Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bishop of Rochester: Church of England must do more to counter twin threats of secularism and radical Islam

From The London Telegraph-

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who ends his time as Bishop of Rochester next week, said the established religion must speak out more to preserve the country’s Christian heritage and offer moral guidance to the masses.

He also claimed that liberal Anglicans around the world who are following contemporary culture rather than the teachings of the Bible are effectively following a different faith.

Dr Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan, became the Church’s first Asian bishop when he was appointed to Rochester in 1994 and came to be seen as a contender for the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

However the job went to Dr Rowan Williams and as the global Anglican Communion tore itself apart over the ordination of homosexual clergy, Dr Nazir-Ali instead became known as one of its leading conservative voices.

Last year he claimed some parts of Britain had become “no-go areas” for non-Muslims, and boycotted a once-a-decade gathering of senior Anglicans in protest at the presence of liberal American bishops.

In a final interview with The Daily Telegraph before stepping down on Tuesday, Dr Nazir-Ali said he did not believe the history of the church would have been different had he been given the most important job in Anglicanism.

“This is not about one man – these are currents in culture and they happen in different ages.

More here-

Gay US bishop attacks treatment of gay and lesbian clergy by Church of England

From the London Guardian-

The first openly gay bishop in the Anglican communion has launched an outspoken attack on the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Gene Robinson, the Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire, criticised the policy of the Church of England towards gay and lesbian clergy. Alluding to the significant number of clergy who are gay, he said: "I think gay clergy in the Church of England are thought of as a problem to be solved or at least lived with, rather than a gift from God."

Robinson, who is in Britain to speak at the Greenbelt festival at Cheltenham Racecourse this weekend, added that he could not accept the archbishop's recent comments that if the Episcopal church refused to uphold the current moratorium on consecrating actively gay bishops or blessing civil unions, the communion might have to be reorganised into a two-tier, or "two-track" model. "I can't imagine anything that would be more abhorrent to Jesus than a two-tier church," he said. "Either we are children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ, or we aren't. There are not preferred children and second-class children. There are just children of God."

Asked whether Williams's softly, softly approach might in the end be more successful in persuading the communion than unilateral action by one church, he pointed out that the very nature of the communion — a loose agglomeration of equals — meant that national churches were always acting autonomously. Furthermore, someone had to make the first move.

"We [Episcopalians] virtually led the way in terms of the ordination of women. And I believe had we not done that the ordination of women in the Church of England perhaps would not have occurred when it did. And the discussion around the ordination of women bishops would not be occurring."

More here-

Episcopal Head Clarifies 'Heresy' Comments

From Christian Post-

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori released a statement Thursday defending an address she made last month in which she called individualistic salvation "the great Western heresy."

Acknowledging the national attention and criticism her comments from The Episcopal Church's General Convention drew, Jefferts Schori said the varied reactions came from people who weren't there or who read her statements out of context.

"Apparently I wasn't clear!" she wrote on Episcopal Life.

"In my address, I went on to say that sometimes this belief that salvation only depends on getting right with God is reduced to saying a simple formula about Jesus," she said. "He (Jesus) is repeatedly insistent that right relationship depends on loving neighbors – for example, "those who say, ‘I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars."

In her opening address to the General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., in July, Jefferts Schori spoke about the crisis facing The Episcopal Church as its members remain divided over the authority of Scripture and homosexuality and as its relationship with some Anglican provinces overseas is impaired.

She said the "overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

"It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus," she told Episcopal delegates. "That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention."

More here-

Another Dallas Episcopal priest suspended

From The Dallas News-

Dallas Episcopal Bishop James Stanton's list of problem priests isn't limited to the Rev. William Warnky (right), who, as I reported in yesterday's paper, has been suspended in recent days from both ministry and securities trading because he owes an ex-parishioner $50,000 for stock fraud.

I learned today that two months ago, Stanton quietly stripped the Rev. Keith Roberson (below right) of his collar for three years for "conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy."

Here's a partial translation that I coaxed out of Stanton's top aide, Bishop Suffragan Paul Lambert: The conduct was directed at women at the Terrell church where Roberson worked, Good Shepherd. "It was more harassment than anything," and "it was nothing physical."

Roberson declined to comment today. He runs an optical repair business in Fort Worth called J.R. Optical, whose Web site says:

"I am an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church and I uphold the values and character traits associated with a life of personal commitment and service to the Lord. I live by the Scripture verse 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.' I am honest, open, professional, congenial, and stand by my word."

Lambert acknowledged that Roberson previously left another parish -- he wouldn't say which one -- amid controversy. "It was a bad match," he said. "It was not sexual harassment."

Years ago, Roberson also worked briefly as a fill-in priest at Good Samaritan, where Warnky was the priest in charge until this week. It hasn't been decided yet how long Warnky will be out of ministry.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tony Blair: Cherie inspired me to become a Catholic

From The London Telegraph-

Converting from the Anglican Church to Catholicism two years ago was like "coming home", he said.

"Frankly, this all began with my wife. I began to go to Mass and we went together. We could have gone to the Anglican or Catholic church - guess who won?

"Ever since I began preparations to become a Catholic, I felt I was coming home; and this is now where my heart is, where I know I belong," Mr Blair told the Communion and Liberation meeting in the Adriatic resort of Rimini.

The former prime minister, who now runs the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, switched to Catholicism soon after leaving office two years ago. His wife and children were already Catholic.
Last December, in an interview with the BBC, he said he had delayed his conversion until after he had resigned because to have converted while in power would have made him Britain's first Catholic prime minister and would have caused a "palaver".

He said he feared that discussing his religious beliefs while still in Downing Street would have led to him being branded a "nutter".

Mr Blair received a standing ovation for his speech in Rimini, during which he said he was "humbled" to address such an eminent gathering because he was a "very new entrant" to the Catholic Church.

The rest-

The Fictional World of Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson

From Catholic Online-

New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson told a large audience at St. Mark's Cathedral, Salt Lake City, Utah, recently that at the end of the day the Anglican Communion will be fine. During the address he gave an upbeat report about the Anglican Communion's future citing, among other things, Desmond Tutu, his own sexual proclivities and why the wider Anglican Communion will ultimately hold together.

Bishop Robinson's ability at fiction writing and story-telling was apparently evident in the book-signing of his latest book, "In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God", once priced in hardcover for $25.00 and now available for $5.63 at Many, however, believe he was "swept to the center" not by God, but by votes of the HOB and Standing Committees of a theologically brain scrambled denomination who long ago ditched their Bibles in favor of a cultural zeitgeist more amenable and malleable to pansexuality than biblical revelation.

"These last few years have been another chapter in God's people trying to find out how broad and merciful is God and God's love. We can be proud of our response," said Robinson.

Really. If "breadth" and "merciful" are the indicators, Robinson needs to explain the continuing withering of The Episcopal Church along with an horrendous fall off in members since he was consecrated bishop in 2003. How does he explain the advent of The Anglican Church in North America with more than 100,000 members, most of whom he is indirectly responsible for because of his sexual behavior. Or what of the "merciful" actions of PB Katharine Jefferts Schori who has adopted a Berlin Wall approach to fleeing Episcopalians?

More here-

Church festival draws criticism

From the BBC-

Among those addressing the Greenbelt festival this year is the Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, a gay man whose ordination by the Episcopalian Church was greeted with both outrage and celebration in various parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Many people did not welcome his elevation, and the issue of gay clergy has become so contentious that it threatens to divide global Anglicans - some say it has already begun.

Last month, the Episcopal Church voted to end a three-year moratorium on electing gay Bishops, a move which may ultimately push the US Church out of the Communion.

This begs the question, why did Greenbelt's organisers invite one of the most controversial figures in the Church to speak, a decision which was bound to draw criticism from some sections?

Festival coordinator Beki Bateson, says the invitation was made solely on the strength of Bishop Robinson's earlier speaking appearances at other venues, and that his is just one voice amongst many.

"Sometimes those voices are not always programmed at the same festival and some issues including the debate around sexuality have been addressed over a number of years from varying perspectives."

More here-

Presiding Bishop Defends ‘Heresy’ Address

From The Living Church-

Asserting that the task of Christians is “to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered a detailed defense of her July 7 opening address to General Convention, in which she called individualism the “great Western heresy.”

Writing for Episcopal Life, Bishop Jefferts Schori said the address had received “varied reactions from people who weren’t there, who heard or read an isolated comment without the context.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori said her definition of individualism is “the understanding that the interests and independence of the individual necessarily trump the interests of others, as well as principles of interdependence.” This she called “basically unbiblical and unchristian.”

“The spiritual journey, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is about holy living in community,” she said. Pointing to Jesus’ summary of the Torah in Matthew 22, Bishop Jefferts Schori suggested that “this means our task is to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors.”

“If salvation is understood only as ‘getting right with God’ without considering ‘getting right with all our neighbors,’ then we've got a heresy on our hands,” she said.

“In my address, I went on to say that sometimes this belief that salvation only depends on getting right with God is reduced to saying a simple formula about Jesus,” the Presiding Bishop continued. “Jesus is quite explicit in his rejection of simple formulas: ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven’.”

“He is repeatedly insistent that right relationship depends on loving neighbors,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. She also cited examples from the Epistles “that our judgment depends on care for brother and sister and that we eat our own destruction if we take Communion without having regard for the rest of the community.”

Saying that “salvation depends on love of God and our relationship with Jesus,” the Presiding Bishop asserted that “we give evidence of our relationship with God in how we treat our neighbors, nearby and far away.”

“Salvation cannot be complete…until the whole of creation is restored to right relationship,” she said, adding, “we anticipate the restoration of all creation to right relationship, and we proclaim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made that possible in a new way.”

“At the same time, salvation in the sense of cosmic reconciliation is a mystery,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “It is about healing and wholeness and holiness, the fruit of being more than doing. Just like another image we use to speak about restored relationship, the reign of God, salvation is happening all the time, all around us.”

Latest Episcopal church's last rites in Englewood

From The Denver Post-

After a farewell service on Sunday, St. George's Episcopal Church will close its doors just short of its 100th anniversary — the latest parish to disintegrate in part because of the ordination of gay and lesbian priests.

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado will officially deconsecrate the Englewood church, more recently called Holy Apostles, after its short-lived merger with another struggling congregation failed to save it.

"St. George's has been a church in turmoil for decades," said Rosamond Long, a 35-year member of the church. "We managed to get it back on its feet every time. This time, we're not going to be able to do it."

The remaining 30 or so congregants will scatter among other churches.

Eventhough these traditional, loyal and older Episcopalians did not object to the church's growing acceptance of openly gay clergy, they say, their former priest did.
The Rev. Roger Bower, who came to the church about two years ago along with members of the Church of the Holy Spirit, a startup congregation, left St. George's at the end of June.

By then, most of the new, younger congregants he had brought with him already had drifted away, family by family, alienated by a January announcement by Episcopal Bishop Robert O'Neill that the Colorado diocese would end its moratorium against ordaining partnered gay and lesbian persons.

The older and more staid St. George's members accepted O'Neill's pastoral innovations — but the younger Holy Spirit families, which had a very contemporary worship style, did not.

The shrinking parish could no longer afford a priest.

More here-

Football’s ‘horrible’ night

From The Church Times- (another reason to be a baseball fan)

THE CHAPLAIN of West Ham United, the Ven. Elwin Cockett, Archdeacon of West Ham, has con­demned the violence that marred the club’s League Cup victory against Millwall on Tuesday night

One man was stabbed as fans clashed outside the stadium, and sup porters fought with police and ran on to the pitch during the game. The scenes were reminiscent of the prob lems in football during the 1980s, when hooliganism was rife.

Archdeacon Cockett attended the match. He said afterwards that he be lieved the violence to have been pre meditated by gangs “who had noth ing to do with either of the clubs.

“They had nothing to do with football. It’s a tragedy that the game will be dragged through the mud through the action of these complete idiots who just turned up for a fight and did not have tickets for the game. It was a horrible night for foot ball.”

He accepted that West Ham could face punishment for the incidents inside the ground, and called for fans who invaded the pitch to be banned.

It had been a “horrible week” for West Ham, he said. A defender, Calum Davenport, was stabbed in both legs early on Saturday morning; and the father of Jack Collison, a midfielder, was killed in a motorbike accident on Sunday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rector Helps Community Mourn Loss of Special Civil Servant

From The Diocese of Pittsburgh- (Shameless self promotion-on my part.)

It’s not everyday that an Episcopal priest leads a funeral procession for a dog. But it’s not everyday that a community comes together to mourn a dog like Ando. He was one of a special breed, not in the sense of canine genetics, but in his public service.

Ando, a German shepherd, served for seven years as Ligonier Township’s K-9 police officer. He was euthanized last week, one month after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

That’s when officials turned to the Rev. Dr. James Simons, Rector of St. Michael’s of the Valley in Ligonier.
“They asked me to officiate at a community memorial service,” said Dr. Simons, who added that he has sometimes been asked by animal owners to help them deal with the loss of a family pet or horse.

More than 200 people turned out to pay tribute to Ando, according to the Tribune-Review, one of many news organizations covering the August 23rd event on the Diamond in Ligonier. The service began with bagpipes and prayers; it ended with the retiring of Ando’s badge and the sounding of Taps.

More here-

TEXAS: Grants enable Austin clinic to serve 4,000 more needy patients

From Episcopal Life Online-

El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission in southwest Austin, Texas, has received grants from St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities and other agencies that will enable it to serve 4,000 more underinsured and uninsured working poor patients.
Melinda Rodriguez, director of development for the Wallace Mallory Clinic, said August 26 that the approximately $509,000 in grants will mean the 20-year-old clinic can finally add staff positions — a full-time resident doctor, nurse and medical assistant — of its own.

Up till now the agency has mostly relied on volunteer doctors and medical professionals. But since receiving the grants -- $293,000 from St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities; $125,000 from St. David's Healthcare Foundation; and $91,000 from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation -- all that should change soon, she hopes.

The clinic provides patient care Monday through Saturday and "uses a holistic approach for helping people integrate into the community and improve their own situations," added the Rev. Victoria Mason, a deacon who serves El Buen Samaritano.

"We also provide nutrition counseling and cooking classes and exercise classes … everything from aerobics and spinning to belly dancing and yoga — it's a wonderful variety!" said Mason.

"We also have a food pantry, so people are coming three mornings out of the week to get food," she added.

A Jubilee Center, the mission offers classes such as English as a second language, computer literacy and citizenship to about 600 students. It also provides GED courses in conjunction with the Austin Community College.

Center students and patients are mostly Latino/Hispanic working poor, Mason said, adding that there is also a child-learning center for preschoolers whose parents are enrolled in center classes.

More here-

Dallas priest suspended over stock-fraud case

From the Dallas Morning News-

Dallas Episcopal Bishop James Stanton (right) confirmed today that he has suspended a priest-stockbroker who, as I reported Sunday, owes an ex-parishioner/ex-client $50,000 for securities fraud.

Stanton said he was unaware of what I discovered late yesterday: A Dallas judge put the Rev. William Warnky (below right) on 10 years of probation in 2006 for contempt of court after he failed to pay about $50,000 in child support to his second wife.

Warnky should have disclosed this to Dallas Episcopal Diocese leaders, the bishop said.

"Mercy," he added. "That is a very serious matter."

This spring, the Texas attorney general's office sought to jail Warnky because of continuing child-support failures. The judge let him stay on probation. Warnky has been making payments since, the AG's office said.

The priest declined to comment today. He led services Sunday at his church, Good Samaritan, which is a few blocks south of White Rock Lake. Stanton said his suspension from ministry took effect Monday.

Penn. pharmacy owned by party-loving priest Gregory Malia faces fraud investigation

From the New York Daily News-

Fraud investigators raided the Pennsylvania pharmacy owned by a party-loving priest who made a name for himself in New York's nightclubs.

Gregory Malia is already in trouble with the law after a dustup with his daughter at a bar - and with his church, which has suspended him.

Adding to his woes, agents from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Division executed sealed search warrants at New Life Home Healthcare this week, spokesman Kevin Harley said Wednesday.

Harley would not say why probers are looking at the pharmacy - which caters to hemophiliacs - but it's being sued by Blue Cross for allegedly improper billing.

Calls to the pharmacy were not returned. Malia, 44, is listed as New Life's president and CEO.
He's a notorious figure in clubland, where he was known for spending tens of thousands during late-night jaunts.

After the Daily News reported on his big-tipping, champagne-swilling sprees, the Diocese of Bethlehem Episcopal Church removed him from his priestly duties.

In July, he was arrested for pulling a gun when his daughter and a galpal got into a fight at a bar. Diocese officials have given him six months to clean up his act or face defrocking.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lutherans Cautious on Split after Gay Vote

From "Crosswalk"-

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had debated lifting its ban on non-celibate gay clergy for years, with tensions flaring at each biennial Churchwide Assembly.

Still, when the ban was finally lifted late Friday (Aug. 21), it came as a surprise -- and an unwelcome one at that -- to some conservatives in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination.

"The first reaction is that they are stunned," said the Rev. Jonathan Jenkins, who addressed the new clergy policy at his Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Pa. "We've been talking about this as a possibility for some time, but I think most of our people did not expect this to happen."

Jenkins said that many, but not all, members of his congregation, where 185 gather for worship each Sunday, were dismayed by the change.

Jenkins is one of several pastors who are organizing a meeting in Central Pennsylvania this week to discuss the new policy and whether to stay in the ELCA.

Even before last week's convention in Minneapolis, conservatives in Lutheran CORE, which counts about 300,000 members, planned to hold their own gathering next month in Indianapolis. CORE leaders said the group will consider a range of options, from creating a separate church within the ELCA to directing donations away from the ELCA's Chicago headquarters.

Delegates at the ELCA's convention said opening the pulpit to gay clergy in committed, monogamous relationships accords with the Bible's overall message of tolerance and inclusion. But conservatives say the Bible clearly denounces homosexual activity, and that any church that condones homosexuality has turned its back on Scripture.

More here-

Two Nominees by Petition in Minnesota Bishop Election

Form The Living Church-

Two priests in the Diocese of Minnesota have agreed to stand for possible nomination by petition as their diocese seeks its ninth bishop.

The Rev. Doyle Turner, rector of Trinity Church, Park Rapids, and the Rev. Doug Sparks, rector of St. Luke's, Rochester, will undergo background checks before the standing committee decides whether to certify them as nominees by petition.

The diocese requires that a nominee by petition—which it also calls a nominee from the floor—must be supported by at least 24 clergy or lay delegates in the diocese.

If approved by the standing committee, the priests will join a three-person slate announced by the diocese on August 1.

The Rev. Kathryn Jeffrey mentioned the two priests on her "Anglicat" blog on Aug. 17, three days after the filing deadline for nominees by petition. She has provided background information on both priests on another website.

At the website of Trinity Church, Fr. Turner has posted his answers to six questions that the diocese's search committee asked of bishop nominees.

Fr. Turner discussed his possible nomination with the Park Rapids Enterprise.

“I prayed about this and asked a friend, ‘How do I get out of this?’ He told me, ‘You don’t’,” the newspaper quoted Turner as saying. “So I'll let the Spirit work though this process.”

Fr. Sparks acknowledged being nominated in a telephone interview with The Living Church. He said he turned in signatures from 51 supporters representing eight of the nine regions of the diocese.

“What I was most humbled by was that the people who emailed me or phoned me come from varying perspectives and concerns in the Diocese of Minnesota,” he said. “I never would have imagined, at the end of that 14-day period, being able to present 51 names of lay and clerical delegates.”

The diocese has said it will announce any nominees by petition on Sept. 25. It has scheduled walkabout sessions on Oct. 19-24. A diocesan convention will elect the new bishop on Oct. 31.

Court to rule on status of Georgia church

From Religious Intelligence-

The fate of the ‘mother church’ of the Diocese of Georgia in the USA is in the hands of a Savannah court after arguments were presented last week in litigation over the secession of Christ Church, Savannah from the Episcopal Church.

On Sept 30, 2007, the vestry of Christ Church voted to quit the diocese and move under the oversight of Uganda’s US Bishop John Guernsey, after the US House of Bishops ignored the primates’ request for the Episcopal Church to conform to the Communion’s teachings on human sexuality.

Founded in 1733, the landmark church in downtown Savannah is the oldest church in the state of Georgia and numbered among its early rectors John Wesley and George Whitefield.

The primates in Dar es Salaam had given the Episcopal Church the “final call” to “return to the central tenets of Christianity,” the vestry said. The failure to conform to the church’s historic teachings had left the parish no choice but to secede, as “our first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s word revealed to us in the Holy Bible,” the parish’s senior warden said after the split.

Georgia Bishop Henry Louttit responded that while people may leave the Episcopal Church, congregations may not, and moved to depose the church’s clergy and replaced the parish vestry. Litigation ensued and on Aug 14 the Chatham County Superior Court heard a motion from the diocese and the national church seeking summary judgment against the congregation seeking immediate possession of the building and assets of the parish.

During the two-hour hearing before Judge Michael Karpf, lawyers for the national church and diocese argued that in property disputes within “hierarchical churches” the court must defer to the church’s canon law. The court must therefore follow the Episcopal Church’s 1979 “Dennis Canon,” which created a trust on all parish property in favour of the diocese and national church, and grant them possession.

More here-

Conservative Lutherans urged to give with discretion

More on the Lutherans-

The director of a coalition of conservative-leaning congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is encouraging concerned members to direct financial support away from the denomination.

The suggestion comes from Reverend Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE, a conservative group that is upset after representatives to the ELCA's biennial meeting voted to allow clergy in committed same-sex relationships to serve. Representatives at that meeting also approved a social statement that said the church can both approve and condemn homosexual relationships with equal faithfulness.

Chavez says it is time for conservative ELCA members to direct financial support away from the national church body.

"Lutheran CORE, for the first time in our history, has now invited individuals and congregations to direct financial support away from the national churchwide offices, except where they're doing what a church ought to be doing and it conforms to God's Word," he suggests. "For example, the ELCA disaster response is wonderful, and we should continue to support missionaries; but there shouldn't be a just general support for the churchwide organization because it's clear that they're up to no good."

Lutheran CORE hosts a conference next month in Indianapolis. In addition to adopting a constitution for Lutheran CORE, those attending the conference will be responding to the actions of the churchwide assembly in Minneapolis earlier this month.

State agents search pharmacy in Pittston Business run by former Episcopal Church priest

From Bethlehem PA

Agents with the state Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Division searched a specialty pharmacy on Tuesday run by Gregory Malia, a former priest with the Diocese of Bethlehem Episcopal Church.

Agents were observed removing boxes and at least one filing cabinet from New Life Home Healthcare and loading the items into a large box truck.

Kevin Harley, spokesman for the attorney general, said he couldn’t comment as to why agents were removing items from the pharmacy because search warrants are sealed.

New Life, located on the fourth floor in the Penn Park Building at 48 S. Main St., specializes in providing medications and other products to those suffering from bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia.

The pharmacy is the target of a lawsuit that was filed in Luzerne County Court in October 2007 by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which alleged New Life officials improperly billed the insurer for medications provided to its employees.

According to the lawsuit, New Life had a contract to dispense medications to Blue Cross subscribers and was a customer of Blue Cross through a group health insurance contract that covered New Life’s employees.

The lawsuit alleges Blue Cross paid New Life nearly $3.6 million in medical coverage for two employees and Gregory Malia, while the two employees and Malia had primary medical coverage by other insurance carriers.

Malia, 44, of Laflin, is identified as the president and chief executive officer of New Life, earning a salary of $120,000 plus expenses, according to a divorce petition filed by his ex-wife, Ann Marie Morreale-Malia, with the county Prothonotary’s Office.

More here-

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God but no cigarettes at Gatwick

From The London Guardian-

Nobody goes to Gatwick Airport looking for spiritual nourishment. And they certainly wouldn't expect to find God inside of Gatwick's grim institutional walls. But the Airport Chapel is a surprising oasis of peace and calm.

The chapel is a comfortable room, reserved for prayer and reflection, though many use it as a place to read, check email, or simply escape the horror that is Gatwick.

There are Christian services three days a week, with Roman Catholic, Anglican, and the Free Church chaplains attending to the spiritual needs of travellers and airport workers.

The first service on Sunday was the Free Church. Lt. Colonel Stephen Pallant of the Salvation Army was chaplain. He prepared the room by putting out a simple wooden cross and then, to my horror, he placed the book "Anglican Hymns Old and New" on each chair. Surely, we wouldn't be singing? I was the only one there! He then put some music on the stereo and my discomfort grew. But when Lt. Colonel Steve saw that no one else would be coming, he pulled up a chair for a chat instead. Saved!

"Sometimes I get a big crowd, and others there is nobody. I can't take it personally." I asked about his largest group and he said he once had 20 people whose flight had been delayed. Flight delays are good business for the Airport Chapel.

The chapel is hidden and services are found by prior knowledge, divine intervention, or through the announcements. Lt. Colonel Steve explained that announcements should be made both 30 minutes and 15 minutes before each service. The problem, he complained, lies with the announcer, who sometimes forgets or speaks in a garbled accent. "The system is fraught with problems."

More here-

Women's ordination: not all consequences were positive

From Episcopal Life Online-

It is interesting to me, as a theologically educated lay woman and a former lay woman church worker, that the observations of the 35th anniversary of women's ordination (see Episcopal Life Online story here) are positive. There was nothing from the critics of the action and, while there was acknowledgement that much remained to be done, nothing to suggest that not all the consequences of 1974 and 1976 were positive.
There were few of my church worker colleagues who wished to be ordained, once it became possible, not because they didn't approve of women priests, but because we felt secure in our own vocation as theologically educated lay professionals. What we found offensive was the complete lack of respect for our own work and vocation on the part of the women who sought ordination and were committed to their own vocations as ordained ministers. Moreover, once ordination became available for women, most of us were no longer able to work in the church. The church's clericalism saw to that.

Many of us felt pushed aside, unappreciated, and -- to bring it all home -- we had to scramble to find jobs in other sectors or had to fight to find paid work in the church and other ways to continue to express our own vocational calls in ministry. More than a few left the church altogether and even more were embittered or close to despair.

Years after all these events, I learned about a woman who had graduated from my training school (St. Margaret's House, Berkeley, California) a number of years before me, and I invited her to speak at a seminary class on the history of women in the church. She refused at first, saying that that whole chapter in her life was so painful, she didn't want to re-open it. She added, "No one would be interested anyway and I couldn't bear to go through that again." I prevailed, however, and she was warmly received in what I hope was a healing experience for her.

More here-

Good stuff in TEC: Utah

Soup kitchen gets new home

After operating out of a parking lot through the hottest part of the St. George summer, volunteers with the Community Soup Kitchen in St. George were ecstatic to be back indoors Monday, serving lunch for the first time at Grace Episcopal Church.

The soup kitchen, a charitable group staffed by volunteers from multiple churches and other organizations, serves an average of 100 free meals twice each week to the city's larger-than-ever population of people in need.

Moving from the 110-degree blacktop to the air-conditioned church building makes a big difference, said Georgina Lopez and Maria Rose, two of the people who enjoyed a hot lunch Monday.

"It's much better," Rosa said. "Not too hot."

Willie William, a construction worker who has found jobs scarce in the difficult local economy, said he started visiting the kitchen several months ago and has seen it benefit a large number of locals of all ages.

"Right now, especially, there's a lot of people struggling," he said.

The soup kitchen had operated out of the social hall at St. George Catholic Church for years, but with the building undergoing renovations, volunteers found themselves left outside in the parking lot in June. Still, volunteers said the good deed should continue, and they started serving sandwiches under whatever shade trees they could find.

More here-

Does Evangelical Lutheran vote on gay clergy, affect you?

From USA Today-

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's vote to accept actively gay ministers, approved at their governing meeting last week along with a wide-embracing social statement on sexuality, is ricocheting around the blogo/Twito-spheres. The reaction runs from cheers to anguish.

Rev. Al Mohler, the Southern Baptist theologian, sees woe, if not brimstone, ahead for the ELCA for establishing one umbrella over those who see homosexual behavior as unrepentant sin and those who see it as another expression of love and acceptable in ministry (if people are in monogamous relationships.

... The claim that a church can both condemn and bless homosexual relationships with equal faithfulness falls false on its face. Worst of all, it sows a disastrously deadly confusion about the nature of sin -- a confusion that subverts the Gospel and brings eternal consequences. Should homosexuals repent of their sin, or come to the church for the blessing of their homosexual unions? There can be no multiple-choice answer to that question ... Woe unto those who cloak such decisions with the disguise of faithfulness.

More here-

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lutherans should avoid Episcopalians’ schism over homosexuality

From "Every Day Christian"-

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) made front page news over the weekend sanctioning, by a wide margin, gay and lesbian clergy involved in long-term relationships to serve.

Another vote at the national ELCA conference in Minneapolis is what undoubtedly gives Lutherans a necessary pause.

The body approved a social statement pledging greater recognition of gays and lesbians within the church community by one vote. By church bylaws, the statement had to pass with a two-thirds majority. It received 66.67 percent support and paved the way for the clergy vote.

Certainly division and discord exists over extending more rights to gays and lesbians. The crucial steps moving forward will be for the denomination to let cool heads prevail and avert the civil war underway in the American Episcopal Church and worldwide Anglicanism.

Starting with the ordination of openly gay New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, the Episcopal Church has become a fractured and contentious body. Earlier this summer the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America officially became a breakaway sect, launching a blatant opposition to the Episcopal Church’s loosening of views on gay clergy and gay rights.

At its convention this summer the Episcopal Church ended its self-imposed moratorium on consecrating gay bishops. Within days, dioceses in California and Minnesota accepted nominations of gay bishops to fill vacant spots.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also recently announced the development of a “twin-track” structure whereby churches which don’t conform to traditional Anglican views - including on homosexuality - could be downgraded to “associate” status. This would essentially strip them of decision-making ability within the worldwide body.

Lutherans have their work cut out for them.

Their ability to reconcile differences of opinion will be essential to their survival as a denomination in its current form. If they are successful in being able to agree to disagree and still keep relative unity, they could provide an important blueprint for other Protestant denominations that will almost certainly face similar challenges in coming years as the rights homosexuals seek in society at large is played out in the church.

Anaheim Statement Continues to Gain Supporters

From The Living Church-

The Anaheim Statement endorsed by 34 bishops at the close of the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., has added two more bishops to its list of supporters.

The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia, have endorsed the letter affirming their loyalty to the Anglican Communion in the wake of the adoption of resolutions C056 and D025 ending the moratoria forbidding the consecration of partnered gay clergy as bishops and the authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

However, Bishop Jenkins also was one of the bishops who voted against D025 but in favor of C056. He later said he voted for C056 because his colleagues had responded well to his plea for graciousness. “I felt I was honor-bound to vote for it because these bishops had done what I had asked them to do," he said. " I felt that the process was a ray of hope for The Episcopal Church.”

In a series of letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion written at the close of General Convention, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson have disputed the characterization of the adoption of the two resolutions as having ended the moratoria or a “walking apart” by the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion.

Speaking to the media on July 18 Bishop Jefferts Schori stated the votes were a “truthful attempt to deepen relationships” with the wider Anglican Communion. She added that “in 2009” there are “more and deeper relationships with parts of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion than five or 10 years ago.”

Overseas Anglicans, however, have so far not been persuaded by the Presiding Bishop’s explanation. On July 27, Archbishop of Canterbury released his reflections on the General Convention, voicing a sharply critical view of the votes. Archbishop Williams also took note of the Anaheim Statement, noting that a “significant minority of bishops” had “clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion” on the issues of human sexuality and the moratoria.

More here-

More than 200 mourn loss of Ando, Ligonier Township's former K-9

From The Tribune review-

A German shepherd named Lord was there, sitting silently next to his trainer/partner, Officer Frank Marks of the Bethel Park Police department.

He was joined in Ligonier Sunday by McKeesport's Diesel, Fox Chapel's Havoc, and Forest Hills' Loki — all Belgian Malinois breeds — and fellow German shepherd Wando of Jeannette to pay tribute to Ando, their fallen comrade and former Ligonier Township K-9 officer.

"All of these dogs trained together with Ando every Wednesday," said McKeesport Police Sgt. Tim Bliss, who conducts the weekly sessions.

Ando, a German shepherd who joined the township department 2002, was diagnosed July 16 with hemangiosarcoma, a highly malignant canine cancer that attacks the blood vessels. The disease forced him to end a highly regarded crime-fighting career when he retired on July 25. Ando was euthanized Tuesday after a roughly one-month battle with the disease.

"I told them the story before we came, and they listened," said Unity resident Mary Louise Biz of her own German shepherds, Jazz and Monte.

Roughly 200 of Ando's family, friends and fellow canines gathered under an overcast sky yesterday at the Diamond in Ligonier to pay their last respects.

"I'm reminded of the movie 'All Dogs Go to Heaven.' Well, I don't know if all dogs go to heaven, but I know this one did," said the Rev. Dr. James B. Simons, officiate of the 30-minute service held at the Diamond gazebo, as the sun broke through the clouds.

More here-

City requirements hold up offer to restore and move old church in San Pedro

From the LA Times-

Donald Scott spent much of his youth attending services at old St. Peter's Episcopal Church, which now sits in the Harbor View Memorial Cemetery in San Pedro.

So it saddens him that the tiny, white wood-shingled building constructed 125 years ago and deemed a historical landmark would end up in the condition it is now. The church, which has been locked for more than 20 years, long ago fell into disrepair and has become a target for vandals.

"I hate to go into this church," said Scott, 78, whose two older sisters are buried on the cemetery grounds. "I spent the first 30 years of my life here. It's painful to go inside."

Scott and others are hoping the building can be saved.

Green Hills Memorial Park in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes offered to rescue the deteriorating church more than a year ago, volunteering to spend $300,000 to move the building onto its property on Western Avenue. It would be restored and reopened as a chapel for funerals, weddings and other services.

But the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources has informed Green Hills that it must work with a city-appointed architect to refurbish the old church, and also submit to annual inspections to ensure the building is properly maintained.

The city's demands have upset Green Hills officials, who have stalled the project amid concerns about increasing costs. They point out that the church has been the property of the city of Los Angeles for decades and that it has failed to keep up the building.

More here-,0,7335378.story

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Triple play seals win for Phillies

15th time in the history of major league baseball. Second time it ended a game. Maybe a walk-off triple play? - (Old picture. I'll try and find a video)

For you soccer fans out there an unassisted triple play is when one fielder gets all three outs on a single batted ball.

Eric Bruntlett turned an unassisted triple play in the bottom of the ninth inning today to seal the Phillies' 9-7 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

With runners on first and second, Bruntlett caught a line drive hit by Jeff Francoeur. He touched second base to double off Luis Castillo and then tagged Donnie Murphy who was running from first to second. Both Castillo and Murphy were attempting to steal on the play.

Bruntlett played second for Chase Utley, who was given the day off. Bruntlett, who has struggled at the plate all season, had three hits and scored a run.

The Phillies got off to a quick start with six runs in the top of the first on three-run homers by Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz. Pedro Martinez gave up four runs over six innings and improved to 2-0.

According to, Bruntlett is the 15th Major Leaguer to turn an unassisted triple play and the second Phillie. Mickey Morandini did it against the Pirates in 1992. Like Bruntlett, Morandini caught a liner, touched second and tagged the runner going from first to second.

here's the video

Apostrophe warrior Stefan Gatward's mission to correct our wayward grammar

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

He has been called a vandal, a graffiti artist and a pedant.
Even his admirers admit he is "a bit of an old codger". But Stefan Gatward – accountant, former private in the Gordon Highlanders and now Anglican day chaplain – remains unrepentant.

Known as The Apostrophe Man of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Mr Gatward shot to fame last week after taking the law (or at least a bylaw) into his own hands by adding a missing apostrophe to the street signs on his road.

St Johns Close became St John's Close and overnight Mr Gatward gained respect and derision in equal measure. While many of his neighbours congratulated him on his stand, the apostrophe was scratched off three days later.

Fearful of an appearance at a magistrate's court – or should that be magistrates' court? – Mr Gatward decided not to paint in the apostrophe again.

However, determined to halt the slide of the Queen's English into what he regards as a babel of Americanisms and street slang, he has instead embarked on a tour of the spa town in order to point out the grammatical howlers which besmirch its street signs.

After all, service in one of Britain's finest regiments and a career balancing books and ledgers have taught him a thing or two about accuracy, order and clarity and it is a lesson he remains determined to share with the rest of us.

"It's the cavalier attitude to language I can't abide," he said as we set off.
Within a half-square mile radius of his home Mr Gatward spotted half a dozen misplaced or missing apostrophes.

Stephen's Road appeared correctly in a pre-Second World War sign while in the modern sign on the opposite side of the street the apostrophe had been omitted to read Stephens Road.

More here-

Local Episcopalians petition to put Waubun priest on bishop ballot

From Minnesota-

A small Episcopal church – so tiny it had to merge with a Presbyterian church to survive – has offered one of its own priests to be the next bishop of Minnesota.

Doyle Turner of Waubun was nominated by a petition circulated by members of Trinity Church - Episcopal and Presbyterian of Park Rapids. Petitioners actually drove the papers to the diocese offices in Minneapolis Aug. 14, the last day to submit petitions.

The petitioners solicited funds to help finance the drive. Typical of his unpresuming nature, Turner thanked parishioners for their support, but told them to keep their donations modest.

“The church needs a rural voice,” he said in accepting their support.

Candidates for the 9th Episcopal bishop of Minnesota will undergo background checks and be formally announced Sept. 25. Three candidates gave already been solicited by the diocese search committee, but the process allows for public petitions for nominations such as Turner’s.

More here-

Episcopal priest in Dallas accused of misconduct as stockbroker

From the Dallas Morning News-

On weekdays he worked as a stockbroker.

On Sundays he served as an Episcopal priest.

But the lines got blurred, and now both of the Rev. William Warnky's careers are in jeopardy.

Securities regulators suspended the Dallas man's registration as a broker last week. They said he had defrauded a former client and disregarded an order to repay him $50,000.

At least one other former client has accused Warnky of financial misconduct and is also seeking a repayment order, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records.

Dallas Episcopal Diocese leaders are now studying whether to suspend the priest from ministry, a top church official said Friday.

"He's innocent until proven guilty," said Bishop Suffragan Paul Lambert, the diocese's No. 2 official.

But he also noted that one of Warnky's accusers was a member of his congregation. And the diocese, he added, tells clergy not to become financially involved with parishioners.

"We have some very clear rules," Lambert said.

Warnky did not respond to an interview request left Friday with a staffer at his Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, a few blocks south of White Rock Lake. She said he was out of town, visiting his terminally ill mother.

More here-

US Lutheran split over gay clergy

From The BBC

Traditionalist US Lutherans have warned they might leave to form another denomination after their Church voted to allow gay people to act as pastors.

Delegates voted on Friday to allow people in life-long monogamous gay relationships to become ministers.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Ecla) is one of the largest to open the role to gay men and women.

The decision comes a month after the Anglican Church in the US voted to allow the ordination of gay bishops.

Delegates in tears

Two-thirds of delegates voted in favour of the change at the Lutheran Church's national assembly in Minneapolis on Friday.

It followed impassioned argument about whether or not the Bible forbids active homosexuality, and left a number of delegates in tears.

Some traditionalist clergy told the assembly they would leave the Church, and predicted an outflow of Lutherans to join other churches or create their own denomination.

More here-