Hi there

We are still under construction. Come back and visit us on April 19. We may still be under construction then, too. But maybe not.

A Thursday debut?

Hello, we are still working out a few kinks, but hope to have our site ready for public consumption by Thursday April 19.

Welcome!

Welcome to the Episcopal Café, a ministry of the Diocese of Washington in partnership with The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

The Café is a collaborative effort by more than two dozen writers and editors, and an ever-growing list of visual artists. Together, we aspire to create a visually appealing, intellectually stimulating, spiritually enriching and at least occasionally amusing site where Episcopalians and those interested in our church can read, watch, listen and reflect upon contemporary life in a context informed by faith and animated by the spirit of charity.

Our aim is frankly, but we hope gently, evangelical. To the extent that we can speak intelligently, passionately, persuasively and truthfully—and to the degree that we manifest wisdom, humility and genuine concern for those we disagree with—we will succeed in drawing Episcopalians more deeply into their faith, and in persuading those without a spiritual home to explore our Church.

The new site includes Daily Episcopalian, a blog previously devoted to news and commentary on events in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. News items can now be found on The Lead blog. Commentary on the Church and Communion can still be found on Daily Episcopalian, but in its new incarnation the blog also features articles on theology, peace and justice initiatives and popular culture. A new blog, Speaking to the Soul, includes sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality.

Most of the art on the Café is provided by The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. The Art Blog offers additional information, and sometimes a brief meditation, on each piece. We also feature a growing collection of multimedia meditations.

Today is our first day online, and we are having trouble with our comment function, so it is turned off for the time being. In the future, we will be accepting comments, but not from anonymous or pseudonymous posters. Please check our feedback policy before posting.

Miss Kitty's contribution

If asked to sum up her life in one word, Catherine “Kitty” A. Tomes Pinkney, recipient of Virginia Theological Seminary's eighth annual Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans award, would tell you it has been “joyful.”

Never mind that she grew up in foster care in a racially-segregated rural community where the prospects for young African-American girls rarely exceeded working in somebody else’s home. Miss Kitty, as she is affectionately known, was determined to flourish, and to help others flourish, too.

Read it all in the Washington Window.

Why, yes

Church watchers who have been wondering whether Bishop Martyn Minns of the Church of Nigeria would accept the Rev. Don Armstrong of Colorado Springs into his new missionary flock despite charges of financial shenanigans against Armstrong have their answer. Jean Torkelson of The Rocky Mountain News reports that Minns was in Colorado earlier this week trying to persuade Armstrong and his parish to join forces with him.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Independent is calling attention to the prominent role that Alan R. Crippen, late of the Family Research Council, and his John Jay Institute play in Armstrong's parish.

Simon Sarmiento has other links.

globalgood.org

Emphasizing the top mission priority set by the General Convention in 2006 -- to carry out peace and justice ministries framed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication announces the launch of globalgood.org preceding the observance of Earth Day April 22.

Launched on April 20, globalgood.org "should be viewed as a portal," said Daphne Mack, a communication specialist in the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication and site editor of 'globalgood.org.' "Visitors to the site will learn about the MDGs, find out what kind of work the Episcopal Church and other organizations are doing to address the urgency of the goals and the environment, and more importantly how they can get involved and make a difference."

Adopted by the United Nations in 2000, the MDGs seek to reduce global poverty by half by the year 2015. The eight goals include eradication of hunger and preventable illness, and achievement of environmental sustainability.

"Advocacy for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals represents one way the Episcopal Church is carrying out its mission of 'restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ,'" said Alex Baumgarten, international policy analyst in the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations. "For this advocacy to be successful, it needs to come from Episcopalians across America, and the new Global Good web site represents one exciting new way of engaging those voices."

Globalgood.org has been designed to provide a clear message coupled with ease of navigation.
The links to organizations and current events have been categorized for general audiences and youth, as well as emphasizing environmental initiatives and opportunities for action.

"The new site is offered to support Episcopalians in helping to achieve the MDGs," said Canon Robert Williams, the Episcopal Church's director of communication. "Our hope is to widen collaboration locally, regionally, churchwide and internationally around the vision set by the Presiding Bishop and the General Convention, which the Office of Government Relations is helping Episcopalians carry out in partnership with Episcopal Relief and Development and other groups."

Contributions of stories, resources, and photographs are welcome from across the church, to this ever-evolving site and may be sent to Daphne Mack at dmack@episcopalchurch.org.

A visitor from Nigeria

Davis Mac-Iyalla, the brave founder of Changing Attitudes-Nigeria, will be arriving in the United States next month for about a six-week visit. Josh Thomas of dailyoffice.org is coordinating the visit and has more details.

A female archbishop?

The Anglican Church of Canada could elect its first woman leader during a national assembly this summer.

Edmonton Bishop Victoria Matthews is among four nominees for archbishop, or primate, who were chosen Thursday by Canada's Anglican bishops during a private meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The Associated Press has the story.

African Anglicans support Mugabe

Bishops of the Province of Central Africa "have issued a message to Zimbabweans that was broadly supportive of the government, sharply contrasting with an earlier call from Catholic leaders for President Robert Mugabe to step down" the AP reports. Signatories of the pastoral letter dated April 12 include The Most Rev. Bernard Amos Malango, Primate of the Province of Central Africa, and The Right Rev. Nolbert Kunonga, Bishop of Harare.

Human rights groups have consistently criticized Mugabe and his enablers.

More:

Zimbabwe's nine Catholic bishops marked Easter with an unprecedented call on Mugabe to end oppression and leave office through democratic reform or face a mass revolt.

Their pastoral letter accused the ruling elite of racism and corruption and fomenting lawlessness and violence to cling to power and wealth, factors they said led to the economic meltdown. The letter decried state-orchestrated intimidation, beatings and torture. Predicting further bloodshed, it said the country had reached a flash point.

The Anglican church has been traditionally muted in its criticism of the government, with its leaders generally toeing the ruling party line.

In contrast to their Catholic counterparts, the Anglican bishops see the economic meltdown in the same terms as Mugabe does - a Western conspiracy.

allAfrica.com has a more extensive report from the pro-government Herald, including this:

The Anglican Bishop's pastoral letter left egg on the face of the head of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Willams who, last month, tried to pressure his bishops, among them Dr Kunonga, to join the bandwagon of condemning the Government for alleged human rights excesses.

Dr Williams went to the extent of holding a one-on-one meeting with Bishop Kunonga on the sidelines of the Anglican Conference on Tackling Poverty held in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he urged him to drop his "soft stance" towards the Government.

Bishop of Connecticut to Visit Seabury Church

The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith, Bishop of Connecticut, wrote a letter to the clergy of that Diocese to let them know they would be receiving an invitation to the ordination to the priesthood of the Rev. Bill Hesse, in Bishop Seabury Church, Groton, and that the ordination will be celebrated with his permission.

Bishop Seabury Church is one of six congregations in the Diocese of Connecticut that has been in a dispute with the Bishop and the diocese since the consecration of the present Bishop of New Hampshire. The dispute included a law suit and ecclesiastical charges initiated by the congregations against Smith, both of which were recently dismissed.

The letter, which was sent electronically to subscribers of the For Clergy newsletters, also shared developments in the relationship between the congregation and clergy of Bishop Seabury Church, and Bishop Smith.

Also planned is an Episcopal Visitation by Smith at Bishop Seabury Church on Trinity Sunday, June 3rd, a meeting with the Vestry and another meeting with the entire congregation prior to the May 12th ordination.

Here is the letter:

Read more »

Jefferts Schori: Both Science & Religion Essential

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, spoke Thursday night before a crowd of about 250 people at Oregon State University, drawing on her experiences in both the scientific and the religious worlds and concluded that both are essential.

“Both science and religion have important things to say to all human endeavor … and at this stage in human history, we may not develop an adequate response to the dilemmas of existence without attention to both ways of knowing,” Schori said.

Creating a world of peace and justice and one in which human beings can survive physically depends on the ability of science and religion to talk to each other and build alliances that can respond to suffering the world, according to Schori.

“Both science and religion lead people to see the world with enormous awe. The response can either be a burning desire to understand the workings of the physical world, or an equally burning desire to connect with whatever has brought this world in existence.

“Both kinds of passion can help us to care for this world and all its inhabitants and both are going to be needed if we are going to relieve the suffering of many and bring increasing hope to our own species and all others,” Schori said.

Read it all.

Williams: Towards a Moral State

Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke last week about the need for a moral state that is not theocratic or confessional.

Portions of the talk appear as a column in the Sunday Times.

Read more »

Empty Pews

On Sunday morning the empty pews and gray heads in Delaware's mainline churches are making some pastors a little anxious, says the Wilmington News Journal in a story relevant nationwide.

Bishop Wolf weds

A good news story, the wedding of The Right Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island:

In a festive ceremony yesterday that started with her walking down the aisle hand in hand with her cousin’s 5-year-old son, with five young girls close behind, Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf married Thomas Charles Bair Jr. before a crowd of nearly 400 at her diocese’s Cathedral of St. John.

“I think it was the most spirited wedding I ever attended,” said former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, a long-time friend who had baptized Wolf on her conversion from Judaism to Christianity 36 years ago and preached at her ordinations to deacon, priest and bishop.

Read it all here.

Switching

The faithful are restless, a new study of Protestant churchgoers suggests.

They're switching from church to church, powered by a mix of dissatisfaction and yearning, according to the study by LifeWay Research. The organization is part of the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

Most of the switchers who changed their house of worship without making a residential move (58%) say their old church failed to engage their faith, or put their talents to work, or it seemed hypocritical or judgmental.

But 42% of the people say they switched because another church offered more appealing doctrines and preaching or the preacher and church members' faith seemed more "authentic."

Cathy Lee Grossman has the story in USA Today.

How many Christians to change a lightbulb?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has endorsed a booklet published today that encourages Christians to play their part in helping to stop climate change.

Aiming to counter the idea that stark warnings on the state of the environment seem too colossal for individuals to make any real difference, the book called 'How many lightbulbs does it take to change a Christian?', argues that Christians not only can have an impact by adapting their lifestyle, but actually have a moral duty to do so.

Find out more.

Letter to Lambeth

A group of Episcopal rectors and cathedral deans, fresh from a retreat in Canterbury has written to Archbishop Rowan Williams asking him to "continue our Anglican precedent of inviting all jurisdictional bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States and of the Anglican Church of Canada to the upcoming Lambeth Conference."

Signatories include Deans Samuel Candler (St. Philip's, Atlanta), Tracey Lind (Trinity, Cleveland) and Samuel Lloyd (National Cathedral), and rectors Ed Bacon (All Saints, Pasadena), Jim Cooper (Trinity, Wall Street), Harold Lewis (Calvary, Pittsburgh) and William Tully (St. Bartholomew's, New York)

Read more »

Leaven in the lump

"Illiberal winds are blowing pernicious policy and polity changes our way." the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University says. "Illiberal winds are blowing pernicious policy and polity changes our way. The Communiqué from the Tanzanian Primates’ meeting brought the intentions of those who dictated its content more fully out of the closet.

"First, it sent the sinister signal that for the forseeable future, full membership in the Anglican communion will require a local church to enforce anti-LGBT taboos: no more episcopal ordinations of coupled gay or lesbian people; no more official or clandestine church blessing of same-sex couples. Second, the Tanzanian Primates’ meeting also interpreted by enacting and enacted by interpreting the new authoritarian polity of the Anglican communion: it appears that the Anglican communion is to be governed by a collective papacy, an international college of primates exercizing dictatorial powers. Both developments raise urgent questions: should, how can LGBT people live in churches with such policies, governed by authoritarian polities that could deliver more of the same and worse? What, if anything, can we, should we do about it?"

Read more »

Another resignation

The Rev. Praveen Bunyan, rector of St. James Church Newport Beach, has resigned after confessing to inappropriate conduct with an adult female parishioner. St. James, which broke away from the Episcopal Church over the issue of homosexuality, has affiliated with the Church of Uganda. It was formerly led by the Rev. David Anderson, head of the American Anglican Council, who is now associated with the Church of Nigeria.

Saint James is the home parish of Howard Ahmanson, a key financial supporter of the Anglican right. It is locked in a court battle over its property with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bunyan is the second high-profile rector of a breakaway parish to resign after an inappropriate relationship with a female parishioner in the last two months. The Rev. Sam Pascoe of Grace Church in Orange Park, Fla., resigned under similar circumstances in late February.

Both men have been sharply critical of the Episcopal Church, saying that it had lost its moral compass on issues of human sexuality.

Moral vision should be at the heart of politics

In his lecture this evening in Hull, birthplace of William Wilberforce, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will urge politicians to rediscover the moral energy and vision which inspired Wilberforce; defend the right of the citizen to call the state to account for its actions; and ask whether we still believe in the notion of "a moral
state."

If we do, he says, we cannot leave the state to decide for itself what is moral: "The modern state needs a robust independent tradition of moral perception with which to engage. Left to itself it cannot generate the self-critical energy that brings about change...for the sake of some positive human ideal."

Read more »

A "lost boy" goes home

Salva Dut, tall, slender, son of a Dinka cattle herdsman, has a smile that will light up any room. History calls him, and thousands of other children who fled Sudan, Lost Boys.

At age 11, Dut, with other children, fled from his school into the bush through gunfire and jet-bomb blasts. As he ran, each day he was in danger of being conscripted by rebel armies or killed by militiamen from the north.

Now he has returned to drill wells in his homeland. Episcopal Life Online has the story.

Noted Del. clergyman and Episcopal leader to retire

The Rev. Canon Lloyd S. Casson, clergyman and noted leader in the Episcopal Church, will be honored June 3 by the Wilmington, Delaware community and his parish as he officially retires after 43 years of ministry.

A native Delawarean, Casson has served for 10 years as the rector of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, a unique parish formed out of the union of two historic Episcopal churches in Wilmington, Delaware—one with a predominantly white membership and the other predominantly black—committed to being an instrument of reconciliation and diversity.

For more information, visit the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew web site at www.ssam.org.

Read it all here.

Read more »

Currents in world growth shaping Methodist church, too

Boom in Christianity Reshapes Methodists

Rachel Zoll, Associated Press

The United Methodist Church is the latest Protestant group caught in the shifting currents of world Christianity. While the American denomination is shrinking at home, its congregations in the developing world are growing explosively.

Over the last decade, the number of United Methodists outside the U.S. more than tripled. The denomination's largest district is now in the West African nation of Ivory Coast. At the next national church assembly, the 2008 General Conference in Texas, overseas delegates will have more say than ever in the church's future—as many as 30 percent could come from abroad.

Read more »

To Save This Fragile Earth

The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd, Dean
Washington National Cathedral
Easter III, April 22, 2007

www.cathedral.org/cathedral/worship/stl070422.html

I didn’t think spring was ever going to come. I mean it. Never. Maybe it was the temperature on Easter Day, which as someone pointed out was 5 degrees colder than it had been on Christmas Day. Or maybe it has been these past weeks of April when a grey chill, wind, and rain greeted us anytime we ventured outdoors.

But it’s here. Daffodils have yielded to tulips. Leaves have returned to the trees’ skeletons. The grass is green again, and the blossoms and flowers are everywhere. I remember when I lived in Boston a friend saying that in New England spring comes in like a Yankee lady— reserved, proper, slow to reveal her charms. But in the South, spring comes in like a hussy—brash, flashy, showing off. I’m glad to say that Washington has all the signs of a Southern spring!

To see the earth come alive around here is to be dazzled. It must be what the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins felt a century ago when he gazed around at spring bursting out and wrote, “What is all this juice and joy?” And the words of another Hopkins poem leap to mind on a day like this:

The world is charg’d with the grandeur of God
It will flame out like shining from shook foil.

The rebirth of spring has for centuries been associated in the Northern Hemisphere with Easter. Even the word “Easter” seems to come from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Christians have seen in the return of life to nature an image of God’s triumph over everything that dies. In the flowering of dogwood and rhododendron we can see pointers to the power that moves through all creation bringing life out of death.

The earth comes alive, and that is itself a sort of miracle. But today as we gather here on this Earth Day we have to face the fact that that miracle is terrifyingly fragile, and that “this fragile earth, our island home,” as our Prayer Book calls it, is in deep trouble.

Read more »

Malaria Awareness Day, April 25

In Angola, ERD has partnered with the Anglican Diocese of Angola in the Uige and Cunene provinces. Since the program began in 2006, more than 16,000 insecticide-treated nets have been issued and more than 388 community malaria agents have been taught to educate communities about malaria.

Episcopal Relief and Development, in partnership with Roll Back Malaria, endorses the Global Health Council's Malaria Community Statement on Africa Malaria Day 2007. The statement is signed by ERD and other organizations fighting the spread of the disease and raising awareness about malaria prevention. Please click here to read the full statement.

Further information on NetsforLifeSM is available here.

To make a contribution to Episcopal Relief and Development's Malaria Fund, please visit http://www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development, "Malaria Fund", PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

Read it all at Episcopal Life Online.

PB: Keep questions about sexuality in conversation

The Boston Globe reports:

Saying "I don't believe that there is any will in this church to move backward," the top official of the Episcopal Church USA said yesterday that the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire has been "a great blessing" despite triggering intense controversy and talk of possible schism.

In an interview during a visit to Boston, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery and women's rights, and said she believes that it has become a vocation for the Episcopal Church "to keep questions of human sexuality in conversation, and before not just the rest of our own church, but the rest of the world."

Read it all. Video of the interview is here.

Rowan Williams to take sabbatical at Georgetown

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, will spend much of his summer sabbatical at Georgetown University sources in England and Washington confirmed today.

Williams, has stayed at the Jesuit university twice previously during seminars of interfaith scholars, and is friendly with the university's president John J. DeGioia.

In March 2004, in partnership with President DeGioia, Williams convened the third Building Bridges seminar at Georgetown. The fifth Building Bridges seminar in March 2006 was also hosted by Georgetown. Williams initiated the annual Building Bridges seminars to promote dialog between Christian and Muslim scholars.

Williams has not visited Episcopal churches during his previous visits, although he has held breakfast meetings with prominent local church leaders. He has refused numerous requests to participate in Episcopal Church events.

The news that Williams would be spending his sabbatical in the United States became public before Williams announced whether he would accede to a request to meet with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in an effort to defuse the crisis over homosexuality that threatens the future of the Anglican Communion.

That meeting is now set for late September in New Orleans.

- Jim Naughton

Presiding Bishop: Communicators Called to Be Prophets

Tell the story, turn chaos to Shalom, Presiding Bishop tells Communicators

By Pat McCaughan April 25, 2007 [Episcopal News Service, Virginia Beach]

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori challenged a gathering of Episcopal Communicators April 25 to engage gifts such as proclamation, witness, storytelling, moviemaking, language, images to help usher in the biblical vision of shalom, of equality and justice for everyone.

"There is something gravely and sinfully wrong with a world where the division between the rich and poor continues to expand, where some still live in palaces and recline on ivory couches while others starve outside their gates," she told about 120 parish, diocesan and national church communicators from around the country.

"In our day, the prophets still speak for a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, where all children are educated and no one is denied the basic necessities of life."

Read it all here.

African Anglican poisoned

Ruth Gledhill in The Times:

Relatives of Canon Rodney Hunter, 73, believe that his food was contaminated by supporters of the Rev. Nicholas Henderson in a battle between the liberal and conservative wings of the Anglican Church.
...
Canon Hunter was an outspoken critic of plans to appoint the liberal Mr Henderson as Bishop of Lake Malawi. The Province of Central Africa is at the heart of conservative evangelical opposition to the liberal Anglican outlook in the West on homosexuality.

Mr. Henderson, Vicar of St Martin’s Acton West and All Saints’ Ealing Common, was elected as Bishop of Lake Malawi last August. He had known the region for 18 years, raising funds for religious, social and humanitarian projects, and was learning the local language, Chichewe. At the time, few in Malawi knew of his record as a leading liberal theologian and that he had been chairman of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union. There was also concern in Africa at reports that he had a male lodger.

As a result, the Primate of Central Africa, the Most Rev. Bernard Malango, wrote to Mr. Henderson asking him to confirm that he subscribed to the Creeds, the Bible and the Thirty-Nine Articles and that he “fashions his own like and his household according to the doctrine of Christ”.

The diocese’s Court of Confirmation blocked Mr Henderson’s consecration, deeming him “a man of unsound faith”, and instead appointed the retired Bishop of Zambia, the Right Rev. Leonard Mwenda.

Read it all here.

UPDATE: Canon Hunter's earlier statement on the appointment of Mewenda is here. For insight into the election and rejection of Henderson see this Church Times article from December 9, 2005.

Lambeth 2008: Not a Parliamentary Debating Chamber

From the Anglican Communion News Service:

Lambeth Conference Plans move forward
Decision-makers met last week to continue their planning for progress plans for the Lambeth Conference 2008.

The conference ‘Design Group’, appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spent five days from April 16 to 20 working on looking the conference structures, purposes, issues and programme.
...
The purpose of the Lambeth Conference 2008 is to enable bishops to discern and share their Anglican identity and become better equipped as leaders in God’s mission.
...
The Lambeth Conference in 2008 will be different: it will not resemble a parliamentary debating chamber with a string of resolutions but aim to provide time and space for spiritual reflection, learning, sharing and discerning.

Amongst the topics it will address are the: Millennium Development Goals, HIV/Aids, Ethical/Green living, Anglican identity and covenant, The Listening Process and relationships with people of other Faiths. A fuller programme will be available on the web site www.lambethconference.org in the near future.

The full press release is here.

Archbishop Akinola coming to Virginia in May

Archbishop Akinola, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) will be coming to Woodbridge Virginia early next month to install Bishop Martyn Minns in his new role as the leader of CANA.

The Installation will take place on May 5th at the The Cecil D. Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge. Jim Robb, CANA’s media officer confirmed the Archbishop’s visit, but said that complete press information about the event has not yet been posted. He does expect to have further information posted in the near future however.

Additional details will, most likely, be posted here.

Correction: ABC: draft covenant "much more promising"

In its April 17 issue, The Globe and Mail incorrectly quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, as saying a draft covenant presented to the primates of the world Anglican Communion at their February meeting in Tanzania was "unacceptable." In fact, Dr. Williams was referring to a draft covenant first published as part of the communion's Windsor Report in 2004. The proposals in the February covenant, he said, were "much more promising."

Read it all HERE

Covenant Study Guide Help

Mark Harris and Marshall Scott have published helpful guides and reflections on a Study Guide on the Report of the Covenant Design Group and the Draft Covenant published by the Executive Council.

To read Marshall's go to Episcopal Chaplain at the BesideQuestion 1 and Question 2. Watch that site for more.

To read Mark's responses Click HERE

Update on the situation in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean newspaper has more information about the developing situation in Zimbabwe.

"President Mugabe is most anxious to neutralize the Christian church and give the world the impression it sides with him against his critics.

On March 11 police crushed a prayer meeting that led to world press publicity against the entrenched Mugabe regime. Later Catholics issued a pastoral statement that infuriated Mugabe.

Zanu (PF) 'spin doctors' assert that 'rebel' Catholics are led by the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube who (they claim) is in the pay of Prime Minister Tony Blair and the British Government.

Reacting to the Anglican message, Eddie Cross of the MDC said that Zimbabwean Anglicans are in a difficult position. 'Perhaps they should withdraw from all congregations that are led by Bishop Nolbert,' he suggested. 'Or join a church that is not so myopic in its views.'

Meantime, Anglicans in the UK are waiting to hear from the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Nicholas Baines. He flew to Harare on Easter Tuesday and is expected to inform Lambeth Palace about the situation in Zimbabwe.

Sources told The Zimbabwean that Bishop Nick was anxious not to meet Bishop Nolbert who most Anglicans say has disgraced the 75 million strong worldwide community. 'The Zimbabweans have been very clear that we should visit them at their points of weakness and not just wait until everything is OK,' he said before his departure."

Read the rest here: The Zimbabwean - An Independent Zimbabwe Newspaper

Hat tip to Kendall Harmon at titusonenine for pointing out the article

UPDATED info after the jump:

Read more »

Asian Anglican Archbishop to Speak in Dallas

The Dallas Morning News reports that recently retired Anglican Archbishop of Southeast Asia Yong Ping Chung will speak next Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Church of The Holy Communion in Dallas TX.

From the congregation's announcement:

"The Archbishop’s topic will be, 'Recover the Vision', how Anglicans in North America can return to Jesus' Great Commission to spread His Word. His Grace will share the dynamic of the Global South of the Anglican Communion that has made this part of Anglicanism one of the fastest growing churches in the world.

The Archbishop remains one of the most influential Anglican leaders in the traditional and devout Global South of the eighty million member worldwide Anglican Communion. An outspoken proponent of biblical and orthodox Anglicanism, he is known as an 'Asian Tiger for Jesus Christ'. He has described much of the Anglican leadership in the West as 'spiritually bankrupt', believing the correction is a return to true commitment to Jesus Christ and His Holy Word.

Church of the Holy Communion is affiliated with the Reformed Episcopal Church."

Read the rest here: Dallas Morning News (Religion staff): Asian archbishop to speak in Dallas

ABC's sabbatical topic: Dostoevsky

During his summer sabbatical at Georgetown the Archbishop of Canterbury will be studying Dostoevsky.

The sabbatical topic was revealed in the Spy column of today's Telegraph under the heading "Glutton for Punishment." An excerpt:

During his two-month sabbatical in June and July, I learn that Dr Rowan Williams will be writing a book on Dostoevsky. The archbishop is known to be a devotee of the dark Russian soul, and tells Prospect magazine's website of his fascination with the Crime and Punishment author. "Dostoevsky would say ethics is not about good and evil, it's about truth and falsehood, reality and illusion," he says.

The Prospect interview is here. For selected quotes click read more.

Read more »

Anglican Communion Institute re-organizes

There's news from the Anglican Communion Institute this week.

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. - ACI Appoints Treasurer

The Anglican Communion Institute is pursuing incorporation in the state of Texas, and the process should be concluded in good time. We have received excellent legal counsel. In many ways this move is a reversion to the status we had at SEAD for over a decade. We are grateful that the Revd Frank Fuller has agreed to serve as Treasurer and Mr Craig Uffman as webmaster. We have seen profit in adjusting our domain name at this time to http://anglicancommunioninstitute.com. The older site will automatically convert to the new one. It has a slightly different format but all the older material is there, or will be, in due course.

Craig Uffman is a staff member of Holy Trinity Church in Raleigh, North Carolina

Armstrong presentment progresses

Some news this morning regarding the presentment now filed by the Diocese of Colorado against the Rev. Don Armstrong:

"The Rev. Donald Armstrong was officially 'served' by the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, according to diocesan sources, notifying him that his case would be tried by an Episcopal Court. Armstrong apparently has until May 10 to respond, but we're still a long way from seeing even this chapter through: According to diocsesan sources, a trial date might not be set for another three months.

Whether Armstrong shows up to such a trial is another matter. Armstrong is now a priest in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America -- an organization connected with the province of Nigeria -- and doesn't consider himself to be under the diocese's authority at all anymore.

Alan Crippen, spokesman for Armstrong and Grace CANA, said Armstrong hasn't actually received any notice from the diocese yet. But, if he had been, Crippen added, 'it would be about as relevant as the Presbyterian Church serving him.He's not under their jurisdiction.' It seems likely that, if Armstrong speaks in any court, it'll be a secular one, not ecclesiastical.
"

Read the rest here: Faith at Altitude: Armstrong Served

Bishop Robinson to register civil-union

New Hampshire just passed legislation allowing same-gender unions legal status within the state. Bishop Robinson has said that he and his partner Mark Andrew will register:

"Shortly after a civil unions bill cleared its last hurdle Thursday, the state's best-known gay resident said he will use it.

'Absolutely. My partner and I look forward to taking full advantage of the new law,' Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson told The Associated Press. The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Union of which it is part are still dealing with repercussions from Robinson's 2003 consecration as bishop of New Hampshire."


Read the full story here

Bishop Robert Wolterstorff has died

San Jose Mercury News - Former Episcopal bishop Wolterstorff dies at 92

SAN DIEGO- The Right Rev. Robert M. Wolterstorff, who became the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego when it was carved out of the sprawling Los Angeles diocese in 1974, has died. He was 92.

Wolterstorff died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday, 10 days after suffering a heart attack, diocese spokesman Howard Smith said.

May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

Akinola is on the way

"The Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, a fierce critic of the Episcopal Church for its acceptance of homosexuality, is arriving next week to install a bishop to lead congregations around the country that want to break from it," says The New York Times.

"Episcopal leaders say the visit threatens to strain further the already fragile relations between their church and the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion. But Episcopal traditionalists say there is a growing desire among them to break away."

Read it all, and ask yourself whether this story wouldn't have benefitted from a few numbers. How many of the Episcopal Church's 7,600 congregations have evinced any interest in joining forces with Akinola? One precent? Less? Note too the use of the word "anger" in the headline. Do the Presiding Bishop and the Rev. Mark Harris sound angry?

UPDATE: More from the Presiding Bishop here (or click read more).

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No poet an island

"In 1619, shortly before his election as dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, one of the most distinguished clerics in England sent some of his youthful, and now rather embarrassing, writings to a friend. Included, for instance, was a tract called Biathanatos, which defended suicide. "Publish it not," the eminent churchman insisted, and yet 'burn it not.' As for the notorious love poems, well, manuscript copies of those had been circulating for years. They, he pointed out, had been 'written by Jack Donne, and not by Dr. Donne.' "

For a weekend change of pace, read Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda's review of a new biography of John Donne.

Woman enters Canterbury's inner circle

"Canterbury Cathedral, the seat of the Church of England, installed its first female archdeacon in its 1,400-year history yesterday," reports Agence France-Presse.

Before a congregation of 500, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams led the service of installation for the Venerable Sheila Watson, 53, the first woman to join Archbishop Williams' senior staff.

The former archdeacon of Buckingham in the Diocese of Oxford, who succeeds the retired Patrick Evans, can now enthrone new diocesan bishops in 27 of England's 43 dioceses under Archbishop Williams' guidance.

The move comes as the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, takes the first steps toward the creation of female bishops. The Church of England ordained its first female priests in 1994.

Read it all here.

In The Episcopal Church women's ordination to the priesthood and consecration as bishops was approved by General Convention in 1976. Barbara Harris became a bishop in 1989. Female clergy are now over 30 percent of all clergy although in some dioceses the percentage is small or zero.

Parsing the Zimbabwe letter

The bishops of Central Africa released a letter last week on the crisis in Zimbabwe. It has widely been interpretted as supportive of President Robert Mugabe, in part because a key Zimbabwean bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, and the Central African primate, Bernard Malango, have been supportive of Mugabe in the past. But Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana, who gave a much admired lecture recently in Liverpool, says the letter is being misinterpreted.

The Church Times has an overview, that includes quotes from Mwamba:

"As you can imagine, in Zimbabwe there are divisions within the Church itself, and so there was a need to wean certain hearts and minds to be able to put forward a statement all the bishops could subscribe to.

In that sense, yes, it does not appear as sharp as the pastoral letter from the Catholic bishops. It took a middle-of-the-road pastoral approach. Nevertheless, the sting is there in calling for drastic change, for the government to be called upon to create a conducive environment for that, and for the Church to stand forward and speak sharply in the context of its calling and prophetic ministry.” The Bishop described it as “the beginning of a long journey of bishops moving together — very gently, for need of carrying certain of our friends along."


But a columnist in the Zimbabwean Independent isn't buying it:

" Anglicans of Zimbabwe: hang your heads in shame.

The disgraceful performance of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in dishonestly pretending that the country's problems stem from sanctions and not Mugabe's misrule will go down as one of the greatest betrayals of the struggle for democracy."


The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

The Cafe is still developing its pop music chops. So we are four months late in noticing Rickie Lee Jones' spooky, fascinating new album The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard. The songs on the disc are informed by The Words, a modern re-working of the gospels by Jones' friend Lee Cantelon.

Writes Leah Greenblatt of EW: "The onetime Tom Waits paramour and self-dubbed Duchess of Coolsville is definitely still cool, but she's also with Christ — transferring the folk L.A. aesthetic of her 1970s prime onto a Bible-centric narrative. These tracks are the antithesis of church-camp sing-alongs, enriched by roadhouse rhythms and her distinctive whiskey-soaked voice."

Reviewing a recent concert, Jonathan Perry of the Boston Globe wrote: "Musically speaking, "Sermon" is a noir-ish universe of spooky, swirling grooves cut with minimalist, diamond-hard riffs that recall the Velvet Underground, reined in by Jones's street-poetry meditations and lamentations on faith, doubt, and the state of the world. It's also the 52-year-old singer-songwriter's best work in years, and she knows it."

In her profile of Jones for The Telegraph, Helen Brown wrote: "Musically, it's a desert-like mixture of percussive stones and blinding guitar sky, with her voice a hermit's meditations.

And it takes a good devotee's listening. Listen too quickly and you may be bored. I played the album six times before I found the wonder in its humanist grace. Since then it hasn't been off my stereo."

One in seven

"Births, deaths and marriages. They're the only events that get most people in the UK through church doors these days and even that is too often for some. But this doesn't stop the majority of us calling ourselves Christian. More than half of British people say they believe in God despite only one in seven actually attending a Christian church service each month, says a new study." So reported BBC News Magazine back on April 3.

More:

It seems that while people find the church thing a little bit difficult, they are willing to recognise God. There's even a cute catchphrase for this absent majority - believing without belonging.

The church says the results challenge the UK's secular image, proving not everyone has embraced consumerism as their modern-day god.

It's not often that it has much to shout about. Congregations have been declining for years, according to figures published by the Christian Research. While some churches are growing and the rate of decline in congregations has slowed, overall numbers are still dropping. It is not alone in suffering this "curse of apathy".

Local organisations have seen a slump in membership, according to a new YouGov poll, which found 70% of people have no links to community groups like the Women's Institute, Guides and Scouts.

Read it all here.

Some economists argue there is empirical evidence that believing promotes economic growth, but belonging has no independent effect. Belonging is an input to believing: more belonging with no more believing has no effect on gross national product, conventionally measured. See this Harvard study.

What We Have in Common

What can Episcopalians who have taken sides in our current conflict actually agree on theologically? An Episcopal seminarian and blogger has invited other Episcopalians to think about where they might agree instead of focusing on how others might be wrong.

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New Bishop for Southern Ohio

Thomas E. Breidenthal became the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio on April 28 at the Ohio State University campus.

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Thurgood Marshall Day - May 17

A stalwart group at Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's former parish, St. Augustine's in Southwest D.C., is fighting to keep his legacy alive.

In January 2006, the group petitioned the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to designate May 17 as Thurgood Marshall Day in the diocese, which it did. Last summer, at the group's request, the diocese also asked the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to include Marshall in its book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

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Seven Windsor bishops write Williams

According to The Living Church Foundation, these seven bishops affirmed their commitment to the Windsor Report.

Windsor Bishops Write Archbishop Williams, Set Meeting Dates

Seven bishops have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, assuring him of their continued “strong support” of the Windsor Report and the process it recommends.

The "Windsor Bishops" have met twice previously at Camp Allen near Houston. The group has scheduled two additional meetings for June 18-19 and Aug. 9-10.

“We want to reassure you that we are committed to the Camp Allen principles and realize that for us, they are the way by which we intend to remain united as we move forward in these challenging days,” the bishops stated in an April 26 letter.

“We also realize that the covenant process is critical to these discussions, and indeed is the focal point of the work now underway to define our life together. For us, neither of these commitments has wavered in light of the recent decisions by the House of Bishops.”

The letter was signed by the following bishops:
• John W. Howe, Central Florida
• James M. Stanton, Dallas
• Jeffrey N. Steenson, Rio Grande
• Edward L. Salmon, Jr., retired, South Carolina
• Don A. Wimberly, Texas
• Gary W. Lillibridge, West Texas
• D. Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana

In their letter the bishops refer to themselves as “The Steering Committee of the Windsor Bishops.”

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