Saturday, April 18, 2009

Interview with a Physicist Theologian

Christian thinkers have long employed insights from sociology, literature, and other fields to augment their ideas of how God works in the world.

Yet despite the world-changing insights of science, very few theologians have drawn on physics, biology or geology in the same way.

Renowned Anglican physicist-theologian John Polkinghorne wants to change all that. His new book, "Theology in the Context of Science," examines what topics like space and time can teach us about God, and how a scientific style of inquiry can benefit theologians.

Polkinghorne, who was awarded the Templeton Prize in 2002 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his work reconciling science and faith, spoke about his new book from his home in England. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Theology and science are highly specialized, often complex disciplines. Is it feasible for someone to become fully versed in both?

A: I'm not saying that every theologian has to approach theology through the context of science any more than a liberation theologian would say that everyone has to live in base community in South America.

I wrote the book to encourage theologians to take the context of science more seriously ... without having to master all of the technical details.

Q: You write that theologians should be happy to operate in the "questioning" context of science, but they are often not. Why is that?

A: I'm puzzled by that. That kind of thinking impoverishes theology.
Science and theology are cousins on a quest for truth. The insight of science is to move from evidence to understanding, not to start with general principles that will control the whole discussion. Scientists learn that the world is quite often surprising and doesn't match our expectations. I am very happy to practice my religious beliefs in that sort of way.

More here-

Sheffield’s 500th Ties the Game, and Castillo’s Infield Single Wins It

Only the 25th player to hit 500 hundred homeruns in a career.

Gary Sheffield has been a Met for all of two weeks, a period defined more by his perceived weaknesses than by his obvious strengths. He may no longer throw as well as he once did, or patrol the outfield as deftly, but Sheffield, even at age 40, can still hit. One of his vicious swings Friday night launched him into the record book, as the 25th player to hit 500 home runs.

His pinch-hit, bases-empty blast tied the score in the seventh inning, and the Mets, despite later squandering two bases-loaded opportunities, defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4, when Luis Castillo’s infield single scored Carlos Delgado with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. As soon as Sheffield made contact, crushing a full-count slider from Mitch Stetter into the left-field bleachers, he knew the ball was gone.

The crowd of 36,436 erupted as he raised his arms and looked into the Mets’ dugout, which emptied to greet him near the on-deck circle. Jose Reyes reached him first, wrapping him in a big hug, and the game was paused for about three minutes as Sheffield accepted congratulations and responded to the crowd’s standing ovation with a curtain call.

“I never thought it was going to happen like this,” Sheffield said, flanked by his wife, DeLeon, and two sons, Noah and Jaden, who presented him with a homemade card that read, “Hooray you hit it, you hit your 500th home run.”

The rest is here-

Will Obama's plan to trim charitable tax deductions hurt religious groups?

From The Christian Century-

The White House's proposed 2010 federal budget calls for reducing the deduction for charitable contributions for the nation's wealthiest taxpayers. Some religious groups are asking how that will affect their bottom line. The answer: it on depends who you ask.

Here's what it means in real terms for the 5 percent of Americans whose household income exceeds $250,000 a year. Those families can currently save $350 in taxes for every $1,000 donated to charity; under President Obama's plan, that amount would drop to $280 per $1,000 donation.

"By doing this, you raise the cost of giving," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a liberal Washington think tank.

By Williams's calculations, the change will result in a 10 percent drop in charitable giving by wealthy Americans, who typically contribute about 20 percent of all charitable dollars. In real dollars, Williams projects a decline of about $6 billion in charitable donations because of the change.

But Williams also said religious institutions may be spared because most wealthy Americans funnel their biggest donations to education, the arts and health care. Think campus buildings, art museums and hospital wards with family names attached.

"My guess is that religious groups will not see nearly the drop that other charitable recipients will see," Williams said.

More here-

Zimbabwe: Anglicans in 'Power-Sharing' Deal

GOVERNMENT has imposed a "power-sharing" deal on the feuding Anglican Church factions to stop the violent clashes that have rocked the church for nearly a year.

Last week, the co-ministers of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa held a three-hour meeting with Bishops Sebastian Bakare and Nolbert Kunonga (pictured) over what sources claimed was the government's exasperation over the "unchristian" behaviour of the Anglican Church.

The sources said the ministers ordered the bishops to implement a schedule of worship agreement, in the presence of their lawyers, to stop the ugly clashes.

"It's a power-sharing agreement, which the government has imposed on the church," said a source familiar with the latest developments in the church.

The rival Anglican Church factions have clashed several times in Harare following Kunonga's withdrawal from the Church of the Province of Central Africa to form the Province of Zimbabwe on January 12 2008 citing the alleged tolerance of homosexuality by Bakare's group.

Since May last year, when a faction aligned to Kunonga appealed to the Supreme Court against a High Court order compelling that faction to share church properties, the Bakare group had been battling to worship in Anglican Church premises.

More here-

Only Jesus can fill voids in life

In the Spirit
The Rev. Susan Esco Chandler
Priest-in-charge of St. James Episcopal Church, Amesbury. (Mass.)

At some time in life, each of us faces an emptiness, a void, a frightening feeling of ... well, you fill in the blank.

It happens ...

when you give your heart to someone who doesn't accept the gift

when you learn a sport, practice hard and still don't make the team

when you study and pursue a profession, only to find you hate your work

when you create something beautiful and discover that no one's interested

when you try to resist a temptation but then give in to it again and again ... and again

when you jump to a new job, then lose it to downsizing

when you put money into a home, only to see your equity vanish

when you retire from a long career and wake up with nothing to do

when you lose a spouse to cancer and find yourself all alone in the world.

Too often we pretend that massive voids do not exist in our lives. All of us have heard such things as "believe in yourself and you can do anything." This is dangerous advice. Bad things do happen to good people; many goals are simply fantasies; life rarely rewards us. Indeed, unrealistic expectations may be to blame for the recent rise in the anxiety and depression that many of us are feeling.

The rest is here-

Miracles Do Occur For Beech Island Church (South Carolina)

It was built in 1831 but the historic All Saints Episcopal Church in Beech Island looked like it would come crumbling down during last Friday’s tornado.

“I just stood and looked at the devastation and thought what has happened to this poor old church,” said the Reverend Charlotte Waldrop.

But, the 178-year-old sanctuary still stands. Folks here consider it a blessing.

“It unbelievable, we’re doing something right,” said church member, John Paul.

And it was all right for Rosie, the church cat. She accidentally got locked in the sanctuary after the Good Friday service, but that was a good thing, she normally would have been outside when the tornado hit.

“We call her our miracle cat,” said Reverend Waldrop.

But the folks at All Saints are in need of another miracle, or at least some help, though the church is still standing, the yard is littered with more than a dozen big trees uprooted by the storm, this clean up is too big a task for the small congregation.

“No we can’t we don’t have enough people to do it ourselves so we’re really thankful for the Mormon Church for what they are going to be doing,” said Paul.

More here plus video-

Good Stuff In TEC: Texas

Episcopal churches complex affordable housing renovations

Local Episcopal churches will celebrate a different type of resurrection Saturday.

The Episcopal churches in Corpus Christi have helped to renovate an affordable housing complex.

The Cliff Maus Village Apartments will be re-dedicated in a ceremony from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday at the apartments,1458 West Point Road. The renovations have helped to replace all of the complex’s roofs, parking lots, heating and air conditioning units and stairways, said John Warren, a Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal parishioner who is on the Board of Trustees and is helping to spearhead the project at the property which has been in operation since 1970 and is owned by the Episcopal churches in Corpus Christi.

“Three years ago I was embarrassed to go out there considering the conditions; it was in poor shape and I was very concerned for the tenants,” Warren said.

The seven parishes involved are: All Saints Episcopal Church, Church of Reconciliation, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, St. Christopher’s By The Sea in Portland and Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal, Warren said.

Warren said the complex was in jeopardy of being foreclosed on because of a lack of money before the Ed Rachal Foundation stepped in to help pay for the $1.5 million in renovations during the past 2 1/2 years.

More here-

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Emancipated From the Shadows

From the New York Times-

FROM two tiny rooms high up and far back in St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, with its neo-Georgian archways, straight-backed pews and simple, graceful detail, the legacy of slavery in Manhattan looks down.

The stone church, on Henry Street near Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side, was built for a patrician white congregation. But although it was completed in 1828, a year after slavery was legally abolished in New York State, behind the balcony and on either side of the organ are two cramped rooms, built so that black churchgoers could worship there without being seen by white parishioners.

“These spaces were never talked about,” said the deacon, the Rev. Edgar Hopper, an agile, bald gentleman of 79. “People knew there were instances of them being referred to as slave galleries.”

For decades, these galleries languished in a state of disrepair and were hardly discussed. Children often scrambled up the narrow staircases to play on the bleacherlike seats.

But after a decade-long restoration project led by Mr. Hopper, work on one gallery was completed late last month, and the space will open for tours at the end of this month.

The project began when the Rev. Errol Harvey, Mr. Hopper’s supervisor, noticed that census data showed a diminishing African-American population in the gentrifying Lower East Side. Mr. Harvey suggested looking into the silent heritage of St. Augustine’s, which today serves a primarily black congregation, and the task fell to Mr. Hopper.

Not everyone applauded his efforts.


St. Thomas Episcopal Church's rector dismisses volunteer in 'draping' dispute

From Tampa Bay-

The rector of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church recently removed one of the congregation's most prominent members from her volunteer position, creating a painful division for church members.

The Rev. Chris Schuller dismissed Marion Fleming, a retired circuit judge and wife of a former rector, Peter Fleming, from a position known as "warden of the acolytes."

Now the Flemings have decided to move from the Snell Isle church, which she has attended for more than 30 years, and which he pastored for 19. Last Sunday, Peter Fleming's name was removed from church bulletins, which named him as "rector emeritus."

Peter Fleming said he was "shocked" by what happened. "I think his behavior was inappropriate. I think he was unpriestly. He was not pastoral. And I believe he was, in the best sense of the word, unprofessional."

But Schuller said he removed Fleming after "she took black drapings off of what are called processional crosses and hid the draping … I saw her actually hide them." He said that happened on a Sunday morning in March, and he asked her to put the drapings back on the crosses before the 10 a.m. service, but she didn't.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Pittsburgh: Judge Allows Chancellor’s Role, Episcopal Church Intervention

A judge has ruled in the Diocese’s favor on several points in its legal dispute with former leaders over the control of diocesan assets.

In a hearing today, April 17, 2009, Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, allowed Diocesan Chancellor Andy Roman’s appearance as the attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church. The judge also granted a motion by The Episcopal Church to intervene in the case.

Both matters had been challenged in earlier court filing by attorneys representing former Bishop Robert Duncan and others who left the Episcopal Church last October.

The judge proceeded to order a hearing on the central issue before him, namely, whether a 2005 Court Order and Stipulation agreed to by Duncan and Calvary Episcopal Church requires that diocesan property must remain under the control of a diocese that is part of The Episcopal Church. Attorneys on both sides agreed the question of whether a diocese may leave the Episcopal Church will be reserved for a later hearing and decision, if necessary.

The judge also declined to “unfreeze” assets held by Morgan Stanley, as requested by Duncan’s attorneys. Morgan Stanley froze the accounts upon learning about the dispute over who is the rightful owner of diocesan assets. The judge referred the parties to work with the court-appointed Special Master to determine whether any of the funds should be released.

No dates have been set for subsequent hearings.’s-role-episcopal-church-intervention/


The Anglican schism widens quietly

What if you gave a schism and nobody came? At a press conference to announce the next move of global Anglican conservative leaders, I was the only journalist.

In an airport hotel there is no avoiding the impression that everybody else is on the way to somewhere more important, or is already there. The feeling grew when I walked into yesterday's press conference outside Heathrow: the Renaissance suite could have held 360 people. In fact there were half-a-dozen archbishops and bishops connected with the Anglican conservative tendency, plus fixers and hangers-on. And me.

This was no reflection on the archbishops, of course, and only a little on the hotel. It was principally, I'm sure, that in the week after Easter, heading up to Low Sunday, religious journalists, like everybody else, want to take a break. Tough on the press officer, but these things happen. So we moved some chairs and sat in a small circle, and I asked questions for 45 minutes, and then they went off to lunch, and I got back into my car and drove home.

And as I sat on the M25, I reflected on what I'd heard, trying desperately to avoid the traffic analogies that came unbidden into my mind. For the international Anglican Communion, all 38 provinces and 77 million worshippers of it, has been coming apart over the past decade or so, and these archbishops were saying they want to put it back together again. Except that, to many of their fellow Anglicans, these archbishops have been leading a breakaway movement and have been instrumental in the divisions.


Archbishop Carey: TEC Likely to ‘Clean Out’ Conservatives

From The Living Church

The Most Rev. George L. Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991-2002, offered a sober and sometimes bleak assessment of the Communion’s future and had challenging words both for the Instruments of Communion and The Episcopal Church on April 16.

Archbishop Carey was the keynote speaker at “Anglicanism: A Gift in Christ,” a two-day conference of the Anglican Communion Institute and the Communion Partner Primates, Bishops and Rectors at St. Martin’s in Houston. The title of his address was “Holding Fast and Holding On, The Instruments of Communion.”

Archbishop Carey began by tracing the history of the development of the Instruments of Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the primates’ meeting. Each one, he argued, developed primarily in response to some crisis within the life of the Communion and a desire on the part of the members to develop unity through interdependence.

This trajectory toward greater interdependence existed until 2003 when “the Episcopal Church of the United States, by ordaining Gene Robinson, against the strong advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the moral authority of Lambeth ’98, [and] the appeals of the primates’ meeting, led the Anglican Communion into the worst crisis it has ever faced, and from which it is unlikely to recover.”

Addressing directly developments in the United States and Canada, Archbishop Carey said, “Some provinces – notably in North America – press for total autonomy theologically from the Communion, while at the same time they impose total canonical autocracy within their dioceses. Ironically and oddly, in such a democratic nation as the United States, a system of ‘prince bishops’ has arisen who appear to have unfettered control over their rapidly diminishing flocks [and] from which all who dissent from the regnant liberalism are being driven out.”

More here-

Artist hangs upside down on bicycle on tightrope 3,000ft above Norwegian fjord

Just because I thought it was cool (that's why)

Eskil Ronningsbakken has just a weight dangling below him to aid his stability at a height of 1,000 metres (3,280ft).

Describing himself as an 'educated balancing performer', the 29-year-old has been practising stunts since the age of five, which have taken him through circus troupes and round the world.

The Norwegian is currently working with a group of 50 like-minded performers in Nairobi in Kenya but insists the acts he performs are not stunts.

"A stunt is something you see in movies, often done with mattresses safety lines or nets," he said.
"What I do, is draw a picture with vulnerable human beings and their bodies, in the surrounding of mother earth. That's the balance between life and death, and that is where life is."
In March of 2007, he managed to balance on a single ice cube that measured 60cm by 35cm, supported on each end only by two ropes and suspended almost 1000ft above a glacier in Dovrefjell National Park, Norway.

In the same year in Norway, he positioned himself upside down and did a handstand on a trapeze bar placed under a hot air balloon.

"I have performed professionally for almost 14 years now, so it's hard to compare one piece to another," he said.

"Biking upside down on a wire 1000 m above the Norwegian Fjords in fresh biting wind still stays as one of the most exciting moments of life."

The rest is here-

Good Stuff In TEC: Iowa

From Estherville Iowa. (Got to love the hats)

Mears, Shively committed to mission in Swaziland


Just turn on the faucet and let it run until it's cold then fill up your glass. There's plenty of it, so you don't need to worry about wasting it.

In the U.S. anyway.

In Swaziland, though, it's far different.

Landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique not far from the southeast African coast, Swaziland is a land of stark contrasts where the ruling monarch lives in profligate elegance while 80-90 percent of the populace lives on $1 or less a day. Like many African countries, Swaziland has a severe shortage of potable water.

Mike Mears of Spirit Lake and Terry Shively of Spencer, members of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Spirit Lake, traveled to Swaziland as part of a mission sponsored by Safe Water International Ministries under the auspices of the Episcopal Church of America, in Swaziland known as the Anglican Church. Joining them were the archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Iowa and 14 other missionaries. It was the second trip for Shively who had gone to Swaziland in 2006.

More here-

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The archbishop who walked Kokoda

SIR MARCUS LOANE, who was Anglican Archbishop of Sydney for 16 years to 1982, was the first Australian-born Primate of Australia and the first archbishop to walk the Kokoda Trail.

Loane, who died on Tuesday at 97, was a conservative evangelical credited with healing divisions within the Anglican community after a period of instability. His shy manner contrasted with the certainty of his belief.

His mind remained sharp until the end. He kept a close interest in the fortunes of the Anglican Church, especially in Sydney. As a former principal of Moore College, he welcomed the large increase of students enrolling there. Yet he was concerned at what he saw as the loss of dignity and reverence in public worship in many parishes.

Marcus Lawrence Loane's forebear, also Marcus, arrived in Hobart in 1834, practised as a surgeon and was required to attend floggings and hangings. His eldest son had eight children, one of whom, Kenneth, married Flora Lawrence. After Marcus was born, the family moved to North Queensland, where Kenneth was an accountant with a mining company, then to Chatswood.


In an online world, all (church) politics is global

But the controversy has done more than jeopardize Thew Forrester's promotion and stoke already-high tensions in the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church. It also heralds a new era in church politics that mirrors mainstream culture, when online research and partisan tactics can combine to make or break a career, observers say.

"Thirty years ago, if a person was elected as bishop, it would be almost impossible for the church, broadly speaking, to see his sermons," said Bishop Edward Little of Northern Indiana. "I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but that's the way it is."

Little himself examined Thew Forrester's sermons after finding them online and decided -- regrettably, he said -- to vote against him.

"They indicate that there may have been some transformation of his Christianity as a result of his embrace of Buddhism," Little said. The Indiana bishop said members of his diocese have repeatedly asked him about Thew Forrester, even though the Michigan priest works in a small, out-of-the-way diocese. "Lots of people in the diocese troll the Internet and know the issues."

Thew Forrester maintains he is not a Buddhist, but has used the techniques of Zen meditation, which he has practiced for nearly a decade, to revive Christianity's own centuries-old contemplative customs.

"It seems to me we've lost the memory of the fullness of our tradition," he said in an interview. At the same time, "we must reform our faith, our liturgy and our polity so that we are ever more congruent with the divine will and the Gospel, and that is what we have done here," he said.

Read it all here-

Autonomy emphasised in new Covenant draft

From the Church Times (England)-

THE third draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant has been published and will be put before the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its meeting in Jamaica next month.

The Ridley Cambridge report has had input from 21 provinces as well as from bishops at the Lambeth Conference and from individuals and organisations. Its biggest innovation is a completely new fourth section, “Our Covenanted Life Together”, which emphasises respect for the autonomy of individual national Churches, and gives assurances that the Covenant cannot override the Constitution and Canons of any province.

The Covenant Design Group (CDG), chaired by the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Revd Drexel Gomez, has wrestled throughout the process with particular concerns over who should resolve disputes in the Anglican Communion. The first version, the Nassau Draft, was felt to be too punitive in directing its provisions towards the possible exclusion of churches. Other sticking points have been fears of a central jurisdiction, and over-importance given to the Primates as final arbiters on the one hand, and the ACC, with its limitations, on the other.
In the St Andrew’s Draft of February 2008, the CDG said that it had resisted making the Covenant a definitive statement of Anglican ecclesiology, opting for a more open-ended approach and for a more “minimalist” approach to doctrinal argument.

Section 1 of the Ridley draft, “Our Inheritance of Faith”, gives new weight to the fact that the Church of England’s formularies — the 1662 Prayer Book and Ordinal and the Thirty-Nine Articles — have been appropriated — “that is, adapted, inculturated and treated — in different ways across the historic development of the provinces of the Anglican Communion”, the commentary says.

The section now reads: “The historic formularies of the Church of England, forged in the context of the European Reformation and acknowledged and appropriated in various ways in the Anglican Communion, bear authentic witness to this faith.”

More here-

Good Stuff In TEC: Chicago

Church steps in to help area's jobless

I have proudly been in the work force now for many years, and it wasn't until this economy tanked that I realized how grateful I am to be gainfully employed in these uncertain times.

So many are facing the prospect of layoffs, corporate downsizing and cutbacks in hours and salary. And if it happens to you, the effect can be nothing short of devastating.

Fortunately, some very kind folks at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Sycamore are more than willing to help.

The recent unemployment figures in DeKalb County are being reported at around 9.5 percent, an increase from about 6 percent last year, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

So the governing board of St. Peter's simply saw a need within the community and decided to fill it.

The church is hosting a series of weekly workshops for displaced workers of all faiths who may be seeking employment, support or a direction to access available resources.

The workshops are held at 11 a.m. Wednesdays at Waterman Hall, next to the church at 206 Somonauk St. in Sycamore.

As of today, three more workshops are scheduled from April 22 through May 6. No preregistration is necessary, and there is no cost to attend. For more information, you can contact St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 815-895-2227. Businesses that may have job positions available are encouraged to contact the church.,3_1_EL17_02TALK_HM_S1.article

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I have not divided the Church, says bishop

Primates of the conservative Anglican group GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) have recognised the newly formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), made up of breakaway churches from the Episcopal Church.

ACNA was formed late last summer in response to GAFCON’s call for an “orthodox” church in the USA and Canada, where arguments about the inerrancy of Scripture and homosexuality have divided the Anglican Church.

The Rt Rev Bob Duncan, formerly the Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, has become the leader of ACNA. Bishop Duncan was deposed by the leadership of the Episcopal Church for taking his diocese out of the denomination.

In a progress report to GAFCON, Bishop Duncan said that ACNA had 100,000 members from 700 churches in 28 dioceses. He added that on an average Sunday 80,000 people attended services, around 10 per cent of the Episcopal Church.

Before the formation of ACNA, churches and dioceses which opposed the liberal leadership of the Episcopal Church joined “protectorates” of conservative provinces in Global South countries such as Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.

Bishop Duncan said that ACNA had prepared a constitution and canons that looked “recognisably Anglican”, after consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He added that the church was now focused on “reaching North America with the transforming love of Christ”, after a decade of division, reports Church Times.

He went on to say that ACNA was not an attempt to break away from the Anglican Communion, “I’m a cradle Anglican. My grandfather was a boy chorister ... My theological views haven’t changed. The problem is that folks who have become the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States have pulled the rug out from under me. The person who is our Presiding Bishop, she didn’t begin as an Anglican. I did. She represents something very different. I don’t think I’m a breakaway.


Episcopal property case goes to Va. Supreme Court

A two-year-old church property dispute between Episcopalians and Anglicans may now be played out in Virginia Supreme Court.

Citing a determination "to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia," The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia filed a petition April 7 to appeal a recent Fairfax County Circuit Court decision in favor of breakaway churches in an ongoing property dispute.
The property dispute originally arose as a result of 11 churches that decided to break off from the Episcopal Church because they assert that church leadership was not following a proper reading of Scripture, particularly on the issue of homosexuality.

Among the area congregations now aligned with the Anglican District of Virginia are Christ the Redeemer in Centreville, Church of the Apostles in Fairfax, Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, Church of Our Saviour in Oatlands, Potomac Falls Episcopal in Sterling, Truro in Fairfax City and The Falls Church in Falls Church.

The Diocese is appealing on a number of grounds, including a challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia’s one-of-a-kind division statute (Va. Code § 57 9(A)), which the diocese says "threatens the religious liberties of all denominations in Virginia," and the rulings by Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows in applying the law.

More here-

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A time to reconcile

This month, as Rwanda marks the 15th anniversary of its genocide, an Anglican church in the Triangle is trying to glean lessons from the aftermath of the mass killings.

All Saints Church has good formal reasons to undertake the study. From a denominational standpoint, it is part of the Anglican Mission in America, which is overseen by the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

The congregation, formed in 2005, also has a sister parish relationship with a church in the southern Rwandan city of Butare.

But members of this young church say they are genuinely interested in the small African nation and what its pursuit of reconciliation may teach them about their shared faith.
To that end, the church recently hosted a dinner for Rwandans living in the Triangle and screened a documentary that tells the story of two Rwandan women coming face to face with the men who killed their families.

The film, "As We Forgive" by Laura Waters Hinson, describes the ongoing reconciliation efforts between members of the Hutu ethnic group, who in 1994 killed about 800,000 fellow Rwandans who happened to be members of another ethnic group, the Tutsis.

"If you have doubts and you see a miracle in your life, will it help your faith? Absolutely, yes," said Ehsan Samei, an Iranian-born member of the church. He said the efforts of the Rwandan people to reconcile have energized his faith.


Archdeacon Charged With Assault

An Anglican clergyman was charged in a Magistrates Court on Tuesday with [physically] assaulting a 15-year-old girl.

According to court dockets, Archdeacon I. Ranfurly Brown assaulted the teenager on Nirvana Beach on October 13, 2008.

Appearing emotionless, clad in a black shirt with his clergy collar and brown pants, Brown, who is the rector at St. Agnes Anglican Parish on Baillou Hill Road, pleaded not guilty to the charge before Magistrate Ancella Evans-Williams.

The archdeacon, who is out on police bail, is expected to reappear in court on June 23 at 10 a.m.

Archdeacon Brown is being represented by attorney Anthony McKinney.

More here-

GAFCON Communiqué issued - ACNA recognized

Surprise surprise surprise!

Easter Week Communiqué from the GAFCON/FCA Primates’ Council

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

We meet in the week after Easter, rejoicing again in the power of the risen Lord Jesus to transform lives and situations. We continue to experience his active work in our lives and the lives of our churches and we rejoice in the gospel of hope. From its inception, the GAFCON movement has centered on the power of Christ to make all things new. We have heard this week of the great progress made in North America towards the creation of a new Province basing itself on this same biblical gospel of transformation and hope. We have also envisioned the future of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans as a movement for defending and promoting the biblical gospel of the risen Christ.

Yet we are saddened that little progress seems to have been made in resolving the present crisis in the Anglican Communion of which we are a part. The recent primatial meeting in Alexandria served only to demonstrate how deep and intractable the divisions are and to encourage us to sustain the important work of GAFCON.

The GAFCON Primates’ Council has responsibility of recognizing and authenticating orthodox Anglicans who have had to leave their original churches, and promoting the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) as a bulwark against this false teaching and a rallying point for orthodoxy. It is our aim not to divide the Communion further, but to provide a way in which faithful Anglicans many of whom are suffering much loss, can remain as Anglicans within the Communion while distancing themselves from false teaching.

At this meeting highly significant progress was made on both fronts.

The rest is here-

A little more from Bishop Iker on the Fort Worth lawsuit

From The Dallas Morning News-

The Episcopal Church filed suit Tuesday in Tarrant County District Court, seeking to regain control of properties held by the break away contingent led by Bishop Jack Iker. Suzanne Gill, who handles communications for Iker, sent the following a short while ago

Dear Friends,

Bishop Iker has sent the following brief message to the diocesan clergy and convention delegates. I think you will find it helpful, too.

As of the time of this message, we have not yet been served. The court filing indicates - and we expect - that the five lay officers of the Corporation will receive papers by certified mail, while Bishop Iker and the Diocese will be served here at our offices by a constable or other qualified person.

Suzanne Gill
Director of Communications
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth


To the clergy and convention delegates,

We are neither surprised nor alarmed by the lawsuit brought against the diocese on Tuesday. Our attorneys are reviewing the allegations and will be advising me on how to respond.

We are confident that we followed the proper legislative process in amending our Constitution and Canons and are prepared to make our case in court if necessary.

Your patience and prayers will be much appreciated as this process unfolds.

A blessed and joyous Eastertide to all of you.

Bishop Iker

Churches are in the Resurrection 'business'

Few things in life are absolutely certain these days. If you had told me last Easter that this year we would be celebrating the Resurrection in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, I wouldn't have believed you. It goes to show just how fickle the changes and chances of our vulnerable world can be.

But one thing I can rely on year after year is that certain news media will take aim at Christianity, just as we prepare to celebrate our most joyous day. Early last week the New York Post broke the story about a former colleague of mine from Staten Island who, over the course of the last three years, embezzled almost $85,000 of church funds to finance several Botox and plastic surgery treatments. The Post, known for its salacious headlines, dubbed him Friar Tuck. Ouch. Everything about the case was sad — not the least its timing.

But the piece that most caught my attention was the cover story in Newsweek. The article, once again, proclaimed the end of "Christian America" — a phrase that is now so overused so as to become cliché. Christian America's days are numbered, Newsweek proclaims, as the U.S. Northeast — the birthplace of American Christianity — quickly catches up to the Northwest as the "most unchurched part of the country." What rarely gets covered in the pages of Newsweek, though, is that the only group shrinking faster than churchgoers are readers of printed magazines like Newsweek and Time. The times, they are a changin'.

More here-

Religion thriving in Cuba, Episcopal bishop says

Note: I was there in 2001 and found a very vibrant if isolated church.

The idea of religion prospering in a communist country defies credibility, but, according to Bishop Frank T. Griswold III, the former head of the Episcopal Church in the United States, that’s exactly what’s happening in Cuba.

Griswold, who from 1998 to 2006 was the 25th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, has made three trips to the island nation in the past few years and finds that “there’s no overt hostility to religion.”

“Recently,” he reported, “particularly after the recent hurricanes, the [Cuban] government is realizing that the social services that many of the churches provide [and] rural projects of sustainable agriculture, that all these are positives.”

Griswold, 71, lives in Chestnut Hill, having returned to the community where he served as rector of the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields from 1974-1985. Following his time at St. Martin’s, he served as bishop of Chicago, where he remained until elected the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop at its General Convention held in Philadelphia in 1997.

Griswold went to Cuba to visit a diocese that was originally part of the American Episcopal Church. It is now overseen by the Metropolitical Council, which is made up of the primate of Canada, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the archbishop of the West Indies.

More here-

Signs, signs everywhere signs #15

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ft. Worth Law suit

Court filing in Ft.Worth

Anglican Consultative Council to meet in Jamaica early May

From Canada-

The last time the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) met, in 2005, Canadian and American delegates sat on the sidelines. They were there to “attend but not participate” after their churches were censured for their more-liberal stand on the contentious issue of homosexuality.

At that meeting, the ACC had decided to endorse a request from the primates’ meeting that the two churches withdraw from the council at least until the 2008 Lambeth Conference because of the debate triggered by the consecration of a gay bishop in The Episcopal Church and the blessing of same-sex unions in the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster.
At this year’s meeting, scheduled May 1 to 13 in Kingston, Jamaica, Canadian and American delegates are joining representatives from 36 other provinces of the Anglican Communion, but the issue that brought about their exclusion in 2005 remains very much on the radar.

The meeting is expected to discuss the report of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), including the proposal for a new province made by conservative Anglicans who have left their churches in North America over the issue of sexuality. The WCG was created by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2008 to find a way forward for the Communion, which has been deeply divided over the place of gays and lesbians in the Anglican church.

More here-

Muted response to latest ‘Anglican Covenant’ draft

From Religious Intelligence-

Churches which violate the boundaries of Anglican faith and order would be subject to a disciplinary process overseen by the joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, the third draft of the Anglican Covenant has proposed.

Scofflaws could be adjudged to be acting in a manner “incompatible with the Covenant" and subject to possible suspension from participation in international Anglican forums, the documents said. However, discipline would not be automatic, and would be exercised by the individual provinces and the communion; for “it shall be for each Church and each Instrument to determine its own response to such recommendations” for discipline, the proposed Covenant stated.

Meeting from March 29 to April 2 at Ridley Hall, the Covenant Design Group (CDG) revised the second “St Andrew’s” draft of the document. Originally envisioned as setting the parameters of Anglicanism, the third draft of the Covenant was reworked in light of comments received from over 20 provinces, the bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and other comments.

Initial reactions to the document have been poor. While applauding the diminution of the earlier draft’s disciplinary provisions, liberals have voiced concern over the centralization of authority in entities outside existing provincial structures. Conservatives have been disappointed with the third draft for weakening the disciplinary provisions, pardoning the current crop of ecclesiastical malefactors, and advocating a tepid Anglicanism divorced from Scripture, the Prayer Book and Church history.

More here-

Diocese of Iowa to Maintain Current Policy on Same-sex Blessings

From the Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop of Iowa, will not permit clergy to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples despite a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling that found unconstitutional a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

“As an Episcopal bishop I honor the fact that the title of the ruling names an Episcopal couple. I know many Episcopal clergy and baptized who have worked and prayed to see this day. I also know that I am the bishop of the whole diocese in a global Communion as well as a Catholic Church, and we are not of one mind on this issue,” Bishop Scarfe wrote in a Good Friday pastoral letter. “It ought to be no surprise that I desire the Church to find the will and way to move forward beyond our focus on this disagreement to the more fundamental mission of God which we share.”

In a unanimous decision April 3, the seven justices determined that a state statute limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the state constitution. The decision requires state agencies to begin issuing same-sex civil marriage licenses on April 24.

Bishop Scarfe said the current policy under which “prayers and the seeking of blessing with the receiving and witnessing of the couple in the company of the people of God are a pastoral decision at the parochial level” would remain in place, however.

“What is now clear is that the Church is discussing the nature of the sacrament, not civil rights,” he said. “The Court has provided us with a definitive debate. While that debate continues, some will enjoy a new freedom for which I am grateful and rejoice.”

Anglican Diocese Agrees to 'Correct' Registered Baptism of Atheist

The Anglican Diocese of Southwark has agreed to correct the registered baptism of an atheist who claims he was too young to consent to the ceremony.

John Hunt was just five months old when he was baptized at St. Jude with St. Aidin church in Thornton Heath, south London, in 1953. He decided in his school years, however, that he did not believe in the existence of God and now wants the record of his baptism removed.

The Church of England has consistently argued that it cannot remove Hunt's baptism from its record books altogether because it is the historical recording of an event.

The register of Hunt's baptism will instead remain but a cut-out of an announcement of his "de-baptism" in a London newspaper will be attached to his entry in the register.

The former software engineer is one of more than 100,000 Britons believed by the National Secular Society to have downloaded its "certificate of de-baptism." The parchment certificate is sold by the NSS to people wanting to renounce their church baptism.

Southwark Diocese said this week that Hunt’s record would be "corrected," according to The Telegraph.

Hunt commented, "I am delighted that on this occasion the Church are going to do what they said they would do."

"It's about time that some of us stood up to be counted," he added. "I am hoping that others will follow my lead."

North American "Bishops" Meeting with GAFCON Primates in London

Eight archbishops are meeting in closed-door session at a London hotel this week to review plans for the creation of a new Anglican Communion province to be known as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Seven primates: Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda; along with the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia) began talks on April 14 at hotel near Heathrow airport.

Joining the archbishops in the three-day meeting are the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone and the archbishop-designate of the ACNA; the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone; the Rt. Rev. Charles Murphy; the leader of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA); the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and one of his bishops suffragan, the Rt. Rev. David Anderson; the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Provincial Bishop Suffragan for the Anglican Church of Uganda; the Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, Bishop of All Saints Diocese in the Anglican Church of Kenya; and the Rt. Rev. Don Harvey, leader of the Anglican Network in Canada.

Details of the meeting will be made public at a press conference on April 16, according to a spokesman for the archbishops, but participants told The Living Church the group, which is meeting as the GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) primates’ council, will discuss the formation and strengthening of the Fellowship of Confession Anglicans (FCA), the formation of the ACNA, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposed Anglican Covenant, and the on-going divisions within the Anglican Communion.

Jackie's impact will be felt today

When players and fans gather at 15 Major League ballparks today, with every uniform on the field bearing the same No. 42 and ceremonies at new Citi Field leading the annual celebration of one of America's true heroes, the message will be said without a word:

All of our lives have been touched by Jackie Robinson.

On the 62nd anniversary of the day he crossed the color barrier in baseball and led millions of others to break through it not only in the sport but across American society, Robinson's legacy lives on in his credo: "A life is not important, except for the impact it has on other lives."

Of course, some lives have been touched more directly than others.

Tasha Byers is the daughter of a single mother who was a sharecropper and one of 19 children. Upon graduation from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota this spring, she is headed to the London School of Economics to pursue a graduate degree in Comparative Politics, focusing on development and democracy in Latin America.


Churches to gather in mass demonstration of support for migrant amnesty

In what is set to be one of the largest ever Christian expressions in the public square, thousands are to attend simultaneous services celebrating the place of migrants before moving to Trafalgar Square to call for citizenship for large numbers of those who have overstayed their visas or been refused asylum.

The Strangers into Citizens ‘Day of Action and Celebration’ on Bank Holiday Monday (4th May) will begin with a series of simultaneous religious services at Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall in which leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, and Free Churches will celebrate the place of the immigrant in modern Britain.

It is thought to be the first time that Catholic, Anglican and Free Church services have been held simultaneously in Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall for such a cause.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler and the New Testament Church of God leader, Bishop Eric Brown, will be among those leading the services.

The London Citizens community alliance of more than 120 civic institutions – mostly churches, but also including union branches, charities and schools - is behind the rally, which first took place in 2007 with strong backing from leaders of the Catholic and Anglican churches and politicians from all parties. The Archbishop-designate of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, told the campaign in March 2007: “I give my support to this call for regularisation procedures which will give proper legal recognition to those who steadily contribute to our economy. This is what we owe them.”

More here-

Conservative Anglicans Insist New Fellowship is Not Separatist

Orthodox Anglicans from around the world are scheduled to gather in London in July to launch a spiritual movement within the global Anglican Communion.

Some 2,300 people are expected to attend the "Be Faithful! - Confessing Anglicans in Global and Local Mission" event, which organizers insist is not the start of a new church or organization for conservative Anglicans.

"The fellowship is just that, a spiritual movement of brothers and sisters across the nation and the world," said the Rev. Paul Perkin, vicar of St. Mark's Battersea Rise in London and chairman of the event planning team, in a statement. "It is not a separatist party, nor is it an organization, but a spiritual fellowship issuing from a concern for truth and unity.

"It is a renewal of our confessing Anglican roots and convictions, and will be forward-looking in gospel mission locally, and in solidarity globally with Anglicans throughout the world, especially those suffering through poverty or discrimination."

Called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the emerging movement comes out of an invitation by conservative Anglican bishops from mainly the Global South. Last summer, leaders at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) who believe some in the Anglican Communion are preaching a "false gospel" affirmed Christian orthodoxy and invited like-minded Anglicans to establish a separate fellowship.

Organizers of the upcoming Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans event deny that it is a "separatist" movement.

"We are not seceding, this is not schismatic," said Perkin, according to Religious Intelligence.

The rest is here-

'I am Episcopalian' microsite draws half a million visitors during Lent

From Episcopal Life Online-

A communications initiative, launched on Ash Wednesday, which provides a new way for Episcopalians to share their connection to and appreciation for the Episcopal Church, was heavily used during Lent.

A special welcoming page on the church's website, technically called a "microsite" and titled "I am Episcopalian," was visited more than 500,000 times in the six and a half weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter, according to Michael Collins, director of digital communication in the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication.

The microsite contains short video clips of Episcopalians representing the diverse membership of the Episcopal Church.

An invitation on the site invites guests "to see and hear the very personal reasons we choose to be Episcopalians. Our controversies and conversations have been public. Our governance is transparent. You are free to see our imperfections, as well as share our joy in that which unites us -- our openness, honesty and faith."

Launched initially with video clips produced and uploaded by Collins' staff, the site also lets users upload their own videos. The site now contains nearly 50 videos, which Collins said have come from Episcopalians in the dioceses of Massachusetts, Texas, Rhode Island and Florida.

"I am Episcopalian" was conceived by Anne Rudig, who began her work as the Episcopal Church's director of communication on January 5. She said the initiative is part of a new, overall communications strategy "to tell our story in an authentic and compelling way."

Its all here-

Good Stuff In TEC: South Carolina

Former KKK member shares message of racial harmony

Elwin Wilson sat in the meeting room at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Monday evening -- sampling some pizza, macaroni-and-cheese and a chicken leg.

The 72-year-old Rock Hill, S.C., man looked and sounded like what he is -- a genial Southerner who has lived through pivotal changes in American history. What was not immediately apparent is how much Wilson has been changed by the social upheaval of the past half century -- particularly the Civil Rights movement.

A former member of the Ku Klux Klan, Wilson beat a young black man who attempted to enter the "whites only" door at a Rock Hill bus station in 1961. Today that young man is U.S. Rep. John Lewis, and Wilson has turned from his racist past and sought forgiveness from Lewis and others.

More here-

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

Episcopal Church sues to regain control of Fort Worth-area buildings held by breakaway group

The Episcopal Church filed suit Tuesday to regain control of Fort Worth-area church buildings and other property held by a breakaway contingent led by Bishop Jack Iker.

"We're stewards of property that has been given for generations to the Episcopal Church. We can't just let people walk off with it," said Kathleen Wells, chancellor for the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

The suit was filed in Tarrant County district court and names Iker as a defendant, among others.

Iker could not be reached. In earlier interviews, he said he hoped the property dispute would be ended through negotiation, but he predicted that the Episcopal Church would first file suit.

Last November, a large majority of clergy and lay leaders of the Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese voted – at Iker's urging – to leave the Episcopal Church and realign with a more conservative province of the Anglican Communion.

Fort Worth was the fourth diocese to break away, and like the others, left complaining that the national church had become too liberal in its theology and social views.

Since then, Iker's group has continued to call itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and has occupied most of the church buildings in the diocese, with worship services and other church activities continuing.

More here-

Court filing

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the wacky world of God

I haven't had time to write, or finish, anything very serious this last week, since I was editing most of the time instead. But here are three stories which deserve to be brought to the attention of the immensely influential global readership of Cif belief:

☸ Trinity Wall Street, the richest parish in the Anglican Communion, likes to be at the cutting edge, too, and this year twittered a Good Friday Passion Play. The most surreal thing for me was noticing that one of the appreciative worshippers was called DavidStarkey.

☸ A church in Västerås, Sweden, unveiled a statue that has taken the congregation two years, and 30,000 little bits of plastic, to build: it's the one and only Lego Jesus.

☸ (Thanks to CzarnyKot in comments for this one) A Polish maths textbook, for primary school children, sets them the problem of discovering a formula which will drown all the Muslims on a boat and none of the Christians. It has been translated into four languages since 2004, and but no one seems to have noticed up till now, until a lay Catholic paper did.

Arkansas Church Damaged by Tornado on Maundy Thursday

The town of Mena, Ark., was devastated by a tornado late on Maundy Thursday. While the congregation of Christ Church was spared injury, its building sustained an unknown degree of structural damage, according to a diocesan news report.

Mena, population 5,700, is a mountain town about 20 miles east of the Oklahoma border. The tornado, which was preceded by high winds and thunderstorms, killed three, two in their homes and one in a Masonic lodge where the roof collapsed, according to the New York Times.

Christ Church lost electricity and had most of its windows blown out in the church and the parish hall. Both buildings probably will need to have the roofs replaced, according to the news release. The full extent of the structural damage is still unknown as emergency responders were still assisting with rescue efforts at press time.

The Rev. Jos Tharakan, rector of All Saints’, Russellville, visited Mena on Good Friday to help provide pastoral care. The Rt. Rev. Larry Maze, Bishop of Arkansas from 1994 to 2006, celebrated the Eucharist at Christ Church on Easter Day and brought a check with him from the bishop’s discretionary fund to help with repairs and relief.

When asked what the people of Mena needed the most, Sharon Dawley, senior warden at the church, told diocesan officials that money would be the most helpful.

“People will need to start getting their lives back together, and it will take money, for example, to buy the right size of clothing, and to buy the household items that we take for granted each day,” she said. Ms. Dawley noted that it is not usually possible to outfit a family for the long run with the used clothing that often arrives immediately after a disaster.

More here-

New Anglican grouping 'will not be schismatic'

Thousands of traditionalist Anglicans are expected to attend the July 6 launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, but organizers have emphasized that it is not schismatic.

The launch event, entitled ‘Be Faithful! – Confessing Anglicans in Global and Local Mission’ will be held at Westminster Central Hall, where 2,300 people are expected.

A statement from the organisers said: “The Fellowship is the outworking of last year’s Gafcon conference in Jerusalem, at which 1,200 delegates signed up to the Jerusalem Statement. Those attending Gafcon 2008 represented some 40 million Anglicans world-wide, 70 per cent of the total active membership of 55 million.”

The event chairman, the Rev Paul Perkin, emphasized that “this is not the start of a new Church. Everybody’s determined to cast this as a separatist movement -- this is not a separatist movement. We are not seceding, this is not schismatic.

“It is precisely the opposite of separation, the purpose is unity and mission. The focus of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is of unity, solidarity, and support of the majority of the Anglican Communion.”

Prominent traditionalist Anglicans will gather for the event from across the Communion. Speakers will include the President of Forward in Faith North America, Bishop Keith Ackerman, the secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Peter Jensen, and the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali.

More here-