Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cursed anniversary: Babe's sale turns 90

From MLB

Saturday marked the 90th anniversary of the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. There was a time when that topic got people's blood boiling. Now, it is just a transaction in the bio of the greatest player ever.

If you look up the history of Dec. 26, in fact, that secret deal in 1919 doesn't look as big anymore. That same day in 1776, the British lost at the Battle of Trenton. Chairman Mao was born that day in 1893; FM radio was patented that day in 1933; Time magazine's 1982 Man of the Year went instead to the personal computer; the United Soviet Socialist Republic was formally dissolved that day in 1991; and disasters occurred with an Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and a Taiwan earthquake in 2006.

Even in Massachusetts, where generations of frustrated Red Sox faithful once winced whenever that deal was brought up, it is probably more meaningful that on this day in 1620 the first pilgrims landed at what became New Plymouth. This is the day after Christmas, and it is the start of a week-long Kwanzaa holiday celebration. It is a generally happy time for masses of people, and kids are outside playing with their new presents.

Is the big deal a big deal anymore? Of course it is to Yankees fans, because that was the day their team officially owned the contract of pitcher/outfielder George Herman Ruth, then age 24, and it was the impetus for an organization that would rack up 27 World Series titles. You can find his likeness all over new Yankee Stadium, where people congregate on Babe Ruth Plaza. It is notable for baseball history and society in general, because Ruth changed the game perhaps more than anyone, introducing the home run as theater and introducing the concept of the sports mega-celebrity.

More here-

Good riddance to a gruelling decade, says Archbishop of Canterbury

From The London Times-

The Archbishop of Canterbury today writes off the Noughties as ten “terrible and gruelling years” and pleads for humankind to change its ways.

In his new year message Dr Rowan Williams lists terrorism, war, natural disaster and the financial collapse as being among the disasters that have bedevilled the past decade. More recently, he was disappointed by failings at the Copenhagen summit on climate change.

In a characteristically apocalyptic message that reflects the frustration among church leaders that developed countries are not doing more to forestall environmental and economic disaster, Dr Williams urges a traditional Christian response of pulling together to stave off disaster, arguing that it would be wrong to despair.

“Before we shrug our shoulders and lower our expectations, let’s not lose sight of one enormous lesson we can learn from the last decade,” he says. “The needs of our neighbours are the needs of the whole human family.”

His own Church, the Anglican Communion, has also suffered its share of problems in the past decade, precipitated by the consecration of the gay bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire in 2003. However, the new year message is addressed to wider society and is understood not to refer to internal church difficulties.

In the message, broadcast on BBC One at 12.35pm and repeated at 4.55pm on BBC Two, Dr Williams reflects on the UN millennium development goals, key objectives for tackling poverty and disease agreed on in 2000 by more than 200 nations and international bodies that “summed up for a lot of us the hopes we had for a new look at our world”.

More here-

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message

From the BBC-

As we enter a new decade, the Archbishop reflects on The Millennium Development Goals, eight key objectives about tackling poverty and disease, agreed by over 200 nations and international bodies, which "summed up for a lot of us the hopes we had for a new look at our world."
Dr Williams recognises that it has been a "terrible and gruelling ten years in all kinds of ways, with terrorism and war and natural disaster and the financial collapse of the last fifteen months. But the Archbishop says "before we shrug our shoulders and lower our expectations, let's not lose sight of one enormous lesson we can learn from the last decade.

"The truth is that there are fewer and fewer problems in our world that are just local. Suffering and risk spread across boundaries, even that biggest of all boundaries between the rich and the poor. Crises don't stop at national frontiers. It's one thing that terrorism and environmental challenge and epidemic disease have taught us."

He asks us to recognise how our actions can make a difference:

"We're still falling short in the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals, but that doesn't mean we can forget them or water them down. We've seen some signs of change; we can make more, by supporting efforts to help children out of poverty across the world – and locally as well – by campaigns to protect our environment, by keeping up pressure on our governments."
"We share the risks. The big question is, can we share the hopes and create the possibilities? Because it's when we do share the hopes that we really see what it is to belong together as human beings, discovering our own humanity as we honour the human dignity of others."

More here including video-

Friday, January 1, 2010

Defrocked Episcopal priest sues his own lawyer

From Philadelphia (Note: The attorney being sued for malpractice, John Lewis, is the lead counsel for the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh)

The Rev. David Moyer, the outspoken former Episcopal priest who unsuccessfully sued his bishop in 2008 for sacking him, has filed a malpractice lawsuit against the lawyer who represented him - often free - for many years in his battles with the diocese.

The suit, filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, alleges that prominent Philadelphia litigator John Lewis and the firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads failed to adequately represent Moyer in the unusual trial against Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. and then failed to file an appeal when the jury rejected their claim.

Moyer and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont - where he serves as rector despite his ouster by the diocese in 2002 - are seeking millions of dollars in compensation for the legal costs of the trial and what they say is damage to Moyer's and the parish's reputations.

The lawsuit has sharply divided the Main Line parish, however, and angered some of Moyer's conservative supporters around the diocese who supported his public challenges to liberal trends in the Episcopal Church.

"David Moyer has sold out his friend and champion for 30 pieces of silver," said Ray Kraftson, a lawyer who helped raise funds for Moyer's lawsuit against Bennison.

More here-

Faith story of decade: Chinese Christians? Islam's impact?

From USA Today-

Religious and secular media are all mulling the major religion stories of the decade. But I'm also fascinated by what other's have noticed, particularly one item at Christian Today that listed the growth of Christianity in China. (Note, I also participated in that story by Ruth Moon)

Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief, WORLD Magazine tells CT:

The huge surge of Christianity in China is a major development that several decades down the road could make the difference between peace and war. If Christianity continues to grow in China, I think relations between the U.S. and China will develop very well. If Christianity sputters out there, we're probably looking at a military confrontation of some kind. The hopes for world peace depend on what happens in China.

Also listed -- the rise of spiritual individualism; the impact of Islam as a global cultural and political force; angst and confusion among evangelicals and more.

With my story on top religion news in 2009 we asked you to vote for your pick of the top newsmakers. By mid-afternoon, Rick Warren (35%) was leading Pope Benedict XVI (31%) with President Obama (21%); running third and Catholic Bishop leader Cardinal Francis George and Anglican traditionalists leader Archbishop Robert Duncan essentially out of the running.

UPDATE: Baby Jesus returned to city Nativity scene

From Kansas-

Just before 1 p.m. today, the Rev. Kelley Lackey of St. Andrews Episcopal Church left for lunch and found baby Jesus returned to his manger in the Nativity scene.

"Apparently the person(s) who took baby Jesus had a change of heart," Lackey wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette. "The better angel prevail!"


Lackey had run into disappointment this morning when he found that the baby Jesus in the city’s Nativity scene had been stolen.

The baby Jesus was a new one, bought to replace the last baby Jesus that was stolen. This is the first year the Nativity scene has been displayed since it was refurbished by members of Messiah Lutheran Church after having been in storage for three years.

The scene will be displayed through Epiphany on Jan. 6, but now it will lack the central figure of the story.

“Of course our wise men and our camels are frozen in place, so we'll assume they’ll thaw out and we can move them closer,” Lackey said. “But in the meantime I guess we’ll put a call out for doll babies.”

Lackey doesn’t intend to file a police report for the stolen baby, he said. The baby Jesus is a regular target for pranksters.

More here-

Obama's Muslim outreach ranked top religion story of 2009

From The Houston Chronicle-

President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo, in which he quoted from the Quran and said America will “never” be at war with Islam, was ranked 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. Obama promises a new start to Muslim-U.S. relations in a speech at Cairo University.

2. Health care reform includes religious groups urging assistance for “the least of these;” Roman Catholic bishops seek restrictions on abortion funding.

3. A devout Muslim, Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood massacre, prompts a review of the role of Islam in terrorism.

4. Abortion doctor George Tiller is shot to death at his Wichita, Kan., church.

5. Mormons in California come under attack from some gay-rights supporters because of their November 2008 efforts to outlaw gay marriage. Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire approved gay marriage, but it was overturned by Maine voters.

6. Obama gives the commencement speech and receives an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame after the Roman Catholic university becomes embroiled in debates over his abortion views.

7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America votes to ordain gay and lesbian clergy who are in a monogamous committed relationship, prompting some conservative churches to move toward forming a new denomination.

8. The recession forces cutbacks at faith-related organizations.

9. The Episcopal Church's General Convention votes to end a moratorium on installing gay bishops.

10. Obama's inauguration features controversial prayers by evangelical pastor Rick Warren and civil rights veteran Joseph Lowery, as well as a pre-ceremony prayer by gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Southern Anglican Archbishops to Affirm Covenant in Singapore

From Christian Post-

Archbishops representing Anglican churches in the southern hemisphere will formally accept a covenant aimed at promoting unity within the worldwide denomination when they meet in Singapore 2010.

The Global South Anglican, which brings together 20 of the 38 provinces (churches led by archbishops or their counterparts) in the Anglican Communion and in which the Bishop of Singapore and Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Southeast Asia The Most Revd Dr John Chew serves as incumbent general secretary, will be holding its fourth meeting or ‘encounter’ from 19 to 23 April.

The Anglican Communion Covenant as it is called was developed over the past number of years to salvage unity within the communion after the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop by The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, threatened to split it.

In a video message posted online, the spiritual leader of the 80 million member Anglican Communion the Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams said: “In recent years in the Anglican family, we’ve discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have often been strained, that we haven’t learned to trust one another as perhaps we should, that we really need to build relationships, and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another and responsible for each other.

"In other words, what we need is something that will help us know where we stand together, and help us also intensify our fellowship and our trust," he said.

More here-

Anglican Churches sent final text of Covenant — ‘not a penal code’

From The Church Times-

THE proposed Anglican Covenant will not solve all the Communion’s problems, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned, as the final draft went out to all the provinces for approval last week.

It was not going to be a constitution, “and it’s certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don’t comply,” Dr Williams said in a short video address, posted on YouTube, after the Communion’s Standing Committee had met from 15 to 18 December.
The meeting approved the revised Section 4, a sticking-point at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Jamaica in May. After long debate and a confused voting procedure, that meeting delayed the dispatch of the full Ridley Draft until a working party had made any revisions consequent on consultation with the provinces (News, 15 May 2009).

At issue was who was entitled to adopt the Covenant, which hinged on what “Churches” meant in the sentence: “It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant.” It was also deemed unclear from the draft whether groups (the Anglican Church in North America, for example) not currently recognised by the Instruments of Communion could sign. There was also concern that systems of dispute resolution had not been assessed by the provinces.

Eighteen provinces responded in time for their views to be considered. All had been given “serious attention”, the working party wrote in an explanatory note that accompanied the final text. The responses show opinion as divided as ever: Uganda is asking for expulsion to be made specific as a penalty for “erring members”, while Japan, Southern Africa, and Ireland all gave the briefest of responses, approving the Ridley text without alteration.

Tanzania had “NO [sic] issues over unclarity or ambiguity”. The President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Revd Mouneer Hanna Anis, suggested that any province that had not signed by the end of 2011 should be barred from taking part in any Anglican councils until it had adopted the Covenant.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States cannot consider the Covenant until its next meeting, in 2012. If a change to its constitution were required, that could not be made until 2015.

More here-

Neighbors oppose church’s ‘gift from God’

From Boston-

When the roof leaks at St. James’s Episcopal Church, water seeps into the sacristy and soaks the organ case and baptistry.

“It’s baptism by rainfall here,’’ said the Rev. Holly Lyman Antolini, as she pointed out holes in walls, stained-glass windows that have buckled, and a parish hall that will have to be torn down and replaced.

Antolini would like to have repairs done. But St. James’s, a fixture in Porter Square for more than a century, is strapped for cash.

So imagine her delight when Oaktree Development, a Cambridge company that creates urban multifamily housing, came tapping at the church’s door a year ago, offering a financial lifeline.

At the church’s urging, the two formed a partnership and proposed to build a four-story, 78,000-square-foot development on St. James’s historic property at Massachusetts Avenue and Beech Street. If finalized, the church would lease the bulk of its property to the developer for 99 years, and the developer would get plenty of room to erect its proposed L-shaped building around the sanctuary that would include 46 condo units, retail space, an underground parking garage, and a new parish hall on the first floor.

More here-

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Covenant and the Fullness of Time

From The Living Church-

In the course of a very long sentence, full of visionary flight and theological ballast, Paul tells us about God’s plan “for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10 NRSV). The unity envisioned here is breathtaking in its cosmic scope. Everything will be gathered up in Christ in the culmination of God’s plan being worked out through history.

The implication is inescapable: the Church anticipates the end of the plan by living in peaceful unity here and now. Unsurprisingly Paul follows the theological first half of Ephesians with an application second half in which he begs his readers “to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called … making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:1,3). There is more, much more, in a similar vein in this chapter (e.g. “the unity of the faith,” v. 13).

The situation of the Church in the world today is a travesty of the vision articulated in Ephesians, itself a vision in harmony with the prayer of our Lord “that they may be one” (John 17:11,20). For the Anglican Communion as a particular expression of God’s Church, what Paul says in Ephesians is, or ought to be, a sober dose of theological medicine healing our ills of division.

It is not just that the Communion should be unified, but also that the whole Church of God in the world should be one Church. All this, incidentally, is not only so the mission of God may be strengthened through the witness of a united Church. A united Church, as a precursor to a united world, is the mission of God. For the Anglican Communion to continue fracturing is a sign that collectively we do not understand God’s will for the world. If this line of thought is correct then there is a deep irony when the final text of the Covenant talks of “the ecumenical vocation of Anglicanism to the full visible unity of the Church in accordance with Christ’s prayer that ‘all may be one’ ” (from 2.1.5). The Anglican Communion, with its roots not only in the Catholic and Reformed but also ancient orthodox Church in England, is uniquely placed to fulfill this ecumenical vocation. Yet at this time the Anglican Communion is unable to offer itself, let alone other churches, a sure sign of vocation to “the full visible unity of the Church.”

At precisely this point a huge strength of the proposed Covenant is identifiable: it is a document intended to serve the full visible unity of the Anglican Communion in accordance with the ultimate plan of God. Yet critics of the Covenant find much to complain about. It will impose uniformity, stifle prophetic action, and lead to a Communion ruled by Canterbury — so we are told.

The rest is here-

Anglican churches file appeal

From Canada-

St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Abbotsford is among those involved in an appeal filed against a B.C. Supreme Court decision that could have forced them to vacate their properties.

Cheryl Chang, in-house legal advisor for the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), said the appeal was filed on Christmas Eve in order to meet a 30-day deadline since the judgment on Nov. 25.

Chang said trustees of the four congregations decided to file the appeal now and then weigh their options after the holiday season. An appeal can be withdrawn at a later date, but it cannot be filed once the deadline passes.

"The trustees felt it was necessary to file the appeal now in order to protect their rights and keep their options open," Chang said.

She said it has been difficult for the congregations to "properly consult" over the Christmas season, and they need more time in the new year to better consider their options.

More here-

‘Begging Burglar’ Breaks Into Church To Avoid Freezing Temperatures

From Pittsburgh- (Video too)

One local church reported a series of unusual break-ins.

Police said a burglar broke into a church on East Jefferson Street in Butler County and it turns out he may have had a change of heart.

According to police, the person responsible for the break-ins may be homeless, freezing and just trying to get out of the cold.

One parishioner said the person is being called the begging burglar.
Police said the begging burglar broke into St. Peter’s Episcopal Church looking for a warm place to stay.

He left a note behind using a child’s crayon asking for forgiveness.

The note said, “I’m sorry about the window, I needed a place to stay tonight. I will repay you when the time is right. P.S. I think God forgives me.”

Police said he cleaned up the mess then left a second note to warn children to avoid the mess.
“It’s very sad that somebody had to break in then sleep in the room,” said a member of the church.

The pastor of the church said he would never press charges and would have helped the person responsible including a voucher for a night or two in a hotel.

Silencing of church bells riles some in Pittsford

From New York State-

Two schools of thought are clanging together at Christ Episcopal Church in Pittsford over its church bells.

After complaints from neighbors that the bells, which sounded every hour, disrupted their sleep, church officials decided to silence the bells after 11 p.m. But some church members are upset that the church's governing body decided to end that more than century-old tradition without discussions with parishioners and the community.

Church officials said they talked at length about the issue and felt their decision was appropriate.

The Rev. Winifred Collins, pastor at Christ Episcopal Church, said other churches quiet their bells after 11 p.m., so she didn't see anything extraordinary about the request.

"We are trying to be considerate neighbors based on our Christian values of hospitality and compassion," said Collins. "As a church, we are called to be respectful to people's needs."

Lisa Cove, a neighbor, said she appreciated the church's diligence in researching how other churches handle this situation. She was happy that church officials understood that the majority of people wouldn't notice the bells not ringing at night since they would be asleep.

"The church has always prided themselves as being a good neighbor and listening to all sides and they did what was best for everyone involved," said Cove. "You have to remember that the area is residential and it can disturb someone at midnight to hear the bells ringing 12 times."

More here-

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rating baseball's Hall of Fame candidates

A week and a day away! I'm rooting for Bert.

Ranking the candidates

. Best bets for the Class of 2010

Andre Dawson: Got 67 percent of the vote last year, the most of anyone not elected. In four of the last five years, the player with the most returning votes has been elected.

Bert Blyleven: Had 62.7 percent of the vote last year. Eventually, 287 wins and 3,701 strikeouts will get him in.

Edgar Martinez: First year on the ballot. A short career and being stuck at DH will hurt, but a .418 on-base percentage is hard to ignore.

Roberto Alomar: First year. Make 12 All-Star teams and you're going in sooner rather than later.

Barry Larkin: First year. Also has 12 All-Star appearances, and an MVP award for good measure.

. Maybe someday, but not this time

Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Lee Smith

. Only way they get in is with a ticket

Kevin Appier, Harold Baines, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Alan Trammell, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile

Is the Roman Catholic Church poaching Anglican members?

From Louisiana-

Late in life, the mother of the Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., began attending mass at a Southern California church, the congregation of which soon became Spanish-speaking. Services were conducted entirely in that language, which she could not understand, yet she happily continued attending. When her son asked why, she replied: "It is just like the Latin Mass, I don't understand a word of it. It is even better, I don't understand the homily."

We have all listened to a speaker and wished: If only he were incomprehensible. As G.K. Chesterton said of Times Square, it would be beautiful if you could not read.

Mrs. Reese's son, now 64 and a senior fellow at a religious-issues think tank at Georgetown University, was raised experiencing the liturgy in Latin. He entered seminary in 1962, the year the Second Vatican Council convened. By the time Reese was ordained, the council had essentially proscribed the Latin Mass.

Having seen much change — and much resistance to it — Reese is relaxed about 2009's most intriguing development in Christianity, the Vatican's enticement of disaffected Anglicans. Rome is saying to individuals, and perhaps to entire parishes and even dioceses: "Come on over." It is trolling with rules, recently written, that will enable Anglicans-become-Catholics to retain some of their liturgy. The church will accept some already married priests, and perhaps married seminarians, but not bishops.

More here-

Both Church and state have common vision

From Ghana-

The Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Miss Sherry Ayittey, has said that both the church and state had a common vision of seeking the development of the country.

She said whilst the state continues to focus its attention on the secular needs of its citizens, the church provides the spiritual needs of the citizens.

"It is therefore imperative that with unity of purpose by both the state and church, the agenda of government is implemented in the interest of all Ghanaians".

Miss Ayittey said this at the 70th Anniversary celebration of the Saint Luke Anglican Church at Ajumako Bisease.

The Minister said the "password should be loyalty, collaboration, cooperation and support for the achievement of common objective".

She said government was happy that the church was interested and acting actively to assist in its quest to achieving a better Ghana.

Miss Ayittey said beyond the traditional role of providing hospitals, schools and other social amenities, the government was ready and willing to cooperate with the church.

The Anglican Bishop for Cape Coast, Right Rev. Bishop Daniel Sylvanus Allotey, called on the society to strive for peace because it is essential for development, adding that "we must learn to tolerate one another".

The Parish Priest, Rev. Father Josiah Myles Abadoo, said the parish would soon lunch a 10-year development plan.

More here-

Church billboard in increasingly secular New Zealand causes controversy

From The Washington Post-

The Christmas season in sun-kissed New Zealand is normally a chilled-out, festive time more likely to involve beaches and barbecues than robust debates on the story of Jesus's birth.

But this year, many here are caught up in the latter (on the beach and around the barbecue, of course), because of a billboard outside St. Matthew-in-the-City, a towering neo-gothic Anglican church on a bustling street in downtown Auckland.

The poster features Mary and Joseph in bed and apparently naked under the sheets. Joseph looks dejected, while Mary gazes sadly toward the heavens.

The caption reads: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow."

The church insists that the billboard is an attempt to spark a discussion about faith in an increasingly secular nation. Some say it has at least prompted a laugh or two.

"I think it's brilliant," Lesley Underwood, 60, a customer service representative, said in an interview next to the defaced billboard. She called it "humorous" and "very much a conversation piece in the city."

Many others disagree, saying it is jarring -- if not deeply offensive.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Warming Center adopts open door policy

From Kentucky-

Organizers of a warming center ministry in Murray have revised their policies from the ground up, with hopes of making it easier to stay warm this winter.

A more “open door” policy will greet anyone needing a place to stay during the cold winter months ahead, and the center itself has been relocated from First United Methodist Church to St. John's Episcopal Church on Main Street.

“We wanted to revise the policy and started with what was the most ‘open door' but still allowed us to host. St. John's insurance company was the most flexible with the policy,” said Matt Bradley, priest at St. John's Episcopal Church.

The center is open nightly from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. No pre-registration is required and while the doors are locked at 11 p.m., Bradley said someone will answer the door for late arrivals. Smokers are welcome but must step outside to smoke. If anyone arrives at the center appearing intoxicated, they will be given the option of going straight to bed or leaving the center. A hot dinner meal will be served, and breakfast will also be provided. In the past, organizers asked for pre-registration and kept the doors locked after a certain point in the night, along with having a stricter policy on intoxicated persons.

“The only thing we ask is that you surrender any weapons on you at the door. We'll lock them up and give them back the next day. We also will have a male and female volunteer staying the night,” Bradley said.

With a looser policy, Bradley said he and the other sponsoring churches are not worried about incidents arising. Anyone appearing physically or verbally aggressive will be asked to leave.

More here-

Monday, December 28, 2009

Religious clashes in bomb suspect's state have killed thousands

From The London Times-

Nigeria is devoutly religious, one of the most religious countries not just in Africa but in the world.

About half of Nigeria's fast-growing population of more than 150 million is Muslim and a third Christian, with many others practising indigenous religions. There are small numbers of other religions, including about 40,000 Jewish people, one of the oldest-established Jewish populations in the world.

The alleged bomber's family compound is in Katsina, an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim northern Nigeria where its famous 50-foot 14th century Gobarau Minaret is a popular tourist attraction and has become a worldwide symbol of African Islam.

Katsina is one of several states that have introduced criminal Sharia in the last decade, sparking clashes, often between Muslims and the Christian minority, that have led to thousands of deaths.

Under criminal Sharia, penalties can include flogging for drinking alcohol, chopping off hands and feet for thieves who reoffend and stoning of adulterers.

Christianity is also growing fast in Nigeria, in particular Protestant, charismatic Christianity, in the south. Nigeria is the second biggest province in the Anglican Communion, with 19 million baptised church members compared to 25 million in England. The big difference, though, is that in Nigeria, most are practising. Catholics are in the majority also in some areas.

One particular brand of radical Islam, Izala, is among the Islamic sects in Katsina and is comparable in some respects to extremist Islamic movements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Izala, a Sunni sect, attracts the academic elite and supports the universal application of Sharia.

More here-

Archbishops condemn police intimidation against Anglicans in Zimbabwe

From Christian Today-

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have condemned fresh police intimidation against members of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe in the last week.

Churchgoers, including clergy and local bishops, were barred from entering their churches on Christmas Day by police, who also threatened them with arrest and violence.

Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu hit out at the intimidation, saying that the church was the only lifeline for people “ground down by unceasing unemployment and lack of basic services”.

“We condemn unequivocally any move to deny people their basic right to worship. To prevent people from worshipping in their churches on Christmas Day - unable to receive the church’s message of hope - is a further blow to civil liberties in Zimbabwe,” they said.

“Such unprovoked intimidation of worshippers by the police is completely unacceptable and indicative of the continued and persistent oppression by state instruments of those perceived to be in opposition.”

Earlier in the year, the Diocese of Harare brought charges against the police chief of Zimbabwe for sending police to block Anglicans from entering their churches for Sunday services.

Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri was accused by the diocese of working with the excommunicated Bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga to destabilise the Anglican Diocese of Harare.

Kunonga, a supporter of President Robert Mugabe’s regime, set up his own province following his expulsion from the Anglican Church in 2007. He has refused to heed a high court ruling to share churches with Anglican congregations and has since been locked in a wrangle with the new Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya over ownership of the Church’s property within the diocese.

More here-

Researchers report big drop in Christian adherence in UK

From the Church Times-

BELIEF in God in the UK continues to lag a long way behind the United States, a new study suggests. In the US, 61 per cent of those surveyed said that they had “no doubt” that God existed; in the UK, the percentage was just 17. In the US, just four per cent said that they were not religious at all: they don’t believe in God, attend religious services, or even identify with a religion; in the UK the percentage was 31.

The figures come in a paper by David Voas and Rodney Ling, to be published in British Social Attitudes: The 26th report, to be released on 27 January. The US figures are based on the American General Social Survey 2008; the UK ones come from the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey, which interviewed 4486 people.

The authors suggest a significant decline in religious practice in the UK. “Over the last quarter of a century, the number of people describing them selves as Christian has dropped from 66 per cent to 50 per cent.”

The Church of England has suffered the biggest fall, they state, from 40 per cent in 1983 to 23 per cent in 2008. Of those who identified them selves as Anglicans in the interviews, fewer than one fifth attend a service once a month or more; half never attend. Some of these make up the category “fuzzy faithful”, who do not act on their stated belief.

The full survey material is not yet available, and Prebendary Lynda Barley, head of research for the Archbishops’ Council, expressed some doubt about the findings. “In surveys about belief, the wording of the question is all-important. If you ask: ‘Do you belong to a Church, the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church, etc.?’ you will get one figure. People in the 21st century are not membership-oriented. The voluntary sector, political parties, all are suffering because people no longer join things, and the Church is caught up in this.

Census, and independent “If, on the other hand, you ask: ‘Do you regard yourself as a Christian, an Anglican, etc.?’ you get a consistently higher figure. This is the form of question asked in the 2001 UK Governmentsurveys continue to confirm its find ing that seven people in ten describe themselves as Christian.

More here-

A touch of luck slips from finger

A nice story from Buffalo-

The tears force Frances Campbell to stop talking.

She looks down at her hand, lightly touches her wedding ring, and begins once again to speak.

“I didn’t even know when it slipped off,” Frances says touching the ring again. “I knew it was too big because I had trouble with my face lately and I had trouble eating, I knew my fingers had gotten small. I knew my ring needed to get fixed but it was just one of those things that you keep putting off.”

Francis was working the Episcopal Church’s “Surprise You Sale” on Dec. 5. She was assigned the task of loading bags for patrons and after a few hours of work, she prepared to leave. That’s when she noticed her diamond wedding ring was gone.

“I thought for sure it had just slipped off in my glove,” she said. “But when I got home and looked, it wasn’t there.”

One can’t understand the height of the loss without considering the importance of the object.

To put it in Francis’ words, “diamonds don’t mean anything unless they mean something to you,” and these diamonds meant a lot to Francis.

“Jerry was pretty sly when he got the ring made,” Francis said. “He told me that he was taking it down to get his cleaned and asked if I wanted him to take mine too.”

What Jerry really did was get the ring fitted with two diamonds, one coming from his mother’s and before that grandmother’s wedding ring and the other from Francis’ engagement ring.

“He took it to a local jeweler named Charlie Witt. Charlie only made one of each ring. He never made duplicates,” Frances said. “I can remember the day Jerry gave it to me. It was such a surprise, it was our 30th wedding anniversary and we were having a family picnic in Story, I was so surprised to get it.”

In November of 2004, Jerry passed away. As the first athletic director at Buffalo High School, he made a lasting impact on students and faculty. As a football coach he was a fixture in the community and as a loving father and husband his absence was deeply felt by his family.

The rest is here-

At churches, it's let us pray - for repairs

From New London CT-

The massive stained glass window behind the altar at St. James Episcopal Church is coming loose.

"The job was poorly done ten years ago, the company is now out of business and the window is about to fall out again," said senior church warden Alma Peterson, speaking Sunday of the most recent repairs to the aging window designed by renowned artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The congregation is scrambling now to repair that Tiffany window and another donated by Lawrence & Memorial Hospital founder Sebastian Lawrence.

The small congregation is slowly raising money to finance the repairs, which could cost more than $100,000, Peterson said. After those are complete, the church has its sights set on a burdensome boiler that must be replaced.

In New London, St. James' woes are not uncommon.

All eight of the churches in New London's Downtown National Register Historic District have similar troubles, said Sandra Kersten Chalk, executive director of New London Landmarks, which led two tours through the eight churches on Sunday afternoon. Nearly all were built in the 19th century, many by prominent architects, Chalk said.

"People aren't paying attention to these beautiful churches," Chalk said. "They are such important pieces of the historic district, both in terms of their past and what they do for the community. What would we do without them?"

More here-

New L.A. Episcopal bishop's historic journey

From The LA Times-

The Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce still remembers the moment 23 years ago when she fell in love with the Episcopal Church.

Raised as a devout Roman Catholic, Bruce happened to visit an Episcopal parish in New Mexico, where the mother of a friend was officiating.

Bruce was moved by the joy inside the sanctuary and delighted by the sight of the female priest, something prohibited by the Catholic Church. She found unexpected similarities between the two approaches, including the Eucharist.

"There was something about being in an Episcopal church that felt like I had come home," she said.

Two decades later, Bruce would make history by becoming the first woman elected suffragan, or assistant bishop, in the 114-year history of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruce's ascent at the diocese's annual convention earlier this month was eclipsed to a large degree by controversy over the election at the same event of an openly gay priest, the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool of Maryland, to a second assistant bishop's post.

But many in the Los Angeles diocese speak of Bruce, the longtime rector of St. Clement's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, in reverential tones.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why Otunnu missed Museveni handshake

From Uganda-

STATE House has reacted to complaints by Olara Otunnu that President Yoweri Museveni refused to shake his hand at the consecration of the new Anglican bishop of northern Uganda.

According to presidential press secretary Tamale Mirundi, former UN diplomat Otunnu remained seated as the Museveni walked in during the ceremony last Sunday, making it difficult for him to offer him a handshake.

It is normal practice and a gesture of respect for people to stand up when the President approaches to greet them. Remaining seated can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect.

Mirundi added that Museveni could not shake hands with the UPC presidential aspirant because he wanted to use it for opportunistic goals.

“Otunnu refused to stand up as all other people did as a trick to force Museveni bend in order to shake hands with him. Otunnu had staged a photographer ready to photograph Museveni bending to shake hands with Otunnu.”

Museveni and Otunnu found themselves at the same place for the first time since the failed peace talks in 1985.

Otunnu was at the time foreign affairs minister in the Okello regime that was overthrown by Museveni’s National Resistance Army in January 1986.

Otunnu had expressed his disappointment that Museveni refused to shake hands with him.

“President Museveni came around greeting people in the tent. I was eagerly waiting to shake hands with him but he avoided me and passed over to other people,” he told journalists on Monday.
He said since they were all Christians in a holy place, they should have shaken hands.

More here-