Daily Archives: October 21, 2007

In Gibraltar, Historic Cathedral Seeks £800,000 for Vital Restoration Work

It is one of Gibraltar’s almost forgotten historic landmarks, on which decades of wear and weather (as well as dwindling congregations) have taken their toll; but a major campaign is under way to raise more than £800,000 to restore, repair and refurbish the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Gibraltar, the 170-year-old building that, in theory at least, is the spiritual hub of the Anglican diocese in Europe.
Built between 1825 and 1832 the church was consecrated in 1838 and elevated to the status of a cathedral four years later, but time and the season have attacked the fabric and as well as a need to replace the roof and remove asbestos which was used in past repairs and building work the cathedral has to be rewired and a new sound system installed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Europe

Time Magazine: When the Pope Comes to the Party

It’s hard not to notice when the Pope shows up. And you can sometimes say the same when he doesn’t. Last fall, Pope Benedict XVI was a notable no-show at a September ceremony to mark 20 years since John Paul II had hosted a groundbreaking gathering of world religious leaders in Assisi, Italy. Some viewed the Pope’s absence as a slap to those working for inter-faith dialogue, both inside and outside the Catholic Church,. On Sunday, however, Benedict will be center stage at the most lavish, and well-attended inter-religious ceremony of his papacy, organized by the same Sant’Egidio community that helped launch Assisi. What has changed? Why is Benedict marking 21 years since “the spirit of Assisi” was uncorked, after skipping out on the 20th anniversary?

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools

The young teacher hung his head, avoiding eye contact. Yes, he had touched a fifth-grader’s breast during recess. “I guess it was just lust of the flesh,” he told his boss.

That got Gary C. Lindsey fired from his first teaching job in Oelwein, Iowa. But it didn’t end his career. He taught for decades in Illinois and Iowa, fending off at least a half-dozen more abuse accusations.

When he finally surrendered his teaching license in 2004 ”” 40 years after that first little girl came forward ”” it wasn’t a principal or a state agency that ended his career. It was one persistent victim and her parents.

Lindsey’s case is just a small example of a widespread problem in American schools: sexual misconduct by the very teachers who are supposed to be nurturing the nation’s children.

Students in America’s schools are groped. They’re raped. They’re pursued, seduced and think they’re in love.

An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

In Connecticut, Stratford church reflects nation's history

The first parishioners of Christ Episcopal Church were forced to worship underground in people’s Stratford homes 300 years ago to avoid harassment by the dominant Congregationalists.
It was a religious turnabout since the Congregationalists had fled to the New World to escape persecution by the Church of England, with which the Episcopal, or Anglican, faith is affiliated.

Today, the 223 families who comprise the Episcopal parish at 2000 Main St. are proudly ”” and publicly ”” celebrating the third century of their church, the first Episcopal church established in the Connecticut colony.

The birth of the Anglican Church in the United States mirrored the birth of the nation, according to the Rev. Robert Stuhlmann, the 30th pastor of Christ Episcopal Church.

Most of the 12 brave men who established the local parish in 1707 ended up in jail for their defiance of the General Court of Connecticut, which said there could be only one church ”” and it was Congregational.

That was not unlike the fate of the daring men who attached their signature to the Declaration of Independence. Many of them faced death threats, jail and loss of property. Eighty years after the formation of the Anglican Church in Stratford, another group of brave men signed the U.S. Constitution, and Stratford’s church had a direct role in that historic document.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

Rowan Williams: Britain's abortion debate lacks a moral dimension

The history of the 1967 Act’s implementation is an object lesson in how slippage can occur between thinking compassionately about exceptional cases and losing the sense of a normative position. I don’t think we’re yet at the point where such a sense has been entirely lost. Even if some of the language about foetal rights is uncertain and confused, it illustrates the half-articulate conviction that the unborn child does merit protection. And the furore around Channel 4’s recent broadcast about abortion, with its vivid images of the unborn, shows that there remains an instinctive recognition of humanity in the foetus even at very early stages.

But the slippage is there. This is not an argument for unalterable prohibitions in law against abortion in every circumstance – or against divorce or civil partnerships; there is room for disagreement over appropriate legal provision in all these areas. But it is an argument for keeping our eyes open for the unintended consequences, the erosion of something once taken for granted that occurs when we do not keep in focus the fundamental convictions about humanity that inform not only our responses to crisis, but our routine relationships with one another.

Precisely because we don’t bring these convictions to light all that often, they can shift or weaken without our noticing. It’s not a good habit for societies to get into; this debate, and the history of what has happened in the wake of the 1967 Act, should remind us of some of the potential costs of such a habit in other areas.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Central Florida

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Central Florida
To be Read or otherwise Distributed in all of our Congregations
On Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The following agreed statement was released by all of the participants in a meeting held at Diocesan House on Thursday of this past week:

“On Thursday, October 18, 2007, the Rectors and Senior Wardens of seven Parishes of the Diocese of Central Florida and two Church Planters met with Bishop John W. Howe and representatives of the Diocese to discuss the possible scenarios by which all or part of the congregations may disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.

“Each Parish will now enter a process of conversation and negotiation with the Diocese based on its particular circumstances. Bishop Howe reiterated his commitment to provide pastoral care both to those who leave and to those who wish to remain.

“All parties agreed to enter into these negotiations in good faith using Biblical principles in an effort to avoid litigation and scandal to the Church of Christ”.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida, and as stated above, I remain committed to providing pastoral care both to those who wish to leave and to those who wish to remain. Individuals who wish to leave the Diocese of Central Florida and form another congregation are to be honored as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Diocese will do everything in its power to make their departure from the Diocese of Central Florida and The Episcopal Church a peaceful one without rancor or recrimination.

At the same time the Diocese is bound to work within the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church which state that a Parish holds in trust all real and personal property for the benefit of the Diocese and The Episcopal Church. We have a solemn responsibility to protect the interests of the Diocese and the larger church. We cannot and will not abandon those who wish to remain as members of The Episcopal Church and we will work diligently to determine whether in fact there is a sufficient number of Episcopalians in a given congregation to constitute a viable continuing congregation able to meet and worship in its own current facilities.

We are developing a detailed protocol for dealing with those who wish to disaffiliate, and I will discuss it with the clergy at our annual Clergy Conference this week. Only after receiving their input will this protocol be finalized. For now, let me assure you that all of you will have a say in these decisions, and they will not be made by Rectors and Vestries acting alone.

This is a very painful time for many of us. I feel a great sense of personal loss in contemplating these departures, but I want to reassure you that the Diocese of Central Florida remains steadfastly committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority and trustworthiness of God’s word written, and the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. As your Bishop I am committed to proclaiming the Gospel, to strengthening existing churches and planting new ones, and to raising up the next generation as faithful followers of Christ. The painful loss of some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will not divert us from any of these commitments.

I have said repeatedly that it is my desire to remain both an Episcopalian and an Anglican. In that regard, let me share something with you that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to me just this past week: “Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such”¦. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ”˜National Church.’”

We have a great and faithful Diocese, and with the help of the Lord himself, I am committed to making it even better. During this time of transition, I urge all of us to treat each other with great care and compassion. I ask your prayers for wisdom for all who will be involved in these discussions.

With warmest regards in our Lord,

(The Rt. Rev.) John W. Howe is Bishop of Central Florida

Important Update: I have contacted Bishop Howe directly and he has given permission for me to cite his response: “The longer version is correct.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Quincy Episcopalians will wait on realigning

The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy “opened the door” to possible realignment with a different province of the Anglican Communion at its annual synod Friday and Saturday.
The west-central Illinois diocese, based in Peoria, is among several U.S. dioceses unhappy with the actions, teachings and policies of The Episcopal Church, the American province of the Anglican Communion.

The Rev. John Spencer, the synod’s press officer, said Saturday night that while several resolutions were approved by clergy and elected leaders of the diocese, no final decision was made to seek alternate affiliation.

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Posted in Uncategorized

One faith, two perspectives on Anglicanism

Two long-time members of Christ Church explain how the recent decision to break ties with Episcopalians has caused them to take an honest look at what they believe.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Roger T Beckwith: The Limits of Anglican Diversity

The way the individual Orthodox churches have handled international disagreements between them is unfamiliar to Anglicans but well known to the Orthodox.7 The disagreements have often been concerned with rival jurisdictions, which might seem trivial compared with the doctrinal and ethical problems facing Anglicans. Nevertheless, the serious way the Orthodox have handled them is illuminating. Since the various Orthodox churches are independent of each other, irreconcilable disagreements between them have tended to result in excommunication, though this is not necessarily mutual. In 1870 Constantinople excommunicated the Church of Bulgaria for insisting on intruding a Bulgarian bishop into the territory of Constantinople, to minister to its own nationals. The two churches remained out of communion until 1945. Since the Oecumenical Patriarch is only a first among equals, however, his action did not exclude the Church of Bulgaria from the Orthodox Church, and the Church of Russia remained in communion with both contestants.8 In 1996-7 the Oecumenical Patriarch was himself excommunicated for a short time by Moscow for restoring the autocephalous Church of Estonia without Moscow’s consent. Obviously, excommunication is a very serious step to take, expressing not just difference of opinion but the gravest disapproval””a step which needs to be withdrawn as soon as it properly can be; but the experience of the Orthodox is that it does not destroy the church, and may sometimes bring about the necessary change of heart without a long delay.

If, therefore, after the latest Primates’ Meeting, following whatever time for reflection the Meeting has decided to allow, there has been no sign of repentance on the part of the Episcopal Church, and it seems that nothing short of excommunication can bring home to that Church the error of its ways, the individual Anglican churches should not hesitate to take this unprecedented step and the more of them that do so the better, as their action will not be irreversible. If there is disagreement within a province whether to take this step, some of its dioceses may want to take action individually, and
there does not seem to be any reason why they should not do so: in that case, the archbishop will be in the same position as any other diocesan bishop. Provision will obviously need to be made for those who are the victims rather than the culprits in the American tragedy, and determined efforts made to reunite all the scattered fragments of faithful American Anglicanism which exist outside as well as inside the Episcopal Church. It is a task which seems likely to require much patience and understanding, but in the changed situation might be achievable.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Primates, Instruments of Unity, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007

Same Gender Blessings Backed by Episcopal Diocese of California

Elected representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of California today approved use of rites for the blessing of same gender couples by an overwhelming margin. The action opens the way for Diocesan Bishop Marc Andrus to allow these services to be used on a trial basis by Episcopal churches across the Bay Area.

Clergy and lay delegates also approved by a broad majority a resolution countering recent opinions voiced by the Episcopal House of Bishops in New Orleans. Drafted by the Rev. John Kirkley, the resolution both affirmed “the unanimous decision of the (Diocesan) Standing Committee to refuse to discriminate against partnered gay and lesbian bishops-elect” and deplored
“the lack of access to adequate pastoral and ritual care for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in large parts of the Episcopal Church and the refusal of the majority of our bishops to make provision for it.

“Today we took two important steps toward full inclusion of LGBT people and their families into the Episcopal Church,” Oasis California President Thomas C. Jackson said. Oasis is the LGBT ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California. “With broad support from our straight allies, we placed LGBT couples on an equal footing with heterosexual couples when they ask the church to bless their relationship. Our elected representatives also made clear our collective commitment to including LGBT people as full members of the Episcopal Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

A press Release About the Diocese of Quincy's Synod Yesterday

The annual Synod of the Diocese of Quincy meeting in Moline on Friday and Saturday remained focused on moving forward with mission and ministry inside the diocese, around the county and around the world, even as it seeks to secure its relationship to the wider Anglican Communion.

Presentations were made about continuing relief efforts coordinated with the Free Church of the Annunciation in New Orleans, earthquake relief for Peru, an upcoming medical mission to the Dominican Republic, and new outreach work in Haiti and Quincy’s companion Diocese of the Upper Shire in Malawi.

During the synod banquet Friday evening, Deacon Phil Fleming, the diocese’s disaster and relief coordinator, received a national recognition award for his Katrina relief work in New Orleans, and also received the St. Paul’s award for meritorious service to the diocese.

The synod took steps to consider possible relationships with other branches of the Anglican Communion. Quincy is presently affiliated with the Episcopal Church in the US. A number of decisions were made that open the door for possible alignment with a different branch of the world-wide Communion.

“As a Diocese our goal is to remain in fellowship with the wider Anglican Communion,” said the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy. “Over a year ago we asked for alternative oversight from an archbishop outside the US. We re-affirmed that request at this synod.”

“No final decisions were made about our affiliation at this synod,” according to Fr. John Spencer, press officer for the Diocese. Spencer said a number of decisions are currently being made in various parts of the Anglican Communion that will affect not only the US church, but all 38 provinces of the Communion. “Decisions will be made in the next few weeks about who will or will not attend next year’s Lambeth Conference,” a meeting of all Anglican bishops held every 10 years. Many bishops, including a significant number of bishops in the Church of England, have indicated they may not attend if American bishops are present who have continued to reject the scriptural and moral teaching standards of the Communion.

“Also, several of our sister dioceses in the Anglican Communion Network will be considering canonical changes in the coming weeks, ” Spencer said. “We want to discern a way forward together in a reasoned and prayerful manner over the coming months.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Resolutions of the 133rd Annual Convention Of the Diocese of Fond du Lac

PASSED by voice vote
Resolution 2007-01 “Pledge to National Church”
Be it resolved, by the 133rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, that the system used for 2007 to adjust our pledge to the national church through individual restrictions be continued for 2008, and
Be it further resolved that subsequent to the calculation of the ‘restricted’ pledge, that ten percent of the non-restricted operating diocesan income for 2006 become our pledge to the national church for 2008

PASSED by orders
Resolution 2007-02 “Proposed Anglican Covenant”
Be it resolved, by the 133rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, that
1. The Diocese of Fond du Lac welcomes such a Covenant process as the development of a document of what has hitherto been unwritten.
2. The Diocese of Fond du Lac believes that the draft from Dar es Salaam is a worthy beginning and encourages its further development along the lines suggested as the Covenant describes the limits of autonomy, while encouraging interdependence in Communion.
3. The Diocese of Fond du Lac believes that autonomy is limited by interdependence and so commits itself to be subject to the wisdom of the Communion and its instruments of unity and Communion.
4. The Diocese of Fond du Lac commits itself to work with the Anglican Communion in the development of an effective interdependent and accountable membership in the Anglican Communion.
5. The Diocese of Fond du Lac commits itself to working within the structures of the Episcopal Church, USA.
And,
Be it further resolved, that a copy of this resolution certified by the Secretary of this Convention, be forwarded to the Presiding Bishop, the Secretary of the House of Bishops for distribution to the House of Bishops, the President and Secretary of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church for distribution to the members of the Executive Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

PASSED by orders
Resolution 2007-03 “Anglican Pastoral Scheme”
Be it resolved, by the 133rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, that
1. The Diocese of Fond du Lac, expresses its regret that the leadership of the Episcopal Church has rejected this pastoral scheme, and
2. The Diocese of Fond du Lac, asks the leadership of the Episcopal Church to provide meaningful pastoral support and oversight to the dissenting minority, having involved persons from that dissenting minority in discussion,
And,
Be it further resolved, that a copy of this resolution certified by the Secretary of this Convention, be forwarded to the Presiding Bishop, the Secretary of the House of Bishops for distribution to the House of Bishops, the President and Secretary of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church for distribution to the members of the Executive Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

PASSED by orders
Resolution 2007-04 “Regarding National Church Litigation”
Be it resolved, by the 133rd Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, that
The Diocese of Fond du Lac, asks that the National Church cease its participation in the litigation that is at present before the courts and any future such litigation of the type referenced in the Dar es Salaam communique.
And, Be it further resolved, that a copy of this resolution certified by the Secretary of this Convention, be forwarded to the Presiding Bishop, the Secretary of the House of Bishops for distribution to the House of Bishops, the President and Secretary of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church for distribution to the members of the Executive Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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

Alan Lewis: Converting to the Revised Common Lectionary

One widespread source of concern is that parishes already have substantial investment in a variety of materials, from gospel books to text-inserts to Sunday school curricula, all for the BCP lectionary. Even if budgets permit the acquisition of new materials, Church Publishing, while surely doing its best to make materials available in a timely way, still does not have most of the relevant offerings available for delivery as of this writing. And it will be a long time before the whole apparatus of the church’s liturgical and musical resources geared to the lectionary has managed the conversion mandated by General Convention.

Surely in time, these issues will work themselves out, and materials will be available to support the ministry of the word. While that work goes forward, if you take the RCL transition into your own hands, the Liturgy and Music Office of The Episcopal Church has prepared a BCP-formatted version of the RCL: just follow the links from here.

In fact, alarming as it may sound, the conversion to the RCL may prove to be not a bang, but a whimper. Parishes opting for the thematic track for the weeks after Pentecost will notice relatively few differences from the lectionary they already use. And even those opting for the other track will hear much that is familiar. It is in the season after Pentecost that the challenges and opportunities will come, as preachers, musicians, and listeners alike seek to make the most sense out of the heretofore marginalized texts we will now be able to hear from the Hebrew Bible.

I suspect that the transition will bring out its best results in the ways that it invites (and compels) us all, clergy, musicians, and lay people alike, to re-engage with scripture, to hear many neglected stories again ”” or perhaps for the first time. My hope is that it will, in the long run, help us all to transform telling “the old, old story” into singing a new song.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jonathan Sacks–Wanted: a national culture

Multiculturalism has run its course, and it is time to move on. It was a fine, even noble idea in its time. It was designed to make ethnic and religious minorities feel more at home, more appreciated and respected, and therefore better able to mesh with the larger society. It affirmed their culture. It gave dignity to difference. And in many ways it achieved its aims. Britain is a more open, diverse, energising, cosmopolitan environment than it was when I was growing up.

But there has been a price to pay, and it grows year by year. Multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation. It has allowed groups to live separately, with no incentive to integrate and every incentive not to. It was intended to promote tolerance. Instead the result has been, in countries where it has been tried, societies more abrasive, fractured and intolerant than they once were.

Liberal democracy is in danger. Britain is becoming a place where free speech is at risk, non-political institutions are becoming politicised, and a combination of political correctness and ethnic-religious separatism is eroding the graciousness of civil society. Religious groups are becoming pressure groups. Boycotts and political campaigns are infecting professional bodies. Culture is fragmenting into systems of belief in which civil discourse ends and reasoned argument becomes impossible. The political process is in danger of being abandoned in favour of the media-attention-grabbing gesture. The politics of freedom risks descending into the politics of fear.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Judaism, Other Faiths

Alister McGrath: Anglicanism and Protestantism

In a remarkable article in the London-based Church Times (13th April), Canon Gregory Cameron, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, publicly distanced Anglicanism from Protestantism. Canon Cameron spoke of an Anglican “dialogue with the Protestant traditions,” making it clear that he regarded Anglicanism as lying beyond the pale of Protestantism. Many in Ireland will regard his views with puzzlement, and perhaps not a little concern. So will many historians.

We need to appreciate that the sixteenth-century Reformation was a complex phenomenon. There was no single Protestant ”˜template’. Rather, a variety of reforming movements emerged during the sixteenth century, whose specific forms were shaped by local politics and personalities, as much as by the broader commitment to a recognizably Protestant agenda. The forms of Protestantism which emerged in the great imperial cities (such as Strasbourg), territories (such as Saxony) and nations (such as England or Sweden) had their own distinct characteristics. Some, for example, retained the episcopacy and a fixed liturgy; others discarded one or both. Yet each represented a local implementation of the Protestant agenda.

Historians generally consider that one of the most remarkable and influential forms of Protestantism emerged in England, and has come to be known as ”˜Anglicanism’. Reformers in the reign of Henry VIII did not refer to themselves as ”˜Protestants’, partly because this was seen to have foreign associations at the time. (Henry VIII, it will be recalled, disliked foreigners having influence over English affairs.) Yet from the reign of Edward VI onwards, English Church leaders began to use this term to refer to themselves, and see themselves as being connected with the great reforming movements and individuals on the continent of Europe.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Church History