Daily Archives: November 19, 2007

Doug Leblanc: In a moment of crisis, The Book of Common Prayer does the heavy lifting

It was a great comfort to know that both prayer books expressed our deepest hopes better than we could hope to with a spontaneous prayer, and to give ourselves over to the care of those words.

We struggled for a while to find a space where the wind was not blowing Dana’s ashes back into our faces. It felt important to scatter Dana’s ashes into the majestic valley beneath the camp. Emily and Sarah finally found a spot where a small tree was growing. It offered shelter from the wind and a good landmark if any of us ever wanted to visit again and remember Dana’s life.

Dana had spent her final few years feeling mostly estranged from the Episcopal Church, but never fully estranged from church life. Her membership was with a United Methodist congregation when she died. As Sarah and I drove to the camp that morning, she said she wanted to snap a photo of the familiar sign that says, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.”

On that wind-driven and reverent morning, I loved that simple message more than ever before.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Niagara Bishops issue pastoral letter after Diocesan Synod

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

Will Okun on the Two Words that Upset him Most as a Teacher

According to the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, almost 60 percent of teens with a school-age pregnancy drop out of high school. Only 2 percent of teen mothers will graduate from college. Eighty-two percent of children whose parents do not have a high school diploma live in poverty. Seventy-five percent of unmarried teen mothers begin to receive welfare within five years of their first child. Almost 80 percent of fathers to children with teen mothers will not marry the mothers and will pay less than $800 annually in child support. The daughters of teen mothers are three times more likely to become teenage mothers themselves as compared to daughters of mothers ages 20 and 21. The dismal statistics go on and on.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Life Ethics, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

A BBC Radio Four Sunday Programme Audio Segment: Evolution, science and religion

There’s a new evangelist on the road in the bible belt of America, but whereas Michael Dowd once believed in creationism he’s now an evangelist for Darwin – and he’s not abandoned his Christian faith. Indeed his new book is entitled “Thank God for Evolution” and in it he claims that the marriage of science and religion will transform your life and our world. When Roger spoke to Mr Dowd he put it to him there was a time when he believed evolution was “of the devil”. What had happened?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

USA Today: Downward mobility trend threatens black middle class

Reports last week from the Pew Research Center documented extensive downward mobility among the sons and daughters of the black middle class: 45% of black children from those families end up “near poor,” Pew reported. The comparable number for white families is 16%.

It would be hard to overstate the significance for blacks or for society generally. It means that the expansion of the black middle class ”” the key to attaining racial equality since legal barriers were removed 40 years ago ”” is in jeopardy.

On a personal level, it gives blacks reason to doubt the assumption that America is a place where each generation will surpass the previous one.

African-Americans sense this slippage. Pew pollsters sampling black America found the greatest level of pessimism since 1983. Just one in five says things are better now than they were five years ago. Looking ahead, fewer than half say they think life for blacks will get better.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Race/Race Relations

National Post: Bishop Don Harvey gives Anglicans new option

A retired bishop has defected from the Anglican Church of Canada over the issue of same-sex blessings and said he expects others will soon make the same decision, raising the spectre of a schism forming in the national Church.

“I knew since the last general synod that I could not stay within the Anglican Church of Canada because the rift was getting too wide and the direction it was starting to go was moving way too fast,” Donald Harvey, the former bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, said in an interview. “I’m certainly hoping I will not be by myself.”

Bishop Harvey has put himself under the authority of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, which takes in most of South America.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Living Church: Fort Worth Convention Endorses Affiliation with Southern Cone

By margins of more than three-to-one, the annual convention approved nine significant changes to the constitution and canons in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Convention met Nov. 16-17 in Fort Worth.

Attendance in the visitor’s gallery outnumbered the 206 clergy and lay delegates registered to vote. Debate was extended and cordial on most of the proposed legislation, which removed the diocese from the authority of General Convention. Separately, convention unanimously approved by voice vote a resolution endorsing an invitation to affiliate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. There were several abstentions from that resolution, however.

At a press conference at the conclusion of convention, Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the decisions made at this convention are preliminary and will require ratification by another convention before they take effect.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Telegraph: Dr Rowan Williams to target Bishops Who are undermining the Communion

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

In a high-risk strategy, Dr Rowan Williams may even snub them by withdrawing their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

He has told friends he will challenge any bishop he believes is coming to the conference with an agenda “very much at odds” with his attempts to maintain unity in the worldwide Church.

Dr Williams sent invitations in May to most of the Anglican Church’s 880 bishops around the world for the once-a-decade showcase gathering in Canterbury.

He withheld invitations from only a handful of particularly divisive figures, including Bishop Gene Robinson, who became Anglicanism’s first openly gay bishop in 2003.

But he has now indicated that he is prepared to scrutinise controversial bishops he had already invited if there is evidence that they are unwilling to compromise their views.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Divided OPEC meets for summit

In a gaffe late Friday, a private meeting of ministers from the 12 members of the cartel was mistakenly broadcast to journalists, revealing a spat between Saudi Arabia and anti-US members Iran and Venezuela about the waning US currency.

Journalists witnessed Iran request that the final declaration to be issued by OPEC leaders at the end of the summit on Sunday express the concern of member states about the falling US currency and its impact on oil revenues.

Reacting to the proposal, which was backed by Venezuela, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal warned against mentioning the US currency.

“There are media people outside waiting to catch this point and they will add to it (exaggerate) and we may find that the dollar collapses,” Prince Saud said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

NY Times: As Owners Feel Mortgage Pain, So Do Renters

In the foreclosure crisis of 2007, thousands of American families are losing their homes without ever missing a payment. They are renters in houses whose owners default on their mortgages ”” a large but little noticed class of casualties.

Some live in big apartments, others in houses owned by small investors who got in over their heads.

There are no exact figures for how many renters have been evicted because of foreclosures, but a survey taken this year by the Mortgage Bankers Association found that one in eight foreclosures was non-owner-occupied. This figure probably underestimates the problem, according to the association, because buildings receive tax benefits if they are registered as owner-occupied. More than one million properties are expected to enter foreclosure this year.

Many renters say they never even knew their buildings were heading for foreclosure.

“This is an explosion,” said Judith Liben, a lawyer at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “This isn’t business as usual. These are investors that overleveraged themselves, and the renters are collateral damage in the mortgage crisis.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Some Episcopal Church Satire from Robert Munday's Blog

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

Andrew Goddard: The Episcopal Church's Divisions

It appears that the powers-that-be in TEC are determined to prevent any existing parish or diocese claiming to be part of the Anglican Communion unless it remains within TEC. The theological and ecclesiological argument that is being put forward is that of the tradition of only one episcopal jurisdiction within a territory. This is clearly incredible – it only makes sense when there is a commitment to shared common counsel and shared understanding of the faith and the point is that for those parishes and dioceses and for the provinces taking them into their polity this no longer exists with the structures of TEC. Furthermore, the willingness to allow other denominations to take over property does not fit with this understanding.

In trying to understand the real rationale behind this I was reminded of part of the biography of Gene Robinson (Going to Heaven) which I read recently. At one point (p209), his predecessor as Bishop of New Hampshire – Bishop Doug Theuner – is reported recalling part of his early training as a bishop

He told an amusing story from his early days as a bishop, when a group of bishops were invited to spend time with the American Management Association in New York over a period of several months. The AMA had never worked with a group of religious leaders before, and the man in charge finally told them, “We’ve tried to tailor a program specifically for you, and we’ve tried to match it up with our normal experience in the business world, and we’ve determined that the category you come closest to, in terms of what we’ve done before, is “regional managers of a small corporation”

This business and management model gives, I think, the best explanation of what is going on. In the American religious market place, TEC’s niche has been that in being Anglican/Episcopalian it offers a mix of historic church tradition (liturgy, bishops, vestments, historic buildings etc) and wider international bonds through the Communion. That, particularly in recent decades, has been combined with a particular “inclusive” stance on key social and ethical issues. In offering this profile it is only now “a small corporation” but one of its claims is that it is – in this understanding – also the sole recognised national branch of a genuine and large multi-national. Its “market share” and “franchise” will, therefore, be greatly threatened if parishes (and now dioceses) escape the legal and constitutional structures of TEC and are able to continue to offer the Anglican combination of historic church tradition (not just in terms of ecclesiological order but also catholic faith and morals) and being part of an international communion within the church catholic. That is why the central offices of the “small corporation” at “815” are doing all they can to prevent their “regional managers” either departing (as in Pittsburgh etc) or allowing their parishes to depart amicably with their property (as in Virginia etc).

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

From the Newfoundland Telegram: Bishop Don Harvey and Anglican Angst

Retired bishop Don Harvey agrees his religious convictions are stronger than they’ve ever been.

In fact, Harvey says they’re so strong he’s prepared to lead some Canadian Anglicans away from the national church, in which he’s worshipped and served as a clerical leader for decades, if it continues to steer away from the gospel.

Harvey, who retired as the bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (Avalon and Labrador) three years ago, is a well-known orthodox Anglican senior in St. John’s who has been the subject of debate by active bishops, some concerned over his activities within the Anglican community.

In particular, he’s been vocal over the issue of same-sex union blessings in the church. In 2002, the Diocese of New Westminster in B.C. tacitly condoned the ceremonies with its parishes. Meanwhile, the national hierarchy voted that such blessings did not conflict with doctrines of the church.

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

Anglican Mainstream: Updates on the 2008 Lambeth Conference

It has been affirmed that the Lambeth Conference is definitely going ahead and that prior to the Lambeth Conference there will be a mini-Lambeth in each diocese, where hospitality will be offered throughout the UK dioceses to the arriving bishops from overseas. Many bishops of course from overseas have indicated that for many reasons they cannot currently accept the invitation to Lambeth. This has to do with the impossibility for them to have fellowship with those who have blatantly defied the counsels of the Lambeth Conference and the wishes of the Communion over the last 10 years. Some have mentioned their concern at the possibility of being subject to protests over their orthodox stances.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Bishop Jack Iker's Diocesan Convention Address

At issue in this Convention today are constitutional and canonical decisions about how we shall chart our course as a Diocese for the next 25 years and beyond. We are preparing a future for our children and our grandchildren. As you know, by way of background, the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, wrote my chancellor on Oct. 19, 2006, declaring that certain provisions in our diocesan Constitution and Canons were contrary to those of the Episcopal Church and needed to be changed, or else the Presiding Bishop would “have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance.” The following month, on Nov. 15, the Executive Council of the General Convention received a task force report identifying Fort Worth as a “problem diocese” that needed to be monitored. On June 14, 2007, this same Executive Council declared certain constitutional and canonical amendments in this Diocese to be “null and void.” Our Standing Committee and I replied by pointing out that such declarations exceeded the authority of the Executive Council, which is responsible for the program and budget of the General Convention, and that they had no legislative or judicial authority to make such a pronouncement. The Council’s declaration about the legitimate legislative process in this Diocese is, in fact, null and void.

And then just last week, the Presiding Bishop sent me an open letter, that she quickly posted on the internet, threatening disciplinary action against me if I did not prevent this Convention from acting on certain legislative proposals. I believe all of you have seen my reply. What you may not have seen is the Episcopal News Service story saying that if I did not heed her warning it would (and I quote) “force her to take action to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.” Now hold on there a minute. I don’t want to force her to do anything, but I must object to the claim that the Presiding Bishop has any canonical authority in this Diocese or any legitimate power over the leadership of this Diocese. She has no authority to bring Fort Worth into line with the mandates of a so-called “national Church.” There is no such thing as “the national Church.” We are a confederation of Dioceses, related to each other by our participation in General Convention. From the earliest days of the beginnings of the Episcopal Church in this country, including the formation of dioceses and eventually the creation of the General Convention itself, there has been a strong mistrust of centralized authority that is deeply rooted in our history as Episcopalians. We do not have an Archbishop in this Church, who has authority over other Bishops and their Dioceses. Instead, we have a Presiding Bishop, with very limited canonical responsibilities, mainly administrative in nature. We must object to the tendency in recent years in this Church to create some sort of central bureaucracy at the top that holds power and authority over the various Dioceses of this Church. We do not have a Curia that dictates policy and dogma in this Church. We do not have a Presiding Bishop with papal authority over us, nor do we believe in the infallibility of any Bishop or any council or, indeed, of any General Convention. If I may be so bold to speak on your behalf, dear friends: the leadership of this Diocese does not need to be brought into line with the mandates of some mythical “national Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth