Friday, September 18, 2009

Dueling interpretations on incremental ruling in Fort Worth Episcopal case

From The Dallas Morning News-

A very preliminary ruling has been handed down in the lawsuit between the two entities that describe themselves as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. One, led by Bishop Jack Iker, withdrew from the Episcopal Church and aligned with a more conservative, Argentina-based province of the Anglican Communion. The other remains loyal to the Episcopal Church, and is led by Bishop Ted Gulick. The lawsuit is over church properties and other assets.

For the Iker-led group's take on the ruling, click here. (You'll need to look to the right on the Web page to get the relevant links.)

For the Gulick-led group's take, click here.

Have to go to the article for the links to work

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Former Liberian refugee takes up a 'first' mantle

From Tampa-

History was made this week when the Rev. Ernestein Flemister, 57, took over as rector at the St. James House of Prayer in Tampa.

She is the first black female priest to serve in the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, which extends from Marco Island to Brooksville.

Flemister, a widow with two grown sons, came to this country in 1980 as a refugee, fleeing her native Liberia after her brother and many friends were killed in the country's civil war.

With degrees and work experience in business and law, she answered her spiritual calling later in life, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, also an Episcopal priest. Prior to coming to Tampa, she served a parish in Cincinnati.

At 9 a.m. Sunday, she'll celebrate her first service at St. James House of Prayer, 2708 N. Central Ave. Earlier this week, she shared her thoughts about life and her new role.

More here-

WEST VIRGINIA: Bishop plans to jump off bridge -- to raise money

Episcopal Life-

Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia Bishop W. Michie Klusmeyer will strap on a harness October 17 and slide 700 feet down a zip line to raise money for the Church Periodical Club (CPC).
The CPC provides free books, tapes and magazines for seminarians and others by way of national and international projects with Episcopal Church connections including at the Women's Prison in Alderson, West Virginia, and the Highland Educational Project in the state's McDowell County.

The bishop's fundraising ride will be part of the 2009 Bridge Day festivities in Fayetteville, West Virginia. Bridge Day was first celebrated in 1980 to commemorate the completion of the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville. It is the largest extreme sport event and the largest gathering of BASE (buildings, antennae, spans and earth) jumpers in the United States. It features more than 300 BASE jumpers, hundreds of rappellers, and more than 100,000 spectators.

This will be Klusmeyer's fourth Bishop's Slide to raise money for outreach programs in the diocese. His goal is to raise $15,000 for CPC from sponsors in and outside of the diocese, and to draw attention to CPC.

More here-

Smaller triennial budget requires new ways of working

From Episcopal News Service-

Employees of the Episcopal Church Center suggested this week that project- and team-based work with greater collaboration and better communication, all aided by increased use of technology, will help them serve the church with a smaller budget and fewer colleagues.

General Convention's decision to approve a 2010-2012 budget in July that is $23 million smaller than the current triennial plan prompted the need to rethink the work of church center staff. The $141-million budget will mean that approximately 40 staff positions out of 192 in the Episcopal Church's New York and regional offices will be eliminated.

The program staff of the church center gathered at the New York office in various groups September 14-16 to consider the impact of the cuts.

On September 15 Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori told the entire staff that "the depth of the financial situation caught us all off guard -- all of us."

The day before, she had acknowledged to the program staff that the cuts may have felt like "slash-and-burn agriculture."

"It's a pretty crude way of preparing the soil, but it does result in the ability to plant seeds and to see things emerge and be fruitful," she said. "Our task right now is to take this prepared ground and make sure that the seeds bear fruit. We live in a spirit that says there's always hope for that fruit. We know it. We've seen it. We've seen it, we've seen it for years and years and years. Each and every one of us has seen it and has been part of it. Our task is to work for the harvest."

Rectors Strive to be ‘Theologically Serious’ Voice

From The Living Church-

Two members of the Communion Partners rectors advisory committee say the group is striving to be an irenic voice as the Episcopal Church discusses the Anglican Communion’s proposed covenant.

“We aim to be constructive in relationships between orthodox clergy and their bishops whose theology may not be the same,” said the Rev. Leigh Spruill, rector of St. George’s Church, Nashville.

Communion Partners has begun filling the void left by congregations and dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network, but it is cautious about becoming another political force within the Episcopal Church.

“We’re trying to find a better way than the political structures that have arisen in response to volatile issues,” said the Rt. Rev. Anthony Burton, former bishop of Saskatchewan and rector of Church of the Incarnation, Dallas.

Both rectors believe the group’s most recent statement, released on Sept. 11, reinforces its stated mission of being “an important sign of our connectedness in and vision for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.”

“It’s a hand waving across the seas, signaling that we want to remain faithful to the Anglican Communion,” Fr. Spruill said.

“Anglicanism is undergoing what is potentially an exciting evolution in its polity,” Bishop Burton said. “It is finding itself led to become a genuinely global church. I think we need to tend, carefully and together, to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

Bishop Burton became affiliated with the embryonic stages of Communion Partners in September 2006, when he joined more than 20 other bishops for a meeting at the Camp Allen Conference Center in Navasota, Texas. Most of those bishops helped form Communion Partners, and more than 70 rectors have since signed on as well.

“It’s a theologically serious voice, it’s a tolerant voice, and it’s one that seeks to be accountable to others,” Bishop Burton said. “Ecumenically, it’s important to send a loud and clear signal that Episcopalians are both humble and responsible, and we don’t have any doctrine of manifest destiny.”

Archbishops criticise City for lack of Christian values

From the London Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, told bankers to repent over their mistakes, as he fears the City is getting back to "business as normal".

"There hasn't been what I would, as a Christian, call repentance," the Archbishop told the BBC. "We haven't heard people saying 'well actually, no, we got it wrong and the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, was empty'."

He also warned the gap between rich and poor would lead to a "dysfunctional" society and that "economics is too important to be left to economists". Dr Williams also said he believed the government should act to cap bonus payments.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, added to the criticism. He said that the fallout from the crisis could put morality back at the centre of public life.

In a speech to members of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, Dr Morgan said he believes global recession may have caused sentiment to turn.

He called for the church to ask congregations to force morality back on the agenda. The Archbishop argued that communities and trust in public institutions had been damaged by policies focusing on market forces.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Michigan

Small idea, big impact - nearly a ton of produce for charity

The summer harvest brought in by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Brighton goes well beyond picking cucumbers from the vine.

What started as an idea for a small garden in front of the church has turned into an incredibly successful organic garden. In one summer, the church garden, which sits on a 25-acre plot at the Emerich Retreat Center on Teahan Road in Hamburg Township, has harvested 1,700 pounds of produce for Gleaners Community Food Bank.

“One of the goals of the (Episcopal) Diocese of Michigan is to eradicate hunger and promote healthy eating,” the Rev. Deon Johnson of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church said. “Literally, I said, I want a small garden to start.” he joked.

What was supposed to be a small garden is having a major impact on the community.

More than 70 volunteers have helped plant and pick produce at the farm. Businesses, local residents and parishioners have donated more than $5,000 to get the garden growing.

More here-

Lawrence C. Provenzano to be ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church September 19 at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts

From Long Island-

The Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, 54, of Longmeadow, Mass ., will be ordained a bishop by the Episcopal Church on September 19 at 11 a.m. in a two hour service at the C.W. Post Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Brookville, N.Y. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA will be the chief consecrator; with 20 bishops from across the country participating in the "laying on of hands" that marks the consecration of a bishop.

Father Provenzano will serve as bishop coadjutor in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, with headquarters in Garden City, and become head of the diocese in November when the incumbent diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Orris G. Walker, Jr ., retires after 21 years at the diocese.

More than 2,000 are expected to attend the ordination service, which will be part of a Holy Communion liturgy or mass. This will be the first mass celebrated by Provenzano as bishop. The preacher will be the Rev. Mpho Tutu, Founder of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, Alexandria, Va ., and daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

More here-

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saint's remains arrive for tour

From The BBC-

The remains of St Therese of Lisieux have arrived for their first visit to England and Wales.

She was described by Pope Pius X as "the greatest saint of modern times".
A casket containing bones from her thigh and foot will visit 28 sites in England and Wales, including Anglican York Minster and a London jail.

St Therese, a French Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis in 1897 aged 24, came to wider attention after her autobiography was published.

The Roman Catholic Church says the relics - which have been credited with promoting healing and reconciliation - are likely to draw huge crowds during their month-long tour.
St Therese said she intended to use her time in heaven to do good on Earth, and she was considered to be an effective bridge to God.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said that people prayed to her, assuming her to be in heaven, and in many cases felt their prayers had been answered.

Her remains were taken to Baghdad seven years ago in the hope of averting the Iraq conflict, and part of the relics have been sent into orbit around the Earth.

More here-

Diocese of New York Special Committee on the Diocesan Budget Process and Assessment Report September

From The Diocese of New York-

The Special Committee on the Diocesan Budget Process and Assessment was
appointed by Bishop Sisk in January 2009 to examine the entire Diocesan budget and
assessment process to determine what changes of a fundamental nature might be required in
view of the present financial situation.

Based on questionnaires we received from parishes and visits with the leadership of
parishes, we found that the Diocesan leadership is highly regarded, but we found a lack of
understanding of what the Diocese does and how it spends money.

Many parishes are affected by significant declines in the market value of their
endowments, and there is concern about future plate and pledge income. Some parishes
have been forced to make significant reductions in staff, eliminate valued programs and
reduce pay (either on a percentage basis or by mandated unpaid furloughs). There is
concern that 2010 may be worse than 2009. We would describe the attitude of most
parishes as “Positive, but concerned.”

We found a general feeling that the assessment formula imposes too large a burden
on parishes and that the top bracket rate of 25% is too high, penalizing growth.
The Adjustment Board is authorized by the Canons to adjust a parish’s assessment.
It operates under guidelines approved by the Trustees, which allow it to act on a year’s
assessment only after the year has ended.

We also reviewed the Diocesan financial reports. In response to the economic crisis,
the Diocese has significantly reduced its expenses. However, as of June 30, 2009, there were
$2.5 million of unpaid assessments relating to years prior to 2007, $662,000 relating to 2007
and $1.8 million relating to 2008, and parishes had paid only 67% of what was owed for the
first two quarters of 2009. As of June 30, 2009, out of 148 parishes with assessments, 71
parishes (48%) have paid their full assessment installments through June 30, while another
34 (23%) have paid reduced amounts. All but one of the 51 CSP parishes are paying their
contributions. This leaves 43 parishes that had not yet made any contribution to the 2009
Diocesan budget.

The 35 page report can be found here-

Canadian and African theologians correspond about sexuality

From The Anglican Church in Canada-

In a kind of high-level pen pal relationship, theologians from six African dioceses are now exchanging essays about sexuality with theologians from four Canadian dioceses. Dr. Kawuki (Isaac) Mukasa, General Synod's coordinator for dialogue, paired up dioceses during two trips to Africa, including visits to South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda from July 31 to Aug. 21.

Mr. Mukasa, a native Ugandan, considers this work essential to improving communication within the Anglican Communion, which is divided over the place of gays and lesbians in the church.

In Canada, the dioceses of Niagara and New Westminster have agreed to bless same-sex unions, and several other Canadian dioceses are considering following suit. Most African Anglican churches are conservative on the issue.

In his journeys, Mr. Mukasa has noted much miscommunication about mission between different parts of the Anglican Communion. He said he often explains to African clergy that the Anglican Church of Canada is involved in other areas of mission beyond sexuality, including church planting and youth ministry.

"When these dioceses are talking directly to each other [in these theological dialogues] they seem to be much more civil than say when one bishop is trying to respond to what they perceive to be going on in North America," he said.

Mr. Mukasa said that the established conversations "have been going well." He is encouraged that several theologians are now discussing broader areas of mission. It was also an honour for him to be named a canon of the cathedral in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

More here-

Bankers Failed to Repent for Collapse, Anglican Leader Says

From Bloomberg-

Bankers have failed to repent for their roles in the global financial collapse, said the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican Church.

“There hasn’t been a feeling of closure about what happened last year -- there hasn’t been what I as a Christian would call repentance,” Williams said in a British Broadcasting Corp. interview yesterday. “We haven’t heard people saying, ‘Actually, no, we got it wrong, and the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, was empty.’ ”

Williams is the most senior cleric in the church, which has 80 million members in 164 countries. He has called for stricter financial regulations and caps on bonuses for bankers.

The bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. a year ago helped to trigger the biggest worldwide financial crisis since the 1930s. Banks worldwide have recorded more than $1.6 trillion of losses and writedowns since the start of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Since then, economies in the U.S. and Europe have begun to improve, and banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. have reported rising profit.

Williams said the church “colluded” in the financial markets because it was “intimidated by expertise.”

Return Shrinks

The church oversaw assets worth more than 4.4 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) at the end of 2008, including stocks, bonds and real estate, according to its annual report. The Church Commissioners, which manage the endowment, made a return of 5.7 percent in 2008, the lowest in at least 10 years.

More here-

New Primate elected for the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

From Anglican Communion News-

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has elected Nicholas Orogodo Okoh as its fourth Primate in succession to the Most Revd Peter Akinola. The announcement was made on 15 September after an election at the Cathedral Church of Stephen, Umuahia, Abia State in which the new Archbishop secured a two-thirds majority in a four candidate contest.

Currently Archbishop of Bendel Province and Bishop of Asaba diocese, the Most Revd Nicholas Orogodo Akoh retired from the army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2001 having fought in the civil war.

He studied at Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan between 1976 and 1979, was made deacon in 1979, appointed Archdeacon in 1987 and subsequently, in1991, Archdeacon. He was elected Bishop of Asaba in 2001 and then in July 2005, Archbishop of Bendel.

Good Stuff in TEC: West Virginia

Apple dumplings for a cause

Apple is a Black Lab. Smoldering eyes and a seemingly built-in intuition offset her puppy antics. She'd still love to frolic all day and vie for the attention of the nearest playmate, but Apple is destined for more important work. Funded in part by last year's Apple Festival (hence, the pup's name) at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Morgantown, she is being trained to become a service dog for an owner who has a physical or cognitive disability.

Martha and Arden Musselman of Elverson, signed on for a year-long commitment with Canine Partners for Life to train Apple to be a service dog. To say it is a full-time job minimizes the scope of the Musselman's charge, since preparing Apple for a life of service is more like a round-the-clock job. Apple accompanies her trainers everywhere, to sharpen her socialization skills and expose her to all of the everyday situations she willexperience as a service dog. The Musselmans explained that Apple goes shopping with them, tags along to soccer games, visits museums and restaurants and puts in a full day at the office with Martha. She even vacationed with her trainers during a recent trip to Cape May. The four-month old puppy will be trained for a year, and will then be partnered with an owner who can enjoy the benefits of life with a service dog.

More here-

Clergy focus on ethics of health overhaul

From USA Today-

"God of grace and God of glory," prayed the Rev. Cynthia Hale during a national conference call Aug. 19 on health care reform, "... We believe that it is your will that every man, woman, boy and girl receive quality health care in America."
On that point, no religious leader would contest Hale, pastor at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga., who prayed at the kickoff of an effort by the faith community to mobilize religious support for President Obama's health care reform plan.

When it comes to specifics, however, there is little broad-based agreement.

From the pulpits and through public statements, religious leaders have been weighing in on various elements of what they say is a crucial moral issue. Catholic bishops have lobbied against possible inclusion of abortion coverage in any federal health care plan, a possibility Obama dismissed in his prime-time speech Wednesday (Sept. 9).

Episcopalians passed a resolution in July favoring a single-payer system, while some Catholic bishops in the Midwest have publicly opposed any massive government effort. Some rabbis are considering the subject for sermons during the Jewish High Holy Days, which begin Friday (Sept. 18).

More here-

CRIME HISTORY: Priest, mistress found slain in lover's lane

On this day, Sept. 16, in 1922, a young couple in New Jersey discovered the slain bodies of an Episcopal priest and a member of his choir with whom he was having an affair.

The suspected killers were the priest's wife and her brothers in what became known as the Hall-Mills case.

The victims, Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills, were both shot in the head with a .32-caliber pistol. Her tongue had been cut out. Their bodies had been placed under a crabapple tree, positioned side by side with torn-up love letters placed between their bodies.

The case against Frances Noel Stevens Hall and her brothers fell apart during the month long trial when the key witness changed her story each time she told it, and the three were acquitted.
The Hall-Mills case has been extensively written about, and it has also been speculated that parts of the ending of "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald were based on the murder. - Scott McCabe

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

House of Deputies president calls for attention to church's governance

From Episcopal Life Online-

Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, plans to appoint a committee on church governance and polity "to examine and explain the history, theology, political structure and practical realities of the ways in which we believe God calls us to govern the [Episcopal] Church."

In a September 14 letter to General Convention deputies and first alternative deputies, Anderson said that after the July 8-17 General Convention meeting "it makes little sense to speak of governance and mission as two different things."

"Our church is able to enlist the energy and talent of every member in building God's kingdom precisely because we make room for the Spirit-seeking wisdom of all orders of ministry in the governance of our church," she said.

Anderson, who was re-elected to a second three-year term during the 76th meeting of convention, also placed the need for such a study group in the context of two other issues. One is the expectation that the Episcopal Church will have to consider an Anglican covenant once a final text is released to the Anglican Communion's 38 member provinces. The second is the effect of budget cuts on the work of the church's committees, commissions, agencies and board (CCABs).

The Anglican Consultative Council in May postponed releasing the Ridley Cambridge draft of the covenant to the communion's provinces for consideration. The council asked that the draft's Section 4, which contains a dispute-resolution process, be given more scrutiny and possibly revised.

A small working group is reviewing Section 4. The members, all of whom served on the original Covenant Design Group, have called for provincial responses by November 13, 2009. The working group will meet November 20-21 in London and report to the Standing Committee meeting December 15-18. (The Standing Committee is a group of elected representatives of the ACC and the Primates Meeting).

More here-

Signs, signs every where signs: 23

I'm assuming this is a rhetorical question.

Bishop Andrus Has Prostate Cancer

From The Living Church- (For what its worth, I wouldn't recomend Googeling for prostate cancer images)

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California since 2006, will undergo prostate-cancer surgery on Sept. 28. The bishop disclosed his condition in a brief post on his weblog on Monday.

This is a “common cancer, caught at an early, low-grade stage,” the bishop wrote.

The bishop expressed his gratitude for receiving messages of concern.

“I've been getting telephone calls, handwritten notes, and emails from people who, in addition to assuring me of their love and prayers, have become heartbreakingly, beautifully vulnerable by telling me their own stories,” Bishop Andrus wrote. “I realized how costly the recounting of these stories was, how it was bringing back all the fear, and in some cases the loss associated with the different diseases faced. They did this out of love for me. In this I learned a new way to understand and define prayer, and I thought, here is my daily bread, produced out of suffering and pain, and transmuted by these human bearers of Christ into something life-giving.”

A letter From Bonnie Anderson

Sept. 14, 2009

Dear Deputies and First Alternates,

It has been two months since I brought the gavel down to close the House of Deputies at the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, but the remarkable spirit of those ten days has stayed with me. During our time together in the House of Deputies, we worshipped and prayed, shared some very deep feelings about the controversial issues that confront our Church, learned new skills through the Public Narrative Project, and acted on an extensive legislative agenda that will shape our Church for decades to come. Watching the sensitive, respectful way that deputies went about their business, observing the efficient committee work, and listening to the well-informed debate made me appreciate once again the wisdom of our founders, who determined that all orders of ministry should share in the governance of our Church.

We are living in difficult times, but the members of the House of Deputies have indicated that they are ready to make even stronger commitments to the work of God's church. It is my hope that we can bring this new energy to bear on a new set of challenges. During this triennium, we must do more with less. We must determine how our interim bodies,the Commissions, Committees Agencies and Boards on which clergy and lay people have extensive representation, can continue to play a vital role in the governance of the Church. We must create ways to continue essential mission initiatives, even without the Church Center offices that once sustained this work. And we must begin to formulate our response to the Anglican Covenant once the final draft becomes available.

For my own part, I would like to begin the new triennium with three announcements:

1. In response to our financial situation, I have decided to reduce the size of my Council of Advice from 14 members to 8. Each member of the council will have a specific portfolio or project and will be supported by his or her own network of informal advisors whom I will call upon from time to time as the need arises. I believe this is the most cost-effective way for me to remain well-informed and advised.

2. This week I am sending letters to various lay and clergy leaders throughout the Church inviting them to serve on the Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards that play an essential role in the governance of the Church. In extending these invitations I paid special attention to balancing the new energy and insights of an emerging cohort of lay and clergy leaders with the experience and institutional memory of veteran deputies. Once the invitees have responded and rosters are complete, they will be posted on the General Convention Office Web site.

3. Circumstances including our impending consideration of the Anglican Covenant and the need to sustain the work of our CCABs in the face of reduced budgets suggest a need to speak clearly and convincingly about the distinctive way in which authority is exercised in our Church. To that end, I am appointing the House of Deputies Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity to examine and explain the history, theology, political structure and practical realities of the ways in which we believe God calls us to govern the Church. This group, whose membership I will announce shortly, may also make recommendations to the next General Convention on strengthening our self-understanding.

After this General Convention, I am more convinced than ever that it makes little sense to speak of governance and mission as two different things. Our Church is able to enlist the energy and talent of every member in building God's Kingdom precisely because we make room for the Spirit-seeking wisdom of all orders of ministry in the governance of our Church. The relationship is symbiotic, it is a relationship of UBUNTU. I urge you to remember that deputies are deputies even when General Convention is not in session. Please remain involved in the life of your congregation and your diocese, and don't hesitate to inform me of any developments you find significant. I am always available to you at Soon I will reactivate the HOD communications tool in the form of the deputy online forum that served us so well prior to General Convention. We will use it as a place for us to share information and opinions about matters pertaining to our work together as the House of Deputies on behalf of the Church.

As always, you are encouraged to share this communication with all the alternates of your deputation and other people of your diocese and beyond.

Thank you again for your participation in an inspiring General Convention.


Bonnie Anderson, D.D., President
The House of Deputies

Bishop blames city riots on tribalism

From New Vision-

OUTGOING Anglican Bishop of the Northern Uganda Diocese Rev. Nelson Onono-Onweng has said the biggest problem dividing Ugandans is tribal differences.

He said: “The three-day rioting around Kampala district was a result of ethnic sentiments.” “If these sentiments are not resolved, more inter-ethnic violence is likely to continue,” Onono-Onweng added.

He asked the Government to quickly investigate such differences to avoid violence that destroys property and lives.

Onono-Onweng made the appeal during a service to confirm 175 Christians and convert four others from the Catholic Church to the Anglican community.

This was at Christ Church Urban Archdeaconry in Gulu on Saturday. He asked children to respect their parents, guardians and elders in the community.

This was the last official pastoral work conducted by the bishop as he hands over to his successor, Rev. Johnson Gakumba. Gakumba’s consecration ceremony will be attended by President Yoweri Museveni at St. Philip Cathedral, Mican in Gulu on December 20.

Onono-Onweng asked Christians to have a good relationship with God to strengthen their faith and love for one another. “If you want to have better life, develop good relationships with your friends and family, and treat everyone equally.” Onono added.

Number of female senior pastors in Protestant churches doubles in past decade

From Church Executive-

After decades of no growth in the ranks of female senior pastors serving in Protestant churches, a new Barna study that has tracked the ratio of male-to-female pastors indicates that women have made substantial gains in the past ten years.

From the early 1990s through 1999 just 5% of the Senior Pastors of Protestant churches were female. Since that time the proportion has slowly but steadily risen, doubling to 10% in 2009.

Not surprisingly, a large share of the woman in the pastorate – 58% – are affiliated with a “mainline” church – i.e., a congregation that is aligned with denominations such as American Baptist Churches (ABCUSA), United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Methodist or Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA). Among male pastors, less than half that percentage (23%) is affiliated with a mainline ministry.

Other Pastoral Characteristics

The survey also revealed that the median age of female pastors has risen during the last ten years, from 50 years of age to the current median of 55. In contrast, the median age of male senior pastors has also risen, from 48 to 52.

Women in the pulpit are generally more highly educated than are their male counterparts. Currently, more than three-quarters of female pastors (77%) have a seminary degree. Among male pastors less than two-thirds (63%) can make that same claim.

More here-

Country’s top Episcopal bishop speaks at church

From Williamsport PA-

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and 16 other countries expressed support for efforts to ensure health care is available for everyone in this country during a visit Sunday to Trinity Episcopal Church in the city.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori acknowledged during her sermon that some parishioners have been critical of the support among church leaders for health care reform.

She said one church member wrote, "I go to church to feel safe, not to hear about politics."

But Schori suggested the Christian faith is about more than a life "without dread of disaster." It's also about continuing - even in the face of hostility - "to show others that we love them."

According to the bishop, "in this country, politics is how we change dysfunctional systems," and addressing issues such as national health care are appropriate for church members and and leaders.

"Taking up our cross is not always sweetness and light," she said, and the church's mission is to show how "God (can) bring new light out of the worst that the world can dig up."

In an interview after the service, Schori said Episcopalians "celebrate a diversity of opinion within the church" and their leaders traditionally have expressed opinions - among them that the death penalty is immoral.

"We believe that health care is a basic human right," she added. "He (Jesus) heals people."

More here-

Monday, September 14, 2009

Statement of the Communion Partner Bishops

From The Living Church-

A report of the meeting of the Bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009:

As seven representatives of the Communion Partner bishops, we are grateful to have met with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss our concern in light of the recent actions of General Convention and the subsequent episcopal nominations of candidates "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion" (General Convention 2006, Resolution B033).

At this meeting we expressed our appreciation for his post-Convention reflections, "Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future," and were especially interested in his statement about whether "elements" in provinces not favorably disposed to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant "will be free ... to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with parts of the Communion."

Given our commitment to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, we are encouraged by our meeting with the Archbishop. We agree with him that our present situation is "an opportunity for clarity, renewal and deeper relation with one another -- and so also with Our Lord and his Father, in the power of the Spirit." We, too, desire to "intensify existing relationships" by becoming part of a "Covenanted" global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury. We also pray and hope that "in spite of the difficulties, this may yet be the beginning of a new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage."

We understand the divisions before us, not simply as differences of opinion on matters of human sexuality, but also about differing understandings of ecclesiology and questions regarding the independence or interdependence of a global communion of churches in discerning the mind of Christ together. However, we also shared our concern that the actions of the General Convention have essentially rejected the teaching of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the mind of the Communion, and raise a serious question whether a Covenant will be adopted by both Houses at General Convention 2012.

More here-

Easter holidays 'axed by councils'

From The Telegraph-

Research by The Daily Telegraph shows schools in a third of local authorities have already moved to a standard year – creating a fixed two-week break irrespective of the Easter weekend.

Teachers and education officials insist the system is vital to help schools’ long-term planning. They also claim the more regular holiday allows parents to plan trips and book time off work.

But religious leaders criticised the move, saying tradition was being sacrificed “for the sake of convenience”.

It comes amid fears that many secondary schools are already scrapping daily Christian assemblies because they no longer fit with the demands of the school day.

The current system, which has been in place since the 4th century, is determined by the first full moon after the spring equinox and means Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25.

Last year saw the earliest Easter since 1913 when the holiday fell on March 23. It was claimed that it played havoc with the holiday plans of many families as some schools broke up on Good Friday while others waited until April to take time off.

More here-

Bishop Erwau Walking With the Lord for Teso

More frpm Uganda-

Three decades ago at Opuyo Village in Soroti town, a 20-year-old was inspired by a voice he could not comprehend urging him to be a church preacher and he embarked on a vocation that he has since lived to love - the life of a preacher, writes Richard Otim

One Sunday in October 1973, a young George Erwau dramatically vowed to remain a servant of Jesus and preach the Gospel for the rest of his life. Now an Anglican priest, was consecrated as the third bishop of Soroti Diocese on September 6 at St Philips Cathedral.

Born to Enoch Esabu and Mary Kevin Audo 56 years ago in the small village of Acetgwen in Soroti County, the path to the helm of Episcopal hierarchy has not been a smooth one for Rev Erwau.

"It has not been easy (serving as a church minister) but I have never thought of giving up my call to priesthood," Erwau said. Recounting his life achievements since, Erwau is convinced that being chosen as the next Bishop was God's doing. But, unlike some of the affluent prelates the Anglican Church in Uganda has bred in the past, Erwau has nothing to gloat over but a humble upbringing.

More here-

Nobody should interfere with Uganda, says Museveni

Fron New Vision-

President Yoweri Museveni has said nobody should interfere with the legitimate interests of the people of Uganda.

These interests, he said, are peace, security, health, education, employment, freedom of worship and regional integration for bigger markets.

“Whatever we do is deliberate because we have dedicated our lives to the cause of Uganda and Africa. Anybody trying to divert us from this is doing us a disservice. Nobody should interfere with Uganda.”

He was speaking on Saturday at the closure of a three-day conference on reconciliation and peace, organised by the Uganda Episcopal Conference, in Hotel Africana, Kampala.

The conference brought together religious, cultural and political leaders as well as representatives of the business community.

The warning came just two days after Museveni revealed that Mengo elements had received “foreign funds” to fight the NRM and undermine the Constitution.

“We are following these reports and we shall defeat the elements involved,” he said in a recorded statement on Thursday. “The NRM fought many battles; we shall win this one also.”

Quoting from the Bible, the President on Saturday called on the clergy to join the Government in the protection of oppressed minorities.

He said justice for all would only be achieved by satisfying the legitimate interests of the people. “If anybody is pushing for illegitimate interests, you succumb and become a slave. This will be peace based on total submission of the oppressed to the oppressor.”

More here-

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Religion reporting is losing its prominence in American newspapers

From the Boston Globe-

I spent the last few days here at the 60th annual convention of the Religion Newswriters Association, which is the national organization that represents the dwindling band of us who cover religion in the media. Attendance is off this year, in part because newsroom travel budgets are down, but also because the religion beat itself is suffering a serious reversal of fortune.

When I first started covering religion for the Globe nearly a decade ago, the beat was almost trendy; newspapers were beefing up their coverage considerably, religion sections were fat, and a few newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times, had four or more religion writers.

No more. There have been reductions in the number of reporters who write about religion full time at all of the nation’s biggest newspapers, and the religion news beat has disappeared from multiple midsize and smaller papers. The surviving newspaper religion sections are getting smaller.

Debra Mason, executive director of the Religion Newswriters Association, told me she does not believe that the religion beat is being targeted, but that all specialty beats at newspapers, including the environment, health, and education, are suffering as newspapers, with shrinking budgets, allocate an increasing fraction of their diminished newsroom staffs to general assignment jobs.

What exactly this means for the future of religion coverage in the United States is unclear. The beat is not likely to disappear entirely from the mainstream media, and there is still a lot of great work being done. There is a huge amount of writing about religion in new media - blogs and other online publications - some of which break news, and some of which comment on news broken by others. But much of the online work is focused on individual faith groups and is written from a particular ideological or theological perspective, which differentiates it from traditional religion journalism. At the most recent denominational conventions I have attended, bloggers and reporters for religious publications have easily outnumbered reporters for secular publications.

More here-

Local Episcopal priest elected Georgia bishop

From the Washington Times

I probably have not met the Rev. Scott Benhase, but just today he got elected on the second ballot as the new Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Georgia. His church, St. Alban's, is next door to the Washington Cathedral.

According to Episcopal News Service, Mr. Benhase, 52, beat a field of six nominees. He received 76 votes of 146 cast in the lay order and 58 of 103 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 74 in the
lay order and 53 in the clergy order.

The election took place during the diocese's 188th annual convention at the
Dubose Porter Center, a business and training center in Dublin, Georgia. If he gets the required number of consents from 100 some domestic Episcopal dioceses (and it is very rare that a person does not), he should be consecrated this coming January.

I regret to say I am in Minneapolis right now at a conference of religion news writers so can't do much more on this but here is the ENS link where you can read more.

ElRoy Face and his signature forkball pioneered the role of closer

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a pioneer in the art of relief pitching, with his signature forkball baffling the best hitters in the National League, ElRoy Face was rewarded early for a good beginning to the 1959 season.

Before private underground parking privileges became a major league perk, players forked over a dollar a game for a space at the Esso station near Forbes Field. But the man dubbed the Baron of the Bullpen got a free ride.

"I was 2-0 or 3-0, and the owner told me I wouldn't have to pay until I lost a game," he said. "Turns out, I didn't have to pay until September."

Incredible as it may seem, the greatest season ever by a relief pitcher -- according to baseball historian Jerome Holtzman, among others -- was almost over before Mr. Face lost a game. Up until Sept. 11, he had 17 straight wins. Counting the five straight wins he had to end the 1958 season, his streak reached 22. As it was, he finished 18-1 in 1959 and put up a number no pitcher -- reliever or starter -- has matched before or since. It's the best winning percentage ever posted by anyone who had a minimum of 15 decisions.

"This all happened B.C. -- before cash," joked catcher Hank Foiles, who roomed with Mr. Face during that 1959 season.

The play on words had two meanings. The accomplishment seems like ancient history, and in the pre-expansion era, baseball was about the love of the game, not the love of the almighty dollar.

"If he had that kind of season today, you'd need a Brinks truck to pay him," Mr. Foiles deadpanned. "Twenty-two straight? Nobody's ever going to do that again."

More here-