ABC speaks out on World AIDS Day

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released his 2009 World Aids Day video, in which he speaks with the Revd Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother from Kenya, about her experiences of living with HIV. The video highlights the plight of expectant mothers who are HIV positive and the support they need to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies.

Watch the video below:

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Full of Grace: an Advent exhibition

Yesterday we briefly noted the Advent exhibition: Full of Grace, from The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

Advent calls us to slow down and recognize the incarnation of God all around us and especially in the coming birth of Christ in our midst. Take time to meditate on one of these offerings by Episcopal artists.

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DC council approves marriage equality

The Washington Post reports that the Washington DC council has approved marriage equality for all couples:

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Anglican/RC Bishops speak out on human trafficking at Olympics

From the Anglican Journal:
The recent Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue held in Vancouver has produced a joint statement outlining concerns about human trafficking at the February 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver-Whistler.

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Scrooged! Salvation Army won't give toys to non-citizen kids

The Dallas Morning News reports that some charities are checking parents' immigration status before giving the children toys for Christmas:

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Advent message from the Presiding Bishop

An Advent message from the Presiding Bishop:

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It's only a paper lie (okugumaaza)

An independent paper in Uganda, The Daily Monitor, runs an op-ed by Augustine Ruzindana that says the real purpose of the Anti-Homosexual Bill is divert the public's attention from the real crimes public corruption and mismanagement. "The life and death sentences introduced in the new Bill are to impress an external constituency critical for regime survival.":

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Scientific evidence to guide spending on MDGs

From the Poverty Action Lab at MIT:

By distinguishing programs that work from those that don’t, and sorting highly effective programs from those that work but come with a higher price tag, randomized evaluations help answer tough questions on comparative cost effectiveness and are central to generating rigorous evidence for development effectiveness.

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Membership down


The 2008 parochial reports show overall church membership at 2,225,682 people, with a total average Sunday attendance (ASA) at 747,376. Those totals compare with 2007 membership of 2,285,143 and total average Sunday attendance 768,476. The dioceses in the United States saw a 2.8 percent drop in membership and a 3.1 percent decrease in ASA. Overall church membership -- including 10 non-U.S. dioceses -- was down 2.6 percent and attendance dropped 2.7 percent for the entire church.

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The decline of the Irish Catholic church

What is the cause for the decline in the West in membership and respect for the church? Should the church hold firm to tradition? Or should it adapt? Is its decline inevitable?

Maureen Gaffney is a clinical psychologist and is chairwoman of the National Economic and Social Forum which advises the Irish government. Her op-ed Church's view of sex the root cause of its troubles, on the decline of the Catholic Church in Ireland especially in the wake of the sex abuse scandals, appears in the Irish Times:

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They ordain women, don't they?

A Catholic church in rural Australia had graciously offered its sanctuary for the ordination service of several undisaffected Anglican ordinands. But when it was learned that some of the ordinands were women, the Vatican stepped in.

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Leave room for the Holy Spirit?

Since it went viral last week you may have seen the Christian side hug rap video. Here's the rest of the story.

The Chicago Tribune:

The joke, it turns out, is on the people who thought the joke was on fundamentalist Christians.

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Inclusive Church critiques ABC's covenant

Thinking Anglicans blog has posted two documents from the UK's Inclusive Church which offer comment on the proposed Anglican Covenant and are in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's letter from last August.

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#EpiscopalianBecause series on Twitter abuzzing

Can you say why you are an Episcopalian in less than 140 characters?

On the micro-blogging/social media site Twitter, there is an interesting series of posts this week in which all sorts of people are answering the question "I am Episcopalian Because..." You can check out the responses without even joining Twitter by clicking HERE, or join in on the fun and post your response to the question by adding the "hashtag" of #EpiscopalianBecause to your post.

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PB interviewed on NPR in Atlanta

The Presiding Bishop was interviewed on the Atlanta National Public Radio affiliate on the state of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion:


6 years ago, Eugene Robinson became the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. But internal battles continue. Some parishes left the church, to join other parts of the Anglican Communion. This summer, the church's General Convention resolved that the screening process for new bishops is open to gays and lesbians. Two years ago, Episcopal leaders had said they'd hold off on gay bishops. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told WABE's Denis O'Hayer that's not a contradiction.

Listen to the interview

Give a gift; save a life

"Gifts for Life" through Episcopal Relief and Development is a program through which you can help Episcopal Relief & Development make a lasting difference for people living in extreme poverty.

Living Our Faith for a Better World.

Working in partnership with the worldwide Church, ecumenical agencies and local organizations, Episcopal Relief & Development saves lives and strengthens communities around the world.

Our programs work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015.

. . .

Gifts for Life creates lasting change for people in need.

Honor your loved ones by giving a gift that works–today.

Atheists organize

The Baltimore Sun reports on atheists who are beginning to organize into something that looks like an organized religion. They are even meeting in a church.

The Baltimore Coalition of Reason seeks to gather atheists, agnostics and others, by advertising through billboards targetting nonbelievers. Their message is that it is possible to be good without God.

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Presiding Bishop speaks out on Uganda anti-gay law

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a statement expressing concern about the pending Ugandan legislation that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate portions of that country's anti-homosexuality laws.

Here is the full statement from Episcopal News Service:

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The anti-gay law is "Genocide"says a Ugandan church leader

The Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha said gay people were being used as "scapegoats" for Uganda's social problems, such as the breakdown of the family unit and rising HIV infection rates, and politicians were using the bill to tap into the prevailing anti-gay mood in the country in the run up to the 2011 elections. He says that, if enacted, the law would be "genocide."

Byamugisha holds a traditional view of human sexuality and holds that homosexual behavior is sinful, but, as the Guardian reports, believes "that this bill [if passed into law] will be state-legislated genocide against a specific community of Ugandans, however few they may be."

In other news, it appears that the law is set to pass despite the outcry from other nations, organizations and churches from around the globe, with maybe a few small, functionally inconsequential changes.

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Dio of LA elects Bruce as first of two suffragan bishops

The Diocese of Los Angeles elected the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce suffragan bishop of the diocese in the first of two elections taking place in that diocese this weekend. Bruce is the first woman elected a bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles pending the required consents.

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Tick tick tick: Organizing for climate change in Africa

Kofi Annand, Desmond Tutu and other African leaders are organizing a campaign to raise awareness in Africa about climate change and be sure that the voices of Africa and the poor around the world are heard in the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen.

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Jailhouse conversions and clemency

Did then-governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas pay more attention to a jailhouse conversions and the testimony of pastors than the concerns of therapists and corrections officials when he granted clemency to man who is alleged to have killed four Tocoma-area police officers?

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Saturday collection 12/5/09

Our weekly collection of good news about The Episcopal Church:

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Lousiana's bishop-elect

From the Diocese of Louisiana:

The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana elected The Very Rev. Morris Thompson, as the 11th Bishop of Louisiana today at Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans. Thompson was one of six final candidates voted on by clergy and lay representatives from every congregation in the diocese. Thompson succeeds the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins who has served since 1997 and announced his retirement effective January 2010.

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Anglican funeral occasion for comparing gays to roaches

According the independent Ugandan newspaper, the Monitor, a member of the clergy of the Anglican Church of Uganda has compared homosexuals to cockroaches. The occasion was a funeral. According to the Monitor the clergyman in also on the faculty of the Uganda Christian University. The vice chancellor of the university is Stephen Noll.

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Diocese of LA elects 2nd suffragan


In a seven ballot election The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool has been elected a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles pending the required consents. The second woman elected bishop bishop in the diocese in as many days, she is also a partnered lesbian.

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Episcopal people in the news

We heard the news of some interesting Episcopal people this week. We were sorry to hear of the deaths of Grant Gallup and Flower Ross, and were glad to hear that John Lipscomb has found a spiritual home.

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Rowan Williams, Jon Bruno on Glasspool consent process

Both Rowan Williams and Bishop Jon Bruno have provided food for thought following the election of Mary Douglas Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, to one of two Bishop Suffragan positions filled over the weekend in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

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Sunday Social Hour

It's been an interesting week on the social networks. On the one hand, The Cafe on Facebook has quieted down considerably now that the commenters there are no longer being antagonized. On the other hand, Twitter picked up a lot of steam thanks to several hash-tag memes and conversations.

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Some Catholic sisters resist Vatican's scrutiny

As reported previously (in April, July, and August), pressure and scrutiny have been applied by the Vatican into the lives of Catholic sisters living in the United States. Now, AP reports, it seems some sisters are exercising resistance.

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Forget the hungry! How about my parking ticket?

USA Today reports on a church in Idaho -- the aptly named Treasure Valley Church of Christ -- whose representatives will be standing in front of City Hall on Dec. 12th with an offer to pay traffic and parking fines up to $10,000.

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Groups, bloggers sound off on Glasspool election

The Episcopal Women's Caucus celebrated the results of elections for suffragan bishops yesterday and Friday in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

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Rome and Russia draw closer

Those of a certain age may remember watching Anthony Quinn and Laurence Olivier face off as the fictional Pope Kiril I and Soviet Premier in the film version of The Shoes of the Fisherman. Armed with such images, we may be surprised to learn that the Russian Federation may soon enter into full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

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Bishop Beckwith on Marriage Equality

Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Diocese of Newark has an op-ed piece in today's New Jersey Record in which he calls for the state legislature to vote for the Marriage Equality Initiative making its way through the New Jersey Senate. He emphasizes the need for legal protections for same gender couples and points out that our understanding of the legal construct of matrimony has been changing over the years.

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Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message

The Presiding Bishop's annual message for Christmas was published this morning.

Jesus is already abroad, even in the darkness. The hungry one fed, the street people who have their feet cared for, the humble and honored guest at your dinner table – each one offers a glimpse of that dawn, if you look closely enough.

The full message follows:

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Chicago Consultation responds to Archbishop Williams

The Chicago Consultation has released a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's reaction to the election of Canon Glasspool as one of the Suffragan bishops of the Diocese of Los Angeles. The statement calls for the Communion to recognize the ministries of gay and lesbian Christians as the only way it can, "in the end", remain faithful to the Gospel.

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Reactions to LA election: Monday edition

The new media and the mainstream media continue to cover reactions to the news of Canon Mary Glasspool's election as Suffragan bishop over the weekend. Glasspool, who is a partnered lesbian priest would be the first lesbian elected to serve as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

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Williams' actions seem a "betrayal"

Colin Coward feels betrayed by the "Dr Rowan Williams’ new-found opposition to gays and lesbians in the ordained ministry of the Anglican Communion."

Coward, an out gay Anglican priest was a student of Williams' when he taught theology at Cambridge. Coward is also the Director of Changing Attitude.

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A virtual parking lot?

Susan Nienaber of Alban Institute wonders if email has become the new "parking lot?"

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Christian leaders oppose proposed Ugandan law

Pew Forum reports that a broad coalition of Christian leaders have signed a statement opposing the death penalty for gays and lesbians.

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Anglican Standing Committee weighs in on L.A. election

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order has issued a Communiqué on the Covenant and weighs in on the election in Los Angeles of Mary Glasspool but says nothing about the proposed laws in Uganda.

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Sexuality, faith, and India - more

From the meeting of the Theological Roundtable on the Churches' Response to Human Sexuality held in Kolkata, India previously noted in The Lead, comes this report A Message to the Indian Christian Communities:

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And we do it for free...

Does this business have a prayer? asks AOL small business site:

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Glasspool says election liberating

Bishop elect Mary Glasspool speaking in the NYTimes is saddened that people feel her role in the church is divisive:

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Glasspool speaks with the Baltimore Sun


Mary Glasspool is interviewed by her "hometown" newspaper the Baltimore Sun. In the interview she says,

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If your name is Jensen rules don't apply

The Sydney Morning Herald reports

The rector of the parish of Epping, John Cornish, said the extension of the dean's retirement age was inconsistent with long-standing church practice. ''I think it is inconsistent that only special people get their retirement age extended that long. You can have an extension if requested and it's only usually a year or two. I'm not saying everyone should work after they're 65 but the option should be available to all.''

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The perils of sex obsession

It's not the younger generation that's obsessed with sex. It's the church. And that's a turnoff to young people says Richard Morrison writing in The Times:

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Reactions to reactions to LA: Wednesday edition

Reactions and reactions to reactions to the election of Mary Glasspool continue to pour in.

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Uganda bill refined?

Bloomberg (and, so far, only Bloomberg) is reporting,

Uganda will drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays in a refined version of an anti-gay bill expected to be ready for presentation to Parliament in two weeks, James Nsaba Buturo, the minister of ethics and integrity, said.

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Episcopal Church shares advent multimedia programming

The Episcopal Church Office of Communication is offering a full month of multimedia programming featuring favorite Advent observations and traditional liturgies.

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The ABC and the POTUS: two of a kind?

On the's "God's Politics" blog, LaVonne Neff compares the current resident of the White House with the current residence of Lambeth Palace. After expressing her admiration for Obama and Williams, she asks two important questions.

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UK LGBT Anglican Coalition warmly welcomes Glasspool election

Statement of the LGBT Coalition in the United Kingdom:


The LGBT Anglican Coalition warmly welcomes the election of two new suffragan bishops for the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles, and notes:

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Rev. Kapya Kaoma on Rachel Maddow

Rev. Kapya Kaoma, the Project Director of the progressive think tank PRA (Political Research Associates), was on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday night to discuss Uganda's anti-homosexuality legislation and the U.S. Right's involvement.

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Ugandan govt website: "we can still avoid bad press"

The link is now empty (text of taken down) and it no longer shows on the front page under the category responses/clarifications where a link to it appeared before. The cached version is below the fold.

It's back up with a new link, and it is appearing a highlighted link on the Media Centre main page, too.

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NPR in Southern Cal interviews Bruno, Glasspool and Bruce

NPR in Southern California interviewed the diocesan Bishop, Jon Bruno, as well as Mary Glasspool and Diane Bruce. A helpful interview, though they missed a couple of key facts: that these are not the first two bishops in the Episcopal Church (but they are the first two in the Diocese of Los Angeles), and the Episcopal Church has been around since the American Revolution (but the Diocese of Los Angeles is 114 years old).

The highest stained glass ceiling on 89.3 KPCC - Southern California Public Radio

Archbishop of York praises Nestlé for Fair Trade Kit Kat

The Archbishop of York welcomes the Nestlé introduction of its Fair Trade Kit Kat bar.

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Indoor storm in Copenhagen?

Ekklesia's blogger, Pascale Palmer, reports that storms are brewing within the conference center in Copenhagen:

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Vatican condemns anti-gay laws & violence

The Vatican issued a statement yesterday condemning state-sanctioned violence and discrimination, including the use of imprisonment and the death penalty, against homosexual persons. While not mentioning Uganda by name, the Holy See has clearly condemned both the content and intent of that nation's proposed legislation.

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Anglicans on FB and the net urge Williams to repent

The Facebook group "Anglicans who want THIS statement from Canterbury" has already gathered over three thousand members and attracted the attention of the mainstream media. At the same time other groups have petitioned the Archbishop to speak out.

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Southern Sudan faces turmoil

With the expiry of the comprehensive peace agreement, Sudan faces turmoil. The worldwide church should not stand by.

ENS reports southern Sudan Bishop John Zawo of the Diocese of Ezo has been visiting the Dioceses of Rhode Island and Virginia, and with their assistance spoke with USAID and Rhode Island's senators, Reed and Whitehouse.

In the Guardian, Graham Kings writes:

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GTS dean announces retirement

ENS reports:

The Very Rev. Ward Burleson Ewing, dean and president of the General Theological Seminary (GTS), has told the school he plans to retire.

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The cop, the rabbi and the dog

Did you hear the one about the Montana cop, the rabbi and the dog who speaks Hebrew?

Eric Stern describes what happens next:

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Just what we all want for Christmas

The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, which has been renamed the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (which suggests that it may be about to attempt to exercise more power than it has) will consider the revised fourth section of the proposed Anglican Covenant when it meets next week in London.

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Saturday collection 12/12/09

When the weather turns cold, the media turns its attention to the plight of those living on the streets, and often they find the Episcopal Church at work.

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The latest from Uganda

Four new items from Uganda:

Uganda bans female genital mutilation

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Waldo wins in Upper South Carolina

The Rev. W. Andrew Waldo has been elected Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina on the second ballot. He is the rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minn.

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Rowan Williams sorta kinda speaks on the Ugandan bill

In an interview with the Rev. George Pitcher of The Telegraph, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sorta kinda opposes the ugly anti-gay bill now being considered by the Ugandan parliament. For some reason, he remains unable to speak the simple sentence: "I oppose it". Nonetheless, he wouldn't even go this far when the Church of Nigeria twice pushed anti-gay legislation, so perhaps this is a kind of progress, for a man who says homophobia is wrong, but apparently believes that policies that benefit the most virulent homophobes in the Anglican Communion are matters of church order and therefore to be judged by a different standard.

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Advent reminders

If you are still shopping for a Christmas present for that spiritually-inclined person on your list, let us recommend Speaking to the Soul by Vicki Black, it is a collection of the excerpts that appear every day on our Speaking to the Soul blog here at the Cafe.

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See you in twurch

The web site Twurch of England is a Twitter aggregator that updates the world with the latest from C of E deacons, priests, and bishops. Published by Peter Ould and the Church Mouse, it's a way of dipping into the ongoing thought processes of a group of the ordained within a particular region.

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Sunday Social Hour

This week on Facebook and Twitter, we've seen a lot of commentary and re-posting/re-tweeting about the Glasspool election and the Ugandan legislation. But some other posts have caught the attention of readers, as well.

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'Just War' (im)morality and the Cafe

As President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo last week, he invoked the "Just War" formula theorized by Cicero and Aristotle, and theologized over by Augustine and Aquinas.

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BBC interviews Mary Glasspool

LA's suffragan bishop-elect Mary Glasspool tells Roger Bolton of BBC Radio 4's "Sunday" program:

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GLBT notables from D.C., Houston, California


With 53 percent of the vote, Annise Parker, Houston's openly gay City Controller, has been elected the city's next mayor. In her brief victory speech, she noted:

This election has changed the world for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, just as this election is about transforming Houstonians’ lives for the better.

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Get in the picture

With new technology, it's startlingly easy to insert oneself into a painting or photograph. Now from Big Ant International: a chance to climb onto Michelangelo's famous painting of the creation of Adam from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

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Bishops debate in Dallas

Bishop Stanton, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, recently invited the Presiding Bishop and retired Episcopal bishop Bill Frey to debate their understandings of how we are saved by God and the role of Jesus in that work. There have been charges that the Presiding Bishop doesn't hew sufficiently to the idea that Jesus is the definitive savior of the world.

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Father Christmas visit barred

It turns out the UK has a policy of putting the children of asylum seekers into detention centers because of the perception that the children are at high risk of "mental health issues". Canon Jim Rosenthal was prevented from visiting them over the weekend as were some other clergy. There were concerns that the visit was a possible security threat.

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Does the Church of Uganda really have no position?

Evidence continues to accumulate that the Church of Uganda supports the anti-homosexuals bill before parliament.

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First British woman bishop on horizon?

A woman priest has been named as one of the three nominees for the upcoming bishop's election in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway in the Scottish Episcopal Church. The election is scheduled for the middle of January.

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Presiding Bishop to visit Liberia

The Liberian Observer is reporting on the details of the Presiding Bishop's upcoming trip to the country and Episcopal Diocese of Liberia and its bishop Jonathan Hart.

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Episcopal Peace Fellowship on the war in Afghanistan

Episcopal Peace Fellowship issued a statement on the strategy for war in Afghanistan:

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US conservative churches membership declines

Martin Marty, in Ekklesia, writes that conservative churches are undergoing decline similar to that suffered previously by progressive churches:

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Why pay clergy?

Alban Institute discusses the issue of clergy salaries and what clergy do to earn their keep.

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DC council votes marriage equality

UPDATE: Bishop Chane, Diocese of Washington (DC) issues statement on marriage equality bill passage - see below:

AP reports:

The Washington, D.C., City Council voted Tuesday to legalize gay marriage in the nation's capital, handing supporters a victory after a string of recent defeats in Maine, New York and New Jersey.

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Religion and Copenhagen

Mark Dowd of Operation Noah writing in the Washington Post discusses "What religion has to say at Copenhagen." Sr. Joan Chittister, Bishop Tutu and others are attending and adding their voices:

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

The Third Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service will be held December 19, at 9:30 a.m. ET in both Bethlehem and Washington, DC. A joint simulcast will allow people from all over the world to attend the service. In the US the service will be held in the Bethlehem Chapel of the Washington National Cathedral. Watch the service here.

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Oral Roberts dies at age 91

CNN reports that Oral Roberts has died at age 91.

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Christianity in Britain down 25% in last 25 years

A study to be issued in January says religiosity is in sharp decline in Britain with most of the decline, in level and rate, coming in the established religion, the Church of England.

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ACNA speaks out on Uganda anti-homosexuals bill

It took a while to be noticed, but ACNA recently issued a "Communique from the First Annual Provincial Council". According to the communique issued December 11, "The Provincial Council is the governing body of the Anglican Church in North America and consists of bishops, clergy and laity representing each of the twenty-eight constituent dioceses, clusters or networks."

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Rwanda has a bill, too

Update: The bill will be debated in parliament next week according to APA.

And then there is the case of the AMiA, the Rwandan branch of ACNA. What does it have to say about the anti-homosexuals bill before the Rwandan parliament? The one that states:

Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice, shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from five (5) to ten (10) years and fine ranging from Two Hundred thousand Rwanda Francs (200.000 RwF) to one million (1,000,000) Rwanda francs.”

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Religion story of the year

Adelle Banks of RNS reports:

President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world has been ranked by the nation’s religion journalists as the top religion story of the year.

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Department of oops

Wall Street Journal reporting from India:

One lender, who wished to remain anonymous because his business is unregistered, gives borrowers short-term, collateral-free loans "as quickly as an ATM gives money," he boasts. Interest sometimes has to be paid on a daily basis and works out to an annual rate of 48%. The poor use his loans as a stopgap when they can't make their weekly microfinance repayments because their income was less than expected, he says.

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Danforth gives $30M for Religion in Politics Center

Former United States Senator (and retired Episcopal priest) John C. Danforth's foundation gives $30 million dollars to establish a center which will explore the role of religion in politics:

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Oral Roberts launched the "Prosperity Gospel"

Oral Roberts helped to launch what has become known as the "Prosperity Gospel," a belief that if you have enough faith you will become rich and healthy. In, Hanna Rosin points out some of the more obvious inconsistencies with this theology, using Roberts' life as a case in point.

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Churches offer Blue Christmas services

While the Advent and Christmas seasons can offer hope, joy and peace, they can also stir feelings of sadness and depression in part because we all mourn the loss of loved ones and can feel these losses profoundly in this time of year. Churches across the country are offering what have become known as "Blue Christmas" services for those who have experienced loss.

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ABC, EU, IEAB and the Kirk:
stands taken on Ugandan bill

There was news today of three direct statements condemning the Uganda anti-homosexuals bill, and one indirect statement.

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Gifts given for inmates' children

Churches and other organizations reach out to give gifts to the children of inmates in this season of giving:

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Parsing Handel's Messiah at 12 years old

At the National Cathedral, the boys' choir prepares to sing Handel's Messiah, spending 15-20 hours in rehearsal, in between football practices, schoolwork and all the other busy-ness of adolescents.

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Please don't rock the boat

The "Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion" has put out a statement saying that people should graciously avoid rocking the boat.

The Anglican Communion News Service has released this statement:

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Is Genesis to blame?

Is the Bible to blame for an over-heated, over-crowded world whose fate hangs in the balance in Copenhagen?

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Breaking: Final Text of Anglican Covenant

UPDATE: Lionel Deimel has prepared a word by word comparison of Section IV with the Ridley-Cambridge Draft in pdf. Click Here

The final text of the proposed Anglican Covenant has been posted along with a video message from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The controversial fourth section is below:

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Be not afraid

Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles says this in light of the release of the statement of the Standing Commission of the Anglican Communion urging the Episcopal Church not to consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool as suffragan bishop of his diocese:

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Williams gazes down deep well;
sees own face

The Pluralist doesn't much care for the Archbishop of Canterbury or his Covenant:

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1776 and All That

Elizabeth E. Evans writing a guest column on Reuters religion blog:

While there is dissent from other voices in the Communion, at the moment there is an element in the Anglican crack-up that seems familiar. After all, American Anglicans lived without prelatical supervisors for hundreds of years — and then had to go to Scotland to get Samuel Seabury consecrated as bishop in 1784 because he couldn’t take the oath of loyalty to King George III.

What are the consequences of not signing the covenant?

A few stray thoughts on the Anglican Covenant and the recent meeting of the Central Committee of the Anglican Communion (I can't bring myself to accept the power-grab-by-name- change that Rowan Williams has affected by calling this thing a Standing Committee, so I am using another name).

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Anglican Communion snowball fight

And, predictably, Rowan has invited the Pope.

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Saturday collection 12/19/09

One sometimes hears people say that because the Episcopal Church is involved in a difficult conversation about human sexuality, we have "trouble getting our message out." Thanks to Neva Rae Fox, the Church's public affairs officer, we can say conclusively that in certain seasons of the year, this is objectively untrue. Every day Neva monitors the mainstream media for reports about the Church, and every Saturday we pass a few of those along. This week we present without elaboration a particularly bountiful harvest in its entirety.

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The New Statesman on
The Muslim Jesus

Mehdi Hasan, The New Statesman’s Senior Editor for politics, reviews The Muslim Jesus, by Cambridge professor Tarif Khalidi:

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His Christmas letter to Rowan

In today's Observer, Diarmid McCulloch skips his letter to Santa, preferring the parchment and quill instead for cheering up the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Sunday Social Hour

This week in social media has seen a lot of commentary on the Archbishop of Canterbury--mostly critical. But other topics have brought about some entertaining gems. Gretchen R. Chateau wrote about excessively literal bible interpretations after some commentary on Is Genesis to blame?:

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Barcelona's "Sagrada Familia" church's architect up for sainthood

The architect of the dramatic Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona has been proposed for sainthood by a group of supporters to officials at the Vatican.

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Dwelling in her father's shadow, she pursues her call all the same

You would think having the world's most recognized preacher for a father might help you get your own ministry started. But Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL Ministries, tells Washington Post "On Faith" reporter Sally Quinn that her dad, Billy Graham, was not always supportive of her desires to get into teaching Bible.

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Between Uganda and L.A., a sad double standard

On the Guardian, Steven Bates has a good encapsulation of where things stand in the Church of England: liturgical opportunity at Christmas ... waning good will ... and a cup of cold tea for Rowan Williams.

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Don Armstrong's silence, and other news on that anti-homosexuals bill

Does it really matter that the Rev. Don Armstrong has not condemned the anti-homosexuals bill in Uganda? His former friends in the Anglican Communion Institute have turned their backs on him. He was defrocked by the Diocese of Colorado, his Colorado Springs followers lost the Grace and St. Stephen's property in court, and he is under indictment for theft. On a happier note, he and his followers have been embraced by Martyn Minns, Peter Akinola and CANA. And his spokesperson throughout his ordeals, the Rev. Alan R. Crippen II, still stands by his side.

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Longest night services

In recent years there's been a new sort of Christmas observance gaining popularity. Many Episcopal congregation and churches of other denominations will be holding "Longest Night" or "Blue Christmas" events tonight, the longest night of the year. They are ways that the congregations are caring for the pastoral needs of those for whom this is not a happy time.

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Managing polarity in the 21st century

So much of congregational conflict these days seems to stem from either/or arguments within the congregation or even denomination. Are we to be faithful to traditional biblical teaching or are we to be progressive and seek new ways to understand that teaching? Are we to stick with what has worked in our congregation over the past century, especially in difficult times, or shall we risk radical change in response to the same difficulties?

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Position of the Inter-Religious Council on the Anti-Homosexual Bill

Ten days after the independent Ugandan paper the Daily Monitor ran a story titled, "Church Leaders Back Government on Anti-Gay Bill," the state-owned paper New Vision has run a press release for the Inter-Religious Council. That press release is reprinted at the end of this post.

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Celebration in 4 languages

Entangled States blog reports on a joyfilled Advent 4 service held in 4 languages in Phoenix:

Members of the Sudanese congregation lead the processional with singing and dancing accompanied by the sound of pounding drums. They also offered music during the offertory and the recessional. Mariachis provided most of the additional service music.

see video below

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Bonnie Anderson: Greetings of Advent and Christmas

Dr. Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church sends Advent and Christmas greetings to all:


Dorsey Henderson on election in Upper South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina writes concerning the viciousness of attacks on the bishop elect, Andrew Waldo:

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President Obama and the Baby Jesus

AFP relates President Obama's visit to the Boys and Girls Club:

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A home for the holidays in Nazareth

Washington Post reports a home in Jesus' childhood neighborhood has been found and is being excavated:

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Anglicans Online reviews 2009

Anglicans Online reviews 2009 in the Anglican-o-sphere.

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WCC secretary general writes President of Uganda

World Council of Churches general secretary, The Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya has written a Letter to the Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The letter, reprinted in full after the fold raises concerns regarding the Anti Homosexuality Bill.

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Transfigured in robes of white


Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Orkney Springs, Virginia

Photo by Carolyn Moomaw Chilton

John's Eggnog

1 dozen eggs
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 qt. whipping cream
1 qt. or more bourbon (Virginia Gentleman preferred)

Separate eggs. Beat yolks until light in color. Using a mixer, slowly add in sugar until blended, alternating with dribbling in 1 cup of the bourbon (so as not to cook the eggs).

Let stand one hour minimum. Mix in whipping cream and remaining bourbon.

Whip egg whites until it forms soft peaks - not stiff. Gently fold into eggnog.

Revisiting the Family and Uganda

Tuesday, on NPR's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Bob Hunter, a member of The Family. Hunter had written Gross and an earlier guest, Jeff Sharlet. Gross writes,

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Diocese of Virginia and friends file briefs

Readers will recall that the Virginia Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of the Diocese of Virginia in its dispute with CANA. In line with the court's usual time line, the Diocese, The Episcopal Church and Amici Curiae have now filed written Briefs on the Merits with the court. The next step is for CANA to provide its brief in reply.

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Views on the covenant

With section 4 completed by SCAC, views continue to flow in on the Anglican Covenant.

A sampling:

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That didn't last long

Ugandans at an anti-gay protest in Kampala held up "Barack Omaba Back Off" signs.

Box Turtle Bulletin has TV news footage and reporting.

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Bishop Sisk on the Ugandan bill

For a Christian, no matter how many carefully culled Bible passages might be cited, no matter how lofty the spokesperson, there are no circumstances whatsoever that justify such oppression. The Anglican Communion is clearly on record supporting this view. Among others, I make reference to the actions of several Lambeth Conferences as well as to statements from the Primates Meetings, most recently their Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.
Read it all beneath the fold.

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Naughty or nice?


Has anyone calculated the economic value of people being nice?

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Pope Pius XII moves closer to sainthood

Despite criticism from Jews and other groups, the Vatican continues to move the WWII Pope Pius XII toward sainthood:

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Christmas Eve services online

Unable to participate in Christmas Eve services in your neck of the woods? Join services online in New York City and Atlanta (among others) via the Episcopal Church's multimedia programming:

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Archbishop of York speaks


The Archbishop of York speaks out on the treatment of asylum speakers and the Ugandan anti-gay bill.

Sentamu criticises treatment of asylum seekers and Ugandan anti-gay bill
In Ekklesia (UK)

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Closeted Christian no longer

Ada Calhoun writes a thought-provoking and quite profound piece in about her journey to becoming Christian, and her journey to being able to admit that she is Christian:

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A merrier Christmas for Ugandan gays and lesbians

Box Turtle Bulletin reports that Secretary General Chris Opoka of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) has denounced the anti-homosexuality bill as discriminatory, saying

“the state has no business with what people do in their bedrooms. What two consenting adults do, the state has no business… absolutely! It is discriminatory. Me, I don’t understand this idea of “African values.”

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Power of Santa

Flying reindeer, magical elves, ability to descend through chimneys and much more are all parts of the story of Santa Claus. It seems the magic and power of Santa goes far beyond Clement Moore's poem and the Jossey - Bass holiday television classics. Gene Stoltzfus glimpses the power of Santa when he begins growing out his white beard:

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Merry Christmas!!!


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Christmas wishes

We have a few Christmas wishes here at the Café and wonder if you would like to add your own in this open thread for Christmas.

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"Messiah" at Trinity Wall Street

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Room at the pub?

Surprising and wonderfully realistic nativity scene mural painted on the wall of a pub in England leaves patrons in awe:

Room at the inn? Extraordinarily realistic Nativity mural painted on pub wall

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Mama Irene saves Christmas

From Hinesville, Ga. (with embedded video):

It's a Christmas shopping spree. Hundreds of people line up outside St. Philip's Episcopal Church on a mission is to find toys. "It's very fun because 3 and 4 year olds, I have a 3-year-old nephew, it's exciting to help kids because they're so happy about it," said Kissimee Herring who spent the day helping people pick out toys.

Irene Myers collects toys to give to underprivileged children at Christmas time. This is her 7th year in the running. This year she was able to serve more than 700 kids, thanks to people in the community and a big donation from Clyde's Market. Irene even stored them in her dining room until the big day. "It's been a joy because I saw them lined up and I was like, yes," said Irene Myers.

Maybe the real story though is how it was all made possible.

Saturday Collection 12/26/09

On the day after we commemorate the night on which there was no room in the inn, it seems appropriate to dedicate the Saturday Collection to service around the country memorializing those who died homeless.

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A few words about what Episcopalians actually believe

The Rev. Leo Joseph knows that the opponents of women's ordination and the blessing of same-sex relationships have portrayed the Episcopal Church as unduly experimental. In the column excerpted below, he argues that is not not the case, leaning on an essay by our friend Bishop Pierre Whalon:

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Christianity and The Blind Side

From The Washington Post:

The Blind Side is based on the true story of the then-homeless black teenager Michael Oher and the Tuohys, the wealthy, white evangelical Tennessee family who adopted him. As football fans know, during his time with the Tuohys, Oher developed not only into a confident young man but also into a football sensation.

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Christmas Spirit (with a capital S) weaves an extravagant bond

The Rev. Anne Walling, recently of St. David's in Nasville, TN, guest-editorializes:

The first sentence of the Bible tells us that from formless void and darkness, the wind or breath of God blew up newness, stuff, creation. That breath of God blew the stuff of life into the human creature, and the human being drew breath in the image of God, after God's likeness. That's the stuff we are made of.

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Christmas in Iraq

Here in the U.S., we are accustomed to all manner of Christmas displays, from gentle creche exhibits to gaudy Christmas lights set to blink in tune to epic progressive rock songs. But Christians in Iraq celebrated Christmas quietly, according to a report on NPR's All Things Considered Friday, A Mostly Silent Night. Because Christmas coincided with the Ashoura, an important Shiite mourning ritual, Christians were keeping things quiet.

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O little town, how still we see thee lie

Yesterday's Kansas City Star saw Eric Adler reporting on what seems the almost inevitable fade-out of houses of worship in small towns. That includes places out on the plains such as WaKeeney, Kan., whose population hovers under 2,000; but of course "the story is the same from rural Missouri to rural Maine, Oklahoma to Oregon."

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'You can't say "I love you" ironically': Nashville and the new earnestness

David Dark has seen into something emerging out of popular culture - the end of this age of bitter irony.

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Bishop-elect Diane Bruce profiled

Most of the attention of the Anglican Communion has been focused on the second person elected in Los Angeles. But the LA Times has a profile of Diane Bruce, who was also elected as a suffragan bishop by action of the same convention that elected Mary Glasspool.

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Did the Prosperity Gospel cause the market crash?

This month's issue of The Atlantic has a provocative article by Hannah Rosin suggesting that the Prosperity Gospel, with its belief that those whom God loves, God blesses with material wealth may have had a significant role to play in the economic meltdown the world experienced last year.

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Church of England membership numbers stabilize?

New survey results are showing two interesting trends in English religious life. Fewer people are willing to identify as being part of a specific church but about the same number of people are identifying themselves as Christian or Anglican as have been for some time now.

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More from Uganda

The unfolding story of the proposed legislation in Uganda that would make some gay and lesbian relationships a capital crime has occupied a great deal of our attention in December.

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Cantaur and Ebor critique Zimbabwe

Voice of America is reporting:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York in the United Kingdom on Monday condemned new incidents of intimidation of members of the Anglican church in Zimbabwe following the disruption of services over the Christmas weekend by police despite a reported agreement by authorities not to interfere.

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Edward Schillebeeckx, dead at 95

The National Catholic Reporter reports the death of famed theologian Edward Schillebeeckx. Schillebeeckx was known for his theology grounded in the experience of the people of God.

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Open door policy keeps people warm

Murray Ledger and Times (KY) reports on a warming center that now has an open door policy to help homeless stay warm:

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Climate Change: are you Alarmed, Concerned, Doubtful or Dismissive

Speaking of Faith blog discusses the Yale Project on Climate Change which reports six categories of U.S residents response to climate change. A series of slides shows the aspects of this study. One shows that those who claim to be born again or evangelical are much less concerned about about climate change, falling into the Dismissive, Doubtful and Disengaged categories by over 50%:

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Readers' Top Ten Stories

What are your top stories in the Episcopal sphere? or other religious stories - add them here or on Twitter #10Episcopal or on our Facebook fan page here.

Resilience in Coping with Death

Writing in the New York Times, Abigail Zuger, M.D., reviews The Other Side of Sadness, by Georege Bonanno, a new book on grieving that breaks the stereotypes of the grieving process suggesting that resilience is the most common and effective process:

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New Year's Resolution:
have fun now!

The New York Times offers advice on resolutions for the New Year:

For once, social scientists have discovered a flaw in the human psyche that will not be tedious to correct. You may not even need a support group. You could try on your own by starting with this simple New Year’s resolution: Have fun ... now!

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PB increases her attention

Over the years you may have encountered snarky comments around the web about our presiding bishop's pattern of doing embroidery in meetings. Katharine Jefferts Schori has embroidered at primates meetings, in the House of Bishops and elsewhere. The gist of the snarky comments is that she's not listening, and is communicating that she is bored.

In fact, she may be doing needle work to intentionally increase her attention to what is transpiring.

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What Horowitz learned about compassion

David Horowitz is the author of Radical Son, his autobiography about his transformation from a 1960s New Left marxist radical, to an equally sharp-elbowed thinker and writer on the right.

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Why was I born where I was born?

It's a question driven out of the capacity for empathy, not the self-centeredness of youth: Why was I born where I was born? What fate intervened?

The Rev. Roger Bowen has seen the question arise on his several decades of taking young Americans to Haiti first as a chaplain and headmaster of Episcopal schools and now in retirement in Staunton, Virginia:

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Death and taxes meet again

If you lower the tax on death you'll have less of it:

Starting Jan. 1, the estate tax -- which can erase nearly half of a wealthy person's estate -- goes away for a year. For families facing end-of-life decisions in the immediate future, the change is making one of life's most trying episodes only more complex. On Jan. 1, the one-year halt to the estate tax begins....

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Vote for USAToday's top stories

It seems just about everyone is making up their top lists for the year. Didn't they know that Santa already made his list?

USA Today offers their readers to vote for the "top religion newsmaker of 2009". Check it out. If you don't vote, you can't complain about who wins.

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For whom the bell tolls

Don't ask for whom the bell tolls in Pittsford, NY . . . they don't toll after 11pm?

N.Y. town at odds over church bells
From UPI

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Liturgy of light for Epiphany

Deep in the midst of a bleak winter, churches are finding ways to illuminate people's spirits. In Durham, North Carolina, St. Luke's Episcopal Church is planning to usher in the season of Epiphany with 400 lights:

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Covenant not "a penal code", says ABC

It is perhaps a good thing that the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks that the new Anglican Covenant will not be "a penal code." (Phew!) This piece in the Church Times lays out the essentials of the Anglican Covenant, and is (thankfully) a quick read.

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On Campus: looking forward to Lent

There seems to be a growing movement of the spiritual discipline of fasting on campuses by Christians, partially inspired by other religious traditions.

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