Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pittsburgh's Episcopal bishop collects on sports wagers

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Pittsburgh sports and religion intersected yesterday at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., when Bishop Robert Johnson of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh collected on friendly Super Bowl and Stanley Cup wagers.

Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona donned Steelers gear and Bishop Wendell Gibbs of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan put on Penguins attire, fulfilling a wager made with Bishop Johnson earlier this year. The two bishops also received team towels, either a Steelers "Terrible Towel" marking the team's sixth Super Bowl win, or the white rally towel waved by Penguins fans during their run to a third Stanley Cup championship.

The original Super Bowl bet called for Bishop Smith, win or lose, to donate $100 to a cause of Bishop Johnson's choosing in Pittsburgh. However at today's presentation, Bishop Johnson turned that check, along with a matching amount, over to Bishop Gibbs of Michigan.

"Because the people of Detroit are suffering far worse in this economy, we thought that would be a much better use of Bishop Smith's money, and we're happy to help as well," said Bishop Johnson. The gift to the Bishop of Michigan was unexpected, since there was no financial wager in the Stanley Cup bet.

Many Pittsburghers have been praising Bishop Johnson for his winning ways within the diocese--and with local sports teams--since he assumed his post in January.

"It hasn't been lost on us that since he joined us, the Steelers won the Super Bowl and the Penguins won the Stanley Cup," the Rev. Dr. James Simons, president of the diocesan standing committee, remarked during a panel marking the opening of the General Convention.

Rev. Simons, an avid baseball fan, continued, "If he could only do something for the Pirates."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Steal a pile of money, win a trip to jail? Maybe

From Virginia-

Money in and of itself isn't a bad thing.

Money — despite the old saw — is not the root of all evil.

Check your Scripture and you'll find that the root of all evil is the love of money.

Find yourself within easy reach of blank checks to somebody else's bank account and you never know if respect might slide into affection, could fall into infatuation, and before you know it topple madly into felony embezzlement.

Two local organizations recently learned this the hard way — Christ Episcopal Church in Smithfield and the Hampton- Newport News Community Services Board.

Both have a mission to help vulnerable populations. The poor, the needy, the infirm. Individuals and families with intellectual and developmental difficulties and/or substance abuse problems.

Both were ripped off by their own employees.

Both employees were sentenced recently.

Now one is in sitting behind bars for the next five years or so, while the other is at home with her loved ones.

Church secretary Debra Lee Epps, 51, copped a plea to multiple charges involving a pilfered $300,000.

Her original sentence was 50 years, but all but four years and eight months were suspended.

More here,0,4602398.column

'Holy Women, Holy Men' is approved by liturgy and music committee

From Episcopal Life Online-

English composer Henry Purcell and Frances Perkins, first female U.S. Cabinet member, are among some new 100 names included in Holy Women, Holy Men, a revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts that is on its way for consideration by the House of Bishops.
The Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music committees July 8 recommended adoption of additions to the church calendar and accompanying prayers and Scripture readings for trial use during the next triennium.

The committees also separately recommended, and the bishops later approved, permanently adding Harriet Bedell, James Theodore Holly, Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador, Tikhon, Vida Dutton Scudder and Frances Joseph Gaudet following their approval for trial use at the 2006 General Convention. That resolution now goes to the House of Deputies.

Committee members debated the appropriateness of particular additions in Holy Women, Holy Men, notably theologian John Calvin and environmentalist John Muir, but ultimately decided to recommend the entire document for trial use with provisions for feedback throughout the triennium. The fear, explained the Rev. Susan A. Williams of Western New York, deputies committee vice chair, was "that, if we start removing particular people, we would open up the whole document to be picked apart on the floor of convention, and we really don't want to do that." Besides the time such revisions would take, she said, it was possible that could lead to the entire document being "canned."

"We want people to use it, to try it," she said.

The recommended resolution asks General Convention to direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and the Episcopal Church program officer for worship and spirituality to develop and implement a plan for trial use that would solicit use by a variety of congregations, with feedback on the suitability of the proposed names, wording of the collects and appropriateness of proposed Scripture passages.

More here-

Judge to rule in Episcopalian dispute on Monday

From Iowa

Judge James Mesich said he will rule by Monday on whether to grant a preliminary injunction that would allow Christ Church of Moline to retain access to its bank account.

Last week, the church filed suit in Rock Island County Circuit Court against the Episcopal Church, which it split from in January, in a dispute about who should have access to the church's account at First Midwest Bank of Moline.

The disagreement began when the Episcopal Church sent a letter to the bank in June claiming it was the rightful owner of church assets and the bank decided to freeze the account, which prevented the members of Christ Church from withdrawing funds to pay bills and restricted their access to the church property at 1717 8th Ave., Moline, the suit stated.

After the suit was filed, a temporary restraining order was issued by the judge July 2, giving Christ Church access to the account for 10 days. He's now deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction to the church before later issuing a permanent ruling.

Attorneys involved in the case told Mesich that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Quincy, which split from the church last fall, are now engaged in a legal dispute in Adams County, Ill., which could have some impact on church assets, including those disputed in the Rock Island case. That suit is in the early stages.

At Thursday's hearing, Mesich heard testimony from Stephen Dembosky, the manager of the church's account at First Midwest Bank, as well as past and current members of the church.
Dembosky testified that the bank froze the account as a conservative step because there was a legal dispute presented.

Ron Harroun, who remained with Christ Church after the split, said he made two withdrawals from the church's account of $11,000 and $20,000 in recent months to pay bills. He said without access to the account they don't make enough money through pledge donations and other gifts to pay all of the church's bills.

More here-

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Conservative Anglican Intiative Receives Unofficial Support of Queen Elizabeth

From England- (Her Majesty is always good for good hat picture)

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has twice written to support an emergent group of conservative Anglicans that rejects the ultra-liberal and sexually permissive direction of the Church of England. The Queen recently wrote to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) that she "understood their concerns" and "understands the commitment to the Anglican Church" and that she wished them well on the day of their official launch on Monday.

FCA leaders had written to the Queen to assure her of their loyalty to the Church of England. Palace spokesmen said that the letters did not constitute an official endorsement of the FCA. The FCA is an alliance of evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parishes in Britain and Ireland whose formation was precipitated in part by the acceptance of homosexuality by segments of the Anglican leadership in the developed world.

Unlike the US and Canada, Britain's official church is tightly intertwined with the civil constitution of the country. The Queen is not only head of state, but in her capacity of Supreme Governor of the Church of England she also formally appoints bishops on the advice of the Prime Minister. She has had little public input in the crisis that has enveloped the Worldwide Anglican Communion since the consecration in 2003 of openly active homosexual Gene Robinson as a bishop of New Hampshire.

Among the five bishops supporting the FCA, one of the most prominent is the bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, who has stirred controversy on many occasions with his vocal defence of Christian moral teaching and the traditional Christian cultural foundations of British society.

More here-

Anglican congregation to continue fight for St. Luke's

From Glendale CA.

Attorneys for the Anglican congregation at the St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church said they intend to appeal a June 9 court decision affirming the Episcopal Diocese’s ownership of the property.

Attorney Daniel Friedman Lula, who represents the Anglican congregation, said he would file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court on Aug. 10.

St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach pursued a similar course, but lost its case before the state high court.

The Orange County church has requested that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the state Supreme Court ruling that a head church could invoke it’s property rights over an affiliated group. Basically, any group that chose to separate itself from the head church, must also separate itself from that church’s property, the court ruled.

Lula acknowledged St. Luke’s faces an uncertain road, especially in light of the decision in the St. James case.

“The California Supreme Court does not have to take every appeal it receives . . . so we will have to convince them that this case is meritorious enough to warrant their time and attention,” he said. “But we think that we can do that because it’s a church and there are a lot of families, who’s lives, and spiritual lives and spiritual wholeness is at stake.”

If the state Supreme Court grants the petition for review, Lula could be arguing the merits of the congregation’s case as early as next year, he said.

Despite the monthlong lapse since the state appellate court decision affirming the Episcopal Diocese’s ownership of the church, Lula said the Anglican congregation had decided almost immediately that it would keep on the legal fight.

“We are this far along in the process and it makes sense to keep fighting because the facts we believe are on our side and the court of appeal just made an error here,” he said.

More here-

Political turmoil cancels medical mission trip to Honduras

From Texas-

Because of political turmoil in Honduras following the arrest of President Manuel Zelaya, members of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Killeen have canceled their annual medical mission trip to the Central American country.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, issued a statement last week requesting that people avoid all nonessential travel to the region.

On June 28, soldiers ousted the democratically elected Zelaya before an unpopular constitution referendum went to a vote. The referendum could have allowed the president to run for a second term, which is forbidden by the Honduran constitution. Zelaya, forced into exile in Costa Rica, vowed to stay in power.

"There have been regular demonstrations at the presidential palace in central Tegucigalpa, and streets in the vicinity of many government offices are blocked by police or military," the Embassy statement said.

"When this situation began to develop … our first inclination was to go. A lot of political stuff goes on in the upper echelons and the average Honduran doesn't feel a lot of difference in their life," said the Rev. Paul Moore, the rector at St. Christopher's.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury Puts Diocese’s Place In Anglican Communion On His Agenda

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the world-wide Anglican Communion, spent part of his first day at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention learning about the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and other dioceses where former bishops are seeking to form an alternative Anglican province.

The Archbishop, Rowan Williams, held separate meetings with Pittsburgh Assisting Bishop Robert H. Johnson and Standing Committee President, the Rev. Dr. James Simons. They were joined in their respective discussions by representatives of the three other U.S. dioceses where bishops have left the Episcopal Church.

“I’m very happy that we had the opportunity to discuss our situation in Pittsburgh and the other dioceses with the Archbishop,” said Dr. Simons. “We wanted him to understand how we view our place in Anglican Communion and how important it is to us. I found the Archbishop’s response to what we told him was both sympathetic and supportive.”

The discussions took place during a lunch with the bishops and an early afternoon meeting with the President of the House of Deputies Council of Advice, of which Dr. Simons is a member. Both sessions were private.

Episcopalian dispute lands in Rock Island County court

From Iowa-

A split between local Espicopalian churches earlier this year has resulted in a legal dispute over church assets that will be heard today in a Rock Island County Circuit Courtroom.

Last week, Christ Church of Moline filed the suit against The Episcopal Church, its presiding bishop and a chancellor to the bishop. According to the suit, the defendants sent a letter to First Midwest Bank last month in which they claimed to have "legally enforceable interest" in the funds held for Christ Church.

Christ Church then demanded The Episcopal Church withdraw its demand, which the suit claims it did briefly before re-submitting it to the bank a day later.

The suit argues that a faction of Christ Church purports to have removed the parish from the Diocese of Quincy and claims to own the funds.

On June 24, the bank told Christ Church that it would be unable to distribute future funds, which restricted members from reaching the property at 1717 8th Ave. and paying bills, the suit claims. Christ Church is seeking an injunction against The Episcopal Church.

The dispute extends back to last fall when three theologically conservative Episcopal dioceses in the United States, including the one based in Quincy, Ill. - which includes the Illinois Quad-City region - switched allegiances to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

In January, members of Christ Church failed to reach the margin needed to prompt the church to re-align with Episcopalians. The 80-59 vote to re-align did not reach the super-majority threshold of 66 percent that was required for change.

A new Episcopal church in Moline began its services in early February, in contrast to others in the Illinois Quad-Cities that continued to follow the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina.

The differences divide along moderate or liberal lines, as well as traditional or conservative ones. Arguments center on the role of women in the church, but the rift was made wider in 2003 when an openly gay minister from New Hampshire was elevated to the post of bishop.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Former Smithfield church secretary headed to prison for embezzling

From Virginia-

A former church secretary convicted of embezzling more than $300,000 from a Smithfield church will spend nearly five years in prison.

Retired Circuit Court Judge Williams C. Andrews III on Tuesday sentenced Debra Lee Epps, 51, of the 15000 block of New Towne Haven Lane, to 50 years for stealing the money from Christ Episcopal Church in Smithfield.

He suspended all but four years and eight months and ordered Epps to pay restitution of $220,000 and placed her on supervised probation after her incarceration. She has already repaid $80,000 of the $300,000 embezzled from the church.

In May, Epps pleaded guilty to eight counts of embezzlement and one each of forging and uttering checks between 1998 and 2008.

As part of a plea agreement, the state dropped 23 check forgery charges and five embezzlement charges originally lodged against her.

A Virginia State Police audit of church records showed multiple instances when Epps — whose paycheck was deposited into her bank electronically — wrote herself paper checks for the same amount, said Commonwealth's Attorney Wayne Farmer.

She also forged signatures on checks and falsified professional audits before passing them to church finance committee members, he said.

Epps, dressed in slacks and lime green shirt, did not address the courtroom packed with nearly two dozen church members Tuesday.

She was taken into custody by deputies immediately after the sentencing.


Renewing dioceses embrace mission, evangelism

From Episcopal Life-

Bishops and deputies from four continuing Episcopal dioceses shared stories of energetic mission and renewal, transformation and evangelism during a July 7 live webcast from the 76th General Convention.

The representatives, from the dioceses of Pittsburgh, the Peoria, Illinois-based Quincy, Fort Worth (Texas) and Stockton, California-based San Joaquin, also described warm welcomes at convention and gratefulness for the church's support during their reorganizations.

Another deputy stopped the Rev. Dr. Jim Simons, a seven-time deputy and chair of the committee on dispatch of business, from Pittsburgh, in a convention hallway. "He said I know we disagree on a lot of things, but I'm so glad you're here. I need you in my church."

For others, like the Rev. David Madison, a first-time deputy from Fort Worth, there were "tangible acts of love, and support" such as gift bags and notes from the Diocese of Rochester, reminders that "we're in their prayers and encouraging us for the work we're doing. That's very important to us"

The webcast is available on:

Katie Sherrod, a first-time deputy and communications director for the Fort Worth diocese said a journey that "began in heartbreak is moving toward joy every day. We are free now to do the kind of mission and ministry" desired. She acknowledged some residual feelings of grief, loss and anger but added that Ted Gulick, Bishop of Kentucky who is also serving as provisional Fort Worth bishop, is "loving us into health."

Bob Johnson, assisting bishop in Pittsburgh, said the diocese has embarked on monthly "leadership days … (which) strengthen us to reclaim our rightful position in ministry as Episcopalians who love to be Episcopalians and are following the mission of Christ in our church."

The rest-

Tense time for Episcopals?

From USA Today- (Who apparently doesn't know an adjective from a noun)

So will this year's 10-day meeting of 200 Episcopal bishops and 850 clergy and lay deputies be calmer? Maybe not.

Episcopal Church spokeswoman Anne Rudig says they'll turn their attention to global development goals, one of Jefferts Schori's top priorities.

The convention begins with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, leading a forum on poverty, and "we want to add new initiatives on domestic poverty," Rudig says. "Yes, human sexuality is certainly going to be part of our conversation. But it's just that — a part."

With a legislature second in size only to India's, she says, "we'll also talk about polity, about how we govern ourselves. … We're messy and noisy and transparent, and out of it comes the remarkable work we do."

Some conservatives who stayed with the Episcopal Church even though they disagreed on gay bishops and blessing same-sex marriage are concerned that sexuality issues interfere with the church's missions and development in Third World countries. Since 2003, some African and South American Anglican archbishops have refused to take communion with Episcopal Church leaders or partner with the church on projects.

"There is a whole swath of the Episcopal Church struggling to make their way forward to do missions and the work of the church," says Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina.

He opposes gay bishops and gay blessings, but Harmon calls the current moratoriums a "fig leaf" that should be lifted so the church can be "honest" about its theological direction.

Still, both efforts may stall, says supporter Jim Naughton, canon for communications for the Diocese of Washington, D.C.

More here-

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury makes debut appearance at General Convention

From Episcopal News Service-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams begins a busy schedule of meetings July 8 as he arrives in Anaheim, California to spend two days engaging with the representatives at the Episcopal Church's General Convention.
Attending convention for the first time, Williams will make a keynote presentation addressing the world's economic crisis during a panel discussion webcast live July 8 on the General Convention media hub.

On July 8, Williams will meet with President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson and her Council of Advice and have a conversation with the official youth delegates at the meeting, 18 young people selected from across the Episcopal Church.

Williams will participate in some of the worship services at General Convention, including offering a brief meditation during a July 9 Community Eucharist.


Williams is also scheduled to meet with the provisional bishops of the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin to hear about the renewal in those places after the former bishops attempted to lead those dioceses out of the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Bishop of Lewes: Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans formed to counter 'heartache'

From the London Telegraph-

The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, denied that the movement was splitting away from the Anglican Communion over contentious issues such as women bishops and homosexual clergy.

He said the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, an alliance of Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals, simply wanted to restore the authority of the Bible and hold to its traditional teachings.

Speaking at the group's launch event in London, attended by an estimated 1,600 people from 300 parishes across the UK and Ireland, Bishop Benn said: "Parts of the Church of England don't believe it, they are moving away from the historic Biblical Christianity.
"It's very important to understand that when novelty is introduced into the church, as the New Testament says, there are divisions.

"We're trying to move back to the core of our Christian faith. Sadly some in the British isles are moving away and where bishops do that, there is particular unhappiness in some dioceses and it causes real problems and real heartaches for people and for churches.
"We want to stand with people and support them and say you don't have to go away, we will support you and stand with you."

As The Daily Telegraph disclosed, the Queen has written twice to leaders of the FCA, saying that she "understands the commitment to the Anglican Church" that they show, and wishing them well for a "successful and memorable event" .

More here-

Program, Budget and Finance committee faces realities of current economic climate

From Episcopal Life Onlne-

Many people are fearful and angry over the economic crisis and the world's troubles, said Pan Adams-McCaslin, chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F), and she suggested July 6 that her committee help the Episcopal Church rewrite the equation.
During the committee's first gathering here, Adams-McCaslin offered what she called a new fraction with hope on one side and grace and "our own experience of the love of God" on the other.

"We get to talk about the hope of this church and to help craft a document that we take to the floor on (July 15) that says to the church: 'this is an outward and visible sign of the hope for this church and that we ask you to support that,'" she said.

Later in the day she acknowledged to Episcopal News Service that the 2010-2012 budget "is going to be very, very tight."

The committee has already been told that income during the 2010-2012 triennium could be $9 million less than forecast last January, when Executive Council approved the draft churchwide budget it is required to give to PB&F four months before the start of General Convention. That figure will likely increase over the next few days as more dioceses respond to an on-going survey of bishops and diocesan financial officers.

During the July 6 gathering PB&F members said that Episcopalians have told them they expect the General Convention, the church's triennial policy-making gathering, to pass a three-year budget that reflects the realities of the economy they live with each day. The members also said they sense a commitment to mission and openness to creative responses to the crisis.

The rest is here-

Orthodox Anglicans see greater unity in new fellowship

From Christian Today-

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was launched in Westminster in opposition to liberal shifts in parts of the wider Anglican Communion away from the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness of Christ seen in the embrace of homosexuality by the US Episcopal Church and the consecration in some places of women bishops.

The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev John Hind, told the gathering: “The source of our present crisis is to be found in attempts to minimise the uniqueness of Jesus.

“If a new reformation is in the offing or even already underway it will be important to return to Jesus, the high priest and pioneer of our faith, and place ourselves under the judgement of His teaching and word.

“What is at stake after all is not religious opinion but the saving truth of the Gospel.”

The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, said the FCA wanted to stop the Church from being divided “by moving back to the core of our faith, the historic Christian faith”.

“We are a movement for the renewal and reformation and renewed mission focus of our church. We love our Church ... we're not going anywhere," he said.

He warned that where parts of the Anglican Communion like the British Isles and Ireland were “moving away” from that faith, they were causing “real problems and real heartaches” for Anglicans.

"We are trying to pull back together people whose Anglican identity has been made difficult or who find that it is threatened,” he said.

“We want to stand with people and support them and say you don’t have to go away, we will support you and stand with you.”

The new Fellowship has its roots in the GAFCON meeting of orthodox Anglicans held in June last year and the subsequent Jerusalem Declaration, in which it committed to defending orthodox Anglicanism against the “false gospel” of homosexuality.

The FCA’s launch brought together more than 1,600 Anglicans from 320 parishes, including the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, and the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev John Broadhurst.

A letter from the Queen, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, was read out to the gathering in which she said she “understands the commitment to the Anglican Church that prompted you and your brethren to write as you did” and sent her “good wishes to all concerned for a successful and memorable event”.

More here-

Gay issues atop Episcopalians' agenda

From the Washington Times-

Blessings of same-sex marriage and removal of an informal ban on gay bishops are expected to be the top items at the upcoming 10-day meeting of the Episcopal General Convention, which starts Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif.

Since the 2006 General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, the number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage has increased to six.

Bishops from those six states - Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Iowa and Connecticut - have put forth a resolution asking a "generous and flexible response" to same-sex couples seeking to be wed in these states, according to Religion News Service.

Episcopal marriage liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer refer to the couple as a man and woman.

Washington Bishop John Chane is in favor of the resolution, according to his spokesman, Jim Naughton. The diocese prepared a same-sex liturgical rite in 2004, then put it on hold until the denomination officially approves the practice.

"There are going to be so many different attempts to do something on blessings or studying same-sex marriage, it's not clear what will come to the floor of either house," Mr. Naughton said. The denomination is structured like the U.S. government in that all successful resolutions must gain voting majorities in the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

The Washington bishop is also working to pass a resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

More here-

New Episcopal Diocese plan includes FdL

Fond du Lac's Episcopal Diocese may become part of a bigger religious picture.

Discussions will continue this week at the general convention in Anaheim, Calif., about the possibility of joining together the dioceses of Eau Claire and Fond du Lac.

Fond du Lac Bishop Russell Jacobus said although the local membership may have concerns about the future of St. Paul's Cathedral if a new diocese is formed, the cathedral would remain a center of local religious activity.

"Both St. Paul's and Christ Church in Eau Claire are seats for the bishop's throne. I would not want to give up either," Jacobus said.

Eau Claire's diocese has been without a bishop since April 2008. Jacobus has performed some Episcopal functions in the diocese, including an ordination and confirmations.

"They could elect another bishop, which they can't afford, or junction with another diocese. They are in the process of discerning what to do," he said.

Jacobus, who is turning 65, said he is willing to see the process through before considering retirement. Episcopal Church bishops are required to retire at age 72.

A decision from Eau Claire's diocese is expected in November, when it meets for its convention.

In the fall of 2008, each diocesan convention passed resolutions seeking consent to begin the juncture process from its general convention, the necessary first step in the process. Jacobus said the union is called a juncture, not a merging of two dioceses, because both would cease to exist and a new diocese would be formed.

When both dioceses are ready to pursue substantive discussion about juncture, they will move in that direction. If those discussions yield a decision by both dioceses to become one new diocese, then consent of the general convention will be sought.

More here-

Monday, July 6, 2009

Church group 'not planning split'

From the BBC

A traditionalist Anglican group has insisted at its launch conference that it is not poised to break away from the Church of England.

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans of UK and Ireland will campaign against active homosexuality in the Church.

Its leaders told the conference in London that liberal moves had brought "heartache" and "real problems".

Bishop of Lewes the Rt Rev Wallace Benn said he wanted "to pull people back" rather than breaking away.

Standing by

Addressing the conference, he said: "We are trying to pull back together people whose Anglican identity has been made difficult or who find that it is threatened."

He added: "We are trying to stop the Church from being divided by moving back to the core of our faith, the historic Christian faith.

"Sadly in the western world...the British Isles and Ireland are moving away and where bishops do that, there is particular unhappiness in some dioceses and it causes real problems and real heartaches for people and for churches.

"We want to stand with people and support them and say you don't have to go away, we will support you and stand with you."

The rest-

Britain in battle for its soul, says Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen

From the London Times-

Britain is facing a “battle for the soul of the nation”, an archbishop warned yesterday at the inaugural meeting of a group that threatens to split the Church of England.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, called for a spiritual renewal of Church and State in his keynote speech to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in London. Dr Jensen, arguably the most powerful evangelical in the Anglican Communion and a driving force behind the conservative revival, said: “In this country, the Christian foundations have been shaken. In this and the next generation there will be fought what may amount to the last battle for the soul of the nation.

“It will be an ideological war, a war of ideas. But great issues will hang upon the outcome: the fate of a culture and the eternal fate of souls.” He warned: “The culture of the West has adopted and promulgated anti-Christian belief and practice.

“It confronts every Christian with the choice of submission or harassment. It pretends to be the true heir of the Christian faith, and that the entire structure of Christian thought can disappear into the receding past. The conflict is over the authority of Jesus Christ. The fact that sexual ethics is where the contest is sharpest should not divert us from this basic truth.”

More here-

Orthodox Anglicans won't leave Church of England

From Reuters-

Conservative Anglicans, who oppose the Church of England's stand on issues such as gay clergy, on Monday ruled out formally breaking away from the mainstream as a group has done in the United States.

Members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), also unhappy at plans to allow the ordination of woman bishops, said they wanted to create an umbrella movement to promote conservative views within the Church.

The movement was formed following a convention last year in Jerusalem where bishops and clergy from around the world met to express frustration at the liberal Anglicanism, raising the prospect of a split with the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion.

"We are a movement for the renewal and reformation and renewed mission focus of our church. We love our church... we're not going anywhere," Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes in southern England said at the launch of the FCA's UK and Ireland chapter.

"We believe that we stand for the historic Christian faith," he added.

The FCA claims that it has around 1,600 followers from 320 parishes around the country. The movement said it had received a letter from Queen Elizabeth, expressing her good wishes for its launch.

Benn said he believed that the Church of England and the FCA would engage in dialogue to resolve their differences without having to resort to schism from the church.

Differences over issues such as gay clergy led to conservatives in the United States leaving the U.S. Episcopal Church in June, in a saga which split Anglicans worldwide. Continued...

Nominee by Petition for Georgia Bishop Election

The Very Rev. William Willoughby III, rector of St. Paul’s Church, Savannah, Ga., has been nominated by petition in the Diocese of Georgia’s search for its tenth bishop.

Dean Willoughby joins a slate of five nominees presented by the diocese’s search and nomination committee. Those candidates include the Rev. Scott Benhase, rector, St. Alban’s, Washington, D.C.; the Rev. William Patrick Gahan, rector, St. Stephen’s, Wimberley, Texas; the Rev. Frank Logue, vicar, King of Peace, Kingsland, Ga.; the Very Rev. C. Dean Taylor, rector, St. Mark’s, Dalton, Ga.; and the Rev. Stephen Zimmerman, rector, St. Andrew’s, Boca Raton, Fla.

The election is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Churches challenged to network for Kenya's sake

From Kenya Broadcasting-

Right Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukhala was Sunday consecrated and enthroned as the fifth primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

The archbishop, formerly of Bungoma diocese was elected on the 24th April this year after He won on a simple majority beating three other contestants.

Dr. Wabukhala succeeds Benjamin Nzimbi, an outspoken critic of the government against corruption.

Attending the ceremony, President Mwai Kibaki reassured Kenyans of the grand coalition government's commitment to implement programmes aimed at making the country a better home for its people.

President Kibaki was speaking at the All Saints Cathedral during the consecration and enthronement of Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala as the 5th Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya

President Kibaki said the government had made formidable milestones in its quest to address diverse problems afflicting its people, efforts which would vigorously be pursued to their logical conclusion.

The Head of State, on that note, urged Church organizations to partner and network with the government and other development minded individuals and institutions to implement programmes that uplift the standards of living in the country.

"Instead of complaining about the various ills in the country, the Church needs to work together with the government in seeking solutions and offer constructive criticism where necessary", said the President.

President Kibaki told religious leaders to be truthful in their deeds and to lead by example, guided by teachings in the Holy Scriptures.

"Be genuine in whatever you do for the country to enable Kenyans to differentiate between Christians and other ordinary people", the Head of State told religious leaders.

On the current food situation, the Head of State said the government was doing everything possible to feed the nation despite the food shortages experienced in various parts of the country.

He, however, advised Kenyans in parts of the country where government relief food had not reached to appreciate the efforts by lodging genuine complaints through the right channels.

More here-

Anglican Church allows women ministers in Bermuda

From Bermuda-

Women can now be ordained as ministers in the Anglican Diocese of Bermuda.

The landmark decision was the result of a vote by the Synod at its June meeting.

The Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt. Rev. Patrick White, said support for the move was so overwhelming that a count was not taken. He's been at the helm of the church since January following the retirement of Bishop Ewen Ratteray who was fervently against allowing female ministers.

There has been a strong belief for several years among many local Anglicans that the Bermuda Diocese needed to modernise and accept females as deacons and ministers.

"The feeling among most was: 'Why shouldn't women be able to be ordained?'" said Bishop White. "The vast majority feel women can do the job as well as men."

The matter was never brought to Synod, the governing body of the Anglican Church of Bermuda, because of the Bishop's power to veto any decision.

"We waited 12 years because Bishop Ewen wouldn't entertain the idea," said one member of Synod. "I know a lot of people feel this decision is embarrassing because it's so late."

Bishop White said he's pleased to have addressed the matter so early in his tenure. He said he and Archdeacon Andrew Doughty had agreed to open the priesthood to women at the first opportunity.

More here-

Pujols, Jeter lead star-studded rosters

All Star Teams announced. Way to go Freddy-

When the stars come out in St. Louis on July 14, the summer Midwestern sky might be a little jealous of the turf at Busch Stadium.

With the Gateway Arch in view, the baseball stars lined up on the field for the 80th All-Star Game will provide as pretty a backdrop to a midsummer night as any starry sky could, with a mix of some familiar constellations and a few new celestial bodies lighting up the night.

Hometown hero Albert Pujols leads the parade of stars as the overall leading vote-getter, racking up 5,397,374 votes, the second-highest total in Major League Baseball history. But the Cardinals first baseman was just one star in a universe of them when the National League and American League All-Star teams were announced Sunday on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi.

With rosters bumped up to 33 per team this year, Pujols will be joined by three other star first basemen on the NL squad. They will attempt to halt a 12-game unbeaten streak by the AL, which is led by 10-time All-Star Derek Jeter, the top vote-getter in the AL.

"I've said it time and time again, but it never gets old," said Jeter, whose 10 appearances match teammate Mariano Rivera for the most among this year's honorees. "It's something that every player wants to be a part of. If they tell you they don't, I think they're lying to you. There's a lot of great players out there, so it's great to be going."

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

More with link to rosters here-

Special Discussions will Focus on B033

From The Living Church-

The House of Deputies will be asked to consider meeting in two unusual sessions early in the 76th General Convention July 8-17 to discuss Resolution B033, which was adopted during an extraordinary session of its own on the final day of the 75th General Convention in 2006.

This will be the first time since 1973 that the House of Deputies convenes as a committee of the whole. Then the house met to discuss ordination of women after which it narrowly rejected a proposal to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood and the episcopate.

In a letter sent to deputies and first alternates June 29, Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, said she believes the house “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.”

A dozen prefiled resolutions address B033 in some form or another. These have all been assigned to the legislative Committee on World Mission. A more typical legislative procedure would for the Committee on World Mission to hold hearings and combine the resolutions. From there they are forwarded to the Committee on the Dispatch of Business, which determines when and if proposed resolutions come to the floor for debate.

Venables rejects ‘un-Anglican’ claim

From Religious Intelligence-

The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone has rejected assertions made by lawyers representing the Episcopal Church that the clergy of the Anglican Church in North America are un-Anglican.

In a June 30 letter to the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Gregory Venables reminded them that the Alexandria Primates’ Meeting had affirmed the Anglican bona fides of the American breakaway dioceses and clergy.

While it would “take some time before the institutional structures catch up to the realities of the present day situation in the Communion,” the Diocese of Fort Worth and clergy of Fort Worth remained in “good standing and favour with me” and the Southern Cone. Your “orders and ministries are secure in the Lord and as Anglicans,” he said.

The February 2009 Primates’ Meeting had reached a “clear agreement” that the breakaway dioceses, their bishops and clergy are “fully members of the Anglican Communion. Any other assertions are,” in the view of the primates of the Anglican Communion, “completely unfounded,” he said.

Bishop Venables’ salvo comes in the wake of a broadside from a lawyer representing the loyalist faction of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and a letter from the Provisional Bishop of the diocese, Bishop Edwin Gulick of Kentucky. Last week, Bishop Gulick wrote to the Fort Worth clergy, stating he would depose them unless they acceded to his authority.

A second letter from attorney Jonathan Nelson to the clergy and wardens of Fort Worth’s parishes asked them to turn over their property to the national Episcopal Church or face litigation.

More here-

Speaking of signs

Signs of the times debated

From Atlanta- How to annoy the neighbors.

Could it be a sign from God?

An Episcopal church in Cobb County wants to install an electronic sign to replace an old-style sign that a car destroyed two years ago. It has had to keep the high-tech shift on hold, though, because county rules prohibit electronic signs in residential areas.

Now, a ray of light may shine down on the church after all. Cobb County commissioners are considering a change to the county code that would allow electronic signs for some churches, private schools and others in residential areas.

But some Cobb residents see the proposed changes as a bad sign. They say more LED panels and digital screens mean that flashy, moving messages could invade quiet residential streets. On busier roads, electronic messages can be a dangerous distraction to motorists, residents say.

Craig Dowdy, a lawyer and member of the Episcopal Church of St. Peter & St. Paul in East Cobb, said the church needs the electronic sign to keep up with the times. Plus, the church already spent $29,000 on a new sign not knowing it was prohibited, he said.

Requiring the church to use an old-fashioned sign doesn’t make sense, Dowdy said. “It would be the same as putting a rotary dial phone on your desk,” he said.

Neighbors in West Cobb say such signs have no place in residential areas.

“That’s just going to encourage more of the Las Vegas-type atmosphere,” said Keli Gambrill, president of People Looking After Neighborhoods, or PLAN. “A person is going to look into a church. They’re going to find out what time the services are. Do we really need to put an electronic reader board out there?”

More here-

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Paying for King Henry VIII's carnal desire

I've always wondered about this- This is the portrait referred to in the article.

It is bad enough being put to death by your husband – a fate met by two of King Henry VIII’s wives – or dying in childbirth, or being divorced by your husband – as happened to two of Henry’s other wives – but to find yourself so repugnant to him that he annulled the marriage six months after the wedding – now that is an ignominious fate, especially in the mid-16th century.

Yet that is what befell Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, this week in 1540.

The story is an interesting one. In 1538, after his third wife Jane Seymour died in childbirth, Henry was, for the first time in his reign, a carefree bachelor. His marriage to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, had been a political necessity, cementing as it did the alliance between England and Katherine’s native Spain. His second marriage to Anne Boleyn had been a marriage of lust, and, not incidentally, she was already pregnant. And his marriage to Jane Seymour had been one of infatuation – the attractive Seymour had been one of Anne Boleyn’s attendants.

But now he was free to marry for whatever reason he wished, including diplomatic considerations, and having broken with the Roman Catholic Church, and establishing the Anglican (Protestant) Church, over his divorce of Katherine and marriage to Anne Boleyn, he was looking for Protestant allies who would support him in his break with Rome. Anne of Cleves was the daughter of a powerful German Protestant family, so diplomatically Henry found the match attractive.

Never having seen Anne, he decided to send his favorite portrait painter, Hans Holbein, to Germany to paint her portrait, and upon viewing Holbein’s handiwork he pronounced himself so pleased with her countenance that he told his top minister, Thomas Cromwell, to begin the marriage negotiations.

As it happened, however, Holbein (as court portraitists were known to do) painted a somewhat overly flattering portrait of Anne, neglecting to portray, for example, her pockmarked face from a case of smallpox. Thus when Henry and Anne finally met, he found her physically repulsive, and although he went ahead with the marriage, six months with her was all he could stand, and he ended it. Also, reverting to form, Henry had become infatuated with the young niece of one of his dukes, Catherine Howard, whom he later made his fifth wife.

Although she received a generous settlement for agreeing to the annulment, Anne was never able to live down the shame. But at least she lived, which (as with half of Henry’s wives) is more than can be said for Thomas Cromwell. Having first suggested that Henry marry Anne, Cromwell took the brunt of Henry’s displeasure, and paid with his life.

'Bullying' bishop to cost church

AN ANGLICAN bishop is being officially investigated for misconduct in an unprecedented case that could cost the Australian church nearly a third of its financial reserves.

An independent investigator will examine allegations of bullying and harassment by Ballarat bishop Michael Hough against clergy and laypeople in his diocese.

The Ballarat diocese chancellor, Michael Shand, QC, announced the decision by the Episcopal Standards Commission at Ballarat's synod council on Friday.

It has been estimated the investigation by Sydney lawyer Geoff Kelly will cost about $400,000. Depending on his findings, the commission will set up a tribunal with power to depose the bishop — also unprecedented in Australian history — which could cost another $350,000. Mr Shand told the synod this would be paid by the national office.

National treasurer John McKenzie said yesterday the Anglican Church of Australia's reserves were $2.5 million.

Bishop Hough welcomed the investigation as the next step in the process, and said he would let it unfold. He said: "I don't have time to muck around with this. I'm too busy on God's business."

The complaints, from 13 past and present clergy and several senior laypeople, have not been made public, but are believed to allege bullying and harassment, including abusive emails. Some clergy claim they were forced out of the diocese.

More here-

Church of England bishop says gays should 'repent'

A senior Church of England bishop has angered gay-rights campaigners by saying homosexuals should repent.

Archbishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that the Bible defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. He said the church welcomed gay people, "but we want them to repent and be changed."

Nazir-Ali is a leading member of the conservative wing of the global Anglican Communion, which is riven by divisions over homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Gay groups condemned the bishop's remarks. Campaigner Peter Tatchell said Nazir-Ali's view "goes against Christ's gospel of love and compassion."

And Derek Munn of gay-rights group Stonewall accused the bishop of promoting inequality and intolerance.

The 77 million-member Anglican Communion has been splintering since 2003, when the Episcopal Church — the Anglican body in the U.S. — consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has tried to hold the fragile communion together by getting churches to observe a voluntary moratorium on consecrating another openly gay bishop and developing prayers for same-sex unions. But many fear a split is inevitable.

Nazir-Ali's remarks appeared a day before the launch in Britain of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a coalition of conservative parishes from around the world, which Nazir-Ali supports.
He was quoted as saying that people who depart from traditional Biblical teaching "don't share the same faith."

"We want to hold on to the traditional teaching of the church," he told the newspaper. "We don't want to be rolled over by culture and trends in the church."

How to help Honduras

From the Miami Herald

It was the divide that caught my eye.

Two weeks before the coup that ousted Honduras' elected president, we were driving down a boulevard here in San Pedro Sula, the nation's second-largest city.

On the left: newly built single-family homes and town houses, modest gated communities you'd see along Kendall Drive or in Weston, without the fountained entrances.

On the right: a river the color of copper, where bare-chested boys with soiled shorts played in the silt-filled water while girls slightly taller than toddlers laundered the family wash. Behind them: a hillside of wood shanties, where corrugated metal sheets were propped precariously atop wood-slat huts, forming the equivalent of a ''front porch.'' The huts were built atop rocks, dirt, trash and tires, where children played and dogs with rib-cage coats picked for food.

It stretched for miles, known to locals as el bordo.

A week after the military forced Honduran President Manuel Zelaya into exile at gunpoint, I'm left wondering: ``Who is looking out for those children?''

And while I don't condone the overthrow of an elected president, I've been struck by Zelaya's swagger and sense of entitlement.

He wants to return to serve the people: Where have he and his government been?

Yes, there has been progress. Infant and child mortality rates have declined since 1990, UNICEF reports. An early childhood program has helped reduce malnutrition and raised preschool enrollment rates. A new national office has been created to prosecute sex abuse crimes against children.

But has the Honduran government authored many of these changes?

I have my doubts.

Honduras remains the poorest Spanish-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere.


• More than 60 percent of its population lives below the poverty line, according to the latest country reports from UNICEF.

• Over one-third of its infants are malnourished; each day nine children lose a parent to AIDS.

• Eighteen percent of the population has no basic medical care, 10 percent do not have clean drinking water and one-third -- one of every three people -- don't have access to sanitation.

I was in Honduras with a group of teens and adults from St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Coral Gables and St. John's Episcopal in Charlotte, N.C. It was our annual pilgrimage to Our Little Roses, a home, chapel and bilingual school for abused and abandoned girls in San Pedro, a city that's home to nearly 750,000 people.

More here-