Social networking initiative

Zyngla and the Episcopal Church today announced the launch of Churchyville, a new social game allowing anyone, anywhere to create the diocese of their dreams from scratch. Available in beta in the coming weeks, Churchyville has features that allow players to build a cathedral, plant churches, and create governance resolutions with the help of their friends. To build a thriving diocese, players have to balance the theological and political concerns of characters in the game with the needs of the wider church, all within a beautifully rendered landscape.

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Not deported yet

Reuters:

Jerusalem’s Anglican bishop, a Palestinian, is engaged in a legal battle with Israel over its refusal to extend his residency permit.

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Wait...! Wait...!

Revised. We can't record Jim Naughton's voice on your home answering machine, but can you guess which of these stories are April Fool's pranks and which ones ought to be?

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Small churches feel financial squeeze

Religious News Service via beliefnetnews:

Almost all U.S. churches witnessed a change in the financial giving they received in 2010 compared to 2009, with smaller churches feeling the squeeze but larger churches faring relatively better, according to a new report.

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Quaker congregation debate school connection

A Quaker congregation in Manhattan looks at the demographic trends, the costs and legalities and wonder as a community if hosting an expensive private school is in keeping with their mission. The New York Times reports:

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On the other hand

Duke University sociologist Mark Chaves’ took another look at trends in U.S. religion and wrote a book whose working title was “Continuity and Change in American Religion.” His publisher thought that “The Decline of American Religion” would sell more books. But it's not that simple.

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UN workers killed in reaction to Koran burning

Last year the Café and other sources detailed the saga of a the Florida pastor who announced that he was going to burn copies of the Koran. He was eventually dissuaded. But about 10 days ago Pastor Terry Jones went through with his plan.

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Court ruling in Pittsburgh welcomed by Episcopalians

The Court case in Pennsylvania in the dispute between the Episcopal diocese and parts of the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA) who left the Episcopal Church under Archbishop Bob Duncan's leadership has reached another milestone.

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Is the US involvement in Libya "just"?

There's an old Christian line of thinking that allows for the moral use of limited violence in certain specific situation. The concepts are usually collected under the heading of the "Just War Theory" which had its Christian roots in the writings of Augustine of Hippo though the ideas are first found in Cicero.

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To love and to cherish. (obey?)

With all the media coverage on the upcoming royal wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William, there's not been much of a religious angle to the news. But the hordes of reporters working the London beat rather than global war zones, have finally stumbled across some news of interest to people familiar with the Book of Common Prayer:

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The Savior of the Zurbarans

An unlikely hero has decided to intervene at the last moment to save an important collection of religious paintings that were planned to be sold to cover church debts. The paintings, painted in the 17th century hang in the castle that has been the home of the Bishop of Durham for more than 800 years.

The savior, Jonathan Ruffer, is a relatively unknown Fund manager with a load of cash on hand.

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What #AnglicanRulesForTwitter says about Anglicans

How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
Ten. One to call the electrician, and nine to say how much they liked the old one better.

On Friday, Elizabeth Drescher writes, #AnglicanRulesForTwitter was born.

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Familiarity breeds something more than mere contempt

Russell Jacoby says violence is more often found between parties more at home with one another than it is between strangers.

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O come, let us bake him

Paramount Pictures is said to be pushing this clip of Justin Beiber and friends praying over pizza to promote Beiber's new movie, "Never Say Never."

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With an upgrade on her mind

Our prayers are with Anne Harris, who's nearly 93 and has lately been thinking of the end of her life. Anne is the mother of blogger Mark Harris, whose entry yesterday was about how Anne, an avid computer-user, recently wrote to Mark with the simple word "upgrade" in the title.

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Letting the dust fly in Concord

Maybe we're too attuned to the noise of needless internecine strife within the Anglican Communion to hear it properly, but it would be nice to see more of the kind of what follows - an item out of Concord, New Hampshire, from last week, and found at InZane Times.

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Obama: A cold-hearted realist and warm-blooded moralist

A provocative editorial on Religion and Ethics Weekly on Libya and the president's speech, from Professor Charles Mathewes, an Episcopalian and member of the House of Bishops' Theology Committee:

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Sidling up to difference

American Public Media featured a proposal for dealing with diversity and difference - especially among and between groups that have mutual suspicion and even hostility:

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2011 Hymn Madness champion named

Thank you to the 404 visitors who participated in our Hymn Madness poll. The poll asked you to rank your top 5 of the 13 most common hymns (here's how they were seeded). After discarding those faulty ballots we ended up with 312 entries. A first place vote was given a weight of 5, a second place vote a weight of 4 and so on.

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PB, HoB letters to Israeli Ambassadors re: Duwani status

The Episcopal Church Office Public Affairs reports that following the meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops March 25 – 30, two letters were issued: a letter from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to the Church; and a letter from the House of Bishops to the Israeli ambassadors to the nations where the Episcopal Church has dioceses or presence. The letters call for resolution of the denial of "Temporary Residency Status" for The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

The following are the two letters:

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Emotional intelligence, & conflict competence

Alban Institute's weekly offering looks at research about the skills congregational clergy need to handle conflict and their own emotions in tough situations.

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In Brazil, Bishop Andrus meets hope in the landless young

Writing from the Episcopal USA-Anglican Church in Brazil Bilateral Meeting ("EUSAACiBBM"?), California's Bishop Mark Andrus tells of expecting one thing and encountering something wholly different - and of the wonder that ensued.

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A Church of Norway two-fer

The Church of Norway has established the office of Presiding Bishop, and the first person to hold that position is a woman. She is Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien.

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Fort Worth loyalists file new pleadings

Following the revelation that South Cone group in Fort Worth had financially encumbered the property in dispute, the loyalist diocese has filed new pleadings and a supplemental motion for partial summary judgment:

On March 31, 2011 the Local Episcopal Parties filed amended pleadings in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas. The pleadings (1) add a new defendant, Jude Funding, Inc., and (2) seek supplemental declarations and injunctive relief consistent with the Court's February 8, 2011 partial summary judgment. ...

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Supreme Court narrows standing for Establishment Clause cases

Agreeing with the Obama administration's solicitor general, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that taxpayers have no right to challenge a tax credit for violating the Establishment Clause. The high court split 5-4 along idealogical lines with conservatives in the majority.

A tax credit reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar. $500 in credits reduces your tax bill by $500, in turn reducing the state's tax revenue by the same amount.

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Chicago Consultation releases analysis of proposed Covenant

Via email:

The Chicago Consultation, which advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the worldwide Anglican Communion, has released a collection of essays and study questions on the proposed Anglican Covenant.

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C of E says, have your wedding your way

USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman notes that the Church of England has ramped up its marketing to attract more couples to choose a church for their wedding venue.

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Okoh: CANA "clergymen quite unruly"

In any early March of this year the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, BA, MA, Fss LL.D, addressed the Church of Nigeria Standing Committee. His statement has just been released on the Church of Nigeria website.

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House churches deepen community

New house churches bring the church to the people and are growing in popularity:

House churches deepen community, provide intimate hospitality
From Episcopal News Service

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Overcoming hate

The Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, the Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine reflects on breaking the cycle of hate between Christians and Muslims in the Huffington Post:

Turning Cheeks: Why Christians and Muslims Should Break the Cycle of Hate

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Protesting the death penalty in CT

State's Religious Leaders: End the Death Penalty
Dozens of religious leaders rallied in Hartford Tuesday to advocate the abolition of Connecticut's capital punishment law
In the North BranfordPatch online

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Your church website: What do you want people to do?


Does your church have a website? Are you trying to rework your present website? Pondering just how to present who you are as a church? Consider these good points over at "Church Marketing Sucks" on giving your website readers a "call to action" in your website's presentation:

What is your website's "call to action"?

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Running out of burial space

Wales is running out of space to bury its dead. Wow.

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Christ seeks control over next film

Oh, but wouldn't it be nice if it were true!

Jesus Demands Creative Control Over Next Movie
From The Onion

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Balancing the budget on the backs of the poor

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that:

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Taking attendance at church

From vårtland kristenliv reports on an attendance plan for the Norwegian church:

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Non-believer wins religion prize

UPDATE: Non-believer attends church regularly

USAToday reports:

Martin Rees, a 68-year-old expert on the extreme physics of black holes and the Big Bang, is the recipient of the 2011 Templeton Prize, the John Templeton Foundation announced Wednesday. The 1 million pound ($1.6 million) award is among the world's most lucrative.

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Church vandalized, cross and candlesticks returned

The New Haven Register (CT) reports that the cross and candlesticks have been returned to the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. James.

The Rev. Alex Dyer, priest in charge of the church at Chapel and Olive streets, posted on Facebook that an altar cross and candlestick were returned.

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Bits and pieces from the news

And in the news of the church division:

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Entropy: is there hope?

Lucas Mix, college chaplain and astrobiologist writes on Entropy: the second law of thermodynamics and Christian hope:

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The Presiding Bishop's Easter message

Episcopal News Service:

The Resurrection must be understood in significantly different images and metaphors in the southern hemisphere, when Easter always arrives in the transition from summer to winter.

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Episcopal leaders & ERD statement on malaria

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, and Robert W. Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development, issued a joint statement April 7 in advance of the fourth World Malaria Day, April 25, a day to commemorate global efforts to control malaria, according to Episcopal News Service.

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Bosco on lay presidency

Bosco Peters writes on his blog Liturgy about the proposal to institute lay presidency of the eucharist in the Diocese of Sydney of the Anglican Church in Australia.

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Russell V. Palmore, Jr, rest in peace, rise in glory

UPDATE: The funeral for Chancellor Russell V. Palmore Jr., who died yesterday, will be held on Tuesday, April 12 at 4 p.m. at St. Paul's, Richmond, 815 E. Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. The family will receive visitors on Monday, April 11 from 5-8 p.m., also at St. Paul's.

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Prayers for Wiiliam and Kate

As anticipation builds for the William-and-Kate wedding on April 29, the Church of England has published some special prayers.

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New ministry do-over

Tom Arthur, writing in Duke Divinity's Call and Response blog, had a chance to serve his first parish twice...a kind of mulligan for ministry. He wonders if that might not be useful for others just starting out in ordained ministries.

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Exodus 2.0

See what the Exodus from Egypt would have looked like if Moses had a laptop, Google Maps and Facebook.

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News of the religious

A wedding spoof meets an unhappy Rector...the power of prayer...hoping lightning doesn't strike twice...and the best seder in the USA.

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The song of Jesus

When Barbara Brown Taylor was recently asked to preach on "Word and Music" for a special service, she began to search out what Jesus had to say about music in the Gospels. She found very little, and what little was there was not very complimentary. But then she looked up the use of the word "hymn" in the Gospels.

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Biblical truth?

Is the biblical narrative true in the same way that a mathematical theorem is true? Is it true in the same a natural law is true? What about a historical account of an event? What about an eyewitness account?

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The theological rehabilitation of hackers

Starting by drawing a distinction between "crackers" (who break into things) and "hackers" (who try to create new unexpected things) a Jesuit priest writing in a Vatican approved publication sees much in common between Christian thinking and the efforts of the hacking community.

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Evolution for Muslims

Christians aren't the only world-faith that has had its world-view challenged by the mechanism of Natural Selection (Evolution). While Islam has not dealt with the challenge to the extent that Christians in the West have, there are the beginnings of debate within Islam as how to accommodate of view of Creation that ranges somewhere between strict Creationism and Evolution.

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Senyonjo calls for global decriminalization of homosexuality

On Friday, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda spoke at the United Nations. He used the occasion to call for the global decriminalization of homosexuality.

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Megachurches pulling mega numbers

The nation's largest megachurches are only increasing, The Houston Chronicle's "Houston Believe" blog reported last month.

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Grants help break cycle of poor nutrition

Jubilee Ministries has awarded 28 Ministries (the capital M means they're official Jubilee Ministries) zeroing in on issues of health and nutrition.

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Episcopal foodies gather 'round the electronic well

The "On Call" blog for the Fund for Theological Education features an item on the Episcopal Foodie Network, a Facebook group dedicated to - well, if anything's unclear, re-read the name.

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The myth of a faith-based social safety net

Whenever Congress and the White House cut support for poverty programs, ideologues on the right assert that churches can and should fill the void--that faith-based, private charity is morally superior to government assistance, not to mention more effective. Expect to hear that argument advanced by proponents of the mean-spirited, budget deal that Republicans and Democrats struck this weekend to avert a government shutdown.

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No country for the poor

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explains a few of the reasons that income, power and opportunity flow primarily to the most privileged people in our country:

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To refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain

The recently concluded, but soon to be renewed, budget negotiations in Washington have left me feeling that our nation's leaders are spiritually bankrupt. We are balancing the budget of our wealthy nation by deciding just how much suffering the poor must endure on behalf of the rich. This is the Gospel in reverse.

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Repenting the sin of racism

From Episcopal News Service:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori celebrated and preached at a Service of Repentance, Healing and Reconciliation April 9 at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Asheville, marking the end of a two-year period of study and conversation on the sin of racism in the Diocese of Western North Carolina.

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Planning a celebration

The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have chosen Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ont., to celebrate a decade of “full communion” between the two Protestant denominations, reports the Buffalo Evening News:

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Open source church

Landon Whitsitt writing for Alban Institute compares church to Wikipedia:

Wikipedia: The encyclopedia that anyone can edit
Wikicclesia: The church that anyone can edit

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ABC warns against forgiving too easily

The Daily Mail reports on the Archbishop of Canterbury's scheduled Good Friday broadcast on BBC1, What is the Point in Forgiveness?:

It may be a key Christian principle but forgiving too easily can be dangerous, the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested.

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Anglican Alliance meets in Kenya

Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reports on the opening of the first Anglican Alliance consultative conference:

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The electronic offering plate

Luther Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Stewardship for the 21st Century Newsletter explores the ramifications of a cashless society among younger generations in Generational Issues and Stewardship, 4/5. Pastor Scott Jacob writes:

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Alan Simpson calls out the Republicans

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson speaks out on homophobia and anti-women legislation by Republicans. Simpson is an Episcopalian and was a Deputy to General Convention. He often says he learned all about being a legislator from his days on the floor of General Convention.

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Passover begins with interfaith seders

Discovering each other, two stories of interfaith seders:

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Heart to heart: improving digital communications

Much has been discussed about digital communications and the lack of connection to the other. Science Daily shares a study that reveals a way to make social media more connected and less isolating:

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Palmore's life, and love of baseball, celebrated

Family, friends, and colleagues joined together Tuesday to celebrate the life of Russell V. Palmore, Jr. The service was held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.

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Spirit of Earth Day

Deacon Roxanne Klingensmith reminds us of our responsibility to care for and protect the earth:

Celebrate the spirit of Earth Day

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Launch of the Anglican Alliance (and its logo)

Mark Harris, writing at his Preludium blog, has let us know about the "new" Anglican Alliance and its logo. What do you think about this project, and what do think about the logo?

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LA votes NO on Covenant

The Diocese of Los Angeles declines to endorse proposed Anglican Covenant:

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Is the KJV still relevant?

As the King James Version celebrates its 400th anniversary, is its relevance and influence eroding?

A book that brought God closer
As The King James translation of the Bible marks its 400th anniversary, its deep influence and prominence are slipping.

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In Uganda, alternatives to anti-gay bill suggested

Box Turtle Bulletin has gathered together information on the status of the draconian anti-gay bill. A subcommittee of the president's cabinet has asked the sponsor to withdraw the bill if he doesn't mind. The subcommittee suggests a softer alternative.

Documents provided by Wikileaks reveal President Mosavani is committed to blocking the bill in its present form.

Read it all.

FDR toddler pictures disturbing

Just when did pink become a girl's color?

The Smithsonian:

Little Franklin Delano Roosevelt sits primly on a stool, his white skirt spread smoothly over his lap, his hands clasping a hat trimmed with a marabou feather. Shoulder-length hair and patent leather party shoes complete the ensemble.

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Life expectancy up; religiosity down: cause and effect?

Two UK researchers, Elissaios Papyrakis and Geethanjali Selvaretnam, argue that increasing life expectancy is causing the greying of the church.

Their findings as summarized in the abstract to their article published in the International Journal of Social Economics:

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Nigeria's Archbishop interviewed about "homosexualism"

HIS GRACE THE PRIMATE OF ALL NIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION) THE MOST REV NICHOLAS OKOH

And interview with His Grace The Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion) The Most Rev Nicholas Okoh has appeared on the CoN website. Indications are that the interview was conducted by someone associated with CoN, but that is not made clear. Among urgent topics like corruption in Nigeria, Okoh is asked about homosexuality and the end of the world.

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Jackie Robinson signing tied to a talk with God

Branch Rickey consulted with God in coming to the decision to sign Jackie Robinson:

“I had no idea that I would find a story that linked my grandfather to a part of U.S. history,” the granddaughter, Donnali Fifield, told CNN. “But as soon as I read it, I knew it was historically significant.”

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Ssempa "ex-gay" gay recruitment witness reverses story

Last week Martin Ssempa was again using "ex-gay" George Oundo in his attempt to have the Ugandan parliament act on the anti-gay bill you've heard so much about.

The New York Times has developed a twist to that story:

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National Day of Silence

The National Day of Silence will be observed in more than 8,000 high school and colleges today and in many other places unofficially.

William Van Ornum described the day at America magazine:

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Japanese dioceses send help to disaster areas

Shinya Yawata, International Secretary of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Church in Japan), tells the Anglican Communion News Service about the situation in Japan and how Anglicans across the country are responding.

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Faith and politics round up

People of faith are speaking out on the burden the federal budget places on the poor; Liberty University gets more federal aid than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but did not want their students to know that; the UK bans the export to the US of the drugs used for lethal injections.

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Towards a common date for Easter

This year Easter will be celebrated on the same day in both the Western and Eastern churches. The next time that happens will be 2017. Work continues to find a common date for Easter.

Ekklesia reports:

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The Bible is bigger than Bieber on FB

According the UK's United Bible Society, the Bible is more popular on Facebook that Justin Bieber.

ACNS:

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Anglican Alliance sets development priorities

The newly formed Anglican Alliance, the Anglican Communion's version of "ERD", just completed its first meeting in Nairobi. They've chosen their priorities based on the priorities of CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa). The priorities should sound very familiar to Episcopalians who know Episcopal Relief and Development's work.

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How to make a palm cross

It's the Saturday before Palm Sunday. In many congregations (mine included) this is the day people gather to make small crosses out of the palms that will be distributed in the liturgy tomorrow. Want to improve your technique? Want in on the fun? Here's how to make a cross of your own:

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Historic Chrism mass celebrated in Bethlehem PA

This past Thursday the fruits of the trilateral full communion agreement between Episcopalians, Moravians and Lutherans were on display at the annual service of the Renewal of Ordination Vows and blessing of the Chrism held at Nativity Cathedral in Bethlehem.

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Saturday Collection 4/16/11

It's been sort of slow the past few Saturdays, but today the Saturday collection is back with three stories of local ministry and parish events worth noting.

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Science and religion in conflict? Maybe not so much.

The recent award of the Templeton Prize (which is given to a person who has made an "exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension") to Lord Martin Rees, the former president of the Royal Society, was deemed controversial in that Lord Rees, an atheist, has never explicitly written about spiritual matters.

But James Hannam, a expert in the History of Science, points out that the controversy presumes that there's a fundamental distinction between scientific and religious thought. According to Hannam that distinction doesn't exist.

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Palm Sunday: three perspectives

Pope Benedict XVI, celebrating the Mass at the Vatican today:

"From the beginning men and women have been filled -- and this is as true today as ever -- with a desire to 'be like God', to attain the heights of God by their own powers," he said, wearing resplendent red and gold vestments.

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Has the cult of Mac been upgraded to a religion?

Like Richard Dreyfuss over his mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I pondered this video, realizing "This means something" without being able to really put my finger on what it was.

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Archbishop of Canterbury's stunt double has acting debut

File under shameless corporate promotion parading as humor. Still ... it is kinda funny.

T-Mobile has concocted a spoof of the royal wedding that trades on the current trope of the seemingly impromptu wedding-processional dance-off.

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Anglican Covenant: Palm Sunday roundup

It's not been such a great week for the original chocolate teapot known as the Anglican Covenant. First, it was taken down a few notches by The Pluralist, who lableled it as

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Meredith Gould talks about everything

Meredith Gould, abbess of The Virtual Abbey, sits down with God Complex Radio, and the topics are broad:

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Sunday Social Hour: Question for you

Recently, Facebook rolled out a new feature called Facebook Questions, aiming for a built-in poll interface that would allow people and pages to easily survey their friends and readers from time to time. What they forgot to put on the feature was the ability to ONLY poll friends or readers--every single question was pumped out on public feeds. The end result was that some questions went insanely viral, such as this one documented at the NetworkedEffect blog:

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Omaha, an interfaith mecca (you should pardon the pun)

Don't look now, but Omaha, Nebraska is blazing a trail in interfaith relationships. The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, Temple Israel and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture, have launched the Tri-Faith Initiative, and are planning to build a religious neighborhood which will house a mosque, a temple and a church plus a shared facility on adjacent properties.

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Waging war unjustly

In an op-ed essay for the Providence Journal, the Rev. Paul Zahl writes:

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Sentamu asked to condemn anti-gay violence in Uganda

From the Advocate:

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Local woman makes good!

Cathy Grossman of USA Today explores the issues surrounding Christian seders. Including this passage, which will be familiar to Café readers:

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A new model for Christian education

Judy Valente of the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, profiles Holy Family School in Chicago. Founded in 1985 as a small Lutheran school, it flourishes today as Holy Family Ministries, a nonprofit social services center and an Episcopal charity, as well as a Christian school.

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Padré Alberto: Churches need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, too

In column for AOL Noticias, Father Alberto Cutíe praises the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and says:

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Updating: Court rules for Diocese of Ohio in case v. schismatic churches

Ongoing updates with excerpts from the opinion.

Judge Deena R. Calabrese of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas has ruled on behalf of the Diocese of Ohio in its case against five breakaway congregations. The court wrote:

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Diocese of CA weighs in on Covenant

Received by email:

The Deputation of the Diocese of California reports on the diocesan-wide conversation on the proposed Anglican Covenant, concluding:

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The Bible is dead; long live the Bible

Timothy Beal, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education urges people to read the Bible for themselves and hear the variety of perspectives, many voices and richness of the various books:

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Diocese of Virginia settles with second church

Press Release

The Diocese of Virginia
April 19, 2011

Today the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church announced a settlement with Church of the Word (COTW), Gainesville, the second reached with one of the nine congregations that left the Episcopal Church in 2006 and then sought to retain Episcopal church property.

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Fixing the date of Easter

An academic is saying that the date of Easter can become a fixed date according to his calculations:

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The Hidden Exodus: RCs becoming Protestants

Writing in The National Catholic Reporter, the Rev. Tom Reese reports:

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Can social media save a monastery?

From The New York Times:

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Presiding Bishop visits Pittsburgh

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh:

Episcopal bishop juggles rift, ministry
In the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (PA)

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Creative Way of the Cross practices

Churches are finding creative ways to depict and re-enact the Way of the Cross to connect with people today:

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Believe it or not, you should read the Bible

Professor Kristin Swenson advises people to read the bible, even if you don't believe it.

My Take: Read the Bible, even if you don't believe it
By Kristin Swenson in CNN's BeliefBlog online

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Colorado says no to Covenant

Following is the response by the Diocese of Colorado General Convention Deputation to the Executive Council's invitation to study, pray and discuss with the proposed Anglican Covenant. They conclude:

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Good press

Every now and then, the Daily Scan of the nation's media, which we receive through the good offices of Neva Rae Fox, washes up a salutary story about good Episcopalians who have caught a writer's eye simply by doing what they have always done. Yesterday's scan brought two.

This one, in the Frederick News-Post:

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ABC: No one falls outside God's love

Archbishop’s Ecumenical Easter Letter 2011 - 'The victory is won'

God has, from all eternity, loved us: and, when we realise that fact, nothing else can finally shape our minds and hearts. We are anchored in that love: it does not protect us from harm, or from hard decisions, or from emotional turmoil and profound grief, or anger at the pain of the world.

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First born should succeed says Archbishop of Wales

Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, challenges the tradition that the first born son should ascend to the throne.

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ABC on the Royal Maundy

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated today the tradition of the Royal Maundy.

The practice of distributing ''alms'' to the needy or worthy on the Thursday of Holy Week dates back centuries and is an important annual event in the Queen's calendar.

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Nigerian elections go smoothly but violence follows

The Christian Science Monitor provides a good analysis of the recent Nigerian presidential elections which went reasonably smoothly, and the ethnic/religious violence that has ensued nonetheless. Gubernatorial elections take place April 26th.

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On being relevant to the young

There are good reasons, culturally, why church does not work for many people, especially many young people. By and large church is a place where human beings come to interact together in person and inter-generationally, discuss an ancient text, and participate in a bunch of archaic rituals. In short, it is a counter-cultural situation in the extreme. A very common response to the counter-cultural character of church is to try to make the church “relevant,” which is often a synonym for non-counter-cultural, hip, trendy, and full of Power Point.

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Stripped Altar

stripped_altar.jpg

Good Friday in prison

Episcopal News Service describes the ministry of prison chaplains and how the story and images of Holy Week speak to those incarcerated in the nation's prisons.

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Were you there?

Allan%20Crite%20Crucixion.jpg

More about Allan Crite here. Image from here.

Dear Lulu

The Telegraph's Damian Thompson shares a story of a little girl writing a letter to God and the response she got when her dad forwarded it to "the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace."

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Creed versus chaos

David Brooks watched the new Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" and wonders about what really makes religion work.

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Muslim prepare to shield Christians in Egypt

Egyptian muslims have been using social media late this week to organize an effort to protect their Christian neighbors this weekend during their Easter celebrations. It's the second time this has happened since the church bombing on New Year's Day. Christians returned the favor during the Tahir Square protests.

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The Harrowing of Hell

Resurrection2"The icon of the Harrowing of Hell reminds us that God reaches into the deepest depths to pull forth souls into the kingdom of light. It reminds us how much we are unable to comprehend – let alone take to heart as our own – our creedal statement about Christ’s descent into Hell – ‘He descended into Hell.’

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The light of Christ

Easter Fire



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Happy Easter from Episcopal Café

We pause from our usual routine today to honor the reason we ever came together in the first place: Christ is risen indeed! A blessed and happy Easter to all.

We intend to spend the day doing Easter-y things, and encourage you to do the same. Unless something significant develops, we don't plan to do reporting today.

Episcopal Café

Hope in Nigeria

The brave souls involved in this story reported in the Guardian need our prayers:

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Religious apps are proliferating

Elizabeth Drescher, author of the forthcoming Tweet if you ♥ Jesus tells KQED Radio that religious apps are proliferating, whether you are looking for kosher wine, guided Christian meditation or Islamic chant.

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Closing churches

Charles M. Olsen offers this week's conversation starter from The Alban Institute: how do you close churches as painlessly as possible?

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Saving St. Cyprian's

On the heels of our last item about closing small churches, comes this item on saving small churches. Thanks to Sally Hicks at the Duke Divinity School's online magazine Faith & Leadership for pointing us to this package of stories by Bob Wells.

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Kansas says no to Section Four of the Covenant

The General Convention deputation of the Diocese of Kansas has weighed the proposed Anglican Covenant and found Section Four wanting:

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The Ordinariate: not that big a deal

Riazat Butt of the Guardian has managed a feat that so far has proved difficult for some of her colleagues on the religion beat at London's major daily newspapers, eschewing sensationalism about the Ordinariate that the Vatican has created to receive disaffected Anglicans.

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A rigorous code of conduct is not the same thing as a rigorous theology

Andrew Sullivan and Mark Silk have each responded to David Brook's musings about "rigorous theology", written after he'd attended a performance of the hit musical The Book of Mormon.

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Diocese of VA back in court

UPDATED
Blue Ridge Now reports on the continuing court case between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the break away congregations:

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Relapse and Recovery: A Tale of Two Prostitutes

NPR carries the story of Magdalene in Nashville, TN, a recovery program for women with criminal histories or drug abuse who want to leave prostitution. From the second in a series:

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More education = less religion?

Freakonomics reports on a new study from Canada:

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ABC on Narnia

lampNarnia.jpeg Each year during Holy Week the Archbishop of Canterbury gives a series of lectures. This year he discussed Narnia:

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Uganda may drop death penalty on anti-gay bill

AP reports that the death penalty provision in the Uganda anti-gay bill will likely be dropped:

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What would Jesus cut?

Is Jesus the Democrats' secret weapon? Brad Martin, writing at Salon, explores the "What Would Jesus Cut?" movement from the political left:

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10 minute rule: if the church is on fire

From Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices Forum:

If the church is on fire, tell the rector.

Otherwise, in the final 10 minutes before a service starts, try to resist peppering your priest with questions or reports about some failure of performance – people or facilities (or both).

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Insurance company sues Iker's "diocese"

The Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company sues former Bishop Jack Leo Iker's "diocese" for trying to collect insurance:

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Deacons' organization announces new name

The Association for Episcopal Deacons (AED) is the new name of the group formerly known as North American Association for the Diaconate (NAAD):

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10th Anniversary of Full Communion - Episcopalians & Lutherans

The leaders of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada , and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have issued a Pastoral Letter for the May 1 celebration marking the 10th Anniversary of full communion:

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Show us your Easter!

A great idea over at "Church Marketing Sucks" made us think that we should ask you, wonderful readers of The Episcopal Cafe, "Show us your Easter!" What images, video, sermons, publicity, bulletins, etc. helped to make your church's Easter come alive?

Write about your Easter in the comments or post links in the comments to your images on the web. Show us your Easter!

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Explaining sainthood

The CNN BeliefBlog has a helpful discussion of sainthood in the Roman Catholic tradition:

Sainthood explained: Understanding John Paul II's beatification
By John L. Allen, Jr., CNN Senior Vatican Analyst in CNN BeliefBlog

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Sparking conservation in Wyoming

Wyoming Episcopal Priest, the Rev. Warren Murphy, has helped to jump-start the conservation movement:

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"Holy Women, Holy Men" now available online

The Standing Commission on LIturgy and Music has made a .pdf of "Holy Women, Holy Men" available for free on their website:

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Abp of Wales sounds alarm

Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, says state of the Church in Wales faces fundamental questions regarding its future.

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Michigan says no to Anglican Covenant

The following came across our electronic transom this morning. It requires little by way of elaboration, except the irresistible comment that its emphatic nature may be its most remarkable characteristic.

Response to the Anglican Covenant
General Convention Deputation
Diocese of Michigan

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Fighting cancer, minorities more likely to go for broke

Researchers aren't sure why it is, but African Americans and other minorities are more likely to spend their life savings to fight cancer.

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Dioceses respond to storms in South and Southeast

UPDATE: Volunteers converge on St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Tuscaloosa:

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A royal wedding miscellany

Updated: If you have gotten up at oh-dark-thirty to watch Prince William and Katherine Middleton tie the knot, here is a collection of useful and trivial links.

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Church Pension Group picks new CEO

From the Church Pension Group website:

At its April 28 meeting, the Church Pension Fund Board of Trustees elected Mary Kate Wold to succeed T. Dennis Sullivan as President and CEO of the Church Pension Fund.

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D.C.'s Shiloh Baptist Church receives threats

The Washington Post reports that the church that President Obama and his family attended on Easter Sunday has received threats of violence after a conservative television commentator played a videotape, recorded in January, 2010, in which the pastor said that those espousing racial prejudice do so “under the protective cover of talk radio.”

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Micro-loans for sacred spaces

The Episcopal Church Building Fund has established a micro-loan fund to assist small to mid-sized congregations to develop creative uses for their biggest material assets: their buildings.

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A religion stylebook for the secular media

The Religion Newswriters Association has updated and released a comprehensive style guide to religion terms for mainstream religion writers according to a news release. The new ReligionStylebook.com has expanded the previously existing search options and has increased its bank of entries to more than 650.

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A royal wedding wrap-up

A cartwheeling verger, the couple's prayer, and the wedding itself.

The blog Archbishop Cranmer shows us a verger at Westminster Abbey turning cartwheels in the aisle.

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Abp. of York not bothered by premarriage cohabitation

It's not been a well kept secret that the present Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were living together before they were married. When the Archbishop of York was asked about this directly in an interview late this week, he said that it wasn't an issue for him.

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How the storms in Arkansas brought people together

Bishop Larry Benfield of the Diocese of Arkansas points out there are some small slivers of hope in the midst of the devastation that the tornadoes caused late this week.

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Married clergy an "abberation" in the Ordinariate

There's been some questions raised as the shape of the Roman Catholic Ordinariate becomes clear. One of the most common questions has been the future status of married clergymen going forward. We know that married Anglican clergymen are welcome, but what about priests and deacons raised up from within the Ordinariate? Might that afford married Roman Catholic men a chance to be ordained priests?

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A circle of protection for the poor

There's a new statement circulating and gaining thousands of signatures by religious leaders. This time it's being signed by people who are disquieted by the government's willingness to balance budgets on the backs of the poor.

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Co-opting the Church?

Like the author of a piece posted on Ekklesia, I too am finding myself more and more influenced by the anabaptist understandings of non-violence, the rejection of privatism of belief and the discomfort with the co-option of the Church to the Empire. And so as much as I reveled in the essential Anglicanism of the wedding events, I like Simon Barrow, the author of the essay, had a sort of disquiet as I watched the wedding yesterday.

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