Reactions to GTS

The New York Times Sharon Otterman wrote "Seeking Dean’s Firing, Professors End Up Jobless", including photos of the eight professors:

(New Dean and President The Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle) promised to make the struggling institution a “joyful, thankful and useful” place.

A year after his arrival, however, the seminary has fallen into turmoil. Eight of its 10 full-time faculty members walked off the job on Friday to protest what they described in letters to the school’s board of trustees as Mr. Dunkle’s overly controlling management style, his habit of making vulgar and offensive remarks, and his frequent threats to demote or fire those who disagreed with him.

The work stoppage, faculty members said, was intended to force a dialogue with the board and, ideally, to lead to the firing of Mr. Dunkle. Instead, the tactic backfired. On Monday, the board dismissed the eight faculty members, leaving the seminary’s roughly 140 students, a month into their term, without professors to teach them.

“It’s a really difficult situation; it’s chaotic,” said Alexander Barton, 26, who entered the seminary this fall. “And as a student, it’s hard to see what is true and what is not.”

Tom Ferguson AKA Crusty Old Dean AKA Dean of Bexley Hall wrote an extensive post: Requiem for a Seminary: Or, Piling Up the Garbage Bags. It's a complex piece filled with helpful disclaimers about what he will and won't cover because of his relationships with people on both sides. This point, among many, stood out:

Crusty keeps coming back to the students, caught in the middle of all of this. Seminary is one of the hardest, most anxiety-producing things Crusty ever experienced. One is constantly being assessed and judged, on some of the deepest and most personal elements of one's life, with absolutely no agency in any of it. COD was once doing a bible study on the Prodigal Son, asking each member to share with whom they identified -- the older son, the younger son, or the father, and why. One person had not shared, so Crusty invited her to speak. "No," she said, "what I have to say is stupid." Crusty assured her that it was not, and her reflections were as valid as anyone else. "I identify with the Fatted Calf," she said. "Think about it: the Fatted Calf is the only one in the story that didn't do anything. The younger son ran off, the older son was resentful, the father gets to be the good guy. The fatted calf was happily eating his slop one day, next thing you know, he's dead. He suffers because of the decisions others have made." At the time COD thought, "That may be the most profound insight I've ever heard on the parable of the Prodigal Son." It came back to COD in reflecting on the students at General Seminary: the students are the fatted calf, those who have done nothing to contribute to the situation, but nonetheless the ones who are suffering because of it.

Elizabeth Drescher wrote "Mark Driscoll, the GTS 8, and the End of the Church" for Medium's The Narthex:

The seminary system is clearly broken, and the GTS situation represents just one pressure point that’s burst. How long will it be, for instance, before students rise up to demand theological education that more fully engages the complex ministry needs of the Church and the world today in the light of ethical and theological reflection? Or, we might wonder when the legions of vulnerable, under-compensated adjuncts, who keep all of postsecondary education afloat, will exercise the power of their numbers and, in the context of religious education especially, demand consistency between expressed moral values and institutional practice. The strategies of disrespect and intimidation that seem to have been central to the character of leadership at GTS may have been exaggerated by the current President and Dean, but they are hardly unique to GTS or to seminaries in general. They permeate the whole of academic culture.

Anthea Butler makes clear her opinion in her article for Religion Dispatches:

The firings of “the GTS Eight” suggests strongly in my opinion that the dean and the board do not care that they are up for accreditation review in 2015 by the Association of Theological Schools—nor do they care about the students currently in attendance at General. While their stance may be that the faculty did not either, it is clear that the group has tried to have a sustained conversation with the Dean and the board, but been ignored Now the dirty laundry of the seminary is out for the whole denomination and other interested parties to sift through.

If I remember my Reformation history correctly, it was The Act of Supremacy in 1534 that made Henry VIII head of the Church of England. Firing eight faculty members unjustly is not an Act of Supremacy, but an Act of Shame. Perhaps the Board of trustees and Dean Dunkle should ponder the twists and turns of church history before they land definitively on the wrong side of it.

Mark Silk writes in Religious News Service: "Who the heck do those Episcopalian professors think they are?" (our consensus is that the piece is biting satire).

So I say, in these hard times for mainline Protestant divinity schools, good for the trustees of the Episcopal Church’s General Theological Seminary! When eight of the 11 faculty members at that two-century-old pillar of Lower Manhattan declined to teach and discharge their other duties because they said they couldn’t work with their president-cum-dean, the Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle, the board accepted their “resignations.” Hah! They’ll never have to work with him again.

I’m glad the board did not deign to actually meet with the malcontents, as they had requested during months of bellyaching. To what end? It’s not as if they would do anything but complain about the brave new world of distance divinity learning. Have they no faith in things unseen?

TREC Churchwide Meeting tomorrow night

The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church has its "Churchwide Meeting" tomorrow night, October 2nd.

Here is the schedule from their website: All times are Eastern Standard Time

7:30 pm The Very Rev. Craig Loya --- Welcome & Prayer

7:40 pm The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry --- Biblical Perspective on TREC’s Work

7:50 pm Bp. Curry & The Rev Jennifer Adams --- Question, Answers and Comments

8:05 pm The Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile --- Historical / Theological Perspective

8:15 pm Dwight & Ms. Margaret Shannon --- Question, Answers and Comments

8:30 pm Ms. Katy George --- Organizational Development Perspective

8:40 pm Katy & Mr. Dennis Sullivan --- Question, Answers and Comments

8:55 pm The Rev. Miguelina Howell --- Perspective from our Current Structures

9:05 pm *** Short Break***

9:10 pm The Rev. Kevin Nichols, Moderator: Question, Answers and Comment

The Rev. Jennifer Adams

Canon Judith Conley

The Rev Leng Lim

Mr. Thomas Little

The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe

The Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile

9:50 pm Ms. Sarah Miller --- Closing Comments and Prayer

Webcast locations:

Webcast question and comments will be taken by: email at, Twitter at #reimaginetec

Live Audience questions and comments will be taken by live microphones as well as by 3 by 5 cards provided.

The Rev Michael W Hopkins, offered a response to TREC today, ahead of the meeting, excerpted below:

In 1976, a GC of some moment, one of the resolutions passed affirmed that gay persons were children of God and equal in receiving the pastoral attention of the church. How did that resolution get there? The short answer is that a movement had begun among members of the church, lesbian and gay, to find one another and seek to organize for mutual support and to work towards ensuring that their visibility as lesbian or gay people in the church could not be called into question.

What is important is that a movement was started. We call it grassroots now, and it was indeed that. But then how do we get from the movement to the resolution of GC? It was the openness of our system. A GC large enough that allies of lesbian and gay people could get elected as deputies, and, within a couple of GC’s, lgbt people themselves. And these people had access to the system, i.e., a resolution process that was relatively easy to initiate and an open hearings policy that allowed people other than deputies and bishops to speak.

These two factors—a prior movement and a process with much flexibility and openness—were a crucial reason why the Episcopal Church was among the first denominations to open the ordination process to lgbt people and to work relatively quickly toward a blessing for their unions, and, as we continue the journey, to equal marriage. It took more time in other denominations because their equivalents of GC were much more closed, and it took far longer for lgbt people to be elected to serve in their governing bodies.

This is a critical story to be remembered when we are considering shrinking and streamlining GC, Executive Council, and other church bodies. I fully recognize the very logical arguments about cost and cumbersomeness. Yet both have been a contributing factor for any number of justice-related issues in the church to be heard and acted upon. It’s not obvious to me from the TREC report that positives and negatives of the current system have been carefully weighed. If the church had had fewer people as decision makers and a much more streamlined process (which cannot possibly happen without someone exercising greater control), it is not clear to me that we would be where we are at least on lgbt issues. The resistance in the system to dealing with issues of human sexuality, even in the current system, were very strong, and, as one of the leaders of that movement in the late ‘90’s and early ‘00’s, I had plenty of people in positions of power ask me, even beg me, to slow down, and very annoyed and angry that there was not much they could do about it. If a movement wants to be heard at our GC it is almost impossible to stop it. That is one of our glories. We should exercise significant discernment about whether to change that dynamic.

Committee: Period for churchwide PB nominations has closed

From the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs:

[October 1, 2014] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has released the following statement:

Church Wide Nomination period for Presiding Bishop ends;
Discernment Process for Bishops Opens.

In The Call for Discernment and Profile for the Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop, the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) established the period from September 1 through September 30 when any member of The Episcopal Church could submit the name of a bishop they believed should be considered as the next Presiding Bishop. The JNCPB would like to express thanks for the significant and positive response received during the last month. Over 165 people representing more than 60 dioceses submitted names. That period is now closed.

Between October 1 and October 31, bishops who choose to continue in the discernment process as established by the JNCPB may to submit their information and materials for consideration.

The JNCPB invites the prayers of all the church during this time of submission and discernment as we seek to elect the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

NFL flags self for penalty on Muslim prayer

ESPN's reports:

Husain Abdullah should not have received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty after dropping to his knees and bowing in prayer following a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown during the Kansas City Chiefs' 41-14 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday night, the NFL said Tuesday.

According to Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d), "Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground."

"However, the officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had asked for the NFL to clarify it's policy on the penalty for Muslim prayer:

"To prevent the appearance of a double standard, we urge league officials to clarify the policy on prayer and recognize that the official made a mistake in this case," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

Kansas City's coach, Andy Reid, defended his player's action.

Husain Abdullah commented on Twitter, thanking God and his fans:

Many people on social media platforms commented on the apparent double standard between Abdullah and Tim Tebow, whose overt Christian displays made news during his run with the Denver Broncos. Jesse Jackson shifted to this topic while preparing for a three-day meeting of his Rainbow/PUSH organization in Atlanta (according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

“This kid playing against New England gave a brief and private, dignified prayer and he was penalized for it. Tim Tebow became an icon of prayer in the end zone. Two sets of rules. He became an iconic figure for praying in the end zone. Two sets of rules.”

More on Ferguson protests

Kenya Vaughn of The St. Louis American recaps Monday night in Ferguson:

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Striking GTS faculty launch website concerning their actions

The eight General Seminary professors have launched a website, Facebook group and Twitter account @SafeSeminary to respond to questions about their actions.

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General Seminary trustees release first statement on conflict

Via email:

Yesterday, after much prayer and deliberation and after consulting our legal council, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary voted with great regret to accept the resignations of eight members of the Seminary faculty.

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GTS Dean writes students: PB to visit GTS tomorrow

A letter from Dean and President Dunkle. Received via email.

Dear everyone,

No doubt we all had a tough day yesterday. Much was said and done, all producing high emotion. So, anxiety, fear, anger, resentment, perplexity, and sadness (among many, many others) are just a few of the very valid responses.

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Clergy join protests in Ferguson.

UPDATED: Follow Beth Felice, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Missouri on her Twitter stream for a more complete story of last night and events of today.

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ABC backs airstrikes against ISIS

The Anglican Journal reports

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has thrown his support behind the military airstrikes against the Islamic State (known also as ISIL or ISIS), a radical organization of insurgents in Iraq and Syria attempting to create a “caliphate,” or Islamic government ruled by a single individual in accordance with Sharia law.

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A GTS Trustee reflects on the crisis at the Seminary

The Rev. Ellen Tillotson, a priest in the Diocese of Connecticut and a member of the General Seminary Board of Trustees reflects on the conflict between the faculty and the Dean at the Seminary.

This is taken from her Facebook page, and as such is her personal reflection and does not attempt to articulate the official position of the Seminary, administration or Trustees. It is reprinted with permission.

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Eight GTS faculty terminated

Updated While social media has been abuzz today with news that eight members of the faculty of the General Theological Seminary had been fired, we have been attempting to get this news independently confirmed. Not long ago, we received this email that Dean Kurt Dunkle sent to the student body concerning these events. We will continue to follow the story.

Dear students,

By now most of you have heard of our Board of Trustees' acceptance of eight faculty members' resignations. I heard of this about the same time many of you did. I share in your sadness. With the following, I hope you will see this as one of many ways forward for the remainder of today.

At 5:30pm we will have evening prayer in the Chapel. Thereafter, any student, staff, or remaining faculty who would like to hear from Bishop Mark Sisk, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, is invited to adjourn to Seabury Auditorium. He would like to address us and then will respond to as many questions as he is able. We need to end by 7:00pm.

For classes tomorrow, I will have an announcement at that meeting and will send something out by e-mail thereafter.

Prayer is the most powerful response any of us can make at this point. Please pray.


The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle
Dean and President | The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church

Update: This just went to students from faculty member Andrew Irving:

Dear students,

We wish to underline that we have not resigned. Our letters did not say that we would resign. We requested meetings with the Board. Indeed in our second letter we wrote to the Board "We assure you that your good faith willingness to meet with us will be received with our sincere good faith efforts to restore to our students the hours of instruction already lost to them by the Dean and President’s current policies" and we explained that a "good faith" response would "mean immediately undertaking to schedule a time to meet with us during the October board meeting."

Many of you have asked for more detailed information for the reasons for our actions. We do understand that you may wish to have text to provide detail of some of the issues that we spoke about in St Peter's church this afternoon. However, our legal counsel has advised us not to do this at this stage. This is because we want to continue to maintain the possibility of talking with the board as we requested, and do not want to endanger this process at this stage.

NCC restructures to cope with change

As the mainline churches restructure, so does their umbrella ecumenical partnership. The National Council of Churches, of which The Episcopal Church is a member, has recently emerged from a period of transformation as well.

No longer supported by the richest and largest Christian denominations in the United States, the NCC has moved their headquarters from New York City to Washington DC. They also have trimmed their staff extensively and elected to focus on two main issues: promoting peace around the world, and ending mass incarceration here at home.

Still, this new approach is not without pitfalls. Specifically:

Activists who came of age during the Vietnam era have led mainline institutions for several decades, but the dominance of aging white liberals is nearing an end. Whereas white evangelicals have deliberately cultivated young leadership and have many people under 35 in key positions, mainliners lag badly in this area.

Particularly given its emphasis on peace, the NCC will need to deeply and critically plumb the Christian ethical tradition for insight about how to promote peace with justice in a hostile world. The de facto pacifism that permeates much of liberal Protestantism may prove too idealistic to influence defense and counterterrorism policy.

Read the whole article from the Religion News Service here.

Upper SC bishop writes education op ed

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo, bishop of Upper South Carolina, has penned an editorial expressing his, and several other bishops', support for increased education funding in the state of South Carolina.

Bishop Waldo explores the various ways in which the Episcopal churches of his diocese are seeking to support the educational process through tutoring programs, food and school supplies programs and other means, including advocacy for more funding.

He also states:

Several years ago, Gov. Nikki Haley challenged the churches to be more involved in education. We are responding and are committed to building our members’ involvement over the long term. But we cannot pay for school buses that work, build and maintain adequate school buildings in all districts or pay competitive salaries for teachers and administrators.

The whole article is available here.

Dean and President of General Seminary responds to community

A letter from the Dean and President received via email as distributed to students and members of the General Theological Seminary:

From: Kurt Dunkle
Subject: Monday at General

Dear everyone

I'm sorry I have not had an opportunity to communicate with you until
now. I know how rumors, suspicion, and even anger fill silence. No
doubt, I will not be able to address everyone's concerns at once. But
I hope our time together last Friday after chapel and this brief
update are helpful. I believe the Chairman of the Board of Trustees
will have a further communication to you tomorrow or Tuesday.

Chapel: As worship is central at General, it seems fitting to begin
here. I know it would be tempting to politicize chapel in one way or
another. Please know that the only statement anyone is making by
coming to chapel is that you are worshiping Jesus and supporting the
worldwide Body of Christ. Chapel at General is all about Jesus.

Tomorrow is a major holy day: St. Michael and All Angels. As we have
been doing this semester, we will have Eucharist at 10:10am in lieu of
Morning Prayer. While we continue with our worship life, I am aware
that it is not without cost, particularly the absence of those usually
with us. Please keep that in your prayers.

Monday and Tuesday Classes: Some classes will meet tomorrow and
Tuesday and some will not. A few have changes. Here is a list:

- Classes taught by Professors Owens, McPherson, Silver, Young,
Kinman, Moore, and Kaalund will meet as usual.
- CS-1 will meet at the usual time and place and Professor Spellers
will join you for discussion.
- The Anglican Seminar (AS 594) will meet briefly in the afternoon to
discuss your class presentation schedule. Tomorrow I will contact
that class directly to set a good time and place for this brief
- CH-1 will meet on Tuesday with Professor McPherson.
- Any classes not listed here are postponed for tomorrow and Tuesday.

Over the next few days, the remaining faculty and I are working on how
to make sure that the momentum you have built in these first four
weeks is not lost. I will let you know more soon.

Board of Trustees/Executive Committee: I want you to know that the
Executive Committee of the Board has been meeting regularly during
this time. Their principal concern has been the welfare of our
students. They are all intensely aware of the interruption in your
education and formation and are working diligently to bring this
uncertainty to conclusion. Please keep them in your prayers as you
have been in theirs.

I know this limited email may be frustrating to some of you. But in
times of intensity like this, brevity and clarity are important so
that nothing is misunderstood. I hope to keep you updated regularly.

Thank you, everyone.


The health effects of leaving religion

Jon Fortenbury writes about the health effects of leaving religion in the Atlantic:

Like Erlandson, some people’s health improves after deconverting because they stop practicing negative health behaviors that may have been tied to their religion. For example, leaving a faith such as Christian Science, which dissuades medical treatment, obviously opens up more opportunities for healthcare intervention.

Other negative health behaviors sometimes associated with being religious, according to social psychologist Dr. Clay Routledge in Psychology Today, are cognitive dissonance (consistent religious doubts can harm your health) and avoidant coping. An example of the latter is the attitude that things are “all in God’s hands,” which could potentially keep people from taking action on behalf of their own health.

Unlike those who become isolated from community after losing their faith, Erlandson’s social life improved drastically after her deconversion. She began hanging out with theatre kids and people in the local punk rock scene.

“I never really had a social group when I was a Christian,” Erlandson said. “I tried joining a youth group and just never felt like I connected with them. I remember one time, when I was nine, being in church during a hymn and everyone was singing and raising their hands and closing their eyes. I didn’t feel it. This wave of isolation and trepidation came over me. Everyone seemed engaged except for me. I knew I was not like everyone else.”

But not everyone's health and well-being improves after leaving a religion. Since for many people, religion means being part of a community, and belief in an afterlife can make death less frightening, leaving that behind can lead to isolation and anxiety. The end of a positive religious experience can lead to a decrease in health, as was the case for Penfold. But leaving a negative religious experience may be a way to boost health, especially if someone has a nonreligious community to support them, as Erlandson did. But one way or another, a person’s faith, or lack thereof, is often so important that it affects physical, as well as spiritual, well-being.

For the full story please visit the Atlantic here.

One in ten C of E Bishops "could be secretly gay"

Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson writes in the Telegraph:

The Rt Rev Dr Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, accused the current episcopate of preaching a 1950s “Janet and John” image of human relationships while adopting an “eyes wide shut” approach to homosexuality in its own ranks and the wider church. His remarks come in a new book published next week setting out what he sees as the theological case for a major reassessment of the Church’s stance on sexuality. In comments bound to infuriate traditionalists he rejects outright the idea that the Bible forbids gay marriage insisting that the Church’s official teaching is largely based on “our grandparents’ cultural dictates” rather than the teaching of Jesus. Dr Wilson also dismisses a recent order banning Anglican clergy from marrying their same-sex partners as unlawful despite what he calls as its “blustering menacing tone”. And he hits out at a “tiny clique of reactionary activists” who he says have effectively determined the Church’s position on the issue for decades and left it, in his opinion, out of touch with ordinary people:

“To most English people under 40 a discussion of gay bishops or same-sex marriage feels as relevant and inviting as one about women being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia,” he jokes.

The Church of England bans its clergy from taking part in same-sex marriage but permits them to be in civil partnerships – although they must claim to be celibate if they wish to become bishops.

But Dr Wilson effectively accuses the episcopate of applying double standards.
The book entitled “More Perfect Union?” is the first to commit to print rumours that a significant number of the Church’s serving bishops are themselves in gay relationships.
“Many who have publicly resisted same-sex marriage also have a dog in the fight arising from personal experience.

“This can arise from ambivalence or guilt about ways they have handled family members who have come out as gay, as well as their own sexualities."

For the whole article please visit the Telegraph here.

Kissing corpses

As the Ebola crisis in West Africa continues, there is increased scrutiny on funeral rites including kissing corpses and sharing a meal:

Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said worsening conditions in West Africa contribute to a “perfect storm,” including a growing population, decades of civil war, widespread government corruption, dysfunctional health systems and a growing distrust in Western medicine.

Piot, who in 1976 co-discovered the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first case of Ebola, said traditional cultural and religious beliefs in parts of Africa help spread the virus.

“There are very strong traditional beliefs and traditional funeral rites which require that the whole family touch the dead body,” he said in an interview, “and they have a meal in the presence of the dead body.”

Visit the Religion News Service for the whole story.

Muslim cleric believes religion can defeat ISIS

From the Huffington Post:

Countering extremist groups like the Islamic State will require “not less religion but more,” according to a prominent Muslim cleric who President Barack Obama referenced in his United Nations address earlier this week.

“It’s out of religious ignorance that they are doing what they’re doing," Sheik Abdallah bin Bayyah, a Saudi Arabia-based scholar currently visiting the United States, said of extremist Muslim groups. “They have a very shallow understanding: They use some de-contextualized verses and things from religious texts and historical examples. … They build a current of violence, and we have to build that which will confront this current.”

Bin Bayyah made the comments through a translator at a U.S. Institute of Peace event in Washington. The event marked the end of a weeklong conference on countering radicalization that brought together scores of religious leaders from different faith traditions and many countries.

Read more.

'God's rivals' want priestly celibacy overturned

From Religion News Service:

For years, they have been invisible and often afraid to identify themselves. But the women sometimes dubbed “God’s rivals” are no longer willing to remain silent.

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VTS student, with 'nothing but time,' travels to Ferguson

Broderick Greer, a student at Virginia Theological Seminary student, traveled to Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown. He writes a compelling essay at Huffington Post:

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Letter from GTS faculty to the students

Received via email:

Dear students,

As you know, we have announced that we are not going to teach, attend meetings, or participate in common worship until pressing issues at the Seminary are addressed. We want to assure you that we would not have taken this difficult action had our repeated attempts to resolve these matters in a collaborative fashion been successful in any way. Instead, despite many attempts at dialogue in the past year – including conversations facilitated by a professional external facilitator – the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that we have reached an impasse.

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GTS faculty on strike

Most of the faculty of the General Theological Seminary in New York, citing an unnamed "serious conflict" have decided to refrain from "teaching, attending meetings, or attending common worship" until the situation is resolved with the Board of Trustees.

The following e-mail was sent to the student body:

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Deadline for PB nominations nears

Office of Public Affairs:

The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) calls attention to the September 30 deadline for the Call for Discernment and Profile for the election of the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

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Montana RC church tells gay couple to divorce

While people are feeling warm and fuzzy about Pope Francis' apparent inclusivity, a Roman Catholic parish has told a gay couple who have been together for thirty years to divorce and break up or else they cannot receive communion in the parish they've attended together for 11 years.

Frank Bruni wrote about the story in the New York Times. Andrew Sullivan has interviewed the couple.

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An analogy for grace

Joshua Bell, the renowned violinist who once posed as a typical subway busker for a Washington Post magazine article, is back underground again.

The question posed by the original 2007 story was: "If a world-famous musician and his $3 million fiddle brought some of history’s most beautiful music to a rush-hour crowd [in a DC metro station], would people stop and listen? 'In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?,' the story wondered."

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1 in 5 adult Americans have never married

Pew Social Trends reports a record share of adult Americans have ever married as values, economics and gender patterns change. In 1960 1 in 10 adults had never married. Today that figure is 1 in 5.

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Putting Archbishop Welby's "doubt" in context

There has been a lot of unintelligent response to Archbishop Justin Welby's admission last week that he sometimes wonders whether God exists. Writing for The New York Times, Julia Baird recounts and rebuts some of this response.

She says:

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"Reconciliation is what we practice after we have chosen justice."

The meaning of the word reconciliation, as the word is frequently used in church circles, has always made me uneasy for reasons I couldn't define until today.

Here's an excerpt from Austin Channing's blog, which I hope you will read in its entirety:

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New culture war issue: the role of religion in public life

Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post writes:

Two new major polls out this week show Americans divided down the middle on questions such as whether they want clergy to speak more on public issues of the day.

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Rosh Hashanah begins this evening

Kimberly Winston offers up her occasional feature - The ‘Splainer - this time, on the Jewish high holy days, at Religion News Service. Here's the opening:

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Racial gap on global climate change?

Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight, and writes on the demographics of Climate Change. The assumption in the press (provided by New York magazine’s Tim Murphy) that this is mostly pushed by white men (citing Al Gore, Bill McKibbin, and RFK Jr.) is negated by Enten:

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"Fight Church" review

Nate Pyle, the lead pastor of Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Indiana (the Reformed church of America) reviews the movie "Fight Church" on Rachel Held Evans blog.

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Episcopalians Join March for Climate Action

Sunday, Episcopalians joined the largest climate change marchEpiscopal News Service covers the story:

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Staffing the church in a time of change

While not focused on The Episcopal Church or the Task Force for Re-imagining the Church, this article brings up some factors to weigh in times of transition. From Faith and Leadership:

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Sarah Eagle Heart selected one of 40 under 40 leaders

ELO_050809_SarahEagleHeart1_md.jpgSarah Eagle Heart – Oglala Sioux Tribe and Missioner for Indigenous Ministries for the Episcopal Church has been named one of 40 emerging American Indian leaders:

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Presiding Bishop will not seek re-election

From the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Episcopal News Service:

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Why the Episcopal Church?

The Acts 8 Movement has cast out another topic for conversation this week, in case bloggers didn't have enough to write about.

This week, the question was, "Why the Episcopal Church?"

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Rockefellers join divestment movement

The heirs to the Rockefeller charities, valued at $860 million, have announced that they will join the movement to divest from fossil fuels, according to the NY Times.

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We need to talk about football

The approach of autumn in the United States is usually marked by the joyous frenzy of football's onset once again.

But this year, football's beginning was overshadowed by a horrific videotape of Ray Rice attacking his then-fiancée, followed by the arrest of Adrian Peterson for alleged child abuse, then the arrest of Jonathan Dwyer of the Cardinals for domestic violence as well.

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Taskforce on the Study of Marriage issues a new report

The Taskforce on the Study of Marriage, convened by action of General Convention 2012, has issued a new report on their progress this morning.

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"Pope Francis Effect" & Chicago's next archbishop

Pope Francis on Saturday named Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash., who is closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing, to be the next archbishop of Chicago. Religion News Service notes "it is the pontiff’s most important U.S. appointment to date and one that could upend decades of conservative dominance of the American hierarchy." From RNS:

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Bp. Robert Wright: 'Jesus is not a member of the NRA'

Nothing in the Bible justifies deregulation of gun sales and ownership, according to a panel of religious activists who spoke this week at the Religion Newswriters Association's annual conference in Decatur, Ga. The panel included Rachel Laser from the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Christian ethicist David Gushee of Mercer University, Bryan Miller of Heeding God's Call, Atlanta Episcopal Diocese Bishop Robert Wright and Jim Winkler, the president of the National Council of Churches. Reporter Kay Campbell writes at

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Face of Christianity has been co-opted, Marcus Borg writes

The face of Christianity in America has been co-opted by a faith that is individualistic, self-oriented, exclusivist and entrepreneurial, Marcus Borg writes at

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for an end to the fossil fuel era

In a message uploaded to YouTube by the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Desmond Tutu is calling for world leaders to help businesses and governments move beyond fossil fuels and protect marginalized populations adversely affected by climate change:

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Noah's dove and interfaith climate action

Rabbi Steve Gutow, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, reflects on the People's Climate March and interfaith cooperation acting as Noah's dove:

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Scottish Episcopal Church reacts to referendum

After a Scottish referendum for independence, the Scottish Episcopal College of Bishops urges reconciliation:

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Anglicans beat Vatican

The Church of England has beaten the representatives from the Vatican in the first cricket match between the two Christian denominations.

Canterbury Times:

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A step towards reconciliation

Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg of South Carolina has welcomed a returning member of the clergy back into good standing as a priest, hailing the reinstatement of the Rev. H. Dagnall Free, Jr. as an important day for The Episcopal Church and an encouraging step toward reconciliation in South Carolina.

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Pastoral message on climate change

The Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have issued a joint pastoral message on climate change.

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