Daily Archives: April 26, 2008

Episcopal Diocese sues deposed Fresno bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has filed a lawsuit against a deposed bishop who tried to secede from the church last fall to protest the ordination of women and gays.

According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Fresno Superior Court, John-David Schofield breached his duties to the church last December when he broke from the U.S. Episcopal Church and placed San Joaquin’s parishioners, property and endowments in the hands of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America, based in Buenos Aires.

The diocese, which serves nearly 9,000 parishioners in the Central Valley from Lodi to Bakersfield, split into camps following the 2003 ordination of the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, a gay man, in New Hampshire.

His consecration has divided the nation’s 2.5 million Episcopalians between those who applaud the changes and others who interpret Scripture to bar gay relationships.

Read it all.

Update: An AP article is there.

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

A Seminary Where a Bicentennial Looks Forward

At the Andover Newton Theological School here, banquets, exhibitions and church services proclaim the bicentennial this year of the school’s founding as the Andover Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Nick Carter, its president, celebrates the seminary’s history proudly, but he is more engaged by how the school will adapt to the deep ferment in American religion and survive until the 250th anniversary and beyond.

Mr. Carter’s question is shared by scores of other smaller and midsize independent Protestant seminaries that have seen their financial support from denominations wither, their costs increase, and their assumptions about church life and the career of ministry tested by growing fragmentation and change in the pews.

“The church is changing,” Mr. Carter said. “Our concepts of religious leadership, mission, denomination and the status of ministry are being redefined. Other than the Gospel itself, most of the assumptions that our programs of study are based on are being swept away.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Edward Fiske: A Nation at a Loss

But while the theory behind “A Nation at Risk” may no longer hold (mediocre education inevitably leads to a weak economy), the report’s desperate language may be more justified than ever, for American education is in turmoil.

Most troubling now are the numbers on educational attainment. One reason that the American economy was so dominant throughout the 20th century is that we provided more education to more citizens than other industrialized countries. “A Nation at Risk” noted with pride that American schools “now graduate 75 percent of our young people from high school.”

That figure has now dropped to less than 70 percent, and the United States, which used to lead the world in sending high school graduates on to higher education, has declined to fifth in the proportion of young adults who participate in higher education and is 16th out of 27 industrialized countries in the proportion who complete college, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

The striking thing about the performance of American students on international comparisons is not that, on average, they are in the middle of the pack ”” which was also true in 1983 ”” but that we have a disproportionate share of low-performing students. We are failing to provide nearly one-third of our young people with even the minimal education required to be functioning citizens and workers in a global economy.

This is particularly distressing news at a time when the baby boomers are aging and a growing proportion of the future work force comes from groups ”” members of ethnic and racial minorities, students from low-income families, recent immigrants ”” that have been ill served by our education system. The challenge today is to build access as well as excellence. That’s the new definition of “a nation a risk” ”” and ample reason for a new commission to awaken the nation to the need to educate all our young people.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Many states appear to be in recession as deficits grow

The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that’s true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.
The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.

“Whether or not the national economy is in recession””a subject of ongoing debate””is almost beside the point for some states,” said the report to be released Friday by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The weakening economy is hitting tax revenue in a number of ways: People’s discretionary income is being gobbled up by higher food and fuel costs, while the tanking housing market means people are spending less on furniture and appliances associated with buying a house.

The situation is grim in Delaware, with a $69 million gap this year, and bleak in California, with a projected $16 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, the report said. Florida does not expect a rapid turnaround in revenue because of the prolonged real estate slump there.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

In Maryland 150-year-old clock at St. Anne's gets fluorescent bulbs as part of Earth Day

The Rev. Bob Wickizer climbed the stairs and wooden ladders yesterday inside the steeple of historic St. Anne’s Episcopal Church to reach Annapolis’ town clock.

Eighty feet above the center of downtown, he and Kirsten Chapman, head of the church’s environmental ministry, gingerly stepped over loose wooden planks coated with dust and ducked under the four metal arms of the clock mechanism to get to the 16 incandescent bulbs that illuminate the clock. Chapman slipped in front of one of the four faces and carefully replaced the bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.

This is what it took, on Earth Day, to turn a 150-year-old landmark into a beacon for thinking green.

The new lights promise to keep an estimated 2.5 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere every year by using 75 percent less energy, and save energy and money by lasting 10 times longer. Wickizer hopes that the change will encourage the community to reduce its carbon footprint. Church officials say they believe this is part of God’s will.

“Having dominion over [the Earth] doesn’t mean trashing it,” Wickizer said. “It may have taken the church a while to wake up to that.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Energy, Natural Resources, Epiphany, Parish Ministry

A Chicago Tribune Article on Seabury Western Seminary

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, one of 11 schools in the U.S. dedicated to preparing Episcopal priests, told tenured faculty on Thursday that their jobs would end next year.

Officials at the Evanston seminary insist the school is not closing, but that it is redefining its approach for preparing men and women for priesthood. Earlier this year, the school stopped accepting new candidates and advised first-year students that they should enroll in other seminaries if they wish to earn their degrees from an Episcopal institution.

For more than a century, seminarians have traditionally enrolled in a three-year residential program to earn a master’s of divinity degree that prepares them for the priesthood. Seminary officials said the school would explore the possibility of offering the degree in other formats such as distance learning or short-term residential stints.

“We want to bring the traditional excellence and depth of residential theological education to the new challenges and realities of the 21st Century,” said Rev. Gary Hall, dean and president of Seabury-Western. “People can’t afford to come here. We need to figure out how to bring it to them.”

Read it all.

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