Noted Del. clergyman and Episcopal leader to retire

The Rev. Canon Lloyd S. Casson, clergyman and noted leader in the Episcopal Church, will be honored June 3 by the Wilmington, Delaware community and his parish as he officially retires after 43 years of ministry.

A native Delawarean, Casson has served for 10 years as the rector of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, a unique parish formed out of the union of two historic Episcopal churches in Wilmington, Delaware—one with a predominantly white membership and the other predominantly black—committed to being an instrument of reconciliation and diversity.

For more information, visit the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew web site at

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No poet an island

"In 1619, shortly before his election as dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, one of the most distinguished clerics in England sent some of his youthful, and now rather embarrassing, writings to a friend. Included, for instance, was a tract called Biathanatos, which defended suicide. "Publish it not," the eminent churchman insisted, and yet 'burn it not.' As for the notorious love poems, well, manuscript copies of those had been circulating for years. They, he pointed out, had been 'written by Jack Donne, and not by Dr. Donne.' "

For a weekend change of pace, read Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda's review of a new biography of John Donne.

Jerry Falwell dies at 73

We offer prayers for The Rev. Jerry Falwell, his family and friends. A Liberty University executive said The Rev. Falwell died today, Tuesday. He was 73.

Earlier, the executive said Falwell was hospitalized in "gravely serious" condition after being found unconscious in his office.

Ron Godwin, the executive vice president of Falwell's Liberty University, said Falwell was found unresponsive around 10:45 a.m. and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. Godwin said he was not sure what caused the collapse, but "he has a history of heart challenges."

Read it all from AP on CNN HERE

More from the BBC HERE

A prisoner for the Lord

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.”

- Ephesians 4

The Ledger:

While he was in prison, where he spent many hours ministering to inmates with AIDS, he had heard that Trinity was having its own crisis. It had lost dozens of members to the disease. Its surviving congregation was struggling.

A few days after his release in 2006, Tramel said, he visited the church and immediately knew it was his destiny.

Now the Rev. James Tramel's name is on the sign in front of the historic building. By a unanimous vote of the church's vestry and the approval of the bishop of the diocese, he became the church's rector late last year.

"James is a living witness to the fact that there really is hope," said the Rev. Jim Richardson, an Episcopal priest in Sacramento, Calif., who is chaplain of the California Senate. Richardson and many others served as a powerful support system for Tramel while he was incarcerated.

"He is proof that there can be redemption," Richardson said. "That a person really can turn his life around."

Now Tramel is working to change the lives of others, and not only from the pulpit.
Tramel, 39, who lives in Berkeley and commutes to his parish in San Francisco in a blue 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, said he remains in awe of his new life.

"It's so hard to describe it," he said. "Just waking up in the middle of the night and seeing my son sleeping so peacefully is amazing. I know I have never done anything to deserve that kind of feeling."

Yet Tramel and his loved ones are realistic about the challenges of his dramatically new life.

"This isn't Cinderella," said Green. "One doesn't so easily begin to live happily ever after after so long in prison. There will be beautiful views, and there will be steep climbs."

There is, for one, the ghost of Michael Stephenson.

"The grief about what I did to Michael is something I have to live with every day."

It's all here.

Tutu speaks out

Desmond Tutu, the acclaimed anti-apartheid leader and former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, is dealing with a relapse of the prostate cancer originally diagnosed in 1996 and in remission for some time. But he's not as interested in talking about his health as he is about what he feels is a more important concern.

The Times of London reports on a recent conversation with the former archbishop:

“What is sad to me is that we are investing so much time and energy in the subject of homosexuality at a time when the world is groaning from poverty, disease and corruption. God must be weeping.”

Just as he opposed discrimination against people because of the colour of their skin or their gender, he said he opposes discrimination against gays.

“I cannot have fought about the injustice of apartheid and keep quiet about the injustice of being being penalised for something about which they can do nothing, their sexual orientation,” he said.

“I cannot have fought about the injustice of apartheid and keep quiet about the injustice of being being penalised for something about which they can do nothing, their sexual orientation,” he said.

The Archbishop, who was today at a conference at Hull university speaking about emancipation and reconciliation, told The Times there were similarities between the conflict over gays and the issue of slavery in the past and present.

“The parallels are that a certain group of people is dealt with differently from the generality; they are dealt with unjustly.”

The Anglican Church had for generations taken pride in “comprehensiveness” as one of its defining features. “Comprehensiveness means you hold a point of view and you hold it in integrity, even when someone else holds a totally different point of view.”

He said one of the happiest times of his life was when, as a young man, he served as a curate in St Mary’s, Bletchingley in 1966. He is thought to have been one of the first black curates in the Church of England.

“We used to be able to say in the Anglican Church that, ‘I differ from you but we belong in the same family.’ What is different now is that there are people who say, ‘I differ from you and therefore we cannot subsist in the same communion.”

Read the entire article here.

A related summary was picked up by United Press International.

Summer reading

A few weeks ago, I made note of a book that one of my fellow RevGals/Episcopal Cafe contributors (Hat tip: Jennifer MacKenzie+) had recommended to me. I went scooting off to the public library only to find it wasn't in the collection. So, I did two things: told the library to get it (which it did), and bought a copy for myself—and promptly lost it, because I've been moving for what feels like forever.

This weekend, I found it—and discovered that a lot of people seem to be talking about it. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, by Sara Miles, is a faith memoir of astonishing honesty:

Mine is a personal story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert: a blue-state, secular intellectual; a lesbian, a left-wing journalist with a habit of skepticism. I'm not the person my reporter colleagues ever expected to see exchanging blessings with street-corner evangelists. I'm hardly the person George Bush had in mind to be running a “faith-based charity.” My own family never imagined that I'd wind up preaching the Word of God and serving communion to a hymn-singing flock.

Father Jake has some more quotes and commentary on his impressions after reading half the book, but poking around, LOTS of people are talking about this book. It was featured on the PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and you can find an excerpt from the interview and a link to the report here.

Sarx makes an important point about the book's focus: "...what should call every Christian or, indeed, every religious person, is not 'How did this Atheist get religion?' but rather what she did with it once it gets her."

The great question, of course, for many readers of the Cafe who look into this book may be what Communion in Conflict blogger Marshall Montgomery calls an ecclesiastical disobedience, much like civil disobedience, and one that Tom Sramek Jr. notes in his post welcoming the book to his to-read pile:

However, the non-traditional part of this story for me was that Sara was both offered and received the Eucharist prior to being baptized, which is both a rubrical and canonical no-no in the Episcopal Church. Not that it isn't done, it just isn't supposed to be done! Yet, this non-rubrical, non-canonical reception of the Eucharist was the occasion for a person's conversion.

This is bound to get people talking about the question of "Open Communion," and has already opened several hearts to a new point of view.

Michael Bayly has excerpts from The National Catholic Reporter's Review of the book here.

The Revealer has a review here.

And it you're still hungry, take a look at just how many people are talking about this book, here.

Theologian John Macquarrie dies at 87.

The Rev. Dr. John Macquarrie, Episcopal priest and theologian, died May 28th from stomach cancer, according to an obituary published in today's New York Times.

He held several posts including professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and canon of Christ Church Cathedral at Oxford, and wrote over thirty books including "Principles of Christian Theology" (1966).

Dr. Macquarrie wrote that all language about God was symbolic and not to be taken literally. But it must be taken seriously. To him, what separated believers from nonbelievers was that believers had experienced the revelation that the creation and its existence are good.

“Faith’s name for reality is God,” Dr. Macquarrie wrote in “Paths in Spirituality.”

The Times of London wrote:

A gracious, generous man, he was a traditionalist and opposed to the ordination of women but was never, in any way, a campaigner. A pastoral man, in retirement he helped out at St Andrew’s, Headington, and more than once gave a course of lectures to the congregation, revealing his mastery of his subject in the clarity of his expositions of theology. Always proud of his Celtic origin, he had an open heart, which embraced people of all sorts.

Macquarrie's work influenced generations of Christians of every stripe and his influence is seen in a surprising spectrum of Episcopalians today. As we pray and give thanks for his ministry, some may wish to remember the ways his work touched our lives, thinking, preaching an spirituality in the comments below.

"Speaking for unity, oneness and equality"

Davis Mac-Iyalla launched the Chicago leg of his 20-city American speaking tour this weekend. In a feature, the Chicago Tribune provides good insight into the context of Mac-Iyalla's visit, recapping his comments from a Sunday talk at Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park:

Many conservative Anglicans would agree with Nigerian lay minister Davis Mac-Iyalla that the summer of 2003—when the Episcopal Church approved the first openly gay bishop—left a gaping hole and wrenching pain in their hearts. But not for the same reasons.

For Mac-Iyalla, that summer was when the Anglican Church of Nigeria, in which he was born, baptized and became faithful turned its back on him because he is gay.

"God created me a gay man and put me in the womb of my mother. I was born into the church, baptized and sang in the choir," Mac-Iyalla told parishioners Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Highland Park. "Now, the church rises against me when I speak who I am. The church is supposed to be a house of joy, a house of peace. It has become a place of fire."


As the founder of Changing Attitudes Nigeria, part of a larger network that challenges the church's conservative stance, Mac-Iyalla adds a Nigerian point of view that so far has been silent.


"He's working for the split and disunity," Mac-Iyalla said, referring to Akinola. "I'm speaking for unity, oneness and equality."

The whole thing is here, including comments from Akin Tunde Popoola, Sandra McPhee and Josh Thomas.

Daughter Welcomes Mother as Priest

The Rev. Carrie Schofield-Broadbent had some advice for mom on Wednesday. "Pretty is as pretty does," she said. "Choose your battles. Keep it all in perspective and it will work out fine." Schofield-Broadbent preached during an ordination service for her mother, who became the Rev. Kathlyn Schofield, an Episcopal priest, during a two-hour ceremony at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville.

Renee K. Gadoua writes in the Syracuse, NY (Diocese of Central New York) Post-Standard.

Schofield is one of seven priests Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams will ordain this year in ceremonies that began May 30. He will also ordain six people as transitional deacons Saturday at Syracuse's St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. Transitional deacons will eventually be ordained priests.
The ordinands are part of a program the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York began a few years ago. Many of the people participating are following their religious call as a second career or will work part time as clergy while working elsewhere, Adams said.
The new priests join 129 Episcopal priests ministering to more than 19,000 people in 97 congregations in Central New York, north to Alexandria Bay and south to the Pennsylvania border.
During her homily, Schofield-Broadbent, 32, described the role of priests and baptized people as reflecting God's goodness. "For future reference, the road will not always be smooth," daughter told mother. "How do I know this? Years of experience," she said. Adams ordained her in 2004. She is pastor of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Liverpool.
"Love much, dream big, care for yourself as much as you care for others," Schofield-Broadbent told Schofield.
One more thing.
"Keep your hair out of your face," she said.

Read it all HERE

TIME profiles Rowan Williams on eve of his US sabbatical

TIME magazine's David Van Biema and Catharine Mayer have written a cover story on the time%2520cover.jpgArchbishop of Canterbury. It appears in this week's European and South Pacific editions. The article will likely become the one piece that readers new to the turmoil in the Angican Communion will want to read for a quick, but fairly comprehensive grasp on the situation. It is followed by an in-depth interview (that will probably be of more interest to Communion watchers) in which Williams spells out his reasons for inviting neither Bishops Gene Robinson nor Martyn Minns to the Lambeth Conference.

A few excerpts and quotes worth perusing before you click "Read more" to see the whole thing:

On Peter Akinola:

The Archbishop is weary of being pushed around. The pusher-in-chief, of course, especially since the founding of CANA, has been Akinola. ‘I’ve said to him privately and publicly I don’t think that [CANA] was an appropriate response,’ says Williams. He is also bothered by the unwavering support by Akinola’s church of a proposed Nigerian law, now lapsed, that would have assigned a five-year jail term not only to open homosexuals, but to those who supported them. Williams says he is ‘very unhappy’ about the situation, ‘and I’ve written to the Archbishop about it."

On Gene Robinson:

"Regarding Robinson, one thing I’ve tried to make clear is that my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn’t made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships. I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case. As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop — I find that bizarre and puzzling."

On the Episcopal Church's response to the Primates' communique from Dar es Salaam:

TIME: The Anglican primates met in Dar es Salaam in February and made three key recommendations to the American bishops: that they stop ordaining gay bishops and blessing gay unions and that they create a special bishop to serve the needs of conservatives. What happens if they refuse?

Williams: An absolute blanket no to all of this would pose a real problem. We’ve had indications of a cautious yes to part of it.

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Paris Hilton

We don't have an item. It's just that her name has been appearing all over the place, and we were beginning to feel left out.

Hospital Chaplain: Being there for patients and staff

Jan Hoffman in the NYTimes details the days and nights of a hospital chaplain in Offering Comfort to the Sick and Blessings to Their Healers. Chaplain Margaret Muncie responds to the spiritual needs of patients and staff. Not a stranger to suffering herself, Muncie offers support, strength and prayers to all who ask. Some excerpts from the article:

At 1 p.m. on a weekday, the emergency department at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Upper Manhattan is in full cry, with bays crowded, patients on stretchers lining the hallways, and paramedics bringing in more sick people. Time for the Rev. Margaret A. Muncie to work the floor.
Not shy, this pastor with the clerical collar, the Ann Taylor blazer and the cheerful insistence of one whose own mother called her a steamroller. Among the first women ordained an Episcopal priest and a self-described “Caucasian minority,” she’s an odd bird among the ethnically diverse staff and especially the patients, most of them black or Latino. But she keeps pecking her head behind curtains, parting gatherings of worried family members, impervious to startled looks of suspicion.
“Hi, I’m Peggy Muncie, a hospital chaplain,” she says. “Would you like a visit?”...

The chaplain is also expected to minister to the hospital staff. As Chaplain Muncie, 59, makes her way throughout St. Luke’s with a painstaking limp, she chats easily with doctors and nurses. She has sat with an intern who sobbed uncontrollably after pronouncing her first death and prayed with a ward clerk whose mother was in intensive care.
Every year, the chaplain performs a Blessing of the Hands. She wheels a cart adorned with a tablecloth, flowers, a bowl and an MP3 player. Surgeons, nurses, aides crowd around as she dips their hands in water, blessing their healing work. ...

Her core belief about healing, says Chaplain Muncie, is animated by Psalm 121: My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth — spirit and body; faith and medicine. In 1996, doctors found a benign tumor in her brain the size of a tennis ball. The day after it was removed, she had a stroke. Her right side became paralyzed.
"I was frightened and mad," she says, over a hasty salad. "But mostly I worried about my husband and daughters: What about them?"
So many people prayed for her. She was not allowed to abandon hope, not through the years of pain and physical therapy that reduced the paralysis to a lurching limp, thanks to a device she was recently fitted for — “an electronic doohickey, my own little miracle.”
She hitches up a pants-leg to show off the gadget, a neurostimulator. “I walk faster now,” she says. “I’m the kick-butt chaplain.” The experience deeply informs her ministry. “In Scripture it says, ‘Get up from your bed and walk, your faith has made you well,’ ” she continues.
“Well doesn’t mean perfect. But wholeness and healing can happen, even when there is still brokenness on the outside,” she adds, tears spilling. “I’m more whole now than 12 years ago. But I still walk a little funny.”

Read it all here

Helping the Holy Land

George Ghanem, a Fulbright Scholar at George Washington University, is an Arab Christian. He speaks plaintively and honestly about life as a Christian in the Holy Land, and about how all the violence there has affected Palestinian Christians. The Centreville, Va., resident volunteers with the Holy Land Christian Solidarity Cooperative, appearing at churches in D.C., Maryland and Virginia with nativity scenes, crosses, and other items, all handcarved from olivewood.

Robin Farmer writes about Ghanem in this morning's Richmond Times Dispatch, available on the website

"Part of our ministry is also to publicize our story to the Christian churches in the USA to tell them what's happening to the Christians of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. They need your help," he said.

"There are no sources of income for them. This is not for them to get rich, just to provide daily bread.

"The Holy Land used to have 3 million tourists every year. These days there may be a thousand every year and they are individuals," said Ghanem, who plans to sell the carvings tomorrow at Richmond's St. Thomas' Episcopal Church (3602 Hawthorne Ave.) from 9 a.m. to noon.

Most of the Arab Christians in the Holy Land are either planning to leave or thinking of leaving, said Al Janssen, author of "Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ."

"With what's happening there, in another 10 years there could be zero-Christian population in that area," said Janssen.

"Bethlehem is enclosed by a huge wall. Nowadays if tourists want to go to the manger square where Jesus supposedly was born, they have to go through a checkpoint surrounded by a 25-foot wall. It's not exactly the most inviting place to go."

Janssen recalled an Arab Christian businessman who added 30 rooms to his hotel before 2000 in anticipation of strong tourism.

"When I visited him a couple years ago, only one person was staying there. He was desperate to get out. No way he can make a living."

Ghanem said about 100 families leave the Bethlehem area annually. He estimates the Christian population in the Holy Land is less than 2 percent compared with 30 percent last century.

Ghanem is asking churches that are interested in his ministry to contact him at (703) 994-0578.

He's surprised to learn so few people know about the plight of Palestinian Christians.

The whole thing is here.

Remembering Jonathan Daniels

The violent death of Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels' was remembered Saturday by 200 people who braved in 103-degree heat to honor the white seminary student who gave up his life to save a black teenage girl 42 years ago, according to a report in the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. A student of the Episcopal Divinity School, Daniels answered the call of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders for the church to become more involved in the struggle for civil rights. Daniels was killed on August 20, 1965 by a shotgun blast fired by an Lowndes County special sheriffs deputy at a small convenience store where Daniels and several other civil rights activists had gone following their release from the Lowndes County Jail, where they spent a week behind bars on charges related to a protest in Fort Deposit.

Episcopalians were joined Saturday by adherents of other faiths from throughout Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi, who paid their respect to Daniels and the civil rights cause under a blistering sun.

Jerry McGee of Destin, Fla., recited a Biblical passage about "giving your life for another," something Daniels did without question when he stepped in front of 16-year-old Ruby Sales to protect her and take the fatal shotgun blast.

"That's why I wanted to come here and honor him," said McGee. "He gave the greatest gift he could possible give -- his life."

The Rev. Polk Van Zandt of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Selma said Daniels has been given a "Black Letter Day," which sets aside a day each year to honor his memory.

Van Zandt said others given "Black Letter Days" include nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale and author C.S. Lewis, but added that Saturday's commemoration was "more than just about him."

"This is also about all the martyrs of Alabama," said Van Zandt, who alluded to honors bestowed Saturday on several others who were killed during the civil rights era.

Also included in the commemoration were four girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and Viola Liuzzo, who was shot to death by Ku Klux Klansmen in Lowndes County a few months before Daniels was killed


Daniels was a native of Keene, New Hampshire, and a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. The VMI archives writes about Daniels in this way:

In August 1965 Daniels and 22 others were arrested for participating in a voter rights demonstration in Fort Deposit, Alabama, and transferred to the county jail in nearby Hayneville. Shortly after being released on August 20, Richard Morrisroe, a Catholic priest, and Daniels accompanied two black teenagers, Joyce Bailey and Ruby Sales, to a Hayneville store to buy a soda. They were met on the steps by Tom Coleman, a construction worker and part-time deputy sheriff, who was carrying a shotgun. Coleman aimed his gun at sixteen year old Ruby Sales; Daniels pushed her to the ground in order to protect her, saving her life. The shotgun blast killed Daniels instantly; Morrisroe was seriously wounded. When he heard of the tragedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "One of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry was performed by Jonathan Daniels."

In the years since his death, Daniels' selfless act has been recognized in many ways. Two books have been written about his life, and a documentary was produced in 1999. The Episcopal Church added the date of his death to its Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and in England's Canterbury Cathedral, Daniels name is among the fifteen honored in the Chapel of Martyrs.

At VMI, the Board of Visitors voted in 1997 to establish the Jonathan M. Daniels '61 Humanitarian Award. The award emphasizes the virtue of humanitarian public service and recognizes individuals who have made significant personal sacrifices to protect or improve the lives of others. The inaugural presentation was made to President James Earl Carter in 2001; the second award was presented to Ambassador Andrew Young in 2006.

In addition, one of only four named archways in the VMI Barracks is dedicated to Daniels, as is a memorial courtyard.

The feast commemorating Jonathan Daniels is August 14

Here are two other remembrances: here and here.

Two Brothers, Two Journeys, Same Christ

Two brothers, both Episcopal priests, symbolize the difficult choices and strong feelings that grow out of the current struggles in the Episcopal Church. They ministers just miles away from one another. They are deeply committed Christians and Anglicans. Yet Fr. Bill Murdoch of West Newbury, MA, is leaving the Episcopal Church, starting a congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church in Kenya and will be consecrated a missionary bishop of that communion. At the same time, his brother, Brian, serves a church in West Roxbury, also of the Diocese of Massachusetts, and is gay. They both hope that the struggle in the church does not become a division for their family.

According to a feature in the Boston Globe by MIchael Paulson, Bill sees the issue as a matter of Biblical interpretation, saying that he and no one in his breakaway parish is opposed to gay people. "Intolerance and abusive behavior toward gay people is abhorrent to Christ, the Gospel, and his church," he said. "Hostility toward gay people is a sin. It's prohibited by any Christian pastor, period."

But Brian, wonders "what he (Bill) would do if my partner and I went to Kenya for the consecration and were jailed," he said, referring to the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Kenya.

Two brother-priests, unable to resolve a deep disagreement in the way they interpret the Bible, find themselves ministering just a few miles apart and yet divided by an ocean. Despite their shared commitment to follow Jesus and uphold the rituals and traditions of Anglican Christianity, they are now members of rival camps in an unusual intradenominational battle and are trying to make sure it doesn't become an intrafamily fight too.

"I am less bugged now than I have been at times," Brian Murdoch said in an interview at his parish, Emmanuel Episcopal, a tiny 19th-century church in a West Roxbury neighborhood. "He's my brother. I have a lot of memories that have been good growing up, and those stand. And I know we'll be helping one another get heavenly aid the rest of our days. And it's not going to change how we cut the pie at the table."

Bill Murdoch, who since 1993 has been the rector of All Saints Episcopal in West Newbury, but is planning soon to launch All Saints Anglican at a former Catholic parish in Amesbury, offered a similar assessment.

"My brother and I love each other and always will," he said by e-mail. "My family and I love Brian and have always been proud of his service to others for the sake of the Gospel and the many, many people Brian has loved in the name of Christ. The pain of our disagreement over this issue will not change my love for him."

This story in the Globe highlights what many in the Diocese already knew:

Although many Episcopal priests in the Diocese of Massachusetts know the Murdoch brothers and although Brian is out as a gay man in his parish, this is the first time either has talked about the other publicly. Both brothers were reluctant to talk, and Bill declined to do so in any detail, but Brian consented to an interview, saying he had decided he was willing to go public after reading a story in the Globe last month in which Bill referred to homosexuality as a sin and decried the influence of the "gay agenda" on the Episcopal Church.

Read the rest.

Brooke Astor: a life of giving

Brooke Astor, Episcopalian and NYC's most gracious philanthropist, died Monday at the age of 105. According to The Rev. Paul Woodrum of Challwood Studios, when she gave money to a project, however, small, she would always go visit the people receiving it and see how it was being used.

According to the New York Times,

she had a great deal of fun giving money away as it grew over time into the hundreds of millions. With a wink and a sly smile, she liked to quote Dolly Levi in Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker,” saying, “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.”

It was Mrs. Astor who decided that because most of the Astor fortune had been made in New York real estate, it should be spent in New York, for New Yorkers. Grants supported the city’s museums and libraries, its boys’ and girls’ clubs, homes for the elderly and other institutions and programs.

She made it her duty to evaluate for herself every organization or group that sought help from the Vincent Astor Foundation. In her chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz, she traveled all over New York to visit the tenements and churches and neighborhood programs she was considering for foundation grants. Many times a welcoming lunch awaited her on paper plates and plastic folding tables set up for the occasion. She would exclaim over what she called the “delicious sauces”: deli mustard and pickle relish.

For her forays around the city, she dressed as she did when she joined the ladies who lunch at East Side bistros: a finely tailored suit or a designer dress, a hat in any weather, a cashmere coat when it was cool and, in her last years, an elegant cane, her one apparent concession to age. “If I go up to Harlem or down to Sixth Street, and I’m not dressed up or I’m not wearing my jewelry, then the people feel I’m talking down to them,” she said. “People expect to see Mrs. Astor, not some dowdy old lady, and I don’t intend to disappoint them.”

She could talk to anyone as she made her rounds, offering encouragement to a child working at a library computer, counseling a mother about the importance of reading. To a janitor at a branch library — and she tried to visit every branch — she might give a word of thanks “for keeping this place so clean.” She was thrilled when the Bronx Zoo named a baby elephant in her honor.

Read more here and here.

Services for Mrs. Astor are to be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 5th Ave., NYC

Ministry from on high

The LA Times has a feature this week on a Denver pilot who takes "faith leaders from all walks of life" on helicopter rides to help them see their communities in a wider light.

This is not just any helicopter. Christened Prayer One, it lifts monks and rabbis, imams and pastors, and ordinary people of faith up over Denver each Monday morning, up into a new perspective on life and love and God. Or so Hastings' friends tell him. Several have taken a ride on Prayer One; they've called it an amazing spiritual stretch. That seems worth a few clammy moments. Hastings, 47, squeezes into the front seat. Gently, steadily, Prayer One lifts into a sky of the most serene blue.

Prayer One was born two years ago, after amateur stunt pilot Jeff Puckett took the Rev. Tom Melton, a friend, for an aerial spin around Denver. Looking down, Melton felt his vision expand. He'd been so focused on his wealthy suburban congregation, so proud of how his flock had grown. Now he saw, all at once, how insular he'd been.

The multimillion-dollar custom homes in his community of Greenwood Village made barely a ripple on the topography that unfurled below. The grand estates with their vast gardens merged right into blocks of blank apartment buildings and regiments of look-alike suburban homes, each planted on a narrow strip of green.

"Looking at the city from 500 feet, you don't see walls or neighborhoods. It's all knit together," Melton says. "I started wondering, how can we minister to the whole city?"

Days later, he hit upon an answer:

You minister to the city, he decided, by taking the city's ministers to the air.

Melton, 58, started by inviting a few friends on Puckett's aerial tour. Word spread quickly, and soon faith leaders from all walks of life began asking for a ride. Some claimed to have visions as they flew. Some wept at the beauty below. Others used the time to pray, bathing the city in blessings from above.

Read the whole thing here.

'Lost Boy' priest talks about God's presence during ordeal

Shortly after the Rev. Zachariah Jok Char--one of Sudan's "lost boys" who walked hundreds of miles to escape strife in that country--was ordained to the priesthood in western Michagan, we covered a write-up on him here. Today, he's profiled in the New York Times, and the article shows what he's been doing since his ordainment.

Mr. Char has taken on a burden, as he ministers to his people while attending college and working at a meat-processing plant, both full time. His work as a priest makes it possible for the Sudanese church members to receive communion and have their baptisms, weddings and funerals in Dinka, their language.

Occupying a block in the city’s most affluent neighborhood, Grace Episcopal was former President Gerald Ford’s place of worship. As coffee hour for an English-language service ended one Sunday, the drums, shakers and a cappella singing of the 11:30 Dinka service filtered into the churchyard.

There is no program for the service, no organ music. Hymnals and prayer books in Dinka are in the first several rows of the large sanctuary. Songs rise from one or two people and are taken up by everyone else. Yet those familiar with the Anglican liturgy could follow the service and might recognize, even in Dinka, the solemnity of the Lord’s Prayer.

“It’s very powerful, very meaningful to come together and worship in your mother tongue,” said Mayen Wol, 42, a leader in the congregation who came to the United States years before the Lost Boys. “We have common problems: your brother was killed yesterday, your sister raped, your father killed. Through gathering, we encourage each other, through prayer.”

The arrival of the Sudanese immigrants at Grace Episcopal four years ago has changed the way some other congregants understand faith.

“I don’t know how a 5-year-old could have walked across a burning desert: there is something biblical to it,” Nancy Tweddale, a junior warden at the church, said of Mr. Char. “He remembered what he heard in Sunday school, that God was with him. If I saw my friends falling and dying around me, or being killed by animals, I would wonder if I weren’t very alone.

Char talks about his experience in a video from the Times, also at the link. It's all here.

Doubting Mother Teresa?

Time Magazine has a fascinating report about the spiritual life of Mother Teresa. Based on a series of letters from Mother Teresa to her confessor and superiors that is about to be published by a supporter of her sainthood, Time reports that Mother Teresa had a long crisis of faith that began almost as soon as she began her ministry to the poor of Calcutta:

On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the "Saint of the Gutters," went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her. "It is not enough for us to say, 'I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'" she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had "[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one." Jesus' hunger, she said, is what "you and I must find" and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world "that radiating joy is real" because Christ is everywhere — "Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive."

Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. "Jesus has a very special love for you," she assured Van der Peet. "[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand."

The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama. Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction — that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.

And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist."

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'" Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa's doubts: "I've never read a saint's life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented." Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light's editor: "I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa's Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her."

Read the article--as well as excerpts from the new book here.

What are we to make of all this? Does Mother Teresa's perserverance in good work during this time of spiritual crisis actually show a rather deep and abiding faith, rather than the lack of faith?

Going from strength to strength in the life of perfect service

This is the story of Fr. Rick Schark, and how the experience of grieving the most profound of personal losses started him on a spiritual journey, a new spiritual home in the Episcopal Church, and eventually to ministry to a parish divided. Written by Susan Ager of the Detroit Free Press, it describes how Schark is known as the peacemaker priest in his small town Michigan parish.

Everyone else met his story with words, pointless words, like "God needed more flowers in heaven."

Instead, Kristi Guzik said, "Wow, what a blow." Then she listened.

"It broke my heart," she says now, "but I didn't run out the door."

They talked for hours, every day for weeks, at his home, where his lost family's photos graced his mantel. At McDonald's. At the beach. At the diner where she poured his coffee.

Three months later, Rick Schark took Kristi as his wife, and she took him as her husband, a soulmate she never thought she'd find. He was 42. She was 24.

They married in Oscoda, in an Episcopal church he found while shopping for a place to plant his seedling spirituality.

His dead wife's family couldn't understand. They said, "It's only been two years." He answered: "No, it's been 750 days and nights."

Since they married a decade ago, Rick and Kristi have been apart for only two nights. When he felt a call to the ministry, she followed him to a seminary in Ontario.

Finally, two years ago, she followed him to a troubled church in Lexington, a small resort town on Lake Huron.

It is his first posting. He is 51.

Everyone in the congregation knows his story, and considers his experience a rare gift. He has lived one second at a time through a long, dark night of the soul and emerged, led by the mystery of God to this place.

"I remember wishing," he says, "that I could meet somebody who had lost as much I did. I wanted to know they survived.

"I want to be that person now for someone else."

Read the rest.

A prayer for Larry Craig

James McGreevy, former governor of New Jersey and currently a student at General Theological Seminary, writes with compassion and a prayer for Larry Craig,his family, and the tide of history.

My gut wrenched when I read of Sen. Larry Craig's bathroom arrest. I remembered my own late-night encounter with the law at a Garden State Parkway rest stop following a political dinner in north Jersey.

I pulled into the rest stop, parked my car, flashed my headlights, which was "the signal," and waited. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I saw a state trooper approaching. I desperately tried to convince the trooper of my innocence, showing him my former prosecutor's badge, a gift from the office when I left. The trooper radioed his office and returned. "I never want to see you here again," he said. I survived for another day

I was in my late 20s. It would be another 25 years before my parallel lives collided and I was coerced out of the "closet."

Why do grown men in their 20s, or their 60s, do such things? I can answer only for me.

McGreevy prays that Larry Craig and his loving family come to peace with his truth, whatever that may be. To those who judge him harshly, I ask that they fill their hearts with compassion and equanimity. He prays that the tide of American history continues to sweep toward the inevitable expansion of freedom that recognizes the worth and dignity of every individual -- and that mine is the last generation that is required to choose between affairs of the heart and elected office.

Read it all here

An unfortunate letter

Bishop John Shelby Spong has written an open letter to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury that rehashes old complaints that have been extensively aired elsewhere and seems calculated to give offense. It is perhaps best seen as an act of unconscious self-marginalization (not to mention bad manners.) Spong, like N. T. Wright, has become one of those figures whose public utterances frequently do more to bolster the cause of his adversaries than his allies.

If one were attempting to poison the atmosphere when the archbishop and the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops gather in New Orleans on September 20-21, this is the letter one would write. Its publication places a burden on Episcopal bishops who favor the full inclusion of the baptized in all ministries of the Church, and continued membership in the Anglican Communion. They now must make it clear that Archbishop Rowan will receive a warmer welcome than this letter suggests.

Read more »

Saying goodbye to Michael Deaver

Early this morning, Politico author Andrew Glass wrote a tribute to Michael Deaver, who passed away Aug. 18. Deaver's funeral had been scheduled for today to allow people interested in attending to return from vacations and whatnot. No one, least of all Deaver, realized just how many people would want to come:

Before Michael Deaver, the longtime aide and image maestro to Ronald Reagan, died on Aug. 18 of pancreatic cancer at age 69, he requested that his memorial service take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Established in 1815, it stands across Lafayette Square from the White House and is known as “The Church of the Presidents.”

Deaver’s family made the arrangements in keeping with his wish. They also delayed the service until the first Thursday after Labor Day, when much of official Washington would be back from the traditional vacation period.

They soon found, however, that Deaver, a well-known figure on the Washington scene since 1981, had many more friends and admirers – including Nancy Reagan, the former first lady – who wished to attend than St. John’s could accommodate. St. John’s seats only several hundred people.

So the service was shifted to Washington National Cathedral Thursday at 11 a.m.

No news reports have come out about attendance at the funeral, but Glass's full article provides a run-down of who spoke. You can read it here.

Madeleine L’Engle has died

The New York Times has news today that the noted children's author and active episcopal layperson and speaker had died at the age of 88. All of us here at the Café give thanks for her life and ministry

"Ms. L’Engle (pronounced LENG-el) was best known for her children’s classic, “A Wrinkle in Time,” which won the John Newbery Award as the best children’s book of 1963. By 2004, it had sold more than 6 million copies, was in its 67th printing and was still selling 15,000 copies a year.

Her works — poetry, plays, autobiography and books on prayer — were deeply, quixotically personal. But it was in her vivid children’s characters that readers most clearly glimpsed her passionate search for the questions that mattered most. She sometimes spoke of her writing as if she were taking dictation from her subconscious.

“Of course I’m Meg,” Ms. L’Engle said about the beloved protagonist of “A Wrinkle in Time.”

The “St. James Guide to Children’s Writers” called Ms. L’Engle “one of the truly important writers of juvenile fiction in recent decades.” Such accolades did not come from pulling punches: “Wrinkle” is one of the most banned books because of its treatment of the deity.

“It was a dark and stormy night,” it begins, repeating the line of a 19th- century novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, and presaging the immortal sentence that Snoopy, the inspiration-challenged beagle of the Peanuts cartoon, would type again and again. After the opening, “Wrinkle,” quite literally, takes off. Meg Murray, with help from her psychic baby brother, uses time travel and extrasensory perception to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from a planet controlled by the Dark Thing. She does so through the power of love.

The book used concepts that Ms. L’Engle said she had plucked from Einstein’s theory of relativity and Planck’s quantum theory, almost flaunting her frequent assertion that children’s literature is literature too difficult for adults to understand. She also characterized the book as her refutation of ideas of German theologians."

Read the full two page article here.

The AP story is here.

Salty returns

Our old friend the Salty Vicar, who gave up blogging to have a life, has written a perceptive response to Bishop JohnShelby Spong's recent open letter to Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.

He writes:

The issues of the U.S. Episcopal Church, I suspect, are not the issues of the Anglican Communion. My concerns include things like how am I going to pay for my secretary or the air conditioning or my after school program, and why isn’t anyone coming to my cool ultra-progressive church? It isn’t that people don’t approve of me or my parish; in my area everyone knows where we stand and they love what we’re doing. They’re just in a time and money crunch, as so many of us are today.

Gay rights is just one of many issues that needs work in a hypercapitalist country. And in fact, I believe we’re ahead of the game in that department. Good leaders in the Episcopal Church do not worry about sexuality—we’ve already decided that gay people are a full part of the church. Now how about turning our attention to some other challenges, like the growing blight of mega-churches and the budget shortfalls that make it tougher and tougher to pay for the basic upkeep of church buildings?

Spong is wrong to assume that this fight is Rowan’s. The fight in the Episcopal Church is ours. It’s great that the Archbishop is coming, the Archbishop is coming. To be honest, that’s all he needed to do. But the work that has to be done is here. And we don’t need him to do it for us, or to give us the thumbs up.

Bill Richardson - rest in peace and rise in glory

Deacon Ormonde Plater remembers The Rev. Bill Richardson at his blog. He writes:

A Saint has died: The Rev. William P. Richardson, 98, rector of St George's, New Orleans, from 1953-1976, died peacefully last night at 10:48 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. George’s on Monday, Oct. 8, at noon.

Among the gay community in the United States, Bill Richardson is honored as a hero.

On June 24, 1973, fire broke out in a gay bar, the Upstairs Lounge, at Iberville and Chartres in the Vieux Carré. The patrons were trapped behind barred doors and windows of the second-story lounge. Thirty-two died, and many others were injured.

He cites a letter that Fr. Bill wrote about the event and aftermath to the editor of the Integrity newsletter.
To the Editor:

Thank you for the Spring 1991 issue. It is excellent.

I have a some additional information for you concerning your article "Closeted Gay Bishop Dies of AIDS." In 1971 I attended a summer seminar at General Theological Seminary on "Homosexuality, Women's Liberation and Communal Living." I returned home to St. George's Church here in New Orleans where I was rector, determined to do all in my power to support lesbians and gay men.

The local Metropolitan Community Church met in our chapel for some months. Then they found their own small church. From time to time I attended their afternoon service, and I came to know their minister, Rev. Bill Larsen, quite well. He often came to see me regarding their scrambled liturgy and what to do about it.

The night of June 24, 1971 (sic) some 30 or more members of the MCC group and friends were at an upstairs bar. A man who was drunk fire-bombed the stairs. The windows had iron bars over them. As a result nearly all those there were burned to death. My phone rang at 3 a.m. telling me of this. I was grieved greatly, for included among those burned to death was Bill Larsen, my friend.

Next morning a member of the MCC called to ask if they could have a memorial service that evening at St. George's. I agreed, providing they would not make a big splash over it. The Rev. Troy Perry [Founder and Moderator of MCC] flew in that evening and assisted with the service. Some 80-90 persons attended. I warned the TV people not to take pictures, and asked the reporters to play it low-key. They did.

Bishop Iveson B. Noland, who was later killed in a plane crash in New York, phoned me early the next morning. He said, "Bill, this is the Bishop. Have you read the morning paper?" I said, "Yes, Bishop, I have." "Is it true that the service was at St. George's Episcopal Church?" "Yes, Bishop, it was." "Why didn't they have it in their own church?" he asked. I replied, "For the simple reason their own small church holds about 18 persons. Without any publicity we had over 80 present." "What am I to say when people call my office?" I replied, "You can say anything you wish, Bishop, but do you think Jesus would have kept these people out of His church?"

I heard later the Bishop had a hundred calls, and I got hate calls and letters. Only one member of our vestry supported me. Later, I was stopped on the street by many persons thanking me for doing such a Christian thing.

Later that week, I was asked if we could have another memorial service the next Sunday afternoon at St. George's. I had to decline for I was just leaving for a month's trip to India to visit friends, and I knew I would have to be present for such a service. It was then that the late Bishop Finis Crutchfield offered the Rampart St. Methodist Church for that extra service.

I shall be grateful if you will insert this in your next issue. I am still very active in lesbian/gay affairs, though our Integrity group eventually folded. I have spoken several times before the City Council and before our Diocesan Convention regarding lesbian/gay issues, but to little avail. But I'm not giving up!


(The Rev.) William P. Richardson, Jr.
New Orleans, LA

Read it all here.

David Salmon: First Athabascan Episcopal priest

The Rev. David Salmon, first traditional chief of the Athabascan people, Episcopal priest, and a widely respected spiritual leader, was buried Monday near his home in Chalkyitsik, Alaska.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports:

Hundreds of mourners flew to the small Interior community from villages and towns around the state to pay their respects to Salmon. A dozen white-gowned Episcopal ministers gave final blessings after Salmon's handmade wooden coffin was lowered into the ground.

Salmon was an ordained Episcopal minister and had been the Interior's first traditional chief since 2003. The position is an honorary, nonpolitical office and is held in high esteem.

"He was a very humble, humble individual. He was a very giving man," said Steve Ginnis, former Tanana Chiefs president. "He wanted no fanfare, recognition or praise but to have us praise the Lord."

Doyon President Orie Williams said Salmon was one of the most spiritual men he ever met and was never critical.

"He never brought negativity with him. He was always positive. You could never go to school enough years to know what this man knew," Williams said. "He was truly an Indian chief long before people called him one."

The Rev. Scott Fisher, Rector of St. Matthew's, Fairbanks attended the ceremony and tells some of the history of The Rev. David Salmon and Bishop Gordon and the connection to the passage of what was Title III, Canon 9.

Back last night from Chalkyitsik, a little village 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle, about 200 miles northeast of Fairbanks. I was up there for the funeral/burial of the Rev. David Salmon, who died there at home last Thursday. David was 95 years old and the Traditional First Chief of the entire Interior region of Alaska. And an amazing guy. He was a link to very very Old Stories & tradition. He could remember stories from his Grandfather of when the first missionaries (Anglican missionaries traveling with the Hudson Bay Company in 1849) arrived in the country (people here were startled by the whiteness of the pages in the prayer book).

In his own way, he changed the entire structure of the Episcopal Church. In the 1950s the then priest in Fort Yukon (Walter Hannum) told then Bishop Gordon "I've got a man up here that needs to be ordained". The Bishop told him "There's no way to do it under current canons unless he goes to a Seminary". Walter said, "Okay, I'll start a seminary" and began a training program that led to David being ordained in 1962, the first Athabascan ordained to the priesthood (there had been previous deacons earlier in the century). Simultaneously the Bishop started working to change the national canons - leading eventually to Canon 9 ordinations etc. That's my rough understanding of the story. Anyone ordained these days who didn't go to Seminary owe their path in some sense to David.

Here's a David story. early in the 60s one of the Baptist missionaries was giving David a hard time about infant baptism versus baptism by immersion. In reply David reminded him about the woman who touches only the hem of Our Lord's garment and is healed."Every drop of water is Jesus", he concluded.

Cleveland pitcher writes spiritual autobiography

Paul Byrd, Cleveland Indians pitcher is the author of "The Free Byrd Project," a book about his spiritual journey through the major leagues and the pitfalls that athletes who try to live a faithful life must negotiate living a ballplayer's lifestyle.

On the eve of his ALCS Game 4 outing, Byrd took some time to talk about some of the topics he'll cover in his book, including his struggles with pornography, cheating, and sharing his faith with the media and clubhouse mates, and to discuss how religion can unify and, at times, divide a clubhouse.

Read the interview on ESPN here

Friends, family remember slain soldier

Episcope points us to an article about Corporal Ciara Durkin, a National Guard soldier serving in Afghanistan who was found dead from a gunshot wound last month. Durkin, a lesbian and an Episcopalian, "was killed on a secure U.S. military base, and according to her family she had told them prior to her death that she had concerns for her safety and that they were to push for an investigation if anything happened to her," according to the article, which appeared in Bay Windows, a New England weekly for the LGBT audience.

About 40 people gathered Oct. 21 at St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Allston to celebrate the memory of Corporal Ciara Durkin, the lesbian National Guard soldier serving in Afghanistan who was found dead from a gunshot wound last month. Durkin’s family joined with members of the congregation of which Durkin had been a part before leaving to join the National Guard to talk about the ways that Durkin touched their lives. Durkin was memorialized in two funeral services, one in Quincy and one in her native Ireland, earlier this month.

During his sermon, the Rev. Cameron Partridge, who became a priest at the church after Durkin had already left, said that since her death he had been told by church members about the powerful impact Durkin had had both on the church and on the surrounding community. He said after attending St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s for several years she was received into the Episcopal Church in 2003 by Bishop Tom Shaw, and she served on the vestry, the congregation’s governing board.

Partridge said members of the congregation described Durkin as a “remarkable person, full of life and passion, unafraid to be herself and say what she thought.”

The whole article is here.

Church prays for Britney Spears

AP reports that the congregation of Southland Christian Church is being asked to send letters of love and support to troubled pop star Britney Spears.

"Take a few minutes and write a note to Britney Spears," pastor John Weece said in a sermon and in a blog on the church Web site. "No preaching. No criticizing. Just love. As a church, let's love Britney the way Jesus loves her."

"If she were your next-door neighbor in the same situation without the money and success, wouldn't you care about her problems? Wouldn't you pray for her and offer her support and encouragement?" he asked members of the church.

Read the article here.

Manners of life and the wider church

Father Jake points us to Anglican Underground, which impressed him (and us) with a post on what it means to have a "manner of life [that] presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion," as ambiguously expressed in Resolution B033. Jeremy Lucas, the author of the post at Anglican Underground, wryly notes that there are many areas that present such a challenge, including environmental issues (driving an SUV might be such a manner of life, he says), war ("Any one who does not actively work and use any, active non-violent means to end war does not have a manner of life worthy of being a bishop," he muses), and economic justice, citing various Lambeth resolutions:

In fact I think a complete financial analysis of every candidate for Bishop is in order to make sure that they are spending their money in accordance with Biblical principals and Lambeth Resolutions. This report should be made public knowledge and there should be an opportunity for the laity to respond.

In fact I think when Jesus said in Matthew "where your treasure is there your heart will be also" he gave us the best possible way to figure out what a persons "manner of life" is. We should begin to require a complete financial report of each Bishop and candidate for Bishop. Let's not allow the Episcopacy to hide their manner of life behind their checkbooks.

Anyway this should just about exclude everyone from the possibility of being a bishop and those who make it through this process obviously have not have enough life experience to be effective shepherds to the flock so they are out too. Have a great day.

Fr. Jake notes that the House of Bishops did attempt to clarify what was meant by the passage at its meeting last month:

...The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains...

By singling out one particular "manner of life" that presents a challenge to the Communion, the bishops seem to have excluded a number of other "manners of life" that one would hope are at least as challenging, if not more so. How about bishops in multiple marriages? Schismatic bishops? Slothful bishops? It seems that if we are to be bound by this "manner of life" language, we really need to help the bishops explore a much more complete definition.

Jeremy, in return, offers this modest proposal:

I would suggest that there is another way to take subjectivity out of the decisions around who can be a Bishop. It is the development of a Manner of Life Quotient. This is how it would work. First everyone would agree on a number of criteria upon which a candidate for the episcopacy should be judged. Second each candidate would go through a thorough investigation process and be given a numerical score on each section. Then those scores would be calculated to give you a Manner of Life score. Each section would be weighted differently based on how much importance is placed on it in scripture and our tradition. So homosexuality would be weighted very lightly, while giving and generosity would be weighted very heavily. So someone could be gay and be very generous and score higher that a stingy straight person. This should clear it all up. I hope to have the criteria and scoring worked out by sometime next week.

Jake's post is here, and Jeremy's are here and (followup) here.

Bates glad he's no longer a religious war correspondent

Recently Stephen Bates concluded a seven year tour of duty as the religion correspondent for the Guardian. He returned to civilian service having lost his faith. Religious folks, he found, can be rather nasty. One excerpt:

Only a week or so ago, a US blogger was remarking charitably that it wasn’t worth expending a bullet on the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, who is the first woman to lead a major Christian denomination. The blogger, incidentally, was herself a woman.

Read it all in the December issue of the New Humanist. Thanks to Thinking Anglicans for the pointer.

Divisions are distracting us

"Drenched in Grace" is a residential conference offered up by Inclusive Church, and is going on now in England. The writers over at Inclusive Church Blog are providing recaps of the featured speakers. Notable was yesterday's opening keynote, delivered by the Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa, who "lamented our obsession with drawing lines that exclude, which is distracting us from the enormous suffering so many people face."

In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not to notice the bad behaviour of the few, but the good behaviour of the many.” Calling to mind the great humanitarian needs of the world, Te Paa lamented our obsession with drawing lines that exclude, which is distracting us from the enormous suffering so many people face. We must not “fret and fight” while people are literally dying.

Te Paa is Principal of the College of St John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand, was a member of the 2003 Lambeth Commission, and assisted in the St Augustine’s Seminar responsible for planning the detailed content for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference 2008.

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church, said, “We are not a pressure group of the like-minded.” He added, “We are ordinary Anglicans who love our church, and we are deeply concerned by the way in which the effort to exclude is overtaking the calling to live the Gospel.”

The summary is here, a link to the audio of Te Paa's speech is here, and coverage continues with today's speakers here.

Keillor teaches Sunday School

Garrison Keillor writing in Salon:

I got to teach Episcopal Sunday school last week, a rare privilege, and it was in a New York church so the kids had plenty to say. Teenagers, and if you expect them to sit in rapt silence as you tick off points of theology, you're in the wrong place.
They let me say my piece -- God prefers honest doubt to false piety -- and then they said their pieces, and what shone through was a sensible anxiety about the future and the fact that they care a lot about each other. You could imagine a confirmed agnostic hanging out here just for the warmth and conversation.

Family of 'Lost Boy' priest attacked in Kenya

The Rev. Zachariah Jok Char is no stranger to the strife in his home country, Sudan—in fact, he's spoken eloquently about his ordeal (and we covered some of that, here).

Now, however, he fears that his year-old son (whom he's never met) may have to go through it as well. Char's wife, Tanya, and their son are still in Kenya, caught up in bureaucratic red tape that prevents them from immigrating to the United States. And last week, she was attacked by nomadic gang members in a Kenyan refugee camp:

They spared her life but stole money, clothes and documents she needs to emigrate from Kenya and join her husband in America.

Tabitha suffered injuries to her arms and back and was hospitalized for about a day. Their son was not hurt.

Sitting outside the Kuyper library, Char found it hard to concentrate.

"I'm thinking a lot about what happened to my family, and I'm really worried about my son," said Char, 25, pastor of Sudanese Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids. "He's really scared at the sound of guns, which is the same thing that happened to me when I was 5 years old when the war broke out in Sudan."

Read more about how Grace is trying to help the young priest here.

A Spong primer

The Toledo Blade describes a visit by retired bishop John Shelby Spong, who, though his views are controversial, sees himself as an apologist for the Christian faith for whom Jesus is at the center of his being. The paper offers an interesting primer to his thinking, which may surprise people who have only heard about him from other people

The 76-year-old retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark is a theologian who believes the Bible is "time-bound and time-warped" by the first-century Jewish culture in which it was written. He is on a mission to change the way people look at the Bible and at Jesus, stating that he wants to "break Jesus out of the boundaries of antiquity and explain it in the 21st century."

The paper offers Spong's basic views on a variety of areas:

On religious intolerence:

Religion is a funny thing. Religion seems to give people permission to be rude and angry, as long as they can cover it with some sort of religious veneer. They can be rude and angry and think they can get away with it.

On Biblical interpretation:
The Bible was written between about 1,000 B.C. and about 135 A.D. You can debate the edges of that, but that's about the scope, and that means the Bible was written during a period of history in which people believed the Earth was the center of the universe and that God lived above the sky and that he was keeping record books up to date and that God was sending lightning bolts down....

...You have to learn to read the Gospels, and in the world of New Testament scholarship, nobody - nobody - treats the biblical story as if it's literal history. It's all an interpretive process. And there's nothing wrong with it being an interpretive process. But the idea that you'd even have to debate whether anything in the Bible is literally true is really a strange debate.
I love the Bible as much as anybody. I spend my life studying it. I've read it from cover to cover at least 25 times.

On the divinity of Jesus:

[Is Jesus divine?] Well, if that's a 'yes or no' question, that's not the way the question … the answer is yes. But I'd say it's a nonsensical question because before I could answer it I'd need to define what it means to be divine. Do I think that God is a being that lives above the sky that can have a baby boy? No, that's a very strange understanding of God. I don't know why any human being thinks they understand God at all.

And how could I, with my human mind, tell you who God is?

On salvation:

When people quote John 14, "Nobody comes to the Father but by me," which is a regular quotation, for me I'd say that's true. That's true to my experience. The only way I know to come to God is through Jesus of Nazareth. But if I then say, "therefore the only way God can draw people to God is through my way, I've put my boundaries on God. I don't think that's appropriate. I think that's idolatry.

God is not my servant. It's up to me to conform to God's understanding. It's not up to God to conform to my understanding.

On homosexuality:

I don't think it's a genetic choice or a personal choice. I think it's more profound than that. The reason we're having this debate [in the Episcopal Church] is the old definition of homosexuality is dying. And it's dying in the light of new scientific data.

Personally, I believe Spong does two things well: he articulate theological questions that are appropriate for our time very well and he offers an approach through those questions that has kept many Christians within the church. Many of his solutions are grounded in well-known theological traditions of the Church. Agree with his outcomes or not, he raises important questions that every thoughtful Christian should contemplate and discuss. Most of all, especially in hard theological times, it is well to listen to the person instead of relying solely on what people say about him.

Read: Retired theologian rattles roots of religion

Artist as theologian

Aritist Allan Rohan Crite, featured on Episcopal Cafe's Art Blog, is memorialized by The National Catholic Reporter as a man who was "keenly aware of the presence of Christ in the world."
Rachelle Linner of NCR writes of Crite:

Allan Rohan Crite, a painter of everyday African-American life and the granddaddy of the Boston arts scene, died Sept. 6 at the age of 97. At his funeral in Boston’s Trinity Church, the Rev. Edward Rodman, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, eulogized Mr. Crite as a “lay theologian.” It is a particularly apt description of this generous, gentle and gracious artist whose works are suffused with a profound incarnational sensibility and informed by a vocabulary of worship that draws from the sacramental life of the Anglican communion.

In his introduction to Three Spirituals from Earth to Heaven, a book of pen and ink drawings on Negro spirituals published in 1948 by Harvard University Press, Mr. Crite wrote that spirituals are a “religious musical literature dedicated to the adoration and worship of almighty God.” Mr. Crite’s work as a storyteller, liturgical artist and illustrator of the spirituals reveals a similar genius, a religious visual literature that moves the viewer to gratitude and praise.

Allan Crite’s contribution to American art is unfortunately underappreciated. This was due, in no small part, to his adamant refusal to engage in self-promotion. His importance is difficult to gauge because his work is scattered throughout 105 public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute and Washington’s Phillips Collection.

About his sense of the community of humanity:

Allan Crite had a profound sense of our common humanity, a lived philosophy that evokes the Pauline language of the Mystical Body of Christ. “We are part of each other. So anything that happens to any part of us, we all feel. But the thing is, we think that we’re doing something to somebody ‘over there’ who’s different from me,” he said. “Actually what we’re doing is doing something to ourselves through that person. So if we do an injury to that particular person, we’re hurting. And if something happens to that particular person, we feel it. That probably accounts for, you might say, the extreme and sharp pain that a lot of us feel. We’re thinking we’re doing to somebody else, but it’s happening to us. That, in my opinion, is the real tragedy.

Read the article and see more paintings here and here.

William Blake liberates Bible for the people

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake, author and artist, who believed that there was too much use of the Bible and theology to beat people around the head, and to keep them in their place, rather than to liberate them and enable them to know their worth.

Ekklesia, in an essay on Blake by Chris Rowland, the Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford, notes:

Blake loved the Bible because it acted as a stimulus to an imaginative engagement with society and also with the nature of God. Blake wrote that what he wanted to do in his art and poetry was "rouze the faculties to act". That meant empowering the readers and hearers of texts and pictures to have the courage of their convictions and not be dependent on the experts to tell them what a text or picture meant. The Bible fulfilled this function as well as any other text, because it was "addressed to the Imagination ... and but mediately to the understanding or reason".

Too much study of the Bible is either completely dismissive of it, or excessively reverential. It doesn't allow for creative, imaginative engagement with it, recognising its limitations and delighting in it as a resource through which to stimulate understanding, rather than a book of moral precepts. Blake is as indignant as anyone about those elements in the Bible which have been used to condone injustice, oppression and preoccupation with tradition.

Read the rest here.

An example of an image by William Blake is here.

Try this if the link does not work:

Church on the street

The Washington Post has video features now, and yesterday they featured the Rev. Deborah Little-Wyman, founder and missioner of Ecclesia Ministries and Common cathedral (sic) in Boston, talking about her call:

"There was a woman there who I'm sure I would have described at the time as a bag lady with her bags around her, I had this instant desire.. to have a life in which I could go and sit down next to that lady and stay with her until she got whatever it was she felt she needed."

Life, going on

One is a retired priest; the other is a retiree that became a priest. Two separate stories in Ohio and Oregon, yet both resonate the theme that we never need retire from faith.

The Rev. Elizabeth Lilly became a deacon in 1976 and was the first woman to be ordained at Trinity Episcopal in downtown Columbus, Ohio. She was ordained a priest in 1984, and recalls several anecdotes of that time:

One priest asked her whether she was having a midlife crisis. Another mused that women in the priesthood could mean fashion shows in the sanctuary. She left one congregation after a priest gave a "hen can't be a rooster" sermon as she sat in the third pew.

The story explores her work in the church but also shines a spotlight on what she's been doing since retiring from active priesthood: creating icons:

She discovered she could create icons in 1996 when she was working on a Lenten series on the subject of Taize worship (French-inspired chanting and song) that called for candles, music and icons. She just started sketching and painting, unaware that the wood needed to be covered with linen and marble dust.

Still, Lilly started to perceive that something holy was going on, and it scared her.

"I was touching holy things," she said. "I was touching his body."

She has made about 30 icons in the past decade. She's studied under five master iconographers, and people now commission works.

"It's a miraculous thing," said her husband, Carter Lilly, 74. "She's just taken it on, and it's become wonderful. They're all over the house."

One icon shows Jesus' resurrection, the Messiah standing atop the gates of hell and literally pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs. Several icons show Mary and Jesus, solemn-faced and earth-toned, adorned with metallic gold halos. In one, Christ cures the blind man, placing an index finger on his eyelid.

Read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, across the country in Eastern Oregon, the Rev. Larry Rew practiced law for nearly four and a half decades. He was forced into retirement after a colon cancer diagnosis in 2005, and currently is going through his second round of treatment--but that hasn't stopped him from pursuing his calling. He was ordained a priest on Nov. 18:

His recent ordination, on the other hand, completes a series of events which began in the mid 1990s when the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer began a four-year course on training for the ministry, largely a class on the history of religion. Out of the entire group that finished that class, Rew said, there were five ordinations, including two new priests and three deacons.

Rew was one of the deacons and for several years served as chancellor, carrying out volunteer legal work for the diocese. Although most priests first study at a seminary, the Episcopal Church does not require it in some cases.

"To have a full-time rector now under the guidelines of the church ... is pretty expensive and an awful lot of churches can't afford it," Rew said, explaining the Eastern Oregon diocese includes several small, isolated parishes.

Read his story here.

Anglican theologian honored by Queen Elizabeth

Mary Tanner, one of the eight presidents of the World Council of Churches, is to receive one of the highest honors given by the British monarch in the Queen's New Year's honors list. Tanner, an Anglican theologian, is to be created a Dame of the Order of the British Empire, or DBE, for "services to the worldwide Anglican church". The title will be formally conferred by Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales at a Buckingham Palace investiture later in the year. Tanner was the theological secretary to the Church of England's Board for Mission and Unity, which became the Council for Christian Unity, serving as its general secretary from 1991 until her retirement in 1998. Information from Ecumenical News International

Read more here.

Eleven year old feeds the hungry

The Miami Herald features a story of Jack Davis, an eleven year old member of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, who is challenging the Florida legislature to pass a law to protect restaurants and food services who want to give their food to homeless shelters.

As a fifth-grader, Jack Davis learned about how government works, even drafting pretend legislation in his social studies class. A year later, 11-year-old Jack is pressing for a real law -- one that could help feed Florida's homeless. The sixth-grader is being credited for inspiring a bill that will allow restaurants and hotels to donate leftover food to places like homeless shelters and not face legal liabilities. For years, many eateries and other places have simply thrown the food away, rather than face a lawsuit if someone got sick. ''I kind of used my social studies teacher's advice,'' said Jack, a sixth-grader at Ransom Everglades School. ``She told us to make a difference.''

Jack, with the help of his attorney dad, Jeff Davis, got in touch with a friend, Miami attorney Stephen Marino. Marino, a board member of the Florida Justice Association, a statewide association of consumer advocates, brought Jack's idea up a few days later during lunch with State Rep. Ari Porth, the bill's House sponsor. ''I've never been contacted by someone so young about an idea for a bill,'' Porth said. ``I think it's highly unusual and very impressive.''

It all started one summer morning after breakfast as Jack and his family finished eating at a buffet in Chattanooga, Tenn. He was one of the last at the buffet line -- a typical spread of biscuits, bacon and eggs -- and a manager told the family to eat as much as they could. Jack asked why? The manager told him the rest would be thrown away. ''He explained to me if they gave the food to a homeless shelter they could be sued for sickness or food poisoning,'' Jack said.

Read it all here.

Kirker steps down

The leading advocate for gay and lesbian rights in the Anglican Church in Britain is stepping down after 30 years, according to the New Statesman, which profiles the Rev. Richard Kirker and provides some insights into his work at the helm of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

For the first half of that time, he fought a lonely battle to get church leaders to discuss sexuality. Now it's hard to get them to talk about anything else, but not in the way he had in mind. Homosexuality is at the centre of a global struggle for the soul of the Anglican Communion, and as gay people are accused of bestiality and demonic possession, the Church seems to have become a repository for the homophobia unacceptable in the rest of society.


If Rowan Williams has issued any rebuke, it has been barely audible until recently. Gay-friendly before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, he now reserves his chief condemnation for the North American Episcopalians who have elected an openly gay bishop. Many of the archbishop's former close gay friends have been left reeling by what they call his betrayal.

"The situation is appalling. Life for gay priests is immeasurably worse than when I started doing this job, because of the obsessive scrutiny of those who hate us," says Kirker, a battle-scarred 56-year-old whose shoestring organisation still numbers no more than 2,000 members. "Many people have given up the fight and left the priesthood. Others do not join it because it's not worth putting themselves through the indignity of interviews that intrude into personal morality in a way that was once never considered desirable or necessary. It is now official policy to ensure that gay people who don't give a commitment to celibacy are not selected for ordination."

Read it here.

A son repents

Francis Schaeffer was a deep evangelical thinker whose mission was to save the West from itself one intellectual at a time. His son, Frank, took him mainstream bringing his father's work together with the agenda and ambitions of American fundamentalism. Together they helped create what we now know as the religious right.

That was then. Through a combination of what might be called religious and celebrity burn-out, raising a family and deep introspection, Frank Schaeffer says he has repented of nearly everything the American Religious Right stands for, even though he was for a time a major player in bringing critical elements together.

In an interview with Jeff Sharlet of the Revealer, Schaefer says that the success of much of the Religious Right today depends on the continuing failure of the government, of Israel, of the military and even of public education.

It’s one of the ironies of the Religious Right that came out of the 1960s and ’70s. Back then, the idea was that the Right was patriotic and that the Left was always suspect of being unpatriotic, critical of America, wanted to see the U.S. defeated. But by the mid-’70s, I started noticing a change: the rhetoric of the emerging religious Right was more fundamentally anti-American, always rooting for failure, than anything coming out of the Left. When you look back at it, the Left really wanted reform – whether it was about race, or foreign policy, or women’s rights. But the Right, since then, roots for real failure – to prove a philosophical and theological point. An analogy is the Religious Right’s support for Israel. On one level, right-wing fundamentalists are rooting for Israel. On another level, for their theology to be proven correct, Israel has to be destroyed, Jews killed. Which is almost literally the same idea for America when it comes to a Falwell or a Robertson. They slipped up and expressed those sentiments openly after 9/11, but that was only a dramatic example of what’s been said for years privately and sometimes not so privately.


The essence of their theology and their philosophy is that America was founded as a Christian country, in the most literal sense a theocracy, under a special blessing from God. The U.S. has a special destiny in the world, which is not only political but also theological. So where they root for American failure is when America departs from that supposed destiny. If America prospers and is blessed without adherence to biblical principles and out without a return to theocracy – in practice if not in form – if homosexuality can be practiced in the open and no thunderbolts hit, given their orthodox theology, America should lose its special place and enter into an irreversible decline. If not, American well-being disproves America’s special place in the divine order of things. It’s a situation of a test-case, of proof. If crime goes down in New York, or if test scores go up without prayer in schools, it casts doubt on all the theological claims of right wing fundamentalist Christianity.

Anyone who went to evangelical churches in the seventies and early eighties probably saw (at least once) a film series featuring Francis Schaeffer called "How Should We Then Live?" Frank produced these films based on his father's earlier writings, but turned them into a wide-ranging critique of American with a rigid anti-abortion spin largely absent in the books. The films were a whip-lash of condensed images and ideas meant to convey how quickly the world was going down the drain. For many evangelicals, it was an introduction and a validation of a way seeing the culture as doomed to failure. But it also further built a wall of separation between historic Christianity and mainline Protestantism and evangelicalism because the simplistic view of history left no room for debate, critique or choice.

Now that many followers of the ideologies of the Religious Right have moved from outsiders to insiders, they have become a new kind of political establishment whose purpose is to use the levers of power to make government and social institutions ineffective because they fundamentally believe that progress and reform is not only impossible but undesirable.

Where you see their real colors is in the absolute, steady drumbeat against public education. There would be no public schools if the Religious Right got its way. They don’t care if public schools are working or not, because remember, good news is bad news for them. They don’t want them to work. The same philosophy that gives us “No Child Left Behind,” that demands higher test scores, with one hand it gives and the other it takes away. It’s the same voices calling for vouchers so that parents can pick religious education for their children, so they can control everything their child learns until the child is 18. Another place I see this, when I began thinking about the military because I was writing a book about my son becoming a Marine, is in the all-volunteer army. The irony now is that the biggest defenders of the all-volunteer army come from the Right, not the Left. It’s the philosophy and orthodox theology of deconstructing government, of privatization at any cost. I was on a radio show with a right-wing host and I was talking about this, about the ways in which the draft had this strong democratic element, and how the Left now thinks about it in terms of, “Would we be in these wars if everybody had to serve?” And I was trying to talk about sacrifice, about a draft that would require everybody to sacrifice, and the host came back and said, “The rich already do sacrifice, they pay taxes.”

Read: The Revealer: "How I Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back"

Frank Schaeffer's home page is here.

A review and a synopsis may be found here.

An urban hermit

Paul O'Donnell writes in New York Magazine:

Martha Ainsworth rides a bus into Port Authority from New Jersey at least three times a week, twice for work and once on Sunday to attend Mass at St. John’s in the Village. Like any good New Yorker, Martha tries to make use of her commute. As soon as she’s settled in her seat, she pulls out a rosary and begins to pray. By the time she has boarded the bus on a normal day, she’s already spent more than an hour in formal prayer and at a kind of devout study known as lectio divina. By the time she goes to bed, she’ll have spent three more hours in prayer. Some days, she is so transported that an hour steals by without her realizing it.

Last month, Martha wrote to Bishop Mark Sisk, head of the Episcopal Church’s New York diocese, formally requesting to become a solitary, a designation in the church’s canon laws that recognizes a life of solitude and silent prayer. If the bishop accepts her petition, Martha will embark on a years-long process to discern her fitness for religious life. She’ll undergo a background check and assemble a board of advisers to oversee her practice. She’ll take annually renewed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, like any other monastic novice, in the hope of making them permanent.

But unlike a cloistered monk, who shares chores and helps generate a common income by making cheese or fruitcakes, Martha will arrange her prayer life around a schedule that looks from the outside like any other citizen’s. Week after week, she will encounter the din of the city. She will keep her apartment, shop for groceries, answer her phone, and earn a paycheck. She’ll have no abbot or abbess, and no sisters, owing her obedience only to the bishop. Martha will become, in effect, a contemplative order of one.

Read it all.

Full disclosure, I worked with Martha at Beliefnet.

Neuroscience and the Christian community

Perhaps you were unaware the neurology plays an essential role in congregational development, especially during times to transition. In this presentation to the annual Convention of the Diocese of Washington, Peter Steinke explains to you why individuals and communities resist change, no matter how obvious the need for such change might be. And he will make you laugh as he does so.

Walter Burghardt, RIP: the best preacher I ever heard

The Rev. Walter J. Burghardt, a Jesuit theologian who was the best preacher I ever heard, died this week at the age of 93. He preached frequently at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown in the 1980s and 90s, celebrated at the marriage of a friend or two, and sat for an interview when I was writing a book called Catholics in Crisis.

The New York Times' obit is here, The Washington Post's is here and America magazine's is here. Oddly, the Post gives a better sense of the man than does America, which is published by the Jesuits.

Here's some of what the Post has to say:

Father Burghardt often criticized the restrained preaching style of his fellow priests, saying that "imagination seems to be a vestigial organ that many a Catholic priest was trained to leave in the seminary."

The flavor of his personal theology and rhetorical style can be found in his words from a 1991 interview in the Los Angeles Times.

"I agonize because in this land of milk and honey, one of every five children grows up beneath the poverty line -- and our pulpits are silent.

"I agonize because in this land of the free, blacks and Hispanics are still shackled as second-class citizens . . . and we preachers have nothing to say to their hungers.

"I agonize because thousands upon thousands of women are battered by the men who vowed to respect them, untold children are abused by the barbarians who brought them into being -- and we mouth mealy platitudes about a God who cares for everyone."

Local girl makes good

Former Cafe contributor Susan Daughtry Fawcett is featured in Sunday's Washington Post. The subject is funerals. Yours.

Planning your last affairs is not necessarily a happy task to think about, but sometimes circumstances throw your mortality into sharp relief. In the summer of 2004, Susan Daughtry Fawcett, then 23, was working as a chaplain in the emergency ward of Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg. It was a hard summer punctuated by tragedies, despair and the grace required to work through both. Because of that experience, she sat down and planned her funeral, picked hymns and readings, and left a list of songs that should be put on CDs for close friends. Now she regularly sees her parishioners dealing with the loose ends that unfurl upon a loved one's death.

"Having thought about these things ahead of time is incredibly helpful," says Fawcett, an Episcopal priest in Vienna. "It's a huge gift to your family." More important, she says, we all might benefit from a little more understanding of our own mortality, since the idea of death is normally confined to hospital rooms and nursing homes.

Read it.

A prayer for the Democratic debate

A Prayer for the Nation
Invocation for the Democratic Presidential Debate
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Cleveland
February 26, 2008

Shalom, Salaam, Peace be with you. Let us pray.

Gracious and loving God: we call you by many names and come to you by many paths, yet you have brought us together to this time and place. We join our voices in praising you for the majesty and beauty of this land, for the people of our nation, for the state of Ohio and its citizens, and for the city of Cleveland and those who live, work and study here. May we always be mindful stewards of your bountiful creation.

As we come together this evening, we thank you, O God, for the great diversity of our nation and its people who, throughout our history, have embodied the principles and ideals of a democratic society. We pray especially this night for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We give thanks for their willingness to stand before us and offer themselves to serve as our nation’s president. We pray that as they debate, they will exhibit the courage of their convictions, hunger for the truth, a vision of compassion, justice for all people, and civility toward one another.

And as we, your faithful people, listen, discern and cast our ballots, may we remember that this nation is too important for anything but truth, that this world is too vulnerable for anything but peace, and that your creation is too precious for anything but love.


--with thanks to the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

A walk in the wilderness

First in a new series from the L.A. Times on sacred spaces is a profile on The Rev. Brad Karelius, rector of Santa Ana's Episcopal Church of the Messiah. After experiencing an incredible sense of peace and holiness while exploring the mountain wilderness that lies north of L.A., Karelius went on to study how retreating to such raw places often acts as a portal to spirital awakening, according to the article. For him, that first visit evoked such "serenity" that he has made it a regular practice to return to the area whenever he needs to "detox" from the hustle and bustle of daily living.

Karelius was talking about his first visit to the cave at Rose Spring -- a dusty gash in the Coso Mountains at the southern end of the Owens Valley, about 120 miles north of Los Angeles. He stumbled across the cave in 1997, a few weeks after his then 14-year-old son, Erik, nearly died after a series of epileptic seizures.

What happened to him there continues to provide spiritual direction for his sermons at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana.

With his son's crying echoing in his mind, he explored the ruins of a stagecoach stop that burned down in 1870, admired the massive grinding stones of an ancient Native American village and took in the desert hills marked by the spicy scents of wild rose and sagebrush. Then he climbed into the cave, startling a great horned owl out of a dark corner.

Karelius spent several hours in the cave, just listening to the stirring and penetrating sounds of wind in the sage and marveling at the unspoiled views -- not much different from when Paiutes went there to grind meal and to chip tools out of volcanic glass.

"I was overwhelmed by the power of a place with so many stories of struggle to tell," he said. "There was a palpable sense of danger and awe. It was the one moment I felt closest to the holy."

The whole thing is here.

Dean of Episcopal Divinity School to resign

UPDATE: Tuesday evening

The Living Church reports that The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School, in Cambridge, MA will resign the end of May.

“For me, the good news is that I have helped to bring EDS to place where I can say my work here is done,” Bishop Charleston said in a letter sent to alumni on Feb. 25. “EDS is a strong spiritual community rooted firmly in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It trains some of the best and brightest leaders for the church who consistently offer what the church needs most: ministers who know how to work in the real world.”

Read more about the resignation and other plans for EDS here.

Episcopal Life Online offers more coverage of the seminary changes at Seabury Western and Bexley Hall here.

The New Yorker story that's all the buzz

If you read last week the letter from Bishop Sisk giving advance warning of a forthcoming story from the New Yorker in which Honor Moore recounts details of her father's private life--an excerpt from the late Bishop Paul Moore's daughter's forthcoming autobiographical work--you might be wondering, so, ok, there's the cart, but where's the horse?

The story is now available online at the New Yorker site. Whatever you may have inferred from the letter itself, it's difficult to frame any criticism without reading the original.

You can read it here.

And if you missed Bishop Sisk's response, we covered it here, and pointed to other coverage on Monday here.

Life-long Episcopalian, "Great Debater," dies at 96

The New York Times reports:

Henrietta Bell Wells, the only woman, the only freshman and the last surviving member of the 1930 Wiley College debate team that participated in the first interracial collegiate debate in the United States, died on Feb. 27 in Baytown, Tex. She was 96.
Other debates with white schools followed, culminating with Wiley’s 1935 victory over the national champion, the University of Southern California.

Read it all here.

Back in January, Carol E. Barnwell wrote in the Daily Episcopalian:

"I told Denzel Washington he should play the part," Henrietta Bell Wells said, when we spoke recently at the Houston facility where the 95-year old now resides. Wells, a longtime member of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Houston, was seated in her wheelchair, wrapped in a soft white sweater, the same snow white as her perfectly coiffed hair. Her manicured hands rest in her lap and periodically dance to punctuate a vivid memory of Wiley College debate coach Melvin B. Tolson, a character in the Christmas release, The Great Debaters.
Wells was born in Houston’s Fourth Ward in 1912. "Church has always been a large part of my life," she said. Her maternal grandfather was a "strong Episcopalian" in the West Indies and her mother Octavia made sure it was part of their life in Houston. In 1923, Wells was the first African American child baptized at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church (re-chartered as St. Luke the Evangelist in 1927) by Bishop Clinton Quin and was later confirmed at Trinity, Houston.

Bridging science and theology

Polish theologian, cosmologist, and philosopher Michael Heller, who lived through both Nazi and communist rule and has long sought to reconcile science and religion, has won the 2008 Templeton Prize.

The £820,000 prize (more than $1.6 million) is awarded "for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities."

"He's one of the key contributors in the international scholarly community dedicated to the creative dialogue on science, theology, and philosophy," says Robert John Russell, founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley, Calif. "He's a great example of someone who bridges these fields."

The Christian Science Monitor has it all.

Best friends

This month's Washingtonian has a feature with vignettes exploring the bonds of friendship between several pairs of best friends, among them retired Washington Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon and WAMU talk-show host Diane Rehm, who have been friends since meeting at church 40 years ago. When Rehm got word of an "Expanding Horizons for Women" adult-ed course at George Washington University in the 1970s, she nudged Dixon to join her. The two have been learning from each other and staying in touch ever since:

Rehm credits Dixon with teaching her interviewing skills: “Her Southern style has always been something I’ve been drawn to—there is such warmth and willingness to be open. She has taught me a lot about how to hear other people—to listen with an open heart.”

Dixon says Rehm’s insistence on going back to school together led her to her true path. “That push from her back in the ’70s, that support, gave me the confidence to explore my call to ordination and become a priest,” she says.

Says Rehm: “I joke that she better not die first so she can do my funeral. She’s got to be there.”

The complete article is here.

Dean Lind on News Hour tonight

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, will take part in a panel discussion about race, religion and politics on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight. The program is broadcast at 6 pm EDT; the panel discussion is expected to air about 6:30 pm.

The panel discussion, titled “Race, Religion and Politics,” is expected to discuss how issues of race and religion are intersecting with the 2008 presidential race.

Lind was also quoted in a March 23 New York Times story titled “Obama’s Talk Fuels Easter Sermons.”

For more information on Trinity Cathedral and its programs, please call 216-771-3630 or visit

Is Bishop Wright a ranter?

Café contributor Adrian Worsfold, known online as Pluralist wonders whether Bishop N. T. Wright actually deserves his reputation as a scholar.

It isn't necessary to embrace Worsfold's entire critique to believe that the bishop is so frequently lauded for his Biblical scholarship, that it obscures the hackneyed anti-modernism that mars much of his political and social commentary. Nor to lament the fact that if the Anglican Communion succeeds in institutionalizing its homophobia, via the proposed Covenant, Wright will have been among the primary archtects of this structural sin.

The bishop beings a book tour of the United States in late April, and one wonders whether those who attend his appearances will ask him why he has worked so hard to exclude gay and lesbian Christians from the sacraments of the Church. One also wonders whether Episcopal churches will continue to sponsor events to benefit a man who has worked so hard to disenfranchise them in the councils of the Anglican Communion.

EDS honors Bishop Chane, UN observer and former NBA star

Episcopal Divinity School announces its 2008 Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2008 at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 2:00 pm. EDS will present honorary doctor of divinity degrees to five individuals for their social justice work: The Rt. Rev. John Chane, Kevin Johnson, Cynthia Shattuck, Katie Sherrod, and Hellen Wangusa. The Commencement address will be delivered by Hellen Wangusa, Anglican Observer to the United Nations.

“The honorary degrees committee spends a great deal of time crafting a ‘class’ of honorary degree recipients each year that reflect the values of the school: justice, compassion, and reconciliation,” said The Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Academic Dean. “We look not only to the church, and lay and ordained people who work for the church as candidates, but each year hope to also honor people who consistently ‘give back’ to their communities, as well as young and unsung advocates for justice. This year, each of the people we are honoring, in a number of ways, represents excellence in their fields and ministries of justice and peace locally as well as throughout the world.”

The Rt. Rev. John Chane, Bishop of Washington, is a peace maker who has traveled twice to Iran at the invitation of President Khatami, and has invited the Iranian leader to speak at the National Cathedral. He was recently appointed to serve on a Global Anglican Task Force investigating human rights violations in the Kingdom of Swaziland, Africa. Prior to attending Seminary, Bishop Chane worked as an urban community organizer in Boston’s South End, and Roxbury.

To read the entire release, click Read more.

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40th Anniversary of the King assassination

Many churches and cities are marking the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

The AP reports from Memphis:

On the 40th anniversary of his assassination, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered Friday in the city where he died as a man who came to Memphis "to lead us to a better way."

Presidential candidates, civil rights leaders, labor activists and thousands of citizens were coming together to honor King for his devotion to racial equality and economic justice.

King was cut down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968, while helping organize a strike by Memphis sanitation workers, then some of the poorest of the city's working poor.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represented the workers then and now, marched Friday from their downtown headquarters to the motel.

A line of several hundred people carrying umbrellas in a steady rain set off on the mile-long route.

"Dr. King was like Moses," said Leslie Moore, a 61-year-old sanitation worker who began working for the city in 1968. "God gave Moses the assignment to lead the children of Israel across the Red Sea. He sent Dr. King here to lead us to a better way."

Read the story here.

The American Prospect carries on essay by Kai Wright on the message of King and its words for today.

The Washington Post discusses King's legacy:

Forty years after King was gunned down by an assassin in Memphis, it is this sharper-edged figure who has come into focus again. To mark today's anniversary, several scholarly reports have been released charting the nation's uneven social and economic progress during the past 40 years. Some scholars and former King associates are using the occasion to zero in on the two issues -- war and poverty -- that were consuming him at the time of his death.

Both have particular resonance now: The United States is engaged in a war in Iraq that has grown increasingly unpopular, and the poor -- despite the concerns highlighted by Hurricane Katrina and the subprime mortgage crisis -- are as voiceless as they were in King's day, advocates contend.

"His challenge was much bigger than being nice," said Taylor Branch, author of a three-volume history, "America in the King Years." "It was even bigger than race. It was whether we take our national purpose seriously, which is the full promise of equal citizenship."

Video, photos and more at More Than An Icon.

Also the United Church of Christ is calling for a nationwide discussion on race according to Newsweek

The United Church of Christ, the parent denomination of Barack Obama's church, announced Thursday that it will begin a conversation on racial issues beginning next month in response to sermons by Obama's pastor that were critical of the U.S.

Leaders of Obama's church, Trinity United Church of Christ, meanwhile, asked reporters for respect, saying threats and a media onslaught are disrupting worship at the South Side church. The church has increased security in response to threatening telephone calls, letters and e-mails, they said.

At a news conference, the United Church of Christ's national leadership said the furor over comments by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright demonstrated the complexity of racial issues in the country and the need for churches nationwide to talk about them.

"The members of Trinity United Church of Christ are going through a very difficult time right now. The intersection of politics, religion and race has heightened our awareness of how easy it is for conversations about race to be anything but sacred," said the Rev. John Thomas, the denomination's president.

The Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, echoed the call for a national discussion, beginning May 18. Kinnamon said he objects to seeing Trinity portrayed as an extremist sect, saying it and the UCC "are part of the wider Christian community."

A ministry of listening

The host of Public Radio International's Speaking of Faith found herself on the other side of the interviewer's mike recently, in a profile on PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. The show won a Peabody award this week, and the R&E piece took a closer look at what Krista Tippett allows might be "a ministry of listening rather than preaching":

ABERNETHY: Most of her interviews are remotes with guests in distant cities, and when she's doing them, alone in her studio, you can see the intensity of what she calls her "life of listening."

What Tippett and her producers create is spiritual and theological insight expressed in everyday language without doctrinal certainty.

Ms. TIPPETT: No one who is listening to the program is hearing someone else say, "This is the truth." But they are hearing people of integrity and wisdom say, "This is my truth. This is how I came to it. This is how I live with it," and that's listenable. You can disagree with a person's doctrine. You can't disagree with his or her experience.

Tippett, who has been an Episcopalian but considers herself in denominational limbo these days, talks about some of the things in her recent book, that shares its title with her radio program. Among the topics: depression, her divorce, conveying faith to her children:

ABERNETHY: And your divorce, along with the pain -- what were there lessons there?

Ms. TIPPETT: Divorce is a death, and it's a failure -- or that's how it feels. That's just another way in which life is not what we wish it to be, and we have to live gracefully with what it is. I'm quite proud of how my former husband and I now are friends and absolutely co-parents to our children.

ABERNETHY: Tippett's children are Aly, 14, and Sebastian, nine, and sometimes when she revisits St. John's Abbey she takes them with her. I asked her why.

Ms. TIPPETT: This experience of mystery that we talked about, I have that experience in the Abbey church here. It's a feeling. It's -- it's a transcendent experience. I want them to experience that, that mystery.

Tune in to the interview/profile here.

Florida priest working for peace in Kenya

The St. Petersburg Times reports on the work of the Rev. John Kivuva, 45, a priest at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church and part-time chaplain at St. Anthony's Hospital.

Kivuva left St. Petersburg for what was to be a two- to three-week visit to his former homeland. He planned to meet with Somali and Sudanese refugees on behalf of a group he helped to found in Kenya, supported by the Mennonite and Episcopal churches and others. He also was to speak to young people at an Anglican convention in Mai-Mahiu outside Nairobi.

He managed to do both before Kenya's Dec. 27 elections erupted into a national crisis. The conflict began with an announcement that President Mwai Kibaki, of the powerful Kikuyu tribe, had been re-elected.

Father John Kivuva Mwiya is back home now, safe, reunited with his wife and children. But his mind is troubled. At night, sleep comes slowly. Better get some counseling, he's been told. He is just back from Kenya, his former homeland, where he was caught up in bloody postelection violence. Disturbing images are burned into his brain:

Gunfire, violent mobs, the murder of civilians, terrified and hungry refugees. Perhaps worst, he watched as two men were dragged from his car and tortured on the side of the road. Though Kenya is relatively calm today, with the rival political parties announcing a power sharing Cabinet earlier this week, the unrest took at least 1,200 lives. The toll is likely higher, since some were killed in rural areas, and those bodies may never be found. Tens of thousands fled or lost their homes.

Read the rest here

Krister Stendahl, April 15, 2008

From Harvard Divinity School:

To the HDS community--

It is with immense sadness, but also with immense thankfulness for a singular life wonderfully well-lived, that I write to inform you that Krister Stendahl, our beloved friend, teacher, colleague, and former Dean, died this morning. A funeral service is planned for Friday morning at University Lutheran Church, and a memorial service to be held at Harvard's Memorial Church is being planned for sometime in May. Details on that University event and on other chances to recall, celebrate, and honor Krister will be communicated as soon as we know them, by email as well as on the HDS website. Please keep all of the Stendahl family in your thoughts and prayers.

William A. Graham,

Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) mourns the death of Krister Stendahl, a leader in support for women in religion and ministry, bishop of the Lutheran Church of Sweden and former Dean of Harvard Divinity School.

Harvard Divinity School reports ... the death of its beloved former Dean Krister Stendahl... Many on this list knew him personally and others read his work. His contributions were many, especially his support for women in religion and ministry. He was a WATER supporter over the years and encouraging of our work. May his spirit inspire others to follow his example. With gratitude for this good man.

Last year Stendahl published Why I Love the Bible - read it here

UPDATE: A memorial service and celebration of the life and legacy of Krister Stendahl will be held May 16, 2 p.m. at Harvard's Memorial Church.

UPDATE: April 16
Harvard Divinity School obituary.
New York Times remembers Kirster Stendahl.

Judy Shepard campaigns to erase hate

The Houston Chronicle reports on the journey of personal change made by Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard who died 10 years ago, the victim of a hate crime.

Judy Shepard, an everymom, petite, with a perky blonde bob, wearing jeans and a crisply ironed black button-down shirt, will hear them out, just like she always does. She'll offer each some encouragement, sometimes wrapped in a clever punchline. She speaks from hard experience.

Nearly 10 years ago, her college-student son Matthew was fatally beaten in a gay-bashing murder that shocked the country. In the decade since, Shepard has been traveling the country pleading for acceptance and lobbying for gay rights and tougher hate-crimes laws.

And, from the reception she got at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts last week, she's also a surrogate mother of sorts to a generation of young gays.

After her speech at HSPVA, attended by hundreds, many of those students line up backstage to meet her. Most throw their arms around her and tell her in a gush about coming out to their parents or describe their horror at homophobia. Several just want to tell her how much her work means to them. There's a sense of urgency to share with her because she somehow will agree and, most of all, understand.

Ten years ago in October, Matthew Shepard was robbed by two men and savagely beaten with a .357-caliber Magnum, then tied to a rural fence and left to die in the cold. His nearly lifeless body was discovered 18 hours later. It was a watershed in the fight for gay rights, opening the eyes of many to anti-gay violence.

As Matthew lay in the hospital dying, Shepard was catapulted into the international spotlight.

Now 55, she's embraced the job she never wanted, as an international spokeswoman, activist and executive director of the nonprofit that bears Matthew's name, created in part with funds sent by family, friends and strangers to help defray Matthew's medical costs.

"I'm just somebody's mom who got really angry at the system and felt I had the opportunity to make a change," Shepard said.

Matthew Shepard served as an youth acolyte at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper, WY, the site of his funeral and home church of his parents.

Read the article here.

Running a marathon for the MDGs

The Rev. Tim Schenck, who blogs at Clergy Family Confidential, ran in the Boston Marathon yesterday to raise money to fight global hunger. He finished in 4:20:12. You can support Tim's cause by visiting the Tufts' Marathon Challenge Web site.

And since he ran 26 miles to earn it, we are including a plug for Tim's upcoming book, What Size Are God's Shoes: Kids, Chaos and the Spiritual Life.

And now the good people at All Saints, Briarcliff Mannor, N. Y., can have their rector back.

Commemorating Thurgood Marshall

In 2006, the Diocese of Washington asked the General Convention to include Thurgood Marshall in the book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The request was referred to a church commission, and will be reconsidered at the 2009 Convention

But those who support Marshall's cause can hold a Eucharist in his honor next month, perhaps on May 17, the date that the diocese proposes establishing as his feast. (and the anniversary of his victory in the landmark school desergregation case, Brown. v. Board of Education.

For background on the diocese's effort read these two stories from the Washington Window.

The resolution recommending Marshall's inclusion that was passed by the Convention of the Diocese of Washington, and a biography put together by St. Augustine's, Marshall home parish in Washington, D. C. are also available.

To find the propers of the day, and suggestions for hymns, click on read more.

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Activist and educator comes home to Voorhees College

Vorhees College, an historically black Episcopal college has appointed Cleveland Sellers as its new president. The story of Cleveland's journey is described by

Looking back, it’s as if Cleveland Sellers was preparing his entire life to become president of Voorhees College.

After all, he was born in Denmark, S.C., home of the historically black Episcopal institution, and he even graduated from the college’s affiliated high school in 1962. For the past 15 years, Sellers has driven an hour and 15 minutes — each way, each day — between Denmark, where he still lives, and Columbia, where he is director of the African American studies program at the University of South Carolina. So in a real sense, when his duties commence this fall, he’ll be coming home both figuratively and literally.

“For me it’s almost a complete circle,” Sellers says, recalling a time when he was 3 or 4, acting as a “mascot” for the college where his mother was on the faculty and where he would be named president over half a century later. He’d go on to attend Voorhees — which at that time of heavily enforced segregation was a junior college with an affiliated private high school for black students — for the 9th through 12th grades. It gave him a taste of higher education, a passion he’d go on to pursue, first as an undergraduate at Howard University, then later on earning a master’s degree in education at Harvard University and an Ed.D. at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“It was a college experience.... It was a world-class educational experience that we got,” Sellers said of Voorhees.

But before pursuing the life of an academic and an educator, the civil rights movement made an activist out of Sellers, who like many young students at historically black colleges in the 1960s found himself participating in nonviolent civil disobedience through groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After graduating from Howard, he returned to South Carolina as a grassroots civil rights organizer. On Feb. 8, 1968, he came face to face with the brutal violence he’d worked to fight.

Read all about it.

God in the details

The Washington Post tells of Rowan LeCompte, creator of more than 40 stained glass windows in the Episcopal Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul also known as the Washington National Cathedral.

A life is like a stained-glass window. Colorful yet clear. Translucent yet obscured. Strong yet fragile. An arrangement of shard-moments held by a force that keeps everything in place. Miraculous things -- life and stained-glass windows. Still, yet moving. Works of art that change as daylight inevitably turns to nightdark.

At 83, Rowan LeCompte is in the later stages of both windowmaking and life. His life's work has been the dreaming and designing of exquisite stained-glass windows for the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, better known as Washington National Cathedral. Over the years he has created more than 40 windows. He fashioned his first when still a boy. He is probably working on his last.

The LeCompte windows give the cathedral heavenly color: The kaleidoscopic West Rose that celebrates God's creation of heaven and earth. The green, red and gold Calling of Peter window on the north side of the nave. The delicate little Gable Wheel window in the Pilgrim Observation Gallery.

Among the 233 stained-glass windows in the majestic edifice, LeCompte's have a special glow. He has designed more windows in the cathedral than any other artist. LeCompte is "an artist who marries together traditional techniques and sensibilities with contemporary style," says the cathedral's conservator, the Rev. John A. Runkle. LeCompte, he adds, is skillful at "spanning the ages."

Read it all here.

Rehm on the "Art of Listening"

Renowned radio host Diane Rehm found herself on the other side of the interviewing mike last week at the National Cathedral's Sunday Forum. Rehm, an Episcopalian, related that her faith grew stronger and deeper while she was undergoing treatment for spasmodic dysphonia, the condition which makes it difficult for her to speak. In spite of her condition, Rehm has hosted a call-in radio show at Washington's talk-oriented public radio station, WAMU, for more than a quarter century.

During her conversation with Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III, she described how a good interview is nothing without good listening, and how listening is a multi-sense process that one must finely tune:

“My focus is on listening, and watching, interpreting, being led by how the conversation goes, being led by callers, being led by the spirit in the room, being led by body language of that individual, and learning to listen to each and every aspect of that,” she says. “Someday—someday—I hope to write a book on what it is to listen.”

“Listening is really about hospitality, isn’t it?” Lloyd asks. “It’s creating a space into which someone else steps.” Rehm tells of the emotional hardships of her childhood and youth, and then says:

“One of the ways I learned to listen—I was punished a great deal, and my bedroom was upstairs above the living room. We had constant visitors, because my dad’s family was always here. And when I was by myself, up in my room, I would get down on the floor and put my ear to the floor so I could hear everything. I knew exactly what was going on in that room, and I think that was part of learning to listen.”

An MP3 and a downloadable video of the event are both here.

Reaching out to Rwandan women

In today's Nashville Tennessean, Beverly Keel tells the story of the Rev. Becca Stevens, the Episcopal chaplain at Vanderbilt University, and rector of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, who has financed Magdalene, a ministry for women with a history of prostitution and addiction, by founding Thistle Farm, a successful line of bath and body products:

"Without drugs I couldn't sleep. The marijuana and whiskey helped me to not think about the rapes and the beatings because of prostitution. I am so happy that you've come to hear about my life of sorrow…."

The letter was one of many thank-yous the Rev. Becca Stevens read after traveling with six Nashvillians to meet with 42 women in Rwanda, a country in east-central Africa that suffered war and genocide in the mid-1990s.

Read it all, as well as a previous story about Stevens, who is being honored tonight at Nashville's 37th annual Human Relations Awards dinner at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel. She's also got a page devoted to her work in the women's ministries section of the Episcopal Church's Web site.

Russell recognized for contributions to LGBT community

Father Jake points us to the news that the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Pasadena has been recognized by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center with a LACE award, which honors "local lesbians and bisexual women who have distinguished themselves by making particularly significant contributions to the local LGBT community." Russell received the award in a ceremony last weekend along with three other women, each with contributions in a specific arena; hers was the spirituality award:

A parish priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena and an outspoken critic of the religious right, Susan Russell travels around the county to lobby for LGBT inclusion in the church. Russell is the president of Integrity USA, a nonprofit organization for LGBT Episcopalians and their supporters, and she is a member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion Council. She and her partner—who wed in a ceremony at All Saints—collaborated on Voices of Witness, a documentary about LGBT people in the church. She blogs about her work at

Turns out she was reticent to post the news on her own blog but was urged to do so by some friends who'd seen the video that introduced her at the event:

Read her news here.

Five things to know about being Episcopalian

The Wenatchee World, the "fiercely independent voice of North Central Washington," offers up some local wisdom about the Episcopal Church in the form of five bullet-points from the Rev. Patton Boyle of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Wenatchee. Boyle, briefly profiled before moving on to a short primer on "being Episcopalian," makes an interesting observation about ministry that many people might relate to:

Now, after being an ordained minister for 38 years and a priest for 37, Boyle says it's part of the natural rhythm of his life. "Ministry makes introverts more extroverted. ... I tended to think too deeply about stuff when I was younger. I think I've mellowed over the years."

The five things you ought to know read almost like a rebuttal to media portrayals of the Episcopal church. It's okay that we disagree, he says; worship is what brings us together. We draw from both Catholic and Protestant traditions, and yes, we are part of the Anglican Communion. From bullet-point No. 2:

The Episcopal Church approaches the faith from three basic standpoints: Scripture, reason and tradition. Episcopalians aren't expected to accept everything they are told or always agree with the priest or other leaders. "They take what is of value and use it. I expect them to disagree with me at times. ... The church expects people to make their own moral and ethical decisions." Parishioners are asked to explore issues thoughtfully and prayerfully and to come to their own decisions. The approach is more like, "I respect your opinion, and I will think deeply about that, but that may not be, in the end, what I decide is right for me." Parishioners make decisions based on thorough study, reason, prayer and examining one's own conscience rather than having them prescribed to them.

You can read the entire tip-sheet (which might be of use to you the next time you run into someone who says, "Episcopali-huh?") here.

A street preacher who walks the walk

Nine years ago, Vincent Pannizzo, now 39, dropped out of his doctoral program at Berkeley to take up preaching. But Pannizzo's ministry in East Oakland, Calif., is different from what most pastors experience; indeed, it stands out even among street preachers. He's known as Preacherman to those that come to his nightly "services" on an otherwise unfriendly street corner:

Lucid and soft-spoken, he is not mentally ill, by all accounts. Even the police and shopkeepers who monitor his comings and goings say they find this remarkable. They assumed one must be crazy to give up a promising life to sleep in homeless camps and preach to other street people in one of the most violent, impoverished stretches of East Oakland.

"I've never heard of a street preacher like him anywhere in the country," said Michael Stoops, longtime leader of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "I've often thought that if you're going to minister to the poor, you should try living like them."

Pannizzo is remarkably self-effacing about his ministry:

"I don't expect people to become saints listening to me," Pannizzo said as he watched his flock shuffle off. "I just hope they walk away with seeds in them that someday will flower. I want them to live better lives."

It's not the spare change or the food that draws the crowd, his followers insist. It's the message: Love each other, abandon drugs and booze, don't despair in your poverty, keep faith in God, respect authority, try to lift yourself up. Don't judge each other.

"He is our lifesaver, the only thing that keeps us from going crazy out here," said Jerry Serrano, 37, who sleeps in alleyways. "The fact that he's homeless like us - that makes him real. But what really matters is what he says to us.

"There's nobody like him I've ever met."

Indeed, contrary to the usual street preacher, Pannizzo speaks quietly instead of shouting and doesn't conjure visions of damnation for addicts and homosexuals. His message and style, rather, evoke a low-key Sunday school session. And - being an ancient-history honors graduate of Rutgers University and a former doctoral candidate at Cal - he can carry on an erudite conversation on most things from the intricacies of camping outside to the pitfalls of Roman civilization.

Curiously, Pannizzo both stands out and blends with his crowd. His jeans and sweatshirts are clean but are worn and often stained from painting jobs. The well-calloused hands and lean, fit physique from hard work contrast with the mild brown eyes and easy smile. He joshes around with the homeless and seems like them in many ways, but when he speaks he is clearly a leader.

"I'm not nuts," Pannizzo said with a chuckle one recent morning, standing in the unusually tidy camp he keeps with a half-dozen other homeless people. "I'm basically just a regular guy. But at one point I began really reading the Scriptures, and they really blew me away. God gave me faith. This is what I must do."

The complete story is here. SFGate also has a recording of one of Pannizzo's sermons featured among its podcasts, here.

Lastly, a hat tip to the Rev. Will Scott for pointing to the story.

RFK assassination: 40 years today

Robert F. Kennedy was killed 40 years ago today, on the day he had won the California primary.

On April 4, 1968 -- the day of the assassination of Martin Luther King -- he made an extemporaneous speech in a poor, black district of Indianapolis. In it he said,

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

Max Kennedy was three years old when his father died. Here he is interviewed on Fresh Air by Terry Gross about his book Make Gentle The Life of this World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy.

Martyn Minns, talking head

In advance of GAFCON, CANA Bishop Martyn Minns is making the media rounds. He appears in in a side-by-side profile with Gene Robinson and on the BBC program Hardtalk. The web-only Time profile reports that Minns has moved from Northern Virginia, to Morristown, New Jersey, which is inside the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.

Time's article is written in the context of a side-by-side profile with Bishop Gene Robinson. While Robinson and his partner were joined in a civil union last weekend, says...

Minns... is spending his weekend in Morristown, N.J, where he moved last month. His five children, ages 42 to 25, are all out of the house, although he quipped to TIME that with 12 grandchildren "I'm following the Abrahamic covenant" that promised multiple offspring to God's people.

Minns says that the move to New Jersey is so that he can be near good airports that can connect him to the 65 CANA congregations and to Africa.

On Monday, Minns will jump on a plane for Jerusalem to help prepare a meeting of conservative Anglican bishops in two weeks called the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCon) that he claims will attract Anglican bishops from 27 countries.

Minns "acknowledges occasionally polishing Akinola's prose" (see below) and says that GAFCON will not result in schism. Instead, the goal is a shift of the center of Anglicanism towards what Minns called a "new revised version of 'this is who we are.'" He mentions the number of countries from which attendees will be taking place, but not how many bishops nor how many of the attendees are from denominations that have previously broken with the Anglican Communion.

On BBCs Hardtalk, Stephen Sackur asks Minns about several issues relating to CANA, GAFCON, the Lambeth Conference, the effect of the Akinola's and others language of hate on LGBT persons, and the funding of CANA.

On GAFCON-- Minns says that it will not result in schism but in a new center for Anglicanism. The goal of GAFCON is to "work and pray together on how to work together without reacting to the latest crisis coming from North America."

On Lambeth-- To go there in the current mode is a violation of the consciences so that they will meet in another place. The Archbishop of Canterbury has a problem when he invites every bishop of the Communion and 300 say "no thank you" which is unprecedented. Minns would not, when pressed, say that Williams was ineffective or helpless.

Sexuality-- The dispute, Minns says, is not about sexuality but about scripture. Even though he left the church after Gene Robinson's consecration, he says that this was a step too far but the problem goes back to 1998.

On Akinola's words on homosexuality-- Does Minns echo Akinola's beliefs and words? He says that he would not use Akinola's language, but Minns says he is in essence in agreement with the Archbishop's basic view. He sees this as against God's intent, but he would not advocate violence.

On being Akinola's ghost writer-- When he punches up Akinola's texts, he is only functioning as a secretary and a staff assistant. He would not admit to Sackur that he is even collaborating with Akinola on the texts of the Archbishop's speeches. When asked about the Church Times investigation, he said he sat with him while the address was written ("the brink of destruction" speech), but did not collaborate.

On following the money-- Sackur asks Minns about funding, specially referring to "Following the Money." Minns denies that Howard Ahmanson is major funder to organizations that Minns is connected to. He says that the Daily Episcopalian report written by Jim Naughton is "creative writing." MInns says "I have not seen the money Naughton refers to." When asked by Sackur "if you do feel one moment that money ... was in one way or another being channeled into your congregation of Anglicans in North America would you return that money immediately?" Minns replied that this is hypothetical and he would not answer it. Minns says that most of the funds for CANA comes from CANA congregations. Later on he says that the Church of Nigeria pays for CANA Bishops to go about their business, but does not say where those funds come from.

On creating an atmosphere of hate-- The bishop says elsewhere, "I have no antagonism towards homosexual folks," Minns says. He reports that there are many in his congregations who must deal with this issue in their lives. Minns says that he is is sorry that Gene Robinson feels that fear. He says that when people say terrible things to him, he just moves on.

Sackur asked Is homosexuality inherently evil? Minns says "no."

On what is going to happen in the next few months? Minns says no schism will occur, but that the missionary churches have grown up and won't be told what to do by the parent churches. "It's inevitable and the Church of England should take great joy in it."

Minns is not invited to Lambeth because CANA is not a recognized part of the Anglican Communion. He told that he will not take part in any events connected with Lambeth, saying "I'm not invited, so why go? I have a life." But in a remarkable coincidence, says he will vacation in England precisely when the Lambeth conference is taking place. "It just so happens that I do have family in England," he says. "In Nottingham, Penzance, and the Isle of Wight. I'll be there for little bit."

"Just in case he's needed," quips.

Read the rest of the profile.

Read about and watch the video of Minns interview on Hardtalk here.

Terry Pratchett and God

Terry Pratchett, the fantasy writer suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, has suggested he may have found God after years of atheism according to the Times Online, UK.

The 60-year-old creator of the Discworld series has spoken of an unexplained experience shortly after his diagnosis with the condition.

“I’m certainly not a man of faith, but as I was rushing down the stairs one day . . . it was very strange. And I say this reluctantly, because I am trying to deal with this situation in as hardheaded a way as I can. I suddenly knew that everything was okay, that what I was doing was right, and I didn’t know why,” Pratchett said.

“It was a thought that all the right things are happening in the circumstances; and I thought, ‘Well, that’s all right then.’

Read more here.

Those of us who are fans think Pratchett explores theology in all his books. Read Feet of Clay or Small Gods to find your way into Discworld and Pratchett's humor and insight.

J K Rowling on Failure and Imagination

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, was the Harvard University commencement speaker this year. Her themes were the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. Some excerpts:

On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Watch and listen here.

According to her biographical information, J.K. Rowling is an Anglican/Episcopalian.

Remembering Tim Russert

Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press and managing editor of NBC News Washington Bureau, passed away yesterday afternoon in an apparent heart attack.

The tributes are pouring in for this man who was clearly remarkable in his field, but the Boston Globe summarizes his legacy in a way that will resonate with many who have struggled with the divisive nature of politics:

Russert's death reverberated through the worlds of journalism and politics, two arenas where his passion matched his expertise. His preparation and tenacity on "Meet the Press'' made that show must-viewing inside the Beltway and beyond, and "the Russert Primary'' was considered a test that presidential candidates had to pass to be considered serious contenders.

Yet however rugged the exchanges, Russert invariably ended with the same gentlemanly refrain: "Thank you for sharing your views.'' Paradoxical though it seemed, Russert was both feared and liked in Washington, where he was NBC's bureau chief. That was reflected in the bipartisan tributes that poured forth today after Russert's death.

From here.

The New York Times notes that Russert had become more famous than many of his interviewees:

Mr. Russert put a definitive stamp on “Meet the Press,” overshadowing hosts who came before him, Martha Rountree, Ned Brooks and Lawrence Spivak, even though they had interviewed figures like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt.

If there was any doubt Mr. Russert’s place in the fabric of Washington was without parallel, the way his news was received inside and outside the Capitol should have put it to rest. White House staff members interrupted President Bush while he dined with President Nikolas Sarkozy of France at the Élysée Palace to tell him the news. Mr. Bush quickly issued a statement, along with scores of others, among them Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. In a tribute, NBC planned to devote an hour to Mr. Russert on Friday night, and it gave over its entire “Nightly News” to him. Mr. Russert had become more famous than many of his interviewees. The Web site of The New York Times received more than 2,000 comments about the death.

From here, and the blog post with all the comments and a lot of commentary added through yesterday afternoon is here.

He made an appearance every Friday at Washington's WTOP Radio to offer insight on the week in politics and to note the guest scheduled for each week. Always affable, he offered warm Father's Day wishes to listeners this morning, his last on-air spot for the station. He collapsed in his northwest DC office later in the day, and was rushed to the hospital. WTOP has many of the quotes about him in this story, and you can hear this final segment here (direct link to mp3).

WTOP also interviewed Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington about Russert, for he was a devout Catholic. The audio is not yet available online (and we'll update if it becomes so), but in the interview, Wuerl remembered Russert as a man who lived and acted as he was called to do so by faith, something that Tom Brokaw alluded to when he announced Russert's death as breaking news yesterday afternoon.

In this interview with Russert by Sally Quinn, from last December, Russert talks about his life in faith:

Designer's fashions are divinely inspired

Move over, Project Runway. Patrick Boylan has been a fashion designer "his entire adult life," says the Las Vegas Review Journal, but for the past decade or so he's been creating designer vestments from Italian silk damasks and brocades that factor in a priest's tastes, liturgical colors, and the church space they will be worn in.

The paper covered Boylan's visit to Christ Church Episcopal in Las Vegas to get insight on why a church might want specially designed vestments:

The Rev. Kent "Buck" Belmore, rector of Christ Church, says people sometimes ask why a church would need custom-designed vestments. It's because, he replies, "these are things of beauty that will last 50 years or more, and they'll be in service to the glory of God for that period of time."

Boylan started his company, Grace Liturgical Vestments, in the late 90s after burning out on the demands of the fashion industry. Once he started working with vestments, he says:

"Instantly I knew that this was something that spoke to me creatively," Boylan says. "It tapped into all of my background and abilities and my sense of working with fabric and my work with color."

Also, Boylan says, "at the end of the day, it's just very profound work, to know that the work of my hands is being used in the way that these vestments are used."

You can read the story and see some of his work here.

President and Mrs. Bush attend Episcopal Cathedral in Paris

The AP writes that President Bush, on what is likely his last trip to Europe as president, is learning how to see the sights in a way that only the most powerful person on the planet can see it.

His Vatican visit on Friday featured a few rarities - a walk through the lush grounds where Pope Benedict XVI likes to pray privately and a personal guided tour of St. John's Tower from the pope. "Fantastic," Bush gushed.

On Saturday while in Paris, Bush went to a high hill overlooking the city to spend time at two lovely, sun-splashed parks commemorating American and French war dead. His route took him up the Champs-Elysees, around the imposing Arc de Triomphe and through the enormous Bois de Boulogne park.

Sunday offered one sight after another.

Waking up in Paris, Bush ventured through the city's almost-empty early-morning streets to the Parc de St. Cloud, a former French estate on a green, wooded hillside, where he rode his beloved bike for about an hour. He went to church at the American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, an Episcopal-Anglican church in the gothic style near the Eiffel Tower, calling the experience a joy afterward.

See: AP & The Dallas News: Bush soaks in Europe like only a President can.

Finding a second career in the church

We all know plenty of people who followed a vocational path to a second "career." The Wall Street Journal today profiles Linda Watt, Chief Operating Officer of the Episcopal Church and a former foreign service officer, in its Second Acts Column. Noting that the two paths are not as disparate as they might seem, the article examines Watt's background in-depth.

By the time Ms. Watt went to college, she already had her sights set on working for the U.S. Foreign Service in Latin America. Her interest was born out of her summer visits to her father, who worked as a Latin American specialist with the Army at embassies in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

While she knew the life of a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) was a tough one -- little choice of where she would be posted and frequent moves every one to four years -- Ms. Watt's passion for diverse cultures and languages led her to join the service immediately after she received her masters in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico. "My father encouraged me to think more broadly about the workplace and directed me to the State Department in particular," says Ms. Watt. But she also knew that, similar to the military, as an FSO you were either promoted up or out.

Ms. Watt went up. The next 29 years took her to some of the most diplomatically delicate places in the world: Nicaragua during its civil war; Russia at the time of an attempted Coup against then-leader Boris Yelstin and the Dominican Republic during Hurricane Georges. Among her many assignments at these locales and, Ms. Watt served as an Embassy management officer (a chief operating officer) supervising several hundred American and host country employees and managed multi-million dollar Embassy operating budgets.

Watt was named ambassador to Panama in 2002, and held that post until her retirement at age 53. But scant months later, she saw the posting for the COO position--and felt called. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori added her own comments about how Watt's diplomatic background prepared her for her work in the church.

The presiding Bishop of the church says Ms. Watt's years as a diplomat – and the skills she gained in that capacity – have been an asset to the church. "(They) have been not only valuable, but essential, to her work with the Episcopal Church Center," says Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

"The diplomacy intrinsic to an ambassador; the ability to relate constructively to a broad cross-section of the public; well-honed administrative and management gifts; and the ability to lead with vision as well as insist on accountability and performance" are all carried over from her first act career.

Read the whole thing, and Watt's tips for vocationally oriented career-changers, here.

Peggy Noonan's final word on Tim Russert

Peggy Noonan offered these final thoughts about the death of Tim Russert in the Wall Street Journal this week:

II understand why some think that the media coverage surrounding Tim Russert's death was excessive—truly, it was unprecedented—but it doesn't seem to me a persuasive indictment, if only because what was said was so valuable.

The beautiful thing about the coverage was that it offered extremely important information to those age 15 or 25 or 30 who may not have been told how to operate in the world beyond "Go succeed." I'm not sure we tell the young as much as we ought, as clearly as we ought, what it is the world admires, and what it is they want to emulate.

In a way, the world is a great liar. It shows you it worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn't. It says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn't, not really. The world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That's what it really admires. That's what we talk about in eulogies, because that's what's important. We don't say, "The thing about Joe was he was rich." We say, if we can, "The thing about Joe was he took care of people."

The young are told, "Be true to yourself." But so many of them have no idea, really, what that means. If they don't know who they are, what are they being true to? They're told, "The key is to hold firm to your ideals." But what if no one bothered, really, to teach them ideals?

After Tim's death, the entire television media for four days told you the keys to a life well lived, the things you actually need to live life well, and without which it won't be good. Among them: taking care of those you love and letting them know they're loved, which involves self-sacrifice; holding firm to God, to your religious faith, no matter how high you rise or low you fall. This involves guts, and self-discipline, and active attention to developing and refining a conscience to whose promptings you can respond. Honoring your calling or profession by trying to do within it honorable work, which takes hard effort, and a willingness to master the ethics of your field. And enjoying life. This can be hard in America, where sometimes people are rather grim in their determination to get and to have. "Enjoy life, it's ungrateful not to," said Ronald Reagan.

Tim had these virtues. They were great to see. By defining them and celebrating them the past few days, the media encouraged them. This was a public service, and also what you might call Tim's parting gift.

Read it all here.

Henry Chadwick dies at 87

AP reports that The Rev. Henry Chadwick died last week at 87 years old.

The Rev. Henry Chadwick, a Church of England priest and renowned scholar of the early centuries of Christianity, has died at age 87.

Chadwick died Tuesday at a hospital in Oxford, his family said. The cause of death was not announced.

Much of Professor Chadwick's work involved controversies in the early church, which he sought to explain with sympathy for the individuals involved; the same attitude was evident in his work in Anglican ecumenical dialogues with Roman Catholics and the Orthodox church.

Born June 23, 1920 in Bromley, England, Chadwick won a music scholarship to Magdalene College, Cambridge, but his interest turned to church history. He was ordained priest in 1943.

His teaching career began as fellow and chaplain at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he served as dean for five years; he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University in 1959, and in 1969 was appointed dean of the college of Christ Church, Oxford.

He moved to Cambridge in 1979 as Regius Professor of Divinity, and served as master of Peterhouse college, Cambridge from 1987 to 1993. He edited the Journal of Theological Studies from 1954 to 1985.

"The story of the Christian Church is a fascinating narrative, and I have tried to write a true account especially (but not only) of the career of this society with its faith (and sometimes its follies) in the centuries of antiquity, during which Christianity enforced the transition from ancient to medieval, and on to modern," Chadwick told Contemporary Authors, a biographical resource.

"I have tried to write about the people involved in this story with human sympathy and understanding for their problems."

The first of his many books was a translation of "Contra Celsum" by Origen of Alexandria, the third century church father, published in 1953.

His later works included studies of St. Ambrose, Priscillian of Avila, Boethius, and St. Augustine, capped in 2002 with the publication of "The Church in Ancient Society."

He was knighted in 1989.

Chadwick is survived by his wife of 63 years, Margaret; their three daughters and his elder brother, the Rev. Professor Owen Chadwick, also a distinguished church historian.

The funeral is planned at Christ Church, Oxford on Wednesday.

Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote a remembrance in the Guardian.

'The Anglican church," it was said, "may not have a Pope, but it does have Henry Chadwick." Nothing could better illustrate the unique position held for many years by this aristocrat among Anglican scholars, who has died aged 87. His erudition was legendary, in practically all areas of the study of late antiquity, but it was also deployed to memorable effect in the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

Many sensed that the more recent history of Anglican-Roman Catholic relations was a source of some sadness to him. He had little love either for radical fashions in theology or for the fierce neoconservatism characteristic of some parts of the Roman Catholic church in recent decades. He represented that earlier and more hopeful phase, begun and aborted in the 1920s at the Malines conversations (named after the French spelling of the Belgian city of Mechelen where they were held), where Anglicans and Roman Catholics discovered unexpected common ground in the study of the fathers of the church and in a deep but unobtrusive liturgical piety....

He once proclaimed ecumenism "a good cause to die for", and was certainly deeply committed to finding consensus - not by coining a conveniently vague formula, but by a real excavation of common first principles.

Read the AP Story here.

Here is Rowan Williams tribute.

On being more than a social club

One of the joys of being a weekend editor is stumbling across profiles of clergy written for local newspapers for their weekend religion sections; with blogging, it allows the spotlight to shine on leaders of smaller congregations.

Read more »

Randy Pausch, author of "Last Lecture," dies at 47

Lest anyone wonder about the power of the internet as a medium in which to be heard, Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture," initially titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," surfaced on YouTube last year. The lecture, which Pausch hoped would eventually find its way to his young children, since he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, wound up with nearly 3.5 million views and became a bestselling book.

Read more »

Exhuming Newman

Another story perhaps lost in the Lambeth avalanche was Jonathan Wynne-Jones' article on the exhumation of Cardinal John Henry Newman, a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church, who was buried with his best friend, Ambrose St. John ( a name which the English pronounce "Sinjin" or "Wuster", or something like that)

Read more »

Charles Wesley code broken

From The Telegraph:

Rev Prof Kenneth Newport, pro vice-chancellor of Liverpool Hope University, has deciphered more than 1,000 pages written 250 years ago between 1736 and 1756.

He has uncovered details of Wesley's anxieties over the possibilities of a split from the Church of England, his younger brother's plans to marry and even over the growing influence of Islam.

He used a handwritten transcription of the four gospels made by Wesley as a guide to deciphering the journals themselves.
"He was very much opposed to separation, he saw the Methodist Societies as within the established church and anything that smacked of separation was something he took a very strong view of," Rev Prof Newport said.

"At one point in the journal he is talking to the society at Grimsby and goes into block capitals and says 'I told them I would remain with them as long as they remained with the Church of England but should they ever turn their back on the Church they turn their back on me'."

Wesley's opposition to the split is disclosed despite his older brother John, with whom he co-founded the Methodist Church, being widely credited with setting the process in motion.

It was John Wesley who ordained clergy to lead the movement in America and who set up the structures which would ultimately replace those of the established church.

The story is covered in several other papers today including The Times, and The Independent

The Rev. Certain to give RNC invocation

The Rev. Robert Certain made headlines in 2006 when he gave a sermon at Gerald Ford's funeral, and caught our eye here in the pre-Lead days when the Cafe was just the Daily Episcopalian for saying that one of Ford's wishes was that we would work toward reconciliation in the church. Certain is in the spotlight again, this time having accepted the invitation to give the invocation at the Republican National Convention.

Certain says in an interview with the Palm Springs Desert Sun that he was invited because of a number of things he has in common with John McCain. Both were pilots that were shot down, and have met at POW reunion events, among other things:

I got an invitation from the convention team a couple weeks ago. John was raised as an Episcopalian; he made a statement he is still an Episcopalian though he attends a Baptist church. There is the POW tie; there was my service to the Ford family and my service on the (Department of Defense) Defense Health Board. So all of those things are out there.

He talks a bit more about how to put a reflective stamp on a "stage-managed" event: You can read it all here.

McCain's chaplaincy

Newsweek takes a look at John McCain the Vietnam POW chaplain, which McCain describes as being the result a happy accident of his fluency with liturgy from his Episcopal upbringing rather than any particular religious devotion. But as it happened, that cart did come before the horse. His experiences "leading" worship helped him see just how powerful faith could be in bringing people together.

Michael Gerson, in writing the article, is making an argument for McCain in terms of other ways his Episcopal upbringing has influenced his policy decisions.

He appealed effectively to religious conservatives on a variety of specific issues—abortion, school choice, judicial appointments—but devoted only a single sentence to his own theology. And he is largely incapable of explaining how his faith informs his public priorities.

But McCain does have a case to make, even if he can't seem to make it. His old Episcopal training seems to have given him something more than a mastery of the Nicene Creed. He has often shown a stubborn sense of decency and morality that should appeal broadly to Protestants (mainline and evangelical), Roman Catholics, Jews and others who are concerned about social justice.

There remains the question of who will make the case if McCain cannot, however. You can read Gerson's attempt to, here.

Professor Blair's first class

Tony Blair, as Howland Distinguished Fellow at Yale University (an appointment we covered here), "officially" kicked off his teaching career yesterday with an address and question & answer session to some 2,000 students at Yale's Woolsey Hall. His engaging style and sense of humor were apparent in the forum, which sets the stage for the Faith and Globalization Initiative. Blair also is teaching a course on faith and globalization as part of the initiative, which is "a three-year collaboration among Yale's Divinity School, the School of Management and Blair's own Tony Blair Faith Foundation,' according to the Hartford Courant.

That foundation, established in May, aims to promote respect and understanding among religious faiths in hopes that this can help solve some of the world's most crucial problems.

Twenty-five students — including six undergraduates — were selected for the course. Topics include the discussion of ties between faith convictions and economic practices in China, why secularization has failed to take root across the world and a discussion of such peace accords as the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement.


Blair said the principles that led to peace in Northern Ireland could be used in the Middle East.

"If you want to solve these conflicts, you have to be prepared to focus and dedicate and commit 100 percent. You have to pay attention to the details, you have to go right into the depths of it, and you have to understand that if the two sides had been able to solve it themselves, they would have done it. The fact that they haven't means that they were unable to on their own."

In asking Blair about what inspired him to take on the faith and globalization initiative, Levin told Blair he was surprised by his courage to take on what he called the "tough topic" of using religion as a force for good in the world.

Blair responded by saying that when the advisers he had when he was prime minister thought he was doing something "really, really stupid," they would say to him, "That's an immensely courageous thought, prime minister."

Blair's response filled the hall with laughter.

He also said that through his work in government and in his personal life, he saw how religion motivated people "very strongly" and led them to do good in the world. But he also saw how religion was often the source of conflict, division and violence.

So although globalization may be the force that pushes people together, religion becomes the force that can tear people apart.

Story and a TV news segment with video excerpts from the forum are here.

Sudanese priest brings family to US

When last we heard from The Rev. Zachariah Char, his family was caught up in bureaucratic red tape and his wife had been attacked, and things weren't looking good for the young priest reuniting with her and their young son, now almost 2. But two weeks ago, the "Lost Boy" priest went back to Kenya to meet his son, Kur, for the first time.

When he returned to Grand Rapids late Saturday night, he was accompanied by his wife and son; some 100 well-wishers were on hand to welcome them home.

"I didn't lose hope when the process was very difficult," Char, pastor of Sudanese Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, said Sunday.

"I knew that God will open the way."

Char came to the United States in 2001 with other Lost Boys of Sudan who trekked 1,000 miles to flee civil war in their homeland. He left Thon at Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp where they both grew up but returned in 2004 to marry her.


Their arrival brought hope for others, including Deng Reng, who has a wife and son in Kenya, and Michael P. Kuol, who has a wife and daughter there.

Reng and Kuol celebrated at Grace Episcopal.

But they also talked of extreme frustration and wondered whether they would one day be unified with their wives and children.

"You have a lot of internal frustration about missing somebody," said Abraham K. Deng, whose wife remains in Kenya.

"It makes it difficult."

Char understands the frustration. He has friends here with wives in the refugee camp. He met the women while there, the hardest part of his trip. All of the women knew his story and wondered if they would ever be reunited with their husbands here.

"I met with 17 husbands' wives. They're asking about America. They want to see what their husbands are doing here. Even some of them, they say, 'Zach? Zach? My husband talks about you.'"

Even while being exhausted by travel, going to church Sunday morning, and having an apartment filled with friends celebrating that afternoon, Char said he felt complete. Now, he said, he can be a better pastor. He can study -- he's a senior at Kuyper College -- without worrying about his family's safety.

Full story here.

Other past stories on Char are here, here.

Bad boy screenwriter pens conversion memoir

Joe Eszterhas is perhaps most infamous for having penned the screenplay for one of Hollywood's worst movies, the raunchy Showgirls that, after a much-hyped release in 1995 (mostly owing to its NC-17 rating) tanked on the big screen—only to become a camp classic in its video-release afterlife. His other credits include films like Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Flashdance and Music Box. But now he's writing about something different: after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001, he sat down in a moment of despair and found a part of him asking for God's help.

NPR has an interview with Eszterhas, in which he talks about his conversion experience, and answers skeptics who think that he's going through a phase. That he was able to survive the cancer, he says, is a miracle, and proof of God's existence to him

He wrote a bit more about it in an essay at On Faith:

Why did God save the life of a man who had trashed, lampooned, and marginalized Him most of his life? Why did He take the time and the trouble to save me? It certainly wasn't because I had written Basic Instinct and Showgirls, right? Was it because my wife and I had four little boys we were trying to raise? Possibly.

Or was it God's divinely impish sense of humor? "Who, you? You're praying? After everything you've done to break my commandments and after every nasty, unfunny thing you've written about Me and those who follow Me - now you're sobbing? Praying? Asking Me to help you? Hah! Okay, fine, I'll help you. But if I do, know this: My help will obliterate the old, infamous you. You'll wind up turning your life inside-out. You'll wind up stopping all of your excesses. You know what will happen to you? You'll wind up telling the world what I did for you. You'll wind up carrying my cross in church. Yes, I make all things new - and you will be new, too."

He was startled to find that actually happened.

The NPR interview is here (click on "listen now"), and the On Faith essay is here.

A voice of conscience stilled: Francis B. Sayre

The Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre Jr., who as dean of Washington National Cathedral for 27 years oversaw much of its completion and used his pulpit to confront McCarthyism, racial tensions and the Vietnam War, died Oct. 3 at his home on Martha's Vineyard, MA according to the Washington Post.

Sayre, whose grandfather was President Woodrow Wilson, was appointed to the cathedral in 1951 and quickly became a leading national voice of conscience. As the church's fifth dean, he also presided over daily operations and focused on finishing the massive Gothic structure whose cornerstone had been placed in 1907.
Dean Sayre commented to the Washington Post in 1977:
"Whoever is appointed the dean of the cathedral, has in his hand a marvelous instrument and he's a coward if he doesn't use it."

From the pulpit, he denounced the tactics of Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy at the Wisconsin senator's peak of influence investigating Communist influence in government and Hollywood. He called McCarthy part of a crew of "pretended patriots" and also chided the American people for letting demagogues achieve prominence.

"There is a devilish indecision about any society that will permit an impostor like McCarthy to caper out front while the main army stands idly by," he said in a 1954 sermon.

Read more about his life here. A voice of conscience for the church and the world, stilled. Rest in peace and rise in glory.

Remembering Matthew Shepard

erasehate.jpgTomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man from Casper, Wyoming, who was severely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in a remote area east of Laramie, where he was attending college. The Rev. Susan Russell points us to a remembrance and reflection from her colleague the Rev. Michael Hopkins, who was president of IntegrityUSA at the time of Matthew's death. He also recounts his experience at Matthew's funeral, which was picketed by extremists:

There I came face to face with the hatred that killed Matthew in the guise of protestors from a church in Kansas led by a man named Fred Phelps. They held signs proclaiming Matthew was a "fag" who was even now burning in hell, and their verbal taunts were even more horrific. The only consolation was a group of good souls standing silently between them and those of us waiting in line in the cold outside the church.

Mr. Phelps and his followers are in the extreme even in the realm of those Christians who are of the opinion that sex between men or between women is intrinsically sinful. And yet the entire church that remains ambivalent about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is culpable in the physical, psychological and spiritual violence inflicted on us. This includes my own beloved church, much as most of it would term itself "progressive." Real discrimination continues and discrimination is at least spiritual violence, pure and simple.

In the Episcopal Church, one of the options for the general confession in our liturgy includes repentance for "the evil done on our behalf." It is a powerful phrase, although the church has barely begun to unpack the many ways it is true and face up to them, which is the only way for repentance to be genuine. The awful truth is that the death of Matthew Shepard was part of the "evil done on our behalf." Any amount of ambivalence or hostility toward lgbt people is in collusion with such an evil act.

Someone at the time of Matthew's death, on various listservs on which Episcopalians can be found, emotionally declared that the church had "blood on its hands." The statement was met with a great deal of protest and even outrage. As a leader, I myself distanced myself from the remark, its own collusion. It was, however, the truth.

My deep prayer as I contemplate this anniversary is that one day, in my lifetime, the church (at the very least, my church) will own up to this truth, repent of it, apologize, and finally amend its life to erase the ambivalence. As Matthew showed us, it is a matter of life and death.

(Ed. note: A small correction—the name of the church in Casper where Matthew's funeral was held was St. Mark's Episcopal Church.)

His entire essay is available at Susan+'s blog, here; she also shares a link to a video remembrance of the young man, here.

Matthew's mother, Judy, also has some updates at the Matthew Shepard Foundation website.

Colin Powell busts a move

Foreign Policy offers this news about former Secretary of State and Episcopalian, Colin Powell, on its blog.

Colin Powell appears to have traded statecraft for stagecraft. The former Secretary of State hopped on stage with the Nigerian hip-hop group Olu Maintain last night at the Africa Rising Festival at London's Royal Albert Hall. Powell danced to the group's song, "Yahoozee," and even took the microphone to sing a few lines. The song celebrates "Yahoozee," a term used for those who defraud people using the Internet, a booming industry in Nigeria. Whether Powell knew the subject matter of the song remains a mystery

Read more here.

Court finds for Bennison in civil trial

A civil court has decided that Charles E. Bennison Jr., the former bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, did not commit fraud in removing the Rev. David Moyer from the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. Moyer had sued for unspecified damages to compensate for "loss of employment and mental suffering," although he continues to serve as rector of the parish and is licensed through his affiliation with other Anglican provinces.

Moyer v. Bennison attracted international attention, especially in the theologically fractured Anglican Communion, to which the 2 million-member Episcopal Church USA belongs.

If the jury had found for Moyer and if appeals courts sustained the verdict, the case would have opened a traditionally closed door in U.S. law by allowing clergy in religious institutions to sue their superiors over personnel matters.


During the four-day civil trial, Moyer's attorney, John Lewis, presented documents suggesting Bennison concealed from Moyer his plan to remove him without a church trial. However, the 12-member jury never got to deliberate whether that constituted fraud.

Instead, Judge Joseph Smyth instructed jurors to first determine if the diocese engaged in fraud when it asserted that Moyer "abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church" in 2002.

That question was the "gateway" to all the other questions, Smyth told them, and trumped the question of whether Bennison deceived Moyer about a trial.

If they decided fraud did not "pervade" the diocese's decision process regarding the abandonment of communion, Smyth said, the case was over.

In less than three hours - including lunch - the jury announced that it had reached a verdict. When it returned, the forewoman told the judge that only two jurors had found fraud on the critical question.

The verdict seemed to shock Moyer, who shook his head slightly and then gazed down at the table.

Read it here.

UPDATE: Philadelphia Inquirer story is here.

Grandmere Mimi profiled

The Huffington Post's Georgianne Nienaber profiles Grandmère Mimi, a blogging Episcopalian from Louisiana who has made up her mind.

As it turned out, this blogging "Grandmere" (Cajun for grandmother) from red McCain country has a lot to say about southern living, poverty, Louisiana's resources, the wetlands, families, and gay rights.

Mimi describes a father who was a "gifted man," but hopelessly addicted to alcohol, and a mother depressed for most if not all of the marriage. Something happened to Mimi when she was twelve years old and she just "decided that even though my childhood was awful, traumatic really, that as I grew up the choices would be mine. I decided I did not want to make a life like the one my father made for himself."

Therein rests the origin of her blog title, "The Wounded Bird." Mimi describes "a wounded bird syndrome" that influences those who have endured hardship to be more empathetic to suffering.

"I grew up poor, but we always had music and for some reason that enriched my life and made me aware that even though there was often no food on the table, there was something more to life."

. . . .

One might be surprised to learn that a 74-year-old Cajun grandmother is a fearless advocate for gays and lesbians, but there you have it. I never thought to ask, but Mimi wants it clearly understood that "One of my causes is inclusivity for gays and lesbians in my church. If a church can't be inclusive..." she says as her voice trails off to the obvious conclusion.

Why is this issue of so much importance to a woman who has no gay members of her immediate family?

"My conversion is a long story that covers a number of years," Mimi says, and then directs me to a web log she wrote: Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe

Her "confessions," are a four part series, and a must read.

Here is an excerpt involving her husband, Tom, getting used to the idea that gay friends would be staying with them.

"Since ours is an empty nest, and we have not moved to a smaller house, we have bedrooms to spare. Our guests arrived, and I introduced T., and we met N., who was a absolute dear. I took them upstairs to unload their luggage and showed them the rooms and told them to sort themselves out wherever they chose. When I came back downstairs, my husband asked me who was sleeping where. I said that T. and N. had chosen our daughter's old room. He said, 'That has a queen bed in it.' I said, 'Yes. Which room did you want them in? The one with the twin beds?"' He laughed.

Mimi had once again made up her mind.

Read: Gumbo Granny Blogs From the Bayou for Obama

500 years of Calvin celebrated in chocolate

Something from Switzerland to sweeten your election eve:

Swiss chocolatier Blaise Poyet believes he has captured the essence of the Protestant reformer Jean Calvin in special chocolate pralines he created to mark the 500th anniversary of the religious figure who made his mark on European history.

Read more »

Garrison Keillor at the Washington National Cathedral

Back in September, Garrison Keillor appeared at the Washington National Cathedral. He gets a spotlight in this week's Religion and News Weekly over at PBS, which you can see here:

These were people with no money and not much in the way of books, except for the Good One, of course, and commentaries on it, and they read their Scripture very, very seriously. They departed from all of this—from the stone and from carved wood and from images and from gold and silver and vestments. And they met in plain rooms and spoke plainly, as a result of which there were never very many of them.

They believed in forgiveness in theory, but in practice it was, of course, it was of course more difficult, and living in a small town, they knew much too much about you to be merciful sometimes. But they loved, they loved the King James. They loved Scripture. They loved old hymns. They wouldn’t have belonged in the praise churches today, where people gather in big gymnasiums, and they hold their hands up over their heads, and they sing what we call 7-Eleven songs, where you sing seven words 11 times.

Over at USA Today, Cathy Lynn Grossman wants to know whether this is a "fair" slam against praise music.

But if you'd rather get the whole thing with acapella context (quite a bit of it, actually), the Cathedral archive is here (direct link to Windows Media File).

From here.

President-elect invited to try Epiphany Church in DC

Time Magazine asks "What Church Will President Obama Attend." Amy Sullivan talked to a number of people who know the religious world ... in Washington and solicited their church recommendations:

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Winning the president

Never before, say historians, has there been this much attention on what church the president-elect will attend. As a follow-up to Time's asking the "which church" question, today the Washington Post also examines the phenomenon of churches trying to "maneuver themselves to attract the nation's first African American president and his family to their house of worship":

They are waging a "quiet but intense campaign . . . to put their best foot forward," said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. ad_icon

Some churches started their campaign even before Obama won the election. Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ sent a letter to the Obama campaign several months ago inviting the family to worship with them.

"We thought we'd better get something out there," said the Rev. Rich Smith, senior minister of Westmoreland. "It seemed like it would be worth a shot anyway."

The excitement astonishes presidential historians.

"I can't recall another situation where there is this kind of interest before the president even takes office in terms of where he is going to go to church, and churches campaigning for his attendance," said Gary Scott Smith, author of "Faith and the Presidency" and a history professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. "This is unique in American political history."

Sally Quinn recommends the National Cathedral. As we've written before, the Episcopal Church welcomes you.

With such competition, perhaps the Obama transition office should create a form for pastors to make their appeal on their site. That is, after all, how they're handling the demand for people who want to work for the new administration.

President Bush and his relationship with God

The Houston Chronicle reports on an interview of President Bush by Cynthia McFadden on ABC's Nightline:

Read more »

Archbishop Makgoba on the death of Helen Suzman

Statement from Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, on the death of Helen Suzman

Friday 2 January 2009

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Helen Suzman, as I thank God for the gift of her long and remarkable life.

The Psalmist wrote, 'Who will stand up for me against the wicked? Who will take my part against the evildoers?' (Ps 94:16). We are all grateful that Helen Suzman dared to take that stand, on behalf of so many, and for so long. A voice for the voiceless, her readiness to speak up, no matter what, made an exceptional contribution to the life of our nation, without which we would not enjoy the potential we have today for freedom and democracy. It is for all of us who honour her name to take forward her legacy by continuing to raise our voices wherever that potential is impeded, or humanity diminished.

May the comfort and strength of the eternal God who is love surround you as you celebrate her life and mourn her passing.

+Thabo Cape Town

For more on Helen Suzman read here.

Helen was noted for her strong public criticism of the governing National Party's policies of apartheid at a time when this was unusual amongst whites, and found herself even more of an outsider by virtue of being an English-speaking Jewish woman in a parliament dominated by Calvinist Afrikaner men. She was once accused by a minister of asking questions in parliament that embarrassed South Africa, to which she replied: "It is not my questions that embarrass South Africa, it is your answers".

She was often harassed by the police and her phone was tapped by them. She had a special technique for dealing with eavesdropping, which was to blow a whistle into the mouthpiece of the phone.

Washington Post reports here.

Bishop Tutu is calling for an official state funeral for Suzman here.

Making a difference

Former Dean of Episcopal Divinity School and parish priest, Bill Rankin, is among 70 individuals over the age of 60 named 2008 Purpose Prize Fellows for their willingness to take on society's biggest challenges in the second half of their lives. The fellows are selected by Civic Ventures, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that works to expand the social contributions of older Americans. According to the Marin, California Independent Journal.

"Purpose Prize Fellows such as Bill Rankin show that experience and innovation can go hand in hand, that inventiveness is not the sole province of the young," said Marc Freedman, co-founder of the Purpose Prize program and author of "Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life."

Rankin, 67, former priest at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Belvedere, co-founded the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance in 2000 together with former Tiburon resident Dr. Charles Wilson. The alliance delivers human immunodeficiency virus prevention and care to people in impoverished rural areas of Africa, principally in the central African nation of Malawi.
Rankin said he and Wilson had recently retired when they got the idea of starting the alliance after reading an article in the British medical journal, The Lancet. The two men had met when Rankin was rector at St. Stephen's church from 1983 to 1993. The Lancet article made it clear that a single $4 dose of an anti-retroviral drug given to an African mother and her newborn could significantly reduce the probability of HIV transmission from mothers to newborns.

"About 2,000 babies are born every day in sub-Saharan Africa to HIV-positive mothers," Rankin said, "and we thought we could save a lot of the children by getting that medication out into the villages where the people are."

For more information on GAIA click here.

H/T and more on Bill Rankin at Mark Harris' blog Preludium.

Who would Jesus smack down?

The New York Time Magazine includes a profile of Mark Driscoll, pastor at Seattle's Mar's Hill Church, with a cool attitude, but neo-Calvinist message:

Mark Driscoll is American evangelicalism’s bête noire. In little more than a decade, his ministry has grown from a living-room Bible study to a megachurch that draws about 7,600 visitors to seven campuses around Seattle each Sunday, and his books, blogs and podcasts have made him one of the most admired — and reviled — figures among evangelicals nationwide. Conservatives call Driscoll “the cussing pastor” and wish that he’d trade in his fashionably distressed jeans and taste for indie rock for a suit and tie and placid choral arrangements. Liberals wince at his hellfire theology and insistence that women submit to their husbands. But what is new about Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans: Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy.

At a time when the once-vaunted unity of the religious right has eroded and the mainstream media is proclaiming an “evangelical crackup,” Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. With his taste for vintage baseball caps and omnipresence on Facebook and iTunes, Driscoll, who is 38, is on the cutting edge of American pop culture. Yet his message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear. Calvinism has somehow become cool, and just as startling, this generally bookish creed has fused with a macho ethos. At Mars Hill, members say their favorite movie isn’t “Amazing Grace” or “The Chronicles of Narnia” — it’s “Fight Club.”

Read it all here.

Sir John Mortimer: atheist for Christ

Author John Mortimer died earlier this month, and the Times description of his funeral notes that he was a self-professed "atheist for Christ":

“Sir John called himself an atheist for Christ,” the vicar said. “He always came to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. But he emphatically did not believe in life after death. My hope,” she added, “is that he has had a wonderful surprise.”

John Mortimer's atheism was one of his most cherished convictions. He loved to cross-examine an archbishop about God and find his evidence deficient.

Yet it was at the little medieval church of St Mary the Virgin, in Turville, near Henley-on-Thames, where his parents are buried, that Sir John's family and friends gathered yesterday to sing The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended at his funeral.

Read it all here.

Bishop Alan Wilson commented:

The C of E at its best, I thought. And the Atheism? It sounds as though God views atheism as a harmless eccentricity, which probably doesn’t really exist as much as people think, infinitely better than pretending to believe, which is a ruddy menace...

Read it here.

John Updike dead at 76


John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday at age 76.
An old-fashioned believer in hard work, he published more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. Updike won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for "Rabbit Is Rich" and "Rabbit at Rest," and two National Book Awards.

Seven Stanzas at Easter, By John Updike:
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

From the Washington Post in 2004:
Through the years, Updike nearly always attended church. In his autumn, he has become a regular at St. John's Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms. "The Episcopal church is a good place for a half-assed Lutheran to settle," he says. "I need the pinch of salt that religion gives."
Boston Globe:
...there was the description of Fenway Park, “a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark,” in Mr. Updike’s classic account of Ted Williams’ final game, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.”

It was Mr. Updike’s boyhood attachment to Williams, as well as access to area beaches, that brought the Pennsylvania native to the North Shore, in 1957. He lived north of Boston the rest of life....

A later, longer, AP report.

Marc Ambinder: Updike at one with his neutrons.

TPM Cafe has thoughts and quotes from Updike's tribute to Ted Williams:

But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he refused. Gods do not answer letters.

Updike's essay on NPR's "This I Believe"

"Cosmically, I seem to be of two minds. The power of materialist science to explain everything — from the behavior of the galaxies to that of molecules, atoms and their sub-microscopic components — seems to be inarguable and the principal glory of the modern mind. On the other hand, the reality of subjective sensations, desires and — may we even say — illusions, composes the basic substance of our existence, and religion alone, in its many forms, attempts to address, organize and placate these. I believe, then, that religious faith will continue to be an essential part of being human, as it has been for me."

Rosenthal, Martin awarded Cross of St. Augustine


The Rev. Canon James M. Rosenthal and Deirdre Martin were each awarded the Cross of St. Augustine at a January 26 reception hosted by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in honor of their combined 51 years of service to the Anglican Communion.
In November 2008, they were both awarded honorary life memberships in the Compass Rose Society in recognition of their outstanding work for the Anglican Communion.

"Deirdre has served the communion for over 30 years with unobtrusive skill and commitment, as well as real theological intelligence. She has been an anchor of stability for us all, and a generous friend to countless individuals," said Williams. "Jim has been an outstanding ambassador for the communion and has had a unique role in making and keeping friendships among us. I am very glad to recognize in this award the warmth and passionate dedication he has brought to his role."

Rosenthal was recruited for the communications post at the Anglican Communion Office after his volunteer work during the 1988 Lambeth Conference. He went on to work in a media relations role for two further Lambeth Conferences. He has traveled to more than 60 countries, often accompanying the Archbishop of Canterbury on pastoral visits to provinces of the Anglican Communion.

ENS video: Rosenthal reflects on his ministry

Habitat for Humanity founder dies


Millard Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity International along with his wife, has died, officials said Tuesday. He was 74.

Fuller died early Tuesday "after a brief illness," said a statement on the Web site of the organization he currently headed, Fuller Center for Housing, in Americus, Georgia.
Former President Carter, a key Habitat supporter, fellow Georgian and a close friend, issued a statement Tuesday saying Fuller "was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known."

"He used his remarkable gifts as an entrepreneur for the benefit of millions of needy people around the world by providing them with decent housing," Carter said.

More on the life and impact of Millard Fuller is here.

More on John Updike

M. Cooper Harriss, a junior fellow in the Martin Marty Center and a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School, reminds us that John Updike was one of the faithful in the most recent Sightings, and notes how this influenced his writing:

Beyond such purely intellectual theological debts, however, Updike was a churchman-no doubt an anomaly among his contemporary literary peers. David Lodge suggested that "If there was ever such a species as the Protestant novelist...Mr. Updike may be its last surviving example." His preachers, as literary characters, certainly reflect the diversity and complexity of late-twentieth-century mainstream American Protestantism while continuing an American literary tradition of problematic preachers, a lineage extending at least from Nathaniel Hawthorne's Arthur Dimmesdale to Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry to James Baldwin's John Grimes, to highlight but a few examples. Consider the dueling conceptions of ecclesiology and clerical authority represented in the Lutheran Fritz Kruppenbrach (a Barthian in no uncertain terms who appears in Rabbit, Run) and his foil, the young, personable, and disconcertingly pastoral Jack Eccles (who turns up throughout the Rabbit Tetralogy). Consider Updike's conflicted lothario Tom Marshfield (whose own relationship to a certain "Ms. Prynne" invokes Dimmesdale and The Scarlet Letter) in A Month of Sundays (1975), or the Presbyterian preacher Clarence Wilmot from In the Beauty of the Lillies (1996), who undergoes a crisis of faith and yet continues to peddle both "the word" and "cosmology" as an encyclopedia salesman. Updike's preachers are ordained to God's service, yet continually compelled by the messy, and corporeal, limitations that confront humankind. For an author whose sexually charged narrative communicates a coherent and strident theological vision, one can't help but find some kindred sympathy between Updike as a wordsmith and his own ministers of "the Word."

An offhanded comment of Updike's, from a 2006 interview in Chicago with WTTW television's John Callaway (re-aired this past week), speaks volumes for the broader contours of Updike's theological vision. After sharing a joke with his subject about the pitfalls of growing old, Callaway interjects a leading question: "Are you a man of faith?" Updike recounts his lifetime tour of Protestantism-his Lutheran upbringing in Pennsylvania, his marriage to the daughter of a Unitarian minister and their move to New England Congregationalism, and his final move to the Episcopal Church, where he claims to feel very much at home. Following a couple of other observations about the value of faith and a community with whom to share it, Updike, in an unacknowledged nod to Pascal's wager in the Pensées, claims that there's something to be said for belonging to a group whose members are willing to stake it all on the same "bet." Through Updike's theological imagination perhaps we sight our own valediction. Within routine acts, allegiances, and even (or especially) alienations, all tended by external circumstance and the hardness of the human heart, humankind engages in what Pascal called (in a phrase that Updike fittingly employed in the epigraph for Rabbit, Run [1960]): "the motions of grace." By this grace does the ordinary become extraordinary. Updike, whose fiction so capably narrated these motions, lent resonance and specificity to such grace in an age characterized by tremendous ambivalence and ambiguity. Long may he run.

Read it all here.

Alison Des Forges, rest in peace

Writing at The Revealer, Jeff Sharlet says:

Among the dead of Continental Flight 3407 was a 66-year-old historian and activist named Alison Des Forges. In a short essay about the Rwandan genocide for The Revealer in 2004, I referred to Des Forges' 1999 book on the subject, Leave None to Tell the Story, as "a painful masterwork." That did not do the book justice. It is a modern scripture, a designation it deserves not just for its exposure of the fact that the genocide had roots in bad biblical scholarship, a misreading of Genesis applied to ethnicity in Rwanda. I first encountered Des Forges and her work while researching a story about debates between scholars of the genocide for The Chronicle of Higher Education. I wrote then that:

Ms. Des Forges, also an activist for Human Rights Watch, is the main author (with eight other researchers) of the most comprehensive study of the killing: Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (Human Rights Watch, 1999). At nearly 800 pages, it is less a narrative or an analysis than a horrifying collage; with the instincts of a novelist and the precision of an architect, Ms. Des Forges collected and compiled eyewitness testimonies, diplomatic dispatches, minutes of local meetings, datebooks of murderers, radio show transcripts, inventories of weapons. On one page she reproduces a receipt for 25,662 kilograms of machetes to be delivered to one of the genocide's conspirators nearly half a year before the killing began.

Thomas Jefferson and miracles

AARP Magazine tells the story of the Jefferson Bible and explores people's ideas about miracles. Today is Presidents Day, a holiday to honor Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. Here is the story of another president, one who shocked the faith world of his day:

What [Smithsonian] holds is Thomas Jefferson’s 1820 Bible, though a closer look reveals this to be no ordinary Bible. The author of the Declaration of Independence had used a razor to meticulously excise favored passages from a pair of King James Bibles and pasted them onto blank, bound pages. Left behind: every miracle, every hint of the divinity of Jesus. So Jefferson’s New Testament has no loaves and fishes, no walking on water, no water into wine, no Resurrection. Jefferson dismissed such passages as superstition. What he wanted was something more straightforward, as reflected in the title he gave the work: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.

“This project was purely of the Enlightenment: rewrite the Bible,” says Rubenstein, head of the museum’s division of politics and reform. Jefferson’s experiment ran squarely against the grain of American culture, adds Barbara Clark Smith, a Smithsonian expert in 18th-century America. “He was attacked,” she says. “People wrote he was an infidel.”

To this day, there are those who stand aghast at Jefferson’s chutzpah, and that raises a fair question: Does faith exist without miracles? Are there miracles at all, and if not, just how do we explain those events that inevitably become defined as such?

Read it all here.

Stories of rebuilding New Orleans

Readers Digest tells the stories of the people who are still, four years after Katrina, rebuilding New Orleans.

Included is the story of the Bishop of Louisiana, The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins.

Watching TV coverage of the scene inside the Convention Center, he saw a black woman holding a sign: "I am an American too." He went onto the patio alone as helicopters streamed across the sky. "I was near despair, thinking I did not have what it takes to respond to the human need in my city," he says. "I began crying."

Then he told himself, My job is to make the comfortable aware of the powerless. Jenkins started working the phones with national church leaders, seeking money for the worst -- hit areas.

Six weeks later, he returned to his dry house on St. Charles Avenue. Driving through ruined neighborhoods, he saw that the city's health care system had collapsed and people needed shelter. He raised the salaries needed for a pediatrician and a nurse at a walk-in clinic, guided the church in distributing food and clothing, and launched an emergency program to build houses for low-income residents. He has led the effort to build and sell 13 homes; 17 more are under construction.

In April, with the city poised for a crackdown on the homeless population, which doubled after Katrina, Jenkins raised his voice with black community activists to oppose an ordinance that would have mandated arresting anyone who refused to go to a shelter. The council backed down. "We have a moral obligation," he insists, "to individuals who have fallen through the cracks."

Read the rest here.

Sad news

Our prayers go out to the Rev. Bosco Peters, his wife Helen and son Jonathan, after the sudden accidental death of their daughter Catherine during a University-sponsored Alpine Club outing in New Zealand.

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Oprah taps All Saints, Pasadena rector for series

Episcopal Life Online reports that The Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, will co-host Oprah's Soul Series. His first appearance will be Monday, March 16.

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Author of "The Disabled God:" dies at 44

The New York Times reports that Nancy Eisland, author of The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability has died at age 44.

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Choose: fix economy or attend General Convention?

The year is 1907. The month is October. There is a run the banks. What does most influential financier of the day do? Spend 30 days at General Convention which was the celebrating 300 years of Anglicanism in the USA.

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Rick Warren backtracks on being against marriage equality

Clearly stung by criticism of his position on California's Proposition 8, that took away marriage equality for gays and lesbians, Pastor Rick Warren on CNN's Larry King Live now says:

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Bono: It's 2009, do you know where your soul is?

Bono reflects on the meaning of Easter for our world. From the New York Times

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Swindler or leader?

The Gazette of Colorado Springs, CO features a story on Don Armstrong, former rector of Grace Episcopal Church:

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A dream wedding

Agence France Presse attended the nuptials of the homeless couple married last weekend at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown:

The groom wore a black tuxedo, a damask-rose pink waistcoat and tie, and an ear-to-ear smile.

He picked out his wedding outfit at a mall in Virginia -- his first time ever in one of the sprawling shopping centers that are monuments to consumerism in the suburban landscape across the United States.

During his 14 years living homeless on the streets of Washington, Dante White, 28, never realized that so much opulence existed. Nor had he had much luck in love in his life, having been thrown out of his mother's home when he was just 14.

Last week, White married Nhiahni Chestnut, 39, a woman whose battles with drugs and alcohol had left her on the streets of the US capital as well. Both are unemployed.

"I was basically living from day to day, trying to survive, and I wound up meeting him," Chestnut told AFP at the couple's wedding, held in the tiny chapel of Grace Episcopal Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.

The Cafe's previous coverage is here.

The producer is a priest

The Rev. Jay Wegman, an associate priest at St. Luke in the Fields, an Episcopal church in Greenwich Village and director of the Abrons Arts Center, thought that he might have to choose between a life in the theater and a call to the priesthood. A New York Times profile shows that he both calls are intertwined.

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A chaplain's recovery

The Washington Times tells the story of a senior priest in the Diocese of Washington:

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New job for Giles Fraser

Being Yanks, we are seldom told that we can't publish a bit of news "until the Queen announces it," but that was the case when we learned a few weeks ago that the Cafe's pre-Lambeth host, the Rev. Canon Giles Fraser was to be named Canon Chancellor at Saint Paul's Cathedral, London.

Click Read more to see the press release.

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George Herbert must die

Justin Lewis-Anthony at Comment is Free:

Close your eyes and picture a vicar of the Church of England. Whether you are a regular churchgoer or someone who once watched an episode of The Vicar of Dibley, your mental image will more than likely be this: a smiling, benign, inoffensive and unworldly cleric. This image has its origins in the life and ministry of one man, George Herbert (1594-1633). The memory of priest, pastor, poet and polemicist is revered everywhere, inside and outside the church. A contemporary diocesan bishop sets as required reading for his clergy Herbert's treatise, The Country Parson. In September 2005 Country Life awarded the prize of "Britain's Best-Loved Rector" to a man whose ministry could be read directly from the same pages. The generations of "telly-vicars" in All Gas and Gaiters, Dad's Army, The Vicar of Dibley, and Jam and Jerusalem, are the direct successors of a half-remembered and half-digested picture of Herbert's exemplary country parson.

Find out why this is not a good thing from Father Lewis-Anthony, who showed hospitality to a rag tag band of Americans during the Lambeth Conference, and who blogs at 3 Minute Theologian.

Making the pro-choice case

The Boston Phoenix spends some time with the Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale who will soon be the Dean and President of Episcopal Divinity School. Recently Ragsdale has come under attack for her prominent pro-choice work.

[Adam Reilly of The Phoenix] recently visited Ragsdale in her ... office on EDS's neo-medieval campus. She'll officially start on July 1, after leaving her post as president and executive director of Political Research Associates, the Somerville-based think tank that tracks right-wing extremism. (She'll also step down as vicar of St. David's Church in Pepperell.)

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Captain given Courage at Sea award

The ship's captain who allowed himself to be taken hostage by pirates so his crew could find safety has been given the Seamen's Institute Courage at Sea Award.

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Cutié weds

Miami Herald:

[F]ormer Roman Catholic priest Alberto Cutié left a Coral Gables courthouse shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday as a married man.

But Cutié, who left the Catholic church to become an Episcopalian in late May, will have to wait more than a week before his new church recognizes the marriage in a religious ceremony. That will take place in an unnamed church under Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida

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John Calvin's 500th approaches

Get the John Calvin birthday clock at Calvin 500

Walter Cronkite, newsanchor & Episcopalian, dies at 92

Walter Cronkite died yesterday at his home in New York at the age of 92.

As anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, he has described as the "most trusted man in America."

According to the New York Times, a private funeral will be held at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York, where he was a member. This was also where the funeral for his wife Betsy was held in 2005.

Walter and Betsy met in 1936 in Kansas City, Missouri while both were working at the KCMO radio station. Betsy was an advertising writer. They were married at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Kansas City on March 30, 1940.

Read more here.

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The Rev. Phyllis Edwards, first woman deacon dies at 92

The Rev. Phyllis Edwards, the Episcopal Church's first woman deacon, died in Forks, WA of age-related causes. She was 92. Edwards was a civil rights activist who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and fought for the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church. She was ordained by Bishop Pike.

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Ex-DJ webcasts Morning Prayer

[T]he Rev. [Dr.] Chip Lee is fortunate if he preaches to 100 souls on a Sunday.

But the former disc jockey-turned-Episcopal priest has hit on another way to reach the faithful.

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Tutu to receive US Medal of Freedom

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Anglican Archbishop emeritus of South Africa, Desmond Tutu will be among those receiving the US Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

Desmond Tutu is an Anglican Archbishop emeritus who was a leading anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. Widely regarded as “South Africa’s moral conscience,” he served as the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) from 1978 – 1985, where he led a formidable crusade in support of justice and racial reconciliation in South Africa. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work through SACC in 1984. Tutu was elected Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, and the Chair of the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. He retired as Archbishop in 1996 and is currently Chair of The Elders.

Others named for the medal are:

Billy Jean King, tennis great who helped champion gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all areas of public life.

Rev. Joseph Lowery, U.S. civil rights leader who helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks was denied a seat; he later co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Joe Medicine Crow, native American historian, the last living Plains Indian war chief and "the last person alive to have received direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.''

Harvey Milk, pioneer of the modern LGBT movement, as one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was assassinated, along with Mayor George Moscone, by Dan White, a former supervisor in 1978.

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court.

Sidney Poitier, groundbreaking African American actor and the first to be nominated and win a Best Actor Academy Award.

Chita Rivera, powerhouse two-time Tony Award-winning actress, singer, and dancer who made her fame as Anita in "West Side Story,'' and has broken barriers for Latinos in a lifetime of outstanding work.

Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Janet Davison Rowley M.D., geneticist, the first scientist to identify a chromosomal translocation as the cause of leukemia and other cancers.

Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and economist who pioneered the use of "micro-loans" in anti-poverty campaigns to provide life-changing credit which has become the foundation of small businesses for millions of poor individuals without collateral.

Read more here.

Dr. Marion Hatchett

The Lead has learned via email that The Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett, one of the preeminent liturgical scholars in the Episcopal Church died last night at Emerald-Hodgson Hospital.

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Joan Baez respectfully listens to her protestors

Joan Baez gave a concert in Idaho Falls a little while ago. As is typical for many of the performers who were active in the peace movement during the Vietnam era, her concert venue was picketed by a group of veterans who accused her of betraying them and her country by her actions.

According to an account:

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Kenneth Bacon has died

Kenneth Bacon, formerly spokesman for the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, Wall Street Journal reporter, advocate for refugees displaced by war and active member of Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown died of complications of melanoma this weekend.

From his obit in the Washington Post

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Pioneer civil rights attorney Margaret Bush Wilson dead at age 90

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Pioneer civil rights attorney Margaret Bush Wilson was praised for steadfast courage, zeal for justice and boundless energy during her funeral Tuesday at All Saints Episcopal Church. Mrs. Wilson died Aug. 11 at age 90. She was the second black woman to practice law in Missouri, a leader of the local NAACP and the organization's national president from 1975 to 1983. She continued working in her law office at 4054 Lindell Boulevard until she became ill in June.

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"Oh, by the way, I'm gay"

The Greensboro, NC News-Record reports the journey to ordination from retail men's clothing to becoming a candidate for ordination:

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Edward M. Kennedy, RIP

Senator Ted Kennedy died over night.

We thought an appropriate tribute by the Episcopal Cafe would be to share with you his speech on Faith, Truth and Tolerance in America delivered 3 October 1983, Liberty Baptist College (Liberty University), Lynchburg, VA.

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The meaning of Matthew

Kate Daily at Newsweek reviews Judy Shepard's memoir The Meaning of Matthew.

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Still protesting after all these years

The New York Times profiles Father Carl Kabat, one of the Catholic clergy known as the "Plowshares Eight."

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Man who asked, Is God Dead?, dead at 78

The Los Angeles Times reports:

John T. Elson, whose 1966 cover story for Time magazine -- provocatively titled "Is God Dead?" -- produced record-breaking newsstand sales with its perceptive analysis of a debate that animated Sunday churchgoers as well as theologians, died Sept. 7 at his home in New York City. He was 78.

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Living full lives to the end

Two stories of living a life of service in the face of death:

A Good Life to the End, Forrest Church, Death and Dying -- AARP
Can a minister follow his own advice about embracing life in the face of death?

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Too good not to share

In case of angst, click here:

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Colbert Reports the Nicene Creed

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Symbol-Minded
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Host of With Heart and Voice dies at 88

Richard Gladwell, the syndicated church music host and Episcopalian, has died in Rochester, NY at 88 of cancer.

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Honors for Brian Grieves

An Episcopal Cafe´shout out to Brian Grieves:

The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves' 21 years of ministry at the Episcopal Church Center in New York have provided the underpinning of advocacy, peace and justice work throughout the Anglican Communion, according to recent tributes that have been pouring in from colleagues and friends.

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A religious reflection on Maine

Extract from a personal reflection by Harry Knox:

It is clear that most voters in Maine, like majorities in other states before them, intend for me to feel less than human. People we respect as sisters and brothers in the human family, we treat as equals. Those majorities have reserved to themselves a legal right they feel specially entitled to – in spite of the fact that my husband and I face all the health, financial, familial and social challenges they do, and need the same supports they enjoy.

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Ruth's last ferry ride

Heather Lende writing in the Alaska Dispatch:

One pumpkin has snow on it, and two more have been cooked and frozen for pies, but Halloween and the Sunday afterwards, which in our church we celebrate as All Saints Day, are still on my mind.

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Welcome to the world Jesse

From our team member and social media guru Helen Mosher via Twitter:

Mommy and little baby are doing wonderfully!

Welcome to the world Jesse Heath Mosher @ 9:47PM, 9 lbs. 11 oz. Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and prayers!!

Episcopal people in the news

We heard the news of some interesting Episcopal people this week. We were sorry to hear of the deaths of Grant Gallup and Flower Ross, and were glad to hear that John Lipscomb has found a spiritual home.

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Oral Roberts dies at age 91

CNN reports that Oral Roberts has died at age 91.

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Barcelona's "Sagrada Familia" church's architect up for sainthood

The architect of the dramatic Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona has been proposed for sainthood by a group of supporters to officials at the Vatican.

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Mama Irene saves Christmas

From Hinesville, Ga. (with embedded video):

It's a Christmas shopping spree. Hundreds of people line up outside St. Philip's Episcopal Church on a mission is to find toys. "It's very fun because 3 and 4 year olds, I have a 3-year-old nephew, it's exciting to help kids because they're so happy about it," said Kissimee Herring who spent the day helping people pick out toys.

Irene Myers collects toys to give to underprivileged children at Christmas time. This is her 7th year in the running. This year she was able to serve more than 700 kids, thanks to people in the community and a big donation from Clyde's Market. Irene even stored them in her dining room until the big day. "It's been a joy because I saw them lined up and I was like, yes," said Irene Myers.

Maybe the real story though is how it was all made possible.

Edward Schillebeeckx, dead at 95

The National Catholic Reporter reports the death of famed theologian Edward Schillebeeckx. Schillebeeckx was known for his theology grounded in the experience of the people of God.

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Fighting and biting

A former Episcopal priest The Rev. David Moyer, of Good Shepherd Church in Rosemont, PA, is suing his own attorney for malpractice. But the move is controversial among members of the parish and others in the realignment movement who believe that Moyer has betrayed his principles for money.

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Mary Daly, foremother of modern feminist theology dies at 81

One of the most influential and creative writers of theology, Mary Daly will be missed for her strong challenging voice within and out of the Church. She was a person who could raise you up with joy and simultaneously provoke you. Daly always made people think more deeply about systems of power whether they agreed with her or not. She asked "Why indeed must 'God' be a noun? Why not a verb - the most active and dynamic of all."

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Decoding the Anglican Covenant by Lionel Diemel

Lionel Diemel takes a stab at decoding the controversial Section 4 of the Anglican covenant, and even offers some quite interesting diagrams to try to answer the $64,000 question of, "What would really happen when serious disagreements arise among churches of the Anglican Communion?" Curious? Read on.

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Standing in solidarity in South Carolina

The Rev. Dawn Rider of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Conway, South Carolina, has written to her state's First Lady, Jenny Sanford.

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Howard Zinn, rest in peace

Author, teacher, and activist Howard Zinn has died, may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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Obama to meet with Dalai Lama

Despite protests from China, President Obama will meet with the Dalai Lama:

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Bishop Irish is a "Giant"

The Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce has honored Episcopal Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish with a "Giant of Our City" award.

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A valentine to Bonnie Anderson

The Richmond Times-Dispatch writes regarding an interview with President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson:

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Reflection on the life of Edward Schillebeeckx

The Guardian (UK) offers a fascinating obituary on theologian Edward Schillebeeckx:

Edward Schillebeeckx obituary
His influential but low-key theological dissent inflamed the Vatican
From the Guardian (UK) online

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Happy Birthday, Jim!

Happy Birthday, Jim Naughton!!!

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Anglican woman of courage

Episcopal News Service reports that Jestina Mukoko, a Zimbabwe Anglican and human rights activist, has been presented with the 2010 International Women of Courage award by the U.S. Department of State.

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Remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero's life, and assassination

Today, March 24th, marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of El Salvadoran Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero.

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Truth telling and accountability make a difference

Walter Robinson teaches journalism at Northeastern University. Before that, he led The Boston Globe’s investigative unit, which in 2002 and 2003 documented sexual abuse within the Boston Archdiocese,which led to the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Robinson spoke to Marian Wang at about his observations of the current clergy clergy scandals in Europe.

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Robinson joins think tank

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire is the new Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, DC, think tank.

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Barbie ordained to the priesthood

Toymaker Mattell™ would not comment today on reports that Barbie™ has left the toy and fashion world to enter the Episcopal priesthood.

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RIP Edward George Harris

Rest in Peace, Edward George Harris:

The Very Rev. Edward George Harris, last Dean of Philadelphia Divinity School (1961-1974) and first co-Dean of Episcopal Divinity School (1974-1976, with the Very Rev. Dr. Harvey Guthrie), died at 8:00 am on Palm Sunday, in Pennsylvania.

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Dorothy Height, civil rights hero

Dorothy Height passed away a week ago Tuesday.

The funeral is tomorrow at the National Cathedral. President Obama will give the eulogy.

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President Obama eulogizes civil rights legend Dorothy Height

Civil rights leader Dr. Dorothy Height was buried today from Washington National Cathedral. In his eulogy (text) (video), President Barack Obama said she deserved a place in American history books.

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Your basic, everyday bestselling vampire novelist/senior warden

In a development that will no doubt displease Walter Russell Meade, who may still be venting his spleen over Episcopal Priest Barbie, The New York Times Magazine reveals that Charlaine Harris, author of the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels, has served multiple terms as senior warden of her small Episcopal parish in rural Arkansas.

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The foolishness of Franklin Graham

In her most recent column, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post writes of the foolish Franklin Graham:

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Bernanke's advice on life and happiness

Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben Bernanke, recently gave the commencement address at the University of South Carolina. (Bernanke grew up in Dillon, SC, a part of his personal biography he likes to emphasize.) He spoke on the topic of the economics of happiness. Here's one portion of his address:

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Olympia's Carl Knirk dies unexpectedly; ERD's Bp. Bainbridge dead at 70

Word came yesterday from the Diocese of Olympia:

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Alberto Cutié is a priest again

The Miami Herald has the story (and bilingual video):

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Mpho Tutu on her spiritual journey

10 minutes with … Mpho Tutu
From Religious News Service

Parents of teenagers who have wandered from their family’s religious traditions—or teenagers who have no interest at all in anything religious or spiritual—may be heartened to hear the story Mpho Tutu tells.

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Al and Tipper and the greatest divorcing cohort ever

They say 1 in 2 marriages will end in divorce. It's not always clear what we mean when we cite divorce rates. A sensible definition is the likelihood of divorce given the date you were married. And by that definition only the decade of the 70s may be the only one to reach the 1 in 2 value. Al and Tipper Gore recently announced they are parting ways -- they were married in 1970, in their early 20s. And health-wise they're young. There's still time to find Mr-or-Ms Right.

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Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives the LOCOG inaugural diversity and inclusion address.

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Tutu to retire from public life

Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced today that he will retire from public life later this year.

We wish him blessings and peace and hearty gratitude for all he has done and for his wonderful presence on the side of justice, peace, and reconciliation for many decades!

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Man Church = Church Fail?

Ben Myers, at the highly recommended Faith and Theology Blog, pointed us to the "Man Church" blog which led him to quote both Karl Barth and Paul's letter to Galatians as he made the claim that "Man Church = Church Fail':

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Alberto Cutie speaks to Episcopalians in Oklahoma

The Rev. Alberto Cutie was in the diocese of Oklahoma this month, at the invitation of the bishop, speaking at one of the primarily Hispanic congregations. He preached, led some discussion groups, and at a dinner on July 22nd, spoke candidly about the process that led him to be received into the Episcopal Church:

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Ian Markham on being a Christian

The Washington Examiner has interviewed Dean Ian Markham of Virginia Theological Seminary about his beliefs. There's nothing here for professional controversialists, just an intelligent person talking about his faith. A sample:

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Remembering Judy Peabody

Judith D. Peabody, known for her philanthropy and volunteer work, especially on behalf of people with AIDS and their families, died Sunday, July 25th. Lovely reflections and remembrances of her life and work continue to be published online.

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Alaskans say farewells to Senator Stevens

The Alaska Dispatch:

The body of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens arrived at All Saints Episcopal Church in Anchorage Tuesday morning, where the late senator will be lying in repose until 8 p.m. Stevens was among five people killed in an Aug. 9 plane crash.

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Professor Desmond Tutu at Sea

Desmond Tutu recently stated that he would be retiring from public life. This may be true, but before he goes into a quiet retirement he will be sailing with Semester at Sea with the University of Virginia.

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Making history twice

The New York Times reports on the new dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, The Rev. Dr. Jane Alison Shaw.

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RIP RPM Bowden

Longtime Episcopal leader, RPM Bowden, dies at 80. Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

RPM Bowden, lifelong Episcopal churchman, dies at 80
From Episcopal News Service

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First woman on Episcopal Church Executive Council dies

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia reports:

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102 year old blesses Fairbanks Church

102 year old Hannah Solomon honored at Fairbanks celebration

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Rest in peace, Charles A. Perry

Former Washington National Cathedral provost, the Very Rev. Dr. Charles A. Perry died on Saturday, October 23rd. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

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A Deacon bridges cultures and religions

Part of a deacon's calling is to "interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world." A new deacon in the diocese of Indianapolis organizes medical missions to Nigeria and interprets to the Church how Muslims and Christians interact every day.

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Episcopalian elected to lead World Student Christian Federation

Ekklesia reports that Christine Housel, an Episcopalian, has been elected the new General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation, a global grouping of student groups that promotes dialogue, ecumenism, social justice and peace.

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A champion by any measure

A 14-year-old student at St. Michael's Episcopal School, Richmond, VA is spending his Thanksgiving in Portamao, Portugal, representing the USA in the World Roller Skating Championships.

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Noticing the flaw, we ignore the beauty

Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats.
- Diane Arbus

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Fr. Cutié writes book, and raises eyebrows

Padre Alberto Cutié releases a book and reflects on the Roman Catholic church, falling in love, and his own journey of faith.

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Anderson names first recipient of Medallion for Exemplary Service

On a night when it seems all but certain that southern Sudan will soon become an independent country comes this news via press release:

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Rosa Parks enshrined at National Cathedral

Rosa Parks is being enshrined in stone at the National Cathedral:

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Theocracy not so bad to Roberta Green Ahmanson

Julie Ingersoll of Religion Dispatches looks at a recent interview in Christianity Today of Roberta Green Ahmanson, wife of Howard. Ingersoll says that most reporters do not understand the depth and importance of the theology behind Ahmanson's support of religious right causes, including his support of the undermining of the Episcopal Church over the last decade, and so miss the impact on our culture and politics.

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"God created you."

Religion Dispatches profiles Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.

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Fr. Gracely dies at 101

Fr. Carl Gracely, the oldest active priest in the Episcopal Church, died in his sleep last Tuesday.

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Armstrong sentenced

ACNA priest Donald Armstrong was sentenced yesterday.

The Gazette in Colorado Springs reports:

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Rest in peace Peter Gomes

UPDATED: more stories below

Peter-Gomes-202x300.jpgPrayers ascending for Peter Gomes who died Monday night.

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One of Our Own

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

Douglas LeBlanc writes:

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Meyer named acting minister in Memorial Church

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

The Boston Globe reports:

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Marking the death of Romero

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

Obama visits grave of slain Salvadoran archbishop - LA Times Politics

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Live streaming video of Bob Feller's memorial service

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

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With an upgrade on her mind

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

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

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

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Palmore's life, and love of baseball, celebrated

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

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

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

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Good press

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

This one, in the Frederick News-Post:

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Explaining sainthood

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

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

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Needed: 3 cups of compassion

The Rev. Frank Logue reflects on the recent news about Greg Mortenson and proposes that we need, "Three Cups of Compassion," as we respond:

Three Cups of Compassion
By the Rev. Frank Logue, in Episcopal News Service

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Activist Pauli Murray's home to be restored in her honor

Activist priest's home will be restored in her honor
From the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer

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The homeless man who is paying the banker's bills

A Chicago banker who lost her job nearly a year ago was facing living on the streets with her 10 year old son. A man who's been living on the street for seven years has been paying to keep her and her son in a hotel and off the streets. It's a story of surprising reversal and grace.

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Betty Mosley, activist and advocate, dies at 89

Betty Mosley, 89, a faithful Episcopalian, an advocate for women's rights, an activist for the ordination of women and wife of the late Bishop J. Brooke Mosley of Delaware, died on Monday, May 2.

Here is her obituary:

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Congrats to Scott Gunn

The Rev. Scott Gunn was named executive director of Forward Movement Publications. Gongrats, Scott!!

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Tutu: God is not Christian

Archbishop Tutu's new book is excerpted by Huffington Post. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt of God is Not Christian and Other Provocations:

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UK organist has got talent

Jean Martyn, a 59 year old parish church organist at St Mary and St Chad, Brewood rocked the house on ITV's Britain's Got Talent.

The Church of England Newspaper writes:

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Change ringing in Georgia

The tradition of change ringing continues in Marietta, Georgia:

St. James’ Episcopal Church has a nice ring to it: Marietta resident helps to continue historic tradition
The Marietta Daily Journal

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Episcopalian named dean of St. George's College, Jerusalem

The Rev. Dr. Graham Smith, Rector of St. David’s in Glenview, Illinois, has been called as the next Dean of St. George’s College in Jerusalem starting September 1, 2011.

From the news release via e-mail:

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Flying free: Kirstin Paisley

A few minutes before 8 p.m. (PDT) on July 1, Kirstin Paisley died. Her transparency to the Holy affected all her many friends. Andee Zetterbaum, her friend and care giver this past year sent a note on Facebook:

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Lloyd moves from National Cathedral to Copley Square

The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III is resigning after six-and-a-half years as dean of Washington National Cathedral to return to Trinity Church, Copley Square in Boston as priest-in-charge.

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Fr. Cutié - why he matters

Have you heard of "Father Oprah," the former Roman Catholic priest, Alberto Cutié? Is he merely a fascination, or does he matter beyond the gossipy news stories? Miguel Angel Escobar discusses why Fr. Cutié does matter:

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Betty Ford remembered as more than just first lady

Betty Ford's funeral was covered by many media outlets:

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Organist Kent Tritle moves to St. John the Divine

Kent Tritle is moving from one church with a respected music program to another. He explains to Daniel Wakin of the New York Times why he is moving from St. Igatius of Loyola Roman Catholic Church on the Upper East Side to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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John Stott, R.I.P.

John Stott died in his retirement home at St. Barnabas College at 3.15pm on Wednesday 27th July. He was surrounded by Frances Whitehead, and a number of good friends. They were reading the Scriptures and listening to Handel's Messiah when he peacefully went to be with his Lord and Saviour according to All Souls, Langham Place where there is a tribute to him.

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A wedding in a hospital room

In this deeply moving article, New York Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis tells the story of Richard Townsend, 77 and Jacques Beaumont, 86, partners of 39 years, who were married this week in the hospital room in which they are both being treated for terminal illnesses.

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Conservatives try to appropriate MLK, Jr.

Everyone seems to want to quote and refer to Martin Luther King, Jr. This article in The New Republic reminds us that MLK, Jr. was not so conservative as some think.

Hey Conservatives! Stop Trying to Appropriate Martin Luther King.
From The New Republic

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Encountering the "spiritual but not religious"

UCC pastor Lillian Daniel writes on the regular encounters with the person who, upon hearing she's a minister, declares him/herself to be "spiritual, but not religious."

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Irene visits Eden

Jay Parini, author. Vermont resident and Episcopalian, reflects on the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene which devastated his state.


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Honoring Wangari Maathai

In Kenya, church leaders pay tribute to Wangari Maathai, the first African woman Nobel Peace prize winner who died on September 25th:

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The kicking queen

Never before had the homecoming queen also kicked the winning field goal at Pinckney Community High School:

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Steve Jobs ~ 1955-2011

Steve Jobs dies; Apple Computer co-founder was 56
From The Washington Post

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Remembering Matthew Shepard: silence is not an option

MatthewShepard.jpgThirteen years ago, shortly after midnight on October 7, Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die outside Laramie WY. His death on October 12 galvanized the gay community and straight allies. His memorial service was held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Casper WY where he had been an acolyte.

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Happy 80th Birthday Bishop Tutu

Episcopal Café greets Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his 80th Birthday. Many happy returns to a person who makes us all proud to be Anglicans/Episcopalians. From Africa Media Online:

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CDSP to award honorary doctorates

The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg of Neptune, New Jersey, a writer and editor for Episcopal News Service will be among those awarded honorary doctorates by Church Divinity School of the Pacific:

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Sandy Elledge, Appalachian Ministries: rise in glory

Via email:
Dear Friends,

It was with great sadness I just received the following message from The Rev. Gordon L. Brewer, Executive Coordinator of Episcopal Appalachian Ministries that Sandy Elledge, long time staff member of EAM and former Director, has died.

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Thank you, Kim

Canon Susan Russell remembers what her mother taught her and wrote a thank you note to Kim Kardashian.

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Life at the fault-line

Giles Frasier writes in the Church Times about his experience when Occupy London camped out at the St. Paul's Cathedral.

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Crowd behavior: one understanding does not describe all

Last night, hundreds of Penn State students took to the streets to support Joe Paterno after he was fired over the child sex abuse scandal. The crowd turned ugly as the night went on.

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Remembering women on Veteran's Day

Over 1.8 million women have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and over 255,000 women have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Service Women’s Action Network shares stories of three of these here.

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Richard Rohr interviewed by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Richard Rohr
Interview by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

RICHARD ROHR: There’s no place where you can’t pray.

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A role model to many

The Rev. Cameron Partridge serves as a role model in his new ministry as chaplain at Boston Then a church he served hosted commemoration services that pulled in hundreds each year.

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Post-Catholic padre

The Miami New Times catches up with Fr. Alberto Cutié:

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A preacher like no other

CNN has an nice profile of preacher Fred Craddock:

A preaching 'genius' faces his toughest convert

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Goodbye, but not farewell!

I am stepping away as the regular Wednesday "Lead" Newsblogger effective after today, but I hope to be able to return as a more regular contributor to the Daily Episcopalian, and also to spend more time and energy on writing, some new study projects, and the ongoing work and ministry of being a dad, and a parish priest.

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Happy St Nicholas Day

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

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

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Blacksburg chaplain on Jeopardy!

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

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

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

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Religious reflections on the death of Christopher Hitchens

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

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George and Brook Packard interviewed

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

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End human trafficking

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

In the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Rev. Brian McVey, rector of St. Alban's, Davenport, quietly began a ministry of presence at a local truckstop after he heard that people were being exchanged there like livestock for the purposes of the sex trade.

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A lesbian Episcopal priest visits her parents' native India

The Rev. Winnie Varghese, priest in charge at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery in New York City, was in India recently to attend "continuing indaba" conversations among members of the Church of North India, the Diocese of Derby in England, and the Diocese of New York when the Mid-Day paper in Mumbai caught up with her. Varghese is an ethnic Kerali, who was raised in Dallas.

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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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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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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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Viral photo of Marine homecoming continues to spark reaction

What is more natural than falling into the embrace of your beloved upon returning from a tour of duty?

Friend David Lewis snapped a picture of Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan's homecoming into the arms of Dalan Wells, and the picture has gone viral around the world through Facebook and Twitter.

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Making a move by bike

Tim Flores has been living car-free for a decade. So when he needs to move, does he borrow a friend's pick up? Nah. He goes by bike.

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From diplomacy to the priesthood

The Rev. Anthony Hutchinson is the new rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland, Oregon. Before ordination, he served as a diplomat for the US State Department.

The Mail Tribune:

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Walter Wink: rise in glory

Walter Wink, one of the most influential Bible scholars and theologians died May 10 at age 76. Ekklesa writes:

At the time of his death, he was Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1961. He developed nuanced biblical arguments in favour of pacifism, anti-capitalism and the acceptance of same-sex relationships.

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People who give you hope...

Bishop William White ‏was the 1st and 4th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the 1st and 4th President of the House of Deputies, and the Chaplain to Continental Congress. He "lives" now on Twitter @BpWhiteLives .

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Pauli Murray celebrated as Episcopal saint

The first African-American female priest in the Episcopal Church was elevated to sainthood this summer, and yesterday, a crowd gathered to honor her at the church where she worshiped as a child. The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was celebrant at the service.

From in Durham, N.C.:

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Sally Ride: still inspiring women

Sally Ride died Monday this past Monday. She was the first American woman in space and an advocate for women in the sciences.

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Praying to be normal

Viv Taylor writes about her experience as a transgender Christian. She was one of the members of TransEpiscopal who witnessed at General Convention in Indianapolis. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, served as a chaplain’s assistant in Iraq and wrote about the experience as Sam Taylor for The Chapel Hill News from 2010-12.

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Neil Armstrong: to stardust you shall return

MoonRock.jpegOver the weekend many mourned the death of Neil Armstrong, the first human from Earth to walk on the moon. The National Cathedral in Washington DC posted a photo of the "space window" - a stained glass window that contains a moon rock:

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Rise in glory Louise Emerson Brooks

UPDATE 9/4: details for services for Louise

There are no words to express the depths of our gratitude for your words
of support and love for us and in tribute to Louise's extraordinary
life. We will celebrate her life with a service at All Saints Church in
Pasadena on Saturday, September 8th at 11am with a reception to follow.

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Anglican Paracleric

As the Paralympics in London continue, we learn about The Reverend Nick Barr-Hamilton, the new Vicar of St George, Fatfield, in the Diocese of Durham in the Church of England. .

Cranmer, the blog, tells the story:

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Dave Walker takes a break

Dave Walker, popular cartoonist and commentator of all things church-y and quirky, is taking a break from his weekly cartoons in the Church Times.

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Meeting violence with tolerance

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to be discouraged by the hatred and violence that exists, but instead resolve to do something tangible to promote religious tolerance in their own communities.

She spoke at an an Eid ul-Fitr reception, marking the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The speech was in response to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East, and the deaths of four diplomats in Libya.

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One down, 65 to go.

Women at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Mesa, AZ, have spent the past seven months painstakingly painting and writing in calligraphy the pages of Genesis in an ambitious "scriptorium" project led by parishioner and medieval-art enthusiast Lee Kitts.

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Brian McLaren presides at same sex commitment ceremony

Well known Christian speaker, Brian McLaren presided at his son's wedding this weekend as reported in Christianity Today:

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"Disabled God" theologian: Nancy Eiesland

The New York Times reports that theologian and author of The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability, Nancy Eiesland has died: (see comments for error on date)

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Good News to a weary world

Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, addressed his Diocesan Synod last Monday. Right now, the conventional wisdom (and the bookies) have him as one of the two front-runners for the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

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The Prayer of an Unconventional Family

Anne Lamott's shared prayers of thanks in The New York Times series Draft:

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Robinson looks ahead

Bishop Gene Robinson joined in a discussion of the relationship between religion and public policy held at the think tank where he will serve as a Senior Fellow after his retirement in January..

The Nashua Telegraph reports:

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George H.W. Bush in intensive care

Eighty-eight year old George H.W. Bush, the oldest living former president (and Episcopalian) has been hospitalized for the past month and is now in intensive care.

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Remembering Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon

Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon, who died Christmas Day, was "seen as a warm, empathetic mentor, particularly to female lay leaders and clergy in the Episcopal Church, which has wrestled in recent decades with rifts over gender roles, sexuality and biblical literacy," the Washington Post reports today.

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Boyd meets Merton

Malcolm Boyd recalls the day he was met Thomas Merton.

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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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Five simple lessons

Five simple lessons in practical peacemaking from Shane L. Windmeyer, executive director of the LGBT group Campus Pride, growing out of his unexpected friendship with Chick-Fil-A founder Dan Cathy.

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Damsel, arise!

Megan Phelps-Roper goes to church for the first time since leaving Westboro Baptist Church and thinks about repentance, newness of life and the journey of faith.

Jeffrey Chu interviewed her for

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A journey of reconciliation

David Porter, Archbishop Welby's Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace, reflects on his journey into the ministry of reconciliation.

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Gary Hall and Cam Partridge among "Faith leaders to watch"

The Center for American Progress listed 13 Progressive Faith Leaders to Watch in 2013. Episcopalians Gary Hall and Cam Partridge were among them:

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Jesus and the Sequester

The Rev. Shelia McJilton writes on the very real fear of those whose lives stand to be aversely affected by the sequester. After reflection on hearing the painful stories of real people, McJilton relates it to Jesus asleep in the boat on the Sea of Galilee:

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More on priests with Gary Wills

Erik Campano interviews Garry WIlls, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction and a National Medal for the Humanities, and author of the very public Why Priests? A Failed Tradition.

In his opening question, Campano asks Wills if his thoughts refer to only Roman Catholicism:

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Spiritual journey brings Ann Fontaine back to the beach

I love this profile of the Rev. Ann Fontaine, devoted Café newsblogger, from the Gazette in Cannon Beach, Ore.:

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Dean Jane Shaw is making her mark at Grace Cathedral

It's high season for the Episcopal Church in the mainstream media. Bishop Mariann Budde appeared on Face the Nation yesterday morning. The Rev. Luis Leon's Easter sermon made news because President Obama and his family were in attendance, and Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral spoke up for marriage equality on CNN last night.

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Teaching attorneys to listen

Brother Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John the Evangelist will teach the art of listening at the invitation of the St. Petersburg Bar Association this week.. reports:

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Rise in Glory Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters died yesterday. An Episcopalian, he often helped support various ministries with his comic talents. In 1982 he did a benefit for the Episcopal Ministry on Aging during General Convention. In 1985 he did a public service spot on preventing domestic violence.

Prior Aelred notes on Facebook: I mourn the passing of fellow Episcopalian, Jonathan Winters -- I'm so old that I remember his joke, "I'm an Episcopalian. That's a Catholic who couldn't learn Latin."

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"I have depression."

Katharine Welby blogs about depression, naming her depression "a hopeful depression." An excerpt:

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Robinson meets Colbert

Bishop Gene Robinson talks to Stephen Colbert about his new book.

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Malcolm Boyd: still taking Christianity to the streets

The Rev. Malcolm Boyd is featured in the Christian Science Monitor as the priest who brought Christianity into the streets to promote civil rights:

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An interview with Barbara Brown Taylor

Her recent preaching series Feasting on the Word (co-edited with David L. Bartlett) continues to be essential to many Episcopal priests, but Barbara Brown Taylor's influence goes well beyond the pulpit.

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Condolence notes: what to say

What to say or write when a friend is mourning a death? Kathleen O'Brien discusses the question of condolence notes at Religion New Service

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Prayers asked for Nelson Mandela

A request from Ebrahim Rasooi, South African Ambassador to United States to the faith communities in the US asking for prayers for Nelson Mandela.

A PDF of the letter is here.

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Jimmy Carter on women and religion

In an extensive interview with Time, former president Jimmy Carter is asked if religion can be a force for women's rights instead of a source of women's oppression:

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A bishop's marriage proposal

The story of Brian Thom's marriage proposal was recently broadcast on Boise State Public Radio:

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Warren to return to pulpit for first time since son's suicide

Pastor Rick Warren is scheduled to preach at Saddleback Church in Southern California next weekend for the first time since his 27-year-old son committed suicide in April. From the Christian Post:

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Archbishop Philip Russel of South Africa remembered

Philip Russell, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, died Thursday in Australia at age 93.

The present Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, said: "Today the whole Anglican Church of Southern Africa gives joyful thanks to God for the life and ministry of one of the unsung heroes of our Church.

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Sociologist Robert Bellah dies at 86

Robert Bellah, acclaimed author and sociologist of religion, has died. Dr. Bellah was Elliott Professor of Sociology, Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and an active, faithful Episcopalian. Christianity Today reports:

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A conversation with the Dean

The Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, The Very Rev. Gary Hall, sat down with Sally Quinn of the Washington Post, who profiled him for the paper.

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New memoir chronicles journey to ordination

Marta Weeks memoir, "Our Lord was Baptized, You Know: Reflections on a Spiritual Journey", is highlighted by a press release from PRWeb:

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Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Seminarian and Martyr, 1965

From the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music 2010 blog "Holy Women, Holy Men":

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Episcopal Church names Poverty Missioner

The Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson has been appointed the Episcopal Church's Domestic Poverty Missioner. Currently Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Louisiana, he led the dioceses response to Hurricane Katrina and transformed the disaster response into a ministry that addresses poverty on many levels.


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Prayer kept her calm

Antoinette Tuff talks about her encounter with Michael Brandon Hill after he came into Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur with military style weapons and 500 rounds of ammunition.

ABC News:

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"Thanks for thinking about my soul..."

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, joins weekly to chat with readers. The leadoff "back to school" question was of religious nature:

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Robert Capon, rise in glory ...

Alissa Wilkinson remembers Robert Farrar Capon, who died September . From Patheos:

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First woman Deputy to GC Lueta Bailey on PB John Hines and UTO

Lueta Bailey, first woman seated as a Deputy to General Convention in 1970 tells the story of how the Episcopal Church Women responded to a request from Presiding Bishop John Hines for three million dollars from UTO in 1967 for the General Convention Special Program ("This is an excerpt from a forthcoming film about Bishop John Hines with the working title "Justice is the Corporate Face of Love" by Charles and Robin Sumners.):

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Bishop Hollingsworth shares his story of addiction in Youngstown, OH ran a story on The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Diocese of Ohio, who shared his personal battle with addiction:

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Richard Dawkins' "cultural Anglicanism"

In an interview with Douglas Murray in the Spectator, Richard Dawkins admits to a certain gratitude to Anglicanism.

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Prince George to be baptized in a church

The Archbishop of Canterbury will baptize Prince George, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a private chapel on October 23.


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Eugene Peterson interview

Jonathan Merritt interviews Eugene Peterson at Religion News Service. Peterson is the author of The Message, a translation of the Bible in modern language. Here are his comments on the difference between being an academic and being a pastor:

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Saving humanity and the earth

Bill Moyers interviews Wendell Berry, "a man of the land and one of America’s most influential writers, whose prolific career includes more than forty books of poetry, novels, short stories and essays," on the program Moyers and Company:

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Rise in glory, Ted Gleason

From the Rev. Scott Gunn of Forward Movement:

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An Anglican wins the Ratzinger Prize in Theology

Updated. An Anglican has won the Ratzinger Prize in Theology. Richard Burridge, Dean of King's College London and author of the acclaimed "What Are the Gospels?" Pope Francis awarded him the prize on October 26 in Rome.

Burridge was awarded the prize along with a Catholic theologian.
 The Joseph Ratzinger prize was founded by former students of the former Pontiff "for the purpose of scholarly research and study and has been awarded each year since 2011.

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A dangerous, healing sermon

Fifty years ago, the Rev. William Holmes stood in the pulpit of his Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, and spoke hard truths to his community and avoided comfortable platitudes.

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Mandela memorial brings friends and enemies together

World leaders attended a memorial service in South Africa earlier today. Aljazeera reports that the memorial drew together leaders with deep divisions between their nations. Four US presidents attended the service:

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CNN interviews "Pastrix" Nadia Bolz-Weber

If you haven't yet made the acquaintance of Nadia Bolz-Weber, pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, and author of Pastrix, here's your chance. CNN interviewed her yesterday morning on Newday. You'll have to sit through an advertisement, but it's worth it.

What do you think makes Bolz-Weber's church so attractive?

Being single isn’t a problem to be solved

Katie Heaney talks of her "non-dating" dating memoir, "Never Have I Ever", with Salon's Anna North. Here's the first question from the interview:

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The ordination in the atrium

The Rev. Malcolm Marler, director of Pastoral Care at University of Alabama - Birmingham Hospital, was ordained an Episcopal priest on January 15 in UAB Hospital's North Pavilion Atrium by the Rt. Rev. Key Sloan, Bishop of Alabama.

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Coded messages to God

Andrew Brown tells the story of Dorothy Ann Holm who wrote apparently random strings of capital letter on 20 cards before she died. It turned out to be a code of the heart.


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Pete Seeger: God's counting on you

Thanks for the songs, Pete Seeger -- may we keep on singing and working for a better world:

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Cynthia McFarland: rise in glory

UPDATE: Cynthia's obituary

Cynthia McFarland, one of the most grace-filled, tech savvy leaders in the Episcopal Church has died today. An editor for Anglicans Online and manager of the Bishops and Deputies listserve. According to Lee Crawford, Clergy Deputy from Vermont:

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One young adult and a provincial archives

Episcopalian Katie Webb is spending a year as a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer, working in the provincial archives of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. As an archivist, Katie is responsible for keeping the Anglican Church’s history alive and making sure important records are safely and accurately preserved for future generations.


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Terry Star memorial

Information about the funeral for the Rev. Terry Star and memorial funds set up in his name.

Diocese of North Dakota:

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Anti-gay campaigner Fred Phelps has died

"Fred Phelps -- the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals -- has died, the church said Thursday."

So begins Daniel Burke's obituary of Phelps on the CNN website. Burke writes that Phelps/ Westboro Baptist Church:

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Tanzania mourns death of Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo

Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika died yesterday at a hospital in Johannesburg.


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Dr. Maya Angelou

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Legendary author Dr. Maya Angelou has died. She was 86.

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Jimmy Carter 3.0

Adelle M. Banks, national correspondent at Religion News Service, calls Jimmy Carter's work as an international advocate for women’s rights "Jimmy Carter 3.0":

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A different vision of Christ

National Catholic Reporter tells the story of Toua Vang, an Episcopal priest serving the Hmong community in Minneapolis.

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Video interview: Gro Harlem Brundtland

As part of the Skoll World Forum, Former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland discusses her non traditional upbringing, her unexpected entry into political life, the relationship between the environment and health, and the challenges of being a female leader.

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Secretary Burwell's West Virginia and Episcopal roots

The New York Times profiles the newest Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. She grew up in Hinton, West Virginia where she and her family attended Ascension Episcopal Church.

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"41" celebrates 90 by sky diving

Former president George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday by jumping out of a plane and parachuting onto the lawn of St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport, Maine.

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Colin Coward awarded OBE

Changing Attitude UK announces that Colin Coward, long time advocate for full equality of LGBTI persons, has been honored by the Queen by appointment as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)

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"An unconventional Christian": the career of Jean Vanier of L'Arche

The Canadian philosopher Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche community, has lived and worked with people with intellectual disabilities for almost 50 years, influencing thousands of people of faith, including the late Henri Nouwen. In this interview with the UC Observer, he talks about his work:

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Brother Roy hits the jackpot

A member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist won the largest Powerball prize in Tennessee history and will give most of it away.

Knoxville News:

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Here I Am, Send Me: The story of Jonathan Daniels

Just in time for the celebration of the Feast Day on August 14 honoring Jonathan Daniels. A documentary "exploring the life of a modern Christian martyr who gave his life bravely defending a young woman in Alabama during the civil rights era." This is the story of a young Episcopal seminarian who went to Alabama to stand up for civil rights and justice. From Episcopal Marketplace:

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Mark Driscoll & Mars Hill removed from Acts 29 evangelism network

From Religion News Service:

Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has been removed from a church-planting network of more than 500 churches he helped found after a pattern of “ungodly and disqualifying behavior.”

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Vicky Beeching comes out

Vicki Beeching is a rising star in the evangelical pop-music world. Her music is played in churches and on Christian radio all over the US and UK and she has told the world that she is gay and that God loves her just as she is.

Beeching is an Anglican. She is a regular commentator on the BBC and Sky News, is an Oxford-trained theologian, a PhD candidate, and has been influential in the Anglican Church’s debates on gender. She personally told Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that she was gay.

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Sarah Eagle Heart selected one of 40 under 40 leaders

ELO_050809_SarahEagleHeart1_md.jpgSarah Eagle Heart – Oglala Sioux Tribe and Missioner for Indigenous Ministries for the Episcopal Church has been named one of 40 emerging American Indian leaders:

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Malala Yousafza shares in Nobel Peace Prize, youngest recipient ever

The New York Times reports:

Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2014 peace prize on Friday to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India.

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Apple CEO talks about gifts from God

Apple CEO Tim Cook has written an essay for the Bloomberg Business Week website. It includes this:

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