Saturday, September 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH: Diocese may consider reuniting with neighbo

From ELO-

If its diocesan convention agrees in October, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will begin studying the possibility of reuniting with its neighbor the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Resolution 4, due to be considered during Pittsburgh's Oct. 16-17 diocesan convention, would call for a committee to study "the potential long-term impact of such reunion on the financial and administrative resources of the two dioceses." The resolution adds that Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe and the diocesan standing committee would be invited to participate in such a study.

Vanessa Butler, a spokesperson for Northwestern Pennsylvania, told ENS September 25 that no similar resolution will come before that diocese's November 6-7 convention. She said that the Erie-based diocese has not discussed how it would participate in an eventual study by Pittsburgh, adding that "we wouldn't impede their progress."

Butler said that, as a small diocese, Northwestern Pennsylvania might at some point look at joining another diocese but "we're not looking to do that anytime soon."

What is now the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania was carved out of the Pittsburgh diocese in the early 20th century and called the Diocese of Erie. "In the intervening century much has changed in both regions in terms of economics and demographics," the Pittsburgh resolution's explanation notes. "In what was the Diocese of Erie (now the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania) there has been a significant decline of population. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh the Episcopal Church itself has experienced unprecedented change following the 'realignment' and departure from the Episcopal Church of many clergy and congregations."

More here-

Friday, September 25, 2009

Williams warns Tokyo students against ‘rationality’

From The Church Times-

THE NEXT generation is being betrayed by a utilitarian approach to reason, one that asks “What is the use or profit of this?”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this week.

Dr Williams was speaking on Monday at Rikkyo Gaukin Univer sity, an Anglican institution in Tokyo, during a week-long visit to Japan to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church there.

Dr Williams challenged those who contrasted religion and reason, suggesting that theirs was a narrow interpretation of reason: “A way of arguing and testing propositions, usually so as to become better at manipulating the world around us”. This secular approach, he argued, had not proved entirely successful: “A rationality that has brought us into the age of nuclear weaponry and global economic meltdown invites some sharp questions, to put it mildly.”
He criticised the likes of Darwin, Marx, and Freud as having a debt to Christian theology, and yet cutting off the branch on which they were sitting.

Speaking to the university stu dents, Dr Williams cited St Bernard’s dispute with Peter Abelard, in which St Bernard argued that “the ultimate test of being reasonable was whether you understood what your place was in the universe.”

Separation from God left people defenceless “against the destructive powers that imprison our true humanity”, Dr Williams said. “Reason properly understood here is what ought to deliver us from this shrinking and defacing of what we are in our full dignity.” It would help students to “understand their place and potential in society”.

More here-

In Japan, Presiding Bishop joins 150th anniversary celebrations of Nippon Sei Ko Kai

From Episcopal Life Online-

The birth of Anglicanism in Japan was the cause for celebrations this week as hundreds of guests -- national, international, ecumenical and interfaith -- traveled to Tokyo to join the local church in marking the 150th anniversary of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK).

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams were among those who participated in the church's sesquicentennial anniversary celebrations September 22-23.

The NSKK is one of the 38 provinces in the Anglican Communion. It traces its formal origins to June 1859 when the Rev. Channing Moore Williams, missionary priest and later missionary bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, landed at Nagasaki in southwestern Japan and joined the Rev. John Liggins, who had docked one month earlier. Some years later, other missionaries from England, the U.S. and Canada arrived and began working in Japan.

"We're here tonight to give thanks to God for 150 years of an Anglican presence in Japan," said Jefferts Schori during her sermon at Evening Prayer on September 22. "We are here as well to give thanks for the earliest province of the Anglican Communion which had not been part of the British Empire. I will begin by acknowledging, however, that the Nippon Sei Ko Kai owes its roots to American imperialism instead. Commodore [Matthew C.] Perry's insistence on a trade agreement in 1853-4 was soon followed by the entry of American missionaries who had been serving in China. God continues to work good out of things which did not begin in peace and holiness."

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development continues support in Sri Lanka

From ERD-

With heavy rains worsening the situation for displaced Sri Lankans, Episcopal Relief & Development is continuing to support the relief efforts.

Earlier this year, a battle between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group forced nearly 300,000 people to leave their homes. When the fighting ended, the government declared the 25-year conflict over and established camps to temporarily house internally displaced persons (IDPs) while they await resettlement. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) agreed to assist in providing relief services during that period.

The process has been slow, however. Four months later, the vast majority of IDPs still live in the temporary camps and NGOs are struggling to support the continuing needs. Adding to the problem, heavy rains in mid-August flooded the camps and destroyed the common kitchens, making IDPs even more vulnerable to hunger and disease.

Episcopal Relief & Development's partners include the Organization of Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), the Diocese of Colombo and the Diocese of Kurunagala. OfERR has been working in Sri Lanka's Vavuniya district since last November and will continue assisting more than 11,800 in and around the Manik IDP camp for the next six months. In addition, the Dioceses of Colombo and Kurunagala are providing relief items and medicine to hospitals that have been treating IDPs since early 2009, according to Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development Program Officer for Asia.

More here-

Presiding bishop of Episcopal Church to visit Missoula

From Montana-

Montana Episcopalians will combine the national with the local this weekend during a visit by their church leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The 26th presiding bishop of the 2.4 million-member church will lead the state's diocesesan convention at Missoula's Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, and also tour the site of the church's volunteer relationship with the Partnership Health Clinic.

"The (Missoula) church is phenomenal in the help they give us," said Partnership Health Executive Director Kim Mansch. "To have the bishop come and see that firsthand is really an honor for the Partnership, but also for their parish."

Holy Spirit Parish started sending volunteers to Partnership Health in 2002. The nonprofit health care center provides medical and dental services to Missoula residents. About 60 percent of its clients are uninsured, with 16 percent on Medicaid.

The church volunteers organize medical records, remind patients of visits and overdue payments, and perform other tasks.

Church members also helped the clinic win two grants, worth $35,230 and $40,000 respectively, from the national Episcopal Church's United Thank Offering program. The second grant was awarded in July, and will help the clinic pay for its expansion into the historic Creamery Building at 401 W. Railroad St., doubling its office space.

Partnership Health also landed a $571,545 federal capital improvement grant for expansion in July. In August, it received two more ongoing federal grants worth $300,000 to strengthen its behavioral health program and pharmacy service.

"The support we had from the community helped us score high and really beef up that program," Mansch said of the behavioral health and pharmacy grants. That kind of community teamwork is also a big part of the presiding bishop's message.

More here-

Precautions on use of ‘common cup’ eased

WORSHIPPERS in some parts of Dorset have been told they can start sharing a communion wine cup again – while in other parts of the county the practice will continue to be suspended.

Fears over swine flu led to many churches being advised to suspend the use of a common cup for communion in the summer.

Now churches in the Anglican diocese of Salisbury – which includes Poole, part of Bournemouth, Blandford, Swanage, and Wimborne – are being advised to make the communal wine cup freely available again.

But the chalice will continue to be suspended from use at Diocese of Winchester churches, which include those in Bournemouth.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev David Stancliffe, has told clergy in the diocese to move to “a lower level of precautions” following the summer peak in the epidemic.

The Bishop’s advice follows a reported drop in the weekly rate of swine flu infections from 100,000 in July to 4,500 in mid September.

The rest-

Churches fear guide on assisted suicide will undermine law

From the Church Times-

CHURCH spokesmen gave a guarded welcome to the guidance on assisted suicide issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, on Wednesday. They expressed a fear that the law would be eroded, however.

Mr Starmer maintained that helping somebody to commit suicide remained a criminal act. But in response to a request from the House of Lords after the Deborah Purdy case, he published the factors that he would take into account when deciding whether to prosecute. He also launched a three-month public consultation.

Mr Starmer said that he could not assure people in advance that they would not be prosecuted. Nothing in his new guidelines, The Interim Policy for Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Assisted Suicide, gave that assurance. Assisting suicide was still a crime, with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.

Nor did his guidelines cover euthanasia, he said. To cause the death of someone who wanted to commit suicide but could not was murder or manslaughter.

The eight factors that would have the strongest influence on concluding not to prosecute a suspect were that “the victim had a clear, settled and informed wish to commit suicide”; and that he or she had indicated that wish “unequivocally” to the suspect.

The victim should also have an illness from which there was no possibility of recovery. The suspect, a close relative or partner, should be wholly motivated by compassion.

Other factors were that the suspect had sought to dissuade the victim; and that the victim had already tried to commit suicide.

“The actions of the suspect may be characterised as reluctance in the face of a determined wish on the part of the victim to commit suicide.”

More here-

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Statement from the Church of the Province of Central Africa

From Anglican Communion News Service-

At a lawfully constituted Elective Assembly of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in August 2009, at which the majority of electors present were from the Diocese of Lake Malawi, over two thirds of the voters were in favour of the Revd Francis Kaulanda being appointed bishop of that Diocese.

The ecclesiastical laws insist that despite a vote in favour of the appointment of a person as bishop notice of the recommendation has to be affixed to the Cathedral door and other churches and proclaimed during two consecutive Sundays to give everyone in the parishes the opportunity to lodge any objections. The grounds of the objections are specified in the church laws. No objections were forthcoming.

To ensure transparency and give a final chance to come forward with specified objections, a Court of Confirmation is convened consisting of the bishops of the CPCA (Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) or their commissaries. It is an Open Court to determine the eligibility of the recommended bishop. Anyone can appear to oppose the confirmation of the election of such person as a bishop of the Anglican Communion Worldwide. The confirmation can be held at any convenient place in any of the four countries mentioned above.

The Dean of the CPCA chose Lilongwe for the venue and gave notice accordingly. The court was lawfully convened on the 22nd September 2009. Various written objections had been lodged. The court called for the opposers to present themselves to give evidence.

The first witness was Mr Charles Wemba of Lingadzi Parish. Instead of giving evidence as he was entitled to he presented the court with an injunction order given in the High Court, Lilongwe, on 22nd September – the date of the sitting of the confirmation Court. The order refers to an affidavit which was not served on the Defendant named as The Registered Trustees of the Church of the Province of Central Africa. The plaintiff is named as Charles Wemba and 149 others. It will be interesting to learn how the registrar/judge of the High Court came to be satisfied that there were 149 other plaintiffs and that they were all represented by Wemba. Giving false evidence to a court is a serious offence.

More here-

Anglican Bishops to invite thousands of GTA commuters 'Back to Church'

From Canada-

On the morning of Thursday, September 24th, three Bishops from the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, dressed in their ecclesiastical vestments and mitres, will be outside the city's Union Station, inviting thousands of commuters 'Back to Church'.

The outreach is part of an international Christian initiative, which has designated Sunday, September 27th as 'Back to Church' Sunday. On that day, thousands of Anglicans and other Christians throughout the world will be accompanying their friends and relatives back to church.

"We are delighted that our diocese will be joining many others in celebrating Back to Church Sunday," says the Bishop of Toronto, Colin Johnson. "My colleagues and I are looking forward to greeting commuters and letting them know that they will be warmly welcomed at the Anglican Church in their community, on this Sunday or on any other. We want to encourage everyone to visit their place of worship this weekend."

The Bishops will be handing out a simple invitation to all who will accept one. It reads:

More here-

Waukesha approves winter shelter for homeless men

From Milwaukee-

A nighttime shelter for homeless men can again operate at a downtown Waukesha church hall this winter, the city Plan Commission decided Wednesday.

A majority in the standing-room only crowd of about 100 literally stood in support of the 5-1 decision, rising to their feet as their spokesmen told the commission that Waukesha was showing compassion by its action.

"No one thinks this is a permanent solution, but we're in an emergency situation," said the Rev. David Simmons, rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, which will again house the shelter. "The jobless and homeless statistics are staggering."

St. Matthias, at N. Main St. and East Ave., requested the conditional use permit along with Hebron House of Hospitality, which operates three other longer-term shelters.

An overnight shelter opened at the church last winter because existing shelters were routinely crowded. A particularly long spell of frigid weather and the growing impact of the recession - unabated still - added to the need. Salvation Army in Waukesha is the only other drop-in shelter for men operated in suburban Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties.

Last year, the Plan Commission had indicated that the permit was for only one year. Commissioner Curt Otto, who lives above his art studio business in downtown Waukesha, voted against a new permit because, he said, the city and county had not addressed the homeless on a permanent basis.

Some in the business community and residents have been critical of the shelter, seeing it as counterproductive to the city's longstanding downtown redevelopment efforts.

In a tepid statement of approval this month, the Business Improvement District Board voted 5-4 to support the shelter but urged agencies to offer users safe and beneficial destinations during daytime hours when the shelter is closed.

More here-

S.C. Supreme Court rules for breakaway Episcopal parish

From USA Today-

A South Carolina parish that split from the Episcopal Church in 2004 can keep its church property, the state's Supreme Court has ruled, handing a rare legal victory to conservative dissidents.
A majority of members of All Saints Church at Pawley's Island voted to secede from the Episcopal Church five years ago, after an openly gay man was consecrated bishop of New Hampshire.

FAITH & REASON: Traditional Episcopal parishes still in the fold ask, 'What now?'
The Episcopal Church maintains that congregations hold their property in trust for the denomination; if they decide to leave, the property stays with the diocese and the national church, Episcopal leaders argue.

Applying "neutral principles," South Carolina's Supreme Court ruled on Friday (Sept. 18) that All Saints, which dates to the early 18th century, had secured ownership to the property in 1902, well before the Episcopal Church instituted its trust rules in 1979.

In 2004, a majority of All Saints members voted to remove references to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina and explicitly "severed any legal relationship with those organizations," wrote the state's Supreme Court. The parish is now part of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church of Rwanda.

"It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another," the court said in its ruling. The diocese did not have any legal interest in the congregation's property at the time legal documents were filed with civil authorities, the court decided.

More here-

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

From The Guardian in London-

This is the first sentence of Angels and Demons (2000), the novel that launched "Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon" on an unsuspecting world: "Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own." Its sequel, 2003's The Da Vinci Code, begins as follows: "Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery." I expected Langdon's third outing to begin with something along the lines of: "Internationally admired administrator Jacobus von Pelzer felt the stiletto penetrate a spleen, which he knew was his, as he lurched through the Folger Shakespeare Library." But no. Restrained by the best editing that money can buy, Dan Brown opens The Lost Symbol with italics instead: "House of the Temple. 8:33 PM. The secret is how to die."

Brown, a former English teacher, became the face of American commercial fiction when he unexpectedly hit the jackpot with The Da Vinci Code. His formula - twist-filled treasure hunts in upmarket tourist locations, plus creepy villains and hefty dollops of pseudo-learning - was pretty slick. Yet his lack of writing skills soon made him perhaps the only novelist around whose work regularly gets picked apart in stand-up routines. Sample Brown sentences: "The room was dark. Medieval. Stone." "The eerie phone conversation had left him feeling turgid ... distended somehow. Not himself." Then there's his imaginative geography and history and use of exploded conspiracy theories, many of them labelled "FACT" in his opening pages. The authors of the 1980s conspiracy bestseller that provided The Da Vinci Code's key revelation took Brown to court, without success, in 2006.

More here-

Pope Benedict XVI to make official visit to Britain

From The London Telegraph-

The Pope's visit would be only the second since Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Church of England 500 years ago.

The Vatican is to announce the visit, which is likely to be next autumn, in the coming days. Buckingham Palace is expected to agree to the invitation.

Hundreds of thousands will be attracted to a series of events over the course of the visit. There are four million Catholics in Britain.

Gordon Brown personally asked the Pope to make a visit to Britain when he visited the Vatican in February.

It will be the first time the Pope has made a visit to Britain since Pope John Paul II in 1982. That was the first visit by a Pope since Henry VIII was excommunicated.

The trip lasted six days and included visits to Canterbury, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff.
In London he held a Mass at Wembley Stadium. It is likely that the Pope will again address a gathering at the new Wembley Stadium which can hold 90,000.

Unlike 1982, when the Troubles in Ulster were raging, the Pope is expected to include Northern Ireland in his itinerary. Mr Brown specifically asked the Pope to visit “all parts of the UK” when he invited the pontiff. Armagh is one location being considered.

More here-

S.C. Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Impact

From The Living Church-

The Supreme Court of South Carolina has resolved a long-running dispute between All Saints Church, Pawleys Island, and the Diocese of South Carolina. In a unanimous ruling written by Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal, the court said that the Episcopal Church's Dennis Canon does not apply to the congregation, which was founded before the Episcopal Church.

“It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another or transfer legal title to one person for the benefit of another,” the court ruled. “The diocese did not, at the time it recorded the 2000 notice, have any interest in the congregation's property.”

It is not yet clear whether the Episcopal Church will appeal the decision. “My understanding is that the legal team is currently reviewing the ruling,” said Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church’s public affairs officer.

The dispute between All Saints and the diocese dates back to 2000, when the Rev. Chuck Murphy was consecrated as one of two founding bishops of the Anglican Mission in the Americas. The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., who was then the Bishop of South Carolina, was initially supportive of Bishop Murphy's consecration. But after the diocese filed a notice with the Georgetown County clerk of court saying that the congregation held the property in trust for the diocese, the congregation filed suit against both the diocese and the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Murphy hailed the ruling in a message sent to AMiA congregations.

“In addition to being a complete victory for all of us here at All Saints, Pawleys Island, it is a profoundly important legal decision repudiating the ‘authority’ of the Dennis Canon,” he wrote. “I believe that this will have enormous implications not only for the two Episcopal dioceses in South Carolina, but, I suspect, for other churches throughout the U.S.A.”

Attorney Dale Rye of Georgetown, Texas, wrote that he was troubled by the court’s ruling.

“It does not take a rocket scientist to see where the notion that congregations are necessarily independent entities can lead,” he wrote. “How is a diocese to enforce its disciplinary canons if a defrocked pastor’s parish simply chooses to ignore the decree? How is a bishop to enforce use of the authorized liturgy when the highest court in the state has stated that he is powerless to control a local congregation?”

Father Woody celebrates 40 years as a priest

From Albuquerque-

For more than four decades now, Father Merrill Woodrow "Woody" Peabody has been touching peoples' lives and lifting their spirits.

Earlier this month, 30 members of Socorro's Epiphany Episcopal Church gathered to pay tribute to the man who has led their congregation for the past eight years.

For the better part of the past several weeks, the church's faithful were busy making arrangements for the surprise celebration. On Saturday, Sept. 12, the preparations paid off as a very surprised vicar walked through the door and found himself the guest of honor.

But rather than simply sitting down and enjoying the homage, Father Woody began circling the room to make sure everyone was well and enjoying themselves.

For the majority of parishioners, it's these little acts of selflessness that sets Woody apart and makes their church such a special place.

Although the priesthood was not necessarily part of young Woody's future plans, he was introduced to the Episcopal church at a very, very young age.

"My grandmother always wanted me to be a priest," he mused. "In fact, I like to say that I've been going to Episcopal Church since nine months before I was born."

Well before Father Woody answered the church's call, he plied his trade as a school teacher and a newspaperman. It didn't take long, however, for Woody to trade in his ruler and pica pole for priestly robes and the pulpit.

By the late 1960s, Peabody had enrolled in the Episcopal seminary at Berkeley. It was shortly thereafter that Woody was "called" to the church — literally.

"There wasn't a big moment — that defining moment or incident that propelled me to join the church," he said. "It was literally a phone call from my priest, who knew I was about to graduate, and he asked if I would consider becoming a priest."

That was all the prompting he needed.

More here-

Ex-NY pastor pleads guilty to taking church cash

From AP-

A former Staten Island pastor has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $84,000 from his congregation's accounts earmarked for the needy and the upkeep of church grounds.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. says the Rev. William Blasingame pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny charges on Tuesday. Donovan says the 67-year-old former pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church spent the money on personal luxuries.

In return for his guilty plea, Blasingame will be sentenced to 5 years of probation on Nov. 18. He also agreed to pay full restitution to the Staten Island church.

Defense attorney James Hasson did not immediately return a call for comment left on an office message machine on Tuesday evening.

Communique from the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue

From Anglican Communion News Service- (Love the hats)

The International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in Chania, Crete, from Tuesday, 15th September to Sunday 20th September 2009, as guests of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at the Metropolis of Kydonia and Apokoronos.

The Commission wishes to record its gratitude to His Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos of Kydonia and Apokoronos (Chania) and his staff for the warmth of their hospitality and for their assistance with many aspects of the meeting. Greetings were received from Metropolitan Damaskinos and from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the local civil authorities.

The Commission consists of representatives of the Orthodox Church and of the Anglican Communion. It began its work in Oxford in 1973. Agreements reached in its first two stages were set out in (1) the Moscow Agreed Statement of 1976, and the Dublin Agreed Statement of 1984, and (2) in the Cyprus Agreed Statement of 2006.

The meeting in Crete was the first plenary meeting of the third stage of the Dialogue. The Commission discussed the theological convergences identified in the Moscow, Dublin and Cyprus Statements, and it noted the ways in which these statements were being distributed and discussed on both sides. The main topic for this third stage of the dialogue is theological anthropology, that is, the Christian understanding of the human person as being in the image and likeness of God, and the implications of this for church life and contemporary ethical issues.

In the light of the Cyprus Statement The Church of the Triune God papers were written by the Bishop William Gregg, on hopes and possibilities for the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue in the future, and by the Revd Dr Timothy Bradshaw on an Anglican view of Christian anthropology. Two further papers were discussed examining Christian anthropology; an Anglican viewpoint by the Revd Professor John Riches, and an Orthodox perspective by Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.

More here-

Trio of Bishops Seek to Strengthen Communion Ties

From The Living Church-

The initial meeting between Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, England, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference was an auspicious one. When a protester jumped up and called Bishop Gray-Reeves “a whore of the church,” Bishop Perham stepped in to help his new American acquaintance around the protesters and on to safety.

This frightening encounter brought together two parts of what has become a trio of bishops — the third is Bishop Gerard Mpango of the Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania — who have linked up as companion dioceses. The combination of American, British and African dioceses is intentional. The three locations encompass three regions of discontent in the Anglican Communion. By meeting, talking and working together, the three bishops hope to show that people of different cultures, and these three cultures in particular, can maintain civil relations and look for answers to divisive issues.

“We want to hold together when the Communion is threatened,” Bishop Perham said.

On Sept. 20, the three bishops came to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose, Calif., in El Camino Real for a Sunday Eucharistic worship service that included a gospel reading in Swahili, Sudanese singers, and a sermon by Bishop Mpango. The mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, welcomed the bishops to the city. More than 250 people attended the service and many stayed for lunch and further discussions.

In his sermon, Bishop Mpango said the three dioceses would work to better the lives of children, confront economic inequality and assist refugees. But he said that Jesus Christ must remain at the center of whatever the partnership does.

“A church without Jesus would be in danger of becoming an NGO,” he said, referring to the non-governmental organizations that often provide humanitarian assistance to developing countries.

Bishop Gray-Reeves said she went to Lambeth with the idea of finding a pair of companion dioceses, specifically British and African. After her chance meeting with Bishop Perham, she was moved to suggest the idea to him. He, in turn, suggested Bishop Mpango as the third member of the triad. The two were in Bible study during Lambeth.

More here-

Faith Diary: Changing loyalties

From The BBC-

Although the Church of England has had women priests for 15 years, some traditionalists still believe that the fact that they are women means they cannot validly carry out all priestly functions.

But now liberal Anglicans are celebrating a decision by Blackburn Cathedral to reverse a controversial concession it made to traditionalists.

A year ago, the cathedral began providing communion bread blessed by a male priest for use when a woman was taking a service.

The concession was introduced after a female canon was appointed to the cathedral staff.

Now the cathedral has apologised for any hurt caused by that decision, but it has also acknowledged that the ordination of women priests still caused "sorrow and pain" to some Anglicans, and said it would continue to provide Sunday services taken by a male priest.

As many churches creak under the pressure to reform in line with contemporary life, modernisers and traditionalists in many of them are increasingly feeling that they have more in common with like-minded people in other denominations.

The rest is here-

Grace Church trial took financial toll on both parties in lawsuit

From Colorado Springs-

A five-week trial to determine ownership of the Grace Church property downtown might have ended about six months ago, but the financial fallout for both parties in the lawsuit lives on.

A few weeks ago, St. George’s Anglican Church — a congregation that started as a breakaway group from the Episcopal church — asked its members for a one-time family donation of $1,500 each to defray about $750,000 in legal costs, as well as tens of thousands in fees that were assessed as part of a settlement.

St. George’s rector, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, said Tuesday he’s optimistic that the church will pay off its debts within the next 60 days.

“We are developing a (long-range) plan to once again have the sort of ministry and outreach for which we have long been known,” said Armstrong, whose church lost the bid for the $17 million Tejon Street property and now meets in the Mountain Shadows area.

On the other side, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado spent $2.9 million to defend against the Anglican parish’s lawsuit to take possession of downtown property, diocese financial records show.

The legal expenses and a decline in the stock market resulted in a colossal loss in the diocese’s investment income, dropping from $4.9 million in January 2006 to $750,000 in August, records show. It will take years to recover the funds, said Chuck Thompson, assistant treasurer for the diocese.

“We had to sell stocks and bonds to pay the fees,” Thompson said.

More here-

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Statement from the Vestry Wardens and Rector of St. Michael's of the Valley Episcopal Church

We write as the vestry of St. Michael's of the Valley Episcopal Church. We rejoice in who we are as a congregation who loves our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and who wishes to make
him known to the world.

We are committed to Jesus Christ and also to The Episcopal Church and we rejoice in its rich historic, authentic tradition of worship, outreach, and evangelistic mission while also seeking
to be a place where all are welcome to worship the Lord and grow in grace.

However, recent actions in some portions of the church have raised great concerns for us.
Specifically the actions of the 76th General Convention in resolutions D025 and C056 which
we believe do not serve the Church well, especially in the wider context of our relationship to
The Anglican Communion. While we understand that we represent a congregation with
varying opinions on issues of sexuality, we also believe these resolutions open the door to
innovations, which are not in concert with the majority of the Church and certainly The
Communion. We are concerned that the passing of these resolutions will continue to strain our
international relationships and we believe that they encourage an ethical stance, which is
contrary to scripture. For these reasons we reject them.

We are also concerned with opening remarks made by The Presiding Bishop at the General
Convention. We find her statement that the "great western heresy (is that) we can be saved as
individuals, that any of us alone can be right with God" extremely troubling. We have read the
full text of her speech and while we appreciate her emphasis on exercising our faith in right
relationship, we believe her statement about individual salvation to be wrong, and we reject it.

The rest is here-

The Anglican Church celebrates 100 years in Singapore

From Channel News Asia-

The Anglican Church celebrates 100 years in Singapore on Monday.

From the iconic St Andrew's Cathedral, to several well-known schools and community welfare centres, the church's contributions to society go beyond religious convictions.

The St Andrew's Cathedral was the first Anglican Church in Singapore.

It was built for the British expatriate community in the 19th century. Today, it conducts services in seven languages.

Celebrations were in full swing at the cathedral to mark 100 years of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore - the mission's governing body.

Thousands gathered at a carnival to raise funds for the community services set up by the diocese.

They include the St Andrew's Community Hospital, the Family Crisis Centre which offers support and shelter for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, and the new St Andrew's Autism Centre.

The target amount of $100,000 has been reached through ticket sales prior to the event.

Schools founded by the diocese like St Margaret's, St Hilda's and Anglican High were among those who helped raise funds.

"I'm glad to see that it is reaching out to other groups in Singapore to help build a strong community and social cohesion in Singapore. Religion is a force for good in the world and it is important that religion does not become exclusive," said Singapore's Deputy Pm and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean.

The early Anglican settlers were from the British East India Company in Singapore and since then the community has grown from strength to strength.

The Diocese of Singapore now has 20,000 members and 26 churches, including the St Andrew's Cathedral.

The Anglican mission has proven to be an effective social cement through its engagement with the wider community, regardless of religion.

Anglican Church leader concerned about Iraq's Camp Ashraf

From Reuters-

The spiritual head of the Anglican Church expressed concern Sunday about Iranian exiles living in a camp in Iraq, saying they faced "human rights violations" that needed to be addressed urgently.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said both the United States and the Iraqi government had a duty to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf, home to the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI) dissident group.

"The continuing situation in Camp Ashraf, together with the fact that the 36 people taken from the camp in July have not been released, constitutes a humanitarian and human rights issue of real magnitude and urgency," Williams said in a statement.

The camp's 3,500 residents had been under the protection of the U.S. military until the facility was handed over to Iraqi jurisdiction last January.

In late July, Iraqi forces took control of the camp, northwest of Baghdad, sparking clashes in which at least seven exiles were killed.

Some of the residents have been on hunger strike since, demanding that the 36 people seized during the riot are freed and the Iraqi forces who took control of the camp leave.

LONG ISLAND: Provenzano becomes diocese's bishop coadjutor

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Rev. Lawrence Provenzano was ordained and consecrated as bishop coadjutor in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island September 19.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was the chief consecrator for the service, which took place at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Greenvale, New York. Other consecrators included Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith, New Jersey Bishop George Councell, Long Island Assisting Bishop David Joslin and Western Massachusetts Bishop Gordon Scruton.

Beckwith and Councell served with Provenzano in Western Massachusetts before being elected bishop. With his consecration and ordination, Provenzano becomes the fifth active bishop who was elected out of Western Massachusetts. The Rev. John Tarrant will be the sixth when he is ordained October 31 as the next bishop of the Diocese of South Dakota.

The Rev. Mpho Tutu, founder and executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, preached the sermon during Provenzano's ordination and consecration. There was a special collection of non-perishable food items that will be distributed by the diocese's Episcopal Community Services agency. The diocese's clergy continued their tradition of purchasing the bishop's ring, which was presented during the service.

Provenzano, 54, was rector of St. Andrew's Church in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, when he was elected March 21.

More here-

Court rules in favor of Pawleys Is. congregation

From the Charleston Post and Courier-

A Pawleys Island congregation, embroiled in litigation ever since it left the Episcopal Church in 2004, has won a major court battle over land and assets that could have wide implications for others looking to break away.

The S.C. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that All Saints Church at Pawleys Island belonged to the independent corporation All Saints Parish, Waccamaw Inc. and not to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which had staked a claim to the property.

"When a vestry of a parish in the diocese votes to take action to leave the church, they cannot then hold an office as a vestry of the church from which they have voted to depart," wrote then-Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr. soon after All Saints' vestry voted to break its ties with the Episcopal Church and modify its 1902 parish charter.

But last week, the state's highest court repudiated the diocese's claims, overturning an earlier Circuit Court verdict.

The court rejected the Episcopal Church's claim that "all real and personal property" used by a congregation, mission or parish "is held in trust for this church." That rule, codified in 1979 and called the Dennis Canon, makes it impermissible for congregations to assume ownership of church property. The Episcopal Church long has argued that when individuals choose to leave the church, dioceses and parishes remain intact and available to others who choose to remain, even if they constitute a minority of the congregation.

More here-

Monday, September 21, 2009

Muslims mass-producing children to take over Africa, says Archbishop

From The Times of London-

One of the most powerful figures in the Anglican Church believes that Africa is under attack from Islam and that Muslims are “mass-producing” children to take over communities on the continent.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, 56, was elected Primate of Nigeria last week and his elevation could exacerbate tensions at a time when Anglicans are working to build bridges with Muslims. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali resigned as Bishop of Rochester earlier this year to work in countries where Islam is the majority religion.

Nigeria is split almost half and half between Christianity and Islam. There are about 17 million practising Anglicans in the country, but they face persecution in the north, while the two faiths vie with local religions for supremacy in the rest of the country.

Archbishop Okoh made his controversial comments about Islam in a sermon in Beckenham, Kent, in July. He said that there was a determined Islamic attack in African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.

More here-

Wraps Coming Off 'Nearly-Nude' Senior Calendar in Unique Ceremony

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

What brings together a group of semi-clad senior gentlemen, a city mayor, and Neptune - God of the Sea? The unveiling of one of the country's most hilarious and titillating charity fundraising calendars.

A new twist on pin-up girls, these calendar guys, ranging in age from 69 to 90, recently shed their inhibitions to bare it all (behind strategically placed props) for a 2010 "nearly nude" calendar, with sales benefiting their local Volunteer Rescue Squad. Fellow residents at the Atlantic Shores Retirement Community in Virginia Beach, Virginia, these fifteen active seniors (and one dog) are enjoying a late-stage brush with fame. And on September 22, 2009, the wraps are coming off -- the calendar, that is -- as "The Pin-Up Boys of Atlantic Shores" is officially unveiled.

Appropriately "dressed down" for the event, "The Boys" will arrive attired in bathrobes for the Unveiling Ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on September 22 at Atlantic Shores. Awaiting them will be throngs of adoring fans, as well as Virginia Beach City Mayor Will Sessoms, and Randy Sutton, "King Neptune" -- official ambassador of Virginia Beach's annual Neptune Festival.


"Mr. May," Mike Ferguson, an active Episcopal priest and volunteer EMT, strikes a pose behind a back-board in front of an ambulance -- much to the delight of his congregation and fellow emergency rescue co-workers. Any backlash from his parishioners? "None so far, everyone has mostly been amused," laughed Mike. In fact, the congregation has been rallying behind the
project, with more than 30 calendars already sold so far, and the women's bible study group plan on being at the front of the autograph line at the Unveiling Ceremony.

More here-

H1N1, seasonal flu prompt changes at churches

From East Tennessee-

They're wreaking havoc on schools throughout East Tennessee, now the swine flu and the seasonal version are causing many people to think twice when it comes to worshiping on Sundays.

Attendance at St. Luke's Episcopal Church is usually modest, but this week an estimated 25 percent of the congregation was out sick.

At least three children have been diagnosed with swine flu, and several adults were noticeably absent as well.

"I think younger members of the congregation are scared. I think fear is partly keeping others away," Senior Warden John Mott said.

It's a larger scale but similar song at Sevier Heights Baptist Church.

"We have concerns about about our staff and just the normal operation, but also the large number of people who come here, chances are good that some of them are going to get it," Pastor David Harkins said.

They've added hand sanitizer dispensers in the foyers and hallways, and toys in the nursery are now cleaned thoroughly at the end of each day.

The sheer size of the congregation is enough to cause concern. Church officials plan to follow advice of the Knox County Health Department when it comes to decisions regarding closures. Assemblies of 10,000 or more will be first.

"Until we hear that they're canceling basketball games, UT football games, things like that, it's still going to be safe for us to have a church service," Harkins said.

Harkins said any changes to their worship schedule will be posted on their website.

Priest sex scandals: Time to let them marry?

From Palm Beach-

Isn’t it time the Catholic Church seriously considered allowing priests to marry?

Though it would do nothing to stop pedophile priests who enjoy the sexual company of little boys - grown women don’t do it for them - it would give those who like women the opportunity for a normal romantic and family life.

And, perhaps, the Church could then avoid such scandals as the one involving Rev. David Dueppen, an associate priest at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Pembroke Pines who’s on leave for allegedly impregnating his girlfriend, a former stripper.

Dueppen, 42, used to serve sacraments at the same Miami Beach parish as Rev. Alberto Cutie, the former Catholic priest who admitted fornicating with his girlfriend whom he later married. Cutie joined the Episcopal Church, which has the good sense to let its clerics enter holy matrimony.

The Archdiocese of Miami knew about Dueppen’s relationship with Beatrice Hernandez, according to a report in the Miami Herald. Three years ago, church officials paid her a settlement stemming from the affair. Hernandez said Dueppen couldn’t stay away and a year ago they rekindled their romance, which, she says, produced a baby girl - Marilyn Epiphany Hernandez.

Hernandez has a restraining order out on the priest and is suing him for child support. Meanwhile Father Duuppen isn’t talking on the advice of his lawyer.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Texas

Groups helped storm victims rebuild after Ike

Some volunteers, students from a military-style boot camp for first responders, sang “Amazing Grace” as they welcomed a home-owner back into the repaired house.

Another group was greeted regularly with hugs by the homeowner.

“He’d come out, first thing, and he hugged everyone, and nine times out of 10, he’d burst into tears,” Maggie Immler, Galveston relief coordinator for Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development, said. “He called us all his angels.”

Immler has a slew of such stories. She started work in Galveston last fall, fresh from coordinating Hurricane Katrina relief projects. In Galveston, she found similar hurricane damage but a stronger groundswell of support and old-fashioned grit.

“My background is working in New Orleans, where everything took four times longer than it should,” she said, speaking by cell phone as she traveled to Houston for a diocese meeting.

“I haven’t seen the level and depths of hopelessness that we saw in New Orleans. So when I sit back and look objectively at recovery in Galveston, the county and surrounding areas, everything is happening remarkably fast and in a remarkably organized way. That’s so exciting to me because there’s nothing we can’t do when we all work together.”

Episcopal Disaster Relief, part of the long-term recovery collaboration called Galveston County Restore and Rebuild, is headquartered at the William Temple Episcopal Center, 427 Market St., in Galveston.

The rest is here-

Episcopal presiding bishop revisits 'salvation' speech

From The Christian Century-

In her talk to open the Episcopal Church's triennial convention in July, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori denounced the "great Western heresy" of individual salvation and contrasted it with the convention's theme of spiritual journey in community. Seven weeks later, noting public criticism from evangelical figures, she elaborated.

"Apparently I wasn't clear," Jefferts Schori said in a statement released August 27 by church headquarters in New York. She said that individualism—the view that one's interests and independence trump principles of interdependence—"is basically unbiblical and unchristian."

"If salvation is understood only as 'getting right with God' without considering 'getting right with (all) our neighbors,'" Jefferts Schori wrote, "then we've got a heresy . . . on our hands."

In her speech at the Anaheim, California, convention, Jefferts Schori disparaged the belief that "we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God." A number of critics, including Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, noted that evangelicals work against the notion that being a Christian stops at one's profession of faith.

Jefferts Schori acknowledged that "there have been varied reactions" from people who weren't at the General Convention "who heard or read an isolated comment without the context."

In her statement posted online, Jefferts Schori put her remarks in a biblical context, saying that both Jesus and the Hebrew prophets criticized believers who claim to be worshiping correctly, but "ignore injustice done to their neighbors."

More here-

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Faith In Okoh, By Anglican Priests

From Guardian Newspapers-

A NEW Primate has emerged for the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. He is the 57 year-old retired, Lt colonel, Archbishop of Bendel Province and Bishop of Asaba Diocese, Most Revd Nicholas Orogodo Okoh.

He was elected after a hitch-free voting exercise conducted by the House of Bishops at the Cathedral Church of St. Stephen's Umuahia, Abia State, last Tuesday.

Archbishop Okoh came out first after securing two-thirds majority of the total votes cast. Three other clerics contested with him.

Following his election, Okoh has become the fourth Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. He takes over from Most Revd Peter Akinola, whose tenure expires by March next year.

The Bishops engaged in secret ballot election. Immediately after the peaceful election, the Dean of Church of Nigeria, Most Revd Maxwell S. C. Anikwenwa,

issued a statement that Most Revd Nicholas Orogodo Okoh had been duly elected Primate, to succeed Most Revd Peter. J. Akinola and had been issued with a Certificate of return.

Archbishop Okoh attended the famous Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, Oyo State between 1976 and 1979. He was made deacon in 1979, preferred a Canon in 1987, collated Archdeacon in 1991 and was elected Bishop of Asaba in 2001.

On July 22, 2005, the Primate-elect was elected Archbishop of Bendel Province at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Benin. He served in the Army and fought the civil war. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 2001 after his election as Bishop of Asaba.

The outgoing Primate, Peter Akinola, described the election of his successor as an act of God.

More here-,%20By%20Anglican%20Priests

National Baptists have their man

From the Tri-State Defender

Rev. Julius R. Scruggs of Huntsville, Ala., overwhelmingly was chosen as the next president of the National Baptist Convention during the group’s 129th Annual Convention held in Memphis Sept. 5-11. Rev. Scruggs turned back a high-profile challenge by former president, Rev. Henry Lyons, who was seeking to regain the presidency after having been convicted on charges associated with bilking the church’s corporate partners out of several million dollars.

Rev. Scruggs takes over as president in February. Here is an excerpt from his press conference following his election:

Q: What is going to be your main goal as the new president?”

A: One of our main goals is to strengthen our unification in our convention. We’ve had some splintering from time to time in our convention and we want to bring all groups together in oneness so that we can all gather under one main vision for our convention and move together …to bring that vision to fruition.

And of course to enlarge on that vision and would like to say the following: We would like to build on what (President) Dr. (William) Shaw has already been doing in certain areas. And one of the first areas we would like to build on is to make American Baptist College a greater school. The premier bible college is owned by the national Baptist Convention USA, Inc., and we would like to give it greater support. We would like to help foster the vision of (Dr. Forrest Elliot Harris Sr.,) who is president of the college. One of the things he wants to do is build a student life center, including housing. . .

More here-