Thursday, June 30, 2005

On last Friday’s vote by the Anglican Consultative Council to ‘commend’ divestment from companies supporting Israel’s policies :: Melanie Phillips

Phillips takes a critical view of the decision.

In a later post she quotes Canon Andrew White:
'It is not very often that I pay heed to newspaper editorials, but last Thursday's Daily Telegraph editorial summed up perfectly the Anglican Peace and Justice network's recommendation to the ACC to encourage that provinces disinvest from Israel. The Telegraph editorial summed it up with the words "Sanctimonious Claptrap" and that is exactly what it was. Never has this group even paid attention to the fact that the former Archbishop of Canterbury was the very person who commenced the religious track of the peace process -- a process that is still functioning. A few weeks ago Lord Carey himself launched three new centres in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

'These centres are not slinging negative slogans at each other but are working hard at trying to find a lasting peace with justice. They are taking seriously the new opportunities that arise with Israel's disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank in a matter of days. It is these Israelis and Palestinians that we should support. Those who are taking real risks for peace.

'I spend much of my life in Israel and Palestine. Every month I sit with those committed to working for peace on both sides of the divide. I know the pain and hurt of both communities.
. . .
If this group is really about peace why did they not even bother to go and see anybody from the Israeli Government? Or are they like so many other so called peace groups who only talk to those they like? That such a group should function in the name of the Anglican Church is a tragedy and that the ACC should pass this resolution is an even greater tragedy. As far as the Government of Israel is concerned the work that Lord Carey courageously began happens in the name of the Anglican Church. All that has been happening since the signing of the first Alexandria Declaration for Peace in the Holy Land is now at risk.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

When inclusion amounts to exclusion :: NYT Magazine

Increasingly, the symbolism of removing religion from the public sphere is experienced by values evangelicals as excluding them, no matter how much the legal secularists tell them that is not the intent.
. . .
the evangelicals' political strength has not often extended to the cultural realm, about which values evangelicals care the most. These evangelicals feel defensive not only because they believe they are losing the culture war and have trouble enacting religious values into public policy -- though, in fact, they have made some strides on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage -- but because they have difficulty making the religious sources of their ideas acceptable in the cultural-political conversation. To give a religious reason for passing a law is still to run the risk of that law being held unconstitutional as serving a religious rather than a secular purpose. So evangelicals end up speaking in euphemisms (''family values'') or proposing purpose-built dodges like ''creation science'' that even they often privately acknowledge to be paradoxical.
. . .
Until the rise of legal secularism, Americans tended to be accepting of public, symbolic manifestations of faith. Until values evangelicalism came on the scene, Americans were on the whole insistent about maintaining institutional separation. These two modern movements respectively reversed both those trends.
. . .
Noah Feldman is a professor at the New York University School of Law and a fellow at the New America Foundation. His book ''Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem -- and What We Should Do About It,'' from which this article is adapted, will be published later this month by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


A camp for non-believers :: NYT

First summer sleep-away camp in the country for atheist, agnostic and secular humanist children.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Women bishops :: newdirections

A matter 'of both faith and salvation'

David Nicholl (p. 12) writes in opposition to women bishops in the CofE. He notes that proponents take the position that "the issue of ordaining women to the episcopate is one of real significance, and therefore demands serious theology, careful reflection and measured debate. . . [and it is] a matter 'of both faith and salvation.'" He concludes, "if this is so, [they must] . . . throw us out of Christ's Church as damnable heretics. . . ."

I have a feeling, however, that the proponents of women bishops are comfortable making this an issue 'of both faith and salvation' while at the same time not claiming to stand in for God as to who is damnable.

It is so obvious that God is an equal-opportunity caller of priests and bishops that naysayers to the proposition can be allowed as a tolerable irritant and a reminder of the importance of open mindedness.

God is not so small that God cannot reach you in a way that is different from the way God reaches me. It is we who make God out to be so small that the way in which God reaches me appears to preclude reaching you.

Is it possible that God even means to include in Christ's Church those who would exclude women from providing them the ministrations of a bishop?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Talk to us, Archbishop :: The Times

The U.S. could stand a religion reporter who writes with the clarity of Ruth Gledhill (my emphasis):
June 21, 2005
by Ruth Gledhill

In a speech last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded the media of its responsibility for "good conversation and communication". Ruth Gledhill says his own inability - or unwillingness - to communicate is hindering the Church's efforts to solve its current problems. Read her comments and send us your views - using the e-mail form at the bottom of this article.

"Are you very angry with me?" asked the Archbishop of Canterbury after his lecture on the media at Lambeth Palace last week.

"Of course not Archbishop. But are you angry with me?" I replied.

I've been in a bit of bother with the Church hierarchy over my interpretation of a report on church finance.

The report stated: "The Church faces the difficulty that whilst it needs to make new investment in its mission development, many parishes cannot afford their current ministry." I interpreted this as "Church in cash crisis".

Not fair, according to the bishops. "There is no crisis," they cried from their grand houses, with expense accounts, chauffeurs, gardeners, secretaries and the rest. Are you kidding, your lordships? Have any of you actually been to a service in a country parish with six members, faced with an increased quota to fund clergy pensions?

Maybe the bishops would have been happier if we'd asked Rowan Williams to write the story for us. Then no one at all would have understood what is happening in the Church today.
. . . .
The fact is journalists do care. They care that the Archbishop's voice is too rarely heard in the House of Lords. They care that his writing is needlessly opaque, whether this is because he has the natural allusiveness of a poet or he is hiding behind language for fear of directness.
Here are some of the emails she received:
I had hoped this Archbishop of Canterbury would continue to bring the church forward. Unfortunately, he has been bogged down by the rantings of the Archbishops of the Southern Cone and Africa. Quite frankly, I think he should thump his crozier and say he's had enough. If they want their own church so be it. See how well they survive without the financial help of the Episcopal Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Church of England.
. . .
My fundamental frustration with the Archbishop is that he steers away from giving moral guidance relevant to business environments which constantly pose ethical dilemmas. An Archbishop in touch with business and social issues, devoted to driving forward the moral health of this country would genuinely make a difference.
. . . .
Rowan Williams is a good and decent man, but has succumbed to the malaise of the Church of England - of not wanting to offend anyone. The church wants to have things all ways - to be seen as controversial and modern, while not challenging any standpoint, no matter how unrerasonable.
. . . .
Williams is simply too intelligent and thoughtful, too profound and interesting to be Archbishop - we need a useful idiot, because no one else will be listened to.
There's still time to add your own email thoughts.

American churches shown door as gay row deepens :: The Times

June 23, 2005
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

THE Anglican Church moved closer to schism yesterday when members of its central administrative council formally asked the Churches of Canada and the US to go.

Unconvinced by the justifications offered by both Churches on Tuesday for their actions in ordaining an openly homo- sexual bishop and authorising same-sex blessings, members of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham asked them to leave the council and its central finance and standing committees.

Although the motion invites the Churches to withdraw voluntarily, it amounts in effect to a punishing expulsion. The debate was held behind closed doors at Nottingham University yesterday, and the motion was passed 30 to 28 by secret ballot, with four abstentions.


Imposing an alien ecclesiology :: VirtueOnline

David W. Virtue assembles some interesting quotes:

The most recent strident outburst occurred when Sergio Carranza, Bishop Assistant in the Diocese of Los Angeles launched into a tirade about what he called a "subversive movement" going on in the communion, "that pretends to alter the character and essence of this unique body of Christians by imposing on it an alien ecclesiology redolent of an institution set across the Tiber."

The Mexican bishop, whose own province, before he left it, was one of the most corrupt in modern ecclesiastical history with millions of ECUSA dollars disappearing with a former archbishop and bishop, now accuses unnamed persons of waging a "guerrilla warfare, fostered and nurtured by unhappy Episcopalians intent on sabotaging General Convention and destroying the polity of ECUSA."

He says their tactics include the encouragement of uncanonical visits to carefully selected dioceses, by some bishops and Primates from the Global South, as well as some domestic retired bishops, with the purpose of disrupting the life and ministry of said dioceses.

"The excuse for violating the boundaries of diocesan jurisdictions is that tender consciences have to be protected from "revisionist" bishops and that the provision for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight is inadequate."

Carranza then said that another tactic has been to ascribe constitutional authority to the Lambeth Conference, and to attribute exaggerated power to the Primates Meeting. "This is wishful thinking at best or devious manipulation at worst."

He then says that some of the Primates themselves are involved in the conspiracy; otherwise it is difficult to explain their venomous assault on the Episcopal Church; unless they just do not understand our polity. "Their groping for undue power is an indication of their participation in the seditious maneuvers to change the face of Anglicanism."

He then rips the orthodox by saying, "if the ultras cannot coerce the Archbishop of Canterbury to expel the Episcopal Church - which he cannot do anyway - some of the Global South Primates will attempt to carry out a coup d'etat that would substitute one of them for the Archbishop of Canterbury as head of the Anglican Communion, thus "successfully escalating an ongoing family fight into an international schism," as Susan Russell says.

"Let the probable emerging evangelical denomination, if it desires, turn its primates' meeting into a sort of college of cardinals under an omnipotent prelate empowered to speak for the whole body and to impose a single interpretation of what pertains to the faith and practice of the Christian faith."
Virtue's retort:
For Carranza to say that the orthodox in the ECUSA are "imposing an alien ecclesiology" is so laughably absurd as to be not worthy of comment. It is the orthodox that want to maintain the 'faith once delivered' and a goodly number would like to see the Episcopal Church go back to using the '28 Prayer Book or at least be given the option of doing so.

To argue that uncanonical visits to carefully selected dioceses...disrupts the life and ministry of said dioceses, begs the question as why these would be even necessary if revisionist bishops proclaimed the historic faith they swore to uphold when they became bishops!

They haven't and that is why orthodox priests are begging for orthodox oversight. They don't want to compromise their souls and those of their parishioners by having a bishop come into their parish who does not believe the historic faith and disrupt the faithful, many of whom are new babes in Christ. Why wouldn't such a priest want alternative pastoral oversight?
Via UnGodly Rant whose own reflections on life today at the pew level in The Episcopal Church are suggested reading.

Friday, June 24, 2005

America's religious right :: Economist

THIS week, for the fourth year in a row, President George Bush broke from affairs of state to address the Southern Baptist Convention. He promised the strict evangelical group, which has 16m members, that he would work hard to ban gay marriage and abortion, and that their “family values” were his values, too.
. . . .
Why is the religious right as powerful as it is? The question puzzles even Americans. Their country, as a whole, is not getting more religious. The gap between it and European countries has increased, but largely because of Europe's growing godlessness. Most Americans say that religion is very important (60%) or fairly important (26%) in their lives, but Karlyn Bowman, a polling analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, points out that the figures were 75% and 20% in 1952.

What has changed is, first, the make-up of Protestant America and, second, the realignment of religious America's politics. The generally liberal mainline churches have declined, while harder outfits like the Southern Baptists have spurted forward. White evangelicals, who see the Bible as the literal truth (or darned close to it), now make up 26% of the population.

It is not just a matter of numbers but of confidence. Born-again Christians are no longer rural hicks; they are richer and better educated than the average American.
. . . .
Religious America's switch to the right is rooted in two things: liberal over-reach and conservative organisation.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Williams pleads for Anglicans to hold together :: Guardian

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, pleaded for the "catastrophic" Anglican communion to hold together yesterday in tolerance, if no longer love, at the start of a key conference of representatives from the church's 38 provinces meeting at Nottingham University.
Even as he did so, however, plotting and mutual recriminations continued over the presence of observers from the US Episcopal Church who had been asked to stay away from the meeting. Rival US factions sat at the back of the hall glowering at each other amid accusations of bad faith.
. . .
Earlier, the archbishop had spoken earnestly of the spectacle that Anglicanism is making of itself and how the outside world would react: "Here is a group of Christians talking to each other, they will think, arguing over matters that seem quite a long way from the plight of a child soldier in northern Uganda, or a mother with HIV/Aids in Lesotho, or a sweatshop worker or fisherman in south Asia. Some will react with contempt - what a parade of foolish anger and bigotry or self-importance, what a fuss over the rights of the prosperous; some with indifference; some with real sorrow that we are not speaking to them and the world they know."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Onward, moderate Christian soldiers :: New York Times

John C. Danforth is an Episcopal minister and former Republican senator from Missouri. He writes:
our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.

People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to "put God back" into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.

Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.
"People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics." Indeed they do. If you are a Christian, it should make a difference in the way you engage life.

Humanist couple marries in Britain :: WaPo

Humanists believe in leading moral lives by using reason instead of religious doctrine or god worship, said Ivan Middleton, the celebrant who married (sic) the couple. Middleton said humanists had campaigned for 15 years to make their organization's wedding ceremonies legal so couples would not need additional, civil recognition. "We've been doing humanist weddings which were not legal," Middleton said. "We've been saying this is a form of discrimination."
Not to distract from the central point, the celebrant performed the ceremony. He did not marry the couple. Unless there's something about humanism that I don't know about.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

St. James says Episcopal church in L.A. cannot claim its property :: Long Beach Press-Telegram

St. James Parish claims, "Fourteen years ago, prior to purchasing and improving property with funds raised by it, St. James Church sought and obtained a written promise from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and its Bishop that they would never claim ownership or control over that property," according to a statement from attorney Eric Sohlgren, who represents the breakaway churches.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Archbishop of Canterbury :: The Guardian

Talk "with journalists more often - and not just at them."

Link also includes links to his speech on the 'lethal' media and The Guardian's coverage.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Plan would realign Anglican church :: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


A draft of a constitution detailing a proposed realignment of the worldwide Anglican Communion became public this week, outlining for the first time how divisions over homosexuality may change the face of the more than 70-million-member church.

The unsourced and undated four-page document, named "The Organizing Constitution of the Anglican Global Initiative," has been circulating among some executive members of the Episcopal Church since January, after it was brought to the church's New York headquarters following a meeting of African bishops in Nairobi. Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, a group of clergy and lay people, made the document available on its Web site. Its existence was first reported this week by the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain.

The articles of the constitution state that the Anglican Global Initiative would be an organization of Anglicans from the Global South, which includes Africa, Asia and parts of the Southern Hemisphere, and those in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada who "hold to the centrality and authority of Holy Scripture."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Religious left, right find common ground?

After a year in which religion played a polarizing role in U.S. politics, many religious leaders are eager to demonstrate that faith can be a uniter, not just a divider. The buzzwords today in pulpits and seminaries are crossover, convergence, common cause and shared values.

Last week in Washington, representatives of more than 40 U.S. denominations took part in the Convocation on Hunger at the National Cathedral, where they sang a Tanzanian hymn while the choir director shook a gourd full of seeds and children laid breads from around the world on the altar.

It may have been mistaken for a hippie ceremony were it not for the sight of clergy from the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God and other evangelical churches praying alongside Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, mainline Protestants and Jews.

The show of solidarity was partly a reaction against "the recent manipulation of religion in ways that are divisive and partisan," said David Beckmann, a Lutheran minister and president of Bread for the World, a nonprofit group that helped organize the service.

Because religion has been dragged into political life in some ways, this is the religious leadership of the nation saying, 'No, let us show you what religion in the public square should really be about,' " he said.
. . .
The National Association of Evangelicals is promoting dialogue with Muslims, concern for the environment and efforts to combat poverty. "On issues like poverty, the cold war among religious groups is over," said the Rev. Richard Cizik, its vice president for public policy.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Religious zeal sets U.S. apart from allies, poll finds ::

The polling was conducted in May in the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea and Spain.

Nearly all U.S. respondents said faith is important to them and only 2 percent said they do not believe in God. Almost 40 percent said religious leaders should try to sway policymakers, notably higher than in other countries.

“Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian policies and religious leaders have an obligation to speak out on public policy, otherwise they’re wimps,” said David Black, a retiree from Osborne, Pa., who agreed to be interviewed after he was polled.

In contrast, 85 percent of French object to clergy activism — the strongest opposition of any nation surveyed.
. . .
Australians are generally split over the importance of faith, while two-thirds of South Koreans and Canadians said religion is central to their lives. People in all three countries strongly oppose mixing religion and politics.
. . .
“In the United States, you have an abundance of religions trying to motivate Americans to greater involvement,” said Roger Finke, a sociologist at Penn State University. “It’s one thing that makes a tremendous difference here.”
. . .
Some analysts, like Finke, use a business model. According to his theory, a long history of religious freedom in the United States created a greater supply of worship options than in other countries, and that proliferation inspired wider observance. Some European countries still subsidize churches, in effect regulating or limiting religious options, Finke said.
. . .
Researchers disagree over why people in the United States have such a different religious outlook, said Brent Nelsen, an expert in politics and religion at Furman University in South Carolina.
. . .
“In Germany, they have a Christian Democratic Party, and they talk about Christian values, but they don’t talk about them in quite the same way that we do,” Nelsen said. “For them, the Christian part of the Christian values are held privately and it’s not that acceptable to bring those out into the open.”
. . .
Associated Press-Ipsos polls of about 1,000 adults in each of the 10 countries were taken May 12-26. Each has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

DaVinci Code can't unlock Westminster Abbey :: Dancing on the Head of a Pin

Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice :: USNews

"When people talk about Protestantism, it's about evangelicalism and Pentecostalism," says Diana Butler Bass, a senior researcher at the Virginia Theological Seminary. "Most people think mainline Protestant churches are dead." Director of the Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, a three-year study of 50 churches across the country that's scheduled to end in 2006, Bass set out to find whether the stereotype is true—or whether, as she puts it, there's "a new kind of mainline congregation developing in the United States that's moderate to liberal theologically, taking traditional Christian practices seriously, and is experiencing an unnoticed vitality."
. . .
"It offers a potential pattern that mainline congregations can embark on that could spark new life.

"It clearly has very political consequences because of the amalgam they are: They are liberal and socially active in terms of their public involvement. These places are very much the middle of American religion. They talk in a language of being in the middle.
"We were with them during the 2004 elections. They don't want to be used by the political extremes. They're extraordinarily upset about the characterization of congregations being identified with the religious right. They'd say, "We're faithful but we're not fundamentalists."

"They're interested in figuring out how to do that in the public square, and, if they do, that it might change the public conversation about the role of religion and party politics right now. So I think whatever happens will end up having public and political consequences."

Thanks to Carolyn of Orkney for the link.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Google Search: selwa perry

This blog gets several hits a day from those searching for information on Selwa Perry. I occasionally check to see if there have been any reported developments since the embezzlement story broke in mid May. I find nothing, which makes me wonder what the searchers think they might find.

If you put "selwa perry" in quotes, google give 39 results today.

UPDATE 29 June: google says 73 results today, but if you go to page 2 you find there are only 11 results given. The number of search visits to NVCM looking for items on Selwa Perry remains at 2 or 3 daily. There's no new news, though, at google.

Who will lead them? : keeping up with demand for clergy :: Lansing State Journal

Roels points to a study showing only 4 percent of ordained clergy in the Episcopal Church and in the United Church of Christ are younger than 35. That number is 6 percent for Catholics and Evangelical Lutherans, and 7 percent for Presbyterian and United Methodist churches.
. . .
Some of the Christian clergy shortage is sheer demographics: The nation's 76 million baby boomers had only 51 million children. But there are other reasons, as well, Roels said:

• Many Christian denominations now emphasize serving God in all walks of life. "You can be a good Christian engineer or accountant," Roels said.

• Ministers who don't get adequate support may drop out. For example, a study conducted by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod found 20 percent of pastors in "advanced stages of burnout" and another 20 percent headed there. Low income, poor support for their families and congregational infighting were top reasons for their distress.

"It's not only getting them in the front door, but keeping them from walking out the back door," Roels said.
. . .
Sometimes, two small congregations will hire one Episcopal priest to serve both, said Hamlin, who lived in upstate New York before coming to Lansing.

Some Catholic dioceses assign a priest to more than one parish. Others will ask a team of two priests to handle three or more parishes in tandem, said Chris Anderson, director of the National Association for Lay Ministry, which is studying new ways to find Catholic leadership.

The ranks of permanent deacons nationwide have swelled from fewer than 1,000 in 1975 to more than 14,000. At more than 30,000, lay ministers outnumber diocesan priests, Anderson said.

More than 500 parishes nationwide are led by parish life coordinators, often sisters or deacons. They run the parish day-to-day while a priest - perhaps retired or one with a second diocesan job - says Mass or consecrates the Eucharist. The Lansing diocese also relies on retired priests for help.

The Lilly Vocational Project at Calvin College is one of 88 nationwide working to identify potential ministers while they are still in college. It pairs promising students with mentoring clergy and offers church internships.
The Diocese of Lansing has campaigned vigorously to attract men to vocations, with a snazzy "Men In Black" ad campaign and outreach by its priests. "There are men out there who are being called, but the world is filled with so many messages they can't hear it," said O'Brien, one of those ordained Saturday.

Catholics debate whether ordaining women or letting priests marry would boost their numbers. The Lansing Diocese has one married priest, the Rev. Steven Anderson of Holy Family parish in Grand Blanc. He got papal permission to convert from the charismatic Episcopal faith. Yet: "The Episcopal Church has married priests and women priests, and they still have a shortage," O'Brien pointed out.

Sounds like a job, er, vocation, is waiting if you have the qualifications, and will accept the salary and working conditions.

Friday, June 10, 2005

3 U.S. churches defect to Luweero :: Uganda

A bit of geographic confusion displayed below. I guess you could take the previous sentence several ways. All are intended.

St. James, St. David and All Saints churches in California broke away from the New Hampshire Episcopal Diocese in the US in protest against the appointment of gay Bishop Gene Robinson.

[Bishop Evans Kisekka] said the US churches had changed their names from Episcopal to Anglican churches under Luweero Diocese and were proud to be part of Luweero.

Warring Episcopalians talk 'divorce' :: Washington Times

Twenty Episcopal bishops at odds over homosexual clergy will attempt to reconcile their differences next month, but church conservatives say the meeting's real business is to start discussions on how to divide their assets in the event of a split.

If differences between Episcopal liberals and conservatives are quickly determined to be "irreconcilable," says retired Diocese of Florida Bishop Stephen Jecko, the discussion will switch to engineering a breakup without running up millions of dollars in lawsuits.
. . .
"It'll be who gets the money and who gets the kids," Bishop Jecko said. "I hope it will be an amicable divorce. ... Those of us on the [theologically] orthodox side have no interest in going to court."
. . .
Bishop Jon Bruno and his Los Angeles diocese, which is host to the meeting, quickly moved to counteract the story. "It's just a meeting among bishops of different ideologies who just want to get together and discuss things among themselves," spokeswoman Janet Kawamoto said.
. . .
Canon law rules that a congregation that departs from the Episcopal Church must leave its property and assets behind. However, several dioceses are contesting this law in civil court.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's not easy being sacred :: Bella Vista Weekly

Deacon Bobby Hall said prayer group members felt they could no longer stay in St. Theodore's, if for no other reason than the money they gave as offering at St. Theodore's would eventually go to an organization supporting values they feel are morally wrong.

After making this decision, Hall and approximately 20 other St. Theodore's parishioners began meeting in homes, and eventually enlisted the help of Reverend Ron Pfluger, the pastor at Bella Vista Lutheran, who agreed to let the new congregation hold services on Saturdays in the Lutheran building.

Now, almost two years later, Hall and his group of parishioners have purchased an old home in Bentonville and are renovating it. They hope to hold services in their new building within six months.

The new Episcopal parish will operate under the auspices of the United Episcopal Church of North America, according to Hall, and use the 1928 prayer book. In doing so, the new congregation will retain autonomy, as opposed to deeding their property to the diocese, and will reject the doctrines of female ordination and the condoning of homosexuality.


Letter tells why pastor resigned :: Concord Monitor

Or, rather, why the pastor resigned according to the senior warden:
The Rev. ____ resigned in April from [his/her] position at the church because of [his/her] problems addressing issues involving authority, collaboration, commitment, dissemination of information and judgment, ____, the church's senior warden, wrote in a letter to parishioners dated ___.

(Blanks and brackets are mine.)

That about sums up what any parish would say if the rector-parish relationship goes sour. How would the rector sum it up?

The Concord Monitor continues:

Lombardo met with church officials and Bishop Gene Robinson for more than 14 hours in an attempt to resolve the issues but decided to resign rather than have the parish go through a lengthy formal investigation, vestry members said.
I wonder if Bishop Robinson ever thought his Episcopacy be different, and would help parishes and rectors resolve these situations in a better way.

Carey condemns disinvestment plan :: Ekklesia

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has condemned plans by Anglican church leaders to disinvest from companies that do business in Israel reports the Times newspaper. Lord Carey was speaking at the launch of an organisation to promote religion as an aid to tolerance and peace in Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and Israel. The proposals come from theAnglican Consultative Council (ACC) is one of the four Instruments of Unity that serve the world wide family of Anglican/Episcopal churches.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Church of the day. North of Porto, Portugal. Posted by Hello

One nation under Allah :: The Emirates Economist

Over at The EmEc I'm blogging about state religion, Muslim and otherwise.

COE to let gay clergy 'marry' but they must stay celibate - Sunday Times

Move evidence that theology is a mind game. Somehow - in concert with my 'whither the church?' theme, I'm reminded of the Monty Python sketch, "this parrot is not dead." Is not the COE certifiably laughingstock? Is it not, therefore, irrelevant? The more desperately the COE grasps at holding together the Anglican Communion the less there is there; the right thing to do is to tell the African bishops that the COE does not share your view of homosexuality.

The decision ensures that gay and lesbian clergy who wish to register relationships under the new “civil partnerships” law — giving them many of the tax and inheritance advantages of married couples — will not lose their licences to be priests.

They will, however, have to give an assurance to their diocesan bishop that they will abstain from sex. The bishops are trying to uphold the church doctrine of forbidding clergy from sex except in a full marriage. They accept, however, that the new law leaves them little choice but to accept the right of gay clergy to have civil partners.

If the civil partnerships law is so at odds with Anglican teaching on homosexuality, isn't civil disobedience the principled thing to do?

Despite the second class status in the Anglican Communion, to which ECUSA has been subjected because of its gay bishop, it appears that the COE is at least as open as the ECUSA with respect to clergy living in homosexual relationships:
Under the proposal, a priest intending to register a civil partnership would inform his or her bishop in a face-to-face meeting. The priest would then give an undertaking to uphold the teaching of the Church of England, outlined in the 1991 document Issues in Human Sexuality. This paper prohibits sex for gay clergy.

Although no sanctions are included in the new proposal, it is expected that a breach of the rules may lead to disciplinary action or the possible suspension of clergy.

Some bishops, however, are uncomfortable about subjecting their priests to the proposed interviews.

One said this weekend: “We all have clergy in gay partnerships in our dioceses and there is a genuine reluctance on the part of a number of us to make their lives more difficult.”

Via Ungodly Rant who has some amusing relatives on the distaff side.

Economic Liberty and Free Will :: Journal of Markets and Morality

BASTIAT'S CONCEPT OF CIVIL LIBERTY (1850) was common to his day and can be defined as the condition in which all people are free from the arbitrary dictates of others. That is, a situation where the laws of society are used to restrain the actions of every man from injuring or controlling his neighbor. When applied to the realm of economics, the establishment of civil liberty implies that a person is free to engage in any mutually agreeable exchange of goods that might legitimately be traded. These goods include tangible commodities such as wheat and bread, and intangible goods such as advice and labor services. In addition, it includes the exchange of future claims on goods.

While it is generally recognized that these conditions give rise to the advancement of material well-being, it is often argued that they may be at odds with moral well-being. Bastiat took the opposite position. Bastiat argued that the final interests of human beings are harmonious rather than antagonistic. As such, he saw liberty as the ultimate answer to the social problem. In presenting his case, Bastiat appealed to the fundamental problems inherent in the alternative view. If human interests are forever at odds, then coercion is the only option. But, among the infinite variety of plans that employ coercion to organize society, which is best? Furthermore, even if the 'best' plan could be identified, why would we expect people to submit to it since our first premise is that the interests of individuals are always at odds with each other? And, finally, 'If you consider individual self-interest as antagonistic to the general interest, where do you propose to establish the acting principle of coercion?' With regard to this last question, it would have to be located beyond humanity if it were to escape the main premise, because arbitrary power entrusted to human beings will always explode into corruption. As a result, the "antagonistic" view has no place to end but in despair.

Bastiat rejected that position and focused on another option. He began with the assumption that God made the person as he is, a being motivated by self-love and naturally interested in social arrangements that better himself. With this as a starting point, Bastiat sought to examine how the social order would progress if people interacted freely with each other. It was that study that led Bastiat to assert that human interests are harmonious rather than antagonistic, because he discovered that such activity would give rise to human flourishing.

Paul A. Cleveland, Economic Liberty, Journal of Markets and Morality, Fall 2001.

Emphasis added.

I endorse Bastiat.

Doubters of the gay-rights support group's success in such a conservative state are quickly proven wrong :: Salt Lake Tribune

Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah was honored with an HRC Equality Award for her dedication to human rights.
. . .
Utah's first Human Rights Campaign Gala at the Orem home of WordPerfect co-founder and philanthropist Bruce Bastian on Saturday afternoon looked suspiciously like a huge Utah family reunion.
. . .
"Walking by the hecklers, then seeing how wonderful everything is, I thought, 'You guys are missing out,' ” said Millie Watts. Watts and her husband Gary Watts received the HRC Equality Award for their advocacy in Family Fellowship, a service organization based in Provo that focuses on strengthening relationships and educating families with homosexual members. The volunteer staff consists mainly of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Guests were escorted to dinner by the University of Utah marching band....
Would Bishop Tanner have been recognized were it not for the gay bishop issue in which the Episcopal Church is embroiled? No doubt she deserved the award; little doubt, though, that the award went to her to make a statement. I don't see such tactics as constructive or Christian. Besides, it creates sympathy for those who think homosexuality is a sin. I'd find a turn-the-other-cheek approach more productive for gay rights.

Monday, June 06, 2005

St. Nicholas: attendees on Sunday make statement for 2nd week in a row :: MyTexas

Last week St. Nicholas had visitors from around Texas expressing solidarity with the members who were leaving to form a new parish outside the Episcopal Church. This week the visitors were there to express solidarity with those who stayed. Is St. Nicholas being used as a political football? To some degree, yes.
Will Morris was smiling from ear to ear at St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church's service Sunday. Despite rumors and doubts the pews would be sparsely populated with the reported 31 remaining church members, the sanctuary was filled to capacity. Fellow Episcopalians from as far as Canadian and Shamrock, Texas, and community supporters joined St. Nicholas to celebrate their new beginning. "We're just overjoyed at the tremendous support we've received from other churches in the diocese," Morris said. Morris, a Midland College professor of history, and the only member of the former vestry who chose to stay, refuted sentiments that it was a lost cause to remain at St. Nicholas after nearly 90 percent of the congregation left to form Christ Church Midland. "It's not hopeless at all. We'll probably end up with more members, and reaching more people between the two churches than before Christ Church left," Morris said. "Every congregation reaches a different group of people." The mood Sunday was joyful as parishioners expressed their surprise at the turnout. Morris said he stopped counting after 250 people entered the sanctuary.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

There are Catholics in Kentucky?

Rome of the evangelical movement: Colorado Springs? :: Harpers

Looks like required reading for the blog with the subtitle "whither the church."

Here's a snippet that's up my economist's alley:

In fact, the analogy with free-market economics holds up quite neatly. Stark is an economist of religion; his theory tells him with confidence that unfettered markets will lead to competition, diversity, pluralism, a hundred flowers blooming. His fundamentalist adherents, by contrast, are like businessmen, who understand and approve of where the theory leads in practice: toward consolidation, toward control, toward manufacture of demand. What the most farsighted are doing—Pastor Ted chief among them—is fostering something like Stark’s spectrum of “niches,” but all within the confines of their individual megachurches. They are building aisles and aisles in which everyone can find something, but behind it all a single corporate entity persists, and with it an ideology.

In devising New Life’s small-group system, Pastor Ted says that he asked himself and his staff a simple question: Do you like your neighbors? And, for that matter, do you even know your neighbors? The answers he got—the Golden Rule to the contrary—were “Not really” and “No.” Okay, said Pastor Ted, so why would you want to be in a small group with them? His point was that arbitrary small groups would make less sense than self-selected groups organized around common interests. Hence New Life members can choose among small groups dedicated to motorcycles, or rock climbing, or homeschooling, or protesting outside abortion clinics.

But Pastor Ted’s true genius lies in his organizational hierarchy, which ensures ideological rigidity even as it allows for individual expression. Not just anyone can lead a small group, much less a section; a battery of personality and spiritual tests must be undergone first, as well as an official background check.

I'll have to ponder the bit about "where the theory leads in practice: toward consolidation, toward control" since that tendency is not inevitable in all (or most) markets. But it could be in this one. But certainly, Stark's theory that denominations have self destructive tendencies doesn't not preclude churches from recognizing those tendencies and working to overcome them.

Thanks to a fine human browser, Scott of Hybla, for the link.

Christian unity drive pauses; black denominations not ready to join :: Chico Enterprise Record

A national celebration of Christian unity tentatively planned for September won't be held then. Religious leaders who have been trying to bring together many Christian groups, including liberals and conservatives, decided this week it's too soon to officially launch the new ecumenical group they're calling Christian Churches Together.

They're holding off mainly because black denominations are not ready to join the movement, two church officials told the Enterprise-Record Friday.Leaders of the black churches fear the new organization won't speak strongly on issues that are important to blacks, such as poverty and racism, the E-R was told.
Leaders of more than 30 denominations and church groups met at a Jesuit retreat center south of San Francisco for three days this week to discuss forming Christian Churches Together.

It was hoped that at least 25 of the groups would be ready to vote to join. Organizers agreed they'd need that number to launch the new movement. If that many joined, they said, they would hold a gathering Sept. 18 at the National Cathedral in Washington....


Friday, June 03, 2005

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sacked bishop’s move obstructed :: Solomon Star

The Most Reverend Frank Griswold said he had no knowledge of any relationship between the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Episcopal Church of Solomon Islands. “It (Episcopal Church of SI) is not connected in any way to the Episcopal Church, USA,” he said. “Our church in no way supports or endorses the defrocked cleric’s activities,” Rev Griswold said in a letter to the Church of Melanesia this week.

Rev Griswold made this statement in the light of the Church of Melanesia’s (COM) decision to defrock its former leader. According to COM, former bishop Legumana has hosted meetings at Honiara High School to raise funds for the establishment of an organisation calling itself the Episcopal Church of Solomon Islands.

The COM welcomed Bishop Griswold’s statement. It issued an official, but unsigned, statement on the row yesterday. In its statement, the COM said Bishop Griswold’s declaration showed that Mr Legumana’s group is in no way connected to the internationally recognised Episcopal Church. It was simply using the name of a respected church.

“A bishop is called to guard the ‘faith, unity and discipline of the church’ as no one can be loyal to two different ecclesiastical organisations. “If any ordained and consecrated person wants to lead people into schism, to accentuate division, then that person has broken his voice and the Archbishop has only done his duty in removing his licence to officiate in the Church of Melanesia,” the church said.