Christianity without the cross

Rosemary Ganley of Religion Dispatches reviews Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker.

Rita Nakashima Brock, a Disciple of Christ minister and Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good, and her writing partner, Rebecca Ann Parker, who is president of the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California have, with passion, scholarship and clear writing, laid out a fascinating thesis. It is also a stylish and readable book.

“This is”, said Diarmuid O’Murchu, the Irish psychologist-priest-writer, and no slouch himself, “the best book of theology I have read in 20 years”.

After finishing Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us in 2001, the two writers spent five years sniffing out evidence that the cruciform symbol, the central image of Christianity, arrived very late on the scene. Indeed, it was not important during the first millennium of Christian history.
“But the death of Jesus was not a key to meaning, not an image of devotion for the Christians of the first millennium”, Parker and Brock write. “He was risen, a healer, baptized, a shepherds, a teacher and a friend.”

This book is a rock-the-foundations work. Christians have been thoroughly taught that the crucifixion of Jesus saved the world. If the crucifixion is absent in historic Christian art, what is present?
Altogether Saving Paradise is a daring challenge to cruciform-centered Christianity. With just a whiff of political savvy and a slight hermeneutic of suspicion, readers can conclude that the crucifix was not in fact a vital symbol for early Christianity, and that its introduction in the second millennium must have served some purpose. If Jesus’ corpse was not featured in the early art and not in many early writings, why then has it become the ultimate symbol today? What political use has been made of exaggerated atonement theology? Of violent death? Of exaggerated induced guilt in believers? Of the extension of control over individual consciences by church authorities, and the creation of an obsession with the afterlife, where happiness may reside.

Read more here.

Minnesota announces bishop slate

The Diocese of Minnesota announces the slate for election of their next bishop. The nominees are:

The Rev. Dr. Mariann Budde, Rector, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Minneapolis, MN.
Budde has been the Rector of St. John’s since 1993. Ordained to the priesthood in 1988, Mariann came to St. John’s after serving a parish in Ohio. Her primary responsibility is to provide spiritual leadership and direction to the parish, through worship, preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and oversight of the staff and various ministries of the church. She works collaboratively with the church clergy, staff and Vestry members (the elected leadership) and helps the leadership clarify its vision and goals for the future. She is also active in community and diocesan ministry. Mariann is married to Paul, they have 2 children.

The Rev. Bonnie Perry, Rector, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Chicago, IL.

Perry has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA; A Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York, NY; and A Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. She is an American Canoe Association certified Open Water and Eskimo Roll Kayak Instructor, a level 3 sea kayak Coach in the British Canoe Union and a Wilderness First Responder. Perry is partnered lesbian, an organizer and leader of The Chicago Consultation that supported passage of the resolutions on episcopal elections of openly gay candidates and enabling rites for marriage equality to pass at the General Convention.

The Rev. Brian Prior, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Spokane, WA and Vice President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention.
Prior serves the Diocese of Spokane as the Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in the Spokane Valley, a church he helped start in 1996. Previously, he served on the diocesan staff as the Director of Education and Development and as the Executive Director of Camp Cross, and as the Associate Rector of St. Stephen’s in Spokane. He is in a third term on the Standing Committee, the last two as President, is a member of Mission and Budget, Mission and Structure, and serves on the Cabinet of the Diocesan Capital Campaign. Brian is married with two school-age children and has a passion for basketball including coaching a consistently state ranked girls’ high school varsity team..

More information on each nominee is here.

A petition process will now be open and the election for the 9th bishop of Minnesota will be held October 31, 2009.

Integrity applauds slate of candidates for Bishop of Minnesota. "The Diocese of Minnesota is leading the way for the rest of The Episcopal Church," said Integrity President Susan Russell, "as they move us forward into a future where the resolutions we passed at our recent General Convention become a reality." Read Press Release here.

Episcopal Life Online has the story here.

Saturday collection 8/1/09

Here is a collection of a few 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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+Lee: 2-track system "doesn't contribute to holding people together"

The Washington Post has reactions to the reflections of the Rowan Williams to the recent actions of General Convention. Among those interviewed are the Bishop of Virginia the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, and the leader of CANA the Right Rev. Martyn Minns.

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A voice for the voiceless in the Anglican Province of Central Africa

[via email from Anglican Information]

A voice for the voiceless in the Anglican Province of Central Africa

Saturday 1st August:

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Religiousity and the college major

From the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Two key questions, based on the differences in college experience across majors, are whether either (a) the Scientific worldview or (b) Postmodernism has negative effects on religiosity as these streams of thought are actually transmitted at the college level. The results show a decline in religiosity of students majoring in the social sciences and humanities, but a rise in religiosity for those in education and business. After initial choices, those respondents with high levels of religiosity are more likely to enter college. Of those who are in college, people with high levels of religiosity tend to go into the humanities and education over other majors.
InsideHigherEd has more on the findings.

LA Times endorses Episcopal Church actions

From an editorial in this Sunday's Los Angeles Times:

With a little more than 2 million members, the Episcopal Church of the United States is far from being the country's largest Christian denomination. But its recent pronouncements indicating support for openly gay bishops and church blessings for same-sex couples will have reverberations beyond that church, beyond Christianity and even beyond religion. For all the theological issues it raises, acceptance of gays and lesbians at the altar reflects -- and affects -- the campaign for equality in the larger society.

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Archbishop Deng on religion and peace making in Sudan

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak was interviewed Thursday at the US Holocaust Museum about the role of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan in peacemaking in that country.

You can read the transcript or listen to the interview here.

NOLA children study with visiting artists from Trinity Wall Street

The Times-Picayune reports:

Thirteen students of All Souls Episcopal Church and Community Center music programs will perform a concert Friday at 6:30 p.m., in the church at 5500 St. Claude Ave., with the help of visiting artists from Trinity Wall Street Church in New York and the All Souls Summer Music Program staff. The concert is free and open to the public.

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Los Angeles announces nominees for suffragan bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has posted news of the nominees for the election of two bishops suffragan:

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What if a schism occurs?

There are a couple of pieces in the Guardian today asking about why the idea of schism in the Anglican Communion is too awful to conceive, or if it did happen, what the practical consequences would be.

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Letter from the Presiding Bishop discusses property issues

The Presiding Bishop sent a letter the bishops of the Episcopal Church late last weekend, summing up conversations held during General Convention and with her Council of Advice. In the letter she discusses the strategy that is governing the way the Episcopal Church responds to legal challenges regarding diocesan and parish property.

From her letter:

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News coverage abounds following LA and Minnesota announcements

Major newspapers and TV outlets across the country are covering the announcements over the weekend that the Diocese of Minnesota and the Diocese of Los Angeles are including partnered gay and lesbian candidates among their nominees for their upcoming bishop elections.

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Ohio clergy featured in article about General Convention

The Cleveland based Plain Dealer has an unusually well done article on the most recent General Convention. They report with a focus on their local clergy, Gay Jennings and Mark Hollingsworth who served at General Convention in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops respectively in particular but with other Ohio clergy quoted as well.

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Violence against Christians breaks out in Pakistan and Sudan

UPDATED with additional reporting on the situation in Pakistan

Troubling news from overseas reached us at the Lead this weekend. According to John Chapin writing in Spero News, violence against Christians in Pakistan has resulted in the deaths of a number of people, the burning of an Anglican church and numerous homes.

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Bishop Nedi Rivera to step down

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

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WCC calls on Pakistan to protect Christian minority

From Anglican Communion News Service:

The World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia appealed to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari to "ensure the safety and security" of Christians in the Punjab province, where three attacks against Christian communities were carried by militant Islamic groups in the last two months. He demanded that the government "take necessary actions against the perpetrators".

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also condemned the violence.

Oh, my! Someone seems to have woken up the Church of England

Ruth Gledhill:

The liberal fightback against Anglican conservatives and the Archbishop of Canterbury has begun....

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Homosexuality and the Anglican debate

"Off the Cuff" is a blog on the website "The Immanent Frame" that poses a question to a handful of leading thinkers and ask for a brief response. They ask what it is with homosexuality that has caused it to become such a persistent and divisive issue for Anglicanism and other religious traditions?

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Thinking of health care as a moral issue

James Evans, pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church, writing in the Columbus, Ga., Ledger-Enquirer:

...there has appeared a strong push for health care reform from the faith community. Several Christian groups have stepped forward to aggressively lobby members of Congress to enact health care legislation this year.

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Schofield group will appeal

Fresno Bee:

Officials with the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin say they will appeal a Fresno County Superior Court ruling that affirmed the U.S. Episcopal Church's authority and its choice for a bishop -- a man the decision said controls the local church's affairs and properties.

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Single-issue magis­terium has been created

Giles Fraser in the Church Times on how we are to recognize who is Anglican and who is not:

This may be a dated caricature, but the genius of the Church of England has been to allow different theological temperaments to wor­ship alongside one other, united by common prayer and community spirit. This was how we recognised each other as members of the same Church. This was our particular charism, and we were widely valued for it.

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Gunn: Tell the good news, and the bad

Episcopal Life has this essay by Herb Gunn, questioning changes in the media strategy of the church, changes endorsed by General Convention. He begins:

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Staff cuts at 815, rethink of what gets done and how

An email from the Office of Public Affairs, The Episcopal Church:

The Episcopal Church Center feels the effects of the new budget

[August 5, 2009] The Episcopal Church Center has begun the process of implementing the staff reductions and program changes necessitated by the General Convention’s triennial budget.

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Episcopal Church supported from the pulpit of Southwark Cathedral

There are voices in the Church of England telling the faithful it is right to stand with The Episcopal Church.

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Should we hate Judas?

Joan Acocella in The New Yorker:

Did Judas deserve this fate? If Jesus informs you that you will betray him, and tells you to hurry up and do it, are you really responsible for your act?

Read more »

Jake is back

and just in time. Have a look.

The Mad Priest is on a roll

No one has illuminated the danger that the proposed Anglican Covenant presents to the Church whose leader is proposing it as well as the Mad Priest.

First this, then this, then this. Money quote:

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APA: say no to reparative therapy

The Associated Press:

The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

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General Convention: Thanks for stopping by

Thanks to everyone who visited the Café during the General Convention. We received 181,645 visits (5,859 per day) and 619,816 page views (19,994 per day) during the month of July. That's our biggest month ever. The visits came from 77,961 sites--second only to the 86,000+ sites which connected to the Cafe in January, when we were involved in publicizing Bishop Gene Robinson's participation in President Obama's inauguration.

Support the work of Episcopal Cafe´below:

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More English reservations about the covenant

Not a moment too soon, bloggers and activists in England are expressing reservations about Rowan Williams' proposed Anglican Covenant. Andrew Brown's column for the Guardian's web site is the most recent installment.

24 hours at Compassion Camp

Kate Santich in the Orlando Sentinel:

Twelve-year-old Trinity Fore was roused too early from sleep by the clanging of a ladle on a pot. She choked down a stale doughnut and water for breakfast and had 30 seconds to grab something to wear from a pile of hand-me-downs. Then, before she had a chance to wash her face or brush her teeth, she was hustled out into the dawn along the streets of Parramore, a homeless man as her guide.

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Oregon's nominees

Who will be the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Oregon? Quite possibly one of these folks.

Who cares about Anglican schism?

All this week, The Guardian asked the question: "what difference will any of this make?" After Rowan's long letter about the "futures" of Anglicanism, after all the meetings, resolutions, papers and blogs, "who cares about Anglican schism?" They asked four Anglicans, two English, one African and one American, for answers.

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Christians who prefer justice over security

This past Sunday, Father Geoff Farrow, a Roman Catholic priest who was kicked out of his California parish because he supported equality for lesbians and gays, visited All Saints, Pasadena, and wrote about his experience there and reflects on what he heard about the Episcopal Church's actions at General Convention:

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One plus one equals six hundred sixty six

Based on one blog entry by one American priest, Jonathan Wynne-Jones says that Americans are "planning" to "plant" Episcopal Churches in England, especially if an Anglican Covenant that divides the Communion into two "tracks" is enacted.

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Remembering Jonathan Daniels and other civil rights martyrs

Tomorrow, people in Alabama will walk the path that seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels walked before he was murdered on August 20, 1965. Daniels was a Freedom Rider who went to Alabama to register African-American voters and took part in the march from Selma to Montgomery.

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Sailing through "pirate alley"

Douglas Stevenson, Director of the Center for Seafarers' Rights at the Seamen's Church Institute, is on board the Maersk Idaho and sailing through "Pirate Alley", that is, the Gulf of Aiden. He departed Cairo on Sunday, August 2, and will arrive in Dubai on August 10th.

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Responding to our changing world, or not

The Church Times prints two letters it received concerning the Church of England's new liturgies combining marriage with baptism of the couple's children.

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Saturday collection 8/8/09

Here is our weekly collection plate of a few 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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Dr. Marion Hatchett

The Lead has learned via email that The Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett, one of the preeminent liturgical scholars in the Episcopal Church died last night at Emerald-Hodgson Hospital.

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Two tracks is about fear

In a Religious News Service op-ed Tom Ehrich responds to the reflections of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Now that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has slapped my church's wrists for refusing to marginalize gays and has threatened to have us become second-class citizens in the Anglican Communion, I say this to Archbishop Williams:

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Homosexual relationships benefit society

Writing in the National Journal Jonathan Rauch says homosexual relationships benefit society. As an example he gives the three decades long relationship his cousin Bill Meezan has had with his partner. And the harrowing experience they went through when Bill was hospitalized.

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Ending usury

Action in Montgomery (AIM) a congregation-based advocacy group in Montgomery County, Maryland, has joined with the 17 other groups in the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation in a campaign to cap credit card interest rates called 10 percent is enough.

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Episcopal bishops on "State of Belief"

Bishops Gene Robinson and Jane Holmes Dixon joined the Rev. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance this week on his radio program State of Belief. The topic, as you may have guessed, was the Episcopal Church's recently concluded General Convention.

The service of soldiers

Liz Essley in The Washington Times:

Shrapnel, swords and bayonets crown Christ's head in the small side chapel, tucked between the expansive Gothic nave and another small room, the Children's Chapel. Stained-glass figures of war heroes - from Richard the Lion-Hearted to Nathan Hale - look down on Linda Strating as she addresses her tour group on its last stop, the War Memorial Chapel of Washington National Cathedral.

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Bishop Coburn has died

Bishop John B. Coburn, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Massechusetts and former President of the House of Deputies died on Saturday, August 8.

According to an online report:

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Whither South Carolina?


Later this week, on August 13th, the Diocese of South Carolina is expected to announce its response to the actions of the most recent General Convention. Having announced the date of that the response will be made public, many are looking to see how this self-described conservative body within the Episcopal Church will chart its future course.

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Inclusive Church to try to count gay and lesbian clergy in C of E

As part of a growing response in the Church of England to the recent essay by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the actions of General Convention, an English group committed to full inclusion is planning to try to determine the number of GLBT clergy in that country.

According to the Guardian:

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Can Christians believe in an old universe?

Rather than have faith threatened by the idea that the Earth is older than the literal biblical account of creation leads one to expect, two scientists who are Christian say faith should celebrate the idea.

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Are the poor now criminals?

In a depressing yet timely op-ed piece Barbara Ehrenreich points out a growing trend in American urban centers, the criminalization of being homeless.

From her article in the New York Times which discusses a recent report from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty:

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Dangerous Durham

Colin Coward writes at Changing Attitude Part 1: The Dangerous Bishop of Durham:

The Bishop of Durham’s paper claiming to ‘unpack’ the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reflections is dangerous for the Church of England, for LGBT people and for the worldwide Anglican Communion. People in the Changing Attitude network, gay and straight, are furious at his abuse and dishonesty.

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Faith groups fight for health insurance reform

Faith groups, including the Episcopal Church, are fighting back against those who would keep health care options in the hands of those who have given us the current system of being a country with the most money spent on health care and one that leaves out large numbers of those who cannot afford good health.

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Letter from President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson

President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson writes to Deputies and First Alternates about their continuing responsibility to serve and requests comments on the Ridley-Cambridge of the Covenant by September 1.

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Lutherans prepare to debate role of gblt clergy

USA Today notes that our Lutheran companions in ministry will consider the role of LGBTs with spouses who wish to serve as clergy:

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What have the Noughties done for us?

BBC Newsnight kicks off its series What Have the Noughties Done for Us? with a look back at religion here:

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Pro-life nation? Not so fast

From the Washington Monthly:

A TALE OF TWO POLLS.... In mid-May, Gallup released a poll that found 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" and 42% "pro-choice." It was the first time a majority of U.S. adults had identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking the question. Last week, however, Gallup released a follow-up poll showing the pro-life lead evaporating, dropping from nine points to one, 47% to 46%.

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Church suspends search for director of advocacy

From ENS:

Changes in responsibilities at the Episcopal Church's government relations office in Washington, D.C., have been announced, and the search for a director for advocacy has been temporarily suspended, according to an August 11 press release from the Office of Public Affairs.

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Durham Bull, 2

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude continues his critique of Anglican bully boy N. T Wright, the Bishop of Durham:

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Evangelism: the boxed set

All four presentations in the Diocese of Washington's evangelism series are now available online. The presenters were Brian McLaren, Dean Ian Markham and Professor David Gortner of Virginia Theological Seminary and the Rev. Terry Martin, better known to some of you as Father Jake.

These are Windows Media files. We hope to have Quicktime available soon.

Why do gay Christians keep faith with the Church?

David Gibson at AOL's Politics Daily:

As America's leading Christian denominations are once again feuding and splitting over whether they should allow gays and lesbians to marry, or ordain them as clergy, is it a miracle there are any gay Christians? Given Christianity's history of exclusion and often outright homophobia, and the current bloodletting over their role, why do homosexuals bother staying, not to mention believing?

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The science of morality

Tom Heneghan of Reuters reports from Neuroscience Boot Camp:

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Micro-finance doubts arise

Micro-finance is a concept which has won its major proponent a Nobel prize. But it comes down to whether it is effective the empirical evidence has been scant. "Until now" writes Chris Blattman:

[D]oes microlending actually deliver on development and poverty alleviation?

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Williams embarassed by the time things take

The Telegraph reports:

[Dr Rowan Williams] admitted he is sometimes embarrassed by the time the Church of England takes to keep up with changes in society.

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Bishop Lawrence speaks

As many readers know, Bishop Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina is meeting today with the clergy of the diocese on the actions of General Convention. Kendall Harmon has posted the bishop's statement made this morning.

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My Goodness: Should you tithe or get out of debt?

At Slate's My Goodness column the question is "Which is more important: tithing or paying off my $13,000 credit-card debt?" After noting that under "the Hatch-Obama bill in 2006 ... those in consumer bankruptcy can continue to make reasonable charitable contributions, including tithing," Sandy Stonesifer offers this advice:

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More on combo services

Following on the news that the Church of England is now offering a combined service of matrimony and baptism for the couple's children comes this letter to Church Times:

Sir, — Although there are major issues — including careful preparation — to be clarified, I was encouraged by the pragmatic suggestions about combining marriage and baptism services (News and Letters, 31 July).

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Alyson Barnett-Cowan appointed to new Anglican Communion post


The Anglican Communion News Service reports that Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan has been appointed Director for Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office.

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Tipping point?

Colin Coward of The Changing Attitude is angry and he says a tipping point has been reached. The language of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his letter after General Convention and Bishop N.T. Wright's words have (as we have reported earlier) stirred up anger in the The Church of England.

Coward writes:

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Summary of General Convention

The Episcopal Church's General Convention office has produced a 25-page summary of actions of the 76th General Convention available as a downloadable, searchable PDF.

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An "orthodoxy" that cannot last

Andrew Brown says that the current evangelical orthodoxy about gay people cannot last because there are just too many gay Christians, but progress is heartbreaking.

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McLaren writes to conservative Christians about healthcare

Brian McLaren wrote an open letter to conservative Christians on God's Politics, saying that they can positively influence the healthcare debate and save lives if they can uncouple their theology from the bandwagon of the talk-radio idealogues.

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Young Muslims and punk music

CNN continues its series Generation Islam with a piece on punk rocker young Muslims.

The guitarist stands in front of a mirror messing with his mohawk. The drummer strikes a wild tempo. drummer strikes a wild tempo. The singer rips off his T-shirt and begins to scream the lyrics.

They're young. They're punk. And they're rocking both their Muslim and American worlds with their music, lyrics and style.

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Saturday collection 8/15/09

Here is our weekly collection plate of a few 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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Transgender basics

General Convention approved several resolutions on the role of transgender persons in the life of The Episcopal Church. Here is a good video from the Gender Identity Project explaining transgender.

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Theology of Gaming

Ruth Gledhill comments on the interest in "gaming" at Greenbelt, an annual Christian festival in the UK.

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Camera club to document decline of Church of England

The monthly assignment of the Guardian Camera club is to "document the Church of England as the decline of congregations has been in the news recently."

The photographs aren't anything like what I expected. It's more like capturing the art and design ethos of the Church of England church buildings. Recommended: take at them here.

Soong-Chan Rah on the next evangelicalism

Soong-Chan Rah, thought of as sort of prophet to the Evangelical mainstream, is interviewed about what is next for evangelicalism. He has a lot to say in critique of the Emergent Church movement and the new Monasticism.

From Part 2 of his interview:

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Lutherans to vote on gay clergy

NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty, reports on the upcoming meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the likely outcome of its vote on the ordination of gays and lesbian who have spouses,

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The bee's knees

Your Café keepers have been remiss in keeping our readers informed of the news buzzing out of Lambeth Palace. August is an especially sleepy time in the Church of England, and there's been little news out of the COE Media Centre, so there's no excuse for missing this story:

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Joan Baez respectfully listens to her protestors

Joan Baez gave a concert in Idaho Falls a little while ago. As is typical for many of the performers who were active in the peace movement during the Vietnam era, her concert venue was picketed by a group of veterans who accused her of betraying them and her country by her actions.

According to an account:

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Should Michael Vick have a second chance?

Maureen O'Connell, assistant professor of theology at Fordham University, asks about second chances for criminal offenders focusing on NFL player Michael Vick who was sent to prison for participating in illegal dog fighting.

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Kenneth Bacon has died

Kenneth Bacon, formerly spokesman for the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, Wall Street Journal reporter, advocate for refugees displaced by war and active member of Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown died of complications of melanoma this weekend.

From his obit in the Washington Post

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Activists using Texas School Board committee to shape national teaching standards

Conservative activists have begun a push to change the textbook standards used in schools across the state of Texas to express their particular views of American History in a way similar to what anti-evolutionists accomplished in the '80's and '90's.

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Leading congregations in times of anxiety

This week the Alban Institute is featuring a resource and discussion on how clergy can effectively minister in congregations experiencing significant anxiety about their future.

A key insight is the appropriation to congregation life of lessons taken from attachment therapy:

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Anglican Churches are not meant to be "clones"

Elfred Hughes, an officer of one oldest mission agencies in the Anglican Communion asserts in an interview that the challenge to the Communion at present is to "find ways of 'being together despite - and even because of - our diversity'".

In an interview with Michael Brown, the Rev Hughes who is the director of the British and Ireland Relations Team of the USPG: Anglicans in World Mission suggests the following four point blueprint for the needed debate:

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Lutherans voting and twittering

UPDATE: see below

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is holding its Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis this week. The topic of interest in the media is how they will vote on allowing clergy with same sex spouses -- the Ministry Policy resolution.

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Should public schools teach the Bible?

USAToday asks if the Bible should be taught in public schools. School districts like those in Texas are seeking a way to include the Bible in the curriculum while respecting the beliefs of students. Professors of Western Civilization and the humanities think students need this background to understand their studies.

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US nuns investigated by Vatican

Sister Sandra M. Schneider writes in NCR Today to answer questions about the apostolic visitations by authorities in the Roman Catholic Church:

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Russell and Harmon discuss gay and lesbian married clergy

Minnesota Public Radio carries a discussion with the Revs. Susan Russell and Kendall Harmon on gays and lesbians in ordained ministry.

Listen to podcast.

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Historically black colleges face challenges and opportunities

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reflects on the opportunities and challenges facing historically black colleges and universities:

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Choosing your communion partner

As Thinking Anglicans has observed, a transcript of the questions asked at last month’s CoE General Synod and the answers is now online.

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Day 2: ELCA Churchwide Assembly

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America News Service has several news releases on events from Day 2 of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly (The Lead's coverage yesterday is here.)

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Pioneer civil rights attorney Margaret Bush Wilson dead at age 90

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Pioneer civil rights attorney Margaret Bush Wilson was praised for steadfast courage, zeal for justice and boundless energy during her funeral Tuesday at All Saints Episcopal Church. Mrs. Wilson died Aug. 11 at age 90. She was the second black woman to practice law in Missouri, a leader of the local NAACP and the organization's national president from 1975 to 1983. She continued working in her law office at 4054 Lindell Boulevard until she became ill in June.

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5PM today: Healthcare conversation with Obama

The group 40 Days for Health Reform has an organized a 40 minute conversation with President Obama today, Wednesday August 19, at 5PM EDT. Click here to RSVP and get information about listening in.

The Episcopal Church is one of many denominations and religious organizations sponsoring the call.

Uninteresting enough to write about

Lisa Miller of Newsweek asks the question that's on everyone's mind, "Who cares about the arcane battles of Episcopal Church?" She gives two answers. Her first:

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Taking this president on faith

From an op-ed by columnist Kathleen Parker:

A comparison of how the media have treated the two presidents and their faith-based programs during the first six months of their administrations (2001 and 2009) is the subject of a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

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ELCA Assembly Adopts 'Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust'

UPDATE: Read The Star-Tribune on the events leading up to and following the vote.

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Must science declare a holy war against religion?

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum in the Los Angeles Times:

This fall, evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins -- most recently famous for his public exhortation to atheism, "The God Delusion" -- returns to writing about science. Dawkins' new book, "The Greatest Show on Earth," will inform and regale us with the stunning "evidence for evolution," as the subtitle says.

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Dispatches from Anglicanland

Tobias Haller, Mark Harris and the Modern Churchpeople's Union have all written essays worth reading recently.

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140,000 participate in faith leaders' health care reform call with Obama

Statement from Faith in Public Life, PICO National Network, Sojourners and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Washington, DC - An estimated 140,000 people of faith gathered on a historic national conference call with President Barack Obama and the American faith community.

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CANA and the coming campaign against Islam

Last March, in an article about Archbishop Peter Akinola and the 2004 massacre of 650 or more Muslims in the Nigerian town of Yelwa I wrote:

It is sometimes said that in electing Gene Robinson its bishop, the people of New Hampshire "exported" the American argument over homos

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Supporting persecuted Pakistani Christians

From the Anglican Church of Canada:

Having listened to the concerns of Christian partners and correspondents in Pakistan, NIFCON (the Network of Inter Faith Concerns for the Anglican Communion) is one of the main sponsors of a petition being drawn up asking the government of Pakistan to repeal the law against blasphemy.

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How I became an agnostic covering the religion beat

Stephen Bates of the Guardian, responding to the question: How did you lose, or find, your faith? :

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ELCA votes on new ministry policies today

Breaking. Updated 2:30 pm EDT Today the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is voting on a major piece of legislation that modifies their ministry policies. If passed in its entirety then the ELCA will allow people "in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church."

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ELCA and UMC enter into full communion

Yesterday the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church entered into full communion at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly meeting in Minneapolis. The Methodists approved an identical resolution last year.

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ELCA resolution on ordained gay persons passes

Breaking:The ELCA Churchwide Assembly has voted on the third resolution about human sexuality and minsitry which reads

RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.

It has passed: 559 to 451. A simple majority was required.

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And now the nuts and bolts

BREAKING: The implementing resolution has passed by a substantial majority.

The ELCA has voted to the ordination and placement of gay and lesbian persons who are in "publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships." Now they have voted on the practicalities about how they make this a reality in their denomination.

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Seaside communities of faith

Neela Banerjee of the New York Times visits some seaside congregations, two of them Episcopal, and find vibrant, welcoming communities of faith.

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Round up of ELCA news reaction

Here is a round up of news and media reaction to yesterday's historic votes at the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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Saturday collection 8/22/09

Here is our weekly collection plate of a few 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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A step forward in South Africa?

The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town today agreed to a resolution asking the church’s bishops to provide pastoral guidelines for gay and lesbian members of the church living in “covenanted partnerships,” taking into account the mind of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read the entire release.

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Federalism and the gay marriage debate

One of the claimed benefits for federalism in the U.S. is that differences in state public policy provides natural experiments by which to empirically assess the cost and benefits of alternative policies. Writing at Reason, Steve Chapman points out that differences in state policies towards gay marriage is about to provide just such an experiment:

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Monk reaches out to prostitutes

From NPR:

On the surface, Main Street in Chattanooga, Tenn., looks nice. There's a newly developed arts district with galleries, upscale restaurants, a packed breakfast joint called the Bluegrass Grill, even houses that have been certified as environmentally friendly. But if you stray from these newly renovated blocks, there's a different side to Chattanooga's Main Street.

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"Oh, by the way, I'm gay"

The Greensboro, NC News-Record reports the journey to ordination from retail men's clothing to becoming a candidate for ordination:

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UK cleric: lay off our National Health Service

Like so many other Englishmen, Canon Giles Fraser has heard about enough of the American right's misrepresentations of his country's National Health Service:

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Detroit priest: Let health care system's victims speak

The Rev. Harry Cook in the Detroit News:

Bring before the august solons a woman whom I recently met -- an African-American -- whose husband's petition for Social Security disability had been denied, though a back injury has rendered him unable even to do desk work. Her minimum-wage job has no health insurance benefit, but because of her job she has been declared ineligible for Medicaid.

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Bishop Andrus has answers

The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Bishop Marc Andrus and published his answers to their three questions this weekend.

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Whither the ACNA?

The present controversy in the Episcopal Church has caused division in the Diocese of Colorado in ways that mirror the effects it's had on the national stage. Now that a number of congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado have declared their "independence", they are finding that the next steps are not as obvious as they thought.

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New English language Roman Missal

Rome has posted the text of its new English language liturgy online as a way of helping people to prepare for the transition:

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Faith based clinics and health care reform

There's been a rise in parish-based nursing programs in recent years. And many church groups are even starting up regular health clinics for indigent and other under-served groups in their community. What effect will health care reform have on these efforts?

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Thievery and church roofs

The Church of England has been experiencing a rash of property crimes against some of its most expensive assets - its oldest buildings. Thieves have been nicking off with the lead from the roofs of parish churches, abbeys and cathedrals across the country.

So, to limit the ability the thieves have to get money for the lead their stealing from scrap dealers, the roofs are being painted with a special paint containing special micro particles. Each roof gets a paint with a unique chemical signature.

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Revealing our true story

Alban Institute works with personal storytelling to find inner narratives that offer a better base for living one's life.

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Speaking faith to power

Thanks to Mary Getz and the Episcopal Public Policy Network for this handy summary of the actions of our just-completed General Convention on public policy issues. Resolutions call upon Congress to act on the following issues:

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The shape of things to come

Ryan Sager writes:

We all know there’s a gap between how old folks feel about same-sex marriage and how young folks feel. What you might not quite grasp is just how tremendous that gap is. A new paper (”Gay Rights in the States: Public Opinion and Policy Responsiveness” [PDF]) by Jefferey Lax and Justin Phillips puts it in a bit of perspective.

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President Obama greets Muslims for Ramadan

The Baltimore Sun reports:

President Barack Obama [took] advantage of the start of Ramadan on Saturday to make another overture to the Muslim world. In a holiday message now on the White House Web site, he wishes Muslims Ramadan Kareem, and then details U.S. efforts to engage Muslims in much the same language that he used during his address in Cairo in June.

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Bishops disagree on release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi

Three points of view on the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

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Fissures show in the land of ACNA

There's a new member of the all-male bishops club in ACNA*. The Rt. Rev. William H. Ilgenfritz will continue as Rector of St. Mary's Anglican Church in Charleroi, PA, in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. But his consecration creates a non-geographic diocese for Forward in Faith congregations across the country.

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Edward M. Kennedy, RIP

Senator Ted Kennedy died over night.

We thought an appropriate tribute by the Episcopal Cafe would be to share with you his speech on Faith, Truth and Tolerance in America delivered 3 October 1983, Liberty Baptist College (Liberty University), Lynchburg, VA.

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Is the future of the church in disorganized religion?

Why are even the Baptists back on their heals when it comes to church health? Gary Hamel says it's because organized religion has a management problem:

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Should you care who will care for your pets after the Rapture?

It all depends on where you are headed. Until now.

Request to seal clergy sex abuse cases denied

The Hartford Courant reports that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has denied a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to keep court files on clergy sex abuse cases sealed until the high court decides whether to take up their case in the fall.

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Bishop Chane on the death of Senator Kennedy

Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington released this statement today on the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

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Apocalypse: Top Ten

Paul Asay at Beliefnet offers his top 10 apocalyptic movies. He writes:

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Transgender and The Episcopal Church

The Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco, CA, reports on The Episcopal Church's move towards full inclusion of transgender persons and the work by Episcopalians to make it happen:

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Respectfully disagreeing

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports on the respectful debate at both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church (TEC) conventions as they approved measures on full inclusion of gay and lesbian clergy.

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WCC elects Norwegian as new General Secretary

The World Council of Churches announces the election of Olav Fyske Tveit as their new General Secretary.

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More on the great western heresy

In the opening address at the last General Convention, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori spoke of the "great Western heresy" of individualism and, in her view, an excessive focus on individual salvation. This made for much comment in blogs, columns and sermons ever since.

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Some Catholic bishops do an about face on health care reform

There was a time when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops could be counted on as a reliable voice for universal health care and the ethical use of health care resources. Some Bishops have decided that their opposition to abortion is more important than health care reform and social justice.

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Web conference with Obama reaches 300,000

Faith in Public Life reports that more than 144,000 people took part in the live webcast with President Obama on health care with a wide variety of religious groups and another 300,000 views have been played afterward.

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Robinson going to Greenbelt

Greenbelt is an annual outdoor Christian arts and music festival held in the UK. They invite many speakers and have many workshops. One the speakers this year is Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The usual unhappy voices can be heard in response.

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Robinson critical of CofE policy towards gay clergy

Bishop Gene Robinson, interviewed by the Guardian, criticized the way the Church of England treats their gay and lesbian clergy, the idea of two-tier Anglican Communion and go-slow approach of the Archbishop Rowan Williams.

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Fort Worth responds to motions filed by former leadership

News from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

Attorneys for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Episcopal Church are preparing a response to motions filed by attorneys for former bishop Jack L. Iker and former members of the corporation’s board. A hearing has been set for September 9 in the 141st District Court in Tarrant County.

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Episcopal Café shout out to Doug LeBlanc

Congratulations and best wishes to Doug LeBlanc, well known and respected journalist in the Episcopal Church. Doug will be working for The Living Church. LeBlanc writes:

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Concern for the planet: ABC speaks

From the Church of England:

The Archbishop of Canterbury shares concerns for our planet in the new Ready Steady Slow videocast - encouraging ... sign up in advance, by email, to the Church of England's environmentally-themed online Advent calendar for 2009, containing daily green challenges and thoughts.

Dr Williams encourages a "response to God's hope for us", and teaches that "God creates us so we may be part of His creation - not something separate, not some alien power manipulating it to our own ends, but part of a creation working together harmoniously.

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Saturday collection 8/29/09

Here is our weekly collection plate of a few 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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Flood at the abbey

Word has been received from Abbot Michael-John of the Abbey of St. Benedict and the Companions of St. Luke, Donnelson, IA, that they have quite a bit of damage from flooding in the Mid-west. Many from Province VI have attended retreats there over the years:

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The Practicing Church

A video from The Practicing Church

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Liturgical factoids

The Rev. Bosco Peters, New Zealand blogging at Liturgy: worship that works - spirituality that connects notes:

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200+ mourn K-9 officer

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on a community memorial service for a member of the K-9 Corps led by the Rev. Dr. James B. Simons, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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Integrated approach to ending poverty in Ghana

Episcopal Relief and Development reports on a comprehensive, integrated approach to ending poverty:

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Religion has its benefits

The prominent economist Angus Deaton has done a new empirical study of the benefits of religion. Freakonomics has the story:

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Get me to the church on time

BBC News reports on the discovery of sun dials in the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey in Scotland that kept the medieval monks "on time."

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Canadian laywoman appointed to two Anglican Communion bodies

Dr. Eileen Scully has been appointed Chair of International Anglican Liturgical Consultation.

The Anglican Journal reports:

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Akinola’s primacy lauded in Nigerian press

A rather over the top article was run in "The Nation" a Nigerian newspaper over the weekend.

The article begins:

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Gene Robinson given standing ovation at Greenbelt

Apparently Bishop Robinson is a bit of hit with the folks attending the annual Greenbelt Festival, a festival of "arts, justice and faith."

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Old liturgy, young worshippers

In a growing trend, people are noticing that one of the reliable ways to attract a younger congregation of folks in college and their mid twenties is to return to Solemn High Mass rather than making existing forms more contemporary feeling.

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Bishop Epting to retire in December

The Presiding Bishop's Office of Public affairs announced today that Bishop Christopher Epting, the Chief Ecumenical Officer of the Episcopal Church will retire at the end of 2009. Dr. Thomas Ferguson, his associate officer will serve as interim until a new person is appointed by the Presiding Bishop.

Full message follows:

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Pakistan's Military Wins Swat Valley Radio War

While Global Anglicanism struggles, dialogues, weathers misunderstandings, fractures, and builds new connections, Global Islam faces similar strains and challenges. Some of our core dilemmas are even the same as we re-think the place of women (or try to hold them in their 'traditional' or 'scriptural' roles) and in different cultural contexts ask whether we can honestly acknowledgment other human differences in a broad Christian (or Muslim) faith community.

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