Power to the People('s Prayer Breakfast)

An Occupy group is gearing up to provide an alternative voice to the National Prayer Breakfast, scheduled for tomorrow, Rabbi Michael Lerner says in Tikkun.

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Houston priest learning the sweet science

Rev. Patrick Miller, rector of St. Mark's, Houston, has been a student of boxing since 2007, and as the Houston Chronicle reports, he's striving to integrate lessons learned in the ring with those acquired in the process of his work.

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Occupy and 'the better angels of our nature'

The Christian Science Monitor reports on tension within the Occupy movement to resist or give in to violence.

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Bishop Rickel on marriage equality

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, bishop of Olympia, has written to make explicit his views on equal marriage.

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At death's door, what to say?

Hospice chaplain Kerry Egan writes movingly for the CNN Belief Blog about her experiences - namely about what people say when they are in the throes of death.

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National Geographic features King James Bible

The King James Bible is the subject of a National Geographic article by Adam Nicolson and picture gallery by Jim Richardson:

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London clergy challenge Civil Partnership ban

Thinking Anglicans brings together multiple reports that a group of clergy in the Diocese of London have signed a letter calling for the Church of England to reverse its ban on civil partnership ceremonies being held in churches.

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UPDATE: President Obama's remarks on prayer (circa 2011)

(This is the text from the 2011 National Prayer Breakfast! While the look back still is relevant today, we'll get the 2012 remarks momentarily. Sorry for the mistake.)

Keeping with tradition (going back to President Eisenhower), President Obama attended the National Prayer Breakfast. CNN has his remarks posted, which featured a lighthearted moment particular to a parent:

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President Obama's 2012 remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

President Obama did indeed speak at today's 2012 National Prayer Breakfast (as he did in 2011). From this year's CNN article:

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Wislawa Szymborska, 'Mozart of poetry', dies aged 88

From The Guardian:

Polish poet and Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska, whose beguilingly simple, playful poems spoke to the heart of everyday life, died yesterday aged 88.

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Mitt Romney and the "safety net"

Mitt Romney recent quote that he is "not concerned about the very poor" has already been used in all sorts of ways, sometimes unfairly.

The actual quote in context was:

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Program, Budget & Finance begins work on 2013-2015 budget

Episcopal News Service reports that Program, Budget and Finance Committee(PB&F) has begun the discussions of the draft 2013-2015 budget.

The article cites a number of tensions facing the committee:

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Update on Virginia property settlement

Henry D.W. Burt II reported to the Council (Convention) of the Diocese of Virginia last week about "the efforts... to recover Episcopal properties for the mission of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia."

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On reading the Bible

Today's essay on the Daily Episcopalian has provoked a lot of comment.

The Rev. George Clifford says that perhaps reading the Bible indiscriminately and only as a devotional tool de-values the Bible, hurts the church, and inadequately prepares Christians.

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Odds on favorite?

The bookies are already setting odds on who might succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Which religious group will politicians pander to next?

Lauren Markoe at RNS reports that mainline Protestants are, as a group, up for grabs in key battleground states as the next presidential election approaches.

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Teaching a trade

Timothy Park of Redmond, Oregon, documents the work of hair stylists who go to Nicaraugua to teach hair styling to women to help blunt the epidemic of prostitution.

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"The Year of the Bible" in a state founded on religious freedom

A bill adopted unanimously in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would make 2012 "the year of the Bible" in the Commonwealth. The rector of an Episcopal parish in the Diocese of Bethlehem, among others, says "not so fast!" Others point out that Pennsylvania was founded on the principle of religious freedom and that the law deviates from that tradition.

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Churches and public spaces

Debate is brewing in New York State over whether it is lawful or even wise for a school district to rent public space, particularly schools, to religious organizations for use after hours for worship or other programming.

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Including acolytes with special needs

Many Episcopal parishes are trying to be more intentional about including people with special needs into the full life of the congregation. One parish in the Diocese of Atlanta began by working out how to include a child who is blind and wheelchair bound. That decision has led to a broadening of the acolyte corp in the congregation which now includes a number of people with a range of challenges.

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Anglican Mainstream not so mainstream

Last weekend "Anglican Mainstream" held a highly publicized conference in the greater London area. Andrew Brown describes what happened, and makes it clear how little of the mainstream Anglican mainstream represents in England.

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Dioceses of Derby and Gloucester defeat Covenant resolution

According to twitter reports this afternoon, the Diocese of Derby in England has voted strongly to reject the Anglican Covenant. The votes were 24 against and 2 for in the laity, 21 against and 1 for in the clergy (with two abstentions), and the bishop voted against it.

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Bishop of Salisbury supports same-sex marriage

Bishop Nicholas Holtam is the first major bishop in England to come out in support of the Church's recognizing "gay marriage" according to a report in The Times late this week.

From Ruth Gledhill's article:

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"How people use facebook"

Facebook, which went public on the Stock Market this week, is well known as the largest of all the social media sites. And because of that the Church needs to figure out how to use engage it, and the people using it, effectively. So the first question to ask is probably "how do people use Facebook"?

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British parliament sends a warning to the Archbishops

UPDATE and additional material:
Lay Anglicana and Thinking Anglicans have more comments on the motion by Parliament.

From Laura Sykes at Lay Anglicana:

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Football season to end this evening, sources say

The Café has confirmed that the National Football League season will end tonight, following a conclusive competition.

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Super Bowl distractions

I was one of "those preachers" who mentioned the Super Bowl during church today.

(My blog is called One Step Closer: Religion and Popular Culture. Feel free to visit sometime, but the whole sermon's here for your convenience. Hope the sermon speaks to you, and enjoy the game!)

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In Indianapolis, standing up to human trafficking

From the sexual-slavery eradication project Shared Hope International, a grim reminder about what also happens other than the Big Game when folks gather to celebrate their teams.

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Reforming General Convention? Or watering it down?

The Diocese of Georgia passed a resolution over the weekend calling up on the church to re-imagine General Convention. This section interested me.

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An elevator speech for the Episcopal Church

In a conversation on the email list-serv maintained by the Episcopal Communicators, a member noted that he had recently come across some language describing the church in its brand style guide. Turns out he was referring to the "brand strategy statement. It reads:

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Uganda's awful anti-gay bill is back

Warren Throckmorton links to a Ugandan TV report suggesting the bill may be taken up in Parliament tomorrow.

For Anglicans who want to avoid decisions

Today in Comparative Ecclesial Polities, we look at the General Synod of the Church of England, which is now in session, but spent most of today just warming up. Riazat Butt, soon to be late of the Guardian, kept this live blog on the day's events.

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No Plan B if C of E rejects legislation on female bishops

Riazat Butt of the Guardian reports from the General Synod of the Church of England:

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Breaking: Proposition 8 ruled unconstitutional

Update: Proposition 8 has been overturned. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

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Washington Post article by Bishop Budde calls for marriage equality in Maryland

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington, wrote a powerful article for "On Faith". Here is an excerpt:

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Bishop Robinson, in the Boston Globe, defends current NH marriage equality law

With what appears to be a bit of irony, just as Bishop Budde's article discusses the role religion plays in the same-sex marriage debate in Maryland, Bishop Robinson makes it clear that religion should not be the cause of undoing marriage equality in New Hampshire:

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Hate reappears in Ugandan Parliament

UPDATE 2: David Bahati has talked to The Guardian, saying

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Knights of Columbus' use of resources surprising to many

The Knight of Columbus, the second largest Catholic organization besides the Church itself, appears to be deeply involved in contested political areas.

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On racist threats to Archbishop of York

At the end of last month, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the second-ranking cleric in the Church of England, told The Telegraph marriage should strictly be a male-and-female thing. Criticism of the archbishop rang around the Internet.

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Another step in female-bishop process in Church of England

The process for bringing the possibility of female bishops to the Church of England has taken another wary step forward.

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Among working CofE clergy, LGB&T considerable in number

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition has published significant information in advance of an event to be held at the Church of England's General Synod Thursday.

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Breaking: Washington state approves marriage equality

UPDATED: see below

The Washington state House of Representatives "voted to approve gay marriage Wednesday, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed" according to USAToday

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Mainstream religious leaders voice support for contraception coverage

The Religious Institute features the statement by twenty-three major mainstream religious leaders in support of the Department of Health and Human Services that contraception services must be covered by most health insurances.

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Ellen DeGeneres, JC Penney's, and traditional values

In her show's opening monologue yesterday, Ellen DeGeneres touched on the Prop 8 ruling before moving to the demand that JC Penney's fire her as their spokesperson because of her "lifestyle".

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TEC's Office of Public Affairs releases video on governance restructuring

"Becoming A Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: An Adaptive Moment, a proposal to address and discuss potential restructuring of the Episcopal Church", has been released by The Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs.

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What really happened in the Church of England's debate of female bishops?

There's a difference of opinion as to what happened in the Church of England yesterday...

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CAPA calls on Muslims and Christians to live in peace

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa has made and urgent appeal to Muslim faith leaders to stand with them in opposition to "tragic violence that is destroying our communities" particularly in Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

The statement focuses on religious violence, highlights examples of Christian-Muslim dialogue and calls on governments to stop using religious rivalry, bigotry and hatred as a tool to prop up their regimes.

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Contraception controversy round up

Updated: President Obama announced a compromise solution to the controversy over contraception controversy. Catholic institutions won't have to pay for contraception coverage for their employees and employees--that is to say, women-- who work in these institutions won't have to go hunting for separate coverage nor pay for them out of pocket. Because offering these services to women will part of the cost of the insurance company.

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Artist in residence

The New York Times reports on Anna Deavere Smith, the first artist in residence at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

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Improving police

The Rev. David Couper, served as chief of the Madison, Wisconsin, Police Department from 1972 to 1993. He worked to transform local police techniques, develop community policing and instituted reforms that spread nationally.

He talks about the "... tremendous moral laxity" of "our nation’s police [who have] not continued to move forward."

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77th General Convention Website

The new website for General Convention is up and running.

Check it out here.

Included:

Convention schedule

Deputies to General Convention

2012 Legislation

Additional Resources.

Continuing split

Religion News Service summarizes the current struggle within the Anglican Mission in America and the difficulty the breakaway church has in maintaining an Anglican identity while drifting farther away from their roots.

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Albany parishes seek DEPO

Three parishes in the Diocese of Albany has begun the process to seek "delegated Episcopal oversight" (DEPO). In a twist, these are parishes looking for a less conservative bishop than Bishop Love of the Diocese of Albany. Originally DEPO was created as a way to allow conservative congregations to find more like minded bishops if they found their local bishop objectionable.

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Lord Carey stands alone?

Recently George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury spoke out against the bishops of the Church of England as they took a uniformly strong stand against the Welfare Reforms making their way through parliament. It's not the first time that Carey has decided to criticize his successors, actions which appear to be unique to Lord Carey.

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Malaria twice as deadly as thought

New research from the World Health Organization is showing that number of deaths world-wide due to malaria have been significantly underestimated. Instead of the 655,000 or so thought to have died in 2010, nearly 1.22 million died. That's the bad news. The good news is that malaria deaths are preventable and are actually declining because of the work of groups like ERD with Nets For Life to provide mosquito netting for anyone who needs it.

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"One Town's War on Gay Teens"

The town of Anoka Minnesota, in Michelle Bachmann's congressional district, has had a rash of teenage suicides attributed to unchecked bullying against LGBT people in the community. Rolling Stone has an long, moving report on the situation, the background and the way the teens are organizing to try to save their own lives.

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EDS Dean on FOX: birth control and religion

The Rev. Canon Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, Dean and President of Episcopal Divinity School is interviewed on FOX about the birth control mandate.

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William Stringfellow: an inconvenient theology

Commonweal reviews An Alien in a Strange Land: Theology and Life of William Stringfellow by Anthony Dancer:

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Opposing an amendment banning marriage equality

The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Shelby, North Carolina recently hosted a forum for opponents of a ballot initiative that would make same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

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Virginia Episcopalians prepare to take back their churches

Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post has the story:

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Is marriage equality in the United States inevitable?

Writing in The Los Angeles Times, Harvard Professor Michael Klarman argues that the outcome of the struggle for marriage equality is already won, even as the fighting goes on.

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A one-sided conversation about reform

I continue to be dismayed by the manner in which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, formerly Bishop of Lexington, and now chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, are pursuing their efforts to reform the structures of the church. Bishop Sauls has proposed legislation requesting that a special committee be created to devise resolutions regarding the restructuring of the church, and that this committee’s recommendations then be debated at a special General Convention to be held before the date of the next regularly scheduled General Convention in 2015.

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What the PB and Bishop Sauls misunderstand about mission

One of the more thoughtful critiques of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Stacy Sauls' plan for restructuring the Episcopal Church in ways that would vest more authority in the offices they currently hold, was written by Tobias Haller. He is particularly good on the two bishops' faulty understanding of mission, a word they use as a weapon against those who think it is worth spending money to include clergy and lay people in the decision making bodies of the church.

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Gearing up for Ashes to Go

The Diocese of Chicago will once again offer Ashes to Go, the exceedingly popular, and at least slightly controversial initiative in which congregations take to the streets and subway stations on Ash Wednesday to offer ashes to passers-by.

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What is wrong with the Episcopal Church?

What is wrong with The Episcopal Church?

This is not a rhetorical question. Conversations about how to "fix" the church are raging all over the place. But it isn't clear that we agree on what is wrong with it. One can even argue that nothing is wrong, and the decline in church membership is symptomatic of cultural forces beyond our control. What is your diagnosis?

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Obama's "Anglican solution" to the birth control controversy

Jon Meacham, an Episcopalian, suggests that Barack Obama has found an Anglican solution to the controversy controversy over whether Roman Catholic schools and hospitals would be required to provide employees insurance plans that covered contraception.

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What are you doing for Lent?

Neva Rae Fox of The Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church reports on a variety of Lenten programs, resources and meditations:

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New Jersey Senate approves marriage equality

The New Jersey Senate voted to approve a bill for marriage equality for same sex partners according to The New York Times and faith leaders in New Jersey express support:

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Uganda anti-gay bill in limbo again

Warren Throckmorton, who keeps tabs on the anti-homosexuality bills in Uganda - among other topics, reports that the bill is now in limbo once again.

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Giles Fraser and Richard Dawkins debate Christianity

According to The Telegraph, Giles Fraser "played a blinder" on Richard Dawkins in their debate this week:

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Professor Marilyn McCord Adams against the Covenant

From the No Anglican Covenant Coalition:

NEWS RELEASE
FEBRUARY 14, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROFESSOR MARILYN McCORD ADAMS APPOINTED AS COALITION’S FOURTH PATRON

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Arizona Accord on immigration: a ray of hope?

UPDATED: the economics of immigration and undocumented taxpayers Read Here

According to KPHO, CBS affiliate in Phoenix, business leaders have signed an "Arizona Accord" on immigration policy:

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Valentine's Day reprise

Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three.... Laura Sykes at Lay Anglicana explores how love of God and love of one another overlap:

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The Queen on Faith

At a reception with nine leaders representing different religious groups in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth II spoke about the importance of faith and the role of the Church of England in a culture where all religion are free to express themselves.

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Reflections on Covenant and the nature of unity

The Diocese of Norwich in the Church of England has a web page highlighting papers giving arguments both for and against the adoption of an Anglican Covenant. In addition to a video talk by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, there are five papers that can be downloaded in MS Word format.

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Digital Formation

General Seminary is working with the Office of Communication of the Episcopal Church on a new education program called Digital Formation.

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Does the Church have a future?

Diana Butler Bass talks about the direction of the church in an uncertain age. In this video she explains the premise of her new book, Christianity After Religion.

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Linsanity vs. Tebowmania

Stephen Prothero of Boston University compares and contrasts the way Jeremy Lin communicates his faith on and off the basketball court with the apporach of another evangelical sports celebrity Tim Tebow.

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Is there a Do Not Baptize list?

From Forrest Wickman in Slate:

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Methodists discuss restructuring

Some interesting parallels and contrasts between the discussions about re-structuring in the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church. (see also Daily Episcopalian and the Video blog on the Café this week - as we offer more thoughts on restructure and the Episcopal Church.)

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Washington state bishops support marriage equality law

The bishops who serve dioceses in the state of Washington both support the newly passed and signed law for marriage equality according to Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service:

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TEC launches an app

The Church Center has released an app for the iPad called Wayfarer. The first program on the app is a beautiful program on Alaska focussing on Kivalina, Alaska, "which chronicles the story of Indigenous Alaskans faced with having to move their entire village to higher ground because of rising sea temperatures." Some wonder why there is little identification with The Episcopal Church as the source of Wayfarer?:

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Jesus: top ten quotes

The Bible Guide Online proposes the top ten sayings of Jesus. Do you agree? What are your top ten?

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Lenten Message from the Presiding Bishop

From Episcopal News Service

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori invites a focus on the Millennium Development Goals for Lent 2012.

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Are isolated clergy less effective?

A Harris poll of CEOs reveals what many have said for a long time - that it's lonely at the top - but adds that isolation hinders performance.

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Covenant doings: Fraser balks; the 'no' crowd gets an American patron

In Church Times, Giles Fraser says he's against the proposed Anglican Covenant.

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Adult faith formation that doesn't work

St. Mary’s in St. Paul, Minn., is described as "a growing faith community." Nevertheless, its rector, Rev. LeeAnne Watkins, says adult faith formation has been tried in every form conceivable but has failed to attract consistent energy or attendance. So, at this point, it's done for now. "We've cancelled it all," she confesses.

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The first ten years in a congregation

Lots of folks could benefit from an Alban Institute tract by Israel Galindo from 2004 that's been electronically promoted. It's called "Staying Put: A Look at the First 10 Years of Ministry."

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Contraception, Catholics, and the old Kosher Deli

Yesterday's story was of a mostly-testosterone-y panel of witnesses on Capital Hill at the birth-control-benefit hearings (walked out of, in protest, of by Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney [D-N.Y.] and Eleanor Holmes Norton [D-D.C.]) It led Katie Halper to muse that the "hearing was good, but having it in Salem in the 17th century would have made it even better."

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Two steps forward, one step back

Last night news broke that the Maryland House of Delegates voted to approved a measure that would legalize "same-sex unions". This is significant because last year the House blocked such a measure.

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Breaking: Bad weekend for proposed Anglican Covenant

Four dioceses in the Church of England voted on the proposed Anglican Covenant today. All four voted against it. To date, ten of the church's 44 dioceses have voted against the covenant, which is supported by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, while five have voted in favor of the covenant.

Voting in the negative today were the dioceses of Leicester, Portsmouth, Rochester and Salisbury.

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Losing their faith

What happens when clergy lose their faith? It happens more often than most people might think. Most clergy have to struggle with un-belief at one point or another during seminary. Not all resolve the question before they are ordained. Often time the situation returns again and again; at least according to other clergy that I speak with informally.

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"The End of Church"

There's a sobering fact being recognized right now. All denominations in the United States of America are in decline. In a time as dire as the Church of England experienced in the mid-18th century, we are starting to see a collapse in the formal structures of religion as it has been practiced in the last century.

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Mainline Christians working for Satan? Who knew?

Rick Santorum who hopes to become the Republican nominee for President believes Satan is using mainline churches to destroy America. From the Washington Monthly:

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The changing evangelical view of abortion

When the Supreme Court ruled that women had, because of the constitutional right to privacy, to be guaranteed access to safe and legal abortion providers, it wasn't a huge issue for the conservative American Evangelical churches. Their leaders had taken the position for years that the fetus was an "undeveloped human" and didn't therefore have rights.

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Better to laugh now: a ‘Simpsons’ appreciation

A note of gratitude to the writers and producers of “The Simpsons,” whose 500th episode airs tonight.

Each episode takes a minimum of six months to produce. Stacked end-to-end, that’s 250 years’ worth of work.

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The world was "brought to church" at Houston's funeral

Stephen Prothero watched Whitney Houston's funeral on television and reflects how this service allowed America to witness the black church and its influence on our culture.

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Anglican Covenant: Due process and the lack thereof

Not long ago I edited a study guide for the Chicago Consultation on the proposed Anglican Covenant. It was called The Genius of Anglicanism, and while it included many excellent essays, one in particular has stuck with me, perhaps because I covered a few trials during my days as a reporter.

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What are we feeding the spiritually hungry?

Does your parish offer any organized teaching about, exposure to, or immersion in any Christian spiritual practices? Lectio Divina? Centering Prayer? The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius? The writings of the great Carmelite mystics? I have a vague sense that most people who come through our doors for the first time are looking for something that they can’t find elsewhere, and that we don’t provide it in a consistent fashion.

Thoughts? Experiences?

A good faith effort from the Diocese of Lexington

The Diocese of Lexington is the latest to weigh in on how the Episcopal Church should attempt to restructure itself.

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Uganda anti-gay bill again

Box Turtle Bulletin notes that the so called anti-homosexuality bill will be a regression for civil rights even if the anti-gay provisions are removed:

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Obama is the most explicitly Christian President

Professor John Fea of Messiah College, a conservative Christian college has written that he believes President Obama may be the most explicitly Christian President in history. Writing at Patheos, Fea says:

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Diocese of Rhode Island closes cathedral

The Cathedral in Providence is to be closed, at least temporarily, April 22 due to rising costs and declining income, according to the Providence Journal. Members seemed surprised although according to the letter from the interim dean indicates it is an ongoing issue:

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Former ABC Carey opposes
marriage equality; UK supports it

The Independent reports that David Cameron is supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples despite the former Archbishop of Canterbury Carey's speeches against equality:

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Band of bloggers tilting at the Covenant windmill

The Rev. Malcolm French, Canadian coordinator for the No Anglican Coalition, reports on the status of the proposed covenant with 1/3 of the Church of England synods reporting on the voting:

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Anti-science threatens the world

The New Zealand Times reports on the current meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and fears that current anti-science campaigns will destroy the world:

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Ashes to Go: how'd it go?

On the Christian Century's blog, Amy Frykholm muses about Ashes to Go.

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The view from Salisbury's pulpit over the Covenant

Right Reverend Nicholas Roderick Holtam is the Bishop of Salisbury in the Church of England. In his Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod on February 18th, he expressed what many have thought about the proposed Anglican Covenant.

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What Bible does Santorum read, anyway?

Even since he took half a step back from comments made over Barack Obama's "phony theology" - pinning it on radical environmentalism - fallout continues over Rick Santorum's remarks about the President and the Bible.

How does a nation of individuals collectively care for itself?

A member of the House of Bishops/Deputies list points to a New York Times column by David Brooks in which he tries to sketch out some major differences between life a few generations back in our history versus today, and what the implications might be.

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Ash Wednesday: Want to share?

If the Prayer Book is a carrier of The Episcopal Church's theology, today's/tonight's rite marking Ash Wednesday and the entry into Lent 2012 should have been a liturgical doozy.

What did you hear, see, read, say, touch, or sing that caught your eye or brought you close to God? Where were the "thin places"?

Mormons break promise in posthumously baptizing Anne Frank

Andrea Stone of The Huffington Post reports:

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Three videos supporting the Anglican Covenant

Episcopal priest Mark Harris writes on three videos produced by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), which was tasked with offering commentary in support of the Anglican Covenant. 

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Teen complaint towards prayer banner in public school leads to lawsuit, outrage, and a scholarship

Rhode Island teen Jessica Ahlquist complained about a prayer banner hanging in the auditorium at Cranston High School West that referred to "Our Heavenly Father" in July of 2010.

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Smile at the end of the day

Would love to give the proper credit for this picture running around Facebook.

Until I can, consider me the "Opportunist".


Williams and Dawkins debate belief in God.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams did what he does best when he met Richard Dawkins Clarendon House at Oxford University for a debate about the existence of God that turned into a discussion about the efficacy of belief in God.

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General Seminary seeks to sell Tutu Center

<Updated 12:30 pm EST> Chelsea Now reports that General Seminary is in discussion with the Brodsky Organization to sell the Desmond Tutu Center, a conference center owned by the Seminary.

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Eleven principles for medical conscientious objection

What has been missing from the on-going controversy over contraception and conscience--beside the voices of women--has been a useful way of thinking through how to balance equal and competing claims. In this case, the claim to equal and quality access to health care has run into the claim that the caregiver should violate ones own conscience in providing care.

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Covenant videos critiqued

Now that IASCUFO has decided to make a case for the Anglican Communion Covenant to the average Anglican in the pew, it's clear that they were never really prepared to make the case in the first place. And they certainly weren't prepared to handle serious dissent.

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Bishop opens conversation on gay marriage in Salisbury

After Bishop Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury said that he was in favor of gay marriage in Great Britain, he met with clergy in his diocese who disagreed with him. After the meeting, the Bishop posted this statement on the diocean web-site:

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The rights of citizens and the popular vote

Back in January, Newark, New Jersey, mayor Cory Booker told reporters why it is inappropriate to put civil rights issues before the electorate in a popular referendum.

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King James Bible anniversary exhibition in Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Art Centre presents Precious LIght, an exhibition for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James's Bible:

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Diarmaid MacColluch on the Anglican Covenant

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford, author of Christianity: the first three thousand years asks, "Anglican Covenant: where next"?" in a Letter to the Editor in the Church Times

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Archbishop of York on Ugandan anti-gay bill

The Archbishop of York has issued statement on the murderous anti-gay bill currently before the Ugandan legislature:

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Children's Day of Art

Partly in response to the trend to cut arts from the schools, and to offer the talents of the church locally, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown, NJ offers A Day of Art.

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Lectors and faith

The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, interviews Olivia de Haviland about how she reads scriptures as a lector for the Cathedral in Paris.:

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Intersection of poverty and the environment

The Episcopal Church will sponsor a forum on poverty and the environment in Salt Lake City, UT, April 21. The forum will be webcast from the cathedral in Salt Lake City.

On April 21, the Episcopal Church will sponsor a forum on a critical topic: The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment. Originating from St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, UT, the two-hour ecumenical forum will be live webcast beginning at 10 am Mountain (9 am Pacific, 11 Central, noon Eastern).

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President of House of Deputies: Santorum comments "kind of bizarre"

President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson is quoted in the Boston Globe today:

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Kenya's legal same sex marriage

BBC News reports:

Homosexual acts may be outlawed in Kenya but there is a long tradition among some communities of women marrying each other.

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Nun picks her Oscar winners

From Odyssey Networks:

Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP, an enthusiastic film critic, is excited about the Academy Awards coming up. Discover what she says about this year's movies and how faith and film are connected. Sister Pacatte is currently the Director at the Pauline Center for Media Studies.

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Santorum says college saps your faith. What do you say?

Rick Santorum has made headlines recently by claiming that colleges more or less systematically rob young people of their faith. Talking Points Memo rebuts this claim with a raft of studies. The studies are not unanimous in assessing the impact of attending college on "religious participation," so let's give them a hand.

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Breakaway Brazilian bishop and wife are murdered, son is chief suspect

The Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti, bishop of the breakaway Diocese of Recife, and his wife Miriam have been murdered, according to media reports from Brazil.

Police suspect the couple's son Eduardo, whom they said attempted suicide after the murders.

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The chuch and the Dodo bird

As The Episcopal Church begins the process of re-imagining itself, or at least its governing structures, we should pay special attention to those in the midst of a similar process. In this brief essay, Alison Boulton, a Baptist minister in England compares Christian churches to fat, flightless Dodo birds, and wonders if the time hasn't come to shed some weight.

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Faith, values and the Oscars

Last night I asked on Twitter whether anyone was working on the essay about the theological significance of the red carpet coverage of the Academy Award for today's Cafe. As of this afternoon, no one, to my knowledge, has come forward. So consider this an open thread on the faith and values angles of last night's Oscars telecast and the attendant media scrum. I'd like to kick us off with an arresting observation or probing question--something about The Tree of Life, or Moneyball and the Church of Baseball, but I've got nothing. Did faith rear its head?

Food stamps and the working people who need them

From the folks at Need to Know at pbs.org:

More than 46 million Americans — one in seven of us — gets help from the federal government to feed ourselves and our families. If you’re surprised at how many Americans receive help in buying food, you may be even more surprised who they are. As it turns out, millions of Americans with jobs also need the help.

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Charade killers

Okay, this is bad,

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Breaking: Occupy London has been forcibly evicted from St. Paul's

The BBC is covering the eviction of Occupy London Stock Exchange protestors from their encampment outside St. Paul's Cathedral. The encampment has been in place since October 15.

The Christian think tank Ekklesia, which supports the Occupy movement, is also covering the eviction.

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St Paul's camp clearing (more details)

There are a number of accounts this morning describing the scene as the police moved into the clear the #occupyLSX protestors encamped at St. Paul's Cathedral in London last night.

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A short lived reformation?

In the turmoil of the present moment in Mainline Christian life, it's common to hear people talking about the start of a new Reformation. For most of the more conservative voices, the new Reformation has the issue of human sexuality and/or gender as the "flash-point". But that particular issue might cause problems in the near future for break-away groups choosing it as their litmus test.

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Revelation reflects Jewish/Christian tension

Most people have heard that the common scholarly reading of the The Book of Revelation understands it as a veiled critique of the political order of the end of the 1st Century. The apocalyptic genre was often used in that day to say what was not safe to say, to speak truth to power. But a new book by Elaine Pagel's argues that the critique was not of the Roman Empire, but of the Pauline Church's decision to allow Gentiles to become Christian.

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ABC steps up to defend LGBT people

There's an ongoing dispute at the UN Human Rights Council about the limits to the persecution of LGBT people. In a speech in Geneva this evening, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke out strongly against any decisions that would countenance laws criminalizing gay and lesbian people.

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How to respond when a mistake happens

UPDATE: Letter from St. Paul's rector, see below.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond Virginia agreed to host an event put on by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. The event was to be a roundtable discussion on the topic of “Debunking the Myth of the White Confederate Military”. But sometime on Friday, the day of the event, the church canceled.

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Happy Leap Day

February 29 is an extra day in the calendar that comes around once every four years to fix the problem of 365 days not being quite enough. People born on this day can celebrate their birthday today! In paraphrase of Mary Oliver:

What are you doing with your one wild and precious day?

The rest of the ABC human rights speech story...

UPDATE: see below

According to some there is a double message in the speech by the Most Rev. Rowan Williams to the World Council of Churches. On the one had he comes out strongly against abusive laws that discriminate and kills gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people but also supports discriminatory marriage laws in the name of religion:

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Bishops overplaying their hand?

National Catholic Reporter suggests that the Roman Catholic bishops may have jumped the shark in their latest demands:

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Breaking: VA Court rules CANA must leave by April 30

UPDATES added below.

ORIGINAL POST:

From Twitter: Henry D.W. Burt ‏ @SecDioVA
Court rules that CANA congregations must leave by April 30. #DioVa

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Cyclone ravaged Madagascar appeals for help

UPDATED

The Anglican Communion News Service has issued a plea from Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Province of the Indian Ocean for assistance in relief and re-development:

Thirty-one people have been killed and 250,000 left homeless after Cyclone Giovanna devastated Madagascar.

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Can faith reduce pain?

Smithsonian Channel's new video proposes that religious faith can reduce pain:

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Lambeth Palace not amused

The Independent reports that Lambeth Palace is not happy with the Archbishop of York and his column in The Sun.

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