Saturday, July 21, 2012

Love Is Stronger than Death

From The Living Church-

St. John’s Cathedral, Denver, responds to Friday morning’s news that a lone gunman killed a dozen people and wounded 50 others during a late-night premiere of the film The Dark Knight Rises:

Regarding the Tragedy in Aurora

At Saint John’s Cathedral, we are following the developing news of the Aurora shooting with sadness and concern. All involved are in our prayers.

At times like these, our emotions come swirling to the surface, with all our questions: shock, anger, grief, wonderment; why did this happen? How could it have been prevented? What does it mean? Where was God?

There are no easy answers. This shooting is a terrible tragedy, and it is a great loss that senseless killing has become a part of our national life in recent decades. Yet this is not an occasion to abandon hope. It is not an occasion to break faith. It is rather an occasion to renew our commitment to love: to love our neighbors, both close and distant, who are suffering; to love our enemies, who have wounded us so grievously; and to love God, who does not abandon us in tragedy, but chose to enter death itself, that life might be wrested from bondage in the tomb.

More here-

Mixed reaction to Church in Wales review

From The BBC-

Radical plans to modernise the Church in Wales have received a mixed reaction, with one vicar casting doubt that it will lead to change.

A report recommends parishes run by vicars and lay people and holding non-traditional services on days other than Sunday.

It also addresses controversial issues, including the surplus number of churches in Wales, saying buildings that are not needed may have to close or adapt.

The study by three leading Anglicans highlights "very low morale" in some parishes.

The Reverend E Bernard Thomas, rector of Llandyrnog and Llangwyfan parish in Denbighshire, said he agreed with the recommendations in the report - but wondered if some people in the church were ready for them.

"I can remember similar reports in various years past. I hope that this will actually be acted upon and not put on some shelf," he said.

"I was on a commission in 1984 which had very radical suggestions and all kinds of things and nothing happened then. People are still carrying on.

More here-

Good Shepherd Episcopal offers multiple outreach programs

From Texas (Houston area)

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, located at 2929 Woodland Hills Drive in Kingwood, has several opportunities from August through May for people to get involved.

The first is ACTs/Second Family, a program that provides meals, home visits, transportation and other services for adults who are living with HIV/AIDS or have other special needs. To volunteer, call Becky Villareal at 713-682-5995.

Judy Cox is the contact for FamilyTime Crisis and Council Center, which offers financial and other counseling to individuals and families in crisis. She also runs The Door, a shelter for battered women and their children, the Counseling Center and thrift shops. Cox also organizes fundraising events. To volunteer for any of these programs, call 281-446-2615.

Kairos Prison Ministry, which uses mediation, talks and activities to minister to prisoners, also is in need of help. Call Rusty Paull at 281-852-5502 to participate in the ministry.

More here-

'No giving up' urged

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Anglicans not to give up on each other despite "deeply painful conflicts".

Preaching to guests from around the Communion at a eucharist at Lambeth Palace on Thursday of last week, Dr Williams spoke of "the alarming hint that if God can't give us up, we can't give each other up - as Anglicans and Anglicans together, but as Christians and Christians together, too.

"How very nice it would be if we could simply say: we're giving up now on fellowship: that's enough peace; that's enough attempts to be together. . . And in those moments - which are frequent enough, God knows - we ought to hear God saying: 'But I'm God. I'm not you. You can give up on each other, but I can't.' And maybe with that before us, we can think of what it is that God goes on asking of us, in terms of making and keeping peace.

"I'm not just talking about how we live through the deeply painful conflicts in our Communion, though that's important enough. I'm talking about those attitudes to one another that shape our lives and our policies . . . And I believe that, in our global Anglican family, in spite of all our tensions and divisions, we have learned a great deal more in recent decades about being there for one another, locally and internationally."

More here-

Episcopal, Lutheran presiding bishops’ statement on AIDS Conference

From ENS-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in presenting the following joint statement on the 2012 International AIDS Conference meeting in Washington DC July 22-27.

We join together as Presiding Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church to welcome the 20,000 people traveling from 200 countries to the United States for the 2012 International AIDS Conference.

The body of Christ is global. It is impoverished and wealthy; it is diverse in gender and in sexual orientation; it is African, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and Indigenous; it is old and young; it has large families and orphaned youth. And it is HIV-positive.

We commend the Obama Administration for lifting the travel constraints that for more than two decades prevented HIV-positive persons, including Lutherans and Anglicans, and all others living with HIV or AIDS, from traveling to the United States. Faith-based advocates played a key role facilitating this change, which enabled this year’s “AIDS 2012” conference to be housed in our nation’s capital—a city itself deeply affected by the virus.

Amherst's Robert Hirschfeld prepares for move to New Hampshire as next Episcopal bishop there

From Massachusetts (Some process issues but still interesting)

A. Robert Hirschfeld said it was his then 12 year-old son Henry who suggested he consider becoming the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

“I wasn’t interested. I was eager to stay here,” said Hirschfeld, who had been the reverend of the Grace Episcopal Church since 2001. If anything he was thinking of the bishop’s position for the diocese in Western Massachusetts.

He thinks his son was interested because “he has cousins. My brother’s the rector for the St. Paul’s School (in Concord, N.H.)”

On May 19, Hirschfeld, 51, was elected bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. He was consecrated July 4 bat the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis.
He will be ordained Aug. 4 as bishop coadjutor and then installed as the 10th Bishop of New Hampshire Diocese on Jan. 5, 2013.

More here-

Friday, July 20, 2012

Protestant churches losing members with approval of same-sex 'marriages'

From Catholic Online-

Shortly after the U.S. Episcopal Church voted to approve a provisional rite for gay unions, Bishop Lawrence said in an interview with NBC News that his denomination is moving from out of the mainstream.

"Do I think that these two decisions will cause further decline? I believe they will," Bishop Lawrence said. "I think we've entered into a time of sexual and gender anarchy."

Memberships at Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutherans have fallen over the past few decades, and some observers attribute to their supposed leftward drift.

"Practically every denomination - Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian - that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge in church attendance," wrote columnist and author Ross Douthat in a New York Times editorial.

More here-

Beaufort County Episcopal church reactions vary to bishop's letter on same-sex blessings

From South Carolina-

Not all local Episcopal Church leaders agree with a recent letter from the diocesan bishop strongly opposing same-sex blessings, but they said they will comply.

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina circulated the letter to his Lowcountry congregations Sunday, condemning the actions of the national Episcopal church on same-sex blessing and gender issues and said he would open talks this week about the future of the diocese in the U.S. church.

The letter from the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence is the clearest indication yet that he does not believe the conservative diocese can tolerate the latest changes in church doctrine approved at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church that just concluded in Indianapolis.

The Rev. Jeffrey Miller, rector of The Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort, and the Rev. Charles Owens III, rector of The Church of the Cross in Bluffton, said they fully support and approve of Lawrence's letter and views.

Read more here:

Episcopal Church Is Radically Faithful to Its Tradition

Stacy Sauls responds to the WSJ-

Space does not permit a correction of the numerous factual points I could dispute in Jay Akasie's "What Ails the Episcopalians" (Houses of Worship, July 13). Instead, I offer a spiritual correction.

The church has been captive to the dominant culture, which has rewarded it with power, privilege and prestige for a long, long time. The Episcopal Church is now liberating itself from that, and as the author correctly notes, paying the price. I hardly see paying the price as what ails us. I see it as what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Many years ago when I was a parish priest in Savannah, a local politician and disaffected Episcopalian began a conversation with me. In that case the subject was homosexuality. It could have been any of the things mentioned last week as our ailments. "I just think the church should not be governed by the culture," he said. I replied that I agreed with him, but that "I just hadn't noticed that the culture was all that hospitable toward gay people." He stammered. "Well, maybe not here in Georgia."

The Episcopal Church is on record as standing by those the culture marginalizes whether that be nonwhite people, female people or gay people. The author calls that political correctness hostile to tradition.

More here-

Is liberal Christianity signing its own death warrant?


The Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence, the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina, fears for the future of his church.

One week after the U.S. Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions and the ordination of transgender people, Bishop Lawrence said in an interview with NBC News that his denomination is moving too far out of the mainstream.
"Do I think that these two decisions will cause further decline? I believe they will," Bishop Lawrence said. "I think we've entered into a time of sexual and gender anarchy."

Lawrence's comments come amid a growing debate over the future of so-called mainline Christian churches: Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, some Lutherans and more. These denominations, which are generally more liberal than their evangelical counterparts, have been in decline for decades, a trend some observers attribute to their supposed leftward drift.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop Brewer refuses to permit same-sex unions

From Central Florida-

Orlando Episcopal Bishop Gregory Brewer plans to announce on Saturday that he will not sanction same-sex union blessings in his diocese, as recently approved by the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. The Church has left it up to individual bishops whether to permit the blessings of same sex unions, and in a letter to his diocese, Brewer will explain why he cannot sanction such a blessing.

“While the title of the liturgy might indicate that something is happening other than a marriage service, the rite itself contains the same structure and components of the marriage rite found in the Book of Common Prayer: Scripture readings, vows, rings, a pronouncement, prayers and a blessing. Consequently, it is clear that such a service is a step towards redefining Christian marriage as clearly expressed both in the Scriptures and in the Book of Common Prayer,” Brewer writes.

More here-

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Anglican congregation in civil war over whether to join Catholic church

From Los Angeles-

Two factions of an Anglican church's congregation have been locked in a month-long struggle: Each occupies a different floor of the main parish building in Los Angeles, refusing to move, threatening to lock out the other side. The dispute: whether or not to join the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Mary of the Angels is a small, 60-member Anglican community based the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, a neighborhood with deep Hollywood history, peppered with grand Spanish-style homes up against Griffith Park and the famed Greek Theatre.

But the drama going on at St. Mary's is of a particularly vicious kind. Court battles have dragged on for months -- and there is no sign the face-to-face occupation will end anytime soon.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the clash began soon after the Rev. Chistopher Kelley arrived as parish priest in 2007. Once Pope Benedict opened the door for Anglicans to join the Catholic church, Kelley -- along with his wife and children -- strongly advocated the move.
"We can see the dispiritedness of the Anglican movement," he told the Times. "Pope Benedict's offer was a sanctuary for us."

More here-

Ordination on the go? There's an app for that

From CNN-

Ever wondered what it would be like to become ordained as a priest, rabbi or imam?

If you have an iPhone, you could be just a few screen swipes away from finding out.

That's because Tony Jones, theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has developed an application, or "app," that allows iPhone users to experience mock ordinations in more than two dozen faiths. Solomon's Porch is a Christian ministry that began as a local church and today calls itself a "holistic, Christian, missionary, community."

The app, called Ordain Thyself, doesn't confer any legitimate religious credentials to its users, but it does allow iPhone owners to see what they would look like wearing the religious garb of different clerics, and read a brief and humorous overview of various world religions.

Jones, himself an ordained minister, decided to create the app partly to combat what he sees as an inability of faith leaders to laugh about themselves and their religions.

Read more:

God and Gays

From Time-

There is something by now familiar, even reassuring, about what happens in my church every third summer. I am an Episcopalian, and I can reliably look forward to popular news coverage of the church’s General Convention — a legislative body made up of a House of Bishops and a lay House of Deputies — latest decision on issues of the connection between sexuality and the sacraments.

This week was no different, and in the New York Times on Sunday, Ross Douthat summarized the conservative view of my troubled church with a column headlined “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” It is not hard to figure out the conclusion Douthat arrives at in his column, which includes this pronouncement: “the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t get from a purely secular liberalism.”

The occasion for this round of Episcopal debate is the passage of an optional rite to bless same-sex unions. Dioceses (rather like states within the communion) can choose whether to allow priests to perform the rite. It that sense, the vote fits well within a religious tradition that was forged amid political and theological conflict over the nature of power in the 16th century. Anglicanism has always been about the attempt — sometimes successful, sometimes less so — to find a via media, or middle way, between stricter sacramentalism of Roman Catholicism and stricter scriptural literalism of other Protestant denominations. Anglicanism is driven in large measure by the same principle that Walter Bagehot identified as essential to the British constitution: the enduring effort to “muddle through.”

Read more:

Are Liberal Christians Becoming Rare?

Responses to the Ross Douthat screed-

Re “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?,” by Ross Douthat (column, July 15):

As an Episcopal priest, I am concerned not that “liberal Christianity” be saved but that authentic Christianity be practiced.

The “conservative” churches that seem to be flourishing today often conjoin the flag and the cross, operate racially and economically segregated schools, oppose government programs that help the poor, and deny both scientific learning and biblical scholarship.

There has indeed been a lot of foolishness in the Episcopal Church, much of it an outgrowth of the ’60s, as Mr. Douthat rightly says. And while we Episcopalians are certainly smaller and, dare I say, humbler than before, we have greater lay participation and more generous giving today than even in the benchmark days of the 1950s.

More here-

Episcopal churches: Short on politics, sexuality debates and long on Jesus

From The Washington Post- By Gay Clark Jennings

Every three years, the Episcopal Church lays itself open to criticism and ridicule by gathering about a thousand people together for eight days and thinking out loud.

The people at our General Convention come from all over the church, which includes nearly two million people in 16 countries. The topics we discuss also come from across the church: it’s relatively simple for Episcopalians to submit resolutions for legislative consideration. The result at our recently concluded gathering in Indianapolis was that the world was able to watch us debating issues including the blessing of same-sex relationships, peace in the Middle East, and whether dogs have souls.

Our bicameral legislative structure was borne of the same revolution against England as was Congress, and we look alike. It’s easy to stand on the outside and view our democratic process with the same disdain and cynicism that voters feel toward what transpires on Capitol Hill, or to assume we’ve sold out our faith in favor of the secular world.

I believe these criticisms are misplaced. Episcopalians are remarkably sincere about church democracy. We believe that the Holy Spirit is working through our legislative committees and debates, even when we misinterpret her guidance. Part of the reason our General Convention takes so long is that we spend significant time in worship, reading scripture, and singing.

More here-

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Father and son join Catholic priesthood – together

From CNN (with video)

The Revs. Chuck Hough IV and Chuck Hough III have more in common than just their names. The two have become a rarity in the Catholic Church – a father and son who became ordained Catholic priests at the same time.

Both men are both former Episcopal priests, each with a wife and children.

The younger Hough grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with his father as a leader in the Episcopal Church and ended up following in his footsteps, joining the church when he was 25.

The elder Hough had been an Episcopal priest for 31 years before both he and his son decided in 2011 to join the Catholic Church. First they became members of the Catholic Church, then applied to join as priests through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a group to help Anglicans join the Catholic communion while maintaining some hallmarks of the Anglican tradition.

“We felt that something was missing for years and years,” the father said.

More here-

Realism and Transcendence

From The Living Church-

Gustave Courbet, radical leader of the 19th-century Realist movement in Paris, when asked to include angels in a commission, famously quipped: “Show me an angel and I will paint one.” This sums up the dilemma faced by any realistic painter attempting to represent the supernatural. Of course, the down-to-earth Realists were mostly concerned with portraying modern life and so only infrequently turned to religious subjects. However, on the rare occasions that they did, their attempts were generally unsuccessful.

Edouard Manet’s Dead Christ looks more or less like any other cadaver from the morgue, and Thomas Eakins’s Crucifixion, despite its meticulous attention to historical accuracy, looks like the execution of a common criminal, not the death of Christ. Despite the magnitude of their undisputed historical importance, neither Manet nor Eakins were able to rise above their materialistic realism enough to represent the transcendent dimension of these subjects.

This is one reason that most commissions for religious art in 19th-century France went to now long-forgotten conservative academic painters rather than to avant-garde Modernists, whether they were Realist, Impressionist or Post Impressionist. The academics used idealized forms based on Renaissance prototypes, but these derivative works, unlike the Renaissance art they emulated, were more often than not maudlin or sentimental kitsch that largely have been relegated to the dustbins of history.

More here-

Despite doubters, mainline Protestant churches are poised for success

From The New York Times-

Conservative commentators like Rupert Murdoch’s stable and Ross Douthat of The New York Times are feasting on what they perceive as the “death” of “liberal Christianity.”

They add two and two and get eight. They see decisions they don’t like — such as the Episcopal Church’s recent endorsement of a rite for blessing same-sex unions. They see declines in church membership. They pounce.

Such “liberal” decisions are destroying the church, they say, and alienating young adults they must reach in order to survive.

Never mind that surveys of young adults in America show attitudes toward sexuality that are far more liberal than those of older generations. Never mind that conservative denominations are also in decline.

Never mind — the most inconvenient truth — that mainline denominations began to decline in 1965, not because of liberal theology, but because the world around them changed and they refused to change with it.

More here-

Bishop Lawrence Addresses Diocese Following 77th General Convention

From Mark Lawrence in South Carolina-

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Some of you have actively followed the decisions of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Others have been blissfully unaware that our denomination even had a General Convention. We have. And the actions taken mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.

In conversations with clergy, and from the emails I have received, I know there is much uneasiness about the future. Some of us are experiencing the well-known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. And, of course, I must acknowledge there are those for whom the recent decisions are a cause for celebration. For me there are certainly things about which I was thankful at the convention in Indianapolis. I might even have taken encouragement from the resolutions that were passed regarding needed structural reform, and for the intentional work in the House of Bishops on matters of collegiality and honesty. Unfortunately, these strike me now as akin to a long overdue rearranging of the furniture when the house is on fire. Why do I say this?

Beaufort County Episcopal church reactions vary to bishop's letter on same-sex blessings

From South Carolina-

Not all local Episcopal Church leaders agree with a recent letter from the diocesan bishop strongly opposing same-sex blessings, but they said they will comply.

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina circulated the letter to his Lowcountry congregations Sunday, condemning the actions of the national Episcopal church on same-sex blessing and gender issues and said he would open talks this week about the future of the diocese in the U.S. church.

The letter from the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence is the clearest indication yet that he does not believe the conservative diocese can tolerate the latest changes in church doctrine approved at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church that just concluded in Indianapolis.

The Rev. Jeffrey Miller, rector of The Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort, and the Rev. Charles Owens III, rector of The Church of the Cross in Bluffton, said they fully support and approve of Lawrence's letter and views.

"Where we stand is very simple," Miller said. "We stand foursquare behind the bishop, and we're in total agreement with the letter that he wrote.:

The Rev. Gregory Kronz, rector for St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, was on a mission trip and could not be reached. In the past, the three churches have issued joint letters and statements opposing same-sex blessings.

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In response to the Wall Street Journal

From Bishop Wolfe of Kansas-

The Wall Street Journal, like every newspaper, has a bias. But this bias has never been so pronounced as in its coverage of The Episcopal Church. Perhaps the Journal dislikes Roman Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists equally, but it appears to have saved its deepest animosity for Episcopalians. Our church, centered on knowing God and making God known, increasingly has found itself in the newspaper’s cross hairs.

Following an unflattering broadside last October, the Wall Street Journal has doubled down on its diatribe against The Episcopal Church by substituting informed and unbiased coverage of the recently completed 77th General Convention with a snide and inaccurate hit piece by Jay Akasie. Even commentary needs to find its basis in fact, and if the writer at the WSJ was uninformed, his fact checker apparently was nonexistent.

I find it ironic that a writer for the Wall Street Journal would comment on the choice of dining establishments made by those attending General Convention. Most deputies used their vacation time to spend eight long days in Indianapolis, where temperatures regularly exceeded 100 degrees, and many meals featured plastic cutlery and paper plates. On rare occasions they and the bishops might have found time for a proper dinner. Ostentatious it was not.

How could anyone attend General Convention, where soaring worship, beautiful music and uplifting preaching marked daily worship, and note only the size of the Presiding Bishop’s crozier? And to pick two pieces of legislation out of more than 400 pieces presented (and then to mischaracterize one of them) is grossly unfair.

More here-

Come Now, Let Us Reason Together

From "Akma"

In the aftermath of the Episcopal Church (USetc)’s General Convention, there’s been a flurry of breast-beating, moaning, finger-pointing, boasting, and other edifying demonstrations of ecclesiastical vitality (or not) in the various social media sites. So far, my favourite has been George Conger’s riposte to the Wall Street Journal’s slimy mendacity about General Convention, since Conger is by no means carrying water for the ECUS& establishment. But no sooner had most readers agreed that you get what Rupert Murdoch pays for when you read a financial red-top, than Ross Douthat stirred things up again by musing that (with specific attention to the Episcopal Church (US&) ) ‘liberal Christianity’ might not be able to survive; and then my grad-school classmate Diana Butler Bass parried that without liberal Christianity, the whole enterprise might not survive. Add in all the various supporters and detractors, and one can sympathise with Rachel Held Evans’s plea that people remember that not everyone has to belong to a partisan ‘side’.

As an observer, it seems that several points are being bandied about as though they all lined up tidily to separate sheep from goats. It ain’t necessarily so.

First, let’s please stop treating attendance statistics as simple indicators. They’re not by any means irrelevant, not a bit, but if I had a savings account, I’d bet a sizable portion of it that you could shift those attendance figures considerably just by making clergy into better preachers. Regardless of whether they’re preaching the true gospel, a false gospel, justice and equality, holiness and traditional sanctity, one can almost certainly improve attendance by recruiting and training better preachers. So if all you want to do is boost your attendance statistics, there’s a (non-partisan) way to increase attendance. Of course, that also suggests that attendance per se isn’t a very revealing test — but tackling the preaching deficit might enable you to game the system and claim something about your parish, or your side, or whatever.

More here-

Convention elects Episcopalians to churchwide boards

From ENS-

When the 77th General Convention met July 5-12 in Indianapolis, the bishops and deputies elected people to a number of churchwide boards, and confirmed appointments to others.
The convention elected two bishops, seven lay and two clergy members to the church’s Executive Council, which carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). The council is composed of 38 members, 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by provincial synods for six-year terms, plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies.

Information about the newly elected members of council is here.

As happens at every General Convention, the gathering elected the members of the Joint Standing Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop. The 27 people elected will be joined by two persons, aged 16-21, who will be appointed by the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, according to the election process outlined in Canon I.2.1.

The 2013-2015 iteration of the committee will be in charge of nominating at least three bishops to succeed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, 58, whose term ends Nov. 1, 2015. The 27th presiding bishop will be elected at the 78th General Convention to be held in July 2015 in Salt Lake City.

More here-

Padre Alberto baptizes second son in Miami

From Miami-

The Rev. Alberto Cutie, a prominent Catholic priest who converted to the Episcopal Church amid a scandal of compromising photos showing him with his mistress, baptized his second son this weekend in Miami, according to People en Español magazine.

Alberto Felipe is the second child of Alberto and Ruhama Cutie. Their daughter, Camila Victoria, was born last year.

While still in the Catholic Church, the Rev. Cutie hosted radio and television programs as "Padre Alberto."

The baptism of Alberto Felipe Cutie took place this Sunday at the Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park.

Other family members, friends and more than 100 of the faithful from the church congregation attended a ceremony during which, the magazine said on its Web site, the priest kissed Alberto Felipe tenderly beside the baptismal font and raised the baby over his head to show him off to the congregation.

Read more:

The Glorious Episcopal Church

From Huffington-

The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, AP, Christianity Today, The Advocate and many others covered the General Convention of The Episcopal Church because we passed blessings for same sex couples. Brilliant! In addition, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran opinion pieces about the Episcopal Church over the weekend. They were only opinion pieces, filled with assumptions about our faith and motives as Episcopalians that cause me to wonder why they would be published anywhere. I guess it is July. The news cycle is slim. Everyone is on vacation. It is very hot in Manhattan. It does seem that at least one of the writers seems to do this for a living. What's up?

(A sample of fine Episcopal bloggers, who were actually there, is available
here, here, here and here.)

First, conservative opinion writer Douthat writes that our decline in numbers is connected to our liberalism, by which I think he means the Civil Rights, the Women's Movement and the LGBT Movement, and that our liberalism is an attempt to appease the culture. He's right about one thing. We are for basic human freedom because we think it's what the Gospel demands, and we hope to be a church that reflects those beliefs.

More here-

Monday, July 16, 2012


From Patheos- (Philip Jenkins)

I am a member of the Episcopal Church, USA (hereafter TEC). I am increasingly worried that in a few years, I might be THE member of the Episcopal Church, USA, the last of my kind.

As Rod Dreher, Ross Douthat and others have pointed out, the church has just issued a summary of its attendance statistics from 2000 to 2010, and they are incredibly bad even by the standards of liberal mainline denominations. Nationwide, average Sunday attendance fell by 23 percent in that short decade, from 857,000 to 658,000. In some dioceses, though, the contraction was far worse – 72 percent in Pittsburgh, 73 percent in Fort Worth, 80 percent in San Joaquin. Now, there is limited comfort in these statistics, because some at least of the factors causing decline will not recur in the next decade. As these three dioceses show, part of the fall in numbers involved the defection of Episcopal believers to new and more conservative Anglican denominations, formed in protest against TEC’s liberal stance on issues of sexuality and morality. As these traditionalists have already gone, they no longer survive to flee again.

Dare we hope that if those ideological battles are not exactly over, yet the worst is probably past?
Having said this, in other ways the figures are actually worse than they appear, as the attendance figures represent a net, combining losses and gains. In fact, many Episcopal churches actually added members in the decade from Catholics fleeing that church – usually on those familiar matters of gender and sexuality. So the overall fall of 23 percent includes those new additions, minus a catastrophic exodus of more traditional Episcopalians.

More here-

Can Christianity Be Saved? A Response to Ross Douthat

From Huffington-

In recent days, conservatives have attacked the Episcopal Church. The reason? The church has just concluded its once every three-year national meeting, and in this gathering the denomination affirmed a liturgy to bless same-sex unions. Conservatives assert that the Episcopal Church's ever-increasing social and political progressivism has led to a precipitous membership decline and ruined the denomination.

Many of the criticisms were mean-spirited or partisan, continuing a decade-long internal debate about the Episcopal Church's future. However, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat broadened the discussion, moving beyond inside-baseball ecclesial politics to ask a larger question: "Can Liberal Christianity be Saved?"

The question is a good one, for the liberal Christian tradition is an important part of American culture, from dazzling literary and intellectual achievements to great social reform movements. Mr. Douthat recognizes these contributions and rightly praises this aspect of liberal Christianity as "an immensely positive force in our national life."

Despite this history, however, Mr. Douthat insists that any denomination committed to contemporary liberalism will ultimately collapse. According to him, the Episcopal Church and its allegedly trendy faith, a faith that varies from a more worthy form of classical liberalism, is facing imminent death.

More here-

Blessing OK’d for gay pairs Western Mass. Episcopalians offer a choice

From Western Massachusetts -

Starting in December, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will let clergy bless gay couples, a change announced after a national Episcopalian convention this month approved a new rite for same-sex relationships.

The diocese will continue to forbid clergy from performing gay marriages, something its Eastern Massachusetts counterpart allows. But in an interview last week, the incoming Western Massachusetts bishop said he plans on asking worshipers whether they want to revisit the prohibition.

By a wide margin, Episcopalians at this month’s national General Convention approved a new rite blessing same-sex relationships. Each diocese in the country can decide whether to perform the blessing.

Following the convention, the Diocese of Western Massachusetts announced it would give parishes the option to perform the same-sex blessing.

More here-

Sunday, July 15, 2012

SC Episcopal bishop blasts national church

From South Carolina-

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina circulated a letter to his Lowcountry congregations today condemning the actions of the national Episcopal church on same-sex blessing and gender issues and said he would open talks this week about the future of the diocese in the U.S. church.

The letter from the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence is the clearest indication yet that he does not believe the conservative diocese can tolerate the latest changes in church doctrine approved at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church that just concluded in Indianapolis.
In the letter addressed to “Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,” Lawrence said “the actions taken mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.” He asked that the letter be read at today’s services and copies provided to parishioners.

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Rise of the secularists

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Today's secular movement, though still flying under the radar of many Americans, is unquestionably producing results, as numerous indicators reflect a growing, empowered nonreligious demographic.

For example, for the first time ever a majority of Americans would now vote for a qualified atheist for president, according to a recent Gallup report. Meanwhile, the Secular Student Alliance, the national umbrella organization for college atheists, has expanded from just a few dozen campus groups in 2007 to over 350 today, and is now venturing into high schools.

Secular activists like to describe their movement in terms of what it stands for -- reason, critical thinking, science and ethics -- but the movement can perhaps best be understood by what it stands against: the overbearing influence of religious conservatism in America. In fact, the fast-paced growth of the modern secular movement in many ways reflects a new form of opposition to the religious right.

Although the religious right has always had opposition, most of its adversaries have not been very effective. Since Jerry Falwell's newly formed Moral Majority helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, politically engaged religious fundamentalists have exerted more influence with virtually every election cycle, while few efforts to slow down the juggernaut of the Christian right have been successful.

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