Saturday, September 11, 2010

Burial of Kenya archbishop's wife underway

From Kenya-

The burial of Caren Nakhumicha, the wife of Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Eliud Wabukala is underway at Kibeu village near Malakisi in Bungoma.

Top government and religious leaders are attending the funeral. Nakhumicha, 54 passed on suddenly after falling down the staircase at their Nairobi home on Sunday night.

Close relatives said she lost consciousness immediately after the fall and efforts to revive her were futile.

She was later rushed to the Nairobi Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

The dean of the province Bishop Steve Njehia and Bishop Mechumo is presiding over the burial service.

A memorial service was held on Thursday at All Saints' Cathedral, Nairobi. President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka attended the requiem mass to celebrate the life of Nakhumicha.

Speakers described Caren as a loving, courageous, caring, hardworking and religious woman, who touched the lives of many people.

The ACK head learnt of his wife's death as he checked in at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on his way to London for a meeting.

Papal visit to UK will affirm bonds with Anglicans, Vatican official says

From Catholic News-

In advance of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the U.K., the head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity has acknowledged “difficulties” in Catholic-Anglican relations. However, he said the papal visit will “strongly affirm the close bonds” between the two church bodies. He pointed to Cardinal Newman as a guide.

Speaking in a Thursday statement, Archbishop Kurt Koch said that although the September 16-19 visit is the first state visit of a Pope to Great Britain, it recalls Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit in 1982. Pope Benedict’s predecessor prayed with the Archbishop of Canterbury and issued a joint declaration inaugurating the second phase of official dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

“Since that time, relations between Anglicans and Catholics have been characterised by growing warmth and friendship,” the archbishop commented. He noted that many local communities now share in prayer and practical initiatives and that there are “regular and successful meetings” between Catholic and Anglican bishops.

More here-

Yellow fever left mark on Memphis; historians disagree on epidemic's impact

From Memphis-

This weekend, dubbed Martyrs Weekend, recognizes victims of that deadliest outbreak in 1878 and the people who came to their aid, often dying in the process. Twelve Catholic nuns, 9 priests, 4 Episcopalian nuns and 10 Protestant ministers died. Survivors had to face the city's bankruptcy, the loss of its charter and an image that Harkins says steered immigrants away from Memphis for years.

Many of the immigrants who had helped the city to grow are in what Elmwood Cemetery's assistant director Jody Schmidt calls a "trench grave," holding 1,500 caskets placed side by side and end to end. Another 1,000 marked graves are scattered through the cemetery. They made up less than half the city's victims. The population had been roughly 50,000 before about 30,000 fled at the start of the epidemic on Aug. 5, 1878. Of the 19,000 who stayed in Memphis, 17,000 came down with yellow fever, and 5,150 died.

Memphis had been a magnet for German and Irish settlers looking for jobs along the heavily traveled river. "I think there's a chance Memphis might have rivaled Atlanta if it had continued to attract a cosmopolitan mix of people. Memphis became more provincial," says Harkins.

More here-

‘An indefatigable and zealous prelate’

From New York-

September also began on a Wednesday in 1830. In fact, that was the day that Dr. John Henry Hobart, the (Episcopal) bishop of New York, arrived at the old rectory of St. Peter’s Church on Genesee Street in Auburn. Some reading this will remember that house which stood in the open lot between today’s church and the Auburn Family Restaurant. It was finally torn down in the 1960s.

Hobart, small in stature, was a giant of a man. He founded two institutions that still endure, Geneva (now Hobart) College and the General Theological Seminary in New York City, where professor Clement Moore penned “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822. More than that, Hobart traveled to every corner of the state during his 19 years as bishop, more than doubling the number of churches and tripling the number of clergy. He confirmed around 15,000 persons. A beautifully wrought memorial bust brought to Auburn in 1833 aims, as it reads, “not so much to portray the character or commemorate the worth of the exemplary and gifted man, the learned divine, the faithful pastor, the indefatigable and zealous prelate and the sincere and pious Christian as to record the affectionate veneration in which his memory is held by the numerous individuals to whom he was known in life, and by the still greater number who lamented him in death.”

Affection for Hobart was sincere. In an age when most men, especially men of station, were very reserved and preachers were dignified and contained, Hobart was bubbly, excitable and outgoing. He travelled west of Albany by horseback, stagecoach, canal boat (maybe) and on foot. Yet, he even made forays as far as Michigan in devotion to Christ. For a time, he was not only bishop of the whole state of New York, but also the visiting bishop in two states that had none: Connecticut and New Jersey. At the same time, he served as rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street, the richest and most influential church in America.

More here-

Friday, September 10, 2010

FORT WORTH: Bishop optimistic about progress of property litigation

From ELO-

Bishop C. Wallis Ohl said Sept. 9 that he is optimistic about the progress of litigation over disputed property and assets in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, after several recent court actions.
But he added that the ongoing litigation between the diocese and a breakaway group "is not the center of our diocesan life."

Ohl referred to a Texas judge's Sept. 2 decision to grant the Episcopal diocese's motion to "abate" or to halt a lawsuit involving a disputed bequest to a parish in 355th District Court in Hood County.

The case will be heard instead by 141st District Court Judge John P. Chupp in neighboring Tarrant County where a lawsuit to resolve issues about diocesan authority and church property is pending, according to a Sept. 8 statement released by the diocese.

The Episcopal diocese and the Episcopal Church had sued former bishop Jack Iker and former members of the corporation of the diocese's board in 141st District Court in Tarrant County in April 2009, to recover property and assets held by the former diocesan leaders.

The lawsuit also intended to establish that the continuing diocese was entitled to the use and benefit of property acquired by and for the mission of the Episcopal Church, established in 1838 in the Fort Worth area.

More here-

Pope Benedict and the Enigma of English Christianity

From The Living Church-

In London’s East End stand two churches commemorating religious martyrs. A plaque in St. James Clerkenwell celebrates a line of succession from the Lollards, whose inspiration was the Bible translator John Wycliffe, to people burned at the stake on orders from Queen Mary. About a mile away, English Martyrs Roman Catholic Church honors people who suffered death in the turbulence accompanying the Protestant Reformation.

Here is an example of the enigmatic nature of English Christianity. The lists of martyrs share not a single name. People of Protestant heritage have one version of martyrology, thanks largely to the influence of John Foxe’s gruesome Book of Martyrs published in 1563. Roman Catholics have a completely different story line and different dramatis personae, their memories kept alive in more than 20 churches throughout the country.

There is a subliminal anti-Catholic mindset in British culture. It persists despite the rampant secularism that pervades modern life. There was a dash of it in a jokey but hurtful Foreign Office memorandum saying Pope Benedict, on his forthcoming visit to England, should be invited to open an AIDS clinic and “Benedict” condoms should be sold as souvenirs.

More here-

Decision To Suspend Quran-Burning Met With Relief

From NPR-

Religious and political leaders across the Muslim world welcomed a decision by a small American church to suspend its plans to torch copies of their holy book — but some said Friday the damage has already been done.

The Rev. Terry Jones from the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida triggered international outrage when he announced he would burn the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, with hundreds of angry protesters in Afghanistan and Pakistan burning U.S. flags and chanting "Death to the Christians."

His decision to hold off, made overnight when many in Asia were sleeping, was met with relief.

"Quran burning plan aborted! Sanity prevails," Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told followers on the social networking site, Twitter. "Praise be to Allah. Our challenge: promote peace and justice."

But cleric Rusli Hasbi told 1,000 worshippers attending Friday morning prayers in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, that Jones had already "hurt the heart of the Muslim world."

More here-

Beyond the Beatification of Cardinal Newman

From The Wall Street Journal-

This month Pope Benedict XVI will travel to England for an unprecedented state visit to the United Kingdom, meeting with the Queen at Balmoral Castle and giving an address to Parliament. The occasion for this historic event, however, is not church or international politics—although political issues will doubtless be touched upon—but the beatification (the penultimate step towards sainthood) of John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Newman, whose long life spanned most of the 19th century, was perhaps the greatest religious figure of the last 200 years of British history. Converting from Anglicanism to Catholicism at the age of 44, he wrote cogently and beautifully under both religious affiliations, and was a lightning rod in the passionately argued religious controversies of his time, such as infallibility of the Pope or the legitimacy of Anglicanism as the state church.

Valuing his religious influences as a thinker and evangelizer of the highest caliber, Pope Benedict has made an exception of his thus-far universal practice of not participating in beatification ceremonies. Hence his trip to Great Britain.

En route to this honor were the standard ecclesial steps: the examination of Newman's life and writings; a declaration that he had lived a life of extraordinary virtue; and official approval by doctors and theologians of a miraculous cure after prayers that Newman would intercede with God on the sufferer's behalf.

More here-

Pope’s state visit won’t be a fishing trip, says Nichols

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, has said that the Pope will not be “fishing” for Anglicans when he comes to Britain next week.

Pope Benedict XVI will meet the Archbishop of Canterbury next week during the first state visit by a pope to the UK, and the first papal visit for 28 years.

Archbishop Nichols told the BBC that there were “delicate and difficult issues” between his Church and the Church of England. But there would be no “harsh words” between the two church leaders during next week’s visit. The Pope’s creation of an Or dinariate for those who chose to leave the Anglican Church was made only in response to repeated re quests.

“Sometimes, people want to say, ‘Oh, this is the initiative of the Pope, who is going fishing for Anglicans.’ That is not true. He is responding to requests that he has received, and those requests we have to handle sensitively on both sides. There are delicate, difficult issues between our two Churches at the moment.”

During next week’s visit, the Pope is expected to shake hands with a female Anglican cleric for the first time. He will be greeted at West minster Abbey by its Steward, Canon Jane Hedges, a prominent cam paigner for women bishops.

More here-

How the crazy Qur'an-burning pastor became an international story

From The London Guardian-

Is the media responsible for having turned an obscure Florida pastor with a flock of no more than 50 people into an international figure by publicising his threat to burn the Qur'an?

Up to a point, Lord Copper. To blame the media for the message is easy enough. It was certainly the view of many callers from across the globe to a BBC World Service phone-in yesterday evening.

But once we see how the story emerged, bit by bit, it becomes less tenable - and much sillier – to accuse "the media" of giving Terry Jones a public stage for his absurd stunt.

Jones, who runs a church called the Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville (population 115,000; home of the University of Florida), originally announced his plan for "International Burn a Koran Day" back in July.

In trying to trace the story's exact origins, I came across several references on the web in late July. One example - posted on an atheist site - also referred to the setting up of a Facebook page announcing the event.

More here-

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pope Benedict To Encounter Hostile Audience In U.K. Visit

From Huffington Post-

Pope Benedict XVI travels to the United Kingdom next week (Sept. 16-19) for only the second papal visit to Britain in modern times, and like Pope John Paul II in 1982, Benedict will confront 400 years of Catholic-Protestant tensions as well as more recent controversies.

The four-day visit will feature a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, an address to parliamentarians and other dignitaries in Westminster Palace, an ecumenical service with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and honors for a 19th-century theologian who famously converted to Catholicism.

In many ways, the visit presents Benedict with one of the most hostile audiences he's encountered in his five years as pope.

Benedict faces allegations that he and other church leaders mishandled cases of Catholic priests who sexually abused children in Europe and the United States. While he is expected to meet with sex abuse victims at some point during his visit--as he has done on three previous international trips--the gesture seems unlikely to placate his most adamant critics.

More here-

Hawking’s creation theory stirs up fresh debate

From the Church Times-

BELIEF in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the uni verse, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week. He was responding to Professor Stephen Hawking’s assertion, in his new book, that there is no place for God in theories of the creation of the universe.

The Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, Professor Hawking argues in The Grand Design, co-written with the American physicist Leonard Mlodinow. The book suggests that M-theory, a type of string theory, could be the “holy grail” that would explain everything in the universe.

Professor Hawking contends: “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper and set the universe going.”

Dr Williams told The Times that belief in God: “is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity every thing depends for its existence. Physics on its own will not settle the question why there is something rather than nothing.”

The Bishop of Swindon, Dr Lee Rayfield, a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists and a former science lecturer, told the BBC’s Newsnight that Professor Hawking was “not saying anything devastatingly new”. He said that Professor Hawking’s suggestions were “a reworking of the God-of-the-gaps argument”: seeing the world “like a jigsaw puzzle and you find out a bit more about the way the universe works, and as soon as you’ve got another piece of puzzle you know everything.”

Dr Rayfield proposed another way of looking at the universe, which sees “knowledge as a circle”. “You expand the circle, but there’s still more things that are unknown.” He said that “questions of meaning, of purpose, of existence, the very biggest issues of identity, aren’t solved by physics.”

More here-

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Making Straight the Way: An Anglican Homecoming

From Catholic Culture-

When Father John Fleming converted to Catholicism in 1987, he couldn’t foresee that he would play an instrumental role in the request of the Traditional Anglican Communion for reunion with Rome in 2007, which in turn had a major impact on Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009. An Australian, Fleming was ordained an Anglican priest in 1970. He married in 1975, and he and his wife were already raising their three daughters when they both converted. After living as a Catholic layman for eight years, Fleming was ordained a Catholic priest in 1995. In this case, the rest really is history.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, which consists of 38 bishops representing some 400,000 faithful throughout the world, was established in 1990 to salvage traditional Anglicanism (conceived of as Anglo-Catholicism). From the first, the TAC was deeply interested in reunion with Rome. At first its leaders pursued this objective by seeking to set up ecumenical talks between themselves and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. But there were Catholic divisions over how best to handle ecumenical affairs, and the Council for Christian Unity was reluctant to enter into talks with the TAC lest such talks harm ecumenical prospects with the Anglican Communion as a whole.

More here-

In Britain, pope will focus on common Christian mission, official says

From Catholic News-

Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Great Britain will feature strong ecumenical moments, but the focus will be more on what Christians can do together than on issues still dividing them, said the Vatican's top ecumenist.

Archbishop Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said obviously there are problems in the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, "but it is important to speak about what we have in common."

When Pope Benedict and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury lead evening prayer together Sept. 17, he said, "the Christian communities will be challenged to work and pray together to ensure that the Christian message is confidently proclaimed so that faith can have a creative involvement in British life."

More here

Former Wyoming Supreme Court justice dies

From Wyoming (I had the priviledge of serving with Judge Thomas at General Convention)

Former Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Richard Thomas died Saturday at Rio Rancho, N.M., according to his daughter, Sidney Hardgrave. He was 77.
Thomas served on the court from 1974-2001.

He was born in Superior in 1932 and grew up in Lingle. He moved to Rio Rancho in 2001.
Thomas graduated from the University of Wyoming with his law degree in 1956. He earned his masters of laws at New York University with an emphasis in tax law.

Thomas was a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Air force where he served a three-year tour of duty as a Judge Advocate General, stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.

He was a partner at the law firm of Hirst, Applegate & Thomas prior to serving as the U.S. district attorney for the state of Wyoming.

Thomas achieved his 33rd degree honorary from the Scottish Rite. He was also a member of the Order of the Coif at the UW School of Law. Thomas held numerous leadership positions with the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club and was active in the Wyoming Bar Association and the United Way of Laramie County.

For many years, he enjoyed serving as a Special Friend with Youth Alternatives. Thomas was also a lifelong member of the Boy Scouts of America, serving in many leadership positions for both the Long's Peak and National Council. The Boy Scouts of American honored his service with the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards.

More here-

Break-away Savannah church calls out Christian 'heresy' in new video

From Georgia-

A downtown congregation that broke from the Episcopal Church three years ago has now released a video on its theological beliefs.

Leaders of Christ Church in Savannah are using the 30-minute video titled "Stand With Us" to strike out against the "heresy" they say is present among some Christians today.

"Some lay persons as well as clergy in mainline denominations have succumbed to the allure of the secular culture," said the Rev. Marc Robertson, according to a statement released Wednesday.

"Some of these modern distortions present Jesus Christ as one 'savior' among many, or the Holy Spirit as the inner voice of one's opinion, or human sexuality as a matter of personal preference," he said. "The often subtle accommodations are usually accompanied by a demand for total acceptance based on love."

More here-

PENNSYLVANIA: Standing Committee asks for help in getting bishop to leave

From ELO-

The members of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania's Standing Committee have asked the leaders of the House of Bishops for their "support and assistance in constructing a way to go forward in this diocese and to secure Bishop [Charles] Bennison's retirement or resignation."

Bennison resumed his role as diocesan bishop Aug. 16, some 11 days after the church's Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop overturned a lower church court's finding that he ought to be deposed (removed) from ordained ministry because he had engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. The review court agreed with one of the lower court's two findings of misconduct, but said that Bennison could not be deposed because the charge was barred by the church's statute of limitations.

The decision by the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop is here.

The lower court, the Court for the Trial of a Bishop, had called for Bennison's deposition after it found that 35 years ago when he was rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Upland, California, he failed to respond properly after learning that his brother, John Bennison, was "engaged in a sexually abusive and sexually exploitive relationship" with a minor parishioner. At the time, John Bennison was a 24-year-old newly ordained deacon (later priest) whom Charles Bennison had hired as youth minister. 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.

More here-

Pastor offering classes aimed to tackle addiction

From Michigan-

Pastor John Franklin of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church has studied addiction for his entire professional life.

Beginning Wednesday, Franklin will share the knowledge he's accumulated as a professor of addiction studies at the University of Detroit Mercy and as a licensed psychologist.

For five consecutive Wednesdays — from 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 10585 Hamburg Road in Hamburg Township — Franklin will lecture and host discussion on one of the area's significant problems — addiction.

"I thought this was something, especially in view of the fact that there is a high community concern about drug overdoses, that needed attention," said Franklin, a part-time pastor at the church for four years.

He retired as a professor two weeks ago from the University of Detroit Mercy.

"I knew this was an area of expertise for me, and having freed up time in my schedule, I thought this was something I could make available to the community," Franklin said.

More here-

South Florida religious leaders slam plan to burn Qurans

From The Miami Herald-

Several high-profile South Florida religious organizations and politicians joined a growing chorus of international condemnation Wednesday against a tiny Gainesville church whose pastor wants to observe the Sept. 11 anniversary with a large-scale Quran burning.

The Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, the Anti-Defamation League and the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews all spoke out strongly against Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, which has become an international name -- to the alarm of U.S. government officials -- for its planned protest against the Islamic faith it calls ``of the devil.''

Jones, who has said he enjoys the increased media attention, told The Miami Herald that ``plans have not changed,'' even as top government brass have publicly asked him not to proceed and anti-American protests have broken out in a handful of Islamic countries.
``As members of a community which knows the results of the burning of books in Nazi Germany, we reject the intolerance and narrow-mindedness that this planned action reflects,'' said Rabbi Mark Kram, the rabbinical association president who also ministers at Temple Beth Or in South Miami-Dade.

``What would Jesus do? I am quite sure that burning the holy scriptures of another faith would never be his choice,'' said a statement by Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal diocese, who appealed to Jones to ``desist from an action that will hurt his Christian brothers and sisters around the world.''

Fort Lauderdale's largest churches, including Coral Ridge Presbyterian, Calvary Chapel, First Baptist and Mouth Bethel, also spoke out against Jones on Wednesday.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bishop condemns corruption in churches

From New Vision-

The retired Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Zebedee Masereka, has lashed out at the Anglican community in Uganda, saying it is riddled with corruption.

Masereka, who is the pioneer bishop of the diocese, also condemned discrimination on tribal, ethnic, religious and geographical grounds, saying these are some of the symptoms of stunted Christianity.

He said it was becoming increasingly hard for Anglican churches in Uganda to elect bishops and other high-level church leaders who are not native to the dioceses.

Masereka said corruption had invaded the national electoral process and called upon Christians to take over political offices in order to curb the vice.

He was speaking during celebrations to mark the South Rwenzori silver jubilee at the newly-constructed St.Paul’s Cathedral in Kamaiba in Kasese municipality on Sunday.

Masereka, who is also the NRM chairman for Kasese, said he had come face to face with corruption in the ongoing NRM primaries.

He attributed corruption to spiritual weakness and poor family morals. “Corruption starts at home, so instil the culture of uprightness among your children. Family transformation is the only way to a clean future,” he noted.

Pope won't be arrested in UK, protesters admit

From The London Telegraph

Campaigners supported by Prof Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist, had hoped to have Benedict XVI held over his supposed cover-up of child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

But leaders of the Protest the Pope coalition now admit that the Pontiff cannot be arrested as Britain acknowledges him as a head of state, granting him sovereign immunity from criminal prosecution.

It came as the Pope himself announced that he “can’t wait” to arrive in the country next Thursday for the first-ever state papal visit to Britain.

The opponents of the historic event, who represent human rights, equality and secular groups, still plan to hold a march and rally in central London in protest at the estimated £12million cost to taxpayers of the state visit and Benedict XVI’s stance on sexuality, contraception and clerical abuse.

But at an unusual meeting at the “neutral ground” of New Scotland Yard, they assured the Most Rev Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Southwark, that their events would be peaceful and lawful.

More here-

Anglican clergywoman to greet Pope Benedict during visit to Britain

From The London Guardian-

Pope Benedict's arrival in Britain breaks new ground on many levels, with a state welcome from the Queen and the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman. But buried in the itinerary is another and, some would say, more piquant landmark.

Next Friday, the pope will meet the Rev Jane Hedges, canon steward of Westminster Abbey and a campaigner for women bishops in the Church of England. It will be the first time the head of the Vatican, which earlier this year declared female ordination a "crime against the faith", shakes hands with a clergywoman.

Their meeting will act as a reminder of the differences and difficulties between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic church. The abbey team is aware of the many historic aspects to the visit.

"We shall greet this pope as our guest. There will no hint of battle," wrote the dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, last week in the Tablet, a weekly Catholic newspaper.

An ecumenical evensong will begin with an exchange of peace between the archbishop of Canterbury and Benedict XVI, and include a psalm, the Magnificat, readings and prayers. "I have no doubt that it will be a memorable occasion. Yet it will also be coloured by many emotions," Hall said.

More here-

'Move beyond fear': Planned Quran burning is religious stupidity

From ELO- How can anyone think that an act of hate and religious fanaticism -- the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- can somehow be redeemed by an act of intolerance and religious stupidity?

I have been trying to decide whether Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Center in Gainesville, who is planning to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, has any idea of how much harm and persecution his action will bring upon Christians living around the world -- and specifically those living in countries with a majority Muslim population.

I have traveled extensively in the Middle East, and I am quite familiar with the precarious situation of Christians in that area.
I can only appeal to him to desist from an action that will hurt his Christian brothers and sisters around the world; they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of his fanatical act. As an American, I also appeal to his patriotism and concern for our U.S. troops.

General David Petraeus, our commander in Afghanistan, has warned that this planned act of disrespect and destruction of the Muslim scriptures will both endanger our troops already in perilous situations and harm our relationship with those Muslim countries that are our sincere allies.
Every page of the Quran that burns will recruit to the ranks of Islamic extremists hundreds of irate Muslims, who will see in this action a confirmation of claims by Al Qaeda and the Taliban that Americans are engaged in our own jihad against the followers of Islam.

More here-

Care For the Troops workshop

From Savannah-

Care For the Troops workshop

St. Luke's Episcopal Church, in partnership with the apolitical, interfaith, nonprofit Care For The Troops organization, will host a workshop for area clergy and lay leaders on how to offer the best pastoral care and congregational support to soldiers, veterans and family members from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday at the church, 155 Goshen Road, Rincon. For information, go to or

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Deputies President Responds to Bennison Case

From The Living Church-

I was moved by your letter expressing your pain and frustration over the recent ruling by the Episcopal Church’s Court of Review which has made it possible for the Rt. Rev. Charles Bennison to resume the position of Bishop of Pennsylvania. Good people can disagree about how the court interpreted our canons. I believe that most Episcopalians who have followed this case agree that Bishop Bennison’s choice to resume his episcopacy presents significant problems for the Diocese of Pennsylvania and for the wider Church.

I want you to know that I share your hope that the Episcopal Church can be, “a guiding beacon to all people everywhere who are affected in some way by clergy sexual abuse.” I also share your frustration that in your case, and in others, our churches were not “safe sanctuaries” for vulnerable people. And I share your outrage that individuals in positions of authority have been complicit in maintaining a climate of silence and denial that has inhibited our efforts to end sexual abuse within our church.

Like the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Standing Committee, and many diocesan clergy and laity, I wish that Bishop Bennison had the wisdom and generosity of spirit to resign. As bishop he is more likely to deepen divisions and discredit the church than he is to bring healing or advance our common mission. I join the Court of Review in its assessment that Charles Bennison’s handling of the sexual abuse charges against his brother John was “totally wrong.” Bishop Bennison’s lack of remorse about his handling of this situation, and his solipsistic view of what is at stake, concern me deeply.

More here-

Upper S.C. Conflict Continues

From The Living Church- The link gives you the text of Bishop Waldo's letter.

Blessed are the BlackBerrys: Grace given for gadgets

From Canada-

“God, give me signal strength,” one Halifax daily said of a rather unusual church service held in that Nova Scotia city still reeling from power outages caused by Hurricane Earl’s Saturday visit.

It’s being called “the blessing of the gadgets.” Parishioners at St. Timothy’s Anglican church near here received grace Sunday for the laptops, BlackBerrys, GPS units, and iPhones they held up.

“Lord God, we thank you for the many gifts and tools you give us, all those electronic gadgets that make our lives easier in so many ways,” said Rev. Lisa Vaughn.

The unusual blessing of electronic gadgets Sunday came after Vaughn heard about the old English tradition called Plough Monday during which farmers bring their farm equipment to church to receive a blessing for a good harvest.

“Most of us live with our cellphones and laptops and BlackBerrys and all that kind of stuff. I mean, those are just daily tools for us,” said the wired pastor, who says she has three laptops and three desktop PC;s at home and is about to buy a smart phone.

More here-

Church's infighting hurts city

From Stockton CA-

There are times when an entire community has a vested interest in the outcome of an individual church's infighting. Such is the case with 160-year-old St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Stockton.

The stately facility is more than a place of worship. It's an iconic part of the city's history.

The land for the church was given to the congregation by none other than Capt. Charles Weber himself. It doesn't get much more historic than the city's founder having a hand in the church's formation.

But now the ownership of the property and church itself are tied up in a legal fight over - predictably - a church schism caused by a dispute over the ordination of gays and women.

More than 50 congregations split from the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in the 2007 in protest over the ordination of women and gays.

St. John's has aligned with the more conservative Anglican Church in North America. The diocese has filed suit in San Joaquin County Superior Court to reclaim the asset - as it has done up and down the Valley in similar situations.

What's unfortunate for Stockton as a whole is St. John's has become an essential part of the community fabric. Concerts are held there. Communitywide events have been held in the facility.

And it will be a negative if the beautiful facility is shuttered because these factions cannot work things out.

We urge them to do so - for the benefit of the diocese, the congregation and Stockton.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dog blessed: Roberta Beach returns the favor after a dog helped her through hard times

From Missouri-

As Roberta Beach recovered from a fourth cancer surgery, a friend came to live with her and changed her life. The friend, a beagle mix named Oliver, came home with Beach at the suggestion of her mother, who said she thought the dog might help her daughter's recovery.

Between 1985 and 1998, Beach intermittently fought squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue, neck and jaw with radiation therapies and multiple surgeries. After one surgery, she was left unable to speak for a period of time and breathed through a tracheotomy tube for over two months. Beach said at one point, she had a free flap surgery which took bone from her leg to reconnect her jaw. "I can say my leg bone is connected to my head bone," she now says with a laugh.


In April, her rescue became a division of Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary in Cape Girardeau County. Beach is the board secretary at Safe Harbor and also volunteers there weekly. An important aspect of Beach's life, and her work as a rescue director, is her faith, she said. Beach is also a licensed healing minister at a local Episcopal church. "An important part of who I am is prayer," she said.

Prayer and talk of creed at her church helped Beach develop her personal motto: "Dedicated to God, serving in prayer, healing and animal welfare." Several years ago, she said, she visited monasteries to see if she was suited to become a member, because she has felt since her teenage years that she would lead a solitary life. Instead, she decided to live with an emphasis on daily prayer. She said she prays for her patients and could not do her rescue without the assurance of prayer and a personal belief that "all will be well."

More here-

In the lands of the living God

From Discover Magazine (The author of the book is the daughter of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold)

On the face of it Eliza Griswold’s The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam is a book whose content is summed up accurately by the title. The author recounts her experiences in various African and Asian lands which straddle the tenth parallel north of the equator: Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

It is a story told through personal narrative, the author’s, and the numerous people who are themselves embedded in larger forces welling up from below and descending from above. One can accurately describe The Tenth Parallel as a travelogue. But it is also a time machine, as Griswold surveys worlds which are a clear simulacrum of those which we know only through works of history; empires of faith, the lands of God’s platoons.

As such, The Tenth Parallel is also a narrative which describes an alien world of ideas, outside of our conventional categories and classes. Many of the preconceptions and expectations which we bring to the table are “not even wrong” in the lands Griswold traverses, and what has been learned must sometimes be unlearned. This is not Newtonian Mechanics, where a cold and objective eye surveys the terrain and reports back positions and trajectories across space and time. An awareness of the author’s viewpoint is critical, while the viewpoint of her sources are plain. Finally, your own presuppositions and experiences as a reader shape the ultimate “take home” message which Eliza Griswold stitches together across her disparate sojourns.

More here-

Female Catholic priests, again

From Get Religion-

Is there something about non-Roman Catholic churches ordaining women that makes all journalism skills fly out the window? I’m pretty sure there is some ridiculously high correlation between ordinations of women who are not Roman Catholic and poorly written stories about said ordinations. Here’s yet another example, this one from the Arizona Republic: “Catholic church ordains woman as priest.”

At some point in the week, the paper added the word “independent” to the headline. Unfortunately, they didn’t fix the story, which uses the word “Catholic” some two dozen times, as well. Here’s how it begins:

A woman was ordained as a Catholic priest in the Valley on Saturday in the kind of ceremony the Vatican recently condemned as one of the church’s most serious crimes.

More here-

Birmingham area churches help jobless find work, new hope

From Alabama-

When times are tough, many folks turn to the church for help and comfort. These days, many Birmingham area churches are providing something else -- help with job searches.

With the seven-county metro area in the grip of a punishing recession that sent its unemployment rate surging to a quarter-century high of 11 percent earlier this year, churches are stepping up efforts to help job seekers, establishing career ministries and hosting job fairs.

More than a dozen churches with career ministries are listed on the website of Career Assistance Network-Birmingham, founded last year by Gerriann Fagan, a human resources consultant; Gayle Lantz, a leadership consultant; and Lou Thibodeaux, archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

Many of those ministries have emerged over the last year, said Mike Coffey, who founded what is considered the pioneering career assistance ministry at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church 25 years ago.

More here-

God no longer male, Scottish Episcopal Church rules

From The London Telegraph-

The new form of worship, which removes words such as "Lord, he, his, him" and "mankind" from services, has been written by the church in an attempt to acknowledge that God is "beyond human gender".

Episcopalian bishops have approved the introduction of more "inclusive" language, which deliberately removes references suggesting that God is of male gender.

Traditionalists have criticised the changes on the grounds that they smack of political correctness and because they believe they are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. The alterations have been made to provide an alternative to the established 1982 Liturgy, which, like the Bible, refers to God as a man.

The new order of service, which can be used by priests if they have difficulties with a male God, has been produced by the church's Liturgy Committee in consultation with the Faith & Order Board of General Synod and the College of Bishops.

The controversial changes were discussed at the church's General Synod recently. The minutes of the synod reveal that female priests had asked why God was still referred to as a man.
The altered version of the 1982 Liturgy sees masculine pronouns removed when they refer to God and the new approach has even been extended to humans. For example, the word "mankind" has been taken out and replaced with "world".

More here-

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Episcopalians consecrate new Alaska bishop

From Alaska-

For nearly three years, the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska was without a bishop -- but on Saturday, many church members celebrated the long-awaited consecration of a new bishop to lead the diocese.

At the First United Methodist Church in Anchorage, hundreds of people gathered to witness a historical moment for the diocese, as The Rev. Mark Lattime was installed in his new post.

“It's a wonderful day for all our peoples of the diocese,” said The Rev. Michael Burke, dean of the Southcentral Alaska deanery.

Leading Lattime’s consecration was the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Katherine Schori, along with bishops from all over the country.

“I could almost feel all that energy, all that anxiety, all of that hope going right through my body in that big response they made when they said, ‘It is their will,’” Lattime said.

Alaskans have waited a long time for a new bishop, a post Lattime is the eighth person to fill.

“It's like having a parent gone or a grandparent gone -- the family is not complete,” said the diocese’s Marty Thomas.

While members of the church showed support with their presence, Lattime's family showed their support by helping him one at a time as he was vested.

More including video here-,0,2746979.story

The Mockingbird parables: Christian lessons in Harper Lee's classic

From CNN via my daughter "Scout"

The social relevance of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird and the subsequent film is profound. It has remained a beacon of hope for the marginalized, pointing the way toward our continued pursuit for equality.

The novel has been described simply as the story of one man’s stand for racial justice, but we cannot ignore the other valuable messages–including Christian ones-for today’s culture of distrust.

From Wall Street to Washington to Main Street, it seems our decisions are governed by what is financially, politically, and socially expedient. Oour faith is more of an afterthought than a guiding force.

The many lessons of Lee’s novel can lead us back to a restorative way of making choices by following these four principles:

1. Try understanding others. The theme is revealed in lawyer Atticus Finch’s memorable explanation to his daughter: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

More here-

50 years later, Mazeroski's home run is bigger than ever

Happy Birthday Maz! The man who shies from being the center of attention will find it impossible to have many private moments today. On the occasion of his 74th birthday, Bill Mazeroski will see himself immortalized in bronze with the public dedication and unveiling of his statue.

The thought of all the fuss makes him squirm as he did when he spoke at his Cooperstown induction and had a stage-load of Hall of Famers weeping with him. "I don't feel right talking about myself," he said in a recent interview. "I like to stay in the background. I like to sit back and watch everybody else do their thing."

While humility is a quaint hallmark of the former second baseman the masses know as Maz, this reluctant luminary from the most common of backgrounds sabotaged his avoidance of the spotlight by being uncommonly good at playing a game. His No. 9 has been retired, a street outside PNC Park bears his name and he is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Read more:

Shooting death of Ligionier boy, 12 probed

This is a local family (although I don't know them) Please keep them in your prayers.

An 11-year old Ligonier Township boy who attended middle school for the first time last week was accidentally shot and killed Friday while visiting a friend's home.

Christopher Harr, a student at Ligonier Valley Middle School, would have turned 12 on Oct. 2.

According to authorities, the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

"It was determined through our initial investigation that several juveniles who were home alone at the time got possession of a .30-caliber carbine rifle," Ligonier Township police Chief Michael W. Matrunics said in a statement. "One juvenile accidentally shot another juvenile while playing with the rifle."

Christopher Harr's father, Daniel Harr, said the incident should serve as a warning to parents to keep their guns locked up and unloaded in the house.

Harr said his son "loved fishing, hunting, video games. He and I went fishing last week. We didn't catch anything."

More here-