Saturday, January 30, 2010

Judge Confirms Property Covered by Assets Ruling

From The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh-

Today Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph James accepted a Special Master’s report detailing the properties the Judge has previously ruled should be controlled by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Special Master compiled his inventory following the Judge’s order of October 6, 2009, in which he ruled that a 2005 Stipulation agreed to by former diocesan leaders prevented them from continuing to hold diocesan assets.

Today's order contains provisions intended to make it clear to the financial institutions holding the assets that they should now take their instructions only from designated representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The order, which takes effect immediately, also requires former diocesan leaders to provide ongoing cooperation to the Diocese to implement the provisions of the Order.

The Diocese plans to quickly make arrangements so that all parishes may again have access to their investment funds that were frozen by financial institutions during the legal proceedings.

More here-

Virginia diocese admits aversion to starting new churches

From The Washington Times- (Slightly misleading headline)

Virginia Episcopal Bishop Shannon S. Johnston, in his first diocesan convention speech as leader of the nation's largest Episcopal diocese, made a few surprising remarks today. One of them was that weekly church attendance in the Old Dominion is embarrassingly low.

Speaking at a diocesan council meeting at the Richmond Marriott - which was cut short due to a pending snow storm headed toward southern Virginia - he first talked about an informal poll he recently conducted through a series of town meetings around the diocese. As he talked with Episcopalians about their priorities for church life, he found one thing missing: a lack of desire to start new churches. This did not completely surprise him, he said, considering that the 15 conservative churches and mission congregations that left the diocese from late 2005 to early 2007 (over theological differences and gay bishops) were known for their success in church planting.

In his words: "The context here is a sharp contrast with the priority from some years ago of establishing new congregations. Given our recent experience with many of our new congregations leaving the diocese (having received tremendous spiritual, personal and financial support), it is obvious that many of us across the diocese feel a deep sense of loss, grief and, yes, betrayal and thus are quite “gun-shy” about new congregations. It should be no surprise, therefore, that church planting ranked last on all but one tally, where it was next-to-last. The sense is that with resources being spread very thinly the resources could be used for more stable and proven ministry, such as for our already established congregations. I certainly do understand this, but can you truly affirm our diocese abandoning any vision for starting new churches? I don’t think so. I know I can’t."

More here-

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zimbabwe: Anglicans to Hold Protest Prayer Over Persecution

From All Africa-

Members of the Anglican Church are planning to hold a prayer meeting this Sunday in protest against ongoing persecution from an ousted bishop who is using the police to disrupt their services.

The Church of the Province of Central Africa excommunicated pro-Mugabe Bishop Nolbert Kunonga in 2007 after he attempted to unilaterally withdraw the Diocese of Harare from the Province. Using police and ZANU PF militia, Kunonga has been able to defy the mother church and continue holding onto Anglican property. This is despite him claiming to have formed his own church and having appointed his own priests and bishops.

Even though the High Court ordered that the two warring factions to share church property until a final determination is made, Kunonga's thugs with help from the police have continued to disrupt their rival's church services. At times they simply lock the church buildings to prevent genuine parishioners from holding their services.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury says world is a 'broken society'

From The London Telegraph-

Giving a lesson at Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church in New York, Dr Rowan Williams attacked what he called the "straw man" of self-interest and the way in which rich countries disregarded poor ones.

He said: "Do we live in a broken society? Well, in many ways we live in a society where far too many people live deeply fragmented lives even if they are materially well off.

"We live in a world that's broken in the sense that a very large part of our world, notably Africa, feels, with a good deal of justification, that the rest of the world has more or less stopped thinking about it."

Framing global relationships in financial terms, he said: "In a sense that is brokenness, where one sector of the human family says, 'We don't believe that the rest of you have any investment in what happens to us.' That's real brokenness."

Dr Williams also attacked the "uncritical" way that banks had sold expensive mortgages to those who could least afford it, and packaged them up into opaque financial products.
Bankers had invented "more and more recondite metaphysical, unreal forms of wealth generation" simply to "produce noughts on the end of the balance sheet", according to The Times.

Erie Episcopal dean nominated for bishop of Kentucky

From Erie-

The dean of Erie's Episcopal cathedral is in the running to become the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky

The Rev. John Downey, of the Cathedral of St. Paul in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, is one of four nominees for the top job in the Louisville, Ky.-based diocese.

"He is a wonderful preacher, a wonderful liturgist," said Alex Campbell, chairman of the search nominating committee.

Campbell said Downey was one of 78 applicants from 27 states and the District of Columbia considered to replace the retiring Bishop Ted Gulick. The list was narrowed to 10, all of whom visited Kentucky and whose home dioceses were visited by committee members. Four nominees were announced Saturday.

Episcopal Convention Expected To Be Calm

From Central Florida-

Things are calmer these days in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida.

Following the 2003 election of openly gay priest Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, the largely conservative diocese was in turmoil, contemplating whether to join other dioceses in leaving the Episcopal Church to create a new, traditionalist Anglican church in America.

Under the leadership of Bishop John Howe, the diocese decided not to split from the Episcopal Church, as at least two other dioceses have done, and those in the Central Florida diocese who were advocating for the split mostly have gone. Both clergy and laypersons say the diocese is healthy and moving forward

The diocese will hold its annual convention Saturday at The Lakeland Center, and in an interview earlier this week, Howe predicted the meeting would be calm.


However, delegates representing 88 churches, including 12 in Polk County, are expected to approve resolutions that will continue to distance the diocese from the policies of the Episcopal Church. Many in the diocese remain dissatisfied over what they say are the Episcopal Church's unorthodox positions on sexual morality and marriage, but the diocese is taking the role of loyal opposition.

Delegates will also hear a report from Howe about the status of churches that lost pastors and members in the wake of the controversy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger, author of 'Catcher in the Rye,' dies

Although he's best known for "Catcher" if you haven't read "Franny and Zooey" treat yourself - its about prayer. From the Washington Post-

J.D. Salinger, 91, a celebrated author and enigmatic recluse whose 1951 novel "The Catcher in the Rye" became an enduring anthem of adolescent angst and youthful rebellion and a classic of 20th-century American literature, has died at his home in Cornish, N.H.

The author's son, in a statement from the author's literary representative, confirmed the death to the Associated Press. Mr. Salinger died Wednesday, according to the AP, but no cause of death was immediately reported.

To generations of men and women in the years after World War II, "The Catcher in the Rye" was the singular, tell-it-like-it-is story about the mind-set of a sensitive youth: cynical yet romantic; disdainful of hypocrisy, social convention and conformity; self-conscious and uncomfortable in his own skin; confused and pathetic but also loveable.

The novel is about the adventures and misadventures of a disillusioned 16-year-old who knows he is about to be expelled from his boarding school, Pencey Prep, and decides to run away instead. Over three days in New York City, he has a run of weird encounters with taxi drivers, nuns, an elevator man, three girls from Seattle, a prostitute and a former teacher. In his eyes, the world is controlled and dominated by "phonies," whom he cannot abide, and he struggles with limited success to come to terms with love, sex and, ultimately, himself. In an encounter with his kid sister, Phoebe, he finds affection and salvation.

More here-

Why the Anglicans are Coming?

From The National Catholic Register-

After years of petitioning Rome, in October 2007, the bishops and vicars general of the Traditional Anglican Communion drafted the Portsmouth Letter to the Holy See. While excerpts of that letter have been previously released to the media, the full text remained confidential until the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith formally responded. The CDF’s response came late last year in the form of the Apostolic Constitution.

As a result, Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, has made the full text of the Portsmouth Letter available, exclusively at The Anglo-Catholic. Here’s the full text.

Do yourself a favor and take the time to read it. It’s a fascinating read, and sheds light on the history of the breakdown among the Anglican Communion, what led to their petitions to Rome, and the agreement in doctrine between the TAC and the Catholic Church. Note that the letter speaks of the breakdown in sacramental life and the ordination of women as two of the reasons for the petition.

From the Bishops and Vicars General of the Traditional Anglican Communion, gathered in Plenary Meeting at Portsmouth, England, in the Church of Saint Agatha, to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning their desire for unity with the See of Peter.

5th October 2007

Grace and peace in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour!

“A new hope arises that those who rejoice in the name of Christians, but are nevertheless separated from this apostolic see, hearing the voice of the divine Shepherd, may be able to make their way into the one Church of Christ….to seek and to follow that unity which Jesus Christ implored from his Heavenly father with such fervent prayers.”

More here-

The economics of love: The best churches for those looking for love

From Wallet Pop-

Churches provide more than a path to religious fulfillment; for many, they are an important part of social life, and many a happy couple first met during worship. This begs the question, which religion or denomination would give you the best chance to find a mate?

The answer depends on what you seek in a mate. According to a survey of adults by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

If you're looking for a young person

If you're young, you probably want to mix with other young people. You'll find the most young people, as a percentage of adult church membership, in one of America's Muslim mosques, where 29% are between 18 and 29.

Of Christian churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has the most people in this age group, at 25%. The churches with the fewest young people? The Greek Orthodox (8%) and mainline Protestant churches (14%). The Catholic Church comes in at 18%.

Among Protestant churches, the Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians each have only 11% of their congregations in this age group, while the Episcopal/Anglican churches register only 10%.

If you're looking for earning potential

One way to get money is to rub elbows with people that have it, so knowing which churches draw the wealthiest parishioners could help you find a mate that rates. In the U.S., 55% of those families who attend Reform Jewish synagogues earned $100,000 or more in 2006. Among Conservative Jews, this rate was 43%. American Hindus also reported 43%.

More here-

Catholic bishops fear Olympics provide venue for more sex-trade trafficking

From Canada-

As final preparations take place for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling for greater awareness by organizations and governments of the problems caused by prostitution and human trafficking.

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, part of the bishops association, says that groups involved in the struggle against human trafficking are worried that the Olympics could provide an opportunity for people who prey on the vulnerable to make money.

"The fact is that at some major sporting events, systems are often put in place to satisfy the demand for paid sex. Unfortunately, this is likely to be the case during the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver," the bishops say in a letter released Wednesday.

"As pastors of the Catholic Church in Canada, we denounce human trafficking in all its forms, whether it is intended for forced labour (domestic, farm or factory work) or for sexual exploitation (whether it be prostitution, pornography, forced marriages, strip clubs, or other). We invite the faithful to become aware of this violation of human rights and the trivialization of concerns about prostitution," the letter said.

However, a study of international sporting events released last June suggests that, contrary to popular belief, there will likely be no surge in sex-trade workers in Vancouver for the Games.
The study, commissioned by the Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group, was a Vancouver police initiative that involves several community groups active in the city's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. It was paid for with a provincial government grant.

Researchers for the study looked at a host of past sporting events, including Olympic Games and World Cup soccer events, and found that sex trafficking generally did not increase for a number of reasons, including heightened awareness and enforcement by police of trafficking laws.

More here-

NEW YORK: Archbishop of Canterbury visits the South Bronx

From Episcopal Life Online-

People lined up along the fence outside St. Ann's Episcopal Church in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx Jan. 27 waiting for their turn to get inside -- not to get a glimpse of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who was incidentally visiting, but to shop the parish's weekly Wednesday morning food pantry.

Williams arrived and left with little fanfare. More food pantry clients lined up along the fence outside, paying little notice. Inside, the Rev. Martha Overall, priest-in-charge, along with members of the vestry and volunteers, opened up the parish and its programs for Williams to see. His visit was significant, Overall said, given the archbishop's reason for being in New York.

The archbishop is here to participate in the 2010 Trinity Institute's National Theological Conference, themed "Building an Ethical Economy: Theology and the Market Place." On Jan. 26, he participated in a panel that discussed ways to safeguard children from the effects of the global financial and economic crises at the Desmond Tutu Center, took part in discussions at the United Nations and, along with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Williams asked to see the work of the Episcopal Church on the ground, said New York Bishop Mark S. Sisk, who accompanied the archbishop on his visit.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for those people who have opened their work for him to see," he said.

As Overall explained to Williams, St. Ann's is located in the poorest congressional district in America, where 60 percent of the population is without a high school degree and 40 percent of households earn less than $10,000 a year.

More here-

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dr. Paul McHugh: “There Is No Gay Gene”

From The Living Church-

Dr. Paul R. McHugh, a plenary speaker at this year’s Mere Anglicanism conference, served as the Henry Phipps professor of psychiatry, director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and psychiatrist in chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975 to 2001. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine named him distinguished service professor in 1998.

Lydia Evans, a lay leader in the Diocese of South Carolina, interviewed Dr. McHugh on a variety of topics. They began by discussing the work of Dr. John Money (1921–2006), who was perhaps best known for his supervision and study of David Peter Reimer’s gender reassignment.

When you joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1975, Dr. John Money had been there for nearly 25 years. How much of an opportunity did you have to interact with Dr. Money?

Oh, I had multiple opportunities. He was a member of my department, and I was responsible ultimately for [oversight] of his publications at the end of his life because the university had decided they were untrustworthy.

Were there opportunities to achieve a fairly direct exchange of worldviews?

I had enough of a fight putting an end to sex-change operations and saying that we were no longer going to teach sexuality to the medical students the way he was teaching it. It became clear that I was going to confront [Money’s] approach, and he would have to come and present his material at our grand rounds … but we didn’t have a public debate. He didn’t want to have anything publicly to do with my confrontation, as I was restricting more and more his enterprises. By the way, I certainly had plenty of support within [Johns Hopkins], and that could not have been done without some evidence that the patients weren’t any better for [gender reassignment surgery]. And there continues to be plenty of evidence.

While Money’s work significantly shaped Johns Hopkins’ reputation as an institution focused on progressive care for intersex and transgender conditions, your influence led to a decline in surgical intervention and seriously eroded earlier theories of the plasticity of gender identity.

That’s right. [Evidence from longitudinal studies such as Framingham suggests] that gender identity disorder may well be something imposed upon people out of their wish to live the roles, and the lives, within their social cluster.

How do you view the popular assumption that science has somehow proven that sexual orientation is determined early in childhood, if not before birth?

Well, as I have said, there is no gay gene. And there are factors more influential than biology. The best data, of course, [comes from the Framingham Study]. If you are a man and you grow up in a rural environment, you are four times less likely to have homosexual relationships than if you grow up in a metropolitan area. That’s not left-handedness. If you are a lesbian, you are much more likely to be college-educated. That’s not something that happens at conception. My point is that we now know that the environment is very important.

More here-

Archbishop Nichols praises papal decree for encouraging Catholic-Anglican dialogue

From Catholic New Agency-

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said this week that the publication of the apostolic constitution allowing Anglicans the option of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church “will have important consequences” in England.

The apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus,” was issued by Pope Benedict last November.

In an interview with Vatican Radio in Rome, where the archbishop is with other English prelates for their ad limina visit, Archbishop Nichols said, “The reaction to this document is, in a certain sense, measured. There was a strong reaction at first, which was inflated by the media. Now we are in a phase of evaluation, reflection and prayer.”

In order for there to be a “complete assessment of the Pope’s initiative,” the archbishop said, “one must consider the important announcement of the start of the third phase of ARCIC talks, the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. In my opinion, the two are related.”

“The response of the Holy Father has given a positive stimulus to ARCIC's debates,” he continued adding that the coinciding of the launch of ARCIC III and the apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus" is not a coincidence.”

“In our joint declaration,” Archbishop Nichols stated, “the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and I have said that this move by the Holy See will end a period of uncertainty, and consider this to be a positive contribution to a wider dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole, which will have important consequences for the country.”

14 Anglican churches could close in B.C.

From Canada-

The Anglican Church of Canada may close up to 14 churches in British Columbia because of declining attendance.

Bishop James Cowan of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. says its community numbers are dwindling because churchgoers are aging and no new members are taking their place.

“We are a church saying a crisis could come if we don't act. It is painful.”

A report released Tuesday recommends the closure of 14 churches in the Victoria-area and southern Gulf Islands. Another five would be renamed and become “hub churches” that would provide services in areas affected by closures.

The problem is empty pews. At St. Martin in the Fields, only 37 people regularly attend Sunday service. The same is true at St. Columbia. In both cases, for sale signs could soon pop up on the lawn.

Cowan said parish churches in urban areas need a membership of 150 to keep afloat.

Church members are putting their best face on what is a troubling time for religion. Other churches may face the same painful decisions.

“They're not coming through our doors in sufficient numbers so we must go to them where they are," said Canon Martin Hendy.

Many British Columbians say they're spiritual but not religious, meaning they don't go to church. Anglicans are hoping to reshape things like never before, vowing to turn the church inside out in a search for new followers.

More here-

Episcopal Relief and Development hosts Archbishop of Canterbury, launches NetsforLife Inspiration Fund

From Episcopal Life Online-

Episcopal Relief & Development hosted a luncheon Jan. 26 in New York City in honor of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and to launch the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund to continue the agency's ongoing fight against malaria.

Among the 75 guests in attendance were friends and supporters of Episcopal Relief & Development and the NetsforLife® program partnership; members of the agency's board of directors; and many NetsforLife® corporate partners, including Chris Flowers of the White Flowers Foundation, Florence Davis of the Starr International Foundation, and Steven Phillips of ExxonMobil.

After briefly welcoming the guests and blessing the meal, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced Diocese of Colorado Bishop Robert O'Neill, chair of the agency's board of directors.

O'Neill spoke about the importance of the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief & Development, from responding to the recent crisis in Haiti to the ongoing mission of promoting health and fighting disease through NetsforLife®.

"Long after the television crews have left and the cameras have stopped rolling, I am grateful to say that Episcopal Relief & Development will still be on the ground in Haiti, still be on the ground working with our partners, still be engaged in the same mission, not only in Haiti, but globally," said O'Neill.

A brief film was shown about NetsforLife®, highlighting the program's success in fighting malaria through the distribution of insecticide-treated nets in more than 17 African countries.

"This film illustrates what can be achieved when partners from different contexts and different arenas do indeed come together, each willing to offer their various gifts and strengths," O'Neill continued. "They come together and put them to work thoughtfully, intentionally and creatively to bring hope and healing to the poorest among us."

More here-

In Haiti's 'new era' Episcopalians around the world offer help

From Canada-

In a letter titled "One is in the wilderness but safe in faith," Episcopal Diocese of Haiti Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin says the destructive Jan. 12 earthquake began a "new era" in the history of that impoverished nation.

"This is also a new era in the history of humanitarian aid because the catastrophe has dealt a terrible blow to more than 10 million living beings -- inhabitants who have lost their homes and their way of life," the bishop wrote in a letter posted in French here (ENS received an English translation Jan. 24). "The capital [Port-au-Prince] is transformed into an immense refuge camp. They call desperately for water, food, and medicine."

Elsewhere in the Episcopal Church, dioceses and congregations are continuing to respond to the calls for help from the church's largest diocese.

"Most of our churches are destroyed," Duracin said. "Many schools are only piles of stones."

The bishop also reported that he had only seconds to escape his house when the magnitude 7.0 quake struck just before 5:00 p.m. local time. His wife, Marie Edithe, was trapped in the house and Duracin and others "were barely able to move her from the wreckage," the bishop wrote. Two of the Duracins' adult children were also home at the time; both escaped without injury.

More here-

'Candlelight Cuisine' shatters the stereotype of church basement dining

From Kansas City-
Table for two, monsieur?

Almost everything about this cozy eatery says fine dining: the white tablecloths, the candles and crusty French baguettes; the authentic shrimp Creole and bread pudding with bourbon sauce; the Starbucks coffee and an associate Episcopal rector saying grace.

Wait. An Episcopal rector?

But of course.

As much as the food might say otherwise, this is not a pricey Brookside bistro. The 70 or so people who enjoyed a free-will-offering meal here on a recent Sunday evening had just finished a church service upstairs at Kansas City’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Dust off the good china, Father, this ain’t your grandma’s church potluck. This is “Candlelight Cuisine,” a Sunday night feast prepared by professional chefs. It proves that food served in the lower level of a church doesn’t have to be lower level in quality.

“What I hear a lot is somebody says, ‘I might as well be in a restaurant,’ ” said the Rev. John Spicer, associate rector at St. Andrew’s. “ ‘This is what I’d get if I went to a bistro in Brookside, much less a church.’ ”

Instead of chili nights, pancake feeds or fish fries, St. Andrews, 6401 Wornall Terrace in Brookside, offers more nuanced fare. For a suggested $5 donation, you get meals like chicken cacciatore, eggplant Marrakesh with couscous, jambalaya, wild game, peach cobbler and coconut lime cupcakes. On a recent night, the chefs changed the menu to Haitian food and gave the donations collected to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

More here-

Anglican Diocese of Pitsburgh responds to Bishop Price's Letter

I received this in an email-

January 25, 2010

The Rt. Rev Kenneth L. Price, Jr.

4099 William Penn Hwy, Suite 502

Monroeville, PA 15146

Dear Bishop Price,

We were gratified to read, in your letter of January 20, that you were writing in a conciliatory spirit. As you know, a number of us in the Diocese have been working diligently with those in your fold to find helpful ways of moving forward in this difficult season. As the Standing Committee of the Diocese, we heartily endorse your desire for conversation with us, especially if it leads to concrete ways in which we might work through our mutual misunderstandings and divisions. For our part, we in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh continue to be eager to welcome back those parishes and clergy who have left our diocese. As you know, we continue to recognize the orders of those clergy who have left the diocese and make no claim on the property of parishes who are in your fold, making any transition back to us a simple transaction.

To this end, we would be grateful if a few of us, clergy and lay leaders in the diocese, could meet with you at your earliest convenience to see how we might together forge a better way forward, particularly concerning the litigation that is currently before the courts.

It would be most helpful to all if we could discuss our mutual hopes, desires and concerns for the future in a way that created space for reconciliation in the truth of the Gospel and mission in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In Christ,

The Standing Committee, The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

The Rev. Karen Stevenson, President

Mrs. Gladys Hunt-Mason

The Rev. Geoffrey Chapman

Mr. Kenneth Herbst

The Rev. Jonathan Millard

Mr. William Roemer

The Rev. Daniel Crawford

Mr. Stuart Simpson

Original letter is here-

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Traditional Priest Holds Up Registration With A Question: Are You Circumcised?

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department- (Ghana Division)

The National Identification Authority has formally written to the police to investigate the assault on its staff by a traditional priest and five others in the Gbese Mantse’s palace in Accra on Thursday.

Dr William Ahadze, Executive Secretary of the Authority who disclosed this, said the six people also inhibited the National Identification Staff from their right to privacy and obstructed them from carrying out their duties.

On January 11, the two NIA officials were on duty registering people in a long queue at a point near the Gbese Mantse’s palace in Accra. They had to move into a section of the palace when one of the elders saw that the equipment they were using could be damaged through exposure to the sun. Even though the palace was not an official registration centre, the registration was done there to protect the equipment.

According to the victims, whilst registration was going on, a traditional priest, Nii Ogbarmey III, came in with his family to register. They were given preferential treatment because of his status.

However, five days after Nii Ogbarmey had registered, he came back to the centre with five “macho” men and demanded to know whether the registration officials were circumcised, because it was a taboo, under Ga custom for uncircumcised persons to enter the palace. When the two registration officers replied in the affirmative, the priest and his men insisted that they should show proof before they would be allowed to continue with the work.

More (or less) here-

God’s not dead: How LA fills the pews ... and we don’t

From The London Times-

It’s not that I am especially pious. Believe me, I was mostly praying for cashmere this Christmas. As the old joke goes: Am I religious? No, I’m Church of England. But I have a confession to make: I do go to church, and not just at Christmas either. I go all the time. Even on weekdays sometimes.

I’m aware that such an admission is rather like owning up to being a trainspotter these days, but then I don’t have to put up with the desolate aisles and empty pews that most of you have become familiar with in Britain — where the best that can be hoped for on a Sunday is a faint whiff of incense and three old ladies and a homeless person singing watery hymns.

According to a report published tomorrow there is a sharp decline in religious belief in Britain. Half the population now calls itself Christian, down from two thirds in 1983. At the same time, the proportion who confess to “no religion” has increased from just under a third to more than four in ten. If Jews and Muslims are included, non-Christians now represent 7 per cent of the population, up from 2 per cent 25 years ago.

I hate to sound as if I’m boasting, but at the Anglican church my family attends in Los Angeles, you have to go early if you want a seat. Rather like being at a football match when your team has just won, the sheer numbers alone leave you with a spring in your step and a song on your lips.

St James Church, which sits at the intersection of an affluent middle-class neighbourhood, and many poorer communities in LA, is an Episcopal Church, that is the American equivalent of the Church of England. But, unlike its British cousins, it is packed because it goes out of its way to create a community in a big, sprawling city. There’s a supper club on Wednesday nights, set up with the intention of giving mums a night off, and a chance for families to make friends.

Victor S. Cianca, Sr./Famous city traffic cop

A local legend dies. I can remember watching him one night in the late 60's after a Penguins Game-

Victor "Vic" Cianca elevated the work of a traffic cop to a choreographed art, captivating local motorists for 38 years with his comedic repertoire of gestures.

He belonged to Pittsburgh, but he was beloved by a nation; he was a favorite on "Candid Camera" and had a minor role in the 1980s classic "Flashdance."

When he reluctantly retired, his signature white gloves were placed on display at the Allegheny County Police Academy.

Mr. Cianca, of Brookline, died Sunday. He was 92.

People far and wide enjoyed his theatrical antics -- and his balletic calm during traffic jams. Motorists who regularly encountered him brought him gifts.

"I used to drive in every morning, and I'd make a point ... to go by and wave to him," said former Mayor Sophie Masloff. "Everybody came from all over to watch him direct traffic."

Mr. Cianca used as many as three limbs at once to hurry people along. When someone drove too slowly, he would rest his cheek in his hands, miming sleep. If a driver tried to explain away a traffic violation, he played an imaginary violin. He took slow, silly bows, blew his whistles so hard they quit and wore his white gloves so often that he earned the nickname "Gloves."

The son of two Italian immigrants, Mr. Cianca was born in Pittsburgh in 1918. He graduated from South Hills High School and went to work in a steel mill before joining the Navy during World War II.

Read more:

Kidnap: Oshiomhole Tasks Police on Security for Clergymen

From Nigeria-

With the Sunday kidnap of the Anglican Bishop of Benin, Most Rev. Peter Imasuen in Benin, Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has directed the Police to provide security around clergymen and worship centres in the state.

Oshiomhole gave the directive yesterday when members of the State Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Benin to formally report the incident to him, saying that he was personally embarrassed by the kidnap of the Bishop.

He explained that his administration has provided about 100 vehicles and spent N200 million to provide communication gadgets to the Police to assist them in combating crime.
Oshiomhole who recalled the bad security situation of the state, said this prompted him to seek the Federal Government’s approval for the use of soldiers to support the Police in its efforts to combat crime in the state, adding that the effort paid off as the state experienced low crime rate during last Christmas period.

According to him, “I regretted that the Minister of Defence and an indigene of the state, Gen. Godwin Abbe [rtd] directed the withdrawal of the soldiers from the Police/Military Joint Security Task Force [Operation Thunderstorm], adding that the minister refused to pick his calls.

He informed the CAN members that about 100 fake policemen were recruited by the PDP through Uromi-Anegbette to Udaba armed with pump Action guns with intent to rig last Saturday’s election in Etsako Central Constituency House of Assembly re-run election.

“My worries are that they have gone away with these guns and uniforms. My pains and concern is that they are now likely to resort to violent crimes, lamenting that the uniforms and guns could not be retrieved.

While urging Nigerians to rise up and condemn the use of violence and fore arms in politics, Oshiomhole restated his call for one man one vote.

Earlier, Spokesman of CAN, Rev. Father Fichard Ofere had told the governor that they were in Government House to brief him about the kidnap of Bishop Imasuen who is the State Chairman of CAN.

He said they though it wise to brief the governor after their meeting about the incident before embarking on any action they deemed fit, adding, “we have been praying for Bishop Imasuen since yesterday”.

Seismic Shock: When blogging meets policing

From the BBC-

Anyone who writes - or reads - blogs will know that they are not necessarily the place for reasoned and good-natured debate. All too often, they descend into vulgar abuse and name-calling - and on occasion, these disputes end up in the libel courts. But would you expect a blogger involved in one of these so-called "flame wars" to get a visit from the police?

That is what happened to the author of Seismic Shock, a blog which, in its own words, is "a voice for those dedicated to exposing and opposing modern anti-Jewish religious attitudes". The blog launched repeated attacks on an Anglican vicar, Stephen Sizer, accusing him of anti-Semitism.

The priest has campaigned against Zionism, has accused the Israeli government of war crimes and has called for the Church of England to sell its investments in companies associated with the occupation of Palesetinian territories. Mr Sizer has strenuously denied accusations on the Seismic Shock blog that he is anti-Semitic or that his pronouncements have given comfort to Holocaust deniers.

So far, so typical in the rough-and-tumble world of the blogosphere. But then, on 29 November, Seismic Shock's author received a visit from two West Yorkshire police officers. The blogger has been anonymous until now, but when I spoke to him, he agreed to reveal his name. He is Joseph Wiseman, a Leeds University graduate student, and it appears the university was unhappy with his blogging activities.

More here-

ZIMBABWE: Anglicans to hold prayer meeting in protest of persecution

From Episcopal News Service-

Anglicans in Zimbabwe's Diocese of Harare are scheduled to hold a prayer meeting on Sunday, Jan. 31, in protest of the ongoing persecution by local police that has prevented them from worshipping freely in their own church buildings, the independent Zimbabwe news agency

Zimbabwe's Anglicans have faced ongoing harassment and violence from President Robert Mugabe's police force since renegade bishop Nolbert Kunonga was officially excommunicated by the Church of the Province of Central Africa in May 2008.

An avid Mugabe supporter, Kunonga still claims ownership of the diocese's Anglican churches and has supported the intimidation and persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe for opposing his and Mugabe's leadership.

ZimOnline noted that the prayer meeting comes "after months of a tense and sometimes violent struggle for control of the church" between Kunonga and Bishop Chad Gandiya, elected in 2009 to run the Harare diocese.

Gandiya succeeded Bishop Sebastian Bakare, who served as the diocese's interim bishop since December 2007, when Kunonga was deposed after illegally separating from the Central Africa province and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe.

Despite a High Court order instructing Gandiya and Kunonga to share use of church buildings, "Kunonga's group is accused of locking up church doors every Sunday to prevent their rivals from entering the buildings to hold prayers, while the police have been on hand to chase away Gandiya's followers every time they tried to insist on their right to use the churches," the ZimOnline agency reported.

Zimbabwe has experienced an economic and socio-political crisis under the leadership of Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party continues to hold onto power despite being defeated by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the March 2008 elections.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe formed a power-sharing government in February 2009 but tensions between the two leaders have since caused the agreement to falter.

More here-

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Bishop appointed to Episcopal Church of Cuba

From Anglican Journal-

The Metropolitan Council of Cuba has appointed The Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio as Co-adjutor Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba.

Delgado was appointed after two special electoral synods held last year failed to elect a successor to Bishop Miguel Tamayo Zaldivar, who plans to retire as interim bishop soon.

She was chosen from a pool of candidates who were asked for written responses by the Council, composed of Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church, and Archbishop Errol Brooks, acting primate of The Church in the Province of the West Indies. The Council has overseen the Cuban church since it separated from The Episcopal Church in 1967 because of difficult relations between the two countries’ governments.

“The Council found Griselda’s submission to be particularly thorough. We believe she has a good grasp of the nature of episcope [ministry of a bishop],” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz in a letter to the Cuban church. “We believe she has a lot of insight into the history of the Church’s witness in Cuban society. It is clear that she is mission-minded and will lead the church in the spirit of compassionate and courageous discipleship.”

In 1986 Delgado became one of two women Anglican priests ordained for the first time in the history of the Cuban church. She is currently the rector of Santa Maria Virgen Church in Itabo, Matanzas province.

Archbishop Hiltz noted that Delgado is “committed to the ministry of all the baptized and to the principle s of diverse and dispersed leadership.” She is also aware of the “need to give attention to stewardship of financial resources for maintaining ministry and mission.”

As co-adjutor, Delgado will work with Bishop Tamayo until he ends his term.
Delgado’s consecration has been scheduled for Feb. 7, at the closing service for the diocesan synod, at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Havana.

KENTUCKY: Diocese announces four nominees for bishop

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky announced Jan. 23 a slate of four men, including three cathedral deans, as nominees for the diocese's next bishop.
The nominees are:

the Rev. David Allen Boyd, 54, rector, St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin (Diocese of Texas);
the Very Rev. John P. Downey, 56, dean, Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie (Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania);
the Very Rev. William Nicholas Knisely Jr., 49, dean, Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix (Diocese of Arizona);
the Very Rev. Terry Allan White, 50, dean, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City (Diocese of West Missouri).
More complete biographical information on the nominees is available here.

The election will be held on June 5 at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in Louisville. The person chosen will succeed Bishop Ted Gulick, the diocese's seventh bishop, who announced in October 2008 his retirement plans. The consecration is expected to take place on Sept. 25 at the Galt House in Louisville.

"We interviewed a number of highly qualified presbyters (priests, deans, canons), all of whom were highly qualified," Search/Nominating Committee Chair Alex Campbell said in a diocesan news release.

Search/Nominating Committee member Jim Moyer, noting that no women priests are among the nominees, said that "we came to a very strong consensus about the quality of the individuals." Moyer made his remarks during a Jan. 23 joint meeting of the Standing Committee and the Search/Nominating Committee at Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, according to the diocesan release.

The Very Rev. Mark Boulakas, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, added that the committee expressed its concern to the search committee consultant, who reminded them, "you have a committee that is very diverse, not all men."

There were 78 applicants for nomination, the release said.

The announcement opens the nomination by petition process to the diocese's clergy and laity, who may nominate candidates through Feb. 12. The petition form can be found here.

Under the canons (III.11.4) of the Episcopal Church, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

Conference Discusses Sex and Theology

From The Living Church-

What do 250 Anglicans talk about when they gather in one of the most majestic antebellum ecclesiastical structures in the South?

They talk about sex, but also about broader social questions. The theme for this year’s Mere Anglicanism conference, which met on Jan. 21-23, was “Human Identity: Gender, Marriage, and Sexuality — Speculation or Revelation?” The annual Charleston-based conference, which moved this year from the Cathedral of St Luke and St. Paul to the larger St. Philip’s, addressed modern culture from the perspective of balanced, traditional, biblically based Anglican theology.

Participants discussed how the institution of marriage is struggling amid a sexually permissive society. Statistics show that today the number of cohabiting couples has risen 600 percent since the 1970s. Gay marriage, while still disapproved of by the majority of the population, has become legal in several states and is increasingly accepted by mainline churches, including the Episcopal Church.

Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that scientific research has not established any genetic causation for homosexual orientation. When asked if his paper might appear in The American Journal of Psychiatry, he smiled and said, “No.” Americans, he said, have become such victims of the “politics of deviance” that objective scholarship is brushed aside in favor of what is deemed to be politically correct.

Robert Gagnon, an associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, addressed the argument that St. Paul condemned only exploitative or pederastic homosexual behavior and he knew nothing of homosexual orientation or partnerships among peers. Dr. Gagnon argued that both were well- known in ancient Greece and Rome, and — while tolerated — were often condemned even by pagan writers.

Edith Humphrey, the William F. Orr professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, critiqued the writings of three theologians: Carter Heyward, Sarah Coakley and Eugene F. Rogers, Jr. Dr. Humphrey was especially critical of Dr. Rogers’ comparing human sexual intimacy to the relationship among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

More here-

One man, one woman? by Philip Jenkins

From Christian Century-

Christian attitudes toward polygamy are more controversial today than they have been for many years. As Euro-American churches debate the issue of same-sex unions, African Christians attack Westerners for their moral laxity and for caving in to secular hedonism. In response, some Western liberals retort that Africans themselves need to put their own house in order. Do African churches define marriage as a sacrosanct union between one man and one woman? If so, then why do their leaders tolerate polygamous unions?

Such an argument seems to convict the most visible Christian conservatives of hypocrisy, of failing to pluck the beam from their own collective eye. Yet far from convincing Africans, such an argument illustrates a continuing global gulf on issues of sexual morality.

For many societies across Africa, polygamy is far more than a historic vestige. South Africa's president Jacob Zuma has at least four wives, raising etiquette concerns over which one should formally take the role of first lady. So entrenched is plural marriage that Christian churches have long had to make compromises. The ancient Ethiopian church tolerated polygamy in some circumstances, despite periodic reform campaigns. After long encounters with Zulu peoples in southern Africa, the 19th-century Anglican bishop J. W. Colenso concluded that polygamy could not be eliminated in the short term. He decided that polygamy reduced promiscuity and that an official clampdown would only drive plural wives and their children from stable home settings.

Few leaders in Africa's European-dominated churches were as sensitive as Colenso was. Most demanded that Christians end their plural marriages. This policy initially limited the impact of the so-called mission churches, while pushing believers toward the new independent congregations, the African-Initiated Churches or AICs.

Although individual groups varied in their practice, many AICs allowed polygamy on the basis of custom and the multiple examples supplied by the Old Testament. When legendary evangelist William Wadé Harris preached across West Africa in 1913, he traveled with several women who were probably his wives. Some independent churches enthusiastically embraced the practice for clergy as well as laypeople. And while other groups did not institutionalize the practice, they allowed converts to keep their multiple wives.

More here-

Harriet Harman's law 'will force churches to hire gays'

From The Daily Mail-

Churches could be forced to hire homosexuals and transsexuals against the tenets of their faith when employing staff under planned Labour equality laws, it was claimed yesterday.

The new Equality Bill could require them to take on candidates who do not fit in with their religious doctrine when recruiting key staff such as faith school headteachers or youth workers.
At the moment, organised religions have a special status that lets them turn down applicants whose lifestyles conflict with the churches' beliefs, even if they are otherwise well qualified for the job.
But religious leaders are concerned the proposed law will restrict their ability to employ lay people who share their values.

The Bill - introduced by Equality Minister Harriet Harman in the Commons last year - is being debated in the Lords today.

Churches and mosques are allowed to reject candidates for jobs as ministers or priests if they are actively homosexual, if they have changed their sex or are women.

It also extends to key staff who promote the religion such as faith school heads.
But many in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches fear that new wording proposed by the Government will undermine this right. The Government insists it will not, and merely clarifies the law.

Now three Anglican bishops have issued a statement warning that churches could find themselves vulnerable to legal challenges under the proposals.
The Government had 'produced no convincing case for change,' said the bishops of Winchester, Exeter and Chester. The bishops have written to members of the House of Lords urging them to vote down what they see as a weakening of the churches' special status.

Anglican Archbishop Kidnapped

From Nigeria- (I believe that Imasuen is a Bishop not an Archbishop)

Archbishop of Benin Diocese, Anglican Communion and Edo State Chairman of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Peter Imasuen, was yesterday abducted by unknown gunmen.
Imasuen was abducted in front of his official residence, Bishop Court, at Iyaro area in Benin City, at about 12:30p.m. while returning from church service.

According to investigations, he was said to have been trailed by the kidnappers from the St. Matthew Cathedral located along Sakponba Road, where he conducted a church service.
Witnesses disclosed that the suspected kidnappers, who wielded sophisticated weapons, forced their way into the Bishop Court and attacked the securityman on duty.

According to them, the Bishop was dragged out of his vehicle and driven to an unknown destination.
A visit by our reporter saw worshippers trooping into the Bishop's home to confirm the story, while other sympathisers were seen discussing in hushed voices.

A family member who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the story and said the kidnappers were demanding N50million ransom, adding that a statement would be issued today.
Edo State Police Spokesman, ASP Peter Ogboi, could not be reached for comments.

Scottish Churches enter into new partnership

From Christian Today-

The Scottish Episcopal Church, Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in Scotland entered into a new covenant with one another on Saturday.

The partnership was sealed by the denominational leaders at a special service at St Ninian’s Episcopal Cathedral, Perth.

Signing the agreement on behalf of the URC was Primus the Most Rev David Chillingworth, who welcomed the formal coming together of the Churches.

He said: “I am delighted to take part in the signing of this covenant agreement. Our General Synod has whole-heartedly affirmed this covenant and welcomed this developing relationship with our partner churches."

The covenant was also signed by the Rev Lily Twist, Superintendent of the Methodist Church in Scotland and Rev John Humphreys, Moderator of the United Reformed Church, National Synod of Scotland.

The covenant reflects the work being undertaken jointly by the Churches already in areas like training and mission development.

The Churches will also share their resources, education and development opportunities for clergy and congregations.

“Many relations of this kind are aspirational in character," said Mr Chillingworth. "What makes this relationship so encouraging is that it is rooted in work which we already share in training and mission development. We look forward to a further sharing of resources and ministry as together we address the mission challenges of our times.”

The signing of the partnership coincides with the centenary of the 1910 Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh, which marked the start of ecumenical working between churches in Scotland and throughout the world.

More here-

Bishop Takes Castle

From Texas Monthly-

Jack Iker, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, was tired of fighting his church. As a conservative and traditionalist, he had long disagreed with its practice of ordaining women priests. He was deeply dismayed by its more recent consecration of a gay bishop, its policy of blessing same-sex unions, and its movement away from the Biblical teaching that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. These changes, he felt, were all proof that his denomination had lost its way. And so, on November 15, 2008, after fifteen years as a bishop, Iker left the Episcopal Church.

But he did not leave alone. He took most of the Diocese of Fort Worth with him: 48 churches, 15,000 parishioners, and more than 58 clergy. The loyalist minority who did not follow him made up only 8 churches. And in a startling assertion of temporal power against a centuries-old establishment, Iker announced that he and his flock would be keeping their assets—hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate, buildings, and investments—the legacy of a century and a half of worship. He was leaving, in other words, but he wasn’t going anywhere.

On the Sunday following Iker’s departure, which was announced and approved at an annual diocesan convention at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford—roughly 80 percent of the gathered clergy and laity voted for the diocese to secede—the Fort Worth parishes separated into hostile camps. Though most churches had clear majorities, some found themselves deeply divided. At the Church of the Good Shepherd in Granbury, liberal members who were loyal to the Episcopal Church—40 souls, compared with the 110 who aligned with Iker—ended up meeting in a women’s club. St. Stephen’s in Hurst split right down the middle; loyalists rented a wedding chapel, used a portable altar, and hired a retired priest. There were liberal congregations in exile in Weatherford, Fort Worth, and Arlington. At All Saints in Fort Worth, a church with 1,800 members, it was the conservatives who were in the minority; 150 of them walked out and set up their own new congregation under the same name.

More here-