Daily Archives: January 10, 2008

A Fort Worth Preliminary Report on the invitation from the Province of the Southern Cone

We have now had opportunity to review the Constitution and Canons of the Province of the Southern Cone; an English-language edition of those documents is being edited and will be released shortly. Based on our review, we have concluded that the structure and polity of the Province of the Southern Cone would afford our diocese greater self-determination than we currently have under the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. This autonomy would be evident most specifically in the areas of property ownership, liturgy, holy orders, and missionary focus.

While nothing will change in the day-to-day operations of the churches in the Diocese of Fort Worth, we expect a significant change in attitude and focus of the clergy and people of the diocese. Becoming a member Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone would allow the Diocese of Fort Worth the opportunity and freedom to continue to practice the “Faith once delivered to all the saints” without being constantly distracted by the controversies and divisions caused by innovations hostile to traditional Christian norms. Instead, it would allow the Diocese to concentrate on the call of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel and make new disciples, while at the same time assuring our continued place in the mainstream of Anglicanism, an assurance The Episcopal Church is unable to give.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

The Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee: Anniversary

It’s been almost a year since the Diocese of Tennessee gathered to celebrate the consecration of its eleventh bishop, an event very much on my mind as I prepare for this first Convention in my new role. It may not be legitimate, after a year, to claim to be the “new bishop,” but that’s still how it feels to me.

Something within me remains fresh from the experience of prayer and the laying-on-ofhands that are at the heart of ordination, and I have to think that this is part of the gift imparted in holy orders.

Let me recall to you the text of the wonderful anthem commissioned by Murray and Hazel Somerville of St. George’s Church and composed by Michael Velting of Christ Church Cathedral, sung a year ago at the service of consecration: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self discipline”¦ Guard the good treasure entrusted to you with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us” (2 Tim. 1:6-7, 14).

So let’s claim the territory that comes with being new and celebrate it. “New” may reflect a lack of experience, but there are some positive aspects. “New life” is a good thing, perhaps the crucial thing for Christians, as we reflect on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. A “new start” is positive, especially as we think about moving out of our timeworn patterns of sin and setting off in a new direction under grace. A “new world” brings challenges and excitement, as we contemplate the unknown quantities that are set before us. A “new perspective” holds out to us the promise of escape from the spiritual myopia that besets us, and
of seeing things from a fresh angle.

“New” has limits, of course. Poet and priest George Herbert once wrote that “The Country Parson is a lover of old customs, if they be good”, and those who know me will know that the ancient and well-worn truths of Christian faith are decisive for my life. But is there not a connection between the antique truth and the springing forth of new life? I think so.

Another priest and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, suggests exactly this when he wrote, “And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep
down things.” From the Source, sometimes concealed and perhaps even buried deeply over time, comes the eternal freshness which is always new. So we return to our sources, in reading and in prayer, in preaching and in sacrament, to discover once again the new start, the new world, the new perspective, that comes with new life.

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

Bishop of Tenn. Statement on Resignation of the Rev. F.J. Richardson and the Rev. William Midgett

Both Frs Richardson and Midgett have announced their affiliation with (different) foreign Anglican jurisdictions. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Advent Letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, has recently reminded us that the intervention of foreign jurisdictions in dioceses of the Episcopal Church has not been sanctioned by the Communion as a whole; in fact, making provision for this interference has been strongly discouraged. “It creates a seriously anomalous position. It does not appeal to a clear or universal principle by which it may be decided that a local church’s ministry is completely defective. On the ground, it creates rivalry and confusion.” (Rowan Williams, “Advent Letter, 2007”). The Anglican Communion expresses a common mind through the Instruments of Unity, among them the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Meeting of the Primates, and none of these Instruments have called upon members of the Diocese of Tennessee to disaffiliate from it and to transfer their allegiance. The Archbishop reminds us that the bishops ordained as affiliates with these different foreign jurisdictions have not been legitimized by the Communion as a whole.

Read it all.

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

Press Relelase from new Anglican Parish in Tennessee

New Anglican Church Forms in Winchester
Trinity Members Leave Historical Downtown Property and Episcopal Church Affiliation Behind

WINCHESTER, Tenn. Following the annual congregational meeting on January 6, the rector, staff, lay leadership, and most of the members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Winchester, TN walked away from the historical building on First Avenue, N.W. in order to form Christ the King Anglican Church, a new Anglican congregation in Winchester.

At Sunday’s meeting, the Rev. William Midgett, Trinity’s rector since 2001, submitted his resignation and announced his disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. Trinity’s other paid staff and the eight-member vestry followed suit.

“The present conflict in the Episcopal Church boils down to choosing between two gospels. These two gospels, one true and one false, are not allowed to co-exist within the body of Christ,” said the Rev. Midgett. Such is the conviction of the former rector and members that they will walk away from the property and financial assets of Trinity Church and begin anew.

Trinity’s congregation was founded in 1859. Several generations of Franklin County Christians have worshiped at the present location since 1876. “The decision to leave the Episcopal Church and the property has been extremely difficult, said the Rev. Midgett. “Many members of our congregation have been Episcopalians all of their lives. Some of our parishioners have worshiped at Trinity for over 50 years. Yet they have chosen to follow the traditional teachings of Christ. It has become impossible to remain true to both the gospel and to the Episcopal Church as it is presently constituted.”

Trinity Episcopal Church is located in the Diocese of Tennessee approximately 90 miles from Nashville. Trinity had an ASA of 118 in 2006. 90 former members of Trinity attended a worship service and light supper at the new home of Christ the King Anglican Church on Sunday evening. While the parish did not take a formal vote, it is expected that about 100 individuals will join the new Anglican congregation.

Christ the King Anglican Church will affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). CANA is a new, rapidly growing Anglican missionary effort in the U.S. sponsored by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). CANA is based in Fairfax, VA and is led by Bishop Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal priest. CANA numbers about 60 congregations and over 100 clergy in twenty states, with a total average Sunday attendance of approximately 8,600.

“We are grateful that the Anglican Church of Nigeria has reached out to traditional Anglican Christians in the U.S.”, said the Rev. Midgett. “Our association with the worldwide Anglican Communion is an integral part of our identity.”

Christ the King Anglican Church will worship and have offices at the former V.R. Williams Insurance office building in Winchester.

There are two previously existing CANA congregations in middle Tennessee: St. Patrick’s in Smyrna and the Anglican Fellowship of Middle Tennessee in Tullahoma.

Another Episcopal congregation in the Diocese of Tennessee also departed TEC on January 6. The Vicar and most of the members of Holy Cross, Murfreesboro, TN have formed Faith Anglican Fellowship, affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda.

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

Wash. Post: In Property Dispute in Virginia, Litigation Drags On, And the Costs Grow

A nasty property dispute between the Virginia Episcopal Diocese and 11 breakaway congregations is likely to stretch into 2009 as a result of a judge’s decision, and the two sides say they have spent more than $1 million apiece on legal fees and expect to spend at least that much again before the case ends.

The Virginia dispute is one part of a global Anglican battle over how to interpret Scripture and Jesus’s view of homosexuality.

It is being closely watched, because one of the main breakaway organizations– the Convocation of Anglicans in North America — is based in Fairfax City, and because it could set a precedent for conservatives across the country who want to leave the Episcopal Church and hold on to church buildings and land.

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable

Adding to the most wide open presidential campaign in a half-century, associates of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg disclosed he had authorized polling and voter analysis in all 50 states in a possible precursor to an independent candidacy.

From an AP story this morning

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Survey: Non-attendees find faith outside church

A new survey of U.S. adults who don’t go to church, even on holidays, finds 72% say “God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists.” But just as many (72%) also say the church is “full of hypocrites.”

Indeed, 44% agree with the statement “Christians get on my nerves.”

LifeWay Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, based in Nashville, conducted the survey of 1,402 “unchurched” adults last spring and summer. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The survey defines “unchurched” as people who had not attended a religious service in a church, synagogue or mosque at any time in the past six months.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

James Poulos: A Sense of Change

So I think that part of the anxiety striking people like Rod and Andrew who are uplifted and inspired by Obama and Huckabee is the result of our cultural inability to decisively defeat our fear that if we don’t remain bound in commitment to reality then we risk not just anxiety but great agony. On the one hand, we want real change, and people who promise, or evoke the promise, of real change therefore generate much genuine enthusiasm. On the other hand, we also long for the simple enjoyment of a sense of change. We’ve revised our expectations about politics downward, as a therapeutic prophylactic and analgesic, against the agony of realizing that the major structural change necessary to truly solve the huge problems that we can only cope with from year to year is actually impossible. With the feverish dislocation and trivial pursuit of the market, the dissolution of authority in our personal relationships, and the ominous contingency of terrorism and ecological change, we want to ‘live in the moment’, to be ‘heroes for just one day’, we want the freedom to be carried away without guilt or nervousness into the swell and flush of true fellow-feeling, following the proud yet inclusive call of politicians that seem to redeem politics by transcending it.

Yet we struggle to repress the knowledge that transcending politics from within politics can’t really redeem it. It’s a stage trick. Any appeal that transcends politics must actually transcend the political. We criticize politicians for playing politics, but what else can they play? What we really mean is that they are good politicians but defective people, and we wish that we could have good politicians who are good people, too. But a good person isn’t necessarily a good politician, and the structure of American politics today makes us want to rebel against the standards of effective politics.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Religious Foes of Capital Punishment See New Momentum

Stephen Dear has spent the past 10 years waging an uphill battle to abolish the death penalty in the American South. He’s had virtually no help from the region’s powerful evangelical clergy.

But unlike in years past, Dear has new confidence that within six months, he can round up 100 conservative clergy in North Carolina alone to sign an open letter denouncing the current system of capital punishment.

“Even five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought of doing this,” said Dear, executive director of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, based in Carrboro, N.C. “It’s easier now to be an abolitionist church leader who opposes the death penalty on biblical grounds and to be accepted for that.”

These are hopeful times for death penalty opponents. On Monday (Jan. 7), the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether death by lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. New Jersey recently became the 14th state to ban executions.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Capital Punishment, Religion & Culture

From The Independent–Keep the faith: Why religious education is booming

Pupils are flocking to study religious education, a subject which until now has been seen as irredeemably unfashionable and the preserve of the sandal-wearing brigade. Last year an extra 1,000 students took religious studies GCSE, and 800 more opted for the A-level course than the year before.

This often-neglected corner of the curriculum is also enjoying new prominence thanks to Gordon Brown’s recruitment of religious education teachers to the fight against terrorism. He believes that their ability to teach diversity and faith is essential to developing a tolerant society that can resist extremism.

The Prime Minister’s new-found faith in RE comes hot on the heels of another big coup for the subject. Ian Jamison, the flamboyantly-dressed head of RE from Kingsbridge Community College, in Devon, won this year’s secondary school teacher of the year award at the National Teaching Awards.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

James Fallows: New Hampshire, from Beijing

A thoughtful piece.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Richard J. Mouw: A second glance

For several months during my time as a seminary student I worked the night shift at a local mirror factory. My title was prism inspector, and for every hour of work I was expected to check about a hundred car rearview mirrors for possible defects. But I was also required to take a ten-minute break each hour, to rest my eyes from intently staring at mirrors for the previous 50 minutes.

During these brief rest periods I would study for my seminary courses. Alongside the stacks of mirrors on my work bench was a small pile of books””Hebrew grammar, church history, systematic theology.

My attempts to cram some studying into my scheduled breaks were often frustrated, however, by the appearance of Jed, the night watchman. Jed always seemed to pass my way just as I was in the middle of some important reading. And he liked to talk….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

The Diocese of Southern Virginia's Profile for the Next Bishop

Read the entire piece.

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

Tom Cruise has Risen Very High in the Scientology Hierarchy

Tom Cruise has become the Church Of Scientology’s second-in-command, according to a new biography.

British writer Andrew Morton, best known for his books about the late Diana, Princess of Wales and David and Victoria Beckham, claims the 45-year-old Hollywood superstar’s life has been taken over by the controversial religion.

In “Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography,” Morton alleges the “church,” founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, relies so heavily on Cruise’s celebrity to recruit followers, the actor is now considered second only to leader David Miscavige.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

David Domke and Kevin Coe: Victories for God?

The victories by Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses last week make one thing clear: In America’s heartland, the God strategy works. Recent history suggests it won’t stop there.

In this approach presidential candidates make their religious faith demonstrably public and wield it as a campaign centerpiece. Out is a traditional wall of separation; in is a “bridge between church and state” that George W. Bush — who used the God strategy to perfection in 2000 and 2004 — offered early in his presidency.

This is not how it’s always been.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008