Saturday, April 4, 2009

Canadian Anglican serves dynamically in Uganda

From the Anglican Church of Canada. (I didn't think that Canada and Uganda were in communion any longer)

Full of hearty laughter, the Rev. Canon Paul Jeffries spoke to staff at the Anglican Church of Canada's national office last week about his work as principal of Bishop McAllister College, Kyogyera in southwestern Uganda. The former Volunteer in Mission (VIM) from the Diocese of Fredericton is celebrating 10 years of unusual, passionate ministry.

It's a ministry that includes running 10 km races alongside gangly teenagers.

But to back up: the story began many years ago when Mr. Jeffries was serving at a parish in rural New Brunswick. He remembers he was on his day off, contentedly reading the newspaper, when his bishop called. Startled, Mr. Jeffries asked, "What's wrong?" but the answer wasn't bad news, only an encouragement to serve in the companion diocese of Eldoret, Kenya.

After lots of prayer, some chats with former VIMs, and a sudden case of adventurousness, Mr. Jeffries went to Kenya for a year, where he said he "caught the Africa bug." He then returned to Canada to discern his vocation and eventually settled on a teaching placement at Bishop McAllister College.

The rest is here.

New bishops in joint consecration in Wales

From the BBC

Rev Canon Gregory Cameron will become the 76th Bishop of St Asaph, in Denbighshire.

Meanwhile, Rev Canon David Wilbourne will be consecrated as Assistant Bishop of Llandaff.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan will be joined at the public service by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Canon Gregory, 49, was elected Bishop of St Asaph in January. He was formerly Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office.

Canon David, 53, was appointed Assistant Bishop of Llandaff in February. He was previously vicar of Helmsley in the Diocese of York.

More than 30 serving and retired bishops from Wales and other provinces of the Anglican Church will be at the service to consecrate the new bishops.

They will take part in a procession to lead the bishops-designate into the cathedral, along with senior clergy, church registrars and chancellors and representatives from other Christian denominations.

More here-

Signs, signs everywhere signs #14

Now that's what I call inclusive !

Good Stuff In TEC: North Carolina

Church offering career planning at program on April 25

Life as many people have known it is changing. The plummeting stock market, falling housing prices, declining job security, rising national debt, environmental problems, war - the list goes on and on. It's enough to make even the strongest feel powerless.

Despite these circumstances and hurricane-force winds of change, there is opportunity - an opportunity to bring power, passion, and purpose to life and career.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Gastonia presents "Reengineer Your Career" with Randy Siegel. In this information-packed workshop participants learn how to:

-- Align their career and life, with their true wants, needs, and core values.

-- Identify and secure their ideal job.

-- Package, present and promote themselves.

Additionally, participants will learn an eight-step process to identify career options that:

-- Utilize their attributes, skills, experience and education.

-- Offer opportunities in the new economy.

-- Meet their wants, needs and match their core values.

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

Canterbury's Recognition of ACNA Unlikely

From The Living Church

The Anglican Church in North America is unlikely to be recognized by the See of Canterbury, a leader of the American Anglican Council said on April 1.

“We do not believe that Canterbury will recognize us, at least while the current archbishop is still in office,” said the Rev. J. Philip Ashey, the AAC’s chief operating officer and chaplain, in a brief speech in the suburbs of Richmond, Va.

Father Ashey spoke at a public library in Henrico County at the invitation of the Richmond Anglican Fellowship. About 70 people attended his speech.

Echoing the sentiments of the Jerusalem Declaration, Fr. Ashey suggested that Canterbury’s recognition will be less important as various provinces in the Global South recognize the ACNA. He said representatives from Kenya, Rwanda, the Southern Cone of South America, and Uganda are expected to attend a provincial assembly in Texas in June, where the ACNA will vote on a proposed constitution and canons.

Fr. Ashey said he was part of a panel of bishops and lawyers who have drafted canons for the ACNA, which plans to release the proposed canons within a few weeks. He said the canons will make clear that all property belongs to congregations rather than dioceses; that bishops will be nominated by dioceses on a slate of three and chosen by a College of Bishops; and that all bishops must warn each other when a transferring priest has engaged in misconduct.

More- (including a line about blowing things up!)

Good Stuff in TEC: Iowa

Episcopalians explore new church in Indianola

Warren County worshipers will now have an Episcopalian church in the Indianola area starting this weekend.

The first service of the Episcopal Church will be at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 5, in the music room at Emerson Elementary School, 1109 E. Euclid Ave. in Indianola. The Rev. Ronald Osborne will preside.

The Episcopal diocese had discussed having a church in the area and Osborne decided to take on the project during his retirement. He is using advertising, the Internet and word-of-mouth to get the church started.

“We are doing this on a shoestring,” Osborne said. “We’ve got meager resources, but we know we’ve got some people resources and those are the most important things anyway.”
His daughter Ann Osborne Gribbins will serve as the church cantor and lead the worship music. Gribbins was raised Episcopalian, but had attended a different denomination church for years. She’s excited to return to an Episcopal Church.

“I’m just looking forward to feeling comfortable going to church again and working with my dad,” Gribbins said. “I haven’t been to church with my dad since I was a kid.”

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

Windsor process, covenant to top Anglican Consultative Council agenda

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Anglican Communion's most representative legislative body -- the Anglican Consultative Council -- will consider two documents at its upcoming meeting that "are key to discerning a way forward for the Anglican Communion in light of recent stresses caused by differences over matters of human sexuality," according to an April 3 news release from the Anglican Communion Office.
The two documents to be discussed by the ACC when it convenes May 1-13 in Kingston, Jamaica, are the proposed Anglican covenant and the Windsor Continuation Group's final report that was made public during the early February meeting of the leaders, known as primates, of the communion's provinces.

The latest draft of an Anglican covenant is expected to be released next week ahead of the ACC meeting. The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, one of two Episcopal Church members on the Covenant Design Group, told ENS April 3, at the conclusion of the design group's latest meeting, that it is "warmly commending this draft" to the ACC, which is the only communion body with the authority to ask the Anglican provinces to sign onto the covenant.

The Windsor Continuation Group has been charged with addressing questions arising from the 2004 Windsor Report, a document that recommended ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid diversity of opinions, especially relating to human sexuality issues and theological interpretations. Its report calls for the development of a "pastoral council" and supported Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' plan to appoint "pastoral visitors" to assist in healing and reconciliation within the communion.

The continuation group also addressed the moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate. "If a way forward is to be found and mutual trust to be re-established, it is imperative that further aggravation and acts which cause offence, misunderstanding or hostility cease," the group's report states. At their February meeting, the primates called for "gracious restraint" with respect to such actions.


Friday, April 3, 2009

BNP puts Jesus on its poster

From the Church Times

THE British National Party (BNP) will use a picture of Jesus and a text from St John’s Gospel on its bill boards for the European elections in June.

Its poster quotes the words of Jesus: “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you,” followed immediately by the question, “What would Jesus do?” and the instruction: Vote BNP.
The campaign reflects the party’s concerted attempt to portray itself as defender of Britain’s Christian heritage and “Christian” values.

Nick Griffin, the party leader, invited supporters in an email message this week to preview the billboard, which, he says, is “aimed at attracting even more Christian voters”. The message criticises the Church of England in particular for passing a resolution at the February Synod that membership of the BNP was incompatible with being a member of the clergy.

Mr Griffin asks: “What has become of the Christian church in this country? Instead of inclusively ‘embracing all’ which the church claims as its basis, certain groups within that body have banned people from their ranks. . . . Surely if God calls a man to his service, no church has the right to contradict HIS holy will!”

Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the think tank Ekklesia, which has been monitoring the BNP’s identification with Christianity, said of the billboard: “This is clearly a gross misrepresentation of both Jesus Christ and Christianity. Jesus was completely opposed to bigotry.

“But the Church must critically reflect on how it is aiding the far-Right. Leading figures within the Church of England have become far more vocal recently in their calls to ‘stem the tide of secularism’ and to defend the predominant ‘Christian culture’ of Britain.”


Design Group works on Anglican covenant revision

From Episcopal Life Online-

The group charged with "designing" a covenant that could be used as a unifying set of principles among the provinces of the Anglican Communion met March 30-April 3 in Cambridge, England to work on a new revision of the text.
"A completed revision of the proposed covenant has been finished, along with a commentary explaining our work," the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, one of two Episcopal Church members on the Covenant Design Group, told ENS at the conclusion of the meeting. "We have taken seriously the array of responses received from the provinces and from around the communion and larger church."

The latest incarnation of the Anglican covenant, along with the design group's commentary, is expected to be "posted on the Anglican Communion website sometime next week," said Radner.

The design group, Radner says, is "warmly commending this draft" to the Anglican Consultative Council -- the communion's main legislative body and the only instrument with the authority to ask the Anglican provinces to sign onto the covenant -- for discussion at its May 1-13 meeting in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Covenant Design Group was appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on behalf of the primates and has been meeting since January 2007. The soon-to-be-released draft will be the third version of the covenant released by the design group. The provinces of the Anglican Communion had until March 9 to submit responses to the second draft (St. Andrew's Draft) for consideration by the design group at its meeting this week.

The idea for an Anglican covenant was first cited in the 2004 Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-120) and has been supported by all the instruments of communion as a way for the Anglican Communion to maintain unity amid differing viewpoints, especially on human sexuality issues and biblical interpretation.

More here-

Pittsburgh: Orthodox Church elects new bishop

Leaders of the Pittsburgh archdiocese of the Orthodox Church in America rejoiced yesterday that an Ohio-born monk, who local clergy and laity had overwhelmingly nominated as their bishop, has been elected by other bishops of the church.

"Glory to God! Glory to God!" said an elated Father Patrick Carpenter, press officer for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.

He had just spoken by phone to Bishop-elect Melchisedek, 66, who lives in a monastery in Greece.

The bishop-elect said in a Facebook posting that he "has finished waiting and has started packing for Pittsburgh."

Many archdiocesan leaders had worried that the Holy Synod of Bishops would reject November's unprecedented first ballot nomination and that the Pittsburgh archdiocese might be merged with Philadelphia. The late Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh died in June 2007, as the church was reeling amid a $4 million financial scandal at its national headquarters.

In November, Metropolitan Jonah was elected to the church's top post as a reformer, and he responded quickly to a letter last month from Pittsburgh's Archdiocesan Council, which expressed concerns about why the bishops had taken four months to vote on their nominee.

A March 22 meeting between Metropolitan Jonah, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia, who has overseen the Pittsburgh archdiocese, and the Archdiocesan Council ended talk of a merger. The Synod of Bishops elected its new member for Pittsburgh at its regular meeting, which ended yesterday.

More here-

Provisional Bishop Named for Quincy

The Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan has been nominated to serve as provisional Bishop of Quincy. Bishop Buchanan and other newly appointed diocesan leaders must be confirmed by delegates to a special reorganizing convention to be held April 4 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Peoria, Ill.

Bishop Buchanan currently serves as the Parliamentarian of the House of Bishops. He was Bishop of West Missouri from 1989-1999, and recently completed a term as an assisting Bishop of Southern Virginia.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will call the special synod to order and will also officiate at a service of Morning Prayer prior to the start of the business meeting.

The diocese is filling positions vacated when a majority of clergy and lay delegates to the annual synod last November voted to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church. Those congregations and clergy are now under the oversight of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

Along with the cathedral, congregations which have committed to remaining with The Episcopal Church include St. John’s, Kewanee; St. James’, Lewistown; and St. James’, Griggsville. A minority of members from churches in Moline and Rock Island have formed a new Episcopal congregation in Moline named All Saints’.

In addition to electing new diocesan leadership, the special synod is expected to approve a new budget and rescind resolutions and articles of the constitution which separated the diocese from The Episcopal Church.

Top Anglican legislative body to meet in Jamaica

The Anglican Consultative Council, made up of lay people, clergy and bishops from the 38 Anglican Provinces of the Communion, meets in Kingston Jamaica May 1 - 13, to consider among other things, mission in the 21st century, the future structure of the worldwide Church, and theological education.

The ACC meets approximately every three years under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a presidential address on May 11.
Foremost on the agenda for this, the 14th meeting of the Council, will be consideration of a Covenant for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion and reception of the final report of the Windsor Continuation Process. Both of these documents are key to discerning a way forward for the Anglican Communion in light of recent stresses cause by differences over matters of human sexuality.

In a letter sent to all ACC members, Anglican Communion Secretary General Kenneth Kearon says: “Our 11 days together will provide an opportunity for us to engage with the Mission of the Anglican Communion through the work of its commissions, networks and working groups as well as experience something of the life and vitality 0f the local Anglican Church."

Many of the networks and working groups that help profile various areas of interest in the Anglican world including peace and justice, the international women’s network and inter-faith concerns will report during the meeting. Ms Hellen Wangusa, the Anglican observer at the United Nations will speak on mission.

The ACC’s opening service will be on Sunday May 3 at the National Arena. On Sunday, May 10, ACC delegates will participate in Mission Sunday at various churches across the Diocese. The closing event will be a service to be held at the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega, Spanish Town, on May 12.

More here-

Bishop prays in glass box display

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

An Anglican bishop has taken a leaf out of illusionist David Blaine's book by sealing himself in a glass display.

The Bishop of Middleton, the Rt Rev Mark Davies, said prayers for an hour in a window display at Nexus Art Cafe in Manchester city centre.

The bishop is aiming to highlight to passers-by that there can be loneliness and isolation in urban areas.

The exhibition is part of a 40-day event organised by Sanctus1, a city centre Christian community.

Leader of the group, Rev Ben Edson, said the project was intended to remind people of Lent and the anonymity of a busy city life.

More here including video-

Good Stuff In TEC: West Texas

Youth Ministry and Transformative Environments

I spent this past weekend in San Antonio, TX with some new friends at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and a few other churches within the Diocese of West Texas. I led several conversations for a couple dozens students around mission, community and identity formation - some of the very things we've recently been discussing on this blog.

Each of the conversations were punctuated with experiential learning environments consisting of such activities as sharing food and conversation with the homeless, collecting food for a local help pantry, participating in the Eucharist, intentional conversations in which to discuss the experiences, numerous forms of art expressions and so on.

I've come away from the experience feeling very inspired and encouraged. Possibly the most inspiring element to the weekend was the relational composition I noticed between the various groups of students.
I've spoken to and trained many students at various gatherings throughout North America over the last decade or so and never have I more clearly witnessed a sense of true community and cooperative learning than while at St. Luke's.

More here-

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

Fire Destroys Historic Seminary Building

An overnight fire in Waukesha County leaves nothing but a pile of rubble behind at a historic building.

Nobody was hurt, but the structure, part of the Nashotah Episcopal Seminary, was destroyed.
The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.

The two-story house was engulfed in fire.

Investigators said that nobody currently lives in this house, a historic building set in the heart of the Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary.

The seminary was founded in 1842. It covers 365 acres of land, nestled along the shore of upper Nashotah Lake.

Good Stuff In TEC: Florida

Innovative prison program being launched

Marking a new vision for prison ministry nationwide, the Episcopal Diocese of Florida will be celebrating a landmark collaboration on April 16 with the non-profit Prisoners of Christ.
The celebration will be led by Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard. All those interested in prison ministry across northern Florida are invited to gather to dedicate this flagship ministry at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Nativity, 8373 Normandy Blvd., on Jacksonville's west side. A reception on site will follow the dedication and celebration co-hosted by the diocese and POC.

The dedication and celebration of this new ministry will highlight the recently-formed partnership between Prisoners of Christ (POC) and the extensive prison ministry of the diocese. Hosting the event are Episcopal clergy and lay people involved in prison ministry within the Diocese's 25 north Florida counties.

"This is the first of its kind," Howard noted. "Now, in addition to working behind bars in the 30 prisons in the diocese, we have an opportunity --between Prisoners of Christ and the diocese -- to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those ex-offenders and their families, and to continue to minister to the families of those still incarcerated." POC president Wesley Paxson Sr. and executive director Dan Palmer echoed and affirmed Howard's sentiments.

The innovative and visionary approach of this partnership allows Prisoners of Christ to use the parish hall facilities of Jacksonville's Church of the Nativity (Episcopal) as POC headquarters, while the church itself is staffed by prison ministry volunteers, both lay and clergy. This combination of prison ministry and programs, sharing the Church of the Nativity campus while serving incarcerated and former prisoners as well as the families of prisoners, is the first of its kind in The Episcopal Church.

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

Bishop discusses expulsion of priest

A Providence News Video about Ann Holmes Redding and Bishop Geralyn Wolf (pictured)

Breakaway congregations form new Anglican diocese

At least eight conservative congregations in Western Washington — including two that left the Episcopal Church — are forming a new Anglican diocese in the Northwest.

The Cascadia Diocese, as it's being called, is the latest local example of the deep divisions splitting the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion over issues such as Scriptural authority and church teachings. The differences erupted in 2003 when the Episcopal Church confirmed the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch — or province — of the 77-million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Western Washington congregations are seeking to become part of the Anglican Church in North America — itself a newly formed conservative rival to the more liberal Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.

The rival province was formed last December by groups that included four U.S. dioceses and a number of parishes that had broken away from the Episcopal Church. This new province intends to seek the approval of leaders in the worldwide Anglican Communion.


Other congregations involved in the formation of the Cascadia Diocese include several from the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Reformed Episcopal Church, which is not recognized by the Anglican Communion, formed in 1873 when it broke off from what later became the Episcopal Church. It has more than 100 congregations in the U.S. and Canada, its own prayer book and does not ordain women.

The rest is here-

WESTERN NEW YORK: Search committee told to honor Resolution B033

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York has told a newly formed bishop search committee that they are expected to "honor the mind of the Episcopal Church regarding acceptable candidates for the episcopate as expressed through the General Convention."

The Standing Committee said in a posting on the diocese's bishop search website that the requirement referred to Resolution B033, passed by the Episcopal Church's General Convention in June 2006.

In Resolution B033, General Convention called upon standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

Under the canons of the Episcopal Church (III.16.4 (a)), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the ordination of a bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of her or his election. (If the election occurs within 120 days of a meeting of General Convention, the convention is asked for its consent.)

The Rev. Eric Williams, chair of the Western New York standing committee and rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Jamestown, told ENS April 2 that "we do understand that the letter of B033 does not relate to search committees at all."

"So we are taking a step -- and probably a somewhat controversial step -- of interpreting that and offering our guidance to the search committee," he said. "But it is not our intention to muzzle the search committee or prevent them from doing their discernment. In the end, they have to make these difficult discernment choices as they do their work over the next year and a half, and this is really an invitation to see their work in the context of the whole Episcopal Church."

More here-

Thursday, April 2, 2009

'Religion beat' caught up in US journalism changes

News coverage of the religious landscape in the United States has in recent years gained visibility because of increased interest in issues related to religion but now faces an uncertain future, given a state of flux in U.S. journalism, say prominent religion journalists.

“The religion beat is suffering collateral damage," reporter Michael Paulson, who covers religion for the Boston Globe newspaper, told members of the Religion Communicators' Council, an interfaith professional association, at its annual meeting, which took place in Boston from March 26 to 28.

During a panel discussion, Mr. Paulson along with Rachel Zoll, who covers religion for the Associated Press news agency, and John Yemma, the editor of the Christian Science Monitor, told of frustrations and discouraging trends ranging from the reduction of staff to all-out elimination of sections devoted to religious reporting in U.S. newspapers.

The journalists noted that The New York Times now has only one reporter covering religion at the national level, instead of two, while the well-respected Dallas Morning News ditched its weekly section on religious news, which many observers considered the best in the field.

More here-

Christians unite to ‘Put People First’

TWO THOUSAND Christians marched on the capital last weekend to highlight the plight of the poor.

Ahead of London’s G20 Summit, a number of Christian organisations including Tearfund, CAFOD, World Vision, Micah Challenge, Progressio and The Salvation Army marched under the banner “Put People First” in a parade of 35,000 people. Speaking to a congregation of 1200 at the ecumenical service in Central Hall before the rally, the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, said those in the developed world must not forget those in the poorest parts.

“It is imperative we stand with people in this global emergency,” he said. “The G20 Rally is our opportunity to make the case for a global society that is committed to tackling poverty, injustice and climate change with the aim of creating a brighter future for the many and not just the few.”

Dr Chartres urged people to put pressure on world leaders ahead of their key December meeting in Copenhagen. He said: “If we take more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources and if we contribute to climate change then it is going to be the most vulnerable and poorest people in the world who suffer first. “We’ve mortgaged some of our children’s tomorrow to fund our today.”

The secretary general of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, Father Joe Komakoma, said: “Whereas rich countries can afford to come up with stimulus packages, worth billions of pounds, the poor countries, like Zambia have limited opportunities to cope with the current global downturn.”

The Rev Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, said: “For the first time in human history we have reached the place where we are potentially irreversibly damaging our environment.

More here-

Unsung Heroes – the hunt is on!

The Church of England has teamed up with Country Life magazine to hunt for an elusive species: the unsung hero! Rural churches and chapels are often the thriving hubs of their communities. Together, Country Life and the Church of England are looking for the unsung volunteers - of any denomination - who keep them alive.

The competition – to be launched in the magazine’s Easter edition (8 April) – will be seeking the volunteers who keep rural churches, chapels and churchyards thriving and at the centre of their communities. The aim is to highlight the wide range of voluntary activities taking place in and around those buildings – from maintaining the fabric against all odds to developing and taking forward an imaginative community use of the building.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, writes in a special Country Life article to launch the competition: “In our countryside, armies of unsung heroes are keeping the circulation going in the community’s body. They are organising community celebrations and simple local services like mothers and toddlers groups or drop-in centres. But they are increasingly stepping into the gaps that have opened up in rural society in the last ten years or so.”

The Easter Country Life will include all the details of the Unsung Heroes competition, an entry form and instructions on how to submit nominations. Groups of church or chapel members can get together to nominate their own special Hero.

More here-

Churches unite in repentance

REPRESENTATIVES of Beaudesert’s Anglican and Catholic parishes arrived together for the joint Act of Repentance at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane capturing the spirit behind one of the key sesquicentenary celebrations of 2009.

Catholic parish priest Fr Bernie Gallagher and Rev David Lunniss, of the Anglican parish, made the trip with 24 of their parishioners by bus, sitting together in the cathedral later for the event.

Nearly 500 people attended the Act of Repentance on March 27 at St John’s Cathedral. A combined choir from St John’s and St Stephen’s Cathedral took part.

The celebration acknowledged that in the Churches’ 150 years of co-existence in Brisbane there had been failures on both sides to live up to the full Gospel message.

St Stephen’s Cathedral dean Fr Ken Howell, one of the event organisers, said many present at the “well attended and prayerful event” had expressed their gratitude at the opportunity provided by the Act of Repentance to gather together.

The sentiment was shared by Anglican Rev Canon Richard Tutin who said the level of attendance and involvement had “surpassed all expectations”.

Among highlights had been Archbishop John Bathersby and Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall’s prayers for forgiveness on behalf of their communities, Fr Howell said.

When J.P. Morgan Came to Town

Long article on J.P. Mrgan and his dedication to the Episcopal Church-

For months the stock market had tottered. But the spark that ignited the panic was set by an unscrupulous engineer, Frederick A. Heinze, who had amassed considerable wealth from copper mining. He’d purchased control of a bank to use its assets to back continued stock speculations. When his investments failed, his bank collapsed after depositors made a run on its holdings. This closure triggered runs on other banks and the financial crisis became full-blown. When New York’s second largest bank, Knickerbocker Trust, ran out of cash and other banks refused to shore it up, it closed. In October 1907 the streets of New York’s financial district were flooded with frantic and angry customers and investors withdrawing their holdings.

Who to call? President Theodore Roosevelt was in the wilds of Louisiana at the time hunting black bears — but could have done little anyway. The secretary of the Treasury rushed to New York but there was no central national bank and no Federal Reserve system in place at that time to offer stability.
The one man with the clout, intelligence, resources and moxie to restore order was J. Pierpont Morgan.

So where was he while banking was under siege? Morgan had arrived in Richmond Oct. 1, becoming comfortably ensconced for three weeks at the Episcopal convention. America’s most powerful man didn’t intend to interrupt his church work. As much as he loved lording over Wall Street or collecting rare books and old-master art, he was above all else an ecclesiastical groupie. He couldn’t get his fill of the Episcopal Church, whether sitting alone in a darkened corner of his own understated, St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York listening to an organist practice, or debating with high-ranking clergy an arcane point of church governance.

Autumn of 1907 was high season in Virginia. The year marked not only the 300th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, but also the tercentenary of the Episcopal church, which established Christianity in the English-speaking New World. In October, while the eyes of the world were on the World’s Fair in Norfolk, Richmond was host to one of the largest and most prestigious gatherings in its history. One hundred Episcopalian bishops from around the world were among some 1,000 delegates at the three-week conference.

“Prelates Arrive for Convention … Bishop of London and J. P. Morgan at Cynosure,” a News Leader headline announced in the Oct. 1 afternoon edition. The newspaper would cover the proceedings breathlessly until adjournment.

Church Pension Fund portfolio declined in 2008 but investments 'well-positioned,' report says

he Church Pension Fund's investment portfolio declined by 18.8 percent in 2008, but still has approximately $1.3 billion more in assets than liabilities, according to a recent report mailed to fund participants.
"No one knows the duration of the current global economic and financial problems, but the fund remains in an enviable position," wrote Dennis Sullivan, Church Pension Fund president, in a March 20 introduction to "Perspective," a periodic newsletter from his office.

"Despite the recent declines, the fund's reserves are sound and benefits are secure," the newsletter said. "We do not know what the next months will bring, but we believe the investment portfolio is well-positioned for the long term."

As of December 31, 2008, preliminary figures show that the fund's assets were $7.45 billion and liabilities were $6.2 billion, according to the newsletter. The investment portfolio's decline of 18.8% in 2008 compared to a 37% decline during the same period in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, a broad gauge of U.S. stock market performance.

"The fund's 33% allocation to bonds cushioned the decline from equities," the Perspective newsletter noted, adding that the portfolio's "broad diversification" in its equities investments helped insulate the fund against the larger losses seen by other investors. Those investments include hedge funds, event arbitrage (purchasing securities of companies experiencing major events such as acquisition or reorganization), distressed debt (purchasing bonds of companies experiencing financial trouble) and absolute return strategies (aimed at producing a return even if markets are trending down).

Can you say "Islamopalian"? - Ann Holmes Redding Roundup

Links to the Ann Holmes Redding Story

First the Seatle Times-

The Episcopal Church has defrocked Ann Holmes Redding, the Seattle Episcopal priest who announced in 2007 that she is both Christian and Muslim.

Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who has disciplinary authority over Redding, informed the priest of her decision in a letter today.

Wolf found Redding to be "a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two years have been open, honest and respectful," according to a press release from the Diocese of Rhode Island.

"However, Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim."

"I am very sad," Redding had said Tuesday. "I'm sad at the loss of this cherished honor of having served as a priest."

She also said she was sad at what seems to her to be a narrow vision of what the church accepts.

Redding, who had formerly served as director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill, announced in June 2007 that for more than a year, she had also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Muslim prayers moved her profoundly.

Episcopal Life-

Christian News Wire

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

‘Muslim Priest’ Deposed

The Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island, deposed a Rhode Island priest on April 1 who claimed to be both a Christian and a Muslim.

For more than 20 years Ann Holmes Redding served in other dioceses. Since 2001, she has lived in the Diocese of Olympia, but she remained canonically resident in Rhode Island under Bishop Wolf’s pastoral oversight. In 2007, Ms. Redding revealed in an article in Episcopal Voice, the Diocese of Olympia’s monthly newspaper, that she had made the Muslim profession of faith and that she saw no contradiction in remaining an Episcopal priest.

After conferring with Ms. Redding, Bishop Wolf issued a pastoral direction giving Ms. Redding the opportunity to reflect for one year on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam, Bishop Wolf said in a statement issued at the time. The pastoral direction was extended for an additional three months in June.

In October, after the second expiration of the pastoral direction, the Rhode Island standing committee determined that Ms. Redding’s formal admission into another religious body not in communion with The Episcopal Church constituted abandonment as defined by the canons and constitution of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and Bishop Wolf inhibited Ms. Redding. The inhibition expired on March 31. In order for the inhibition to be lifted, Ms. Redding needed either to renounce her priestly orders or withdraw from the Muslim faith. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Ms. Redding said being a Muslim did not preclude her from being a Christian.

“I am very sad,” she told the Times. “I’m sad at the loss of this cherished honor of having served as a priest.”

A statement issued by the Diocese of Rhode Island, said that Bishop Wolf found Ms. Redding “to be a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two years have been open and respectful. However, Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim.”

Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal of Southern Ohio says "No" to Thew Forrester

March 31, 2009

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

I am writing to inform you of my decision not to consent to the consecration of Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan. I did not want to make a public statement before I shared my concerns with the Standing Committee. I was able to do this at their meeting last Friday, March 27.

Two subjects have arisen as matters of concern in the wider discussion of consent for this Bishop-elect. I want to be clear that these matters have not contributed to my refusal of consent.
First, the internal process which led to Bishop-elect Thew Forrester's election. In my view, it violated no canons, and, although I have questions about it, these have not entered into my decision to withhold consent. Second, some have voiced concern that Bishop-elect Thew Forrester has been recognized by the Zen Buddhist community as one who practices Zen Buddhist meditation in an exemplary fashion and accepts the basic ethical principles of Buddhism. I have no problem with this. Many Christians have deepened their own faith through Buddhist prayer practices, and in my view the moral framework of Buddhism is largely consonant with that of Judaism and Christianity.

But obviously I do have concerns. These concerns lie closer to home. My own reading of Bishop-elect Thew Forrester's sermons over the last year (these sermons were available on the website of his parish church, St. Paul's, Marquette, Michigan, as of March 16, but are no longer posted) reveals an understanding of the Christian narrative that is troubling to me. I have spoken about this with the Bishop-elect on the phone, and he has followed up with e-mails, but I remain troubled.

According to Thew Forrester, Jesus revealed in his own person the way that any of us can be at one with God, if only we can overcome the blindness that prevents us from recognizing our essential unity with God. The problem here is that the death of Jesus as an atonement for our sins is completely absent, and purposely so. As I read Thew Forrester, nothing stands between us and God but our own ignorance of our closeness to God. When our eyes are opened, atonement (not for our sins, but understood as a realization of our essential unity with God) is achieved. Thew Forrester's rejection of salvation understood as an atonement for sins we cannot procure for ourselves is not an idea he is merely exploring. In a very consistent manner, he is developing this idea. In materials he submitted to the House of Bishops earlier this month, he has shared with us his own revision of the Prayer Book rite for Holy Baptism, in which references to salvation are replaced with references to union with God.

I would not worry about this so much if Thew Forrester were merely speculating about alternative ways of understanding the Christian faith. I would not even worry so much if it were simply a matter of the content of a number of sermons (although I think we should expect to be accountable for what we preach). But, as his revision of the Baptismal rite makes clear, he appears to be settled in his conviction that our relation to Christ is not about salvation from a condition of objective alienation from God, but about a more realized union with God.

Why is Thew Forrester's teaching troubling to me? Because it flies in the face of what I take to be the conviction at the heart of our faith tradition, namely, that we are in bondage to sin and cannot get free without the rescue God has offered us in Jesus, who shouldered our sins on the cross. Our tradition certainly declares God's closeness to us and God's love for us, but insists that this is solely due to God's gracious initiative, made known to us in Jesus. In other words, Jesus in his singular closeness to God is as much a reminder of our alienation from God and from God's ways as he is God's word to us that we are loved despite our collective wrongdoings.
Some may say, "So what?" Should the Episcopal Church not allow as much latitude as possible when it comes to theological reflection on the meaning of Jesus in our lives? Yes, of course. We are a church that values a broad range of opinion on practically every subject. Yet our (unrevised) Baptismal liturgy (Book of Common Prayer, beginning at p. 299) is extremely clear about what it means to be a follower of Jesus: we are to turn to him - the same Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified and rose again and continues to invite us into a personal relationship with him - and accept him as Savior. Whatever else we have to say about Jesus follows from that (even though different people may end up saying quite different things).

I cannot emphasize enough that clarity about our relationship to Jesus through our baptism is especially important as we move on from the Lambeth Conference, where the bishops of the Episcopal Church pointed repeatedly to our Baptismal rite as evidence of our commitment to Jesus as Lord.

I write this with a heavy heart. Kevin Thew Forrester served as an assistant in the parish where some years earlier I was ordained a priest and served as an assistant. He has been raised up by a sister diocese in our own Province V, and I know how highly he is regarded there and what a blow it would be to the people of Northern Michigan if he were not to receive the requisite consents to be consecrated. But I also know that the Episcopal Church needs at this crucial juncture in the life of the Anglican Communion to be clear that all our hope is founded in the cross.

+Tom Breidenthal

Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

Amazing Grace: The Sequel — transforming lives

From Canada-

Imagine one young aboriginal teenager who, while contemplating suicide, heard words of hope and encouragement from a church leader.

Imagine a community support group for mothers struggling with depression and hopelessness over the future of their children.

Imagine a host of church leaders across the country who are being trained and equipped to develop aboriginal-specific programs.

This seed of hope is germinating across the country, thanks to an Anglican community that has provided some seed money through the Amazing Grace project.

The genius lay in its simplicity: groups of men and women across the country singing and recording Amazing Grace. Almost incidental to the singing was the fundraising effort in support of the Council of the North. Anglicans responded with $80,000 in donations to accompany their video submissions and another $80,000 came in from individuals and groups. The response was deemed “amazing.”

Visit to Sudan an eye-opener for area priest

This past Ash Wednesday, the Rev. Daniel Gunn performed the usual Christian rites on people who haven’t received them for 50 years.

Through a translator, the people of Sudan told Gunn — a priest at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre — they could not recall the last time a priest touched the ashes to their forehead on the solemn day..

Decades of devastating civil war tore apart the country and its people lost customs and practices along with their churches, homes and schools.

Over the religious holy day, Gunn traveled to Southern Sudan to meet people in his church’s companion diocese in Africa. He and his friend, Trip Tregnaier, were the first from the Diocese of Bethlehem to go to the town of Kajo Keji to see the charity work the diocese has completed in the war-torn country. He said the experience opened his eyes and taught him to appreciate what people have in the United States.

“I felt a need and desire to connect with our brothers and sisters there, to know how they live day-to-day and hopefully find new ways we can reach out to help them through our abundance,” said Gunn, 35, of Wilkes-Barre.

The Diocese of Bethlehem has donated more than $3 million to help the people in Southern Sudan rebuild their country. Much of the money raised in Gunn’s diocese has gone toward building four schools near Kajo Keji.

The rest is here-

Good Stuff In TEC: Florida

Parish nurses help others heal through faith

Sometimes, parish nurses extend their roles beyond their assigned churches.

That's the case in North Fort Myers, where nurse Peggy Asrani works at the All Souls Episcopal Church but spends most of her time helping church leaders, members and volunteers from an array of organizations minister to the homeless.

Asrani in the last six or seven years has worked to organize medical clinics with the Salvation Army and Family Health Centers, helped bring in a veterans representative to advise former service people and brought in the health department to screen and vaccinate people for diseases such as hepatitis. Her position is supported by private donations funneled through the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation.

"You need to build trust with any patient, but especially these people who feel they've been taken advantage of or that society hasn't been kind to them," she said.

Like the other nurses, Asrani loves her job. It's challenging, she said, but not in the physical way as, say, hospital-based nursing.

"I definitely encourage all those nurses who are retired or semi-retired to consider parish nursing," she said.

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

On divisive issue of gay clergy, two churches weigh softer stance

Christian Science Monitor-

Two mainline Protestant denominations, after decades of wrestling over the place of homosexuality in the church, are considering allowing local congregations to select pastors who are in long-term, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

The church council of the largest Lutheran body in the US, the 5-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), decided this week to send such a recommendation to its national assembly. The proposal would take effect if supported by majority vote at the assembly's biennial meeting in August.

The 2.3-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) approved the idea at its national assembly last summer, but a majority of the church's 173 district bodies, called presbyteries, must vote in favor by June for it to become church policy.

While it's not clear that either denomination will embrace the change, their actions reflect the shifting views on homosexuality in society, as well as an acknowledgement that the old consensus in the churches has broken down and a new one is not likely to arise soon. The churches are seeking to accommodate differing views and avoid a denominational split.

"There is no question that attitudes have shifted in the church in the way in which this issue has been interpreted theologically," says the Rev. Peter Strommen, chairman of the ELCA task force for studies on sexuality, which developed the recommendation.

More here-

Priest won’t recant her faith in Islam

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopal priest who has been told by Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf that she had until the end of March to recant her faith in Islam or face expulsion from the Episcopal priesthood, said Tuesday she still has no intention of doing so and realizes that by dawn Wednesday she may no longer be a priest.

Reached by phone as she was stepping into a language academy in Seattle where she has begun studying Arabic, Redding said she had spent part of Tuesday mourning her impending expulsion.

“There is an acknowledged sadness, because if it were not for the limited vision of one particular bishop I still might have been able to function as a priest.”

Although Redding has never ministered in Rhode Island since Bishop George N. Hunt, the then-bishop of Rhode Island, ordained her 25 years ago, she has remained, at least until now, under the jurisdiction of Rhode Island’s bishop because she has never changed her canonical residence.

Bishop Wolf — who plans to release a statement on Wednesday — initially called Redding back from Seattle in 2007 after learning, at a bishop’s meeting, that Redding had converted to Islam while continuing to serve in the Olympia, Wash., diocese as an Episcopal priest. Redding’s unusual step did not seem to raise the ire of the then-bishop of Olympia, who called her move innovative.

Bishop Wolf — who plans to issue a statement on Redding on Wednesday — said she became particularly concerned because Redding had publicly recited the Shahada, the statement of belief that is at the cornerstone of becoming a Muslim and that she was attending prayer services at a mosque in Seattle.

In East Asia and the Pacific, Anglicans commit to action on climate change

Anglican Communion Network

With a pledge to work together in addressing pressing environmental concerns in East Asia and the Pacific, representatives from several Anglican provinces and mission agencies met March 23-26 in Hong Kong for a consultation on climate change, co-sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

The consultation was inspired by several conversations in 2008 with Episcopal Church partners and church leaders primarily from East Asia and the Pacific Rim, said Kirsten Muth, ERD's senior director of Asia, Pacific and New Initiatives, who noted that the purpose of the gathering was to focus on "climate change as it relates to poverty, and identifying how we can work together more effectively in areas of sustainable development."

Around 30 participants attended the gathering from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Polynesia, Solomon Islands, the U.K., the U.S. and Vanuatu.

For the Rev. Keith Joseph of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the issues addressed at the gathering could not have been closer to home, where climate change in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu has resulted in some islands with large Anglican communities having been submerged by sea.

"Flooding and severe weather impact us significantly," he told ENS in an interview. "We cannot deal with these problems on our own, so it was very good to attend this gathering and tell our story."

Rachel Parry, East Asia and Oceania regional desk officer for the U.K.-based mission agency USPG, said it was "really powerful to hear voices from Pacific islanders sharing their vivid stories of the climate change realities with which their communities are living, helping us all grow in our understanding of the urgency of the issue."

More here-

Cuban church needs materials

From Canada-

Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, returned from Cuba where he represented the Metropolitan Council of Cuba at the annual synod of the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba in February.

The Metropolitan Council is chaired by the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who has overseen the church in Cuba since it separated from The Episcopal Church in 1967. It is also comprised of the U.S. presiding bishop and the primate of the West Indies.

The council normally meets just before the synod in Cuba, but because it coincided with the recent meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Egypt, it met earlier and sent Mr. Pollesel to Cuba as its representative.

“One of the main issues (Cuban churches) are dealing with is one that is pretty common in Cuban society and that is just being able to obtain materials for the upkeep of their church buildings,” Mr. Pollesel said.

“Because of the (U.S.) blockade, materials are very scarce,” he said, noting that this ongoing problem was magnified by the damage done by Hurricane Ike, which hit Cuba in September, 2008.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Four Nominees for South Dakota Bishop Coadjutor

The Diocese of South Dakota announced a slate of four candidates for the election of a bishop coadjutor. The candidates are:

- The Rev. Douglas Robert Dunn,rector, St. Luke’s Church and High Plains Regional Missioner, Denver, Colo.

- The Rev. John F. Floberg, canon missioner, Standing Rock Reservation, Bismarck, N.D.

- The Rev. Peter A.R. Stebinger, rector, Christ Church, Bethany, Conn.

- The Rev. John T. Tarrant, rector, Trinity, Pierre, S.D.

The election is scheduled to be held May 9 at a hotel convention center in Pierre. Because the election falls within 120 days of the start of the General Convention, the bishop-elect will need to receive consents from a majority of diocesan deputations and bishops with jurisdiction. Assuming those are forthcoming, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will consecrate the new bishop Oct. 31 in Sioux Falls.

The Rt. Rev. Creighton Robertson, Bishop of South Dakota since 1994, previously announced his intention to resign no later than Dec. 31, 2009.

Church baptises baby with cola

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department" Norwegian division -

A Norwegian church where the taps had been turned off because of freezing temperatures was forced to use a substitute liquid in a baptism ceremony - specifically, lemon-flavoured cola.

Priest Paal Dale, from the town of Stord, about 150 miles west of the capital Oslo, improvised during a recent cold-spell by dabbing the fizzy drink on the baby, daily newspaper Vaart Land said on Tuesday.

'It had gone flat,' Dale was quoted as saying by the newspaper. 'Only the lemon smell made this unusual.'

Dale said the child's family were only informed about the switch after the ceremony, because the priest 'had a need to inform' them about the lingering lemon odour.

'They didn't say much, but I assumed they smelled the aroma as well,' Dale told Vaart Land.

What next for the Bishop of Rochester?

From the London Guardian-

It tells you a lot about the state of the Anglican Communion that when Dr Michael Nazir Ali made his bombshell announcement that he was stepping down as Bishop of Rochester to minister "to the persecuted Christians", the liberals who told me assumed that he was going to work for the Archbishop of Nigeria. They thought the persecuted Christians he meant were the rich white North Americans who have split off from their mother church there in protest over homosexuality, rather than the poor black or brown ones who live in countries where sharia law is a problem.

His position within the diocese of Rochester had become a difficult one. A lot of his clergy were unhappy with his decision last year to boycott the Lambeth Conference, which was meant to be a gathering demonstrating the unity of the Communion's 800 bishops around the world. In the event, something like 230 stayed away but the only English heavyweight to do so was Nazir Ali.

Signing up for a declaration that describes the Archbishop of Canterbury as an apostate for his tolerance of liberal views on homosexuality was not a way to endear himself to his colleagues, who already regarded him as vain and ambitious. But he is also consistent about his beliefs and prepared to act on them and suffer for them. As a young man in Pakistan, the son of a convert from Islam, he became the youngest Anglican bishop in the world, in a back-country diocese from which he had to be rescued, after local fundamentalists threatened to kill him and his family.

More here-

Reports say man shot as police protect ousted Bishop Kunonga’s service

The Zimbabwe Journalists website reports that a Harare man was shot and injured by police, who were protecting a rebel service held by ousted Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s people. Police fought running battles with parishioners in Budiriro and Glen View, who had tried to reclaim their churches from Kunonga’s people.

Controversial Bishop Kunonga was excommunicated in 2007 from the church, after he attempted to unilaterally withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Central African Province. He was replaced by Bishop Sebastian Bakare but has since used youth militia and the police to chase away Anglican parishioners loyal to the new bishop.

Bishop Bakare told Newsreel the formation of the coalition government has done nothing to stop the lawlessness affecting the Anglican Church. He said for the past 4 weeks their services have been disrupted by Kunonga’s thugs, who have no following within the parishes.

On Sunday two priests, a church warden, a youth member and another church member, all loyal to Bishop Bakare, were arrested during the skirmishes. Bakare said the police are openly telling them they are out in full force to protect Kunonga and his people.

Bakare began the defiance last week in Mabvuku when he defied attempts by riot police to remove him from the altar during a service. The riot police however turned on the parishioners, driving them away from the church. He told Newsreel he urged his parishioners to defy the police and reclaim their churches.

Burundi archbishop supports Canadian church in opposing cross-border interventions

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has thanked his Burundian counterpart, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, for the Anglican Church of Burundi’s stance against cross-border interventions, notwithstanding its opposition to more liberal views on homosexuality in some churches in Canada.

“I am very grateful for the position that the Anglican Church of Burundi has taken,” said Archbishop Hiltz, who met with Archbishop Ntahoturi during the course of his solidarity visit hosted by the diocese of Bujumbura Feb. 12 to 15. “We value our relationship with Burundi and it’s part of the reason why there are young people in our delegation; we would like a building and renewal of relationship.”

Archbishop Hiltz was responding to opening remarks made by Archbishop Ntahoturi, who underscored that his province “doesn’t want the crossing of borders.” (Some primates in Africa and South America have exercised episcopal oversight over conservative parishes in North America that are opposed to the blessing of same-sex unions and the election of a gay bishop.)

“We walk in different contexts but we value our communion as human beings,” said Archbishop Ntahoturi, who added that he would like to “open more doors” of partnership between the Burundian and Canadian churches.

Liberals too hasty in claiming victory at Bishop Nazir-Ali's resignation

While Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali's decision to resign may have been unexpected, the reaction to it has been all too predictable.

For the liberals who have read his departure as marking the end of the Church's war over homosexuality, it has been hailed as an admission of defeat.

"Throwing in the Episcopal towel" is how my colleague George Pitcher described it. Others have looked at his decision to devote the rest of his career to defending persecuted Christians in a rather more positive light.

If his stepping down does indeed represent a victory for the liberal wing, one might have thought that they would have a little more grace and display the tolerance which they claim to represent.
I'd argue however that anyone that thinks that the battle is over is sadly misguided.

The storms that have broken intermittently over the last 22 years following Tony Higton's General Synod motion arguing homosexuality to be a sin have often been followed by periods of relative calm.

George Carey claimed that he thought the Anglican Communion was in good heart when he left, but that there were "black clouds appearing on the horizon".

PENNSYLVANIA: Presiding Bishop engages in conversation with laity

For two hours on Sunday afternoon (March 30), Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori held a conversation with lay people in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia Cathedral, listening to their views and responding to their questions about the diocese, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
She urged them not to become mired in the diocese's major problem -- the future of inhibited Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison -- but to focus on new possibilities. Echoing her videotaped greeting to the Diocesan Convention last November, she encouraged them to be open to healing as individuals and collectively as a diocese. "Restoring relationships with one another is a significant part of your work right now," she said.

More than 250 people attended the lay forum and listened intently as the Presiding Bishop responded to about 30 questions directed her way. The questions were wide-ranging in scope and reflected broad interests, but at least a dozen were related to the serious financial challenges the diocese now faces and the lengthy legal procedures that have followed the inhibition of Bennison in 2007.

Since then, Bennison has been found guilty of two charges of conduct unbecoming a clergy member, and an ecclesiastical court has recommended he be deposed. In a separate hearing, the judges, composed of bishops, clergy and lay people elected by the General Convention, rejected his request to modify their sentence. Bennison has now appealed to a Court of Review composed of nine bishops. He continues to be paid by the diocese during this time.

More here-

Monday, March 30, 2009

Religious Leaders Tell G20 Not to Forget Promises to Poor

From the Christian Post-

Religious leaders have urged G20 nations (pictured) not to forget the world’s poorest people when they meet in London this week to discuss the global financial crisis.

The call was made in a joint communiqué issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams; the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; and Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.

In the communiqué, they tell G20 leaders to consider the moral dimension of the financial crisis.

“We pray for the leaders of the G20 as they prepare to meet in London this week. They, and we, have a crucial role to play in recovering that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity, and the moral requirement to safeguard human dignity, regardless of economic or social category,” they said.

They voiced concern over estimates from the World Bank that 53 million people are at risk of falling into poverty as a result of the crisis.

“The likelihood is that more will face significant hardship before it comes to an end, and those who are already poor suffer the most. Along with the leaders of the G20 we all have a duty to look at the faces of the poor around the world and to act with justice, to think with compassion, and to look with hope to a sustainable vision of the future,” they said.

The religious leaders went on to warn that pledges made to the poor before the downturn now risk being “postponed by the pressing concern to rectify market failures.”

“Even in these difficult times we strongly urge the leaders of the G20 to hold fast to the commitments they have made to the world’s poorest people,” they said. “To forget their needs would be to compound regrettable past failures with needless future injustices.”

Rest is here-

Church in Oz: A club nobody bothers to go to?

From "Downunder"

So I’ve mended my heathenish ways and started going back to church again. After last year’s less than happy encounter with low church Anglicanism, I found another church more to my liking, more traditional — so much so that I have joined the choir.

So far I am enjoying going to church more than I had expected I would. It is certainly helping to assuage my sense of loneliness and isolation. The people are genuinely nice and it’s comforting and familiar, going through the rituals I know so well in the company of others.

The company of others … and there is the catch. Because, in this part of Sydney at least, people don’t go to church. I’ve just come back from singing at evensong. As we walked, robes swishing, out of the church, one of the sopranos blurted out, “I made a bet that there would be more people in the choir than in the congregation this evening and I was right!” One of the men shushed her in case the worshippers inside overheard, but she had a point.

There were twelve of us in the choir, eleven in the congregation. It was the same on Ash Wednesday, traditionally an important service. (By way of contrast, my mother told me that at the service she sang at back in Joburg, people were queuing out the door.)

Is it this bad for the Catholics, the Uniting Church, the Presbyterians? Why don’t Australians, especially Anglican Australians, go to church? As in other first world countries, pentecostal churches such as Hillsong are showing rapid growth. At the same time, the number of Australians who claim no religious affiliation is growing. Not to mention the growth of other religions in line with increased immigration from Lebanon and Asia.

The rest is here-