Saturday, March 27, 2010

Much ado about alleged desecration

From Cyprus-

THE ANGLICAN Diocese of Cyprus, and the Gulf and the European Commission yesterday denied separate allegations made against them by the Kykkos Monastery regarding desecrations in the north.

On Tuesday Greek Open University professor Charalambous C. Chotzakoglou from the Museum of the Kykkos Monastery claimed the Anglican Church exhumed Greek Orthodox graves in the Kyrenia cemetery to bury British residents who no longer fit in the adjacent British cemetery.
He also said the EU was funding a road construction project that damaged an Orthodox church in occupied Nicosia.

Anglican Diocese of Cyprus Bishop Michael Lewis reacted swiftly: “I can assure concerned Cypriots and others that at no time, past or present, has there been any act of the Anglican Church in Cyprus that has affected the graves or bodies of faithful departed Orthodox in Kyrenia or anywhere else, by moving existing graves to bury British residents,” he said in a written statement.

“As Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, I am absolutely committed to promoting respect for the remains and memorials of the dead. They are of utmost sanctity.”
The Municipality of Kyrenia also reacted to the claims, releasing a statement “condemning the unholy act of the Anglican Community of Kyrenia, which not only runs counter to every principle of law and morality, but also aims to erase any indication of Greek presence in the occupied areas.”

More here-

Episcopals assert their autonomy

From Myrtle Beach (I didn't know an adjective could be plural!)

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, embroiled in a theological -- and now legal -- battle with Episcopal Church headquarters in New York City, convened its 219th annual convention Friday at St. Paul's Church to vote on a series of resolutions affirming its sovereignty and rebuking the denomination's leader for "ecclesiastical intrusions."
The convention was postponed from its original date of March 4 so the diocese could "adequately consider a response to unprecedented incursion into the affairs of the diocese," according to a pastoral letter by Bishop Mark Lawrence.

A recent exchange of letters between attorneys representing the diocese and the national church has sparked concern among local officials that their protests now are prompting legal action.

Diocese leaders have long argued that The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori are concerned more with multiculturalism and political correctness than with the authority of Scripture. The disagreements were heightened when, in 2003, the Diocese of New Hampshire consecrated the church's first openly gay bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson. Earlier this month, The Episcopal Church gave final approval to the ordination in Los Angeles of its second openly gay bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool.

Conservatives in the church have decried these moves, and some have chosen to forge alliances or formal relationships with alternative governing bodies, such as Anglican churches in Africa or the recently formed Anglican Church in North America.

Read more:

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC: All Saints Church Declares Victory in Property Dispute with TEC

From David Virtue-

Dear All Saints Family,

It is over.

After nearly a decade of legal and personal conflict, the issue of the All Saints Church property has been resolved, thanks be to God.

Our Vestry and that of the Episcopal congregation have come to an understanding that ends the case forever and also provides a way for both churches to go forward into the future in faith and service to Christ.

As a result of our agreement, both sides recognize and accept the September 18, 2009, decision of the Supreme Court of South Carolina in which the Court determined that we are the rightful owners of the property and legitimate Vestry for All Saints Parish, Waccamaw.

The Episcopal congregation has taken action to withdraw their Petition before the Supreme Court of the United States. As you may recall, the South Carolina decision was truly remarkable in that it clearly refuted any claim that the Episcopal Church might make on our property through the use of the so-called Dennis Canon.

In a desire to bless the work of God in the Episcopal congregation, our Vestry has made the offer of a financial gift of $375,000 to them to assist in their future ministry in our community.

In addition, we have offered several items that represent their participation in the heritage of All Saints Church. We also have communicated that those members of their congregation who have historic ties to All Saints will be given the opportunity to use the appropriate buildings in the event of funerals, weddings and other pastoral occasions in accordance with the same guidelines and policies that are followed by our own members.

While we indeed see this as good news, the Vestry recognizes that there are some who will be disappointed that we simply did not wait in expectation for the Supreme Court to deny the Episcopalians' Petition for an appeal. Please know that the Vestry has spent hours upon hours prayerfully considering what our Lord would have us do to bring this dispute to an end.

More here-

SOUTH CAROLINA: Convention passes resolutions on diocesan identity, authority

From Episcopal Life Online-

Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina passed a series of resolutions March 26 related to their role as a diocese of the Episcopal Church.
The four resolutions are available here.

The convention said in Resolution R-1, titled "Recognition of the Heritage and a proclamation of the Identity of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina," that "for more than three centuries this diocese has represented the Anglican expression of the faith once for all delivered to the saints" and that "we understand ourselves to be a gospel diocese, called to proclaim an evangelical faith, embodied in a catholic order, and empowered and transformed through the Holy Spirit."

The resolution had the convention "promise under God not to swerve in our belief that above all Jesus came into the world to save the lost, that those who do not know Christ need to be brought into a personal and saving relationship with him, and that those who do know Christ need to be taught by the Holy Scriptures faithfully to follow him all the days of their lives to the Glory of God the Father."

In Resolution R-2, the convention said it "affirms its legal and ecclesiastical authority as a sovereign diocese within the Episcopal Church" and "declares the presiding bishop has no authority to retain attorneys in this diocese that present themselves as the legal counsel for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina." The resolution also demands that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori end any relationship her office has with such an attorney.

The convention added to its canons, via Resolution R-3, a statement that the bishop is the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese and that the standing committee assumes the authority in the absence of a bishop. The resolution also gives the ecclesiastical authority, with the advice and counsel of the chancellor, binding authority to interpret the diocesan constitution and canons.

More here-

Top Episcopal bishop praises agencies' work in G.I. visit

From Nebraska-

During her visit to Grand Island on Friday morning, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke to church leaders and parishioners about the Episcopal calling to serve a hurting world.

But before she spoke, she also got to witness an ideal example of that type of service in Grand Island's own St. Stephen's Community Center.

After her tour, Jefferts Schori said she was wowed by the partnerships she found among the numerous community groups that use the community center, which is connected to St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.

"It's, in a sense, a one-stop shopping center for those who need assistance," Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, said in an interview. "It's a real-life witness to the larger community of what's possible when people partner."

Jefferts Schori got a quick glimpse at the beehive of activity that is the community center, with stops at the offices of the Heartland United Way, Project Hunger, Heartland CASA and Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity among others.

At each stop, she asked about how many people the organization served and how it worked with other agencies in the building.

More here-

Friday, March 26, 2010


From Tony Clavier-

Finally the report of the House of Bishop’s theological committee is published. It is somewhat ironically entitled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the

It is no surprise that it proved impossible to construct a unified statement for the guidance of the church. The committee invited a group of scholars, equally weighted on each side of the discussion and the predictable result was two reports, one from the liberal and one from the traditional camp. I commend the Theological Committee for giving equal weight to each viewpoint.
That this contribution to the controversy comes when TEC has staked its future on the liberal side is not a cause for amazement. TEC now has a track record of acting first and seeking justification later. In an individual such behavior would be described as impulsive, the trait of an inveterate risk-taker.

Both papers are set forth in a calm and reasonable manner. No doubt the worth of each document will be judged in a partisan manner, traditionalists favoring “their paper” and liberal theirs. What strikes me is the extraordinary difference in the use of language employed. The liberal paper assumes almost lyrical tones while the traditionalist is prosaic and to the point.
For as long as I can remember liberals have been announcing that we are in a new age in which the human race has “come of age”. I shall lay aside the condescension implicit in that phrase. The liberal paper made me realize, or perhaps re-realize, just what a challenge the liberal view is to the finality of God’s redeeming work in Jesus. The claims made for the liberal position fall little short of proclaiming a second Pentecost. The whole scope of human history, of the biblical record, of the life and witness of the Church in history is to be interpreted or re-interpreted through the single lens of this new Pentecost.

More here-

Nigeria: Anglican Primate Vows to Fight Homosexuality

From Nigeria-

The new Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh yesterday took over the leadership of the Church with the promise to intensify the fight against homosexuals in the Communion.

In his first sermon after the inauguration, Archbishop Okoh who took over from Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola also promised to continue aggressive evangelism and the fight against poverty.

He warned that the recent Jos crises must be resolved to avoid Nigerians descending into a state of nature, adding that those who masterminded the mayhem must be brought to book.

He called on the church to collaborate with government in providing job opportunities to the masses.

Archbishop Oko commended President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua for the peace initiative and steps taken to address the Niger-Delta situation which he said defied the efforts of past administrations.

He stressed the need for the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan's led government to address the urgent need of power, unemployment and poverty that are ravaging the country.

The new Primate reiterated the need for the church to do more in the area of education in order to inculcate in students, the proper morals and decorum that according to him is lost in products of government owned schools.

Cardinal Ratzinger acted powerfully against abusers, says Archbishop Vincent Nichol

From The London Telegraph-

At last – Archbishop Vincent Nichols, writing in The Times, has explained how far-reaching the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s reforms of Vatican procedures were after he took over responsibility for dealing with abuse allegations in 2001. More should have been done, and much earlier. But, although his record was not perfect, Ratzinger was part of the solution, not the problem. And we need to bear that in mind when we listen to commentators like the monumentally pompous ex-Jesuit Michael Walsh scoring points against their old enemy. Oh, and if anyone is under the impression that veteran BBC Rome correspondent David Willey doesn’t have an axe to grind, let me put you right on that one.

Here’s the quote from Archbishop Nichols. He may not be on quite the same liturgical wavelength as the Pope, but he can recognise a hit job when he sees one:
What of the role of Pope Benedict? When he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he led important changes made in church law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statue of limitation and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders. He is not an idle observer. His actions speak as well as his words.

More here-

Suicide prevention forum tonight at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Norwood

From Pennsylvania-

The third and final session of “You’re Not Alone,” a forum for adults struggling following the recent suicides of Interboro High School students is at 7 tonight in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

The topic is Suicide Prevention and Awareness and the guest speaker will be Meghan Root of Project Reach in Media, according to Father Michael Knight, priest-in-charge.

Root will focus on how adults can initiate constructive discussion about suicide and or suicidal feelings with their children, or other teens, Knight said.

“We will show adults how to start that conversation,” he said.

For the last three Thursday evenings, Knight has opened the doors of the church as a way of offering “sanctuary” to adults suffering with grief in some way. His purpose is to offer encouragement, counseling and healing.

Those who wish to join in a spiritual exercise at the close of the program are welcome, he said.

St. Stephen’s is one of many churches in the Interboro Ministerium that sprang into action once word of the suicides were made public.

The church is located at 128 Chester Pike, Norwood.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Episcopal Theologians Detail Both Sides of Gay Debate

From Christian Post-

A panel of theologians in The Episcopal Church released on Wednesday a draft document on the divisive issue of same-sex relationships, detailing the positions of the "traditionalists" and the "liberals."

The 95-page paper does not serve as a statement but is a response to the call for The Episcopal Church "to treat the controversy theologically," according to Dr. Ellen Charry, editor of the document and associate professor of historical and systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.

"Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church" was drafted by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops – a panel of eight who were evenly divided between traditionalists and liberals. Though they were requested to draw up one paper, the theologians have offered two, representing both sides of the debate. They determined early on that it was not possible to present one paper on the subject, said Bishop Paul Lambert of the Diocese of Dallas.

"So the conversation continues with two very divergent views, which in my mind, shows where we are as a Church on the matter of same-sex relationships," Lambert stated.

The project was commissioned in 2008 by the House of Bishops and since then, the panel has met several times. It is expected to be completed in 2011.

"The purpose of this project is not to create a new consensus or make a recommendation to the church," said the Rt. Rev. Henry Nutt Parsley, Jr., chair of the theology committee. "It is rather to express as fully as possible two contrasting theological views, both rooted in the teaching of the church and in Holy Scripture, in order that we might listen to and learn from both sides of the debate,"

More here-

Bishops Stay Busy at Camp Allen

From The Living Church-

The House of Bishops had a busier schedule of plenary sessions this year in a spring meeting that has traditionally served as a retreat.

Meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, on March 19-24, the bishops:

Elected the Rev. Dr. James “Jay” Magness, canon for mission and diocesan administration in the Diocese of Southern Virginia, as the sixth Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries.

The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, Bishop of Central Pennsylvania and a member of the nominating committee, said in a media conference call that he was impressed by the bishop-elect’s pastoral skills, and his experience as both a Navy officer and an enlisted man.

Magness, he said, stressed “the importance of presence and supporting chaplains and commanding officers in their ministries.” He also referred repeatedly to the importance of ministry to families when one of their members serves in the military, or is imprisoned — both of which fall within the responsibilities of the bishop’s office.

Elected the Rev. Canon David Bailey as Bishop of the Navajoland Area Mission. In October 2009, Navajoland representatives elected Bailey as interim canon to the ordinary.

Issued a statement that condemned the attempted assassination March 17 of the Most Rev. Martin Barahona, Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador and archbishop of the Anglican Church in Central America.

Heard the Rt. Rev. Jean Zaché Duracin, Bishop of Haiti, describe his struggles — and the struggles of his nation — when a magnitude-7 earthquake struck on Jan. 12.

Received a 95-page report, “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church” [PDF], prepared for the bishops’ theology committee by eight theologians. The eight scholars are Dr. John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary; Dr. Deirdre Good, General Theological Seminary; Dr. Willis Jenkins, Yale Divinity School; The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Kittredge, Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest; the Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Trinity School for Ministry; Dr. Eugene Rogers, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; the Rev. Dr. George Sumner, Wycliffe College; the Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg, Nashotah House.

More here-

Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries named

From Texas and the House of Bishops-

The Rev. James “Jay” Magness was elected Wednesday Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries of the Episcopal Church on the second ballot in Texas, according to a news release from the Church.

Two candidates in the Diocese of Atlanta were among the nominees: the Rev. Rich Martindale of Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus and the Rev. Bob Certain of the Episcopal Church of St. Peter and Paul in Marietta.

Magness serves as the Canon for Mission and Diocesan Administration in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.

The election was held by the Episcopal Church House of Bishops, who were meeting in retreat at Camp Allen near Houston. A simple majority of the votes cast by the bishops was necessary for the election. Magness received 64 votes; 54 were required.

Read more:

Church Defends Attempts To Seize Property

From San Joaquin-

St. Paul's Church of Visalia has chosen to fight attempts by the Episcopal Church to seize its property including the stately 60-year-old brick church complex at Hall and Main Streets.

The Rev. Richard James, pastor of St. Paul's Anglican Church, said the Fresno law firm of Penner, Bradley and Simonian has been hired to represent the St. Paul's congregation in court.

“This move was necessitated by legal action taken against St. Paul's by the Episcopal Church and the Rev. Jerry Lamb Bishop of the newly formed Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. .Lamb is seeking claim to St. Paul's property for a small group which broke away from the congregation after it voted by a large majority to remain a part of the original Diocese of the San Joaquin, said James.

The breakaway group, which kept the St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Visalia name, has about 70 members and meets at the B'ai David synagogue at 1039 S. Chinowth. It is led by Pastor Suzy Ward, the first woman ordained in the San Joaquin Diocese. She said the legal action involves the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church and, “It is not our congregation and their congregation.”

There has been an internal battle brewing inside the Episcopal Church for about 20 years which led to the split in 2007. Among several theological issues was the question of female ordination.

More here-

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Teacher charged with indecent exposure was local pastor who 'miraculously survived' crash

From California (Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin)

Before he was a substitute teacher charged with urinating into a cup in front of a classroom full of students, Matthew Davis was known to parishioners as a caring pastor at several Kern County houses of worship.

Davis, 58, was held late Tuesday on a $650,000 bond on multiple felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child and indecent exposure for the incident that reportedly took place in front of students at Cesar E. Chavez High School in Delano.

Davis declined several jailhouse interview requests, but was set to enter a plea to the charges Wednesday morning in Delano.

Davis was critically injured on Labor Day, 1996 in a crash on Highway 41 in the mountains east of Fresno. The wreck, caused by the driver of another vehicle, killed Davis' wife, Linda.

Friends interviewed by Channel 17 at the time said it was a miracle Davis even survived, but that he suffered lingering brain damage from the wreck that affected his ability to interact with other people.

Davis served as a pastor at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bakersfield and a vicar at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Shafter.

"We care very much for Father Davis and his family," said the Canon Bill Gandenberger, a spokesman for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. "We do not have any of the details and cannot respond to any of the charges but we are working with the family on what the next steps would be. We believe this is probably a tragic misunderstanding."

More here-

Egyptian State Security Demolishes Anglican Church, Assaults Pastor

From Egypt-

(AINA) -- An Anglican Church pastor and his wife were assaulted by Security agents in Luxor on March 18, 2010, in order to evacuate them by force from their home and demolish Church property. Out of the nearly 3000 sq. meters of buildings attached to the Church, only the 400 sq. meter prayer hall was left standing.

Pastor Mahrous Karam of the Anglican Church in Luxor, 721 km from Cairo, said that the Church was still in negotiations with the Luxor authorities the day before regarding a replacement for the community center building which lies within the Church's compound, and was told the authorities were still considering their options. Early next morning, a 500-man force of Central Security and State Security blocked all roads leading to the Church compound, forced their way in and broke into the pastor's residence, dragging the family out by force.

In an effort to save the buildings from demolition, the Pastor sat on the fence of the Church compound, to prevent the demolition work, but was beaten and dragged away, reported Katiba Tibia News.

More here-

Archbishop asks colleagues to take responsibility for abuse failures

From Ireland-

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin called on his episcopal colleagues be take responsibility for the Irish Catholic Church's failures in dealing with child sexual abuse by priests.

"Without accountability for the past there will no healing and no trust for the future," Archbishop Martin told reporters March 20 after Mass at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin after Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on the abuse crisis was released.

Archbishop Martin described the letter as "part of a strategy of a renewal of the church." Many people "felt it was much stronger than expected," he said.

Asked why the pope did not make any reference to a Vatican role in the crisis in Ireland, Archbishop Martin said, the responsibility "very much" fell on the Irish church.

"The Vatican had produced the norms of canon law and they weren't respected in the management of these cases," he said.

The pope's letter was read in full during Masses March 20 and 21 in parishes across Ireland. Copies of the letter made available in some parishes were snapped up quickly by parishioners eager to see exactly what Pope Benedict had to say.

Reaction from abuse victims and their representative groups to the papal letter was mixed, with some expressing disappointment and others welcoming the initiative.

More here-

Local churches move forward after the split

From Bakersfield California-

Fifteen months have passed since a majority of San Joaquin Valley Episcopal churches, including three in Bakersfield, voted to secede from the U.S Episcopal Church and place themselves under overseas Anglican leadership in December 2008.

Referred to by some as the “schism” within the Episcopal Church, which is the Province of the Anglican Communion in the United States, this split was caused by doctrinal differences over such issues as the interpretation of biblical scriptures, notions on what constitutes redemption, the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of gays as ministers and bishops. Since then, the Episcopal Church has voted that any ordained ministry is open to gays and lesbians.

In Bakersfield, St. Paul’s downtown, All Saints on Gosford Road, and St. Luke’s near the East Hills Mall all changed from Episcopal to Anglican congregations. But a remnant of Episcopal followers who began by calling themselves “Remain Episcopal” has evolved into Grace Episcopal Church, which meets at the small chapel on the campus of First Congregational Church on the corner of Stockdale Highway and Real Road. And there is also a newly formed congregation, Bakersfield Episcopal Church, which meets at Westminster Presbyterian Church, on Stine Road.


Episcopalians file suits to regain property

From California-

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is undertaking a series of lawsuits against former parishes in an effort to reclaim property.

Two such lawsuits were filed last week, bringing the number to three. The defendants are St. Francis Church in Turlock, St. Columba in Fresno and St. Michael’s in Ridgecrest.

A diocese representative says St. James Anglican Church on Snell Street in Sonora — popularly known as the Red Church — could be targeted also.

“We have begun filing,” said the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. “Sometime in the near future, we will file against all nine of the incorporated parishes, including St. James in Sonora.”

The recent lawsuits are among many more being filed against former Episcopalian parishes that left the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in 2007 to join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America.

The shift in emphasis to self-incorporated parishes is a new prong in litigation meant to return the property of those parishes that left the Episcopal Church, said Father Bill Gandenberger of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.

“The original suit was against the bishop because he is corporation sole, and the Episcopalian Church could get to most of the churches by suing him,” Gandenberger said. “The other churches are not directly under his ownership, and that’s why they filed suit. They’re following the same game plan. It was an expected action.”

Corporation sole is the idea that all of the property in a diocese — a group of churches that is part of a federation of such groups which comprises the Episcopal Church of the United States — belongs to the bishop.

The bishop Gandenberger refers to is Bishop John David Schofield, who led parishioners who felt increasingly alienated by the Episcopal Church to join instead with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

More here-

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nigeria: Gunmen Kidnap Imo Monarch

From All Africa-

A first-class traditional ruler and secretary of Ndi-Eze in Owerri-West Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze H.M. Obichere, Eze Ola 1 of Oforola was weekend abducted by unknown gunmen, who stormed his country home and whisked him away at gunpoint.

Eze Obichere was said to have been abducted while attending a church service.

The gunmen, numbering six stormed an Anglican Church, located some meters away from his palace, where the traditional ruler had gone for the Sunday worship at about 11am.

According to eye-witness account, the 9am mass at the Church, which Eze Obichere attended was still on when the hoodlums, who arrived in black jeep, struck.

The hoodlums, were said to have trailed the traditional ruler to the church, where they waited at a near-by beer parlour for the church to close. They allegedly sent for him in the guise to have him remove his car, which they claimed was blocking their own car.

More here-

New Bishop of Chelmsford ready for 'big challenges'

From The BBC-

The new Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford hopes to be able to address a number of big challenges facing the church when he takes up the post later this year.

The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell has been announced as the 10th Bishop of the country's second largest diocese.

He said taking a lead in green issues and reconnecting the church with young people were two of his greatest tasks.

The current Bishop of Reading told BBC Essex: "I look forward to taking a lead on those kinds of issues."
"Many people know little or nothing about the Christian faith, they're growing up like I did without contact with the Christian church," he added.

"Reconnecting with our communities, reconnecting with individuals lives, being able to find ways of expressing the Christian faith which connect to the questions people are asking today.
"That's the challenge of the church in every age, but it's a big one in ours, but I'm excited by that.

More here-

Parishioner 'left due to picky women'

From Australia-

A parishioner who claims a Sydney pastor made him out to be a "sexual predator" says he left his previous church because the women were "picky", "cold" and "bitter about being unmarried".

Divorced management consultant Bruce Haddon, 59, is suing Reverend Dominic Steele of St Aidan's Anglican Church and church counsellor and Network Ten journalist Evan Batten over an email sent in February 2008.

He says the email defamed him by implying he sexually harassed female members of the Annandale congregation, touching and kissing them and introducing "inappropriate" topics at Bible study groups.

Mr Haddon says it made him out to be a "sexual predator".

But he claims the email was really written because he'd become unpopular with the group, also known as Christians in the Media, because "his doctrines were starting to evolve away from the strict Sydney (diocese) beliefs".

During cross examination in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, Mr Haddon said he had left his previous church, St Thomas' Anglican Church in his home suburb of North Sydney, because he was looking for "more progressive" sermons.

More here-

PENNSYLVANIA: Hearing set for bishop's appeal of church court decision

From Episcopal Life Online-

An Episcopal Church court will meet May 4 to hear oral arguments on Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison's request that a 2008 ruling that he engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy be overturned.
The argument before the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop will take place at the Cathedral of St. John in Wilmington, Delaware. The court is Bennison's last resort in the ecclesiastical process.

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, then a 24-year-old newly ordained deacon (later 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.

Bennison appealed on Jan. 19 to the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop, arguing 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, 2009 ENS story.

Episcopal priest never has to worry about her wardrobe

From Florida-

Have you ever stood in front of the closet and wondered what you should wear to an event? The Rev. Davette Turk never has that dilemma. Since Dec. 15, 1985, when she had the distinction of being the first woman priest ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, her attire at social gatherings has been the same clerical garb (white Roman collar and black blouse and slacks).

Instead of pondering in front of the bedroom closet in the Deercreek home she shares with husband, the Rev. Richard Turk, she dons her very flattering black and white, takes time to say a prayer and is ready to go.

Davette Turk, who was formerly the priest at Redeemer Episcopal Church on Southside Boulevard, is chaplain for the Monique Burr Foundation for Children board working with several of its programs at The Sanctuary, Triumph Children's Program and others.

Recently, while attending a luncheon at the Omni Hotel sponsored by Episcopal Children's Services, she posed with Walt Bussells, former CEO of the Jacksonville Electric Authority, now with GreenPointe Holdings LLC, and Lynn Layton, executive director of the Burr Foundation.

More here-

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trinity Professor Joins Rio Grande Slate

From The Living Church-

The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding of Trinity School for Ministry has joined the slate of nominees to become the ninth bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Harding is Trinity’s dean of church relations and seminary advancement and associate professor of pastoral theology.

The diocese, which encompasses New Mexico and the southwestern corner of Texas, announced Harding’s nomination by petition on March 20. The electing convention will convene April 24.

The diocese has also released question-and-answer essays by all six nominees. The essays reveal how the nominees envision helping the diocese heal after what the diocesan profile [PDF] describes as an extended period of turmoil in leadership.

“The argument could be made that the last ‘normal’ episcopacy in the Diocese of the Rio Grande was that of Bishop [C. James Kinsolving III], which ended in 1972,” the profile said after describing the tenures of Bishops Richard M. Trelease (1972–87), M. Terence Kelshaw (1989–2005) and Jeffrey Steenson (2005–07).

The profile said some in the diocese were wounded by Bishop Kelshaw’s leaving the Episcopal Church, after his retirement, for affiliation with the Anglican Church of Uganda and by Bishop Steenson’s leaving to become a Roman Catholic priest.

Each of the six nominees wrote of the Rio Grande’s need for a renewed sense of its identity.

“The bishop has to help humanize the divisive debates, create an envelope in which people can safely address differences with each other without the risk of winning or losing, and rebuild trust, mutual respect,” wrote the Rev. Ellis Tucker Bowerfind, rector, St. Luke’s, Alexandria, Va.

The bishop also should “offer an exciting opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the diocese, meeting the faithful clergy and people in their congregations, learn about and support their many important local ministries, and restore some creative peace to a diocese that has been troubled by ideological debates,” he wrote.

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Group with three Ottawa-area parishes is first in country to approach Vatican

From Canada-

A group with three churches in the Ottawa area has taken up the Vatican's offer of a special legal structure enabling disillusioned Anglicans to return to Rome.

The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada -- a denomination already closely aligned with Catholic precepts -- is the first in Canada to approach the Vatican like this.

In November, the Holy See shocked the world by announcing it would allow Anglicans to become Catholic, yet keep their own liturgy, prayer books, and married clergy. It would form a separate set of rules for the group, much as it has done with Eastern Rite Catholics.

Recently, the Vatican's chief of doctrine, William Cardinal Levada, said in a speech in Kingston that "visible union with the Catholic Church does not mean absorption to the greater whole, as a teaspoon of sugar would be lost in a gallon of coffee."

Instead, he compared it to an orchestra with "... all instruments tuned to the piano ... all playing same notes of doctrinal clarity ... the beautiful and inviting sound of the word of God."

Last week, Peter Wilkinson, bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, wrote to the Vatican asking that the structure be established here, with an interim council to run it. The council would likely choose its first leader, or "ordinary" who would act as bishop for Anglicans within the Canadian Catholic church.

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Anglican Head Mulls Consequences of Lesbian Bishop Approval

From Christian Post-

The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion called the approval of an openly lesbian bishop in the United States "regrettable."

"It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded," reads a statement released Thursday by Lambeth Palace, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury,

The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – gave the green light this week for the consecration of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, who has been with her lesbian partner since 1988.

After her election in December to the office of bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles, she received the required majority of consents from diocesan bishops and standing committees. The consent process was deemed successful and complete by the presiding bishop's office, according to an announcement Wednesday.

While the news was met with joy by some, the Archbishop of Canterbury's office warned that the outcome of the consent process would have "important implications" for the worldwide Anglican Communion.

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Beliefs vary on church fashion

From New Jersey-

St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Teaneck has a novel way to handle the summer slump when most churches generally see a dip in attendance. Weather permitting, the church holds its 6:30 p.m. service on the lawn, and parishioners are invited to "come as you are." Families returning from the beach or pool show up in T-shirts and shorts, while others wear their usual Sunday best, said Wilma Pruden, a warden at the church.

"It's never been an issue," Pruden said. "Our Sunday service is not a fashion show; people come to pray and for the sense of community they feel at St. Mark's. We'd rather have people come to church than stay home because they didn't have a chance to change."

John Greer, a member of St. Mary's in Pompton Lakes, said his family was shunned from a couple of previous churches for dressing too casual. "One priest gave a whole homily about not dressing up, and they pointed to us," he said. "It turned us off."

On a recent Sunday, Greer, a computer consultant from Wanaque, and his two teenage sons, worshiped in their usual threads: hooded sweatshirts, jeans and sneakers. "St. Mary's is like a family," said Greer. "You wouldn't get dressed up to visit your brother," he said.

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Pope’s apology seen as a sorry effort by critics

From Belfast-

The Pope's letter on how senior Catholic clergy in Ireland mishandled cases of clerical child abuse was last night branded as “weak”.

Sunday Mass-goers heard Pope Benedict XVI's words of apology as his pastoral letter was read at Catholic churches in Ireland north and south.

The Pontiff told victims he was truly sorry for their suffering and admitted bishops had made grave errors of judgment in dealing with paedophile priests, but he stopped short of directly addressing well-documented cover-ups by senior clergy.

But as victims gave a mixed response to the Pope's letter, it was criticised by SDLP politician Declan O'Loan who described it as inadequate.

“I read the letter with a growing sense that another important opportunity had not been grasped properly.

“I welcome the apology from the Pope, though even that could have been worded more unambiguously,” he said.

“However, a full consideration of this issue required a thorough analysis of what went wrong and why it went wrong.

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Community responds to diaper theft

From New Hampshire-

A month ago, thieves broke into the offices of Neighbors in Need and stole about $400 worth of diapers to be handed out to families in Lawrence and Methuen.

And the community has come to the rescue with donations upon donations of diapers and other items to replace those stolen by the callous jerks.

"As awful as it was, the public's response has been amazing," said Neighbors in Need's executive director Linda Zimmerman. "I've been so touched and moved by their generosity."

Zimmerman said individuals, churches including South Church and Christ Episcopal both in Andover, and St. Augustine School also in Andover are hosting diaper drives to replace the stolen items and people have sent financial contributions so they can buy diapers.

"It's a very local response with churches and schools doing drives because this is something they couldn't imagine," zimmerman said.

She said people have been leaving bags of diapers in her front porch, and churches like Ballard Vale United in Andover recently dropped off 30 boxes containing 48, 76, 82 and 96 diapers each.

"I want people to know how grateful we are. I am amazed at their generosity," Zimmerman said.

More here-

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sorry, Holy Father, we can’t forgive the sins of your church

From The London Times-

Has the time come for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to open the door to the many millions of British Roman Catholic worshippers who may be worried that their children are likely to be interfered with by priests? I think it’s correct that young children are slightly less at risk from the Anglican clergy, although it would be unwise of Rowan to offer any cast-iron promises, just in case.

Last year Pope Benedict XVI invited disillusioned Anglicans to join the Church of Rome if they were disapproving of, or merely bored by, women priests and homosexuals but fancied instead a few Latin incantations, rosary beads and the whiff of incense; this took the Church of England by surprise.

Now is Beardo’s chance to get his own back. He should strike while the iron is hot. Give the émigré left-footers free passage, one of those Christingle oranges and a DVD collection of The Vicar of Dibley — they can even cling on to transubstantiation, if they keep quiet about it.

The Catholic Church is in crisis across Europe, apparently. Since the turn of the year, 300 Germans have come forward and said that they were abused by priests while they were children, and the chancellor, Angela Merkel, has called for a national investigation. Meanwhile in Ireland, the head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Sean Brady, has admitted that he was present at meetings in the 1970s when children who were abused by a paedophile priest were forced, there and then, to sign a vow of silence.

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Wyoming diocese elects John Sheridan Smylie as ninth bishop

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Rev. John Sheridan Smylie was elected March 20 as the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, pending the required consents from a majority of the church's diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction.

Smylie, 57, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyoming, was elected on the fifth ballot out of a field of six nominees. He received 63 votes of 103 cast in the lay order and 37 of 63 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 33 in the lay order and 53 in the clergy order.

The electing convention was held at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Laramie, Wyoming.

Smylie will succeed Bishop Bruce Caldwell, the eighth bishop of the diocese, who will retire in mid-2010 after 12 and a half years as bishop.

Before being called to St. Mark's as rector in January 2007, Smylie served for two years as a consultant for the bishop and the Diocese of Wyoming.

From 1998-2005, Smylie was dean of Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington. He has also served parishes in New York and New Jersey.

Smylie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University, New York, and a Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He served as a clerical deputy to General Convention in 2009.

More here-