In search of justice in Kingston

Savitiri Hensman, writing for the Guardian, notes that the Anglican Consultative Council is meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, which has "a rich but troubled history, marked by slavery and colonialism as well as resistance to these and other forms of oppression." She hopes that as the ACC considers the latest draft of the Anglican Covenant, they might look around and think of the victims of hatred.

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Poll finds more favor of gay marriage than oppose

An ABC News-Washington Post poll shows that 49 percent support gay marriage in the US and 53 percent of those polled think that gay marriages held in other states should be honored in their own.

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Support for torture among the religious

The Pew Research Center surveyed 742 Americans including white evangelicals, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated during the week of April 14-21 and found that 60% of evangelical churchgoers favored torture while only 40% of the unaffiliated agreed with them.


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Hate Crimes Bill and the Pulpit

Would the passage of a federal hate crimes bill restrict the freedom of preachers to preach? That is the meme of some conservative Christians and right-wing politicians as the bill, named for Matthew Shepard, passed the House of Representatives yesterday.

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Social media and the Church

One of our favorite blogging bishops, the Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, describes the Diocese of Oxford's Social Media Day which he recently chaired. He says that "the aim was to gather people working for the Church with an interest in communications, to scope the scene and its possibilities."

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ACC meeting begins Saturday

Updated. The 14th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, Jamaica tomorrow and ends on May 13th.

The ACC meets every two or three years and is made up of lay people, clergy and bishops from the 38 Anglican Provinces of the Communion.

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Celebrate World Labyrinth Day

The first Saturday in May has been declared World Labyrinth Day.
A press release from The Labyrinth Society states:

The Labyrinth Society has declared the first Saturday in May as World Labyrinth Day a global day of celebration of the labyrinth with an invitation to walk a labyrinth at 1PM around the world, in your local time zone. The first annual World Labyrinth Day will be celebrated on May 2nd, 2009.

World Labyrinth Day has been established as a day for bringing people from all over the planet together... World Labyrinth Day is a vehicle for informing and educating the public, hosting walks, building permanent and temporary labyrinths, making labyrinth-related art and more.

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The Washington (DC) National Cathedral holds labyrinth walks each month. Directions for walking are as follows:

There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Some people walk with the intention of addressing an issue in their lives, others to pray and meditate. It is helpful to pause before you enter to center your thoughts on your intention.

Walk between the lines of the circuit, being aware that you are sharing the labyrinth with others. You may pass other walkers, or let them step around you. When you reach the center you have entered the most sacred space in the labyrinth. The center is a place to pause, reflect, and receive insight.
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Walking the path back out of the labyrinth is a time for deep reflection and a chance to consider what it might mean for your daily living.


A photo essay of the Labyrinth at the Cathedral is here

More on labyrinths here

Find a labyrinth near you here.

Church of England reacts as woman named laureate

The headline in The New York Times reads: "After 341 Years, Britain Picks a Female Poet Laureate"

In other news, the Archbishop of Canterbury has authorized a network of "flying laureates" to minister to those who don't believe that God intended women to write poetry, but who want to continue to read it.

Saturday collection 5/2/09

Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.

Dominoes fall for Haiti

The global fight against poverty has triggered a chain reaction in San Antonio. sound of dominoes falling. Students at Saint George Episcopal Day School toppled more than 15,000 dominoes representing the number of dollars the students have raised for struggling schools in Haiti. The "chain of love" event is part of the One Campaign to fight world poverty. This is the fourth year the school has participated. Watch the dominoes fall on the video.
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Food for kids backpacks

Volunteers at Christ Episcopal Church, Warren, OH, are making sure local third-graders have enough food for the weekend. To do so, they have spent every Thursday evening since last September packaging food and snack items that are distributed to the children on Friday. Second Harvest Food Bank provides the food. Tom Eastman, a volunteer, said the 150 backpacks are for third-graders at Horace Mann and Willard schools. The items put in the bags include beef stew, peanut butter, juice, milk, macaroni and beef, applesauce, cereal and granola bars. h/t to Neva Rae Fox
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Blessing boats

Strong winds Sunday blew in an abundance of blessings for more than 300 vessels at the annual Pass Christian, Mississippi. Blessing of the Fleet. For the Pass Christian community the blessing is steeped in tradition. It has been an anticipated event for 33 years. Organizers said it is more than a ceremony, it is part of their heritage. “Fishing is one of the most dangerous industries in the world,” said Rev. Chris Colby of Trinity Episcopal Church. “Pleasure boats are fun but everyone needs to be safe in those boats, too — so they also need a blessing for safe travel.”

When the cradle nonreligious go to church

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life studied the lifelong religious membership habits of 3000 people. Most of us in the faith community noticed a growing number of people who move from membership in some religion to non-membership. That growing number of so-called "unaffiliateds" both caught our attention and confirmed our observations.

Most commentators looked at the growing stream of people leaving the churches of their youth and eventually becoming people not connected with any religious tradition at all. Few noticed the ones who grew up nonreligious and joined a church later in life.

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Refusing the cycle of hate

Ekklesia reports on a Palestinian family standing up for their rights but refusing to hate.

"A land is nothing without people, and people are nothing without a land." That's the maxim followed by Palestinian farmer Daoud Nassar. And when he speaks of the intimate connection between people and their land, he is talking from hard-won experience.

Nassar, a Palestinian Christian, lives with his family on 42 hectares (100 acres) of fertile land west of Bethlehem. His grandfather bought the land in 1916 and the Nassar family has farmed there ever since, growing olives, almonds, grapes, pears and figs.

In 1991, Daoud Nassar learned that the Israeli authorities were planning to confiscate three quarters of his land – a practice that is illegal under international law, but nonetheless widespread on the West Bank.

Since then, the family has been locked in a costly legal battle with the Israeli government, despite possessing all the land registration documents and other paperwork necessary to prove ownership, Daoud Nassar told a visiting ecumenical delegation on 10 March.


Although suffering harassment, threats and attacks, the family has chosen to follow a reconciling path:
The Nassar farm is already surrounded by Israeli settlements, and like many Palestinians, the Nassars have endured harassment, threats and attacks from nearby settlers. In one such attack, Daoud Nassar's mother was threatened with a gun. In another, settlers uprooted 250 olive trees from the property.

It is acts like this, Nassar says, that may easily fuel violence among Palestinians. For many others, the only possible options seem to be to resign themselves to the situation, or to emigrate.

The Nassar family decided there should be another option – to refuse to be enemies. So they established on their land a project called the Tent of Nations. Its overarching aims are to build bridges between people of different backgrounds and between people and land.

"We wanted to move away from a circle of blame, and channel our frustration into something positive," Daoud Nassar told the Living Letters team.


Read more here.

Early reports from the ACC in Jamaica

Colin Coward is on the scene. It doesn't seem that very much has happened yet. Although this report from the Anglican Journal contains some interesting quotes from Canon Kenneth Kearon:

Acceding to the covenant is voluntary, explained Mr. Kearon, adding that the membership in the Communion of churches will not cease or be altered if their decision-making bodies decide not to sign on to it.

“The covenant will only be operative for those who agree to sign the covenant. It becomes operative for any church soon as that church signs on to it,” said Mr. Kearon.

“We’re not looking for a substantive majority – the covenant will only ever apply to those churches of the communion which decide (to sign on to it). “

And there is this from Canada lay representative to the ACC Suzanne Lawson:

There are several things that we might have wanted to be different, even to the point that some of us could have said, ‘Why do we really need a covenant?’ But, in fact, it looks like we will have a covenant and the real feeling is that the Covenant Design Group has listened hard to the kinds of input that have been presented to them and have done a pretty good job.” Personally, said Ms. Lawson, “I have some concerns that I’m going to talk to people about and that is that the bulk of the responsibility for dealing with ‘problems,’ and I think the Canadian church is considered ‘a problem’ – although we don’t think so – in the hands of the majority of primates, bishops and clergy of the Joint Standing Committee, which is being given increasing power.…”
Today's Press Briefing is on podcast and features Canon Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of The Anglican Communion and Bishop John Paterson of Auckland, New Zealand the chair of ACC-14. They discussed the agenda of the meeting including the mission of the Anglican Communion, the Covenant for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, the reception of the final report of the Windsor Continuation Process and how the council members will engage in the life and vitality of the local Church. Follow this link above to listen to the 20 minute news conference (or download the podcast here). About two thirds in there is a question about the ongoing absence of Archbishop Orombi, elective representative of Africa, at JSC meetings and at this ACC.

Videos from ACC-14 opening

Episcopal Life has three videos surrounding the opening of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica: (1) opening remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury, (2) the May 2nd press conference with The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, and Auckland Bishop John Paterson, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, and (3) remarks by members of the ACC on their hopes for the meeting. All three can be accessed here.

Canon Kearon answers a question about whether "Church" for the purposes of the covenant means province or diocese. His answer is it is an open question that needs to be answered, but that one possibility is the way the communion does it which is the list of provinces and extra provincial areas listed in the official Provincial Directory.

Flu and malaria and poverty

Church Times wonders about the disparity of investment in response to diseases around the world. Last week World Malaria Day passed with barely a whisper while the current flu alarm has been covered constantly.

The thinking that informs investment in anti-flu drugs is very straightforward. It has been estimated that a serious pandemic could cost the world economy $3 trillion. SARS is thought to have cost China £25.3 billion in 2003. Even an outbreak of an animal infection, foot-and-mouth disease, cost the UK £7 billion in 2001. Potential losses such as these can easily justify expenditure on disease prevention. Why, then, are the same arguments not applied globally?

Last Saturday was World Malaria Day. Half the world’s population remains at risk from the disease. Nearly a million people die every year. The World Health Organisation estimates that malaria alone reduces economic growth in the worst-affected countries by 1.3 per cent each year. And yet the case for investing in prevention to produce a direct economic benefit is not heard. It is hard to know why, but nationalism, global competition, ignorance, and indifference all play a part. Christ’s definition of “neighbour” has still to be adopted by the world at large.


Read the article here.

More on the flu and poverty here.

A collect for a committee

Bishop Cathy Roskam (bio) wrote these wise words. Try this prayer before your next vestry meeting:

God our true perfection:

Grant us brevity and resolution

To do only those things which should be done

And keep from all that we ought not to do;

To say all things needful, and not more.

Punctuate our conversations with your grace,

And when the mind grows weary and the hour late,

Bring us, in your mercy, to a firm conclusion;

Through Jesus, your (First and) Last Word. Amen.


6,000 celebrate with the ACC

ENS reports more than 6,000 attended the Anglican Consultative Council opening eucharist:

The opening Eucharist May 3 was hosted at the National Arena in Kingston by the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and the Province of the West Indies and featured Jamaican drummers and dancers, and combined reggae music with incense-laced Anglican high-church liturgy. Deacon Garfield Campbell chanted the gospel and the congregation sang Jamaica reggae legend Bob Marley's "One Love" during the passing of the peace.

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A hymn, "Lord of our diversity," was commissioned for the gathering. Poet Mervyn Morris and composer Noel Dexter of Jamaica used music that recalled Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to ask that God would "sanctify our listening and help us get the sense of perplexing arguments before we take offense." Another verse prays that God would "teach us that opinions which at first may seem quite strange may reflect the glory of your great creative range."

All of the Anglican churches in Jamaica were closed May 3 so that their members could attend the service. Between 6,000 and 7,000 people worshipped with the ACC, including ecumenical and interfaith leaders as well as representatives of the Jamaican government and the diplomatic corps. The Eucharist was broadcast live on Jamaican television, complete with color commentary from the back of the hall.

The Anglican Journal's report is here.

ENS has also provided video of the sermon delivered by Rowan Williams. From the ENS report:

Williams' message reiterated remarks he made to ACC the day before when he called for a "proper focus on theology and our mission" and called mission "one of the elements that most securely and profoundly binds us together as a communion, not just an assembly of local enterprises."
The ACC has both a chair (Bishop John Paterson) and a president (The Archbishop of Canterbury) and their brief opening remarks for the ACC's first plenary on May 2nd are presented in this podcast provided by ACO.

Colin Coward has more photos, text of the hymn and commentary here. In a post he wrote yesterday he comments:

If the Listening Process were being implemented in Jamaica with people like those I encountered this afternoon, it might genuinely be possible to open people’s hearts and minds and come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of human sexuality in its infinite, holy variety. I suspect there are many bishops who would be willing to take the risk but don’t because their Primate has issued an edict against it.

Methodists launch $20 million ad campaign

From the United Methodist Church:

Rethink Church, the next evolution of The United Methodist Church's "Open hearts" welcoming and advertising campaign, will kick off on May 5 and 6 with major launch events in New York City and Washington, D.C., and other cities nationwide.

Audiences will see and hear more than $20 million in new advertising over the next four years on television, radio, print, and in new media, including banner and keyword advertising on major secular Web sites.

The messaging, targeting 18- to 34-year-olds, highlights the many opportunities for involvement within United Methodist churches - from community hunger programs to basketball leagues. Meanwhile, the denomination is engaging in dialogue within its churches about enhancing those opportunities.

Orombi tries to seat Am. Ang. Council leader as Ugandan rep

UPDATED: 9 p.m.

The Church of Uganda has attempted to seat the Rev. J. Philip Ashey, chief operating officer of the schismatic American Anglican Council, as its clerical representative to the Anglican Consultative Council Meeting in Jamaica. The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the ACC has refused the request.

As Doug LeBlanc has reported, Ashey recently compared the role of the American Anglican Council to Special Forces of the U.S. military:

“Like Special Forces, we go behind the scenes and we blow up things,” he said, adding quickly that what the AAC blows up is principalities and powers.

Correspondence between the Church of Uganda and Canon Kenneth Kearon follow in parts one through five. Part six is a letter from Archbishop Henry Orombi, who, despite being a member of the Joint Standing Committee has never attended one of its meetings, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams.

A few things to note: In part one, the Church of Uganda notifies Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council that Ashey is to be their clerical representative, but list his mailing address in Kampala, thus disguising the fact that he lives in Atlanta. This letter is dated just eight days before the ACC meeting is to begin.

In part five, Canon Kearon writes:

The Joint Standing Committee has discussed this at length. We understand that the Revd Philip Ashey’s relationship with the Church of the Province of Uganda is as a result of a cross provincial intervention, and note that such interventions are contrary to the Windsor Report and other reports accepted by successive meetings of the Instruments of Communion, including Primates’ Meetings which you have attended.

In Part six, Archbishop Orombi writes:

The appointment of Rev. Philip Ashey to fill a vacancy at the last minute provides the Church of Uganda with a strong voice of a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Ruwenzori. It is also a voice for the almost 100,000 orthodox Anglicans in North America who have been persecuted by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, who will not be represented by their delegations to ACC-14, and who will not otherwise have voice or seat at the table of the ACC. It is important for the Communion to be reminded that there is a serious tear in the fabric of our communion; all is not well and there continues to be an urgent need to address the ongoing crisis before us.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Part six

Ruth Gledhill is developing this story in the context of a more comprehensive look at what is happening in Jamaica at her blog.

Click Read more to see the Church of Uganda's press release.

UPDATE: 9 P.M - Statement by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has been issued and an audio link to his press conference remarkshere.

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St. James, Newport Beach being sued to recover court costs

St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach is being sued by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to recover the costs the diocese incurred in its successful suit to retain the building and money of a congregation that voted to leave the Episcopal Church.

The suit is described as "threatening and bullying" by the attorney for St. James.

"‘They are doing this so no one ever dares leave the Episcopal hierarchy ever again,’ said attorney Daniel Lula, who represents St. James.

Attorney John Shiner, who represents the diocese, said Friday that he didn’t know how much money his client would try to recover from St. James and individual members of its vestry, which functions like a board of directors.

‘We’re doing nothing more than what we’re entitled to do legally,’ Shiner said."

Read the full article here.

St. James was led by Bishop David Anderson, who was instrumental in founding and later setting the trajectory of the American Anglican Council. He remains President and CEO. Bishop Anderson (formerly Canon Anderson of the Diocese of Los Angeles) is now a bishop associated with the ACNA -- he is part of CANA. The Province of Uganda just attempted to seat an AAC staff person at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting taking place in Jamaica.

ACC begins to consider next action on Covenant

In today's sessions, the Anglican Consultative Council began its work considering the latest draft of the proposed Covenant, and what action the Council might decide to take.

According to ENS, a resolution is being considered that, if adopted, would send the Covenant out for adoption with responses by the Provinces required either way by December 2014.

"The resolution came to the ACC representatives from the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates, or leaders, of the communion's churches. That committee met in Kingston last week before the ACC meeting.

In presenting the resolution, Diocese of Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, said, 'Archbishop Drexel has left us with no doubt that there is no matter that will come before us this week that is more important than the question of the covenant,' adding that a 'solemn responsibility' had fallen on the ACC.

Gomez told the representatives that 'the communion is close to the point of breaking up … The chance that the covenant offers to give something to the communion as a description of what Anglicans care about … won't last much longer.'

Gomez linked the urgency of that timeframe to the July 8-17 meeting of the Episcopal Church's General Convention and the recognition by conservative Anglican leaders and former Episcopalians of a proposed new Anglican entity in North America. He also said that 'a number of primates' had told him that their governing bodies 'are beginning to become impatient with the communion's life if the communion can't say something clear at this stage of its life.'

If the ACC does not agree to send the covenant out to the provinces for their approval, Gomez predicted, 'there will be clear breaks in the communion after this meeting.'"

Read the full article here.

ENS has posted the text of Archbishop Gomez's presentation here.

In the discussion that followed the introduction of the resolution, some voices called for the immediate adoption of the Covenant and Gregory Cameron, Deputy Secretary General of the ACC, and now a bishop in Wales, giving his opinion that 15 to 20 provinces were ready to quickly adopt the document.

The Canadian report on the day's discussions can be found here. Marites Sison's report points out that Bishop Cameron's remarks today somewhat contradict remarks by the Secretary General Kenneth Kearon earlier that participation in the Covenant would not affect a Province's status in the Communion.

Support for bishop elect of Northern Michigan

Although most bishops and Standing Committees have voted to consent or not consent to the election of Kevin Thew Forrester for bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, his supporters are offering more letters of support for why he should receive consent.

From the Vestry of St. Paul's in Marquette letter of support.

We cannot emphasize enough how this exceptional man has quietly and consistently expanded our spiritual lives as a Christian community. So it is especially painful for us to watch while others malign him during this consent process. He is one of us, and every unfair personal attack on our beloved Bishop Elect inflicts a deep wound on each of us, who we are, what we have worked to achieve, and how we wish to fulfill God’s promise and love in our diocese.

And a letter from the Rev. Geoffrey Howson of Fairview, PA, received by The Lead below:

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TEC wins "tentative" victory in San Joaquin case

There is plenty of legalese to wade through in this pdf from Fresno Superior Court, which is preparing to rule on the case between the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and deposed former bishop John-David Schofield. The upshot, however, its promising.

These tentative rulings, which give the parties a sense of what the judge is thinking heading into oral arguments today, strongly suggest that The Episcopal Church and Bishop Jerry Lamb may win a summary judgment. A summary judgement is awarded without trial when the facts in a case are not at issue and the law is clear.

Pages 4-7 and 48-58 contain the rulings, although the key stuff is 48-56.

The documents are clear. Only the "Bishop" of the Diocese of San Joaquin has the right to the incumbency of the corporation originally entitled "The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, a Corporation Sole" and given the number C0066488 by the Secretary of State. Moreover, the Episcopal Church has spoken as to who holds the position of Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin — Reverend Lamb. Defendants challenge Lamb's election as Bishop on procedural grounds such as notice and quorum, but this court has no power to rule on the validity of the Episcopal Church's election of its Bishops.

Both the United States Supreme Court and California courts have held that in the case of hierarchical religious entities the civil courts must accept as binding and defer to decisions by religious tribunals with respect to religious doctrine, practice, faith, ecclesiastical rule, discipline, custom, law, membership, polity, clergy credentials and discipline, as well as religious entity governance and administration....

Accordingly since the Episcopal Church has seen fit to recognize Lamb as the new Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, we must do so as well.

Bait and switch

In yesterday's Episcopal News Service story, Bishop Gregory Cameron, one of the architects of the proposed Anglican Covenant, made a few remarks that ought to raise concerns about whether the covenant is a classic bait and switch scheme.

Cameron also noted in response to another question that "at the moment there is no linkage to signing the covenant" and participation in the life of the communion. But, he added, "if a number of provinces were to adopt the covenant, then I think naturally the question would be asked whether some sort of assessment or change would have to take place."

Bait and switch schemes, a form of fraud, are illegal under civil law. It is dispiriting to think that the Anglican Communion may observe a looser ethical standard.

Clergy support legislation banning hate crimes

The Washington Post reported yesterday that, "more than 300 clergy from a variety of faith and denominations will fan out over Capitol Hill to preach a unified gay-rights message to members of Congress: Pass the hate crimes bill that would give sexual orientation and gender identity the same federal protection as race, and pass the employment non-discrimination bill that would protect gays."

The group included Bishop Gene Robinson and the Rev. Susan Russell of Integrity.

Faith in Public Life has more news.

Covenant adoption limited to only ACC members?

Suzanne Lawson, a lay member of the Anglican Church of Canada delegation to the ACC meeting in Jamaica writes today that the ACC is beginning work on a resolution that slightly tweaks the proposed Anglican Covenant.

She writes on her blog "Caribbean Considerations":

"The resolution we’ve been asked to consider, prepared by the Joint Standing Committee, addresses my major concern with the draft Covenant, and that is that there is the provision that other ‘churches’ (read, potentially, the break-away splinter group in Canada, or individual dioceses or parishes) can adopt the Covenant. The resolution asks that only the current member churches of the ACC be asked to consider and adopt the Covenant at this time. A wise insertion in the draft resolution…I hope it remains there to keep us together and not encouraging further splintering. "

Read the full article here.

She goes on to describe the good work being done around the Communion by the various networks of the Communion and the stances that they have taken over the years.

We haven't seen the text of the resolution and haven't seen this reported elsewhere yet, but it is a significant development if it has, in fact, occurred.

The teeth of the thing: a magisterium in the Communion's future?

Updated @ 9:17PM Eastern with coverage by Anglican Journal - scroll to end
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Ruth Gledhill has obtained a copy of the draft resolution before the Anglican Consultative Council that pertains to the Windsor Continuation Group. The text of the resolution:

The ACC

a) thanks the Archbishop of Canterbury for his report on the work and recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group.

b) affirms the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group.

c) encourages the Archbishop of Canterbury to work with the Joint Standing Committee and Secretary General to carry forward the implementation of these recommendations as appropriate.

d) affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates' Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009) and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces, and urges gracious restraint in all these areas.

e) requests IASCUFO to undertake a study of the role and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting in the Communion, their ecclesiological rationale and the relationships between them in line with the recommendation of paragraph 76 of the WCG Report, and to report back to ACC-15.

Gledhill's post includes jpegs of the report -- apologies, that's what's available for now (click on them to enlarge to improve legibility).

Gledhill's interpretation of e) above:

Basically, it is Anglican-speak for empowering the 'instruments' - the Primates, Lambeth and the ACC - to enforce discipline. So that paragraph, for all its acronyms and jargon, is the teeth of the thing. The question remains, will the provinces bite?
IASCUFO? That would be Inter-Anglican Standing Committee for Unity, Faith and Order. It already exists, but the post of director recently became vacant because of the Consecration of Canon Gregory Cameron as Bishop of St Asaph in the Church in Wales. You can apply for the position here.

Added: The Anglican Journal reports,

Archbishop Williams, who walked ACC delegates through the history of the WCG and its recommendations, meanwhile, urged them to explore whether Anglicanism should mean “more or less communion, integrity and cohesiveness.”

He said that he believes that the WCG had made several references to an “ecclesial deficit” because the Anglican Communion, “at the moment suffers from a lack of clarity about what kind of fellowship it’s meant to be. As long as we have that lack of clarity we will be unclear about what we really mean by church.”

The Lead has analyzed the WCG report and “ecclesial deficit” before including in this post.

Covenant adoption process still evolving

The confusion of the last couple of days of how the proposed Anglican Covenant might be adopted is a direct consequence of the evolving situation in the ACC and the shared understanding of the Covenant in Jamaica right now.

According to the Episcopal News Service, reporting on a press conference given by Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Bishop Gregory Cameron the process being used is still changing. And that state of change is what is giving rise the contradictory statements that have been made about the process and the implications over the past week.

"Anglican Communion Deputy Secretary General Gregory Cameron told reporters 'we're feeling our way' in terms of the implications for those provinces that decide not to sign onto the covenant, whether entities other than the provinces which are now members of the Anglican Consultative Council (as listed in the council's constitution) would be allowed to adopt the covenant and whether there would be a time limit for provinces to decide."

Further down the article reports:

Cameron said it would be up to a province to decide if its dioceses could adopt the covenant. A group of active and retired Episcopal Church bishops recently challenged the polity of the U.S.-based province by saying that they believed that its dioceses could take that action. There has been no official response to that claim.

The JSC draft resolution, which Cameron said was meant for purposes of discussion only and would no doubt change before the ACC voted, called for provinces to act by December 2014. Cameron said that some participants have said "they would like to see a tighter timeframe for the reception of the covenant."

"Obviously, it's too early to say where the mind of the council will settle," he said. "I don't hear any voices saying they'd like it to be longer."

Provinces allowing dioceses to sign on their own behalf even if the Province demurred is yet another new idea that has surfaced today. That's not something that has been explicitly stated before.

Read the full article here.

Video outlet "journalist" does not bring video camera

Colin Coward reports:

This morning, thanks to my Facebook membership of the Anglican TV group, I learnt that Kevin Kallesen is trying to raise money to fly here urgently because the Lambeth press office had refused to accredit his nominated volunteer because of ‘political turmoil’. The person in question is none other than the Revd Canon Julian Dobbs, Canon Missioner of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America who was in discrete attendance at the Primates meeting in Alexandria.

Canon Dobbs was declined accreditation because Anglican TV is a video outlet and he doesn’t have a video camera. Canon Dobbs is nevertheless here in Kingston, even more discretely than he was in Alexandria, resourcing the Ugandan representatives.

Is this the Communion Office showing some backbone?

Question 11 answered

In yesterday's ACC media briefing on the Anglican covenant adoption process Anglican Communion Deputy Secretary General Gregory Cameron answered a question about the meaning of the word "Church." In his answer Cameron referred an October 2008 document entitled,

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Souter's departure will change the church-state mix on the Court

The knee jerk reaction when would that Justice Souter would be retiring was that because Obama would like appoint someone with similar views to Souter the balance on the court would not change for the immediate future. As time to digest the announcement has passed more nuances are being seen.

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Maine becomes 5th state where same-sex marriage is legal

New York Times:

With the enactment of the Maine bill, gay-rights activists have moved remarkably close to their goal of making same-sex marriage legal throughout New England just five years after Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to allow it.

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African Anglicans in the news

Several items concerning Africa and Anglicans:

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Northern Michigan's Standing Committee writes counterparts

The standing committee of Northern Michigan has written the standing committees of all other dioceses. In its letter the committee says,

What we were not prepared for was the questioning of the bishop-elect that began with Kevin’s use of meditation as a spiritual tool to deepen his own Christian life and progressed to questions about his use of liturgy and even his theology. Fueled by bloggers with misinformation and untruths, some of the “church” press began to publish material questioning all aspects of the election and our choice of bishop.

Read more »

From bowling alone to churching alone?

Robert Putnam is back with a forthcoming book, "American Grace" in which he presents the results of his research on the increase in the number of young "nones". He spoke to reporters Tuesday at a conference on religion organized by the Pew Forum on Faith in Public Life.

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Cameron: how do we make things stick?

Today Bishop Gregory Cameron conducted a 20 minute press briefing on the Windsor Continuation Report and answered questions.

ENS's Mary Frances Schjonberg writes:

Cameron continues to make covenant, Windsor case

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An un-askable question?

If:

the Anglican Consultative Council decides tomorrow to endorse an unamended version of the proposed Anglican Covenant and send it to the provinces for approval without removing loopholes that would allow individual dioceses and schismatic Episcopal churches to sign on

And if:

the ACC endorses the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group, thereby enacting what amount to open-ended moratoria on the authorization of rites of blessing for same-sex relationships and the consecration of partnered gay bishops

will

the question of whether the Episcopal Church should withdraw from the Anglican Communion be discussed in polite company, or will those who raise it continue to be treated as zealots?

Why

do we assume that the issue of whether our Church should belong to an organization that preserves its unity by discriminating against gay and lesbian Christians is so far out of bounds that our leaders won't examine it in public?

Bigotry or death?

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica is the deliberate fear mongering engaged in by men like Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Gregory Cameron, the deputy general secretary of the Anglican Communion. At one news conference after another they suggest that the Communion will rupture if the anti-gay measures embedded in the proposed Anglican Covenant and the report of the Windsor Continuation Group are not embraced and enforced. While they might dispute the characterization, the choice these religious leaders are putting before the Communion is a simple one: bigotry or death. Either the Communion embraces open-ended moratoria on the blessing of same-sex relationships and the consecration of gay bishops and a set of disciplinary procedures to punish wayward provinces and individual bishops or the sky falls.

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A moratorium to call our own?

Lionel Deimel suggests The Episcopal Church enact a moratorium of its own:

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Why we are shrinking

Mark D. W. Edington writing for Episcopal Life Online:

Step outside the church into the world they deal with every day and it's easy to see why. They confront the challenging of living and working in a world where organizations that succeed in responding to change are being ruthlessly flattened, collapsing old hierarchies in favor of structures more supple and responsive to the needs of the people they serve.

And – especially among the generation now rising – their skill at using information technologies to assess alternatives, no matter what the need, makes them significantly less devoted to, and more skeptical of, the old virtue of brand loyalty – Ford, Ivory, Sunoco or Episcopal.

Their purpose in finding a church is, in short, very different from what ours appears to be in being a church. We want to work from the basis of our faith to articulate faith-informed positions on issues of the day. But they are looking primarily for a way into relationship with God and God's people; to be in a community of faith that looks something like the communities that they know from the other spheres of their lives.

Those other communities have characteristics that make our churches seem alien, even forbidding. First, most folks outside the church are quite accustomed to living and working in communities where people hold a great diversity of views on social and political issues. They live in neighborhoods and communities, they work in offices and classrooms and laboratories where they have become adept at making relationships with people with ideas and commitments different from – even sometimes in conflict with – their own. And they are not threatened by this.

A dream wedding

Agence France Presse attended the nuptials of the homeless couple married last weekend at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown:

The groom wore a black tuxedo, a damask-rose pink waistcoat and tie, and an ear-to-ear smile.

He picked out his wedding outfit at a mall in Virginia -- his first time ever in one of the sprawling shopping centers that are monuments to consumerism in the suburban landscape across the United States.

During his 14 years living homeless on the streets of Washington, Dante White, 28, never realized that so much opulence existed. Nor had he had much luck in love in his life, having been thrown out of his mother's home when he was just 14.

Last week, White married Nhiahni Chestnut, 39, a woman whose battles with drugs and alcohol had left her on the streets of the US capital as well. Both are unemployed.

"I was basically living from day to day, trying to survive, and I wound up meeting him," Chestnut told AFP at the couple's wedding, held in the tiny chapel of Grace Episcopal Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.

The Cafe's previous coverage is here.

ACC - May 7

According to the Daily Program the afternoon offered an island tour or free time, and the evening is unscheduled. Perhaps for that reason reporting on the day has come in earlier than usual. Look for significant developments tomorrow morning in the decision making plenary on the Covenant and Windsor Continuation Group matters.

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The company they keep

An interesting tidbit from the OC Weekly on the litigation between the Diocese of Los Angeles and the breakaway parishes led by St. James, Newport Beach. It seems the lawyer representing St. James is John C. Eastman, dean of the Chapman University School of Law, who recently teemed with the "visiting professor and Bush White House 'torture memo' author John Yoo in April to debate two other Chapman law profs in Memorial Hall about presidential power in wartime. One thing Eastman rejected that day was a government investigation of Yoo and others because he did not believe the U.S. ever tortured anyone.

The case raises questions about St. James' constitutionally protected, First Amendment rights to religious freedoms, according to Eastman, who told the [Daily] Pilot, "By taking their church away that makes it hard for them to practice their religion."

Dean Eastman has to be smarter than this quote suggests.

Bullies with press credentials

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude has had a run-in with two bullies with press credentials at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica, and he reflects on the encounters here and here.

The Mad Priest option

The Mad Priest writes:

It will take a while to think it through, and there will be problems and obstacles along the way, but my initial thought is that there must now be a formal coalition between, what I will refer to from now on as, the provinces of Episcopal Anglicanism and a way for all Episcopal christians, even those who do not live in these provinces, to become aligned with and cared for by this new coalition. This new thing will not seek to break away from the Anglican communion and will never consider non-episcopal members of the Anglican Communion as being anything other than in full communion with them, whatever the actions of the rest of Anglicanism. They will root their authority at diocesan level and will act together through the college of bishops, in line with the early traditions of the catholic church. But, above all, they will support each other. If one province is relegated to a lesser position by the Anglican Communion, then all aligned provinces will automatically place themselves in that relegated position also.

ACC embraces Windsor Continuation report

Updated with final text and Anglican Communion Office press briefing:

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Despite TEC setback, controversial Section 4 is still in play

This item has been superseded by the item Confusion reigns over Covenant at ACC meeting.

Confusion reigns as ACC delays Covenant release

Updated with the story from the Episcopal News Service, and other links at the bottom of the story.

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Saturday collection 5/9/09

Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.

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ACC: Two state solution for Israel-Palestine

The Anglican Consultative Council has approved a resolution for a two state solution in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

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Tarrant elected bishop of South Dakota

ENS reports:

The Very Rev. John Tarrant was elected on May 9 to serve as bishop coadjutor (bishop with right of succession) of the Diocese of South Dakota.

The producer is a priest

The Rev. Jay Wegman, an associate priest at St. Luke in the Fields, an Episcopal church in Greenwich Village and director of the Abrons Arts Center, thought that he might have to choose between a life in the theater and a call to the priesthood. A New York Times profile shows that he both calls are intertwined.

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One miracle short

The Vatican is poised to beatify John Newman the Anglican convert to Catholicism. But the New Statesman says there's some sand in the gears:

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Five years on, gay marriage no longer controversial in Massachusetts

The Washington Post reports:

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Weighing religion and secularism

The Browser interviews Anthony Gottlieb, former Executive Editor of The Economist, and historian of ideas at the CUNY Graduate Center about God, reason, and the enduring power of faith in the modern world. An excerpt:

AG: ... You have to read Hume as well to understand the flaws in the theistic argument from design.

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Consider the anableps, how it sees

Search profiles the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori and recounts the story of her movement from a career in science to her vocation in the church and how the two intertwine.

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A chaplain's recovery

The Washington Times tells the story of a senior priest in the Diocese of Washington:

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America's Conscience?

Diana Butler Bass for Beliefnet:

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ACI calls for a do-over

The Anglican Communion Institute, sharing the same frustration as many who have been supportive of the Ridley Draft of the Covenant, is calling the ACC to return today to the matter it discussed on Friday.

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Chicago Consultation responds to ACC actions

The Chicago Consultation released a statement today from its co-convener the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers in response to the Anglican Consultative Council’s affirmation of the recommendations made by the Windsor Continuation Group and its decision to postpone the release of the Anglican Covenant for consideration by provinces. To read the statement, click Read more at the end of this item.

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Reaction to having picture taken raises questions

Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes relates an incident that took place this morning as the ACC was resuming its work. He saw a Nigerian bishop delegate meeting with some credentialed press members outside the meeting and took a picture. But the bishop's reaction was one of fury according to Coward.

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Anglican Church of Canada delays changing marriage canons

The Council of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada was not able to come to agreement on the whether or not blessing "same-sex unions" is something proper for a Church to do. Because of this lack of agreement, there will be no request to change the Canadian marriage canons to include rites of blessing for same gender couples.

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News from the next to last day of ACC meeting

The reports of the next to final day of the Anglican Consultative Council's meeting are starting to appear online. The surprise news of the day was the election of Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Church to the Joint Standing Committee.

Episcopal News has the details of Douglas' election and lists the others also elected:

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Ending aid to Africa will not help

Archbishop Ndungane has written an essay in response to voices claiming that financial aid to Africa needs to end before African nations can turn themselves around. He identifies how financial globalization combined with local issues are making the situation in Africa worse and influx of money used in ways not sensitive to the African contexts are combined to create the present situation.

He writes specifically:

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Anglican Consultative Council adjourns today

UPDATED:
Archbishop Rowan Williams reflects on the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in his presidential address. Episcopal Life Online reports:

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ACC seeks seat at Primates' Meetings

UPDATED: Home of new chair of ACC robbed.

The Anglican Journal, Canada, reports that the Anglican Consultative Council is seeking seat and voice for priests and laity at the Primates' meetings.

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Live webcast about General Convention

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs announces a live webcast on Wednesday, May 13 which will address topics related to the Episcopal Church General Convention. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson and others will field questions from audience, online.

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ACC-14 ends upbeat

New services report that the close of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica was festive and upbeat. See,

Festive Service Closes ACC-14 (ACNS)

ACC ends meeting on positive note (AJ)

Anglican Consultative Council meeting closes on hopeful note

ENS has video of Rowan Williams' closing briefing with the press (20 minutes). Worth watching for unfiltered insight into his views.

ACNA: some dissent amongst the rank and file

A member of the Reformed Episcopal Church writes Brad B. Root, recently appointed Chief Operating Officer of ACNA.

Hap Arnold writes in response to Root's email giving advance notice of a mailing "to you and your vestry from Archbishop-Designate Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)" announcing a $700,000 fund raising campaign:

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UMC bishops vote themselves a pay cut

RNS:

Bishops in the United Methodist Church have voted themselves a pay cut after “recognizing the financial challenges facing the church.”

The UMC’s 50 active U.S. bishops voted to give up their planned pay raises for next year and instead reduce their salaries to the 2008 level, dropping their annual pay from $125,650 to $121,000 according to United Methodist News Service.

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Obama: 'Joshua, I want one of those.'

A vignette illustrates the close working relationship between President Obama and his 26 year-old direct of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships:

On his first day in office, Obama was ushered to a prayer service at the National Cathedral, where clergy, including Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, greeted the new President in private.

"Katharine is very formal in a good Episcopalian way," said Wes Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America. "She has this staff, like a crosier, a big ornate thing. Obama looks at the staff, and playfully says, 'Joshua, I want one of those.' "

That's from a profile of DuBois written by Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today.

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Bishop of Ohio's remarks on domestic partner registry

From the Diocese of Ohio:

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Church Publishing adjusts to market conditions

Church Publishing has announced some changes to its operations. As reported by Publishers Weekly,

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Global South delegates on ACC issue statement

Several members of the Anglican Consultative Council describing themselves as Global South delegates have issued a "Response to ACC-14 in Jamaica."

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General Convention webcast previews General Convention

Episcopal Church leaders held a webcast previewing General Convention yesterday, May 13. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, General Convention executive the Rev. Gregory Straub, and Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the host diocese of Los Angeles were the presenters.

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Virginia recalls missionary to Sudan

A Statement from the Bishop's Office, Diocese of Virginia:

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US Catholics: let Obama speak and keep abortion legal

Beliefnet reports the latest poll shows Catholic voters favor keeping President Obama as the speaker at Notre Dame University's commencement by a margin of 60-34--even higher than the general public, which approves of the invitation by 56-31 percent.

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Alaskan floods mobilize Episcopalians

Brutal ice flows and raging flood water are wreaking havoc in small, isolated villages scattered along the Yukon River causing some residents of remote Alaskan areas to be evacuated to safety. The flooding, caused by an unusually cold winter followed by an unusually warm spring thaw, heaved ice blocks the size of houses onto land, completely destroying one village, including an Episcopal Church.

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When the lobbyists become the reporters

Andrew Brown looks back at the recent Anglican Consultative Council and sees the future. It is a world of journalism without reporters and where the news-gatherers and the lobbyists are one in the same.

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dad@hvn,ur spshl

Elizabeth Kaeton tells us of a contest at Ship of Fools to condense the Lord's Prayer down to 160 characters or less.

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Polls on the abortion debate

On the eve of President Obama's visit to Notre Dame, two polls are released that show that views on abortion among Americans is in motion, but more complex than headlines may indicate

A Gallup survey is headlined that more Americans are "pro-life" than "pro-choice" for the first time since they started asking this question. Their news release begins like this:

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Tax-exemption, political speech, and the changing tide

We are hearing more and more conservative pundits and religious leaders have begun to criticize the tax rule that strictly prohibits tax-exempt charities and religious organizations from direct political campaign activity. The idea is that when a church or pastor cannot use the energies and funds of a congregation on behalf of their favorite candidate then their freedom of speech is being denied.

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Where in the world is Henry Luke Orombi?

The Archbishop of Uganda -- Africa's representative on the Joint Standing Committee -- missed the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica last week. (Actually, he's missed every JSC meeting since being elected.) He says it was due to a long-standing speaking engagement. Which is curious because ACC meetings are scheduled years in advance. And thus doubly curious he left it to the last minute to RSVP. A more timely RSVP might well have meant Africa would have been represented on the Joint Standing Committee. Which makes it curious that he and others have criticized results from the JSC and the ACC. All the more so because Uganda did not send a full delegation to the ACC.

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Saturday collection 5/16/09

Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.

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Systemic evil and Christianity

Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, England, explores the question of why "biblical religion that sees every person as created in God's image so easily become a sponsor of human rights violations in the area of sex and gender?"

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Star Trek: sign of our times or out of touch?

Nathan Schneider of Religion Dispatches reviewing the new Star Trek movie says, "I liked the new Star Trek, I really did. Despite earlier concerns that it might ravage my Trekkie childhood, ... But, having read this week’s proclamations that this was a Star Trek for the brave new age of Obama (in Slate and the Huffington Post), I found the film a political downer. If this is Obama’s Trek, it’s the Obama that makes me wish I’d voted write-in for Jean-Luc Picard."

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Blame the Jews

Neil Malhotra and Yotam Margalit writing in the Boston Review:

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Interfaith friendships increase religious tolerance

Naomi Schaefer Riley adds to our understanding of what Robert Putnam and David Campbell have done in their forthcoming book "American Grace: The Changing Role of Religion in American Civic Life":

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An American Gospel

NPR carries an interview with the author of An American Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God, Erik Reece.

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Economy prunes pulpit posts

The New York Times reports on the lack of clergy positions for graduating seminarians and the burden of seminarian debt as the economy worsens:

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The Evolution of God

Andrew Sullivan reviews The Evolution of God (due out in the US next month) by Robert Wright:

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New job for Giles Fraser

Being Yanks, we are seldom told that we can't publish a bit of news "until the Queen announces it," but that was the case when we learned a few weeks ago that the Cafe's pre-Lambeth host, the Rev. Canon Giles Fraser was to be named Canon Chancellor at Saint Paul's Cathedral, London.

Click Read more to see the press release.

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The rat race comes to church

Andrew Sullivan points to this Smart Set essay, which suggests that the world's work and the Lord's work are sometimes judged by precisely the same standard:

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Danforth on Faith, Evangelicals and the GOP

This story came out few weeks ago, but we just saw it here on the Lead:

"Many know John Danforth as a former three-term U.S. Senator from Missouri, and former Ambassador to the United Nations. But the Midwestern Republican's interests stretch far beyond politics. Danforth is also an ordained Episcopal priest. The public servant talks openly about his faith and why he believes right-wing evangelicals have done more harm than good for the GOP."

Listen to the interview here.

Hat tip to Fr. Jeff.

How to respond to a crisis

In times of natural disasters or emergencies, local authorities and folks from the community are likely to reach out to faith communities to help with recovery. But hardly any congregations have an existing plan in place to respond when disasters happen. And the requests aren't always of a material nature.

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Obama calls for civil discourse

There are numerous stories popping up today about the President's address to the graduating class of Notre Dame yesterday. The invitation was offensive to some in the Catholic Church because of the President's pro-choice stand.

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Laid-off church workers lack safety net

In a difficult economy, churches suffer the same way that other small businesses do. Income is down in many places and that means that expenses need to be cut. Often that means cutting salary expenses. The problem is that many people who are laid off from church positions are discovering they lack the same safety net that other laid-off workers can count upon.

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Civil War graffiti uncovered in WV parish church

Morgan's Chapel, a pre-colonial war parish in West Virginia, was in the process of performing some needed renovations to the nave when something very unexpected appeared. The removal of the modern layers of paint uncovered a wealth of notes written on the wall.

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Taking from the offering plate

Tough times call for creative solutions. A Texas congregation has responded to local needs by inviting people who need to do so, to help themselves to the offering plate as it passes by them.

But their generosity hasn't been limited to those who attend Sunday worship:

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Variety of voices to preach at General Convention

epiScope reports:

Eight preachers – ranging from the Presiding Officers and the Archbishop of Canterbury to a popular TV correspondent and an internationally-known activist – will be among the many voices at the daily worship services during General Convention 2009 of The Episcopal Church July 8 – 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles).

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Child labor increases in global financial crisis

Ekklesia reports that the aid and development agency World Vision is warning that the continuing global financial crisis and the damage it is causing local economies is forcing more and more children around the world into the worst forms of child labour.

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Priest tells of his time in federal prison

WYNC.FM carries on interview with the Rev. Luis Barrios about his experience in federal prison for a protest at the School of the Americas now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The school trains military personnel from North, Central and South America and some of its graduates have become notorious for human rights.

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Parents fuming over distribution of Bibles at school

According to FoxNews:

Some parents in Frisco, Texas, are fuming because their public school district allowed Christian evangelists to provide Bibles to students on school grounds, which administrators say was done to stop even more proselytizing outside the schools.

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Film features voices of African Anglicans

The Chicago Consultation announces a new addition to the Listening Process of the Anglican Communion.

... a new half-hour documentary film helps Episcopalians keep the church’s commitment to listen. Voices of Witness Africa interviews gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Africans about their lives and their relationships with God and the church.

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An increasingly secular country that is becoming increasingly "pro life"

What if anything does it tell us that while a majority of Americans still say abortion should be legal, a majority now considers themselves pro life? Nancy Gibbs of TIME writes

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It's costly to be poor

In case you need to know, it costs more to be poor than to be rich:

Poverty 101: We'll start with the basics.

Like food: You don't have a car to get to a supermarket, much less to Costco or Trader Joe's, where the middle class goes to save money. You don't have three hours to take the bus. So you buy groceries at the corner store, where a gallon of milk costs an extra dollar. ...

Christians spread belief in child witches

CNN reports:

"Children accused of witchcraft are often incarcerated in churches for weeks on end and beaten, starved and tortured in order to extract a confession," said Gary Foxcroft, program director of Stepping Stones Nigeria, a nonprofit that helps alleged witch children in the region. Many of those targeted have traits that make them stand out, including learning disabilities, stubbornness and ailments such as epilepsy, he added. The issue of "child witches" is soaring in Nigeria and other parts of the world, Foxcroft said.

The states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River have about 15,000 children branded as witches, and most of them end up abandoned and abused on the streets, he said.
...
Foxcroft, whose documentary, "Saving Africa's Witch Children," was broadcast last year, spoke to a U.N. panel on the issue in April.
...
"The role of the international Christian community in this cannot be underestimated," Foxcroft said. "Unfortunately, the fact remains that this belief system is being spread by so-called Christians."

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New Hampshire House balks on marriage equality bill

UPDATE: See first comment. Reuters says

The state's House of Representatives objected to language in the bill [added at the insistence of the governor] that would have allowed religious groups to decline to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or to offer gay couples other services.

A handful of gay-rights proponents sided with Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House to vote down the bill....

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UK Minister on faith communities and forthcoming Equalities Bill

Press release from Faith, Homophobia. Transphobia, & Human Rights Conference: The British Government Equalities Minister, Maria Eagle pledged that she and other Ministers would stand firm against any attempts by faith groups to get out of the demands of LGBT legislation and the forthcoming Equality Bill.

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Thousands abused in Catholic Irish reform schools

AP:

A fiercely debated, nine-year investigation into Ireland's Roman Catholic-run institutions says priests and nuns terrorized thousands of boys and girls in workhouse-style schools for decades — and that government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

High Court Justice Sean Ryan on Wednesday unveiled the 2,600-page final report of Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which is based on testimony from thousands of former students and officials from more than 250 church-run institutions.

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Support the Café; give to the Bishop's Appeal

Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington, which hosts Episcopal Café, recently sent the following letter to members of his diocese. The Café derives its very meager budget from the diocesan communications budget, which was significantly reduced this year. If you would like to support our work, please make an online donation here, and put the word Cafe in the box marked "dedication."

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Northern California church gets property back

Press release

SACRAMENTO, CA., May 20, 2009-The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California has announced a settlement agreement with a group calling itself "St. John's Anglican" church, which has occupied the parish buildings at 40 Fifth Street in Petaluma, CA, since December 2006.

The agreement follows peaceful and respectful settlement discussions. Under the agreement, property will be returned to St. John's Episcopal Church.

Further details of this settlement and the re-opening of St. John's Episcopal Church will be made available through diocesan communications. The parish will return to the church building on or before July 1, 2009. Until then, St. John's Episcopal Church continues to worship on Sunday evenings as the guests of Elim Lutheran Church in Petaluma.

Hat tip: Bible Belt Blogger.

The real Diocese of Fort Worth gets back on its feet

From the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

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Unravelling a sordid history

The Houston Press News unfolds the story of the Rev. James Lydell Tucker, a pedophilic priest who worked in Episcopal schools in the Diocese of Texas in the 1950s through the early 1990s, and examines the diocese's response to the allegations against him.

Gallup updates "moral acceptability index"

According to Gallup's annual "moral acceptability" index, updated this month:

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Poor kids hurt worst by economic downturn

From the Foundation for Child Development:

The first comprehensive report on the impact of the current recession on the overall health, well-being and quality of life of America’s children, released by the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), shows that the downturn will virtually undo all progress made in children’s economic well-being since 1975.

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Mainline clergy surveyed on gay marriage

USA Today reports that while mainline Protestant clergy are generally more supportive than the general public about gay civil rights, but are slightly more hesitant than their congregants about the right to marry.

Robert Jones, president of Public Religion Research and co-author of the survey, says 57% of general population and 70% of mainline laity -- but 65% of clergy -- agree on some form of legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions.

However, the clergy survey finds 55% say they do not want their denomination to bless or conduct same sex-marriages and only 7% say they have officiated at one.

The Clergy Voices Survey (CVS) surveyed Mainline clergy on broad social and political attitudes and behavior during the 2008 election cycle.

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Did Francis say this?

Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words." Maybe not.

Mark Galli says in ChristianityToday.com "Many have noted how Francis modeled his life on Jesus. But it wasn't just about the life of poverty, but also the life of preaching."

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Pause button in NH

A bill to legalize gay marriage in New Hampshire failed in the state House Wednesday by two votes but was sent back to a House-Senate conference to work out a compromise. If successful, the compromise should come back for a vote on June 3.

The failure was a surprise to both backers and opponents, all of whom assumed that the vote would pass and be signed by Governor John Lynch. Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire characterized the situation as a pause rather than a setback.

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Breaking: CANA priest, former ACI leader, indicted for theft

Updated with the Denver Post:

A theologically conservative pastor in Colorado Springs who led his congregation in a split from the Episcopal Church has been indicted by a grand jury on felony-theft charges.

Colorado Springs police recently wrapped up a two-year investigation into "financial mismanagement" of church funds by the Rev. Donald Armstrong, according to a department media release issued today.

The police investigation was turned over to the Pueblo district attorney's office to avoid possible conflicts of interest, and a Pueblo grand jury returned a 20-count indictment Wednesday against Armstrong, police announced.

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Bishop Jenkins testifies on Capitol Hill

Updated Saturday Morning

Describing his own experience and those the Diocese of Louisiana has ministered to, Bishop Charles told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that he was a "refugee in his own country."

The hearing, "Still Post Katrina: How FEMA Decides When Housing Responsibilities End," was to hear testimony on the question of whether Congress will continue funding the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). He was asked to specifically address the implications that a final shutdown of DHAP would have in Louisiana. Joining him is a representative from HUD, FEMA, and the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). Bishop Jenkins was the only non-governmental official who has been asked to provide testimony on DHAP.

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Letter crisis

_ worldwide letter short_ge m_y bri_g _ h_lt to the __gli_an _rises if someo_e does_'t _ome up with _ew __ro_yms soo_.

We tip our h_t to Greg Griffith _t Sta_d Firm who h_s well __d truly s_ooped us on this bre_king story:

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Saturday collection 5/23/09

Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.

Read more »

Same-sex marriage, conscientious objection and the law

Peter Steinfels in The New York Times

The movement toward legalizing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has hit a bump. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, said last week that he would sign a same-sex marriage bill only if it included new language expanding protection for religious institutions that might object to same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, the state’s House of Representatives rejected that amendment. So for the moment, the matter is stalled in New Hampshire.

But whatever the outcome, Mr. Lynch may have moved the debate over same-sex marriage forward, at least by isolating it from the question of how it affects religious groups.

For some time, scholars have debated this issue, and some are now urging states considering same-sex marriage laws to include strong protections for religious organizations. Some are even suggesting protections for individuals and small businesses who offer services for weddings — like photographers, florists, caterers, bakers, wedding planners and musicians. The argument is that these individuals and businesses might have religious objections to gay couples’ marrying and could be exposed to sizable fines or strong penalties under nondiscrimination statutes.

Can the same logic be used to argue for legal protections for opponents of interracial marriage?

CofE database of clergy from 1540 to 1835

A database of information on Church of England clergy from 1540 to 1835 has been made available for study by historians, genealogists and trivia seekers.

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Mental illness and ministry

Rev. Kathryn Greene-McCreight, suffers from bi-polar disorder. The author of Darkness Is my Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness, spoke with HopeandHealing.org about mental health and the church.

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Remembering Thurgood Marshall

Saint Augustine's Church in southwest Washington, D. C., is attempting to have Thurgood Marshall commemorated in the Episcopal Church's book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts . Last weekend, as part of the effort to keep the justice's memory alive, members of the church participated in the dedication of a safety call box in his honor. Watch video below:

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HBO series shines flattering light on Botswana

The HBO miniseries The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has been a boon toward helping the people of Botswana launch a fledging film industry in that southern Africa country, the Anglican bishop of Botswana says.

The series, based on Alexander McCall Smith's book of the same title and nine subsequent novels, is being shown Sunday nights on HBO. All episodes are available on HBO on Demand.

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Bruce Springsteen and the seventh Sunday after Easter

Jumping the gun a bit to bring you a vision of Pentecost from E Street.

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Remembering the fallen

This Memorial Day will be marked in many different ways across America, some traditional, some brand new. In addition to local parades, memorial services and civic observances, there are a growing number of specialized websites that are creating a virtual memorial to the men and women who have lost their lives in the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The psychic and spiritual cost of war

On Memorial Day, it is especially important to remember the toll of war is also psychological and spiritual. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have required multiple and extended deployments in a type of combat where there is no front line or escape from repeated threat.

Bob Herbert wrote in the NYTimes last week about the psychic toll of war.

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Dean tightening church's belt

The Arizona Republic reports on churches and the economy featuring The Lead's own Nick Knisely and Trinity Cathedral where he serves as Dean.

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CO Springs CANA vestry on the indictment of rector

The website of St. George's Church in Colorado Springs, member of CANA, has a response to the Grand Jury findings against their rector, Don Armstrong:

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Press turning eye to General Convention

The Los Angeles Times links the California Proposition 8 battles to Episcopal Church General Convention 2009 resolutions and Evangelical Lutheran decisions later this summer regarding the full inclusion of gay, lesbian,bisexual and transgender members.

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CA Supreme Court: Prop 8 and existing marriages upheld

UPDATED 2:10 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. - see below

The California Supreme Court has ruled:

The California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 by a 6-1 vote but ruled that existing same sex marriages can stand. Several dozen people gathered in front of the California Supreme Court building today in San Francisco in advance of the court's ruling on whether to uphold Proposition 8, the November ballot measure in which state voters banned gay and lesbian marriages.

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"Seasons of restraint" continue in Canada

The Anglican Journal reports that the Diocese of Huron plans to offer a liturgy with a celebratory eucharist and blessing for same sex couples. By doing this they hope to avoid breaking the requested moratorium on nuptial blessings for same sex couples.

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+Gene on Larry King Show tonight

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire sends this note:

Just a quick message to alert you that I will appear on the Larry King Show tonight at 9:00pm Eastern to talk about the Prop 8 ruling. Prayers are appreciated!

Reconsidering the initial response to the Prop 8 ruling

Everything you thought you knew about today's Calif Supreme Court Ruling on Prop 8 may be wrong!

While the initial analysis of the decision treated the ruling as a defeat for gay rights activists, an examination of pages 36-37 suggest otherwise:

The scope of the exception created by Proposition 8, however, necessarily is determined and limited by the specific language and scope of the new constitutional provision added by the ballot measure. Here the new constitutional provision (art. I, § 7.5) provides in full: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." By its terms, the new provision refers only to "marriage" and does not address the right to establish an officially recognized family relationship, which may bear a name or designation other than "marriage." Accordingly, although the wording of the new constitutional provision reasonably is understood as limiting use of the designation of "marriage" under California law to opposite-sex couples, and thereby modifying the decision in the Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th 757, insofar as the majority opinion in that case holds that limiting the designation of "marriage" to the relationship entered into by opposite-sex couples constitutes an impermissible impingement upon the state constitutional rights of privacy and due process, the language of article I, section 7.5, on its face, does not purport to alter or affect the more general holding in the Marriage Cases that same-sex couples, as well as opposite-sex couples, enjoy the constitutional right, under the privacy and due process clauses of the California Constitution, to establish an officially recognized family relationship. Because, as a general matter, the repeal of constitutional provisions by implication is disfavored (see, e.g., In re Thiery S. (1979) 19 Cal.3d 727, 744; Warne v. Harkness (1963) 60 Cal.2d 579, 587-588), Proposition 8 reasonably must be interpreted in a limited fashion as eliminating only the right of same-sex couples to equal access to the designation of marriage, and as not otherwise affecting the constitutional right of those couples to establish an officially recognized family relationship.

(emphasis added.)

John Culhane writes:

The majority went on for almost 140 pages. In brief, their points - which I'll next explore in somewhat greater depth - are these:
(1) The California Constitution is easy to amend, and that's not something we can change:
(2) The deprivation of rights isn't that big a deal, really, because all that's been removed by Prop 8 is the word "marriage" rather than the rights that go with it;
(3) Based on precedent and constitutional history, Prop 8 is a permissible amendment to the state's constitution - not a more substantial revision, which would require prior submission to the legislatures (and a 2/3 approval) before going to the voters;
(4) There's no separation of powers problem here: Everyone's doing their constitutional job; and
(5) The Attorney General's "novel" argument that certain rights are "inalienable" and therefore immune from the vagaries of majority rule, has no traction.

A commenter at Andrew Sullivan's site writes:
Have been through the Prop 8 opinion and dissents. It appears that this is a blockbuster pro-gay-rights decision, restricting the effect of Prop 8 to the effect of removing the designation of gay civil unions as "marriage," but upholding all equal rights previously declared by the Court; and, suggesting that if the opponents of gay rights were to try to restrict equal union rights for gays by constitutional change, such change would be an Amendment (not a revision) and thus would be procedurally much more difficult to accomplish. Being able to lay claim to the word "marriage" is important, but in all other respects this appears to be a spectacular decision in favor of gay rights..

The following bloggers are still untangling the decision, but they see it as a victory for marriage equality activists.

Daily Kos.

IT at Friends of Jake.

Budgeting and the vision thing

From the Alban Institute:

After the board adopts the Vision of Ministry and the Budget Policies, these form the basis for the annual call for budget proposals from the program units. The request is not for a "dream" budget but for a budget that will accomplish the Vision and comply with the Policies. The board, not a finance committee of Green Eyeshades, determines the actual proposed budget.

The annual fund drive, then, communicates the Vision of Ministry over and over again. Contributors are asked for amounts which, if about half of them say "yes," will make the Vision possible. The board, clergy, and staff make it clear that the Vision is not something the congregation plans to shoot for but that it intends to accomplish. Year after year, the people learn that when this congregation asks for gifts, it means it. If they give what is asked, the results promised come to pass. Over time the fund drive becomes easier, more pleasant, and more popular.

One reason for this is that the division between Green Eyeshades and Rose-Colored Glasses, while it never goes away, is addressed in creating the Vision of Ministry. The fund drive comes, not in the middle of the argument, but after it has been resolved.

Read it all here. What do you? Can you see yourself putting this into practice?

Bishop Robinson participates in Larry King panel

Last night Bishop Gene Robinson was one of several panelists discussing gay marriage on Larry King Live. From TVEyes we have a video clip and a transcript, both found here. If you run the clip you'll find -- contrary to the transcript -- that he did not say "one of the things I love [about The Episcopal Church is] we are not asked to leave our brains at the door. we are asked to use our brains interpret scripture. If we want to look at the baseball as a whole piece, that message is that God is love. and in the end, I believe that God's love will win out."

The word was "Bible", not "baseball." (The fact remains The Episcopal Church is the official church of baseball.)

Flood relief fund raisers for Alaska

According to Juneau Empire:

A huge community fundraiser is being planned to help people living in flood-stricken communities along the Yukon River. The fundraiser is planned for Friday at the Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall in Fairbanks. A dinner of honey-glazed ham with garlic mashed potatoes, country gravy, pasta salad and a dessert, prepared by Pike's Catering, will be served. A community wide garage sale also is planned for Saturday for flood relief and victims. That will be held during the day at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church.

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Pittsburgh hearing held

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hearing Conducted in Diocesan Assets Case

May 27, 2009

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh presented its case in court today for regaining control of diocesan assets still held by former leaders who have left the Episcopal Church.

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Prop 8 proponents idolize a word

As we reported yesterday, a careful reading of the California Supreme Court's decision on Proposition 8 suggests the opponents of gay marriage may have won little except the right to say they won.

The Rev. Richard E. Helmer writes:

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Are most Americans both "pro-life" and "pro-Roe"?

Nate Silver ponders the apparent contradiction in polls showing a majority of people claiming to be pro-choice but also a large majority supporting Roe v. Wade.

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Testifying to love

The Rev. Will Scott of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco explains why he got arrested in a protest following the California Supreme Court's decision upholding Proposition 8.

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The marriage of Eva Brunne

The Diocese of Stockholm in the Church of Sweden has just elected Eva Brunne, a lesbian in a registered domestic partnership, as its bishop. The Church of England, like the Anglican Communion Churches of Ireland, Scotland and Wales is in full communion with the Church of Sweden through the Porvoo Agreement. The question now is how Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will respond, having gone to such great lengths to keep partnered gays and lesbians from becoming bishops in the Anglican Communion.

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Breaking: "Section 4" working group announced

From Anglican Communion News Service:

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Is homophobia the new anti-Semitism?

Writing for the Web site of the American Prospect magazine, Michelle Goldberg asks whether global homophobia is akin to anti-Semitism:

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Controversial Rev. Cutié joins Episcopal Church

Updated with news links and CNN video.

The Miami Herald reports:

The Rev. Alberto Cutié (KOO'-tee-ay), the celebrity priest removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month, will leave the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to join the Episcopal church.

The small and private ceremony will happen early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami. Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, will officiate. ....

Cutié will initially be a lay person in the Episcopal church … not a priest. The process of a Catholic priest becoming an Episcopal priest takes at least a year, experts say.

While not having the same authority as a priest, Bishop Frade plans to give Cutié special status as a lay minister, meaning he can preach in Episcopal churches but not celebrate the Eucharist, the symbolic body and blood of Christ.

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Obama designates new Vatican ambassador

Here are basics, but read Mark Silk's take on the designation of Miguel H. Diaz, professor of theology at St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota as the United States' ambassador to the Vatican.

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Waters of Hope riders peddle a good cause

Members of the Diocese of Missouri are peddling 650 miles this week to bring clean water to a diocese in Sudan.

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Arrest warrant issued for Don Armstrong

KKTV in Colorado Springs, CO reports that the police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Donald Armstrong, who left the Episcopal Church for the more theologically conservative Church of Nigeria, for failure to appear at a hearing on Wednesday.

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Theological schools seek mergers

There are nine Christian theological graduate schools and seminaries in the Boston area and many of them are exploring mergers and other ways to deal their financial challenges.

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Lawyer says Armstrong arrest warrant was "a misunderstanding"

Updated. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the bench warrant for the Rev. Donald Armstrong has been quashed.

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Bishop Frade interviewed about Father Cutie

Bishop Leo Frade appeared on television to explain the circumstances surrounding the reception of Father Alberto Cutie into the Episcopal Church.

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Thew Forrester's chances dim

We have stopped charting every twist and turn in the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester's saga, but this development reported by Frank Lockwood seems significant:

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Fort Worth begins steps to depose former Episcopal clergy

Bishop Edwin Gulick, provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, says that he will soon begin the required deposition process for the 72 clergy who left the Episcopal Church to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. but has offered one more chance for these priests and deacons to clarify their intent to remain in the Episcopal Church or not.

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Pastors say "No marriages" until marriage equality achieved

The Advocate reports that two UCC pastors will stop performing marriages until California reverses Proposition 8 and the court decision that upheld it.

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Cutié evokes interest in the Episcopal Church

A notice from the Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries of the Episcopal Church regarding people who might arrive on Sunday morning at your church because of the news surrounding the Rev. Alberto Cutié joining the Episcopal Church.

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Saturday collection 5/30/09

Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.

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Will Emerging Church be more tolerant?

The Rev. Howard Bess writing at AlterNet suggests that the church of the future may be more science and gay friendly:

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Liturgical dance in the church of baseball

A five hour rain delay of a Big East tournament game between the University of South Florida and the University of Connecticut meant it was time for some competitive liturgical dance in the Church of Baseball.

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Episcopalians launch new non-profit to care for troops

From the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs, a new program for military families:

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God isn't going anywhere

The New Humanist on God is Back: How the Revival of Religion is Changing the World, by Economist journalists John Micklethwait (pictured right) and Adrian Wooldridge:

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Late term abortion provider murdered in church

Updated: there has been an arrest.

The New York Times:

George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who was one of the few doctors in the nation to perform late-term abortions, was shot to death on Sunday as he attended church, city officials in Wichita said.

Dr. Tiller, who had performed abortions since the 1970s, had long been a lightning rod for controversy over the issue of abortion, particularly in Kansas, where abortion opponents regularly protested outside his clinic and sometimes his home and church. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion opponent but recovered.

Andrew Sullivan notes that Tiller was a frequent target of Bill O'Reilly.

A common date for Easter discussed

Ekklesia reports on an international ecumenical seminar discussing how to bring Eastern and Western churches together around the date of Easter which the two traditions calculate according to different calendars and they think that now is the time to act because in 2010 and 2011 both the calendars of both traditions will coincide.

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