Daily Archives: September 13, 2007

Decision nears for Pittsburgh Episcopalians

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is moving closer to a decision on whether to break with its American parent church and to join a more conservative branch of the Anglican Communion.

Meeting Tuesday night at Trinity Episcopal Downtown, a Pittsburgh Diocese council moved forward a resolution that, if approved, would allow the diocese to leave the Episcopal Church and realign itself with another province of the Anglican Communion.

The 2.3-million member Episcopal Church is the Episcopal wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has more than 70 million members. A number of provinces of the communion in Africa are headed by conservative bishops who have provided oversight to some conservative Episcopalians unhappy with the church in the United States.

The resolution is supported by Bishop Duncan, the conservative leader of the Episcopal Diocese here. The resolution now heads to the diocese’s convention, which is scheduled for Nov. 2-3 in Johnstown.

The resolution could potentially change the centuries-old Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s constitution, which at present places the diocese under the authority of the larger Episcopal Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Living Church: Modified Primatial Vicar Plan to Be Proposed to Bishops

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will offer a revamped primatial vicar plan to the House of Bishops at their meeting next week in New Orleans, sources who have been briefed on the broad outline of the new proposal told The Living Church.

The plan is said to call for a nominee of the Presiding Bishop’s to exercise delegated pastoral authority over those dioceses that had requested alternate primatial oversight from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams following the 2006 General Convention.

However, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, said a plan that placed the ultimate authority in the hands of the Presiding Bishop was a non-starter. Fort Worth would not accept the “unilateral dictates” of the Presiding Bishop, he said.

Last November, Bishop Jefferts Schori proposed a “primatial vicar” scheme where she would appoint a bishop to serve as her “designated pastor,” presiding at consecrations and acting in her stead for “any other appropriate matters.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Bishops

New Indiana Anglican Church offers traditional worship

The pastor and parishioners at St. Michael the Archangel, a church that began serving Noblesville Sunday, are certain God has opened doors to a great future.

St. Michael the Archangel is an Orthodox Anglican church that was established in January as a mission of the Anglican Diocese of Bolivia. The mission church is the third one established in Indiana, with others in Nashville and Anderson. Sunday worship is held in the Winks Building at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds.

“We’re looking to be a church that is Bible-based, traditional, not agenda driven and a place where families can raise their children and learn about Christ,” said the Rev. Tom Tirman, pastor of all three Indiana Anglican churches.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Parish Ministry

Quincy diocese may leave Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church was given until Sept. 30 by Anglican archbishops from around the world to provide “unequivocal” assurance that it will not consecrate noncelibate homosexuals as bishops or allow blessings for same-sex unions.

So far, the American province has not complied.

“We’re praying the House of Bishops will have a change of heart when they meet in New Orleans Sept. 20-25,” Ackerman said in a statement. “If The Episcopal Church refuses to turn back, we will be forced to make a decision.”

The Rev. John Spencer, president of the diocesan standing committee, said the diocese was not trying to pre-empt the bishops’ meeting by discussing the proposals before the bishops meet.

“We’re required to finalize proposed synod resolutions now to meet canonical deadlines,” Spencer said. “It’s not our intention to prejudge what the House of Bishops may or may not do when they meet later this month.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

LA Times: State high court to review ruling on churches

Diocesan attorney John R. Shiner said Tuesday he was confident that the state Supreme Court would affirm the appellate court’s decision, which was unanimous.

Eric Sohlgren, lead attorney for St. James, said he was encouraged by the high court’s decision to review the case, and said it could affect trial proceedings for other churches embroiled in similar property disputes.

“We think it’s an important step toward calming the legal turmoil created by the appellate court decision,” Sohlgren said.

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

An Interview with Bill Murdoch

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Longtime Episcopal priest accused of sexual harassment in New Jersey

The sexton of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Peapack-Gladstone has filed suit against the rector emeritus of the parish, alleging the clergyman sexually harassed him more than a decade ago.

The Rev. Canon John Morrow, who was rector of the Somerset County church for more than 30 years before retiring in 1996, and who has since led worship at other Episcopal churches and chapels in the state, is named in the suit along with St. Luke’s and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey.

Sexton Richard Young, 68, of Chester, who still works at St. Luke’s, charged in the lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Morris County that from 1984 to 1996, he was subjected to unlawful touching on his chest and torso, inappropriate questioning about his sex life and abuse of control by Morrow. An alleged sexual assault took place at the clergyman’s Shore house, while Young was undressing to take a shower, the suit said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

An interesting Look Back: John Milbank on the Anglican Communion Struggle

It is clear that today there is a huge issue about the relation between Christianity and sex which is a part of the debate about what social order, if any, Christianity implies. Despite the decline in religious practice, the big secular ideal of socialism has also for the moment collapsed. Secular people only embrace capitalism half-heartedly, with a shrug — as unavoidable reality, not as an ideology. In this vacuum only religion offers ideals — either the conservative Protestants idealize capitalism, or others put forward religiously grounded communitarianisms and ecologies. The debate within religion — and this really means, for all pretense otherwise, the debate within Christianity — is now the great debate.

And part of this debate — a big part — is about sex. In just what way can there be a sexual path that is also a spiritual path? In a sense, this is a debate about human ecology, and it is notable that today, as earlier in the twentieth century, those who are “conservatively” critical of over-technologization and the exploitation of nature also tend to be in favor of a more positive attitude toward sex (D.H. Lawrence, J.C. Powys and Eric Gill, for example). Inversely, those who are more conservative, puritanical and legalistic about sex are often those who fully embrace technological modernity, the ruthless exploitation of nature and economic liberalism.

Moreover, in reality nearly all mainline Christian opinion has veered more toward the former combination than the latter. Even the Roman Catholic Church has taken new steps this century to admit more fully that sex as such, rightly exercised, is productive of good. And even the pope seems to concede, unlike his predecessors, that homosexual orientation as such is not wicked. Already, then, there has been a shift of Christian identity. Christianity is the religion of love — yet what is love? Is agape also eros? Is love of the neighbor entirely distinct from love of the friend and love of the lover, including physical love? Astonishingly, there has been no Christian consensus here: for example, Kierkegaard’s view is almost the opposite of that of Aquinas (the latter seeing agape as essentially also philia and eros, the former absolutely not).

To be divided about love and physical love may not be so trivial. Moreover, this is also a division about authority. Although I favor the gay cause, I actually think the conservatives are more or less right about the Bible. Only disingenuousness fails to see that the ancient Hebrews and later the rabbis associated homosexuality, like other forms of sexual deviancy, with idolatry. To turn from the true God and the true mode of worship was linked with a turning away from the true objects and modes of sexual devotion. Failure to acknowledge this reading is often linked with an old-fashioned denial that there was an ancient Hebrew (more than Greek) obsession with the question of what was “naturally” fitting and what was not. This is both a ritual and a moral matter, since the Torah makes no such distinction at bottom.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

New Social Sites Cater to People of a Certain Age

Older people are sticky.

That is the latest view from Silicon Valley. Technology investors and entrepreneurs, long obsessed with connecting to teenagers and 20-somethings, are starting a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and graying computer users.

The sites have names like Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya’s Mom, Boomj, and Boomertown. They look like Facebook ”” with wrinkles.

And they are seeking to capitalize on what investors say may be a profitable characteristic of older Internet users: they are less likely than youngsters to flit from one trendy site to the next.

“Teens are tire kickers ”” they hang around, cost you money and then leave,” said Paul Kedrosky, a venture capitalist and author of the blog “Infectious Greed.” Where Friendster was once the hot spot, Facebook and MySpace now draw the crowds of young people online.

“The older demographic has a bunch of interesting characteristics,” Mr. Kedrosky added, “not the least of which is that they hang around.”

This prospective and relative stickiness is helping drive a wave of new investment into boomer and older-oriented social networking sites that offer like-minded (and like-aged) individuals discussion and dating forums, photo-sharing, news and commentary, and chatter about diet, fitness and health care.

Last week, VantagePoint Ventures, an early investor in MySpace, announced that it had led a $16.5 million round of financing for Multiply, a social networking site aimed at people who are settled.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Dwight Sullivan: Remembering the Fulton Street revivial

Jeremiah C. Lamphier, a layman, started the revolution because he was helping his declining church near Wall Street in New York City. Posting flyers announcing a noon prayer meeting, he prayed alone in an empty room for the first half hour.

Finally someone joined him. Before the hour was over, six had attended. It was an ordinary prayer meeting, fervent but unspectacular. Meeting the next week, 20 attended. When 40 appeared the following week, they decided to go daily.

On Oct. 14, 1857, Wall Street experienced the Panic of 1857, one of the worst financial crises in American history. By the month’s end, another 100 people were participating in the daily prayer meeting.

Newspaper accounts of a November spiritual revival in Ontario, Canada, spurred prayer meetings throughout America. In New York City, the prayer movement spread so that by March 1858, newspapers reported that 10,000 businessmen were meeting regularly to pray. Every available room in churches was packed at noon for prayer and at evening for services. The happening gained front-page headlines in New York newspapers.

The fervency for prayer swept into Philadelphia and up into Boston and the Northeast. Like a wave, the movement splashed into Chicago and the Midwest. Though it started in the North, the spirit of prayer rippled into the South. Thousands came to Christ. Churches gained attendance.

Amazingly, it began by a layperson leading a small, obscure prayer group. It swelled into a tidal wave of prayer washing the nation, changing lives and reviving declining churches. It sounds like a plot in some cheesy Christian film, but it really happened!

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

Al-Qaida has revived, spread and has renewed capapbility

Al-Qaida has revived, extended its influence, and has the capacity to carry out a spectacular strike similar to the September 11 attacks on America, one of the world’s leading security thinktanks warned yesterday.
There is increasing evidence “that ‘core’ al-Qaida is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained an ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the western world despite the attrition it has suffered”, said the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). “The threat from Islamist terrorism remains as high as ever, and looks set to get worse,” it added.

“The US and its allies have failed to deal a death blow to al-Qaida; the organisation’s ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate,” it continued.

The warning came in the latest annual review of world affairs by the IISS. Its strategic survey paints a bleak picture of global security in the future….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Vatican, Bishops investigating Georgetown theologian Phan

(Please read the following article by way of background–KSH.)

Both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are investigating a book by a prominent American Catholic theologian, Vietnam-born Fr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University. The book raises issues about the uniqueness of Christ and the church, issues that were also behind recent censures of other high-profile theologians, as well as a recent Vatican declaration that the fullness of the Christian church resides in Catholicism alone.

The case confirms that no subject is of greater doctrinal concern for church authorities, including Pope Benedict XVI, than what they see as “religious relativism,” meaning the impression that Christ is analogous to other religious figures such as the Buddha, or that Christianity is one valid spiritual path among others.

Critics of writers such as Phan, who offer a positive theological evaluation of non-Christian religions, assert that their work courts confusion on these points, while others believe church authorities are drawing the borders of theological discussion too narrowly.

Phan, a priest of the Dallas diocese, is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The book in question is Phan’s 2004 Being Religious Interreligiously, published by Orbis.

Sources who asked not to be identified said that Phan received a July 2005 letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith signed by Archbishop Angelo Amato, the congregation’s number two official. It presented 19 observations under six headings, charging that Phan’s book “is notably confused on a number of points of Catholic doctrine and also contains serious ambiguities.”

The letter said the book is in tension with the 2000 Vatican document Dominus Iesus, which states that non-Christians are “in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Nightline Video Report: Muscular Christianity

An interesting segment to be sure.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

California Supreme Court Unanimously grants Petition for Review in Church Property Case

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. ”“ September 12, 2007 ”“ The California Supreme Court today unanimously granted the petitions by St. James Anglican Church, Newport Beach, All Saints’ Church, Long Beach, and St. David’s Anglican Church, North Hollywood, to review the Fourth Appellate District decision of Episcopal Church Cases.

The grant of review has the effect of nullifying the Fourth Appellate District decision, meaning that no trial court or attorney can rely upon it until the Supreme Court ultimately decides the case. This is encouraging news to countless church congregations in California, including Russian Orthodox, Anglican, Presbyterian and Evangelical, who have been threatened with the loss of their property after trial courts began to rely upon Episcopal Church Cases.

“Our petitions asked the Supreme Court to intervene and calm the legal turmoil caused by Episcopal Church Cases. By disregarding almost thirty years of California law where local church property rights and donations of local church members are respected, Episcopal Church Cases adopted a throwback theory where local church property could be confiscated by a large institutional church simply by passing a rule,” said Eric Sohlgren, lead attorney for St. James Church. “This unanimous and quick decision by the Supreme Court to grant review indicates that it has a strong interest in restoring clarity to the law in how California courts are to decide church property disputes.”

“We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to take this important case to help churches throughout California be able plan and grow for their future,” said Lynn Moyer, counsel for All Saints’ and St. David’s. “The same founding fathers who created the United States Constitution created the Constitution for Anglican churches in the United States following the American Revolution. Congregations were formed and independent long before any ”˜diocese’ or ”˜national church’ was ever established. It was never intended that these local congregations who are independent corporations put their property in trust for the Episcopal Church. Title to the properties is held by the local congregations. To allow the Episcopal Church to rip these properties away from these congregations after 80 years is wrong, as numerous families who have attended these churches for decades can attest.”

In July 2007, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, reversed the Orange County Superior Court’s prior ruling that the three former Episcopal churches, which ended their affiliation with the national denomination in 2004, did not forfeit their property by changing their affiliation to another province of the Anglican church. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law applying “neutral principles” (i.e., who holds the deed, who bought or donated the property, and whether the local church ever agreed to turn over the property), and instead ruled that denominations can take over local church property by simply passing an internal rule ”“ even if the local church is separately incorporated, bought and maintained the property, and never consented to the rule.

St. James, All Saints’ and St. David’s, as the sole property owners, never agreed to relinquish their property to the Episcopal Church upon changing their affiliation, and they have consistently maintained that they have the right to use and possess the property they have owned and maintained for decades.

The Supreme Court also granted review to decide whether a California statute which allows courts to expedite cases where people are sued for exercising their free speech rights, known as the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) is applicable to this dispute. The statute subjects to early scrutiny cases filed by large private interests to deter individuals from exercising their political or legal rights to free speech or to petition the government. Attorneys for the three churches argued that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles are large, wealthy and powerful religious organizations that sought to stifle these fundamental rights when church members spoke out about their disagreements with the Episcopal Church, including through the act of disaffiliation itself.

* * *

A Brief Recap

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles brought lawsuits against St. James, All Saints’ and St. David’s Anglican Churches and their volunteer board members in September of 2004. Subsequently, the national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits against the three local church corporations and their volunteer board members.

On August 15, 2005, the Honorable David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of St. James against the complaint brought by the Diocese of Los Angeles. In October 2005, Judge Velasquez issued a similar ruling in favor of All Saints and St. David’s. The Diocese of Los Angeles appealed the rulings to the California Court of Appeal.

In August 2005, the Complaint in Intervention filed separately by the national Episcopal Church (“TEC”) was still pending in the Orange County Superior Court.

In Fall 2005, the Court granted the three Churches’ challenges to TEC’s original Complaint in Intervention, but gave TEC an opportunity to amend the Complaint (but only if it could do so in good faith). TEC filed a First Amended Complaint in Intervention, which rehashed many of the church-rule arguments the Court had already rejected in prior rulings. The three local churches filed another challenge (called a demurrer) asking the Court to dismiss the First Amended Complaint without further leave to amend on the ground that even if all of the factual allegations were true, they did not state a legal wrong under California law. TEC also appealed that ruling to the California Court of Appeal.

In July 2007, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, in an opinion authored by Presiding Justice David G. Sills, reversed the Orange County Superior Court’s prior ruling that three church corporations which disaffiliated from the national denomination did not forfeit their property. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law, and Division Two of the Fourth Appellate District, by ruling that general churches can take over local church property by simply passing an internal rule ”“ even if the local church is separately incorporated, bought and maintained the property.

In August 2007, the three churches filed petitions with the California Supreme Court to settle a church property dispute case that affects countless churches and their members throughout California.

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

Ben Kwashi elected Archbishop of the Province of Jos

Dear All:

Peace in Jesus.

The Rt Rev Dr Benjamin Argak Kwashi, DD, Dmin, OON, has asked me to share with you that the church fathers meeting today have elected him to serve as Archbishop of the Province of Jos, Church of Nigeria.

In Christ,

The Rev Canon Dr Leslie DG Martin
American Chaplain to the Archbishop-elect of Jos

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria