Sex & Religion & Teenagers

Slate Magazine has a discussion of a new book by Mark Regnerus. The book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, is a sociological study of the ways that personal faith influences young people's choices regarding their choices to be sexually active or not.

The effect of faith is not nearly what parents hope it would be:

Teenagers who identify as 'evangelical' or 'born again' are highly likely to sound like the girl at the bar; 80 percent think sex should be saved for marriage. But thinking is not the same as doing. Evangelical teens are actually more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants.

The complex reasons behind this are discussed in the article. The good news is that the situation is not true for young people who are really committed to their faith rather than just self-identifying themselves as faithful.

Read the rest here.

+Beckwith and others watching for further developments

Bishop Mark Beckwith has releasd the following letter to the Diocese of Newark where he is the diocesan bishop:
For the past two weeks, I have been in regular phone and email conversation with several members of the House of Bishops. We began talking and writing because of our concern that the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that our colleague and friend, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, will not be receiving an invitation to the Lambeth 2008 Conference, which gathers together all the bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years. We drafted a letter expressing our disappointment and concern. In that letter we also articulated our hope – that this season of confusion and distress, which has ‘threatened the bonds of affection’ in the Anglican Communion, might be resolved through thoughtful conversation and mutual respect. In a conference call this afternoon, we decided not to send out our letter. As Gene Robinson has told us, there is a lot of diplomacy going on between the Archbishop’s office and the American Church, which may – or may not, create a different ecclesiastical climate and result in invitations to all bishops in good standing in the Church (which certainly includes Bishop Robinson, who was duly elected, consented and consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal church). We also acknowledged to one another that there is great confusion in the wider church about our polity. Unlike most of the rest of the Anglican Communion, which appoints their bishops – we elect ours.  So we decided not to send out our letter – yet.  Ours was a decision of strategy. We want to wait a bit to see if the diplomacy will lead to a different, and more satisfying resolution. But as we debated issues of strategy, I could feel my commitment to radical hospitality deepen, and I could hear it in my colleagues. Jesus had a passion for radical welcome – and a disdain for those who were unwilling, or unable, to embrace it. Jesus’ invitation extends down through the centuries to include the rest of us. All of us. Welcome should beget welcome. We shouldn’t settle for anything less."
From here.

Belief or Evolution?

There's been a number of articles in the media this week talking about the apparent dichotomy between holding to the Christian faith and a scientific view of the Cosmos.

NPR had a story this morning about the Creation Museum's opening. Here's a bit from Salon.com's coverage.

At the ribbon cutting [for the museum], Ken Ham, the rugged-faced CEO and president of Answers in Genesis, the nonprofit ministry that built the museum, tells an enthusiastic crowd that the Creation Museum will undo the damage done 82 years ago when Clarence Darrow put William Jennings Bryan on the stand in the famous Scopes trial in Dayton, Tenn. "It was the first time the Bible was ridiculed by the media in America, and that was a downward turning point for Christendom," Ham says. "We are going to undo all of that here at the Creation Museum. We are going to answer the questions Bryan wasn't prepared to, and show that belief in every word of the Bible can be defended by modern science."

Senator Sam Brownbeck had an op-ed piece in the New York Times earlier this week in which he shares his frustration with the sense that Science and Faith must be at odds:
The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.

People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.

He attempts to distinguish between micro-evolution (trasformation within biological species) versus macro-evolution (transitions between species or leading to new species) as way of defusing the controversy.

Chuck Blanchard has a discussion of this entire controversy on his site.

As a resource, you might want to check of the work of the Episcopal Church's committee on Science, Faith and Techonology to find out something about how the Episcopal Church discusses this issue. And more specifically their Catechism of Creation.

Church-wide discernment before September 30th

Episcopal News Service reports that the HoB Theology Committee has put together a process to information and response from the whole of the Episcopal Church prior to their September meeting:

"The Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops on June 1 released a study document aimed at helping the bishops respond to the requests made to them by the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

...Theology Committee chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley told Episcopal News Service that the report is meant for bishops to use in conversation with the people of their dioceses in the three and a half months between now and the mid-September meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. Rather than call for responses from individual Episcopalians, Parsley said the committee will in late August and early September gather input from bishops on the result of their conversations in their dioceses.

He said the committee hopes that Episcopalians will 'read, mark, inwardly digest and then come talk' about the document with their bishop.

'Every diocese will have to do that in their own way,' he said. 'We didn't want it to be an individual thing. We wanted it to be a diocesan, corporate process overseen by the bishop.'"

This process seems to be in addition to the responses being collected by the Episcopal Church Executive Council which are due by June 4th.

Read the rest here, along with links to the documents: Episcopal Life Online - NEWS

Point and counterpoint in local media

Syndicated columnist Michael J. McManus seems to be a raving fan of Nigeria's CANA initiative, writing, among other things:

As Minns summed it up, "We are here to give people a freedom of choice." At present, CANA has 34 parishes and nearly 7,000 members, which is more than 40 Episcopal dioceses. About a third are ethnic Nigerian churches in America, a third are in Northern Virginia and the others scattered.

Bill Mehr responds to the entire column (available here) in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star:

In "Missionaries to America?" Michael J. McManus asks, "Why would the United States need a missionary bishop?" The answer is: it doesn't. Mr. McManus claims outnumbered orthodox Episcopalians must reach out to Anglicans in the Global South for "safe haven." There's the flaw. They don't need to reach out for what they already possess.

According to historical Anglican tradition, the Episcopal Church, like America itself, welcomes diverse points of view within a broader set of canons. The problem for Mr. McManus' orthodox is that they constitute a minority that is frustrated they can't impose one viewpoint upon the entire church.

Their strategy is to claim a majority within an international Anglican Communion, but that association carries no binding authority over the Episcopal Church in America.

If individuals feel they want to attend a church with a narrower theological doctrine, they are free to exercise that choice. There are no provisions, however, for whole entities like dioceses or parishes to leave. There isn't a diocese or parish in the U.S. where everyone wants to secede.

What about freedom of choice for those who want to stay? That's the focus of the lawsuits.

The diocese is acting on behalf of loyal members who simply want to reclaim the space to worship in their own church and offer that blessing to their children.

My choice, like that of the majority of Episcopalians, is to remain a member of a denomination that provides safe haven for disagreement and that entertains diversity.

When the lawsuits are over, and the issue of property is cleared up, the Episcopal Church will stand as firmly as ever upon the principles on which it was founded, and will grow and flourish, once more, as a shining example of the freedom offered to all who follow Jesus Christ.

Found here.

Faith and the campaign

From the Associated Press:

The personal faith of candidates has become a very public part of the 2008 presidential campaign. Seven years after George W. Bush won the presidency in part with a direct appeal to conservative religious voters _ he cited Jesus Christ as his favorite philosopher during one debate _ it seems all the leading presidential candidates are discussing their religious and moral beliefs, even when they'd rather not.

Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have hired strategists to focus on reaching religious voters. Obama's campaign holds a weekly conference call with key supporters in early primary and caucus states whose role is to spread the candidate's message to religious leaders and opinionmakers and report their concerns to the campaign.

Meanwhile, Alan Cooperman of The Washington Post has noticed Barack Obama's new Web based religious outreach.

Senator Brownback's take on faith and science

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who is running for the Republican nomination for President, wrote a column in The New York Times recently defending his views on evolution.

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

The Times published eight letters, in response, an unusually high number. Almost all of these took issue with Brownback's view of science, finding it insufficiently, um, scientific. Time magazine writer Michael Lemonick argues likewise.

No one seems interested in exploring the potential theological pitfalls of Brownback's view, so here is a question to get the conversation started: If God created the natural world, and science helps us understand it more completely, shouldn't religious people be its greatest proponents?

Criticizing Conspicuous Clerical Consumption

Should clergy live according to their means, just like the rest of us? Or do they have a special responsibility to live more simply, and to give more away? David Briggs of Religion News Service reports:

As the new bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for the Northeastern Ohio Synod, Eaton wants a house closer to her new office and to the church where her husband, the Rev. Conrad Selnick, serves as pastor.
...
And they want a home that makes the right impression for someone whose role is considered, in theological terms, as a servant of servants. Her lifestyle as the spiritual leader of a region that includes Cleveland, America's poorest big city, according to the Census Bureau, is part of the church's witness to the world, she said.

So Eaton doesn't expect to buy anything too lavish. She said her new house may not even be as big as her current four-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath home, valued at $140,000.

"I hope we don't get into conspicuous consumption," she said.

For clergy, choosing a residence can be an inexact balancing act between biblical and theological emphases on a simple lifestyle on the one hand and personal and practical considerations on the other.

"It doesn't do anyone any good to live in a shack," Eaton noted.
...
Cleveland's Catholic bishop, Richard Lennon, lives with four priests in a downtown rectory.

Episcopal Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. owns a suburban home on 2.4 acres that he bought for $1.66 million in 2004.

Lennon said he tries to follow church teachings that encourage clerics "to set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions." Hollingsworth said he wants a place where he can entertain and host events for the diocese.
...
When Hollingsworth was elected an Episcopal bishop in 2003, he, his wife and four children were offered housing by the diocese. Hollingsworth chose instead to buy a $1.66 million home with seven bedrooms, seven full and two partial bathrooms and five fireplaces across from a park in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The bishop bought the house with what he would only describe as his "personal resources." No church money was used, the diocese said.

"The elements that went into deciding where to live were primarily personal and had to do with finding a home for our young family that had access to schools and proximity to my office and also a place where we could offer hospitality to the diocese," he said.


Read it all here.

Sex, meaning, consequences

Come Sunday, and one's thoughts turn to sex. At least if one has been reading the "Week in Review" section of The New York Times. "Lately," writes Randy Kennedy, "it seems that a slight virginal breeze has been blowing through the worlds of publishing, theater and Hollywood.'

Not a moment too soon, say those of us rasining children. While your reading Kennedy's essay, consider whether this observation doesn't speak in a broader way to some of the intellectual struggles currenlty undreway in the mainline Protestant churches.

The sociologist Alan Wolfe, who has conducted hundreds of interviews over the last two decades for books about the country’s beliefs and politics, said he saw a reflection in such works of the way people seem to struggle now for a greater sense of societal structure. “They do want to go back to a more conventional sexuality, morality, whatever,” said Mr. Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. “But they do not want to go back to an era of repression. So a kind of muddled, middle position is where it seems to me that most Americans are these days.”

Boys gone mild

The child-rearing world is profoundly ambivalent about male aggression. Should it be suppressed, cultivated, channeled? Which of these? Read Walter Kirn's insightful essay. Then discuss.

Remembering Bishop Jim Kelsey

Updated continuously

News of a tragic accident and a great loss to the Episcopal Church and for the Diocese of Northern Michigan:

"Bishop James Kelsey of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan was killed in a road accident at around 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, while returning to Marquette from a parish visitation, Jane Cisluycis, diocesan operations coordinator confirmed.

...'The Episcopal Church has today lost one of its bright lights,' Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said. 'We will be less without the easy grace of Bishop James Kelsey -- Jim to most of us -- and we shall miss his humor, insight, and passion for the ministry of all. He gave us much. We pray for the repose of his soul, and for his family. We pray also for the Diocese of Northern Michigan. All of us have lost a friend. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.'"

Read the rest here: Episcopal Life Online - NEWS

Coverage from The Mining Journal on Michigan's Upper Peninsula is here.

The bishop's daughter Lydia was to have been married this Saturday.

All of us here at Episcopal Cafe join others around the Church giving thanks for +Jim's life and praying for God' loving presence right now for the family he leaves behind.

EpiScope provides this biography courtesy of Nancy Davidge at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

James Arthur Kelsey
Biographical Information

JAKelsey.jpg Jim Kelsey was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1952 and attended schools in New York City and Burlington, Vermont. He graduated from Ithaca College in New York in 1974 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. In 1977, he graduated from General Theological Seminary and was called to be Deanery Curate for four congregations in southwestern Vermont. Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1978, he was called to be the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Swanton and priest-in-charge of three missions which gradually evolved into an eight-point cluster over the next seven years. During his year at Holy Trinity his interest in collaborative ministry deepened. A non-hierarchical form of leadership emerged there which included a locally ordained priest and a team of persons who shared ministry support responsibilities. Holy Trinity was recognized by the national church as one of ten effective congregations highlighted in the publication Against All Odds, prepared for the 1982 General Convention.

In 1985 he was called by the Diocese of Oklahoma to help establish a diocesan-wide strategy for cluster ministries. His work there was focused especially with eight congregations in a six-county area in east-central Oklahoma. He began an extensive consulting role on collaborative ministry throughout the U.S. and Canada.

He was called to be the Ministry Development Coordinator in the Diocese of Northern Michigan in 1989, a position he held until his election as Bishop in 1999. Since coming to the diocese, over half of the diocese’s 27 congregations have embraced Mutual Ministry, as collaborative ministry is known in Northern Michigan. It is characterized by the commissioning of local Ministry Support Teams supported by seminary-trained regional missioners.

Interest in Mutual Ministry by other diocese in the U.S. and abroad led Northern Michigan in 1994 to begin offering Spring and Fall Visitors Weekends for a first-hand look at this model for ministry.

His consulting work during these years expanded overseas to include New Zealand and the United Kingdom and has touched over thirty-five diocese in the United States. He participated in a number of national and international networks and training programs including the Leadership Academy in New Directions (LAND), Sindicators, Synagogy, Coalition 14, Living Stones and an International Symposium on Local Collaborative Ministry.

Jim and Mary Kelsey were married in 1976 and have three adult children, Nathan, Lydia and Amos and a new puppy Juniper.

If you weren't familiar with Bishop Jim, his 2006 address to his diocesan convention provides a sense of the man and his ministry. So, too, does the citation read when he received an honorary degree last month from Episcopal Divinity School. Tributes to Bishop Jim have already begun appearing on the Web. Jared Cramer's is among the most eloquent. Brother Christopher, who knew the bishop through Kelsey's involvement with the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis writes:
He cherished a radical notion of common ministry and refused the adulation bishops tend to attract. This meant that when he did speak with authority, people listened with unusual attention and respect.
Brother Jacob, S.S.F offers a remembrance and some fine pictures of Jim.

Ann Fontaine, one of the contributors here at Episcopal Cafe has her own tribute posted on her blog.

"Jim was someone who radiated the love of God to all around him. He was quick to laugh at nonsense (of which there is a lot in the Episcopal Church) and to mourn the waste of time and talent when we get so involved in our own importance over others. Although a bishop - he only saw that as a role to support others, it was never his intrinsic identity. His baptism was the most important rite for him."

If you'd like to share a story about Bishop Jim, leave it as a comment, or send it to feedback@episcopalcafe.com

From the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan:

Friends- We will gather to celebrate the life of Jim Kelsey this Friday, June 8, in Marquette. Visitation will be at 9am to 1pm at St. Paul's Church, 201 East Ridge St. Memorial Eucharist will be at 4pm at St. Michael Roman Catholic Church, on the corner of College St. and Presque Isle Ave. Reception to follow at the church. Please help us share hospitality with one another by bringing a finger-food type dish to the reception. The family has requested that memorials be given to Page Center All media inquiries are being referred to the Episcopal News Service
Gloria Price, Office Administrator gloria (at) upepiscopal.org Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan 131 E Ridge Street Marquette MI 49855
More details on the Celebration of the Life of Jim Kelsey and other reports are at Episcopal Life OnLine And a new blog dedicated to his memory is now online.

Earth Bishop mourned: A video tribute to Jim Kelsey Here

Theologian John Macquarrie dies at 87.

The Rev. Dr. John Macquarrie, Episcopal priest and theologian, died May 28th from stomach cancer, according to an obituary published in today's New York Times.

He held several posts including professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and canon of Christ Church Cathedral at Oxford, and wrote over thirty books including "Principles of Christian Theology" (1966).

Dr. Macquarrie wrote that all language about God was symbolic and not to be taken literally. But it must be taken seriously. To him, what separated believers from nonbelievers was that believers had experienced the revelation that the creation and its existence are good.

“Faith’s name for reality is God,” Dr. Macquarrie wrote in “Paths in Spirituality.”

The Times of London wrote:

A gracious, generous man, he was a traditionalist and opposed to the ordination of women but was never, in any way, a campaigner. A pastoral man, in retirement he helped out at St Andrew’s, Headington, and more than once gave a course of lectures to the congregation, revealing his mastery of his subject in the clarity of his expositions of theology. Always proud of his Celtic origin, he had an open heart, which embraced people of all sorts.

Macquarrie's work influenced generations of Christians of every stripe and his influence is seen in a surprising spectrum of Episcopalians today. As we pray and give thanks for his ministry, some may wish to remember the ways his work touched our lives, thinking, preaching an spirituality in the comments below.

O God, Send Me a Sign!

Who thinks up those goofy, pun-laden slogans seen on church marquees and sign boards, anyway? Are phrases like "seven days without prayer makes one weak" or "forbidden fruit creates many jams" the new hermenuetic of a drive-by world?

Slate magazine's Doree Shafir explores the background and development of church signs including an interesting slide show.

There is a web-site where you can create your own church signs. Someone took this and turned into a very funny Church Sign Smackdown.

Of course, there is money to be made. There are books to help busy pastors or sign committees with writers block keep their signs current.

Photographers Pam and Steve Paulsen created a book containing 300 images of church signs across the country "Church Signs Across America." An April 8, 2007 New York Times Book Review says they "have found and documented the uncommon poetry and sly wit used to rouse the flock, and the book is curiously inspirational."

Most of the slogans are decidedly clever — “Free Trip to Heaven, Details Inside,” at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Mo., appears on the cover, though that’s not even the best.

Here’s a sampling: “Rapture, the Only Way to Fly,” at the Venice Baptist Church in Los Angeles; “You’ve Seen the Movie, Now Come Read the Book,” at the Central Parkway Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.; “The Easter Bunny Didn’t Rise From the Dead,” at the Cypress Lake Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Fla.; and “Swallow Your Pride. It Contains No Calories,” at the Bridgeton Bible Church in Bridgeton, Mo. But the hippest, at the Montgomery Place Church of God in Albuquerque, is “Jesus Is the Rock That Doesn’t Roll.”

Not all are this witty, but even the somber ones, like “Exposure to the Son May Prevent Burning,” “We Are Too Blessed to Be Depressed” and “Pray Until Something Happens,” provoke a smile. Nor must one be a true believer to savor them. The agnostic who merely appreciates the art of snappy advertising copy will know exactly how difficult it is to write something as effective as the motto for the Christian Assembly Ministries in Stewartsville, N.J.: “Give Your Troubles to God. He’s Up All Night Anyway.”

Curiously inspirational or not, the signs point to the challenge and pitfalls of making the gospel comprehensible.

PB to present concerns about climate change to Senate committee

From Episcopal Life Online:

Citing the need for immediate attention to serious issues of global warming, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will represent the National Council of Churches USA (NCC) at a June 7 Congressional hearing on global warming.

Jefferts Schori will testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at 10 a.m., Room 406, Dirksen Senate Office Building. The committee will hear from several leaders of faith groups in "An Examination of the Views of Religious Organizations Regarding Global Warming."

The Presiding Bishop, who in 1983 earned her doctorate in oceanography, approaches the issue of climate change from both scientific and theological perspectives. Her testimony to the Senate Committee notes the specific effects of climate change on those living in poverty. Jefferts Schori regularly emphasizes care for the environment as part of the Millennium Development Goals, affirmed within the Episcopal Church's current top mission priority.

It's all here.

The hearing will be webcast HERE

"Speaking for unity, oneness and equality"

Davis Mac-Iyalla launched the Chicago leg of his 20-city American speaking tour this weekend. In a feature, the Chicago Tribune provides good insight into the context of Mac-Iyalla's visit, recapping his comments from a Sunday talk at Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park:

Many conservative Anglicans would agree with Nigerian lay minister Davis Mac-Iyalla that the summer of 2003—when the Episcopal Church approved the first openly gay bishop—left a gaping hole and wrenching pain in their hearts. But not for the same reasons.

For Mac-Iyalla, that summer was when the Anglican Church of Nigeria, in which he was born, baptized and became faithful turned its back on him because he is gay.

"God created me a gay man and put me in the womb of my mother. I was born into the church, baptized and sang in the choir," Mac-Iyalla told parishioners Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park. "Now, the church rises against me when I speak who I am. The church is supposed to be a house of joy, a house of peace. It has become a place of fire."

...

As the founder of Changing Attitudes Nigeria, part of a larger network that challenges the church's conservative stance, Mac-Iyalla adds a Nigerian point of view that so far has been silent.

...

"He's working for the split and disunity," Mac-Iyalla said, referring to Akinola. "I'm speaking for unity, oneness and equality."

The whole thing is here, including comments from Akin Tunde Popoola, Sandra McPhee and Josh Thomas.

Putting the Fire in a Fireplace

The Mission of the Trinity
Singaporean theologian Simon Chan says 'missional theology' has not gone far enough.
Interview by Andy Crouch in Christianity Today

Simon Chan may be the world's most liturgically minded Pentecostal. The Earnest Lau professor of systematic theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore is both a scholar of Pentecostalism and a leader in the Assemblies of God, but his recent books, Spiritual Theology and Liturgical Theology, engage with wider and older Christian traditions as well. Worship, Chan believes, is not just a function of the church, but the church's very reason for being. Our big question for 2007 focuses on global mission: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world? Christian Vision Project editorial director Andy Crouch interviewed Chan while Chan was a visiting scholar at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, to find out whether fully joining God's mission may require that we unlearn some of our assumptions about mission itself.

Interviewer: You have written a great deal about liturgical theology, but missional theology seems more popular these days.

Chan: I think that missional theology is a very positive development. But some missional theology has not gone far enough. It hasn't asked, What is the mission of the Trinity? And the answer to that question is communion. Ultimately, all things are to be brought back into communion with the triune God. Communion is the ultimate end, not mission.

If we see communion as central to the life of the church, we are going to have an important place for mission. And this is reflected in the ancient fourfold structure of worship: gathering, proclaiming the Word, celebrating the Eucharist, and going out into the world. The last, of course, is mission. But mission takes its place within a larger structure. It is this sense of communion that the evangelical world especially needs. Communion is not just introspection or fellowship among ourselves. It involves, ultimately, seeing God and seeing the heart of God as well, which is his love for the world.

In many services today, the dismissal into the world is quite perfunctory. But if you go to an Orthodox service, you'll be amazed at the elaborate way in which the end of the service is conducted. It's not just a word of dismissal—there are whole prayers and litanies that prepare us to go back out into the world.

Interviewer: If liturgical worship is such a good preparation for mission, why are Pentecostalism and evangelicalism, which hardly follow the ancient structure of worship, growing so fast?

Chan: In the modern age, the free churches are evangelistically successful, but in the broader history of mission that hasn't always been true. Europe was evangelized in the early centuries by missionaries who were certainly not free-church evangelicals. And think of the spread of the Orthodox Church from Russia to northern Africa.

In Singapore, we keep very close statistics about the growth of the Assemblies of God, which is currently the second-largest Protestant denomination in the country. We are good at evangelizing, bringing people in, but we have also noticed that many of those people that we have brought into our churches would over time go to more traditional churches and seeker-friendly megachurches. Our net growth isn't really that much, but in terms of bringing people in, yes, we have significant numbers of people being brought into the church for the first time. It may be that in God's providence he is using free churches, Pentecostals, and charismatics to reach out to the world, but I still believe that his aim is to embrace them all within the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

Read it all HERE

Southern Africa: Archbishop calls for reconciliation in the Holy Land

Drawing on experiences of reconciliation in his homeland, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has added his voice to the call for justice and a lasting peace in the Holy Land, Episcopal News Service reports today.

"It is impossible to remember events of 40 years ago in the Holy Land, and reflect on all that has happened since, without being deeply moved at the scale of this human tragedy and the continuing heartbreak across the region," Ndungane said in a June 4 statement.

"Our God is also the God of hope -- so we dare to pray for a future where Jews, Muslims and Christians enjoy peace as brothers and sisters together, where occupation and oppression cease, where violence and fighting end, and where everyone can live without fear, in security, and experience the true freedom and abundant life for which we were each created," he added.

Ndungane has been one of the Anglican Communion's leading voices on issues of justice and reconciliation since he was elected to lead Southern Africa's Anglican Church in 1996.

"If we have learned anything at all from our experiences in South Africa, surely it is this: that the only lasting solution to any conflict must come through a process of reconciliation that paves the way for a future built upon justice, where former antagonists can find true freedom, peace and prosperity together, and where each is served by, and therefore promotes, the flourishing of the other."


Read it all HERE

Faith and the candidates, in their own words

From the Democrats, we have:

" Sen. Clinton: Faith got me through marital strife"

... which also contains segments on Barack Obama and John Edwards, including video clips of all three. Clinton provides a rare glimpse into her marriage and how faith helped give her strength when it was strained; Obama talks about the problems in seeing the world through a dichotomous, good vs. evil lens; and Edwards points out that we—including he—are all sinners, and talked at length about his mission to end poverty. The forum, which aired on CNN, was sponsored by Sojourner's/Call to Renewal and moderated by Jim Wallis.

On the other hand, "Debate evolves into religious discussion," also from CNN (and clever puns on creationism aside), takes a look at some faith-related highlights in last night's Republican debate. Among them, Mike Huckabee "offered a spirited defense of the biblical creation narrative"; John McCain, having previously indicated that he "believed in" evolution, also agreed with Huckabee's view; and Sam Brownback made a case for uniting faith and reason.

Additional coverage:

New York Times: "Mrs. Clinton said she took her faith 'very seriously and very personally' but went on to say she came from a faith tradition, Methodism, that is 'perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faiths on their sleeves.' She admitted that talking about her faith in public 'doesn’t come naturally to me,' saying she often flashed back to 'the Pharisees and all of the Sunday school lessons and readings I had as a child.'"

AP: "Edwards, wearing a purple tie to match Sojourners' signature color, promoted himself as the candidate most committed to the group's mission of fighting poverty. He said he doesn't feel his belief in evolution is inconsistent with his belief in Christ and he doesn't personally feel gays should be married, although as president he wouldn't impose his belief system on the rest of the country."

Thomas J. Reese, writing on the Washington Post/Newsweek blog "On Faith," writes: "At the presidential candidates forum on religion, values and poverty, Democrats decided that it was time to show America that Democrats can be good Christians, inspired by Christian values, but not willing to impose their faith on others. The candidates showed themselves to be tempered, moderate and ecumenical. ... Many of the questions from the moderator were personal and obnoxiously intrusive. 'What was the greatest sin you ever committed?' 'Did your faith help you deal with your husband’s infidelity?' This has nothing to do with the intersection of faith and politics."

"On Faith" also continues the conversation with additional columns and comments here.

"Permeable Province" Proposed, Again

Forward in Faith UK has made its submission to the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group of the Church of England General Synod. For some reason, FiF abbreviates the name of the group to the Legislative Drafting Group. The charge to the group is "(i) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop; (ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision consistent with Canon A4 to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops; (iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod;

Some selections from FiF's submission:

Forward in Faith was founded in November, 1992, in the wake of the decision that month by the General Synod to proceed to the ordination of women to the priesthood. Our opposition to the ordination of women as priests or bishops remains as firmly and utterly rooted in theology today as it was in 1992, as we have set out in detail on numerous occasions....
...
Our proposals for a new province were designed to permit all in the Church of England to flourish, and represent the only solution thus far suggested which would enable women bishops to exercise their ministry without hindrance in their own dioceses, thus fulfilling the aspiration lying behind Canon Jane Sinclair’s amendment to the motion passed by General Synod on 10 July, 2006.
...
In particular, we would ask the Group to note the following key features of the solution which we proposed [in 2004]:
• a province which would be an integral part of the Church of England
• a province which would provide a stable and secure solution to the problem
• a province the bishops of which would have ordinary jurisdiction
• a province the boundaries of which would be entirely permeable
• a province in which only male priests and bishops would minister sacramentally
• a province in which orders would derive from the historic episcopate as traditionally understood
• a province which would thus provide the necessary sacramental assurance
• a province which would enable renewal in mission and evangelism
• a province which would bring peace to the Church of England
A link to the full text of the FiF's submission can be found here.

In their submission (pdf) the group Women and the Church notes, "We would draw to the Group’s attention that never before in the history of our Church has a diversity of views on any subject been responded to by the creation of an alternative episcopal structure."

The Guilford Group report of January 2006 listed disadvantages of a free province including:

• It could represent a major schism within the Church of England, with less possibility of the two sides growing together, potentially allowing for the possibility of the new Province declaring itself out of communion with the Provinces of Canterbury and York;
• It would to all intents and purposes amount to a competing provincial jurisdiction which has so far run counter to Lambeth Conference Resolutions;
• It would be fundamentally unhealthy to establish a province solely on the grounds of opposition to women bishops;
• There would be a risk of it becoming another ‘continuing Anglican Church’.
The Guilford Group report is here (rft):

The General Synod next meets July 6-10.

Have you given up hope and reason?

In a recent comment on a posting here on evolution Tobias Haller wrote:

When "religion" is only around to plug the gaps in understanding the world, and science comes along and plugs those gaps more effectively and persuasively, religion will feel assaulted. That is why a faith that is based more on a Who than a Why or How is more lively, and surely at the root of Christianity we have a grasp on Who we worship. In the long run, this Who is at the base of everything, not just the gaps.
I wonder if The Rev. Dr. Leslie Fairfield is one of those who feels assaulted. In an interview the professor emeritus of church history at Trinity seminary in Ambridge stated:
There are dozens of consequences that follow from our choice between Biblical Anglican Christianity and Modernism. Let me just mention two.

If you opt for Modernism, you give up hope. The "god" of Modernism is simply the "force" that's spinning a sick system. Even a nine-second appraisal of human behavior immediately reminds us that we're in big trouble. And even in American suburbia (gasp) there are intractable problems that don't go away when you throw money at them or go serve at the soup kitchen. Drugs, teen suicide…you fill in the blanks. The Modernist "god" offers absolutely no hope, no intervention from outside, no autonomous burst of healing energy. Because the Modernist "god" is finally simply our experience - in other words, Us.

If you opt for Modernism, likewise, you give up reason. Let me say that again…if you opt for Modernism, you give up any hope of rationality or accurate knowledge. If "mind" is not a gift from God - a possibility that Modernism categorically excludes - then "mind" is simply a random product of genetic inheritance plus accidental environmental stimuli. Therefore a thought in my head is as likely to have been caused by some ancestral experience on the African savannah as it has of portraying the tree I'm looking at right now.

All of which is to say that Biblical Anglican theology is Christianity, and Modernism isn't.
Dr. Fairfield figures that if you are not in his Biblical Anglican theology camp then you are in this Modernist camp. Is he right? Or has he misunderstood the nature of the division that exists?

Rule Book? Don't believe it

Hearts were aflutter in the Anglican blogscape on Sunday when The Telegraph ran a story headlined "Church to impose ‘rule book’ of beliefs." Here at The Lead the newsteam consulted and concluded the breathlessly told story just didn't add up so we held off passing it on.

Thinking Anglicans did too, but now has something concrete to say:

Here’s what is actually happening, based closely on the so-called “bishops’ paper” to which the Sunday Telegraph refers.

The House of Bishops met at Market Bosworth in May. At that meeting they were asked to agree to a process for the Church of England to respond to the request made for all provinces of the Anglican Communion to comment by the end of 2007 on The Proposal for an Anglican Covenant.

This is only the first stage in quite a protracted process, involving the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the subsequent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council and the subsequent submission of a final Covenant text to all Anglican provinces for synodical approval.

Read it all here.

The UK papers seem to have a penchant for jumping the gun. The Times has pulled a story it just posted today underline byline of (drumroll) Ruth Gledhill.

God given gifts

From north of the border comes this story:

Parishioners at the Holy Cross Catholic Church have twice received notes in their weekly newsletter promoting more conservative clothing for Sunday Mass. The note, titled "Dressing for Church," asks women to "dress in a 'modest' way -- a way that does not draw undue attention to your beauty or physique, so that you will not be upstaging God, who gave you these gifts."

"When we get distracted by the female figure, we're going to be less likely to be praying than noticing who's sitting nearby," Father William Swift, the church's pastor, said yesterday in an interview.

Fr. Swift said strapless dresses, tight shirts, short skirts and "dresses that expose too much skin" were in question, but added he thought people should come to their own conclusions about what is appropriate and what is not.

"Mostly, clothes designed to draw attention to oneself," he said. "In church, to be modest means to give way to another point of view, without being centre stage."
...
St. Paul used to request women cover their heads in church in order to avoid distraction, Fr. Swift said.

"The only way women were to draw attention to themselves in biblical times was to show off their hair because their dress was modest. So St. Paul cut them off at the pass there," he said.

It's all here in The National Post.

Not surprising, we have the Mad Priest to thank for this pointer.

Presiding Bishop To Testify Before Senate Thursday A.M.

Thursday morning, June 7, the Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, will testify before the United States Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee on the urgent need for legislation to address Global Warming.
According to the Episcopal Church Public Policy Network, the hearing will be on-line via a Live Webcast tomorrow, June 7, 2007 at 10 a.m. ET.

To View the Hearing CLICK HERE and look for the red "Live Hearing" button on the front page at the time of the hearing.
You will need "Real Player" to view the hearing - it can be downloaded for free here

More information on the Episcopal Public Policy Network HERE

UPDATE: News report from Hearing HERE

Testimony from the Presiding Bishop HERE

Future Speculations about the Communion

Fr. Greg Jones, one of the contributors here at Episcopal Cafe and the keeper of the Anglican Centrist blog, has written up an analysis of an interview given by Bishop John Rogers to David Virtue.

Bishop Rogers is a bishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda AMiA initiative and once served as the Dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge PA, and who has returned as interim-dean following the departure of Dean Paul Zahl.

Fr Jones' comments on the interview include this bit of analysis of Bishop Rogers' points:
"Rogers predicts that 'a major division of the Anglican Communion is more likely' than the Episcopal Church being 'disciplined' or expelled from the Communion. He believes the shape of the schism will mean that evangelical Anglicans in Africa and the West will go their own way, while other provinces remain in communion with the Episcopal Church and England.

Moreover, he believes that the departure of the evangelical coalition will mean that the Episcopal Church will in fact maintain its position and standing within the Communion. Finally, he predicts that those who wish to separate from the Episcopal Church will have to forfeit the properties they are trying to purloin from the Episcopal Church. (Notably, the Anglican Mission in America has lost its flagship court case on this issue.)"
Read the rest here.

More Lambeth Invites Likely

"The invitation list for the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops is not complete, according to Canon James Rosenthal, communications director for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), who said it is possible more invitations will be extended in the coming months," writes George Conger in The Living Church

Invitations were sent May 22. The initial invitation list was compiled based on past precedent and the recommendations of the Windsor Report, according to Canon Rosenthal and other aides to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who spoke with The Living Church.

Bishops who have not received invitations included those whose consecrations are valid but whose jurisdictions are anomalous, bishops not engaged in stipendiary episcopal ministry, and a handful of bishops whose manner of life or public actions are cause for concern. Invitation also were not extended to retired but semi-active bishops known as “assisting bishops” in The Episcopal Church or “honorary assistant bishops” in the Church of England.

Some previous Lambeth Conferences included bishops holding administrative positions within their national churches, but no such invitations have yet been extended for 2008. Episcopal bishops in this group include the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, the Presiding Bishop’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations; the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, director of the Office of Pastoral Development at The Episcopal Church Center; and the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. All three are actively engaged in stipendiary church ministry and are active members of the House of Bishops, but are not directly engaged in “episcopal ministry,” the ACC said.

Read it all HERE

Executive Council has full plate

When the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church convenes June 11-14 in Parsippany, New Jersey, its members will spend time reflecting on the past, present and future shape of the Church and of the Anglican Communion, as well as considering issues of ministry and governance according to Mary Frances Schjonberg of the Episcopal News Service.

"The Church's governing body between General Conventions will, as part of its agenda, look to the past to hear a report about the effort to gather information about how the Episcopal Church may have benefited from slavery.

The Council will look to the present and the future as it discusses how the Church might reach out to Episcopalians in a small number of dioceses and parishes where the leadership is disaffected with the wider Church.

Council will consider a report and resolutions in response to portions of the communiqué issued by the Anglican Primates at the end of their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; get a summary of responses to its invitation for Episcopalians to discuss the proposed Anglican Covenant; and will hear about the experience of one gay Anglican in Nigeria.

"I am sure that a number of international concerns will be the subject of our conversation and deliberation," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "Among them, Anglican Communion issues, of mission including the Towards Effective Anglican Mission meeting and matters of peace and justice such as our Millennium Development Goal efforts. We'll talk about how we can grow our partnerships around the Communion; as well as relationships with our covenant partners such as Brazil, Mexico and Philippines.

"The current conflict around the draft Anglican Covenant and the process for its consideration, as well as the Lambeth Conference and the House of Bishops' response to the Primates' Communiqué, will be discussed. We will also include in that discussion the conflict caused by incursion into the Episcopal Church from other members of the Anglican Communion."

"We will consider domestic issues including the federal Farm Bill and our concern about domestic poverty, as well as matters of internal governance," she continued."

The lesbian and gay members of Executive Council will meet with Bonnie Anderson and other members of the Communiqué response committee on Sunday evening.

Read it all HERE with links to more information.

Split Not Inevitable

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in an interview to be published on Friday, in Time says he is not optimistic about the future of the Anglican Church but adds that a schism over gay issues is not inevitable, reports Michael Conlon, Religion Writer for Reuters.

The state of the 77-million-member global church "feels very vulnerable. I can't, of course, deny that. It feels very vulnerable and very fragile, perhaps more so than it's been for a very long time," Williams told Time Magazine.
"I don't think schism is inevitable. The task I've got is to try and maintain as long as possible the space in which people can have constructive disagreements, learn from each other, and try and hold that within an agreed framework of discipline and practice." Asked if was optimistic, Williams said "I'm hopeful. Not optimistic," agreeing that "hopeful" was a "safer" word.

Later in the interview Archbishop Williams explains his thinking on which bishops to invite to the Lambeth Conference and why he left Bishop Robinson and Bishop Minns off the list,

"In the Time interview Williams said he did that to avoid the two bishops becoming the focus of the 2008 meeting. "The mode of their appointment in the face of substantial protest simply means their bishoping is going to be under question in large parts of the Anglican world," he said "Regarding Robinson, one thing I've tried to make clear is that my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn't made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships," he said. "I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case. As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop. I find that bizarre and puzzling," Williams said.

Read it all HERE

UPDATE: Time podcast of interview HERE

Time article HERE

Interview printed HERE

Daughter Welcomes Mother as Priest

The Rev. Carrie Schofield-Broadbent had some advice for mom on Wednesday. "Pretty is as pretty does," she said. "Choose your battles. Keep it all in perspective and it will work out fine." Schofield-Broadbent preached during an ordination service for her mother, who became the Rev. Kathlyn Schofield, an Episcopal priest, during a two-hour ceremony at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville.

Renee K. Gadoua writes in the Syracuse, NY (Diocese of Central New York) Post-Standard.

Schofield is one of seven priests Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams will ordain this year in ceremonies that began May 30. He will also ordain six people as transitional deacons Saturday at Syracuse's St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. Transitional deacons will eventually be ordained priests.
The ordinands are part of a program the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York began a few years ago. Many of the people participating are following their religious call as a second career or will work part time as clergy while working elsewhere, Adams said.
The new priests join 129 Episcopal priests ministering to more than 19,000 people in 97 congregations in Central New York, north to Alexandria Bay and south to the Pennsylvania border.
During her homily, Schofield-Broadbent, 32, described the role of priests and baptized people as reflecting God's goodness. "For future reference, the road will not always be smooth," daughter told mother. "How do I know this? Years of experience," she said. Adams ordained her in 2004. She is pastor of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Liverpool.
"Love much, dream big, care for yourself as much as you care for others," Schofield-Broadbent told Schofield.
One more thing.
"Keep your hair out of your face," she said.

Read it all HERE

Presiding Bishop on Bill Moyers' Journal

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori talks with Bill Moyers about science, the environment, and the rift in her Church over the ordination of gay and lesbian priests. According to the Religion and Ethics Newsletter from Thirteen: WNET New York, the Presiding Bishop, spiritual leader to 7,500 congregations and more than two million members, will be on "Bill Moyers Journal," airing Friday, June 8 at 9 p.m. (check local listings).

Thanks to The Diocese of Arizona Nature and Spirituality Program for the information.

Women to be ordained priests in Wangaratta

The Australian Diocese of Wangaratta has voted to permit the ordination and licensing of women clergy, according to Georger Conger writing in the Church of England Newspaper

By a vote of 43-9 in the lay order and 15-9 in the clergy order the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta, which extends from Melbourne’s northern suburbs to the New South Wales border, on May 25 adopted the Anglican Church of Australia General Synod “Clarification Canon” which permits women clergy.

Only four of Australia’s 23 dioceses do not ordain women to the priesthood: the Anglo-Catholic leaning dioceses of The Murray and Ballarat, and the Evangelical leaning dioceses of Sydney and Northwest Australia.

Synod also adopted a private members bill, repealing legislation adopted in 2004 that would have provided alternative Episcopal pastoral oversight to clergy and congregations unable to accept women’s orders.

The synod votes will not have legal effect until Wangaratta Bishop David Farrer gives his assent. The Diocesan Registrar, the Rev. John Pryor told the diocesan newspaper, The Advocate, it was likely the bishop would give his assent once adequate provision had been made for those opposed to the ordination of women.

Read it all HERE

Primus of Scottish Episcopal Church Patron of Inclusive Church

Inclusive Church is delighted to announce that the Most Revd Dr Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, has agreed to join the Archbishop of Mexico as a Patron of Inclusive Church. Bishop Idris is Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and a Primate of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop states, "It is a privilege to be associated with Inclusive Church. The Anglican Communion is seeking how it may develop and deepen its life today - what better way could there be than working to keep our church as welcoming and encouraging to everyone who wants to follow Jesus so that everyone of us can be challenged by God's love."

More news and events for Inclusive Church HERE

TIME profiles Rowan Williams on eve of his US sabbatical

TIME magazine's David Van Biema and Catharine Mayer have written a cover story on the time%2520cover.jpgArchbishop of Canterbury. It appears in this week's European and South Pacific editions. The article will likely become the one piece that readers new to the turmoil in the Angican Communion will want to read for a quick, but fairly comprehensive grasp on the situation. It is followed by an in-depth interview (that will probably be of more interest to Communion watchers) in which Williams spells out his reasons for inviting neither Bishops Gene Robinson nor Martyn Minns to the Lambeth Conference.

A few excerpts and quotes worth perusing before you click "Read more" to see the whole thing:

On Peter Akinola:

The Archbishop is weary of being pushed around. The pusher-in-chief, of course, especially since the founding of CANA, has been Akinola. ‘I’ve said to him privately and publicly I don’t think that [CANA] was an appropriate response,’ says Williams. He is also bothered by the unwavering support by Akinola’s church of a proposed Nigerian law, now lapsed, that would have assigned a five-year jail term not only to open homosexuals, but to those who supported them. Williams says he is ‘very unhappy’ about the situation, ‘and I’ve written to the Archbishop about it."

On Gene Robinson:

"Regarding Robinson, one thing I’ve tried to make clear is that my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn’t made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships. I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case. As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop — I find that bizarre and puzzling."

On the Episcopal Church's response to the Primates' communique from Dar es Salaam:

TIME: The Anglican primates met in Dar es Salaam in February and made three key recommendations to the American bishops: that they stop ordaining gay bishops and blessing gay unions and that they create a special bishop to serve the needs of conservatives. What happens if they refuse?

Williams: An absolute blanket no to all of this would pose a real problem. We’ve had indications of a cautious yes to part of it.


Read more »

Bishops Steve Jecko and Frederick Putnam have died

Bishop Stephen Jecko, the retired Bishop of Florida has died overnight. Canon Kendall Harmon's site has the news:

"His cancer apparently progressed rapidly, and the Lord took him home peacefully. More details will be forthcoming later from appropriate sources. Funeral arrangements are pending."

Episcopal Life Online has the additional news about Bishop Putnam's passing.

The details of their funerals and more biographical information can be found in the Episcopal Life article linked just above.

May your servants Stephen and Frederick rest in peace and rise in glory and may their families know the loving presence of Jesus among them in this hour.

Blogging the Bible

A little over a year ago, David Plotz of Slate set out to write blog entries on the entire Hebrew Bible. This week, some 39 books, 929 chapters and more than 600,000 words later he finished. Have a look.

More love for FNL

Friday Night Lights, beloved of this blog, its predecessor and the redoubtable Katie Sherrod, has been nominated for five Television Critics Association Awards, including program of the year. Lead actors Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, who, together, deliver the best portrayal of a good marriage on television, were nominated for individaul achievement in drama. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

Six hundred gather for Kelsey funeral

Ecclesiastical orders melted at the church door in Marquette, Michigan, on Friday, June 8, as 600 people touched by the life and stunned by the death of Jim Kelsey, an Episcopalian in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, gathered for his funeral. Concurrent services were celebrated at his former parish of Holy Trinity in Swanton, Vermont, and at the cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand. Herb Gunn has the story.

Jefferts Schori shines on Moyers show

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori continues to be the Episcopal Church's best ambassador to the wider culture. Watch her appearance Friday night on Bill Moyers Journal. Or read the transcript.

An exception

Get Religion is a Web site devoted to analyzing the media's coverage of religion. It is bankrolled by Howard Ahmanson, who also bankrolls the Institute on Religion and Democracy, American Anglican Counci, and a variety of other outfits whose aims include having creationism taught in schools, obscuring the link between human activity and global warming and undermining mainline Protestants' ability to govern their denominations.

All that said, GR is now, once again, home to the astute and fair minded Doug LeBlanc. His analysis of the recent TIME magazine story on Rowan Williams, and of Williams' cagey deployment of invitations to the Lambeth Conference are well worth reading.

What he said

Tobias Haller has a gift for clarifying muddled stituations from a theological as well as a political perspective. His recent reflection on the current state of Anglican Communion and the invitations to the Lambeth Conference is only the most recent example.

Trouble in Nigeria

The Nigerian Sunday Sun is reporting,

"The love of money is the root of all evil, so says the Holy book. Love of power, it appears, is today threatening the brotherhood of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) following alleged attempts by the out-going National President, Right Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, to "manipulate the electoral process".

Sunday Sun. findings at the weekend revealed that the association is now split into two over attempts by the out-going National President, to retain his seat even after reportedly losing in a shadow election to the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Dr. John Onaiyekan."

Read the rest here.

Fortyeight Nobel Prize winners have called for new elections in Nigeria. The Anglican Church of Nigeria has been more cautious. George Conger has that story.

Sanctuary

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports:

The sanctuary movement has come to Long Beach. California.

On Friday, St. Luke's Episcopal Church announced it had begun sheltering Liliana, an undocumented woman facing a deportation order, as well as Pablo, her three-month-old boy.

Liliana's last name is being withheld. She is married to a U.S. citizen and is the mother of three children, all of whom are citizens, but she is ineligible for citizenship herself.

Liliana's family is the third in Los Angeles County to seek sanctuary and is one of about 13 families nationally who have, or soon will, go public with their requests for shelter.

St. Luke's is part of a faith-based effort calling itself the New Sanctuary Movement. It is a national coalition of congregations and religious organizations that promises "to protect immigrant workers and families from unjust deportation" by offering shelter and aid.

Read it all.

It would be interesting to know what some of the high-profile allies of the so-called Global South Primates think about offering sanctuary to people from the global south.

Goths and rockers go to church

CNN catches up with Goth Eucharists in England and the U2charist in the U.S. in this surprisingly snark-free three minute segment. For the record, it's our understanding at the Cafe that the U2charist is the brainchild of Sarah Dylan Breuer, though she seldom gets credit for it,

Cuba's First Woman Bishop

The Rt. Rev. Nerva Cot was consecrated Bishop yesterday at Havana's Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity by the Most Rev. Andrew Hutchinson, Archbishop of Canada. She will serve as Suffragan Bishop for the western part of Cuba along with The Rt. Rev. Ulises Aguero who will serve in the eastern half of the island nation.
Reuters reports:

The Episcopal Church broke new ground in Cuba yesterday by ordaining its first female bishop in the developing world at a ceremony that mixed incense with Caribbean music.

Rev. Nerva Cot said she will bring a feminine touch to leadership of her church's small but growing congregation in communist Cuba, where religious worship was freed a decade ago.

A dozen bishops from North, Central and South America and Europe attended the consecration of Cot and Ulises Aguero as suffragan, or auxiliary, bishops at Havana's Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The Cuban church is part of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

"This is an important date for the Anglican Communion because there are so few women bishops among us, only 11," said Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of Canada, who headed the ceremony.

"There is a vitality and a deep enthusiasm in Cuba that is an important gift to a church that has too often been very conservative," Hutchison told reporters.

Christian Cubans are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, and the Episcopal Church has only 5,000 baptized followers.

Cot, who favors allowing gays to become priests, said she hopes her role will encourage other Latin American countries to broaden diversity in the Episcopal Church.


Links to the story are here and here.

Here is a background story written after Cot's appointment.

Members of a Cuban diocesan synod burst into applause and shouts of joy on Sunday when Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of the Anglican Church of Canada announced the appointment of Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera as one of two new suffragan bishops for the Cuban Anglican Church.

She is the wife of Juan Ramon de la Paz Cerezo, dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Havana.

And in a particularly sweet moment, the announcement of her appointment followed a Eucharist during which their daughter, Marianela de la Paz Cot, was ordained priest.

Cubans also enthusiastically welcomed the appointment of Archdeacon Ulises Mario Aguero Prendes as the second new suffragan bishop.

The suffragan bishops were appointed by the Metropolitan Council of Cuba which Hutchison chairs, at the request of Bishop Miguel Tamayo, the diocesan bishop. The Council, at this meeting, was made up of Hutchison and U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori who was also present for the announcement. The third member of the Metropolitan Council, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, did not attend the meeting for health reasons.

Cuba was once a diocese of the Episcopal Church but is now under the care of the Anglican Church of Canada.

While running for President, cradle Episcopalian worships Baptist style

Should John McCain be elected President, he will feel right at home going to worship at St. John's Church at Lafayette Square. McCain is a Episcopalian who attends North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Sacramento Bee's Matt Stearns reports that while McCain has been courting evangelical Christian voters, telling them about "how his faith helped him survive 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam...he says little about the current role of religion in his life."

"I think it's something between me and my creator," McCain said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers. "It's primarily a private issue rather than a public one. ... When I'm asked about it, I'll be glad to discuss it. I just don't bring it up."

McCain is a cradle Episcopalian who attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia and the United States Naval Academy. He says he attends the Southern Baptist North Phoenix Church because they are "strong on redemption and so am I."

According to the story, conservative evangelical political activists want McCain to tell more of his story. In the evangelical tradition, making a testimony about the life-changing power of faith is as much a hallmark of faithfulness and reception of the sacrament and the beauty of worship is in the Episcopal tradition.

McCain "seems to have a difficulty in discussing it in terms that people relate to," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a leading conservative evangelical organization. "I think people want a sense of where someone stands in their relationship with the Lord. I think George Bush was able to do that in the way he communicated, using terms that evangelicals are familiar with."

The paper describes some of that faith journey as described by McCain himself in his autobiography Faith of Our Fathers and in interviews.

McCain was raised an Episcopalian in a family that "observed our faith openly and without reservation."

In his memoir "Faith of My Fathers," McCain recalled the religious model his father provided: "(He) was devout, although the demands of his (naval officer) profession sometimes made regular church-going difficult. ... My father didn't talk about God or the importance of religious devotion. He didn't proselytize. But he always kept with him a tattered, dog-eared prayer book, from which he would pray aloud for an hour, on his knees, twice a day."

Comparing his practices with his father's, McCain said ruefully, "I'm not as devout or as good."

Cindy McCain, wife of the Senator, and two of his children were baptized in the 6,000 member congregation, but the candidate himself has not been. "I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs," he said.

McCain still identifies himself as Episcopalian, so when he's in Washington, and should he gain the White House in 2008, he will not be the first president formed in the Episcopal Church who have journeyed through other traditions along the way. He should feel right at home in the Church next door.

Digital Images, Real Controversy

Is it ethical to digitally scan a private space open to the public and then use it to make a video game or a movie without the permission of the owners? Especially when the use of those images is antithetical to the mission and values of the owners? Is it ethical for a company to make buckets of money on these images? And how should the church react when popular culture uses, comments or intrudes on the church's sacred spaces? These are the questions at the core of a controversy brewing over the use of digital images of the interior of Manchester Cathedral in a video game called “Resistance: Fall of Man.”

Ruth Gledhill, in her blog, Articles of Faith, first broke the story last week. Now the clergy and leadership of Manchester Cathedral are hitting back. Sony, the maker of the Playstation 3 system for which the game was produced, has become the focus of protests.

The Dean and Canons of the Cathedral have written a letter to Sony protesting the inclusion of their Cathedral in the game.

During the game players are asked to assume the role of an army sergeant and win a battle in the Cathedral. We have seen screenshots of the game in play showing the interior of the Cathedral with the player's gun ready to fight; soldiers can be seen elsewhere in the nave taking aim. The video footage of the Cathedral battle on 'YouTube' has shocked and dismayed us beyond words and can only be described as virtual desecration.

We are shocked to see a place of worship, prayer, learning and heritage being presented to the youth of today as a location where guns can be fired.

We were sickened to discover that millions of people who play the game have a choice of weaponry to use within the Cathedral including the Rossmore 236 close-quarter combat shotgun, the L23 Fareye sniper rifle and the XR-005 Hailstorm chaingun.

The Cathedral works with victims of gun violence in their city, including counseling, special worship, and work with teenagers to find other ways to deal with conflict beside violence.

...it is a shame to have a game like this undermining such important work. It is well know that Manchester has serious gun-crime problems, as can be testified by the sad shooting of three youths in the past 72 hours, and, for many young people, these games offer a different sort of reality. Seeing guns in Manchester Cathedral is not the sort of connection we want them or anyone to make.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, is calling on Sony to withdraw the game, which is on sale globally. He said: “For a global manufacturer to recreate one of our great cathedrals with photo-realistic quality and then encourage people to have gun battles in the building is beyond belief and highly irresponsible.”

Spokeman for Sony believes that game users will differentiate the digital images from the real thing.

David Wilson, a Sony spokesman, told The Times: “It is game-created footage, it is not video or photography. It is entertainment, like Doctor Who or any other science fiction. It is not based on reality at all. Throughout the whole process we have sought permission where necessary.”

A statement from Sony says

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is aware of the concerns expressed by the Bishop of Manchester and the cathedral authorities... and we naturally take the concerns very seriously. "Resistance: Fall of Man is a fantasy science fiction game and is not based on reality."

The spokesman also said that permission was not necessary because the Cathedral is public space. Just as people may take snapshots, they say, an environmental artist can digitize what people can routinely see, including historic landmarks like the Cathedral. Even so, Sony says they will would contact the cathedral on Monday "to understand their concerns in more detail".

Ted Price, President and CEO of Insomniac, the creator of the game says on the Playstation web site that “one of our Environment Artists went over to Great Britain with his camera and researched all the towns that the game takes place in, and that was important because we wanted to get it right.”

The legal implications of the row are unclear. Matt Wardman on The Wardman Wire describes the questions of law that the situations raises.

The initial response has been from the news media has been one of some bemusement.

Sony may have a risk, but they may not. However, they have an exposure of 10s of millions in revenue from this game - so they face a large downside.

Similarly, for Church of England cathedrals, there is a potential risk and a large potential downside. The income from commercial photography and film is probably in the millions.

It may be that Manchester Cathedral (and they will have consulted with other Cathedrals and the Church legal advisers before taking this action) want to stop this before it becomes open season on English Cathedrals.

It may be an attempt to establish legally that video games are in the same category as films, and avoid losing the income that comes from rental of cathedrals by film crews.

Income from set piece filming (such as the weddings in Four Weddings and a Funeral) are not at risk, but with the rapid increase in small producers and guerilla filming at least one category of income is potentially at risk in the future. Broadcast and HD quality footage can now be shot on prosumer level video cameras.

It may in fact turn out that Sony obtained freelance footage, and are only potentially liable for “reproduction” and “publication” (which would be violations of copyright if copyright exists) rather than filming without permission.

Gamers themselves seem more upset by the blowback than by the game itself. A quick search of Digg turned up comments about the row from gamers.

A commenter going by 'vx69' wrote said, “Some people really need to understand the concept of reality and fantasy.”

Another, called 'maoa' said,

I don't think it's just that they used the Church's interior without permission - it's a whole game genre that goes against the Church's beliefs. It's a bit like a game using Jack Thompson's house as a location for a violent shoot-out - the main difference being that Manchester Cathedral is a public place. I agree that legal action would be overkill, but you can understand the Church getting a bit upset. Furthermore, the article does specifically say they are "considering" legal action rather than "pursuing", so we perhaps Sony will apologise over the phone and we'll hear no more about it.

But 'maoa' also said, "I'd have expected this kind of reaction from Manchester Cathedral, anyway. I live in Manchester and know the Canon's son, and I remember they held a faith-affirming "Da Vinci Mass" in reaction to Dan Brown's film... they advertised through parody billboard posters and the works. It's not the first time they've overreacted to popular culture."

Other gamers commented that churches have been used in scenes in other video games, such as the Call of Duty or Medal of Honor series. The difference in this case is that these seem to be digital images of fictional churches. Commenters wonder if it made a difference though the scenes in these games accurartely portray the fact that in wartime churches have been used in a variety of ways including hospitals, headquarter and gun emplacements.

There is a similar row brewing over the upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto IV and the use of actual New York City locales in a game that is at once violent and portrays criminal behavior. There have been statements of protest but no lawsuits. Since the game has not been released, no one knows if actual churches were used in the production of this game.

The controversy points up what can happen when popular culture clashes with the traditions and sensibilities of the faithful. Should the church push back? Was it "digital desecration" and "virtual vandalism?" Or is it an opportunity to use the fantasy to speak to real life? The Bishop, Dean and leadership of Manchester Cathedral are hopping mad and ready to fight back at what they see as a violation of their mission and ministry.

Putting poverty in the presidential race

The ONE Campaign's commitment to make poverty history was stepped up June 11 when a mass media and mobilization effort to make global poverty a fundamental aspect of the 2008 presidential race was launched at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The new initiative, "ONE Vote '08: Saving Lives, Securing our Future," promises to energize presidential candidates and ONE members "to make the fight against global poverty a key foreign policy and security issue at the 2008 ballot box."

Matt Davies has the story.

Mac-Iyalla speaks to Executive Council

Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder of his country's only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, spoke with the Executive Council's International Concerns (INC) and National Concerns (NAC) committees during the first day of the Council's June meeting in Parsippany, New Jersey. The Executive Council is the Episcopal Church's governing body between General Conventions, and began its four-day meeting

Mary Frances Schjonberg wrote the following for an ENS story:

Mac-Iyalla told the joint INC_NAC that Anglican Church of Nigeria Archbishop and Primate Peter Akinola has been directly involved in Mac-Iyalla called a "deadly bill" pending before the Nigerian legislature that would make homosexuality punishable by five years in prison and would criminalize any association with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, he said, "would make us outcasts in our own country."

Mac-Iyalla said Akinola has gone to legislators and government leaders, including Anglicans, and pressured them to write the bill as a way to prevent his organization from gaining any more strength. Changing Attitudes Nigeria has about 2,500 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, according to Mac-Iyalla. He also suggested that Akinola worked for the bill so that the Listening Process called for by the Windsor Report would be stymied by the government's laws.

It is a lie, he said, for Akinola and others to claim that there are no homosexual people in Nigeria, explaining that many languages spoken in Nigeria had words to describe people in same-gender relationships long before white missionaries came to Africa. Such terms, he said, indicate that Africans have always acknowledged people who are attracted to members of their gender.

"It is wrong to say that homosexuality is a Western, imported culture," Mac-Iyalla said.

Saying that most Nigerians are more worried about eating than they are about homosexuality, Mac-Iyalla said, "the Anglican Church is the only church in Nigeria that has gay-lesbian issues on its agenda."

He asked the Episcopal Church to petition the Nigerian government to oppose the bill and to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury about speaking against the bill. He also described his group's desire to hold a large meeting of GLBT people in Nigeria after Easter 2008 so that international pressure can be brought to bear on the Nigerian government.

"Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," said Mac-Iyalla, who also described a series of death threats that forced him to flee Nigeria. "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."

The Episcopal News Service summary of the first days work is found here.

Executive Council holds private conversation

A draft of a response to the Anglican Communion Primates' latest communiqué is ready for consideration by the Executive Council, the church's governing body between General Conventions. Episcopal News Service reports:

In a public plenary session, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson said that Executive Council members would discuss during private conversation later in the day a draft report of the EC008 Task Group, requested by the Executive Council (via Resolution EC008) during its March 2-4 meeting in Portland, Oregon. (Council normally spends some time during each meeting in such private conversation.)

The EC008 Task Group document suggesting a Council response to the communiqué issued by Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will be discussed during an open plenary session on June 14.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anderson appointed the EC008 Task Group. Resolution EC008 named Anderson, who is vice president of Council, to chair the work group. (Jefferts Schori is president of the Council.)

The Executive Council meeting, at the Sheraton hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey, began with three hours of committee meetings on the morning of June 11 and another two hours in the late afternoon with the plenary session in between. Council had dinner with representatives of the host Diocese of Newark.

During the plenary session, Jefferts Schori and Anderson reported on their activities since the March Council meeting.

Later in the afternoon, Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder of his country's only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, met with Council's International Concerns (INC) and National Concerns (NAC) committees.


Davis Mac-Iyalla, described a series of death threats that forced him to flee Nigeria. He implored the Council, "Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."

The Presiding Bishop reported that she recently spent time with Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams while she was in Washington D.C. last week to testify on global warming before a U.S. Senate committee hearing.

Read more HERE.

Howard Dean, Scripture scholar

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, who left the Episcopal Church in a dispute over the route of a bike path, and who once identified Job as his favorite book in the New Testament, has weighed in on the Biblical evidence on gay relationships.

"I haven't seen gay marriage in the Bible once," Dean said in the keynote address at a Democratic fundraiser at a Reno hotel-casino, perhaps not the best venue for a disquisition on traditional values.

AP has a story that will have gays, lesbians and their allies wondering whether they are about to be sacrificed to Democrats' desire to cut into the evangelical vote. It includes this paragraph:

Rick Warren, a best-selling author and pastor at a Southern California church, is an example of an evangelical leader who is setting aside "those things that divide us" and doing things "that bring people together — things that really are in the Bible," Dean said. He said those priorities include fighting poverty, global warming and the bloodshed in Darfur.

Warren, remember, is among Peter Akinola's loudest cheerleaders, having written a brief profile of the Nigerian archbishop when Akinola was first named one of Time 's one hundred most influential people.

Warren noted that men like Akinola are "bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches." without ever mentioning that Akinola lobbied for anti-gay legislation that had been condemned by the European Parliament, the U. S. State Department and every major human rights organization.

Becoming ONE

Coverage in the major media today on the launch of ONE Vote '08 focuses on politicians reaching across the aisle and Bono's increasing influence on world politics.

The New York Times reports on the unlikely pairing of former senatorial leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, who were "fierce adversaries" during their time in Congress. They stand united against global poverty as co-chairmen of the One Vote ’08 effort and spoke at yesterday's launch of the initiative at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.

“It is in the strategic and national interest of the United States of America,” said Mr. Frist, a Republican and former Senate majority leader from Tennessee. “People do not go to war with people who save their children’s lives.”

Both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will be asked to sign a pledge in the fall saying they will offer proposals to fight H.I.V./AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, improve children’s health in other ways, increase access to education, provide access to clean water and reduce by half the number of people who suffer from hunger.

“Through the extraordinary challenge we now have, it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize that this must be a key part of American foreign policy,” said Mr. Daschle, a Democrat and former Senate majority leader from South Dakota.



More here.

ABC reports on Bono's increasing influence on the world stage, noting the launch of ONE Vote '08 follows closely on the heels of his presence last week at the G-8 Summit. The story also covers the initiative's bipartisan support and the significant investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"The number of people whose lives will be affected by the choice you make next November is much higher than the population of America," said Bono in a video released at the ONE Vote '08 launch. "Do we have the political will to end this?"

At the campaign's launch in an Episcopal church, supporters of the campaign joked about Bono's power.

"I don't think it's written in the Bible, but if enough people suffer in the world, rock stars will start crying out," joked evangelical Pastor Brian McLaren at the campaign launch Monday in Washington, D.C.

"We're going to make sure that every candidate gets asked again and again and again what they're going to do about poverty," said McLaren.

CBS and other media outlets have picked up the AP coverage of the event:

For months, scores of volunteers wearing black-and-white ONE T-shirts and carrying placards have been attending presidential debates and some campaign events by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and other Democrats, as well as Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Activity will only increase in the coming months, with town-hall-style events, mailings, a celebrity bus tour and TV advertisements.

For now, the focus is on the early primary states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But the effort eventually will be expanded to the more than dozen states holding contests on Feb. 5, and will continue through the general election.

Read it here.

Stay tuned to the ONE Vote '08 blog here.

Division among the apostles

Sarah Dylan Breuer, in this week's Lectionary Blog, notes that the context of this past Sunday's Epistle reading (Galatians 1:11-24) may offer insights into how we deal with our modern divisions.

You can't read Galatians with anything approaching care without noticing that there were serious disagreements about serious matters in the earliest churches. Heck, you can't read any of Paul's letters with anything approaching care without noticing that much, but usually people think of most of those other conflicts as ones between Paul, who was clearly right (what with his being a saint and his letters getting in the canon and all), and anonymous nasty heretics, who were clearly wrong, and probably should not be thought of as being Christian at all.

Well, we can't quite do that with Galatians. In Galatians, Paul describes a very bitter fight he's had (and is having, I'd say; I see no indication in the letter that the disagreement has yet been resolved) with none other than Peter.

...

If Peter and Paul can disagree passionately about something that Paul and perhaps even both of them thought was about the very "truth of the gospel," and if we can celebrate them both as apostles of Christ and heroes of the faith, why does it seem to happen so often in our churches today that any serious disagreement about an important matter of faith becomes an occasion to condemn one party as not only completely wrong, but outside the bounds of Christianity itself?

More of Dylan's thoughts, including how this relates to how we experience the Peace and Communion, are here.

Executive Council tours 815

Episcopal Life Online reports on the second day of the Executive Council meeting, which they spent touring the newly renovated Church Center at 815 Second Ave., New York. That street address (815) often acts as shorthand, in blogspeak, for official communications from the Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal Church.

In addition to touring the physical space, the Executive Council got to see a demonstration of Episcopal Communities software, "an online collaboration space that was developed as a way for any Church-related group to meet online, exchange documents and otherwise communicate," according to the story.

Episcopal Life Online has the rest
, including a detailed report on the renovations and the schedule for the remainder of the meeting.


Breakaway? (updated)

Updated

The Telegraph is reporting:

A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
...
According to sources, at least six primates are planning the consecration of a prominent American cleric as a bishop to minister to Americans who have rejected their liberal bishops over the issue of homosexuality.

The article is written by the usually reliable Jonathan Petre.

More:

The initiative is understood to have been co-ordinated by senior African archbishops, including the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, who represent the core of the so-called Global South group of conservative primates.

But the group has a wider base and is also thought to include several relatively moderate primates from outside Africa
...
The new conservative organisation in America will create ripples in the Church of England, which has been increasingly torn over the issue of homosexuality. It is certain to surface at next month's meeting of the General Synod in York.


Read it all here.

We recall that only last week The Telegraph got it wrong.

ADDED, 6AM, 13 June. George Conger, writing in The Living Church:

The impetus for a Kenyan bishop to the U.S. came at a Jan. 13-14 meeting in Memphis, Tenn., between Archbishop Nzimbi and the clergy and lay leaders of 17 American AKC congregations. The congregations petitioned Archbishop Nzimbi to create a missionary diocese for the 25 U.S.-based congregations of Kenyan expatriates and American traditionalists under his care.
...
The consecration of Canon Atwood, a former Episcopalian and general secretary of The Ekklesia Society, will mark the third time an African Anglican province has created a missionary jurisdiction in the United States. The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) operates under the aegis of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, while the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) is overseen by the Church of Nigeria. Several other overseas provinces, including Central Africa and the Southern Cone, also exercise jurisdiction over U.S.-based parishes.
...
The Aug. 30 consecration of Canon Atwood as “Suffragan Bishop of All Saints' Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi” is “part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces,” Archbishop Nzimbi said on June 12, to “support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.”
Emphasis added. What do we have here? Coalescence or further fragmentation? Conger's piece sounds like more of the same (CANA, AMiA, now this), no more a "parallel church in America for conservatives" than there already is.

"A North American Anglican Coalition"

Update: the Church of Uganda, where Canon Atwood's Ekklesia Society has been active for years, has endorsed his consecration. Expect the Southern Cone, where he served as chaplain to the Primate, to do likewise.

Kendall Harmon provides this email from the Archbishop of Kenya:

FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF KENYA

RE: CONSECRATION OF THE REVD. CANON DR. BILL ATWOOD AS SUFFRAGAN BISHOP ON THURSDAY 30TH AUGUST, 2007

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ.

God in His mercy has granted us a great salvation in Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit. The foundations of that faith have been celebrated and shared through many centuries and cultures. In particular, we rejoice in the godly Christian heritage of this faith that we have received in the Anglican Communion.

Now, the fabric of the Anglican Communion has been torn by the actions of The Episcopal Church. The damage has been exacerbated by the failure of the House of Bishops there to provide for the care called for in the Windsor Report and to reject the Pastoral Council offered through the Primates in their Communiqué from Dar es Salaam.

Tragically, the Episcopal Church has refused to provide adequate care for the faithful who continue steadfastly in “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Following months of consultation with other provinces, the Anglican Church of Kenya is taking steps to provide for the care of churches under our charge.

As a part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces, the ACK will consecrate The Revd Canon Dr. Bill Atwood as Suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi of the ACK to support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.

Our goal is to collaborate with faithful Anglicans (including those in North America who are related with other provinces). A North American Anglican Coalition can provide a safe haven for those who maintain historic Anglican faith and practice, and offer a way to live and work together in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Yours sincerely,
The Most Rev. Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi
ARCHBISHOP OF KENYA &
BISHOP OF ALL SAINTS CATHEDRAL DIOCESE

Our previous coverage is here.

Coup d'Eglise

How did the Primates suddenly emerge as possible final arbiters of the definition of Anglicanism, moving from a non-existence to ascendancy? What has happened in the years between 1979 when they held their first meeting until today? These are the questions that The Rev. Francis (Frank) H. Wade, former chaplain to the House of Deputies and retired priest in the Diocese of Washington answers in his essay in The Living Church, Coup d'Elise:

In 1851, French President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte seized dictatorial powers that eventually allowed him to become Emperor Napoleon III, the last monarch of France. His actions gave currency to the term coup d’ètat, literally “strike the state,” which has described political takeovers from that day to this.

The parallel phrase coup d’èglise (strike the church) has not made it into the common lexicon but may be the only way to accurately describe the lightning ascendancy of the primates of the Anglican Communion. From their first meeting in 1979 to their asserted role in the proposed Anglican Covenant, the group has moved from non-existence to centrality. This may or may not be what the Anglican Communion needs; it may or may not be what every devoted Anglican wants; it may or may not be the leading of the Holy Spirit; but we should all know that it is happening.

For most of its history the Anglican Communion lived with three basic facts of life: The members had a common root in the Church of England, a common focal point in the Archbishop of Canterbury, and common mission on a selective basis. A common doctrinal base was assumed but basically unexamined.

The idea of ecumenicity in the late 19th century led to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, which was as close as the Communion ever came to formal doctrinal expression. The Quadrilateral was so broad that it was said that when we speak neither the pope nor the premier of China can say for certain they are not Anglicans.

This hazy sense of communion lasted until the emergence of indigenous leaders in the post-colonial church brought pre-existing differences of perspective and orientation into clarity and conflict. These differences became an Anglican crisis when the American and Canadian provinces gave tangible expression to a faithfully developed, but to many intolerable, view of human sexuality. That crisis provided the platform for the primates’ move to power.


Read the rest here.

GS primates reacting to news

From the Church of Nigeria:

A statement from Archbishop Peter J. Akinola

I have received news of the proposed consecration of Canon Bill Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi, in the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve Kenyan related congregations in North America. Canon Atwood has worked tirelessly throughout the Communion for the sake of the Gospel and is well known to many of us in the Church of Nigeria.
...
We look forward to working with Archbishop Nzimbi, Bishop-elect Atwood and this new pastoral initiative from the Anglican Church of Kenya. We pledge our ongoing prayers and enthusiastic support and cooperation through CANA – a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria already established in North America.

Is this a case of "if you've got lemons, then make lemonade"?

Read it all here.

From the Church of Uganda (source):

Statement from the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi,
Archbishop of the Church of Uganda

The Church of Uganda welcomes the announcement of the consecration of The Revd Canon Dr. Bill Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese in the Anglican Church of Kenya. Canon Atwood is a long time friend and partner of the Church of Uganda. In these difficult days in the Communion, we recognize that measures must be taken to provide for the care of those orthodox Anglicans in America who remain faithful to the Bible.

The fight against hunger

Christians and persons of other faiths gathered this week at the National Cathedral to urge governments to end hunger.

The Christian Post reports:

“I think all Christian people have experienced the goodness of God and it is that experience of God’s goodness and care that sustains us and makes us want to reach out and change the world and help hungry people in serious ways,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, on Sunday.
...
“The reality is that we don’t need more than an additional $75 billion to meet all the goals in all of the countries by 2015,” said Salil Shetty, director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign, at the event.

Shetty was referring to the estimated $75 billion in additional development assistance needed each year from all the rich nations to meet the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut global poverty in half by 2015. The U.S. would be responsible for about $25 billion.

“If the G-8 can’t find the money last week, then where did they find the $900 billion for arms sales,” he questioned to an applauding crowd. “If the G-8 could not find the money last week, then where did they find the $300 billion or more spent last year on Iraq alone.”

The U.N. Millennium Campaign director said grassroots Christian leaders are “so powerful” in the fight against hunger because politicians care about being re-elected and Christian citizens hold the power to vote them into office.
...
Temfwe told a story about a non-Christian community leader in Zambia who said to a fellow church leader while working together for the betterment of their communities:

“I didn’t know the church was interested in sanitation. I didn’t know that the church was interested in what kind of water we drink. I didn’t know the church was interested in what kind of roads are in our communities,” recalled the Jubilee Center in Zambia director. “Had you told me this, I would have become a Christian a long time ago.”


In a later report the Christian Post added:
Thousands of believers from different faith groups united with the common goal of eliminating world hunger at the famed Washington National Cathedral on Monday.

The second annual Interfaith Convocation on Hunger brought together pastors, rabbis, imams, and people of faith to call on Congress and the president to renew their commitment to end hunger.
interfaithhunger.jpg
“You can’t connect with God if you walk away from hunger or if you don’t take it seriously,” declared the Rev. David Beckmann.

I figure people of faith are not taken seriously, are not taken to be people of faith, if they pass to the other side of the road. Evangelism of those in need and those not in need has the same basis.

This Reuters report has more information on the legislative agenda of the group.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs is one of the few economists who believes world poverty can be stamped out. Here's a Vanity Fair story on him that's just appeared.

Adolescence is a bad invention

Is there another way to do teenhood? In today's society education lasts longer, we live longer, we delay marriage. We teach delay of sex until marriage. Yet biologically hormones still kick in when they've always kicked in. Are "kids" growing up too soon or not soon enough?

Psychology Today recently interviewed Robert Epstein about his new book, "The Case Against Adolescence." PT states the premise of the book: "teens are far more competent than we assume, and most of their problems stem from restrictions placed on them."

Some extracts from the interview:

The whole culture collaborates in artificially extending childhood, primarily through the school system and restrictions on labor. The two systems evolved together in the late 19th-century; the advocates of compulsory-education laws also pushed for child-labor laws, restricting the ways young people could work, in part to protect them from the abuses of the new factories. The juvenile justice system came into being at the same time. All of these systems isolate teens from adults, often in problematic ways.
...
Imagine what it would feel like—or think back to what it felt like—when your body and mind are telling you you're an adult while the adults around you keep insisting you're a child. This infantilization makes many young people angry or depressed.
...
We have completely isolated young people from adults and created a peer culture. We stick them in school and keep them from working in any meaningful way, and if they do something wrong we put them in a pen with other "children." In most nonindustrialized societies, young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil. Many cultures do not even have a term for adolescence. But we not only created this stage of life: We declared it inevitable.
...
There are now massive industries—music, clothing, makeup—that revolve around this artificial segment of society and keep it going, with teens spending upward of $200 billion a year almost entirely on trivia.
...
In recent surveys I've found that American teens are subjected to more than 10 times as many restrictions as mainstream adults, twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines, and even twice as many as incarcerated felons. .... The more young people are infantilized, the more psychopathology they show. What's more, since 1960, restrictions on teens have been accelerating.
...
Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures. In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become. When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they have no idea what's going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out.
...
According to census data, the divorce rate of males marrying in their teens is lower than that of males marrying in their 20s. Overall the divorce rate of people marrying in their teens is a little higher. Does that mean we should prohibit them from marrying? That's absurd. We should aim to reverse that, telling young people the truth: that they are capable of creating long-term stable relationships. They might fail—but adults do every day, too.

The "friends with benefits" phenomenon is a by-product of isolating adolescents, warehousing them together, and delivering messages that they are incapable of long-term relationships. Obviously they have strong sexual urges and act on them in ways that are irresponsible. We can change that by letting them know they are capable of having more than a hookup.

Studies show that we reach the highest levels of moral reasoning while we're still in our teens.
...
It's a simple matter to develop competency tests to determine what rights a young person should be given, just as we now have competency tests for driving. When you offer significant rights for passing such a test, it's highly motivating; people who can't pass a high-school history test will never give up trying to pass the written test at the DMV, and they'll virtually always succeed. ... When we dangle significant rewards in front of our young people—including the right to be treated like an adult—many will set aside the trivia of teen culture and work hard to join the adult world.
...
Are you saying that teens should have more freedom?

No, they already have too much freedom—they are free to spend, to be disrespectful, to stay out all night, to have sex and take drugs. But they're not free to join the adult world, and that's what needs to change.

Unfortunately, the current systems are so entrenched that parents can do little to counter infantilization. No one parent can confer property rights, even though they would be highly motivating.

Read it all here. Questions for reflection:

1. Do you buy the premise?

2. Has the church followed culture and infantilized teenagers?

3. What can the church do different?

Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the pointer; see MR's wisdom on the subject here.

He'll be the youngest bishop, by far

Home towns have gotten some bad press over the years when it comes their reputation for appreciating their own. Hometown newspapers often to a great job of profiling their own. A case in point is The Derrick's coverage of Bishop-elect Sean Rowe (Northwestern Pennsylvania):

Recently elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Rowe, at 32, will be the youngest Episcopal bishop in the world following his Sept. 8 consecration at Grove City College’s Harbison Chapel by the presiding bishop of the church, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

He will likewise be the youngest member of the church’s House of Bishops – by about 13 years.

Rowe’s rocketing to positions of prominence leads one to wonder if he has always been on the fast track — or if he is an old soul in a young man’s body.

A look at his journey to the threshold of the House of Bishops would seem to indicate that both explanations apply.

Read about his childhood and his calling here.

A prophet is his own home diocese? Check this out:

"Homosexuality is a theological issue. But fear cannot drive our discernment about it. We have to put people first. We are not simply talking about a theological idea but about real people and real lives. We must take care,” he said.

“We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor. That is first and beyond all else,” he said.

When the debate turns to “rightness and wrongness” we are at risk of forgetting “we are talking about people,” he said.

“Jesus Christ stood with people. You can tell a lot about a person by the people they have their next meal with. Jesus was not always with his disciples but with the tax collectors and prostitutes and other people thought impure. And then he opened the doors to everyone. The church has to do that, has to be radically hospitable. That does not mean that everything goes, but that everyone is welcome.”

“We should not be the gatekeepers but should be trying to get people to come in,” he said.

They did it "for the good of humanity"

In a day heavy with news of schism you may welcome this story on the, um, lite side:

A study in which teetotal Spanish nuns drank a regular half-liter of beer showed that beer may help reduce cholesterol levels, a group financed by the Spanish Beer Makers' Association said on Thursday.
...
The experiment did not appear to have won many new beer fans among the teetotal Cistercian nuns who took part, chosen on the basis of their steady lifestyle and balanced diet.
...
"We did it for the good of humanity," Sister Almerinda Alvarez told the newspaper El Pais.

Read it all here. Thanks for the link goes to Mad Priest.

Roundup: Church of Kenya calls a bishop for North America

A review of the last 24 hours

Jonathan Petre reports in The Daily Telegraph that "A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history."

George Conger reports in The Living Church, "The Aug. 30 consecration of Canon Atwood as 'Suffragan Bishop of All Saints' Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi” is 'part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces,' Archbishop Nzimbi said on June 12, to 'support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.' "

Kendall Harmon posts Archbishop Nzimbi's email.

The Archbishops of Nigeria and Uganda issue statements of support for the new initiative.

The Anglican Communion Network issues ahttp://www.acn-us.org/archive/2007/06/network-welcomes-kenyas-decision-to-care-for-us-anglicans.html statement:

The leadership of the Anglican Communion Network welcomed news that the Anglican Province of Kenya has elected The Rev. Canon Bill Atwood Suffragan Bishop of the All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. Among other duties, Bishop-elect Atwood will be initially supporting Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America. He joins Bishop Bill Cox of the Southern Cone as another domestic bishop cooperating in ministry with the Network....
As of post time, there was nothing on the Global South website.

CANA issues a statement. And Bishop Iker. Thanks to Thinking Anglicans for these two pointers.

Thinking Anglicans, as always, provides a fine roundup with supplementary links.

Further analysis available in The Church of England Daily for June 13, Drell's Descants, and The Times.

So in addtion to AMiA and CANA we now have NAAC. Just what the background story is has not yet been revealed.

Executive Council set to reject Pastoral Scheme

Resolutions from the Task Group on the Primates' Dar es Salaam Communique will be on the agenda for the Executive Council. According to Episcopal News Service

The proposed statement, and three resolutions, suggest a response to portions of the communiqué issued by the Anglican Primates at the end of their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The communiqué contained the Pastoral Scheme and called for the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges."

The proposed statement would have the Council acknowledge the communiqué as "a good-faith contribution" to the on-going discussion about Anglican identity and authority but state that the "requests of the Primates are of a nature that can only be responded to by our General Convention." The Convention next meets in the summer of 2009.

The statement would have the Council "question the authority of the Primates to impose deadlines and demands upon any of the churches of the Anglican Communion."

"Assertions of authority met by counter-assertions of polity are not likely to lead to the reconciliation we seek," the draft statement says. "Our salvation is not in the law but in the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Savior; so too with our relationships as Anglicans."

The statement would have the Council say that "the only thing we really have to offer in that relationship is who we are -- a community of committed Christians seeking God's will for our common life."

The draft statement claims unity through baptism, says that "we are, whether we wish it or not, God's gift to each other" and acknowledges that the church has historically struggled to embrace people who have been marginalized, including the current debate over the place and vocation of gay and lesbian people in the life of church.

The task group proposes three resolutions for Council. The first would receive and adopt the statement the group has drafted.

The second, titled "Commending the report of the Communion Sub-Group, " refers to the report of an Anglican Communion group which generally gave the Episcopal Church positive marks for its response to various requests to explain its decisions regarding same-gender blessings, the episcopal ordination of an openly gay and partnered priest, and its desire to remain a part of the Anglican Communion. The resolution would have the Council encourage the House of Bishops to consider the report as it prepares to meet in September.

The third resolution, "Executive Council's response to the House of Bishops' Mind of the House Resolution on the Proposed Pastoral Scheme," refers to the House of Bishops' declaration in March that a plan the Primates put forward for dealing with some disaffected Episcopal Church dioceses "would be injurious to The Episcopal Church." The bishops' resolution urged that the Executive Council decline to participate in it and the proposed statement would in fact have Council decline and "respectfully ask our Presiding Bishop not to take any of the actions asked of her by this scheme."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson appointed the EC008 Task Group. Resolution EC008 named Anderson, who is vice president of Council, to chair the work group. (Jefferts Schori is president of the Council.)


The Executive Council will also discuss the responses from the wider church to the Draft Covenant Study Guide

Read the whole report of today's meeting Here

Resistance: Fall of Man

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Parliament weigh in on the use of scenes in Manchester Cathedral in Sony's new video game, Resistance: Fall of Man.

Covered by Episcopal Cafe in Digital Images, Real Controversy, the issue of property rights, virtual and real, has become a hot topic in the blogosphere. Gamers, the church, and now the UK government are debating the issue with surprising alliances across groups.

Tech Shout reports:

During the Prime Minister’s Questions, Tony Lloyd, MP for Manchester Central, started asking his question by observing, “When large organisations like Sony find their copyright has been breached, they’re very quick to use the law.”

He added, “Would the Prime Minister agree with me then that when Sony used images of Manchester Cathedral as part a game which extols gun violence, this was not only in bad taste but also very, very insulting to not simply the Church of England, but people across the land who think it’s inappropriate that big corporations behave in this way?”

Blair replied, “I agree with my honourable friend. I think it’s important that any of the companies engaged in promoting these types of goods have some sense of responsibility and also some sensitivity to the feelings of others. I think this is an immensely difficult area, the relationship between what happens with these games and its impact on young people,” the prime minister went on.

“I’ve no doubt this debate will go on for a significant period of time, but I do agree. I think it is important that people understand there is a wider social responsibility as well as an interior responsibility for profits.


Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, Dave Walker at Cartoon Church has his own view of the controversy, links to more opinions, and a lively discussion: Stop Shooting Things in Manchester Cathedral.

Take the Long Calm View

In Vancouver, British Columbia for the annual meeting May 18 to 20 of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN), which includes peoples from Canada’s First Nations, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australian and Torres Strait Islanders, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans (U.S.), the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church discussed the current contoversies in the Anglican Communion and the work of indigenous communities around the world.

The presiding bishop ... unflinchingly predicts the high decibel back-and-forth currently pre occupying the top level of international church may well go on for another decade or more.

“I think the best outcome would be to ratchet down the level of conflict several notches,” Jefferts Schori said. “We have some very anxious people who need to have this resolved structurally right now.”

Those anxious people, personified by the 38 Anglican primates, have given ECUSA a September 30 deadline to cease-and-desist from same-sex blessings and the consecration of gay bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will arrive just days before that for the regular fall meeting of ECUSA’s bishops.

“I hope that he can hear and believe the church is far less divided than he believes it is,” said Jefferts Schori.

“I read Genesis and I see chaos as a necessary precursor to creation,” she said. “Anglicans embrace order and freedom. Both parts are essential. It’s a case of having patience to live with organic messiness to see what emerges.”

But she assured her audience that the work of the church goes on underneath the radar focused on the primates. A March meeting in Boxbourg, South Africa brought together 400 people from 33 Anglican provinces. “Nobody talked about sex,” she said. “They talked abut feeding people, about preventing disease, about how we can build constructive relationships.”

While she listened more than she talked to the AIN delegates, Jefferts Schori did suggest that true reconciliation with natives lies far ahead for the United States. “In some way, Canada has had a gift in wrestling with residential schools which the United States hasn’t done publicly,” she said.

For indigenous people, who feel themselves to be a powerless minority often quarreling among themselves, Jefferts Schori recalled members of the Latino community in California letting down their barriers to each other and uniting for the first time, only to discover they were then a large force in the church.

“Together, all the marginalized can change things,” she said. “The secret is those in power are relatively few.”

And to the plea for native priests ordained in and for their own communities, she said, simply: “Continue to challenge your church.”

Read it all Here

An Afro-Anglican Journey

Excerpts from: "The Life of an Afro-Anglican by Earl Clinton Williams, Jr." on Bishop Marc Andrus' blog, on contemplation and living for justice.

Being born and brought up in the Episcopal Church has been an interesting thing to experience. Most of my friends through school did not attend the Episcopal Church, and when I would tell them what church I did attend, they would ask what Episcopal meant. I remember working at a camp in the Pocono Mountains and being asked that question by another counselor. He responded by saying "Oh, you go to one of those quiet churches." All that I could do was to smile and say that I did. I think that it was at that point in my life in which I noticed that most of the Episcopalians that I knew were white. Sure two of my best friends and most of my mother's family were Episcopalians, and were black, but I really didn't know many other Black Episcopalians.

When I moved to Oakland in 1980, I figured that since I had made a change in where I lived, I might as well change the church denomination that I attended. After being here for a little over a month and attending other church denominations, I awoke one Sunday morning needing to go to an Episcopal service. I asked my aunt, whose house I was living in at the time, where the closest Episcopal Church was. We looked in the phonebook and found two that were close by. She drove me over to the first one, but I just didn't like the color that the church was painted, so we drove over to the second one, and she asked me if I wanted to go to that one or back to the first one. I looked at the clock and saw that service was about to start, and said that I would go to that one. Now I wasn't thrilled with the looks of this church either from the outside, but it had a better paint job. When I walked through the doors, I knew that I was home. My searches for a new denomination lead me back to the one that I was already in.

Like I did in with the congregations, I wonder what this diocese really has to offer and I to offer as a person of color? Why should I put the effort in to do things on the Diocesan level when I know that when I walk on the ground and in the buildings of the Episcopal Diocese at California & Taylor that I will only see a couple of pictures of people of color, and I had to look hard for those? It bothers me at times to go onto the property and the only people of color that I see working anywhere there are "Indians" and not "Chiefs". It bothers me that we have one of the finest seminaries in the world and the best School for Deacons in the world, but the vocations of being either a Priest or Deacon really isn't presented to the youth of color as viable careers.

As I have sat in commission meetings not too long ago, I have come to realize that those of us who are Afro-Anglicans really don't know each other, or get involved here. I know that some of it has to do with the lack of color in DioHouse, but I think that if we get involved that we could make a difference on who is inside there. Yes I want for the Bishop to hire the best-qualified people for jobs regardless of their color, but it would be great to walk into that place and know that we of color have some voices inside those walls. We of color would then feel as though we really matter to the diocese.

I'm going to continue this joyful ride in this diocese with the belief that this diocese will help in fulfilling the dream of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many other great Black leaders. I believe that some day some day we will not think about trying to become multicultural and multiethnic, but a place where when we build new churches that they will be that way naturally. I want for their to be a time and the norm that when the National General Convention meets that when resolutions come from this diocese, they don't get discussed in committees, but go straight to both Houses and are fully supported by all, for people will know that they have come from a diocese that works together regardless of the color of our skin.

The diocese has begun to change in that it does listen to the voices of those not within the now one Afrocentric congregation. Now we just need to get Afro-Anglicans and other people of color involved at all levels of the diocese. We need to get our Clergy of Color to be visible to the youth of color so that our youth realize that becoming a Cleric of Color is a viable career.

I call upon the diocese to find visible place on the grounds of Grace Cathedral to place pictures of current clergy and laity of color, so that all will see that this is not a diocese or church of nothing but Europeans, but that we are diverse.

I call upon the Clergy and Laity of color within this diocese to get involved with the different Ethnic Commissions, and to be visible at different events not only at the diocesan level, but also at events held at other congregations.

It's going to take more than just the office to make changes and us visible. We must also go out and do what it takes to make the world know that we are an inclusive to all regardless of our color.

Read the rest here.

Executive Council declines Primates' plan

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council told the Anglican Communion June 14 that no governing body other than General Convention can interpret Convention resolutions or agree to deny "future decisions by dioceses or General Convention."
The Council declined to participate in a plan put forward by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in February for dealing with some disaffected Episcopal Church dioceses. Episcopal News Service's Mary Frances Schjonberg reports:

The statement, titled "The Episcopal Church's Commitment to Common Life in Anglican Communion," "strongly affirm[ed] this Church's desire to be in the fullest possible relationship with our Anglican sisters and brothers."

The text of the statement and its accompanying resolutions passed with limited debate.

The statement agreed with the House of Bishops, which said in March that the so-called Pastoral Scheme "would be injurious to The Episcopal Church." An accompanying resolution (EC012) also "respectfully requests the Presiding Bishop to decline as well." The statement itself "respectfully ask[s] our Presiding Bishop not to take any of the actions asked of her by this scheme."

The action came June 14 on the last day of a four-day meeting at the Sheraton hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey.

The statement, and three resolutions, form a response to portions of the communiqué issued by the Anglican Primates at the end of their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The communiqué contained the Pastoral Scheme and called for the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges."

Read the full statement HERE

Read it all HERE

Hands of Christ in a hurting world

Episcopal Churches continue to live into their ministries - being the hands of Christ in the world in the midst of global and local crises.

The Immigration Bill is stalled and may die in Congress leaving many immigrants in a limbo world of jobs needing employees, willing workers and burdensome laws.

A group of church leaders have begun a New Sanctuary Movement to house illegal immigrants facing deportation in churches across the country. Law enforcement officers generally do not enter church grounds to make arrests unless lives are at stake.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach, CA joined the New Sanctuary Movement to protect illegal immigrants facing deportation in churches across the country. Law enforcement officers generally do not enter church grounds to make arrests unless lives are at stake.
Last Friday, Liliana, who refused to give her last name, took up residence at St. Luke’s.... She has three small children who were born in the United States and are citizens, but she has been told she is ineligible for legal status because she entered the country with a fraudulent birth certificate from her native Mexico several years ago.

“We are not criminals or bad people,” she said in a recent interview. “We just want a way to work here and provide for our children.”

Read the article HERE

In Cave Creek, AZ, Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church offers a safe place for day laborers to wait for possible jobs in the booming construction industry and other emploment. According to The Arizona Republic real-life consequences are playing out at this northeast Valley church where immigrants go to find work.

Cave Creek officials are steeling themselves for a heated hearing Monday, when residents will revisit the practices at Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church. The Rev. Scott Jones, a former Miami accountant and business owner, arrives at his new job at Good Shepherd just as the debate begins.

"Doing ministry to the poor and oppressed in the world is a big part of my attraction to them," said Jones, who will be ordained at the church in July. The enterprise at the church has been a generally peaceful practice for workers and employers, and has been seen by many as a useful alternative to workers hanging out on streets.

"Generally, unofficially, the town has been very supportive for the reasons we helped get it started," said Father Glenn B. Jenks of Good Shepherd. "I think they feel it helps alleviate some of the problems in the community. It hasn't eliminated them, but it's helped make them better."

Jenks said that the people who object to the program usually do so because of their attitudes toward migrant workers in general.

"They would like to believe that if they can make life miserable enough here, people will go home," Jenks said. "They're mistaken in that notion. What they have gone through to get here has been, in many instances, so horrific and so difficult there's nothing you can do here to make it worse than what they left."


Read the article HERE
From the Norwell, MA, Mariner the story of mutual sharing of gifts:
A number of unique circumstances have combined over the past two years — circumstances involving two cousins who are both priests and who are both named Elizabeth — to inspire an upcoming trip that a group from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Hanover will embark upon this month to the Gulf Coast.
On the exact day that Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast at the end of August 2005, the Rev. Elizabeth Wheatley-Jones was hired as the new pastor of Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
As the storm hit, some other candidates for the position decided to back out, but when she was offered the job, Rev. Wheatley-Jones, feeling she had been called to serve in that place, at that time and at that church, took the job and got to work.
And there would be a lot of work to do.
For starters, the church building itself was completely destroyed in the storm.
About one year later, in the fall of 2006, Rev. Wheatley-Jones came to the South Shore, and paid a visit to her cousin, the Rev. Elizabeth Wheatley-Dyson, who at the time, was serving as interim pastor at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Cohasset.
During that visit, the Rev. Wheatley-Jones gave a presentation about Katrina and the storm’s aftermath to her cousin and her (Rev. Wheatley Dyson’s) Cohasset congregation.
After hearing the presentation, Rev. Wheatley-Dyson was inspired to organize a group from the South Shore to travel to the Gulf Coast to help out in some way.

Read the rest here HERE

The Charlotte Observer reports on Family Promise - a network of churches that help folks in need of transitional housing, part of a national program. It uses community resources and church volunteers to help families on the brink of homelessness get back on their feet.

Ben Hill and his church, Christ Episcopal Church, brought the nationwide program to Charlotte after he saw it in action at his brother-in-law's church in Memphis, Tenn.

"I was lamenting the fact that the kind of things we were doing in Charlotte to help the homeless were probably doing us more good than the people we helped," said Hill, board president of Family Promise of Charlotte.

"My brother-in-law, Bob Lassiter, took me to his church to see the program. I got some of my friends from different churches together, we talked about it, and we were able to start a Family Promise Network here."

Read the rest here.

Where's the Bread?

Mark Harris at PRELUDIUM wonders in his usual thoughtful way about the alphabet soup of Anglicans and what will happen?

Remember that the long term strategy of the realignment community is a "broader and coordinated plan with other provinces to provide unity and pastoral care for those who have left or been forced out of The Episcopal Church." That has included for several years an "internal" to TEC effort to gather like- minded individuals, parishes and bishops to work for realignment and cooperation with "external" efforts to supplant TEC with an "orthodox" Anglican entity. This latter approach has in the recent past been primarily the effort of the Global South Steering Committee, Archbishop Akinola in the fore, and the efforts of some few Anglican Provinces to jump in to "save" those who have "left or been forced out" of TEC.

What looks like a hodge-podge of realignment efforts seemingly uncoordinated and perhaps at odds with one another is being touted as a plan. There is apparent joy in Mudville with this new effort from the Global South. Bishop Duncan is happy, BabyBlue is happy, Bishop Minns' boss is happy, Bishop Minns is happy. Nothing has been heard from AMiA yet.

The line up is happening, and come September 26th, the day after the Bishops' fall meeting, the ACN Moderator has called a meeting to establish a "college of bishops" of all those groups in the Common Cause Network and related international partners. I gather from all the happiness that by then Bishop Atwood will be present as well.

A "College of Bishops" sure sounds like the beginnings of a new synodical gathering. The line-up is getting in place. And, if they all march off in the same direction without tripping over one another's copes or banging into one another's miters they just might find themselves on the way to an alternative Province in America, suitable for inclusion in a New Anglican Communion (NAC).

Mark concludes:

Meanwhile, plodding along, real ministry is being done by people in alphabet-soup-land, in The Episcopal Church, in mission organizations that can't talk to one another, in churches that do or do not take money from the unclean, in churches in full communion and in no communion, in relief agencies across the Anglican spectrum in the Americas. Some dioceses and people in the Global South have taken to talking about ministry in spite of the unpleasantness and continuing on in ministry to those most in need.

The bread of life is getting out there in lots of different ways. The Holy Spirit is not mocked, but followed – down long paths that lead to the healing of nations and people. I believe the Holy Spirit does not actually care very much about charges and countercharges, or new bishops for strange postings, but is rather interested in getting the bread out into the world.

Years ago the chant was, "God is not dead, God is bread, and the bread is rising." The new incursion of Bill Atwood on the American scene is irrelevant, as is that of Bishop Minns, the AMiA bishops or the gang from the Southern Cone, and for that matter as are most of our pretensions to Christian engagement through better church life. They, the individuals in this strange ecclesial world, are entirely relevant as persons and people of God, just as are we all. The question is, are we willing to be in the business of feeding the spiritually and physically starving of the world or are we bound to the sniveling of our own flocks? Marching off with this or that leader is not feeding, it is following.

Maybe we would do better to feed our enemies and our friends both. Then maybe what rises is new life.


Read it all HERE.

Realignment spreading?

The Rev. George Conger's blog site has news that the Church of England in Europe may soon be experiencing the same sort of parish-leave-taking that the Episcopal Church has of late:
"The Church of England’s breakaway congregation in the Algarve is contemplating joining the Anglican Mission in America [AMiA].

In an announcement posted on its parish website, All Saints Algarve in Almancil, Portugal stated that the executive officer of the AMiA, Canon Ellis Brust would be visiting the congregation June 16-17.

The parish reported that Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini ‘has agreed to send his personal emissary’ to the parish ‘to visit with us and talk to us about All Saints becoming part of the growing family of AMiA churches.’"

Read the rest HERE.

Retired Canadian Archbishops Call for Same Sex Blessings

News from the Anglican Province of Canada today:

"As Canada's Anglican Church prepares for its historic – and possibly schismatic – decision on blessing homosexual unions, six of its most senior clerics Thursday called for a yes vote that would show ‘justice, compassion and hope for all God's people.’

The declaration from the half-dozen retired archbishops from across the country reveals a sharp division in the church's hierarchy.

While the archbishops said that blessing the unions of same-sex couples does not touch on the church's ‘core doctrine,’ last month the national House of Bishops issued a pastoral statement saying that the ‘doctrine and discipline of our church does not clearly permit [same-sex blessings].’"

Read the rest here: Bless same-sex unions, retired archbishops urge

The complete statement from the General Synod site is HERE

Executive Council warns Dioceses

Steve Waring, in the Living Church, reports on another of the resolutions adopted by Executive Council in their meeting yesterday:

"...council approved a resolution declaring ‘null and void’ attempts by a number of dioceses to revise their constitution to qualify their accession to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention.

‘Any amendment to a diocesan constitution that purports in any way to limit or lessen an unqualified accession to the constitution of The Episcopal Church is null and void, and be it further resolved that the amendments passed to the constitutions of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin, which purport to limit or lessen the unqualified accession to the constitution of The Episcopal Church are accordingly null and void and the constitutions of those dioceses shall be as they were as if such amendments had not been passed,’ council stated in Resolution NAC-023.

After the resolution was approved, the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, said Episcopalians had all agreed to live by certain principles and rules and that council believed it would be ‘helpful to have an authoritative statement [on the matter] with respect to any litigation that might occur in the future.’"

Read the rest here.

South Carolina tries again

The Diocese of South Carolina, which elected Mark Lawrence to be there next bishop, but failed to receive the needed number of consents to that election is planning to a new election with Mark as the only candidate as of now.

They are creating a process for additional nominees to be named by petition.

From the Diocesan website:

"At its meeting, the [Standing] Committee unanimously agreed:

1. To call for a Special Convention to elect a Bishop. The Convention is to be held at ten o’clock a.m. on Saturday, August 4, 2007 at St. James’ Church, James Island, South Carolina.

2. The Standing Committee unanimously nominated The Very Reverend Mark J. Lawrence to be the next Bishop of South Carolina.

3. Because of the necessity for background checks, no nominations from the floor will be allowed at the Convention. In lieu thereof, the Committee has established a petition process..."

Read the rest here.

Saturday morning news roundup

Before we move into more reflective vein, here is a quick rundown of Saturday morning news developments, the most interesting of which is that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori continues to attract the attention of the largest newspaper in whatever media market she visits. Here she speaks with the Indianapolis Star about the Millennium Development Goals.

The Church Times' coverage of the recently-announced Kenyan incursion is here, and Padre Mickey's entertaining take on that affair is here.

What's wrong with the American left?

Writing in Adbusters magazine, Matt Taibi of Rolling Stone, who identifies himself as a liberal, says liberalism "needs to be fixed."

A few choice quotes:

A lot of it, surely, has to do with the relentless abuse liberalism takes in the right-wing media, on Fox and afternoon radio, and amid the Townhall.com network of newspaper invective-hurlers. The same dynamic that makes the junior high school kid fear the word “fag” surely has many of us frightened of the word “liberal.” Mike Savage says liberalism is a mental disorder, Sean Hannity equates liberals with terrorists, Ann Coulter says that “liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole.” These people have a broad, monolithic audience whose impassioned opinions are increasingly entrenched. In the pseudo-Orwellian political landscape that is modern America, to self-identify as a liberal is almost tantamount to thoughtcrime, a dangerous admission that carries with it the very real risk of instantly and permanently alienating a good half of the population, in particular most of middle America.

And:

At a time when someone should be organizing forcefully against the war in Iraq and engaging middle America on the alarming issue of big-business occupation of the Washington power process, the American left has turned into a skittish, hysterical old lady, one who defiantly insists on living in the past, is easily mesmerized by half-baked pseudo-intellectual nonsense, and quick to run from anything like real conflict or responsibility.

It shies away from hardcore economic issues but howls endlessly about anything that sounds like a free-speech controversy, shrieking about the notorious bugbears of the post-9/11 “police state” (the Patriot Act, Total Information Awareness, CARNIVORE, etc.) in a way that reveals unmistakably, to those who are paying close attention, a not-so-secret desire to be relevant and threatening enough to warrant the extralegal attention of the FBI. It sells scads of Che t-shirts ($20 at the International ANSWER online store) and has a perfected a high-handed tone of moralistic finger-wagging, but its organizational capacity is almost nil. It says a lot, but does very little.

And:

Here’s the real problem with American liberalism: there is no such thing, not really. What we call American liberalism is really a kind of genetic mutant, a Frankenstein’s monster of incongruous parts – a fat, affluent, overeducated New York/Washington head crudely screwed onto the withering corpse of the vanishing middle-American manufacturing class. These days the Roosevelt stratum of rich East Coasters are still liberals, but the industrial middle class that the New Deal helped create is almost all gone.....

Thus, the people who are the public voice of American liberalism rarely have any real connection to the ordinary working people whose interests they putatively champion. They tend instead to be well-off, college-educated yuppies from California or the East Coast, and hard as they try to worry about food stamps or veterans’ rights or securing federal assistance for heating oil bills, they invariably gravitate instead to things that actually matter to them – like the slick Al Gore documentary on global warming, or the “All Things Considered” interview on NPR with the British author of Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. They haven’t yet come up with something to replace the synergy of patrician and middle-class interests that the New Deal represented.

Read it and weep.

One hope, one faith, one Second Life...

The Washington Post has a write-up on religion's increasing visibility in a virtual environment with millions of users:

In Second Life, the online virtual universe that is attracting 3.7 million users, you can light virtual candles for Shabbat, teleport to a Buddhist temple or consult the oracle for some divine guidance.

Second Life is a three-dimensional, online game produced by San Francisco-based Linden Lab in which participants create a virtual world, buy and sell land and products and interact in all the usual ways.

Now religion has a growing presence there, too, users say, and religious diversity and participation have skyrocketed since last June, when basic membership to Second Life became free.

The whole article is here.


Helen at the SL Anglican Cathedral
Anglicans in Second Life
An Anglican group was established in Second Life (SL) thanks to the efforts of Bill Sowers and Mark Brown. Sowers (known as Rocky Vallejo in SL) is a member of St. David's Episcopal in the Diocese of Kansas, founded the group with the following Charter, according to information at The Anglican Church in Second Life website:
A Christian community for those who call themselves: Anglicans, Episcopalians or members of the Church of England, Episcopal Church or any of the other bodies of believers who share the Anglican heritage.

During the past couple of months, Mark Brown (known as Arkin Ariantho in SL, and CEO of The Bible Society in New Zealand) has spearheaded a campaign to secure land for and build an Anglican Cathedral in SL, which has a real economy. The Cathedral is located at Epiphany Island and you can see pictures at Brown's Flickr site, here.

Users of Second Life can visit the Cathedral here (and look me up, as Vahnia Gregory). For more information on Second Life, including the technical requirements needed to run the software, visit here.

And stay tuned for possible developments with the Episcopal Cafe in Second Life.

"Every separation is a link."

Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, has written an honest, eriudite and deeply moving essay in The American Scholar on language, love, faith, doubt, illness and one or two other things.

This passage conveys a sense of the whole:

There is a passage in the writings of Simone Weil that has long been important to me. In the passage, Weil describes two prisoners who are in solitary confinement next to each other. Between them is a stone wall. Over a period of time — and I think we have to imagine it as a very long time — they find a way to communicate using taps and scratches. The wall is what separates them, but it is also the only means they have of communicating. “It is the same with us and God,” she says. “Every separation is a link.”

It’s probably obvious why this metaphor would appeal to me. If you never quite feel at home in your life, if being conscious means primarily being conscious of your own separation from the world and from divinity (and perhaps any sentient person after modernism has to feel these things) then any idea or image that can translate that depletion into energy, those absences into presences, is going to be powerful. And then there are those taps and scratches: what are they but language, and if language is the way we communicate with the divine, well, what kind of language is more refined a nd transcendent than poetry? You could almost embrace this vision of life — if, that is, there were any actual life to embrace: Weil’s image for the human condition is a person in solitary confinement. There is real hope in the image, but still, in human terms, it is a bare and lonely hope.

It has taken three events, each shattering in its way, for me to recognize both the full beauty, and the final insufficiency, of Weil’s image. The events are radically different, but so closely linked in time, and so inextricable from one another in their consequences, that there is an uncanny feeling of unity to them. There is definitely some wisdom in learning to see our moments of necessity and glory and tragedy not as disparate experiences but as facets of the single experience that is a life. The pity, at least for some of us, is that we cannot truly have this knowledge of life, can only feel it as some sort of abstract “wisdom,” until we come very close to death

Read.

Mary Gray-Reeves elected third bishop of El Camino Real

Mary Gray-Reeves elected third bishop of El Camino Real on the second ballot. She was one of three women in a slate of five. Should she receive consent she would be the fifteenth woman in the elected bishop in the church and one of the five youngest members of the current House of Bishops.

Election results here. The bishop-elect's profile is here and her acceptance statement is here.

Episcopal News Service coverage is here. Here's the ENS description of the diocese:

The diocese was formed in 1980 out of the Diocese of California. It extends along the Pacific coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles from Palo Alto to San Luis Obispo, encompassing the counties of Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo. Trinity Cathedral in San Jose serves as the diocesan see while the diocesan offices are located in Seaside on the Monterey Peninsula. Farming, technology, vineyards and resort areas are found in the diocese. Congregations worship in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Laotian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Sudanese dialects and Lakota. About 14,330 Episcopalians worship in the diocese's 50 congregations.

The few, the proud

Writing on The American Prospect's Web site, Paul Waldman says research shows that the more secular people there are in a county, the more likely that people from evangelical denominations who live there will vote Republican.

One explanation:

The idea of religious conservatives as a surrounded minority, bravely holding the battlements of morality against an onrushing tide of cultural barbarism, is more than a convenient message that conservative pastors offer to their flocks. It is a key part of how the group defines its identity. And, critically, telling people they're under assault not only serves to keep them within the tribal borders -- it lends the entire enterprise an emotionally satisfying, even epic feel. You're not just a plumber or an insurance adjuster or a bond trader; by the very fact of believing what you do, you become a heroic warrior fighting a grand struggle against the enemies of all that is right and good.

Read it all.

Anglicans Realigning: The State of Play

First the Primates of Rwanda and Southeast Asia installed an American bishop, then the Primate of Nigeria followed suit, and now the Primate of Keyna has as well. Reportedly, Archbishop Orombi of Uganda is also considering appointing an American bishop and setting up a missionary church in the United States.

What does this all mean? Is it part of a larger plan by the Global South Primates? Or is it instead a sign of a splintered conservative opposition to the Episcopal Church? All is still quite unclear, but this morning, the Washington Post has a useful analysis of the current state of play:

The Anglican archbishop of Rwanda was first, then his counterpart in Nigeria. Now Kenya's Anglican archbishop is taking a group of U.S. churches under his authority, and Uganda's archbishop may be next.

African and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asian and Latin American prelates are racing to appoint American bishops and to assume jurisdiction over congregations that are leaving the Episcopal Church, particularly since its consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

So far, the heads, or primates, of Anglican provinces overseas have taken under their wings 200 to 250 of the more than 7,000 congregations in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. Among their gains are some large and wealthy congregations -- including several in Northern Virginia -- that bring international prestige and a steady stream of donations.

The foreign influx is a consequence of the rift in the 2.3 million-member U.S. church, and explanations of what it's really all about depend on what side of that divide you're on, said the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, a professor of world mission and global Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.

"It can either be read as the next step in a grand plan to replace the Episcopal Church, or it can be read as a splintering of the conservatives and a competition for who is going to be the real leader of disaffected U.S. congregations," he said.

Bishop Martyn Minns, former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax City, who left the Episcopal Church and was installed last month as a Nigerian bishop, denied that the African prelates are competing for leadership, prestige or donations. He said they are working together to help Americans who want to remain faithful to the church's traditional teachings.

"There's lots of work for all of us," he said. "This is not just one province sticking its nose in. It's the Global South collectively saying 'We've got to do something' because of the crisis in the U.S. church."

But a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, James Naughton, said the proliferation of "offshore" churches "makes it clear how difficult it is going to be for the conservatives to unite, because each of these primates wants a piece of the action, and none is willing to subjugate himself to another."

. . .

At the same time, the foreign archbishops and their newly minted American bishops are courting the wrath of the archbishop of Canterbury. The leader of the Anglican Communion, the 75 million-member family of churches descended from the Church of England, registered his disapproval of Minns's installation last month by announcing that he will not invite the CANA leader to a global meeting of all Anglican bishops next year.

Minns said he was "not surprised." He said a steady erosion of traditional Christian teachings in the United States and Europe, combined with the explosive growth of former missionary churches in developing countries, has flipped the historic pattern of missionary activity.

"And frankly," he said, "the old institutional structures are having trouble coming to grips with those realities."


Read it all. And be sure to read W. Nicolas Knisely's analysis as well.

Canadian Anglican Church Considers Same Sex Blessings

Tomorrow, the Canadian Anglican Church begins its General Synod in Winnipeg. While the General Synod will elect a new Archbishop, this decision has been overshadowed by the debate over a far more controversial decision: whether to allow same-sex marriage blessings. And whatever decision is made on this issue in Winnipeg will undoubtedly affect the same debate in the larger Anglican Communion.

The seven-day synod will be chaired by Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the current Primate, who has announced his retirement, effective June 22. Clergy and lay delegates will elect a new Primate. By Canadian church practice, the Bishops will not participate in the actual election. Nominees include Bruce Howe of Huron, Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, George Bruce of Ontario and Victoria Matthews of Edmonton. The new Primate will be installed on Monday, June 25.

The issue of same sex blessings has long divided the Canadian Church. The issue was raised at the last General Synod three years ago, but tabled until this Convention. Last Thursday, several retired Canadian archbishops urged the Church to approve the blessings. Previously, on Good Friday, a group of conservative theologians issued a letter urging that the Church not accept same sex blessings.


The Toronto Star has a good preview of the upcoming Synod:

The blogs have started and the 24-hour prayer vigil is accepting emails as the Anglican world turns its eyes to Winnipeg.

Canada's Anglicans gather this week in Manitoba to pick a new leader and decide whether to allow same-sex marriage blessings. But that narrow debate only touches what is truly at stake. For all those involved, on either side of the issue, what is really at issue is the definition of Anglicanism itself – and the possibility of schism.

. . .

"Even if there was a way to solve the same-sex issue satisfactorily to all parties tomorrow, we would still have a major problem on our hands," says Newfoundland Bishop Don Harvey, spiritual head of the conservative Canadian group Anglican Essentials. "It's so much deeper than that."

. . .

Delegates to the synod will vote on a series of resolutions, largely held over since their last meeting three years ago, allowing local churches to decide for themselves whether to bless same-sex marriages.

Harvey's group has set up a blog, www.anglicanessentials.ca/wordpress/, to strengthen the resolve of those opposed to allowing same-sex blessings. Debate of the issue is not tolerated on the forum, according to posted rules.

At http://prayerroom.7.forumer.com, supporters can send requests to volunteers who have promised to pray 24 hours a day through the synod that voting on the issue goes their way.

. . .

In Winnipeg, Harvey and his group will be pushing the church to not only vote against the local option on same-sex blessings, but reject a recent bishops' statement allowing priests to say the Eucharist with a newly married gay couple.

Hutchison says the statement, issued in April, would stand as church policy if formal blessings are rejected in Winnipeg. For supporters of blessings, it doesn't go far enough. But for Harvey, it goes too far, and could lead to his group splitting with the church.

If that happens, he would be following a path already travelled by conservative Anglicans in the United States, who have split with their church. For Harvey, the church has already become too liberal. "This is the church I was born into," Harvey says.

"This is the church I love. I hope it will be the church I die in."

Having led his church through three of its most difficult years, Hutchison enters his last week in office still hoping for a solution. But despite all the debate and having visited every diocese in the country, he remains at a loss to say what might heal the troubled church.

In the end, all he has is his faith that the Anglican conversation he cherishes won't end in Winnipeg.

"No matter what happens at the General Synod or in the Anglican Communion, the centre will hold," he says. "I really believe the centre will hold."

All documents available to General Synod delegates, including the General Synod Agenda (called the Convening Circular) are available online here.

Students Continue to Believe

It has long been conventional wisdom that the increased education results in reduced adherance to faith. A new study by several sociologists at the University of Texas suggests that this conventional wisdom is wrong. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which tracked more than 10,000 Americans from adolescence through young adulthood from 1994 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2002, the researchers found that students who attend and graduate from college are more likely than others to hold on to their faith.

As Inside Higher Ed reports:

Whether the source is God and Man at Yale or any number of more recent studies, the conflict between a college education and the faith that students bring to campus (secular campuses at least) is well accepted. The more you pursue a higher education, the more likely you are to abandon your faith — at least that’s what conventional wisdom holds.

“Actually we’ve just been wrong about this for quite a while,” said Mark D. Regnerus, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the authors of a new study that suggests students who attend and graduate from college are more likely than others to hold on to their faith.

It’s not that colleges necessarily encourage faith, he said, but for all the talk about how intellectuals are out to destroy students’ relationships to their religions and God, the main obstacles to such relationships have to do with maturing and how young people spend their time. “Some kids were bound to lose [their faith] anyway and they do,” Regnerus said. But the evidence suggests that college isn’t responsible.
. . .
The data were mined for trends on three factors of religious activity: attendance at religious services, relative importance of religion, and disaffiliation from religion. A substantial majority of young adults report a decline in attendance at religious services, while a minority report that religion has become less important and that they have completely dropped their religion. But the greatest drops come from those who are not in college.

Those who did not attend college had the highest level of reduced religious activity: they had a 76.2% decline in attending services, a 23.7% decline in a reported mportance of religion in their lives, and a 20.3% disaffiliation from religion altogether. In contrast, while those who earned at least a college degree had significant reductions in religious activity, it was much less than other groups: they had a 59.2% decline in attending services, a 15% decline in a reported importance of religion in their lives, and a 15% disaffiliation from religion altogether.

The lead author of the study, Mark D. Regnerus, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas, offered some speculations as why this would be the case:

Regnerus said that what the study suggests — and his personal experience confirms — is that while there are plenty of non-religious professors around, they aren’t trying to discourage any students from practicing their faith. “Of course there are some who are hostile to religion. But they don’t teach that. They teach their discipline,” Regnerus said. The attitude, he added, is: “Whatever I think about evangelicals, when I go to teach quantum physics, I teach quantum physics.”

More broadly, so many students are in pre-professional programs, Regnerus said, that they are focused on practical matters much more than on wondering whether God exists. As a Christian who earned his undergraduate degree at Trinity Christian College, Regnerus said he spent a lot of time talking about philosophical issues in college, but that’s not the norm for many undergrads these days. (Christian colleges in recent years have experienced a boom, in part from students who don’t want to become secular, or whose parents don’t want them to become secular, and Regnerus said his study doesn’t contradict that belief. Because there is a decline in religious connection during the college years — looking at religious and secular institutions together — those at religious colleges are less likely to experience that decline.)

Behavioral factors, he said, are a better way than college status to predict whether young adults will become less religious. Those who don’t have sex before marriage are also those who don’t experience as much of a drop in religious connection. Those who have smoked pot experience more of a drop. Those who increase alcohol consumption during their young adulthood experience more of a drop in religious connection.

Read the full Inside Higher Ed article here.

What lessons does this study offer the Episcopal Church? Isn't the real story here the fact that all young people have a large drop off in attending religious services and the importance of religion in their lives? Does this suggest that this is a group that the church is failing to reach?

Can a Vision Save Africa?

The Episcopal Church, and many of its dioceses and congregations, have made a very serious commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, which is a United Nations-backed effort to end extreme world poverty. In yesterday's New York Times, business columnist Joe Nocera's Saturday column (subscription required) is devoted to asking the tough question--can the MDG vision be achieved?

The column presents the competing views of Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (the leading economic power behind the MDGs) and his critics:

More than anything else — more even than the path-breaking work of the Gates Foundation — it has been Mr. Sachs’s ability to sell his vision that has caused wealthy philanthropists and large corporations to get behind the causes of eradicating malaria and ending poverty in Africa. He’s the reason George Soros gave $50 million to Millennium Promise, and why the organization has been able to raise over $100 million in its short life.

But that same vision, which is inexorably linked to malaria, but is much larger than that, has caused some mainstream economists to say that while Mr. Sachs means well, he is peddling a dream that will always be just that: a dream. “I think he is improving the lives of many people,” said Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University (and a contributor to The New York Times). “But what he is doing is much oversold.” Mr. Cowen does not believe that Mr. Sachs’s work in Africa will endure.

The question that confronts us this morning is, Who is going to turn out to be right?

. . .

Although Mr. Sachs insists that he has always been consistent in his approach — “I try to design strategies appropriate to the circumstances,” he said — most other people think his Africa strategy is radically different from anything he’s done before. Mainly, he says he believes that the West needs to spend huge sums of money to control disease, improve farming, create better schools and build infrastructure in Africa. And if that can be done, he believes, economic growth, and all the good things that flow from it, will become Africa’s lot at last.

Though he is a prodigious fund-raiser, even Jeffrey Sachs can’t wave his magic wand and gather the hundreds of billions of dollars it would take to build all the roads and schools and farms and hospitals that Africa so desperately needs. So what he has done instead is to pick poor rural villages — he’s up to 79 by now — in countries with relatively stable governments, and find corporations, foundations and wealthy individuals who will adopt them to the tune of $300,000 a year for five years.

There is no question that the efforts of Millennium Promise are making a difference in those villages. The schools are drastically better, and thanks to a new lunch program, with the grain provided by the village’s own farmers, students are eating better. Each village is given bed nets coated with insecticide, which are the best way to prevent malaria, and a Novartis medicine, Coartem, which has to be taken within a day or so of malarial symptoms. Cases of malaria have dropped significantly. Mr. Sachs’s agronomists at the Earth Institute, which he runs at Columbia, create seed that can adapt to the village’s usually arid soil, and they give all the farmers fertilizer. Sure enough, the crop yield has increased, in many cases, by four to five times.

That is what Mr. Cowen means when he says that Mr. Sachs is improving people’s lives. Plainly, he is. But those efforts, laudable though they are, will not eradicate malaria or reduce African poverty in any serious way. The real question is how to turn Mr. Sachs’s efforts into more than just a pilot program that temporarily helps a bunch of villages. How will it transform all of Africa?

Ultimately, Millennium Promise is hoping that the governments of these countries will pick up where the Fortune 500 companies leave off. But given Africa’s history, that is one serious leap of faith. “He doesn’t have a coherent theory by which his model can scale up,” Mr. Cowen told me.

Read it all.

So who is correct, Sachs or Cowen? Can the Millennium Villages be "scaled up"? And even if Sachs is ultimately wrong, isn't the effort worthwhile? It certainly has been for the 79 Millennium Villages he has funded so far. And, the pessimists have proven wrong about development in other regions of the world. After all, who would have predicted in 1975 that Moaist China would be where it is today?

Red Meat

Deviancy! Immorality! Racism! If you read enough of the papers—not to mention the bloggers-- this is what one might think the Episcopal Church stands for. Have you heard? The Episcopal Church is swinging the door open to deviants! Also, six Anglican bishops want Canadian Anglicans want to approve immorality so they won't be distracted from global warming. And don't forget, when the Executive Council disagrees with African Archbishops, it's racism.

Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative columnist, Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and a popular public speaker for conservative causes, whose reputation as a race-baiter was established by his book, The End of Racism, trains his animus on gays, lesbians and the Episcopal Church in his most recent blog entry. Under the heading "Attention Social Deviants! The Episcopal Church Wants You," D'Souza likens the Church's acceptance of gays and lesbians to the acceptance of child molesters and serial killers.

“--Convicts Who Have Been Found Guilty of Violent Crimes (more marginalized now than ever before)
“--Child Molesters (marginalized even within the prison population!)
“--Serial Killers (admired in the movies, but otherwise very marginalized since at least the days of Jack the Ripper)
“--Pedophiles (so marginalized that even gays keep their distance, and all for holding that there's nothing magical about being "of age")
“--Polygamists (marginalized for holding the view, "Why Stop at Two?")
“--Skinheads (more marginalized today than the groups they seek to marginalize)
“This is hardly a complete list, and I'm sure I'll be hearing shortly from nudists, swingers, wife-swappers, Nazis, and other groups I've left off my list.”

So, in one swipe D'Souza includes a faithfully partnered gay man with child molesters and serial killers. Does this make any sense at all? Only if one's goal is to stir up rage. Keep in mind that D'Souza's career has been financed since his college days by the same foundations that keep the Institute on Religion and Democracy in business. Not only does this kind of thing make happy people who agree with D'Souza, he knows that it will illicit rage from some quarters of the people he opposes.

D'Souza is certainly not alone in this approach.

Washington Times columnist Mark Steyn claims that the plea of six Anglican bishops to this weeks General Synod to allow for some provision to bless same-sex couples is another fashionable stand along with their concerns for Global Warming, both of which lead to global moral depravity.

And just last week, Chris Sugden of the Anglican Maintream says disagreeing with certain African Archbishops is racist. It was all well and good, he tells us, for the 1998 Lambeth Conference to condemn genocide in Rwanda, but now the tables are turned when it comes to the ordination of openly gay bishops, Americans should be quiet and listen. “Now,” Sugden says, “something that was regarded as acceptable when dealing with Africans is not acceptable to the Americans. It sniffs of racism.”

To make this analysis work, one must equate the deaths of 800,000 Rwandans in the late 1990's—and what this horror did to the Church and the people of Rwanda-- to the ordination of one man in 2003 in New Hampshire.

By themselves, these statements seem irrational. Most faithful Episcopalians ignore them, perhaps with a sigh and a roll of the eyes. Small shots across the bow don't stop the vast majority of the faithful from going about the business of living faithfully. But taken together, these statements are 'red meat' for a loyal base—many of whom are not even Episcopalian—in a nasty war of words. And when ideas don't work, exaggeration, smear and outright lies will.

And the worst part is this: most of the time it's not about the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion per se. For most of these writers, it about using the Church as a symbol of all that is wrong with the world from their point of view. Which sure beats writing about what's right.

MDG Sunday is July 8th

July 8th is the midway point in the United Nations' campaign to reduce extreme poverty in the world by 2015 through the Millennium Development Goals.

Materials to celebrate a special Millennium Development Goals Sunday in your parish include a complete worship service with sermon and prayers of the people, bulletin inserts and background information. Curriculum for children and youth are also included with PowerPoint presentations of MDGs and another with an MDG atlas from the World Bank. God's Mission in the World, a study guide provided by the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations was used for adult curriculum.

These materials are available for your use on July 8 or at any other time. They were prepared by the Diocese of Texas and can be accessed from the diocesan Web site.

Background on the Millennium Development Goals:

Millennium Development Goals are a set of targets established by the United Nations to cut world poverty in half by 2015.

The goals were established in the early 1990s by development experts who looked at the various problems that make and keep people poor. They came up with 8 targets which would enable most people to not only meet basic needs, but to contribute to their society in more productive ways. These targets are known today as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2000, most of the countries of the world re-affirmed their commitment to reaching these goals:

The 8 Millennium Development Goals
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

Learn More:
Episcopal Relief and Development

Millennium Campaign

United Nations
United Nations MDGs
United Nations Development Programme MDGs
MDG Progress Report 2006 (PDF)
MDG Development Indicators (Searchable Database)

World Bank
Youthink!: MDGs
Online atlas of MDGs


Covenant for Creation

The Seattle Times editorial columnist, Lance Dickie, reports in A Covenant to take care of the Creator's handiwork:

Fifteen years after the pioneering Earth Ministry was founded in Seattle to link religion and the environment, the nation's attention will be drawn back to the city toward another, potentially broader spiritual awakening.

Next April, the national Episcopal Church will team with Episcopalians in Western Washington to host a conference to launch a multifaith campaign on climate change.

At the event, the Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will invite national organizations of Christians, Jews and Muslims to commit to reducing the carbon footprint of their churches, temples and mosques by a minimum of 50 percent by 2015.

The audacious idea was unveiled in Seattle two weeks ago at a four-day interfaith gathering to explore the role and responsibility of religion in caring for the Earth. Bishop Steven Charleston, president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., closed out the session with a sermon that laid out the concept and the challenge.


Read it all here

House of Bishops to work in Louisiana and Mississippi

The Living Church reports on the shape of the House of Bishops' September meeting.

“A group from the planning committee will work with Archbishop Williams and me to determine the format of the time we will have together,” Bishop Jefferts Schori wrote. She said that the formal part of the meeting will begin with the Holy Eucharist on the morning of Sept. 20. Archbishop Williams will depart the afternoon of Sept. 21.

Bishop Jefferts Schori said she has invited the primates’ Standing Committee and the Executive Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) to join the meeting. “They will be with us during our time with the Archbishop of Canterbury,” she wrote, as well as for “work and missionary days” in the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi scheduled for Sept. 22-23. “These groups will have their own (private) meeting on Monday.”

Read it all here

Archbishop Drexel Gomez to address General Synod

Thinking Anglicans reports on the agenda for the General Synod of the Church of England in Anglican Covenant Proposal

The General Synod of the Church of England will debate the Anglican Covenant Proposal on Sunday 8 July in a session timed to run from 2.30 pm to 6.15 pm, and intended also to cover a separate debate on the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

The Agenda item reads as follows:

THE ANGLICAN COVENANT PROPOSAL (GS 1661)

17. At the invitation of the Presidents, the Most Revd Drexel Gomez (chair of the Anglican Covenant Design Group) will address the Synod.

A member of the House of Bishops to move:

18. ‘That this Synod:

a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops' Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.'

In the Forward to The Anglican Covenant Proposal, Archbishops Williams and Sentamu write:

Whether or not a Covenant is adopted, the question of handling conflict will not go away. In the age of instant global communication, this question is likely to be sharper than ever. If we do not have a Covenant in the Communion, we shall not be absolved from the imperative to manage our conflicts and tensions better than we have been doing. Unless we can do better, the future of the Communion is going to be more and more fragile and uncertain, and we can’t just appeal to some imagined traditional Anglican way of handling things without fuss. That is why many of those who have been engaged in dealing with the fallout from recent conflicts – in particular the Primates of the Communion and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council – have concluded that something like a Covenant is a constructive path for the future, and why the hope has been expressed that the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference will be ready to work with the concept and with the proposals already outlined. We hope the Synod will consider their arguments with sympathy.

+ Rowan Cantuar: + Sentamu Ebor:

Follow the General Synod here

Doing the Math

Alan Cooperman, of the Washington Post reports that 200-250 churches have joined other provinces. epiScope and Father Jake take a look at how the WP came up with these figures. It seems that many were never Episcopal Churches or broke away years ago over the ordination of women, the Prayer Book, or previous issues.

Jan Nunley of epiScope writes:

It looks as though Cooperman has simply taken his numbers from claims made on various dissident groups' websites and by their spokespersons.

So far, the heads, or primates, of Anglican provinces overseas have taken under their wings 200 to 250 of the more than 7,000 congregations in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.

That's a claim apparently made by Archbishop Akinola in a recent story. There's no hard evidence presented to back it up, for one good reason: not all, or even most, of those congregations--however many there are--ever were TEC congregations.

[AMiA] has grown at the rate of one church every three weeks and now numbers about 120 congregations, with five bishops.

Which makes it sound as though AMiA has had a steady rate of growth; in fact, the majority of those churches were factions of TEC congregations, new plants or "house churches" founded in the first year or so of AMiA's existence.

epiScope continues:

The misleading part is that uninformed readers naturally assume--from what's implied in Cooperman's lead--that "congregations" in these cases means "full duly constituted congregations of TEC, with their physical plants": in other words, just like St. Swithin's-in-the-Swamp down the street.

And that's just not the case. They're either splits off existing TEC congregations (which continue as TEC congregations), or new church plants, or "house churches" meeting in homes or hotels under lay leadership, or--in a great many cases--"continuing Anglican" congregations long outside Canterbury's official fold and seeking a way back in.

Read the rest here.

Father Jake corrects the Washington Post's math:

There are about 45 congregations, less than 1%, that have claimed to have left the Episcopal Church. Almost all of these congregations have been reconstituted by a group from within the congregation that remains faithful to the Episcopal Church.

More reflections on ACK, CANA, NAAC, and other foreign primatial incursions at Preludium

School of the Americas may close

In the next two days, Congress will vote on an amendment to close the notorious School of the Americas/WHINSEC. According to a letter from School of the Amercas Watch

The School of the Americas,... located at Ft. Benning Georgia, has trained -for more than 60 years- over 60,000 Latin American Soldiers in torture, psychological warfare and war against civilian populations. Many of the tactics of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay began at the SOA to be used on civilians and those working for justice in Latin America. This school has graduated the worst human rights abusers in Latin American History. Rep. McGovern (MA) and Rep. John Lewis (GA) will introduce an amendment to the Foreign Operations appropriations bill to cut funding for the SOA/ WHINSEC and stand up against the legacy of torture as a part of US Foreign Policy!

For more information and how to influence the vote Click Here.

Resolve War: Forgiveness, Not Punishment

Forgiveness Will End the LRA War - Clergy
Henry Mukasa, Kampala reports that "Ugandan and Sudanese clergy have recommended forgiveness, not punishment, as a means to resolve the 20-year-long war in northern Uganda."

After inter-denominational prayers held at All Saints Cathedral Juba on Saturday, the religious leaders argued that accountability, repentance and forgiveness would more effective by healing the scars of the war in the region.

The acting Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Natalian Deng, said Ugandans needed to reconcile with the LRA just like Jesus reconciled bitter enemies: the Jews and the Gentiles.

"I pray that God brings that reconciliation to Juba (venue of the talks)," he said at the prayers which were organised by the Sudan Council of Churches and the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC).

"We are one people. I don't know why we are suffering. We must unite and forget our suffering. Anything someone did to you, forget it," Deng implored.

Ugandan Archbishop Yonah Lwanga said UJCC had recommended alternative (traditional) justice for the rebels instead of the punishment that the International Criminal Court is seeking.

Lwanga explained that the recommendations were contained in their booklet, A Framework for Dialogue on Reconciliation and Peace in Northern Uganda.

Read it all Here.

Globalization: Challenge and Gift

Frederick Quinn, an Episcopal priest and retired diplomat who has worked in Africa, Asia, Central Europe, and the Caribbean writes about Globalization and the future of the Anglican Communion in Episcopal Life Online. He notes that globalization has been "an active historical forces at least since the 15th century" and offers some thoughts on the challenges and gifts of today.


New times demand new approaches. Global Anglicans can profit from the example of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC), who after several decades of deliberation, produced a carefully honed concept of dialogue that includes four aspects:

1. The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing joys and sorrows, daily problems and preoccupations.
2. The dialogue of action, where Christians and others collaborate for the integral development, justice at a local level, and the liberation of people.
3. The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other's spiritual values.
4. The dialogue of religious experience, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith, and ways of searching for God or the Absolute. (Professor Peter Phan of Georgetown University has elaborated on these aspects of dialogue in numerous publications and has provided me with this model.)

For Anglicans, our present lumpy controversies can represent a positive teaching moment. We have an opportunity to share God's love with one another thanks to the Internet and through old and new informal global networks of individual, parish, and diocesan contacts. Such encounters of personally sharing, grace-filled experiences are life giving. Time spent in a Haitian village's medical clinic, supporting an Argentine bishop's work with land-deprived peasants, or helping a Myanmar diocese build an English teaching program, provide concrete examples of God's love through witness and mission around the Anglican Communion. Through them the wider forces of globalization are transformed into moments of grace.

One way of broadening such a wider dialogue on religious globalization is to focus on a few central questions such as:

How do we understand the Reign of God in its contemporary setting. Is it an expansive or a restrictive concept?
How does it relate to the national settings in which contemporary Christians find themselves?
How do the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relate to our understanding of New Testament mission?
How best can we listen carefully to one another, walk together rather than talk at each other, and live together compassionately, despite seemingly harsh differences


Read it all here

Canadian General Synod: On Demand

Anglicans from across Canada and around the world can watch General Synod 2007 live by web stream.

For coverage and analysis, viewers can check out Synod on Demand

Synod On Demand will feature interviews,synod highlights, and commentary.

For more about the Canadian General Synod 2007, links and resolutions click here

Street Pastors on Patrol

Street Pastors: local volunteers from churches are trained "to help those who have drunk too much or got into fights by getting them to taxis or the Nightbus, walking local people home, administering basic first aid or simply chatting."

According to eGovMonitor the Portmouth (UK) City Council has approved the Street Pastors. "They will work in teams of four, each wearing jackets and baseball caps emblazoned with the words 'Street Pastor' and will complement existing patrols of police officers and community wardens."

Twenty-nine people ranging in age from 18 to 70 have gone through the training course with topics ranging from personal safety, sex, relationships and child protection awareness to first aid and listening and mediation skills. Much of the training has been provided free of charge by many different agencies, demonstrating the widespread support for the scheme across the city.

"National statistics show that it makes streets safer and the scheme has enthusiastic support from the Safer Portsmouth Partnership."

Funding for the project has come from the Portsmouth Anglican Diocese, Safer Portsmouth Partnership, 'Seedbed' and the Police. Read it all here

We are not PBS

The Café is not a branch of the Public Broadcasting System. But we are trying to raise a little money this week to defray our development costs, which were paid by the Diocese of Washington. So, we are asking you today just what we asked you yesterday, to make a donation to the diocese's fourth annual Bishop's Appeal. You can donate online in as little as two minutes, or write a check to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and mail it to:

Bishop's Appeal
Episcopal Church House
Mount Saint Alban
Washington D. C., 20016

Please put the word "Café" in the subject line of your check or in the dedication line of your online donation. Thanks. Now back to Part 27 of Asphalt: an American Odyssey, by Ken Burns.

Christian Association of Nigeria elects new president

Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Anglican Church of Nigeria will hand over leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria. John Onayeikan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja was elected president by a vote of 72 to 33 by delegates to the National Executive Council of CAN. The BusinessDAY report concludes, "the 304 member General Assembly of CAN is expected to ratify the election at its July 5 to July 6 meeting."

See also this allAfrica report.

Earlier reports suggested that Akinola had made a vigorous attempt to remain at the head of CAN. According to Sun News:

Constitutionally, the contest for the Presidency of CAN is limited to members who are Spiritual Heads or Leaders not below the rank of a Bishop or its equivalent with not less than 15 years record with his church denomination.

Candidates for CAN Presidency must also represent one of the established five church groups.

However, the contest has turned into a battle of will as the incumbent, Right Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, allegedly changed the date of election to favour his candidacy.

The election of the National President of CAN is supposed to end with the ratification of one of the two candidates by the National Assembly of CAN after NEC must have voted in favour of the candidate.

The election of the two candidates who made the list of the Electoral College by the NEC of CAN was to take place on the 6th of July.

But Right Reverend Akinola, who is one of the two contestants and primate of the Anglican Church, is said to have rescheduled the election of CAN President back from the original 6th of July to the 19th of June when Onaiyekan is already scheduled to be in Rome attending a conference of World Catholic Bishops.

The Sun News report also includes criticism of Akinola's relationship with Nigeria's government:
“The truth is that this man [Akinola] did not represent CAN well while Obasanjo [Nigeria's previous strongman] was there. He was not talking. If we now make him President and he now decides to talk, our Moslem brothers will say 'Okay, you did not talk when your brother was there, why are you saying all these now?'

“The man CAN needs now is somebody who has been consistent, who the world knows speaks out when things go bad,” a PFN chieftain told Sunday Sun.

Angered by the humiliation of the church by Obasanjo while in Office, some members believe now is the time to brace up and defend the honour of the church.

In competition in the same mission field, it is not clear however that the Anglicans and Catholics are that far apart in terms of theology. See this Washington Post report.

Canadian GS Roundup, Day 1

The Winnipeg Free Press provides this helpful overview of the schedule for the Anglican Canadian General Synod:

Convention at a glance

Wednesday, June 20: Canada's place in the Anglican union will be discussed by John Sentamu the Archbishop of York, England. If Canada's Anglicans vote to bless same sex marriages, they may be cast out by the global communion.

Thursday, June 21: The Lutheran church is also meeting this week in Winnipeg, and both groups will participate in a joint session. They will celebrate six years of communion - an agreement that allows Lutheran pastors to serve in Anglican parishes and vice versa.

Friday, June 22: Elections will be held to choose the new head bishop of the Anglican church.

Saturday, June 23: Same sex marriage blessing will debated by Anglicans and Lutherans.

Sunday, June 24: Anglicans continue same sex marriage debate.

Monday, June 25: Evening festivities include installation of new head bishop and a street party.

The Free Press article is a good review of the issues, the history, and what's at stake. Read it in full.

Other items:

- The Primatial Address:

Certainly one of the most difficult items for our discernment will be the question of how to proceed on the issue of same-gender relationships. Related to it are other questions. One is the deeper question of how Anglicans receive and understand Scriptures in the light of modern scholarship and contemporary experience.

- Kendall Harmon points to two opposing papers on the blessing of same sex unions in the Anglican Church of Canada, Making the Case by John Thorp (pdf) and Case Not Made by Robert Gagnon (pdf).

- Synod on Demand for the latest webcast featuring interviews, synod highlights, and commentary by Tim Morgan and others.

- The Anglican Journal Daily can be found in the right column of its homepage for the duration of GS.

Barnstorming through Western Kansas

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wraps up her 3-day 15-town tour of western Kansas today. As reported by The Hay Daily News she's been well received, and has not sugar-coated difficult subjects:

The audience [Monday night], which was about 75, questioned her about the best way to minister to rural, western Kansas.

“The question is whether a full-stipend priest is really needed or appropriate in a town of 400 when the congregation is 12,” she said. “There’s not enough for a priest to do there. But that said, there’s important ministry to do in that place — sacraments have to be provided.”

Perhaps a priest could minister to several congregations. Others, she said, have forgone owning their house of worship, instead choosing to meet in people’s homes or rented space.

“I think there are many answers that have to grow out of local context,” Jefferts Schori said. “The biggest challenge is often just opening our minds to new possibilities. The church doesn’t have to continue to look like it did 50 years ago.”

The Rev. Dennis Gilhousen, pastor in Norton, said Jefferts Schori’s visit is important — not just for her, but for the people in the diocese.

“We’re sort of out here, stuck in our isolated place,” Gilhousen said. ... “But with this visit, the presiding bishop actually came to spend time with the people of this diocese where we are, instead of at a gathering someplace,” Gilhousen said. “It gives us a genuine sense of being cared for and cared about.”

Jefferts Schori suggested the diocese could care for additional members, including non-English speakers.

“They may not look like many of you, but that is the field that is ripe for harvest out there,” she said. “I think the core of the Episcopal church is about living together with diversity, honoring that diversity and claiming it as a blessing. Many of the approaches we may take have to do with changing our ideas about what a normative Episcopalian looks like.”

Jefferts Schori said the community benefits from having members that speak different languages, have skin of different colors, have different ethnic background, and who represent a different social classes and ages.

“When most of our members are senior citizens, we tend to focus less on the needs of those less represented in the congregation,” she said. “My sense is that the young people are less well-represented than the other end of the spectrum. One reason is that Episcopalians do not do evangelization by reproduction. We also don’t do a terribly good job at retaining the offspring we do produce.”
...
Lifelong member of St. Michael, Jim Brooks has not been present at a presiding bishop’s visit before Monday.
...
“It is very easy for people to be kind of isolated out here,” Brown said. “I think we got to hear her pastoral heart and her heart for evangelism and the heart of the church not only for now, but for the years to come.”

Conservative blog readers, though, were not open to seeing the positives in the visit. And the Presiding Bishop's visit is not without controversy. The Hutchinson News (February 10, 2007) did a good job of telling that story. Some excerpts:
The Bishop of western Kansas has invited the highest-ranking official of the Episcopal Church to visit.

But not before receiving letters and phone calls from congregations making it clear they didn't want to miss the opportunity.
...
The invitation and the bishop's response came on the heels of a letter sent by Adams, saying he did not agree with Jefferts Schori's philosophy or the direction she is leading the Episcopal Church.
...
Bishop Dean Wolfe of the Episcopal diocese of Kansas...said it was wonderful the presiding bishop was making herself available. "It's a big deal for a couple of reasons," Wolfe said. "She comes from a smaller diocese, she more than others has an understanding of smaller and rural parishes."

Wolfe said her leadership shows a concern for the middle of the country, not just both coasts.

An earlier article in The Hutchinson News in January of this year spelled out Bishop Adams' pointed views:
Bishop James Adams has caught the attention of the newly appointed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with a letter stating he disapproves of her theology. In response, the first female primate in the 500-year history of the Anglican Church has offered to visit the Western Kansas Diocese, which has about 2,500 members.
...
The next move in their exchange will be up to Adams - under church protocol, Jefferts Schori cannot visit unless invited.
...
"I don't deny she is the presiding bishop; she was duly elected," Adams said. However, in his letter sent to Jefferts Schori, after her installation in November 2006, he denied her authority over him.
...
Adams struggles with Jefferts Schori's theology, worried that she and some others in the church seem to give up the claims of Christ to avoid offending anyone.
...
Adams may think he understands her theological positions, Jefferts Schori said, but "I have a broader understanding of how salvation works."
...
"It's not that she is not talented or smart," Adams said, "but she has little experience in the church."

He said Jefferts Schori had been a priest only since 1994, and never a rector before she was appointed bishop in 2000. During the 75th General Convention in June 2006, she was elected the 26th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.

"I didn't vote for her. That doesn't mean I don't like her, I just don't think she's qualified," he said.


16177_512.jpgTuesday she joined actor Steve McQueen, John F. Kennedy and all the company of 80 others when she was made an honorary sheriff of Dodge City. Of course, it's not the badge that makes the sheriff. It's the respect you earn and the hearts you win. [Photo credit: Dodge City Daily Globe]

The AP has also covered the visit.

Innovations in being a church

Item 1:

Every Sunday morning, a pickup truck quietly pulls up to the front door of a middle school just east of Leesburg [Virginia, Diocese of Virginia].

Soon, more early risers arrive and begin unpacking the trailer attached to the truck. Large wooden contraptions - giant boxes with wheels - roll down the trailer's ramp and into the school.

All is abuzz as people unpack the boxes, transforming Belmont Ridge Middle School's auditorium into St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church.

I am an active member of this church - a fact that a few years ago would have surprised me. Though I grew up going to an Episcopal church, religion always seemed impenetrable and forbidding.
...
A friend mentioned Jeunee Cunningham, pastor of St. Gabriel's, and had only positive things to say about her. So I e-mailed her.

Jeunee replied immediately. Probably sensing my trepidation, she set me at ease by telling me that she and her husband didn't belong to a church when they got married. They attended a service at an Episcopal church they liked and said, "Hey - let's get married there!"


Item 2:
Ostlund has lived in Loxahatchee for eight months.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida recognized the growth of the western communities and anticipated the establishment of the Callery-Judge Grove community, so it committed her to the area to establish a ministry.

She is living in a home bought by the church that also serves as her office and meeting space for the congregation.

A group she calls The 15:58 is helping her to get a church established in the community. "They are named after Corinthians 15:58," Ostlund said. "Basically, the Scripture says that if you keep working, your work will pay off."

It's World Refugee Day

The Episcopal Public Policy Network has the details.

Did you know that Sweden takes more Iraqi refugees than the United States?

Follow the EPPN link for suggestions on how to let your representatives in Washington know would you'd like done about it.

Live blogging the Pittsburgh District VII meeting

Jamie at Luminous Darkness is live blogging the meeting tonight of District VII in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It's all here.

An extract:

I asked my question and finished by saying: “I would like to hear from you who attended the Diocesan Leadership Retreat what was specifically discussed about the fact that resisting, as you say, morphed into leaving The Episcopal Church.” I got three answers from the panel...
Emphasis added.

"Following the Money" goes to Washington

If you aren't familiar with "Following the Money: Donors and Activists on the Anglican Right," drop in to the Diocese of Washington Web site, then read this exchange between Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and James Tonkowich, president of the right wing astroturf organization, the Institute on Religion and Democracy that occured when Tonkowich visited Capitol Hill recently to give reliigous cover to the oil industry's views on climate change.

Note the part where Tonkowich seems to say that he represents the views of everyone to whom he sends a piece of mail, but then adds that the IRD sometimes culls addresses from church directories.

Read more »

Gracious Magnanimity

Archbishop of York John Sentamu addressed the Canadian General Synod with words about grace and law. In his comments on gracious magnanimity the Archbishop said:

... the basis and the fundamental thing about gracious-magnanimity (epieikeia) is that it goes back to God. If God stood on his rights, if God applied to us nothing but the rigid standards of law, where would we be? God is the supreme example of the one who is graciously-magnanimous (epieikes) and who deals with others with gracious-magnanimity (epieikeia). Again and again we have seen congregations torn by strife and reduced to tragic unhappiness because men and women and committees and courts stood on the letter of the law. When a congregation's governing body meets with a copy of its Church's book of law prominently displayed on the Chair's table, trouble is never far away. A new world would arise in Society and in the Church if all of us ceased to base our actions purely on law and legal rights and prayed to God to give us gracious-magnanimity. (epieikeiea).
He continues:
...Jesus was telling his disciples that if you want to meet God face to face, the nearest you are going to come to it on this planet is to look into the faces of your brothers and sisters - and especially your sisters and brothers who have been declared unrighteous, unclean, unacceptable.

It isn't that we find God there, it's that God finds us there.

He concludes:

Proper penitence and a readiness to go willingly, and perhaps be lifted up, to suffer whatever sacrifices may be necessary for the visible unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

For this to happen we must die in order to bear fruit and be messengers of God's redeeming love. We are called to die to the values of the world -- greed for wealth, status and power; as well as our psychological tendencies: our desires and compulsions for success, to be loved, to be held in esteem, to be acclaimed by those in our group, to have, power and control over others. .It's a call to disarm ourselves, to die to our plans and let God's plans and ways take hold of us.

I have come to believe that when I shall come face to face with the Wounded Healer who bears the marks of love, he will ask me, "Sentamu, where are your tears for me to wipe away? Where are your wounds of love received through loving and laying down your life for me and my brothers and sisters?"

It's from the Cross that the life of God's love shines forth upon the world in its fullest splendour. And, as David Bosch has said (in Transforming Mission), "The Church is an inseparable union of the divine and the dusty."

The question continues, however, who is going to the cross and will it be through choice or compulsion? The archbishop has evoked distress among the readers of the more conservative blogs and puzzlement in others.

Read the whole speech here.

For more reflection on the meaning of Sentamu's words click here.

No exit

"Even if the Anglican Church of Canada votes on Saturday to approve same-sex blessings, the spokesman for the world's top Anglican says the Canadian denomination will not be kicked out of the global Anglican communion," writes the Vancouver Sun.

"No scenario could emerge" from this week's Anglican General Synod that would lead to the Archbishop of Canterbury expelling the Canadian church from the 76-million-member global Anglican denomination, says Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all, but be patient if you encounter a balky page that requires some scrolling.

The Canadian Anglican Journal reports Kearon and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, "urged delegates of General Synod to adopt a positive approach to human sexuality...."

Two voices: Minns and Schori featured on Interfaith Radio

Maureen Fiedler looks at both sides of the "contentious issues involved in the struggle within the Episcopal Church" in the latest episode of Interfaith Voices, an independent public radio program which ran this week. The episode is available from the Interfaith Voices website as a streaming audio file or a podcast (see link below).

In the first segment, Fiedler interviews Bishop Martin Minns, challenging him on key issues such as how we come to a different understanding of scripture over time. Noting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "not the pope," he declares that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is outside the mainstream of the Anglican Communion while the Global South represents more than a quarter of it.

"Most people that have left because we haven't moved fast enough," he says. "They've gone to evangelical churches, charismatic churches, the Catholic church." And along that line of thinking, he sees Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic as being the three legs of the the CANA initiative's stool, so to speak.

An interesting exchange from about 16 minutes in:
Fielder: As we both know, teachings do change. The classic one is that preachers once used theology ... to justify slavery and racism, but that isn't true anymore. Isn't it possible to develop theologically on issues dealing with women or gays and lesbians?
Minns: ...It's clear that the Scripture taught, indeed, that slavery is not right. "In Christ there is no slave or free."
Fielder: Yet Paul said, "Slaves, be subject to your masters." That was pretty clear too, wasn't it?
Minns: Yes, but that was always to be done in terms of not challenging that particular culture of that time ..., and always understanding it to be simply transitional time.
Fielder: But we both know that there were plenty of preachers here in our own South who used that phrase to defend the culture of slavery.
Minns: Oh, I agree. Culture does, sometimes, pollute the way we read scripture. That's absolutely clear.
Fielder: Isn't it possible that culture may be polluting it in this case?
Minns: I think it is. It's the culture of the whole sexual agenda; it is indeed making us see scripture the wrong way.

In the second segment, Fiedler interviews Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who notes that our history of colonialism is colliding with "a colonialism that is turning against the United States," while noting that the Episcopal Church has 10 overseas dioceses as well. But the problems are complex, she also said while discussing the recent meeting in Tanzania. "There is a diversity of opinion in every part of the Anglican communion ... In that gathering of 34, 35 bishops, leaders of their provinces, there are certainly a handful who are exceedingly unhappy with the actions of the Episcopal Church. There are a much larger number who are incredibly annoyed that we are spending so much time and energy on this when people in their own provinces are dying of hunger or lack of medication and medical care."

You can listen to the program here.

Synod panels discuss various responses to Windsor Report

At the Canadian General Synod yesterday, three people came together to talk about their respective nation's response to the Windsor Report in large-group breakout sessions, called "conversations," at the synod, according to Episcopal Life Online. The report focuses on House of Deputies president Bonnie Anderson, who summarized the response and the resolutions of the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. She was joined by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, who spoke about the Church of England's response, and Dr. Patricia Bays, who explained the Anglican Church of Canada's proposed response.

Read the story here.

A New Africanized Bishop for the U.S.

Anglican Communion Network has this news today from Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Anglican Province of Uganda:
"In December 2006, the House of Bishops elected the Rev. John Guernsey to be a Bishop in the Church of Uganda, serving our American congregations on behalf of their Ugandan Bishop. Today at our House of Bishops meeting, we reaffirmed that decision and set the date for Bishopelect Guernsey's consecration for Sunday, 2nd September 2007. He will be consecrated in Mbarara along with Bishop-elect George Tibesigwa, the new Bishop of Ankole Diocese."
The annoucement goes on to describe how the new africanized bishop's oversight will extend to the congregation he presently serves in the US, but not to a diocese. The congregation remains in the jurisdiction of the Ugandan diocese and it's present bishop. The announcment continues:
Admittedly, this is complex, and we hope this arrangement will be temporary until the Biblically orthodox domestic ecclesial entity in the USA is in place. But, I do ask that all of us - Americans and Ugandans - work diligently to make this work. We will all need to walk in the light with one another; to extend grace, love, and mutual respect to one another; and to be transparent in our communication. Bishop-elect Guernsey is now our front-line Bishop and should be your first point of contact about anything ecclesiastical. When in doubt, contact Bishop-elect Guernsey first and then, together, you can decide if and how your Ugandan Bishop may need to be brought into the situation.
Read the rest here.

UPDATE: Thinking Anglicans has published the Barfoot Memo from March 2004 - obviously this is the strategy of the sudden proliferation of offshore ordinations.

New Primate for Canada

The Rt. Rev. Frederick James Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has been elected Primate of Canada.
From his Statement about Primacy:

In the first instance, a Primate has the challenge to be the kind of servant leader for whom the Church prays at the time of election. As servant of the people of God, a Primate’s ministry is to gather the Church, to unite its members in a holy fellowship of truth and love, and to inspire them in the service of Christ’s mission in the world. He/She is called to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of the people.” (The Ordinal, p. 637, BAS) This ministry inevitably involves what someone once described as “pushing the boat out from the shore,” launching out into the deep. It’s about raising sights, broadening horizons. It’s about “drawing the circle wide, drawing it wider still.” It’s about the work of respecting the dignity of every human being, building a just society, and announcing the reign of God.

In the ministries of compassion for those who suffer, of advocacy for those whose voices are not heard, of calling for just resolutions to tension and conflicts among the nations, the Primate is one among many partners – those within the Christian tradition and those of other faith traditions.

More from his statement on Primacy and biographical informationhere

Bishop Hiltz was elected by the church's General Synod, meeting in Winnipeg, on the 5th ballot, from among four bishops nominated last April by a gathering of all Canadian bishops according to the Anglican News

Links
Press releases here
Live video from General Synod here
News and information here
Daily Journal here

Bishop Persell: reaching across the divide

The Chicago Tribune website (free subscription required) has a long article reporting on the work and ministry of Bishop William Persell, the Episcopal Bishop of Chicago:

"'Communion is about relationships,' Persell said in a recent interview. 'Building meaningful relationships is more important than other things happening in the [Anglican] Communion. If we have a relationship, we don't have to agree.'

Since becoming Chicago's bishop, Persell, 64, has encouraged his 44,000 parishioners from Chicago to Galena to maintain a healthy lifestyle while his own health has been in decline. But he has also tried to maintain his reputation as a champion of social justice and civil rights while trying to keep the church together despite tumult.

Last year, Persell announced to this flock that he would step down as their bishop in February 2008, when a new bishop is installed. An aortic aneurysm and deteriorating vision made the demands of the job difficult. This week, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer. He reiterated the importance of a healthy ministry when he announced his resignation.

'While my mind and heart are very much committed to helping advance the church's mission here, my stamina is not what it was when you welcomed me into your life,' he wrote."

The article talks about Bishop Persell's commitment to trying to find a middle ground that will the Church to comprehend different understandings of how to be Christian in the world:

In 2003, [Persell] called a similar meeting among clergy in his own diocese to study the issues that were dividing the Episcopal Church. For as long as he could, he put off deposing conservative clergy supporting breakaway parishes. But Rev. Martin Johnson, who leads a breakaway parish in Wheaton, said Persell finally had no choice. Johnson expects to be the second priest in the diocese to have his ordination rites revoked by the end of the year.

But that doesn't alter his tremendous respect for Persell.

"To some of us it's a therapeutic issue and the possibility of healing," Johnson said. "For him it's a matter of simply affirming how people are created in God's sight."

He knows that he and Persell share a deep love for the church.

They also share a love of opera. Sitting next to each other at the Lyric Opera one night during a five-hour production of Wagner, Persell asked Johnson during intermission if he planned to stay for the final acts. They exchanged knowing looks and agreed to go the distance. Persell wasn't just talking about the opera, Johnson said. He was talking about the church.

Read the rest here.

Having enough fun?

Experts agree, Ann Hurlbut writes, "that the loss of natural play opportunities in an urbanized world of smaller families and a 'push-button civilization' meant that play, alas, could no longer be left to kids. Read her article and on online discussion about the state of (child's) play.

Hurlbut writes:

Our era of superachievement angst and No Child Left Behind duress is not the first time adults have worried that academic pressures are prematurely crowding out the kind of hands-on playtime that kids love. It will also not be the last time that the crusade to restore the primacy of play runs the risk of eroding the very playfulness the crusaders are eager to see more of. The paradox of the endeavor seems all but unavoidable. Play advocates bolster their case by proclaiming play's social, emotional, and cognitive benefits, as David Elkind has recently done in The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children. Yet the more successful such advocates are in their instrumental defense of play, the further they stray from an appreciation of play as precisely the opposite—a pursuit that serves children's own (not always obviously constructive) purposes, rather than the didactic designs of their elders.

It is a conversation reminiscent f our earlier item on Boys Gone Mild.

Global Voices Online

The world may be flat, as Thomas Friedman, argues, but much of the information we receive is filtered through a corporatized media, hierarchical institutions, and politically motivated interest groups. Americans receive little information about other countries directly from the people who live there. But that is changing.

Global Voices Online features firsthand reports from bloggers all around the world, including hot spots such as Iraq, Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Happy Birthday, Aung San Suu Kyi!).

Eddie Avila, senior manager for community youth programs at Washington National Cathedral, is the regional editor for Latin America. In an email to the Cafe, he wrote:

"I work to coordinate our team of volunteer authors from across the region, as well as search for daily links of interesting blog entries from across the region.

Our Goals:

To amplify the voices of bloggers and content creators often ignored by other media.

To help develop and refine tools and resources that encourage global dialogue and the freedom of online expression.

To advocate against censorship and promote the safety of bloggers who live under autocratic regimes.

To foster diversity and the emergence of new citizens’ voices through training and outreach."

To read what Avila calls the group's "manifesto"...

Read more »

Same Sex Blessings not core doctrine

The Canadian Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada approved the St. Michael's Report resolution, today, with amendment. Further resolutions on same sex blessing are being debated live here

The St Michael's Report is here

The resolution with amendment (in italics):

BE IT RESOLVED:
That this General Synod accept the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission’s St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal, and that it should not be a communion-breaking issue.


Thanks to Fr. Jake

Prison ministry cares for "invisible children"

This summer, Episcopalians in at least 20 dioceses are reaching out to them -- children under under the radar of government aid -- by sending them to summer camp for a week of learning and fun.

The president says there are 1.5 million of them, the smallest victims of crime. The Bureau of Justice statistics say they have a 70 percent chance of going to prison just like their parents. “If we can give them a week of unconditional love, there is hope,” says the now-retired director of prison ministry for the national church, the Rev. Jackie Means. These children bring to camp “anger, fear, insecurity, suspicion and shame” said Means. “They need to know that Jesus loves them as they are. They need a safe place to deal with the hard stuff and to be shown respect.”

Sponsoring dioceses in 2007 include: Rio Grande, Oklahoma, Northern Michigan, Mississippi, Texas, West Texas, Nevada, East Carolina, Montana, Maryland, Florida, Southwest Florida, Arkansas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Easton, Md., Connecticut, Northern Indiana, Alaska and Louisiana.

Val Hymes of the Diocese of Maryland has the story.

60% solution defeated

Canadian General Synod has defeated a resolution that would call for 60% to pass the resolutions on same sex blessings.

This means that the resolutions will be passed or defeated by a simple majority.

Resolution #186 "That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is consistent with the core doctrine of The Anglican Church of Canada" is under discussion and will be voted on Sunday.

Resolutions of General Synod are found here

News of General Synod here

Is The Web Dangerous For Teens?

As any one under 30 can tell you, the most important trend in Internet culture has been the rise of the so-called Web 2.0, which is the use of the Internet for social networking through such sites as Face Book and MySpace.

The most recent article of Atlantic features an often frightening exploration of the implications of the rise of the Web 2.0 for parents of American teenagers. First, Flanagan notes that these sites expose our children to the world--and the world to them--at a much younger age than before:

The history of civilization is the history of sending children out into the world. The child of a 17th-century weaver would have been raised and educated at home, prey to the diseases and domestic accidents of his time, but protected from strangers who meant him harm. As the spheres of home and work began to separate, cleaving parents from their sons and daughters, children faced dangers of an altogether different kind. The world is not, nor has it ever been, full of people who prey upon children. But it has always had more than enough of them, and it always will. . . . With the Internet, children are marching out into the world every second of every day. They’re sitting in their bedrooms—wearing their retainers, topped up with multivitamins, radiating the good care and safekeeping that is their lot in life in America at the beginning of the new century—and they’re posting photographs of themselves, typing private sentiments, unthinkingly laying down a trail of bread crumbs leading straight to their dance recitals and Six Flags trips and Justin Timberlake concerts, places where anyone with an interest in retainer-wearing 13-year-olds is free to follow them. All that remains to be seen is whether anyone will follow them, and herein lies a terrifying uncertainty, which neither skeptics nor doomsayers can deny: The Internet has opened a portal into what used to be the inviolable space of the home, through which anything, harmful or harmless, can pass. It won’t be closing anytime soon—or ever—and all that parents can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

And the incidence of predation appears to be more prevalent than parents seem to realize:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children maintains that one out of five kids who use the Internet has been propositioned for sex. It’s hard to know just how accurately such events can be quantified, and when I first read the statistic, I found it hard to believe that, if indeed so many children were being propositioned, more parents weren’t uniting in outrage, rather than wiring up their kids at a blistering pace. My friends with teenagers were very open with them and were well-informed about the dangers of the Internet; I couldn’t imagine one out of five of those kids being propositioned by a stranger and not telling their parents.

But Hansen provides a second bit of information that made me wonder if that statistic wasn’t in fact on the low side. As part of the first episode of his show, Hansen convened a panel of tweens and teens, among them children of some of his colleagues at NBC, and asked how many of them had been “approached online by someone in a sexual way that made you feel uncomfortable.” Almost all the kids raised their hands. Then he asked how many had told their parents. Not a hand went up. And when he asked why they hadn’t told their parents, all the kids in the room said they didn’t tell because they didn’t want their parents to take away their Internet connections.

Suddenly, it all made sense to me: Teenagers don’t tell their parents that someone nasty got through to them for the same reason I didn’t tell my parents that kids were dropping acid at a party—because they wouldn’t let me go to those parties anymore. That’s the horrible, inescapable fact of coming of age: The moment you choose the world over your parents, you’ve chosen to make your own decisions about what’s safe and what’s not, with only your own wits to protect you.


Yet, perhaps the most troubling aspect of these social networking sites is not the obvious dangers of predation, but rather that this technology amphlifies the worst features of teen culture:
Most parents of teenage girls with Internet connections will tell you that their daughters’ physical safety isn’t in jeopardy—they’ve taken all kinds of precautions they think ensure this—but that the online experience is doing nothing for the girls’ peace of mind. Not many people are as ill-served by having their natterings subjected to instantaneous, global transmission as adolescent girls. In the first place, these girls’ feelings can be hurt by even a well-intentioned comment or question, and having a caustic remark that would have been bad enough if kept between two people suddenly unleashed to the whole clique, team, or school can be a wretched experience. Furthermore, because this new technology can make the old girl standbys of gossip and social exclusion and taunting more efficient—and therefore more cruel—many girls arrive at school each morning having experienced the equivalent of a public hazing in the privacy of their own rooms. While Johnny’s upstairs happily sneaking hard-core pornography past his Internet filter, poor Judy is next door weeping into her pillow because everyone in the eighth grade now knows that she still uses pads, not tampons. (Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, Mom and Dad are trying to figure out how to watch Dancing With the Stars now that the remote’s on the fritz again.)
. . .
Some of the most harmless aspects of MySpace would have crushed me at 14. Members get to list their “Top 8” friends, a list they can change at whim. It’s an ingenious number, because it’s just large enough to make exclusion really hurt—eight people, and there wasn’t any room at all for me?

One of the great paradoxes of our age is that at the exact moment when a huge number of teachers, parents, and school administrators have dedicated themselves to the emotional well-being and self-confidence of adolescent girls, a technology has come along that’s virtually guaranteed to undermine that confidence. A girl can go to school and happily discover that it’s possible for her to become a scientist when she grows up, but that may be cold comfort when she comes home to discover that five people just dropped her from their Top 8.


Read the entire essay here (subscription required).

These sites are here to stay--and are already an important part of teen culture. What can parents, educators and youth leaders do in response? Should our congregations address the implications of this new social trend in their youth programs?

Episcopal Bishop Learns From Emerging Church

Let's face it, the age demographic of the Episcopal Church skews heavily to the older part of the age range, and we have not done nearly as well as we should in atracting the twentysomething crowd. Bishop Kirk Smith of the Diocese of Arizona would like this to change, and he is taking lessons from the "Emerging Church" movement. Here is Bishop Smith's email report to his Diocese about a visit to a storefront Emerging Church in Phoenix Arizona:

[W]e decided that instead of just reading about it, we would talk to some people actually involved. So we invited two members of a nearby storefront church called "One Place" to be with us for the morning.


Mark and Kevin are the co-pastors of this group of about 75 young people. Both are in their middle twenties, and both sport elaborate tattoos (except they are bible verses in both Greek and Hebrew!). They started this downtown community because they had been to the "First Friday" gatherings which attract several thousand young people to the downtown area to experience art and music, and they felt that God was calling them to be present here. They and a small group refurbished an old warehouse, and the church was born. Although they both have some theological education, neither one takes a salary, and they support themselves through various day jobs.


My group was very impressed. Here was a group of 20 year olds-a group largely absent from our ranks-living out their Christian faith in a deeply committed way. We were impressed by their theological depth (their favorite theologians were N.T. Wright, Dietrich Bonhoffer and Henri Nouwen), their commitment (many had moved into the city as a sign of solidarity with the poor), but above all with their willingness to accept people wherever they might be on their spiritual walk. Moreover, we were particularly impressed with their willingness to let God set their agenda, instead of trying to control their own future-"This is what we feel we need to be about now, in this way-but God may have different things in store for us." They spoke a lot about "doing church" rather than "going to church."


After they had left us, we compiled a list of the qualities that impressed us: Faithfulness, authenticity, a willingness to practice what they preached, a true hospitality and inclusiveness, a trustfulness in God that allowed them to experiment rather than to enforce rules or dogmas, and a prayerful humility that turned control over to God.


After we made the list, we realized that this could also be a description of our own congregations at their best! We had much in common (well, except maybe for the tattoos and the rock music), and our goals were the same. As one of the pastors said to me as he was leaving-"We don't have any magic answers-we are just doing our best to live a Christian life."


Their visit gave me hope. The Holy Spirit is always at work in the world in new and unexpected ways. When It is hampered by institutional structures that are moribund, fearful, and caught up in power issues, it will find a new place to work. We should never forget that.


When I was reading the Book of Acts last week, I was reminded from where our visitors took their name: "And when the day of Pentecost had come, they [the disciples] were all together in one place." (Acts 2. 1). We look forward to learning and working with this new "emergent" group of young Christians. May we always be together in that "one place," united in the Spirit and the work of the Kingdom.

This was an exciting visit. The church is close to the Cathedral in Phoenix, and the Dean of the Cathedral is eager make a stronger connection with the One Place church. Are there similar storefront churches in your area that are part of the emerging church movement? Has the Episcopal Church made an outreach to these churches in your area?

Canadian synod: Same Sex Blessings not against doctrine

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has passed a resolution that the blessing of same sex unions is not in conflict with core doctrine.

The Anglican Church of Canada's Web news service reports:

Winnipeg, June 24, 2007 -- Members of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod in Winnipeg agreed Sunday that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the church's core doctrine, in the sense of being credal.

Debate resumed Sunday morning after being suspended late Saturday.

The motion carried reads: "That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine (in the sense of being credal) of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The motion was carried by a vote of 152 for, 97 against in the house of clergy and laity and by a vote of 21 for and 19 against in the house of bishops.

News of General Synod here

Making Moral Instruction Work

On Friday, David Brooks had a provocative op-ed in the New York Times that made the argument that most efforts to teach moral behavior fail because the instruction is based on a misconception of human nature. Here are highlights:

A little while ago, a national study authorized by Congress found that abstinence education programs don’t work. That gave liberals a chance to feel superior because it turns out that preaching traditional morality to students doesn’t change behavior.

But in this realm, nobody has the right to feel smug. American schools are awash in moral instruction — on sex, multiculturalism, environmental awareness and so on — and basically none of it works. Sex ed doesn’t change behavior. Birth control education doesn’t produce measurable results. The fact is, schools are ineffectual when it comes to values education. You can put an adult in front of a classroom or an assembly, and that adult can emit words, but don’t expect much impact.

That’s because all this is based on a false model of human nature. It’s based on the idea that human beings are primarily deciders. If you pour them full of moral maxims, they will be more likely to decide properly when temptation arises. If you pour them full of information about the consequences of risky behavior, they will decide to exercise prudence and forswear unwise decisions.

That’s the way we’d like to think we are, but that’s not the way we really are, and it’s certainly not the way teenagers are. There is no central executive zone in the brain where all information is gathered and decisions are made. There is no little homunculus up there watching reality on a screen and then deciding how to proceed. In fact, the mind is a series of parallel processes and loops, bidding for urgency.

We’re not primarily deciders. We’re primarily perceivers. The body receives huge amounts of information from the world, and what we primarily do is turn that data into a series of generalizations, stereotypes and theories that we can use to navigate our way through life. Once we’ve perceived a situation and construed it so that it fits one of the patterns we carry in our memory, we’ve pretty much rigged how we’re going to react, even though we haven’t consciously sat down to make a decision.

To make this point more concrete, Brooks gives the example of a teenage couple in a parked car. What will influence their decision to have sex? Is it what the learn in sex education class either at school or church? Brooks says no:

When a teenage couple is in the backseat of a car about to have sex or not, or unprotected sex or not, they are not autonomous creatures making decisions based on classroom maxims or health risk reports. Their behavior is shaped by the subconscious landscapes of reality that have been implanted since birth.

Did they grow up in homes where they felt emotionally secure? Do they often feel socially excluded? Did they grow up in a neighborhood where promiscuity is considered repulsive? Did they grow up in a sex-drenched environment or an environment in which children are buffered from it? (According to a New Zealand study, firstborns are twice as likely to be virgins at 21 than later-born children.)

In other words, the teenagers in that car won’t really be alone. They’ll be in there with a whole web of attitudes from friends, family and the world at large. Some teenagers will derive from those shared patterns a sense of subconscious no-go zones. They’ll regard activities in that no-go zone the way vegetarians regard meat — as a taboo, beyond immediate possibility.

Deciding is conscious and individual, but perceiving is subconscious and communal. The teen sex programs that actually work don’t focus on the sex. They focus on the environment teens live in. They work on the substratum of perceptions students use to orient themselves in the world. They don’t try to lay down universal rules, but apply the particular codes that have power in distinct communities. They understand that changing behavior changes attitudes, not the other way around.

Read the entire column (subscription required).

Does Brooks' argument make sense? If Brooks is correct, doesn't this reinforce the importance of communities (including the faith community) in forming moral attitudes and behavior? Does it suggest that parents and the Church need to rethink how we approach the moral education of our children?

Canadian Anglicans vote "no" on same-sex blessings

The vote to explicitly allow Canadian Anglican clergy to perform same-sex blessings was defeated by a very small margin by the bishops of the church. The lay and clergy votes both supported its passage.

The vote at the Canadian Church's General Synod was announced as:

"Laity 78 / 59 Passed

Clergy 63 / 53 Passed

Bishops 19 / 21 Failed

Motion Fails"

The Canadian Church has this story posted on its website.

We'll be updating this report as more news becomes available.

Read the live blog account of the parlimentary session here.

Synod Narrowly Defeats Same-sex Blessings

Canada's Anglicans voted Sunday by "the slimmest of margins" against letting priests bless same-sex marriages, but earlier in the day they also agreed the blessings do not conflict with their church's core doctrine, a step opposing sides agreed opens the door to such ceremonies in the future.

The Anglican Journal reports that "Canadian Anglicans, meeting at their General Synod governing convention, voted by the slimmest of margins to defeat a proposal that would have permitted church blessing rites for gay couples."

The Winnepeg Free Press said that

"some members of the Anglican Church of Canada were left in tears Sunday, after a motion to bless same-sex unions lost by only two votes.

The motion was supported by the majority of clergy and laity at the group’s national meeting, but two bishops who opposed the idea were the deciding factor. The motion was defeated by 21-19.

The decision shocked many same-sex supporters who thought the motion would pass since earlier in the day Anglicans voted same-sex blessings were not in conflict with the church’s doctrine.

Much of the sixth day of the synod was taken up with debate on the two questions, with dozens of people approaching microphones in the plenary hall to voice emotional opinions.

Both supporters and opponents agree that the two contradictory votes pose a problem for the Canadian Church.

Chris Ambidge, national spokesman for an Anglican group that supports same-sex unions, said, “What is wrong with having rights of blessing when you’ve already said it’s OK? I just don’t understand that.” He said the national meeting sent mixed messages to Anglicans across Canada and was confusing to everyone who voted.

Opponents to same-sex blessings agree. Cheryl Chang, a spokesperson for Anglican Essentials, a group which opposes blessing same-sex unions, called Sunday’s vote a “divisive tragedy” for the entire church.

Bishop Fred Hiltz the new Primate for the Anglican Church of Canada voted for the resolution. Afterwards he commented that ''There is no question that there was a lot of disappointment on the part of some people and a lot of pain, and some people will be saying, 'How long, oh Lord, how long will this conversation continue?' And it will continue.''

While those in favor of the measure said that the overall progess towards blessings was positive, the practical effect will be limited. ''We now have theological agreement that same-sex unions are not in opposition to doctrine and that's a big deal,'' said Chris Ambidge, president of the Toronto chapter of gay advocacy group Integrity. ''However, it's just a 75 percent win because there's no pastoral benefit to gay and lesbians with what has happened today. The church approved things in principle, but said we're not going to do anything about it.''

Chang predicted that people on both sides of the issue were going to start looking for new churches to attend "tomorrow."

Bishop Michael Ingham, of the Diocese of New Westminster, which has allowed for same-sex blessings since 2002, said the vote won’t make anyone happy. “A majority of people voted in favor. I think everyone’s a loser. Traditional Christians can’t take comfort in the vote and those who want to move on are held back by a small number of bishops. I think we need to look at the composition of the house of bishops and whether it properly reflects the Anglican Church of Canada.” There is a predominance of bishops from rural areas while the Canadian church is predominantly an urban church, he said.

Some churches have already said that they intend to pursue and carry out same-sex blessings no matter how the synod vote.

This entry was culled from stories in the Winnepeg Free-Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Anglican Journal and Episcopal News Service.

Remembering Jamestowne 400 Years Later

An estimated 1,200 people attended an outdoor morning service commemorating "the 400th anniversary of the planting of the Church in America on Jamestowne Island in Virginia" and the settlers' first Holy Communion there, rites at which the Rev. Robert Hunt officiated on May 14, 1607 under a sail taken from one of the settlers' three ships, according to a report written by Bob Williams for Episcopal Life Online.

The fabric of four centuries of history -- woven with the 1607 beginnings of the Jamestown Settlement, Native American responses, and the rise of the African slave trade -- was prayerfully examined on June 24 as Episcopalians gathered for Eucharist to mark the church's 400-year heritage in the region.

Recalling the settlers' original sailcloth, canvas suspended from trees shaded the rough-hewn altar around which bishops from the four dioceses that comprised the original Virginia of 1785 gathered with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for Eucharist at which Bishop John Clark Buchanan of Southern Virginia was celebrant.

Also at the table were the bishops of Liverpool, England, and Kumasi, Ghana, both representing points of a "triangle of hope" engaged in continued healing and reconciliation in the slave trade's wake.

Read the rest here.

How Akinola Lost His Re-Election Bid

The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria reports how the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) lost his re-election bid to head the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in an election last Tuesday.

A number of reasons were cited including disapproval of Akinola's leadership style, how voting members from differing traditions worked together, and more. There was even accusation that Akinola tried to manipulate the outcome by tinkering with the vote calender.

However, the politics, which compelled Mbang to describe CAN as a funny organization seemed to have played out fully last Tuesday, when the 105 member National Executive Council (NEC) of the association gathered at the NCC to elect a new president,

Indeed, these forces came to play in the election, which saw the defeat of Akinola and made him the first CAN president to fail to get a second term.

The drama, started almost three weeks to the election, after the electoral college, made up of 15 spiritual leaders drawn from the five blocs of CAN, completed their assignment of selecting the top most preferred candidates.

While the report of the electoral college was supposed to have been kept secret till the NEC meeting, reports indicated that the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. John Olorunfemi Onayeikan, was in the lead; even though the incumbent, Akinola and his deputy, Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) were seeking re-election.

Furthermore, there was an allegation that the incumbent CAN President had tried to manipulate the electoral process by changing the date of the NEC meeting, in order to favour his candidacy and pave way for his return.

Read the rest here.

For Pearson, gospel of inclusion is costly and joyful

The friendliest, trendiest, most radically inclusive worship experience in all of Tulsa, Oklahoma, takes place at Trinity Episcopal Church. No, not at that service! The other one...the one that meets at 1 p.m. Sundays and on Wednesdays at 7. The New Dimensions Worship center led by Bishop Carlton Pearson, worships at Trinity with a blend of Gospel Music and Pentecostal worship that also preaches what their pastor calls a Gospel of Radical Inclusion.

Pearson was a rising star in the Church of God in Christ, the largest African-American denomination in the US and also on the evangelical-pentecostal circuit. Known for his music, dancing and flamboyant preaching style. But that was until he began to preach a “Gospel of Radical Inclusion.”

Soon he found himself having to defend his views before the congress of the Joint College of African American Pentecostal Bishops, a group made of leaders of independent Pentecostal churches and congregations affiliated with the American Baptist Churches U.S.A. and the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship.

He told the panel, "In the biblical and classical Christian theology, salvation is sometimes pictured in a restrictive sense, belonging only to those who respond in faith. A more careful study of Scriptures will reveal that salvation is also. … pictured in a universally inclusive way, in which God is redeemer of the whole world or creation, including all human beings."

At the time, he was pastor of a 5,000 member mega-church called Higher Dimensions Family Center. But as he began to preach and teach his Gospel of Radical Inclusion, he found that his speaking engagements on the evangelical circuit went away, he was condemned in the evangelical press and, he said, “everything I spend my whole life working for went up in smoke.”

Now his smaller group now rents space from Trinity Episcopal Church, Tulsa, but, as Toby Jenkins of Oklahomans for Equality said to CNN, "he is courageously suffering and lost so much... for people like us... Now that's our hero."

He used to preach that homosexuality is an unqualified sin, prayed for the healing of gay and lesbian people, until his best friend—whom Pearson describes as a believer and deeply spiritual person—came out to him. In an interview on CNN, Pearson said he also looked around Tulsa and saw that with the levels of divorce, substance abuse and teen pregnancy in the area, and concluded that “all this hyper conservative fundamentalist religion is probably not working.” In the video clip he asks that if God does not count sins against us, then why do Christians and religious leaders?

He says “I thnk we have idolized the Bible, turned it what I call Bible bullets to shoot down anything we don't like, anything we are comfortable with. I would like for that to be corrected in the Christian consciousness.”

Here is a longer, more in-depth profile on NPR's This American Life.

Beliefnet ranks Pearson as one of the ten most influential African-American religious leaders. He is now associated with the United Church of Christ.

Moyers: Drive out the money changers

In a speech inflamed with passion, anger and an altar call's possibility of hope, Bill Moyers spoke to General Synod on Saturday morning about poverty and justice. His 57-minute keynote address - interrupted by applause more than three dozen times and followed by a two-minute standing ovation - lamented the growing gap between the rich and poor in America and called the UCC to act in the name of the Jesus who was a disturber of the peace and threw the rascals out. Evan Golder reporting for UCC News quotes from Moyers speech:

"I have come to say that America's revolutionary heritage – and America's revolutionary spirit – "life, liberty and the pursuit of justice, through government of, by, and for the people" – is under siege," he said. "And if churches of conscience don't take the lead in their rescue and revival, we can lose our democracy!"

"You have raised a prophetic voice against the militarism, materialism and racism that chokes America's arteries.

"You have placed yourselves in the thick of the fight for social justice.

"You have aligned yourself on the side of liberty, equality and compassion.

"And you have been a church of prominent firsts: first to ordain an African American, first to ordain a woman, and first to ordain an openly gay person."

For 30 years," Moyers said, "we have witnessed a class war fought from the top down against the idea and ideal of equality. It has been a drive by a radical elite to gain ascendancy over politics and to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that checked the excesses of private power."

It's as if you invited 100 persons to a party, divided a pie into five pieces and gave four pieces all to one person, leaving one piece for the remaining 99, he said.

"Don't be surprised if they fight over it," he said, "which is exactly what's happening when people look at their wages and then their taxes and end up hating the government and anything it does.

"The strain on working people and on family life has become intense," he said. "Television sets and cell phones and iPods are cheap, but higher education, health care, public transportation, drugs, housing and cars have risen in price faster than typical family incomes."


Read more here

Watch the speech here

Synod rejects changes to Anglican council

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has rejected the proposal to change the membership of the Anglican Consultative Council. If approved by two-thirds of the member churches of the Communion, Primates would be seated with voice and vote by virtue of their office along with the laity and clergy who are currently elected or appointed to the Council by the members of the Anglican Communion.

According to a news release from the Anglican Church in Canada, Bishop Sue Moxley of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, said the changes would add a third more members to the council, resulting in increased costs.

Appendix One of the Windsor Report suggests the idea of adding the Primates or drawing representatives from "those persons who have a voice within the highest executive body of each province" of the members churches to the Council.


Prayers pay off

Prayers of gratitude multiply into blessings around the world.
United Thank Offering, gathers the prayers of women, men and children in contributions of money into Blue Boxes. Coins and bills are pushed through the slot of the little blue cardboard box each time a someone remembers to give thanks to God in his or her lives. These offerings result in the ability ot support mission at home and around the world. This year UTO approved approved 104 grants totaling $2,439,342.46

Many of the 2007 grants were given with the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals in mind. For instance, the hospital-completion grant in the Diocese of Sialkot in Pakistan focuses on the goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, Chapman said. A $50,000 grant to the Diocese of Banks and Torres in Melanesia will help build the Mothers Union Training and Resource Centre in Vanuatu, thus addressing the MDG of empowering women. A nearly $62,000 grant to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Jerusalem will support a health clinic and nursery hall in Ramallah to assist working mothers who need a secure place for their children to stay during the workday.

The MDG concern of reducing HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases was addressed by the $30,000 grant to the Cathedral Outreach Ministries in Bridgetown, Barbados in the Church in the Province of the West Indies. The money is meant to help renovate the old cathedral clerk's house to be used as a center for HIV/AIDS education and counseling.

The needs of immigrants and refugees were also a focus this year with grants going to efforts to care for and integrate migrants and refugees into the life of their communities. Such grants include $40,000 to Iglesia Espanola Reformada Episcopal to renovate its immigrant center in Oviedo, Spain; $8,400 to Exodus Refugee/Immigration, Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana to provide professional English training, and $14,000 to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Omaha, Nebraska in part to offer space to Sudanese refugees.


The committee approved 104 grants totaling $2,439,342.46. The average grant amount was $23,455.22. The two largest grants were $79,722 to the Diocese of Sialkot in Pakistan to finish a hospital and $68,000 to the Diocese of Alaska to build a new church for St. Augustine's congregation in Homer. The smallest grant was for $750 to the Diocese of Mississippi to start a Sunday school program at St. Mark's in Jackson.

Read the story here.

For more on how you can participate and information on the United Thank Offering click here

Building funded by Orombi's American friends

Uganda Sunday Vision's Josephine Maseruka reports on the opening of the new Church of Uganda Provincial Secretariat offices at Namirembe. The new structure houses the office of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, that of the provincial secretary, plus an 100-seater fellowship hall, among others.
According to the article:

Orombi was given an award of $25,000 (about sh45m) by Americans for not supporting homosexuality. He also received an award of $30,000 (about sh54m) from friends in Singapore. All the money was used on the extension of the Provincial secretariat offices.
Other funding was from friends and well wishers within the country.

The Bishop of Namirembe Samuel Balagadde Ssekkadde appealed to Ugandans to avoid selfish tendencies arguing that Orombi would have spent the money on personal issues.

He also urged Ugandan to desist from adultery and witchcraft. The function was attended by the majority of the Anglican bishops across the country, Msgr. Wynand Katende who represented the Catholic leader among others.


Read the report of the opening ceremonies here

Thanks to epiScope for the link.

Virginia breakaway churches struggling

Eleven Virginia churches being sued by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia for leaving the denomination with their property last year have set a goal of raising a combined $3 million to $5 million for their pooled legal expenses, according to Julia Duin the Washington Times

But an informal poll by The Washington Times revealed that more than half of these churches can't afford to give funds or have made no plans to do so.

Read it all here

Diocese of Los Angeles wins appeal

Court records reveal that the Diocese of Los Angeles has won its case, on appeal, against St. James, Newport Beach, St. David's, North Hollywood, All Saints, Long Beach and others. These churches were attempting to claim ownership of parish property although the Consitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church affirm that all property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church.

From a source in Los Angeles:

The Court of Appeals ruled in the case of the 3 churches which believed they could disaffiliate with the Diocese of Los Angeles and seek refuge from a diocese in Uganda. The Barker decision (from the 70's - when the three parishes left over women's ordination) was overturned. Along with a reversal of the earlier rulings made by Judge Velasquez, this means that Newport Beach (St. James) , North Hollywood (St. David's) & Long Beach (All Saints) will be returned to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Under the California Supreme Court cases… the right of the general church in this case to enforce a trust on the local parish property is clear, and that right has not been affected by intervening United States Supreme Court decisions or any statute enacted by the Legislature.

From the Appeal:

V. DISPOSITION
The judgments of dismissal against the diocese and the national church are both reversed. Further proceedings shall be consistent with this opinion. Appellants shall recover their costs on appeal.

The file in pdf is here. [Or here.]

Background on the case and more information on the decision can be found at Episcopal Life Online here.

Another group wants its own bishop

Forward in Faith North America, meeting June 19, reaffirmed their request for their own bishop for their constituency in the United States. Although Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria have ordained bishops for Anglican breakaway congregations in the United States, FIFNA wants their own bishop who will support their inability to accept the ordination of women as priests or bishops. The resolution is as follows:

A reaffirmation of the 2002 request that a bishop be consecrated for the constituency of FiFNA:
Whereas, the 2002 FIFNA Assembly passed two resolutions:

1. Called upon supportive Primates to nominate, elect, and consecrate (according to the canons of their province) one or more persons to serve as bishop(s) for our constituency, and

2. Recommended two priests we considered worthy of consideration for this ministry, the Reverend William Ilgenfritz and the Reverend David Moyer,

Be it resolved that this 2007 FIFNA Assembly reaffirm the recommendation of the Reverend William Ilgenfritz to orthodox Primates for consideration for consecration as bishop for our constituency.

More on these resolutions and other events at the meeting here

More information on Forward in Faith is here

Presiding Bishop tells deacons to nag the church

Deacons are called to be the "nags of the church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the biennial Conference of the North American Association for the Diaconate (NAAD) on June 22 at their meeting in Seattle. According to reports by Kim Forman for Episcopal Life Online.

"As we look toward a third-millennium church and a renewed sense of mission," Jefferts Schori said, "I want to ask you deacons, and the rest of the church, about new ways in which deacons could be sent out."

Reminding them of their ordination vows, she said deacons are called to serve the poor, weak, sick, the lonely and those who have no other helpers and to interpret the needs and hopes of the world to the church.

The ministry of deacons, she explained, is one of urgency about the starving and homeless and also about "the full humanity and dignity of those in all sorts of prisons, whether legal ones, nursing homes or hospices, as well as the prisons we build through prejudice about race, gender, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, national origin and so many others."

Jefferts Schori asked the deacons to think about service to people "captive to a consumerist society" or "caught up in the rat race of jobs or shopping or keeping up with the neighbors" and about "forming communities of faith and transformation among co-workers or fellow commuters or soccer parents."

"Where is the good news going unheard?" she asked. "Who are the hungry in spirit? Whose needs and concerns and hopes are not being addressed?"


Read the report of the Presiding Bishop's remarks here

"The right of the general church to enforce a trust on the local parish property is clear."

From the Los Angeles Times:

In August 2004, the dissident parishes pulled out of the six-county Los Angeles Diocese and the 2.3-million-member Episcopal Church, citing differences over biblical interpretation, including what they described as the diocese's too-lenient views on homosexuality. Instead, they placed themselves under the jurisdiction of a conservative Anglican bishop in Uganda.

The Los Angeles Diocese sued, arguing that the parishes held their church buildings in trust for the diocese and the national Episcopal Church and thus were not entitled to the property. An Orange County trial judge, in separate decisions, had ruled in favor of the parishes.

The legal battle has been both a tug-of-war over real property and a local reflection of tensions at the heart of a deepening rift within the Episcopal Church, and between that church and much of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church is the American branch of Anglicanism, but for years has been at odds with much of the communion over the U.S. church's more liberal views on homosexuality and other issues.

In Monday's ruling, however, presiding Justice David G. Sills, who wrote for the panel, made clear that it had confined its decision to the property dispute and not the broader controversy.

"Readers will look in vain in this opinion for any indication of what religious controversy may have prompted the disaffiliation," Sills wrote. " … That controversy is irrelevant to this action."

Sills later concluded, "The right of the general church in this case to enforce a trust on the local parish property is clear."

Bishop Bruno's reaction hinted at the possibility of reconciliation:
Bruno and diocesan attorney John R. Shiner have argued that the issue was not free speech or even theological differences, but who had rightful claim to the property. "While individuals are always free to leave the Episcopal Church and worship however they please, they do not have the right to take parish property with them," Bruno said.

But Bruno also said he would welcome back "with open arms" any dissident church members — or their rectors — who chose to return. "We want to move forward with these as Episcopal churches," he said. "I don't want to be punitive with them. I want to be loving and go forward."

The diocese has issued a press release.

The Lead's initial coverage of the decision, including links to the 77-page decision, can be found here.

Dissident Episcopalians had thought the California courts followed rules of church divisions that were particularly favorable to their cause. Comment at conservative Episcopal blogsites has been heavy and mixed. One commenter at Stand Firm stated:

I am/was a member of one of the churches still being sued in L.A. I just joined in January. After speaking with some vestry members, I come to find out that these folks had really no idea what they were getting themselves into. I am not a lawyer but am a law school grad from here in LA and I was astonished at the lack of true counsel.
His entire comment can be read here.

More coverage:

  • Appeals court rebuffs Newport Beach parish – A rebel parish that broke with its parent church in a clash over doctrine and homosexuality has no rights to its waterfront ...
  • Church may forfeit land - In a stunning reversal of a lower court decision, an appeals court ruled Tuesday that a Long Beach church may have to forfeit ...
  • Church ordered to forfeit property - Panel rules the Episcopal Diocese of LA has the right to claim St. James' property as a result of its split from the diocese. By Michael Miller St. James ...

African Anglicans: are they endangered?

Anglicans and Catholics established the initial footholds in Africa, and have spread rapidly in places. But they are now under threat of competition from Pentecostalism.

Tim Cocks reports:

His white suit picked out by floodlights, the U.S.-based preacher [tele-evangelist Benny Hinn] promised a "miracle crusade" to heal the sick, make the blind see and the lame walk. "In Jesus' name, lift your hands and sing," he cried, almost drowned out by cheering.

Pentecostal religion is mushrooming in Africa.

Promising prosperity, miracle cures and life-changing spiritual experiences, the "born again" faiths that are the staple of America's multi-millionaire televangelists are fast taking over the world's poorest continent.
...
The U.S. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life says Pentecostalism is growing globally, with a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians thought to be members of these faiths that emphasize speaking in tongues, divine healing, prophesy and a strongly literal interpretation of Bible stories.

In Africa all churches are booming, but Pentecostalism is overtaking traditional Catholic and Anglican faiths brought by European colonizers over a century ago.
...
Christians say the ecstatic experiences offered by Pentecostals are more exciting than the subdued worship -- complete with silent congregations and soporific organ music -- that the continent's first missionaries brought here.

"Africans want things done powerfully," said Rev. Nathan Samwini of the Christian Council of Ghana. "You meet white evangelicals from America, they behave like Africans. They are vibrant, everything is done with vigor."
...
Moses Malay heads a Ugandan organization helping what he calls victims of "pulpit fraud" after quitting a church whose pastor claimed divine powers.

"I saw people robbed and I participated. How do they do it? Simple. They instill hope, they nurture it, they reap."

Faith healers insist there is no fraud.

Read it all here in the Washington Post.


At Jamestown the Presiding Bishop points to the evil and the good in our history

From Anglican Communion News Service as reported by Canon Robert Williams
of ENS:

The fabric of four centuries of history - woven with the 1607 beginnings of the Jamestown Settlement, Native American responses, and the rise of the African slave trade - was prayerfully examined on June 24 as Episcopalians gathered for Eucharist to mark the church's 400-year heritage rooted in the region.

Recalling the settlers’ original sailcloth, canvas suspended from trees shaded the rough-hewn altar around which bishops from the four dioceses that comprised the original Virginia of 1785 gathered with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for Eucharist....acns4297a-hi-res1.jpg

Also at the table were the bishops of Liverpool, England, and Kumasi, Ghana, both representing points of a "triangle of hope" engaged in continued healing and reconciliation in the slave trade's wake.
...
Full text of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's sermon is available here.

That narrative includes "the story of the first Christian convert, Matoaka" (better known by her childhood name Pocahontas), an account "rife with ... ambiguous complexity," the Presiding Bishop said. Meanwhile, she noted that "the good news managed to be spoken, and done, even in the midst of diabolic tales."acns4297thumb.jpg
...
Bishop Peter James Lee, who has led the Diocese of Virginia for some 22 years, said the two bishops' presence at the service was for him a highlight of the observance. Lee called the day "a wonderful witness to the breadth, depth and hope of the Episcopal Church."

jamestown-400th0311.jpgHost Bishop John Buchanan of Southern Virginia agreed. "I'm grateful for opportunities to do things together with other folks - involving the other three dioceses of Virginia and and the visiting bishops from Liverpool and Ghana. These are wonderful community-building activities."

Bishop Buchanan joined West Virginia Bishop Michie Klusmeyer and Southwestern Virginia Bishop Neff Powell in commending the Presiding Bishop's sermon. "She addressed issues and reminded us of things we are not proud of," Bishop Buchanan said, "and she reminded us that we've made progress in redeeming some of these issues."

"The humility to re-examine our certainties will begin the prophetic re-telling of those tales," the Presiding Bishop added in her homily. "None is complete villain, none completely immune to error. None of these tales is completely ended as long as we continue to tell them and search for the new life that may yet emerge. Our humility to keep telling and looking - and even prowling around - will bring new and better news."



Richmond Times Dispatch coverage of the day is here. Its interview with Katharine Jefferts Schori is here.

Rwanda on the Lambeth invitations

The House of Bishops of Rwanda has issued a statement on the invitations to Lambeth. It reads in part:

In a letter sent to Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini on 18 June 2007, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote, “You should know that I have not invited the bishops of AMiA and CANA. This is not a question of asking anyone to disassociate themselves at this stage from what have been described as the missionary initiatives of your Provinces…. I appreciate that you may not be happy with these decisions, but I feel that as we approach a critical juncture of the life of the Communion, I must act in accordance to the clear guidance of the instruments of the Communion….” We would like to know if there are instruments in the Communion more important than the Primates and Provinces themselves. The Archbishop of Canterbury also refers to the consecration of the AMiA and CANA bishops as irregular. We would like to know why their consecrations are considered irregular when the actions of TEC are not considered irregular. We feel that the words of the Archbishop are tantamount to a threat, and we cannot accept this.

Therefore, in view of the above, in good conscience, the bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda have resolved not to attend the Lambeth Conference 2008 unless the previously stipulated requirement of repentance on the part of the TEC and other like-minded Provinces is met, and invitations are extended to our entire House of Bishops.

My emphasis. What is the threat, and what is it contingent upon?

Related: The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney (Australia) has issued a press on the invitations. An excerpt:

Standing Committee therefore -

(a) respectfully requests the Archbishop of this diocese to communicate to the Archbishop of Canterbury our dissatisfaction at the attempt to maintain union with the unrepentant while continuing to refuse fellowship to faithful and orthodox Anglicans such as the Church of England in South Africa,

(b) respectfully requests the Archbishop and bishops of this diocese not to accept the invitation to Lambeth without making public in protest, speech and liturgical action, both prior to and at Lambeth, our diocese’s principled objection to the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of scripture, and who have consequently excluded orthodox Anglicans from their fellowship, and....

Finally, The Living Church reports that a retired Episcopal bishop has resigned its House of Bishops is joining the House of Bishops of Uganda. The concluding paragraph:
Bishop Fairfield is the fourth member of the House of Bishops to quit The Episcopal Church this year. In March, the Rt. Rev. William Cox, a retired Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma, moved to the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone; the Rt. Rev. David Bena, retired Suffragan Bishop of Albany, was received by the Church of Nigeria and serves as an assistant bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; and the Rt. Rev. William Herzog, retired Bishop of Albany, was received into the Roman Catholic Church.
When a more conservative bishop that of leaves the remaining house less conservative of course.

Thinking about the property disputes

At the Café we've kept a lookout for thoughtful pieces on the recent court decision in favor of the Diocese of Los Angeles and its larger significance. Here's what we've found thus far.

Tobias Haller writes:

Even a casual reading of the court’s decision shows that the earlier decision was a major departure — and an erroneous one — from many times more decades of precedents; moreover, precedents recognized throughout the US, based on a decision of the Supreme Court concerning implied and explicit trusts. The earlier California decision was an anomalous departure from the principal of stare decisis, as the Court of Appeals makes clear, and it led to an uneven and confusing application of law.

Moreover, much as folks like to demean the Dennis Canon, it is the law of the church; moreover, it was created in response to the request of the Supreme Court to render implied trusts (on the basis of which such cases had been decided up until then as sufficient) explicit. In short, there was no change in practice with the introduction of the Dennis Canon, merely a spelling out of what was already implied by both uniform practice and the already long-existing canons on alienation, to which I referred above. (Parishes cannot alienate, that is abuse, church property without the permission of the bishop and standing committee — clear evidence of the hierarchical nature of such decision-making processes concerning property.)

That's just a taste. Read all that Tobias has to say here.

Another of our reliable sources, Father Jake, provides a great roundup of analysis. Included is this quotation of Richard Zevnik, a lawyer familiar with the case and the ruling:

Procedurally, the disaffected congregations have 30 days to petition for rehearing in the Court of Appeal. Given the standards applicable to granting rehearing and the depth of analysis of the Court of Appeal's decision, there is little likelihood rehearing would be granted if a petition were filed. When the 30 days expires, the congregations then have 10 days to petition for review in the CA Supreme Court. Such a petition is reasonably likely. Review by CA Supreme Court is discretionary. It is also relatively unlikely given the procedural posture of the case.

The Court of Appeal's decision essentially has tied the trial court's hands, and an eventual judgment in favor of the Diocese and TEC is essentially inevitable.

Episcopal Life Online:
John R. Shiner, chancellor for the diocese and its attorney in the litigation, called the ruling a "decisive decision" for the Episcopal Church. Shiner, a partner of Holme Roberts & Owen, LLP, noted, "Yesterday's decision contains the most thorough analysis yet of church property law in California, and should dispel any notion that local congregations of a hierarchical church may leave the larger church and take property with them."
Days prior to the ruling, Jan Nunley had written:
There's no problem, of course, as long as you abide by these agreed-upon rules of civil society, or if you don't like them, lawfully try to get them changed. But if you fail to get others to agree with you and then try to create "facts on the ground" by changing the locks on the clubhouse...you really shouldn't be surprised if the rest of the members take exception to your actions.
Over at Standing Firm they're doing a headcount: 5 Roman Catholics and 2 Episcopalians.

Former ex-gay ministry leaders apologize

They once were important leaders in Exodus, a prominent ex-gay ministry movement. But yesterday, these three individuals publicly apologized "for the harm they said their efforts had caused many gays and lesbians who believed the group's message that sexual orientation could be changed through prayer," according to L.A. Times reporter Rebecca Trounson.

The apology was released as a written statement at a news conference outside an office of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, timed in conjunction with Exodus' annual meeting being held in Irvine, Calif.

"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families," the three, including former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, said in a joint written statement presented at the news conference. "Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that this message creates."

Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee left Exodus in 1979 after he fell in love with a man who was a fellow ex-gay counselor with the group. He speaks out frequently against ex-gay therapies.

"God's love and forgiveness does indeed change people," said Bussee, who remains an evangelical Christian. "It changed me. It just didn't make me straight."

Read the whole thing here.

Everything old is new again

Latin Mass has fallen out of use since the 1960s. But some traditionalists have been calling for its revival, and according to the New York Times, Pope Benedict XIV has signed a document that would allow churches to adopt the liturgy, known as the Tridentine Mass. While it's not in high demand, some parishes are attracted to the liturgy, which previously required a priest to get his bishop's permission before using the rite.

Now, priests no longer need to get that permission, and it's stirring up a bit of controversy among Catholics. Some feel that this action may be a sign that Pope Benedict is not wholly committed to Vatican II reforms. Others are pleased that they can participate in a liturgy that brings about a feeling of connection to church history which they find "more moving, contemplative and historically authentic than the modern Mass."

Read the whole story here.

A Robinson invite?

Chuck Blanchard points us to Ruth Gledhill's report that it looks like Bishop Gene Robinson may well get an invite to Lambeth after all, albeit as a nonvoting member. She also asserts that Bishop Martyn Minns will not.

Gledhill was sent, apparently by a third party, a letter said to have been written by Canon Flora Winfield to those inquiring about Robinson's status. It reads:

'The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked me to thank you for your letter of 22 May 2007 regarding his invitation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to next year’s Lambeth Conference. The Archbishop is taking a period of study leave this summer and he has therefore asked me to respond to your letter on his behalf.

Prior to his departure, Archbishop Rowan noted carefully the level of disappointment expressed by correspondents, following his decision not to extend an invitation to Bishop Gene Robinson to attend the Lambeth Conference along with the other bishops. He stressed in his letter to the bishops that he did not take this decision lightly, but that he regarded it as appropriate in the light of the recommendations set out in the Windsor Report.

The Windsor Report counselled that in the future proper regard should be taken to the bounds of affection and interdependence between member Churches when considering the acceptability of a candidate for Episcopal appointment. While is it recognised that Bishop Robinson was duly elected and consecrated according to the canons of The Episcopal Church in view of the widespread objections to Bishop Robinson’s ministry in other Provinces of the Communion, the Windsor Report further recommend that the Archbishop ‘ exercise very considerable caution in inviting him to the councils of the Communion.

From the time of the election of Bishop Gene Robinson to See of New Hampshire, both the representatives of many Anglican Provinces and the Instruments of Communion made it clear that full recognition by the Communion could not be given to a bishop whose chosen lifestyle would, in most Provinces of the Communion, give rise to canonical impediment to his consecration as a bishop. The Archbishop has to be loyal to that widespread concern as well as bearing in mind the position of Bishop Robinson within The Episcopal Church. The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status.

Thank you once again for writing.'

Chuck excerpts the parts about Robinson and provides his own brief commentary here. You can also read the entire Gledhill column here.

UPDATE: Commenter Ginny Gibbs writes "Actually, the text appears identical to that of a letter I saw just last night at a parish meeting. It was written in response to a form letter a friend who's a member of Integrity had sent."

UPDATE, 29 June: The Times publishes a brief column by Gledhill making the assertion "Bishop Gene will be able to attend meetings as an official guest but will not have the right to vote on motions at the conference."

Bishop Barbara Harris honored

A stained glass window honoring The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris was dedicated on Sunday, June 24. The first woman to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, was present at the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Queens, NY, to bless two window panels. The other one depicts Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained priest in The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Harris is depicted wearing her consecration vestments designed and made by Challwood Studios. According to partner Paul Challenor, "I worked with the stained glass maker in selecting from consecration photos and in capturing the effect of the woman's weave Kente cloth on her vestments."

Read more here

And here with photo of Bishop Harris and the window

Summer reading, chapter two: the EDS list

The Episcopal Divinity School has responded to a number of requests for reading recommendations by developing a summer reading list. “Throughout the course of the year the EDS faculty receive many requests to make recommendations about books to read in their areas of study,” said the Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, academic dean. “We regularly receive requests for reading recommendations from persons interested in attending a continuing education class or enrolling in seminary. Other groups who request faculty recommended reading lists are adult education committees, parish discernment
committees, and diocesan commissions on ministry, all of whom are charged with adult formation within the church.”

The 2007 reading list covers a variety of topics including the Millennium Development Goals, reconciliation, the Anglican Communion, classism, racism, sexism, as well as publications that explore the interpretation of the Bible from a feminist or “GenX” perspective.

Selected readings include:

  • Alkire, Sabina and Edmund Newell, What Can One Person Do? Faith to Heal a Broken World, New York, Church Publishing, 2005.
  • Campolo, Tony and Michael Battle, The Church Enslaved: A Spirituality For Racial Reconciliation (Prisms), Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005.
  • Crossan, John Dominic, Amy-Jill Levine, Dale Allison, The Historical Jesus in Context (Princeton Readings in Religions), Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Dawson, Lorne L. and Douglas E. Cowan, Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet, New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Guest, Deryn et al. Eds, The Queer Bible Commentary, Norwich, SCM Press, 2006.
  • Hassett, Miranda K., Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.
  • Horsley, Richard, Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002.
  • Meacham, Jon, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, Fortress Press, 2007.
  • Newsom, Carol A., and Sharon H. Ringe, eds, The Women's Bible
    Commentary, Expanded ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.

  • Thompsett, Fredrica Harris and Cynthia L. Shattuck, Confronted by God: The Essential Verna Dozier, New York. Church Publishing, 2006.
  • Townes, Emilie M., Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil (Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice), Palgrave, MacMillan Books, 2006.
  • Ward, Kevin, A History of Global Anglicanism (Introduction to Religion), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Westerhoff, John W., Will Our Children Have Faith? Rev. Ed. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 2000.

The full list, complete with links to purchase the books through the EDS Amazon Associates store, is here.

Sydney considers protest at Lambeth

Parts of the Anglican Church in Australia are registering their disagreements with the Archbishop of Canterbury's action in extending invitations to the bishops of the American Episcopal Church:

"The Sydney Diocese’s Standing Committee has urged Archbishop Peter Jensen and his five regional bishops to make crystal clear Sydney’s protest at Lambeth’s guest list if they decide to accept the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitations to attend next year’s conference of the world’s Anglican leaders.

Standing Committee also requested that Archbishop Jensen and Bishops Forsyth, Davies, Tasker, Lee and Stewart approach other orthodox bishops in the communion with the proposal of meeting in England during the Lambeth conference."

The article continues

“[The] Standing Committee therefore respectfully requests the Archbishop of this diocese to communicate to the Archbishop of Canterbury our dissatisfaction at the attempt to maintain union with the unrepentant while continuing to refuse fellowship to faithful and orthodox Anglicans such as the Church of England in South Africa.”

The Standing Committee requested that, if Sydney’s archbishop and bishops decide to attend the Lambeth Conference, they do so with public “protest, speech and liturgical action”, expressing “our diocese’s principled objection to the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of Scripture”.

Longstanding lay member of the Standing Committee, Robert Tong says these discussions, and the decisions that will follow, could mark an important place in Anglican history.

“These resolutions encourage the Archbishop and his assistant bishops to actively engage in questions which are unprecedented in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

Read the whole article here: Sydney ponders parallel Lambeth

Another U.S.-based Kenyan bishop

The Anglican Communion Network website has this announcement today:

"The Anglican Communion Network welcomed news today that the Anglican Province of Kenya has elected the Rev. William Murdoch suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. Bishop-elect Murdoch will join Bishop-elect Bill Atwood in supporting Kenyan clergy and congregations in the United States. As he takes on this new responsibility, Murdoch will continue to serve the Network as dean of the New England Convocation."

Bishop-elect Murdoch is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts and has been serving as a regional dean of the Anglican Communion Network within the Episcopal Church. There is no mention in the news release about whether he will continue in that role after his ordination in the Kenyan province of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop-elect Murdoch will be working directly with Bishop-elect Bill Atwood whose election as a Kenyan bishop was announced earlier this month.

Read the rest here: Network Welcomes the Rev. William Murdoch’s Election.

Victoria Matthews: Canadians focused on redefining marriage

Bishop Victoria Matthews, the Canadian Anglican bishop of Edmonton, writing in a letter to the clergy of her diocese, attempts to interpret the apparently contradictory actions of the recent Synod of the Canadian Province:

"...in an atmosphere that seemed more like filibuster than debate, a resolution was presented and passed asking the Primate's Theological Commission and Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee to prepare a report and educational materials in advance of 2010 General Synod about whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a faithful, Spirit-led development of the doctrine of marriage.  Remember, the St. Michael Report said the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine but until now no one has been asked to try to actually develop a doctrine of same-sex unions.  It also asked for a theological rationale to accompany the new Canon 21 on marriage, which is come before General Synod 2010.

[I]n short, the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod consistently demonstrated that it is more interested in considering redefining marriage than continuing the debate about blessings."

Bishop Matthews goes on to write that the upshot of this is that Primate of the Canadian church is guareenteed a full seat with voice and vote at the next Primate's meetings and that their Province will be welcomed to fully participate in the work of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The full letter in pdf format can be downloaded here.

The Anglican Communion listens

The last Lambeth meeting encouraged all the Provinces of the Communion to create forums for listening to the experience of LBTG christians who are seeking Christ within the congregations of the Anglican church.

The Anglican Communion Office has created called the Rev. Canon Phil Groves to serve as the facilitator of these programs around the church.

The Episcopal News Service has a long article that reports on his experience here in the Episcopal Church in America and some of his experiences in other parts of the Communion:

"Anglicans whom Groves has recruited from throughout the communion will facilitate the compilation of each section of the guide. It is expected that the bishops at Lambeth will use the study guide for reflection and will then 'go away and contemplate in their own place and with their own people' to discern the course of their future engagement, he said.

The collection of material gathered for the study guide and the accumulation of the provinces' work on human sexuality 'is going to have to be on paper,' Groves said, because in some instances that is the only way some voices from some provinces will be heard. The guide will be backed up by a larger collection on CD-ROM.

Lyn Headley-Deavours, justice minister for the Diocese of Newark, urged Groves to ensure that the process quickly involves people across the communion actually listening to each other. The Rev. Dr. Cy Deavours, co-director of the Oasis LGBT ministry in the Diocese of New Jersey, told Groves he'd like some assurance that the listening will actually happen."

Groves goes on to discuss his role with in the process:

"If I am perceived as being on any side, I am worthless to you and the entire Communion," Groves said. He also characterized the process as "mutual listening" that will hear from as many voices as possible, including some "that you believe have caused intense damage."

The hoped-for long-term result of the Listening Process, he said, is that with the inclusion of as many voices as possible, "we will know the gospel better." He asked the Integrity-organized group to support the process by contributing papers and other resources by mid-August of this year.

Read the rest here.

Paris Hilton

We don't have an item. It's just that her name has been appearing all over the place, and we were beginning to feel left out.

The Gospel message of JK Rowling

The Washington Post Religion page has a long article discussing the various Christian themes found in the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling:

"By the second Harry Potter book, I began to think the relationship of Harry and Dumbledore was underpinning the narrative in a supernatural, and distinctly Christian, way.

That author J.K. Rowling's series is based on a battle between good and evil is so obvious it's hardly worth mentioning. There's Harry and Dumbledore against Voldemort; the House of Gryffindor against that of Slytherin; even, symbolically, Fawkes the phoenix against Nagini the snake.

A more profound, if subtle, moral interplay is found between Harry and Dumbledore, who effectively lead the joint forces of good. Harry is a boy wonder, revered and reviled for his special powers by the respective forces of good and evil at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Headmaster Dumbledore is the best wizard there is, a seemingly omniscient force for good who rarely reveals his powers in full and who closely observes others' courses of action.

Dumbledore knows Harry plays a unique and indispensable role in the battle against evil, and outwardly helps him from time to time. Yet for most of the series, Dumbledore keeps Harry unaware of the goings-on known or orchestrated by Dumbledore involving the bigger picture. In the course of his young life, Harry often feels Dumbledore is ignoring his personal needs.

A well-known, heart-wrenching passage in the Bible, from an anguished Jesus on the cross, captures their relationship well: 'My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?' When Jesus says that, he feels abandoned by God. We know from earlier in the Gospels that he understands the special role he is afforded by God the Father. But at that moment, it's as if he feels separated from God or doesn't comprehend the metaphysics of God's plan to redeem the world through his sacrifice."

I personally have been fascinated reading the books as they've come into print by the obvious and not so obvious Christian themes that are woven into the narratives.

What have the rest of you thought about the Potter books? Are you ready for the release of the final volume? (I've already pre-ordered our families two copies.) How about the next movie? (We're buying our tickets to the midnight showing today...)

Read the rest here: 'Harry Potter' and the Gospel of J.K. Rowling

How far is too far?

In the Anglican blogosphere, and in the media at large, the left is always calling upon the right to adopt a more civil tone. And vice versa. The most recent case in point involves a dispute between the conservative commentator Ann Coulter, and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Joan Walsh of Salon agrees with Edwards, who thinks that Coulter crossed the line in her comments about Edwards' husband. She writes:

On "Scarborough Country" last night I was forced to point out that Edwards didn't "pick a fight" with Coulter (Dan Abrams' words); Coulter picked the fight when she called Edwards a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in January and cruelly accused him four years ago of hyping his son Wade's death. Poor Pat Buchanan kept insisting Coulter was "a good debater" who hadn't said anything particularly outrageous. In the end, I was forced to repeat her gay slur against Edwards and toss in that she called Vice President Al Gore "a total fag." I don't use those words, but it was starting to get silly, debating whether what she said was out of bounds without being able to say what she said. So I did.


David Kuo of Beliefnet, a former member of the Bush administration says it is time for conservative Christians to denounce Coulter. He writes:

Christians involved in politics must do the hardest thing of all - they must push for their positions in such a way as to bring glory to God. If they don't do that, if they don't sublimate their politics to God something horrible happens - politics becomes their God.

History is replete with examples of how this works well - the Underground Railroad, abolition, the civil rights movement, women's suffrage - this is not one of those times. Too many conservative Christian activists are behaving as if God is subordinate to their political desires...or worse that he is simply a pawn to be used in their desires.

Is this a free speech issue? Are the Edwards' trying to squelch Coulter. Or is this a case of censuring, rather than censoring?

Swapping identities?

Mainline churches seeking to ape the the techniques of megachurches should be aware that megachurches are just beginning to ape the mainline's commitment to social justice. Jason Byassee noted this intriguing dynamic when he accompanied a group of Methodist ministers from North Carolina on a visit to Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago.

He writes:

Willow has as much enthusiasm for “social justice” as I’ve ever heard at a Methodist annual conference, and it’s only started at social justice, while United Methodists have been pursuing it since, well, since there was Methodism, and have long been good at it. So as United Methodist ministers are shuttled off to go copy church-growth methods, church-growth guru Hybels is charging into “our” territory: reading the Bible holistically, touting diversity.

The point: these are things United Methodists are good at.


How conservative are conservatives?

Are Republican voters really "conservative" in the culture wars sense of the word? Not really, suggests a poll from Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, which you can find on MSNBC's blog, First Read.

Among the more interesting findings:

On abortion -Fifty-two percent believe abortions should be legal under certain circumstances.

On health care
-Fifty-one percent of Republicans agree that universal health care should be a right of all people. The moralists are also split on the issue.

On social welfare
-Half believe the government needs to provide a “helping hand” and safety net.

On gay rights
-Almost half of all Republicans favor gays serving openly in the military. Even four in 10 moralists think gays should be allowed to serve openly.

-Seventy-seven percent believe companies should not have the right to fire employees based on sexual orientation.

On global warming
-A third say the government isn’t doing enough on global warming.

On defense spending
-Fifty-five percent say the government is spending enough or too much on defense.

On God and politics
-Fifty-two percent believe public policy should not contradict God’s law, but moralists – who are overwhelmingly in favor of this -- drive this number.

(Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan.)

I totally see where they are coming from

Eager to preserve the English language against a rising tide of nonsense, The Telegraph asked readers to compose a piece of prose crammed with as many infuriating phrases as possible.

Here's a sampling of what they received:

I hear what you're saying but, with all due respect, it's not exactly rocket science. Basically, at the end of the day, the fact of the matter is you have got to be able to tick all the boxes. It's not the end of the world, but, to be perfectly honest with you, when push comes to shove, you don't want to be literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.

And:

Let’s stop obsessing and get down to the nitty gritty of fleshing out the gender issues. John. I’m wanting to hear inclusiveness and ethnicity here. A raft of blue sky thinking to challenge accepted orthodoxies. The bottom line is about empowerment and at the end of the day getting up to speed working 24/7 towards a coalition of understanding through best practice. This can only be fully achieved if the glass ceiling, in inverted commas, is transformed into a level playing field where the goal posts cannot be moved without leaving a substantial carbon footprint which inevitably would consign us all to the expediency of existing between a rock and a hard place. We must pick up the ball and run because we can no longer wait for the smoking gun of the next denial of service attack to consign us all to the wheely bin of history.

Read them all. Then write your own.

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