Saturday, May 15, 2010

Resolutions A, B, and C to go under draft women Measure

From The Church Times in England-

THERE were few surprises in the report, published last weekend, of the revision committee that has been dealing with the draft legisla tion for women bishops.

As the committee signalled at the last General Synod meeting in Feb ruary, no agreement has been possible on any provision for those opposed to the ordination of women beyond a Code of Practice.

On Saturday, the committee pro duced its final report of 142 pages, with a draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. The report de scribes in detail the committee’s delib erations, together with the argu ments that produced the draft Measure.
In July, the General Synod will be able to debate the Measure line by line in the revision stage of the pro cess. The amended Measure will then be sent to the dioceses. It will need to be approved by a majority of the dioceses in order to return to the General Synod for final ap proval, which requires a two-thirds majority in all Houses of the Synod. The prediction is that 2014 is the earliest that a woman might be consecrated as a bishop.

The new arrangement

The Measure contains the bones of the new arrangement. The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure of 1993, including resolutions A and B, is to be repealed. (These prevent a woman from presiding at holy com munion, and from being appointed as incumbent, respectively. Resolu tion C, to petition for extended episcopal oversight, was not in the Measure, but in the 1993 Act of Synod.)

More here-

Author discovers the sacred in the ordinary

From Austin-

In her new book, "An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith," the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor discovers the sacred in daily experiences - from acts as seemingly ordinary as hanging the clothes on the line to making eye contact with a grocery store clerk. For Taylor, whose acclaimed memoir "Leaving Church" detailed her departure from pastoring an Episcopal church to become a professor, the world beyond the church walls offers a wealth of opportunities to deepen one's spirituality. The author of 12 books, Taylor is a professor of religion and spirituality in Georgia and will be discussing "An Altar in the World" at BookPeople on Tuesday.

American-Statesman: You see a longing among people - whether they are weekly church-goers or `spiritual but not religious' - to have a deeper experience in everyday life. As someone who has lived both a traditional religious life as well as a more free-form spirituality, can you identify where this longing springs from?

Barbara Brown Taylor: I think of longing as a holy thing, not something to be fixed - because it keeps a person open to other people and to new ways of living his or her own life. Where does it come from? Theologians have long debated whether there is a "God-seed" planted in every human being, which may be watered or not. Longing for God would be one of the fruits of such a seed. But I am not sure religious language is necessary. Anyone born from a woman's body is going to have an ancient memory of being in unity with an Other, long before that Other's name was known, and may long to experience that kind of unity again. At the most ordinary level, I think people have some sense of what gives them life - more rest, more love, more safety, more meaning - and they never stop longing for more of those life-givers. Longing is only a problem if we're taught it must be satisfied - that there is something wrong with us if we continue to long for things that are not presently in our reach. But I have always found longing very sweet - not just a reminder of what matters most to me but also a source of connection to other people who feel it, too.

More here-

The Charleston Gazette -- Rebuke: Rev. Lewis' license

From West Virginia-

Many years ago, the Rev. Jim Lewis started Charleston's Manna Meal, which still feeds hundreds of down-and-out people per day, including the elderly and children.

When he headed St. John's Episcopal Church on Quarrier Street, he helped establish Covenant House, which still helps the vulnerable people Jesus told his followers to serve. Later, he headed Charleston's Coalition for the Homeless.

Lewis also takes positions that ruffle feathers. If he thinks something is unjust, he stirs the pot. He has not always done so gently, and he has not always been diplomatic, so he has had his share of adversaries.

Now West Virginia Episcopal Bishop Michie Klusmeyer has revoked Lewis' license to preach in churches where he was formerly pastor -- not for his controversial positions, but because, the bishop said, Lewis visited the sick, prayed and even, Lord forbid, performed a funeral when a family asked him to do so.

Klusmeyer cited a church policy that says: "Clergy who have formerly had a pastoral relationship with a parish will not continue to minister in the former parish in any way."

More here-

Next bishop's big challenge: Grow a shrinking Episcopal Church in Utah

More here-

The question put to the Rev. Michael Barlowe is on the minds of many Utahns as they quiz four candidates for bishop:

"Where do you see the Episcopal Church in Utah in three years?"

Barlowe's answer, given recently to a group of Episcopalians in Ogden, is both a joke about the state's culture and a wish -- and it is greeted with applause:

"I'm not the prophet," he says. "But I would hope we'd be a much larger church."

Indeed, growing the church is very much on the minds of Utah Episcopalians as they come to the end of an 18-month process of selecting a new bishop to replace the Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Utah's 10th Episcopal bishop.

The 11th bishop will be elected May 22 in a special convention at St. Mark's Cathedral in Salt Lake City.

Like many mainline Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church is losing members.
Utah, which had about 6,000 Episcopalians in 1996, when Tanner Irish was consecrated, now is down to 5,200 -- a 13 percent drop during a period in which the state's population swelled by 37 percent.

On any given Sunday, notes the Rev. Scott Hayashi, another of the finalists, only 1,600 are in the pews of Utah's 25 Episcopal congregations.

And yet, for Episcopalians, growth is not so much about having numbers to boast about as sharing what members see as a historical, richly liturgical and welcoming form of Christianity.
Rather than talking numbers, they talk about congregational development and mission, two priorities stressed by all four candidates.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lesbian couple 'forced out of church for holding hands in the pews'

From The Daily Mail in London-

A lesbian couple claim they were forced out of their church after they were spotted holding hands during a service.

Kersten Pegden and Nina Lawrence said that other members of the congregation at St Nicholas Anglican church in Corfe Mullen, Dorset, thought their behaviour was 'overtly sexual'.
They said other couples within the congregation held hands and they felt it was their sexuality that had influenced the complaints.

Miss Pegden, 38, had attended the church for many years. She separated from her husband last September and is now going through a divorce.

She began a relationship with Miss Lawrence , 31, last November but the new relationship had split the congregation of mainly elderly people, Miss Pegden said.

Miss Pegden has told how her daughter Emily, 12. has left the church choir and her son Elliot, 14, is no longer a server at the church that attracts up to 70 worshippers each Sunday.
She said: 'The vicar, who is a woman, wanted to know the details about my divorce, how long it was going to be, and the fact it had dragged on too long.

'And she said members of the congregation said that during hymns we were dishonouring God because they said we were singing the hymns to each other, and that we were overtly sexual with each other.

'The church says it accepts gay people as long as they are not practising.
'As soon as I had a partner they knew we were practising, but they can't refuse entry to anyone.

Read more:

Bishops to go ahead with Arizona meeting despite immigration law outcry

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops will meet Sept. 15-21 in Phoenix for its regular fall meeting as planned, including an optional pre-meeting trip to the U.S.-Mexican border, despite public outcry over Arizona's recent enactment of the nation's toughest immigration law and calls for a boycott.

"It's an opportunity to be educated, to be informed and to make a public statement about solidarity with people that are victims in this, and there are victims on both sides, which is important to emphasize," said Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith in a telephone interview. "We will accomplish a lot more by being here, learning, hearing and responding about it and standing in solidarity with people suffering instead of taking the easy way out by saying 'Let's go meet someplace else.'"

The Arizona law aims to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. Smith has joined state ecumenical leaders in protest of the law and has voiced support for court challenges to it.

The meeting's agenda had already included time for the bishops to discuss immigration, border issues, and evangelism, stewardship and congregational development among Hispanic populations, Smith said. After the law's passage, the meeting was expanded to include the optional border trip and the opportunity to hear from Arizonians on both sides of the issue. The diocese also hopes to schedule a meeting with the Coalition of Episcopal Latinos, which will be meeting in nearby Scottsdale.

Smith added that he hopes at the close of the meeting bishops will issue a public statement in solidarity with those most affected by the law.

More here-

Anglicans need God, common sense

From Zimbabwe-

IF YOU are looking for saints, avoid the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.

On one side stands a collection of bible-waving gay activists, who are ranged against police-backed pseudo-religious gangsters who count Robert Mugabe among their heroes.

Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, an unpalatable man by all accounts, formed a break-away church in 2007 after resisting pressure to join other Anglicans, particularly the Church of England, in blessing, or at the very least supporting, gay marriages.

After his election as bishop in 2001, Kunonga denounced his fellow priests who refused to buy into his gospel that Mugabe was a democrat. He called them “Uncle Toms” and “puppets”. All 25 white priests from around the country have now quit his diocese.

There were allegations raised by the church that he ordered the killing of 11 fellow priests. One priest, James Mukunga, was forced to flee to London after claiming Kunonga had given him a list of top Anglican officials, his opponents, to pass onto government hitmen.

More here-,+common+sense/opinion.aspx

Whither the Protestant elite

From "The Hill"

For the first time in our nation’s history — should Elena Kagan get confirmed by the United States Senate — not one Supreme Court justice will be a mainline Protestant (or any kind of Protestant, for that matter).

This is historically significant.

The first Catholic Supreme Court justice was Roger Taney, who served on the court from 1836 to 1864. The second Catholic Supreme Court justice was Edward White, who was sworn in 30 years later.

The first Jewish Supreme Court justice was Louis Brandeis, who was not sworn in until 1916.

Historically speaking, about half of all Supreme Court justices have been either Episcopalian or Presbyterian. About a third of all justices have hailed from the Episcopal Church.

It is actually pretty amazing that not one Protestant is on the Supreme Court today.

Mainline Protestant Churches haven’t fared that well in Congress lately either, at least from a leadership perspective. In the House, both the Speaker and the House minority leader are Roman Catholic. In the Senate, the majority leader is a Mormon and the majority whip is a Catholic. Only one leader is Presbyterian and not one is Episcopalian. There is one Jewish member of leadership, one Methodist, and the rest are Baptist.

More here-

Bishop-elect finds an 'energy of faith'

From Upper South Carolina-

His worldly possessions, including his Renaissance musical instruments and model trains, have yet to be unpacked, but the Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, already is meeting his parishioners, making his way around the state, and finding what he calls “an energy of faith.”

For the moment, the bitter controversy over the ordination of gays and the blessing of same-sex unions that has tied the U.S. Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion in theological knots is set aside — replaced by the simple act of meeting parishioners and preparing for his May 22 ordination and consecration.

More than 1,200 people are expected to attend the 11 a.m. service at Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville. The leader of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, will preside and more than 200 leaders will join in a procession as Waldo begins his tenure as the diocese’s eighth bishop.

As he meets priests and parishioners from the 64 congregations of the diocese, as he holds meetings in his diocesan office next door to the majestic Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Columbia, Waldo said he is buoyed by “unbelievable hospitality” and by the grace and faith of those he has met.

Read more:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Italy to ordain first woman priest

From The London Telegraph-

Maria Vittoria Longhitano, 35, will be ordained in an Anglican church in Rome, a stone's throw from the Vatican, this month.

She is not an Anglican, but a member of a small Catholic order called the Old Catholics, who broke away from the main body of the Church in the 19th century.

They do not believe in papal infallibility or the Immaculate Conception and are not recognised by the Vatican.

Mrs Longhitano, a married teacher from Milan, said she hoped to stimulate a debate and break down the "prejudice" within the Catholic Church when she is ordained at All Saints Anglican Church, near Rome's famous Spanish Steps, on May 22.

"My ordination represents a great chance for all women of faith. It means hope, it means giving a push to an important debate between Catholics on the issue of denying women the possibility of fulfilling their vocations and being ordained as ministers," she said.

A spokeswoman for All Saints said that Miss Longhitano, who has been a deacon within the Old Catholics since last year, was not being ordained into the Anglican Church itself.

More here-

Love the Sinner: Pautz’s plot sometimes seems implausible. The feeling grows that there’s a deeper play to be written about the dilemmas

From the London Times-

We know that the Anglican Communion is in danger of breakup over such issues as women bishops, civil partnerships and gay priests. So Drew Pautz’s Love the Sinner is a timely piece because it begins with a Church conference in an African country, maybe Uganda, where homosexuality may yet become a capital crime. Louis Mahoney’s Bishop Paul forcefully puts a conservative case, though a very general one, and Nancy Crane’s Hannah speaks for liberalism, though she too seems oddly lacking in specifics. Ian Redford’s Bishop Stephen presides, achieving no reconciliation of views.

I was starting to feel that Pautz should be spelling out the arguments with more clarity — he can’t state that what he calls “the organisation” is the Anglican Church itself — when the scene changes to the hotel room of a lay delegate, Jonathan Cullen’s Michael. He’s had sex with a bellboy, Fiston Barek’s Joseph, and Joseph is making demands with menaces. Why won’t Michael, who is married, get him to England and the good life?

Cut to England, where Charlotte Randle’s Shelly, Michael’s wife, is angry because her biological clock is running down and he won’t agree to the IVF that would give her the child she craves. In fact, his Christian fervour is also alienating subordinates at his print business, where he’s pulling down girlie posters and putting up celestial pictures. Inevitably, Joseph makes his own way to Blighty and causes problems for him, his marriage and, with Bishop Stephen appearing in the crypt where he’s hidden the young African, perhaps for the Church itself.

More here-

Personal Identity in a War Zone

From the New York Times-

During the last nine months of my year in Iraq, I served as a scout platoon leader commanding 30 cavalry scouts and nine snipers. Our daily missions involved protecting the populace and helping to secure those working to build the struggling economy and government. The missions were tiresome, but they created opportunities for interactions with the Iraqi people, both military and civilian.

Behind closed doors and away from our soldiers, my fellow officers and I often criticized the Iraqis. Initially, it was a way to blow off steam, but I came to realize that my religious identity fueled my complaints.

Of more than 900 men in my battalion, I was one of only two Jewish soldiers. While serving in this predominately Muslim country, Lieutenant Schwartz had opted to translate his last name from the German and go instead by Lieutenant Black. My last name, Brewster, did not pose the same problem, but I had my own difficult choice to make.

My father is a fourth-generation Episcopal minister from a blue-blooded New England family who fell in love with a Jewish girl. Rather than prescribing a religion to any of their children, my parents raised my brother, sister and me in both religions and allowed us to decide for ourselves. While not rejecting my Christian heritage, I have considered myself Jewish since shortly after my bar mitzvah.

For safety’s sake, I ordered two sets of dog tags before my deployment, one that identified me as Jewish, the other as Episcopalian. In my first three months in Iraq, while I worked in intelligence — mostly relegated to a windowless office — I wore the dog tags that said Jewish. My switch to platoon leader meant leaving the base daily and facing increased danger. The night before my new duties, I sat for close to an hour staring at each set of dog tags. I thought of the Maccabees — choosing death at the hand of the Assyrians rather than renouncing their faith. I also recalled Daniel Pearl — the Wall Street Journal reporter who had been beheaded in Pakistan, in part for being Jewish. I knew the chance of my capture was relatively low and that my dog tags would probably remain hidden under my uniform. But the idea of hiding my religious identity weighed on me heavily.

More here-

Local church members ordained as priests

From Iowa-

After 4 1/2 years of the detailed process of becoming an Episcopal priest, Lyle Brown, Barbara Easley and Dr. James Kannenberg were finally ordained Sunday.

Then Brown and Easley had to resign.

Or at least submit their resignation, because 72 is the mandatory retirement age for the Episcopal Church and Brown is 73 and Easley 75.

But, Easley said, the Bishop of Iowa, the Right Reverend Alan Scarfe, does not have to accept their resignation. Scarfe likely will not, given that he was the one who ordained the three Fort Madison residents into the priesthood at an ordination ceremony Sunday afternoon at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

The church has been without a priest for nearly five years since the Rev. Willa Goodfellow left. The small church could not afford to pay for a full-time priest, and, according to the Episcopal Church, only ordained priests are allowed to adminster the Eucharist (the bread and the wine for Communion). St. Luke's has had supply priests come in, but the process began back in 2005 to have local members become priests to fill that hole.

Goodfellow returned to welcome the first-ever Iowa team to go from start to finish in the ordination process. Another team in Iowa started but broke up and the members were ordained separately.

Also ordained Sunday as deacons were Marilyn Wentzien and Shelley Dowling. Alyce Lair was commissioned as the Parish Administrator for the church. They are now formally charged with doing duties they already had been for the past several years.

More here-

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

As his retirement nears, longtime dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City looks back

From Oklahoma-

The Rev. George Back remembers the weeks immediately following the Oklahoma City bombing, and a tear escapes from the corner of his eye.

He talks of the busy days spent comforting rescue workers who sought respite at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, where he is dean. Then, there were days filled with meetings and fundraisers resulting from the extensive damage the bombing wrought on the historic downtown church, 127 NW 7.

Back said he tried to dispel the darkness of the hour with the light of faith through hopeful and compassionate words and deeds for his congregation and the surrounding community.
It was at night that the priest would connect with the pain going on around him. He said he slept only to be awakened hours later by waves of grief and other emotions.
The first tear was joined by others as these memories bubbled to the surface recently.
The journey down memory lane comes as Back’s 28 years as senior clergyman of St. Paul’s are coming to an end.

Read more:

Ardor and Order The charismatic renewal has disappeared like yeast into bread dough.

From Christianity Today-

April 3 marked exactly 50 years since Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett resigned from his post as rector of St. Mark's Church in Van Nuys, California. He knew that his glowing talk about baptism in the Holy Spirit had provoked fear and resentment among some members of his congregation. He didn't know that he was about to become the central character in a new movement—the charismatic renewal of the mainline denominations. Soon, Bennett and his message were the subjects of stories in Newsweek and Time and the objects of international attention.

In April 1960, I was a seventh grader in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, culturally and religiously as distant from Southern California Episcopalians as an American could be. But by 1974, I had a newly minted M.Div. and became pastor of a church near San Diego. There I became friends with Frank Maguire, an Episcopal priest who featured prominently in Dennis Bennett's autobiographical Nine O'Clock in the Morning.

More here-

New Anglican Archbishop

From Polynesia-

The Anglican Church in these islands has a new Archbishop: Dr Winston Halapua, the new Bishop of Polynesia.

Dr Halapua, who is 64 and a Tongan-born, Fijian citizen living in New Zealand, was announced this morning as the new Bishop of Polynesia. As such, he automatically becomes one of the three Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Dr Halapua's election was declared at the Anglican General Synod, which is meeting this week in Gisborne, and was greeted with a standing ovation and the presentation of gifts and garlands from Polynesia and gifts from Maori and Pakeha tikanga partners

He succeeds the late Bishop Jabez Bryce, who had led the Diocese of Polynesia for 35 years, and who died in February this year. Dr Halapua was elected as an assistant bishop in 2005. Archbishop Bryce had wanted to strengthen the diocese's outreach in the far-flung islands it serves - Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa - and Dr Halapua was one of three assistant bishops chosen at that time.

Bishop Winston's ministry has an academic focus. He has a doctorate in sociology from the University of the South Pacific, and he came to New Zealand in 1996 to take up a post as a lecturer at St John's College, the Auckland theological college where many Anglican priests are trained.

More here-

Churchgoer has important message for drivers

From Florida-

The sign may make you chuckle, honk and Ron Herman hopes, put down your cell phone.

Herman is the sign keeper at The Episcopal Church of the Nativity on Del Rio Boulevard.

He put up a message Monday that's getting a lot of attention from church members and drivers.

It reads, "Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him."

Herman got so many compliments from churchgoers, he emailed pictures of the sign to Oprah Winfrey.

He says producers are interested in featuring the sign as part of Oprah's No Phone Zone campaign.

Herman doesn't text but he knows the 25 members of his church youth group do.

"We have a lot of children that will be graduating this year from high school and college and I know they do it," he says. "I see it one the road myself and it's a scary thing."

Bishop Robert Cochrane of Olympia remembered for evangelism, helping those in need

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Rt. Rev. Robert Hume Cochrane, sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, Washington, died early May 7 after a battle with cancer. He was 85.
Current Bishop of Olympia Gregory H. Rickel said Cochrane "had a profound impact on this diocese as well as the greater church. He will be deeply missed here, not only as a former bishop but, for me, as a wise and trusted mentor and colleague."

Cochrane, who said he "never expected to be in this position," was the only bishop in the history of the Diocese of Olympia to be chosen from among its own clergy. Early on, he identified evangelism and mission as priorities of his episcopate.

He will be remembered for his contributions to lay ministry, the connections he established with other denominations and his commitment to helping people in need, regardless of their religious affiliation, according to a diocesan press release. While bishop, he co-wrote the Episcopal Church canon authorizing lay Eucharistic ministers to take communion from the church to the sick and shut-in.

Under Cochrane's leadership, the Refugee Resettlement Ministry, an affiliate of Episcopal Migration Ministries, was created in the late 1970s as a response to an influx of refugees from Southeast Asia.


FORT WORTH: Displaced Episcopalians worshipping together again

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth announced May 11 that Episcopalians from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church are worshipping each Sunday evening at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth C. Wallis Ohl is leading Evening Prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for the St. Andrew's congregation each Sunday; a service of Holy Communion will be held once a month.

"We are happy that these Episcopalians from St. Andrew's are able to worship together once again," Ohl said, adding that he authorized the use of the 1928 prayer book because "this is a community that needs to build from where they are. They are our sisters and brothers and we rejoice with them at their reunion in worship."

Until this arrangement was made with Trinity, Episcopalians from St. Andrew's had been dispersed among various Episcopal parishes for several months because St. Andrew's historic building at 917 Lamar in downtown Fort Worth is currently occupied by people who have left the Episcopal Church. St. Andrew's was the first Episcopal parish in the city of Fort Worth.

The services will continue each Sunday at 5 p.m. at Trinity with one exception. On May 16, the St. Andrew's congregation will join the rest of the diocese at a diocesan Eucharist and potluck picnic at All Saints Episcopal School.

St. Andrew's became a parish in 1878 and included many Fort Worth founding families in its membership. The building on Lamar was consecrated Dec. 31, 1939. St. Andrew's is the "mother church" of many of the present parishes in the diocese. In November 2008, the former bishop, other leaders of the diocese and some individuals left the Episcopal Church. Since then, they have continued to occupy Episcopal Church property, including St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.

More here-

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bishop Victoria Matthews Champions the Covenant

From The Living Church-

The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has affirmed three-fourths of the Anglican Covenant in principle and asked its “episcopal units” to discuss the Covenant for the next two years.

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, spoke in favor of the Covenant on May 10 when the synod began discussing the matter.

“There are those who believe it is all about one or another explosive event in the life of the Communion. I prefer to think it has a bigger vision than that,” she said.

The bishop described the Covenant as an effort to preserve Anglican unity.

“We are Anglican — not all the same, but deeply connected,” she said. “Sometimes it feels like we are door knobs or door handles pointed in opposite directions, but connected at the centre — you turn one, and the other turns as well. We are connected by and with the gospel.”

Dr. Tony Fitchett of Dunedin led a successful challenge to the fourth section of the Covenant, which addresses discipline within the Anglican Communion.

The first three sections of the Covenant are “mother’s milk — obviously good for us all,” Fitchett said, while describing the fourth section as “punitive, controlling and completely un-Anglican.”

“Though the language used has been moderated, and has become fuzzier, in successive drafts, the general thrust of Section 4.2 remains as it began: that a Communion-wide body … can discipline a province and recommend its exclusion from Communion structures,” Fitchett said. “Further, a new clause, 4.2.8, excludes all provinces which have not adopted the Covenant from decision-making about exclusion of provinces.”

On a motion by Fitchett, General Synod approved the first three sections of the Covenant in principle.

The same motion asks the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to seek opinions from legal advisers “regarding the appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8 of the proposed Covenant.”

More here-

Scottish Episcopalians join Kirk in talks with English Anglicans

From Ekklesia England-

The Scottish Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is set to join talks involving the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and the Church of England as they seek greater and more effective links.

Following a decade of discussions, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England have published a joint document outlining areas where progress can be made, contained in the Kirk Ecumenical Relations Committee’s report to the forthcoming Church of Scotland General Assembly.

Both parties feel they have now reached a point where input from the Scottish Episcopal Church would be the natural progression. This could result in closer three-way working on theological and doctrinal matters, as well as investigating how the churches could better engage in existing spheres of public co-operation.

The basis of the original talks was the desire for an “enhanced fellowship in the Gospel” between the Church of Scotland and Church of England.

Recommendations include greater integration on the phenomenon of the “emerging church” – fresh expressions of worship and mission in a changing, plural and mixed-belief society; which some are referring to as post-Christendom.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland already meets with the Archbishop of Canterbury every year during the St Andrew's-tide visit to London, but it is hoped this could become more fruitful. Another proposal includes inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury to address the General Assembly in Edinburgh.

More here-

Anglican Church backs tough drinking measures

From England-

The Anglican Church has backed a number of strong measures to try to deal with binge drinking.

Three days after the death of King's College student James Webster in Auckland, following an apparent alcohol overdose, the church's general synod today backed calls for a rise in the price of alcohol, a rise in the legal drinking age and a cut in marketing.

The 16-year-old's death prompted calls to Prime Minister John Key, whose son attends King's College, to do more to stop young people drinking excessively, though Mr Key said raising the drinking age would not have saved the boy's life.

Meeting in Gisborne today, the Anglican General Synod invited Professor Doug Sellman from the National Addiction Centre to speak about binge drinking culture.

He put forward a number of solutions to deal with the issue: raising alcohol prices, raising the purchase age, reducing the accessibility to alcohol, reducing marketing and advertising, increasing drink-driving countermeasures and increasing treatment opportunities for heavy drinkers.

"We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the way we regulate alcohol in society. It is a national crisis and way of life, and you have a role to address what science tells us what needs to be treated as a Class B drug," he said.

More here-

The Church and the Fed: Too Big to Fail?

From Huffington-

Too big to fail?

The banks, yes. But the church and the fed?

What do the Catholic Church and the Federal Reserve have in common? Both are big, both do important things, and both have far too much arrogance at the top. Both cry out for a cleansing.

Take the Catholic Church -- and please note that the church is not the Pope and the bishops alone. It is also the laity, priests and nuns. It is the folk at the grass roots who care for the poor, work in inner cities, go to foreign countries, and put their lives on the line. It is the staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities.

And it is the 50,000 nuns of the Catholic hospitals who supported the health care bill.

And this is where American Catholic arrogance comes in. The bishops, who have properly lost so much moral authority because of their immoral handling of the child abuse scandal, are striking out at the sisters, who are by any measure the jewel in the crown of the Catholic Church.

The nuns working in the hospitals disagreed, quite respectfully, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which argued that it would be possible for federal funds to be used for abortions. Virtually no one else agreed with the interpretation of the proposed law.

The result? The Vatican is continuing and expanding scrutiny on orders of nuns that had begun before the health care issue. The Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island has removed the Catholic designation from several hospitals run by nuns. In a recent speech, Archbishop Raymond Burke, a top Vatican official, attacked American nuns for their disobedience to the bishops who, he said, follow in the line of succession from the apostles. He called the action of the nuns a "sacrilege."

More here-

LOS ANGELES: Newport Beach breakaway congregation again asks California Supreme Court to hear property claim

From Episcopal Life Online-

Attorneys for a Newport Beach breakaway congregation on May 4 petitioned the California Supreme Court a third time in an effort to be declared the owner of church real property and other assets.

St. James' Anglican Church had 30 days to respond to a lower appellate court ruling that reaffirmed, two to one, that the property is held in trust by the Diocese of Los Angeles and the wider Episcopal Church.

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Third Division, on March 26 had instructed the trial court to enter an order enforcing the interests of the Episcopal Church and the diocese in the real property and other assets claimed by the congregation, which broke away in 2004.

"We believe, as did the Court of Appeal, that the California Supreme Court has ruled conclusively on who owns the property in question," said John Shiner, diocesan chancellor, in a May 6 telephone interview from his office. "That decision indicated that the property belonged to the Diocese of Los Angeles.

"It's disappointing that this matter still continues when the California Supreme Court has ruled decisively in our favor," Shiner added.

Eric Sohlgren, an attorney for St. James, did not respond to ENS requests for an interview May 6. But in a statement posted on the church website, he said: "St. James has followed a steady course since this lawsuit was first filed against them and its church volunteers.

More here-

Rescuing Art From the Rubble of the Quake

From The New York Times-

Susan Blakney, a paintings conservator from New York, scrambled up a mound of rubble left by the collapse of the Episcopal Holy Trinity Cathedral here, searching for small shards of the cathedral’s murals.

The cathedral is a cherished part of this country’s cultural heritage and most of its murals were destroyed in the earthquake that struck here in January. Two from the north transept, though, one depicting the Last Supper and the other the baptism of Christ, remain largely intact.

“It looks like there are some chunks underneath here,” Ms. Blakney, 62, yelled to colleagues working with her last Thursday in an effort to save thousands of works of art damaged in the quake.

The rescue is being organized by the Smithsonian Institution, which is to open a center here in June where American conservators will work side-by-side with Haitian staff members to repair torn paintings, shattered sculptures and other works pulled from the rubble of museums and churches.

Haitian artists and cultural professionals have been conducting informal salvage operations for the past four months. But the Americans are bringing conservation expertise — there are few if any professionally trained art conservators in Haiti — and special equipment, much of it paid for by private money.

More here-

Monday, May 10, 2010

'Perfect Game' Dallas Braden: 'Lo And Behold, Here I Am'

I realize this is "old" news now but I didn't hear about it until I was coming home from my daughter's college graduation tonight.

From NPR with video-

Oakland A's pitcher Dallas Braden is the 26-year old southpaw who on Sunday joined the select group of Major League Baseball pitchers who've pitched perfect games.

And not just that, he's the first to ever do it against a team with MLB's best record at the time of the game, in this case, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Before Sunday, Braden was perhaps best known to baseball fans as the pitcher who upbraided Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez after A-Rod as a base-runner took the shortcut across the pitcher's mound to return to first base from third after a foul ball.

All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talked with Braden Monday. Robert asked Braden if he thought about the possibility of a perfect game as the outing progressed

More here-

The list of the 19 perfect games is here-

Draft law opens way for first women bishops by 2014

From The London Times-

THE Church of England has paved the way for ordination of its first women bishops with new legislation that it hopes will prevent Anglicans splitting over the issue.

A draft law released yesterday, which has taken nearly two years to complete, could lead to the first women bishops being ordained in 2014, 20 years after female priests were first welcomed into the church.

It would bring the Church of England into line with Anglicans in America, Canada and Australia, while simultaneously widening the gulf with Catholics in Rome.

Female frontrunners for the episcopate include June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, and Lucy Winkett, a canon at St Paul’s Cathedral. Winkett, a former professional singer, entered the priesthood after her boyfriend died from a fall during a walking holiday in the Alps while she was a student at Cambridge.

Others being tipped include Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a Jamaican-born vicar in inner London and chaplain to the Queen. She could become the first female black bishop.

Christina Rees, a senior campaigner for women bishops in the General Synod, welcomed the draft law.

“It will finally show that we value women alongside men,” she said. “It’s a key moment between the church and the wider society it exists to serve.”

The discussion over women bishops has been long and bitter since the first motion in favour of change was passed in 2000. At a debate earlier this year, Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, had to explain to the synod why his committee drawing up the new legislation had failed to produce proposals despite 18 months of meetings.


Archbishop Gives Wake Up Cal

From New Zealand-

Anglicans meeting in Gisborne have been told to be ambassadors of hope on issues including proposed mining and to help bring solutions to concerns including alcohol abuse. Archbishop David Moxon told delegates to the Anglican General Synod that there is a need for the Church to take a stand on issues and act on beliefs. To be people with a mission, which is a mission of hope.

"There is a need to look in our country for that which is the common good, said Archbishop David Moxon. "Otherwise there is the chance that hope can be lost, and this can result in a kind of coma where huge opportunities and challenges in our society and environment go either unnoticed, or ignored," said Archbishop Moxon.

The Anglican Church is to make a submission to the Government opposing the proposed mining in the Coromandel and other areas including National Parks.

Archbishop Moxon told delegates the Government's recent support of the United Nations Charter of Indigenous Rights is a sign of hope. "The integrity and rights of tangata whenua are crucial to our way of life as Anglicans; they are enshrined in our own Constitution - and we have benefited so much from this affirmation."

Tomorrow morning, delegates at the General Synod will discuss the proposed Anglican Covenant. This addresses the debate in the Anglican Communion about the ordination of bishops in same sex relationships. Later in the week the Synod will receive a report by Sir Paul Reeves on the governance of St John's College in Auckland, where most Anglican clergy are trained.


Church of England paves way for women bishops

From Reuters-

Draft legislation introduced at the weekend said women should be consecrated as bishops on the same basis as men, disappointing the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical wings of the Church which had wanted a "two-tier" system. Some are now likely to consider Pope Benedict's offer last October to make it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism. The Pope is to visit Scotland and England in September on a trip already mired in controversy.

The liberal wing of the Church of England, which has campaigned for women bishops ever since the first woman priest was ordained 16 years ago, welcomed the draft legislation.
"It is now right for the Church of England as a whole to accept women and men as equal before God in all parts of its ministry," Women and the Church, a group which champions women bishops, said in a statement.

The Church's revision committee proposed safeguards for traditionalist parishes, including the right to request that a male bishop perform blessings and ordinations. But it did not accommodate calls for new dioceses or a special class of bishops. The draft proposals will now go forward for debate at the Church's General Synod, or parliament, in York, northern England, in July, and will still have to pass a number of stages before England could see its first woman bishop, possibly in 2014.

More here-

Activist minister Lewis has Episcopal license stripped

From West Virginia-

One of West Virginia's best-known ministers -- an activist against the Iraq war and longtime leader of other public causes -- has been stripped of his license by the state's Episcopal bishop.

The Rev. Jim Lewis says his Episcopal credentials were revoked on grounds that he performed too many rites for his former parishioners at St. John's Church in Charleston.

However, he says, nearly nine years have elapsed since he returned to Charleston in retirement, and his involvement with long-ago church members never caused a problem until now.

Lewis has a high profile in West Virginia. During the stormy 1974 fundamentalist uprising against "godless textbooks," he led a defense of the school system and the disputed books. He also created Manna Meal, a humanitarian soup kitchen at St. John's for homeless or impoverished people. And he helped establish Covenant House, a shelter for the down-and-out, originally in a small house behind St. John's.

More here-

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Canterbury Tale The battle within the Church of England to allow women to be bishops.

From The New Yorker (A must read)

Remember the Church of England, that mythically placid community of Sunday Christians and beaming vicars whom you met in Austen and possibly came to loathe in Trollope? “The Tory Party at prayer,” generations of Fleet Street leader writers called it. You can forget that now. The vicar you meet today is likely to be a young woman with a couple of Oxbridge degrees, and the country’s favorite cleric is Geraldine Granger, a plump chocoholic sitcom priest known to people who watch the BBC as the Vicar of Dibley. Geraldine, played by the actress Dawn French, made her d├ębut in 1994, the year that women were first ordained as priests of the Church of England.

She stayed near the top of the sitcom ratings for the better part of thirteen years, which is three years longer than Tony Blair ran Britain, and continues to shepherd her parishioners through DVDs and reruns—during which time more than twenty-five hundred women have been ordained. By now, women account for nearly a third of the Church of England’s working priests, and most of them are waiting for the investiture of the Church of England’s first female bishop—a process begun in 2008, when the laity, clergy, and bishops in the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favor of removing the last vestiges of gender discrimination from canon law.

Not everyone is pleased. Patriarchy survives in the flock that Henry VIII appropriated from Rome in 1534, having shed a menopausal wife without benefit of the papal nod known to Catholics with connections as annulment, in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who had promised him a son a year—and was herself dispatched to the executioner’s block for producing a girl instead. And never mind that the women at issue now are priests and their problems are more professional than reproductive. It took seventeen years of wrenching Synod debate for women to be ordained, and when they were, some five hundred male priests fled in protest—two-thirds of them, as the saying goes, “to Rome.” The prospect of women’s elevation to the House of Bishops has been even more divisive.

This isn’t a question of High Church and Low Church differences. England’s church has always been (the common word) “inclusive.” It grew as an uneasy accommodation between the traditionalists of the Apostolic Creed and Catholic ritual and devotions now known as Anglo-Catholics and the brimstone-and-Bible Protestants born in the chapels of the Reformation, making common cause against the Church of Rome. Today, it covers a sliding scale of beliefs and practices, with the majority of England’s Anglican parishes somewhere in the middle. But the argument about women bishops cuts across all the old divisions. Thousands of conservative Anglicans—priests and laymen—on both sides of the High Church–Low Church divide still refuse to take Communion from a female priest, and would certainly refuse to take it from any priest ordained by a female bishop.

For the past two years, they have been threatening to leave the Church at the first sign of a woman in a bishop’s mitre. The next session of the General Synod, in July, is going to consider, and is expected to approve, the draft for a change in canon law that would open the episcopate to women. If a large number of militant conservatives do leave then, the Church of England—and, with it, the churches of a worldwide Anglican Communion planted by the settlers, traders, and missionaries of the British Empire—will fracture in ways that will make the defection of a few hundred priests in the nineteen-nineties seem insignificant.

Read more:

Anglicans argue for fewer kids

From Australia-

The Anglican Church wants Australians to have fewer children and has urged the federal government to scrap the baby bonus and cut immigration levels.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church has issued a warning that current rates of population growth are unsustainable and potentially out of step with church doctrine - including the eighth commandment "thou shall not steal", Fairfax newspapers say.

In a significant intervention, the Anglican Public Affairs Commission has also warned concerned Christians that remaining silent "is little different from supporting further overpopulation and ecological degradation".

"Out of care for the whole Creation, particularly the poorest of humanity and the life forms who cannot speak for themselves, it is not responsible to stand by and remain silent," a discussion paper by the commission warns.

"Unless we take account of the needs of future life on Earth, there is a case that we break the eighth commandment - 'Thou shall not steal'."

The discussion paper, prepared in March, claims that federal government financial incentives encouraging childbirth should be scrapped and replaced with improved support for parents, such as leave.

Church faces turmoil over plans for women bishops

From The London Telegraph-

In a move set to engulf the Church in a bitter row over the historic reform, legislation was published yesterday which will allow women clergy to enter the top ranks while giving almost no concessions to opponents.

While groups campaigning for female clerics to be treated equally expressed joy at the new plans, leading traditionalists reacted angrily to the development.

They claimed that the proposals were designed to "wipe out" those on the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical wings of the Church who do not believe it is in accordance with biblical teaching for women to be bishops.

The legislation, which would go before parliament if approved by the General Synod, could trigger a much larger defection of clergy to Rome than previously predicted. It follows a secret meeting held between the Vatican and three Anglican bishops last month.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham and one of those involved with the talks in Rome, said Anglo-Catholics would be "incandescent" and would effectively be "forced out" of the Church of England.

"I think they have no choice but to leave," he said.

"We will have to wait and see what the Church of England does with it, but my view is that Anglicanism as it used to be, which was a variety of groups coexisting peacefully, is over."

More here-

Why the No campaign could destroy the Church

From Kenya-

Are Kenyans notoriously religious? The answer is both yes and no. It is yes because poor people, which most Kenyans are, cling to religion. It is no because religion is not genetic.

But poverty explains why a majority of Kenyans are so devout. Even so, the Church has terribly misjudged the sway that it holds over its Kenyan flock. Kenyan Christians know that man does not live by the word of God alone.

That’s why, in a historic rebuke, they will defy the Church and vote overwhelmingly for the draft constitution. The vote could be a tsunami – a repudiation of the clergy – that irrevocably destroys the Church.

I will focus on two key clerics who are the faces of the No campaign. The first is John Cardinal Njue, the chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.

He purports to speak for all Kenyan Catholics on issues moral and religious.

However, he has lately conflated – totally confused – his role as a religious guide with his rights as a citizen.

As a citizen, he can speak up on any political issue, but he cannot purport to order the Catholic faithful to take a political stand on any matter.

He can voice any political opinion as Mr Njue, but he is out of bounds when, as Cardinal Njue, he purports to dictate to Catholics how they must vote in the referendum.

More here-

Credo: David Downes

From Washington DC-

In a city reputed for power and ambition, David Downes serves the people most often overlooked and left behind. As executive director of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, Downes and a team of caseworkers and volunteers ensure help for "anyone who wants to make changes in his or her life," he said. Most often, that means people who are homeless, or those at imminent risk of becoming homeless. The organization -- in operation for nearly 25 years and working with about 1,300 people annually -- also serves the social and spiritual needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, and their families. Downes, 64, spoke with the Washington Examiner about the faith and the people who guide his life's devotion to giving back.

Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?

I am a Christian who practices my faith as an Episcopalian. I appreciate Christianity most for its focus on loving one's neighbors, on serving others, and on being part of a community that supports its members as they live out their faith. I appreciate the Episcopal Church most for its openness to looking at old things in new ways, but also for its traditions and liturgies.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese consecrates bishop

From Louisiana

The Very Rev. Morris Thompson was consecrated Saturday as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana with a call to provide strength for everyone he serves. The diocese covers southern Louisiana.

Thompson, 54, a native of Jackson, Miss., was elected in December from among six candidates considered by Episcopal clergy and lay representatives. He succeeds Bishop Charles Jenkins, who retired in January after 13 years as bishop.

Thompson previously was dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Ky. He also has served in the Marine Corps and was a Southern Baptist minister for a time.

During the two-hour ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans, Thompson did not speak, except to thank the congregation and preside over his first communion as bishop.

However, the Right Rev. Stacy Sauls, bishop of the Lexington, Ky., diocese, said Thompson is the ideal candidate to serve Louisiana.

Sauls said Louisiana Episcopalians had been “at the forefront” of helping the community after Hurricane Katrina, providing relief and housing, while fighting for racial conciliation and justice.