Australian theologian Bruce Kaye: the Covenant won't work

Australian theologian Bruce Kaye writing at his blog World Anglican Forum says:

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Mad Priest loses his job

The Rev. Jonathan Hagger, better known as Mad Priest, has lost his job. Ruth Gledhill has the sketchy details in Mad Priest's Lonely Farewell. Jonathan spoke about his situation in his sermon yesterday.

Critics of anti-gay Ugandan bill collect 450,000 signatures

From the BBC:

Campaigners opposing Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill have taken an online petition to parliament, signed by some 450,000 people from around the world.

The petition is the latest attempt to halt the bill, which carries the death penalty for some homosexual acts. ...

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The reports of our death are greatly exaggerated

Writing for USA Today, Oliver Thomas: sees signs of life in mainline Protestant churches:

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US Supreme Court won't hear CA breakaway parish's appeal

From the Diocese of Los Angeles:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke's Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

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Failure to thrive

Roy Oswald and Barry Johnson discuss "Failure to Thrive" in this week's missive from the
Alban Institute

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Removed, perhaps, during the laying on of hands?

Adrian Worsfold (aka Pluralist) is wondering why liberal English bishops have no spine:

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Larger Protestant churches on gay/lesbian ordination

NewsOK, Oklahoma, looks at where the largest Protestant churches stand on gay and lesbian clergy:

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Gay Presbyterian minister re-instated

A gay clergyperson has been re-instated in the Presbyterian Church. The reinstatement was based on the person's exercising a "scruples" clause (conscientious objection) to a "one man, one woman" definition of marriage in an ordination standard.

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Fatwa issued against terrorism and suicide bombings

The BBC reports that an influential Islamic scholar has issued a fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombings:

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Catholic Charities ends benefits for spouses

UPDATE: Supreme Court refuses to block same sex marriage law in DC.

According to the Washington Post, Catholic Charities, Washington DC, says they will not offer benefits to spouses of newly hired lay employees not to those spouses not currently enrolled in their plans to comply with new non-discrimination laws in Washington DC and continue their $22 million social services contract with the city:

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Certain and Martindale also nominated for Federal Ministries bishop post

Episcopal Life Online notes that two more nominees have been added to the list for Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries, the Very Rev. Richard James Martindale and the Rev. Dr. Robert Certain.

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Archbishops and primates traveling

Archbishop Makgoba will travel to Haiti today and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will travel to Scotland in June.

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Made for Goodness

A new book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, writing with his daughter, Mpho Tutu, comes out March 9, 2010, Made for Goodness: And why this makes all the difference.:

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House of Lords votes for same sex marriage in churches

Ekklesia reports

In a dramatic development, the House of Lords has voted to allow the use of religious premises and religious language in same-sex partnerships.

Sitting yesterday evening (2 March), peers voted in favour of the proposal by 95 votes to 21, despite opposition from the government and several Church of England bishops.

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Brief writing completed in Virginia appellate case

Brief writing in the appellate phase of the property dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and the CANA congregations is completed. Oral arguments before the State Supreme Court are next.

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U.S. investment agency considering power of the purse in Uganda

Uganda is not a "threshold partner" of the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and that status is unlikely to change if the government's human rights record towards gays does not improve. At stake for Uganda is the potential for infrastructure grants in the 100s of millions of dollars.

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Bishops absent from House of Lords vote

Dave Walker displays his incisive cartoon skills in this explanation of why only two of the twenty five bishops in the House of Lords voted on the amendment to allow civil partnership services in churches.

Here's how the bishops voted:

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Assorted links

Brains, beards, sex, bias and more.

1. Working with in the youth program at church? Read the teenage brain.

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Virginia court schedules arguments

A press release from the Diocese of Virginia:
March 3, 2010
Virginia Supreme Court to Hear Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Appeal the Week of April 12, 2010

The Supreme Court of Virginia has notified the Diocese it intends to hear arguments during the week of April 12-16, 2010 in the case The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al.

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Employee policies are for cowards

When organizations try to solve personnel behavior problems with new policies rather than with direct confrontation with the difficult employee it poisons the work environment.

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For Episcopal parish music program reaches 1.4 million YouTube

In July 2007 while music director and organist at Redeemer Episcopal Church in Morristown, he [Wayne Burcham-Gulotta] began posting his choir and organ music from there on YouTube. There are currently 274 videos.

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Chilean Anglicans offer aid

The Anglican Church in Chile is responding to the urgent needs of those affected by the recent Chilean earthquake:

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Glasspool needs one more Standing Committee consent

The Diocese of Los Angeles reports that Mary Glasspool has received 55 consents from Standing Committees out of 56 needed.

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The role of religious leaders in diplomacy

The Washington National Cathedral concluded their program on Christian and Islamic dialogue last night. In yesterday's Washington Post, Diocese of Washington's Bishop John Chane writes on the role of religious leaders in diplomacy.

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+Chane: Priests may preside at civil marriages in DC

Episcopal Bishop: Priests may preside at civil marriages in D. C.

Episcopal priests in the Diocese of Washington may preside at civil same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia under guidelines released today by Bishop John Bryson Chane. No priest is required to preside at such ceremonies.

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Jesuit on a mission in mass media

Jesuit priest James Martin is using the web and television to connect the stories of popular culture with "THE" story of God:

Jesuit priest James Martin moves in Mass, mass media
In USAToday

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Christ Church becomes "St. Google"

The Rev. Scott Gunn has found a way to guarantee better Internet service:

I am now Rector of St. Google
Scott Gunn writing in "Seven Whole Days" blog

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Coalición de Episcopales Latinos

The Coalition of Episcopal Latinos is being formed to support and expand the reach of the work of the Office of Hispanic/Latino ministries. There are three Executive Council members on the board of this new group along with Bishop Leo Frade. It represents the Latino ministries groups deciding to take initiative on their own and not wait upon the official structures of the National Church.

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Christians and Muslims agree to pursue peace

Yesterday, we posted Bishop Chane's Washington Post essay about the role of the religious in our diplomacy. Adelle M. Banks, writing for Religious News Service, describes the statement that Christian and Muslim leaders from the U.S., the Vatican and the Middle East have issued out of the three day conference that just ended at the Washington National Cathedral. It is being called a "plan of action" to address religious freedom and peace-building.

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Fear-mongering in the UK

As we have previously reported, the House of Lords in the UK voted to permit religious bodies to perform and bless civil unions. Even though most Bishops were not present for the vote, this has not stopped dire predictions concerning the end of the world as we know it.

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State will review anti-gay laws outside Uganda

Box Turtle Bulletin says that the US State Department will directed embassies to review anti-gay laws and attitudes in their host countries.

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See how they love one another

Over on the Christian sideshow, Chick Tracts have been part of a segment of American evangelical culture for decades. They are little comic-style tracts that promote a literal interpretation of the (King James Only) Bible.

One of our favorites is the one about evolution, where people ride around on dinosaurs a la Fred Flintstone.

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English evangelical bishop calls for tolerance

A leading voice in the evangelical wing of the Church of England, Bishop James Jones, speaking to his diocesan synod in Liverpool today says the battle of sexuality in the Church needs to end.

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Holy cr** must go

Walter Russell Mead on getting rid of things that block the church from moving into the future:

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Saturday Collection 03/06/2010

This week's news bring accounts of a parishioner in Hilton Head finding a fire truck for the people of the Dominican Republic, a Cathedral and its artwork, a bishop blessing the shrimpers, parish nursing and yet another congregation supporting ministry to the homeless.

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Religion and the Oscars

Tomorrow night brings the annual celebration of Hollywood's work. There are any number of movies that have religious themes, but the one that seems to have captured people's attention is the top grossing film of all time: Avatar.

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"We have to hear the human story" - Bp. Jones, Diocese of Liverpool

The Rt. Rev. James Jones focused his Presidential address to the Synod of the Diocese of Liverpool on the debate on human sexuality. He says he believes the Anglican Communion can survive and should allow a range of ethical positions on homosexuality, and do so in Christian love as we grow together in discovery of God's intent for us.

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Assorted links

1. Pope to retire imminently. But don't tell anyone. Oh, did I say which Pope?

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Religious violence returns to Nigeria

Update: Although numbers are difficult to confirm the BBC now says the number killed may be closer to 500.

Much more detail is available from Monday morning's BBC World Service. Follow this link and listen to chapters 1 through 4: an on location report, interviews with local authorities, and background behind the violence.

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A Haiti roundup

Some recent stories on the recovery phase of Haitian earthquake that caught our attention:

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Best Picture nominees speak volumes about God

UPDATE: and the winners ARE....

Here are thoughts from reviewers - some more theological, some less so - on the ten films selected as Best Picture nominees at tonight's 82nd Academy Awards.

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Same sex blessing held in Kentucky

The Louisville Courier Journal reports on the first same-sex blessing held late last year at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church.

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Anti racism trainers work with Sudanese

Lou Schoen, Province VI Anti-Racism Network Coordinator reports that Anti-racism trainers for the Episcopal Church, Lelanda Lee (also a member of the Executive Council, representing Province VI of The Episcopal Church) and JoKatherine Holliman Page undertook a special training challenge recently in Denver for a group working for democracy in Southern Sudan. Following is Lee's report:

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The search process as journey

John Vonhof of Alban Institute discusses the search process as seven "stations" - a journey of discovery.

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International Women's Day today

Washington Post reports on International Women's Day, today, March 8.

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Next Supreme Court justice:
a protestant, an atheist?

The Washington Post asks

Does President Obama's next Supreme Court nominee need to be a Protestant?

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Bishop Jones has struck a nerve

Bishop James Jones' address to the synod of the Diocese of Liverpool continues to reverberate through the Anglican blogosphere. Peter Owen has an excellent round-up.

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Peep madness

For the last four years, The Washington Post has invited its readers to create dioramas featuring Peeps, those little brightly-colored marshmallow chicks and bunnies as an Easter promotion. This year, a couple from Washington National Cathedral's worshipping congregation took up the challenge and submitted one using the Cathedral as a backdrop.

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The quest for a small pure Church continues

From The

A preschooler is caught in the middle of a fight between religion and sexuality. Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, in Boulder, has refused to readmit a preschooler because the child has two moms. Her parents are lesbians.

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Oji-Cree archdeacon elected bishop in Canada

From Anglican Journal:

Using a time-honoured tradition of standing behind the nominee of their choice, delegates from 16 native communities in the diocese of Keewatin’s northern Ontario region elected Archdeacon Lydia Mamakwa as their first area bishop on March 6.

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The mystic in the rye

Louis A. Ruprecht for Religion Dispatches:

"While Jerome David (J.D.) Salinger died more than a month ago, on January 27, it is still difficult for me to talk about him in the past tense. I expect that his books have something to do with that—the way they play with time.

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Glenn Beck (further) troubles the water

FOX News warbler and full-time fearmonger Glenn Beck may have completely lost it for good. Last week he urged viewers to flee from churches that preach and practice "social justice," for such was/is at the heart of Nazism and Communism.

Let that sit for just a second.

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Tweeting the Exodus - why not?

Usually we at the Café use our Sunday afternoons to talk about the impact that social media are having on the experience of contemporary religion. Here's a midweek break to note that this year, the Exodus will be tweeted.

Twitter users may wish to follow @TweetTheExodus. The Exodus starts March 16th, and is therefore timed with Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first day of the first month of the ecclesiastical year (the seventh month of the Hebrew civil calendar).

Passover begins March 30th.

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'Nightline' and 'World News Tonight' to examine Ugandan bill

TV Tip: Tune in tonight (or at least set your DVR) for ABC's "Nightline" (11:35 EST) and "World News Tonight," (6:30 EST), Box Turtle Bulletin reports.

It looks like it will be well worth watching (or recording, if you can’t stay up for it). Martin Ssempa is already upset that the Nightline crew didn’t fall for his easily-disproven lies.

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Egypt will restore synagogues on its own dime

Although Egypt's population of Jews has dwindled to but a handful, the government has extended help in an offer to restore the country's synagogues.

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History repeating? Familiar charges haunt an Australian bishop

No longer in a class by himself, one bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia has joined another in being the recipient of charges of bullying and abuse.

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Breaking: Standing Committees consent to Glasspool election

The Rev. Mary Glasspool has received a majority of Standing Committee consents needed to confirm her election according to the Diocese of Los Angeles news reports. The bishops' consents are not yet known although Bishop Bruno says he looks "forward to the final few consents to come in from the bishops in the next few days."

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Drawing lines in the sand

The Diocese of South Carolina will votes on resolutions designed to further distance themselves from the rest of the Episcopal Church. Previously, Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan leadership set out on a path of separation from all Episcopal Church ministries and governance that, in their view, reinforce ideas contrary to their understanding of Holy Scripture, Episcopal polity and Lambeth resolutions. These four resolutions solidify that move.

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VA Governor acts

After hearing criticism from many quarters, including Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, and from businesses who are discerning whether to locate in Virginia, Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell counters his own Attorney General on just how much protection gays and lesbians have under Virginia law.

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A fool for Christ in Durham (NC)

Durham (NC) priest dons a fool's costume to be a "fool for Christ"

Cleric plays the fool
From the Durham (NC) Herald-Sun

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Rebuilding church 40 years after fire

Washington (DC) church plans to rebuild its sanctuary 40 years after a fire destroyed it:

Church Street church could rise from 1970 ashes
by David Alpert in "GreaterGreaterWashington"

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Tutu on NPR - we are "made for goodness"

Desmond Tutu is a gift to the world, and we are proud that he is such an eloquent and spirited advocate for justice, peace, liberation, and all the robust depth of our Anglican tradition. He spoke on NPR this morning about his new book (authored with his daughter Mpho), "Made for goodness"

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Bp of Liverpool responds to critics; Canada and Africa listening

The Church Times has an article on reverberations to Bishop James Jones' address last weekend on human sexuality, and includes a response it elicited from the bishop:

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Music of "The Boss" raises funds for food

The music of Bruce Springsteen will accompany a Eucharist to raise funds for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral's food bank according to The Oregonian's

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Kenya: another gay hate campaign from the U.S.?

GayUganda reports on another hate campaign supported from the US, this one in Kenya. Terrifying and possibly illegal websites from the U.S. call for death to gays and lesbians. They provide posters with photos and addresses of people to target. One of the Americans behind this is an anti-gay and anti-abortion activist and sometime candidate for governor of Georgia.

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ABC honored by Russia

According to BBC News:

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has been awarded a top Russian honour recognising his love of the country and its literature.

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Bishops meet: study evangelism, same sex relationships, renew vows

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church will be meeting March 19-24 at Camp Allen in Texas. They will study the episcopacy in the 21st century, same sex relationships, the Anglican Covenant, evangelism and the emerging church movement. The Office of Public Affairs Newsline reports:

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Talking through the covenant at CDSP

The Church Divinity School of the Pacific held a forum recently on the Anglican Covenant, and it is available online. The panelists are Deputy Sara Lawton, Dr. Rod Dugliss, and the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers. The moderator is Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski. The video runs for more than an hour, but Communion junkies will love it.

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Happy Birthday, Jim!

Happy Birthday, Jim Naughton!!!

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Tutu op-ed calls for full human rights for African LGBT people.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in the Washington Post, writes forcefully: "Hate has no place in the house of God". He takes politicians in Africa to task for fomenting hatred and fear of gay and lesbian people as a tool to gain more power for themselves.

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Rowan Williams honored by Russian government

The Archbishop of Canterbury was honored for his contributions to increasing the understanding and deepening the relationship of the UK and Russia. "The Order of Friendship" was awarded at a London ceremony attended by the Russian ambassador on behalf the President of Russia.

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Saturday Collection 3/13/2010

This week's collection of stories seems to focus on the ways that Episcopal churches are managing to cross the lines to build bridges between people of different denominations through their outreach ministry, between the sacred and secular and the ancient and the modern.

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Zimbabwe tribes show Jewish descent

The people of Ethiopia have claimed a jewish heritage for most of their recorded history. And there's some reason to think that their memory and lore is accurate, the scientific verdict is still out.

A new group claiming Jewish descent has been found in the nation of Zimbabwe much further to the south on the African continent.

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Haiti relief efforts struggling to overcome obstacles

The situation in Haiti continues to be dire. While aid is streaming toward the impoverished nation, the necessary infrastructure to distribute the material goods is lacking. Haitians living abroad, particularly those in the U.S., often called members of the Haitian diaspora are trying to coordinate a work-around as quickly as possible.

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Richardson new dean at CDSP

From the Church Divinity School of the Pacific:

After much prayerful thought, discussion, and deliberation, the Board of Trustees of Church Divinity School of the Pacific is pleased to announce that the Rev. Dr. W. Mark Richardson has accepted the offer to become the seminary’s next President and Dean beginning July 1, 2010.

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Some CoE staff stage strike

The Telegraph has it:

The industrial action was called by the Public & Commercial Services Union, which also represents civil servants, amid claims that it is not “Christian behaviour” to freeze workers’ pay.

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Sunday Social Hour: Constance McMillen; should Deputies tweet?

Here's a neat trick: We've been adding diocesan Facebook pages as well as those of cathedrals, bishops, and Episcopal-related nonprofit organizations to our "favorite pages."

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Inter-Religious Council steps out gingerly against anti-gay bill

Carried as news in only one major Ugandan publication, it came forth quietly over the past few days and has taken a while to gain the ears of the world.

We're talking about a statement by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda which (though perhaps shot through with a late-in-the-game sanctimony that reverses previous positions) has that key group finally denouncing the kill-the-gays bill now before the Ugandan parliament.

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March Gladness is back

UPDATED: Bracket released.
Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation's 2010 installment of March Gladness is ready to roll out.

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Labels don't stick

The New York Times' "Public Editor" Clark Hoyt points to the dangers and frustrations of using shorthand descriptors in public communication, especially when religion plays a role.

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Who is this "they" you speak of?

Update: The Rev. Grieb has told numerous sources that she did not offer the characterizations attributed to her.

Here is a perplexing little nugget from a report on the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Rev. Katherine Grieb of Virginia Theological Seminary, a member of the original Anglican Covenant Design Team, is reported to have said the following:

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Andrew Sullivan tackles the arguments of anti-gay Christians

Andrew Sullivan refutes the arguments against recognizing same-sex relationships in this seven-part video excerpted from a lecture at Princeton University.

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2,500 and counting

Let it be known that earlier today, 24-year-old Daniel Stroud, a regular participant in #ecafe Twitters posts became our 2,500th fan on Facebook. Thanks, Daniel. And thanks to the 14 or 15 folks who have signed up since then.

The child rape crisis and the Pope

The New York Times got the ball rolling with this story:

A widening child sexual abuse inquiry in Europe has landed at the doorstep of Pope Benedict XVI, as a senior church official acknowledged Friday that a German archdiocese made “serious mistakes” in handling an abuse case while the pope served as its archbishop.

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The Interim: Is it a good idea?

John Vonhof for the Alban Institute:

The interim period, in simplest terms, is the time between pastors. This period is, however, far from simple. The church must continue to function. Worship needs to happen. The board must lead. The staff continues to work. Members must be taught and cared for. Visitors and new members must be introduced to the life of the church. It is here that an interim pastor fits into the plans of your congregation during the clergy leadership vacancy and the search process.

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The art of devotion

The Peninsula (Washington) Daily News:

The Rev. Gail Wheatley took a leap of faith when she asked the parishioners at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Port Angeles last summer to submit artwork portraying the 14 Stations of the Cross.

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Presiding Bishop: Easter 2010

An Easter message from The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori:

Easter 2010

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. (Isa 9:2; Matt 4:16)

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Child sex abuse: bishop faces up to problems

Ruth Gledhill interviews the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Kieran Conry, who forthrightly speaks of the need to investigate and address child sexual abuse. Conry does not shy away from how badly the church has acted in the past and his hopes for better response in the future:

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ABC welcomes Pope's visit to Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK:

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OR and CT receive consents to bishop elections

Episcopal News Service reports the Presiding Bishop has notified Oregon and Connecticut that the canonical consent processes for their Bishops-Elect have been successfully completed.

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CofE Weddings Project

The BBC reports on churches trying to make themselves more attractive to couples planning a wedding and hope that it will increase membership as well over the years:

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Tweeting the Exodus - it begins

Tweet the Exodus begins today with a link to a clip from The Ten Commandments followed by a link to the modern day slave trade.

Follow it at Tweet the Exodus

What is Easter?

The Barna group studied the meaning of Easter in the U.S. with some surprising results:

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Bishop leads team to state championship

Newly elected consecrated bishop of Minnesota, Brian Prior, aka "Coach" has led the Freeman High School, Rockford, WA, Scotties basketball team to a State Championship according to Episcopal Life Online:

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Quit thinking of your church as a family

Consulting firm to congregation: “The most important thing (Name of Church) will ever do is end whatever amount of ongoing conflict exists as well as quit thinking like a family.”

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Anglican theologian skeptical of secular reason

The Immanent Frame has an interview today with John Milbank. IM describes Milbank as "an Anglican theologian whose ideas, distinguished by a profound skepticism of secular reason, have given shape to Radical Orthodox theology (in opposition, Wikipedia says, to Radical Theology à la Spong) and provided the underpinnings of the Red Tory and Blue Labour movements in British politics."

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An update

The Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb has told numerous sources that she did not offer the characterizations attributed to her in a news feature of the Anglican Church of Canada. Specifically, she did not say that from the perspective of The Episcopal Church the present version of the Anglican Covenant is "that they could live with."

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A haunted St. Patrick's Day

In his homily today at the Mass for St Patrick's Day, St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, Cardinal Seán Brady spoke of recent reports that as a canon lawyer he mishandled sex-abuse cases 35 years ago:

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Glasspool receives consents

UPDATED to add reactions
UPDATED again to include ENS report

From Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs received about 6:00 P.M. Lambeth time:

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop’s office notifies Diocese of Los Angeles of successful canonical consent process

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Nuns break from bishops over health care

AP: in a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation's 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging lawmakers to pass the Senate health care bill.

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Decline of Southern Baptists may be greatly understated?

From the Letters to the Editor section of the latest edition of Religion in the News

Thanks to Andrew Manis for his informative article on falling Southern Baptist membership. [Baptists Shrink, Religion in the News, Vol. 12, No. 2] Actually, the trend may have started before it appeared in the numbers he cites.

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Sullivan: "When will this Pope step down?"

One post per day on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church ought to be sufficient to encompass breaking news. But today -- which just happens to be St. Patrick's day -- is an exception. It requires two. (The first is here.)

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Keeping the Sabbath aerobic

How to balance cultivation of one's faith with athletic pursuits? An article in Runner's World reflects on this question:

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A way to help Haitians help Haiti

Episcopal missionary to Haiti, Lauren Stanley, passed on another great way to help Haitians help Haiti. Read on, and if you are able, please help:


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David Norgard on "The future of inclusion"

The president of Integrity recently offered a lecture entitled, "The Future of Inclusion" at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). We commend it to you.

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Bishop Jean Zache Duracin reflects on Haiti

The bishop of Haiti, Jean Zache Duracin, reflects on challenges which face his earthquake-ravaged nation, and where he finds God as he works to help rebuild his country.

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Assasination attempt on Bishop Barahona, El Salvador

From the Rev. Lee Alison Crawford's blog Caminate:

Bishop of the Anglican Church of El Salvador victim of an assassination attempt

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CT property is TECs

A Connecticut state superior court judge ruled that Groton church property belongs to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Connecticut:

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Churches engaging politics

The National Congregations Study was published this week by Duke University, and can be found HERE and it offers much to reflect upon for churches and church leaders.

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The underground church in Jamaica

The Rev. Irene Monroe writes in Bay Windows about the measures Jamaican gay and lesbian Christians must take to be sure that they can worship in safety.

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Anglican woman of courage

Episcopal News Service reports that Jestina Mukoko, a Zimbabwe Anglican and human rights activist, has been presented with the 2010 International Women of Courage award by the U.S. Department of State.

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Don't worry, talk deeply

Ronni Caryn Rabin writes on the Well blog on that people are happier when they spend less time in small talk and more time in deep discussions such as the state of the world or the meaning life.

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Next stop, immigration reform

This weekend a number of people representing many groups, including churches and faith groups, will come to Washington to rally for immigration reform. Several stories talk about the issue from the religious perspective.

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More about the attempted shooting of Bishop Barahona

Following up on the story from Thursday that there has been an attempt on the life of Archbishop Barahona, the Primate of Central America and the bishop of El Salvador, the bishop appeared at a press conference yesterday.

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Pope offers apology to Irish catholics

Pope Benedict released his long awaited pastoral letter to the Irish Catholic Church that addresses the scandalous behavior of clergy and the hierarchy in that county as more information regarding the sexual abuse of children is coming to light. The eight page letter contains what is described as a passionate apology. But there are no specific disciplinary actions mentioned.

The New York Times has extensive coverage:

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Saturday Collection 03/20/2010

We're in the last few weeks of Lent right now and starting to turn our thoughts toward Holy Week and the great celebration of the Easter Feast. There are a number of stories this week about congregations in the Episcopal Church doing extraordinary things for Lent. And a few about how the congregations are planning on new ministries in the coming Spring.

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Smylie elected bishop of Wyoming

The Reverend John Sheridan Smylie, Rector of St. Marks in Casper Wyoming and the former Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Spokane was elected the next Bishop of the Diocese of Wyoming today.

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AZ churches unite in opposition to anti-immigration bill

The State of Arizona which already has some of the strictest anti-immigration laws in the nation is poised to pass new laws that will make anyone present in the state with out proper documentation guilty of trespassing. This effectively targets the children of immigrants who were brought into the country by their parents while seeking work. It would also mandate that local law officers enforce the law, removing any discretion on their part.

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Why is Easter on April 4th?

When we ask "When is Christmas?" we mean what day of the week it falls on. When we ask "When is Easter?" we mean a specific numeric day in March (never before the 22nd) or April (never after the 25th).

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Sunday Social Hour

Welcome to the first springtime edition of the Sunday Social Hour!

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Telling it like it is in Wyoming

Yesterday morning, John Smylie (rector of St. Mark's, Casper) was a candidate in the search for the ninth Bishop of Wyoming, which turned out to be a five-ballot event at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Laramie. Last night he went to bed a bishop-elect with a consecration scheduled for the last day in July, consents pending.

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With food pantries, 'it's a matter of ingenuity'

Sara Miles is Director of Ministry at Saint Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. In that capacity, she oversees the congregation's food pantry.

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Gene Robinson to preach ... in Dallas

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire will climb into the pulpit this week in Dallas. Perhaps that's a surprise.

But then, it won't be at any of the diocese's 70+ parishes, more than 20 of which are in Dallas proper; and it certainly won't be at any of the 13 Dallas-area parishes listed as affiliated with AAC.

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Health care passes House

Now playing everywhere: Congress has given final approval to the health care bill, which would provide for medical care for the millions in America who do not currently have access to insurance.

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Churches are political institutions, and that's a good thing

In a speech to the Episcopal Communicators' annual convention last week in Salem, Mass. The Hon. Byron Rushing, who has been reelected to the Massachusetts State Legislature two or three dozen times, and to the Diocese of Massachusetts Deputation to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church at least as often said that churches, like towns and cities, states and nations, are inescapably political organizations, and that churches get into trouble when they pretend otherwise.

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Church can't only be about comfort and agreement

Wesley J. Wildman and Stephen Chapin Garner writing for the Alban Institute:

The first great test of the liberal-evangelical church, and of your moderate and radical Christian faith, occurs when you face conflict and difference in your community. Can you sit next to someone who will vote oppositely to you on the question of gay marriage and still move forward together to celebrate Communion?

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A stray thought about the Covenant

Does the Covenant look any better if you can perform the mental feat of forgetting the history of the document when you read the current text?

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Wyoming's internet sensation

From the Diocese of Wyoming unofficial listserve:

Without plan, preparation or promotion, the Election of Wyoming's 9th Bishop was broadcast over the internet using a laptop, cellphone and cheapie web camera. (There is no WiFi in the Cathedral.)

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In prison and you visited me

Tom Barton in the Savannah Morning News:

From outside, you can only visualize what it's like for the 1,500-plus inmates inside.

One is Cedric D. Arrington. He's 50 years old, according to the inmate registry on the state Department of Corrections Web site. He's serving 18 years without parole for an armed robbery he committed two years ago in Houston County, just south of Macon.

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Sunday school teacher oversees bank bailout

From Sojourners, how the faith of this Sunday School teacher affects her work reviewing the bank bailout. In addition to describing her work she adds that writing to our senators and representatives is important and comments on the role of faith in daily life:

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Is there religion in heaven?

Religion Dispatches interviews Lisa Miller about her new book, Is There Religion in Heaven?

RD: What inspired you to write Heaven?

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Water week celebrated

March 22-26 is World Water Week. March 22 was World Water Day. Organizations devoted to providing clean water are asking people to add the event to their Facebook and Twitter pages for the week to raise awareness of the need for clean water for health, life and economic reasons.
From The Huffington Post

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House of Bishops meeting update

The bishops of the Episcopal Church are meeting at Camp Allen, TX. The spring meeting is more of a retreat for bishops.

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Voice for progressive clergy
re-activated in Nashville

Nashville clergy re-activate the Covenant Association, originally formed to be a meeting place and voice for social justice oriented clergy who don't endorse conservative politics. The Tennessean reports:

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Assorted links

There's a common thread -- lying, cheating, moral superiority.

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Remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero's life, and assassination

Today, March 24th, marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of El Salvadoran Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero.

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Vatican accepts Irish bishop's resignation

5 have submitted resignations;
2 have been accepted by the Vatican.

But who's counting?

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Bishops elect new bishops

During the meeting of the House of Bishops at Camp Allen, Texas two new bishops were elected. The Rev. Canon David Bailey of Utah was elected as bishop of the Navajoland Area Mission. The Rev. Dr. James 'Jay' Magness was elected bishop suffragan for federal ministries. Both elections are subject to the usual consent process.

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House of Bishops posts
same-sex report(s)

Once again the Episcopal News Service is on top the story with a timely report:

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, concluding its six-day retreat meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, has posted a draft of the long-awaited 95-page report titled "Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church" on the College of Bishops' website [resources page]here.

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Akinola "household name globally"

1000 people attended a farewell dinner for outgoing Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola in his 65th year, in Abuja on March 24th, the eve of the installation of his successor, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh.
This as reported by Chris Sugden, Canon of Jos, Nigeria.

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Heaven: what, where, why is it?

In the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog some notable writers and thinkers answer the question, "What (or where, or why) is heaven?" What's your answer?

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Your comments requested on the Bishops' report

It's time to "read, mark, and comment upon" the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops' report titled, "Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church".

Take some time to read it and comment on it here. Here is the entire report.

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Feast of the Annunciation: the Magnificat

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington has a multimedia presentation on the Magnificat today, in honor of the Feast of the Annunciation.

Check it out.

Vatican declined to defrock U.S. priest who abused boys

Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times reports today: 'Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.

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If Jesus were on Facebook

At his blog, Eugene Cho reflects on what Jesus's Facebook account would look like.

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Canadian Commons condemn Uganda bill

The Canadian House of Commons steps up and condemns Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill. Bravo Canada!

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Let the scientists lecture us on science

From "The Friends of Jake" blog comes this response to the Bishop's report...why exactly are theologians lecturing the wider church about science?

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Sin is the closet

The Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng of the Episcopal Divinity School says that we need to turn from a legalistic notion of sin to a Christogical one. He believes that sin is more than just an excess of pride but is also an excess of shame.

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Laity know more than clergy think

The scandal of covering up child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Europe continues to grow, with journalists asking the question "what the did the future pope know and when did he know it?

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Truth telling and accountability make a difference

Walter Robinson teaches journalism at Northeastern University. Before that, he led The Boston Globe’s investigative unit, which in 2002 and 2003 documented sexual abuse within the Boston Archdiocese,which led to the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Robinson spoke to Marian Wang at about his observations of the current clergy clergy scandals in Europe.

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Okah does not approve

The new Archbishop of Nigeria does not approve of the statement by the Bishop of Liverpool that homosexuality is a "given" and that the Anglican Communion will have to learn to live and work together amidst a variety of perspectives on how to live with that.

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Robinson joins think tank

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire is the new Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, DC, think tank.

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A little reformation now and then is a good thing

David Walker noticed that there is a new twitter site for the Church of England called, and we are not making this up, "Twurch of England." It is for the the bishops and clergy and...the clergy and bishops of the CofE. This caused our friend to mount a small revolution. #reformthetwurch.

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Diocese of South Carolina special convention report

The Diocese of South Carolina passed a set of four resolutions at their Diocesan convention yesterday. The resolutions are intended to draw clear lines between the diocese and the authority of the General Convention and other national episcopal structures. The Diocese of South Carolina contends that it is taking these actions to make explicit what has always been implicit in the way dioceses and national church structures have worked together.

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Discovery to be allowed in US Catholic Church sex abuse cases?

This week has seen one story after another about the abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy. But so far most of these scandals have been based in either Ireland or Germany with the focus on the Vatican in Italy. But today comes news that American cases may move to the forefront again.

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Saturday Collection 03/27/2010

If your congregations are anything like the ones of the Café's newsteam, you're probably seeing a slowing down in programs as they gear up for Holy Week. The staff are shooting worried looks at the copy machines as they chug along producing piles and piles of bulletins. Clergy are locked in their offices trying to get a good start on all the sermons they'll be preaching. Communicators are making sure websites, newspaper ads and outdoor banners all have the correct service schedule times.

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Tonight is "Earth Hour" so turn off a light or two

Tonight at 8:30 PM local time, the World Wildlife Fund is asking people around the world to observe Earth Hour. If you're interested in participating, there's a social media component to the observance this year. You can find the details at the sight linked above.

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Diocese of LA wins another legal decision in St. James dispute

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been battling with former parishioners of St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach for years now over who should rightfully control the buildings. A decision in 2007 put the buildings under the control of the Diocese. That decision was appealed.

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In Dallas, Robinson preaches at Cathedral of Hope

Texas may be big, but the distance from Navasota to Dallas isn't impossible. As mentioned here last week, Gene Robinson preached at the Cathedral of Hope in Big D after the conclusion of the House of Bishops meeting near Houston.

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Sunday Social Hour

Things are quietly returning to normal over at the Cafe's Facebook page after we had to take down a few inflammatory comments. We also posted a reminder about the blog's feedback comment policy, which extends to our Facebook page. But when I trotted out the common USENET admonition to "not feed the trolls," we wound up having an interesting conversation about "What is trolling?" -- which you can read here.

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Meet Christ in your dorm this Holy Week

The Episcopal Church's Committee for Young Adult Ministry (for the Young Adult and Campus Ministries program) has prepared an online Stations of the Cross that's worth clicking through. It features "original artwork and meditations by young adults from around the church," and includes this sensitive preamble

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'Theology After Google' conference videos available

You may have heard or read a few weeks ago about Claremont School of Theology's recent conference, "Technology After Google." The several sessions from this event have been made available online, and contain titles like "Organizing for Justice in a Googled World," "Theological Education On-Demand," and "Two Thousand Year Old Practices for 21st-Century Persons."

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Why on this night do we drink the bitter oil?

Passover starts at sunset on Monday and runs through the remainder of Holy Week, ending Monday. The Computer Science Department at the College of Management in Rishon-LeZion, Israel, has a novel way of commemorating.

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Final Four challenge

As anyone who has ever watched a post-game interview knows, God takes a rooting interest in the outcome of American sporting events. So here are the questions: Who does God want to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship--Butler, Duke, Michigan State or West Virginia? Why?

Answer in the comments. The best answers will be published. Actually, all answers will be published.

Diocese of Los Angeles sees court decision as early Easter gift

Received by e-mail from the Diocese of Los Angeles:

[The Episcopal News, Los Angeles, March 29, 2010] -- The California Court of Appeal has granted a writ requiring the Superior Court of Orange County to enter an order for judgment enforcing the Episcopal Church’s ownership of Newport Beach property and assets claimed by a breakaway congregation.

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The roots of African "hetero-nationalism"

Mary-Jane Rubenstein, an assistant Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, was Scholar in Residence at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 2005-06. She's written one of the most thoughtful, comprehensive essays on the intellectual roots of the Anglican crisis that I've seen anywhere for Killing the Buddha. What follows is a taste, but by all means, read it all.

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The roots of religious violence in Nigeria

Elizabeth Dickinson of The Economist writing for Religion Dispatches:

Toward the end of my stay in Nigeria as a correspondent for The Economist in 2007 and 2008, I asked my driver, an older Muslim man named Bello who was perhaps my most trusted friend there, who he blamed for Nigeria’s corruption woes. “Our religious leaders,” he told me. “If they told our politicians to stop, they would.”

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Online devotions: Stations of the Cross

Courtesy of the Diocese of Washington, we present these three sets of Stations of the Cross for your Holy Week devotions:

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Spiritual but not religious, Part 5,637

Bruce G. Epperly and Katherine Gould Epperly writing for the Alban Institute:

It has become common for religious seekers of all ages to make the following statement: "I'm spiritual, but not religious." Often this claim is given as explanation for leaving a particular church or choosing not to attend church at all.

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ABC Holy Week reflections

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will offer reflections during Holy Week. The first one is setting the stage into which the Gospel of Mark enters, how a person of that day would have encountered it and heard it, and how it tells that God in Christ is changing everything. A podcast will be available following each lecture:

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Peep-Thedral leading in Peeples' Choice contest

The winners of the Washington Post Peeps Show 2010 have been announced. See the winner and finalists here. It is not too late to help the Washington Peep-Thedral: a house of prayer for peeps, become the Peeples' Choice winner.


Go to the Peeples' Choice voting site here or by clicking the link at the upper left of the page of winners.

Vote for your choice (we hope the Peep-Thedral) and click Submit Your Vote.

Go Episco-Peeps and fans!!

General Theological Seminary financial concerns

At the recently completed meeting of the House of Bishops questions were raised about the finances of The General Theological Seminary (GTS). AZBishop reported on Twitter "HOB passes resolution calling for restructuring of seminary system. Most are in serious financial trouble" The Secretary of the House of Bishops Ken Price reports that although a resolution did not come forward, the House did discuss the finances of GTS and the Presiding Bishop and the HoB committee on seminaries would be involved in future discussions with GTS.

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Haiti: do relief organizations help or hurt long term?

News stories of NGO and church groups in Haiti have focused lately on whether or not they are really helping Haiti and its economy for its future. "Parachuting" teams of doers of good deeds into the situation with little long term commitment or sending huge donations of food and goods without considering the impact on the local economy causes those who are working for relief and development to wonder. Are we helping or hurting?

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Episcopal blogger makes good

Dan Porter, the Blogspotting Episcopalian plays a key role in the History Channel's upcoming documentary on the Shroud of Turin. He's enthused about the show. Find out more.

Global South Primates to holiday in Bermuda before Singapore summit

Before flying to Singapore for the Fourth Global South to South Encounter in mid April, many of the most prominent anti-gay leaders in the Anglican Communion will spend a holiday in Bermuda as the guests of Emmanuel Kampouris, former CEO of the multi-national American Standard, Co.

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New Nigerian Archbishop's old prejudice

Riazat Butt, writing in The Guardian

I don't know why I expected the new archbishop of Nigeria to be any different from the old one, not on the subject of sexuality anyway.

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ABC Easter message

From the Anglican Communion News Service

When St John tells us that the disciples met behind locked doors on the first Easter Day (John 20.19), he reminds us that being associated with Jesus Christ has never been easy or safe.

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Update on General Seminary financial crisis

The Lead reported March 30 on the financial concerns of General Theological Seminary, today Episcopal News Service has an update on General Theological Seminary's financial difficulties and plans for the future.

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April Fool's Day
to be observed May 2nd

In a letter to church bodies worldwide, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, announced a major international ecumenical agreement that the Feast of All Fool's will be celebrated on May 2nd starting in 2010.

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