Ministerial Reflection

Alban Institute discusses the practice of Ministerial Reflection. While encouraging ordained ministers in training, this practice is helpful for all in ministry - ordained or not:

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The Rt. Rev Richard Shimpfky, rest in peace

From the Diocese of Long Island:

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Mississippi Bishops oppose immigration bill

Emily Wagster Pettus, reporting for AP:

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Transforming Churches: Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix

The Café's own Dean Nick Knisely and Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix AZ, thriving in the city:

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Antidisestablishmentarianism?

Further items exploring the ground of Jim Naughton's article wondering about Rowan Williams, civil partnerships, same sex marriage and the Church of England are linked from Thinking Anglicans:

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Will Facebook kill the church?

Wayne Slater writing on The Dallas News Religion Blog asks six religious leaders if Richard Beck's essay challenges the church:

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What shall we bless?

What shall we bless? Clergy are asked to bless all sorts of objects and beings, from Parrots to toilets, from shipyards to oranges and primroses. Writing in the Guardian, the Rev. David Chance wonders why the Church of England's hierarchy is so unwilling to bless those entering into civil partnerships – men and women who want God's blessing on their commitments.

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Archbishops condemn murder of Pakistan Minorities Minister

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York condemn the murder of Pakistan Minorities Minister:

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Expanding the moral circle - considering my iPhone

What are the ethical implications of the iPhone in my pocket? Of the MacBook Pro on which I type these words? What are the ripples in the great pond of the world that I'm sending out through my use (overuse, abuse?) of technology? How might we consider globalization and the "expanding moral circle"?

Globalization and the Expanding Moral Circle

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NoMichigan has a bishop

From the press release from the Presiding Bishop's office:

Presiding Bishop's office notifies Diocese of Northern Michigan of successful canonical consent process

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Expiration dates for volunteers

How shall we keep the priesthood of all believers working abundantly and joyfully? How shall we empower the ministry of the baptized without burning out good people? Dan Pezet proposes expiration dates for volunteers.

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Bishops: no more Biblical booty (shaking)

It is interesting how much time and energy are devoted to items such as this:

Bishops boot 'booty' from revised Bible
From the USAToday

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2 Episcopal churches offer 1/2 million matching gift for Haiti

Two Episcopal churches offer one half million dollar matching gift for Haiti:

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Making the case for on-line seminary education

Jason Byassee makes the case for less than fully-embodied theological education:

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19 bishops from around the globe say "we are stronger together"

Bishops from all over the Anglican Communion gathered in a “Consultation of Bishops in Dialogue” meeting held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

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Thursday's Ingathering

On evangelical campuses, rumblings of gay acceptance
RNS: “Clearly attitudes are changing,” said David Gushee, director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University in Georgia.

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Bishop Dawani issues press release on visa denial

The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Rt. Revd Suheil Dawani has issued a statement concerning the denial of renewal of his "Temporary Residency Status" in Jerusalem.

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Using Facebook to build Christian community

I'm not a great fan of Facebook, but Ian Paul is.

Here are some of his thoughts on building Christian relationships through Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg aimed to replicate online the sorts of social things that people do in real life. In the film this arises from a conversation with his friend, who is wondering who is in a relationship with whom, from which Zuckerberg adds the ‘In a relationship’ feature to his programme.

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Anglican bishops fear ‘Kunonga death threats’

UPDATED

The wave of revolutions reminds us that there are feared tyrants elsewhere.

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Mural restoration

NBC's Today show reported on the restoration work that has begun at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port au Prince, Haiti. The murals depicting Haitians in traditional Biblical scenes were created in the 1940's and are being restored with help from the Smithsonian Institution.

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The surprising faith of ordinary people

Archdeacon Tuiniua Finau tells Radio New Zealand International about the surprising level of faith among ordinary New Zealanders.

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One of Our Own

The Living Church tells the story Cristy Kessler, her fight to beat a combination of auto-immune diseases and the fund set up by her partner, the Rev. Liz Zivanov.

Douglas LeBlanc writes:

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Budgets, Leadership, and Public Service

Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of Long Island has written about the current disputes between some state governments and their unions. He warns that religious rhetoricis being used to distract the people of God from the real issues of justice and the stewardship of our society's resources..

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Religious leaders step up in Colorado and Tennessee

Religious leaders are making their voices heard in state houses around the country. In Colorado, 130 religious leaders and clergy in support a Senate bill that would permit same-sex civil unions and in Tennessee, Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders oppose a bill that would make following Shariah law a crime.

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Episcopal church fights sex abuse lawsuit

Kentucky.com and AP has the story:

A Paducah church that sponsors a Boy Scout troop has responded to a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a former adult leader.

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No bodies found in collapsed cathedral tower

Anglican Taonga reports that no bodies were found in the rubble of the tower of the ChristChurch Cathedral that was destroyed in the recent earthquake.

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Income trends for female clergy mirror U.S. averages

A comparison of a study by the White House with a study by the Church Pension Fund reveals that the disparity in pay between male and female clergy in the Episcopal Church mirrors the rest of the United States.

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No implicit recognition of ACNA meant by appointment

Following up on a story first posted by Mark Harris, and reported on the Café here, The Church of England Newspaper reports that the Anglican Consultative Council does not intend any sort of tacit recognition of the Anglican Church in North America by the appointment of an ACNA priest to an ACC committee.

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More teens opting out of sexual activity

According the latest government research into American sexual behavior, more than a quarter of all men in their teens and early twenties have not been sexually active. The number is higher for women in the same age group. Pregnancy rates among the sexually active in that group are down by almost half.

From an article in the Washington Post on the data:

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Vundia appointed to coordinate programs in Haiti

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti has announced the appointment of Sikhumbuzo Vundla as the Chief of Operations. This is a new position for the diocese, created to help manage the many programs and activities developed in response to the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

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Rob Bell on Hell continued

The controversy over a still mostly unread book by a preacher who questions whether or not Hell still exists, or is populated, has continued all week. Folks all across the spectrum have been reacting, some with shock and anger, some with bemusement, some with welcome to a fellow believer.

The New York Times has an excellent summary:

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Bishop Geralyn Wolf to retire in 2012

At the Diocese of Rhode Island's annual convention today Bishop Wolf announced her intention to retire by the end of 2012.

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The Millennium Development Goals and 'conscious struggle'

Economist, Episcopalian, and Mother Jones Magazine founder Richard Parker visited Trinity Wall Street on February 27th. He told Trinity the realization of the Millennium Development Goals is not only a possibility but within sight - if we knuckle down.

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How much is that bone fragment in the window?

Baltimore's Walters Art Museum is currently running an exhibit titled "Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe." The Walters' online catalogue for the exhibit includes a number of shrines and reliquaries.

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Unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically for same-sex marriage

Of a certain age, Glen Arm, Maryland's Erma M. Durkin says there are plenty of Catholics who support gay marriage, and that it's the logical conclusion of a life spent soaked in the best teaching of Catholicism:

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The church and social networking: four questions

With social networking changing practically everything, the church had ought to be paying attention. Even stripped of their context, these questions from Cynthia B. Astle are ones that should be seeing conversational rotation among the faithful.

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Sunday Social Hour: Following up on online education

This week, a lively discussion arose off the post about "online seminary education."

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Bono on Jesus: either the Messiah or a complete nutcase

It's been nearly six years since U2's frontman was interviewed for Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, but Bono's description of Jesus still has the capacity to addle.

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Is change coming to Episcopal Church governance?

Last week, Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies wrote a column for Episcopal News Service that was also released by the Church's Office of Public Affairs. Her essay developed ideas she had expressed in her closing remarks to the Church's Executive Council in mid-February. These feel like important contributions made at an important moment, and if the pace of news permits, I'd like to slow things down a bit today on The Lead and give them their due consideration.

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Are there lessons for Episcopalians in the Catholic clergy scandal?

Here are two of the most recent stories about the scandal that refuses to go away. I offer them not to suggest that there is something uniquely wrong with the Roman Catholic Church, but to ask what the Episcopal Church can learn from this crisis.

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Archbishop of Canterbury laments Pakistan's blasphemy law

From the Anglican Communion News Service:

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams writing in The Times newspaper:

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Rep. King's hearings on Muslim extremism come under heavy criticism

Rep. Peter King's hearings on what his website calls "al-Qaeda's coordinated radicalization and recruitment of people within the American Muslim community," begin on Thursday. The destructive, demagogic potential of these hearings has been widely noted. Yesterday both people in the streets, and people in the White House expressed their concerns about King's plans.

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DOMA just isn't very good law

Writing for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen says that John Boehner's decision to defend the Defense of Marriage Act can't change the fact that is a poorly-written law:

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Presiding Bishop on Lent

Noting that the season of Lent has traditionally been in “solidarity with those to be baptized,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offers an invitation to deepen our Christian practices in her Lent 2011 message. While challenging us to “be attentive to how you live on this earth” with respect to our uses of resources, such as water and fuel, the Presiding Bishop asks if we are like Jesus Christ: “Are you traveling light on the earth?”

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Episcopal Women's Caucus:
Stand Against Gender Violence

Received by email on the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day:

Episcopal Women’s Caucus marks 100th International Women’s Day
with Plea to Church Leaders to Stand Against Gender Violence

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100th Anniversary International Women's Day

According to the United Nations 2011 year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. T

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Same sex blessings consultation to be webcast

From The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

Office of Communication to live webcast churchwide consultation
of Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music

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Are you numpty?

Bishop Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington state) urges his diocese to take note of these tips from Tamie Field Harkin for attracting youth and young adults to your church:

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Child sexual abuse: 21 RC priests placed on leave

CNN reports that 21 Roman Catholic priests in Philadelphia have been put on leave after review of suspected child sexual abuse.

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Anglican Covenant: More questions emerge

Acceptance of the proposed Anglican Covenant is being urged by the Archbishop of Canterbury's office, officials of the Anglican Communion Office, those who think it will make no difference, those who want to please the ABC, and those who think it will show some kind of good faith with others. Bishop Saxbee at the last General Synod in the Church of England notes that Anglicanism IS a covenant already and warns "for every difficult and complex problem there is an answer that is simple straight forward and wrong" and this answer is wrong. And that this covenant is "more about factory farmed religion than free range faith"

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Cremains stolen from church

From Alameda CA KTVU Morning News:

An Alameda family remained in shock Monday night, two days after a thief entered a church and stole a backpack containing urns with the ashes of a recently deceased man less than 30 minutes before the start his funeral.

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What does "humanism" have to teach the church?

David Brooks' piece in the New York Times yesterday, on 'The New Humanism," may offer reflections that might help the church to learn and re-learn from the best psychological research and philosophical reflection. Hat tip to Donald Schell for the heads up on the article.

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Why evangelicals hate Jesus?

Hmm, some food for thought here.


Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus
From The Huffington Post

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Ash Wednesday is today

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer. Amen. The Book of Common Prayer, page 265

Ash Wednesday is today. How are you observing Lent?

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Tutu inspires in San Francisco

Desmond Tutu continues to inspire the faithful and inspire those to have faith. Thank God his "retirement from public life" was exaggerated!

Tutu inspires flock in San Francisco
From the UPI

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Christians & Muslims clash in Cairo

Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo Tuesday, with one Christian man killed and many wounded over the burning of a church in a Cairo suburb:

Christians and Muslims clash in Cairo, 1 dead
From the Atlanta Journal and Constitution

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Ash Wednesday videos

Who would have thought that so many folks would be making Ash Wednesday videos?

Not this news editor.

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Online seminary education: the case against

Ed Moore, the Duke Clergy Health Initiative's director of theological education and conference relations:

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In Fort Worth, steps to recover property from Southern Cone continue

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth's efforts to recover property from the Southern Cone has entered a new phase. Operating under Texas law the diocese has present the Southern Cone lawyers with a Request for Entry Upon Land to inspect specific properties.

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Episcopal bishops chastise Israeli government in Dawani case

Update: Episcopal leaders dismayed at Israel's denial of Jerusalem bishop's residency permit

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Hauerwas on Rowan Williams on false universals

In an essay published today in the Australian online communication ABC Religion & Ethics, the American theologian, Stanley Hauerwas, identifies a common thread in the thought of John Howard Yoder, Rowan Williams, and Bruce Kaye's 2009 book Conflict and the Practice of Christian Faith: The Anglican Experiment. That common thread? "We are in the odd situation of needing one another in our diverse localities in order not to be subject to the power of false universals."

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Assorted links

The White House Easter Egg Roll was started by an act of Congress.

Prison Population Rates per 100,000 of the national population. USA USA!

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PB: Practice solidarity with others

In her message for Lent, the Presiding Bishop encourages to practice solidarity:

"I would encourage you this year to expand the realm of that practice; to think about your solidarity with those who walk the way of Christ, with those who walk the way of Jesus, in particular concern for those beyond your local community.

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King hearings create drama, pain, lack substance

Rep. Peter King's hearings, "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response" opened today.

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Earthquake and Tsunamis strike Japan

Breaking and Updated. Prayers for the people of Japan, where an 8.9 level earthquake struck northeast Honshu island, 230 miles northeast of Tokyo, at 2:49 pm local time Friday (12:49 am Eastern time), triggering tsunamis that struck Tokyo and other parts of Japan.

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Meyer named acting minister in Memorial Church

An Episcopal priest has been named acting minister of Memorial Church at Harvard University.

The Boston Globe reports:

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More jaw-jaw means less war-war

Bishop Pierre Whalon, writing for the Huffington Post, makes the case for increasing dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews and that an important tool to fight the tendency towards fundamentalism and radicalism is a faithful, critical reading of our holy texts.

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Saving Jefferson's Bible

In the 1820's, Thomas Jefferson took scissors to two English Bibles, as well as Bible in French, Greek and Latin, and created a Gospel designed to show Jesus' teaching and actions in chronilogical order but without any miracles. If he had a lap-top, it would have made his job easier, but perhaps less interesting.

The National Museum of American History is restoring the original copies of the book.

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Religion and politics in the news

Maryland legislators withdraw same-sex marriage bill, Illinois abolishes the death penalty, and American Muslims say the scrutiny they receive at US border crossings is excessive.

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Wrestling with the death penalty

ENS reports on a Lenten program at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond, Va, that wrestles with questions of faith and the death penalty.

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ABC Letter to the Primates

A letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to all the Primates of the Anglican Communion:

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Update from Anglican churches in Japan

As the situation in Japan continues to develop this morning, the Anglican Communion News Service has been in contact with Anglicans there. Anglicans around the world have been sending messages of condolence, prayers and are organizing to send aid.

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Priest told not to use Islamic prayer ritual for Lent

An Episcopal priest in St. Louis has had to give up his plans to adopt Muslim spiritual practice for this lenten season under orders from his bishop. The Rev. Steve Lawler did not plan to subscribe to Islamic belief in any formal way, but intended to use the practice to learn more about the faith.

But Bishop Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri warned Lawler that he would face ecclesiastical discipline if he pursued this plan.

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Daylight Savings Time begins

Just a friendly reminder from your Café staff on this the Eve of the first Sunday in Lent. In most parts of the continental United States daylight savings time begins very early tomorrow morning. Hawaii and Arizona (except for parts of the Navajo Nation) ignore the change.

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Lent makes better leaders

Bishop Scott Benhase of Georgia makes an interesting point in his column on Duke Divinity School's Call and Response blog. Given research that shows that more we multitask, the worse we become at it. Perhaps Lent takes on more urgency for leaders.

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Ringing the wrong Bell

By now you've heard of Rob Bell, and have perhaps heard of the stir caused by the prominent preacher's emerging views on hell.

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Surfing with and for Jesus? S'now big deal

Last summer, we made mention of a skateboarding priest, so it was only a matter of time before someone lifted up a snowboarding one. We waited until winter, and - presto! - one appeared, bringing with him some serious academic cred.

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Is supporting hate tax-exempt?

Not that we want to give Westboro Baptist Church any more oxygen than it's already sucked out of the room, but as it's tax season, its activities do beg a certain question.

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Help and a prayer for Japan

Here are some quick ways to show love and support for the people in Japan still reeling from Friday's devastating earthquake and its aftereffects.

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Filled out your saint-bracket yet?

Blogger and priest Rev. Timothy Schenck instigated 2010's Lent Madness and had enough fun that he decided to do it again this year.

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He's a focal point not for unity, but for disgruntlement

When Lionel Deimel asks "Why is Rowan such a disappointment?" you kinda want to sit up and take notice.

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Archbishop of Japan writes of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear peril

Statement from The Most Revd Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, the Archbishop of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan):

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Labor, religion and the state of Wisconsin

Religion Dispatches has published some thought provoking reports and essays on the struggle of public employees to hang on to their collective bargaining rights. Taken as a whole, they should inspire both hope and concern among those who assume that the right to collective bargaining is, well, a right.

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What goes around comes around, or so we can hope

The Alban Institute features Carol Howard Merritt's analysis of the challenge mainline congregations face, and how they should respond, adapted from her book Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation:

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Bass, Sachs named new fellows at Seabury

From Seabury Western:

Diana Butler Bass and the Rev. Dr. William Sachs are the first recipients of Seabury Western Seminary’s Chabraja Fellowships, Robert Bottoms, Seabury’s interim dean and president announced today.

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Fat and (un)happy

In an essay that comes to us courtesy of ABC Religion (a service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), David Malouf ponders the modern malaise: if we are so successful as a species, why are we so unhappy?

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Relief efforts in Japan (update)

Many Episcopalians are rallying to help those stricken by the multiple disasters in Japan over the past half week. While recovery efforts from the 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami are ongoing, the Japanese people are now dealing with a growing nuclear crisis that was raised to a level 6 this morning (out of a possible 7). The Chernobyl accident was rated a 7.

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We need to do Lent better

Lent used to be serious business in the Church, much along the same way that Ramadan is for most Muslims. But lately it's become more of a token event in the life of the individual Christian. It's pretty much widely ignored in the non-liturgical traditions. The Prosperity Gospel churches follow, for various reasons, the more Evangelical traditions in America arguing that because Lent is not biblical, it should have no place in our lives.

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Billboards warn of Judgement Day

There are billboards popping up all across the nation warning that Judgement Day is coming later this year. May 21 specifically. They are the idea of Harold Camping of Family Radio based in Oakland California. They're being met with a great deal of skepticism. Camping's been wrong before.

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A litany for Japan

With news that grows increasingly dire by the hour from Japan, here's a litany of prayer for use privately or publicly:

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How did Japan decide where to put its nuclear reactors?

Why are the nuclear reactors where they are in Japan? It's hard to ask this question right now, but the question, and its answer exposes another layer of moral decisions that have contributed to the present crisis in the Sendai region of Japan.

Daniel Aldrich did a study back in 2008 of the factors that were behind the decisions to place the reactors:

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Jailed Pakistani Christian dies in prison

Prayers ascending for Qumar David and his friends and family, and prayers also for justice for Christians in Pakistan:

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CoE diocese rejects covenant

A press release from Modern Church, Inclusive Church and No Anglican Covenant Coalition reports that the first English diocese vote rejects Anglican Covenant:

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Anglican Covenant not Anglican

The Rev. Nate Rugh argues that the Anglican Covenant is not Anglican and quotes Michael Ramsey in arguing against the Anglican Covenant at a parish Forum at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Case Against the Anglican Covenant
by the Rev. Nate Rugh posted at the No Anglican Covenant blog

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How do Japan's religions confront tragedy?

CNN's Belief blog considers how Japan's religions might confront tragedy in general, and the catastrophic effects of the earthquake and tsunami:

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Want the status quo, you better change!

The Rev. Canon Frank Logue of the Diocese of Georgia has written a fine piece on his blog "Loose Canon" on the ways that churches must change EVEN if they want to keep the status quo. A good read. What do you think?

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One sentence advice - Church marketing

From the Church Marketing Sucks blog, what would be the advice marketers would give churches.

What is your advice?

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5 things you should know about the Bible

It's Lent, time to pick up the good book! Here are five things "everyone should know about the Bible."

Five Things Everyone Should Know About The Bible, Believe It or Not

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Attendance declining, not just at church

Fewer people are attending cultural events says new analysis by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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ACNS: Letter from Bp. John Hiromichi Kato, diocese of Tohoku

Status of the Diocese of Tohoku : after affect of earthquake and tsunami

By The Rt Revd John Hiromichi Kato

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If your church isn't social, Facebook won't help

The notion has been proposed that Facebook is killing the church, drawing people away by competing for their time and interest. Less face time, more on line.

While not denying that's plausible, over at Religious Dispatches, Elizabeth Drescher floats another notion inspired by the fact that Facebook can be complement face time -- strengthen relationships established in the flesh world. There's a twist, however:

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Thursday's links ingathering

1. Pope makes former Anglican bishops monsignori. They can update their wardrobe here.

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Church of Nigeria: What CANA passport?

A story that has just popped on the Church of Nigeria website (though it's dated March 7th) repeats a February 23rd newspaper story in which it was reported that the Archbishop Okoh said CANA was no longer a missionary diocese of Nigeria. That story was first picked up on Anglican/Episcopal blogs by The Lead.

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Is Japan asking for your financial assistance?

We see the images from Japan of the three fold catastrophe and wonder how we can help. The Japanese government has not called for foreign relief aid except in specific cases. Japan is a wealthy country and largely able to respond to natural disasters itself. Meanwhile, some relief groups are using Japan as a way of raising money.

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Are "nones" attracted to TEC?

In a lengthy interview, Richard Madsen talks with Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell about their book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. One of the topics are the "nones", largely made up of people who were once members of a church but remain believers.

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Texas appeals court rules in favor of loyalist parish

In a ruling that could implications for the Diocese of Fort Worth, an appeals court has affirmed a trial courts decision in favor of loyalists at a parish in the Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court of Appeals in Austin concluded in part:

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Uganda's kill-the-gays bill up for debate next week

Despite the pleas and pressure from governments, churches, organizations and people from around the world, Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill is slated to be debated when the House returns for a lame-duck session next week.

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COO Linda Watt to leave
Church Center in June

BREAKING: Just in from The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer will leave in June
Ambassador Linda Watt to return to private life

[March 18, 2011] Ambassador Linda Watt has announced that she will leave her position as Chief Operating Officer for the Episcopal Church in June 2011.

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Episcopal Church to launch web radio

ENS reports:

The Episcopal Church Office of Communication will launch Episcopal Web Radio Network during the summer of 2011.

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Obama to visit Oscar Romero's tomb

When President Obama visits San Salvador, El Salvador, next week, he will pay a visit to the tomb of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero and attend Mass on the eve of the anniversary of his death.

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Faith frees us from fear

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Mark Golliher, writing for the Huffington Post, talks about the relationship between faith and fear, how religion can unwittingly stoke fear and simple ways that ordinary people can utilize faith to overcome fear.

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No gentle death

ACNS:

Preaching at the memorial service held at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster , London , on 17 March 2011 for Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan Minister of Minorities, Bishop Tony Robinson, Chair of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pakistan Focus Group, reflected, "Death came with the fire of the gun. There was no gentle death for Shahbaz Bhatti – as there is also not for many other Christians who are suffering as part of the of minority population of Pakistan."

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Death threats against Pretoria bishop

Episcopal News Service reports death threats have been received by the South African Council of Churches President and Anglican Bishop of Pretoria Jo Seoka, and members of his family:

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Gender neutral Bible criticized

AP reports that some are criticizing the 2011 edition of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible

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Saturday Collection March 20, 2011

A miscellany of interesting and encouraging bits from the news - kids against hunger, Lady Gaga Mass, and knitting your way into the royal wedding:

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Historic rites consultation held

UPDATE:
ABC News reports that over half of all Americans now support marriage equality. General Convention 2009 C056 (see below for full text) called on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to "collect and develop theological and liturgical resources" for liturgies of blessing for gay and lesbian couples and to devise an open process for its work with participation by provinces, dioceses, congregations and individuals.

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Lenten Study Group

Is this familiar? Thanks to Dave Walker at Church Times.

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Banishing capitulation as Lenten practice

The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, interim rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City and Genesis Covenant mover/shaker, says this Lent we'd ought to give up giving up for Lent as a sign of witness.

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Grieving in Japan: Not why, but what

In light of earthquake, tsunami, and death, Religion & Ethics News Weekly's Bob Abernethey asked Rev. Maggie Izutsu (an expert in Asian bereavement issues) about how she perceives the Japanese processing recent events.

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Sectarian violence afresh in Jos

Reports coming in from:

Bloomberg:

Two people were killed in a bomb blast outside the ECWA Church, Nasarawa Gwom in Jos, a city in Nigeria’s Plateau state, a region beset in recent months by sectarian violence, a government official said.

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Sunday Social Hour

We had a few issues with links on Facebook not going through to the blog this week. When that happens, if we don't address it immediately, just come to http://www.episcopalcafe.com directly and click the appropriate blog--most of the time, that will be The Lead. In addition, we'll be posting images from the art blog directly to the Facebook page from time to time.

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Food distribution takes churches' coordination

When it comes to food pantries and to feeding the hungry, we wonder if this is a notable trend. (Our emphasis added.)

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Mrs. Yahweh?

Jennifer Viegas of Discovery News writes:

God had a wife, Asherah, whom the Book of Kings suggests was worshiped alongside Yahweh in his temple in Israel, according to an Oxford scholar.

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Streamlining compassion

CNN tells the story of Beremedy, which uses social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs to streamline the donation of food, clothing and furniture to people in need:

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Thoughts on the Atlanta meeting

On Friday and Saturday, I was one of the nearly 200 people who traveled to Atlanta to take part in the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music's (SCLM) General Convention mandated consultation on resources for same-gender blessings. I went as the chair of the deputation from the Diocese of Arizona. It was an exhausting, satisfying and, for me, intriguing event. But I found myself thinking about on the long flight home was what the process used might mean to the Episcopal Church.

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Can this church be saved?

Writing for the Alban Institute, Jeffrey D. Jones describes a feeling familiar to leaders of mainline denominations:

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Do justice. Not love justice. Do justice.

Charles Honey of the Grand Rapids Press considers the age-old question of whether the church should take part in political debates, and concludes that it should:

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Young people find churches out of touch

The Guardian reports that young people believe churches are out of touch with issues of sexuality from interviews with Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs as well as those of mixed faith.:

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"Just War" and Libya

The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, in the Huffington Post writes on whether or not the attacks on Libya is an example of "Just War:"

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Silent No More: ending sexual violence

The Archbishop of Canterbury and other senior church leaders pledge to end sexual violence:

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Methodist president to live on $1.63 per day

Churchmouse reports on the Live Below the Line campaign:

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Bishop of Cuba grows gardens and more

From the Anglican Church of Canada

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Japan: People are our priority

The latest statement by Archbishop Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Communion in Japan) via Anglican Communion News Service:

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Reflecting on the parish

At the ABC News Religion & Ethics blog, Stanley Hauerwas, Bruce Kaye and Allison Milbank reflect on the parish church:

THE PLACE OF THE CHURCH: LOCALITY AND CATHOLICITY
By Stanley Hauerwas in Religion & Ethics

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Majority of Catholics back LGBT rights

Perhaps surprising, perhaps not, but the "publicreligion.org" website reports a study that found that Roman Catholics are pro LGBT:

Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: A Comprehensive Portrait from Recent Research
From PublicReligion.org

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A radical state of uncertainty? For the church too...?

Are we living in a radical state of uncertainty? Is our time different than others? If so, how might these observations by Bruce Nussbaum apply to churches as well as businesses and governments?

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The Virgin Mary makes "confirmed visit" to the US


First U.S. Visit of the Virgin Mary Confirmed in Wisconsin
A small-town shrine is on the verge of becoming a mass attraction.

By LEWIS WALLACE in Religion Dispatches

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Roman graves found in Canterbury

Christian Roman graves were uncovered in Canterbury, England:

Roman graves uncovered in Canterbury
By Sian Napier in KentOnline

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A Litany of Confession

[Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church USA]

A LITANY OF CONFESSION

Almighty God: you alone are good and holy.
Purify our lives and make us brave disciples.
We do not ask you to keep us safe,
but to keep us loyal,

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The Episcopal Church of ... Canada?

UPDATED

If the Church of England can drop "Anglican" from its official name, should the Anglican Church of Canada follow suit?

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Marking the death of Romero

Thirty-one years ago today Oscar Romero was assassinated. Obama's visit to the archbishop's tomb has drawn added attention to that anniversary.

Obama visits grave of slain Salvadoran archbishop - LA Times Politics

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Do FACTs spell future of The Episcopal Church?

The profile of The Episcopal Church does not match the diversity of the US population or its growth. Parishes are stressed financially by overhead, services are less than half full.

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Thursday links ingathering

Uncommonly common hymns; pole dancing for Jesus; Rowan Williams - Android Market; progressive taxation

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Elderly former Episcopal priest sentenced

WBGH

A former rector at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Owego was sentenced Thursday.

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Pie-ity

Does church make you fat? Should government base its obesity fight in the church? Is obesity a sign from God to shape up?

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Millenials next big thing

CNN notes that 2011 marks the rise of the Millenial generation and asked what will they bring to the cultural table:

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Rate your favorite hymns

As we noted yesterday, Robert Coote looked at 28 hymnals from the six largest mainline denominations and tallied up the most commonly occurring songs. 13 hymns appear in all 28.

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A guide to the Anglican Covenant

As dioceses in the Church of England weigh the Anglican Covenant, the Church Times has put together a reader's guide that contains articles both pro and con perspectives.

The document has peeked out from behind the pay wall thanks to Thinking Anglicans.

Will Uganda shelve the "kill-the-gays" bill?

Box Turtle BUlletin reported yesterday and today that the the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill will not be taken up by Parliament. They cite reports from state-owned television and newspapers and a Spanish newspaper.

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UN resolution on religious freedom focuses on individual rights

The United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday unanimously adopted a Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief omitting any reference to the concept of "defamation of religion," which has been used in some Islamic nations as a cover for the persecution of religious minorities--particularly Christians-- and instead focuses on the individual's right to freedom of belief.

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"Charter for Protection of Children & Young People" #fail

In 2002 the American Catholic Church instituted reforms to protect children from sexual predators in the church. The recent charges brought by civil authorities in Philadelphia — the first indictment ever of a senior church official in covering up an abuse case — have exposed failings in the system that was put in place. (More indictments were delivered Friday -- the end of this post.) What lessons can we learn and apply in The Episcopal Church? Is our system adequate to the task?

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Earth Hour 2011

March 26 at 8:30 p.m. local time, celebrate Earth Hour by switching off your lights. Lights will switch off around the globe for Earth Hour and people will commit to actions that go beyond the hour.

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Hymn Madness results

We asked our readers to rate their top five hymns from a list of the 13 most common hymns.

It's not too late to cast your vote, but the current results of the balloting on the top five hymns can be found here.

To cast a vote, go here. One entry per person, on the honor system.

Club night at Liverpool Cathedral

The Liverpool, UK, Echo reports on club night at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral:

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Happy Birthday to Katharine Jefferts Schori

We understand a certain Presiding Bishop has a birthday today. She has the Café's best wishes!

Rather than ask "How old are you now?" we're wondering what she's wishing for as she blows out candles at the House of Bishops meeting in North Carolina. We'll leave the speculation to you.

More women becoming funeral directors

Slate reports on the growing number of women entering the death care industry. Before the Civil War, caring for the dead was seen as "women's work." With the advent of modern mortuary techniques, men came to dominate the industry. That is slowly changing.

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Episcopal chaplains trained to work in light of DADT repeal

The Army has begun training chaplains for working in a world in which Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a thing of the past, CNN reports.

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At Kanuga, House of Bishops meeting rolls along

Virtually unnoticed by many over the past few days - perhaps happily so by its oft-overburdened, purple-shirted participants - is the meeting of the House of Bishops at Kanuga Conferences.

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Episcopal agency improves families' access to diapers

A diaper is just about the most self-evident thing available: practical and essential, no explanation required.

And as any active parent can tell you, diapers are as expensive as they are crucial. Kafi Drexel notes how Episcopal Social Services of New York is helping.

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ACC Standing Committee: Day 1

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council is meeting, but what's relevant conversation at this point is anyone's guess.

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Sunday Social Hour - the welcoming parish

This week on our social networks, it's been fairly quiet. The Cafe's art blog now has its own photo album on Facebook, which should make it easier for fans to share the images on their own pages if they wish to do so.

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Fighting anti-gay systems in asylum and at home

A heartbreaking story - 'Why was I born gay in Africa?' - is running at the Guardian site. In it, Elizabeth Day interviews two Ugandans - one man, one woman - who have experienced deep levels of persecution both at home in Africa and in the UK, where they sought asylum from oppression.

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An era is ending in South Africa

I am in Cape Town on behalf of a client, and had the good fortune to worship yesterday morning at St. George's Cathedral where I came across this paragraph in Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's column in the diocesan newsletter:

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An update from the Anglican Episcopal Church in Japan

Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Episcopal Church in Japan, has a new report on the aftermath of the quake posted at the ACNS site. The report is reproduced in full below:

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Atlanta's Call to Action

One.org highlights the efforts by the Diocese of Atlanta to restore funding for programs that help children and the poor that have been cut in federal budget negotiations.

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ACC Standing Committee, Day 2 - Finances discussed

The meeting of the Anglican Consultative Committee continues. Finances were not the only topic of conversation on day 2, but they were a good part of it.

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Loneliness in ministry

Barbara Blodgett writes this weeks Alban Institute offering, discussing an important challenge facing many clergy: Loneliness.

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Numbers worth watching

Church attendance is declining and those who go to church are getting older. In some places, religious affiliation may disappear altogether. That is the consensus of a blog looking at a recent study by the Episcopal Church, another looking at religious attendance in England, and a third study looking at religious affiliation around the globe.

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House of Bishops: Day 4

The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting writes from the House of Bishops meeting in Kanuga, Who is My Neighbor? Islam and Christianity:

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Bishops discuss Covenant: live tweeting

UPDATED: last tweets of morning presentations:

Morning presentations are over. The three visiting Archbishops were all negative in their assessment of the Covenant, in varying degree.
22 minutes ago

Archbishop of Korea: The Covenant is "colonialist" document. It does not free the Asia church but keeps it controlled by English church.
25 minutes ago

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Confessions of an unlikely Anglican

Deird writing at The Slacktiverse confesses there is something about praying with the whole body:

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Anglican Kossacks

Daily KOS now has a page for Anglican Kossacks. Commonmass writes:

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Choosing right

From the blog of The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, bishop of the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington State). The diocese is reading Bishop Tutu's book, Made for Goodness. Rickel reflects on Chapter 4 on Choosing Right in light of this experience:

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Anglican Communion Standing Committee Day 3

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion reports on the third day of its meeting. Topics discussed were:

Standing Committee: “Africa, Asia and Oceania should appoint more ACC members” --from the footnotes:

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Why church is worth the bother

With more and more to do on Sundays, with more and more options in terms of connecting with community, working for social change, and joyfully engaging with the wonders of creation, some wonder if church is worth the bother. (It is!) This article in "Relevant Magazine" online reflects on the reasons why church is worth it:

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Playing ecclesiastical dominos with the Anglican Covenant

How do you get people to do things, vote for things, that they don't want? Hmm. Many answers come to mind. In terms of the Anglican Covenant, it seems that the powers that be have been playing "Ecclesiastical Dominos" in order to get the Anglican Covenant passed:

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A denomination is dying near you

Are denominations dying? If so, is this something to mourn, or celebrate? What say you, kind readers of the "Episcopal" Café?

Denominations
From The Christian Century

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PB to preside and preach at anti-racism service

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will visit the Diocese of Western North Carolina to preside and preach at a Service of Repentance, Healing and Reconciliation in support of that diocese's work to dismantle racism:

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House of Bishops spring meeting is completed

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has wrapped up the spring retreat meeting at Kanuga in Hendersonville, North Carolina:

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Primate of Japan reports on tour of Sendai

A message to the people of the worldwide Anglican Communion

Two weeks have passed since the devastating earthquake on the 11th March. At least I have been able to visit the devastated area in Sendai. The night of the 26th March I flew from Tokyo to Yamagata Airport. The next morning I entered Sendai City. Sendai is the main city of the Tohoku region where the Cathedral of Tohoku Diocese of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) is located.

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Live streaming video of Bob Feller's memorial service

Watch it here. Video began at 10:30 AM EST. Service begins at 11:00.

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Catholic Church roundup

Banning nun's book; Women in the priesthood; How priests accused of abuse can go undetected.

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Nominees for ninth bishop of Washington announced

They are:

The Rev. Ron Abrams
The Rev. Dr. Mariann Edgar Budde
The Very Rev. Sam Candler
The Rev. Jane Soyster Gould
The Rev. Canon John Harmon

Check them out here.

Thursday links ingathering

Muslim rights, escalators and virtue, earliest Christian writing in existence or fakes?, the best schools use erasers, envy as a source for good.

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buildingfaith via The Episcopal Church

The publishing arm of The Episcopal Church, Church Publishing Inc., recently started a blog for the Christian Ed community called buildingfaith. Posts come from a team of contributors assembled by Sharon Pearson.

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What's your verdict on funeral eulogies?

How do you feel about allowing eulogies at funerals in The Episcopal Church?

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