Daily Archives: November 6, 2007

Jeffrey A. Mackey: Scrutinized to Death?

First, many of those who have found that they cannot continue in The Episcopal Church are people who find much catholic ritual, including vestments, unacceptable. The so-called “low-church” view of ritual and vesting is sufficient and the regalia of catholicity is anathema to many of the acronym-related crowd. I hoped there were no spies in church that Sunday. Had it not been for the progressive liturgical movement, the priest would not have been so arrayed that Sunday morning.

Then I knew that she had employed the New International Version for scripture readings. The very fact that this is allowed rubrically over the historic King James is a sign that The Episcopal Church progressives sought to broaden our experiences in hearing the scriptures.

Finally, a woman at the altar was a testimony that progressive visionaries reread the scriptures and found that indeed Paul may have just meant that in Christ there “is no male or female.” And so I fear for all my female priest friends, that they may find themselves the focus of inattention at best and defrocking at worst as much of emerging Anglicanism is not favorable to female priests. It happens, I know, for an ordained Southern Baptist friend of mine was recently sent a letter telling her that her ordination from some 20 years ago was no longer valid.

And I fear as well that those who are faithful saints in the acronym crowd will not succumb to the works-centered righteousness of fundamentalism. Newfound power can corrupt just as much as long-held power. And those who think they stand may need to watch, lest they fall. So my fear is for those who have reaped the benefits of progressive visionary thinking and praying and acting as well as for those who, ignoring previous progressive visionary thinking and praying and acting, are acting out of a non-Anglican ethos and are falling headlong into an individualistic congregationalism with bishops.

Read it all.

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

Stanley Fish: Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God

In Book 10 of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Adam asks the question so many of his descendants have asked: why should the lives of billions be blighted because of a sin he, not they, committed? (“Ah, why should all mankind / For one man’s fault”¦ be condemned?”) He answers himself immediately: “But from me what can proceed, / But all corrupt, both Mind and Will depraved?” Adam’s Original Sin is like an inherited virus. Although those who are born with it are technically innocent of the crime ”“ they did not eat of the forbidden tree ”“ its effects rage in their blood and disorder their actions.

God, of course, could have restored them to spiritual health, but instead, Paul tells us in Romans, he “gave them over” to their “reprobate minds” and to the urging of their depraved wills. Because they are naturally “filled with all unrighteousness,” unrighteous deeds are what they will perform: “fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness . . . envy, murder . . . deceit, malignity.” “There is none righteous,” Paul declares, “no, not one.”

It follows, then (at least from these assumptions), that the presence of evil in the world cannot be traced back to God, who opened up the possibility of its emergence by granting his creatures free will but is not responsible for what they, in the person of their progenitor Adam, freely chose to do.

What Milton and Paul offer (not as collaborators of course, but as participants in the same tradition) is a solution to the central problem of theodicy ”“ the existence of suffering and evil in a world presided over by an all powerful and benevolent deity. The occurrence of catastrophes natural (hurricanes, droughts, disease) and unnatural (the Holocaust ) always revives the problem and provokes anguished discussion of it. The conviction, held by some, that the problem is intractable leads to the conclusion that there is no God, a conclusion reached gleefully by the authors of books like “The God Delusion,” “God Is Not Great” and “The End of Faith.”

Now two new books (to be published in the coming months) renew the debate. Their authors come from opposite directions ”“ one from theism to agnosticism, the other from atheism to theism ”“ but they meet, or rather cross paths, on the subject of suffering and evil.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Theology

Rochester Diocese Resolution: B033 Not Binding

Delegates to convention in the Diocese of Rochester passed a resolution affirming that standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction are not bound by any extra-canonical restraints””including but not limited to the restraints set forth in Resolution B033 passed by the 75th General Convention””when considering consents to the ordination of any candidate to the episcopate. The resolution is intended to be submitted to the 76th General Convention in 2009.

Convention met Nov. 2-3 at the Hyatt Regency in Rochester.

The last convention address for Bishop Jack McKelvey took the form of a video presentation that celebrated many of the people, places and ministries he has encountered. Bishop McKelvey will retire next spring after eight years of service in Rochester and 16 as a bishop.

Read it all.

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

Wow That's Cute

Check it out.

Posted in * General Interest

From ENS: Episcopal seminaries' enrollment statistics show varying trends

The average age of people enrolled in the seminaries associated with the Episcopal Church continues to range from the high 30s to the mid 40s.

Episcopal News Service contacted all 11 seminaries this fall, asking them for specific information about their incoming classes, as well as their student bodies as a whole. Not all of the information requested is compiled in the same way from seminary to seminary, and thus apples-to-apples comparisons are not always possible.

It is also worth noting that most seminaries now offer degree and certificate programs beyond the traditional Master of Divinity degree sought by most people in the ordination process.

Most seminaries showed enrollments ranging near to what they had experienced in recent years. Whether male or female students form the majority varies from seminary to seminary.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Johnathan Millard's Argument for Supporting Pittsburgh Resolution #1

Read it carefully and read it all.

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

Poll: Americans split on Iran

Americans are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program but split on whether military action should be undertaken if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to stop it, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

The findings underscore public concern about an Iranian threat and a partisan divide over how to respond. Iran has emerged as a key issue in the presidential race, especially among Democrats.

While 46% of those surveyed say military action should be taken either now or if diplomacy fails, 45% rule it out in any case. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to endorse taking military steps.

“If you had more follow-on questions ”” on what if the military action was unilateral, (for instance) ”” then support would tend to diminish,” says Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. “But it does indicate that approximately half of Americans are concerned enough that they would at least seriously consider it, and that’s worth noting.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

Lee Eisenberg: Where Do You Stand on America's Wealth Spectrum?

The best way to give people a sense of where they stand is to lay out some data. Every three years the Federal Reserve Board conducts a national survey that tracks the financial health of American households.

The Fed slices and dices this stuff with the vigor of an Iron Chef; the result is a rich, if dry, array of offerings on household net worth, pension and income levels, plus other demographic side dishes.

Whenever I slip these tidbits into cocktail party chatter, people are surprised to realize how little money it takes to win a gold star from the Fed. If you and yours are bringing in $40,000 a year, you’re doing better than half the households in America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy

From ENS: Little mention of bishop's inhibition at diocesan convention

It was “business as usual” at the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania on November 3, just hours before the inhibition of its bishop, Charles E. Bennison, took effect.

In the only direct reference from the podium at Philadelphia Cathedral to Bennison’s suspension, diocesan Chancellor William Bullitt told clergy and lay delegates that as of 12:01 a.m. November 4 Bennison was barred from all canonical, episcopal and ministerial functions indefinitely. In his brief statement, Bullitt said the diocesan standing committee would become the ecclesiastical authority on November 4 and that it will appoint a bishop to conduct future ordinations, confirmations and parish visitations until the Court for the Trial of a Bishop determines Bennison’s fate.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced the inhibition, with the concurrence of the standing committee, on October 31 after an investigation concluded there was ample evidence for a trial to proceed.

Read it all.

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

Poll finds nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults go online

Do you find yourself going online more and more? You’re not alone.

Four out of five U.S. adults go online now, according to a new Harris Poll.

The survey, which polled 2,062 adults in July and October, found that 79 percent of adults — about 178 million — go online, spending an average 11 hours a week on the Internet.

“We’re up to almost 80 of adults who now are online, or are somehow gaining access to the Internet. That’s a pretty impressive figure,” said Regina Corso, director of the Harris Poll.

The results reflect a steady rise since 2000, when 57 percent of adults polled said they went online. In 2006, the number was 77 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Fearing 'Exclusionary' Covenant, Olympia Urges Lambeth Cancellation

By a vote of 299-79, clergy and lay delegates voted to approve an amended resolution calling for the 2008 Lambeth Conference to be postponed “until the listening process is more complete.”

This resolution was submitted by Bishop Suffragan Nedi Rivera after convention began. The wording of the resolution will comprise the text of a letter sent to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori over the signature of bishops Greg Rickel and Rivera. This letter is to serve as the input requested by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who asked for advice from the House of Bishops on how to respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has asked the primates for their advice as he weighs a decision on the House of Bishops “response ”˜to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners’.”

The text approved by the convention said, “We are leery about using the occasion of the [2008 Lambeth] Conference to present a Covenant that is exclusionary, that centralizes authority, or that adds to the core doctrine of our faith. The cost of holding the Lambeth Conference under the present circumstances is disproportionate to its benefits, and the good we can do elsewhere in the mission of the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

News from the Canadian Bishops Fall meeting

Meanwhile, there was a general consensus that the bishops’ pastoral statement, issued last April, was useful, said Bishop Spence. Some liberals find it attractive as it permits them to celebrate a church service with a civilly-married gay couple; some conservatives appreciate the fact that it does not allow same-sex weddings or blessings and, in essence, continues a moratorium on blessing ceremonies first imposed by the bishops in 2005. (New Westminster responded to the moratorium by limiting blessings to eight parishes that had requested permission earlier.)

Integrity, a support group for gay Anglicans, wrote to Archbishop Hiltz asking that the house of bishops lift the moratorium. He said after the closed session that his response to Integrity will be that “the position of the house as outlined in the pastoral statement remains.” The bishops did not “entertain any changes” in it, he said.

In terms of consultation, bishops Barry Clarke of Montreal and John Chapman of Ottawa each said they have not yet reached a decision on how they will act upon the votes of their synods. “It was useful to have a conversation with dioceses in the same position,” said Bishop Chapman, who added he wanted to see the decisions of the diocese of Niagara, whose Nov. 16-17 synod was scheduled to vote on the blessings issue. “I don’t want to act alone, but I don’t think I’ll need to. There is movement in the church (toward further acceptance of gay people); there is no going back.”

In open session, bishops discussed the reactions in several dioceses to the General Synod votes last June that said same-sex blessings do not contravene core church doctrine but declined to affirm dioceses’ authority to offer them. Reaction was fairly quiet in Western Newfoundland, Brandon (Manitoba) and Calgary, said their respective bishops, Percy Coffin, Jim Njegovan and Derek Hoskin.

Bishop Jim Cowan said seven priests in his diocese of British Columbia, angered that they may not offer same-sex blessings, signed a petition asking to have their permission to officiate at weddings withdrawn from the diocese and will make other provisions for marriages to take place at their churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Graphs to illustrate the post below

Two graphs to illustrate the post below re: TEC Domestic Dioceses’ decline in membership and ASA since 2000:

Note: the scale on the Y-axes above (verticle axes) is compressed. They do not begin at 0. Thus the decline appears much steeper than if the starting point at the bottom was 0. See the comments for my justification for preparing it this way. The increased rate of decline from 2003 onwards is real however, as is shown in the following graph re: percentage change. (Which has an accurate Y-scale).

Update: Oops. The Y axis on the second graph should be labeled “% change”, not “members”. Sorry we didn’t catch that before we posted it.

[b]Update 2:[/b] By request we’ve uploaded our original Excel spreadsheet with the relevant data from which we created the graphs. You can find it here: http://kendallharmon.net/t19/media/TEC_2000-2006.xls

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Episcopal Church (TEC), Resources: Audio-Visual, TEC Conflicts, TEC Data

Putting TEC's membership and attendance decline in perspective

A friend recently asked us what TEC’s decline in membership and ASA (average Sunday attendance) in recent years meant on a daily basis. We’ve had a few minutes to crunch some numbers. (The 2006 TEC domestic data is still rough as exact diocese by diocese figures have not yet been released. We’re using 2006 figures for Provinces 1-8 with 2005 figures for Haiti, Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Micronesia and the Churches in Europe subtracted out). For 2000 and 2005 data we’ve used official TEC data found here.

2000 TEC Domestic Membership: 2,329,045
2006 estimated Domestic Membership: 2,156,043

membership loss in 6 years: 173,002 (-7.4%, a loss of 1.2% per year)

This equates to an average loss of 28,834 members per year (or losing a diocese the size of the diocese of Ohio per year)

This also equates to losing an average of 79 members PER DAY.
(The median parish in TEC had 174 members in 2005. So this equates to losing an average parish every two – three days for 6 years.)

2000 TEC Domestic ASA: 856,579
2006 estimated Domestic ASA: 764,660

ASA loss in 6 years: 91,919 (-10.7%, a loss of 1.8% per year)

ASA loss per year: 15,320,
This is 15,000+ attendees lost every year for 6 years, which is equivalent to losing the diocese of Southwest Florida or Central Florida every year. (They ranked 13th and 14th in TEC in 2005)

ASA loss per day: 42 attendees.
The 2005 median ASA is 74 attendees, so this means losing an average congregation of worshippers every 2 days for 6 years.

And the loss rate since 2003 has only accelerated:

2002 domestic membership (using 2002 as it is the year prior to the disaster of GC03): 2,320,221
2006 estimated domestic membership: 2,156,043

2002 – 2006 membership loss: 164,178 in 4 years. (-7.1%, a loss of 1.8% per year)

loss per year: 41,045 (equivalent to losing a diocese the size of Chicago or Washington (in the top 15 among domestic dioceses, every year — less than 15 domestic dioceses had 40,000+ members in 2005)

loss per day: 112 members (losing an entire parish every 1.5 days)

2002 TEC Domestic ASA: 846,640
2006 estimated Domestic ASA: 764,660

Total ASA loss in 4 years: 81,980 (-9.7%, a loss of 2.4% per year)

loss per year: 20,495
This is equivalent to losing a diocese almost the size of Los Angeles or Connecticut every single year. These are the fifth and sixth largest dioceses in terms of ASA. Only 6 ECUSA dioceses out of 100 domestic dioceses have total ASA of 20,000 or more.

ASA loss per day: 56
equals losing an “average” congregation (weekly attendance) every 1.5 days.

Of course we’ll update and verify this analysis when official diocesan data comes out
— elfgirl

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

A Picture from the Diocese of Michigan's convention

As I feared might happen, your friendly diocesan convention news elf (me) has been super-swamped with her real job and ministry responsibilities of late, and so hasn’t been following the diocesan convention news much at all. Sorry about that. (Kendall’s been doing a pretty good job, covering the news, however. So, I think we’ll keep him on the payroll! 😉 ) But the following picture from the diocese of Michigan’s diocesan convention just couldn’t be ignored and pulled this elf out of self-imposed blogging exile, if just for a few minutes…

The caption reads: “Bishop Wendell Gibbs led the Diocesan Convention worship on Saturday, October 27.”

The accompanying story is here along with full coverage of the convention resolutions, the bishop’s address, etc.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils