Carmina of the Cathedral

It is said that dogs have masters but cats have staff. At the Washington National Cathedral, a cat is a member of the staff. During this weekend's Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis, there will be a changing of the guard.

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Northern Michigan announces nominees

The Diocese of Northern Michigan announced today that its Bishop’s Search Committee has nominated four priests to stand for election as the diocese’s next bishop. The election will be held in Escanaba, MI on December 4.

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Southern Africa bishops on Swaziland's abuses

Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa say they are deeply disturbed by news of growing human rights abuses in Swaziland, a kingdom sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique.

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Pope to be served in sex abuse suit

The AP reports that a Federal judge is asking the Vatican to cooperate in serving the Pope and two other top Vatican officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in Wisconsin.

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The continuing damage of apartheid

During the triennial Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of South Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town spoke of the continuing damage done to both white and black South Africans by the “dehumanizing” effect of the struggle against apartheid. In particular he named the emotional and spiritual consequences for white South African men who were conscripted to fight for apartheid. An emotional debate followed.

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Go ahead, hate me more

The Washington Post reports on Fred Phelp's day in court scheduled for next week. The Westboro Baptist Church will argue before the Supreme Court that they have a first amendment (free-speech) right to disrupt the first amendment (free exercise of religion) rights of families at the funerals of soldiers who have been killed in action.

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Marking St. Francis day by supporting the bereaved

The first two weekends in October have been traditionally the time when Episcopal parishes hold their annual "Blessing of the Animals" as a particular way of marking the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Generally that involves blessing people and their pets and praying for many happy years together. But what sort of support does the Church have for people who are grieving the loss of their animal companions?

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Clementi's death a "call to action"

Integrity USA, the voice of advocacy for LGBT Christians in the Episcopal Church, has issued a "call to action" to the Episcopal Church following the suicide of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers this week. Clementi is the fourth young person in the month of September to have committed suicide because of bullying and teasing due to their sexuality.

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Saturday Collection 10/02/2010

Some weeks there's an obvious thread that ties together the stories about the ministry and work of the congregations of the Episcopal Church. Some weeks it's more of a potpourri of stories. This is one of those weeks, but the three stories that we have this week are so compelling that they don't need a meta-narrative to be featured.

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Christian theocrats in Canada

Jim Naughton, our Editor in Chief here at Episcopal Café, was one of the first people to write about the actions of the Christian Theocrats in the US. Now there's book that discusses the same group and their growing influence in Canada.

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Righteous indignation - a Sunday sermon

Changing Attitude's Colin Coward has a point about the CoE, and (perhaps too high) praise for the Episcopal Church, when he proposes a new campaign to end secrecy, subterfuge, and abuse in the church of his England over the matter of sexuality and the episcopacy.

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Sunday Social Hour

Welcome again to Sunday Social Hour, where we tune into our social media communities on Facebook and Twitter to see what you all are talking about--and mostly, the chatter is about blessings of the animals. But other, more sobering highlights from this week include:

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Britain extends formal charity status to Druids

Giving a "form of legitimacy" to Druidry, Britain has recognized the practice as worthy of charitable status - meaning it has met the tests for what constitutes a religion.

"There is a sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law," declared the Charity Commission for England and Wales in response to the Druid Network's application.

The decision will give the neo-pagan religion, known for its cloaked worshippers at Stonehenge ... and other sites, tax advantages and is expected to lead to broader acceptance.

"This has been a long hard struggle taking over five years to complete," said the Druid Network, which is based in England, in a statement on its website.

Druidry and various strains of neo-paganism have been long misunderstood and conflated, says Druid Network founder Emma Restall Orr, but ...

"The Charity Commission now has a much greater understanding of Pagan, animist and polytheist religions, so other groups from these minority religions — provided they meet the financial and public benefit criteria for registration as charities — should find registering a much shorter process than the pioneering one we have been through."

No, dear, it's Mother Teresa - no 'h'

Irony and misspelling in the corrections department at the Grey (or is that Gray with an "a"?) Lady last week in its coverage of the now-infamous news flash that Christians might not be the most educated about religion:

An article on Tuesday about a poll in which Americans fared poorly in answering questions about religion misspelled the name of a beatified Roman Catholic nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner. She was Mother Teresa, not Theresa.

We're the last folks to add to other publications' miseries, and we sure like the New York Times, but the inelegant contrariness of it all has us cackling.

h/t The Atlantic Wire and, originally, @ifnotwinter via Twitter

Eucharist as 'the supreme instrument of inclusion'

Buckingham's bishop and frequent blogger Alan Wilson continues his Guardian series on the Book of Common Prayer with a few thoughts on the historical power of communion to invite and incorporate the other.

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He prays with, and to, his master

Since we're only a few hours from the commemoration of Francis of Assisi, here's a gentle and furry reminder to stop and give thanks.

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An ecumenist of two minds on the Anglican Covenant

Bishop Chris Epting inspects the proposed Anglican Covenant and finds that he is of two minds:

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Southern Africa poised to accept Anglican Covenant

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is one vote away from ratifying the Anglican Covenant. That vote will take place at its next general synod in three years. If the Episcopal Church is to accept the covenant, a similar process seems wise. Currently our Church must pass constitutional amendments at two successive conventions. Signing on to the covenant would be every bit as momentous as passing a constitutional amendment, and the ramifications might be further reaching. If we are to pass the covenant, we should give the matter full consideration, just as the Southern Africans are doing.

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Episcopal clergy wellness program featured on PBS

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly is the latest mainstream media outlet to take an interest in the clergy stress story that has already been featured in The New York Times and on National Public Radio. If we are not mistaken, this particular piece is set at a CREDO conference, although, disappointingly, CREDO isn't mentioned.

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The suicides

One argument that gets made against the Episcopal Church's efforts to fully include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians in the life of our church is that this initiative entails compromising the vaules of the Gospel with the values of permissive Western culture. Another argument sometimes offered is that our efforts at inclusion matter place the interests of a privileged class of western activists ahead of those of the church in the developing world.

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Expanding our understanding of vocation

Writing for the Alban Institute, Craig Satterlee says that many Christians do not grasp the vocational nature of the work that they do every day, and wonders whether our weekly worship has something to do with that:

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Not in my pew

David Briggs, writing in Ahead of the Trend on the Association of Religion Data Archives writes about how the Empty pew next to poor children limits benefits of faith.

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Clergy sexual abuse common and pervasive

... if the cases of reported abuse were spread evenly across the country, every average-sized congregation with 400 members would include seven women in their midst who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct at some time since they turned 18.

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Michelle Obama, PB to speak at The Women's Conference

USA Today reports that Michelle Obama and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will be among the speakers at The Women's Conference:

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47% of Tea Party members are Christian Conservatives

Public Religion Research Institute has released its latest poll
American Values Survey: Religion, Values and the Mid-Term Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5, 2010
New Poll: Nearly Half of Tea Party Movement also identify with Christian Conservative Movement: Third Biennial American Values Survey Profiles Tea Party Movement, Religion Reveals Attitudes on Economic and Social Issues in Upcoming Elections

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Clergy: Facebook or not?

Adam Copeland, writing at The Christian Century comments on rules for pastors using Facebook.

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God's plan; my plan?

Herb Silverman at the Washington Post's "On Faith" ruminates on what "God's plan" might be, and what it is that politicians are doing when they assert that "God's plan is my plan.

How DO we know if what we're doing matches up with God's plan?

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New Bishop of Southwark (England)

The next Bishop of Southwark is Christopher Chessun, currently Bishop of Woolwich:

Tenth Bishop of Southwark is announced
From the Diocese of Southwark's webpage

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RIP RPM Bowden

Longtime Episcopal leader, RPM Bowden, dies at 80. Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!


RPM Bowden, lifelong Episcopal churchman, dies at 80
From Episcopal News Service

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Another letter to Bishop Bennison

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has written another letter to Bishop Bennison, in which they reflect on the last 6 weeks of his return to the office of Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for the issuing of more letters, and perhaps more actions at next month's diocesan convention...

PENNSYLVANIA: Letter from Standing Committee continues debate with Bennison

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Bishop Glasspool and Glee


Bishop Mary Glasspool visits the Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre to observe the filming of the Fox series Glee and to discuss the showcasing of sacred space on TV.

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Preventing child sex abuse: inhibit hierarchical rigidity

Psychology Today has a list of recommendations for preventing child sex abuse by clergy. List comes from a list presented a year ago this month by Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea author of Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.

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Resources for congregations in talking about bullying

Sharon Ely Pearson features a roundup of resources for congregations in talking about bullying, especially in regard to the recent suicides as well as corresponding to National Coming Out Day which is October 11th.

Assorted links

1. Simon Sarmiento reflects on the Papal visit.

2. Should they have let the guy's house burn down? (It seems he'd regularly paid in the past, but forgot to pay this year.)

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Obama's statement on Archbishop Tutu's retirement

President Obama on Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Retirement

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
October 7, 2010

Statement by the President on the Retirement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Seamen’s Institute leaves Manhattan

An unintended consequence of containerization is the demise of extended on-shore leave for sailors.

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Who is your God?

In America's Four Gods, authors Paul Froese and Christopher Bader argue that disputes between believers can be traced to differences in beliefs about what God is like. Froese and Bader identify four Gods: the Authoritative God, the Benevolent God, the Critical God, and the Distant God.

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US public opinion on same sex marriages continues to shift

Last year a Pew Research study of American opinions on support for same-sex showed that 37% were in favor of legal marriage recognition and 54% were opposed. But that study was significant because it showed movement from the year prior. This year a similar study shows that the movement is moving toward a broad majority acceptance of same-sex marriage with now 42% in favor and 48% opposed.

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Sudan moves into critical period prior to referendum vote

Sudan is facing a vote in 100 days in which the people of the southern (and primarily Christian) portion of the country will vote on whether or not to remain a single country or call for a partition into a separate southern Sudanese nation. As the vote nears, there are rising fears that violence will escalate either prior to the vote or as a result of the decision. The Episcopal Church of Sudan is reaching out to fellow Anglicans around the world for support as they work to keep peace.

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Women's ordination in England both boon and block

Earlier this week came the announcement that the Church of Denmark had finally, after more than a decade, agreed to sign the Porvoo agreement which has had the effect of creating a full communion relationship between the Church of England and the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches. According to the Christianity Today, the hold up was the Church of England's reluctance to ordain women to all orders of Christian ministry.

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Church and community responses to lgbt teen suicides continue

The news of Tyler Clementi's death brought attention to the high suicide rate among lgbt teens. Churches and clergy have been working to find additional tools to respond to the deadly issue since it was brought to the forefront of the nation's attention.

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The life cycle of the parish budget

As Episcopal congregations prepare for their stewardship campaigns this Fall, the step which generally follows (and occasionally precedes) it is the creation of the congregation's budget for the coming year. But church budgets are a bit different than the typical business' budget and people highly skilled in business may not always be aware of the differences. And clergy and lay professionals who have worked in the church their whole careers may not be aware of the differences either.

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Archbishop lives the food bank diet'

Colin Johnson, Archbishop of the Diocese of Toronto decided to try living on the sorts of food found in the typical Toronto food bank both as a spiritual exercise and as a way of understanding better what it was like to live off the sorts of resources available to a family who have no where else to turn.

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Saturday Collection 10/09/2010

This week's Saturday Collection features innovative outreach fundraising, a congregation that discovered that it has an architectural treasure, another one celebrating an important milestone and a congregation in California that has invested enough in green energy technology that its energy systems are going to be a source of income for the congregation.

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Le Pichon seeks the deep connections between faith and reason

Xavier Le Pichon's primary work has been in the area of Plate Tectonics. A French scientist, he is very well known in geological circles for his comprehensive mode of plate tectonics. He's won numerous awards for his scientific research. And he lives in an intentional community that cares for the mentally ill because of his faith.

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Momentum continues to address Doctrine of Discovery

What better time than the Sunday before Columbus Day to bring attention to the Doctrine of Discovery - the concept that colonial powers own the land they find despite who's been there already for thousands of years.

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Rowan Williams weighs in lightly on legalism and zeal

In the midst of a 16-day visit to India, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is thinking a bit about religious controversy and legalism.

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Let the wrangling begin: new bishop's chair to open in CoE

Ever since the heavy doses of disappointment and anger over process in last summer's Jeffrey John debacle, our keyboard fingers get itchy every time an announcement is made about an opening for a bishop's spot in the CoE. So forgive this small indulgence.

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'Trolleyology' and moral decision-making

Prospect's David Edmonds reports on a thought experiment rising in popularity among moral philosophers: "trolleyology."

Moral philosophers have long debated under what circumstances it is acceptable to kill and why, for example, we object to killing a patient for their organs, but not to a distribution of resources that funds some drugs rather than others.

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St. Francis and Vida Scudder: tenacity and poverty

The appearance of the commemoration of Vida Dutton Scudder ("Educator and Witness for Peace") on our calendar today may occasion the recent memory of Francis of Assisi, who appeared on the calendar last Monday.

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Presiding Bishop's name appears on 'powerful women' list

Appearing on a Fortune list that includes Oprah, Lady GaGa, Ellen DeGeneres, and Michelle Obama, we find the name of The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, listed as a powerful female voice in the category of religion.

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Archbishop Deng expresses his fears for Sudan

Episcopal News Service was on hand when Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Church of Sudan visited Trinity Church Wall Street as part of a 12-day American tour aimed at raising awareness of the dire situation in that country in advance of a January 9 referendum that will determine whether his country will remain united or split in half, north and south.

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NY gubernatorial candidate says God didn't make gays

From CNN

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino criticized gays Sunday, saying he didn't want children "to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option," compared to heterosexuality.

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God in America on PBS

PBS's series God in America begins tonight, and Hank Steuver of The Washington Post says it is worth watching:

"God in America," a three-night joint production from "Frontline" and "American Experience" that begins Monday night, blends two subjects that most folks avoid in polite company -- religion and politics. It compellingly presents an American history that has been alternately ruined and elevated by faith.

Even though the title suggests a subject that is far too broad, the series is commendably evenhanded and sober, as one would expect. If there were urgent-care centers for people who've flipped their lids watching too much Fox News or MSNBC, the nurses there would strap these frantic citizens to gurneys and administer "God in America" via a nice, slow IV drip, like a powerful PBS antibiotic. (As a side effect, "God in America" can also make the viewer a little drowsy.)


Abundance theology is on the run

Writing for the Alban Institute, Dan Hotchkiss notes that difficult economic times have taken the shine off stewardship appeals rooted in the theology of abundance. He says:

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Doing stand-up for God

Can you say the word “breast” in a sermon? If so, how often?

When trying to keep a congregation’s attention during a long homily, how much disrobing in the pulpit is too much?

And what is the deal with communion tablecloths? Can they be used for anything besides communion — say, as props or costume accessories?

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LGBT Anglican Coalition writes Archbishop of Canterbury

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Anglican Coalition has written an open letter to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, critical of the culture of dishonsty, fear, and secrecy in the church. The letter urges acceptance of gays and lesbians who are not closeted and who may have life partners as bishops, priests and deacons:

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First woman on Episcopal Church Executive Council dies

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia reports:

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102 year old blesses Fairbanks Church

102 year old Hannah Solomon honored at Fairbanks celebration

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Anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard

Today is the 12th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, young gay man who belonged to the Episcopal Church in Wyoming. His mother speaks out on CBS News about the current deaths by suicide of victims of bullying.

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Sexual abusing priests placed in low income or minority parishes

Religion Clause reports on a new study from Voice of the Faithful that shows Chicago priests accused of sexual misconduct and abuse are often assigned to parishes in zip codes that are predominantly African-American and/or low median household incomes.

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Connecting the Nobel prize in economics to (mis)placement of priests

Messyeconomics is what Ezra Klein calls it. The economists sharing this year's Nobel prize won for their work on how the process of matching of workers to jobs can explain why high unemployment can be high while at the same time there are new hires. Their key insight is that neither workers nor jobs are homogeneous.

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Judge ends enforcement of Don't Ask Don't Tell

The New York Times reports:

A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday immediately stopping enforcement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, suspending the 17-year-old ban on openly gay U.S. troops.

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Australia Anglicans in financial trouble

Anglicans in Sydney, Australia are in financial trouble, and according to the Sydney Morning Herald the situation is getting worse.

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Will gay couples be left out of immigration reform?

Will immigration reform leave out binational gay couples?


Immigration reform: binational gay couples fear they'll be left out
From Episcopal News Service

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"Pink Smoke Over the Vatican" highlights the women priest movement

On September 18th, the Women's Ordination Conference had the first showing of the one-hour documentary "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican," a one-hour documentary on the women priest movement:

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Collapse of the church is nigh?

Our times; perhaps post-modern, perhaps post-Christendom, perhaps even "anti-Christian" according to this opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor. And so, with collapse, what will grow?

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Drew Brees speaks out about bullying

Drew Brees speaks out about bullying:

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Colbert has faith

There are still folks who don't know that Steven Colbert is an active Catholic. As he puts it, " "I love my church, and I'm a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout I was raised to believe that you could question the church and still be a Catholic."

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Declining membership and the either/or decision

More congregations in the US and Canada are reluctantly facing the question posed a physical plant that suited a time when membership was much larger. Why not merge with another congregation in your denomination so that outreach is possible?

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Southern Cone stonewalls Kearon over interventions

"I wrote to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces. I have not received a response. 'Consequently, I have written to the person from the Province of the Southern Cone who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), Bishop Tito Zavala, withdrawing his membership and inviting him to serve as a Consultant to that body." - The Revd Canon Dr. Kenneth Kearon.

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Assorted links on relationships and sexuality

1. Marriage is down because of the recession? Not.

2. Gays more likely to have multiple partners? Guess again. (Plus other interesting comparisons.)

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Bishop Gene's contribution to the It Gets Better project

Bishop Gene Robinson contributes to the It Gets Better Project:

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Ranks of C of E boy trebles thinning

The Church Times reports,

Whereas, in the past, boys continued singing treble until they were 15 or 16, now musical directors and choir masters often find that boys’ voices are changing at 12 or 13.

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Bennison witnesses respond

The letter writing in Pennsylvania continues. This week, the witnesses at the trial of Bishop Bennison of Pennsylvania respond to the news that he claims they knowingly perjured themselves.

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Council on Foreign Relations hosts Sudanese ecumenical delegation

A group of Sudanese ecumenical leaders met with the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss the upcoming vote for the independence of Southern Sudan.

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Texas bishops advocate 'Humane Immigration Reform'

Texas religious leaders representing several denominations led a conference of 400 persons on immigration reform and released a document called "Principles of Humane Immigration Reform."

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South Carolina convention reconvenes

UPDATED: ENS reports on convention.

"It's clear that these resolutions are an implicit intent to separate from the Episcopal Church, although the diocesan leadership all state that they have no such intention," Rob Wendt, senior warden of Grace Church, Charleston, and a lay member of the diocesan convention, told ENS following the vote.

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Interfaith forum with Presiding Bishop, Dalai Lama & others

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will join the Dalai Lama, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and other world religious leaders in an "Interfaith Summit on Happiness: Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today's Society," at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta this coming Sunday and Monday.

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Religion is killing our most vulnerable youth

Bishop Gene Robinson writes in the Huffington Post about the "bright, straight line" between anti-gay theologies and attitudes and the recent string suicides and anti-gay violence.

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Saturday Collection for 10/16/10

This week's collection highlights two congregations expanding their ministries and Massachusetts clergy speaking out this election season.

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Will the miners' new faith stick?

CNN asks whether the newfound faith of the 33 rescued miners in Chile will stick. The answer is "maybe, maybe not."

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Proving poverty challenges food pantries

The New York Times reports how a requirement to have clients prove that they are impoverished could get in the way of the work of San Francisco area food pantries.

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Sydney to proceed with diaconal presidency

The Church Times reports that the diocese of Sydney plans to proceed with plans to permit Deacons to preside at the Eucharist despite the finding of the Anglican Church of Australia's Appellate Tribunal that the move is unconstitutional.

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Bishop of Fulham drafts his own walking papers

Church of England politics and endless fascination go together like beans and bacon - or should we say bangers and mash? In this case, the attention falls to The Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, who on Friday informed a session of Forward in Faith International (of which he is chairman) that he expects to join an ordinariate when one is formed, and thereby effectively defect to the umbrella of Roman Catholicism.

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Sunday Social Hour

This week on our social networks: A facebook bug prevented page posts from going on to users' feeds for a while midweek, but we caught it in time to let people know to stop by. Twitter is rolling out a new interface to keep us all on our toes, but we're finding it easier to spot our retweets and mentions in it, at least.

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Held nearly 20 years, an embryo becomes a baby

Virginia-based reporter Elizabeth Simpson reports from Norfolk:

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Presiding Bishop among interfaith leaders gathered to ponder happiness

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori today joined His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, and George Washington University Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr at Emory University for an interfaith summit, "Understanding and Promoting Happiness in Today's Society."

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45 years on, a college-serving congregation folds

Briefly, if sadly, noted: As the congregation of St. Stephen's in Reno, Nevada, prepares to shutter its doors in November, some traces of hope remain: even without their historic structure, members say they can still be Episcopalians who serve one another and care about where they live.

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On pilgrimage, Rowan Williams to swat political flies

Still on pilgrimage to India, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams may be about to be used as leverage in local elections. (Ahem!) Not that it's new that he should find himself an unwitting chess piece. Still:

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Belgian cardinal says AIDS is just punishment for promiscuity

David Gibson of Politics Daily has the latest sensitive, pastoral utterance from a leading Catholic official:

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Income inequality: too big to ignore

Robert H. Frank, economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, wonders in The New York Times why economists don't have much to say about the morality of the huge disparity in income levels in this country:

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PBS interviews author of book on Muslim-Christian conflict

Kim Lawton of PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly sat down with Eliza Griswold to discuss her book The Tenth Parallel on the clash between Christianity and Islam.

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New developments on the Episcopal media landscape

Two new developments in the Episcopal media world:

The Episcopal Church Foundation has launched ECF Vital Practices, a website that is the successor of its popular Vestry Papers publication.

Meanwhile, in the budget sent to Executive Council today, Church Center is proposing to discontinue the two print publications (Episcopal News Monthly and Episcopal News Quarterly) that it launched in January as successors to the previous monthly publication Episcopal Life.

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General Seminary to sell unspecified properties to stay afloat

The latest news from General Seminary is not as specific as one might like. The Seminary's board has apparently taken decisive action to keep the institution afloat, but it is difficult know at this point just what that action is.

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How to avoid making a well-intentioned mess of personnel issues

Writing for the Alban Institute, Susan Beaumont wades into the neuralgic issue of personnel evaluation at the congregational level. Here are some pitfalls she says should be avoided:

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Tough topics for talks face ABC and Abp of Canada

According to The Anglican Journal there will be tough topics to discuss between Primate Fred Hiltz and the Archbishop of Canterbury. At least one topic will be the status of Anglican gay and lesbian clergy with spouses in the Anglican Church of Canada. Another is the status of the Covenant the ABC is so desperate to have accepted:

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Roman Catholics forever?

The Irish Times reports that once baptized in the Roman Catholic Church you can never leave:

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Women breaking stained glass ceiling?

Women leaders in religious life are emerging in all faiths and denominations according a new book discussed in The Huffington Post. Maureen Fiedler, host of Interfaith Voices and author of Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling writes:

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Ugandan newspaper targets gays and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

The AP reports that a Ugandan newspaper has published photos, names and addresses of gay men with the headline Hang Them. Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, ally of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and who recently toured the United States is among the targeted with his photo on the front page.

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Candidate for Senate unclear on First Amendment

Scary news from Delaware - The New York Times reports that candidate Christine O'Donnell questions the content and existence of the First Amendment:

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Can you have church with no church?

BBC reports on a new style of church:

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Wear purple today!

Today, October 20th, is "Wear purple day" in honor of the gay youth who committed suicide in recent weeks, and in support of all LGBTQ youth.


Hat tip to "Friends of Jake" blog

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Recruits can be openly gay

"Don't ask, don't tell" law is struck down and now the military will accept openly gay recruits, at least for now.

Military to accept openly gay recruits
From USAToday.com

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ABC interviewed in India

Rowan Williams was interviewed in India by The Hindu Newspaper on wide-ranging topics:

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Episcopal Diocese of Quincy ordains first woman priest

Alleluia! Congratulations to Margaret Lee and the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy!

QUINCY: Diocese ordains its first woman priest
From Episcopal News Service

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Commission on liturgy hears calls for equality for same-sex couples

The Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music holds hearing and hears calls for openness for same-gender couples.

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TEC bishops compared unfavorably to Borgia popes

Chris Sugden paraphrasing Os Guinness:

Guinness stated that inclusivity is indifference to truth which is profoundly dangerous. He referred to a conversation with a Roman Catholic cardinal who noted that while the Borgia popes, one of whom fathered children with his own daughter, never denied a single issue of the creed, the Episcopal leaders in The Episcopal Church deny much of the creed and remain in post.

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Venables reacts to Kearon sanctions

In an interview with AnglicanTV -- an outlet frequented by Gafcon, Global South Anglicans, disaffected Episcopalians and schismatic Episcopalians -- the Presiding Bishop of the South Cone, Gregory Venables, speaks about the Anglican Consultative Council, revisions to the Anglican Consultative Council constitution and the recent punishment the South Cone received for interventions in other provinces.

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Berenstain Bears get religion, in parallel universe

The Berenstain Bears, once known for promoting family values sans religion, have broken their self imposed moratorium on declaring whether they are people of faith or no faith. Actually, it's more complicated than that. Their sans religion titles will continue to be published by Random House. Their overtly Christian titles are being published by Zondervan. Just why Random House is not also publishing the Christian titles isn't explained, but it could be the Berenstains (the humans who author and illustrate the books) want to avoid sending mixed messages to their secular audience.

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Synagogue dues don't raise more than church pledges

A survey conducted by the Forward finds that although synagogues rely on dues and churches on pledges their income on a per member basis is similar.

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Michael Nazir-Ali finds his calling

When the then 59 year-old bishop of Rochester announced his early retirement in March 2009 there was considerable speculation about what calling he would pursue next. How good were the forecasts?

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Texas and NYC churches share more than a name

Rectors of two parishes called the Church of the Heavenly Rest have placed a friendly bet, payable in food, over the outcome of the American League Championship Series. One parish is in Texas and the other in New York City.

Reporternews.com of Abilene, TX reports:

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Remembering those who have taken their own lives

The University of Virginia held a moving vigil Wednesday night to combat sexual orientation bullying and honor those who committed suicide. Several Episcopal clergy and some other ministers joined several hundred students, faculty, staff and members of the community.

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Anti-gay violence in Uganda continues

Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Butoro says that stories of persecution of gays and lesbians in his country are lies. He also expects the infamous "kill-the-gays" bill to pass Uganda's legislature "in due course."

A tabloid newspaper called "The Rolling Stone" (not related to the US publication) has ceased publication, not because it printed a list a people they said were gay or lesbian under the banner "Hang Them High" but because the publishers did not secure the proper permits. As soon as it get those permits, the presses will roll again.

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Breaking: Fire at Virginia Seminary

Alexandria firefighters are responding to a substantial blaze at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, authorities said. The fire at the seminary, at 3737 Seminary Road, broke out not long ago, according to the Washington Post.

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General Seminary describes plan in more detail

The Rev. Lang Lowrey, Interim President of the General Theological Seminary held a web conference today describing in more detail the plan restructuring plan announced a week ago.

The plan, called "The Plan to Choose Life" has four components, according to President Lowrey. The first task is eliminate debt, endowment must be rebuilt, and the budget must be balanced. This is all so that the environment will be right to renew and strengthen the ministry of the seminary, Lowrey said.

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A chapel for all

A hospital chapel at San Francisco General Hospital has been transformed into an open, comforting space for people of every faith...or of no faith.

The New York Times reports:

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Saturday collection for 10/23/10

A fire, a protest, and a convention comprise our Saturday collection this week.

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A message from the dean of Virginia Theological Seminary

A Message from our Dean and President

Dear Alumni/ae and Friends:

We mourn on this day after the fire which destroyed the Seminary’s beloved chapel. As flames engulfed that sacred site yesterday afternoon, we gathered in Scott Lounge for prayers. I offered the following prayer, and I humbly share it with you:

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Departing clerics may make room for ordinary Christians

Viv Groskop is not surprised that the priest whose rigidity drove her out of the Church of England is now one of the first to flee to Rome.

She writes on the Comment is Free: belief blog in the Guardian:

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Loyal but unenthustiastic

Andrew Greeley has written in final book and in it he says that Chicago Catholics like the Pope, respect the church but don't like being told how to conduct their sex lives and think the mass is deadly dull.

The Chicago Sun-Times writes:

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Hard times, hard questions, hard answers

Worth your time this morning: A Washington Post profile on recent innovations in congregational development shows how consultants to declining churches are asking necessary but often heartbreaking questions.

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Zimbabwe bishops possible targets of violence

News reports from Zimbabwe indicate that two Anglican bishops might be targets for assassination.

ZimOnline.com reports:

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Sunday Social Hour

One of the lovely things about social media is being able to see things shared. As we become more and more connected through Facebook and Twitter and other social media services, we're apt to discover things we might not otherwise have.

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In gay/lesbian teen suicides, Americans see culpability in pulpits

Chilling research into perceptions of religion and homosexuality show many Americans believe the messages propounded from pulpits may just be exacerbating the issue of suicides among gay and lesbian youth.

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Catholic priest dies during Mass

A Catholic priest from Florida died during the celebration of the Mass on Friday, AP reports.

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Montreal bishop advances 'shared episcopal ministry'

The Rt. Rev. Barry Clarke of the Diocese of Montreal is moving in the direction of "shared episcopal ministry" for the sake of those disaffected by recent decisions to bless the unions of gays and lesbians, Anglican Journal reports.

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The first person I came out to was God

And the second person he came out to was a priest. Andrew Sullivan on being gay and Catholic. (The video is 7:30 long, and there is a very moving passage about his father toward the end.)

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"Suicide by governance"?

Updated at 1 pm: Executive Council discussed the Presiding Bishop's opening statement of yesterday in an open session today. Details to come.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made some provocative remarks in her opening statement to the meeting of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, which concludes today in Salt Lake City. ENS has the story.

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Virtual community

Writing for the Alban Institute, Carol Howard Merritt says it is time to stop lamenting the fact that clergy and parish leaders have to spend so much time online and acknowledge that electronic communication has become an important means of ministry:

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Executive Council talks it out

Updated with Mary Frances Schjonberg's story:

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council Oct. 25 approved a reduced 2011 budget for the church and continued a discussion of church governance begun the day before. The 2011 budget is five percent lower than the version adopted by General Convention in 2009.

The budget decision came during the council's final sessions of its Oct. 23-25 meeting here.

Council spent more than a half hour discussing Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's remarks from the previous day concerning the tensions inherent in the Episcopal Church's governance structure. Twelve members of council spoke during the conversation.

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Worth a visit

Two items of note in the Episcopal blogosphere: the Vital Posts blog at ecfvp.org was launched one week ago and is picking up steam, and the Rev. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, has written a summary on the meeting the commission held with members of Province 1 (New England) of the Episcopal Church to discuss the experiences of dioceses in jurisdictions in which same-sex civil marriage is legal.

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Do human rights exist? A satire.

Andrew Brown is up to some wonderful mischief in this essay on whether human rights exist.

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Decision making and walking the labyrinth

Daily Kos' spirituality blog, Brothers and Sisters, tells how walking the labyrinth helps with decision making:

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Episcopal women partner against gender violence

16_days_logo.gif A unique partnership of Episcopal/Anglican women's groups is offering resources for work against gender violence.

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Executive Council - redux

The news report from Executive Council raises more questions about governance and the relationship between General Convention, Deputies, Bishops, Executive Council, the presiding officers and staff. It is good to hear that the Presiding Bishop's remarks on "suicide by governance" were the subject of honest and clarifying discussion:

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Bishops of LA and CA join Amicus Brief for marriage equality

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell, blogging at An Inch At a Time reports that the Episcopal Bishops of California and Los Angeles have joined the Amicus Brief in support of Marriage Equality in California:

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Rest in peace, Charles A. Perry

Former Washington National Cathedral provost, the Very Rev. Dr. Charles A. Perry died on Saturday, October 23rd. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

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VTS Chapel update, 6-toed Jesus saved

The destruction of the Virginia Theological Seminary's Chapel, Immanuel Chapel, was a near total loss, however, in the aftermath, a few cherished items and a few elements of this loved and holy space survived. Somewhat incredibly, some Books of Common Prayer survived the fire, as well as the brass cross behind the altar, the baptismal font, some vestments, and several smaller stained glass windows. The stained glass windows that survived included the loved "missionary windows" as well as the "six-toed Jesus" window at the back of the chapel.

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Evangelical sea change?

Alan Wilson writes in The Guardian that there are changes going on within the evangelical movement:

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The PB On Leadership

The Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori reflects on leadership today at the Washington Post's "On Leadership" online blog. Some interesting comments here in this short video. What are your responses to this piece? For instance, what are the upsides and downsides of a church that is "agile" ... "nimble" ... and "deals in deadlines"?

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Hauerwas on just war

Stanley Hauerwas reflects on Just War in the ABC News Religion and Ethics website:


Just how realistic is just war?
By Stanley Hauerwas in the ABC News Religion and Ethics site:

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Why do ideas spread?

Seth Godin at his blog, "Seth Godin's Blog", offers up several reason why ideas spread. Since the church is in the business of preaching the Gospel, spreading the Good News has been central to the mission of the church for over 2,000 years. How might Godin's list apply to the church? What's he leaving out?

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Bishop Lawrence removes four from Episcopal ministry

Robert Sturdy, 28 year old senior pastor/ Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Myrtle Beach shares the news that,

The clergy of St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant have been formally removed from ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

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Necessary criteria to be bishop:
capacity to be focus of unity

Thinking Anglicans draws attention to this Q&A of Church Commissioners in the House of Commons on Tuesday:

Appointment of Bishops

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Does early pledging
depress pledging?

The question in the headline is only partly in jest.

In many states there has a trend to making early voting easier. The idea is that by making voting easier turnout will increase. As economists are found of saying, people respond to incentives. So by lowering the cost of voting more of us will vote, right? Not necessarily.

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Bishop-elect's former diocese expresses "grave concerns"

Reprinted in full from The Diocese San Joaquin

10/28/2010 Diocese of San Joaquin

Bishop Jerry Lamb and Standing Committee send letter regarding consent of Bishop-elect Dan Martins

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Episcopumpkin sighted

According to Google, there are no Episcopumpkins. But Google is not always right, and now when you do a search on Episcopumpkin you will find at least one.

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Giving to religious charities up, to churches down

According to data collected by Empty Tomb, Americans are giving more to religious charities while also giving less to churches.

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United against the Anglican Covenant

Two English church groups have united against passage of the Anglican Covenant during next month's General Synod. Meanwhile, Bishop Alan asks if anyone, anywhere can say anything nice about the document--and if they can't why should it pass?

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A Deacon bridges cultures and religions

Part of a deacon's calling is to "interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world." A new deacon in the diocese of Indianapolis organizes medical missions to Nigeria and interprets to the Church how Muslims and Christians interact every day.

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Finances and the Executive Council

Del Glover, Chair of the Finance Committee of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, wrote to the House of Bishops and Deputies list about the recent Executive Council meeting and the 2011 budget just passed.

His post is reprinted with his permission

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Xico elected Bishop for Southwestern Brazil

Luis Coelho reports for the Anglican Communion News Service that the Diocese of Southwestern Brazil has elected a new bishop coadjutor.

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A center to promote civility in religion and politics

Episcopal priest and former Republican Senator John C. Danforth has launched an academic center on the relationship between religion and politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

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DADT not a big deal for the troops

News began to leak out during this past week that, when the troops serving the US in the field are asked whether it would matter to them if openly gay and lesbian Americans served with them, it doesn't.

MSNBC reports in part:

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Churches around the Communion mark first anniversary of Haiti quake

The Episcopal Church isn't alone in responding to the plight of Episcopalians in Haiti. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion are making commitments to increase their support of the Haitian people, and are holding special events to mark the first anniversary of the devastating quake.

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Saturday Collection 10/31/2010

This week's collection brings us stories of medical ministry to people across the country struggling to find appropriate treatment, and two congregations on the west coast finding new ways to reach out and share the Good News with people in their community.

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US Constitution claimed to be of divine origin

Lester Pearce, the brother of Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senator who was the primary legislative author of the infamous SB1070 legislation, is leading a series of seminars around the United States that teach that the US Constitution is ultimately God's word revealed.

Garrett Epps, former Washington Post reporter and legal scholar reports:

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Terror threat saddens LGBT-friendly congregation

One of the two explosives-packed parcels recently intercepted was likely bound for Or Chadash, a Chicago-based Jewish congregation that's known for its openness to the LGBT community, CNN's Belief Blog reports.

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Powered by 'dominion' theology, Christian film fest steers rightward

File under A Truly Frightening Halloween: Writing for Religion Dispatches, Julie Ingersoll tells you everything you wanted to know, and then a little more, about the not-so-very veiled cultural threat innocuously billed as the San Antonio Christian Film Festival, a five-day event for cinephiles of faith that ended yesterday.

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Sunday Social Hour

Pretty quiet this week on the social networks, if you don't count the fact that everyone is tweeting and Facebooking about the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear as well as Halloween.

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Halloween and evangelicalism: old nightmare or new institution?

When it comes to Halloween, having a sense of humor helps. Forget for a moment of this day as the Vigil of All Saints, and wonder.

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On being nimble

It's a new week, of course, and we never know precisely how the wind will blow tomorrow; but over the past several days we've heard a lot about how the church's leadership structures need to be more nimble: structurally, maybe, as well as intellectually and spiritually.

So we offer the following video meditation on what it means to be agile.

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Are Quebeckers largely non-practicing Catholics?

The Globe and Mail's Michael Valpy says the recent elevation of Montrealer Brother André Bessette into Roman Catholic sainthood reveals a depth of irony: while 83 percent in Quebec claim Catholicism, the number of those claiming active engagement in that faith is drastically lower, at 15 percent.

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