Thursday, May 31, 2007

Over at the Daily Episcopalian my monthly essay for Episcopal Café is up. It's about evangelism.

You may also find this post about free will and brain chemistry to be of interest.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Breeding Inequality

The Economist:
There is a widening gulf between how the best- and least-educated Americans approach marriage and child-rearing. Among the elite (excluding film stars), the nuclear family is holding up quite well. Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.

At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%.
The Undercover Economist has this to say:
There is little doubt that virgins achieve better grades. Yet is this because sex kills brain cells, or because kids who are already bored at school look harder for ways to amuse themselves? Professor Sabia’s article in Economic Inquiry uses data on the timing of the decision to have sex to show that kids who decide to have sex were already doing badly at school.

Professor Sabia’s results show that a girl does not seem to be distracted at all by losing her virginity - perhaps because young boyfriends are not competent enough to be terribly distracting.

Be careful, though, because it’s different for boys. Professor Sabia finds that deciding to have sex will knock a few percentage points off your grade.
See also David Brooks:
There are at least two things we know about flourishing in a modern society. First, college students who attend religious services regularly do better than those that don’t. As Margarita Mooney, a Princeton sociologist, has demonstrated in her research, they work harder and are more engaged with campus life. Second, students who come from denominations that encourage dissent are more successful, on average, than students from denominations that don’t.

Headline: Anglican diocese defects over gays

Has The Times retracted this egregious blopper of a headline? Day 11 and counting.

Their vaunted religion writer, Ruth Gledhill, wrote:
In the biggest rift yet over gays, an entire diocese in the Anglican Church is to defect from the Episcopal Church of the US.

Sorry, Ruth, it ain't happened yet. Not sayin' it won't.

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
- Mark Twain


The Times has detailed report of the exodus of Christians from the Middle East.

Ironically, in most Gulf Coast Countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates there are large, unpersecuted Christian communities of temporary workers from around the world.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Episcopalians, Unitarians and Reformed Jews

Although the Episcopal Church is often considered part of the U.S. "Protestant establishment," a study of moral valuing across a national sample (Wood and Hughes 1984) found that Episcopalians formed a constellation with Unitarians and Reform Jews that stood separate from any other group of Christians. Because these two groups share with Episcopalians significant overrepresentation among elites today, this strongly suggests that the social status component operates in shaping life values.
William H. Swatos, Jr .

Woods and Hughes write,
In order to develop a dummy variable representing conservative religion, we used data from the General Social Surveys. Looking first at GSS samples for years not containing the pornography items, we examined the relationship between religion and a variety of attitudes (e.g. sexism, sexual behavior, abortion, tolerance) reflecting social conservatism. We found a consistent pattern that Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and "other" Protestants (not Episcopal) were the most conservative. Those in the "other" category, largely fundamentalist, were found consistently to be the most conservative, the strongest believers, and the most frequent church attenders. We also found that persons indicating they were Jewish, Episcopal, did not have a religion, or were in some other religion (i.e., other than those mentioned here) were the most "liberal" on these issues. We then looked at a variety of issues among samples in survey years in which the pornography items had been asked, and found the same pattern.
My emphasis.

Is Akinola incensed?

Shannon Johnston, Centrist

From Shannon Johnston's hometown paper:
The man chosen to lead Virginia Episcopalians will look to the heavens as he shepherds the centuries-old diocese threatened by divisions over homosexuality - and to the 1960s Alabama of his youth. Then a small boy living in the Jim Crow stronghold, the Very Rev. Shannon Johnston paid close attention to sit-ins and freedom rides unfolding around him, as well as resistance by bristling segregationists. "I saw how those who stayed in the middle, and tried to keep people together and talk and understand ... set a strong example of how to build up community," said Johnston, 48, who spoke to The Associated Press from the diocese's Richmond headquarters. "That was a witness I think I've never forgotten."

The former Mississippi rector will rely on those lessons of cooperation as he steps Saturday into a new role as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia - the nation's largest Episcopal gathering, and a flash point in a conflict over gay rights that's shaken the faith worldwide. Back in Tupelo, Miss., Johnston used his centrist theories to smooth congregation quibbles. In Virginia, where the church is split between those who support gay-friendly policies and others who feel the church has flouted biblical texts, Johnston hopes to again sweep people from both sides into the peaceful middle.

"Being in the center means finding a place and the ways in which people who are on either side of an issue can come together," Johnston told The AP. "Virginia has been known for decades, if not centuries, for being just such a place."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Headline News

We don't write 'em, we just pick 'em:

Solomons-led Anglicans Stay Clear of Gay Bishop - Something about splitting the baby in two?

Sunday Services with a Masculine Accent Better Fit for Bored Men
Related > 250,000 Christian Men to Re-Ignite Old Flame

I saw you staring at each other.
I saw your eyes begin to glow.
And I could tell you once were lovers.
You ain't hidin nothing that I don't know.
There's an old flame burning in your eyes
that tears can't drown and make-up can't disguise.
Now that old flame might not be stronger,
but it's been burnin longer
than any spark I might have started in your eyes.

My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.
Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why Conservative Churches are Growing

Why Conservative Churches are Growing (1972):
[Conservative churches] not only give evidence that religion is not obsolete and churches are not defunct but they contradict the contemporary notion of an acceptable religion. They are not "reasonable," they are not "tolerant," they are not ecumenical, they are not "relevant." Quite the contrary!

It is ironic that religious groups which persist in such "unreasonable" and "unsociable" behavior should be flourishing, while more "reasonable" and "sociable" bodies are not. It is not only ironic, but it suggests that our understanding of what causes a religious group to flourish is inadequate. Some dynamic seems to be at work that contradicts prevailing expectations.

(As quoted in Finke and Stark)
The author, Dean M. Kelley, was an executive at the National Council of Churches.

From Table 7.2 in Finke and Stark:
Membership per 1,000 Church Members (all denominations)

1940, 31.4
2000, 15.3
Southern Baptists
1940, 76.7
2000, 104.9
Church of God in Christ
1940, 2.6
2000, 36.2

Friday, May 18, 2007

Behind the times

Schism in the Greek Orthodox church persists between the moderate Orthodox establishment and the Calendarists who still follow the Julian calendar.

Taking things to the extreme? What would Noah say?
Mount Athos is best known for its centuries-old ban on women and even female animals (except for cats, which are needed to keep the rodent population down).
Afterall, sometimes we must be practical. If rodents allow females on Mount Athos, then so too must cats.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Figure 3.1 Religious Adherents 1776 and 1850

Finke and Stark:
Percent of All Religious Adherents
x = 1776
o = 1850

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 20.4%
oooo 4%

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 15.7%
oooo 3.5%

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 19%
oooooooooooo 11.6%

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 16.9%
ooooooooooooooooooooo 20.5%

xxx 2.5%
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 34.2%

xx 2%
oooooooooooooo 13.9%

Church numbers and self inflation

Episcopal Life Online:
Jefferts Schori acknowledged that all mainline denominations have been reduced in their representation in the general population, "but Episcopalians have done better than others," she said. "Even though most Americans say that they pray regularly, only 21 percent of Americans are in worship services on an average weekend. That is very different than 50 years ago."

"Our challenge," she stated, "is to retain the children we produce and to reach to new populations in this country and the vast population of the unchurched to whom we are a highly attractive alternative."
Institutional Honesty

Mainline Protestant churches -- Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and others -- are roundly criticized for hemorrhaging members for 40 years. And while membership has surely dropped, mainline churches are often the first to cleanse their rolls of the inactive to produce a more accurate figure.

The 15 million-member Seventh-day Adventists, for example, saw their U.S. numbers drop in recent years in part because a church audit found duplicates on membership rolls, said Kathleen Jones, an assistant for general statistics for the denomination. Those duplicates are being purged.

Often, new pastors want up-to-date numbers because they don't want to be blamed for any drops, said Lindner of the NCC. And some denominations assess fees to congregations based on membership, so the smaller the numbers, the smaller the fees.
Finke and Stark:
Hopelessly inflated statistics are precisely what are obtained when individuals are asked their religious affiliation. Ever since the start of public opinion polling in the late 1930s, surveys have found that approximately 85-95 percent of the population claims a religious affiliation.
Rather than being hopelessly inaccurate ... there are strong prima facie grounds for thinking that [U.S.] census statistics [based on reports by religious bodies] are relatively accurate.... The national rate of religious adherence based on the 1890 data is only 45 percent. ... the Bureau of the Census was very concerned with accuracy and provided extensive, sophisticated, and persuasive evaluations of its procedures.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Faith of our Mothers

Of attachments, religious and otherwise

From 1761 through 1800 a third of all first births in New England occured after less than nine months of marriage, despite harsh laws on fornication. [see 9] .... Single women in New England during the colonial period were more likely to be sexually active than to belong to a church -- in 1776 only about one out of five New Englanders had a religious affiliation.
--Finke and Stark, The Churching of America
One presumes that even if the baby weighed in well the father was not surprized by the premature arrival.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Why didn't AMiA celebrate with CANA?

David C. Steinmetz asks: "Which leaves observers with certain unanswered questions. Why did Akinola establish his own Nigerian alternative rather than support the already existing Anglican Mission in America established by Archbishop Kolini? What, if anything, will mark the difference between the two missionary initiatives? Why did the Anglican Mission, for its part, send no representative to the consecration? Does this action represent a further fragmentation of the conservative opposition?"


He also writes: Akinola "waited until May 5 to make his most important move.The reason for Akinola's delay seems to be that he wanted there to be no doubt that the leadership of the Episcopal Church would refuse to comply with the demands of the worldwide Anglican Communion before he acted -- especially the demand that it accept a "primatial vicar," or alternative chief presiding officer, for conservatives. Once the door to a primatial vicar was closed, Akinola offered a Nigerian alternative."

No, Minns was named and consecrated bishop of CANA last year. The secessions in Virginia occured in December. The ceremonial installation of Minns was going to happen no matter what. What Akinola did do was to attend the installation in spite of the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Was that visit to the US triggered by the rejection of the primatial vicar scheme? Perhaps.

Dawkinism versus fundamentalism

Ruth Gledhill blogging on her interview with Richard Dawkins:
What he is is passionate for what he describes as "the truth". Because he has aimed his writing, most notably in The God Delusion, at the fundamentalists he so detests, it carries something of the tone of the very preaching he decries. But with the rare and hugely appreciated luxury of being able to talk to him at depth, I had the privileged opportunity of being able to explore precisely what he does and does not believe. And what emerged was a man whose mind is not at all closed to the possibility of the transcendent. I would say - and indeed I did say this to him - that if some of our more intelligent and liberal Church of England and Episcopal bishops were quizzed in detail about what they really believed, and if they gave truthful replies, they might not be that far from the doctrine Dawkins is propagating. Indeed, I might go so far as to say that here we have a man who is in danger of founding a new religion of his own, a religion we might want to call Dawkinism.
More in Dawkins' own words: How dare you call me a fundamentalist.

I wonder what Dawkins would have to say about Alpha.

Related: See Michael Kinsley on Christopher Hitchens' latest God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. One bit:
most daring and original — would he embrace the old Church of England (Episcopalianism in America) and spend his declining years writing about the beauty of the hymns, the essential Britishness of village churchyards, the importance of protecting religion from the dangers of excessive faith, and so on?
Here's the first chapter.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Alphabet Soup

Thunder Jones draws our attention to the evolution of the names changes in CANA. (Thanks to Ann for the link.)

It's not news (the press release is from September 2005), but perhaps what's most glaring is the open statement "Church of Nigeria Redefines Anglican Communion" by taking the trouble to change its constitution to remove all references to 'communion with the see of Canterbury.' Since the Archbishop of Canterbury has always been a first among equals what the constitutional change signals is Akinola's determination to take matters into his own hands. (Compare this change to the preamble change by TEC described here (start at footnote 4 and work back).

The name changes are all documented at the Church of Nigeria website.

1. A word to Anglican Nigerians in American, April 7, 2005: "we announce the formation of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America."

2. Press Release, September 2005: Church of Nigeria Redefines Anglican Communion: "With a careful rewording of her constitution, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) redefined her relationship with all other Anglican Churches. All former references to ‘communion with the see of Canterbury’ were deleted .... This effectively gives legal teeth to the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas (CANA) formed to give a worshiping refuge to thousands in the USA who no longer feel welcomed to worship in the Liberal churches especially with the recent theological innovations encouraging practices which the Nigerians recognize as sin."

3. 16th November, 2005 The miracle of CANA continues!: "Earlier this year we announced CANA - a mission of the Church of Nigeria, a Convocation for Anglicans in North America."

4. Presently CANA says the acronym means Convocation of Anglicans in North America.


1. CANA = Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America
2. CANA = Convocation of Anglican Nigerians Churches in Americas
3. CANA = Convocation for of Anglicans Nigerians in North Americas
4. CANA = Convocation for of Anglicans in North America

I'd like to give you the html code for the above. Damned impressive.

That Covenant Design Group

You have to wonder what their designs are and who their covenant is with.

9th January 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury today announced the members of the Covenant Design Group that he has appointed in response to a request of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The group will meet under the chairmanship of the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, and includes experts in canon law, the nature and mission of the church and ecumenical relations from around the Communion. ...

The members are listed below:

The Most Revd Drexel Gomez, West Indies (1)
The Revd Victor Atta-Baffoe, West Africa
The Most Revd Dr John Chew, South East Asia (1)
Ms Sriyanganie Fernando, Ceylon
The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb, USA
The Rt Revd Santosh Marray, Indian Ocean
The Most Revd John Neill, Ireland
The Revd Canon Andrew Norman, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative
Chancellor Rubie Nottage, West Indies, Consultant
The Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, USA (2)
Ms Nomfundo Walaza, Southern Africa
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, Anglican Communion Office, Secretary


(1) "Bishop Schofield describes a Global South Steering Committee consisting of “John Chew,(8) Archbishop of Singapore; Drexel Gomez(9) of the West Indies and the Caribbean; Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, South America, and a [sic] three Archbishops from Africa, including Peter Akinola of Nigeria as Chairman.” Bishop Schofield also asserts that representatives of 10 American dioceses met in Virginia and submitted to the authority of the Steering Committee." (See section H here.)

(2) Member of Board of Directors of Institute for Religion and Democracy. See footnote 2, here.

Robin Hood

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican), Peter Akinola has picked up a new title for himself over the weekend. Robin Hood.

In his letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Akinola writes:
This is not something that brings any advantage to us – neither financial nor political. We have actually found it to be a very costly initiative and yet we believe that we have no other choice if we are to remain faithful to the gospel mandate. As I stated to you, and all of the primates in Dar es Salaam, although CANA is an initiative of the Church of Nigeria – and therefore a bonafide branch of the Communion - we have no desire to cling to it. CANA is for the Communion and we are more than happy to surrender it to the Communion once the conditions that prompted our division have been overturned.
I'm not sure why he needs to provide such a defense -- surely he is taking property of the Episcopal Church out of conviction that they are better allocated elsewhere, not for financial gain. He has of course held down the costs of his initiative by this Robin Hood strategy. It's nice to hear that he's ready to give it back when these nasty disagreements are over.

More highlights over at The Lead.

Must reading

The Report of the House of Bishops' Task Force on Property Disputes is up over at the Daily Episcopalian.

It is well worth reading in full.

South Carolina lowcountry property disputes

Who's got the story right concerning the judge's orders in the AMiA versus Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina dispute over the Pawley's Island complex?

A. Kendall Harmon?: "As I feared, the Episcopal News Service article about the ruling is not accurate. But read it for yourself and see if you agree."


B. Adam Parker of the Post and Courier: "The judge ordered that the amendments made to the parish's certificate of incorporation, amendments meant to disassociate the parish from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina, are to be cancelled, and he said members of the breakaway parish did not have a legal right to use the property."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Quotes of the day: Tobias Haller and Martin Reynolds

Tobias commenting at Thinking Anglicans:
The ABC has again and again shown that his primary interest is the continued existence of the ecclesiastical institution, and has even sacrificed his personal beliefs about the underlying issues -- and called on TEC to do the same. By challenging the institution, Akinola attacks the very thing Canterbury has tried to protect. This is more than a tactical error; it is a strategic mistake.
Martin Reynolds, same place:
It has always been Dr Williams’ position that, having pulled back the Americans and Canadians to a Windsor position, the real crisis would come for the so called “orthodox” to live with the position of open debate and diverse opinions recognised in the Windsor Report.
Indeed. Or, in the words of Mike, "Who is 'Windsor Compliant' now?"

Myths and realities in the history of the Episcopal Church

The latest Church Times has a useful article about the history of the Episcopal Church. There are some things here to ponder:
The Episcopal Church in the newly independent United States made a virtue of necessity, and repudiated the state connection when it no longer had it anyway.

So much for the myth: the historical reality is that Episcopalians have performed a crucial part in witnessing to the common faith of the Church. Its eucharistic liturgy remains notable for its fidelity to the Early Church. Its involvement of laity in the governance of the Church after independence was a critical model in the revival of synodical government throughout the Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church revived “missionary bishops”, who went ahead of settlers rather than following them. These likewise became the model for the expansion of the Church in the British Empire.

American and Canadian bishops essentially forced the calling of the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 on a reluctant Archbishop Longley. They wanted to have their say on the theological developments represented by Essays and Reviews and by Bishop Colenso’s denial of the historicity of the Pentateuch. (They condemned them.)
The Americans also freely criticised the authority of the civil courts and the Privy Council over doctrinal disputes within the Church of England. All the time, they harked back to the model of the Primitive Church. English churchmen were resentful of colonials’ telling them how to run their Church.

Today, the issues are different and the roles are reversed. Now it is the American bishops who resist claims of reciprocal obligation. They resent the insistence that unless we are interdependent and mutually accountable, our Communion is meaningless.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Conservatives who embrace Darwin

The New York Times today has a story about how some conservatives have embraced Darwin:
Some of these thinkers have gone one step further, arguing that Darwin’s scientific theories about the evolution of species can be applied to today’s patterns of human behavior, and that natural selection can provide support for many bedrock conservative ideas, like traditional social roles for men and women, free-market capitalism and governmental checks and balances.

“I do indeed believe conservatives need Charles Darwin,” said Larry Arnhart, a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, who has spearheaded the cause. “The intellectual vitality of conservatism in the 21st century will depend on the success of conservatives in appealing to advances in the biology of human nature as confirming conservative thought.”

The arguments have played out in recent books, magazine articles and blogs, as well as at a conference on Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
The institutions that successfully evolved to deal with this natural order were conservative ones, founded in sentiment, tradition and judgment, like limited government and a system of balances to curb unchecked power, he explains. Unlike leftists, who assume “a utopian vision of human nature” liberated from the constraints of biology, Mr. Arnhart says, conservatives assume that evolved social traditions have more wisdom than rationally planned reforms.
Links can be found at Darwinian Conservatism.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Enough with the navel gazing

Quote of the day:
The Anglicans, getting used to the idea of their first woman primate in the US, really do need to stop looking inward....

-Ruth Gledhill

Standard procedure: sweep it under the rug

Further proof that the natural propensity of churches - Anglican, Roman Catholic, conservative, liberal, whatever - is to sweep sexual abuse by clergy under the rug so as to make it someone else's problem and avoid embarassment to the church: Child abuse: CofE cops it again (Ruth Gledhill).

Yes, churches have put into place procedures and structures to avoid such failures of the church in the future. But we must remain vigilant and mindful that the instituional church's natural propensity is evident and changes in declared procedure do not imply a change of - yes I will put it this - heart.

Mad Priest comments:
The problem we have in England is that it is impossible to do anything about potential abusers, no matter how obvious it is that there is a high possibility that they will abuse, until they actually commit a crime and are found out. With the security of tenure that incumbents enjoy by law in my country a bishop cannot move a priest to a child free environment without that priest's agreement.It's like a bomb disposal team standing around an unexploded bomb and the commander says, "Well, there's nothing we can do, lads, until it goes off."

In the case at hand, the bomb did go off and the church failed to act. But we do have a problem if the church must remain silent even when there are warning signs that someone might abuse. Worse, we only encourage abuse when we sweep things under the rug.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A second RSVP for the day

A few days ago I observed (link fixed) that it's not clear whether the traditional Anglican groups that have split off from The Episcopal Church were rivals or lovers. Today's Washington Times provides some insight:
"There's a sense that Akinola is a very strong leader. Does he want to take over?" said Bishop John Rodgers, the retired co-founder of the Anglican Mission in America, which was founded in 2000 as a U.S. breakaway group by foreign bishops.

Like many church leaders invited, Bishop Rodgers had prior commitments and will not come. He said CANA is perceived as recruiting ACN churches into its ranks, "although I know," he added, "Martyn just wants a safe place where people can be orthodox."

Not all conservatives are convinced CANA wants to be a team player.

"No one can be sure if they're competing against us or cooperating with us," an ACN source said.

The WT also reports:
A phone survey of 10 Episcopal dioceses that belong to the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) -- a confederation that opposes the Robinson consecration -- revealed that only its moderator, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, plans to attend. Bishop Don Harvey, moderator of the Anglican Network of Canada, has also accepted.

CANA and Bishop Lee

Thank God no one take The Washington Times seriously. It is useful sometimes for revealing the image CANA-nites would project.

The Washington Times:
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is confronting Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola head-on with a new demand that he not install Truro Church rector Martyn Minns as head of a parallel denomination this coming weekend.
Archbishop Akinola does not have the permission to minister within the geographical boundaries of the Diocese of Virginia, which lost 11 parishes about 9,000 people to CANA last winter.

"We share the concerns of the presiding bishop," said diocesan spokesman Patrick Getlein, adding the diocese still refers to the 11 parishes as "occupied by Nigerian Anglicans."

The presiding bishop added that "such action would not help the efforts of reconciliation that are taking place in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion as a whole. Such action would display to the world division and disunity that are not part of the mind of Christ, which we must strive to display to all."
Bishop Minns called her actions "predictable."

"The truth of the matter is we are in a broken relationship right now and the normal things," such as asking a diocesan bishop's permission to minister, "aren't working," he said.
Bishop Minns pointed out the nondenominational 3,500-seat chapel was selected as the venue for Saturday's ceremony so as not to antagonize the diocese.

"We delayed this installation for months," he added, "and we deliberately did not have it in an Episcopal church. I really do want to make this event a positive not a negative witness for Christ."

Organizers have downplayed Archbishop Akinola's role at Saturday's installation. Unlike past visits to Virginia, the archbishop is neither giving the main sermon nor appearing at any press conferences.
Good idea. The more we hear from Akinola the better things get.

Bishop Lee yesterday wrote to his flock. I believe it useful for you to see the kinds of impolite comments it registered here, and here, but not here because I don't link to that dude.


Recently I asked the question, did our Presiding Bishop change her tune about inviting Akinola?

The Washington Times provides one answer:
The head of the 2.3-million-member denomination first made her wishes known last week in a request leaked to the New York Times. When that did not produce a response, Bishop Jefferts Schori sent Archbishop Akinola an official letter Monday.
Is the Washington Times implying a request was sent to Akinola? And why the PB's original statement being characterized as a leak? It wasn't a leak. The NYT asked for her views and she provided them with a statement.

What was made public was her letter to Akinola of April 30. That letter requesting that he not come to the US for the installation of the unelected Martyn Minns.

LATER. May 3 in The Washington Times:
Earlier this week, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent Archbishop Akinola a request by e-mail and airmail that he not officiate at the gathering.

Canon Akin Tunde Popoola, a spokesman for the archbishop, e-mailed The Washington Times yesterday morning to say they had received neither request.

"It will however be strange that [the Episcopal Church], which had all along explained why the election, consecration and enthronement of Gene is irreversible," he wrote, "suddenly feels that of Martyn Minns, elected by the Nigerian House of Bishops, can be tampered with."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bishop Jack Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth

No breaking news, but the Fort Worth Weekly has a good survey of life in the diocese under the leadership of Jack Iker. Well worth the read.

Don't come to US, Akinola?

Has Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori changed her tune?

Here's part of what she wrote in a statement issued April 28 (source):"I have only just become aware of the possible visit by the Primate of Nigeria. Unfortunately, my office has not been directly informed of his pending visit, but we will now pursue extending to him a personal invitation to see him while he is in the United States. I regret that he has apparently accepted an invitation to provide episcopal ministry here without any notice or prior invitation."

Characteristic of our Presiding Bishop, her statement reflects both hospitality and rebuke (but not anger).

On April 30th she sent Akinola a letter which opens, "I am writing this letter with my prayers for you and for the entire worldwide Anglican Communion from a fellow child of Christ. I understand from press reports you are planning to come to the United States to install Martyn Minns as a bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. I strongly urge you not to do so."

The letter does not include "a personal invitation to see him while he is in the United States."

What happened to her hospitality? Perhaps it's still available, but has been quietly refused. Could it be that Akinola signaled he wished to be saved the embarassment of declining an open invitation to visit our Presiding Bishop?


The conservative Episco-blogosphere is aghast that the conservative Diocese of South Carolina has won its latest round to keep All Saints Pawley's Island. See: Court says church membership rulings rest with higher authorities. The ruling undercuts the leverage conservative parishes have by making it less likely they will leave The Episcopal Church.

So, why would the Diocese of South Carolina continue a vigourous legal battle to keep the Pawley's Island property? Is the diocese perhaps less likely to leave The Episcopal Church than previously thought? You will remember the stumbling block in the consents for South Carolina's bishop-elect -- statements that some interpreted as a willingness to follow the lead of Pawley's Island and take the diocese out of The Episcopal Church.

Has the Diocese of South Carolina blundered, or is it behaving rationally? There are at least two theories consistent with a rational legal strategy on the part of the diocese.

One is the power-politics theory. It stems from the current fragmentation of conservative Anglican-like entities. Consider the negotiations that would surround an attempt to reconsolidate orthodox Anglicans in lower South Carolina. Pawley's Island is presently the center of the Anglican Mission in America. Who would be most likely to be in leadership? There's no love lost between the diocese and AMiA.

Two is what I call the judo-schismatics theory. Consider the potential for property disputes should the diocese leave TEC. There is a well-organized group of liberal Episcopalians in the diocese who would oppose this move. The diocese does not have an interest in giving them tools to claim church property and stay loyal to The Episcopal Church.

My pet theory is the second.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A new kind of Episcopal Church property dispute

Property nobody can afford to maintain. There's more than one example today alone.

1. Everyone's washing their hands of this church - "An argument between the city of Belle Plaine and the Scott County Historical Society over who is responsible for upkeep of the empty church reached a symbolic moment this spring when the historical society mailed the keys back to the city, washing its hands of a 99-year lease.Built in 1868, the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration features charming prairie Gothic architecture, but it never had much in the way of parishioners."

2. Episcopal cathedral in Portage sold - "The Cathedral of Christ the King in Portage has been sold, members of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan were told. Who has purchased the church for $1.275 million and what will be done with the familiar landmark building and its prime property remain unknown. ... The cathedral was built in 1969 for $2 million. The diocese began thinking about a sale in 2004 because of tight finances and a dwindling church maintenance fund. In Gepert's letter Sunday, the bishop outlined some of the reasons the sale was decided, including the dwindling of a $1.5 million fund that had been set up for the operation of the cathedral when it was built." Let's just say it has adventurous architecture.