Saturday, December 12, 2009

Critics of Cecil Bothwell cite N.C. bar to atheists

From Asheville NC

North Carolina's constitution is clear: politicians who deny the existence of God are barred from holding office.

Opponents of Cecil Bothwell are seizing on that law to argue he should not be seated as a City Council member today, even though federal courts have ruled religious tests for public office are unlawful under the U.S. Constitution.

Voters elected the writer and builder to the council last month.

“I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution,” said H.K. Edgerton, a former Asheville NAACP president.

Article 6, section 8 of the state constitution says: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

Rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution trump the restriction in the state constitution, said Bob Orr, executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.

“I think there's any number of federal cases that would view this as an imposition of a religious qualification and violate separation of church and state,” said Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice.

In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Maryland's requirement for officials to declare belief in God violated the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Additionally, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

More here-

Rowan Williams raps government for treating religion as a 'problem'

From the London Guardian-

The archbishop of Canterbury has accused the government of treating religious faith as a "problem" whose followers are "oddities".

Dr Rowan Williams said ministers were wrong to think that religion was no longer relevant in modern Britain.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he criticised Labour for looking at religious faith as "an eccentricity", rather than recognising its contribution to society.

"The trouble with a lot of government initiatives about faith is that they assume it is a problem, it's an eccentricity, it's practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities," he told the paper.

"The effect is to de-normalise faith, to intensify the perception that faith is not part of our bloodstream. And, you know, in great swaths of the country that's how it is."

The archbishop said political leaders should be more open about their own religious beliefs – and the impact these had on their policies.

"I think part of establishing their human credentials is saying, 'This is where my motivation comes from. I'm in politics because this is what I believe.' And that includes religious conviction."

Williams also dismissed Pope Benedict XVI's invitation for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic church as "theologically rather eccentric".

More here-

Episcopal Church Membership Drops by 3 Percent

From Beliefnet-

Domestic membership in the Episcopal Church dropped by 3 percent in 2008, continuing a decline in which the denomination has lost almost 200,000 American members since 2004, according to Episcopal researchers.

The Episcopal Church now counts slightly more than 2 million members in about 7,000 U.S. parishes. Church leaders say they are pleased, however, that the denomination is growing in its non-domestic dioceses, particularly in Haiti and Latin America, where the church counted about 168,000 members in 470 parishes last year.

Still, the church is "swimming against some difficult cultural tides," Matilda Kistler, who heads a state-of-the-church committee in the denomination's House of Deputies, said in a statement.

"We find ourselves facing a society that is gravitating toward secularism," Kistler said. "We also believe that the church-going segment of the public is aging significantly, though the committee will be seeking more definitive data to ascertain if that is so."

Kistler acknowledged that "internal conflicts within the Episcopal Church have also distracted from the message of hope our clergy and lay leaders seek to share."

In 2003, the church consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, setting off a furor among conservative Episcopalians and the global Anglican Communion, which counts the Episcopal Church as its U.S. branch. Four dioceses and dozens of parishes have since left the Episcopal Church, some to join a rival denomination, the Anglican Church in North America.

On Saturday (Dec. 5), Episcopalians in Los Angeles elected a lesbian priest as an assistant bishop, despite pleas from Anglican bishops throughout the world not to elect any more gay bishops. The Rev. Mary Glasspool must still have her election confirmed by a majority of the church's diocesan standing committees and bishops before she is consecrated as a bishop.

Child bishop tradition continues at Woodbury's Christ Church

From New Jersey- (I'm tempted to say that "child bishop" is a redundancy but that wouldn't be nice)

On Dec. 7 Christ Episcopal Church in Woodbury seated its second child Bishop during the observance of The Feast of Saint Nicholas. Selecting a Child Bishop is a tradition of many English cathedral choir schools and collegiate chapels. This year, Megan Steffney, a sixth grader, was selected as this year’s Child Bishop.She was vested in full Episcopal regalia, processed to the altar, took her seat at the Bishop’s chair, and offered the Homily and the Prayers of the People during the service.Following the Mass, the congregation celebrated the evening in the parish hall with a pizza party.

Students in the church’s fourth, fifth, and sixth grade Sunday school classes were invited to compose an essay answering the question “Who was Saint Nicholas and why is his example of being merciful so important to imitate?” The student who offered the best response was selected as the Child Bishop, and presented her essay response to the congregation as the Homily. Christ Church, founded in 1856, is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jesus Nearly Banned at White House Inn

From Fox-

I can see the headlines now: "Gate-crashers Enter White House; Jesus Kept Out!" Except it almost happened. Really.

I was reading the New York Times Sunday Styles section yesterday (yep, I'm straight) when I came across an article about embattled White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers -- she's the one who broke with previous White House tradition by inviting herself to the state dinner when she should have been at the door keeping out the loopy riff-raff.

But in the twelfth paragraph of the article there was a real bombshell: It said that earlier this year at a luncheon with other previous White House social secretaries, Ms. Rogers claimed that this year the White House would have a "non-religious" Christmas celebration. (For those of you confused by that, it's just like a "non-religious" Yom Kippur celebration, or a "non-Irish" St. Patrick's Day celebration, or an "international" July 4th celebration.)

The Times article continued:

"The lunch conversation inevitably turned to whether the White House would display its crèche, customarily placed in a prominent spot in the East Room. Ms. Rogers, this participant said, replied that the Obamas did not intend to put the manger scene on display — a remark that drew an audible gasp from the tight-knit social secretary sisterhood. (A White House official confirmed that there had been internal discussions about making Christmas more inclusive and whether to display the crèche.)"

In the next sentence we learn that this radical idea was eventually scotched. (Perhaps the "audible gasp" from the bipartisan audience tipped them off.) But the fact that it was going to happen reveals a level of political tone-deafness in the current administration that is staggering. To most average Americans -- who did not grow up in an Ivy-League, inside-the-Beltway hothouse governed by the rules of the French Revolution -- the idea of keeping Jesus out of "the people's house" at Christmas evokes disturbing images of the Holy Family being turned away from the Inn, or worse yet, images of Herod. But to a super-secular White House afraid to offend anyone -- except for average Americans -- it probably just seemed like another fab "progressive" innovation.

More here-

The Great Consolidator

From The American Spectator-

For all the sturm und drang that rolled off the British newspaper presses in late October, you'd think the Limey scribblers were sounding the alarm over an imminent threat to the realm rather than reporting on a pair of religion news conferences. It was as if the bishop of Rome had scrambled a new Spanish Armada and personally set sail for Canterbury -- guns at the ready, popemobile retrofitted for a water landing.

"An Unholy Battle for the Market Share of Our Souls" complained the normally pro-market Financial Times. "Pope Benedict Opens New Front in Battle for the Soul of Two Churches," observed the Observer. "Desperate Bishops Invited Rome to Park Its Tanks on Archbishop's Lawn," said those crack armchair generals at the Times. It's all about "Un-leashing the Counter-Reformation," figured the Economist. "Former Archbishop Attacks Pope for Anglican Overtures" whinged the Independent. "The End of the Anglican Communion" was ominously announced by the Guardian. But not to worry, old boy, said the Telegraph, "The Queen Will Stand Up to Pope Benedict."

What really happened, on October 20, is that the Vatican...made an announcement. Nothing changed immediately; nobody was hired, fired, promoted, pilloried, or even excommunicated; and no new dogmas were propounded. It's not clear that any change whatsoever will have been undertaken by press time, because Rome's gears do grind slowly. But the world moved that day because the Vatican let us all in, with press conferences in both Vatican City and London, on the broad outline of its thinking about what to do with the great number of conservative Anglicans who no longer feel at home in their own church.

More here-

Blue-rinse brigade make their feelings known

From The Church Times-

AN estimated 40,000 people, many drawn from churches across the UK, ringed the Houses of Parliament on Saturday to encour age the Copenhagen summit to agree an equitable solution to global warming. Another 13,000 people joined a rally in Glasgow.

In the slowly moving crowds, there were babies in pushchairs for whom the protest could make the world of difference, the occasional tree walking, a man wearing a snorkel, young men and women with glistening blue skin, middle-aged women draped in blue, and pensioners parading freshly applied blue-rinse to political effect.

In Berkeley Square, people booed at the Rolls-Royces in their showrooms. Two angels on stilts carried a placard, “CAFOD angels — for heaven’s sake”. Another placard showed an ill-looking globe: “The economy is making me sick!” A RSPB banner reminded politicians the charity represented “a million votes for nature”. People from CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tear Fund, the Co-op, Unison, and a score of other organisations waved their placards: “I vote to stop climate chaos”, “Climate Justice now”, “Protect the poorest”, “Quit Dirty Coal”. One had a speed-limit sign that said “350” (the number of parts of carbon dioxide per million above which it is dangerous to go).

Passing the Houses of Parliament was a woman with her manifesto on her back: “Cut energy use. Cut transport use. No Nuclear. Clean renewables. We demand action. Cherish the earth or we perish like the polar bear. Greedy banks, government slackers, global companies with their dirty deals.” It was a fair summary of the crowd’s aims.

From Westminster Bridge, marchers could be seen stretching back towards Lambeth Palace, back across Lambeth Bridge and behind the Palace of Westminster. One protester’s sign read: “King Neptune to open Parliament in 2030”.

More here-

Global Commission Backs Canterbury

From The Living Church-

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order in its maiden communiqué has joined has joined the Archbishop of Canterbury in asking that the Episcopal Church show restraint in considering the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as a suffragan bishop for the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The commission met Dec. 1-8 in Canterbury, England.

In a communiqué issued Dec. 8, the commission quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks that “ ‘the bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.’ The Commission expressed the fervent hope that ‘gracious restraint’ would be exercised by The Episcopal Church in this instance.”

The commission, established by the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council, consists of 22 members from across the world.

Church Condemns Election of Openly Gay Bishop

From All Africa-

The Archbishop of the Church of Rwanda, Rt. Rev. Emmanuela Kolini has strongly criticized and condemned the decision of an Anglican diocese in the United States of America to elect an openly gay clergy as the bishop of Diocese of Los Angeles.

In a close-to-call election that took seven ballots, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected an avowed lesbian, Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool to be the next Bishop of the diocese, setting off another storm around the Anglican community six years after the election of Gene Robinson, a non-celibate homosexual, as the Bishop of New Hampshire.

Speaking to The New Times, Kolini condemned the election and said the fact that Mary is a lesbian was against the will of God to place such a person in position of religious leadership.

"I condemn not only the act of electing Glasspool to the position, but also lesbianism as an act against the will of God," Kolini said, adding that it only contributes to divisions in the global Anglican society.

The election of Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, 55, has created a theological rift between The Episcopal Church of America and the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide.

More here-

Archbishop Rowan Williams urged to retract comments on election of lesbian bishop

From The London Guardian-

Thousands of Anglicans have urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to repent following his tepid response to the election of a lesbian bishop in the US.

Members of a Facebook group, set up last Wednesday, accuse Rowan Williams of failing to "exercise moral leadership to protect gays and lesbians in Uganda and has instead exercised political pressure to attack a bishop-elect in Los Angeles because she is a lesbian".

Last weekend's election of Mary Glasspool prompted the archbishop to warn of "serious questions" about the place of the US Episcopal Church in the communion "and the communion as a whole", a reaction that dismayed liberals who are pressing for equality of lesbian and gay people in the life of the church.

There is also disappointment that Williams has been slow to condemn proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda.

In the 48 hours since its launch more than 2,500 people have signed up to the group, saying: "As Anglicans who treasure their Communion and expect more from their Archbishop, we call on archbishop Rowan Williams to repent of his earlier statement and issue this one instead: 'The proposed legal actions that would make homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda, and the lack of outrage regarding this proposed action by the Church of Uganda, raises very serious questions not just for the Church of Uganda and its place in the Anglican communion, but for the communion as a whole.'"

They asked him to say that the proposed law could still be rejected and to remind church leaders in Uganda that offering pastoral care and "listening to the experience of homosexual persons" were necessary if "bonds of mutual affection were to hold".

More here-

Episcopal pastors' discussion on Christ expected to draw hundreds to Dallas church

From Dallas-

Two pastors talking about Jesus early on a Saturday morning would seem unlikely to draw a crowd, even with free doughnuts and coffee.

But several hundred people are expected – at $10 a ticket – for such a discussion Saturday at Dallas' Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

The event features the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Her refusal to say that belief in Jesus is the only way to salvation has been controversial outside and even within her denomination.

Under the title "Considering Christ," she'll debate the Rev. William Frey, a Texas native who is the retired bishop of Colorado and a leader of the Episcopal Church's traditional wing.

"They're both wonderfully kind people and devout Christians of diverging theological viewpoints who nonetheless, in their friendship in Christ, belong in the same church," said the Rev. Douglas Travis, dean and president of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.

Saint Michael and All Angels is, with 7,200 members, one of the largest congregations in the Episcopal Church. It's also a "big tent," where theological liberals, moderates and conservatives join in worship and mission work. The debate will be part of its Distinguished Lecture Series.

The Rev. Robert Dannals, the church's rector, had the idea for pairing Jefferts Schori and Frey.

More here-

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Uganda's amendment to anti-gay law fails to satisfy critics

From Ekklesia-

After weeks of pressure from around the world, Ugandan politicians are reported to be considering an amendment to their proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This would remove the use of the death penalty and possibly even life imprisonment.

However, this is unlikely to satisfy the Bill’s critics, who insist that it would still be draconian even with such amendments.

They point out that it would allow the imprisonment of anyone in authority – such as a teacher, priest or minister of religion – who knew of an instance of homosexuality but failed to report it.

While the campaign against the Bill has achieved significant support from Christians, there are fears that the removal of the death penalty clause would make churches in Uganda more likely to support the legislation.

The Anglican Church in Uganda has so far been divided on the Bill. Canon Gideon Byamugisha last week slamed the proposals as “state-sponsored genocide against a specific community of Ugandans”. However, his fellow Ugandan Anglican, Bishop Joseph Abura, has welcomed the Bill, describing its opponents as “lovers of evil”.

In its original form, the Bill would sets down life imprisonment as the punishment for anyone who “stimulates the sexual organs” of someone of the same sex. The death penalty would be used if the “offender” were HIV positive, or if his/her sexual partner were disabled or aged under 18.

More here-

Texas Bishop Won’t Consent to Canon Glasspool’s Election

From The Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle has become one of the first bishops of the Episcopal Church to say publicly that he will decline consent to the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool’s election as a suffragan bishop.

Bishop Doyle made that commitment in a letter to the people of the Diocese of Texas diocese that soon appeared on Kendall Harmon’s weblog, TitusOneNine.

“We cannot isolate ourselves by listening only to the voices of any one province, or even the voices of any one diocese within our province,” the bishop wrote. “In the Diocese of Texas we are interested in our relationships locally and abroad, believing we are stronger when we listen to and partner with diverse cultures around the world.

“As bishop of the Diocese of Texas I will continue to honor the request of my brothers and sister bishops across our province and the Communion, and the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and will not consent to the Rev. Glasspool’s election.”

Carol Barnwell, communications officer of the diocese, confirmed the letter’s authenticity and said the bishop declined an opportunity to discuss it with The Living Church.

The bishop’s letter also emphasized the theological and social diversity of the diocese.

“We have many gay and lesbian members across the diocese and week after week they join with the rest of our Church as faithful communicants to worship and work on behalf of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. “We acknowledge the blessing of diverse opinions on scripture and sexuality, while as a whole the Diocese of Texas has continued and continues to offer a clear response to the wider Communion through a traditional teaching on marriage and ordination.”

More here-

Old church buildings a tough sell

From The Pittsburgh Tribune Review-

Johanna Yoho knew the Pittsburgh church she attended since childhood couldn't hang on much longer.

With membership and collections dwindling, Mt. Zion Lutheran Church on the North Side merged with another congregation in 2006. Afterward, a consultant recommended conducting services in the newer and larger Brighton Heights Lutheran Church and putting Mt. Zion up for sale.

"When we hand the keys over to the (buyer), that will be bittersweet," said Yoho, 48, of Observatory Hill, who was treasurer of Mt. Zion.

About 70 churches have changed hands in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties since 2007, according to RealSTATs, a South Side-based real estate information company.

Dozens more across Western Pennsylvania have posted for-sale signs.

"Selling churches is not an easy thing," said Tom Conroy, a sales representative with Howard Hanna Commercial, who is handling the sale of the Mt. Zion church building to another congregation.

But it's a sign of the times.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg is listing six churches for sale as a result of church closings announced by Bishop Lawrence Brandt in 2008, according to diocese spokesman Jerry Zufelt.

Asking prices for the former church buildings were not released.

More here-

Burwell candidate for bishop

From Charleston-

The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina will elect its eighth bishop Saturday.

Six candidates include two priests in the diocese, two from Texas, one from Minnesota and one local priest, the Very Rev. John B. Burwell, rector of Church of the Holy Cross, which has sanctuaries on Sullivan's Island and Daniel Island, and soon will plant another church in the I'On neighborhood of Mount Pleasant.

The current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson Jr., will retire Dec. 31 after 14 years leading the upper diocese, which has jurisdiction over the northwestern half of the state.

The new bishop will be elected by clergy of the diocese and by lay delegates representing the diocese's 64 congregations. Voting will continue until a nominee receives a majority of both clergy and lay votes on the same ballot. Results will be posted in real time at

The election comes during a tense time in The Episcopal Church, which affirmed earlier this year that gays and lesbians in monogamous relationships are eligible for "any ordained ministry," and that same-sex unions can be blessed. In response, the Diocese of South Carolina called a special convention during which four of five resolutions were passed, including one that calls on the bishop and standing committee "to begin withdrawing from all bodies of The Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." Burwell, citing allegiance to his bishop, said he voted in favor of this resolution, but that it was misunderstood by many observers.

More here-

Sudan at the crossroads

From The London Guardian-

History leapt to life for me a couple of weeks ago, while I was sitting under a tree in Rumbek, southern Sudan. I was reading about the first black bishop of Sudan, Elinana Ngalamu, who was consecrated in 1974 and became archbishop two years later. The chapter on his life, by Samuel Kayanga, in Announcing the Light: Sudanese Witnesses to the Gospel, edited by Andrew Wheeler, related the retirement of the previous bishop, a missionary. It was widely believed that he thought he should be succeeded by another missionary, who was serving in South Africa, rather than by Ngalamu.

A group of three Sudanese clergy in exile from the civil war signed a document in protest: Sudan was ready for its own bishop. I said to my Sudanese neighbour under the tree, who had just arrived, "This must have been a pivotal moment in the history of Sudan – the writing and signing of that document." He agreed and, after a pause, went on, "By the way, he did not want to bring him from South Africa but from Uganda." I asked, "How do you know?" He replied, "I drafted the document".

I was conscious during the following week's deliberations that I was witnessing another pivotal moment in the life of Sudan, and another key document. From 23-27 November the provincial standing committee of the Episcopal church of Sudan was meeting to discuss renewing the life of the church and of the nation. It is less than five months before the national elections and just one year before the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) expires: a dangerous vacuum may ensue. In 2011 the southern Sudanese are due to vote in a referendum on self-determination. The communique, headed "Blessed are the peacemakers", stated bluntly, "The CPA is on the brink of collapse due to the contentions over the referendum law, the demarcation of the 1 January 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups."

More here-

Pride and Prejudice in the Episcopal Church

From The Wall Street Journal-

In an era of black and white arguments, it's an uncomfortable feeling to be caught in the gray middle.

Last week, the Los Angeles diocese of the Episcopal Church—my diocese; my church—elected the Rev. Mary Glasspool, an openly lesbian woman, to be an assistant bishop, an election that still needs to be confirmed by a majority of Episcopal dioceses in the U.S.

I have been a friend to gays both personally and politically all my life, and yet I believe this election was a foolish mistake.

Even in my youth I could never understand antigay prejudice. So different were their desires from the ones burning a hole in my adolescent brain that it seemed obvious they were naturally "other," and thus as God had made them.

Becoming a political conservative and a Christian has not changed my opinion. While the cruelty and decadence that brought hellfire down on Sodom and Gomorrah and the promiscuity that sparked the disapproval of St. Paul may both be real phenomena, they have nothing to do with the loving and committed relationships of many gays I've known. The tragedy of sin is the harm it does to the sinner and others. But in these relationships, where is the harm? Where is the sin? I have never met anyone who could convincingly answer those questions.

But if homosexuality is not a sure path to sin, there are other human qualities that are: self-righteousness, recklessness, pride most of all. I believe the diocese of Los Angeles is guilty of all of these.

The American Episcopal Church contains about two million of the 70 million congregants in the world-wide Anglican communion, of which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is the spiritual head. Since many congregants belong to far more conservative churches in Africa and South America, the archbishop, undoubtedly a friend to gays, nonetheless joined with other leaders in a 2004 plea for the American church to stop promoting active homosexuals. His intent, clearly, was to avoid schism.

More here-

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ugandan ‘anti-homosexuality bill’ proposes death penalty; Obama administration has no comment

From The Spectator-

Tensions between the Obama White House and top gay rights leaders intensified this week, as the East African nation of Uganda seems set to pass a bill that would enforce the death penalty on the nation’s gay community. The legislation, drafted by Ugandan Parliament, states: 1) those found guilty of homosexual activity will be sentenced to a minimum of life in prison, 2) homosexuals that are HIV positive will automatically be sentenced to death as well as those who commit homosexual acts more than once and/or with minors, 3) the “promotion of homosexuality” through leaflets or otherwise will be outlawed, and 4) anyone who refuses to report homosexual activity will receive a 3 year prison sentence.

Ugandan lawmakers and religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian, have thrown their support behind the bill, and the Ugandan public overwhelmingly supports laws enforced against homosexuality. Even though Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has not publicly supported the bill, he has suggested in the past that homosexuality in Uganda is a result of western influence and has verbally supported an African movement to expel homosexuality from the continent. ““I hear European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa…You should discourage your colleagues because God was not foolish to do the way he arranged” Museveni said last month.

In the United States, the proposed Ugandan law has raised questions about American evangelical involvement in the region stemming from the potential schism within the Anglican Church, 35% of Ugandans are Anglican. Liberal commentators, like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, have criticized California evangelical super-church preacher Rick Warren and the alleged American evangelical political society “the Family”, whose members include Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and former Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, for supporting and funding religious fundamentalism throughout the nation.

“I believe we’re not doing nearly enough, and by not responding more forcefully by the administration we’re allowing these voices to sound to important parts of the world as if they represent U.S. policy, which clearly they don’t” Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York said.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury calls on Americans to block lesbian bishop's appointment

From The Daily Mail-

The Archbishop of Canterbury today called on American Anglicans to block the appointment of a lesbian bishop.

Dr Rowan Williams warned that the selection of a new homosexual bishop could push the divided Anglicans over the edge into full-blown schism.

The Archbishop spoke out after leaders of the Church of England's sister church in Los Angeles chose 55-year-old Reverend Mary Glasspool as an assistant bishop.

He said the choice raised 'serious questions' and warned it was a threat to the 'bonds' that tie 77million Anglicans together.

Canon Glasspool, who lives with her long-term partner Becki Sander, acclaimed her election as a victory for gay rights.

'Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated, aspect of their person yearns for justice and equal rights,' she said.

The historic worldwide network of Anglican churches that owe allegiance to Canterbury has been locked in angry dispute for six years since the liberal-dominated US Episcopal Church first appointed a gay bishop.

Read more:

Election of lesbian bishop divides Anglican community

From the London Guardian-

That the US Episcopal Church has elected a lesbian as a bishop should come as no more of a surprise than learning that the future of the Anglican Communion is once again in jeopardy. The trajectory of each has been clear to church watchers for almost a decade, so talk of schism and turmoil is not so much premature as it is tardy and, quite frankly, a statement of the bleeding obvious.

As recently as July the US Episcopal Church announced its decision to open "any ordained ministry" to gay and lesbian people. Last weekend they did just that – congratulations Mary Glasspool. You never wanted to be a "single issue person" but you are anyway. Not to be outdone on the flouting of the moratoria – three laughable "bans" aimed at keeping the Communion together – malcontents on the conservative evangelical side last year announced their decision to launch a parallel network for like-minded Anglicans, and there were accusations of heresy and apostasy thrown about in Jerusalem with gay abandon.

Although the existence of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (Gafcon) in itself is not breaking a ban, conservatives, whether in Pittsburgh, Abuja or Oxford, like rattling their sabres, threatening to break away because of the progressives ruining "their" church. Before the launch of Gafcon and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Foca), Anglican churches in Africa intervened in US parishes where there was a difference in opinion over homosexuality by providing religious leadership that is more conservative, a practice that continues to this day.

More here-

Glasspool: 'I anticipated some kind of reaction'

From the Baltimore Sun-

We sat down on Tuesday with the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, who on Saturday became the first openly lesbian Episcopal priest elected a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Pending confirmation, the Annapolis woman, who since 1992 has served as a rector and canon (advisor) to the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, will become bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles. She would be only the second openly gay Anglican bishop in the world, after the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire threw the Protestant denomination into its current state of turmoil.

The election drew a stern rebuke from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan D. Williams, who said her confirmation would jeopardize relations in the 70 million-member church. We've got a story in Wednesday's paper.

Following is a transcript of our conversation, which started with a question about Williams' warning.

With respect to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he has a personal relationship with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and I leave that in their realm. Certainly, I’m not ignorant of issues in the culture and the church, so yes, I can say I anticipated some kind of reaction. You never know what kind of reaction.

I want to be quick to say that personally, I have received hundreds, maybe a thousand at this point, and one negative e-mail among all of them. I’ve received e-mails from all over the world – from an 18-year-old gay man in Auckland, New Zealand, who said how proud and thrilled he was for the church. Episcopalians in the Diocese of Dallas, which is one of our more conservative dioceses, and a married couple, lay people, who wrote and sent their congratulations. A Lesbian couple who are Roman Catholic in England who said they were having such difficulty in their own church and they were so proud that the Episcopal Church was taking leadership in this way, demonstrating not only the reality of who we already are, but the inclusiveness of Jesus’ love for all people.

More here-

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fears for Pope's health as Christmas Midnight Mass to be held early

From The London Times-

The Vatican has denied that Pope Benedict XVI had "health problems" after it emerged that he is to hold the traditional Christmas Eve Midnight Mass two hours early.

Father Federico Lombardi said that the decision to hold the mass at ten in the evening had been taken nearly two months ago. The service would end at midnight rather than starting at midnight in order to "to tire the Pope a bit less" and enable him to retire to bed earlier to rest before before the rigours of Christmas Day, when he reads his "Urbi et Orbi" message to the city and the world. "There is no cause for alarm," Father Lombardi said.

Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of Pope Benedict and other modern Popes, said however that Pope John Paul II had never varied the Christmas liturgical calendar and had always held the mass at midnight, even in the final years of his decline. He died in 2005.

The German-born pontiff, 82, is committed to a busy travel schedule for 2010, including a planned trip to Britain in the autumn during which he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the celebrated nineteenth century Anglican convert to Roman Catholicism.

More here-

Jensen rejects vote for lesbian

From Australia-

THE Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has urged the world Anglican communion to eject the Episcopal Church after it elected a lesbian bishop in a Los Angeles diocese.

Calling the election of Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool ''sad but not surprising'', Dr Jensen said yesterday the Episcopal Church leadership had ''chosen to walk in a way which is contrary to scripture'' and ''contrary to historic Anglicanism''.

His comments followed a quick response from the spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who urged Episcopal Church leaders to refrain from provocative acts and consider the ''very serious questions'' the election raised before confirming the appointment.

The Anglican Church has been divided on openly homosexual clergy, with some saying Canon Glasspool's election makes a schism inevitable.

''I think this will confirm the view of people who say the communion is already broken, let's face up to the facts, let's not pretend,'' said the Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth.

''There is deep division here on profound principle, about which I can see no middle ground.''

Canon Glasspool has lived with her partner, the academic Becki Sander, since 1988. If her appointment is confirmed, she will be the second openly gay person to be made bishop in the liberal US wing of the Anglican Church, after Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. His 2003 election led to a moratorium on further gay bishops which was overturned by the Episcopal Church in July.

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Orombi angry over new lesbian bishop

From Uganda-

The Church of Uganda has expressed dismay over news that a lesbian in the diocese of Los Angeles in the United States has been elected an assistant bishop.

Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, 55, married to a female companion for 21 years, won 153 and 203 votes from clergy and the lay, respectively to beat two other candidates.

However, the National Episcopal Church will have to approve her pick before an expected enthronement that would make her the second homosexual bishop in history after New Hampshire’s Gene Robinson, consecrated in 2003.

Disaster recipe
On Monday, Archbishop Luke Orombi’s assistant for International Relations, Ms Alison Barfoot, described as “funny and unbiblical” the choice of Ms Glasspool.

“We believe the Bible condemns homosexual behaviour as immoral. So how can a homosexual be a bishop?” she said. “This decision of the Episcopal Church in America [the equivalent Anglican Church there] will only bring more problems and divisions.”

Canon Glasspool appeared unfazed by the criticisms, telling The Times newspaper of London in comments published on Monday: “Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice and equal rights.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke out on Sunday, expressing unease over the latest developments in the Episcopal Church in the US, already reeling with adverse effects of the consecration of Robinson.

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A bishop Anglicans can live with

From The London Guardian-

The election of Canon Mary D Glasspool as an Anglican bishop in the diocese of Los Angeles has been slated by some, praised by others. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wants Episcopal church leaders to block her appointment, and has warned of "very important implications" if they do not. But to Giles Fraser, "This is another nail in the coffin of Christian homophobia."

Along with Canon Diane Bruce, she has been chosen as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles. In some ways, Glasspool is an unsurprising choice, a gifted parish priest now in the senior clergy team supporting churches across Maryland. But she is also openly lesbian, and has been in a committed relationship for 21 years. Some believe that makes her unsuitable, at least while opinion is so divided. Others feel that turning her down just because of her sexuality would go against Gospel values and deny the promptings of the holy spirit.

The consecration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as bishops, and blessing of same-sex partnerships, have been hotly debated in Anglican circles in recent years. Most provinces disapprove of such relationships, at least publicly, though some – such as the Church of England – rely heavily on LGBT clergy and layworkers. The Episcopal church, with the Anglican Church of Canada, has gone further than most towards including LGBT people at all levels.

Some see this as arrogance, others as bold prophetic leadership. Yet the Episcopal church is more in tune with traditional Anglicanism than many of its critics and supporters would admit.

Anglican thinkers have long recognised that complex issues deserve careful study, drawing on scripture, tradition and reason, and that is possible to disagree yet remain in fellowship. While Anglican churches in different parts of the world have long been autonomous, the "duty of thinking and learning" is a theme that has come up repeatedly at international gatherings. In 1978 the Lambeth conference recognised the need for "deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of scripture and the results of scientific and medical research", "pastoral concern for those who are homosexual" and "dialogue with them".

Concern for justice and commitment to human rights was another theme, including from the 1980s those of "homosexual orientation". Anglicans also acknowledged that laypeople as well as clergy, "share in the priestly ministry of the church and in responsibility for its work", and each province should "explore the theology of baptism and confirmation in relation to the need to commission the laity for their task in the world".

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Friend of Dr Rowan Williams feels 'betrayed' by his stance on gays

From The London Times-

A close friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury who was tutored by him at theological college said he felt betrayed by Dr Rowan Williams’ new-found opposition to gays and lesbians in the ordained ministry of the Anglican Communion.

The Rev Colin Coward, 64, who lives with a gay man and who preaches regularly at his local church in the Salisbury diocese, said that Dr Williams was aware of his sexuality and never once challenged it.

He said that about a quarter of the 50-plus students at his Cambridge theological college were gay and this was accepted by the Church of that era. Dr Williams was a tutor at Westcott House, a liberal college, from 1977 to 1980.

Speaking to The Times yesterday after Dr Williams warned of “important implications” of the consecration of a lesbian bishop in the US, Mr Coward said he was “deeply depressed and frustrated” that Dr Williams had spoken out against Canon Mary Glasspool within hours of her election as a suffragan in Los Angeles, while declining publicly to condemn the proposed new law in Uganda that will sentence large numbers of homosexuals to death and life in prison.

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Episcopal Diocese narrows list of bishop candidates

From Wyoming-

The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming has narrowed its search for a new bishop to five finalists, the diocese announced Monday. The list of finalists to succeed outgoing Bishop Bruce Caldwell, who is retiring next year, includes candidates from around the country -- including a Casper rector.

The five finalists are: the Rev. Rebecca "Becky" Brown of Foxborough, Mass.; the Very Rev. Robert "Bob" Neske of Hastings, Neb.; the Very Rev. Canon F. Michael Perko of Albuquerque, N.M.; the Rev. Canon Dr. Clark Michael Sherman of Bozeman, Mont.; and the Rev. John Sheridan Smylie, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper.

Monday’s announcement also opens the door for people to submit additional nominations for the position.
Any nominee must submit an application and a head shot by Dec. 21.

The application form, available online at, must also be signed by eight Wyoming clergy and current congregation members, among other requirements.

Clergy and delegates from Wyoming congregations will vote in March on a replacement for Caldwell, who will retire next summer after more than 12 years as the head of the Wyoming diocese.

The congregation's choice will then have to be approved by the House of Bishops, composed of every Episcopal Church bishop in the United States. The consecration ceremony for the new bishop will be held around July 24, said bishop search committee chairwoman Linda Anderson. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the church's presiding authority, will travel to Wyoming for the ceremony, Anderson said. The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming covers the entire state, serving more than 7,000 Episcopalians.

Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog Elected to Hall of Fame

From the New York Times-

The veterans committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame elected the umpire Doug Harvey and the former manager Whitey Herzog on Monday. But Marvin Miller, the influential head of players union from 1966 to 1982, was left out again.

Harvey was a National League umpire from 1962 through 1992. Herzog managed for 18 years, mostly with Kansas City and St. Louis, winning six division titles, three pennants and the 1982 World Series for the Cardinals.

“He started building a ball club according to the ballpark in which he played, and the fundamental aspects of the game were some of the things he always highlighted,” said the St. Louis Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, referring to Herzog. “In those years, when the New York Mets may have had a better ball club, that allowed us to win the division. It simply came down to the way he prepared us to play the game.”

Tommy Lasorda, the Hall of Fame manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said Herzog always kept him guessing. Lasorda and Herzog won five of the eight N.L. pennants from 1981 through 1988.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Dreams of Church liberals are almost dead

From The London Times-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rarely been more impressive than in a speech he delivered in Rome just before his meeting with the Pope and just after the Roman Catholic Church had issued its astonishing offer of a home for Anglican Catholics unable to accept women bishops and other innovations. He spoke in characteristically human and erudite fashion of why there could be no going back on the ordination of women.

Just a few days later, he failed to condemn openly the new law to be enacted in Uganda that will condemn a large number of homosexuals to death. Yet when it came to the election as a bishop of a monogamous woman who has been in the same relationship for 21 years he was quick to judge. The problem was that this woman’s relationship is with another woman.

It is well known in church circles that Dr Williams, once barred from becoming Bishop of Southwark because of his liberal views, was the favoured choice of Tony Blair’s Government and the mostly liberal Church of England bishops to lead them because of what they believed to be his fearless advocacy for gay rights.

The dreams of these liberals, and the oppressed minorities they speak out in support of, are almost dead. One blog commenter yesterday suggested that the Archbishop, instead of asking “serious questions” about the election of Mary Glasspool, might like instead to appoint her as his representative to go and lobby the Ugandan Government. What a thrilling spectacle that would be to behold.

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Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes Episcopal leaders after L.A. diocese elects gay bishop

From the LA Times-

The spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion issued an unusually sharp and swift rebuke to Episcopal Church leaders over the election of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

In a terse statement, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered a warning to bishops, clergy and lay representatives of the U.S. church about the confirmation of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, a lesbian who has been in a partnered relationship for two decades.

Glasspool must still gain a majority of votes from bishops and standing committees of clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide communion. That voting process will unfold over the next four months as U.S. leaders consider Glasspool and another priest, the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, who was picked for a second "suffragan," or assistant bishop post in Los Angeles.

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole," Williams said in the statement.

Williams pointed out that Glasspool’s selection is only partly complete and that she could be rejected by the U.S. bishops or standing committees. "That decision will have very important implications," he said.

Williams’ message -- coming as Episcopalians in Los Angeles reflected on Glasspool’s election at church services Sunday -- was his strongest to date on an issue that has reverberated across the global communion since the 2003 consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, as bishop of New Hampshire.

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Episcopal Church Tensions Stirred

From the Wall Street Journal-

The breach between conservative and liberal Episcopalians widened as a lesbian was elected an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, drawing fire from Anglicans world-wide.

The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55 years old, was elected late Saturday on a seventh ballot, after several votes ended in deadlocks. Open about her sexual orientation since her seminary days, Canon Glasspool has been with the woman she calls her life partner since 1988.

She is in line to become the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, after the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, who took office in New Hampshire in 2004.

The Episcopal Church, with about two million members, is the U.S. branch of the world-wide Anglican Communion, which has about 80 million members.

Bishop Robinson's election raised tensions between the U.S. church and its counterparts around the world, especially in Africa and South America, where church leaders expressed concern that the Americans were pursuing a liberal social agenda in defiance of traditional Christian teachings on homosexuality.

To try to hold the communion together, the Episcopal Church agreed to stop ordaining gay bishops. But at its national convention last summer, the church voted to reverse that ban, leading to Canon Glasspool's election.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the world-wide Anglican communion, issued a statement saying Canon Glasspool's election "raises very serious questions" about the Episcopal Church's role in the Anglican Communion. He called on American Episcopalians to refrain from provocative acts. Maintaining a "period of gracious restraint," he said, is vital "if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

His concern was echoed by Father John Spencer, vicar general of a diocese in Quincy, Ill., that refuses to recognize the authority of the U.S. Episcopal Church because of its stance on issues such as the ordination of gays. That diocese is one of several in the U.S. that have broken away from the national Episcopal church and aligned instead with more conservative Anglican provinces overseas.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ross Bay elected Anglican Bishop of Auckland

From New Zealand-

Ross Bay has been elected as the new Anglican Bishop of Auckland.

The Dean of Parnell's Holy Trinity Cathedral, 44-year-old Bay is being touted as further evidence that the church is placing its trust in a new generation of leaders.

Reverend Bay will lead the country's largest Anglican diocese with more than 170,000 Anglicans - almost one third of New Zealand's Anglican population - living in Auckland.

Bay was born and raised in Papatoetoe and started his working life at the Bank of New Zealand. After his theological training, he served as an assistant priest at the Cathedral from 1990 to 1992.

A period overseas included postgraduate study before he returned as the Vicar of Ellerslie. He was commissioned as Archdeacon of Auckland in 2006 and in 2007 was appointed Dean and Vicar General.

As Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral Ross was thrust into the international spotlight when Sir Edmund Hillary died and the Cathedral was chosen for his state funeral.

"We're not just this little group in this particular parish. We also belong to something much wider than that: the diocese, the three Tikanga church here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the worldwide Anglican Communion."

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Archbishop of Canterbury's Statement on Los Angeles Episcopal Elections

From Anglican News Service-

The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.

The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.

From disaffected Episcopalians, Vatican's invitation gets mixed response

From New Jersey-

For five years, members of Saint Anthony of Padua in Hackensack, a church in the liberal Episcopal Diocese of Newark, have sought spiritual guidance from a bishop in a socially conservative diocese in South Carolina.

The reason? They oppose the liberal tendencies of the Newark diocese and their national church, which in 2003 seated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire over conservative opposition. The following year, St. Anthony's began periodically hosting Bishop William J. Skilton from Charleston, S.C.

The arrangement helps explain why parish members probably will not accept the Vatican's special offer, made last month, to allow dissatisfied Episcopalians and Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, said the Rev. Brian Laffler, the pastor. The Episcopal Church USA, with 2.1 million members, is part of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.

"We have a satisfactory situation," Laffler said. "We have the pastoral care of an authorized bishop who is sympathetic to our situation."

While significant numbers of Anglicans in Britain are expected to accept it, many Episcopalians in the United States who staunchly oppose their national church's stances on sexuality and gender already have been severing ties within the Anglican Communion, church observers say.

Other parishes besides Saint Anthony of Padua have formed relationships with like-minded conservative bishops. And approximately 20 parishes in Canada, and the bishops and many members of four dioceses in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and California, have left the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves with the Southern Cone of the Americas, an Anglican province in South America.

"Conservatives who are leaving, most of them have left the Episcopal Church already," said the Rev. John Donnelly of Saint Michael's Church in Wayne. "Those of us that are staying -- and there are significant numbers of conservatives who have stayed -- we're staying."

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Newly elected gay Episcopal bishop: Excited about church's future

From the LA Times

The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, newly elected bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, told delegates after her election that she was excited about the future of the national church. Glasspool, 55, is the first openly lesbian priest to be elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

"I'm very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future. But for just for this moment, let me say again, thank you, and thanks be to our loving and supporting God, a surprising God," Glasspool told delegates to the diocese's annual convention just after they elected her on the seventh balloting for one of two open suffragan, or assistant, bishop positions.

Referring to the current church season of Advent, a time of anticipation of the birth of Christ, Glasspool said, "This is my 56th Advent and I think I finally know the meaning of the word 'wait.' " The delegates laughed. Glasspool is the church's first openly gay priest to win election to the ranks of bishops since the controversial elevation of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson in 2003.

On Friday, the convention's first day, delegates elected the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, an Orange County priest, to fill the other open suffragan position in the Los Angeles diocese.

Today, as he announced the vote that gave Glasspool a majority, Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno's voice choked with emotion. Then he joked that someone had asked whether he could work with two women as his suffragan bishops. "I have to tell you I was born from a mother’s womb and I’ve been taking orders from women ever since," he said, adding, "I can assure you I can work with two women."

After her election, Glasspool was surrounded by supporters, both gay and straight. Several wept as they embraced her.