Question of the day: The Archbishop and the Pope

We understand from mainstream reports that Rowan Williams is to meet with Benedict XVI on Nov. 21st at the Vatican. As has been widely stated, this will be the first such meeting since things got a bit icy a few weeks ago.

What will be the substance of that meeting?

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Sunday Social Hour

Twitter and Facebook continue to be the dominant social platforms for sharing news about the Episcopal Church and faith in the wider world. But we're curious, are there other platforms out there where you're discovering communities of faith and conversation? Be sure to let us know so we can keep an eye on them as well.

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Candidate for Provisional Bishop to Ft. Worth is no stranger to Texas

The Diocese of Fort Worth will elect The Rt. Rev. Wallace Ohl provisional bishop at its convention in a few weeks' time, the diocesan Standing Committee has announced.

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"God said it..." Erm, what comes next?

We love this t-shirt. (Hint: We at the Café mostly wear size large.)

Using matches to communicate;
killing kerosene

The blog, NextBillion, brings us two red hot ideas NGOs can use:

1. Match Point

Question: Which manufactured consumer product has the deepest market penetration in rural India?

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How one 'All Souls' congregation marks today, tomorrow

If you go to a St. Paul's, say, or a St. Luke's, mixing a patronal feast is a snap: transfer the day on your church calendar if need be, stir in the readings from the proper of a saint, plug in the appropriate verse from "By all your saints still striving," and you have due celebration.

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Leaving Church House, but not the Café

Here is an announcement of a big change for me, and a small one for Episcopal Café:

On December 11, I will be leaving my position as canon for communications and advancement for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to form Canticle Communications, a strategic communications partnership that will work primarily with church clients.

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Bishop Vaché has died

Bishop Charles Vaché, the former bishop of Southern Virginia died over the weekend. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace and rise in glory at the last.

Details follow.

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The challenge Uganda is presenting to the Communion

Almost three weeks ago, news reports began to circulate of new proposed legislation in Uganda that would criminalize even the creation of coordinated efforts to defend the rights of LGBT Ugandans. Colin Coward, of Changing Attitude is very troubled by the silence that has reverberated within the Anglican Communion as a result:

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Bishop Scarfe on the new Vatican plan

UPDATED: See below - Bishop Gregory Cameron criticizes the pope's bad manners.

Bishop Alan Scarfe points out something not many others have seen in the latest initiative to include Anglican communities into a full communion relationship with the Holy See:

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Church of Pakistan speaks about recent violence against Christians

The Church of Pakistan adopted a strong statement decrying the violence against Christians earlier this year in Gojra. It lays the blame specifically at the feet of those who are using religion for political ends and calls for six concrete steps to be taken in response.

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A better way to discern in community

Lately civic and religious discourse in America has taken on a certain road-rage quality according to Katherine Marshall. Recently she was able to observe an ethics consult at the Chicago Medical School. She came away believing that perhaps there is a more excellent way for us to engage one another:

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Affirming Catholicism rebukes CoE report on Women Bishops

Affirming Catholicism has written to the General Synod Revision Committee on Women:

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No. Michigan plan after rejection of their election

UPDATED

Following the rejection of the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as their next bishop, the Diocese of Northern Michigan approved a new process for selecting its next bishop at its recently concluded convention at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Escanaba, Mi.

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Diocese of TN sues to reclaim church

The Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee has filed a lawsuit to reclaim St. Andrew's in Nashville according to The Tennessean:

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Pittsburgh completes release of clergy

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh announced today that it formally released 135 priests and deacons who have not been active in the Episcopal Church since October of last year. From the Press Release:

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Patron saint of bicycles shrine in Portland OR

The Oregonian reports on the nation's first shrine to the patron saint of bicycles and memorializing those who have died in bicycle accidents:

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An American in Mecca

A writer from Brooklyn makes the Hajj:

On the buses to Mecca, Wessam led us through the ­Talbiya, a chant that signals a pilgrim’s arrival in the holy land. “I respond to Your call Lord, and I am obedient to Your command.” Our coach filled with the prayer as night fell.

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DC Archdiocese opposes same sex marriage law

Catholic News Agency reports that changes in DC law to allow same sex couples to marry could cause the Roman Catholic Archdiocese to cease services that are now provided to the poor. Is this a threat?

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Gay marriage loses in Maine

With Maine added to the list gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states in which it has been put to a public referendum.

Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine — known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate — and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.

With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the votes.

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How should Anglicans outside Uganda respond?

To be blunt, we see Andrew Goddard and others at Fulcrum as something like wolves in sheeps clothing and are cautious of pointing readers in their direction. Consider that a recommendation that you decide for yourself about Fulcrum's larger agenda.

That said, it's interesting what Goddard is recommending regarding the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda:

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Episcopalians and Tanzanians partner in mission

There's been a spate of news about partnerships between Episcopal churches and dioceses in the U.S. working in concert with Tanzanians. An incomplete listing is below. We'd love to know of more.

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Episcopal Bishop Stephen T. Lane responds to Question 1 results

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Episcopal Diocese of Maine
November 4, 2009

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, responds to Question 1 election results

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ABC issues slap in face

Despite or because the Church of England is part of the Porvoo Communion, four Anglican and eight Nordic and Baltic churches, Rowan Williams has declined the invitation to attend the ordination of the openly gay woman Eva Brunne to be the next Bishop of Stockholm. The Church of Sweden is not a part of the Anglican Communion, several provinces of the latter are in full communion with it, by virtue of the Porvoo Agreement.

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A religious reflection on Maine

Extract from a personal reflection by Harry Knox:

It is clear that most voters in Maine, like majorities in other states before them, intend for me to feel less than human. People we respect as sisters and brothers in the human family, we treat as equals. Those majorities have reserved to themselves a legal right they feel specially entitled to – in spite of the fact that my husband and I face all the health, financial, familial and social challenges they do, and need the same supports they enjoy.

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Andrew Sullivan is fed up

In his "Daily Dish" blog at The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan writes that he is fed up with the Roman Catholic Church's anti-gay actions.

A Gay Catholic Now?
by Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic


It is time to acknowledge that the Catholic church hierarchy can no longer pretend that it isn't the active enemy of gay people and our families. That this church hierarchy - especially in its more conservative wing - is disproportionately gay itself and waging war against their fellow gays through the cowardly veil of the closet, is not new. But it is, as we flinch with the sting of defeat, harder to take than ever.

Dolly, Tony & Tutu on faith

Wisdom (and a good TV rating) happens when diverse people are brought together to discuss faith and religious belief. Coming up on the BBC will be a wonderful, and surprising lineup: Dolly Parton, Tony Blair and Desmond Tutu who will discuss their religious beliefs.

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Rick Warren quiet on Uganda's Anti-Gay Law

There has been deafening silence from many prominent religious voices about the proposed new Ugandan Anti-Gay Law which would authorize life imprisonment and even execution for gays and lesbians. Rick Warren has worked closely with Henry Orombi, Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Uganda, and with ACNA which is recognized by the province. The Cafe reported on these relationships HERE and HERE.

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Pray without ceasing while commuting

In I Thessalonians 5:17, St. Paul urges the church to "pray without ceasing," and this passage has inspired many people to find ways to live and practice a prayerful life. A retired bishop of the Church of England has noted that the stressful commuting life may offer opportunities for prayer and reflection. The Rt. Rev. Christopher Herbert has written a prayer book so that commuters can "Get to work on prayer'

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Orthodox Patriarch is green

Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew meets with President Obama and other officials to advocate for greater protections for the environment in order to combat climate change.

Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew meets Obama on U.S. visit
From Reuters' FaithWorld blog

Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the “green patriarch” who leads 300 million Orthodox Christians, spoke with President Barack Obama on Tuesday about the fight against climate change.

“We view with alarm the dangerous consequences of disregard for the survival of God’s creation,” His All Holiness told a gathering at Georgetown University after his White House meeting.

Thinking aloud about clergy professional standards

The job of ordained ministry in congregations is big, complex and hard to nail down.

The Rev. Elizabeth Keaton began to think about this and she talked about it with local colleagues and others. She writes:

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Will global Anglicans condemn Ugandan bill?

Pat Ashworth summarizes the response of Anglican groups and others to the proposed anti-gay legislation now being proposed in Uganda, noting that in 2007 the Archbishop of Canterbury criticized an Anglican bishop who supported a Nigerian version of this type of law.

Ashworth reports in the Church Times:

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The Church of Uganda response to bill is wait and see

The Church of Uganda has said that they are studying the proposed legislation before their country's legislature and therefore will take no position on it right now.

Except to say that they are opposed to the death penalty, the majority of their statement focuses on their belief that all homosexuality is immoral, the need for homosexual persons to repent, and reports being "appalled" over rumors of "homosexual recruiting" going on in schools, with no further explanation as to what that means.

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The consecration invitation: lost in the mail?

The Porvoo churches may be in full communion, but they are suffering something approaching a full communications breakdown. Or so it would seem. Blame the UK postal strikes?

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Execution and resurrection in Texas

Unless Governor Rick Perry changes his mind and either issues a stay or commutes the sentence, 32-year-old Khristian Oliver, will be executed by the State of Texas sometime this evening. Maybe by the time you read this.

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Entrepreneurial spirits offer solutions to the religious

The swine flu scare has religions rethinking religious practices. Entrepreneurs see a market:

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EPPN urges: Tell Congress - Vote YES on Health Care Reform!

From the Episcopal Public Policy Network:

Health care costs have been sky rocketing. Many people don't have access to insurance affordable or not. The Episcopal Church has passed resolutions on numerous occasions, most recently at this summer's 76th General Convention, stating that all people should have access to quality affordable health care. The time for action is now, and as a strong first step towards comprehensive health care reform, we are asking congress to pass the Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009.

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Saturday collection 11/7/09

Here is our weekly look at just some of the good stuff going on in The Episcopal Church:

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Christian African leaders hold first dialog on sexuality and faith

Press Statement from 1st African Dialogue on Sexuality and Christian Faith

Hosted by Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) in partnership with The Rainbow Project (TRP) of Namibia from 2-5 November 2009, Stellenbosch

The past few days 77 participants from 13 African countries met for the first time ever to dialogue about the issue of sexual orientation from a Christian faith perspective.

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Chaplains minister at Fort Hood

Mourners gathered in prayer last night at Fort Hood to pray, grieve and remember. Chaplains have been on duty around the clock since a gunman opened fire into a crowd of soldiers and civilian Army personnel around 1:30 p.m. CST Thursday.

Episcopal Army Chaplain David Scieder told Episcopal News Service that Chaplains are "doing 24-hour operations to provide pastoral care, and grief counseling for anyone affected, particularly grieving families and first responders."

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Bob Duncan and the heterosexual lifestyle

Bob Duncan sure gets a lot of attention for a guy who has spent millions of dollars and lost his shirt in a significant court case en route to prying a whopping three percent of Episcopalians into this new anti-gay church. Here The New York Times allows him to take cheap shots at Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori without ever probing the internal contradictions within Duncan's church on the ordination of women. It is reassuring to know, though, that Duncan considers heterosexuality a "life style."

Southern Ohio to bless same-sex relationships

From Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal's address to the diocesan convention:

Finally, after much prayer and consultation, I have decided that the time has come for Southern Ohio to adjust its policy regarding the blessing of same-sex unions. As you all know, in the forums that preceded my election as your diocesan bishop, I was very clear that I thought the church should bless the godly, faithful and life-long union of two persons of the same sex.

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Sexuality, faith, and India

The Rev. Winnie Varghese writes,

I leave for India Monday to attend a consultation in Chennai entitled "Sexuality and Faith." I have been an Episcopal Priest for almost 10 years, an Indian for 37, and I had not planned, in the words of Mordecai, for such a time as this.

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Sunday Not-As-Social-As-Usual Hour

Not sure what's causing the glitch, but our Café notes stopped posting on Wednesday to both Twitter and Facebook. The problem appears to be with the backend we use to pipe things to Twitterfeed and Facebook, so we'll be beating that with a virtual hammer until it cooperates again. The end result is that it's been relatively quiet this week--but not totally so.

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Defending Mother Teresa, or just picking a fight?

Spiked online:

You know how some cowardly muggers target little old ladies because they’re usually slow, frail and unlikely to fight back? Well, the exact same dynamic, though in intellectual rather than bag-grabbing terms, can be seen in the radical-atheist assaults on Mother Teresa.

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Report: technology doesn't limit face-to-face interaction

Until a few years ago, in choosing to forgo purchasing a cell phone or mobile computing device, it used to be popular to say something like, "I don't want to lose contact with the real world." Indeed, just sitting in the public square, we observe many who may appear lost in a technology cradled in their hands.

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God is a capitalist, bankers claim

Bloomberg, the financial news service is the unsurprising source of this story:

Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer John Varley stood at the wooden lectern in St. Martin-in-the- Fields on London’s Trafalgar Square last night and told the packed pews of the church that “profit is not satanic.”

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Trinity Wall Street Rector: After confetti's cleaned up, come back on Sunday

After helping the Yankees celebrate title #27 this week, James Cooper, rector of Trinity Wall Street, issued a graciously-worded invitation to fans to come back on Sunday.

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Double your dollars when you give to ERD

There are something like 46 days left until Christmas. So it's time to start thinking about who is deserving of something special this year. And if you're thinking of marking how important that person is to you by making a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development, then here's some good news for you.

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Apostolic Constitution published

The full text of the Apostolic Constitution which establishes an Anglican Rite Ordinariate in the Roman Catholic Church was published today. People are pouring over the details and trying to work through the implications.

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Synagogue gives gift to Episcopal parish

Most of the news today is about the Vatican's new program that invites disaffected Anglicans into a special relationship with the Roman based church. But there's also a lovely story of a Synagogue in Kansas who decided to reach out to support an Episcopal parish in need.

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US Catholic Bishop conference behind amendment?

Over the weekend the US House of Representatives passed a landmark bill reforming health-care in the United States. But at the last minute, there was an amendment to ban a number of different financial supports that might be used to provide an abortion.

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Anglicans begin to respond to human trafficking

Forty or so people from all over the Anglican Communion recently met in Hong Kong to plan a coordinated response to the scandalous practice of human trafficking. The most common form involves forcing children and women into the sex trade, but its rising tide now includes forced labor and organ harvest.

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How one man came to change his mind

Mark Achtemeier is a Presbyterian pastor and a seminary professor. He's also a man who has been open about how he has changed his mind on the question of the full inclusion of LGBT Christians into the church. He details the process that led to his re-thinking in an essay that was delivered to a group of Presbyterians who are working, among other things, for full inclusion in that denomination.

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Freedom in Fort Worth

The Wall Street Journal reports on life after the split in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

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Support ENDA today

Integrity has issued a plea for support of the passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). From the Integriy Action Alert:

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GAFCON/FCA refuses Vatican offer

The Primates Council of Global Anglican Future Conference/Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON/FCA) has issued a press release refusing the Vatican offer of an Apostolic Constitution which allows Anglicans/Episcopalians a way to become Roman Catholics and retain some Anglican rites.

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Hurricane Ida strikes El Salvador

Brian Sellers-Peterson, from Episcopal Relief and Development is traveling to El Salvador to meet with Episcopal Church partners as they assess the needs following the devastation from Hurricane Ida:

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Clayboy explains the Vatican offer in plain English

Blogger Clayboy explains the offer by the Vatican to the Anglicans. Some excerpts:

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Ruth's last ferry ride

Heather Lende writing in the Alaska Dispatch:

One pumpkin has snow on it, and two more have been cooked and frozen for pies, but Halloween and the Sunday afterwards, which in our church we celebrate as All Saints Day, are still on my mind.

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A Prayer for Veterans Day

Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
of all those who have offered military service for this country:

For those who have fought for freedom; for those who laid down their lives for others;
for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.

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More on the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality bill

Several items of note:

1. Compare and contrast what the Church of Uganda says to the Anglican Communion and what it says to the press:

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Armistice Day 2009

A sermon given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey on Armistice Day 2009, following the deaths of the last remaining UK veterans of World War One. An extract from the sermon:

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Communion briefs

The new Bishop of Stockholm and common Anglican courtesy

The Rt. Rev. David Hamid, bishop suffragan of the Church of England Diocese in Europe, blogs

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Committees, Commissions continue the work of General Convention

The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

Committees, Commissions continue the work of General Convention

Note: this is another in an ongoing series discussing the governance of The Episcopal Church.

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Welcome to the world Jesse

From our team member and social media guru Helen Mosher via Twitter:

Mommy and little baby are doing wonderfully!

Welcome to the world Jesse Heath Mosher @ 9:47PM, 9 lbs. 11 oz. Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and prayers!!

Update on Ida: devastation in El Salvador

Prayers and donations are desperately needed by the people of El Salvador.

The Rev. Lee Alison Crawford, Canon Missioner of the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador and priest in Vermont, has photos at her blog Caminante of the devastation in El Salvador from Hurricane Ida.

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Leading through conflicts, Alban Institute webinar

Leadership in the church is rather more interesting and complex than it may look on the surface. For many years, the Alban Institute has worked with congregations and church leaders to help develop and build healthy and strong congregations. They have also embraced Web 2.0, offering "webinars" on various topics for church leaders over the Intenet. Today at noon such a "webinar" is being offered on Accountability and Leadership and the Alban Institute has posted a provocative lead-in to the topic.

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Church honors veterans' "quiet" service

White Bear Lake church honors veterans' 'quiet' service
The city's oldest cemetery adds a memorial to the nation's veterans to honor their service at war and at home in civilian life.
From TwinCities.com - Pioneer Press

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Talk of the Nation talks with Bishop Robinson

Neal Conan speaks with Bishop Gene Robinson today on NPR's Talk of the Nation, click HERE for broadcast times in your area, or to listen to the podcast after the interview.

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DC RCs see end to charity;
TEC bishop responds

UPDATED: additional commentary by Diana Butler Bass and Tobias Haller and others - see below:

The Washington Post reports,

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

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ABC affirms Anglican holiness

Archbishop's sermon at All Saints' Margaret Street, London

Sunday 01 November 2009

. . . within our Anglican family we need to go on telling a few stories about those who have shown us that it is possible to lead lives of Catholic holiness even in the Communion of the See of Canterbury!

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Parliament debates women bishops

Could sex discrimination laws be applied to religious organizations? This is a rather sticky wicket in the United States with our separation of church and state. However, in England, Parliament is taking up the question as it applies to the Church of England. It is helpful to remember that the Church of England is the officially established Christian Church in England with the queen holding the title of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

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Holy (H1N1-Free) Water

Italian invents an anti-swine flu holy water dispenser
From the Reuters' FaithWorld blog

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Presiding Bishop meets Moravians

Updated The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori met with Moravian leaders and seminarians during a concurrent visit to the Diocese of Bethlehem. During a discussion and worship at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she noted the possibilities for mission as the two churches move closer to full communion. The presiding bishop also preached during a liturgy that followed in the seminary chapel.

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ACNA's Canadian moderator
pans Pope's ploy

The leader of ACNA-Canada says the pope's invitation to disaffected Anglicans was neither helpful nor welcome.

Addendum. Bob Duncan, leader of ACNA was present.

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Does religion influence evolution?

For a long time, evolutionary biologists have assumed that the control that human beings have exerted over their environment has canceled out natural selection, but some are saying that not only are human being evolving faster than ever but that religion, culture, art and the economy are influencing our genes.

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Court rules in favor of Diocese of San Diego

This week the San Diego Superior Court ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego in a property dispute involving the congregations of two churches that claimed to leave the Episcopal Church, taking church property with them.

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Episcopal school goes green and solar

Trinity Episcopal School in Austin, Texas has recently installed 135 solar panels on the top of one of its buildings which, along with to the 135 panels put up in Fall 2008, makes for the largest commercial solar installation in Austin.

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Charter for Compassion

More and more people around the world from many faith traditions are joining the Charter for Compassion set forth by Karen Armstrong and Desmond Tutu.

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CoE women bishops to have full authority

UPDATE: See below

Perhaps the Vatican intervention into Anglican affairs in the Church of England has changed the direction on women bishops. Thinking Anglicans reports:

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Touchless Eucharist?

Tim Schenck blogging at Clergy Family Confidential has a new idea for preventing transmission of flu this season.

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Saturday collection 11/14/09

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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Ring out a warning

The World Council of Churches, is asking churches around the world to ring bells as a warning to those gathered in Copenhagen for summit on climate change.

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Faith-based groups question corporations: Does the Chamber of Commerce speak for you?

From a press release issued by the 275-member Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility:

“Does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce speak for [your corporation] when it opposes healthcare reform?

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Prayers take shape for Ft. Hood

As family and other mourners from the Ft. Hood killings have participated in funeral services scattered over the face of the country, the Texas bishop's blog continues giving voice to the prayers offered in response to the tragedy in Killeen.

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Christian publishing hasn't seen the last of Tim LaHaye

Sigh alert: fat-cat writer/dispensationalist Tim LaHaye is set to release an offshoot brand of his top-selling Left Behind series.

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Southwark's Butler to defectors: You can't take it with you

Though he says recent moves by the Vatican put "the cat among the pigeons," Bishop Tom Butler of the Southwark Synod (CoE) insists those converting to Catholicism won't take their buildings with them, Religious Intelligence relayed on Friday.

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Ft. Worth ordains first female priest

The Rev. Susan Slaughter, a transitional deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is being ordained a priest in that diocese at 5 p.m. local time today. She's the first female to be ordained a priest in Ft. Worth by a bishop of that diocese -- The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr., who was provisional bishop until yesterday's vote to elevate The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl (ret. -- Northwest Texas) to the status of the same.

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Muslim to head Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions

In advance of its fourth modern meeting next month in Melbourne, The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions has selected Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid to be its next chair starting January 1, 2010.

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Seabury's president resigns for Michigan rectorship

After four years at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, dean and president Gary Hall has resigned to take pulpit duties at Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

UPDATE: The Board of Trustees of Seabury have announced that Bob Bottoms, the Board Chair and retired President of DePauw University, has been named as Seabury's interim dean and president for a term beginning in January 1, 2010 and ending June 20, 2011.

The full press releases for both announcements are appended below.

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Russian Church ends talks with Germans

The Russian Orthodox Church has decided to end 50 years of dialogue with the Lutheran Church in Germany as a result of the Lutherans electing Margot Käßmann as their leader for the next six years.

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Bishop Chane on the Christian case for same sex marriages

Bishop John Chane points out that the Christian understanding of marriage has undergone extensive changes in the past 2000 years in an opinion published on the Washington Post site.

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Episcopalians in Space

Dr. Bobby Satcher is one of the crew of today's planned shuttle launch and a member of St. James', Houston. This mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS 129) will deliver components for the station's robotic arm to the International Space Station.

You can find up to date information about the mission here.

For those who travel on land, on water, or in the air or through outer space, let us pray to the Lord. (Book of Common Prayer p. 384)

The resurgent political power of the Roman Catholic bishops

The US Conference of Catholic bishops are exercising an increasing amount of political clout here due in part to the election of a President and the rise to power of a political party they opposed. Their strong reactions to programs suggested by the President and Democratic Party controlled Congress have changed the nature of the Health Care reform bill. They are using strategic donations of money from around the country to defeat state based initiatives to recognize same-sex marriages.

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Bishop Epting on the Apostolic Constitution

Bishop Chris Epting, the Presiding Bishop's Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations issued a statement in reaction to the Vatican's creation of a Personal Ordinariate structure for disaffected Anglicans. In short, he sees it as flying in the face of the "slow but steady" work of traditional ecumenism.

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Plan to replace Brian Prior announced

Brian Prior, who is at present the Vice-President of the House of Deputies of The General Convention, was elected bishop in the Diocese of Minnesota recently. As a bishop, he is no longer eligible to serve in the House of Deputies.

There is no canonical procedure to follow when something like this happens, so President Bonnie Anderson has announced that she will follow the precedent established during the term of Pamela Chinnis.

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Bethlehem blessings for
same sex couples

The Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall has released the following guidelines for clergy and congregations wishing to move ahead with pastoral provision for same sex couples. The same guidelines apply for all couples coming for blessing (counseling, baptism, etc) - same sex or opposite sex. Those married or in civil unions from other states may use Blessing of a Civil Marriage. Pennsylvania couples are to use the rites prepared by the Diocese of Washington (DC). (see links below)

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Speaking to the Soul, the book version

According to the secular calendar, Christmas is hard approaching; at least according to my local Mall. If you're looking for a gift suggestion this year, you would do very well consider the new book by Episcopal Café contributor Vicki Black.

Vicki tends the "Speaking to the Soul" portion of this site, and she's now put together a lovely compilation of daily readings in bound form.

You can browse the book here and finding ordering information from your preferred online retailer as well.

Evensong and healing the world

Mark Guydish, writing in The Times Leader of Northeastern Pennsylvania, reflects on Evensong and the Presiding Bishop's clear message of mission:

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New videos from El Salvador

Brian Sellers-Peterson, of Episcopal Relief and Development, is assessing needs and working to rebuild life in El Salvador after Hurricane Ida. He sends these videos:

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ELCA's Church Council moves reinstatement process forward for clergy in same-gender relationships

Certain clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- "people in lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships" previously barred from serving -- are a step closer to reinstatement following a vote of the ELCA Church Council on Sunday, the ELCA site reports.

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Seminary of the Southwest to cut 12 staff positions

Twelve staff positions will be cut as the Seminary of the Southwest attempts to trim $1 million from its operating budget, according to a letter from the Very Rev. Douglas Travis. A press release is here.

A source close to those in the restructuring effort said no faculty members are losing their jobs, and the curriculum would not be affected.

A letter sent by members of the Seminary's board to alumni reads in part:

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Homosexuality no factor in abusive priests

Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press has a story which indicates that the Vatican's 2005 decision to exclude gay men from the priesthood in the wake of the pedophilia scandals was misguided:

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Come for Christmas, an advertisement with an edge

Some Episcopal churches in Bucks County, Pa., are pooling their money to buy advertisements in local newspapers during Advent.

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How the U. S. right promotes homophobia in Africa

From Public Research Associates:

Sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars as U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) discovered.

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Canada speaks while others are silent

The Anglican Church of Canada is, to our knowledge, the first province of the Anglican Communion to express its opposition to draconian anti-gay law under consideration by the Ugandan Parliament. The provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda has expressed support for the legislation, while suggesting that executing people for having sex was perhaps going a bit far.

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Want to donate your organs?

But never get around to it? There's an app for that from Serenity Integration.

IPL's founder speaks on environment at Windsor Castle

Interfaith Power and Light's founder and president, the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham attended a summit on the environment at Windsor Castle along with IPL's executive director Susan Stephenson and met HRH Prince Phillip and the UN Secretary-General. Bingham, an Episcopal priest, emphasized the importance of the role of religious leaders in the growing emphasis on environmental stewardship. Kudos!

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The Atlantic takes on the Prosperity Gospel

If your faith is strong, will this improve your company's balance sheet? If your portfolio has dipped, does this mean you don't love God enough? These are extremely difficult questions and there are some that argue that faith will lead to riches in this life. Known as the "prosperity gospel," they are spinning around these days. The Atlantic takes on some of these questions in its current issue in the article, "Did Christianity Cause the Crash?"

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Playing for the Yankees and an NJ church

As Cafe´ news-editor Ann Fontaine periodically reminds us, "baseball is a religion." Now we hear confirmation that the world of the church and of baseball are closer than ever. The Yankees' Stadium organist found an "off season" gig (via Craigslist!) for an New Jersey Episcopal Church in Morristown.

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Lottery used to choose patriarch

Leadership in the Church justifiably occupies a good deal of time and energy, as well as news coverage. Even a casual observer of the Church knows that who becomes pope, bishop, priest or lay leader can have a great effect on the life of the Church. The "how" question around the selection of leaders in the church is an important one, is there an election, is there an appointment, some combination? The Serbian Orthodox Church uses a combination of preliminary voting and then a lottery to pick the final choice for patriarch. What do you think of that?

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TEC ad to run in USA Today

Updated: here is the ad.

Anne Rudig, director of communications for The Episcopal Church announces an ad campaign on the welcoming nature of the Episcopal Church. It will begin on November 20 in USA Today.

Letter from Anne Rudig below:

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Mary of Magdala: the musical

Casper College students, working with New York professionals, are developing an original musical by James Olm and Shad Olsen and directed by Richard Burk about Mary Magdalene, whom they describe as "a woman who becomes friend, lover, and ultimate number one disciple of Christ, much to the chagrin of the patriarchal society of the time."

According to the playwright, James Olm, the musical depicts the life of Mary Magdalene and Jesus based on the Gnostic Gospels found in Egypt in 1945.

Elysia Conner writes in The Caper (WY) Journal:

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Chicago Consultation asks PB, ABC to oppose anti-gay bill in Uganda

CHICAGO, IL, November 20, 2009—The Chicago Consultation today asked the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Dr. Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies; and the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, to speak out against draconian anti-gay legislation introduced in the Ugandan Parliament last month.

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Lucky penny

Bishop Greg Rickel blogs about his experience in New Orleans with a group from the Diocese of Olympia.

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Bishop elected in Oregon

The Rev. Michael Joseph Hanley was elected on the second ballot to be tenth Bishop of Oregon. Hanley is the Rector of St. Christopher Church in Roseville, Minnesota. If confirmed by a majority of Standing Committees and Bishops, he will be consecrated on April 10, 2010.

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Manhattan declaration of religious traditionalism

Updated
A group of over 150 Christian ordained and lay persons from representing mainly evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions, have released a manifesto linking the preservation of religious freedom to the need for a government ban on all abortions and any sort of same sex marriage.

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Breaking: Executive Council to discuss Ugandan situation

A special session of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has been called to discuss the church's position on the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" currently before the Ugandan Parliament. The meeting will be conducted via conference call on the afternoon of December 7, according to numerous sources.

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Rethinking religious "box score"

John Allen blogs on National Catholic Reporter about the myopia of both his Roman Catholic tradition and many Christians in deciding what really matters to the ordinary faithful. He compares our way of understanding the religious world to the way baseball was understood before Sabermetrics.

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A Lutheran church for every stripe

A group of Lutherans are so angry over the ELCA's decision to allow for the inclusion of partnered gay clergy into their ranks under certain limited conditions that they want to form their own denomination.

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Outside a world of wealth stands the reality of hunger

From The New York Times, which visited the church of occasional Cafe contributor the Rev. Bonnie Perry:

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LA suffragan candidates live on the Web today

Susan Russell informs us that there is a live Web cast of a question and answer session with candidates for the two bishop suffragan openings in the Diocese of Los Angeles today at 12:30 eastern time. The election is December 4-5.

Saturday collection 11/21/09

Our weekly look at just some of the good work being done in the Episcopal Church.

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The future of theological education

An excellent conversation about the future of seminary and graduate level theological education has broken out in the comment trail of our item about the recent layoffs at the Seminary of the Southwest, including comments from Marshall Scott, Michael Russell, seminarian Jim White and Elizabeth Butler of Seabury Western. (You can see their comments by clicking Read more.) One key question seems to be the role of a residential community in priestly formation. Thoughts?

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Vandalism against All Saints, Chicago, soup kitchen

This morning, we posted an item about a story in The New York Times' Chicago edition about the soup kitchen at All Saints Episcopal Church. A few hours later, our friend, the Rev. Bonnie Perry, All Saints rector, texted us to let us know that the church had been vandalized.

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Rowan tweaks Benedict on unity, women's ordination

Updated. Reuters and the New York Times read the speech that the Most Rev. Rowan Williams gave at the Vatican this week as both a defense of the Anglican Communion and a mild rebuke of the Roman Catholic approach to ecumenism. The Times of London thinks that the Archbishop could do a little more tweaking. Bishop Alan Wilson says that Williams speech signals another kind of unity, not a juridical unity and not a homogenized church but something deeper.


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'Friends' and 'Partners': the latest from ERD

The latest from Episcopal Relief and Development:

Partners
Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Elize, a widow and mother of five, lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Struggling to support her family while simultaneously dealing with the loss of her husband and the psychological aftermath of rape, her story is not an unusual one for the region.

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Sunday Social Hour

Our feed to the social networks is working again. Apologies for the delay, but it was well timed for me since I was a bit busy welcoming a new Mosher into the world last week. Of course, this week we're hit by a bug that keeps us from seeing older Tweets today, and a similar problem plagued Facebook last night. So if you tweeted something to the #ecafe line, be sure to share it again in the comments.

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Designers, writers offer alternatives to TEC's USA Today advertisement

Some have responded to the ad placed by The Episcopal Church in Friday's USA Today by providing options. Whether these were meant to address whatever correctives were deemed necessary, we'll leave to you.

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Gay Catholics don't want church's 'cure'

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Gay and lesbian Roman Catholics who contact the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for spiritual guidance can find themselves directed toward programs aimed at helping them become celibate.

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Advent is coming; are you 'in'?

Advent Conspiracy (as noted by the Cafe in late November 2007 and 2008) is a site in search of a movement, and it's beginning to gain ground.

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On a fateful anniversary, a Kennedy tussles publicly with his bishop

If we're used to hearing only about one Kennedy on Nov. 22nd, who could blame us. But several sources (such as CNN) reported today that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D - R.I.) has been effectively barred from Communion by Thomas Tobin, Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Providence, owing to the representative's stance on abortion rights.

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More on Rowan William's visit to Rome

After the release of the details behind the Vatican's plan to receive disaffected Anglicans, the scheduled visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rome attracted much more attention than it had to date. The details of the visit went just as everyone expected. But the nuance and implications of how the events were handled are being examined for clues about the present state of relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

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The Episcopal Church pushes back

Over the weekend Dr. Chuck Robertson, the Presiding Bishop's Canon, had an op-ed piece published in a Fort Worth newspaper. That, in of itself, isn't particularly remarkable. But the tone of his piece is.

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UK laws allowing discrimination ordered to be redrafted

Under the present law of the United Kingdom, religious organizations are given a very broad ability to not hire people because of their sexual orientation. Apparently too broad, at least according to a European Commission ruling with regard to an EU directive.

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New ways to sign in to Episcopal Cafe´

The software we use here at the Café behind the scenes is supplied by TypePad. Like anything in the online world, the plumbing is always being updated. Occasionally you might even notice that something obvious is different.

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Executive Council to meet on Ugandan legislation

Episcopal Life reports:

A teleconference meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council will take place on Dec. 7 to discuss a possible statement on Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws.

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Vandalism against All Saints, Chicago: video

Video from NBC Chicago on vandalism at All Saints Church in Ravenswood, IL. The rector, the Rev. Bonnie Perry does not believe her sexual orientation and partnership status is a factor.

Watch video below:

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Brazil responds to the Anglican Covenant: observations and doubts

Mark Harris reports on the statement on the proposed Anglican Covenant by the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB). They offer their observations and doubts about the Covenant:

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Lutherans cut budget, discuss mission

According to the Salisbury Post (NC) and press releases from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ELCA is undergoing the same difficulties as The Episcopal Church due to the economic situation and for standing with their gay, lesbian, transgender clergy and laity in leadership positions:

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What would Jesus eat?

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Daily Mail UK, reports on various Christian diet groups and plans. Christian Weigh Down, Thin Within, and Fit for Life Forever are a few that offer diet advice as well as support groups that explore why one overeats. Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, of the British Nutrition Foundation

...is much more impressed by the What Would Jesus Eat? diet, whose author, Dr Don Colbert, has identified a whole new angle on the Mediterranean lifestyle.

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Presiding Bishop's statement for World AIDS Day

The Presiding Bishop's Statement for World AIDS Day 2009:

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The Family's role in the Ugandan anti-gay bill

The powerful group known as C Street, or The Family, is reported to have links to Ugandan anti-gay bill.

Jeff Sharlet, the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, was interviewed yesterday on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The Family sponsors the annual National Prayer Breakfast and has gained notoriety for sex scandals involving members who have lived at its C Street House -- Nevada Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Current residents include Bart Stupak. Joe Pitts is a "core member."

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Executive Council reinventing itself

Mark Harris says Executive Council is evolving in unplanned and unanticipated ways. He says these changes are healthy, but like most change won't come without pain.

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Ugandan Anglican bishop pushes anti-gay bill

Bishop Joseph Abura of Karamoja Diocese, Province of the Anglican Church of Uganda has written an op-ed in Spero News supporting the anti-gay bill.

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More on American ties to Uganda

These items aren't new, but they may be news worthy.

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Thanksgiving Haikus

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Every year Heidi Shott, Canon for Communications and Social Justice in the Diocese of Maine asks the members of the Episcopal Communicators Lis-Serv to write a Thanksgiving haiku. These are this year's results.

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Thanksgiving Prayers

Happy Thanksgiving!

Families and Friends gather for the big meal, and you find yourself called upon to offer the Grace before the feast. Do the words roll off your tongue easily, or do you awkwardly find your way through a prayer like Ben Stiller's character in "Meet the Parents"?

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Diocese of New Westminster: Trial Results

Results of a property dispute in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster are in, and the results affirm that "a parish does not have authority to unilaterally leave the Diocese."

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30 Days of Thanksgiving?

It's Thanksgiving, but why should this be the only day of offering thanks?

Thankgiving is just one of '30 Days of Thanks'
From USAToday

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"No turkey for me": another perspective on the day

No Turkey for Me: Confessions of an Indian Militant
By Johnny P. Flynn in ReligionDispatches

I am an Indian militant. It is a name I wear with some ambivalence, like “Indian,” not my choice, but the alternatives for the sake of political correctness do not have the same power or panache.

While most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indian militants, around the time the term was coined. I was too young at the time, but supported those making the ironic statement about the quality of our own lands “given” to our ancestors, and the broken promise that any federal lands not in use will revert back to the Indians.

While you eat turkey, we will fast, or eat hot dogs . .

Whalon on The Pope, Rowan Williams, and Henry VIII

Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, responds to the recent Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Benedict XVI aimed at disaffected Anglicans and praised the Archbishop of Canterbury's response to it.

He writes:

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Report on child sexual abuse in Ireland released

The Irish Times reports that the Commission of Investigation into Dublin’s Catholic Archdiocese has concluded that there is “no doubt” that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the archdiocese and other Church authorities.

Updated with Andrew Brown's column, and Ruth Gledhill's.

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Our choice: speak out together or abandon the persecuted.

The religion and society thinktank Ekklesia says that opposition against the 'anti- homosexuality' Bill currently being proposed in Uganda is an opportunity for churches to experience some unity around issues of sexuality which so often divide them because, no matter what their views on sexual ethics, Christian leaders should be able to speak with one voice against this bill. Standing against violence, persecution and unjust laws may be the basis for building common ground in the future.

A news release from Ekklesia reads:

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Porous floors and changed lives

When James Warren heard that his column in the New York Times describing All Saints Episcopal Church on Chicago's North Side and their ministry to the homeless might have motivated someone to vandalize the church, he felt terrible.

But when he visited the church, he found forgiveness and the ministry going forward. The Rev. Bonnie Perry reminded her congregation of the porous floorboards and “mud pit” in the basement. “That’s why I give 10 percent of my salary to this place each year," she said. "The floorboards are porous, and we change people’s lives.”

Warren writes:

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Let no mom put asunder

Veteran church communications hand, and prison ministry stalwart Val Hymes graces us with a lovely article for the Washington Post's Web site on her 55-year interfaith marriage:

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Saturday collection 11/28/09

Our weekly look at just some of the good things going on in the Episcopal Church is lengthy this week, perhaps because the media notices in the days around Thanksgiving the kind of work that the church is involved in all of the time.

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Keeping Advent online

Online Advent calendars have become extremely popular since the Episcopal Diocese of Washington produced its first one six years ago. This year, our calendar, (visible at edow.org/advent) is a bit of puzzle, literally. The image of the Nativity is a brilliantly-colored children's puzzle produced by a Sri Lankan cooperative working with SERRV International.

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St. Alban's, DC, shrinks its carbon footprint

The Rev. Scott Benhase, rector of St. Alban's, DC, and bishop-elect of the Diocese of Georgia, wrote a column for The Washington Post recently about the church's newly-installed solar panels:

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No good reason for silence

Andrew Brown of the Guardian rejects the arguments of church officials, American and English, who think they should keep silent about the anti-gay legislation currently before the Ugandan parliament:

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Catholic govs pan DC archdiocese tactics on same-sex marriage

Religioin News Service has the story that broke on WTOP News:

As the Archdiocese of Washington steps up its campaign against (all but certain) same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia, the Catholic governors of Maryland and Virginia, both Democrats, are crying foul.

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'Pastoral generosity' comes to the Diocese of Massachusetts

Starting Advent 1, clergy of the Diocese of Massachusetts are being given leave by Bishop Thomas Shaw to solemnize same-gender marriages for eligible couples.

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Houston attorney seeks end to Cathedral's 'Beacon' program

Harry C. Arthur, a lawyer in downtown Houston whose office is near Christ Church Cathedral, is suing in pursuit of shutting down The Beacon, the cathedral's well-used program for area homeless.

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C of E clergy numbers could soon be in sharp decline

Paid clergy could become an endangered species in the Church of England, the Times of London reports.

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'You can't leave a void': BBC Radio on Uganda and silence

BBC Radio 4's "Sunday" program has looked into the situation in the Ugandan Parliament with a bill promoting anti-gay measures and found more of the "deafening silence" within the Anglican Communion that has many asking for a voice of intercession or appeal.

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Of D.C., gay marriage and leadership (religious and civic)

As the city council of Washington, D.C., appears set to make same-gender marriage legally permissible on Tuesday (and while a veto by Congress seems but a distant possibility), the Archdiocese of Washington has noted that new policies "could restrict [its] ability to provide the same level of services as [it does] now."

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Sunday Social Hour, Late Night Edition

Another late night run with social media, Facebook primarily! Twitter saw numerous retweets this week, with particular attention to our posts on recent vandalism in churches and attempts to end charitable outreach efforts by churches. On Facebook, these posts are being discussed, although it's been relatively quiet this week, possibly because of the holiday, and possibly because we actually used the FB moderation tools this week.

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Feeding ministries abound and offend

Typically at this time of year there are many stories about how churches are responding to hunger in their communities. St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Natik is doing heroic work in their community. But the need has grown so great that their food pantry has outgrown their parish building. Luckily the community around them came to the rescue:

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Statement from the Episcopal Church of Sudan

Citing sadness over the threat of the complete collapse of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) process, the people of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan have issued a wide ranging statement that calls for an end to inter-ethnic violence and damage done to the environment by oil companies in Sudan, alerting the world to the threat of widespread famine, and calling for free and fair elections:

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More on the Ugandan anti-gay legislation

There has been increasing coverage of the proposed legislation in Uganda that would make "repeated homosexual acts" a capital crime. The Swedish government is considering sanctions should the legislation be adopted. Integrity has called again for the Episcopal Church to speak out in opposition. And the mainstream media is starting to cover the story.

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Movement in DC as vote on same-sex marrage recognition nears

The City Council of Washington DC is voting tomorrow on the question of legal recognition of same-sex marriages within the district. The Roman Catholic Church in the district has strongly objected and broadly hinted that, if the measure passes, they may be forced to curtail some of the social services they currently provide to the poor and needy in the district.

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The Swiss vote to ban minarets

Yesterday, Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on the construction of any minarets in the country. The minaret is to a mosque what a steeple is to a church, a clear architectural sign of the building's use and purpose. Effectively the ban will have the effect of hiding any public sense of the presence of Muslim believers in Switzerland.

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ECVA - Full Of Grace

Many of you have commented on the beautiful art work that is a regular part of the Cafe pages and Art Blog. The art is provided to us by the ECVA, the "Episcopal Church & Visual Arts" which among its many projects, creates regular online curated art exhibits.

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Anderson condemns Uganda anti-gay law

UPDATED: 12/1 1:20 p.m. below

Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has issued a statement condemning the pending Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws saying it would be a "terrible violation of the human rights of an already persecuted minority."

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