Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Anglican Communion Covenant: Final

Introduction to the Covenant Text

“This life is revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have communion with us; and truly our communion is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. These things we write so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1.2-4).

God has called us into communion in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1.9). This communion has been “revealed to us” by the Son as being the very divine life of God the Trinity. What is the life revealed to us? St John makes it clear that the communion of life in the Church participates in the communion which is the divine life itself, the life of the Trinity. This life is not a reality remote from us, but one that has been “seen” and “testified to” by the apostles and their followers: “for in the communion of the Church we share in the divine life”[1]. This life of the One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, shapes and displays itself through the very existence and ordering of the Church.

Our divine calling into communion is established in God’s purposes for the whole of creation (Eph 1:10; 3:9ff.). It is extended to all humankind, so that, in our sharing of God’s life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God might restore in us the divine image. Through time, according to the Scriptures, God has furthered this calling through covenants made with Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David. The prophet Jeremiah looked forward to a new covenant not written on tablets of stone but upon the heart (Jer 31.31-34). In God’s Son, Christ Jesus, a new covenant is given us, established in his “blood … poured out for the many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28), secured through his resurrection from the dead (Eph 1:19-23), and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts (Rom 5:5). Into this covenant of death to sin and of new life in Christ we are baptized, and empowered to share God’s communion in Christ with all people, to the ends of the earth and of creation.

We humbly recognize that this calling and gift of communion entails responsibilities for our common life before God as we seek, through grace, to be faithful in our service of God’s purposes for the world. Joined in one universal Church, which is Christ’s Body, spread throughout the earth, we serve his gospel even as we are enabled to be made one across the dividing walls of human sin and estrangement (Eph 2.12-22). The forms of this life in the Church, caught up in the mystery of divine communion, reveal to the hostile and divisive power of the world the “manifold wisdom of God” (Eph 3:9-10). Faithfulness, honesty, gentleness, humility, patience, forgiveness, and love itself, lived out in mutual deference and service (Mk 10.44-45) among the Church’s people and through its ministries, contribute to building up the body of Christ as it grows to maturity (Eph 4.1-16; Col 3.8-17).

Its all here-

Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes 'controversial' Anglican Covenant

From The London Telegraph-

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has hailed the publication of a set of guidelines for the Anglican Communion that could see it acquire new members.

Dr Williams also admitted that parts of the long-awaited Anglican Covenant which deal with sanctions against churches that break traditions or established boundaries are "controversial".
But he insisted it would not be used to punish either conservatives or liberals in the bitter dispute over sexuality within the 80 million-strong worldwide church.

The Covenant has been developed as a way for the national churches that make up the Communion to remain linked, despite the tensions over the ordination of openly homosexual bishops that have driven it to the brink of collapse over the past decade.

If the provinces sign up to the document, whose final draft has been published online, they agree not to carry out any contentious actions such as putting their clergy in another country without its agreement, electing openly homosexual priests or blessing same-sex unions in church.
The Covenant allows a body called the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to resolve disputes and to suspend the membership of provinces that break the rules from gatherings of worldwide leaders such as the Lambeth Conference.

Outside groups are also allowed to sign up to the Covenant, and although their membership of the Communion is not automatic the move could lead to official recognition of new orthodox groups that have been formed in opposition to the liberal Episcopal Church of the USA, such as the Anglican Church of North America.

Dr Williams, the spiritual head of the world's third-largest Christian denomination, said in a video message: "After several years of work, the proposed covenant for the Anglican Communion has now reached its final form and is being distributed to the provinces for discussion, and I hope it will be adopted by as many provinces as possible.

"It’s quite important in this process to remember what the Covenant is and what it isn’t, what it’s meant to achieve, and what it’s not going to achieve. It’s not going to solve all our problems, it’s not going to be a constitution, and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Liturgist: Recover the Daily Office

From The Living Church-

Making Holy Eucharist the central act of Sunday worship has also made that sacrament the central worship at most other gatherings of Episcopalians, said the Rev. Sister Jean Campbell, OSH.

“Every time we get together, we want to celebrate the Eucharist,” she said. “Why?”

Sr. Campbell, a member of the Order of St. Helena since 1974, is the rector of Trinity Church, Fishkill, N.Y., and a former member of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music. She spoke at Virginia Theological Seminary on Dec. 10 on “Non-Eucharistic Worship Since 1979.” Her lecture was part of the seminary’s year-long series on “The Prayer Book at 30,” which examines the legacy of The Book of Common Prayer (1979).

“Recover[ing] the reality that prayer is not a Sunday-only event” is of prime importance for Christians’ spiritual lives, Sr. Campbell said. “Daily prayer is…not optional,” but a part of “the normative life to which we are called.”

As a way of making prayer more normative, Sr. Campbell advocated using Scripture in doxological as well as didactic ways. Didactically, we read Scripture because it is Scripture, rather than using it as the prayer of the Church. Doxologically, we ask God to act within us as we use Scripture as prayer. The two often work together, but the doxological needs to be recovered in our day “if we’re truly going to be a biblical people,” Sr. Campbell said.

One way to recover the doxological is to sing Scripture in communal settings. Sr. Campbell lamented the lack of communal, sung liturgical prayer as a “great void.” She noted the challenges this would prove to small parishes in particular.

“Can we develop ways of singing Scripture that are easily accessible for a small parish?” she said. “The task these days is to learn how to ritualize,” which requires a priest to determine how a particular community prays and to help it grow in prayer. She commended simple music and training in prayer to help meet this goal.

More here-

Dr Williams ‘shocked’ by Ugandan Bill

Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has described the proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda as “of shocking severity. . . I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades,” he said in a newspaper interview on Saturday. The Bill, in its present form, could impose the death penalty or life imprisonment for homosexual activity, and would allow parents to be imprisoned for not denouncing their children within 24 hours of knowing they were gay.

Dr Williams told The Daily Telegraph it would make pastoral care impossible: “It seeks to turn pastors into informers.”
He told the paper that the Church of the Province of Uganda opposed the death penalty, but he noted that the Archbishop, the Most Revd Henry Orombi, “has not taken a position on this Bill”. Other Ugandan bishops have spoken publicly. The Bishop of Karamoja, the Rt Revd Joseph Abura, has described those who oppose the legislation as “lovers of evil” (Comment, 4 December). He said: “Our children are ignorant of the vice; but gays and their sympathisers want to appeal to their psyche, to their consciousness that they be infected, too. “They are spreading it in our institutions of learning.

They want to condition every penny that comes to our government or churches or non-government organisations.”
Canon Gideon Byamugisha, a Christian Aid ambassador, said that gay people were being used as scape goats for all the problems in Uganda. He has condemned the Bill as something that would “institution alise violence and death to a min ority group simply because the majority do not like them” .

Pressure continues to be put on Dr Williams to condemn the Ugandan bishops’ support for the Bill as unequivocally as he condemned the election of Canon Mary Glasspool, a lesbian priest, as a suffragan bishop in Los Angeles (News, 11 December). The LGBT Anglican Coalition, an umbrella organisation for eight groups which support gay and les­bian Christians, said in a statement this week that the transparency of the elections in Los Angeles con trasted favourably with the “still opaque processes by which Church of England bishops are appointed”.

More here-

Christians outraged by poster showing Mary and Joseph after sex

More on the infamous Billboard- From the London Telegraph-

The large poster depicts a dejected-looking Joseph lying next to Mary, whose eyes are turned heavenwards, under the words: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."
Both figures, painted in classical fresco style, appear to be naked.

Within hours of the billboard being erected outside the Anglican church of St Matthew's in the City, in central Auckland, it had been attacked by a man who clambered on to the roof of his car to smear brown paint over it.

As a result it was almost obliterated and the church, which describes itself as "progressive", is seeking a replacement.

Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said the billboard was intended to lampoon the literal interpretation of the Christmas conception story "and that somehow this male God impregnated Mary".

"What we're trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about," he said.

"We actually think God is about the power of love as shown in Jesus, which is something quite different than a literal man up in the sky."

He said the church had asked an advertising agency to come up with ideas for the poster and the one they had chosen was not the most radical.

"One of the options we turned down had a sperm coming down with the words 'Joy to the World'," he said.

More here-

Pope declines UK state pomp and avoids apology over Ireland abuse

From The London Times-

The Pope will not stay at Buckingham Palace and has declined an open-carriage procession and palace banquet during his state visit to Britain next year.

Although Pope Benedict XVI will be a guest of the Queen he will stay with his Ambassador to the Court of St James, the Apostolic Nuncio, at his house in Wimbledon, southwest London.

The Pope will spend one day in Scotland during the three-day visit from September 16 to 19. In spite of pleas from lay members of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for him to visit them and apologise in person for decades of child abuse by members of the clergy exposed in a recent report, he is unlikely to do so before 2012.

Jim Murphy, a Catholic MP who is Secretary of State for Scotland and heads the government team in charge of the visit, said that while it would have the status of a state visit, the Vatican did not want the trappings that accompany such a visit.

“It’s a unique constitutional arrangement as the Pope is head of a faith and the head of state,” Mr Murphy told The Tablet, the Catholic weekly.

“The official title is ‘papal visit with the status of a state visit’. Normally state visits include banquets and gold carriages but the Vatican doesn’t want that.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have drawn up an itinerary that is now with the Holy See and includes public Masses and ecumenical events. The Pope will meet the Queen in Scotland, where she will be at Balmoral.

The organisers will be anxious to avoid embarrassing conflict with Anglicans, as arrangements move forward for new Anglican Ordinariates for traditionalists who wish to convert to Catholicism.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese building goes green

From Wyoming- (Via Montana)

When it opened this week, the remodeled Episcopal Diocese in downtown Casper became one of only a handful of buildings in Wyoming to comply with nationally recognized green building guidelines.

The diocese incorporates principles from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, which aims to reduce a building’s impact on the environment. The remodel incorporated renewable and recycled materials, and equipped the building with energy-efficient heating and lighting systems.

“I think we just want to be good stewards of the environment,” said John Masters, executive director of the Episcopal Foundation for Wyoming, the nonprofit group behind the remodel.
In opting for a green building design, the foundation wanted to model good environmental practices to churches in the diocese, and the community as a whole, Masters said.
“They consciously made the decision that we would probably end up spending a little extra money, but we would have a model ... on what could be done with an old building,” he said.
The green design also keeps with the Episcopal Church’s national commitment to the environment, said Andrew Kerr, communication director for the Wyoming diocese.

During the remodel, workers installed an energy-efficient heating system in the roughly 50-year-old building and took advantage of as much natural light as possible, Masters said.

More here-

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Semi-nude Mary and Joseph spark outrage in New Zealand

From the "You Can't Make this Stuff Up" Department. New Zealand Division.

A New Zealand church has sparked outrage by erecting a billboard depicting Mary and Joseph lying semi-nude beneath the sheets.

In an unorthodox take on the Christmas tale, the billboard depicts a forlorn Joseph and Mary looking to the sky with a caption which reads: "Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow."

The St Matthew-in-the-City church said it wanted to inspire people to talk about the Christmas story.

But within five hours of the billboard going up in downtown Auckland a man was standing on his car roof painting over the raunchy image.

Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said the church meant to challenge a fundamentalist interpretation of Christ's birth.

"What we're trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about. Is it about a spiritual male God sending down sperm so a child would be born, or is it about the power of love in our midst as seen in Jesus?"

Cardy said one person had threatened to tear down the billboard but that of the 20 odd emails and phone calls he had received "about 50% said they loved it, and about 50% said it was terribly offensive".

The Catholic church joined those on the attack, accusing the Anglican church of disrespect.

"It's flying in the face of our 2,000-year-old beliefs," a Catholic church spokesman, Lyndsay Freer, said.

The rest is here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Focus of ‘Pay It Forward’ is to share God’s love

From Chicago-

The focus of the Pay It Forward project through St. James Episcopal Church is to share God’s love with our community and our world. Jesus Christ commanded us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everyone in our community is our neighbor. People that we encounter in our daily lives are our neighbors, whether they are friends, acquaintances or strangers. How might we share God’s love with people we come in contact with in our daily lives?

This is the season of giving: Time, Compassion, Kindness and Love. Acts of kindness done do not have to involve money. Showing respect to each and every individual we meet will have a positive spiritual influence on each of our lives. God’s grace of salvation is offered to all. Slow down the pace of life.

We get in such a hurry that we don’t take time to consider the needs of others. Allow someone to go ahead of us in the check out line. Hold a door open for someone else. If someone cuts us off while driving, pray for them instead of cursing them. Greet people as we pass them on the street. Pass the peace of God through our greeting. Donate our time. Get involved in volunteer activities at the Senior Center. Shovel someone’s sidewalk and driveway.

Pass on our talents and skills to our youth by sharing them at the Teen Center. Take someone to an appointment that doesn’t have a vehicle. Ring the Bell for Salvation Army. Clean someone’s home. Donate labor to complete home repairs. Prepare a meal and share it with someone in need. The possibilities to share God’s love are endless. The rewards received from sharing His Love are inspiring.

More here-

Obama's Muslim Outreach Named Top Religion Story of 2009

From Religious News Service- (see number nine)

President Obama's speech to the Muslim world has been ranked by the nation's religion journalists as the top religion story of the year.

The June speech in Cairo, in which the president quoted from the Quran and said America will "never" be at war with Islam, was ranked as the No. 1 religion story by members of the Religion Newswriters Association.

Evangelical leader Rick Warren, whose invocation at Obama's inauguration was greeted by protests from gay-rights groups, was named the 2009 Religion Newsmaker of the Year.

The entire top 10 is as follows:

1. President Obama promises a new start of Muslim-U.S. relations in a speech at Cairo University.

2. Health care reform, the key topic in Congress for much of the year, includes religious groups urging assistance for "the least of these" and groups like the Roman Catholic bishops seeking restrictions on abortion funding.

3. Considered a devout Muslim, Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, prompts a review of the role of Islam in terrorism, with some fearing a backlash.

More here-

Good Stuff in Tec: Group ensures inmates' children aren't forgotten

From The Washington Post-

Ronnie Boyd, 42, was at a crossroads when he walked out of the Arlington County jail this time last year. His release meant he would be able to see his two children for the holidays, but it also meant that because he was unemployed, he had few gifts to offer them.

Then he learned of Offender Aid and Restoration's Project Christmas Angel, which provides gifts for children of inmates or those recently released from jail. Through the Arlington agency's program, Boyd's son and daughter received gifts with handwritten notes from their father last year.

"The most important thing for me was to see the smiles on their faces, knowing that I was able to make them happy even under these circumstances," Boyd said.

People who work in OAR's programs or are in need are also eligible to have gifts donated to their families. Project Christmas Angel, which has provided offenders' children with gifts for more than 20 years, gave three gifts each to 412 children last year.

The gifts come with personalized cards from parents and do not mention how they were purchased. Children often have no idea that OAR has provided the presents, said Elizabeth Jones, the group's director of development and special projects.

More here-

Anglican high court petition eyed in LB

From Long Beach-

Lawyers and congregants for several local Anglican parishes that broke away from the Episcopal Church of the United States will be carefully watching developments in the case of another breakaway church in La Crescenta.

St. Luke's Anglican Church, which lost its property to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in a court dispute after it left the larger church, is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review its case.

The church has filed a writ asking whether the California courts are violating the United States Constitution.

All Saints Church in Long Beach is one of three Southland Churches that originally broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2004 and remains embroiled in a similar legal dispute.

St. James Church, another of the original three dissident churches, was turned down earlier when it asked the high court to review its case.

At that time, Eric Sohlgren, a lawyer representing both St. James' and St. Luke's, theorized the Supreme Court may have demurred because the St. James case was still in court.

Typically, he said, the high court prefers to consider cases after they have played out at the state level.

St. Luke has already lost its court case and appeal, so the Supreme Court is its last resort.

More here-

Breakaway parish appeals case involving L.A. Episcopal diocese

From the LA Times-

An Anglican congregation evicted from its La Crescenta church in October after it lost a legal battle with the Episcopal Church asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to hear its case.

Congregants at St. Luke's of the Mountains Anglican Church voted in 2006 to leave the Episcopal denomination over theological differences, including the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national church sued to retain the church's property.

California courts have repeatedly ruled against the breakaway parish, saying the St. Luke's property was held in trust for the diocese and the national denomination.

In October, the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Soon after, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the St. Luke's congregation to leave.

The breakaway parish has since taken up quarters in a rented Seventh-day Adventist chapel in Glendale.

The congregation's attorney, Eric Sohlgren, said its leaders hope the U.S. Supreme Court will establish a uniform approach for state laws to follow in church property disputes.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in a similar property dispute that has pitted the Los Angeles diocese and the national church against another breakaway congregation, St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach.

More here-,0,4669057.story

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Precious Items Salvaged From Ashes Of Historic Whitby Church

From Toronto-

It’s been a terrible week for the parishioners at All Saints’ Anglican Church in Whitby after the historic structure went up in flames, but there’s some good news as precious items have been salvaged from the ashes of the blaze.

Flames broke out at the 143-year-old church, described by some locals as “the prettiest building" in Whitby, Monday, causing widespread damage. A reverend carried some important items out of the charred church Tuesday, and All Saints’ prized stained-glass windows, amazingly, are still intact.

The church has been declared structurally sound with most of it salvageable.

Nearly 100 Christmas hampers were destroyed in the blaze, but donations have been pouring in and parishioners who organize the holiday program to help the city’s neediest families say they’ve collected more than enough clothes, food, toys and other gifts to distribute.

Any extra donations will be given to other community groups.

Donations are still being accepted Wednesday at Whitby’s Henry Street High School.

The flames broke out around 5am and authorities are still trying to confirm arson as a cause. Firefighters reportedly discovered a broken window and gas cans scattered on the ground nearby when they arrived on scene.

Police are now searching for three suspicious people seen in the area before the fire started.

Comparative Christology in Dallas

From the Living Church-

Sparks glowed and winked only momentarily on Dec. 12 when the Episcopal Church’s longest-serving evangelical bishop and its Presiding Bishop discussed the Second Person of the Trinity.

With the Diocese of Dallas’ two traditionalist bishops listening from the front row, the Most Rev. Jefferts Schori and the Rt. Rev. William C. Frey delivered modulated addresses on set topics: “Who is Christ for Me?” and “Who is Christ for the World?”

Only in response to questions did the presiding bishop cause, a couple of times, any considerable shaking of heads in an audience of more than 500 at the Church of St. Michael & All Angels, for decades one of the Episcopal Church’s largest and wealthiest parishes.

One questioner sought her views on the value of protecting unborn life. Bishop Jefferts Schori said the issue of abortion “raised the tragic question of whose life and privileges” deserved to triumph, the mother’s or the unborn child’s. She left the matter at that, philosophically speaking.

Another questioner brought up the bodily resurrection of Christ. Did she believe there had been one? She had (clearly) not been there herself, she said. The disciples believed it had happened. She went on: “The only permanent healing is the Resurrection of Christ.”

In one of her lectures she called Jesus’ sacrificial death “a fully divine participation in humanity, a making-holy (which is what sacrifice means) of the meaning of his life, and all human life.” Thus: “The resurrection is sacramental fruit of sacrifice.”

Bishop Frey, who was expelled from Guatemala by a military junta in 1971, said the church’s work is not limited to social engagement.

“[E]vangelism is our primary calling,” Bishop Frey said. “It would sell Jesus short to imply that he’s simply an example for us to follow, or another one of the world’s moral teachers. He’s a doer — the one who acts with power to transform us from what we are to what we can become.”

More here-

Wyoming: Four Nominees Remain

From The Living Church-

One nominee has withdrawn from the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming’s search for its ninth bishop, but four nominees remain. The diocese has set Dec. 21 as the deadline for nominees by petition.

The diocese announced on Dec. 12 that the Very Rev. Robert Neske, Dean of St. Mark’s Pro-Cathedral in Hastings, Neb., had withdrawn his name.

The four nominees are:

• The Rev. Rebecca Brown, rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Foxboro, Mass.

• The Very Rev. Canon F. Michael Perko, Ph.D., canon to the ordinary/ecclesiastical authority in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

• The Rev. Canon Dr. Clark Michael Sherman, rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Bozeman, Mont.

• The Rev. John Sheridan Smylie, rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Casper, Wyo.

The diocese has distributed the four nominees’ résumés [PDF]. It plans to distribute more detailed profile information after it announces any nominees by petition.

More here-

New Center to Focus on Religion and Politics

From The New York Times

Washington University in St. Louis will open a new academic center in January that will focus on the intersection of religion and politics and will be named for a former Missouri senator, John C. Danforth.

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics will eventually have five full-time faculty members, offer an undergraduate minor and sponsor conferences and lectures, Mr. Danforth, a former three-term Republican senator, said in an interview.

An ordained Episcopal priest and author of a book titled “Faith and Politics,” Mr. Danforth said the center would strive to be ideologically neutral and spark open-minded discussion on religion and politics. “I think all of us benefit from thinking about these issues more deeply, in a more scholarly way that is respectful to all points of view,” he said.

But Mr. Danforth, who also served as a special envoy to Sudan during former President George W. Bush’s administration, also acknowledged that the type of topics the center is likely to take up can be controversial and can spark back-and-forths that include what he called the “I’m right, you’re wrong, God’s on my side” point of view.

“My hope is to build into the D.N.A. of the center that this is going to be a place of coming together,” Mr. Danforth said, adding that “this is not going to be a place with a particular political ax to grind.”

The St. Louis-based Danforth Foundation — a charitable foundation started by William H. Danforth, the founder of Ralston Purina and the former senator’s grandfather — is kicking in a $30 million endowment gift to help the center get started.

More here-

UK's first woman bishop could be Alison Peden, Scots chaplain and mum

From The London Times-

The first woman bishop in the United Kingdom could soon be appointed after a woman was shortlisted for a vacancy in Scotland.

Canon Alison Peden, 57, who is married with children, is one of three candidates being considered as the new diocesan bishop for Glasgow and Galloway in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Under Scottish church rules Dr Peden, currently rector of Holy Trinity Church in Stirling and also a college chaplain and canon of St Ninian's cathedral in Perth, is not allowed to comment.

She is up against Dr John Applegate, 53, an academic and the Very Rev Gregor Duncan, 59, Rector of St Ninian’s Church, Pollokshields.

The Scottish Church is the most liberal of the Anglican provinces in the British Isles and is close in sympathies to the US Episcopal Church, where a lesbian, Canon Mary Glasspool, was a few days ago elected as a suffragan in the Los Angeles diocese and is awaiting confirmation from that church's bishops. The US Episcopal Church, in the colonial era a mere outpost of the London diocese, gained independence in the 18th century after the Revolution when the Bishop of London refused to consecrate a new bishop and so he went to Scotland to be consecrated instead.

More here-

Story from the Telegraph is here-

No fireworks at Episcopal bishops' debate in North Dallas

From The Dallas Morning News-

One bishop spoke deliberately, professorially, with flashes of droll humor and poetic phrasing. The other told stories from his long ministerial career, rounding them off with insights into Christian faith and practice.

"I heard a great deal of convergence," Frey said afterward.

The three-hour Saturday morning event packed the 700-seat sanctuary of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in North Dallas, which brought the speakers in as part of a lecture series.

Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church's first female presiding bishop, has been criticized by theological conservatives on a number of fronts, including for refusing to say that belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven.

The Rev. Robert Dannals, rector of Saint Michael and All Angels, sought to balance the program with Frey, a longtime leader of the Episcopal Church's traditional wing.

That wasn't enough for one local Episcopal priest, who said he and five colleagues wrote a letter to Bishop James Stanton of the Diocese of Dallas, protesting his decision to allow Jefferts Schori's visit. (Under Episcopal law, a diocesan bishop must give permission for a working visit by another bishop.)

More here-

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts, Evangelist, Dies at 91

From The New York Times-

Oral Roberts, the charismatic Pentecostal evangelist whose televised ministry attracted millions of followers worldwide and made him one of the most recognizable and controversial religious leaders of the 20th century, died Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Melany Ethridge, a spokeswoman for Mr. Roberts.

At the height of his influence, Mr. Roberts sat at the head of a religious, educational and communications enterprise based in Tulsa, Okla., that managed a university, conducted healing “crusades” on five continents, preached the gospel on prime-time national television and published dozens of books and magazines.

By 1985, the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and the university that bore his name employed more than 2,300 people and earned $110 million in revenue. The expanse of Mr. Roberts’s ministry, coupled with his fiery preaching, tycoonlike vision and jet-set lifestyle, also attracted persistent questions throughout his career about his theology and his unorthodox fund-raising techniques, although no credible evidence of malfeasance was ever produced. Some of the harshest criticism was generated by former members of his staff.

Mr. Roberts, who rose from stifling poverty and a nearly fatal case of tuberculosis as a teenager, rarely fought back in public. He was convinced, he said, that God had spoken to him directly as a young man and ordered him on the path, pursued with uncommon entrepreneurial energy, to “put Jesus into my focus at the center of all my thoughts, my dreams, my plans, my accomplishments, my destiny and any legacy I might leave behind.”

His influence derived from his intimate understanding of those who turned to him for worship. They were white and black and Hispanic, the poor and the ill, hard-working people who could not afford an abundance of material possessions but whose dreams of health and prosperity were tied to an abiding love of God.

More here-

Australian Firm Hopes to Cash In by Giving Away Light Bulbs

From The New York Times-

How can a company give away millions of products, help poor people, address climate change and turn a profit? A boutique energy company run by the unlikely partnership of an Anglican priest and a handful of business executives thinks it has the key.

The Melbourne company, Cool nrg International, is handing 30 million energy-efficient light bulbs out to poor and middle-income families in Mexico in a bid to capture a previously untapped corner of the carbon offset trading market and to nudge the developing world toward cleaner energy.

Cool nrg is one of a growing number of businesses trying to cash in on the multibillion-dollar market for carbon offsets approved by the United Nations under its Clean Development Mechanism, a program created by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to fight emissions of greenhouse gases. The program allows wealthy countries that have binding greenhouse gas targets to offset their emissions by investing in clean technology in developing countries, which have no targets.

The Mexican venture, called Cuidemos Mexico, or Let’s Take Care of Mexico, is the first C.D.M. project to focus on reducing energy demand by improving efficiency at the household, rather than the industrial, level. It is also the first project to receive “programmatic” status, meaning that it can be introduced at multiple sites without needing U.N. approval each time.

The company’s executive director is Nic Frances, 48, a charismatic former stockbroker turned Anglican priest who has been given a seat at the World Economic Forum in recognition of his success in setting up socially responsible enterprises.

More here-

Australian bishop urges prudence as Anglicans join Catholic Church

FromThe Catholic Spirit-

Incorporating traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church must be a "slow, cautious and prudent" path of implementing Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic constitution, said the bishop in charge of the process in Australia.

On November 9, the Vatican published Pope Benedict's apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus" ("Groups of Anglicans") along with specific norms governing the establishment and governance of "personal ordinariates," structures similar to dioceses, for former Anglicans who become Catholic.

Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Elliott, a former Anglican himself, told The Record Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth Dec. 11 that such Anglicans are in for a difficult next few years as the ordinariate is established in Australia.

The prelate, appointed to oversee the process at the bishops' November 23-27 plenary meeting, said that while the Church of England made some pastoral provision for these traditionalist Anglo Catholics, the Anglican Church has done nothing for them in Australia; "and the generous offer of Pope Benedict (XVI) comes to them in that context."

"They are at a stage of praying and discerning," Bishop Elliott said. "Obviously some are very tied to the churches where they worship, and great sacrifices will be required of them.

"They will have to give up worshipping in familiar places that they love dearly and seek fellowship with like-minded Anglicans on the journey into full unity with the Catholic Church."

More here-

Catholics Being Drawn to the Anglican Use Liturgy

From Catholic Online-

When the Vatican recently announced the reception of Anglican communities into the Catholic Church it was a dream come true not only for Anglo-Catholics seeking their own pastoral provision, but also for many Roman Catholics with Anglican backgrounds.

Over the last thirty years there has been a quiet but steady trickle of Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church. In the American province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, “The Episcopal Church,” it began with alterations to the Book of Common Prayer in 1979 and increased with the ordination of female clergy, along with the widespread acceptance of homosexuality.

Springfield Missouri is home to about four Episcopalian parishes and two continuing Anglican parishes. There was one small Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) parish about ten years ago, but it was later disbanded and the chapel sold. That being said, there are currently no Anglican parishes within the city that are interested in entering the emerging Anglican Ordinariates within the Roman Catholic Church.

However, that does not mean Springfield is lacking individuals with Anglican backgrounds who have taken interest in accepting the pope's offer. That being the case, a few pioneering Christians are starting their own prayer group in Springfield, with the intent of eventually forming an Anglican Use parish under the pastoral care of the soon to be Anglican Use ordinary bishop. They've named their group simply “Anglican-Use Catholics of Springfield Missouri.”

They have made their presence known to the Anglican Use Society, and are seeking direction from officials within that organization. They have also made their presence known to the diocesan bishop of the "Anglican Church in America," the provincial affiliate of the TAC. Likewise, they have notified their local Roman Catholic diocesan bishop of their intent.

More here-

St. Francis suit could go to jury

From El Paso-

When St. Francis on the Hill Episcopal Church voted to leave the Episcopal denomination in October, members of the El Paso parish intended to keep the church building and other property.

Now as the parishioners of the renamed St. Francis on the Hill Anglican Church, they are suing the denomination in a preemptive strike to prevent it from attempting to take back the property.

Such disputes are not uncommon, but this case could become the first of its kind to make it to a jury trial. Previous cases stemming from parishes and dioceses withdrawing from the Episcopal Church have been decided by judges. No case has so far made it to a trial by a jury.

The St. Francis case had been headed to trial Oct. 2, but after a hearing Sept. 17, the case was delayed until Feb. 5. The delay will give Judge Gonzolo Garcia of the 210th District Court in El Paso time to rule on motions that could determine the outcome of the case without a trial.

“Give me a summary judgment and let them appeal,” St. Francis attorney Richard Munzinger said at the hearing.

“We won’t enforce any action until the Court of Appeals (also) has ruled,” said Harrel Davis, who represents the Episcopal Church.

The dispute arises from the perception by some Episcopalians that the church denomination has drifted to the left. Rumblings of discontent were heard as far back as the 1970s when the church first ordained women.

But the movement to leave the national church began in earnest after the Episcopal Church elected a gay man to become a bishop in 2003.

Once the largest Episcopal parish in El Paso, the Church of St. Clement in Downtown also disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church, but first made arrangements to pay the diocese $2 million for the property.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury Condemns Uganda's Anti-Gay Law

From Beliefnet-

After weeks of intense pressure from Episcopal gay rights groups, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has condemned the "shocking severity" of proposed anti-gay laws in Uganda.

The spiritual leader of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion also said that "I can't see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades."

Williams' comments were made during an interview published Saturday (Dec. 12) with The Telegraph, a British newspaper.

Williams had been heavily criticized by American gay rights advocates, particularly since he said the election of a lesbian as an Episcopal bishop in Los Angeles raised "very serious questions" about whether the Episcopal Church should remain a full member of the Anglican Communion.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has failed 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," reads a statement from a Facebook page devoted to pressuring Williams. As of Monday (Dec. 14), the page had more than 4,530 members.

A number of U.S. religious leaders and gay rights groups have already condemned the proposed Ugandan laws, which would imprison gays and lesbians as well as people who counsel them. The Anglican Church of Uganda, however, has opposed only the proposed death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality."

The Anglican Communion, which includes both the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Uganda, has been bitterly divided over homosexuality for years. Many conservative Anglicans, particularly in Uganda and other parts of Africa, view gays and lesbians as sinful.

More here-

Episcopal Head Responds to Election of Lesbian Bishop

From Christian Post-

Prayer and discernment" are needed as Episcopal leaders decide whether to confirm the election of a partnered lesbian as bishop suffragan, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said.

The head of the about 2 million-member denomination provided a limited response to the recent election of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Glasspool, who has been with her partner for 19 years, must be approved as an assistant bishop by the bishops and standing committees of The Episcopal Church's other 108 dioceses within 120 days.

"The process isn't finished until it's finished," Jefferts Schori said Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

The Episcopal leader made her comments at a news conference in Dallas just after delivering a lecture on "Who is Christ" alongside a more conservative bishop – the Rt. Rev. William Frey – at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

Jefferts Schori, who has previously said that Jesus is not the only way to God and heaven, presented a carefully worded paper Saturday morning, mentioning only once the urgency for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in all structures of the church, as observed by Cheryl M. Wetzel, editor of The Anglican Voice.

During the lecture, she stated, "The challenges of our current age include the ancient human desire to find a scapegoat, with the familiar targets in this society right now being Muslims and immigrants and gay people. Jesus' own witness is to continually reject that kind of response, for it always ends in violence and diminution of life," as reported by The Dallas Morning News.

The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – widened rifts in the global body when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in 2003. In an effort to prevent schism, Anglican leaders from across the Communion, including those in the United States, in 2006 passed a resolution urging restraint concerning the election of bishops whose "manner of life" – namely partnered homosexuals – would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion.

More here-

Monday, December 14, 2009

Valley properties contested after Episcopal Church split

From The Fresno Bee-

Two years ago this week, the Diocese of San Joaquin seceded from the U.S. Episcopal Church, launching a legal battle over church property that is now headed toward a decisive showdown.
The rebel diocese changed its name and became a founding member of a new church, the Anglican Church in North America. But religious and legal experts say holding on to its property -- including real estate and cash -- will prove to be far more challenging.

Already, a Fresno County Superior Court judge has handed a critical victory to the national Episcopal church, which sued not long after the San Joaquin diocese voted to break away. The diocese is appealing that July ruling.

Several legal issues in the case remain to be decided. But even the breakaway diocese acknowledges it will likely lose if it cannot persuade the 5th District Court of Appeal to overturn Judge Adolfo Corona's ruling.

As both sides wage a battle of legal briefs in the state appeals court and await its decision, about $1 million in diocesan assets remains frozen.

More here-

Episcopal bishop seeks prayer in rift over gays

From AP-

The Episcopal Church should respond with "prayer and discernment" to the recent election of a lesbian priest as an assistant bishop of the Los Angeles diocese, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Saturday.
Although the Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore was elected earlier this month, she must be approved by a majority of Episcopal dioceses before she can be consecrated, and that could take several months, said Jefferts Schori, the church's head.

"The process isn't finished until it's finished," she said.

The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the United States. In 2003, it caused an uproar by consecrating its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The following year, Anglican leaders asked the Episcopal Church to hold off on electing another gay bishop while they tried to prevent a permanent break in the fellowship.

But in July, the U.S. church's top policy making body affirmed that gay and lesbian priests were eligible to become bishops despite pressure from other Anglicans.

The Archbishop of Canterbury called for gracious restraint on the matter, but Jefferts Schori said Saturday that "there was never any time frame attached to that request."

She added that she didn't know whether six years was long enough to wait but "the church is in the process of discerning that."

More here-

Presiding Bishop of US Episcopal Church to Visit Liberia in January

From Liberia-

The Episcopal Diocese of Liberia is scheduled to play host next month to the most important visitor it has welcomed to the country in many years.

The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori, 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, will arrive in Liberia on Saturday, January 2, 2010 on a weeklong visit.
Bishop Schori will be the special guest of Bishop Jonathan B.B. Hart and his wife, Mrs. Frances A. Hart.

Rt. Rev. Hart was himself elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia nearly a year ago, on January 19, 2008.

Previously elected the ninth bishop of Nevada, Schori is the first woman elected as primate of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Her election took place at the church’s 75th General Convention, held in Columbus, Ohio in 2006, the same year President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated President of Liberia, the first woman elected to lead an African country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, is the considered by many the overall leader of the Anglican Communion, but that position has always been occupied by men.
Bishop Schori took office on November 4, 2006, following her investiture as Presiding Bishop at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

An elaborate program has been planned for her visit. On Sunday, January 3, at 10 a.m., she will participate in a solemn high mass at Trinity Cathedral. The following day she will be the guest of honor at a Special Convocation at Cuttington University, which will begin at noon. There, the presiding bishop will most likely receive an honorary degree.

On Tuesday, January 5, prayer time with Episcopalians at St. Andrew Chapel, Trinity Cathedral, will take place, beginning at 10 a.m. Later in the afternoon, she will visit Bromley Mission in Clay Ashland, the Liberian Diocese’s oldest institution for girls.

On the Day of Epiphany, January 6 (celebrated as the day the Baby Jesus was taken to the temple to be dedicated), Bishop Schori, accompanied by Bishop Hart, will attend holy mass at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Camp Johnson road. Later that morning, she will meet with Bishop Hart and his clergy in St. Andrews Chapel, Trinity Cathedral. In the afternoon, she will visit the Rafiki Children’s Village in Schiefflin, and at six o’clock p.m. will attend Choral Evening Prayer at St. Stephen Episcopal Church at 10th Street, Sinkor.

More here-

Election of lesbian agitates Anglicans

From Christian Century-

The election of a lesbian priest as a bishop in the Episcopal Church is likely to cause further problems in the divided Anglican Communion, said Arch bishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan [assistant] 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," said Williams, the spiritual leader of the 77-million Anglicans worldwide, in a December 6 statement.

Glasspool, who has served as canon, or assistant, to the bishops of the Diocese of Maryland, has lived in a two-decade partnership with another woman. She is the first gay candidate elected as bishop since the Episcopal Church in July opened all levels of church service to gays and lesbians in committed relationships.

As Williams noted, Glasspool's election still has "to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees." That process could take several months. He said the decision "will have very important implications."

The election in 2003 of V. Gene Robinson, who lives with a longtime male partner, as bishop of New Hamp shire caused a furor in the Anglican Com munion, which includes the 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church.

Robinson praised the December 5 election of Glasspool in comments to the Los Angeles Times. "This has been an amazing six and a half years, [but] it's been lonely," he said.

In a statement from Australia, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, said that confirmation of Glass pool's election would "make clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the [Episcopal Church] leadership has chosen to walk in a way which is contrary to scripture and will continue to do so."

More here-

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Anglican 'Santa' barred from giving gifts to children at detainee centre

From The London Guardian-

It started out as a well-intentioned attempt to bring festive cheer to some of society's most neglected members – the hundreds of children who each year are caught up in the UK's asylum system.

But when the Anglican church's leading expert on Father Christmas, dressed as St Nicholas himself, arrived with one of Britain's most distinguished clerics to distribute presents to children held at the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, things took a turn straight out of Dickens.

An unedifying standoff developed that saw the security personnel who guard the perimeter fence prevent St Nicholas, the patron saint of children and the imprisoned, from delivering £300 worth of presents donated by congregations of several London churches.

In a red robe and long white beard, clutching a bishop's mitre and crook, St Nick – in real life, the Rev Canon James Rosenthal, a world authority on St Nicholas of Myra, the inspiration for Father Christmas – gently protested that he was not a security threat, but to no avail.

Then as St Nicholas, accompanied by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey, attempted to bless the gifts, the increasingly angry security guards called the police. The resulting ill-tempered and surreal impasse between church and state was videotaped by asylum seeker support groups and could become an internet viral hit.

The row comes amid mounting concern about the treatment of children in immigration removal centres. Last week senior doctors called for an immediate end to the "profoundly harmful" detention of children in immigration removal centres. In today's Observer a number of leading children's authors – including Michael Morpurgo, Michael Bond and Philip Pullman – have signed a letter calling for an end to child detention.

More here

Upper South Carolina Results

Results Ballot by Ballot in Upper South Carolina-

Minn. priest elected new Episcopal bishop in SC

From Upper South Carolina-

A priest from Minnesota has been elected the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

The State of Columbia reports that the Rev. W. Andrew Waldo won on the third ballot over five other candidates. Waldo is the pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minn.
Waldo says he is excited to return to the South, where he has family.

Waldo was picked by more than 350 clergy and lay delegates who spent the day in worship and prayer before the vote.

Three South Carolinians were among the six candidates.
Waldo will take over for retiring Bishop Dorsey F. Henderson Jr.