Daily Archives: July 7, 2007

Colin Slee is Upset Over the proposed Anglican Covenant

Tomorrow the general synod of the Church of England will be asked to pass a resolution from the House of Bishops that hands a blank cheque to the archbishops in negotiations with the rest of the Anglican communion for a “covenant”.

The Church of England arose from the Elizabethan settlement of 1559, which settled half a century of vicious religious bigotry by virtue of a broad-based generous church with porous edges, shrewd intentional vagueness about doctrinal certainty and governance that included bishops, priests and people (laity). If the synod passes the motion unamended, the nature of the Church of England will change dramatically; first, because the way will be open for bishops to agree a document without recourse to the clergy and the laity. This looks curiously like a form of governance that the English Reformation abolished, a Curia, rule by the bishops. Secondly, the way will be paved for the “covenant” between provinces of the Anglican communion worldwide and, however widely drawn that is, some decision-making power will be ceded overseas, exporting some of its historic inheritance.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Virginia Anglicans send missionaries despite lawsuit

From a Virginia paper, the Stafford County Sun:

FAIRFAX – Despite the major split in the Episcopal Church over the ordination of gay ministers, a spokesman for the breakaway Anglican segment insists they must focus, not on the ongoing legal battles, but through continuing Christian service.

According to Jim Oakes, vice-chair of the Anglican District of Virginia, “?our churches will remain as committed to fulfilling the Great Commission through service as they are to holding steadfast to orthodox Anglicanism and honoring the historic teachings of the church.”

The Anglican District of Virginia is planning approximately 30 trips with 100 to 200 Virginian missionaries in 2007. Its focus is aiding people’s practical needs. Each trip will last one to two weeks. One church may sponsor the trip while members from other congregations can join it.

Fairfax and Falls Church missionaries have been making trips to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

“There are tens of thousands still homeless down there and we need to help them,” said Oakes, a member of Truro Church – an Anglican church in Fairfax.

This summer, Truro is again sending its team to work in Anglican Rev. Jerry Kramer’s flooded city. The Anglican Church is also sending teams to Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa to provide help with schooling and provide educational services. Locations are chosen based upon the church’s historical tie with the region.

“We look for relationships and existent structures with which we can work versus just blunder in and about in these places,” Oakes said.

Oakes has personally been on eight African mission trips. He has never felt danger.

“Our hosts are looking out for our welfare and will never let us go into dangerous places,” he said.

In Kenya, the church’s “Five Talents Missionary” will set up small micro-businesses. Africans will be lent $100 in start-up money to buy tools, for instance. The goal of the mission is to teach basic business skills.

The Lakota Sioux in South Dakota are also being helped.

“They are very needy,” said Oakes. “We will provide food, training, coats, encouragement and Bibles. In South Dakota it gets very cold during the winter months.”

In Ohio, mission teams will be building houses, in undisclosed locations, for battered women.

Although the mission trips are moving forward, the church’s ongoing legal battle is still an issue.

The rest is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

An interesting Summer Reading / Blogging idea from Breakpoint

Got your summer reading list planned? If you’re looking for some interesting book suggestions, and/or some opportunities to discuss what you’re reading with others, check out Breakpoint’s summer “Blog a Book” challenge.

Blog-a-Book: Summer reading challenge

Book Perhaps you heard Chuck Colson talking today about BreakPoint’s new summer reading list. Here’s the commentary, in case you didn’t — and here’s the list, compiled of all those book suggestions we tossed around the last few weeks.

And here’s a challenge for those of you who love to read:

Next week a group of us bloggers, along with two guest bloggers from our internship program, are starting “Blog-a-Book.” It’s an idea we got from Slate’s “Blog the Bible” feature, although our vision is just a bit less ambitious. Each of us has selected a book from the new reading list and, for nine weeks (starting July 9), will be reading it and writing about it here on the blog.

We’d like to challenge you to join us. If you’re game, choose a book from the list and blog along with us! You can use the comment section on any of our Blog-a-Book posts to log your thoughts and impressions on what you’re reading.

The full blog entry is here.


Personally, this elf would love to see some “book blogging” on T19 this summer, or perhaps Stand Firm? Sarah Hey set an example recently with her marvellous post on Bleak House. And yes, that post got this elf re-reading Bleak House! I’m currently on chapter 36…! 😉

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Books

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori ponders the Great Commission

Pondering the Great Commission
Baptism not a goal, but a relationship with God
By Katharine Jefferts Schori, July 06, 2007

[Episcopal Life] I met recently with a group of appointed missionaries of the Episcopal Church. They gathered for 10 days in New York for orientation before leaving to do mission. It was an enormous privilege to meet them and see their energy and enthusiasm (which means “filled with God”) for this adventure.

We had an opportunity for conversation, and one young man shared his concern about how to understand the Great Commission, particularly the directive to baptize, especially in a multifaith environment. It was a wonderful question that engages us all at one level or another.

How do we engage in evangelism, and particularly in the specific directives of Matthew 28:19-20? Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This passage marks the end of Matthew’s Gospel, and its explicitly Trinitarian language should make us aware that it probably reflects the practice of early Christian communities, some time after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet the question remains: How do we respond to this sending of the disciples, in which we understand all Christians participate, into a multifaith world?

If we believe that Jesus’ saving work is for the whole world, that should relieve some of our immediate anxiety. He is pretty clear that he is not here to judge the world, but to love the world and invite all into relationship with Love itself (John 12:32 — And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself — and John 12:47 — I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world). Judgment comes at the end of time, and until then you and I repeatedly are urged not to judge others.

Yet the ancient question remains: Is baptism necessary for salvation? Theologians have wrestled with this in a number of ways and made some remarkably gracious and open-ended responses. Vatican II affirmed that salvation is possible outside the church, even though some statements by Roman Catholic authorities in years since have sought to retreat from that position.

Karl Rahner spoke about “anonymous Christians,” whose identity is known to God alone. John MacQuarrie recognized the presence of the Logos or Word in other traditions.

But the more interesting question has to do with baptism itself. Like all sacraments, we understand baptism as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace (Catechism, BCP, p. 857). It is an outward recognition of grace that is both given and already present through God’s action.

When we look at some of the lives of holy people who follow other religious traditions, what do we see? Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama both exemplify Christ-like lives. Would we assume that there is no grace present in lives like these? A conclusion of that sort seems to verge on the only unforgivable sin, against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:30-32).

If I believe that God is more than I can imagine, conceptualize or understand, then I must be willing to acknowledge that God may act in ways that are beyond my ken, including in people who do not follow the Judeo-Christian tradition. Note that I include our Jewish brothers and sisters, for Scripture is very clear that God made a covenant with Israel. That covenant was not abrogated in Jesus. Scripture also speaks of a covenant with Abraham that extends to his offspring, including Ishmael. Our Muslim brothers and sisters claim him as their ancestor. In some way, God continues to act in the tradition we call Islam.

Well, if God is already at work in other religious traditions, why would we bother to teach, make disciples or baptize? The focus of our evangelical work can never be imposing our own will (despite the wretched examples of forced conversion in the history of Christianity), but there is a real urgency to sharing the good news.

The full article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

New Online Church Aims to Reach Those with No Experience of God, Christianity or Church

Ripon, England, (PRWEB) July 5, 2007 — Holy Trinity Church Ripon has launched an online ‘church’ for people who are not already engaged with the Christian faith, and who are looking for answers, but may not feel ready (or be able) to walk into a church building. Its goal is to help people discover if God is of relevance to them today, providing a safe and self-directed way to find straightforward answers to questions about Christianity. Longer-term, the goal is to encourage them to find a local church where they can feel at home.

Very few churches exist purely online, and Church on the Net (www.church-on-the-net.com) is unique because it is evangelistic, rather than designed to serve believers or any pre-existing fellowship. The team behind the project says that as well as agnostics, atheists and seekers, however, the online church may be useful to new Christians afraid of asking ‘silly’ questions, Christians who have slipped away from an active faith, and those who find it difficult to meet together (such as the housebound, carers, and those in remote areas or who face persecution).

“As odd as it may seem to Christians, who have all the advantages of fellowship through belonging to a traditional church, there are huge numbers of people who are accustomed to being part of online communities, whose ‘friends’ they may never meet face-to-face,” says Mark Tanner, vicar of Holy Trinity Ripon. “The idea of doing things online feels safe and attractive to them, so why not introduce church into that lifestyle?”

Church on the Net is divided into three sections:

· a reference section, with 85 articles offering explanations or perspectives on many issues relating to God, church and Christianity, including common and difficult questions

· a weekly article, updated every Sunday, exploring the Christian faith and how it is lived out on a daily basis. The launch address has been provided by the Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon & Leeds

· an interactive community area, where visitors can engage with the site and one another through forums and blogs.

The full article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Western Kansas face financial shortfalls

From the Living Church:

Two Dioceses Report Financial Shortfall

The dioceses of Pittsburgh and Western Kansas have reported financial shortfalls of more than 15 percent recently.

At its June 5 meeting, the Pittsburgh diocesan council approved major budget adjustments due to lower than anticipated assessment income and litigation costs, both caused by renewed activity in the lawsuit initiated by Calvary Church, Pittsburgh. The diocese is now estimating legal expenses of $500,000 for 2007.

After the 75th General Convention when Pittsburgh and six other dioceses requested alternate primatial oversight, Calvary Church returned to court seeking through discovery to obtain copies of all communication between the diocesan leadership, the Anglican Communion Network and the Global South primates.

The original budget for 2007 was $1.7 million. After additions for legal fees and a few reductions, the revised budget for the 2007 is now $2.2 million. The new figure takes into account the escrowing of Calvary’s assessment. To cover the estimated legal fees and the Calvary shortfall, the diocesan governing bodies have decided to draw $220,500 from operating reserve; use $335,000 approved by the board of trustees from funds they control; and use $60,000 given by supporters for the purpose of covering lawsuit costs.

A very early draft 2008 budget would reduce diocesan expenses by the amount of Calvary’s assessment. The diocese plans to live within its means, according to Peter Frank, director of communications for the diocese.

The shortfall in the Diocese of Western Kansas began when its application for a $65,000 DFMS partnership grant was not renewed. Several years ago the criteria for approving partnership grants was changed from block grants which could be used to fund continuing operations to grant proposals for specific ministry projects. The loss of $65,000 out of a $350,000 annual budget was significant, according to the Rev. Canon James Cox, diocesan treasurer.

The rest of the story is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Data

Connecticut Parish and Diocese Experience Growing tension

From the New York Times:

In Trinity’s case, parishioners say their situation is different, since the church traces its roots to 1747, 38 years before the first general convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Moreover, Trinity’s real estate and other property has “always been held in its own name,” according to a letter sent Monday by the parish’s lawyer, Howard M. Wood III, to Bishop Smith. Mr. Wood also warned that “any interference with the property rights of Trinity Church Society will be met with a claim of trespass.”

Local police are aware of the situation at the church but believe a showdown on Sunday is unlikely. “We had a discussion with the diocese, and it appears that there isn’t going to be any action taken on Sunday,” said Lt. Thomas Grimaldi, a spokesman for the Bristol police. “They’re going to take the legal route.”

John W. Spaeth III, a top administrative aide to Bishop Smith in Hartford, dismissed the notion of a confrontation. “There are canonical ways we will work with to seize the property,” he said. “We’re not people who move quickly. We’re people who are thoughtful and try to negotiate.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Andrew Norfolk: The unexpected profile of the modern terrorist

Also from this morning’s (London) Times:

If someone hates us so much that he is prepared to sacrifice his own life in order to commit mass murder, then we want to find a rational explanation in his personality or his background to separate him from the rest of us.

He would ideally have grown up in deprivation, with a dysfunctional family, few friends, minimal education, a poverty of expectation and a world view that can be easily moulded by the Islamist zealots whose nihilistic creed offers a simple, deadly solution to all of life’s problems.

The reality, disturbingly, is very different. A study of 172 al-Qaeda terrorists conducted four years ago by Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Pakistan, found that 90 per cent came from a relatively stable, secure background.

Three quarters were from middle-class or upper-class families, two thirds went to college and two thirds were professionals or semi-professionals, often engineers, physicians, architects or scientists. The average age for making an active commitment to violent jihad was 26, and three quarters of the terrorists were married, most of them with children. Only one in a hundred had shown any form of psychotic disorder. Two thirds became drawn towards a terror group while living in a country that was not their homeland.

Dr Sageman’s findings, published in 2004 in Understanding Terrorist Networks, led him to conclude that “most of these men were upwardly and geographically mobile”. He wrote: “Because they were the best and brightest, they were sent abroad to study. They came from moderately religious, caring, middle-class families. They spoke three, four, five, six languages.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

The Ratzinger Effect: more money, more pilgrims ”“ and lots more Latin

From the (London) Times:

With donations to the Church from around the world almost doubling and pilgrims pouring into Rome in ever-greater numbers, Vatican watchers are beginning to reassess the two-year-old pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and noting a positive “Ratzinger effect”.

Today the Vatican will publish the Pope’s “motu proprio” decree allowing broader use by Roman Catholics of the Latin Tridentine Mass ”” the pontiff’s last act before leaving for his traditional summer holiday.

The move, which amends the Second Vatican Council’s decision in the 1960s that worship should be in the vernacular, is regarded as yet another sign of Benedict’s conservative attachment to tradition and doctrine. Some senior Catholics in Britain have accused him of “encouraging those who want to turn the clock back” and say that they fear the rite will revive preVatican II prayers for the conversion of “the perfidious Jews”.

The Vatican denies this, however, and points instead to the huge appeal of the Latin Mass ”” and Gregorian chant ”” not only for disaffected right-wing Catholics but also for many ordinary believers who value “the sheer beauty” of the ancient liturgy. “This is a Pope who ”” contrary to conventional wisdom ”” is in tune with the faithful,” one Vatican source said.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic