Daily Archives: December 8, 2007

Afterlife Hard for Once-Grand Episcopal Church

AFTER a long time away, the Rev. Robert Castle visited his old church last year ”” St. John’s Episcopal, the hilltop Gothic with a panoramic view out over the world he did his best to change in the 1960s ”” and the state of its decline left him thinking of another sublime fortress once also thought to be impregnable.

“It was like the Titanic going down, and it was sad to see,” said Father Castle, who was rector at St. John’s from 1960 to 1968. “It’s been almost 40 years, and my heart still aches over that church.”

Other hearts have also been aching over St. John’s, a grand but moldering granite church in the Bergen Hill neighborhood that is at the center of perhaps the only ecclesiastical preservation battle that features cameo appearances by the Black Panthers and a Hollywood filmmaker.

New Jersey’s cities are filled with abandoned monuments to God, the churches and synagogues whose congregations have long since departed for more modern buildings girdled by parking lots in the suburbs. Some of the vacant shells left behind have been reincarnated with new denominations; some have been converted to housing or offices; some have been demolished. And some, like St. John’s, sit empty and await their fate, as each blast of winter, each soaking rain, brings them ever nearer to the afterlife.

“It’s like a fire hose when the rain comes, just a deluge,” said Dennis Doran, a neighbor and a former senior warden of the church, pointing up toward a drainpipe that was once attached to copper gutters that were long ago stolen and sold for scrap. The roof beneath it, over the front section of the south nave, collapsed last winter.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Fresno Bee: Diocese of San Joaquin could be first to pull out and move on

Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh is in Fresno this weekend to watch the outcome of this vote. So is Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia, part of the Anglican Southern Cone (South America), which has agreed to provide emergency oversight for the diocese if it passes the amendments and requests it.

“I’m for disassociating from the Episcopal Church,” Krismanits said. “My sense is that they’ve come up with a new religion. In fact, it’s antagonistic toward the Christian faith. It’s clear from leadership that the authority of Scripture isn’t maintained. I guess it’s not God’s word anymore. It’s been thrown by the wayside.

“I believe with all my heart that a vote in favor to take a step to disassociate from the Episcopal Church will be better than if we don’t. I believe there would be bleeding either way. But in our diocese, the fallout of priests and parishes leaving the diocese would be greater if the vote would fail.”

Others, of course, disagree, and Schofield has said that if the vote succeeds, parishes that wish to take their church prop-erty and leave the diocese to remain with the ECUSA may do so if they are not in debt to the diocese. Some churches, for example, have large mortgages held by the diocese and would have to pay them off in order to leave.

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

Stockton Record: in San Joaquin Split in Episcopal Church could come today

Deacons, priests and several lay people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin – which includes 47 churches from San Joaquin County in the north to Kern County in the south and the Nevada border in the east – will cast ballots in Fresno over whether to disassociate with the ECUSA because of its liberal theological bent, and issues such as blessing same-sex unions and ordaining openly homosexual priests and bishops.

“Frankly, we as Christians have to come to some conclusion if the Bible is the inspired word of God or if it’s just a bunch of campfire stories,” said the Rev. Van McCalister, spokesman for the San Joaquin Diocese. “Most of us believe it to be the word of God.”

If diocesan voters approve the measure by a two-thirds majority of lay people and clerics, it would confirm a similar vote taken at the 2006 convention and ostensibly break the diocese away from the ECUSA. Diocesan rules force any bylaws change of this magnitude to be passed in two consecutive conventions before taking effect.

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

The Latest from the Presidential Futures Markets

The biggest surge this week came from the Huckabee contracts. They are currently trading at 8.1, up substantially from last week’s price of 3.9. The Obama contracts are also up considerably this week, now at 16.2 vs 10.2 a week ago. The rest of the leading contracts showed a decline, with the Clinton contracts trading at 40.9 vs 48.0 on 30-Nov, the Giuliani contracts at 17.6, and Romney falling to 7.2 versus 9.1 last week. The rest of the candidate contracts were little changed on the week, with McCain at 2.6, Paul 2.5, Edwards 2.1, Gore 1.5, Thompson 1.3, and Bloomberg 0.5. In the primaries contracts, Giuliani is still favored to win the Republican nomination at 42.0, with Huckabee surging to 20.0 vs 12.5 a week ago. Romney is trading at 21.2 vs 25.2 last week. Clinton is favored to win the Democratic nomination, last trading at 64.1, but Obama made up some ground this week, his numbers are now at 28.5 versus 20.0 on 30-Nov.

For more information visit the Intrade website.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Consumer Borrowing Rises in October

Revolving credit, which includes credit card debt, increased at a rate of 8.3 percent in October following a gain of 6 percent in September and an even stronger pace of 10.6 percent in August.

Credit card debt has been surging in recent months as consumers have started borrowing more heavily on their credit cards now that home refinancings have slowed. That slowdown has reflected tighter bank lending conditions as a serious slump in housing has sent home prices falling and increased the level of mortgage defaults.

“Consumers’ ability and willingness to extract equity from their homes is waning and thus they will have to increasingly turn to other forms of credit, namely credit cards,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “Elevated gasoline prices will also provide additional support to revolving credit as consumers typically use credit cards at the pump.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Bishop John Packer of Ripon and Leeds: Lambeth and the Perfect Church

The debate we face now is often represented as a debate over scripture. I do not believe that is true. I see no desire to move away from scriptural authority for the life and witness of the church. What we do have is division as to how to listen to and interpret scripture: Colenso believed that Moses did not write the five books of the Pentateuch. Longley profoundly disagreed with him, but wanted the variety of views to be aired. I do not believe that it is coincidental that sexuality is at the heart of our current debate. It provokes a deep reaction, while we live happily, though in profound disagreement, with a variety of ethical views on issues of peace and war. Try getting a just war doctrine out of scripture without very considerable help from tradition. It interests me that the vegetarian debate sometimes provokes the same use of scripture, in letters to me, to batter with one view rather than to listen to others.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Lambeth 2008

An Invitation to the Consecration of Mark Lawrence in January 2008

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

RNS: Romney Speech May Quiet Some Critics, But Not All

Michael Cromartie, an expert on evangelicals at Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, said Romney may have succeeded with those who are not hard-core fundamentalists. “He was trying to assure them that he was not some sort of Mormon theocrat,” Cromartie said.

But Shaun Casey, an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, said Romney may have lost some evangelicals when he admitted his church has distinct beliefs about Jesus.

“I really don’t think it does get at kind of the more red-meat specific doctrinal issues that some of those folks in Iowa — and frankly, the Republican Party — are looking for,” said Casey, who’s working on a book about similar religion dynamics in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

The Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts answers Boston College Students' Questions

“Public Answers to Private Questions” got off to a quick start as an anonymous audience member bluntly asked, “If God is supposed to be all-forgiving, why do some people end up in hell?”

Shaw responded by saying, “I’m not sure that I believe in hell,” pointing out that there are places in the Scripture where no hell is mentioned and concluding that the subject is open to interpretation.

Shaw also spoke extensively on the Lambeth Conference, a convention 10 years running that brings together Anglican bishops from all over the world.

Shaw said that the next Lambeth Conference, to be held in 2008, will focus on world debt, an issue first brought to the attention of world leaders at the previous Conference.

He also said that there will be discussion on issues relating to homosexuality, but it will not be the main topic of discussion.

When asked about a potential split of the Episcopalian Church from the rest of the Anglican Church, Shaw said it would not happen and that things will get worked out in the long run.

However, he did compare the controversy of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop, to the split of the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church during the 16th century. In both cases, Shaw said there was a fermenting of new ideas and a need for change.

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

CANA expanding, Leader says

An umbrella group for about a dozen former Episcopal congregations in Northern Virginia has grown larger as the national church continues to “alienate” its members, a top official with the splinter group said Thursday.

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA, has expanded to 60 congregations and more than 100 clergy in 20 states, Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns said during a speech at the Church of the Epiphany in Herndon. CANA, which is affiliated with a conservative archbishop in Nigeria, plans to consecrate four new bishops at the church Sunday.

“We have grown at a remarkable rate,” Minns said. “We have done so in the face of relentless opposition and some of the largest lawsuits ever mounted by the Episcopal Church against its own clergy and congregations.”

A spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia declined to comment Thursday.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA

NY Times Editorial: The Crisis of Faith

Mitt Romney obviously felt he had no choice but to give a speech yesterday on his Mormon faith. Even by the low standards of this campaign, it was a distressing moment and just what the nation’s founders wanted to head off with the immortal words of the First Amendment: A presidential candidate cowed into defending his way of worshiping God by a powerful minority determined to impose its religious tenets as a test for holding public office.

Mr. Romney spoke with an evident passion about the hunger for religious freedom that defined the birth of the nation. He said several times that his faith informs his life, but he would not impose it on the Oval Office.

Still, there was no escaping the reality of the moment. Mr. Romney was not there to defend freedom of religion, or to champion the indisputable notion that belief in God and religious observance are longstanding parts of American life. He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

NY Times: A Bundle of Joy Isn’t Enough?

“It’s more and more an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body,” said Linda Murray, executive editor of BabyCenter.com. “The guilt really gets piled on.”

A recent survey of more than 30,000 respondents by BabyCenter.com found that 38 percent of new mothers received a gift from their mate in connection with their child. Among pregnant mothers, 55 percent wanted one. About 40 percent of both groups said the baby was ample reward.

Sandra Miller of Arlington, Mass., is not among the 40 percent.

“Women can and do expect a thoughtful token of appreciation,” she said. “It’s a way to honor a mother giving her emotions, body and hormones over to a baby for nine months, culminating in an experience which, when done naturally, redefines the meaning of pain. And when not done naturally, it’s still an act of sacrifice.”

Push presents seem to have taken off within the last decade, particularly in the last couple of years. In 2005 the Southeast-based jewelry chain Mayors marketed diamond earrings with the tag line, “She delivered your first born; now give her twins.” Fortunoff, the jewelry and gift chain with a Fifth Avenue flagship, established a push present registry six months ago.

But the push present ”” unlike the 15-year anniversary ring ”” is apparently not the invention of the jewelry industry looking for another opportunity to sell goods. No one is quite sure how the trend began; in practice the baubles are presented before or after the big day, or sometimes right in the delivery room.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

Live Streaming of the San Joaquin Diocesan Convention

Anglican TV and Stand Firm will be live streaming the San Joaquin Diocesan Convention.

Here’s the Anglican TV thread.

Here’s the Stand Firm thread:

If you watch and appreciate the availability of the livestream, please consider contributing to Kevin Kallsen’s expenses. Go to the Anglican TV site and look for the “Chip In” link in the upper right corner. Kevin is currently raising money to cover Mark Lawrence’s consecration, but we understand he is still short in terms of having his expenses for San Joaquin covered.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Episcopal Church (TEC), Resources: Audio-Visual, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils