Nedi Rivera called to serve as bishop in Eastern Oregon

Bishop Rivera, suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Olympia, has been asked to serve as a part-time provisional bishop in the Diocese of Eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon has been without a bishop since the resignation of Bishop William Gregg in 2007.

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Cutie's first sermon as an Episcopalian

The Church of the Resurrection in Miami was filled to the brim as Alberto Cutie gave his first sermon since being received as a Episcopalian. Some in the congregation were members of the press. It is expected that he will begin the process of being received as an Episcopal priest, thought that may take a year or more of discernment and preparation in advance of the event.

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More on Dr. Tiller's murder

More details are emerging today about the killing of Dr. Tiller who was killed as he was serving as an usher at his Lutheran congregation. Dr. Tiller's murder is thought to have happened because of his work providing late-term abortions. Today the pundits are starting to weigh in as well.

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How our images of God help and hurt

There's a very provocative article by Wesley Wildman and Stephen Chapin Garner posted on the Alban Institute's site. It discusses the harm that our over-attachment to certain images of God can cause. They point the finger at both "sides" of the contemporary church.

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End the de facto ban on gay and lesbian bishops

Watch the history of the infamous B033 and the need for change at General Convention 2009.

Text of resolution below:

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Why marriage equality in the church?

Why should General Convention 2009 seek marriage equality for same sex couples? Integrity USA responds with this video.

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Secret theology committee studies same sex relationships

UPDATE: Chicago Consultation calls for release of names of scholars studying same sex relationships. Also response from Integrity. See below.
The House of Bishops Theology Committee is refusing to release the names of members of a sub-committee it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. The existence of the panel was first reported in the Blue Book, which contains information relevant to General Convention, 2009. However, the Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley of Alabama, chair of the Theology Committee has refused several requests to disclose the names of its members.

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Marriage Equality: threat to religious liberty or not

Thomas Berg, writing in Christian Century, discusses the issue of religious liberty and marriage equality:

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Abortion and religiosity

Newsweek reports surprising results on abortion and religious belief:

Unwed pregnant teens and 20-somethings who attend or have graduated from private religious schools are more likely to obtain abortions than their peers from public schools, according to research in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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Bullhorn evangelism

Bosco Peters in New Zealand offers new models of evangelism he calls "permission marketing" or "participation marketing."

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Christian music in recession

USAToday reports:

The recession is slamming the arts (no news here) but Christianity Today has a great look at how Christian musicians are hanging in, even one who sometimes gets paid in barter.

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Moravian full-communion agreement considered

One of the many pieces of legislation to be considered by General Convention this summer is the full-communion agreement between the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church. If adopted, the agreement would represent a historic achievement of the first trilateral agreement between denominations.

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Surprise: knowing gay people affects attitude on gay issues

Some interesting findings from the latest Gallup Poll:

While 57% of Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage, Americans who personally know someone who is gay or lesbian are almost evenly divided on the matter, with 49% in favor and 47% opposed. Among those who do not personally know anyone who is gay, 72% oppose legalized gay marriage while just 27% favor it.

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Theology committee controversy: Bishop Parsley responds

By the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr.
Chair, Theology Committee of the House of Bishops:

In response to questions that have been raised about the panel of theologians appointed by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to prepare a paper on same-sex relationships in the life of the church, I wish to assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons.

This project has been designed in full communication with the House of Bishops. It has always been the committee’s intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage. We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them.

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Good news from Fort Worth

Here is an encouraging press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

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New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Six states and Dick Cheney have now dared to go where the Episcopal Church will not.

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Episcopal Public Policy Network starts "story drive"

From EPPN:

In past years this has been the time when the EPPN held a membership drive. This year we are doing something new. We are having a STORY DRIVE!

What is a STORY DRIVE? It is a time to collect stories about all of the interesting ways that Episcopalians are involved in public policy advocacy. These stories could be about big life changing actions, seemingly small moments, or anything in between.

To read the entire release, click Read more.

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Bishops of Ohio speak out on state budget

Bishops Mark Hollingsworth and Thoms Breidnethal of the Dioceses of Ohio and Southern Ohio, respectively, have written an op-ed article on the state's efforts to balance its budget.

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Notes of secret panel selection leaked to Episcopal Café

The notes of a meeting at which the House of Bishops' Theology Committee discussed nominations to the secretive committee currently preparing a report on same-sex relationships have been leaked to Episcopal Café. While the list is partial and the members of the panel remain unknown, the document may offer insight into the bishops' thinking.

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Morals schmorals

Dan Gilgoff of US News reports on a Pew Survey in which the percentage of respondents who listed "moral values" as their top concern plummeted from 27 percent (and first place) in 2004 to 10 percent (and a tie for third). E. J. Dionne thinks he knows why. Mark Silk has also chimed in.

A conversation with the great Marilynne Robinson

Andrew Brown of the Guardian interviewed Marilynne Robinson. He writes:

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Kevin Thew Forrester's election reportedly fails

The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester cannot receive enough votes from standing committees in the Episcopal Church to be consecrated as bishop of Northern Michigan according to a tally kept by an Arkansas reporter who has been in contact with all of the Church's 110 dioceses as well as the Convocation in Europe.

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Communion offices publishes report on ecumenism

A comprehensive account of the Anglican Communion's ecumenical work has been published by the Anglican Communion Office.

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Schrute to help bishops staff secret theology committee

The House of Bishops Theology Committee has retained Dwight K. Schrute to help screen candidates for the secret theology committee on same-sex marriage according to interview notes leaked to Episcopal Café. The interview subject is Pam Beesley, a receptionist at a fictitious mid-sized paper company in the Diocese of Bethlehem.

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Bishop Robinson reflects on marriage equality in New Hampshire

Bishop Gene Robinson has shared with us an email he sent to friends on Thursday after spending the previous day lobbying the New Hampshire legislature on behalf of marriage equality legislation.

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PB, other Christians leaders praise Obama's Cairo speech

From Episcopal Life Online:

A diverse group of U.S. Christian leaders has written to President Barack Obama following his historic June 4 speech in Cairo saying they stand ready to support "robust U.S. peacemaking efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace."

Signed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and more than 50 Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelical and African American church leaders, the open ecumenical letter to Obama noted that "after decades of tragic conflict, many Israelis and Palestinians despair of the possibility of peace, yet with your determined leadership we believe the promise of two viable, secure and independent states can be realized."

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Growing Up Gay

Christian Century reviews a new book, Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America:

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Saturday collection 6/6/09

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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Frank Lockwood of Bible Belt Blogger thinks there is something significant about the fact that language about governmental transparency has disappeared from the introductory copy on the Web site. Mark Harris does not.

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San Joaquin to ordain first woman priest

The Fresno Bee reports that with the change in leadership in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, women are breaking the stained glass ceiling imposed on women by the former bishop.

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Alleged 1960s cover up leads to sex abuse suit

The Houston Press:

A fourth man has filed a $15 million lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and St. Stephen's Episcopal School for allegedly covering up his sexual abuse at the hands of the school's chaplain.

Surfing for a bishop

The use of websites and the internet for Diocesan Bishop Search processes is becoming more and more the preferred method for gathering and disseminating information.

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George Herbert must die

Justin Lewis-Anthony at Comment is Free:

Close your eyes and picture a vicar of the Church of England. Whether you are a regular churchgoer or someone who once watched an episode of The Vicar of Dibley, your mental image will more than likely be this: a smiling, benign, inoffensive and unworldly cleric. This image has its origins in the life and ministry of one man, George Herbert (1594-1633). The memory of priest, pastor, poet and polemicist is revered everywhere, inside and outside the church. A contemporary diocesan bishop sets as required reading for his clergy Herbert's treatise, The Country Parson. In September 2005 Country Life awarded the prize of "Britain's Best-Loved Rector" to a man whose ministry could be read directly from the same pages. The generations of "telly-vicars" in All Gas and Gaiters, Dad's Army, The Vicar of Dibley, and Jam and Jerusalem, are the direct successors of a half-remembered and half-digested picture of Herbert's exemplary country parson.

Find out why this is not a good thing from Father Lewis-Anthony, who showed hospitality to a rag tag band of Americans during the Lambeth Conference, and who blogs at 3 Minute Theologian.

Denominations attempt to respond to membership losses

The last half century has not been kind to the mainline denominations. Membership in their respective churches has declined significantly in terms of percentage of population. There are many reasons for why this has happened and though many programs have been tried, none have reversed the situation. Now the mainline churches are looking to their evangelical and free-church cousins and thinking about finding new ways to communicating their message to the community.

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Catholic bishop fights extension of statute of limitations on abuse cases

New York Times:

[I]n the battle over the sex-abuse bill, which has been introduced for several years but never had a chance of passage until now, Bishop DiMarzio [of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn] has mounted such an urgent and aggressive sally into the political realm that some elected officials and community leaders have questioned whether he has overstepped church-state boundaries.

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Journalists write about their faith

Cathy Grossman, USAToday interviews 4 journalists who have written books about their faith journeys. Usually religion reporters report what others are doing with religion and faith. In these books they reflect on their personal faith stories:

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Making the pro-choice case

The Boston Phoenix spends some time with the Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale who will soon be the Dean and President of Episcopal Divinity School. Recently Ragsdale has come under attack for her prominent pro-choice work.

[Adam Reilly of The Phoenix] recently visited Ragsdale in her ... office on EDS's neo-medieval campus. She'll officially start on July 1, after leaving her post as president and executive director of Political Research Associates, the Somerville-based think tank that tracks right-wing extremism. (She'll also step down as vicar of St. David's Church in Pepperell.)

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Trusting in a bishop's fairness

There's a lovely little story this weekend about the service that Bishop William Lawrence performed during a serious labor dispute back in the first decade of the last century. It was dispute between a newspaper publisher and a union that centered on wages. Bishop Lawrence was asked to service as an arbitrator in the dispute.

The interesting bit of the story was the bishop's observation that what mattered in the settling of the dispute was not the solution per se, but that the arbitrator had the trust of both sides.

"My decision met with approval on both sides. As a matter of fact, I judge that if in such a case both parties have confidence in the good sense, fairness, and intelligence of the arbiter, they are content, even if things do not go altogether as they wish.”

Do you think this is still true in the secular world today? Any chance that our bishop's could still serve in such a role in a community dispute?

How about in the church?

What does the failure to consent to an election tell us?

Late Thursday last week, the news was released that the Diocese of Bethlehem's Standing Committee had voted to decline to consent to the election of the next bishop of Northern Michigan. With that vote, it became apparent that Thew Forrester would not be confirmed as the new bishop.

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Reconciliation looks like this...

Last month Adriann Vlok repeated a simple action that he'd already done twice before. As a former minister of police under the old apartheid regime in South Africa, he demonstrated his desire to reconcile by washing the feet of those he had wronged.

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Learnings from New Hampshire

Recently the State of New Hampshire legislature and governor agreed to include certain protections for religious leaders before they would both agree to enact a law recognizing same-sex marriage. Robert Jones and Daniel Cox have taken a close look at that decision to see what sorts of lessons can be drawn.

They write in part:

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End high interest pay day loans

A United Methodist bishop testifies on the scandal of predatory lenders who often charge as much as 400% interest. Bishop Minerva Carcaño called for a cap on the amount of interest that can be charged.

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Who in the world is Leo Frade?

The Miami Herald follows the story of The Rev. Alberto Cutié (KOO'-tee-ay) with a report on the bishop who received Cutie´into the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade (frah-day).

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British churches appalled at BNP election

Episcopal Life is reporting on the election of right-wing anti-immigrant candidates to the European Union Parliament and to local seats in England.

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Obama: Religious Educator-in-Chief

Religion Dispatches examines President Obama's speech in Cairo. Are we capable of learning the nuanced view of world religions and culture of which the president speaks?

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Immigration Reform: hopes and frustrations

The Catholic Review Online reports on the hopes and concerns of those working for immigration reform. In the wake of postponement of a meeting with the President, reformers are becoming frustrated.

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24 Episcopal clergy urge recognition of same-sex marriages in DC

Bishop John Bryson Chane, retired Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon and 22 Episcopal priests are among the 135 religious leaders who have signed a statement supporting the recognition of same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia.

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Homeless man goes high tech to help others

NPR's All Things Considered broadcasts the story of how a homeless advocate, who is himself homeless, uses high tech to tell the story of what it is like on the streets and how people can help:

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A conversation about conversation with the Presiding Bishop

Nancy Haught of the Portland Oregonian talks with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

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Diocese in California reclaiming Church's property

The beat goes on on the legal front in California where today brought news of two significant property transactions.

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In Georgia: coming to terms with the legacy of slavery

From a column in The Macon Telegraph by Catherine Meeks:

The organizers of this event in the Diocese of Atlanta have the right idea. They are focusing on oral history and providing opportunities for people to tell their stories. The stories of the wounds that have come from slavery, segregation and racism have within them the cure for the injuries.

More below the fold:

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Holocaust Museum shooting motivated by anti-Semitism

News is coming in this evening about the shooting which took place this afternoon at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. The gunman, 88-year-old James W. von Brunn, was well known to police and federal authorities as a white supremacist who blamed misfortunes in his life on the "Jews". The gunman was shot and critically wounded after shooting a guard and fatally wounding him.

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To the House of Bishops Theology Committee: Repent!

Christopher Evans writes:

I would suggest that this recent action on the part of the House of Bishops Theology Committee demonstrates once again that our Churches’ cultures are in need of conversion. Conversion means rejecting “habits, behaviors, ideas, and attitudes” that demonstrate undignified treatment of and hostility toward lgbt members of Christ’s own Body.

More below the fold...

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Rethinking abortion post-Tiller

Debra Bendis at Theolog:

Most of us won’t be affected by today’s closing of Women's Health Care Services Inc. Until Dr. George Tiller was murdered, I thought little about the Wichita clinic or, for that matter, about late-term abortions; if pressed I would say that late-term abortion is the place to “draw the line” in abortion legislation, unless the mother or child is in physical danger.

Now I’m reading the stories of women whom Dr. Tiller aided, of their situations and their decisions to abort their pregnancies. While these stories don’t cancel the need for Christians to wrestle with abortion and possibly to support restrictions through legislation, the stories shake us loose from any moral high ground we thought we had reached in our own decisions—and sensitize or resensitize us to human suffering.

They also persuade me of Dr. Tiller’s moral commitment to these women even when he was under constant threat of death. I honor both his compassion and service, and I honor the suffering of these women, men and their families.

Making awful even worse

Radio station KYW has the bare bones of an extremely distressing story from the Diocese of Pennsylvania:

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Bishop Chane on the shooting at the Holocaust Museum

Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington released the following statement on the fatal shooting yesterday at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

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Church of England fights proposed "equality" bill

Over at Comment is Free, Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans examines the Church of England's opposition to the "equality" bill currently before Parliament:

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Obama urged to investigate US sponsored torture

The Rev. Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA, met with members of the Obama administration at the White House yesterday along with a number of other religious leaders. They were taking part in the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) at the White House, and asked Obama consider sponsoring a fact-finding commission dedicated to investigating U.S.-sanctioned torture incidents that have happened since September 11, 2001.

Here is the text of the letter:

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Gay marriage: heading toward a tipping point?

Andrew Gelman at FiveThirtyEight:

In 1995, support for gay marriage exceeded 30% in only six states: New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont. In these states, support for gay marriage has increased by an average of almost 20 percentage points. In contrast, support has increased by less than 10 percentage points in the six states that in 1995 were most anti-gay-marriage--Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Idaho.

I was stunned when I saw this picture. I generally expect to see uniform swing, or maybe even some "regression to the mean," with the lowest values increasing the most and the highest values declining, relative to the average. But that's not what's happening at all. What's going on?

Some possible explanations:

- A "tipping point": As gay rights become more accepted in a state, more gay people come out of the closet. And once straight people realize how many of their friends and relatives are gay, they're more likely to be supportive of gay rights. Recall that the average American knows something like 700 people. So if 5% of your friends and acquaintances are gay, that's 35 people you know--if they come out and let you know they're gay. Even accounting for variation in social networks--some people know 100 gay people, others may only know 10--there's the real potential for increased awareness leading to increased acceptance.

Conversely, in states where gay rights are highly unpopular, gay people will be slower to reveal themselves, and thus the knowing-and-accepting process will go slower.

- The role of politics: As gay rights become more popular in "blue states" such as New York, Massachusetts, California, etc., it becomes more in the interest of liberal politicians to push the issue (consider Governor David Paterson's recent efforts in New York). Conversely, in states where gay marriage is highly unpopular, it's in the interest of social conservatives to bring the issue to the forefront of public discussion. So the general public is likely to get the liberal spin on gay rights in liberal states and the conservative spin in conservative states. Perhaps this could help explain the divergence.

Charitable giving down, religious giving is up

The National Catholic Reporter, citing a study by Giving USA Foundation, says that religious organizations reported a 5.5-percent increase in donations last year, a marked contrast from the nationwide 2-percent decline in charitable giving.

Religious congregations, which accounted for 35 percent of the total $307 billion in charitable contributions, exceeded $100 billion in donations for the second year in a row.

Though public-society benefit and international affairs organizations also cited increases in charitable contributions, two-thirds of public charities reported a decrease for only the second time in the report's 54-year history.

The economic recession spurred this decline, Del Martin, the chairwoman of the foundation, said in a statement. "We definitely did see belt-tightening ... but it could have been a lot worse," Martin said.

Even with the cutbacks, the total still exceeded the $300 billion mark for the second consecutive year.

The survey showed that 54 percent of human services charities saw an increase in need for their services in 2008, and 60 percent were forced to cut expenses. Organizations serving youth development were hit the hardest, with 74 percent reporting funding shortages.

The majority of donations came from individual contributors, who gave more than $229 billion. Gifts to religious organizations made up half of all individual contributors. Corporate donations totaled $14 billion, a 4.5 percent decrease from the year before.

Read the rest here.

Church musician charged with abuse

The Detroit News reports on a man who is the music director of an Episcopal church who has been charged with sexual abuse of minors.

A church music director was charged today with crossing state lines to have illicit sex with minors.

David Zobel, 32, of Ann Arbor, was arrested by the FBI today and is charged in federal court in Ohio with performing sex acts with two girls who are 12 and 13 years old, the FBI said in a news release.

Zobel, a pianist with the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club and who is listed on the glee club's Web site as chorus master and music director at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti, could not be reached for comment.

Read the rest here.

Public-Religious partnerships can be responsible

Michael Kessler writes in the Washington Post about the changes in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under the direction of Joshua DuBois. Kessler says it is "refreshing to hear DuBois repeatedly speak of his office as seeking to create "responsible partnerships".

Kessler is Assistant Director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University. He writes:

The usual concerns about the faith-based grants are the dangers that religious groups may proselytize while delivering social services. To be a "responsible" partner with government means that the faith-based organization creates a separate, non-profit corporation which receives the Federal grant and delivers the secular service, apart from the religious activities of the organization. There are many safeguards in place to achieve this goal, with perhaps some room for improvement.

One big question arises on the other side of the partnership. In promoting the grant-process to faith-based groups, the Office, DuBois, and the President himself have a responsibility to ensure that all faith-based organizations are treated equally. No favoritism should be shown to specific kinds of sectarian groups.

This favoritism was the focus of a taxpayer challenge during the Bush administration. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the government, alleging that representatives of the Office violated the Establishment Clause by organizing conferences designed to promote religious community groups over secular ones in the grant-procurement process. They sought to enjoin the Office from targeting religious groups and providing special assistance in a manner that was not provided to secular community groups. Inflaming this concern was the practice of targeting evangelical religious organizations, in particular. The challenge was not against the grants themselves, but about the conferences the President hosted for religious groups to help them apply for the grants.

The success of public partnership with religious agencies will hinge on balancing several needs at once. We need to ensure that the funds are spent on non-sectarian services. The President and the Office will need to assure that access to the grants is fair and without prejudice, so that every religious group can access funds equally, and no particular kind of religious organization is shown preferential treatment.

Read the rest here

Torture leaves a long shadow

Iranian-American political scientist Darius Rejali tells Kirsta Tippett on American Public Media's Speaking of Faith about the emotional and spiritual costs of torture.

Most people are unaware of the incredibly long shadow that torture casts, not just for a government but for society and lastly, I think, for the families that are involved in this process. The cases of atrocity-related trauma that are tied to torture are the domestic abuse, alcoholism, suicide rates. None of these things are calculated when people think about torture.

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The wages of sin is ... whatever?

Jessa Crispin at The Smart Set:

Western society does not have much time for sin. Not the sins themselves, of course – those we like very much. We pursue them, wrap our arms around them, brag about how Courtney Love we got the other night. But when it comes to the idea that fornication or ditching work or imbibing excessive amounts alcohol should bring spiritual guilt, confession, and penance, that’s as outdated as the whole masturbation-will-send-you-straight-to-hell thing. ....

Sin is a cultural construct, and what is considered a sin in one time or place seems like a good time in another. As much as the Church has used the idea of sin as a form of control, it’s hard to take the idea seriously much anymore. So if I vote for a pro-choice candidate, I’ll suddenly lose the ability to receive the sacrament of communion and therefore go to hell? Yeah, right. Embracing sin is instead seen as freeing and, in its way, a form of spiritual evolution. As Aviad Kleinberg writes in his new book Seven Deadly Sins: A Very Partial List, “Sin can be the expression of an ardent desire for freedom, for liberation from any rules but the rules of our own desire. In its most heroic manifestations it becomes an act of creation – creation of the individual self at the price of being cast out of the common paradise.”

Ms. Crispin's essay is bracing, yet there are those who argue, persuasively, that the docrtinre of original sin is validated simply by reading a daily newspaper.

New Primus elected in Scotland

The Scottish Episcopal Church have elected Rt Revd David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane to serve as their new Primus (Primate).

"Raspberry Rabbit" has pictures and the full text of the new Primus' remarks after his election. He says in part:

"We are entering a time of difficult decision-making as we respond to the new financial circumstances which face us as they face the whole of our society. Adding new things is relatively easy. Deciding what really matters when resources don't stretch to cover everything is much more difficult. It tests decision-making and it tests relationships. That is the period which we are about to enter. Our prayer must be that this period will be for us a time of creative refining and pruning - from which will come more growth."

Read the full article here. The Rev. Rabbit is twittering from the conference still.

Bishop David's blog is here. He may be the first primate in the Anglican Communion who was actively blogging before his election.

You can watch an interview with the new Primus from this summer's Lambeth here.

San Joaquin invites departed parishes to discuss returning property

In the Diocese of San Joaquin, letters have been sent to nine parishes in the diocese inviting the leaders of the parishes to arrange the transition of all properties and assets back to the Episcopal Church.

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Saturday Collection 6/13/09

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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Seeing the face of God in the enemy

The Church Times reports on Anglicans in Pakistan and Afghanistan who care for the sick and injured and the refugees of war, most of whom are Muslim, and many members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. They continue to do this even in the midst of persecution and the constant threat of violence from the people they serve.

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"The never ending search for the common good"

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire gave a lecture recently at Emory University on "Why religion matters in the quest for gay civil rights."

Pushing young people out the door

Readers who are interested in evangelism, church planting and emerging church issues will enjoy this edifying essay by the Rev. Tom Brackett on his exploration of the Fresh Expression movement in the Church of England. Tom asked many of the people he met what they would have done differently had they known 20 years ago the effect that secularization would have on European society and the European Church. They responded:

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The Wrath of Angels relevant again

Jessa Crispin at The Smart Set contemplates the return of violence to the anti-abortion movement:

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PB announces Bishops McBurney and Bane have renounced vows

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops that she has accepted the renunciation of vows by Williams MacBurney, the former bishop of Quincy and David Bane, the former bishop of southern Virginia. Both men have joined breakaway Anglican churches. (via email)

UPDATE: The ENS story about this development is posted here.

Cathedral invites people into a new rhythm with traditional music

Trinity Cathedral in Miami Florida is finding that classical Anglican music sung in its traditional setting is just the thing for people who are rushing past its doors.

Speaking of the Anglican Chorale, the only group performing such music regularly in Southern Florida, the director points out:

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Obama administration defends DOMA

President Obama's administration filed a legal brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a court case seeking to overturn it. In effect the administration has come out defending the constitutionality of measures that give a privileged place in society to traditional opposite sex marriage.

John Aravosis has analyzed the brief that was filed late last week:

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Serve more, drop the docents

In an article entitled "We Are Not Commanded To Be a Docent in the Art Museum, We Are Commanded To Love the Poor", Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision takes the western churches to task for their lack of commitment to the developing world.

In response to a question about whether the western church's focus on buildings, self-help and aesthetics is really just an American problem, he responds:

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Rich countries resisting changes to prevent climate change

Christian Aid, a british charity and NGO has roundly critized the response by Western nations at the latest UN conference on global climate change in Bonn. The countries risk totally derailing the talks by their lack of commitment to move on actions that are believed to slow the rate of climate change.

Ekklesia writes:

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Captain given Courage at Sea award

The ship's captain who allowed himself to be taken hostage by pirates so his crew could find safety has been given the Seamen's Institute Courage at Sea Award.

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Questions raised about funding, monitoring of Listening Process

UPDATE: In a statement issued to the press from the Anglican Consultative Council, the donor writes that there are NO strings attached to funding. The donor will NOT be involved in any aspect of the Indaba Listening Project. She trusts the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Communion to use the funds as needed to carry out the process. Read it all here in pdf.

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Twitter: #IranElection

Religious Dispatches analyses the back story of Iran's elections. In the meantime, the world has suddenly become aware of the power of Twitter, youtube, and other new social media tools for something far greater than chit chat. Haroon Moghul writes on the hardliners trying to stop the move towards democracy:

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President Bonnie Anderson announces special guests for General Convention

The President of the House of Deputies of General Convention, Bonnie Anderson, has announced her special guests for General Convention. From a letter send today:

Laity and Clergy from the Anglican Communion will be the Special Guests of the President of the House of Deputies at General Convention

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Only faith can solve the energy crisis

Andrew Brown, commenting in The Guardian, UK, states "only faith can solve the energy crisis." To support his contention he writes:

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Reporting on the use of non-violence for peace and justice

Ekklesia reports that journalists and activists have launched a new website, providing news, analysis, and original reporting on the use of nonviolence by ordinary people around the world in their struggle for justice.

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Cutié weds

Miami Herald:

[F]ormer Roman Catholic priest Alberto Cutié left a Coral Gables courthouse shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday as a married man.

But Cutié, who left the Catholic church to become an Episcopalian in late May, will have to wait more than a week before his new church recognizes the marriage in a religious ceremony. That will take place in an unnamed church under Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida

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Same-sex partners to get federal benefits


President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Obama plans to announce his decision on Wednesday in the Oval Office, a White House official said Tuesday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president hadn't yet signed the presidential memorandum.

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Aspinall releases report on sex abuse in Australian province

Brisbane Times:

Anglican Primate Archbishop Phillip Aspinall on Wednesday released the results of a research project designed to help the church strengthen its child protection protocols.

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Religion and blood

Ruth Gledhill has a guest blogger, Anna-Marie Julyan, for her Articles of Faith column who explores the symbolism and use of blood in religious traditions:

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Nashotah House professor appointed to "secret panel"

According to The Missioner, Pentecost 2009 issue (page 3), the publication of Nashotah House Seminary:

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Church and state debated in England

Two items.

1. Theo Hobson in the Guardian on disestablishment: It is worth noting that Rowan Williams has failed to start the debate; he has allowed the reactionary position to become stronger – a piece of major political cowardice.

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AMiA to add 3 more bishops

All Africa:

Kigali — The Episcopal Church of Rwanda has elected three new Bishops to serve in one of the provinces of the Anglican Church in North America. The election took place on Saturday 13 at the Anglican Diocese of Kigali.

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The Daughters of the King is an Episcopal Order (for now)

The Presiding Bishop has written a letter to some members of the Order of the Daughters of the King expressing concern that the historically Episcopal order may sever their Episcopal ties.

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Obama disbands Bush-era bioethics group

President Obama has disbanded the President's Council on Bioethics because the Bush-appointed group was focused more on "philosophy" and advice, and Obama wants a group that will tackle policy questions.

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World Refugee Day webcast

ENS reports:

A June 19 live webcast sponsored by Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) and the Office of Communication will focus on World Refugee Day and will examine the plight of today’s refugees.

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As Father's Day approaches Frank Stasio of WNUC - North Carolina Public Radio and host of The State of Things talks about Fatherlessness. He writes:

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Assets and liabilities

The General Theological Seminary discovered that as far as the Department of Education is concerned, a $29 million lump sum they received on a development lease is a huge liability on their balance sheet.

According to an article in the Chronicle for Higher Education, the Department of Education says this makes the seminary one of 114 private institutions of higher learning that failed their test of financial stability.

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Episcopal Life to end partnerships with dioceses

The Rev. Jan Nunley reports at her blog, Jawbones that due to budgetary concerns diocesan partnerships with Episcopal Life will be discontinued.

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Looking back at the Windsor Report

Robin Eames, the retired primate of the Church of Ireland, or Rt Revd the Lord Eames of Armagh, as he is called when he is at home, was chair of the panel that produced the Windsor Report. In this lecture, he looks back at his committee's handiwork.

Hat tip: Mark Harris.

DOK leadership responds to the PB's Letter

Grace Sears, Secretary of the Order of the Daughters of the King, wrote a letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to assure her that there is no intention to remove the Order from the Episcopal Church.

She says that the group twice rejected plans to become an "ecumenical" organization, and that most Daughters who are members of congregations that left the Episcopal Church will probably form their own organization connected to their own denomination rather than try to form DOK chapters in the new church.

The letter says that out of over 28,400 members there are 720 non-Episcopal Anglicans members (some overseas and some in Anglican-related churches), 97 Roman Catholic members, and 18 Lutheran members "less than 3% of the entire membership."

Here is the letter:

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Pray for the people of Iran

The words of the person who blogs here, as translated by the National Iranian American Council:

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Saturday collection 6/20/09

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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Top wedding reception songs

Christian Pop Culture discusses the top wedding receptions songs. Here are their picks - what are yours?

5. The Chicken Dance: everyone actually flaps their arms to look like chickens.

4. Brick House: nobody even knows what it means but it’s fun to watch people “bust-a-move” on this one.

3. Love Shack: 40 year old women really dig this song and it’s pretty funny to watch...

2. Don’t Stop Believin': Everyone who doesn’t play guitar air jams to the guitar solo on this one.

1. Thriller: Choreographed dances are hilarious, particularly this one.

Add your songs to the comments.

Queen plants vegetables

Following in the footsteps of Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth plants a vegetable garden on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The organic garden shows the royal family's awareness of the state of the economy and the need to combat climate change by using locally grown foods.

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Tyler Cowen interviews Robert Wright

The economist Tyler Cowen interviews Robert Wright about his new book The Evolution of God. And more: On being a bad secular Buddhist, The God Bob believes in, Why agnostic Tyler loves the Hebrew Bible [about which more at Kingdom of Priests], How Bob and Tyler came to their personal theologies, Quantum physics and king-sized video games as paths to God.

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Robert Duncan to become archbishop of ACNA

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), meeting in Bedford, Texas, will elevate former Episcopal Church bishop Robert Duncan to Archbishop of a new body made up of groups who have left The Episcopal Church over the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons and other issues that have arisen in church life in the past 200+ years.

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Does evolution explain human nature?

That's the latest "Big Question" in celebration of the bicentenary of the birth Darwin on The Templeton Foundation website. Twelve scholars tackle the question.

Bad girls in church

We picketed bishops and Popes, stole their dresses, stood up at the consecration of the Eucharist and said the words out loud. We are the bad girls of Catholic feminism, and we have stood up, over and over again, for women's freedom. So writes Francis Kissling in Religion Dispatches this week:

UPDATE 6/22: response by younger activist below.

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Doing the theology: two new major resources available

Last week two groups in the Anglican Communion published documents that seek to inform the discernment process regarding the full inclusion of Gay and Lesbian Christians into the life of the Church.

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What exactly is this General Convention anyhow?

As the Episcopal Church's attention turns to the fast approaching meeting beginning in July, those who are new to the denomination, or those who haven't been paying close attention until now may find the following video a helpful quick start:

The video was posted by Jim Dela, President of Episcopal Communicators.

Thanks Jim!

Diocese of Accra votes to ordain women

We've been alerted by a number of readers today that the Diocese of Accra (in Ghana), part of the Anglican Province of Western Africa, has voted to begin ordaining women in the diocese who are called to the priesthood.

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Interview with the new Primus of Scotland

Wonder what it's like to be an Episcopalian in Scotland? Wonder what lessons the Scottish church might mark from the American experience?

The new Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church discusses these questions and more in a 15 minute (or so) audio interview posted here.

Have a listen.

Obama's Christian realism

Realism without hope is deadly. Hope without realism leads to wishful thinking. But put the two together and you have the elements of Christian realism along the lines of Reinhold Niebuhr's thinking. Hent de Vries sees a strong connections between Niehbuhr's theory and Obama's praxis.

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The Prayer Book is a girl's best friend

The Rev. Suzanne Guthrie, Edge of Enclosure has prepared a video just in time for General Convention.

Same-sex weddings in the heartland

CNN reports on how everything has changed for same sex couples in Iowa.

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Confronting gun violence in church

The LA Times reports on churches preparing for gun violence in church:

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ACNA numbers already plummeting?

Daniel Burke of Religion News Service notes that the Anglican Church in North America's numbers have dropped sharply. And it is only a day old.

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San Joaquin to ordain first female priest

A new day has come to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. With the departure of former Bishop John-David Schofield and his supporters, the priesthood in that diocese is now open to women.

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Surfing for Jesus

Two million people surf for God each day according to ABC news:

"The number is staggering," said Mark Weimer, a self-described techie evangelist whose ministry has tapped the Internet to capture those looking for spiritual answers.

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PB replies to question about secret panel

From Of Course I Could Be On Vacation blog:

From Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori‏
Sent: Tue 6/23/09 12:18 PM

"Dear Mr. Roberts,

Thank you for your query. I regret the length of time this response has taken – I have been traveling and out of the office much of June.

I regret that you have been somewhat misinformed about the work of the House of Bishops Theology Committee. My understanding is that they have asked several theologians to write a paper or papers, as consultants to the Theology Committee. When a document is ready for public comment, I expect they will make public the names of their consulting theologians. I would invite you to compare this to the academic environment, where results and papers are not publicized until they are ready for public comment and review.

If you are still concerned, I would invite you to write directly to Bp. Parsley, who chairs the Committee.

May your ministry be a blessing to many. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Rick Warren and the ins and outs of the ACNA jamboree

Rick Warren spoke to the delegates of the ACNA inaugural assembly. He told them God loves all. Among those in the assembly was The Rev. Mary Hays.

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Survey to solicit opinions from throughout The Episcopal Church

From the Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church:

Strategic Planning Committee maps the future for The Episcopal Church
Survey developed to solicit opinions

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Southern Baptists evict church, debate decline


Southern Baptists opened their annual meeting yesterday with calls to turn around plummeting baptism rates, even as researchers warned that the nation's largest Protestant body could lose half its size by midcentury.

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Bishops seek "pastoral generosity" in addressing same-sex marriage

Episcopal bishops in the six states that have legalized same-sex marriage are asking the Church's General Convention to "permit the adaptation of the Pastoral Offices for The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage and The Blessing of a Civil Marriage for use with all couples who seek the church's support and God's blessing in their marriages."

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Daughters controversy continues; new "Anglican" order to form

Many Daughters of the King are still concerned for the future of their order.

After the Presiding Bishop wrote a letter to the Episcopal Community of the Daughters of the King last week, Grace Sears, Secretary to the National Council of the Order, wrote an open letter in response.

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Episcopal Church facing dwindling revenue

Mary Frances Schjonberg writing for Episcopal Life Online:

Income during the 2010-2012 triennium could be $9 million less than forecast last January, when a draft churchwide budget was approved, according to the chair of the Episcopal Church's budgetary committee.

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The covenant translated

R. Stephen Gracey, a lay deputy from the Diocese of Ohio offers a translation of the Ridley-Cambridge Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant "into English from the original Churchese."

A positive solution proposed

Updated again, Friday Morning 6/26/09: The Episcopal Community of the Daughters of the King has proposed alternative by-law changes that would both strengthen the Order of the Daughters of the King connection to the Episcopal Church and provides a way that cares for chapters that belong to other denominations. Their proposal also provides a way forward for those members who have left the Episcopal Church to form their own versions of the Order under a "license".

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Immigration debates gets heated in Arizona Senate

Daniel Scarpinato in the Arizona Daily Star

A group of religious activists were told to leave the state Senate Tuesday after they sought to voice their opposition to a bill designed to get local law enforcement to act on federal immigration laws.

Now, the heated dust-up is underlining concerns about the Legislature rushing through dozens of bills in what may be the final days of its session and Democratic criticisms of the powerful GOP chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

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Straight Outta Compline

With apologies to N. W. A., the BCP Boys offer Straight Outta Compline.

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"Cliff notes" for the true blue General Convention junkie

Ann Fontaine, clergy deputy from the Diocese of Wyoming, and news blogger for Episcopal Cafe, has read her way through all 192 of the A resolutions in the 2009 General Convention Blue Book so you don't have to. (And, yes, we know the Blue Book is actually maroon this year.)

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The political enclave that dare not speak its name

The Washington Post has a story that is simultaneously skin-deep and overwrought about a house on Capitol Hill where conservtive politicians, like the scandal-embroiled Mark Sanford and John Ensign meet to seek spiritual guidance:

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Yet another bring your gun to church story

If you read this one, you will want to read this one from The New York Times:

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Honoring the institution of marriage

William McColl in a letter to the editor of The Washington Post:

I am a gay man. My partner lives 12 time zones away. We are in a monogamous relationship, and we do not cheat. We get to see each other only twice a year for less than three weeks. Although he is a professional in marketing, the United States will not let him immigrate because he was not picked in the lottery. The federal government would not recognize our relationship if I married him. The government will not allow us to be together.

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Clerics getting "into the weeds" on health care reform

Lisa Miller of Newsweek on the role moderate and progressive religious leaders are playing in the health care debate:

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Survey says Church of England "out of touch" on gay issues

From The Times of London:

A revolution in attitudes towards gay men and lesbians is indicated in a poll which shows that a majority of the public want homosexuals to share identical rights to everyone else.

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Saturday collection 6/27/09

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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Companion dioceses relationships, a case study

As Anglicans examine what exactly makes their Communion, um, communal, increasing attention has focused on companion dioceses and companion parish relationships. In this report, the Diocese of Washington's Southern Africa Partnership Committee, looks back at the first five years of its relationships with the Church of the Province of Southern Africa.

Bishop John Bryson Chane is currently visiting South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland, and working with South African Primate Thabo Makgoba on renewing the relationship.

EG4R lobbies to put MDG line item back in TEC budget

The Rev. Devon Anderson, executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconcilliation recently sent an email to the organization's supporters:

Although the MDGs have been our church's number one budget and programmatic priority since 2006, the draft budget coming to General Convention actually cut the MDGs line item. Our highest legislative priority is to reinstate the 0.7% line item for MDGs in the budget for the Episcopal Church. More than this, EGR proposes that this line item be increased to 1% as a cost-of-giving adjustment. EGR will work to reinstate the MGDs line item through two venues: the budget process and resolution D019.

To see the entire letter, click Read more.

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Sparta granted women exceptional rights

Kevin Lewis in his column, Uncommon Knowledge

Spartan women could inherit, own, and bequeath property; they were fed and schooled as much as men; they had complete freedom of movement; they married later and could even get away with adultery. So why would the tough Spartan men allow this to happen?

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Bayard Rustin and the convergence of civil rights and gay rights

From Killing the Buddha comes this essay by the Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is the Senior Minister of Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church (UCC) in South Jamaica Queens, New York:

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Mission: real and virtual

Through a blog, Twitter, and Facebook Wyoming's mission trip to Honduras is reported back home as it happens. The immediacy of being virtually present with those on the mission has connected the team, the people of El Ceiba, and Wyoming Episcopalians who support the work from afar.

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Episcopal Church disputes don't shake Presiding Bishop

Bob Smietana in the Nashville Tennessean:

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Revisiting the trolley dilemma

British Psychological Science Research Digest:

Moral psychology gets more tricky when the interests of the many are pitted against the few, as in the classic "trolley dilemma", in which a person must divert a hurtling trolley towards a lone victim, so as to save the lives of five others.

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Transitions at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life

After two and a half years heading up the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life, its founder has stepped down from active leadership and preaching at the virtual cathedral, though he remains involved. The Rev. Mark Brown remains very interested in virtual ministry and has created prayer groups on Twitter (@Prayer4u) and Facebook (Praying People) in recent weeks. He will continue to be involved with the Cathedral in an advisory capacity.

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Obamas find a church home (or not)

Updated: with Not so fast:

Contrary to published reports, President Obama and the First Family have not decided to make Evergreen Chapel at Camp David their primary place of worship in the Washington area.

“The President and First Family continue to look for a church home. They have enjoyed worshipping at Camp David and several other congregations over the months, and will choose a church at the time that is best for their family,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki said in a statement.

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Report on communing the unbaptized released

The House of Bishop's Theology Committee has just released their report on question of sharing Holy Communion with people who are not baptized. The report was requested by the 2006 General Convention.

Of some interest might be the names of the committee members which are found at the end of the report, the full version of which follows. The chair is Bishop Henry Parsley who notes in his letter introducing the report, "To date we know of no resolution on this subject coming before this convention."

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Board of Governors opposes new plan for Episcopal Life

This just in from the Board of Governors of Episcopal Life Media:

The Board of Governors of Episcopal Life Media strongly opposes the proposal of the Episcopal Church Director of Communications to change the nature, scope and content of Episcopal Life and calls for the withdrawal of that proposal. Our opposition comes from concerns about both content and process:

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Harmony is still achievable in spite of differences

As the Episcopal Church approaches the beginning of its triennial General Convention in a little more than a week, tensions are running high among those in the leadership. Thankfully, they're not the only folks in the Church.

There's a lovely and hopeful article today that reminds all of us that even in the midst of controversy, the Episcopal Church still can manage to bridge divides between people of passionate belief:

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House of Deputies to discuss B033 in a committee of the whole

The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies will discuss whether it wants to explore the revision of controversial Resolution B033 in a committee of the whole before the relevant legislative committee begins its work, Bonnie Anderson, president of the house, disclosed tonight in an email to deputies.

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Is CANA more Anglican than ACNA?

Thinking Anglicans reports on how the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) views the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). While Uganda immediately transferred their American parishes to ACNA, Nigeria did not. Martyn Minns talks about CANA churches having "dual" citizenship. He admits that ACNA churches are not part of the Anglican Communion, but says that CANA churches have better Anglican bona-fides because of their continuing connection to Nigeria.

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Bishop Allen writes from Honduras

Bishop Lloyd Allen of the Diocese of Honduras has written to the other bishops of the Episcopal Church assuring them that “so far” he, his clergy and lay leadership and their families are safe, in the wake of the military coup on Sunday that deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

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Countdown to Anaheim

IntegriTV, Integrity's video presence in Anaheim launched Sunday, June 28th -- 10 days before the beginning of General Convention 2009. A 10 part "MARCHING TO ANAHEIM" series promotes Integrity's ministry and message.
Watch for it daily at here.

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San Diego releases report on same sex unions

The Rt. Rev. James Mathes writes that the report commissioned by the Diocese of San Diego on Holiness in Relationships and Same-Sex Unions has been released for study by the whole church as well as in the diocese.

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The Rhythm of Ubuntu

Mel Ahlborn, president of Episcopal Church in the Visual Arts (and, more important to us, the editor of the Art Blog at Episcopal Café is deeply involved in designing the visual environment for worship at General Convention.

Today she sent us this message:

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