Documentary film on Bishop Gene Robinson to be featured at Sundance Film Festival

Macky Alston’s documenatry film on Bishop Gene Robinson will be on the competition lineup at the 2012 Sundance FIlm Festival.

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Archbishop Fred Hiltz on the bishops' discussions in the Anglican Church of Canada, including the Anglican covenant

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, gave the Anglican Journal an overview of what dominated the bishops’ discussions over the course of the Nov. 20-24 meeting.

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World AIDS day: progress, and farther to go

President Obama provided a new target to fight AIDS: treatment to 6 million people worldwide by 2013.

Reuters reports:

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The meaning of marriage

A short documentary tells the story of Carl and Dave.

Nigeria's anti-gay law passes Senate

The Nigerian Senate passed an anti-gay bill on Tuesday. If enacted, the law would criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection.The legislation moved forward a vote the nation's House of Representatives despite international condemnation.

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Congregation returns to Christ Church, Savannah on Dec. 12

The breakaway group at Christ Church, Savannah, GA, will return possession of the church to the Episcopal diocese and its local congregation at noon December 12th.

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Imaging the Sacred Art of Chant

The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts presents a new exhibition for the Advent season.

Curator Ana Hernandez writes:

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Bishop of Swaziland calls for King to step down

The small country of Swaziland in Southern Africa is the last absolute monarchy on that continent. It also has the highest rate of HIV infection (50% of young adults test positive) in the world. The Kingdom's response to this public health crisis has been hampered by a significant lack of leadership by the King according to people in the country

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Fort Worth breakaway congregation to join Ordinariate

The US version of the Ordinariate will begin on January 1, 2012. A congregation that is associated with Bishop Jack Iker in Fort Worth TX has informed Bishop Iker that they intend to become part of the ordinariate and sever their bond with him.

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Churches uniting to resettle the Burmese refugees

CBS news has a video post up that reports on how Burmese refugees (from modern day Myanmar) are being welcomed into communities in Kentucky by a broad coalition of congregations and denominations. The report was probably motivated by the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's visit to Myanmar yesterday.

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How is tech helping and hurting the Church's mission?

Churches large and small are trying to figure out how best to use technology to support their mission in their communities. There's nothing terribly new about this, but the convergence of a rapidly changing society and hyper-rapid technological change is creating a situation where everybody is intentionally scrambling to catch up.

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You lost me...

The Tavis Smiley Show features research analyst David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church... and Rethinking Faith, explaining why more than 60% of Christian teens are leaving church.

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How doctors die

Ken Murray writes on how doctors approach death and life saving measures for themselves in How Doctors Die:

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Current crop of Republican hopefuls is Danforth's embarrassment

John Danforth, who sat in the U.S. Senate for two decades on behalf of Missouri, and who was also an ambassador to the U.N., counts his priestly ordination to The Episcopal Church among his bona fides. Though a Republican, he's recognizable to the Stewart-Colbert crowd for rankling the ranks of the GOP on occasion.

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A profile of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe

Five quick things you probably didn't know about The Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, until just now:

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Musical chairs, Café style

If the old poem holds true, Sunday's child is "bonny and blithe, good and gay," while "Wednesday's child is full of woe."

I guess I'll find out. This is my last Sunday as the official Sunday blogger for Episcopal Café. It's also my first week as the official Wednesday blogger for Episcopal Café. I'm stepping into the chair held capably the past few years by The Rev. Peter "Santos Woodcarving Popsicles" Carey.

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Doing the Reverse Tiber Backstroke

Catholic priest Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith enumerates the reasons he thinks Catholics would desire to become Anglicans.

Pencil ready?

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Trinity Wall Street and the occupation

The Associated Press reports:

Three Occupy Wall Street protesters who are on a hunger strike to get a New York church to give them access to a vacant lot in downtown Manhattan have been arrested on trespassing charges.

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The curse of "rational functionalism"

Writing for the Alban Institute, N. Graham Standish offers a diagnosis for what he believes is ailing the mainline Protestant churches. He calls it "rational functionalism", by which he means "the idea that we can uncover the mysteries of life and the universe mainly through rational thought and disciplined investigation."

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20% of seminarians are over 50. Is this a good thing?

From CNN:

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RNS covers Episcopal Church restructuring conversation

The Episcopal Church is featured prominently in a story by Daniel Burke of Religion News Service about the efforts of mainline Protestant churches to streamline their governance structures.

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Bishop Lawrence's provincial colleagues ask for a meeting

Mary Frances Schjonberg has the story (at Episcopal News Services new site) of a request from the bishops of Province IV to their colleague Mark Lawrence.

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What we talk about when we talk about mission

There is, as we have noted earlier, a hot conversation taking place in various gatherings within our church about “mission” and whether we are doing enough of it. Like all right thinking people, I am in favor of mission. But I have three concerns about the way the topic is currently being discussed in our church, other than the ones I mentioned in previous posts. They are:

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Happy St Nicholas Day

Did you put out your shoes? What did you find in them? A coin? or? Does your church celebrate this day? A celebration was held in Canterbury December 4.

Hundreds lined the streets of Canterbury to enjoy the 12th annual St Nicholas Festival parade on Saturday.

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Covenant defeated when fair hearings are held

No Anglican Covenant Coalition notes accomplishments to have a fair hearing of reasons for voting against the proposed Anglican Covenant:

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President Obama announces LGBT protection worldwide

Updated: 4:30 p.m. EST. Video of Secretary of State Clinton's speech below.

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Retired Armed Forces bishop and Occupy Wall Street

More news of Trinity Wall Street and the Occupy Wall Street movement from Episcopal News Service (ENS):

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Rwanda to AMiA head: recant or resign

Anglican Ink reports that Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and the House of Bishops of Rwanda have issued a rebuke to Bishop Chuck Murphy of Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) telling him to recant or resign.

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Porvoo consultation on marriage equality

Modeling respectful communication on controversial issues, the Churches of the Porvoo Communion held a consultation on marriage in Finland in November as reported by Thinking Anglicans:

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Blacksburg chaplain on Jeopardy!

The Burgs news site reports that "the Rev. Scott Russell, campus minister (at Virginia Tech) and associate rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg, competed recently on Jeopardy! The show he’s on will air Monday."

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Rowan Williams on Christmas, Occupy, and 'WWJD'

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams fashions up some thoughts on Christmas and that whole "What Would Jesus Do?" meme. He comes around to the subject of how he guesses Jesus might be involved in the Occupy movement.

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In same-sex partnerships and marriage, Scottish Episcopal Church board stands on Canon

Citing its Canon on the subject of marriage, the Faith and Order Board of the Scottish Episcopal Church has conservatively responded to a government consultation paper on the subject of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

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In Anaheim, Disneyland settles with workers

Many who attended General Convention 2009 will recall that Disneyland labor was then battling with management over critical employment matters.

AP reports that although the matter still requires employee ratification, it is largely settled for the time being.

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Thanks, Kermit.

Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, author of God and Harry Potter at Yale, has seen the new Muppet movie and wants to say thanks to Kermit and pals for lessons learned.

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Tebowing

The Denver Broncos are 7-5-0, having consecutively swept their last five opponents. Commensurate with this attention over the past several weeks, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has come to the fore of the conversation, and, of course, has famously brought his unshakable faith in Christ along with him - for example, having long noted Ephesians 2:8-10 in his eye black.

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Everything must be done for 'those not yet here'

Here is the problem as Lutheran bishop Mike Rinehart sees it:

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Japanese pastor sues over communion dispute

Anglican Journal reports that a Japanese pastor has sued the country's largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ), over his dismissal for giving communion to congregants who were not baptized.

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Not interested in leading a boutique church

The Washington Post interviews The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde in the first few days of her episcopacy.

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Team Hoyt: Father and son strive to help those who are physically disabled through marathons and triathlons

Team Hoyt is an inspirational story of a father, Dick Hoyt, and his son, Rick, who compete together in marathons and triathlons across the country.

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Retired Easton Bishop Sorge dies

The Rt. Rev. Elliot L. Sorge, eighth bishop of the Diocese of Easton, died Dec. 6 in Centennial, Colorado. He was 82.

Bishop Sorge was the bishop of South Central Brazil (1971-1977) and of Easton (1983-1993). He served on the staff of the Episcopal Church Center in New York as officer for the development of ministry, beginning in 1977.

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Glasspool on the mission of the Church

Bishop Mary Glasspool's sermon on mission given to the convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles on December 2, 2011.

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Something must be done! Really?

The Revd. Malcolm French writes at Simple Massing Priest about the Covenant. First he takes on the proposition that There Is No Alternative, and then he wonders out loud hos the Church of England, under the same Archbishop of Canterbury, can manage to hold on the open-ended view of full communion as a member of the Porvoo Communion while demanding the approach of the Covenant for the rest of us.

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Fort Worth and the breakaway parish that wants to join Rome

The provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth issued a statement clarifying the position of the diocese regarding a breakaway parish and former Episcopal priest who wish to become Roman Catholic and the status of the Episcopal Church they worship in.

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SCLM offers new resources on proposed blessing rites

ENS:

The Episcopal Church Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has released educational materials and other information surrounding its plan to ask General Convention to authorize a three-year trial use of its proposed rite for blessing same-gender unions.

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Updated statement from Trinity Wall Street on Duarte Square

The rector of Trinity Wall Street has posted an updated message about the use of Duarte Square by Occupy Wall Street protestors.

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Bishop Packard on #OWS and Trinity, Wall Street

Bishop George Packard, the retired Episcopal Bishop to the Armed Forces and Chaplaincies, has apparently been trying to sort out the situation that exists between leadership of Trinity Wall Street and the Occupy Wall Street protestors who are intent on using property that Trinity owns. We've covered that story here.

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Scottish Episcopal Church and same-sex marriage

Earlier this week there were reports from Scotland that the Scottish Episcopal Church had written to the Scottish government resisting any decision to legalize same-sex marriage in Scotland. That came a bit of surprise to many in the United States who thought the Scottish Church and the Episcopal Church were in closer agreement on the pastoral care of same-sex couples.

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Evangelicals in the 21st century

For the past few decades, evangelicals have been so closely identified by secular society with the Republican Right in American Politics that the term "evangelical" has come to mean just another political special interest voting block. But things are changing, and to a degree that many outside of Evangelical circles would find surprising. Young Evangelicals are more likely to hold "progressive" stances on political issues, to support "green" issues and be more open to same-sex relationships than their elders.

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Original design for the National Cathedral

The iconic National Cathedral in Washington DC is such a striking structure when you see it on the skyline that it's hard to imagine that anyone could have conceived of a different form for the building that was financed by the Episcopal Church. But in an article on the Smithsonian website on DC monuments that were designed but never built, you can see that original plan was very different than what we have now.

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Wrestling with Santa

Does Santa Claus innoculate children from religion? Can the cultural myth and the Gospel message co-exist in a way that makes sense?

The Christian Century publishes an RNS story that describes how various Christian traditions wrestle with Santa.

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The "Hindu-ization" of American belief

Cremation is on the rise in the United States, especially during the present economic downturn. Cremating the remains of a loved one is generally much cheaper than have them embalmed and buried in a casket. But there may be more to this trend than simple economics.

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Ripe for Perry-dee

Rick Perry isn't afraid to tell people he's a Christian, but he seems pretty deeply flawed about what that might mean.

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AIDS Quilt goes digital

ONE and (RED) have launched a digital quilt to fight AIDS according to Mashable.com:

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President and family attend St. John's Episcopal Church

President Obama and his family heard the same lessons as every other Episcopalian on Sunday at St. John's Episcopal Church, Layfayette Square. Isaiah, Thessalonians, Gospel of John and John the Baptist.

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Trinity's Compassion

Newspaper headlines and popular fiction might cast Trinity Wall Street and the Occupy Wall Street protestors as "us" and "them" but there is much more according to Bishop George Packard. He reports on a how the rector and the rector's wife met the protestors and how the protestors came to church and received communion on the Third Sunday in Advent:

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Homo narrans: the art of listening each other into being

Henning Mankiel writes of learning about the importance of story in human life. Writing in The New York Times:

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Christ Church, Savannah GA regains property

The Diocese of Georgia announces the transfer of Christ Church, Savannah GA in this Press  Release  

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The tragedy of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury

Andrew Gerns, who does the Friday news on The Lead, comments at his blog on an article in the Weekly Standard,by Joseph Bottum, titled with the alarmist The End of Canterbury: will the sun set on the Anglican Communion?

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Blessings of Our Lady of Guadalupe

¡Hoy se celebre la Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe! Recibe las beniciones de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

Today is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

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Bishop Robinson catechizes candidate Perry

Bishop Gene Robinson is not afraid to admit he is a Christian, and in a recent article in The Washington Post, he had a few lessons in the faith for candidate Rick Perry.

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Seeking province for oversight

When the Province of Rwanda adopted the AMiA not so long along ago, both got something out of the deal. The AMiA got to pretend it was part of the Anglican Communion, and Chuck Murphy got to be bishop. The Province of Rwanda gained a higher profile in the small pond which in Anglicanism broadly defined by adopting a few dissident U.S. parishes who no longer wanted to play by the rules of the Anglican Communion and submit to the leadership of The Episcopal Church.

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The InterAnglican Standing Committee and the illusion of consultation

The Anglican Communion’s ponderously named faith and order group released a report yesterday on its meeting earlier this month in Korea. It has me wondering whether Rowan Williams and proponents of the proposed Anglican Covenant understand that they are urging this document upon us in a way that validates all of our worst fears about the document itself.

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Presents are kind of the point

Sarah Ditum hits the nail on the head in an essay about Christmas on the Guardian website:

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Bishop Packard says he will occupy Trinity Wall Street property

An interesting confrontation is brewing between Bishop George Packard, retired Episcopal Bishop to the Armed Forces and Chaplaincies, and the leadership of Trinity Church, Wall Street.

In his most recent blog entry, Packard writes:

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Reviving our church: Budde interview kickstarts conversation

Lisa Miller's recent story on Bishop Mariann Budde of the Diocese of Washington has kicked off some interesting conversation in the On Faith section of The Washington Post's website.

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Old bigots never die

...they just keep running their mouths.

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Boston's St. Paul's Cathedral opens up to Occupy

From the site of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachussetts:

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Nebraskans will have interfaith model in Omaha

Omaha's Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities are going to get a lot closer. From the World Herald:

Omaha Jewish, Muslim and Christian organizations have purchased land for neighboring houses of worship, and at least one, Temple Israel, plans to begin construction in the spring of 2012, leaders of the Tri-Faith Initiative said Tuesday.

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Gift, giver, receiver: more is less, less is more

Building on yesterday's conversations about gifts and the memes and counter-memes of Christmas, consider the following.

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A life of mutuality before the Covenant

On his blog, Tobias Haller quotes from the 1878 Lambeth Conference's Encyclical letter, section 1.5:

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NZ congregation repeats seasonal billboard provocation

UPDATED: St. Matthew's is holding a caption contest for the billboard in question. Here's the image...

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Odd doings in the Traditional Anglican Communion

Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion (affiliated with Catholics by the Ordinariate and definitely not a member of the Anglican Communion) has recently seen the settlement of charges he lowered that he was raped 40 years ago in a Catholic seminary by a priest.

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Faith leader with Occupy Seattle tells his story

John Helmiere is the convener and Minister of Listening at Valley & Mountain Fellowship in Seattle. On his blog he's written "john's response to police brutality," detailing his recent arrest and overnight experience with Seattle police responding to Occupy protestors.

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More Tebow time

Perhaps as long as he team keeps winning, people will keep talking about Denver quarterback Tim Tebow and his rather open religious faith.

Here on Episcopal Cafe, we already have three entries on him, all due to many people writing on him:

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A blessing in Perry’s attack ad

Could the overwhelming negative reaction to Perry's anti-gay rhetoric mark an end to its use as a political tactic?

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What we are called to do: The Rev. Daniel Simons, of Trinity Wall Street, on the Occupy movement

The Rev. Daniel Simons, Priest for Liturgy, Hospitality & Pilgrimage of Trinity Wall Street, writes on his blog on the occasion of the three-month mark of the Occupy Wall Street movement from a perspective of "close proximity":

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The Nativity Factor: one story, thousands of storytellers

The Nativity Factor is a short film competition, asking entrants to tell the story of the Nativity in their own unique way. The entires were shown on You Tube, ranging from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

The contests winners were announced yesterday.

This was one of my favorites:

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ERD awarded grant for HIV/AIDS work in Zambia

Episcopal Relief and Development has received a $350,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for work in rural Zambia in partnership with the Zambia Anglican Council. The two groups will raise money to match the grant so that they can reach up to 4,000 families in rural areas where there is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

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Keeping up with the Cafe on FB

Here is how you can make it easier to keep up with The Episcopal Cafe on Facebook

Here's a neat trick to keep you up to date with the latest from your Episcopal pages (including ours) on Facebook.

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Tutu apparently of two minds on Occupy v. Trinity

Updated with Archbishop Tutu's "clarification."

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Province IV bishops meet with Lawrence of SC

ENS:

The bishops of the Episcopal Church’s Province IV had asked Lawrence Dec. 5 to meet with them “to have a clarifying conversation” about his decision to issue property deeds to each diocesan congregation.

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Breaking: Presiding Bishop and +Sisk of NY support Trinity vs. OWS

From Facebook
Letters from The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori and The Rev. Mark Sisk:

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Christian do-gooding homophobes

The Rev. Winnie Varghese is priest-in-charge at St. Mark’s-Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City and she asks the question "why are so many faithful Christians homophobes?"

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Religious reflections on the death of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, journalist and atheist, who proclaimed that "God is not good" and wrote that religion was at the root of all evil has died after a long bout with cancer. Here is a round up of some of the religious reflections on the passing of one of our most fiercest and popular critics.

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Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh, is again an exclusively Episcopal cathedral

The Chapter of Trinity Cathedral in the city of Pittsburgh, PA has voted to end its dual relationship with both the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and and the Anglican Church of North America. It is now exclusively the cathedral of the Episcopal diocese.

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Trinity v. Occupy hits front page of The New York Times

The New York Times today carries a front page story by Matt Flegenheimer on the impasse between Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Wall Street.

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Lessons from Luther, social media and the reformation

Social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, is seen as the vehicle which is making the Arab Spring and the #Occupy movement possible. The sense is that ideas being expressed online are going "viral", being shared and re-shared in exponentially explosive fashion, and leaping into our collective consciousness. The massive street protests and the regimes being toppled are the result.

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Bishop Packard arrested at Duarte Square (and now released)

Updated 10:58 pm: Bishop George Packard has been released from jail. His release was expedited because as the retired bishop of the armed forces, he had military clearances.

UPDATED BELOW with statement by the Rector of Trinity Wall Street, additional video footage and reports

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Sudan withdraws invitation to the Presiding Bishop

Archbishop Deng Bul, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, has written to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to withdraw her invitation to visit Sudan this spring. He cites the Episcopal Church's support of gay and lesbian Christians as the cause.

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Can any sitting President join a church in DC?

It's been widely noted that President Obama has not managed to join a congregation in DC since arriving there three years ago. He attends church at Camp David, occasionally at St. John's Lafayette Square, and other places. But he's not settled in, nor did his predecessor George W. Bush.

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The whole world was watching

The mainstream media paid quite a bit of attention to the confrontation yesterday between Trinity Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street.

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Christmas angels pay for presents

Yahoo! Finance reports on anonymous donors paying off layaway accounts and passing out money at K-Mart and other stores.

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn't be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter.

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Bishop Packard in the paddy wagon talking Occupy v. Trinity

Here is a new video of Bishop George Packard in the paddy wagon speaking with other Occupy Wall Street protestors who were arrested after scaling a fence and entering Trinity Wall Street's property at Duarte Square.

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Leafleting suburbia with the vicar

In today's Guardian, Rev. Chris Chivers writes about the act of distributing seasonally themed literature for his congregation, John Keble Church in Mill Hill, London.

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The Rev. John Merz, Occupy-arrestee, writes his bishop

Updated at bottom with Bishop George Packard's latest blog entry.

The Rev. John Merz, priest in charge at Ascension, Brooklyn has written a letter to his bishop, the Rt. Rev. Larry Provenzano, and it has been posted on the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.

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A tough weekend for the Episcopal Church

I can understand why Bishop Mark Sisk released a statement in advance of Occupy Wall Street’s demonstration at an empty lot owned by Trinity, Wall Street in lower Manhattan. Trinity is a church in his diocese. His clergy had been following the issue closely, and some were passionately supportive of the group that wanted to take over the property.

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Giles Fraser looks back without anger

The Guardian profiles the Rev. Canon Giles Fraser, who resigned as canon chancellor at St. Paul's Cathedral in London rather than be part of the team that assented to a once-planned, but since-dealyed police action against Occupy London.

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Dioceses respond cautiously to latest letter from Church of Sudan

Episcopal dioceses that have relationships with the Episcopal Church of Sudan have begun to respond to a letter recently released by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, in which he rescinded an invitation to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to visit with his church.

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Episcopalians and the "new evangelicals"

In a column for Patheos Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, managing editor of Patrol magazine writes about the so-called "new evangelicals," a name he dislikes, and the home that some of them have found in the Episcopal Church.

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Top ten peacemakers between science and religion

Paul Wallace at Religion Dispatches picks his top ten peacemakers between religion and science.

He writes:

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Bp. Parsley, other church leaders seek repeal of Alabama immigration law

The Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley and the Methodist and Roman Catholic bishops have written to the Governor of Alabama The Montgomery Advertiser imploring him to work for repeal of the current law on undocumented persons. Business leaders have also discovered the high economic price of the law.

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Advent Greetings

The Episcopal Church has been running videos with Advent greetings and "Welcome to the Episcopal Church" messages this month. Here is one, others available at the web site.

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Occupy, Trinity and the meaning of "private property"

Tom Beaudoin, who teaches at Fordham University has written an extremely insightful essay about the impasse between Trinity Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street on one of the blogs maintained by America, the Jesuit magazine.

He says, in part:

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Presiding Bishop to preach on CBS

Episcopal News Service reports that the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preach at the Christmas Eve service to be broadcast on CBS. The service will air from General Theological Seminary:

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Protestors to end occupation
at St. Paul's

According to The Independent demonstrators at St. Paul's in London will pull out on their own terms before the forced evictions begin:

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Pew report: more Christians globally, fewer in Europe and America

A report by Pew Research suggests that while there are many more persons professing Christianity today, that number is simply commensurate with the extraordinary population explosion we've seen in the last century.

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Property returned to Diocese of Milwaukee

The courts continue to uphold The Episcopal Church's property rights in cases involving schismatic splits. A letter from the Diocese of Milwaukee on the latest ruling:

JUDGE ORDERS IMMEDIATE RETURN OF CHURCH PROPERTY TAKEN BY DISSIDENT GROUP

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Southern Cone approves Anglican Covenant

Anglican Communion News Service reports today that a "recent" meeting (six weeks ago) in Asunción, Paraguay, saw the endorsement of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant by the bishops and Executive Committee of the Province of the Southern Cone of America.

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Lambeth has new Secretary for Public Affairs

Lambeth Palace reports it has hired Kay Brock to serve as the Secretary for Public Affairs to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Brock was Chief of Staff to six Lord Mayors of London and Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen.

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Well, that only took a second; or, This week in hate

In 2009, when St. Matthew's in Auckland, New Zealand, put up an Advent themed billboard suggesting the Almighty was better in bed than Mary, it only took five hours for it to be defaced. It took a little longer for this year's billboard - a shocked Mary holding a positive pregnancy test - to be defaced.

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Bishop Budde on Diane Rehm Show

From the site of the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU:

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Anglican Covenant as distraction from the real work of the church

As its tepid reception throughout the Communion continues, notable hand-wringing over the proposed Anglican Covenant persists in Lambeth.

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The prevalence and perils of Jesus comedy

Two trending videos on the web concerning Jesus comedy:

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George and Brook Packard interviewed

Bishop George Packard and his wife, Brook, are interviewed by Thom Hartmann.on The Big Picture on RT.com.

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Prayers for Christchurch, New Zealand

Bishop Victoria Matthews writes in the Anglican Taonga asking for prayers as Christchurch, New Zealand suffered another major earthquake today, almost one year after a similar temblor struck the city.

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Gay and vilified in Uganda

Frank Mugisha, the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate and executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda describes in the New York Times what it is like to be gay in Uganda.

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Canon Andrew on the situation in Baghdad

Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, shares a Christmas message describing the situation in Iraq.

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If you can't say anything nice....

Politico tells the story about a congressman who said something offensive about the First Lady in the presence of some Episcopal Church Women. They hold him accountable.

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Why do some Catholics "swim the Thames?"

Catholic priest Father Alexander Lucie-Smith wonders out loud why some Catholics become Anglican.

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Merry Christmas from The Lead

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Lead.

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Radical sect escalates religious violence in Nigeria

The New York Times covered the appalling violence that an extremist Muslim sect perpetrated on Christians on Christmas.

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How was your Christmas?

Merry Day After Christmas. We'd like to hear about your churchgoing experience this past weekend. Or your church viewing experience, if you were among those who had a chance to watch the Christmas Eve broadcast from General Seminary during with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached. Did you hear a good sermon? Did you give a good sermon? How was the music? Feel free to share links to text, podcast or videos.

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Magdalene, the one who showed up

Garrett Keizer offers a fresh, not especially ideological take on Mary of Magdala.

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What did Jesus do on Christmas Day?

At Thinking Anglicans, the Rt Rev. Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckinghamshire asked on Christmas Day:

What would Jesus do… today of all days?

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Neither spiritual nor religious

Cathy Grossman of USA Today looks at some recent polling data and finds that a fast-growing segment of the American population is just not all that interested in religion one way or another.

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Happy to be of service

The Very Rev. Scott Richardson shares his enthusiasm for worship in the community of the Cathedral of St. Paul in San Diego, CA in SignOnSanDiego News:

The Very Rev. Scott Richardson stood at the doors of St. Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday, shaking hands with many of the 271 people filing out after the midmorning Christmas service in Hillcrest.

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Stories of the year

In the next few days, we will be looking back at some of the bigger stories of the year here on the Cafe. (Hint, expect the names Sarah Palin and Bede Parry, and the phrase "Communion without Baptism" to surface.) But we'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about the most important stories that we covered--or missed--in 2011. Have at it in the comments.

Dallas church hosts photo shoot for NO H8

Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas hosted a photo shoot for the NO H8 campaign:

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For your sermon-ating

The Philosophical Society offers a plethora of logical fallacies that might add some spice to your sermons! Here is one for the lessons on the Gerasene demoniac and the swine.

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Sign your name

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Drew Brees breaks passing record

The Lead's bloggers are excited to add to Episco-trivia. Episcopalian Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans' Saints, broke Dan Marino's passing record on December 26.

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Video of GTS, +KJS on CBS

In case you missed it, here is the video of the service broadcast on CBS on Christmas Eve from General Theological Seminary with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preaching.

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Churches doing what they can to address homelessness

Various reports from the past few days have pinpointed some congregations' involvement in the effort to help the homeless.

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Presidential candidates intensify religious symbols, language

Rick Perry's rightward shuffle on abortion was noted in yesterday's news, and now today we have this:

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Why not to ask ACNA into the Communion

It's the time of year for informally discussing the future as we look to 2012.

Mark Harris considers a recent blog entry by his acquaintance Peter Carrell, who asks,

Give one good reason for ACC 2012 not to invite ACNA to join the Anglican Communion.

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episcopalchurch.org sees new design

The web presence for The Episcopal Church has had a major overhaul today, according to a press release and - well, also according to our plain-old eyeballs.

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Generations in the church and their duties to each other

In The Christian Science Monitor, author Courtney E. Martin notes a distinct paradox that, for her at least, doesn't really demand resolution.

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The 11 most important religion and politics findings of 2011

Robert P. Jones writes in his Figuring Faith blog in The Washington Post on some of the most important religions findings of 2011.

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2011 hot topic: hell

Hell didn't win, but it had a "good year", according to Barbara Bradley Hagerty on NPR's All Things Considered.

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Jamaica's patois Bible: The word of God in creole

Robert Pigott writes in BBC News Magazine that the Bible is being translated for the first time in Creole. Some oppose the move, thinking learning and speaking English should be the priority, but many welcome it.

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Happiness considered

This weekend, the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, appears on the American Public Media radio program On Being with the Dali Lama, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Muslim scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and host Krista Tippet. The discussion originally took place on the Interfaith Summit on Happiness at Emory University in Atlanta on October 17, 2010.

The discussion is being broadcast this weekend for the new year. --see below

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Will the church continue to decline in 2012?

Steve McSwain, a former Baptist minister, part time Episcopalian and who now speaks on behalf of the spiritual but not religious, says that if the church doesn't snap out of it's collective insanity it cannot communicate the hope it has to offer the world.

Here are five things he says drive spiritual people away from religion.

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Christmas attendance in the UK appears to have gone up

The Church Times reports that attendance at Christmas Services seemed to bump up compared to last year in Great Britain.

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Different takes on "Top Religion Stories" for 2011

As the year winds up, it is time when every editor in the land calls out for a round up of top religion stories of the past year. Here are some interesting takes on the religion scene in 2011.

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New Years Eve food traditions

The Daily Meal offers 15 New Year's Eve food traditions. What are your family traditions?

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"Christianity deserves better worshippers"

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a practicing Muslim, begins an essay by decrying the disingenuous use of religion by political power structures as a means to achieve their secular ends. She has extremely harsh words for the theocracy of Iran, and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. And then she turns to Britain and sees the same behavior by the Prime Minister Dave Cameron:

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The most read essays on the Café this year

256,000 people visited the Café in 2011, 27 percent of those for the first time, and 34 percent visited over 100 times. Our thanks to all of you.

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