Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Right Rev Colin James: Bishop of Winchester, 1985-95

From The London Times-

A child of the vicarage, Colin James followed his father, Canon Charles Clement Hancock James, into the Church of England, attaining high office as successively Bishop of Basingstoke, then Wakefield and finally Winchester.

Colin Clement Walter James was born in 1926 and brought up in Cambridge where he attended the King’s College Choir School. Later, after school at Aldenham and service with the Navy, he returned to King’s as an undergraduate, taking his degree in history.

Ordination training at Cuddesdon was followed by a curacy in Stepney and three years as chaplain at Stowe School. From 1959 he spent eight years with the BBC as a religious affairs producer. Broadcasting and television were to remain a keen interest; James was chairman of the BBC and IBA Central Religious Advisory Committee from 1979 to 1984 and he served on several groups concerned with the media.

It was during his time with the BBC that he met and was married to Margaret (Sally) Henshaw, who greatly sustained him in his life and ministry.

More here-

Traditionalist Anglicans prepare response to Holy See

From The Catholic Herald-

The bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) are to give the Vatican their answer to the new Anglican provision.

Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a group of Anglican churches which have broken away from the mainstream Anglican Communion, said the bishops would come together at Easter to formulate a response to the Pope's decree Anglicanorum coetibus.

The Anglican provision allows groups of Anglicans who consider themselves Catholic to enter into full communion with Rome while maintaining aspects of their heritage and identity. The document provides a new canonical provision called a Personal Ordinariate which most resembles the structure of military dioceses.

In 2007 the leaders of the TAC signed a petition to the Holy See asking for "corporate reunion with the Holy See" as well as "a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of Catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment".

According to Archbishop Hepworth, the bishops and vicar generals have each received a letter from Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that the recent decree constituted "the definitive response of the Holy See" not only to the TAC's original request but also to "but also to the many others of a similar nature which have been submitted over the last years".

More here-

Synod’s ‘full agenda’ to include pensions, Fresh Expressions, and religion on TV

From The Church Times-

THE NEXT General Synod meeting will take place in Church House, Westminster, from Monday 8 to Friday 12 February. It has a very full agenda, said the secretary general of the Arch bishops’ Council, William Fittall, at the press briefing on Monday, because it will be “clearing the decks for the Synod at York in July” when the ordination of women bishops will next be debated.

Mr Fittall went on to “refute the myths” that were current in the press that the revision committee on women in the episcopate had been deliberately dragging its feet in order to miss the February sessions and therefore delay any decision, or that the committee had “misapplied itself”.

A large number of proposals had come to the committee, and it was having to examine each in turn, giving the proposers the chance to put their cases personally, and to consider all the legislation line by line.

Asked whether the recent offer from the Pope had further slowed the process down, Mr Fittall refused to commit himself, saying that the committee had had to look at “a lot of big ideas” as well as details. He did not think there was any reason to change the view that 2014 was likely to be the earliest date that a woman bishop could be appointed.

He said that the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, as chairman of the steering group, would give a statement to the Synod about the current situation.
As for the present concerns of the Anglican Communion, he said it would be surprising if there were no formal questions about the Pope’s initiative, or about the controversies in the Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury would be giving a presidential address on the Tuesday afternoon which would almost certainly include the tensions in the Anglican Communion. On Wednesday afternoon, the Synod would debate a private member’s motion on the Church’s relationship with the emerging Anglican Church in North America.

Christ Church welcomes Pittsburgh organist

From California-

Alan Lewis, director of music at Calvary Church in Pittsburgh, returns to the North Coast at 3 p.m. Jan. 31 to present an organ recital sponsored by the Christ Church Concert Series, at Christ Episcopal Church, 15th and H streets.

The program will showcase a contrast between Baroque and French Romantic organ music and will include some pieces of both early and contemporary music. Lewis will perform several organ works by J. S. Bach, including the lively Prelude and Fugue in D Major. The Bach Fugue ends with a rapid pedal solo which demonstrates the talents of the organist. Piece Heroique, a major work by French composer Cesar Franck, dramatically portrays concepts of good and evil, ending with a full-organ statement of the triumphant “good” theme, providing an opportunity to hear the full richness of the new 31-rank Kegg pipe organ.

Lewis was introduced to the world of organ performance and began his study of the organ in Southern California with Douglas Moorehead, who is currently the director of music and organist at Christ Episcopal Church. After earning degrees in performance and music history from Oberlin College & Conservatory of Music in Ohio, Lewis returned to California as a Mellon fellow in the humanities at the University of California, Berkeley.

More here

A's prospect leaving baseball for call of the priesthood

From Okaland CA- Baseball and religion, right in my wheelhouse. (Thanks to Bruce Robison for passing this along)

Well, here's a story you don't see every day.

Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor league outfielder in Oakland's system, is retiring from baseball to follow a calling into the Catholic priesthood.

The story was first reported by Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi — perhaps appropriately with that first name of his — and this isn't a case of a struggling player going through an early-life crisis. Desme was ranked the A's eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in A ball in 2009 and he was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

Desme might have even been a late-season callup to the big league club in 2010. Our Y! Sports 2010 fantasy guide has him ranked the 40th-best minor-league prospect for near-term fantasy purpose. However, ESPN's Rob Neyer disagrees, saying that he didn't see Desme as a future star by the Bay.

Susan Slusser has more on Desme's decision to leave playing against the Padres and Cardinals so he can start praying with other padres and cardinals at a Catholic seminary in Orange County. He said the news came as bit of a shock to Billy Beane, but that the Oakland GM and entire A's system have been supportive of his decision.

More here-,215238

Pittsburgh's Episcopal bishop seeks reconciliation

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's new bishop, Kenneth L. Price, is seeking face-to-face meetings with area congregations that left the Episcopal Church over issues ranging from abortion to the consecration of a non-celibate gay bishop.

A letter from Price was sent Wednesday to lay leaders and clergy of 40 congregations that split from the Episcopal Church in October 2008. A copy of the letter was sent to the diocese's former bishop, Robert Duncan, who heads a newly formed Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh diocese which has 55 congregations.

"This is all toward seeking an understanding and reconciliation of how each of us, even if we disagree, can still serve our one Lord and Savior," Price said. Episcopal Church offices are based in Monroeville.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Honors for Archbishop Prompt Criticisms

From The Living Church-

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to New York City has drawn increasing attention because of honors that two institutions plan to bestow on him.

America, a weekly magazine published by Jesuits, will give Archbishop Rowan Williams its Campion Award on Jan. 25.

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y., will host a lecture by the archbishop and confer an honorary doctor of divinity on Jan. 30.

Archbishop Williams also will be one of four featured speakers at a Trinity Institute conference, “Building on Ethical Economy: Theology and the Marketplace,” on Jan. 27-29.

America’s award attracted wry commentary by religion reporter Tom Heneghan of Reuters.

“What an award to give to the world’s top Anglican!” Heneghan wrote on Reuters’ FaithWorld weblog. “As the press release explains about the man to whom the prize is dedicated, ‘a martyr of the English Reformation, Edmund Campion stirred Elizabethan England with his daring missionary efforts and the great power of his pen.’ What it politely skates over is the fact that Campion was drawn and quartered for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith.”

Archbishop Williams has long been identified with Anglo-Catholicism, and was a founding member and patron of Affirming Catholicism.

The honors planned by St. Vladimir’s prompted a letter to Metropolitan Jonah by the Very Rev. Patrick Henry Reardon, pastor of All Saints’ Antiochian Orthodox Church, Chicago.

“Although the scholarly publications of Dr. Williams may be cited as adequate reason for his lecture at the seminary, news of the plan to honor him is already prompting a popular consternation and even scandal,” Fr. Reardon wrote. “Outside of academic circles, this individual is chiefly known for his public support for sexual perversion within the Anglican Communion.”

Fr. Reardon did not elaborate on that point. The archbishop, during his academic career at OxfordUniversity, made a case for same-sex couples in his address “The Body’s Grace” in 1989.

Archbishop Williams reflected briefly on that essay in a profile published in March 2009 by The Atlantic.

“Never in my career did 5,000 words make such a tempest,” Archbishop Williams said in that profile. “I wrote it as a professor of theology contributing to an increasingly tense debate in the Church of England. I didn’t think, I’d better be careful what I say, in case I become a bishop one day. When people ask have I changed my mind, I can only answer, ‘Well, the questions I raised there are still on the table. They’re still questions. And I still think they’re worth addressing.’ That essay is my contribution, made in good faith at that time. Now my responsibilities are different. The responsibility is not to argue a case from the top or cast the chairman’s vote. It’s to hold the reins for a sensible debate — and that’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

PITTSBURGH: Bishop Price invites parish leaders to discuss differences

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's provisional bishop has invited the clergy and lay leaders of 40 congregations to meet with him and discuss concerns they may have with the Episcopal Church, according to a Jan. 21 news release from the diocese.

"I believe that much of the recent pain and turmoil in the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been caused by misunderstandings about the Episcopal Church," wrote Bishop Kenneth L. Price in a Jan. 20 letter to parish leaders who have not actively participated in the Episcopal Church since October 2008. "An important part of my ministry in Pittsburgh will be attempting to address these misunderstandings, which I believe is best done in face-to-face meetings."

On Oct. 4, 2008, a majority of the delegates to the diocese's 143rd annual convention approved a resolution by which the diocese purported to leave the Episcopal Church. In November 2009, Price released 135 priests and deacons who had said they belong to an entity called the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which claims affiliation with the Argentina-based Province of the Southern Cone. Price also said that those clergy, who had accepted letters of transfer to the Southern Cone province, may be reconciled to the diocese at any time.

"There are canonical procedures that can be followed to receive you and again license you to practice ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church," Price wrote in 2009, "and my door will always be open for such a conversation with you."

Price asked that his Jan. 20 letter be received in a "conciliatory spirit," while noting that "in our eyes, all parishes that were part of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh before the convention of October 2008 remain part of our diocese."

"As soon as I arrived here late last month, I began visiting our 28 active parishes to help those congregations be the people they feel called to be," Price added, "so I want to offer the same for those congregations that feel separated from the Episcopal Church."

A copy of the letter was sent to the diocese's deposed bishop, Robert Duncan, "in his capacity as the leader of those who regard themselves as part of the Anglican diocese," the news release said. In June 2009, Duncan was invested as archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, composed mainly of groups that have left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Synod to debate the ACNA

From The Church Times-

THE General Synod is being asked next month by a lay representative from Chichester diocese to “express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America” (ACNA).

The private member’s motion is being proposed by Canadian-born Lorna Ashworth, who wants to “give Synod an opportunity to hear about the unfair treatment of people who have continued to maintain the Anglican faith in doctrine, practice, and worship”. She refers to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, Bishop Henry Scriven, and the Revd Dr James Packer among the 491 clergy inhibited or deposed in legislation estimated to cost $30 million.

The motion is “not about interfering in the polity of other Anglican provinces”, Ms Ashworth says in her background paper. She questions whether the use of the canons for solving property disputes or deposing bishops and clergy in both the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada has “in every regard been proper or in accordance with natural justice”.

It is “not acceptable” that those who have not left either of those Churches for another jurisdiction should be “deposed without canonical process because of what they might do, or that they should be formally advised that they have abandoned their ministry when they have done nothing of the kind”, Ms Ashworth suggests.

Of the 83-year-old Dr Packer, she says: “It is ironic as well as hurtful that a man who, as a young priest, was a doughty defender of the inheritance and doctrine of the Church of England against its detractors should be presumed to have abandoned the ordained ministry.”
The Bishops of Blackburn, Exeter, and Winchester will host a lunchtime meeting at the Synod on Tuesday 9 February, at which members can “quiz loyal Anglicans” from the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

More here-

Caught in Haiti earthquake, couple ready to return, rebuild

From South Carolina-

Joyce and John Pipkin were just two miles from the epicenter of Haiti's earthquake but it wasn't until they returned to the United States and saw the televised images from CNN and other news outlets that they realized the depth of the devastation.

Now, John Pipkin, a pilot who flies for the Christian organization Mission Aviation Fellowship, is preparing to return to the Caribbean country to help move needed personnel and supplies to those in need.

He will work out of the Port-au-Prince airport, and "probably sleep on the ground," when he's not working.

But the Pipkins, who left Haiti last Friday, cautioned this is not the time for impassioned volunteers with no training to jam into the country.

"Unless you are part of a first responder team, this is not the time to go down," John Pipkin said Thursday.

The Pipkins have carried out short-term mission projects to Haiti through their church, St. Mary's Episcopal on St. Andrews Road, for more than a decade. Joyce Pipkin works out of Les Cayes, where the Episcopal Church runs a school that supports 261 children.

Joyce Pipkin said she had a brand new agenda book and lots of plans when the couple arrived in Haiti on Jan. 12 at noon, five hours before the earth shook. She had scheduled a meeting for Wednesday in downtown Port-au-Prince with about 40 Haitian women who wanted to form a chapter of the Episcopal prayer organization Daughters of the King. She has yet to hear about the fate of those women, all of whom lived downtown, she said.

"I also had this overwhelming sense of helplessness," she said.

Now, she said, she will stay in Columbia for the time being until the Episcopal Church determines the best time to send mission teams to help. The church is discouraging any missions until Haiti is stabilized and the vast medical needs of the people are met.

Episcopal Diocese meeting opens today

From Winston Salem-

Many of Haiti's man-made structures have been destroyed in the earthquake, but the country will rebound, the head of an international relief agency says.

"We can't sit here in the United States and say, ‘This is what you need, and we'll pay for it,'" said Rob Radtke, the president of Episcopal Relief & Development.

The Haitian people need to be allowed to chart their own course through the disaster, Radtke said.

He will be the keynote speaker at the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina's 194th annual convention in Winston-Salem. The convention will open today at the Benton Convention Center and continue through Saturday.

The theme of this year's convention -- "100,000 ways to Say Welcome" -- "focuses on Episcopal efforts to extend a welcome out into the world," said the Rev. Michael B. Curry, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. That means feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and transforming the world by faith through partnerships.

"People don't need us doing to them," Curry said. "The point is to do God's work with them."

More here-

Thursday, January 21, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA: Bishop appeals church court's decision

From Episcopal New Service-

Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison on Jan. 19 appealed a decision by an ecclesiastical trial court, asking that a 2008 ruling that the bishop engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy be overturned.

After Bennison's 2008 trial, the church's Court for the Trial of a Bishop found in February 2009 that 35 years ago when Bennison was rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Upland, California, he failed to respond properly after learning that his brother, John Bennison, a 24-year-old seminary student (later deacon and priest) whom he had hired as youth minister, was "engaged in a sexually abusive and sexually exploitive relationship" with a minor parishioner. The abuse allegedly lasted for more than three years from the time the minor was 14 years old.

Charles Bennison was found to have failed to discharge his pastoral obligations to the girl, the members of her family, and the members of the parish youth group as well as church authorities after he learned of his brother's behavior. The court said that he suppressed the information about his brother until 2006, when he disclosed publicly what he knew.

A Jan. 19 news release from Bennison's attorneys said the appeal to the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop argues that the charges stem from incidents that began more than 30 years ago and should never have come to trial. It also said that the Court for the Trial of a Bishop should not have called for Bennison to be deposed from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church because he was not involved in the sexual abuse.

The bishop has been inhibited or barred from exercising his ordained ministry by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori since October 2007 when he was first ordered to stand trial.

A chronology of the Bennison case is available in this Sept. 25 ENS story.

Slate of Five for Rio Grande Bishop Election

From The Living Church-

The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande has nominated five men — ranging in age from 43 to 61 — in its search for its ninth bishop.

The nominees are:

The Rev. Ellis Tucker Browerfind, rector, St. Luke’s, Alexandria, Va.
The Rev. James R. Harlan, rector, Church of the Ascension, Denver, Colo.
The Rev. Jedediah D. Holdorph II, rector, St. Mark’s, Medford, Ore.
The Rev. John S. Nieman, rector, Holy Trinity, Clemson, S.C.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Vono, rector, St. Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome, Italy.

The diocese has released brief statements and resumes from each of the five nominees. It will accept nominations by petition until Feb. 1. The diocese has not released discussion questions, but certain themes emerged from the nominees’ statements and resumes.

Fr. Browerfind described his ministry style at St. Luke’s: “Liturgical exploration at a tolerable rate. Strengthen stewardship. Work with parishioners to offer pastoral care. Support strong commitment to diocese. Do not choose sides in current polarizing debates on social justice.”

Fr. Harlan emphasized church growth and pastoral care, writing that in his various ministries he has increased parish membership “from small, pastoral-sized congregation (60 on a Sunday) to energized transitional-sized (150 on a Sunday)”; “implemented creative worship and education programs to reach spiritually indifferent sailors”; and “deepened spiritual lives through strong, engaging preaching and teaching and faithful worship leadership.”

More here-

Anglican dissidents put back decision on Vatican offer

From The BBC-

A leading opponent of women bishops in the Church of England says he has put back a decision on converting to Rome after a vote on the issue was delayed.

Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, said he had "not taken bookings" after the General Synod vote next month.

But after the Synod vote was put off to July, Bishop Burnham said he was now "not taking bookings" after then.

He and other opponents of women bishops are concerned that the Synod will not grant their leaders enough autonomy.

The disagreement centres on the powers of those bishops - like Andrew Burnham - who are appointed to minister to parishes which oppose women priests.

Those like Bishop Burnham do not want such powers to be granted at the discretion of the local diocesan bishop - who may in future be a woman.

More here-

Anglican Church in lawsuit limbo

From North West Texas- (Note the rector, Stan Burdock, was once in the Diocese of Pittburgh)

A desert tranquility surrounds the buildings of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo. Mesquite trees shade its parking lot and sway in the breeze, a broad expanse of rolling grass and dirt spreads out to the east of the buildings, and a large cross adorns the side of one of the walls, while ivy creeps up others.

This peaceful domain, however, has been the field of a legal battle for more than two years. And now the congregation of the Good Shepherd has been left in limbo after Judge Blair Cherry ruled in favor of giving the property to the Diocese of Northwest Texas.

“We’re just waiting and watching and praying,” said Stanley Burdock, the pastor of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd. “It’s an unfortunate situation, and we can trust to God to bring it to its appointed conclusion, although we don’t know what that conclusion will be.”

The Texas Third Court of Appeals Web site says the case was appealed Jan. 7.

More here-

Homeless Bishop in Haiti stays with his flock

From St. Louis-

There are so many stories pouring out of Haiti right now, it’s hard to know how to sort through them or what to say about them. The Episcopal Church has a diocese in Haiti, so I know many people who have close affiliations with that country and people who live there. Even for those of us who have never been to Haiti, six degrees of separation is narrowed down to three, or two, or one.

At all four of our Sunday services our parish prayed fervently for all who have been affected by the earthquake in Haiti. We included in our prayers both the Roman Catholic Archbishop, who died in the earthquake, and also the Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, Jean Zache Duracin, who survived, although his wife was injured and his home destroyed. Now the Episcopal News Service has run this remarkable story about Bishop Duracin.

According to a missionary who spoke to him, the Bishop was given the option to evacuate but said, “No I will stay with my people.”

More here-

Religious Groups Fill Haiti Government Gaps

From The Wall Street Journal-

Outside a red and gray Coleman tent, a boy sat mute in a wheelchair holding a dented metal bowl of yellow gruel. His arms were laced with pus-filled wounds, flies swarmed around his grotesquely swollen ankles, and his right foot was missing its littlest toe—but he was lucky. Not only had he escaped the school for the disabled, where many of his handicapped classmates were crushed to death, but he had found his way to what passes for an oasis in this city of death and ruin: a camp run by the Episcopal church.

In a country whose government has all but stopped functioning, in a city whose crowded shanties remain largely unreached by aid cargoes, it has fallen to communities on the ground to fill the gap as best they can.

Religious missions, with their deep community connections, are proving to be particularly critical conduits of help, both spiritual and material.

Catholic Relief Services has started turning a golf course in the neighborhood of Pétionville into one of the first formal camps for the homeless.

Some Haitian government officials say between one million to three million people may have been displaced by the quake. Thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped to Haiti, but much of it remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighboring Dominican Republic.

More here-

Wednesday Travel

Editor's note: If you're wondering why there weren't any posts yesterday: I was traveling back from Indianapolis. Planning and Arrangments for the 2012 General Convention met and I spent most of yesterday getting home with no Internet access. Anyway, the National Cheerleading Champinoships had taken place that weekend at the Convention Center and when we toured the facility this sign was still up. Maybe we should post something similar outside the House of Deputies.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

South African preachers raise trafficking alarm

From The Washington Post-

South African preachers will raise awareness about human trafficking and concerns the World Cup could mean more exploitation.

Jo Seoka, Pretoria's Anglican bishop, said in an interview Tuesday: "The church has the constituency to do this," adding South Africa, a country of 50 million, has 4 million Anglicans.

Seoka, who spoke from a meeting near Cape Town where 21 leaders of churches and other groups met to launch the Stop Human Trafficking Project, called for better border policing and stronger laws.

Rural South Africans have been brought to the cities and forced into sex trade, housecleaning or farm work at slave wages. Rights groups fear more people, including those from neighboring countries, could become victims to meet demand from World Cup fans visiting from around the world.

Rt. Rev. Robert D. Rowley Jr.

From Erie-

The Rt. Rev. Robert D. Rowley, Jr., age 68, of York, formerly of Erie, died at 6:11 AM Monday at York Hospital. He was the husband of Nancy (Roland) Rowley. Born July 6, 1941 in Cumberland, Maryland, a son of the late Robert D. and Alyce M. (Wilson) Rowley, he retired in 2006 as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. He was a 1959 graduate of Saint Vincent College Preparatory School in Latrobe.

He received his Bachelor's of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and Master of Laws in International Law from George Washington University. In 1977 he earned his Masters of Divinity from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1965, the Court of Military Appeals in 1966 and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970.

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 until 1974, and the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1992 when he retired as a Captain for the Judge Advocate General Corps. Bishop Rowley was ordained as a Deacon in 1977 and as a Priest in 1978. He taught at Chaminade University of Hawaii, Saint Andrews Priory School in Honolulu and Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. He also served parishes in Honolulu, and Aiea, Hawaii and as Canon to the Bishop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1989 he was elected as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

More here-

Monks' morals defended in wine row

From England-

THE makers of Buckfast Tonic Wine have defended South Devon monks after their morals were publicly attacked by a bishop.

The Right Rev Bob Gillies, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, accused the Devon-based Benedictine monks of going against Christian values.

The comments were made after a Freedom of Information request revealed Buckfast Tonic Wine has been mentioned in 5,000 crime reports in Scotland in the last three years.

Speaking on BBC Scotland Investigates last night Bishop Gillies said: "What sort of moral double-take is there that these monks can be so closely associated with that product and knowingly aware of the social damage as well as the medical damage it is doing to the kids who take it in such vast volumes?"

He added: "The monks at Buckfast are in a Benedictine monastery, which is founded upon the rule of St Benedict. Benedict urged his monks to live a simple life following a rule which leads them into closer discipleship with the Lord."

More here-

Anglicans Consider Recognizing Priests’ Gay Partners

From Boston about C of E-

The Church of England, the English mother branch of the Anglican Communion worldwide, is considering a proposal that would give the partners of gay priests some of the same rights awarded to priests’ spouses.

Not surprisingly, the proposal isn’t being accepted with open arms by everyone in the sprawling church, which encompasses the (recently) liberal Episcopal Church in the United States and very traditional Anglican church in the developing world.

As the (U.K. Telegraph reports, "Traditionalists have expressed strong opposition to the move, which they claim would give official recognition to homosexual relationships." The church’s hierarchy will debate the proposal in February, at a General Synod.

If passed, priests’ significant others would receive financial benefits, among other privileges. The church bars clergy from being in active gay relationships, although they can enter civil partnerships provided they are celibate.

The Episcopal Church, on the other hand, has been far more tolerant toward gay priests. The bishop of New Hampshire is gay, and an incoming bishop in Los Angeles is a lesbian. Both are in committed relationships and (one assumes) are not practicing 100 percent celibacy.

Great Britain does not have same-sex civil marriage, but it does have civil unions. About 200 priests in the kingdom are believed to have entered such a legal agreement.

More here-

Monday, January 18, 2010

Islamic sect’s plan to build mega-mosque next to Olympics site collapses

From the London Times-

Controversial plans to build Europe’s biggest mosque close to the London Olympics site have been halted, The Times has learnt.

Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the proposal, is to be evicted this week from the East London site, where it has been operating illegally a temporary mosque and had planned a complex that would accommodate 12,000 worshippers.

The Muslim Council of Britain said that the group had fallen victim to “unfounded hostility and hysteria”.

However, another Muslim organisation last night welcomed the move. Minhaj-ul-Quran, which advises the Government on how to combat youth radicalisation, said that a mosque should be a “community effort” and not the initiative of one group with extremist links.

Newham Council is now considering compulsory purchase of the land after Tablighi Jamaat, whose strict interpretation of Islam has caused concern, failed to lodge a masterplan of its vision. There was strong opposition when the sect unveiled its plans for the site, south of the London 2012 Olympic Park, in 2007. More than 48,000 people petitioned the Government to prevent the development, dubbed the “mega-mosque”.

More here-

Anglicans and Catholics team up to spread word

From Ireland-

FREE copies of the Gospel of St Luke will be distributed today to the homes of 100,000 Catholics and members of the Church of Ireland in Dublin.

The deliveries will be courtesy of the Catholic and Anglican archbishops of Dublin in a joint evangelisation campaign to highlight the annual Christian unity week, which starts today.

Archbishops Diarmuid Martin and John Neill are to meet in Trinity College Chapel at noon to launch what they describe as "a unique venture to spread the good news of the Gospel of Luke throughout our diocese".

This is the Church's liturgical year of St Luke and it is the Gospel being read in churches throughout the year.

As part of the year of evangelisation, this is the latest in a series of ecumenical initiatives spearheaded by both archbishops.

The two archbishops booked a joint tent with the Irish Missionary Union at last year's Ploughing Championships.

The Gospel of St Luke project will be followed with a DVD, 'Luke the Book', for families and children.

The two churches are also planning a joint youth pilgrimage to Taizé, the ecumenical place of prayer in France, for later in the year.

Archbishop Martin has said that this evangelisation project is parallel to the special Lenten Pastoral on reform of the Irish Catholic Church in the wake of the Murphy report, which Pope Benedict XVI is planning to issue in time for Ash Wednesday, on February 15.

- John Cooney

Vacuum - Anglican Primate Berates Yar'Adua

From AllAfrica-

Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion),Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, recently condemned the refusal of President Umaru Yar'Adua to hand-over to Vice President Jonathan Goodluck due to his ill-health.

Fielding questions from journalists on the state of the nation shortly after the inaugurating the newly created Diocese of Igbomina West and installation of the Rt. Revd. James Akinola as the Bishop in Iludun Oro, Irepodun Local Government of Kwara State, the Primate said "there is a vacuum in the leadership of the country and that is not right."

According to him, some 'evil' people were encouraging lawlessness because they were feeding fat in the confusion occasioned by the absence of President Umar Yar'Adua.

"All that is happening now is a contradiction of the position of Mr. President himself. He has always been an apostle of the Rule of Law. The constitution is very clear as to what is to be done if the president is not around. The constitution has made a provision. What we should do is to ensure we follow it. And Mr. President is very clear on this all the times. He believes in the rule of law, but he has refused to hand over to his vice. Where is the rule of law in this case now,?" the Anglican Primate said.

more here-

Haiti earthquake: no dignity for the dead

From The London Telegraph-

The Grande Cimètiere, the Haitian capital's crumbling old cemetery, has become the main stage for the ghastliest scenes of the city's catastrophe – the disposal of the dead.
While some of the corpses of the tens of thousands recovered since last Tuesday's earthquake have been loaded into trucks and summarily dumped in mass graves outside the city, others are brought to the local cemetery where they are disposed of with equal ceremony.

Pickup trucks and makeshift ambulances deliver the dead at the rate of one every five minutes, names – sometimes just the first one – scrawled down by a man who showed 210 of them filling up three pages.

For many, the journey ends just a few yards inside the cemetery entrance, graced with its Biblical quotation to "Remember that you are dust".

Reflecting an obvious desperation to complete the job as quickly as possible, dozens of bodies have been dumped on the edge of the path, their coffins and boxes presumably too valuable to be left. Half a dozen are piled on to a hand cart, decomposing quickly in the heat.
Others are strewn across the ground, their bodies picked at by chickens.

Space is scarce in the cemetery – nominally Catholic but also used by Voodoo practitioners – and arguments quickly break out between coffin carriers about where to put the bodies.

Blue suede pews: Elvis church is thriving

From "The You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department- Canadian Division.

Elvis may have long ago shuffled off this mortal coil, but his spirit still has a home at a Newmarket veterans' hall that stands in as a church.

That's where Archbishop Dorian Baxter has channelled the King of Rock `n' Roll each Sunday for seven years. An eclectic mix of more than 300 people gathered Sunday to mark the breakaway Anglican church's anniversary and celebrate what would have been Elvis's 75th birthday on Jan. 8.

"We honour Elvis's commitment to the Lord," said Baxter, 59, who explained he first heard Elvis when he was 5 and has been "trying to sing like him for 54 years.

"Like Elvis, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, we worship Jesus, the King of Kings."

It was Baxter's Elvis act, his long sideburns and big black pompadour that got him in trouble with Anglican Church bishops in the first place. He was removed from his parish in 1998 and stripped of his right to perform marriages.

After battling the church hierarchy for years, he formed Christ the King, Graceland Independent Anglican Church in 2003. Anglican bishops gave his fledgling church just a few months, but Baxter's congregation has continued to grow.

But as Baxter, who also performs as impersonator Elvis Priestley, is quick to point out, the main reason they assemble in the Spartan surroundings of the Royal Canadian Legion hall is to praise God.

More here-

Local Lutheran parish may bolt over gay clergy policy

From The Pittsburgh Tribune Review-

An Evangelical Lutheran church in Monroeville will vote this month whether to remain in its denomination, the first Lutheran church in Southwestern Pennsylvania to take such a step.

The Jan. 31 vote at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church comes largely in reaction to a national August vote that will allow noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors to serve as clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

That policy — expected to take effect in April — will allow such individuals to lead denomination churches as long as they can show they're in committed, lifelong relationships.

"A number of people have expressed their opposition to what is happening. The ... issues are the authority of Scripture, and many of us feel that we cannot find any support in Scripture for blessing same-sex unions and ordination of gay clergy," said the Rev. Dr. Eric D. Ash, Good Shepherd's pastor.

Good Shepherd's 12-member council voted unanimously to split from the national denomination. The congregation is considering joining Lutheran congregations in Missions for Christ denomination, formed in 2000 in response to what was seen as liberal trends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The congregation's vote must be followed by a second vote at least 90 days later. To be binding, each vote must pass by two-thirds majority.

Kurt Kusserow, bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, said he expects only a few of the synod's 201 churches to take similar action.

More here-

Happy to be home from Haiti

From New York-

TROY — As a mission of St. John’s Episcopal Church parishioners and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students arrived home safely from Haiti days after a severe earthquake devastated the impoverished nation, another parishioner is still awaiting her happy ending.

Therese Duvil, now of Rensselaer, was raised in Les Cayes in the southern part of Haiti. Several relatives — including cousins, an aunt and a stepbrother — still reside in Port-au-Prince, the highly populated capital city that saw the bulk of the destruction.

There’s been no word from them since Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

“We don’t know anything about them,” Duvil said after services at St. John’s Sunday.

The quake is another in a series of setbacks for the politically unstable country she left in 2000, she said. While she described Haitians as resilient, and fellow parishioners who have been there said the population can still manage to smile and laugh after misfortune upon misfortune, she said there’s little left for those in Port-au-Prince — or elsewhere in the Caribbean nation — to hold on to.

More here-

"I Have a Dream"

Here's the text of Martin Luther Kings most famous address- video too)

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Diocese of New Westminster files cross-appeal

From Canada-

The diocese of New Westminster has filed a cross-appeal of a November decision in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The cross-appeal was filed in response to an appeal filed by the trustees of four Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) congregations in late December.

The legal dispute arose after four congregations voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada to affiliate with the more theologically conservative ANiC. Churches in ANiC do not allow the blessing of same-sex relationships as the diocese of New Westminster has done for several years in a few parishes. Trustees for the congregation filed a lawsuit against the diocese to claim possession of the properties and assets for the congregations. But on Nov. 25, Justice Stephen Kelleher ruled that the diocese of New Westminster retains possession of all four properties. He did, however, decide that a $2.2 million bequest from a parishioner at one of the four churches should be held in trust for the building fund of the ANiC congregation.

Justice Kelleher also ruled that Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster did not have the authority, according to the diocesan canon, to replace the trustees for the congregations. After the congregations voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada, Bishop Ingham had moved to replace the trustees in two of the churches. The court decision stipulated, however, that the trustees were obliged to manage the church properties for the benefit of the diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada.

More here-

Religious groups concentrate on relief efforts to aid Haitians

From Baltimore-

The Revs. Tracy Bruce and Stephen Davenport travel to Haiti every January to visit the music school in Port-au-Prince, the church in St. Etienne and the other development projects they support in the poorest nation in the Americas.

But with the school and the church now destroyed, and no word yet from many of the friends with whom the husband-and-wife Episcopal clergy members have worked over the decades, they expect this month's trip to be different.

"There's nothing that's coming out of Haiti at all in terms of communication right now from anybody on the ground," Bruce, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Glyndon, said Friday. "We're really looking to find our partners, so the work will continue."

In the wake of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that has leveled Port-au-Prince, religious groups throughout Maryland - many of which have long sent money and volunteers to Haitian orphanages, schools, clinics and churches - are focusing their charitable attention on disaster relief in the Caribbean nation of 9 million. They are talking about the devastation at services, taking up special collections and organizing teams to join the huge international relief effort.

"The people of Haiti are suffering beyond imagination and are crying out for the most basic of needs: water, food, clothing and shelter," the Rev. Dr. Peter K. Nord wrote in an appeal last week to the 72 congregations of the Presbytery of Baltimore. "They desperately need our help - help that will be needed for weeks, months and years to come."

More here-,0,5628246.story

Church votes not to elect Britain's first female bishop

From Reuters-

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted against electing Britain's first female bishop on Saturday, with a majority of an electoral synod of clergy and church members choosing a more experienced male candidate.

Reverend Alison Peden, 57, was the first woman to be shortlisted to become a bishop since the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to consecrate women in 2003.

One of three candidates, she lost out to Reverend Gregor Duncan, 59, who is already dean of Glasgow and Galloway -- the diocese for which the election was being held.

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth, who chaired the electoral synod, said gender had not played a part in the decision and Peden being shortlisted had helped change the perception of women in the church.

"In any profession when women are admitted inevitably it takes a while for them to acquire the experience and to work their way through the ranks or the levels of authority," he told the BBC.

"What we are seeing now for the first time is women ... expecting and deserving to be taken seriously at this level and I'm sure it will come about before too long."

If Peden had been elected it would have increased pressure on the Church of England to follow suit.

The CoE, which is still struggling to accommodate both liberals who demand equality and traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy, is set to receive an update on the consecration of women at its General Synod, or parliament, next month.

The CoE's Revision Committee, tasked with looking at the matter, has yet to decide whether women bishops, approved in principle but none yet nominated, will have full episcopal powers rather than limited powers as suggested by conservative Anglicans.

Christina Rees, chair of Women and the Church, which promotes women bishops, speaking before the vote, said if Peden was elected it would make it "more realistic" for the CoE to have women bishops.