Daily Archives: February 11, 2008

Central Florida Church asks members: In or out?

Recently, Trinity Episcopal Church mailed letters to 700 active church members, asking them to indicate their preference and return the signed forms by Feb. 15, said member Ron Joaquim, who recently was appointed to speak on behalf of the pastor and church leaders.

Based on informal questioning of parishioners, Joaquim estimates 75 percent to 80 percent of the members favor disaffiliation.

“My prayer is that the whole flock will stay together as we move to a safer pasture,” [Lorne] Coyle said.

The letters are a written poll, Joaquim said, rather than an official vote on disaffiliation. Ultimately, any separation proposal would have to be approved by the diocese.

Coyle said he hopes to finish the conversion by June 1.

Read it all.

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

Rowan Williams' Presidential Address to the opening of General Synod

The [Lambeth] Conference begins with a couple of days’ retreat. Some critics have complained that Lambeth is too focused on prayer and reflection and not enough on decision-making; but I am bound to say that I regard this as an extraordinary thing to say about any Christian gathering ”“ as if we could make any decision worthy of the gospel without the utmost attention to listening together to God. I partly understand that some feel there may be an attempt to appeal to the need for prayer and reflection as an alibi for not grasping the nettles; but I would gently but firmly say that it is also possible to use a rhetoric about needing decisive action as an alibi for waiting on God. I simply pray that we’ll get the balance as right as we can.

I respect the consciences of those who have said they do not feel able to attend because there will be those present who have in their view acted against the disciplinary and doctrinal consensus of the communion. Needless to say, I regret such a decision, since I believe we should be seeking God’s mind for the Communion in prayer and study together; but it simply reminds us that even the most ‘successful’ Lambeth Conference leaves us with work still to be done in rebuilding relationships. The decision of some to be absent not only shows the deep differences over theology and ethics that have so strained our connections; it also reflects, uncomfortably for us, some of the legacy of hurt that is felt by some of our provinces at what is experienced as patronising or manipulative or insensitive actions and attitudes on the part of many of the churches of the ‘West’ or ‘North’ ”“ not only the Episcopal Church in the USA, but us as well. That’s hard to hear, but we have to hear it and to offer apologies and seek for better understanding. Lambeth can’t be the end of the story; and if at Lambeth we try to do proper justice to the idea of a Covenant, it must be in the light of that need for a more serious and profound mutuality between us all.

I’ve said in other contexts something about why all this matters; let me illustrate it by looking briefly at one particular situation. What I’ve just said about the legacy of bruised feelings and half-buried resentments is, of course, one of the things that so complicates our political, never mind our ecclesiastical, relationships with the post-colonial world. And nowhere is this more apparent than in Zimbabwe at the moment. A history scarred by exploitation and deep racial injustice can all too easily be used, as it has been there, to turn aside every criticism and even to refuse any proper help when a local regime has fallen victim to its own incompetence, corruption and self-delusion. It has been that much harder for many in this country to know how to respond to the needs of Zimbabwe for fear of simply reinforcing stereotypes of colonial patronage or misunderstanding. We have tried to take our cues from those on the ground locally who are seeking justice and change.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Sacramento Bee: Breakaway churches face a new battle

For 55 years, members of Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church have tithed their 10 percent, money that often went toward maintaining 12 acres of tree-lined church property.

Now they’ve been told that the church where generations have worshipped does not belong to them ”“ but rather to the national denomination they believe has lost its biblical authority and want to cut ties with.

“What about the blood, sweat and tears of the congregation ”“ all of us who have given all these years?” said Jane Constance, a member since 1982 whose four children were baptized and raised in the church. “It’s unthinkable to me, to most of us, that it could belong to them because of a clause most of us didn’t know about.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Presbyterian, TEC Conflicts

Gary Fletcher: The Anglo-Islamic Church

This unbelievable headline caught my eye immediately. Archbishop: Adoption of Sharia Law in U.K. is ‘Unavoidable’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has suggested that it “seems unavoidable” that elements of Islamic law be accepted into the British legal system.
I suggest a better headline would have been: “Archbishop of Canterbury Loses His Mind.” Why in the world would the leader of the Church of England advocate for the imposition of Islamic law in Britain?

So profound a misunderstanding of the proud English and British heritage from the leader of the Church of England it is incomprehensible. Ironically, his comments demonstrate either ignorance of or hostility toward the historic commitment of the British people to freedom and self-determination. The first nation to emerge from the political chaos of the Middle Ages, the defiant victor over the militarily superior Spanish Armada in the 16th century, the last bastion in Europe against the forces of fascism in the century past, the people of the United Kingdom surrender their autonomy to no foreign power, secular or religious. Surrender is precisely what the Archbishop now says is “unavoidable.”

Most astonishing, these comments by the Archbishop disavow the most significant underlying values which have defined British history….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Title IV Task Force proposes revisions to canons on ecclesiastical discipline; comment period opens

The Title IV Task Force II has proposed a complete revision of Title IV, the main clergy-discipline canons. The group also proposes adding to Canon 17 of Title I a process for disciplining lay leaders and a procedure for dealing with impaired clergy to the Title III ministry canons.

The release of the documents opens a comment period that runs until the end of June.

The task force’s proposed revision is available here.

The current version of Title IV is available here.

The proposed revision of Canon I.17.8 to set up a process for disciplining lay leaders is available here.

The proposal to add a new canon concerning impairment of clergy to Title III is available here.

Each document includes instructions on how to file comments on the drafts.

“We want to be as fully out there to the wider church as we can get with opportunity for people to read all three documents, to respond to us with their comments, concerns, criticisms, suggestions,” said Steve Hutchinson, who chairs the current task force.

Hutchinson, chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah who was a member of the first task force, said the current task force will meet in September to synthesize the responses into a proposal to include in its Blue Book report for the 76th General Convention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Ted Schroeder: Looking back and Looking forward with John Stott

(With permission-KSH)

When you are reading this, Antoinette and I will be in Wales, at the Hookses, an old farm house, barn and cottage, my old friend and mentor, John Stott bought in 1954, and fitted out as a retreat for himself and a few friends. John is now 86, and invited us to join him for a week there last year but we were unable to go. This year we felt we needed to join him. He only uses it one week a year now, for he has given the property to Langham Partnership International, a missionary organization he founded some years ago.

We will be joining John and his secretary of more than fifty years, Frances Whitehead; his successor as rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, Richard Bewes; Sara Thompson, the widow of John’s assistant that I succeeded at All Souls in 1967; Julian Charley, a noted theologian, and his wife Claire; John Smith, who used to be my colleague at the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster), and fellow-resident at the All Souls Rectory when we were single, and his wife Anna; and Neil and Jenny Woodward who are from Australia and New Zealand, and who have recently been caregivers for John. Also joining us will be the author, Roger Steer, who has been commissioned by InterVarsity Press (IVP) to write a biography of John. He wants me to supply him with material from John’s life for his book, so I presume that I will have to come up with reminiscences to satisfy him!

The Hookses is located in a little valley on the edge of a disused WWII airfield, now occupied by sheep, running down to the Pembrokeshire coast. It looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean, on high cliffs, near the village of Dale. I first visited it in 1964 when I took a group of young people from All Souls Church down there for a weekend. Antoinette and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary there in March 1971. We have returned over the years for visits with John Stott, and our mutual friends. When we first visited it there was no electricity, and light was by paraffin oil lamps!
John Stott used the Hookses as a writer’s retreat. He would leave behind his busy life in London, and spend a week or two writing his latest book. It would seem that every year he has published a new book. His latest is THE LIVING CHURCH: CONVICTIONS OF A LIFELONG PASTOR. Its Table of Contents reveals a comprehensive vision of ministry that is balanced and vital.
1. Essentials: God’s Vision for His Church
2. Worship: Glorying in God’s Holy Name
3. Evangelism: Mission Through the Local Church
4. Ministry: The Twelve and the Seven
5. Fellowship: The Implications of Koinonia
6. Preaching: Five Paradoxes
7. Giving: Ten Principles
8. Impact: Salt and Light
It is followed by three appendixes:
1. Why I Am Still A Member of the Church of England
2. I Have a Dream of A Living Church
3. Reflections of an Octogenarian.
I was extremely fortunate to have begun my ministry under his guidance. His wise and disciplined leadership was a model for me to follow. There is no doubt that much of any effectiveness I have had is due to his example.
What will be the value of this week in Wales? It will give me the opportunity to encourage John at this stage in his life, and to return to him some of the support he has given me over a lifetime. He was a surrogate father in God to me at an impressionable age, and ever since. Now that we have grown old together I appreciate him even more.
It will also give us time to share with one another the challenges of being Christ’s followers in the twenty-first century. There will be times of devotion, study, prayer and discussion. I plan to do some writing of my own. It will be a real group retreat which I pray will strengthen us for the future. Hopefully I will return to be able to serve Christ better. I pray that the Spirit will minister to us during this time, and that I will be able to listen to what God is saying to me.
The last words John Stott wrote in his latest book are about humility. He quoted Michael Ramsey who gave the following advice:
1. Thank God, often and always, carefully and wonderingly, for your continuing privileges. Thankfulness is the soil in which pride does not easily grow.
2. Take care about confession of your sins. Be sure to criticize yourself in God’s presence: that is your self-examination.
3. Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly, but they help you to be humble. There can be trivial humiliations. Accept them. There can be bigger humiliations. All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord.
4. Do not worry about status. There is only one status that our Lord bids us to be concerned with, and that is the status of proximity to himself.
5. Use your sense of humor. Laugh about things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh about yourself, and about your own absurdity. We are all of us infinitesimally small and ludicrous creatures within God’s universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself.
In conclusion, John Stott ended with his characteristic emphasis on the cross. “It is at the cross of Christ that humility grows. As Emil Brunner wrote, other religions spare us the ultimate humiliation of being stripped naked and declared bankrupt before God. I have no greater desire than to make the apostle Paul’s declaration authentically mine:
”˜May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.’ (Galatians 6:14)”
For someone who has been honored by the Queen for his services, read by millions of people throughout the world, who has raised up generations of Christian leaders in the Third World, and has given all his royalties to buy books for poor pastors, his ultimate teaching on humility is instructive. “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:7,8)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Other Churches

David Lazarus–What rate cuts? Use of plastic gets pricier

Hundreds of thousands of Capital One and Bank of America cardholders have been notified in recent months that their interest rates are going up — in some cases to as much as 28% — even though they haven’t been missing payments.

Cardholders are being told they can “opt out” from the higher rates by paying off their balances and taking their business elsewhere. But that’s not really an option for people who may not have thousands of dollars in spare cash sitting in a drawer.

If anything, people’s credit card rates should be heading south following repeated cuts in interest rates at the federal level. So far this year, the federal funds rate has been reduced by 1.25 percentage points and now stands at 3%. Further cuts are expected as the economy slides toward recession.

The Fed funds rate is an overnight lending that banks charge to each other. It influences the interest consumers pay for credit cards, home equity lines and car loans.

David Robertson, publisher of an influential credit card trade publication called the Nilson Report, said a number of factors determine rates for plastic, not least the greater risk of delinquencies these days resulting from the credit crunch.

But he said it seems clear that leading banks, having suffered billions of dollars in losses from the mortgage meltdown, are casting about for new sources of revenue.

“They need to raise rates because they can’t raise fees anymore,” Robertson said. “It’s politically untenable.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Diocese of BC will take swift action, Bishop James Cowan warns

The neighbouring Bishop of British Columbia, James Cowan, is warning priests and congregational officials in his diocese””which covers Vancouver Island””not to try to take parishes out of his diocese.

“If a person is employed by the Diocese or parish and is found to be acquiescing in or to be actively promoting such separation, this is a ground for immediate termination of employment without notice or severance,” he wrote to all his clergy, churchwardens, and members of parish councils.

The letter was not directed to specific clergy or congregations, and no Diocese of BC parishes are currently listed as belonging to the Anglican Network in Canada, the group that includes congregations that have members actively seeking to come under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

However, according to Bishop Cowan, “persistant rumours have come to my attention” that people are working to separate from the Anglican Church of Canada and join the South American Church ”“ a move condemned by church leaders in Canada and strongly discouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Read it all.

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

Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, faces critics on his day of judgment

An embattled Archbishop of Canterbury will confront anger within the Church of England as, on this most critical day of his five years in office, he tries to justify his remarks about Islamic law.

Dr Rowan Williams will open the General Synod in Central London this afternoon with a presidential address in which he will show that he can weather the storm over his recent remarks. He will attempt to set the record straight, insisting that he never advocated a “parallel jurisdiction” of Sharia.

The Archbishop, whose liberal stance has provoked fury among evangelicals, will face further pressure when a senior bishop launches a renewed attack on the Church’s approach to homosexuality.

The Right Rev Michael ScottJoynt, the Bishop of Winchester and fifth most senior clergyman in the hierarchy, will give warning that the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Minette Martin: Archbishop, you’ve committed treason

In an interview on Radio 4 last Thursday, Rowan Williams said that the introduction of parts of Islamic law here would help to maintain social cohesion and seems unavoidable. Sharia courts exist already, he pointed out. We should “face up to the fact” that some British citizens do not relate to the British legal system, he said, and that Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

What he went on to say was more astonishing. He explained to the interviewer, in his gentle, wordy way, that a lot of what is written on this confusing subject suggests “the ideal situation is one in which there is one law and only one law for everybody”. He went on: “That principle is an important pillar of our social identity as a western liberal democracy.” How true.

However, he continued: “It’s a misunderstanding to suppose that that means people don’t have other affiliations, other loyalties, which shape and dictate how they behave in society, and the law needs to take some account of that.”

Stuff like this is bad for the blood pressure, but I listened on. “An approach to law which simply said there is one law for everybody and that is all there is to be said . . . I think that’s a bit of a danger.”

What danger? And to whom? The danger, surely, is rather the archbishop and those who think like him, who seem unwilling to hold fast that which is good. What is good and best and essential about our society ? it isn’t merely a matter of “social identity” ? is the principle of equality before the law. That principle and its practice have made this country the outstandingly just and tolerant state it is; it is one of the last remaining forces for unity as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Andrew Goddard–Reflections on the Archbishop's interview and lecture

The response to the Archbishop tell us much more about our society, media, politicians and (even more sadly) our church than it does about him and what he said. His main failing ”“ and the costs of it are now enormous – amounts to an almost lethal combination of naivety in relation to the soundbite that would be taken from interview and opacity in relation to the lecture. The response is marked by prejudice (including against him ”“ the names of those calling for his resignation are no surprise to those who have followed certain conservative evangelical reactions to him since his appointment, despite the fact that his central argument is one with which they should have much sympathy), ignorance and misrepresentation. And yet, when such a storm results one has to ask why it has happened and its spiritual significance. The Archbishop has clearly touched a very raw nerve as did the Bishop of Rochester a few weeks ago. Interestingly, both of them made a very similar tactical error in relation to how to raise important issues through the media. The comment of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his interview referring to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s article could now be applied to his own references to sharia ”“ “I think the phrase, because it echoed of the Northern Irish situation ”“ places where the police couldn’t go ”“ that was what it triggered in many peoples’ minds. I don’t think that was at all what was intended”. As with that earlier article from a different perspective, this latest incident is perhaps initially most revealing in relation to our attitudes to Islam.

However, like the lecture, the revelation perhaps also goes deeper. What we have witnessed in the last few days is not only the inability of our secular society (especially in and through the media) to think seriously about an important issue. We have also been shown our inability to understand the importance of religious commitments and communities in and for our public life. Deeper still we have had demonstrated our refusal to consider that we need God even for the apparently simple task of understanding ourselves as a society and discerning how we can live together in our diversity of cultures and faiths. Rather than acknowledging this failure to comprehend and seeking to listen, to understand, to dialogue and to learn, our response ”“ from the Prime Minister down – has been one of immediate distortion, disbelief, dismissal and disdain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It therefore looks like our common off-the-shelf understandings of ourselves are indeed ”˜not adequate to deal with the realities of complex societies’. In fact, what the reactions of the last few days have clearly revealed is that our public life and our ability to communicate and reason together as a society faces much more widespread, deep-rooted, pressing and serious challenges than the narrow question of how best to respond to sharia law. It is these challenges, starkly revealed by the ill-informed hysteria of recent days, that, along with the issues the Archbishop’s lecture has so accurately highlighted, we urgently need to address through reasoned and civil public discussion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Armed robbery, 10-year prison sentences and the downfall of two Wando High School teens

Sean Shevlino and Mike Anthony had every opportunity to succeed: loving parents, good homes, strong schools and the natural ability to play sports. But a series of bad decisions in the summer of 2006 changed the course of their lives.

In a matter of days, the two Wando High School students and a group of friends robbed a store at gunpoint. Sean and Mike then continued with the theft of a car and another robbery.

Now, as many in their graduating class prepare to head for college, Sean and Mike wait to see which state prison will be their home for the next 10 years.

How did this happen?

Read the whole article from our local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Teens / Youth

John Richardson: Spot the difference? Why Rowan said so much about Islam and Sharia

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Clinton Campaign Manager Is Out

Patti Solis Doyle has stepped down as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign manager, the campaign announced on Sunday.
She will be replaced by Maggie Williams, a senior adviser to the campaign.
Ms. Solis Doyle will stay on as a senior adviser and “will continue to be a key part of the campaign,” said Mo Elleithee, a spokesman.
“It’s not a shakeup,” he said. “It will be a seamless transition. She and Maggie are longtime friends and they have been working closely together for the last month.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

The Papal Address on World Day for the Consecrated Life

In the course of the centuries the proposal of the following of Christ without compromise, as it is presented to us in the Gospel, has therefore constituted the ultimate and supreme rule for religious life (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, n. 2). In his Rule St Benedict refers to Scripture as the “most exact rule of human life” (n. 73: 2-5). St Dominic, whose words and works proclaimed him a man of the Gospel at all times (cf. Libellus de Principiis Ordinis Praedicatorum, 104: in P. Lippini, San Domenico visto dai suoi contemporanei, Ed. Studio Dom., Bologna, 1982, 110) desired his brother preachers also to be “men of the Gospel” (First Constitutions or Consuetudines, 31). St Clare of Assisi imitated Francis’ experience to the full: “The form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters”, she wrote, “is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule, I, 1-2; Franciscan Omnibus, n. 2750). St Vincent Pallotti said: “Since the life of Jesus Christ is the fundamental rule of our small Congregation… we must aim at what is most perfect always and in everything” (cf. Complete Works, II, 541-546; VIII, 63, 67, 253, 254, 466). And St Luigi Orione wrote: “Our first Rule and life is to observe the holy Gospel, in great humility and in loving sweetness and on fire with God” (Letters of Don Orione, Rome, 1969, Vol. II, 278).

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic