The faith of presidents

Washington Post's "On Faith" asks the question, "Does Obama's religion matter?" What say ye, good and faithful Episcopal Cafe readers?

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Church of sweat

In an article in Blue Ridge Outdoors Dane Rauchenberg makes the claim that the "church" of running in the great outdoors may bring him more spiritual wisdom and tolerance than hunkering down in a pew. A critique behind his article is that church may need to rethink the "when" question of church? In addition, How might our worship experiences appeal to those who have active lifestyles, and who find great solace, beauty, and wisdom in the wonders of God's creation?

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Remembering Raimon Panikkar

Raimon Panikkar, 'apostle of inter-faith dialogue,' dies
'Overcoming tribal Christology,' he said, is task of third Christian millennium
From National Catholic Reporter

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Avoiding Facebook adultery

What are the theological and ethical conundrums inherent in friending (or ignoring) old flames on Facebook?


Avoiding Old Flames on Facebook
That it's only a virtual friendship is all the more reason to stay away from it.

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Jesus to get Bollywood treatment

Story of Jesus to get the Bollywood treatment
From The Independent (UK)

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The way forward

There is lots of food for thought in Tom Ehrich's commentary on "the way forward" over at the Religious News Service blog.


COMMENTARY: The way forward is not an escape from troubled times

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Jericho Road scores an orchard

Thanks to all Café readers who voted for Jericho Road.

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San Joaquin sues self-incorporated parishes

The Sacramento Bee:

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has filed its ninth and final lawsuit against self-incorporated parishes that turned their backs on the national church in 2007.
...
The Episcopal diocese, headquartered in Modesto under Bishop Jerry Lamb, filed a lawsuit in 2008 against the the Anglican [sic, Schofield] diocese and its parishes. The additional lawsuits, filed this year, were necessary to claim the property of self-incorporated parishes.

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Motivate your base,
find a scapegoat

Bishop Gene Robinson figures that as homosexuality becomes more of a non issue it's no surprise that the political element known as the Religious Right has turned its attention to stoking fear of Muslim Americans:

There’s been incitement of hate and discrimination to the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act, active opposition to reforms such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and well-funded efforts to forestall marriage equality.

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Anderson prays for Bennison's resignation or removal

Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies has made public her letter to the Bennison trial witnesses. Her letter:

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Cleanliness is next to judgmentness

Freakonomics reports on research that if you are told to wash your hands you'll be more judgmental:

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Church Times reports on the African All Bishops conference

Friday's Church Times has a recap of the African All Bishops conference by Pat Ashworth and, at the same link a sidebar essay by an attendee, The Rt Revd Michael Doe, the general secretary of USPG.

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Blessing the gadgets

The Rev. Lisa Vaughn of St. Timothy's Church near Halifax, Nova Scotia, will be blessing mobile phones and other gadgets this weekend.

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Hawking's "Grand Design:" Designer not required

Physicist Stephen Hawking says in a new book that the "universe can and will create itself from nothing," so there is no need for God as Creator.

CNN reports:

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Judge rules California need not defend Prop 8

A California judge has thrown out the request of a pro-Prop 8 group that he order California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to defend Proposition 8, which the two office holders have publicly said they would not do.

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Abercrombie sued for religious discrimination. Again.

Religion Clause reports that clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch is once again being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for rejecting a potential employee because of her religious. The applicant was an 18 year old Muslim woman and, according to the manager that interviewed her, her hijab does not conform to the A&F "look."

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Environmental saints

Mallory McDuff writes about saints who respond through faith to environmental degradation here on earth, rather than wait for heaven.

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Episcopal Church called to consider the Covenant

The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, and the Chair of the Covenant response Task force have co-signed a letter to the Episcopal Church calling on congregations to study the Anglican Covenant in advance of General Convention in 2012. If General Convention is going to reflect the mind of the Church when it decides on the Episcopal Church's participation in the Covenant, it can only happen if there is the broadest possible participation in the process.

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Central Africa did not sign CAPA Primates statement

Rewritten for clarity: Contrary to reports in the press last weekend, while a number of Primates of CAPA signed a statement that called for harsher discipline of Provinces that the Primates disagree with, at least one Primate said to have signed the document didn't.

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Saturday Collection 09/04/2010

Most of the congregations of the Episcopal Church seem to be working hard behind the scenes to get ready as parishioners return from summer vacations, children return to regular Sunday formation programs and the congregations get back into the rhythm of regular church life. Perhaps that's why there's slim pickings this week when we scan the secular press for news of the Episcopal Church. We're all so busy getting ready for the next 9 months that most o the work of the church is happening where the world can't see it.

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Toy Story III: New Members

It's surprising sometimes the places where we can recognize the best and worst of congregational life reflected in the media. Cynthia Weems sees clear paralles between the ways that newcomers are greeted and brought into congregational communities, and what happens as the newcomer becomes increasingly involved, with the story arc of the latest movie of the Toy Story trilogy:

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Anglicans report in from post-quake Christchurch

Following a 7.0 earthquake centered in New Zealand, this morning we have word from NZ-based blogger Bosco Peters:

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Sunday Social Hour

One thing we have been able to figure out about Facebook's recent quirkiness: it's not "spamming" you when we invariably pipe in 5-6 new items at a time. We know this because whenever the feed updates, we get plenty of comments on the one or two items that DO get posted to your walls, but none of the rest. So just consider the wall update you do see to be a nudge to check the site for new posts, or the Facebook page for new notes.

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God may want a minute alone with Stephen Hawking

As mentioned here Friday, famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has said in a new book that no God is necessary for the act of explaining creation.

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Irish Catholic reform priests: small group, big dreams

An Anglican, a former Archbishop of Dublin, has expressed his support for the formation of a Catholic association of Irish priests.

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Pope not 'fishing' on UK visitation

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols says that despite recent overtures to Anglicans through the instrument of an ordinariate, Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to the UK isn't for tossing out lures.

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The new Know-Nothing-ism

Paul Moses of dot.Commonweal notes an interesting parallel between the resistance Catholics faced in building churches in the 19th century, and the opposition Muslims are facing today.

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Malcolm French on opposing the Covenant

Malcolm French of the Simple Massing Priest blog offers a strong critique of the proposed Anglican Covenant, as well as a call to arms:

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Millworker

A song for Labor Day from James Taylor, written for Working, a musical based on the book of the same name by Studs Turkel.

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Yesterday's gospel reading

So here is the text of yesterday's gospel, with a few passages set in boldfaced for emphasis:

Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

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Mama Caren Wabukala: wife of Kenyan Archbishop dies

The Province of Kenya reports the sad news of the death of the wife of Archbishop Wabukala

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Did Jesus create a mini-church?

David Brooks in the Op-Ed of the New York Times writes on the challenge of David Platt's Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, a book that challenges the Gospel of Wealth with the reality of the Gospel of Jesus.

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Will anyone show up with a fire hose?

A pastor in Florida is threatening to burn copies of the Qur'an on 9/11. General Petraeus and others are pleading with him not to do it. USA Today suggests showing up with fire hoses. What is your church doing to help your Muslim neighbors?

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Anglican Church in Sudan discusses independence referendum

Sudan Vision Daily News reports on the Episcopal Church of Sudan conference on the upcoming referendum on independence in Southern Sudan:

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Beyond God the Father: Scottish liturgy

The Telegraph has caused much huffing and puffing across the internet by announcing that the Scottish Episcopal Church does not believe God is male.

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The cost of happiness

Charles Shultz wrote, "Happiness is a warm puppy."

The Beatles sang, "Happiness is a warm gun."

The Declaration states that we have the unalienable right to "pursue happiness."

Can money buy happiness? And, if so, what is the price tag? Apparently, $75,000, according to a Princeton University study, reported by the Los Angeles Times:

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NZ students use Facebook to aid victims of earthquake

Can any good come from Facebook (other than the fun quizzes)? Apparently, yes.

Kiwi students use Facebook to organise earthquake clean up
From AFP and YahooNews

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Anglican clergywoman to shake hands with Pope

Oh, to be a fly on the wall and see this interchange!

CORRECTION (Not the first time a pope shook the hand of an Anglican clergywoman, see our post HERE)

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BREAKING - DioPA Standing Committee asks for Presiding Bishop's help

On the eve of the September House of Bishops meeting, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has written a letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Dean Elliot Wolfe asking them for their "support and assistance in constructing a way to go forward in this diocese and to secure Bishop Bennison’s retirement or resignation."

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John Paul II shook the hand of an Anglican clergywoman

Correction to The Guardian's claim that no pope has ever shook the hand of an Anglican clergywoman:

The Rev. Donald Schell, a Daily Episcopalian contributor, let us know that actually Pope John Paul II shook the hand of the Rev. Beth Kelly, an Anglican clergywoman in April 2003.

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Last rites for NZ chapel

Bishop Victoria Matthews just happened to be onsite when a structural engineer declared an historic chapel would have to be torn down immediately. Anglican Taonga reports:

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Of the life and work of Bishop Bennison

If you are wondering why the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania cc-ed neighboring bishops diocesan in their letter to the Presiding Bishop (see yesterday's post) your answer may lie in the Canons.

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Primates speak in Uganda, Nigeria

Orombi has received a message from God. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Okoh says he won't be "pulled into the ditch" by the United States or the United Kingdom.

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ABC: "threat to desecrate scriptures is deplorable"

Added: Pastor of the Dove Center says he has cancelled plans to burn copies of the Koran.

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Father Hubbard on the run, again

The Rev. C. Clark Hubbard, Rector at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Savannah, takes a look at busy-ness:

Judge: military's ban on gays unconstitutional

The Washington Post reports that "a federal judge in Southern California has declared the U.S. military's ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional."

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Primus of Scotland thinks aloud

David Chillingworth is Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. He keeps the blog Thinking Aloud, which may make him the only blogging Primate of the Anglican Communion.

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Bus hits Lambeth

An out-of-control bus hit a garden wall at Lambeth Palace yesterday.

London SE1 said:

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Four New Yorkers on what it means to be Muslim

Religion Dispatches posts the reflections of four New York Muslims on the occasion of the anniversary of 9/11, and in honor of the end of Ramadan. They think about piety, patriotism, the courage and goodness of New Yorkers, and the horrific event that has shaped a generation of American Muslim life.

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The pastor, the stunt and the media frenzy

How did a disgraced pastor of a tiny congregation known for hateful rhetoric get to be the center of a world-wide media frenzy? Brian Stetler at the New York Times traces the evolution of a story gone wild.

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Episcopalians respond in San Bruno explosion

Last night a gas main exploded in San Bruno California, a town near San Francisco. Among those who responded to the emergency was a local parish of the Episcopal Church which is also a Red Cross Disaster shelter.

Sean McConnell has posted an account of the way the congregation and clergy from across the diocese has responded:

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Both US Moravian provinces vote for full communion with TEC

Yesterday afternoon the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in the United States joined its sister Northern Province in voting to affirm the full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church. The Synod defeated resolutions criticizing the Episcopal Church and an effort to table the agreement indefinitely.

If the agreement is approved by the full Unitas Fratrum of the Moravian world-wide communion, this agreement, when added to what the Lutherans have already achieved will be the first trilateral agreement that any of these churches have entered into.

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English church attendance stabilizing

The Church of England, like most of the Church in the Western world has seen Sunday worship attendance numbers drop over the past few decades. But there's some news this week that the CoE attendance rates have stabilized and may even be increasing.

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Islam in America, 9 years after 9/11

This has been a tumulteous week in interfaith relations. A fringe pastor threatened to burn the Quran on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The rhetoric in Manhattan escalated around the building of a Muslim community center on the southern part of the island, and now even Donald Trump has inserted himself into the arc of the story. Muslim Americans have decided out of fear to not celebrate the traditional religious festival that falls on today (Eid) because of their fears for their safety.

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A very busy Presiding Bishop

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is not letting any grass grow under her feet. She's a keynote speaker at a number of conferences, all of which will give her a chance to speak about our faith in Jesus to the leaders of this nation.

The Episcopal News Service has the details:

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The rise of the new Geocentrism

Geocentrism, or the idea that the Earth does not move, and is the center of the created Universe featured as the center point of the disagreement between Galileo and the Pope at the dawn of the Enlightenment. Galileo argued that Copernicus' ideas that the Earth was the third planet from the Sun was a better explanation of what we see in the sky than the Church's then traditional teaching that the Earth was motionless and the Universe revolved around it.

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Benedict XVI and Rowan Williams as 'poachers turned gamekeepers'

In advance of an impending papal visit to the UK, international Catholic pub The Tablet offers a helpful compare-and-contrast essay that thinks through Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI.

Tidbits:

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A basket of links for this moment in religious tolerance

Rev. Janet Vincent, rector of St. Columba's, Washington, D.C., this week told PBS Newshour's Jeffrey Brown that the Christian-Muslim religious tension in this country is all about 9/11, it's not going away, and not building the proposed mosque isn't going to help.

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Sunday Social Hour

It has been a busy week at the Café's Facebook page because for the first time in months, posts are importing properly. We're using new tools to import posts and monitor page traffic, and will be posting new guidelines on what we expect from commenters and those who post content to our wall. Our biggest question to readers, as we formulate these guidelines, is what do you find disruptive?

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Circumstance creates occasion for tolerance

What do you do when you're a thriving resort town with plenty of faithful people and no place to build all the churches you need? You build together, of course, in one spot, offering one model of architectural and communal integrity. That's what Vail, Colo., based Vail Interfaith Chapel has done as it has sought to serve the spiritual needs of its residents.

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Northwestern PA's Bp. Rowe sends word on Bp. Davis abuse case

Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has written to announce the latest in his quest to locate any other persons abused by his predecessor, the late Donald Davis, who served from 1974 to 1991, and whose deeds were brought to light in a letter by Rowe in July of this year.

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Historical parallels: American Catholics and Muslims

Writing in The New York Review of Books, Catholic scholars John T. McGreevy and R. Scott Appleby point out that American Catholics were regarded in the late 19th century very much the way in which American Muslims are regarded to today:

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More perils in preaching: an open thread

Last Monday we asked how preachers around the church had handled the difficult Gospel passage on hating your mother and your father. (Here's an excellent sermon by the Rev. Bruce Coggin that not only focuses on that difficult passage, but discusses strategies for doing so.) This week I'd like to ask a broader question: what passages--particularly Gospel passages--do you just hate to preach on? Why? And what do you do about it?

The pope is coming. The pope is coming

Benedict XVI is visiting the United Kingdom this week, and opinion pages and blogs are alive with ideas about how he should be received.

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Gay and lesbian couples seeking immigration rights

The Washington Post talks about the implications of same-sex marriage for couples wanting to immigrate (or have one of the couple immigrate) to the United States. If these couples were opposite sex, it would be significantly less an issue. Green Card marriages are well-known, and when the marriage is genuinely between real partners, and not just a fiction to get someone through the legalities of immigration, they are generally granted.

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We're all congregationalists now

Andy Rowell interviews Stanley Hauerwas in Christianity Today. Hauerwas discusses his new memoir and explains why he thinks "We're all congregationalists now."

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Bishops on the border

UPDATE again: Video message from Bishop Kirk Smith

UPDATE: list of Bishops attending below.

About 40 bishops and spouses are participating in the trip to the border of Mexico and Arizona before the House of Bishops meeting. They are going to learn more about the people and places affected by US immigration laws and the lack of a coherent policy to address the needs of workers and employers.

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Bishops on the border: what it means

The Rev. Paula Jackson commented on our first story about the House of Bishops visiting the border between Arizona and Mexico to find out more about the issue of immigration. Jackson relates the tragedy for families and the human side of the "issue":

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Springfield bishop nominees questioned

The State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL describes the process and possible difficulties ahead for the Diocese of Springfield as they elect a new bishop next week. Will the one elected receive enough consents from the Standing Committees and Bishops of the Episcopal Church?

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Fort Worth: Iker group fails in procedural motion

Via Email from the (real) Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

Subject: Legal Update

Litigation Update: Iker Group Fails in Procedural Motion in Tarrant County Case

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Seabury, Bexley explore partnership

Seabury Western Seminary awarded grant from the Luce Foundation to work in collaboration with Bexley Hall:

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Bishops at the border

As the House of Bishops meets this week in Arizona, a group of bishops, their spouses and partners travelled to the border with Mexico to learn more about border issues.

More information HERE at the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona's webpage

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People as primary ministry resources

Alban Institute explores ministry to and with people and the confusion between resources and goals:

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WV Episcopalians push bishop to allow same-sex blessings

Episcopalians in West Virginia consider blessing same-gender relationships at their Diocesan Convention and vote to allow same-sex blessings:

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PB calls for prayers for Sudan

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori calls on the Episcopal Church to dedicate a "season of prayer" our brothers and sisters in Sudan.

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An Episcopal website for seekers? Does it exist?

I'd love to learn more about the Episcopal Church, what website do you recommend?

The Rev. Scott Gunn wonders what site might be best for "seekers" to visit. He can't come up with a good suggestion, can you?

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CAPA Secretariat issues clarification on TEC grant

As reported, The African All Bishops Conference was the recipient of a Trinity Wall Street grant. Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of the hosting province, the Church of Uganda, demanded and received an apology from CAPA chairman Ian Ernest.

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South Carolina resolutions question Title IV, authority of TEC

Kendall Harmon reports that in the Diocese of South Carolina there is the view that the revised Title IV canons encroach on the authority of dioceses. Whatever the legitimacy of those concerns, the Standing Committee is proposing expansive unilateral changes in the constitution, canons and corporate charter of the diocese. There are a continuation of the diocese's withdrawal from the councils of the church.

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ACNS: Primates to meet in January

The ACNS reports the primates of the Anglican Communion will meet in Ireland January 25-31, 2011.

Read it here.

Pope: atheism, secularism borders on Godless Nazism

By playing the Nazi card, the pope's opening address has caused something of a stir:

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What's a family?

A majority of Americans surveyed for the just released book, Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family, consider same-sex couples with children to be a family.

Read more.

House of Bishops meeting begins

The Episcopal Church Department of Public Affairs has issued the first of its Daily Accounts of the meeting of the House of Bishops September 16 - 21 in Phoenix, Arizona. The meetings are closed to the public and the press. Press briefings are provided each day.

Kasper catches a cold

After suggesting that coming to a secular Britain is like landing in a "third world" country, Cardinal Walter Kasper has withdrawn from the Pope's visit to the UK, citing a "sudden illness."

The Guardian reports:

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Baptists address gay issue

Reporternews.com, of Abilene, Texas, reports on how a Baptist congregation has separated itself from their state's Baptist conference because the local church welcomes gay and lesbians contrary to the policy of their denomination.

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Rome moves Newman's feast to commemorate conversion

Which is more important? Entering heaven or entering the Roman Catholic Church? Reports are that when John Henry Newman is beatified, the date of his feast in their calendar will be the date of his conversion to Roman Catholicism, not the day of his death.

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Religion, morality and the soap opera

Katy E. Shrout, over at Religion Dispatches, reflects on the role of morality and religion in the classic American soap opera, as one of the classic series comes to an end.

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Bishops blogging: Fall House of Bishops Meeting

Each day a group of bishops report on their meeting which is closed to visitors and the press. These reports can be read at Episcopal Life Online. Some blogging bishops are offering their own reflections on the discussions and presentations.

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Armstrong pleads no contest

Updated with the official reaction of St. George's CANA added below.
____

A charismatic founder of the Anglican Communion Institute and current priest in good standing in ACNA is pleading no contest to felony theft from The Episcopal Church.

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The Pope visits Westminster and Lambeth

Pope Benedict's visit to Great Britain continues apace. Yesterday the Pope was in England, where he visited a number of sites, most notably for Anglicans, Westminster Abbey and Lambeth Palace. Both are the first time in history a Pope has entered those buildings.

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Parish receives firetruck by bequest

There's not much news of congregations this weekend, but this particular story caught my eye as I was poking around online. An Episcopal parish in Covington Georgia recently was willed a working 1983 firetruck by one of its parishioners.

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shephard was willed the working vehicle by Dr. David Simons, a nationally know physician who conducted research into chronic muscle pain and other areas.

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Dan Martins elected bishop in Springfield

The Rev. Dan Martins was elected the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield this afternoon on the third ballot. Martins led in all three ballots in the clergy, and was nearly elected on the second ballot when lay supporters of Canon Mark Stevenson appear to have shifted their support to Martins. Martins' election, as are all elections, dependent on the successful completion of the consents process.

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Episcopal bishops of the Americas observe Oakerhater feast

The House of Bishops are meeting in Phoenix and a small group of them representing dioceses in North, South and Central America attended the Diocese of Arizona's annual observance of the Feast of David Pendleton Oakerhater, the first native person ordained in the Episcopal Church.

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Canadian Anglicans working against a 'pandemic' - suicide among youth

The Anglican Church of Canada files a report of its efforts to stem the tide of suicide among youth, especially in Aboriginal communities.

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Sunday Social Hour

Busy week on Facebook this week. Of course, perhaps it's always been this busy, but with our new notification and update tools it just seems busier. Some of the commentary is trenchant, some is playful, some is helpful, some is critical. Just a couple of highlights below, as we were still getting the bugs out of the new system early in the week:

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Epistles and barbs in Pennsylvania

Considering all that's happened since a decision was rendered clearing the way for his reinstatement, today's Philadelphia Inquirer asks, "Where does Bishop Bennison belong?" (Other than "under a cloud of suspicion," the article seems to ask.) One thing's for sure: the bishop appears to have a post-exilic mindset.

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Speaking of diminishing Christian witness...

We're lifting up an update made to an item posted yesterday. Those who've read or commented upon "Armstrong pleads no contest" will recall that The Rev. Don Armstrong, who's been fighting charges of felony theft arising from his tenure as rector at Grace & St. Stephen's Church in Colorado Springs, recently pleaded "no contest" in exchange for a deferred judgment and sentence.

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Real bishops visit virtual cathedral, inspiring virtual bishop's chair

We have reported here before on efforts of the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life to achieve things like recognition, incorporation, and proper ecclesial oversight.

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Dan Martins and Resolution C-056

Resolution C056, which charges the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music with "collect[ing] and develop[ing] theological and liturgical resources, and report[ing] to the 77th General Convention" and authorizes bishops "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, [to] provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church." You can read it here.

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Australians "receive" rather than "welcome' Covenant

Mark Brolly, writing for Anglican Media Melbourne tells us:

Australian Anglicans have committed themselves to three years of debate before a decision is taken on whether to embrace an international covenant designed to preserve the unity of their church.

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Stealing Newman

Gary Wills writes in The New York Review of Books:

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A missional moment with dessert...

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell reports on a missional moment following a report to the House of Bishops Fall Meeting about the work of the Task Force developing same sex blessing rites for the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music of the General Convention.

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A religious test for candidates

Damon Linker believes that political candidates should answer a series of questions concerning their religion. In the Outlook section of The Washington Post, he writes:

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Report from House of Bishops 9/20

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
House of Bishops Daily Account for Monday, September 20, 2010

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is meeting in Phoenix, AZ (Diocese of AZ) from September 16 to September 21. The following is an account of the activities for Monday, September 20, 2010

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The United States of Inequality

http://www.slate.com/id/2266025/entry/0/My friend Tim Noah of Slate has written a ten-part series on rising levels of income inequality in the United States. In the final part he asks whether income inequality is actually a bad thing, and concludes that at current levels, it is:

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House of Bishops: from their blogs

Besides the daily press briefing by selected bishops, some bishops are giving us a behind the scenes report of their meeting and their reflections on their work.

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Welcome home to Lutheran lesbian pastors

As a result of the resolutions at their last National Convention, gay and lesbian pastors with partners/spouses can now serve in ELCA congregations. Watch the service of welcome in our sister church:

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ABC on UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals

The United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals opened in New York City. The Episcopal Church report by Mary Frances Schjonberg reveals a mixed view of the present and future.

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New archbishop for Rwanda

The Anglican Communion News Service reports that Bishop Onesphore Rwaje has been elected Archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

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Fort Worth files trademark suit

Received via email:

Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
3550 Southwest Loop 820
Fort Worth, TX 76133

September 21, 2010
For immediate release

TRADEMARK SUIT FILED IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT

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House of Bishops to Bennison - resign

UPDATE: From the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania:

We are deeply thankful for the supportive statement of the House of Bishops concerning Bishop Bennison. We pray that Charles will heed the advice of his brother and sister bishops "to tender his immediate and unconditional resignation as the Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.” (from our comments)

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Living as the the holy people of God

Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church, calls on all Episcopalians to take up their high calling to be stewards of God's mysteries. "Each individual's, family's, congregation's and diocese's giving takes on immeasurable significance in these tough times, calling us anew to unimagined opportunities to live as the holy people of God,"

Being stewards of God's mysteries
by Bonnie Anderson in Episcopal News Service online

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Early AA document displays debate over religion

Early documents of Alcoholics Anonymous displays "profound debate over religion" as the founders of the group discussed how to refer to God and decided on language inclusive of many faiths.

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Gaps between rich and poor

Tom Ehrich reflects on the upcoming week's gospel about Lazarus and the Rich man in light of the conflicts between people today.

A test of faith for Jesus, and for us

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Truth and clarity about Armstrong's plea agreement

Received by email from Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal, Colorado Springs.
__________

Armstrong Plea Agreement [Attached]

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Recognizing the divine in the other

Showing mercy can be hard work, but seeing the divine in the other should be the mission of the church, argues Anne Sutherland Howard:

Seeing Ourselves in the Other
by Anne Sutherland Howard

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The laying on of hands

NPR Morning Edition recently had a story on the benefits of human touch. Not that there was any news in it, but it summarizes some of the science:

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Armstrong's parish website
removes statement

It's an incremental development, but the statement defending CANA/ACNA priest Don Armstrong issued on his parish's website has been taken down without announcement. This followed the wide publication yesterday of the plea agreement Armstrong had entered into.

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Bennison: Don't worry, I'm innocent

Bishop Bennison says in spite of a resolution from the House of Bishops calling for his resignation, he won't resign:

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Assorted links

1. Holy roller burns Bible.

2. In 2004, the top twenty-five hedge fund managers combined appear to have earned more than all of the CEOs from the entire S&P 500. And, how did that come to be?

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Is mobility of clergy destructive?

The Rev. Ben Campbell has a big idea: the mobility of clergy contributes to the inability of communities to solve problems of justice.

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Reports of death of religious of tolerance in America greatly exaggerated

Writing in the October issue of Smithsonian Kenneth C. Davis says those who claim the angst over the NYC Islamic Center is an illustration of a decline in religious tolerance in the U.S. are starting from a faulty premise. Religious tolerance has never been as extensive as some would have us believe:

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Is charity work an excuse for avoiding justice work?

"Had I but one wish for the churches of America I think it would be that they come to see the difference between charity and justice. Charity is a matter of personal attributes; justice, a matter of public policy. Charity seeks to eliminate the effects of injustice; justice seeks to eliminate the causes of it. Charity in no way affects the status quo, while justice leads inevitably to political confrontation." - The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., from his book Credo.

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Making history twice

The New York Times reports on the new dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, The Rev. Dr. Jane Alison Shaw.

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Jesus and the stranger

As Professor Richard T. Hughes of Messiah College sees the anti-Islamic rhetoric coming from certain politicians, celebrity pundits, and religious leaders, he reflects on what the Bible has to say about caring for the stranger.

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Virginia Supreme Court rejects CANA rehearing request

From the Diocese of Virginia:

September 24, 2010

Supreme Court Denies CANA's Rehearing Request

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South Carolina's race against accountability

Updated. The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina says the Bishop and leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina has not only allowed a parish to withdraw from the Episcopal Church taking their property with them, but that they are setting the stage to attempt to alienate the entire diocese from the Episcopal Church. The group has written to the the Executive Council and the House of Bishops asking for an investigation. Update: Bishop Lawrence has responded on the Diocesan web-site.

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The ABC on the Millenium Development Goals

A video message from the Archbishop of Canterbury as the High Level Meeting to review the progress of the Millennium Development Goals begins at the UN.

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Dean Linder resigns

The story of Dean Philip Linder's inhibition by Bishop Waldo in Columbia South Carolina came to a close on Friday with the announcement that Dean Linder has tendered his resignation from Trinity Cathedral.

From the local news station's website, reporting on the email that Dean Linder sent to all the members of the Cathedral:

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Rowan Williams: "No problem" with celibate gay bishops

In an lengthy interview published in the Times this weekend, Rowan Williams reflects on his ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury, his sense of personal failure in failing to support Dr. Jeffrey Johns' election to the bishopric, and that he believes gay celibate Christians can serve as bishops in the Church of England.

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Don Armstrong remains a "priest in good standing" in CANA

At the end of George Conger's article detailing the events of the past week in Colorado surrounding the former rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and the present leader of St. George's (CANA) comes this bit of information:

"Mr. Armstrong told The Church of England Newspaper he was pleased by the outcome.  ‘This is really over,’ he said.

A spokesman for CANA told CEN Mr. Armstrong remains a ‘priest in good standing’ with CANA,

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Churches "reeling" from financial shortfalls

While there's good news this week that the chance of a double dip recession seems to be decreasing, the news isn't doing much to soften the worry that many congregations are feeling as they emerge from this summer and start planning their fall stewardship and pledge drives.

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The threatened Quran burning in retrospect

Earlier this month, as we approached the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, much of the national conversation focused the threat of Florida preacher Terry Jones' threat to burn copies of the Quran. His announced intent created a firestorm of backlash from secular and religious leaders around the world, imploring him to not carry out his threat. Ultimately he announced that he had changed his mind and has since promised that he will never burn a Quran.

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A word about the Ft. Worth trademark infringement suit

We received the following yesterday and followed it to its source, where it appears to remain credible. We found it a helpful reframing of the Ft. Worth trademark infringement suit reported here last week.

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Sunday Social Hour

Sometimes it's interesting to see how comments on the Facebook page can take a different tack than comments here on the blog. But in other times, it's more interesting to see how the conversations converge.

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Haggard, Armstrong may be closer than you think

The Colorado Springs Gazette's Mark Barna has a point: both Rev. Don Armstrong and his Springs-based compatriot Ted Haggard have evinced "an ability to inspire congregants."

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In Williams interview, what makes the news?

In the blogosphere's dissection of recent remarks made by Rowan Williams that gay bishops are okay as long as they're celibate, Church Mouse thinks the Archbishop of Canterbury made a classic media-relations gaffe.

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Who's the next bishop of the Diocese of Washington?

Following up on the announcement several months ago of the impending retirement of Bishop Chane of Washington, word came our way earlier this week, but slipped through the cracks and waited for a slow Sunday afternoon:

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CANA's Minns to Colorado Springs: "not criminal"

"... there are still more decisions to be rendered and hearings to be held; therefore at this juncture it is not appropriate for me to comment on specific legal issues ... It is my belief, based upon a thorough investigation of the contested facts, that this entire situation never should have been made the subject of a criminal investigation." - CANA bishop Martyn Minns

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The Church's special responsibility to the rich

The headline above isn't intended as a joke. Given yesterday's readings, is it possible that the Church is failing in its responsibility to warn rich people--which, in the global calculus would mean most Americans--of the grave danger that their standard of living poses to their souls?

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Retired bishop suits up for gator harvest

A retired bishop for the diocese of South Carolina recently got his suit wet. Fitz Allison was assisting the caretaker of his plantation in grappling a 12 foot 748 pound alligator.

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The Café sits down with Jeff Sharlet

Last week, I was privileged to interview Jeff Sharlet, a journalist who's been working in the area of religion for some time. Author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, a major portion of Sharlet's effort has been pointed toward exposing the philosophy and methodology of a secretive, powerful, and influential fundamentalist organization, The Family, which is headquartered on C Street in Washington, D.C., and lead by a man named Doug Coe.

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The Age Distribution of Episcopal Clergy

From the CPG's 2009 Church Compensation Report, Table 5 (p. 4), full time clergy:

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Why so much secrecy?

Bishop Alan Wilson, Buckingham, one of the bishop bloggers the Café follows, asks Why So Crypto?. Although he is talking about the Church of England - the same questions apply to The Episcopal Church and especially the House of Bishops.

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What do you know about religion?

UPDATE: The Café's own Torey Lightcap comments here

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Zimbabwe: Anglicans ousted from new churches

Editorial from Zimbabwe criticizing Nolbert Kunonga, former Anglican bishop, for his thuggish ways and the support for him from President Mugabe.

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Province cancels meeting, gives money to mission

The Province of Canada of the Anglican Church of Canada, L' Église Anglicane du Canada, reports on a new strategy passed by their 2010 Council meeting.

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Study guide to For the Bible Tells Me So published

Christine Wicker, Huffington Post, thinks part of the problem that prevents open discussions about sex and God, in families and communities, is fear.

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Obama describes his journey with Christ

In Albuquerque, President Obama took time Tuesday to answer the question, “Why are you a Christian?” in an extended answer. Will this satisfy those who still think he is not a Christian?

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ABC will travel to India

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will travel to India, next week:

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How will the future judge us?

If hindsight is 20/20, wouldn't it be nice to see what people in the future would think about us? What present day practices will future generations condemn as "evil"? The New York Times blogger Ross Douthat points readers to K. Anthony Appiah who has some thoughts on the subject. It's well worth some consideration.

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Mormon leader apologizes for Prop. 8

Mormon Elder Marlin K. Jensen listens to the pain and hurt caused by Prop. 8, and responds by apologizing for his role in the campaign to enact the proposition.

Mormon Leader: ‘I’m Sorry’ For Hurtful Legacy of Prop. 8

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"Free" rectory for the taking

Need a rectory, a Goochland, Virginia church is giving one away. The only catch is that you need to move it offsite.

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Who is heaven's home team?

In this autumnal season, Episcopalians, as members of the Official Denomination of Major League Baseball, concentrate the full powers of their discernment on a single urgent theological question: who does God want to win the World Series?

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South African primate wants to consecrate women bishops

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd. Thabo Makgoba, said yesterday that one of his dreams during his term of office was to consecrate the Church's first woman bishop.

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Stem cell breakthrough

Rob Stein of The Washington Post has the story:

Scientists reported Thursday they had developed a technique that can quickly create safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, a major advance toward developing a less controversial approach for treating for a host of medical problems.

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The patron saint of whistleblowers

Francis X. Rocca of Religion News Service writes:

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Mother Mary MacKillop won’t be canonized until Oct. 17, but some Catholics already have an unofficial title for the 19th-century Australian nun: Patron Saint of Whistle-blowers.

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Tailgate Eucharist

Our friend the Rev. Dan Webster of the Diocese of Maryland recounts his adventures in bringing the Eucharist to Baltimore Ravens' fans in a stadium parking lot:

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Southern African bishops conclude synod

A statement by the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

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