Happy New Year 2013

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A silent conspiracy of of generosity

The Most Revd. Rowan Williams 104th Archbishop of Canterbury final message for the Anglican Communion:

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2013: year without fear?

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writing in the Washington Post looks at an underlying issue fueling the proliferation of guns and gun violence in the USA:

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105th Archbishop of Canterbury to travel in TARDIS

Dr Who meets the Archbishop of Canterbury in news on Anglican Meme's last night:

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A New Year's Prayer

A New Year's Prayer:

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The burnout season

With Facebook ablaze with New Year's resolutions, Susan Brown Snook wonders in her blog A Good and Joyful Thing where everyone gets the energy:

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Episcopal priest Patrick Augustine receives the Cross of St. Augustine

From the LaCrosse Tribune:

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When does Welby become the Archbishop of Canterbury?

The Archbishop of Canterbury's blog goes through the timeline:

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Peace Pilgrim's 28-year walk for 'A meaningful way of life'

NPR's All Things Considered remembers "Peace Pilgrim"
by Zak Rosen
. Here is an excerpt:

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How Sewanee made its policy on same-sex blessings

Libby Nelson of Inside Higher Ed has a story we missed when it appeared a few weeks. She writes:

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Top ten developments in religion and politics in 2012

From the Public Religion Research Institute comes a round-up of the ten biggest developments in religion and politics in 2012. The findings described by Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox include:

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Cliff deal affects deductions limits

The Wall Street Journal explains how the fiscal-cliff bill affects income tax deductions:

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Bishop Lee supports Illinois move to marriage equality

The Rt Rev Jeffrey D. Lee, Bishop of Chicago has written to the Illinois state legislature in support of a marriage equality bill being considered:

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Transgender university chaplain at the intersections

Becky Garrison writing at Religion and Politics talks with Cameron Partridge about his journey to becoming university chaplain:

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CoE HOB lift ban on Bishops in civil-partnerships

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has effectively lifted the 2005 ban that prevented gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops. A Church Times reports the action took place during the December meeting of the Bishops but the move was done so quietly that many commentators and bloggers either missed it or misunderstood it.

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The ‘Christian’ answer to gun violence? Eliminate guns

Dan Webster, an Episcopal priest, writes for RNS:

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Reading the New Testament chronologically

Marcus Borg talks to Candace Chellow-Hodge at Religion Dispatches about reading the New Testament chronologically and what this approach teaches us about the early Church and about being a Christian.

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Will the "Arab spring" bring on a "Christian winter?"

Western assumptions about cultural uniformity combined with Islamists bent on purging other faith groups are threatening the future of the Christian church in the Middle East.

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Lively is sued by Ugandan LGBT group in US federal court

While the future of the "kill the gays" bill is still up in the air in Uganda, American preacher Scott Lively is being sued by a a Ugandan LGBT group for crimes against humanity in a Massachusetts federal court.

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Law suit filed in South Carolina

According to Episcopal News Service, Mark Lawrence, former bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and others have filed suit against The Episcopal Church:

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Bishop Gene Robinson retires today

The Rt. Rev. Rob Hirschfeld becomes Bishop of New Hampshire today as Bishop Gene Robinson retires. We haven't prepared a full retrospective on Gene's remarkable career, but want to say this much: he is a major figure in the recent religious history of the United States and the wider Anglican Communion, and if you care about fairness and equality, you owe him your thanks.

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Choosing your child's religion

The Rev. Nurya Love Parish reflects on how even those who say they want their children to decide what religion they want to follow are actually choosing a religion for them. Responding to KJ Dell’Antonia of the New York Times Motherlode blog, Love notes:

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Gun cult?

The Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette raises the profile of the growing push for stricter gun control legislation emanating from U. S. churches.

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How seminarians are using social media in their work

The Rev. Kyle Oliver, digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary passes on a collection he put together that gives us a glimpse of how students at the seminary are "learning to use social media to tell the story of how they've been seeking and serving during their formation as church leaders."

Have a look and tell us what you think.

Happy, clappy and out of the closet

Born-again Christianity has become synonymous with social conservatism, but a growing number of adherents don’t see it that way according to an item in The Independent:

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Secrets your pastor can't share in a sermon

The Rev. Gary Brinn writing in the Sayville-Bayport Patch

....This year the choir was excellent, as always, though the whole community has been struggling a bit. It isn't easy to reconcile the call to be festive with the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, much less the massacre in Newtown. I tried to strike a balance, hope and challenge in the same homily.

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There are no gay people in Uganda, and more on homosexuality and the African church

One of the more inventive analysis of Uganda's dreadful anti-gay legislation, which the country's parliament seems to dangle over the heads of the international community to watch that community jump, comes from the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Makumbi, Anglican Bishop of West Buganda. He doesn't see a need for the law because he doesn't believe there are any gay people in Uganda.

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Epiphanies for The Epiphany

The feast of the Epiphany always leads me in a free-associtive sort of way to James Joyce's definition of the word epiphany offered in Stephen Hero, one of his early works:

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Holding church services in secular spaces

Andrew Sullivan surveys some of the recent writings about holding church services in unusual settings.

He quotes Walter Russell Mead who wrote:

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How much is enough?

Gary Gutting writes:

Is capitalism an enemy of the good life? Marxists and other radicals think so. Toward the end of How Much Is Enough?, Robert and Edward Skidelsky (an economist father and his philosopher son) quote one such thinker:

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The church's generational logjam

Pastor Keith Anderson says the church's generational logjam is "making everyone cranky," an observation which rings true to us here at the Cafe. In a blog posting about Congregational Connections: Uniting Six Generations in the Church by Carroll Sheppard and Nancy Burton Dilliplane, Anderson, who leads a Lutheran church in Pennsylvania writes:

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Conciliation meeting on Fort Worth,
Quincy suits set for Jan 8, 9

From The Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs:

Conciliation meeting slated for January 8, 9

[January 7, 2013] A conciliation meeting concerning complaints involving the Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy will be held on January 8 and 9 in Richmond, VA (Canon IV.10).

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Simplifying your congregation's mission by simplifying members' lives

Writing for the Alban Institute, Bob Sitze says:

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Should Catholics root for Notre Dame's football team

Michael Leahy takes a long hard look at Notre Dame's football program and its iconic status among some American Catholics in a piece for the On Faith section of The Washington Post. He writes:

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Episcopalian Chuck Hagel nominated for Secretary of Defense

Former Senator Chuck Hagel, active Episcopalian, has been nominated by President Obama to be Secretary of Defense. The Palestine Israel Network yesterday posted the piece, "Shedding Light on Palestine/Israel/US Politics" which discussed Hagel:

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Widow of Medgar Evers to deliver invocation at Obama inauguration

Fifty years ago this June, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was slain in his home driveway by a rifle shot to his head. JFK had earlier that day given his speech proposing what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although a white supremacist was arrested soon after the murder it was thirty years before he would be convicted and sentenced. One of several good reasons for the choice is it underscores a commitment to address the senseless deaths of innocents each day in our country due to the plague of gun violence.

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Prayer for an end to violence in East Belfast

From the Anglican Communion News Service - a request of prayer for Northern Ireland:

From The Rt Revd Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore

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Canada: Prime Minister to meet with indigenous leaders

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will meet with indigenous leaders. Protests and hunger strikes have been ongoing since December 10. From The Guardian:

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Dean Tracey Lind prompts Cleveland congregations to work together

Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, the Very Rev. Tracey Lind reports on the work of a coalition of congregation making a difference. From the The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

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Diocese of VA files gun resolution for annual Council

The Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia has filed the following resolution: A Response to Gun Violence for consideration at the diocese's Annual Council Meeting:

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Same-sex weddings to begin at Washington National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral has announced that it will hold same sex-weddings, effective immediately.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, made the announcement now posted on their website:

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Overweight but won't exercise. Who should pay?

A new study says that the overweight live longer. Economists say that may be true, but the overweight have higher health costs.

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Pastor chosen for Obama's inaugural benediction anti-gay?

Yesterday, Episcopal Cafe focused on the announcement that the widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers would deliver the invocation at President Obama's inauguration.

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Is 'Spiritual But Not Religious' a risk to one's mental health?

A study published in this month's British Journal of Psychiatry, says spiritual but not religious people are more likely to develop mental problems and dependence on drugs. From CNN's religion blog:

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James Taylor issues FB plea for 'Fire & Rain' church

A little Episcopal church that dubs itself "The James Taylor Church" because it's been damaged by fire and rain has garnered attention from the singer himself, who is using his Facebook page to help raise money to restore its historic pipe organ. Taylor posted this week, "St Paul's Episcopal Church in Jeffersonville IN is now known as the "James Taylor church," since it's been hit by both fire and rain! St Paul's is trying to raise money to restore their pipe organ after several floods and a fire. Click here to find out more: http://cjky.it/WKFGjg"

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Pastor pulls out of inauguration program over anti-gay comments

The Rev. Louie Giglio will not be delivering the invocation at President Obama's inauguration after all. ABC News reports that he backed out of the ceremony over criticism of anti-gay remarks he made in the mid-1990s:

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Bp. vonRosenberg tapped as provisional bishop of South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, a retired bishop of East Tennessee, has been nominated to serve as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. vonRosenberg has longstanding ties to South Carolina, a diocese working to regroup in the wake of the departure of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers. Episcopal News Service reports:

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Is internet sloth the eighth deadly sin?

I recently had a conversation with a writer who said that she needs to cut off Internet access to her office so she can finish a book project. Cruising the Web is eating up way too much of her time, she can't meet her deadlines because of it, and she can't make herself stop.

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Suggestions for replacing Giglio at the inauguration

As President Obama considers who might replace Pastor Louie Giglio to deliver the benediction at his upcoming inauguration, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) notes:

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"None" but not "atheist"

"The Rise of the Nones" was one of the big religion stories in the last year. But what if "none" doesn't mean atheist or agnostic. What if "none" really means "none?"

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Justin Welby is now Archbishop of Canterbury-elect

The website for the Archbishop of Canterbury reports:

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CoE Laity to vote on leadership

The first meeting of the House of Laity since the lay members of Church of England's General Synod narrowly defeated the women bishop's measure will weigh whether their chairman overstepped his proper role in speaking against the proposal.

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Technology enhancing faithfulness

Maybe at one time religious leaders thought that printed books or periodicals meant the end of religion. It was considered a radical reform when printed Bibles in English were introduced into every parish church in England. Today there are many who think that the internet and social media will harm faith by interfering with the intimacy and immediacy of human relationships.

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A tale of two churches

Comparing and contrasting the decision by Washington National Cathedral to perform same-sex marriages and the University of the South's decision to do so only if the bishop in the place where the couple lives approves.

SCG writes on the blog "Wake Up and LIVE."

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Religious left needs strong moral issues?

The Washington Post advises the religious left on its need for strong moral issues:

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Soul repair: wounds of war

Rita Nakashima Brock's work with moral injuries is featured in the New York Times.

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Global South Primates issue statement on CoE gay bishops policy

Members of the Global South Primates Steering Committee have issued a statement in response to the action of the Church of England House of Bishops confirming "that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate". The statement follows, in full.

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My company is not myself

Religion Dispatches reports on why companies cannot claim religion as a basis for rejecting parts of the Affordable Care Act:

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Olive oil to save York Cathedral

NPR reports that the Church of England planning to try olive oil in an attempt to save the exterior stone of Yorkminster:

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Dean Hall discusses National Cathedral's new same-sex marriage policy on CNN

Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral, a founding steering committee member of the Chicago Consultation, appeared on CNN this morning to discuss the cathedral's decision to bless same-sex relationships and perform civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples.

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ABC-elect Welby on banking reform

The Archbishop-elect of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has an op-ed at Bloomberg.com on banking reform. He stresses "it isn't regulations, but virtue and leadership embedded within corporate cultures" that is the foundation of reform:

I think a number of practical steps must be taken.

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Who are your favorite fictional Episcopalians?

Here's a topic for a Sunday night: who are your favorite fictional Episcopalians? The question came to me recently when I was reading The Darkest Mission, an espionage novel by an old college friend Rick Burton, who is now on the faculty at Syracuse University. The book is set during World War II, and an Episcopal priest plays a key role.

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Teaching children to deal with death

The redoubtable Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John's the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Hingham, MA, and co-owner of the Lent Madness franchise, has written a perceptive column about teaching children to deal with death. His essay is all the more piquant because the death that occasioned his musings was that of his children's pet ferret.

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Conservative evangelicals are asking whether they are welcome in public square

"Now that the Rev. Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor who was going to pray at President Barack Obama's inauguration but came under fire for an anti-gay sermon he gave in the mid-1990s, has bowed out, some conservative Christians and evangelicals have began to ask: are they welcome in the public square?"

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Can 1,000 Catholic priests be wrong?

In an op-ed essay for The Times of London, journalist Oliver Kamm responds to the arguments made by Catholic clergy opposed to British Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to permit same-sex marriages in the United Kingdom.

He writes:

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Francis of Assisi: a pair of reappraisals

Joan Acocella of The New Yorker reviews two recent books on St. Francis of Assisi, and, in the best tradition of long form book reviews, gives us a crash course on the subject at hand. Of particular interest is the dispute over Francis' legacy.

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Evangelicals divided over how to control gun violence

CNN Beliefblog notes the appearance of evangelicals supporting legislation to control gun violence:

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Fear and hope for Christians in Middle East and North Africa

Harry Hagopian, an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant who also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris, writes about the fears and hopes of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa for Ekklesia

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Original sin = original helplessness

Giles Fraser, writing in The Guardian explores Augustine and Freud and the concept of original sin:

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Religion and Downton Abbey

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly asked the Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, "to ponder religious and spiritual themes in the series, from the invisibility of God to the relationship between faith and a rapidly changing social order:"

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Episcopal priest to give inaugural benediction

CNN reports:

The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

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Bp Shaw of MA calls for co-adjutor

UPDATED: see below

From the Diocesan News of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts:

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UPDATED: Faith groups push on gun control

(President Obama has since unveiled his gun-control proposals, via The Washington Post)

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Death notification training valued in the grieving process

Jaweed Kaleem writes on Huffington Post that training in notifiying someone of a death, an often overlooked part of a job, is starting to be more valued:

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NPR's Morning Edition explores the "nones"

This week, NPR's Morning Edition has been explores the "nones" — Americans who say they don't identify with any religion.

This echoes the Episcopal Cafe post "None" but not "atheist" from this past weekend.

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Candidates for Bishop of Bermuda issue messages of unity

Owain Johnston-Barnes writes in The Royal Gazette online that the two candidates for the Anglican Bishop of Bermuda would "work to unify the church and encourage it to grow if elected to the post next month".

Archdeacon Andrew Doughty said:

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Does faith require a "closed information" system?

"Nones" are getting a lot of attention these days (so much so that I probably don't need those quote marks to describe people whose religious affiliation is "none"). Salon presents an interesting piece by Valerie Tarico (originally posted at Alternet) positing that the flood of information available on the Internet makes it near impossible to maintain one's religious beliefs-- there is just too much information out there that runs counter to anyone's ancient, tightly woven doctrine.This is bad news for organized religion:

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Don't let church make you sick this flu season

The Rev. Deacon Carol E. Peterson, a registered nurse from St. Mark's Church in Cheyenne Wyoming, provides these tips on communicable disease prevention in our parishes:

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Bible Challenge calls us to read all of scripture in 2013

I taught an adult Sunday School class last week for newcomers at our church, and struggled a little to hide my shock when a couple of the students said they'd never heard the story of Joseph and his jealous brothers, and didn't know why Noah had built an ark. So the idea of a "Bible Challenge," in which we would invite parishioners to read the entire Bible in the year ahead, has some appeal to me. Apparently many churches are embarking on this project, including St. Mark the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, according to the Sun-Sentinel:

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Interracial relationships less likely among churchgoers

David Briggs writes at Huffington Post that while believers played a major role in the civil rights movement, "the voluntary segregation still found in houses of worship on Sunday mornings appears to limit the likelihood non-Hispanic white Americans will date, much less marry, a black, Hispanic or Asian partner."

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Letter on TEC's Middle East policy stirs controversy

From Episcopal News Service:

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Making Africa in our image

A documentary chronicling the influence of American evangelical Christianity on Uganda premieres today at the Sundance Festival. "God Loves Uganda" tells how the culture wars in America have been exported to Uganda and other nations in Africa.

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Tutu, Anderson, others urges Executive Council to "hold Israel accountable"

Last night the Cafe published a story from Episcopal News Service that began:

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Bishop Knisely supports marriage equality in Rhode Island

From the Diocese of Rhode Island:

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Public confession and reconciliaton

In a secular, connected world, how does confession and absolution fit with the media-guided public apology?

Baptist pastor Alan Rudnick looks at Lance Armstrong and thinks about confession.

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In email solicitation, lawyer offers Title IV insurance, advice

Following is a letter that many clergy received in the last couple of days. It is from Michael Rehill. What is your reaction? Have you had experience with Title IV as it now stands? Have you served on a Title IV committee?

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What did the lay pension mandate mean for you?

As the Church Pension Group reminds us of the requirements for lay employee pension provision that became effective January 1, 2013 for Episcopal Church organizations in the U.S.:

In 2009, the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed Resolution A138 and its associated Canon, establishing the Church-wide Lay Employee Pension System (LPS) and naming the Church Pension Fund (CPF) as administrator.

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On PBS, Bishop Budde discusses mood of country, Obama's first term

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington was among the panelists discussing President Obama's second term on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

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NY bishops write MTA about anti-Muslim ads

The Episcopal Diocese of New York reports that the bishops of the Diocese have written to the Metropolitan Transit Authority:

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I don't always go to church but when I do ....

President Obama will worship today at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. Later today he will be sworn in a private televised ceremony. (Update: Monday he attended a private service at St. John's.)

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Economic inequality, one of MLK's main concerns, is still with us

Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we celebrate tomorrow, died before he could lead the Poor People's Campaign. Forty-five years later, poverty continues to flourish in our wealthy nation.

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Dean Hall preaches on MLK & opposing gun violence

Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, the Very Rev. Gary Hall preached on Martin Luther King, Jr and opposing violence:

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Making marriage work when only one spouse believes in God

NPR reports on making a marriage work when only one spouse believes in God:

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"I may not get there with you."

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech.

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"I can hear the God of history saying, 'That was not enough.'"

From "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," the last Sunday sermon of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered at Washington National Cathedral, March 31, 1968, (which you can read and listen to, here.)

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One Today: inaugural poem

Poet Richard Blanco reading the inaugural poem:

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The Rev Luis Leon: Benediction for the inauguration

The Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St John's Episcopal Church, Washington DC, who came to the US as a refugee from Guantanamo, Cuba, gives the benediction at the inauguration.

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Ten other things Martin Luther King, Jr., said

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King has been made less challenging in death than he was in life, so we as a nation can pretend that we all recognized him as a prophet and supported his movement. Here are ten of this less frequently quoted remarks, that put some bite back into his criticism of our country's preoccupations.

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Mark Silk: Bishop v Bishop in Rhode Island

Mark Silk, who keeps The Spiritual Politics blog writes: [L]ike King Cnut the Great (though perhaps less prepared to retreat before the inevitable), Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Catholic Diocese of Providence has commanded the [marriage equality] tide to halt at his feet. Contrariwise, Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island has gladly chosen to go with the flow.

Tobin took his stand earlier this month on the Immutable Plan of Nature’s God.

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Presiding Bishop to convene special meeting in South Carolina

From the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs:

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President extols a Biblical vision of equality

Washington Post

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Anglican Covenant and Zombies: time for a clean sweep?

As Justin Welby prepares to become Archbishop of Canterbury, Malcolm French, convenor of No Anglican Covenant Coalition offers his thoughts:

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Did MLK Jr predict the decline of mainline churches?

[D]mergent believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. predicted the Predicted the Decline of the Mainline Church. Perhaps the blog speaks to all churches as all are in decline as the "nones" become the largest faith group:

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The environmental impact of your death

You may want to be remembered after you die but Seven Ponds raises the question of just what sort of impact you want to make:

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Boxing gloves vs White gloves

Cornel West and Charles Pierce have had a lot to say as Barack Obama is installed for his second term. There is joy in some of the ideas put forth by the President and concern over the continued use of drones, the human rights record and the seeming coziness with opponents to the point of what looks like caving in to their demands when it is not necessary.

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NYT debate: Is atheism a religion?

The New York Times introduces is latest "Room for Debate" segment, asking "Is Atheism a Religion?"

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Should an historic Episcopal church be worried of shadow?

Josh O’Leary of the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports on worries that Trinity Episcopal Church will be shadowed by a proposed tower in downtown Iowa City:

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Beloved immortals: science, miracles and ‘jellyfish time’

Beatrice Marovich writes about "jellyfish time" in Religious Dispatches:

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Catholic hospital argues fetuses are not people

In a malpractice case involving a Colorado woman and her unborn twins, lawyers for a Catholic Hospital are arguing that the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.” From the Colorado Independent:

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Rhode Island House votes today on gay marriage

The Rhode Island State House is expected to pass a bill today that would legalize gay marriage, though the measure faces opposition in the Senate. The New York Times notes that Rhode Island is the "last holdout in New England" on this issue, and is "one of several states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota and New Jersey, where supporters of gay marriage are trying to make legislative gains this year."

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Judge limits use of diocesan names and seals in S.C.

A Circuit Court judge in South Carolina has issued a temporary restraining order preventing those loyal to the Episcopal Church from using registered names and marks, such as diocesan names and seals, claimed by Mark Lawrence and his followers. Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service reports:

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Mark Osler: Christian arrogance is driving 'nones' away

Mark Osler, who describes himself as an evangelical Christian, believes that arrogance on the part of the faithful is driving more and more people to identify themselves as "nones" who affiliate with no organized religion. Writing at Huffington Post, he says:

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Rhode Island House passes same-sex marriage bill

The Rhode Island State House has voted 52 to 19 to legalize same-sex marriage. The measure now moves to the Senate, where its fate is less certain. The Providence Journal reports:

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How to love a friend who is sick

We are all called to offer pastoral care to sick friends, loved ones and in our parishes, sometimes to folks we don't know well. It's important to be positive, not maudlin, and to consider what would really be most appreciated. Carepages.com offers some practical suggestions:

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The Presiding Bishop on South Carolina

When Episcopalians from the 19 South Carolina parishes and six worship groups that have not followed their former bishop gather this weekend, they will have a lot of work to do: re-organize their diocese, elect a provisional bishop, and, it appears, adopt a name or at least a working title.

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A problematic equality

Mary Hunt, writing on Religion Dispatches, reflects on the elimination of the barrier to women serving in combat. She compares the move by the Pentagon with another institution that prevents women from serving in front-line roles--the Roman Catholic Church.

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North Carolina elects Bishop Suffragan

The Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple was elected on Friday, January 25, as Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, pending the required consents.

From the Diocese of North Carolina web-site:

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Experiences that change the heart

Can one experience change us forever? On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, this might be a question worth pondering.

Mike Hayes reflects on the dynamics of conversion on his blog "Googling God."

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Show the difference believing makes

Derek Penwell, writing at Huffington Post, says many of the "nones" turn away from religion, at least Christianity, because of the apparent unwillingness of many Christians to live like Jesus. The question that should be keeping Christians up at night is "So what?"

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The Episcopal Church IN South Carolina

SouthCarolina.jpgA photo from the convention of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina - temporary name for the diocese and missing seal.

New religion of the United States?

Diana Butler Bass writing in the Washington Post analyses the President's Inaugural Speech and concludes we are hearing someone articulate the new US religion:

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Back on track in South Carolina

The Episcopal Church in southern South Carolina has itself a bishop.

Gathered in convention in Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, members of the diocese who chose not to depart from the church with former Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers elected the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg as their provisional bishop.

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Annual meetings: the best of times and the worst of times

In this the season of Annual Meetings. Share your best experience of an annual meeting? What happened? How did it happen?

What was your worst annual meeting? What went awry? And here is an Episcopal Meme that is going around Facebook. Did your meeting seem like this?

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Science and the 'underdeveloped religious function'

At Huffington Post, Catherine Hochman probes the question, "Has science replaced religion?"

Hochman cites Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) as well as current figures Richard Dawkins (he of the polarization) and Matthew Alper. Of this last name,

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Diocese of Virginia adopts gun resolutions

The Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia adopted two resolutions on gun control:

R3 Revised-A: Response to Gun Violence
Adopted as amended; text pending final review.

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The NRA evangelizes the next generation

From The New York Times:

Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.

There's a lot more. But just meditate on that sentence for a while before reading the rest.

Ohio bishops speak out for health care

The bishops of the Episcopal dioceses in Ohio have written a letter to the editor to all the newspapers in Ohio:

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Marriage equality and the Rhode Island state senate

Katharine Gregg of the Providence Journal fills readers in on the politics behind the marriage equality debate in Rhode Island:

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A sudden breakthrough on immigration reform?

Updated at bottom with statement from Immigration Equality.

One day before President Barack Obama is to announce his plans for reforming the nation's immigration laws, a bipartisan package of reforms is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.

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Boy Scouts considering end to ban on gay scouts

Pete Williams of NBC News reports:

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial -- one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

A diverse slate for Bishop of New Jersey

The Diocese of New Jersey will elect its bishop from a slate that is laudable for its diversity. They are the Rev. David Anderson of the Diocese of Connecticut; the Rev. Dr. Joan Beilstein of the Diocese of Washington; the Rev. Allen Robinson of the Diocese of Maryland; the Rev. Canon Melissa Skelton of the Diocese of Olympia; the Rev. Canon William "Chip" Stokes; the Reverend Martha Sylvia Ovalle Vásquez. Meet them here.

Bishop Dawani speaks out on violence against women

Bishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem has written an essay for the Anglican Communion News Service about the dire situation facing refugees from the civil war in Syria, especially women. He writes:

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Will robots replace rectors?

This funny and provocative essay by the blogger at Stuff Wayne Writes asks us to consider whether robots will one day do the job of rectors. It concludes:

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North Carolina urges action on Palestine/Israel church policy

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network issued this Press Release Monday January 28 reporting that the Diocese of North Carolina passed a resolution urging Executive Council action on Palestine/Israel church policy. Received via email:

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Bishop James Curry of CT testifies on gun legislation

The Rt. Rev. James Curry, bishop of Connecticut testifies before the CT legislature. He says in part:

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Baptists host Episcopalians with wine

While Christ Episcopal Church undergoes renovations First Baptist Church will host Episcopalians on Sundays and Wednesdays for four weeks and will allow wine during communion.

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EfM receives Luce grant for Spanish program

The University of the South (Sewanee) School of Theology has received a Luce Foundation Grant for developing the Education for Ministry program in Spanish:

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Faith leaders speak out on immigration reform

UPDATE: President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings has issued a letter asking Episcopalians to contact their Senators and Representatives about support for immigration reform. (see below)

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Justin Welby says goodbye to Durham as he becomes ABC

The Rt Rev Justin Welby gave a farewell speech to the Diocese of Durham as he leaves to become the Archbishop of Canterbury:

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God's pick for the Super Bowl

Public Religion Research Institute has issued a poll just in time for the big game: nearly 3-in-10 Americans say God plays a role in outcomes of sports events.

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Whether swords or guns: what they have "is enough"

John Fugelsang writes on Luke 22:36:

Jesus says to disciples in this verse:

"And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one."

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Bishop Dan on why former parishioners "Can't Go Home Again"

The Rt. Rev. Dan Thomas Edwards, Bishop of Nevada, begins his recent blog post with three experiences of people returning to a parish they have been absent from. In all three cases, it's the last time they go back:

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Village church scores a hit with its silent CD

A little parish in East Sussex, England, has produced a hit with its recording of silence inside the church. From the Daily Mail:

A CD of the sounds of silence from inside a village church has sold out after becoming an unlikely hit.

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A useful process: Priest reviews her own sermons online

The Rev. Robyn Barnes of Church of the Nativity in Helena, Mont., has taken to reviewing her own sermons in a very systematic way. She writes about this process on her blog (where she posts her reviews), providing a checklist that may be useful to other preachers:

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Welby to Nominations Committee: 'Appointing me would be absurd'

The Rt. Rev. Justin Welby initially responded to the Crown Nominations Committee that it would be "a joke" to choose him as Archbishop of Canterbury. Obviously the committee disagreed. Church News reports:

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What does it take to grow a church?

The Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist Church in Hingham, Mass., offers some insight about what it takes to grow a church, and he's a pretty credible source on this. In his three and a half years at St. John's, average Sunday attendance has increased 35 percent, pledging is up 50 percent, and the church has doubled the size of its staff. He blogs:

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