in a report published this week. They include an assumption that the Church Commissioners would pick up the bill if necessary, and “missing” a bill of £411,000 for the conference’s Big Top tent.

The Lambeth Conference Fund ing Review Group, chaired by John Ormerod, an accountant, which has produced the report, was set up after the Lambeth Conference Company sought £1.2 million of emergency funding, which was set aside by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners.

The group includes the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, the chairman of the General Synod’s House of Laity, Dr Christina Baxter, and the Third Church Estates Com missioner, Timothy Walker.

The report questions whether the company had the necessary in depend ence from the church in­stitutions. Its directors were the general secretary of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO), Canon Kenneth Kearon (chairman), William Fittall, the secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s chief of staff, Chris Smith. The directors were also the trustees.

The review group also questions “whether the match between avail able skills and needs was as good as might be wished”.

The Anglican Consultative Council had a constitutional obligation towards the costs of the Conference, but had stopped putting money aside for the Conference since 2004, spending it instead on new offices.

More here-

Exit strategies

On a stormy Sunday morning in Charlotte, N.C., latecomers were still shaking off wet umbrellas and streaming into a rented chapel at a local Catholic high school as Anglican minister Filmore Strunk led the congregation in reading Psalm 19: "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold."

For this congregation, those words ring especially true: Less than 15 months ago, the 300-member group was worshipping with more than 1,000 other parishioners in a 22,000-square-foot, gothic-style sanctuary on a prime piece of property in a growing suburb. Strunk had been pastor of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church for 12 years, and the congregation was growing. Also growing: Strunk's conviction that he couldn't stay in a denomination abandoning orthodox Christian faith.

Strunk had long been part of what he calls "the resistance" to the liberal spiral in the 2-million-member Episcopal Church (The denomination comprises the American province of the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.) In 2003, the Episcopal Church ordained its first openly homosexual bishop, but the denomination's problems ran deeper: For years, church leaders had questioned basic Christian doctrines like the resurrection of Jesus and salvation through Christ alone.

Strunk hoped church leaders would repent, but when they refused to put a moratorium on ordaining gay clergy in October 2007, he walked away: "At bottom I left the Episcopal Church because I don't believe it's a Christian entity anymore."

Grace Church breakaway becomes St. George's

The Anglican parish worshiping at Grace Church downtown for the past two years has a new name, new corporate identity, a future home and a hopeful attitude.

On Palm Sunday and Easter, the 1,200-member parish will worship at 2760 Fieldstone Road, a vacant building in the Mountain Shadows area that formerly housed the Renaissance Academy, a private school.

On Wednesday, the vestry chose a new name, St. George's Anglican Church, after a judge on Tuesday ordered that the parish must not only vacate the Gothic church at 631 N. Tejon St. but also no longer call itself Grace Church & St. Stephen's.

The vestry filed articles of incorporation for the new parish on Thursday.

"This is liberating for us," said Alan R. Crippen II, spokesman and a priest at St. George's. "At our vestry meeting (Wednesday), there was some sadness and tears, but mostly there was optimism," he said. "It was a very positive meeting."

Two years ago the two parishes - Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal and Grace Church & St. Stephen's, which is now St. George's - split when the vestry of Grace Church, led by the Rev. Donald Armstrong, elected to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury: Humanity risks environmental 'doomsday'

In his most apocalyptic predictions in recent years, Dr Rowan Williams claimed that the Earth is now facing a "whole range of 'doomsday' prospects" from climate change to the destruction of delicate ecosystems and even attack from "bio-terror" weapons.

He brushed aside the views of those who are sceptical about global warming or deny mankind is to blame, saying that it is impossible to deny that entire countries are in peril from rising sea levels.

And he told fellow believers that God is not going to intervene and protect the human race as we have a "terrible freedom" to decide our own destiny.

The Church of England has been at the forefront of efforts to encourage "green" behaviour in recent years, even suggesting recently that people should post fewer Christmas cards.

But in a lecture on responsibility delivered at York Minster , the most senior cleric in the Church used unusually direct language to spell out the scale of the threat facing the planet if "unintelligent and ungodly" attitudes to the environment prevail.

He said: "We discover too late that we have turned a blind eye to the extinction of a species that is essential to the balance of life in a particular context. Or we discover too late that the importation of a foreign life-form, animal or vegetable, has upset local ecosystems, damaging soil or neighbouring life-forms.

Consents Process Underway for ‘Buddhist Bishop’

After official ballots were distributed during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat in North Carolina last week, bishops began voting on whether to consent to the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has reported that the Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel, Bishop of Olympia, announced in a recent email message that he has already voted not to consent to Fr. Thew Forrester’s election. He promised to share the reasoning behind his vote in a follow-up email.

The canons and constitution of the General Convention require that the bishop-elect receive consent from a majority of standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to be consecrated. According to the church’s canons, bishops and standing committees have 120 days after the election in which to vote. Not voting is considered the same as a ‘no’ vote.

Fr. Thew Forrester’s election has sparked controversy because he underwent lay ordination as a Buddhist several years ago and was the only candidate nominated by the diocese.

Two other bishops with jurisdiction were consultants to the Northern Michigan search committee that nominated Fr. Thew Forrester. Bishops Tom Ely of Vermont and Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming have not made known how they intend to vote on consent, but they have previously issued statements indicating that they believe Fr. Thew Forrester is well qualified and that the consecration should go ahead.

Good Stuff in TEC: California

St. Mark’s soup kitchen up and running

For some, a bowl of warm soup in the afternoon is enough to make the day – at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Yreka, that bowl is in the hands of the hungry, thanks in large part to the volunteer effort of Jeannette Amos and Mike Hood.

Hood explained that the program “feeds the hungry, homeless and less fortunate” with money raised from donations and fundraisers, as well as money out of pocket from Amos and himself.
“We feel we need to step up and help the community,” Hood said, adding that the soup kitchen, located in the St. Mark’s basement, serves on average 25 people per day, with greater numbers coming in out of the cold during winter.

For Amos, that typically means that her day starts at 9 a.m. to allow preparation and cooking time, and ends sometime around 5 p.m. when the last dishes have been put away and the kitchen is ready for the next day.

“I love to feed people,” Amos said, “I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
The soup is often only a warm, pleasant accompaniment to something more, according to Amos, who said that many times those who enter the basement do so looking for someone to pray with, which she is happy to do.

“You’d be amazed at how many hugs I get,” Amos said, noting that she has also found solace at the kitchen, serving others to help her get through some tough times.

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

Good Stuff in TEC: California

Ugandan orphans have home thanks to St. John’s

Sometimes, a once in a lifetime journey turns into a lifetime of opportunities. Just ask Rick and April Dobbs.

When Rick and April agreed to travel to Uganda in 2006 they had no idea they were embarking on a mission that would lead them to a second home and a second family.

“While we were there we saw so many children that were orphaned because of AIDS or malaria,” April said. “It was heart-wrenching to see those kids going without.”

During their stay in Uganda, Rick and April, who are members of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roseville, met 6-year-old Mary whose mother was infected with HIV/AIDS and trying to support her children alone. Mary’s mother could barely afford food for her children let alone schooling. Rick and April offered to pay for a year’s tuition, school uniforms and extra clothing, school supplies and a backpack. The total out of pocket expense was $75.

“When we heard that she couldn’t go to school, we thought there was something wrong there,” Rick said. “We really felt like she deserved a better opportunity and if we could provide that, we would.”

Rick and April returned to California and shared with countless people their experience in Uganda and the children they met along the way. Soon, nearly 50 of Rick and April’s friends were sponsoring children in Uganda through the church’s pastor, Fred Rurihoona.

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Good Stuff in TEC: California

Fundraiser for Kenyan girls’ school at Christ Episcopal

The Daraja Club of Woodside Priory School has scheduled a fundraiser for Daraja Academy, the first free girls’ secondary school in Kenya, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church, 1040 Border Road in Los Altos. The evening will feature food, live entertainment and information about Daraja Academy, in addition to live and silent auctions. The public is welcome.

Los Altos resident Lizzie Somers, a Priory sophomore, became interested in the academy after her physics teacher Robert Bessin, also a Los Altos resident, discussed working with the Daraja Academy, which was founded by Jason and Jenni Doherty and admitted its first students two weeks ago.

Jason, who has taught in the Bay Area, is headmaster at Daraja. He traveled to Kenya as a child and fell in love with the country. Determined to relieve the poverty and hopelessness there, he decided to open a school. He concluded that an opportunity for girls to obtain education beyond elementary school could have a large impact. Kenya does not provide free secondary education.

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

Church is Episcopal property, judge says

The Colorado Springs congregation that split from the Episcopal Church over theological differences must surrender the $17 million Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish buildings to the Colorado Episcopal Diocese on April 1, a judge ruled Tuesday.

El Paso County District Judge Larry Schwartz said the diocese and the parish had "a unity of purpose" for most of their shared 135-year history, which created an implied trust relationship, with the local parish holding church property in trust for the denomination.

But ownership of the Gothic downtown church has been disputed since spring 2007, when the parish's theologically conservative pastor, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, and a majority of his congregation decided to leave the Episcopal Church. They said they left over issues such as gay- marriage rights and the ordination of openly gay clergy and bishops, which have been largely embraced by a changing Episcopal Church.

Armstrong and his breakaway congregation affiliated with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America. But the new Anglicans stayed in their historic church home on Tejon Street, forcing those loyal to the Episcopal Church to worship in space borrowed from the nearby First Christian Church.

Tuesday's ruling changes that arrangement.

"While freedom of religion recognizes the right of any faction within a church to leave that church whenever they choose, the trust that has been created through past generations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen's prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them," Schwartz said in his decision.

Judge orders Anglican parish to vacate Grace church by April 3

A judge on Wednesday ordered the Anglican parish that's been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., to vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.

Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, by May 8. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.
The motion hearing in Fourth Judicial Court was held to resolve issues involving transition of the parishes into and out of Grace Church and those involving security of the $17 million property, among other issues.

Schwartz urged both sides to work together to get through this transition. "If we act like adults, this can all be resolved," he said.

The Episcopal and Anglican groups split two years ago, but the reason is disputed. The Anglican parish, which on Wednesday renamed itself St. George Anglican Church, claims it left the national body because it had become too liberal in its interpretation of Scripture; in 2003, the church consecrated a gay bishop, setting off a firestorm of criticism from Armstrong and others. The diocese, on the other hand, has accused Armstrong of financial misconduct, and it says the split was the only way the parish could retain him as rector.

On Tuesday, Schwartz issued his order that the Tejon Street church and other properties belonged to the Episcopal Church and not to the congregation that split from the church in 2007 but continued to worship in the building. Hours later, Armstrong called police when a security team hired by the diocese showed up on Grace Church property to guard contents within the buildings.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Archbishop Gomez: Covenant a Tough Sell in Divided Communion

As the Covenant Design Group readies its handiwork for deliberation by the Anglican Consultative Council, the group’s chairman acknowledges that selling a unity document to a divided communion will be neither automatic nor easy.

Retired West Indies’ Archbishop Drexel Wellington Gomez identified current Episcopal Church attitudes as a danger to ratification of the proposed Covenant.

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori already has said General Convention this summer should decline to take up for consideration the design group’s yet-to-be perfected recommendations for measures aimed at respecting local autonomy while providing accountability for divisive actions.

“The Episcopal Church has its own agenda,” Archbishop Gomez said in Dallas March 22, “and that agenda does not have much accommodation with the rest of the Communion.”

The archbishop spoke at the end of a week-long stay at Church of the Incarnation, where he was featured guest for the parish’s “Listening to the Anglican World” series.

Nigeria: No to Homosexual Activism

When members of the Queer Alliance led others to storm the National Assembly and demand a legislation that will guarantee the protection of their sexual rights, not a few Nigerians were amazed at their audacity. They were apparently there to attend a public hearing for an act to prohibit marriage between persons of the same gender, otherwise known as same-sex marriage.

A spokesman for the group, Rasheed Williams had argued that they were there to persuade the lawmakers not to pass the bill because homosexuality is a private 'decision which does not in any way impinge on the rights of others'. But Nigerians from all walks of life have risen up against the homosexuals. Religious leaders in particular have taken the lead in condemning the group's activities.

The several Christian groups which were there during the public hearing had made presentations to the effect that homosexuality is a sinful and unnatural way of life which should not be condoned in any decent society. Muslim scholars, who were not at the National Assembly during the hearing, echoed similar condemnations to the press later. The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, was most vehement in its presentation when it said 'same-sex marriage, apart from being ungodly, is unscriptural, unnatural, unprofitable, unhealthy, un-African, and un-Nigerian. It is a perversion, a deviation, and an aberration that is capable of engendering moral and social holocaust in this country. Outlawing it is to ensure the continued existence of this nation.'

Good Stuff In TEC: South Carolina

Homeless learn about TB risks

This Saturday, as they have for the previous three weekends, members of St. David’s Episcopal Church will spread the word among Columbia’s homeless about the symptoms — and dangers — of untreated tuberculosis.

Although many people believe tuberculosis has been nearly eradicated, “part of what we have been explaining is that it has been making a resurgence and you have to take the full course of treatment for it,” said the Rev. Robert Chiles, St. David’s pastor.

The homeless can be at risk of tuberculosis, an infectious disease that attacks the lungs, because they often are near strangers with health problems. The disease spreads from person to person through airborne contact, when a person with TB coughs or talks.

The March outreach coincides with World TB Day on March 24, marking the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

Parishioners who distribute the information have teamed with another St. David’s member, C.J. Bilka, who provides a hot dog lunch each Saturday to the city’s homeless.

Bilka started the hot dog ministry six years ago in the parking lot of Suggs & Kelly law firm in downtown Columbia. Between 80 and 140 men and women routinely show up.

Hall of Famer Kell passes away

Hall of Famer George Kell, who followed up his legendary playing career by connecting with new generations of fans as a longtime Tigers broadcaster, has passed away. He was 86.
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Kell died in his sleep early Tuesday morning at his home in Swifton, Ark. He had recovered from an automobile accident five years ago that had briefly left him unable to walk, but he spent most of his time at home.

Kell's 15-year career with the Philadelphia Athletics (1943-1946), Detroit Tigers (1946-52), Boston Red Sox (1952-54), Chicago White Sox (1954-56) and Baltimore Orioles (1956-57) established him among the game's great third basemen, not just of his era, but of all time. One of just 11 third basemen elected the Hall of Fame, he was a 10-time All-Star who set standards at his position for defense and offense alike.

A career .306 hitter, Kell is best known as a player for his American League batting crown in Detroit in 1949, winning a race with Ted Williams that went down in history for its minuscule gap and stellar hitting. Down 10 points in late September upon returning from a jammed thumb, Kell went on a finishing tear that brought him within three points on the season's final day. While Williams went 0-for-2 with two walks, Kell's 2-for-3 outing erased the gap. He was on deck against Cleveland's Bob Feller, pitching in relief, when Eddie Lake hit into a game-ending double play.

More here-

Christian leaders slam graft - Uganda

CORRUPT officials must be punished and refund stolen money, Christian leaders have demanded. Leaders of the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches expressed concern that Uganda was losing billions of shillings at the hands of dishonest officials.

“That is why we have many cases of collapsing buildings, poor roads and no drugs in the health centres,” the leaders said in a recent statement.

“The Bible denounces corruption, calling it a detestable act. Therefore, anyone who engages in corruption is acting against the will of God.

Be warned-if you are in this scheme — that fighting God has a high price,” they warned. The leaders issued the statement at the closure of a two-day anti-corruption workshop at the Pope Paul Memorial Centre in Kampala.

They included Archbishops Henry Luke Orombi, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga and Monsignor Wyand Katende. Silvester Arinaitwe and Godfrey Amanyire from the Uganda Joint Christian Council also attended.

“History is not always on the side of people who abuse the trust bestowed upon them. The ill-gotten wealth you (the corrupt) are carrying is not a blessing from God,” they said.

Citing the anti-corruption Bill and the whistle blowers and witness protection Bill, the leaders urged the Government to expeditiously pass the laws, which they said would check the vice.

The leaders asked Christians not to offer embezzled money. They also urged those involved in graft to repent.

Are You a 'Mary' or a 'Martha'?

Lenten essay by Episcopalian Marcia Segelstein-

A friend recently dropped off at my house a copy of Joanna Weaver's book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Perhaps I was too busy being like Martha to have read it when it was first published. But I'm glad I got the chance to read it now, especially during this season of Lent. And I'm grateful to my friend for sharing it with me, despite her busy life.

Many churches, including my own, encourage Christians to observe Lent as a time to pay special attention to our relationship with God. We are commended to simplify our lives, and focus on what's really important. It's an appropriate time to re-think our priorities.

For me the most important lesson from Luke's story of Mary and Martha is that we should make choosing the "good part" (or "better part" in some translations) a priority. We should make the time to sit at Jesus' feet, as it were, instead of letting all the day-to-day work consume our lives. Nurturing our spiritual life is what really matters.

But that's often easier said than done, as Weaver so aptly puts it. "We want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside keeps bossing us around." Phones ring, school forms need filling out, dinner must be cooked, business meetings have to be attended, and there often seems little time to spend in quiet contemplation and prayer. Making time for God can feel like one more item on our "to do" lists.

More here-

Episcopal Church challenges extra-judicial killings in the Philippines

Human rights violations in the Philippines, in particular the abduction of Episcopalian James M. Balao, have been addressed in US-based Episcopal Church testimony sent to the United States House of Representatives' Committee on Appropriations and Sub-Committee on State Foreign Operations.

The Rev Canon Brian Grieves, the Episcopal Church's senior director for Mission Centers, and Alexander D. Baumgarten, international policy analyst in the church’s government relations office, submitted the testimony, this month outlining the Episcopal Church's concern for the continuing widespread human rights abuses in the Philippines, where extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances have been commonplace under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency.

Extra-judicial killings and abductions occur without the permission of a court or legal authority and are generally carried out by a government in order to rid itself of a disruptive influence.

More than 900 such killings have been reported since Arroyo was sworn in as president in 2001, according to the human rights alliance KARAPATAN.

There have been 193 victims of enforced or involuntary disappearance under the Arroyo government.

Balao, who was abducted in September 2008, is a founding member of the Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA), a federation of grassroots organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples' rights.

"Over the past three years, the military has been publicly denouncing the CPA as a 'front organization' for the Communist party and accusing James of being a leader in the Communist party in the Cordilleras," the testimony notes. "As a result, CPA members are being assassinated, forcibly abducted, and tortured."

Good Stuff In TEC: Montana (but also sad)

Butte comes together to grieve for crash victims

St. John's Episcopal Church sits on a hill overlooking the city of Butte, Montana, and right now the church is busy looking out for their community members who are grieving in the wake of the deadly plane crash there last weekend.

The church has planned a city-wide memorial for all who have been effected by the crash, the outreach to the entire city something that has become commonplace the last few days in Butte.

Inside St. John's Father Elton Smith and Deacon-in-training Mary Alice Jones prepare for what they anticipate will be a packed memorial service.

"This is a horrible event for all involved but nonetheless I think we're seeing Butte at its best," Father Smith said.

At the crash site flowers, hand written cards and crosses for each of the victims line the Holy Cross cemetery's fence line, most if not all left behind by complete strangers to those who died here.

"Butte is a town that cares," Father Smith said.

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

Breakaway Episcopalians lose bid to keep building

From the Associated Press- Other links follow-

A judge has ruled that a Colorado Springs church building belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and not a breakaway parish.

The ruling was handed down Tuesday in El Paso County District Court.
Ownership has been in dispute since March 2007, when some members and leaders of Grace Church and St. Stephen's left the national body over theological differences.

The breakaway group aligned itself with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in Virginia but continued to worship in the building.

Rev. Alan R. Crippen, spokesman for the breakaway parish, said the group probably won't appeal.

The group has about 1,200 members, and 500 of them regularly show up for services, he said.
Another group of about 500 chose to remain with the Diocese of Colorado and has been worshipping at a building across the street.

The breakaway parish will lose the building, trade name and Web domain. The congregation plans to meet elsewhere.

Denver Post-

Washington Times-

Colorado Springs Gazette-

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baptism center opens in Jordan

Baptist leaders and other dignitaries -- including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- took part in a ceremony March 20 dedicating a new evangelical Christian baptism center at the Jordanian spot traditionally regarded as the site of Jesus' baptism.

The afternoon celebration at the Baptism Center at Bethany beyond Jordan included more than 120 baptisms by immersion in the Jordan River. They were conducted by pastors from the Jordan Baptist Convention.

Eron Henry, associate director of communications for the Baptist World Alliance, said in a travel blog it is the first time Baptists in Jordan have received such prominent coverage in Jordan's major media outlets.

One of several new churches being built along the Jordan River at about the location Christian pilgrims have long believed Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the center is intended to cater to Christian traditions that practice believer's baptism by immersion.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, in the day's major address, called the center "a place where people from all parts of the world may assemble for a journey and an experience." He expressed hope that "the waters of the Jordan extinguish the crippling fires of hopelessness that burn in the hearts of those who have no knowledge of God."

Egan To Church: Consider Allowing Priests To Marry

It's a centuries-old debate. But a possible push for change is coming from an unexpected source: Cardinal Edward Egan.

Take the archbishop of Toulouse, France, Robert Legall, for instance. He says there's no need to change celibacy for priests.

"To stay in celibate ... I think so, yes," Legall said.

But his New York counterpart, Cardinal Egan, in a recent radio interview suggested that sooner or later the church would have to consider allowing priests to marry.

"I think it has to be looked at. I am not so sure it wouldn't be a good idea to decide on the basis of geography and culture. And not take an across-the-board determination," Egan said.

The cardinal pointed out that some eastern Catholic churches allow married priests, and since 1980 Episcopal priests who became Catholic priests are allowed to stay married.

"I think it could happen and will happen," said Rev. James Martin Jr. of America Magazine.

Music That Saves?

Birkenau, known as the death camp of Auschwitz, was one of the few camps where music accompanied mass murder. For 54 women who knew how to play instruments, music was a life saver.

The Women’s Orchestra of Birkenau was the only such orchestra commissioned by the SS during World War II. The women played for the crowds newly transported to Birkenau, for the bleary-eyed and emaciated inmates forced to work each day and for the pleasure of their captors. In exchange, they were granted life. Given slightly better treatment than other inmates of Birkenau, they paid for it with their hard practice and with the emotional stress of playing while other prisoners were sent to their graves. Using only the instruments on hand, they played Chopin and Beethoven with mandolins, recorders and flutes. With the exception of their conductor, Alma Rose, all 53 women survived. Three are still alive today.

Now, the sounds of the orchestra can be heard once again, in performances commemorating the women who played for a year and a half at Birkenau. It’s their story of hardship and humanity that compelled contemporary conductor Barbara Pickhardt to create “Music in Desperate Times: Remembering the Women’s Orchestra of Birkenau,” which weaves orchestral music taken from the repertoire of the ensemble with spoken words from the memoirs of orchestra members and with songs of hope and resistance sung by an accompanying chorus.

The concert will be performed March 28 by Ars Choralis, a not-for-profit chorus from upstate New York. The group will perform in a church in Berlin and at the liberation ceremony at Ravensbruck, an all-female concentration camp, later in the year. The spring series, however, begins in New York City, at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. It’s a venue that many say suits the program perfectly. “The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine has got an amazing history of social justice, a commitment that goes beyond any particular religious belief,” program director Alice Radosh said. “It is also one of the most, maybe the most, beautiful venues in New York City.”

Anglicans and Lutherans plan joint gathering

From the Anglican Journal (Canada).

The Anglican Church of Canada’s management team met with National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and her senior staff on March 18 and 19 to discuss ways to strengthen the relationship between the two churches, including plans for a joint General Synod/National Convention to be held in Ottawa in 2013 and the possibility of sharing national office space in the future.

“If full communion is really going to have some sense of visibility across the Canadian church, there have to be some pretty bold steps that we take together to help people realize that we are, in fact, churches in full communion,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noting that it has been eight years since the two churches reached an agreement to be in full communion.

Officers from both churches will meet next fall, followed by a joint meeting of the Council of General Synod, (CoGS, which governs the church between General Synods) and the Lutheran National Church Council, “probably in March 2011,” said Archbishop Hiltz. This would culminate in 2013 with a joint gathering of the governing bodies of each church. “It is exciting to see the momentum,” he said.

Rest is here-

Zimbabwe Anglican Church press charges against police chief

The Zimbabwe Anglican Church has pressed charges against the country’s police chief for sending armed police to drive worshippers out of churches every Sunday.

Anglicans in Zimbabwe's Diocese of Harare face harassment and violence from President Robert Mugabe's police force in what appears to be an attempt to prevent them from worshipping.

Diocesan Registrar for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Michael Chingore, said police commissioner general, Augustine Chihuri, is conniving with ousted Bishop Albert Kunonga to destabilise the church.

Bishop Kunonga, a fierce Mugabe supporter backed by the police, is engaged in a wrangle for control of the Zimbabwe Diocese of Harare. He has claimed ownership of extensive Anglican assets, despite being officially excommunicated in 2007 and replaced by Central Africa Bishop Sebastian Bakare. (pictured)

Kunonga was fired from the church after he withdrew the Diocese of Harare from the province, made up of Anglican churches in Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe, citing rampant homosexuality in the church.

Mr Chingore told inthenews the church wanted the police chief charged for instructing officers to assist the ousted Bishop Kunonga who is allegedly using his strong links with Mugabe to drive Anglicans out of their churches.

More here-$1282677.htm

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sioux Indians quit US Church

Members of nine congregations closed last year on a Sioux Indian reservation have quit the Diocese of South Dakota and formed the Lakota Oyate Episcopalian Church.

On March 14, the clergy and members of the nine redundant rural churches created the new group, which they say will not be affiliated with either the Episcopal Church or its rival Anglican Church in North America, to oversee the reservation churches.

Speaking to the Rapid City Journal, Lori Ann Two Bulls said the group has petitioned the tribe’s Land Committee to transfer ownership rights to the church properties from the diocese to the Lakota Oyate Episcopalian Church. It asked the tribal council to allow it to “continue operating the churches expelled by The Episcopal diocese,” she explained.

On Nov 22 the vicar of Christ Church, Red Shirt, the Rev Robert Two Bulls, filed suit in the tribal court, seeking an injunction halting the closure of nine of the sixteen Episcopal Churches on the reservation. The tribal court has yet to address the request, which Ms Two Bulls said is now moot given the formation of the new group.

The Diocese of South Dakota has not opposed turning over the church properties to the tribe, and last year Bishop Creighton Robertson defended the closures in his diocesan newspaper saying “this is not an ‘Indian War’,” but “a responsible review of property and use of resources entrusted” to us.

Schilling announces retirement

Future Hall of Famer Curt Schilling retires. From the Boston Globe

Curt Schilling, who in his four seasons in Boston cemented his reputation as one of the finest big-game pitchers of any era, announced his retirement today, ending his 20-year big league career.

Schilling, a winner of 216 regular-season games and a crucial contributor to the Red Sox' 2004 and 2007 World Championships, made the announcement on his blog "38 Pitches" this morning, writing:

"This party has officially ended. After being blessed to experience 23 years of playing professional baseball in front of the world's best fans in so many different places, it is with zero regrets that I am making my retirement official."


He retires with a 216-146 record and 3.46 ERA, and ranks 14th all time with 3,116 strikeouts. But Schilling, a three-time World Champion (he also won with Arizona in 2001), accomplished his greatest feats when the games meant the most. In 19 postseason starts, he compiled an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA, striking out 120 batters in 133.1 innings while allowing just 104 hits. His teams won 10 of the 12 playoff series he pitched in.

Schilling's place in Red Sox lore is secure because of his legendary performance in 2004, when he played a significant and symbolic role in helping the club end its 86-year old championship drought.

Inspectors question the mood at Oxford theological colleges

From the Church Times in England-

FALLOUT continues from the changes of “four testing years” at Wycliffe Hall, the theological college in Oxford (News, 18 May 2007) where there are “some deeply wounded spirits”, says an inspection report prepared for the House of Bishops.

The five-yearly reports on theological colleges used to be confidential. The Wycliffe report was published on the Church of England website this week, along with one on St Stephen’s House, Oxford. The colleges were graded in 13 areas with “Confidence”, “Confidence with qualifications”, or “No confidence”.

The Revd Dr Robin Ward, Principal of St Stephen’s House, said on Wednesday: “We were of course surprised that the reports came to be published in full, with unexpected assessment criteria, which we didn’t know until after the inspection process had finished.”
Both colleges are declared “fit for purpose”.

WYCLIFFE HALL gets a grading of “Confidence” in eight of the outcomes, and “Confidence with qualifications” in four. But the inspectors expressed “No confidence” in Practical and Pastoral Theology. Students lack tutorial direction in choosing placements, and are not sufficiently challenged “to move beyond their comfort zones”.

The four inspectors were led by Canon Ian Bunting, a former Bishop’s Research Officer for the diocese of Southwell. The others were Professor Elaine Graham from the University of Manchester; the Ven. Dr William Jacob, Archdeacon of Charing Cross; and Canon Stephen Taylor, Provost of Sunderland Minster.

They call for a more rigorous approach to the integration of theology and practice, and make five substantive recommendations.

More here-

Britons are believers of 'fuzzy faith', says survey

From the London Telegraph

According to the study, only 12 per cent of Britons feel they "belong" to a church, compared with 52 per cent in France.

It also found that the UK has one of the highest rates of "fuzzy faith" - or people who have an abstract belief in God and an ill-defined loyalty to Christian traditions.

The study, conducted as part of the influential EU-funded European Social Survey, will be seen as an indicator of a shift in attitudes and values.

Professor David Voas, of Manchester University's Institute for Social Change, who led the project, said the UK was involved in a "long process of disestablishment", with Christianity gradually being written out of laws and political institutions.

"Christian faith will soon have no role among our traditional establishments or lawmakers," he said. "It remains to be seen for example, how much longer bishops will be allowed to sit in the House of Lords."

He added: "Fuzzy faith is a staging post on the road to non-religion. Adults still have childhood memories of being taken to church, and they maintain a nostalgic affection for Christianity but that is dying out.

The rest is here-

Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer

Book review from the Christian Century-

I marvel sometimes as newcomers continue to arrive Sunday after Sunday at my Anglican church. Clueless about the messes in Canterbury and beyond, these visitors are drawn to our liturgy and our Book of Common Prayer.

They ask questions. What are these prayers and collects? What makes them stand the test of time? Newcomers want good guides just as all of us do. Of the numerous books addressing their questions, David deSilva's Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer is one of the better. DeSilva, a professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary, combines his Episcopal upbringing, his experience as a pastor in the United Methodist Church and his eminent scholarly work to give his readers a thoughtful introduction to the four major rituals of the Book of Common Prayer. He aims to "focus on the spiritual direction these liturgies provide and spiritual direction they seek to form" and "to bring the spiritual formation fostered by the Book of Common Prayer more fully into your daily life."

Spotlighting baptism, the Eucharist, marriage and death, deSilva delves into not only what the Prayer Book teaches but where in scripture these liturgies originate and how they have been shaped over the history of the church. Each of the 45 short chapters is theologically intelligent and easy to understand, and concludes with several practical suggestions. DeSilva's passion is for readers to absorb these liturgies deep into their daily lives and be blessed by them.

more here-

Signs, signs everywhere signs #12

Talk about "damning with faint praise" !

Reunion of orphans to mark 'special' time

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Nice hats for orphans)-

Kenneth Martin never liked fried eggplant.

When the vegetable was served at the Pittsburgh orphanage where he lived, he folded it in his napkin and stuffed it in his pants pocket to be flushed down the toilet after dinner.

But the tell-tale grease spot on his trousers always gave him away.

"I knew a spanking was coming. ... But I hated eggplant," said Martin, 76, a retired truck owner/operator from South Park.

Martin was 4 and his brother Charles was 6 in 1936 when they went to live at the Episcopal Church Home in Lawrenceville after their parents died. The home opened 150 years ago in a small rented house Downtown, an occasion that will be celebrated this weekend with a reunion of orphans.

The building that housed the orphanage for most of its history — and is a UPMC senior community called Canterbury Place — has occupied the same spot at 40th Street and Penn Avenue since 1861.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Anglicans Want Chihuri Charged

THE main Anglican Church congregation loyal to Harare Diocese Province of Central Africa Bishop Sebastian Bakare, which has been embroiled in a long drawn battle for control of the church with a rival group led by renegade Bishop Nolbert Kunonga (pictured) wants the police commissioner charged with contempt of court.

The group, now commonly referred to as the Bakare faction, says Chihuri is biased against them, adding they have evidence that the commissioner-general, who is also a sworn Zanu PF supporter, connived with Kunonga to destabilise their church.

Kunonga, who broke from the church’s hierarchy in 2007, is trying to wrest control of the diocese’s extensive assets from the faction led by Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

The dispute turned ugly last Sunday when riot police tried to disrupt a service led by Bakare at a parish in Mabvuku arguing Kunonga had won a Supreme Court challenge against a January 2008 ruling by the High Court allowing the two factions to share assets.

Bakare’s group now wants Chihuri charged with contempt of court for allegedly instructing the police to assist the bishop who uses his strong links to Zanu PF to intimidate opponents in his bid to drive Anglicans out of their churches.

The Diocesan Registrar for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Michael Chingore, said they had filed a contempt of court application against Chihuri in the face of the continued disruption of church services by the police.

“We have already launched a contempt of court appeal against the police at the High Court,” he said. “The police have only been trying to stop our services instead of maintaining order.
“We are simply saying the police or commissioner-general should not be anywhere near our services.

more here-

No change in attitudes. I'm proof that Akinola lied when he said there were no gay people in Nigeria.

From the London Guardian-

I am still recovering from the pains and stress of making sure members of Changing Attitude Nigeria were present at last week's hearing of the same-sex marriage prohibition bill in Abuja.

When we started Changing Attitude Nigeria in 2005, the first reaction I received from Archbishop Akinola was to allow his then communications officer to use his name to launch a smear campaign against me.

What is my crime? My crime is that I said I was a gay Nigerian Anglican who is tired of living in the closet over my sexuality, which already was an open secret.

Why was the church of Nigeria so angry with me? They were angry with me because at that time Archbishop Akinola, in collaboration with his western conservative friends, was saying that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria. My coming out showed their false claims up for what they were, and I am glad to see that they now acknowledge our existence, although they do not celebrate us.

I have repeatedly told Archbishop Akinola and his allies that what westerners introduced to Nigeria was the Christian faith and homophobia. Homosexuality has existed in Africa from the beginning, and we have local names for it in our languages, be they abusive or adored names. We have a name for it and people only give names to what they can identify.

More here-

for some background see-

Mark Lawerence's Convention Address

I believe our steadfastness will be of service within TEC—if only by challenging the structural conservatism of the theological innovators to face the changes of the future. Even more importantly it will be of service for the Anglican Communion as it moves towards the emerging structures God is providentially shaping. This is the field where the game is being played. So I am confident under God that it is essential to Anglicanism in North America and throughout the world that we in South Carolina are where we are.

But it does present us with a challenge. How do we keep this need for differentiation and truth-telling from dominating our diocesan life in negative ways? How do we balance these three dimensions of our common life as a diocese—(a) the gospel mandate, (b) the call to make Biblical Anglicans for a global age, (c) this need for vigilance toward the unbiblical agendas in TEC? What is the relationship of each to the other—especially in terms of the stewardship of our time, resources and energy

As I have looked for a metaphor to help convey the relationship between these three dimensions of our common life in this Diocese of South Carolina I have reluctantly settled on what I believe is a helpful, if less than noble, one—that is, A Motorcycle with a Sidecar. A metaphor or analogy, as Robert Frost noted years ago, is like an ice cube on a hot skillet. It rides on its own melting until it eventually dissolves. It is important to keep this in mind as I bring this metaphor before us. It is a metaphor I have employed specifically to assist in describing the emphasis we place on these three dimensions of our diocesan life and how they relate to one another. Let me explain. The front wheel of the motorcycle is the Christ’s mandate to proclaim the Gospel, to make disciples, and grow the church. That is the one non-negotiable. Lose that and we might as well close shop. We become salt that has lost its taste and, as Jesus taught, worth nothing but to be thrown under foot. It is the front wheel of our motorcycle and it decides where we as a diocese are to go—the direction of our common life. The back wheel is our God-given calling to help shape Anglicanism in the 21st Century through missional relationships, responsible autonomy and inter-provincial accountability. That is what gives us thrust and drives us toward that future our Lord has called us to help shape. The side car bears the third wheel; this is at present our relationship with The Episcopal Church. It is there; we all know that it is there; at times we appreciate it; at times some of us don’t.

Read it all here-

Bad news evangelicals

From The Christian Century

Modern North American evangelicalism began in reaction. Those who embraced the term fundamentalist reacted against late-19th-century biblical criticism and biology, removing themselves from denominations and other Christian bodies that were less alarmed by such developments. Reacting against perceived liberalism in the realm of political involvement, fundamentalists separated themselves from the social gospel so decisively that they removed almost any hint of social dynamism from the biblical gospel.

In the middle of the last century, neoevangelicals such as Harold Ockenga and Carl Henry sought to nudge fundamentalists (and what we now know as conservative evangelicals) in a more socially aware direction. Yet the movement retained an ongoing vulnerability to its reactionary impulse. Evangelicalism (then and now predominantly white) was slow to support civil rights for blacks. Anticommunism was long a hot node of evangelical galvanization.

A newfangled dispensationalist eschatology (promulgated first in the 19th century) has regularly cycled into prominence through the aegis of the movement, repeatedly reincarnated to react to changed threats. Hal Lindsey proclaimed it in The Late Great Planet Earth in the 1970s and tailored the Chris tian gospel to resist the Soviet Union, European unification and the ecumenical movement. In the 1990s, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins retooled dispensationalism to rescue American conservative Christians from Arabic terrorists, one-world government and moral decline. Pop apocalyptics aside, playing defense has long been a major mode of discourse for evangelical media—arming the faithful against religious cults, then the New Age movement, then feminism, then secular humanism, and so on and so on.

Still, evangelicalism re mains wealthy by any number of quantitative and sociological measurements. How can I suggest that it is in trouble?

It is in deep trouble because it faces a significant cultural and generational shift. Identifying itself with the wedge tactics of the political right, which is now falling (at least for a time) out of power, the movement cannot easily shake the image of being primarily negative and destructive. Indicators show that it is losing attractiveness not only among unconverted fellow Americans, but among its own young.

Ketchum: Want to add years to life? Go to church

A nice story about one of our clergy here in Pittsburgh -Dan Hall

Here's a revelation: Research indicates prayer helps sick people, especially when sick people know others are praying for them.

Believers would say the research confirms the obvious. Yet this little gem of wisdom rated space as news in the current issue of the "Christian Century" magazine. The idea that prayer is more than just a palliative is something the faithful take for granted.

Such research is one more attempt to prove faith, which is impossible. It's like taking a wristwatch apart with a sledge hammer to see how it works. Some researchers call faith a supernatural placebo. If you think it works, it works.

Research done by Dr. Daniel Hall takes things a step further. He's an Episcopal priest who has decided to live his calling as a surgeon in Pittsburgh. He wears "M. Div." (Master of Divinity) after the "M.D." on his hospital coat, but he does not proselytize. He, however, will discuss faith and how it relates to health if anyone asks.

Hall has studied the impact faith has and concludes, among other things, that church attendance can add two or three years to a believer's life. Actually, it only seems that way, especially if you aren't crazy about the hymns or you serve on a church council, vestry or session board. Then it can seem like forever.

More here-