Saturday, July 4, 2009

US laity fear centralisation

From the Church Times (England)

LAY PEOPLE at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States will have some hard questions for the Archbishop of Canterbury when he visits, says the president of the House of Depu ties, Bonnie Anderson.

The triennial convention meets next week in Anaheim, California. Eyes from all around the Anglican Communion will be on its business, notably whether it will vote to re peal Resolution BO33, which in 2006 urged a halt to ordaining any more gay bishops for the time being.
To repeal it would require the consent of both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. Bishops have no collective authority to exercise power in the Church, where laity and clergy have an equal voice, and the former have historically exercised strong influence. They elect bishops in a democratic operation — something that is out of the experience of many pro v-inces in the Anglican Communion, Mrs Anderson says.

The deputies are unhappy with moves towards greater centralisation of authority in bishops and in panels appointed by Lambeth Palace. “We work very well together [with the bishops], but to see that kind of potential disenfranchisement of laity is really adverse to our polity,” Mrs Anderson said on Monday.

The Bishops will have divided loyalties. They are acknowledged to have returned from the Lambeth Conference much influenced by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s appeals for unity, and mindful that newly formed relationships with African bishops could be jeopardised if any steps were taken on this and on same-sex blessings. “The indaba groups enabled bishops to get to know one another,” Mrs Anderson says.

More here-

Time magazine wrong; Obamas still looking for church

From the LA Times-

Time magazine reported online this week that President Obama and his family had found a new church: Evergreen Chapel at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Apparently, Time got it wrong.

"The president and first family continue to look for a church home," White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said. "They have enjoyed worshiping at Camp David and several other congregations over the months, and will choose a church at the time that is best for their family."

Obama has made limited appearances at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington and at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, often attended St. John's on Sundays.

The 150-seat Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, a rustic stone-and-glass structure, was built using private money. President George H.W. Bush dedicated it in 1991.

Evergreen Chapel holds nondenominational Christian services open to the nearly 400 military personnel and staff at Camp David and their families.

The first family plans to spend the long holiday weekend at the mountain retreat before the president heads to Moscow and a Group of 8 summit in Italy.,0,1415448.story

Befriending Jesus paves the way

From Kentucky-

What a friend we have in Jesus. It’s how an old hymn begins.

While I personally never sang that hymn much growing up in the Episcopal Church, I somehow know all the words, and for some reason, I recently found myself humming the tune and repeating the words.

What does it mean to be a friend of Jesus? Maybe I was prompted to recall those words because my husband and I traveled many hours to see old friends, ones we hadn’t seen for several years.

From the moment we stepped out of the car after a 10-hour trip and exchanged hugs our conversation seemed to pick up where it had left off four years ago.

Before long we were sitting at dinner retelling old stories, recalling the events and people we had known through the years, laughing at some of the stories and growing solemn and reflective as we talked about friends who had died or were sick.

Literally, the years fell away as we reconnected over that first supper together.

Our experience with those friends led me to think that our friendship with Jesus isn’t much different. Many of us grew up with Jesus; we have hundreds of stories about Jesus that we’ve heard or shared.

Some of us lost faith in the Jesus of those stories as we came to trust the people, places and things of the world, and as adults, we had to become reacquainted with God’s only begotten son.

Some of us were able to keep our knowledge of Jesus intact, but it was knowledge, not friendship that defined our belief.

Some of us want to make our adult relationship with Jesus complex, asking questions like “Did Jesus really say or do what is reported in the Gospels?”

We try to pin down the Son of God, wrestle him to our size, catch him in all his humanity, so that we might craft the relationship with him on our terms.

But that is not only impossible it seems exactly what Jesus doesn’t want from us. From the beginning, he calls us friends.

The rest is here-

Trailblazer's granddaughter finds own pulpit

From New Hampshire-

As the granddaughter of one of the first female priests in the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Kate Atkinson says the ministry "is in my blood." But it's a path the new rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church didn't choose until after she had begun a successful business career overseas.

Atkinson's grandmother, the Rev. Jane Bloodgood, was ordained in 1978 at age 78. Nineteen years later, Atkinson herself joined the priesthood.

"It just felt like the culmination of something I had been preparing for for most of my life, even without realizing it," Atkinson said. "That was what I was here for, the reason for being here. And to know that you are stepping into a new chapter of your life which God has chosen you for is a tremendous feeling."

Atkinson, who is married and has a daughter, will join St. Paul's next month. The church has been without a rector since the Rev. David Jones left three years ago.

A psychology and education major at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., Atkinson moved to England after graduation. There she became active in her local church.

"The priest there kept asking me to do all sorts of things: Sunday school, mission work, serve on the vestry, lead prayer and do readings in church services, and then he invited me to preach," she said by phone from her current parish, St. Andrew's in Saratoga, Calif. "He had a very strong sense that I was destined for ordained ministry and was inviting me to take part so that I would discover it for myself . . . but it took about three years."

More here-

Friday, July 3, 2009

Women's Ordination: A Crack in the Cathedral?

From Christianity Today-

After the Anglican Church in North America’s (ACNA) momentous inaugural gathering, the verdict is out on whether the issue of women’s ordination will inhibit the budding alliance from moving forward.

Last week more than 800 men and women gathered in Bedford, Texas, to elect an archbishop and ratify a constitution for the ACNA, a new alliance for churches that have left the Episcopal Church. Led by Robert Duncan, bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the ACNA comprises more than 700 theologically conservative churches with about 70,000 parishioners.

There were many central theological beliefs that last week’s attendees could agree on in their constitution and canon laws, including the full inspiration of the Bible, the centrality of baptism and Communion to church life, and the authority of the historic church creeds. But for the time being, ACNA leaders have not reached full agreement on female priests. At this time, each jurisdiction is free to decide whether or not to ordain women, but jurisdictions cannot force others to either accept women’s ordination or to stop practicing it. Women bishops are forbidden.

“For those who believe the ordination of women to be a grave error, and for those who believe it scripturally justifiable . . . we should be in mission together until God sorts us out,” said Duncan in last week’s opening address. “It is not perfect, but it is enough.”


Since both human sexuality and the authority of Scripture are so central to ACNA’s formation in the first place, it seems unlikely that the issue of women priests won’t at some point cause the newly formed partnership to fracture. But Duncan stressed the importance of keeping unity — for the time being.

Its all here-

Church: Love It, Don't Leave It

Bruce Robison passed this along from the Washington Post-

Here's what Bono, Oprah, and the guru speakers on PBS won't tell you: Jesus believed in organized religion and he founded an institution. Of course, Jesus had no patience for religious hacks and self-righteous wannabes, but he was still Jewish. And as Jew, he read the Holy Book, worshiped in the synagogue, and kept Torah. He did not start a movement of latte-drinking disciples who excelled in spiritual conversations. He founded the church (Matt. 16:18) and commissioned the apostles to proclaim the good news that Israel's Messiah had come and the sins of the world could be forgiven through his death on the cross (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:14-36).

For almost two millennia, it was axiomatic that Christians, like, actually went to church (or at least told other Christians they did). From Cyprian to Calvin it was believed that for those to whom God "is Father the church may also be Mother." But increasingly Christians are trying to get more spiritual by getting less church.

Take a spin through the religion section at your local bookstore. What you'll find there is revealing - there are "revolutionary" books for stay at home moms, teenagers, and Christian businessmen. There are lots of manifestos. And most of the books about church are about people leaving the church to "find God." There are lots of Kerouacian "journey" stories, and at least one book about the gospel according to Starbucks. It used to be you had to overthrow a country to be considered a revolutionary, and now, it seems, you just have to quit church and go pray in the woods.

We've been in the church our whole lives and are not blind to its failings. Churches can be boring, hypocritical, hurtful, and inept. The church is full of sinners. Which is kind of the point. Christians are worse than you think. Our Savior is better than you imagine.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: California

Homeless respite center opens as shelters shut

Mayor Gavin Newsom stood in the flower garden of a gleaming new $4.4 million medical respite center in the South of Market district on Wednesday morning to herald the 45 beds where homeless people newly released from San Francisco General Hospital can recuperate instead of returning to the streets.

Hours before, 820 homeless people were turned out of three nearby shelters. The shelters had provided round-the-clock respite, but starting Wednesday, the first day of the new fiscal year, they were shut between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. under Newsom's budget for a total savings of about $450,000.

The irony illustrates both the budget battle's real-life stakes and the bizarre annual ritual in which Newsom's proposed budget includes cuts he says he hopes the Board of Supervisors restores - but which go into effect on July 1 before that can happen.

On Wednesday night, the shelter cuts were reversed by the board and mayor, but not before tremendous anxiety for those who rely on the services. It's unclear how quickly the shelters can reopen to their 24-hour capacity.

"I just can't believe this is happening - it's unreal. How can they put people out like that?" said Michelle Richardson, 46, who has lived for eight months at Sanctuary, a shelter on Eighth Street run by Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco.

She has lung disease and bad asthma and carried a plug-in portable breathing machine as she looked for a socket at City Hall.

More here-

Vero Beach minister who had adulterous affair is defrocked

From Vero Beach- (Lorne is a friend and very much in my prayers)

A prominent Vero Beach minister has been defrocked after an investigation concluded he had engaged in “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy” for having carried on an adulterous affair for two decades.

On June 29, the congregation of Christ Church in Vero Beach was informed their former minister, the Rev. D. Lorne Coyle, had been deposed by Bishop John Guernsey and no longer had the “right to exercise the office of priest and the authority” of a minister.

On Feb 1, Coyle stunned members of the independent congregation, which meets in the former Indian River County Tax Assessor’s Office in Majestic Plaza off U.S. 1 in Vero Beach, by saying he was resigning as their senior minister and admitted to having committed adultery.

In 2007, Coyle, who had been the rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Vero Beach for 15 years, led the majority of its members out of the Diocese of Central Florida in protest to the national Episcopal Church’s departure from traditional moral teachings. Coyle’s abrupt resignation on morals charges rocked the conservative congregation, causing some to speculate it would collapse.

However, the Rev. Bob Stull, Christ Church’s interim rector, said Thursday, “despite the sadness and concern” the church was “carrying on” and had not been sunk by the affair.

We are “weathering the storm”, Stull said, crediting the “lay leaders of the parish” for holding the congregation together. “It’s not just the leadership of the clergy, but the people” who have allowed Christ Church to continue to prosper, he said.

Christ Church is one of 700 founding congregations of 100,000 former Episcopalians in the United States and Canada that last month formed the Anglican Church in North America.

The rest is here-

Franz Molnar’s Heirs Fight Over His Bank Account, And Their Identity

Interesting, if slightly off topic (as if we have one)-

Novelist and playwright Franz Molnar’s life was always high on drama. He wrote works that were turned into Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals, including the Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite “Carousel.” In his personal life, Molnar fled Hungary to escape the Nazis and lived the high life in New York City until his death in 1952.

Now, a new chapter in the Jewish émigré’s story is playing out long after his death. This drama involves Molnar’s Swiss bank accounts, an Episcopal priest, Jewish family mythology and an allegation of fraud.

The Swiss bank accounts causing all the trouble were left behind by Molnar and his wife when they fled Hungary before the Nazi onslaught. Like thousands of other Swiss bank accounts lost in the war years, Molnar’s were made public in the Holocaust restitution process a few years back, when a tribunal was set up to disburse the proceeds.

In 2007, Molnar’s great-grandson, Gabor Lukin, came forward to make a claim for the money from these accounts. For years, Lukin was among a few descendants of Molnar who had received royalties from the playwright’s estate, and Lukin assumed that his family also would receive the funds from Molnar’s bank accounts.

The problem was that another family of Molnars already had claimed the money. Elizabeth Rhodes, a corporate consultant from Ohio, had submitted a claim in 2001 for the bank accounts on behalf of her aunt and her father, an Episcopal priest named Peter Molnar. In claiming the funds, Rhodes noted that most of her family is not Jewish, but she pointed to family lore in arguing that her Jewish great-grandfather had been the brother of Franz Molnar.

Rhodes’s claim reached the tribunal first, and her family was awarded $226,000 in 2004. But since Molnar’s real heirs have come forward, the lawyer overseeing the tribunal, Michael Bradfield, has said the relation that Rhodes originally asserted was “completely undocumented, and entirely implausible.”

More here-

Executive Council asks for comment on current Anglican covenant draft

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council has asked General Convention deputations and their bishops to study and comment on the latest draft of a proposed Anglican covenant.

In May, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) postponed an expected request that the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces consider adopting the Ridley Cambridge draft. The council said instead that it wanted the draft's Section 4, which contains a dispute-resolution process, to get more scrutiny and possibly be revised.

The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed a small working group to do that work. The members, all of whom served on the original Covenant Design Group, have solicited provincial responses by November 13, 2009. The working group will meet November 20-21 in London and report to the Standing Committee meeting December 15-18. The Standing Committee is a group of elected representatives of the ACC and the Primates Meeting.

A letter from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Rosalie Ballentine, the Executive Council member who chairs the council's task force on the Anglican covenant, asks that responses must be turned in by September 1. The task force and the council will use the comments to formulate a response during its October meeting.

"We believe that this work will best be accomplished in light of work and resolutions passed at the 2009 General Convention, so we are asking that deputations make their responses following convention," they wrote in the letter.

Deputations and their bishops are being asked to pay particular attention to the draft's fourth section, "along with other thoughts and reactions to the draft as a whole."

More here-

Thursday, July 2, 2009

DUIN: New Anglicans split on women

From the Washington Times- Wantland's quote is pretty outrageous (IMHO).

Last week's birth of a new Anglican province in the dusty plains of north-central Texas left the question of women's ordination dangling in the air.

Of the 800 people attending the founding of the Anglican Church in North America, 368 were priests and deacons. Of that number, about 10 percent, or 36, of the clergy were female.

The new province is a mishmash of former Episcopalians, ranging from almost-crossing-the-Tiber Anglo-Catholics to low-church charismatics, and it's a mystery as to how they're all going to get along. Many are against ordaining women. Others are just as adamant that females be given access to the diaconate, priesthood and the episcopate. The Episcopal Church approved female priests in 1976 and elected its first female bishop in 1988.

The ACNA's new canon laws state women can be deacons and priests, but not bishops.

I queried retired Eau Claire, Wis., Bishop William Wantland, an old friend and an ardent opponent of ordaining women. He reminded me that 22 of the ACNA's 28 dioceses do not allow female priests. It's a system known as "dual integrity," dioceses that differ on a question where Scripture can be read both ways agree to respect and live with each other's views.

I asked him if he wanted the ACNA to eventually outlaw ordaining women entirely.

"Of course. That's our mission," he said. "Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. The priest at the altar is an icon of Christ. What image is that if the person at the altar is a woman? It's a lesbian relationship."

More here-

Convention to Weigh Formation of Standing Commission on Women

From the Living Church-

When it meets in Anaheim, Calif., July 8-17, General Convention will be asked to consider two resolutions pertaining to the status of women in The Episcopal Church and society, including one which calls for the creation of Standing Commission on Women.

In Resolution C074, submitted by the Executive Council’s Committee on the Status of Women, the commission proposes replacing the current subcommittee of Executive Council with a permanent, canonically defined committee. Standing commissions are described in Title 1, Canon 1, Section 2 of the constitution and canons of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

“We have critical work ahead, including monitoring specific concerns of women in Title IV proceedings, identifying the barriers to full partnership by lay women in the church, the disadvantaging of women clergy (who make on average $.85 for each dollar that clergymen earn) and laity in employment and retirement, and addressing how the findings of the Church Pension Fund’s Called to Serve survey affect the mission, ministry and policy of The Episcopal Church,” the commission said in response to a request for additional information.

“We believe the breadth of issues that [the Committee on the Status of Women] has addressed over the years, both within the Church and within broader society, cannot adequately be addressed as a sub-committee of a commission that does not have issues pertaining to women as its primary focus,” the committee said in summary.

4 candidates remain for Episcopal bishop post

Four candidates were announced Wednesday to succeed Bishop Andrew D. Smith to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Two of the nominees are from Connecticut: Suffragan Bishop James E. Curry and the Rev. Mark Delcuze, rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Ridgefield. The others are the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, professor at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and the Rev. Beth Fain, rector of St. Mary’s Church in Cypress, Texas.

Three of the candidates were chosen by the diocesan nominating committee. Curry made his own decision to run, though he was required to submit essays and be interviewed.

“There were numerous well-qualified people. We started out with 25 applicants,” said the Rev. Alex Dyer, associate rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, and a member of the nominating committee.

Dyer said one of the most important qualities the committee sought was “a visionary leader” who will have new ideas. He said the new bishop will confront economic challenges, with some “parishes in a critical state” that face merger or closing.

More here-

General Convention and new technology draw church family together

From Episcopal Life-

One week from today, the Episcopal Church gathers for the 76th General Convention, a triennial legislative gathering that runs from July 8 to 17 in Anaheim, California.
At 8,000 to 10,000 total attendees, including exhibitors, visitors, guests and media, it’s one of the largest meetings in the country.

Technical staff from Church Center in New York traveled to Anaheim several days ago to begin setting up a computer network that will be as extensive as that at the main office. Digital communications staff are putting the final touches on an innovative website center called “the media hub,” where those both onsite and around the world can access the church’s family reunion.

Since the first gathering of convention in 1785, the church has examined its faith, both within the nature of the age and against its perception of timeless Christian truths. The light of worship and prayer balances the heat of legislative debate and voting.

Among the more-pressing matters in 2009: how the church supports its mission in a time of severe economic stress, how it views issues of human relationships such as marriage and homosexuality, how it relates to other churches and other faiths and what words and actions in liturgy best relate to our lives today.

All around the main business of convention swirls a kaleidoscope of activities: a huge and colorful hall with exhibitors from every conceivable corner of the church’s mission and those who help us live out our mission, a full children’s program, the concurrent Episcopal Church Women triennial meeting, a special event featuring Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

More here-

Episcopalians return to Petaluma church

Bells rang and heavy oak doors were opened wide Wednesday as an exiled Petaluma Episcopal congregation made an emotional return to the church it lost 2½ years ago in a dispute with a breakaway group that objected to gay ordination.

More than 100 people crowded into St. John’s Episcopal Church to hear their first service there since a majority of members had split from the diocese in late 2006, retaining the property and aligning with an international Anglican church.

On Wednesday, parishioners reclaimed the 118-year-old building and all assets under the terms of a settlement this summer prompted by a recent state Supreme Court ruling. For some, it was a triumphant and tearful homecoming.

“I can’t stop weeping,” said Geri Olson as she stepped outside after the service. “It’s such a beautiful feeling to have a home.”

The 200-member St. John’s Anglican congregation held its final services in the building on Sunday and turned over keys to the building and church offices Wednesday.

Their administrator, Mike McIntosh, said the congregation would meet at the Petaluma Community Center on North McDowell Boulevard until a permanent location is found.

“We realize that from our perspective, the Lord has a plan for us, and he’s calling us to another place,” McIntosh said. “This is our calling, and we accept it. It’s not about anything else besides moving on.”

More here-

Episcopal Church reclaims Central Valley church

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Modesto officially returns to the folds of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on Sunday.

St. Paul’s, under its previous pastor, the Rev. Michael McClenaghan, had separated from the Episcopal Church to join the Anglican Mission in America, an organization associated with the Anglican Province of Rwanda. It did not join former bishop John-David Schofield in a move into the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina, as did other Episcopal churches in the Central Valley.

Mr. McClenaghan and a part of his congregation decided to form Wellsprings Anglican Church and vacate the St. Paul’s site after realizing that recent court decisions favored the Episcopal Church’s claim to their buildings, says the Episcopal diocese.
The transition has been very smooth, according to the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, bishop of the diocese.

Mr. Lamb says the breakaway group has been “most gracious and helpful in the transfer of property. We, in turn, have given them all the equipment and furnishings they requested to start up at their new location. We look forward to partnering with them in Christian ministry in Modesto.”

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin will relocate their offices from Stockton to St. Paul’s this month.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Question for Progressive Episcopalians

A recent essay by Dr. Philip Turner. (Worth the read)-

Chief among the claims now made by The Episcopal Church (TEC) is that it is an inclusive church that is open to a variety of opinions and practices. This self-definition is an updated version of the traditional claim that Anglicanism represents a via media between extremes of one sort or another—Catholic/Protestant, liberal/conservative, modern/traditional, etc. The simple fact is, however, that the policies and actions of the progressive leadership of The Episcopal Church have exposed the false nature of these claims, at least as in so far as they are applied to TEC.

The false nature of the claim is easy to see. The logic used by progressive Episcopalians to explain and justify TEC’s “inclusive” agenda is in point of fact necessarily “exclusive” of contrary opinion. How so? The standard justification for the inclusive agenda is almost without exception stated in terms of justice. That is, behind efforts to change church practice in respect of the blessing of unions between persons of the same gender and the ordination in persons in faithful and permanent same sex unions is a firm belief that the rights of these brothers and sisters in the Lord are being violated by antiquated church practice—a practice that rests upon misinformation, fear, and prejudice. “It’s a justice issue” is a statement made again and again, and it is made in a way that is meant to end all argument and cast aspersions on the moral state of anyone defending a contrary opinion.

In the minds of progressive Episcopalians, to acquiesce in matters of injustice and to allow ignorance, fear, and prejudice to go unopposed is a betrayal of what to their mind is central to the Gospel message. Jesus in fact came “to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind and to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Lk. 4:18) The mission of the church in each age is to follow Jesus in this ministry.

One or another version of the progressive view summarized above has been stated repeatedly by none other than our Presiding Bishop, and it appears repeatedly on liberal blogs like Preludium and Episcopal Café. Indeed, claims that the Gospel is, almost without remainder, one of inclusive justice appears now to be beyond question in the minds of TEC’s leadership. The problem is many Episcopalians are made quite uneasy by a version of the Gospel that does not in all ways cohere with the one they received through Baptism and from the larger Anglican Communion. It seems to them that the Gospel of inclusion ironically excludes them.

More here-

Cuba Fails to Elect Bishop

From the Living Church-

The Diocese of Cuba failed to elect a bishop for the fourth time in 20 years when a special meeting of diocesan convention in Havana split along faction lines.

None of the three candidates on the ballot received the requisite two-thirds majority from the lay and clergy delegates, and the voting was halted after 10 ballots. Four candidates were nominated to succeed the Rt. Rev. Jorge Perera, who retired in 2003.

One candidate withdrew before the voting balloting began, leaving the Rev. Emilio Martin, the Rev. Ivan Gonzalez, and the Rev. José Angel Gutierrez on the ballot. While Fr. Martin received a majority of votes cast, he did not receive a plurality. When successive ballots returned the same results, and none of the candidates withdrew, voting was suspended.

The Ven. Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, who oversaw the election, told the Anglican Journal the diocese appeared to be divided into two camps. “I guess one would be considered more moderate and middle of the road. The other might be considered a little more traditional,” he said.

A one-time member of The Episcopal Church, the diocese withdrew in 1967 in the wake of the political tensions between the U.S. and Cuba. A Metropolitan Council comprised of the archbishops of Canada and the West Indies and the American Presiding Bishop has since exercised jurisdiction over the diocese.

A special convention to elect a successor to Bishop Perera in 2003 split along factional lines, and in 2004 the Metropolitan Council asked the Bishop of Uruguay, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Tamayo, to serve for three years as interim bishop. A native of Cuba and former dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Havana, Bishop Tamayo was reappointed interim bishop in 2006 to a second three- year term.

In a bid to break the logjam, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada appointed two bishops suffragan from the two factions. In 2007, the two primates consecrated the Rev. Nerva Cot as Bishop Suffragan of Western Cuba and the Rev. Ulises Aguero as Bishop Suffragan of Eastern Cuba.

The failed election will be referred back to the Metropolitan Council for further action.

Communion wine changes over swine flu?

From England-

CHURCH leaders in Notts are believed to be considering a move to stop serving communion wine from a chalice because of swine flu.

Churches in the Church of England's Southwell & Nottingham Diocese may instead switch to using a pipette to drop Holy wine onto communion wafers before distributing them to parishioners.

It is believed that the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Right Rev George Cassidy, has recommended the move as part of measures to protect congregations against the spread of the virus.

It is thought to be the first Anglican diocese in the country to consider making the changes. Last week the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, which covers Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, wrote to churches asking them not to serve communion wine at all because of swine flu.

House of Deputies may convene unusual sessions on Resolution B033

From Episcopal Life-

The House of Deputies will be asked to consider meeting in two unusual sessions early in the 76th meeting of the General Convention to discuss Resolution B033 passed by the last convention.

"The purpose of this discussion will be to exchange information and viewpoints among the deputies, and to inform Legislative Committee #8 World Mission, to which committee all the resolutions relative to B033 have been assigned," House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson wrote in a June 29 letter to deputies and first alternate deputies.

Anderson wrote that she believes the House of Deputies "will benefit by having an opportunity to discuss B033 apart from the context of legislative procedure" and noted that "many deputies have indicated their longing to discuss B033 together as a house."

In 2006, deputies had 30 minutes on the convention's last legislative day to debate B033, which 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," which was generally assumed to pertain mainly to homosexual priests living openly in committed relationships.

If the house accepts the proposal, the committee of the whole sessions will take place July 9 and 10, prior to when the world mission committee will hold its open hearing on proposed resolutions to rescind or supersede B033.

It apparently will be the first time since 1973 that the House of Deputies has convened as a committee of the whole, according to researchers at the Archives of the Episcopal Church. Then the house met to discuss women's ordination after which it narrowly rejected a proposal to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood and the episcopate.

More here-

VIDEO: Father Alberto Cutié Makes an Honest Woman Of Ruhama Canellis

From Latina-

In what we sincerely hope will be the last installment of the Padre Alberto telenovela, Father Cutié and his longtime lover Ruhama Canellis tied the knot in a religious Episcopal ceremony over the weekend in Miami.

It seems to have been a win-win situation all around: Canellis finally got the white wedding we are sure she has been dreaming of ever since she started an affair with a priest and Cutié, least all those rumors about this whole circus being an elaborate ploy to cover up his homosexuality can finally be put to rest!

The pair were married at the historic St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church in North Miami Beach while Rev. Leo Frade officiated. The Spanish Monastery is one of the most popular locations in Miami for weddings.

Check out the video below to see an interview with one of the guests in attendance:é-makes-honest-woman-ruhama-canellis

HONDURAS: Episcopal mission groups from Maryland, Wyoming safe despite unrest

From Episcopal Life Online-

Episcopal mission groups visiting Honduras from Maryland and Wyoming have assured their dioceses of their safety after reports of clashes between police and protestors in the capital city Tegucigalpa following the military ouster of President Manuel Zelaya (pictured).

A group of 13 youth missioners and their adult chaperones from the Diocese of Maryland were in Talanga, north of Tegucigalpa, where at least 15 people reportedly were injured in what has been called the worst unrest in decades in the Central American country.

The diocese "is in the midst of its annual high school youth mission trips to the country, serving El Hogar de Amore y Esperanza, an Episcopal orphanage in Tegucigalpa, and the orphanage's agricultural and technical training school in Talanga," according to a message posted on Maryland's website.

The Rev. Wes Wubbenhorst, diocesan youth missioner, was in telephone contact with diocesan officials and "confirmed the group's safety, upbeat spirit and willingness to stay undeterred" until the planned July 3 conclusion of the trip.

Parents and spouses of the travelers were assured of the safety of their loved ones. "Everyone here is fine, the city is quiet and we will be in touch with reports as we find out more," Wubbenhorst told diocesan officials, according to the website. Another group, headed for the orphanage on Saturday, June 27, returned to Baltimore after reaching Miami, the first leg of the trip.

Bishop Bruce Caldwell of the Diocese of Wyoming was among a group of 20 adults and youth in LaSaba, on the opposite side of the country from the reported unrest, according to office manager Jessica Reynolds.

Wyoming Episcopalians could follow the movement of the group—a regular mission presence in Honduras for a decade—via Twitter.

Caldwell and the others arrived in Honduras June 22 "to help install a hyperbaric chamber and open a medical clinic," Reynolds said. The chamber has a variety of medical uses, including aiding in decompression illness, some cancer and other treatments, she added.

More here-

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

EAU CLAIRE, FOND DU LAC: Dioceses call merger resolution 'premature'

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Episcopal dioceses of Eau Claire and Fond du Lac, located in the state of Wisconsin, will not ask the upcoming meeting of General Convention for permission to merge.
A June 26 news release from the two dioceses said that presenting the July 8-17 General Convention in Anaheim, California, with a resolution to merge, or junction, the two "would be premature."

Fond du Lac Bishop Russell Jacobus said June 29 in an interview with Episcopal News Service that Eau Claire "is not at the point of being able to do any serious discussions or planning."

Eau Claire has been without a bishop since Keith B. Whitmore left in April 2008 to become assisting bishop in the Diocese of Atlanta.

Representatives of the two dioceses, which encompass the northern two-thirds of the state, met in January 2008 "to discuss common mission opportunities because of similar ministry challenges, comparable demographics and shared heritage of the dioceses," according to the joint news release. The idea of junction came up during this meeting.

In the fall of 2008, both diocesan conventions passed resolutions seeking consent to begin the juncture process from General Convention. Those resolutions were passed "with an understanding that consent of General Convention was the necessary first step in the process of discernment," rather than the immediate creation of a new diocese, according to the release.

Research by the chairs of each diocese's constitution and canons committees showed that the dioceses' understanding of the junction process "contradicted the understanding of our conventions when they passed their enabling resolutions," the joint statement said.

More here-

Bishop: Prayers Needed Amid Honduras Turmoil

From The Living Church-

The Bishop of Honduras has written to the House of Bishops, asking their prayers for his country after Sunday’s ouster of President Mel Zelaya.

“So far, the entire clergy, lay leadership and our families are all well,” the Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen wrote on June 29 in an e-mail to the House of Bishops.

The Rev. Canon Kathleen Pennybacker, the Diocese of Central Florida’s canon to Honduras, told the Central Florida Episcopalian that Bishop Allen and the diocese’s mission groups in Honduras that she contacted were carrying on with their work but trying to avoid nonessential travel, and trips to the capital, Tegucigalpa.

“We knew this was coming,” Canon Pennybacker said. “Everyone was prepared, and it’s pretty quiet right now, but we don’t know how it will all develop.”

Bishop Allen reported “political tension” in Honduras centered around President Zelaya’s plans to hold a “non-binding referendum which opponents said would open the gate for him to rewrite the constitution to run for re-election despite a one-term limit.”

“I predict that you will be hearing a lot more about all that has happened,” Bishop Allen said. “A month ago the country was shaken by a 7.1 earthquake and now this. What next, and how much longer can this impoverished country survive?”

He added that the events of recent days would set the country “back in time, which will take us many years to recover and regain confidence in international eyes.”

Bishop Allen called upon The Episcopal Church “to keep this diocese and the Honduran people highly in prayers. I really don't know what the future will bring. The Honduran delegation is ready to participate with you all at General Convention. However, if the course of actions does not improve in the next few days, I may have to reconsider.”

Bangor Churches Await News from Missionary Group in Honduras

From Maine-

Extra prayers are being said tonight from members of the All Souls Congregational Church in Bangor.

64 members,including some from St. John's Episcopal church in Bangor, are in Honduras tonight, a country whose leader was overthrown by a military coup over the weekend.

The assistant pastor of All Souls has been in steady contact with Reverend Bob Carlson, who's leading the Bangor church until the group returns.

"It was right at the beginning of worship, I said I had some news, I spoke to Mrs. Garrett and explained that there had been a military coup, however everybody was safe, there were no outbursts of violence," says Reverend Carlson.

One week ago Monday, 64 adults and youths from All Souls Congregational Church and St. John's Episcopal church in Bangor flew to Honduras. It's a volunteer missionary trip that's taken every other year. Sunday morning, Reverend Bob Carlson received a phone call from All Soul's Assistant Pastor Renee Garrett.

"She said there's been a little problem, there's been a military coup. And the president of Honduras was taken captive," says Reverend Carlson.

Soldiers snatched President Manuel Zelaya from his palace in the capitol, and flew him into exile in Costa Rica. The bangor group is only 10 kilometers north. they were instructed to stay at their training center Sunday.

More here-

SAN JOAQUIN: 'All-new spirit' prevails as diocese ordains first woman priest

From Episcopal Life Online-

Tears, cheers, joy, applause and an "all-new spirit" filled the packed Church of the Saviour in Hanford, California, June 27 as the Rev. Suzanne Lynn Ward became the first woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
"This, my brothers and sisters, is a big deal day," said the Rt. Rev. Edna Bavi "Nedi" Rivera, bishop suffragan of the Seattle-based Diocese of Olympia, and provisional bishop for the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, who was guest preacher.

"Suzy's ordination is … about the church, about the raising up and revealing of the Body of Christ, a coming out of the tomb, and being made new," said Rivera, who compared the celebration to Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and a family reunion all rolled into one.

The ceremony was also a sign of God's "unlimited, extravagant, persistent, challenging and indiscriminate love," Rivera said. "There are a whole lot of people out in that world who think that Christianity is about building walls and judging and making lines in the sand." But she added that the ordination was a sign of "the good news of Jesus Christ … that all are welcome."

"To be back in this place, this diocese for this event – I'm going to have trouble holding it together," said an emotional Rivera. She and Ward grew up together at St. Paul's Church in Visalia where her father, the late Rev. Victor Manuel Rivera, was rector. Later, as third bishop of the Central California Valley diocese, he declined to ordain women..

So did his successor Bishop John-David Schofield who, along with a majority of the 47 congregations in the diocese, voted in November 2007 to realign with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

However, policies have changed under the leadership of Bishop Jerry Lamb, who has served as provisional bishop of the Stockton-based San Joaquin diocese for 16 months. He said on June 27 that the diocese and its 19 congregations are stable and moving forward. San Joaquin was founded as a missionary diocese in 1911

More here-

New Episcopal deacon ordained in a busy Syracuse hospital

From Syracuse-

During Renée Tembeckjian's ordination as an Episcopal deacon, the Rev. Terry Culbertson described a September 2007 night in the University Hospital emergency room.

A woman had arrived at the Syracuse hospital dead. In the ER were nine grieving adults from what Culbertson called a dysfunctional family.

"Immediately we were thrust into a crisis," said Culbertson, director of the Syracuse hospital's Center for Spiritual Care.

"They were in great spiritual need," she said of the family. "We loved them and supported them and hugged them and accompanied them to the body to say goodbye."

Chaplains work with people in moments of great stress, raw emotions and spiritual need, she said.

Tembeckjian, who worked as a spiritual care intern at the hospital, was ordained a transitional deacon Monday in the hospital's interfaith chapel. She expects eventually to be ordained an Episcopal priest.

Culbertson said the chapel had served as the site for one other ordination, but this was a first for the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.

About 65 people witnessed the ordination, and the service was broadcast to patient rooms via closed circuit television.

Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams, who ordained Tembeckjian, said the ordination site makes an important statement.

"Active and retired clergy alike are applauding the choice to move our liturgy into the world where deacons remind us to walk in love," Adams wrote last week to local Episcopal clergy.

More here-

Monday, June 29, 2009

Basilica bones are St Paul's, Pope declares after carbon dating tests

From the London Times-

Pope Benedict XVI said last night that bone fragments found inside the tomb of St Paul in Rome had been carbon dated for the first time, "confirming the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul".

He said that archaeologists had inserted a probe into the white marble sarcophagus under the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls which has been revered for centuries as the tomb of St Paul.

The pontiff said: "Small fragments of bone were carbon dated by experts who knew nothing about their provenance and results showed they were from someone who lived between the 1st and 2nd century. This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of Paul the Apostle."

The Pope, who said the discovery "fills our souls with great emotion", made the unexpected announcement during Vespers at St Paul's Basilica last night, marking the end of the Pauline year held in honour of the apostle. He said that as well as bone fragments, archaeologists had found grains of red incense, a piece of purple linen with gold sequins and a blue fabric with linen filaments in the tomb.

More here-

'Oldest' image of St Paul discovered

From the London Telegraph-

The fresco, which dates back to the 4th Century AD, was discovered during restoration work at the Catacomb of Saint Thekla but was kept secret for ten days.

During that time experts carefully removed centuries of grime from the fresco with a laser, before the news was officially announced through the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

There are more than 40 known Catacombs or underground Christian burial places across Rome and because of their religious significance the Vatican's Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology has jurisdiction over them.

A photograph of the icon shows the thin face of a bearded man with large eyes, sunken nose and face on a red background surrounded with a yellow circle – the classic image of St Paul.
The image was found in the Catacomb of St Thekla, close to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, which is said to be built on the site where he was buried.

St Thekla was a follower of St Paul who lived in Rome and who was put to death under the Emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the 4th Century and who was subsequently made a saint but little else is known of her.

Barbara Mazzei, the director of the work at the Catacomb, said: "We had been working in the Catacomb for some time and it is full of frescoes.

"However the pictures are all covered with limestone which was covering up much of the artwork and so to remove it and clean it up we had to use fine lasers.

"The result was exceptional because from underneath all the dirt and grime we saw for the first time in 1600 years the face of Saint Paul in a very good condition.

"It was easy to see that it was Saint Paul because the style matched the iconography that we know existed at around the 4th Century – that is the thin face and the dark beard.

More here-

Blessed be the bikers

From Maine-

Getting your motorcycle blessed on a sunny day is one thing.
Coming out on a rainy day is another.

More than 70 bikers came to Christ Church on Sunday despite the rain to take part in the second annual Blessing of the Bikes.

"Motorcycling is not really a safe occupation," said Gayle Gifford, director of the American Legion Riders of Damariscotta. "It's more dangerous in the rain."

Gifford, her husband Gerry, and five others rode up together from the coast for the blessing.

"I was brought up in the church," Gayle Gifford said. "I just feel it's a wonderful thing to be blessed."

The Rev. Jacob Fles, wearing a clerical collar, jeans and motorcycle chaps, led a short ceremony of prayer and remembrance before he and Deacon Gary Drinkwater officially blessed the bikes. The blessing started last year as a way to remember the life of Pamela Morrill, who enjoyed motorcycle rides with her partner, Ike McLaughlin.

"This all got started because I lost my queen Pamela," McLaughlin said. "I can see the spirit is here for everyone."

Fles read the names of many "biker loved ones" who had died.

Drinkwater read the blessing, which includes these lines:

"You guided humankind to invent the motorcycle, and allow all to ride through the beauty of your creation. O Lord, we humbly ask you to bless our drivers and our machines. Protect all from danger."

Fles asked all the bikers to start their engines.

The bikers then individually received the blessing, with Drinkwater and Fles using palm fronds to splash the bikers with a healthy does of holy water as they rode by. The group was headed to Richmond for a barbecue.

Becky Fles, who is married to the Episcopal priest, said she plans to get her motorcycle license someday soon.

"Bikers are great people," she said. "I see a group of bikers and I want to be with them. It's a culture. They give to people. When have you ever seen 100 cars gathering toys for children?"

Breakaway churches file appeal with U.S. Supreme Court

From the North County Times California-

Lawyers for a Newport Beach church whose split with the Episcopal Diocese sparked a legal tussle over the parish property asked the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week to decide issues of religious freedom they have raised.

St. James Anglican Church won its first round against the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 2005, when Orange County Superior Court Judge David Velasquez, during pretrial motions, sided with its claim to the property and tossed the diocese's lawsuit.

But an appeal court and the California Supreme Court disagreed.

The state's highest court held that the property was held in trust for the larger church, and the congregation has no right to it if it is no longer affiliated with the diocese.

Lawyers for the congregation said it may be October before they learn whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the case.

The petition asks the Supreme Court to decide whether, under the U.S. Constitution, certain hierarchical religious denominations can make the claim that property in the name of a congregation is held in trust for the larger church.

That flies in the face of normal rules of property ownership that apply to everyone else, said John Eastman, a constitutional law scholar, who joined the team to pursue the Supreme Court appeal.

"We will be arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that the California Supreme Court's interpretation of state law has violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution," Eastman said.

"The First Amendment says Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Even though it says Congress, that amendment has been interpreted as applicable to the states as well," the scholar said.

More here-

Presiding Bishop deposes bishops

From Religious Intelligence-

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has deposed two more retired American bishops, announcing on June 12 that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of ministry of the retired Bishop of Quincy the Rt Rev Edward MacBurney and the retired Bishop of Southern Virginia the Rt Rev David Bane.

However, the two bishops have stated they have not renounced their orders, but were being accepted into the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone under Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables.

A press release from the presiding bishop’s office said the two bishops were “being removed from ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church 'for causes which do not affect (their) moral character,' " the release said, citing the words of the church's voluntary renunciation canon.” The release noted this action did not purport to defrock the two bishops and would not affect their ecclesial standing in other provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s use of the voluntary renunciation canon has come under sharp criticism from canonical scholars such as the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), who have argued the canons do not permit the presiding bishop to act in the way she has.

However, the Presiding Bishop said her decision had the “full support of her Council of Advice” of bishops.

Bishop Bane presently serves as an honorary assistant bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh under Bishop Robert Duncan, while Bishop MacBurney is retired from active ministry.

Since her election in 2006, Bishop Jefferts Schori has overseen the departure of 13 US bishops — four of whom were received into the Roman Catholic Church and nine to Anglican provinces in the Global South.

Harmony exists among Inland Episcopalians in fractious times

From Southern California-

As the Episcopal Church prepares to hold its triennial convention in Anaheim next month, most of the media focus has been on continuing divisions over the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

Delegates are expected to vote whether to develop formal marriage rites or blessings for same-sex couples, and on reversing a 2006 moratorium on the consecration of bishops who are in same-sex relationships.

Yet, in most Episcopal parishes throughout the Inland area, the divisions over homosexuality rarely come up in conversation, priests and parishioners said. Theologically conservative and liberal members worship and volunteer side by side, disagreeing on issues such as gay bishops but united by the combination of a Catholic liturgical tradition and a Protestant belief in letting non-clergy interpret the Bible.

"That's what the Anglican church is all about: Being able to respectfully disagree and still be in communion," said the Rev. David Starr, vicar of St. John's Episcopal Church in San Bernardino.

Although a large majority of Episcopalians have stayed with the church despite the divisions over homosexuality, members of four dioceses and several-dozen parishes voted to leave in the aftermath of the 2003 consecration of openly gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, a post he still holds. The 2006 moratorium on new gay bishops in same-sex relationships was an attempt to appease conservative Episcopalians and Anglicans in other parts of the world who objected to Robinson's consecration.

Episcopal leaders do not believe entire dioceses can leave the church; some clergy and lay people in the breakaway dioceses and parishes remain in the church. None of the parishes are in the Inland area. Six are in Southern California.

More here-

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Britain is no longer a Christian nation, claims Church of England Bishop

From the London Telegraph-

The Rt Rev Paul Richardson said declining church attendance and the rise in multiculturalism meant that "Christian Britain is dead".

He criticised his fellow bishops for failing to appreciate the scale of the crisis and warned that their inaction could seal the Church's fate.

As one of the Church's longest-serving bishops, the comments by the assistant Bishop of Newcastle are set to fuel the debate over its future.

The General Synod, the Church's parliament, will next month consider proposals to cut the number of bishops and senior clergy amid fears over the Church's finances.

Writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Bishop Richardson said: "Many bishops prefer to turn their heads, to carry on as if nothing has changed, rather than face the reality that Britain is no longer a Christian nation.

"Many of them think that we are still living in the 1950s – a period described by historians as representing a hey day for the established church."

He said that the Church had lost more than one in ten of its regular worshippers between 1996 and 2006, with a fall from more than one million to 880,000.

"At this rate it is hard to see the church surviving for more than 30 years though few of its leaders are prepared to face that possibility," said Bishop Richardson.

The rest is here-

Episcopal Church disputes don't shake bishop

From Nashville-

The smile on Katharine Jefferts Schori's face was a mile wide.

A group of Sudanese women had just finished singing, opening a service honoring the 150th anniversary of St. Ann's Episcopal Church in East Nashville. And now a string ensemble and nearly 300 worshippers had joined in a familiar hymn, as St. Ann's choir, pastor and other clergy began entering in processional.

Near the end of the line was the Most Rev. Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, in all her vestments, clearly enjoying the moment. All this despite the heat, which was already close to 90 degrees, even at 9 in the morning.

"It was God's people gathered to give thanks," she said after the service was over. "What could be better than that?"

Jefferts Schori's visit to Nashville comes at an uneasy time in the Episcopal Church.

The church faces shrinking membership, aging demographics, and ongoing disputes over sexuality and theology. Earlier this week a rival denomination, made up mostly of conservative former Episcopalians, launched in Texas. And in a few weeks, the Episcopal Church holds its general convention in Anaheim, Calif., which probably will be contentious.

More here-

Forbes Field is long gone, but fans mark its 100th birthday

I'm old enough to have seen the Pirates play in three different home ballparks including Forbes. I can still smell the cigars and see Matty Alou climbing the batters cage in center field to snag a well hit ball. Dad picked up to two seats when it closed for $10 !

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Where else but Pittsburgh would the citizenry mark the 100th anniversary of something that's not there anymore -- and hasn't been there for four decades or so?

But when it comes to Forbes Field, the iconic ballpark set against the backdrop of Schenley Park in Oakland, the memories are as vivid as ever.

Nicknamed the House of Thrills in its later years, Forbes Field was the stage for some of the most dramatic moments and some of the biggest stars in baseball. But it was also the place where Pitt became the Panthers and chalked up national football titles, where Art Rooney's NFL franchise was born, where boxing champions stepped into the ring, where crowds enjoyed everything from the circus to soccer but never saw a pierogi race.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once campaigned there. Billy Graham brought his crusade. Mahalia Jackson sang gospel, and Benny Benack and the Iron City Six blazed a trail for all the sports ditties that grace today's airwaves.

The combination of sports, politics, religion and music made it the city's unofficial community center. It was more than a place. It was a state of mind.

Tuesday is the 100th anniversary of its opening day, when the defending champion Chicago Cubs -- yep, it was their last title -- defeated a Pirates team that would win its first World Series title four months later.

More here-