Daily Archives: June 2, 2008

California decision puts pressure on Anglican Communion

EPISCOPAL Churches in California will begin offering gay weddings next month. On May 22, one of Los Angeles’ largest Episcopal parishes — All Saints Church, Pasadena, announced that in light of the California Supreme Court’s decision to strike down laws barring gay marriage, it “will treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.”

While Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno (pictured) last week welcomed the May 15 court decision, he has yet to ban rites of gay marriage, and is reported to be forming a task force to study the issue.

While a referendum that would seek to ban gay marriage is expected to be placed before California voters in November, the court ruling takes effect on June 16, permitting the civil licensing and registration of same-sex marriages.

The clergy of All Saints have been performing rites for the blessing of same-sex unions for several years. Following the court ruling, the parish vestry voted to add gay marriage to its liturgical menu. Parish rector, the Rev Ed Bacon said the decision to go ahead with gay marriage was consistent with the church’s “identity as a peace and justice church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Al Mohler: Salvation through Christ Alone? — A Moment of Decision

The Church of England faces yet another theological challenge as it prepares for the meeting of its General Synod in July. This time the issue is the Gospel itself and the specific question concerns the evangelization of Muslims. In the end, the outcome of this debate may, more than anything else, determine the future viability of the Church of England.

Paul Eddy, a lay theology student from Winchester who aspires to the priesthood, has entered a Private Member’s Motion and has secured the signatures necessary to force the General Synod to deal with his motion.

The text of his motion sets the issue clearly:

‘That this Synod request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.’

Mr. Eddy’s motion has been roundly denounced by many in the church and the Daily Mail [London] reports that liberal bishops attempted to dissuade members from signing the motion. Nevertheless, the motion is now set and the General Synod will effectively vote on whether the Church of England should seek to evangelize Muslims.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Inter-Faith Relations, Parish Ministry

Faith Today Interviews J.I. Packer

J. I. Packer has been described as one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century. In 2005 Time magazine dubbed him the “doctrinal Solomon” of Christian thinkers and named him one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in North America.

Dr. Packer is the Board of Governors Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, a school he has served for 28 years. Considered a Christian classic, Packer’s Knowing God (one of his more than 40 books), was released in 1973 and has sold over a million copies.

Today, J.I. Packer, 81, is embroiled in the same-sex blessing controversy rocking The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). Packer is honorary assistant in the largest congregation in the ACC, a church that voted to leave the ACC and realign with a more orthodox branch of the Anglican Communion based in South America.

In response, New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham sent Packer and other clergy a “notice of presumption of abandonment of the exercise of ministry.” Packer (JP) talked to Faith Today’s Karen Stiller (KS) a little about his life so far and what is to come.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Theology

Christian Century: The pastor behind the gay marriage ruling

Little noted in the history behind the California Supreme Court decision that gives the “right to marry” to same-sex couples are the bold steps taken over four decades by onetime Pentecostal minister Troy Perry in trying to establish legal and religious rights for gays and lesbians.

Perry, who founded a church 40 years ago that became an international denomination for Christian homosexuals, filed the initial lawsuit with his spouse and a lesbian couple in February 2004 that led to last month’s ruling making California the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

The 4-3 decision by the high court””though endangered by an expected state initiative in November to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage””marked another milestone for the homosexual-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches, started by Perry in 1968 in Los Angeles County.

In 1969, Perry performed the first public same-sex “holy union” ceremony in the U.S., and in January 1970 he filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage. It was dismissed before coming to trial.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Trinity Church Reacts to Obama's Departure

Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ conducted its first Sunday services in 20 years without Barack Obama as a member.

The Democratic presidential frontrunner quit the South Side church on Friday.

Sen. Obama has faced months of criticism for his association with Trinity’s controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

More recently, a visiting speaker to the church openly mocked Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Speaking to reporters Saturday in Aberdeen, S.D., Obama said his church experience had become a “political circus.”

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

At some schools, failure goes from zero to 50

In most math problems, zero would never be confused with 50, but a handful of schools nationwide have set off an emotional academic debate by giving minimum scores of 50 for students who fail.

Officials in schools from Las Vegas to Dallas to Port Byron, N.Y., have proposed or implemented versions of such a policy, with varying results.

Their argument: Other letter grades ”” A, B, C and D ”” are broken down in increments of 10 from 60 to 100, but there is a 59-point spread between D and F, a gap that can often make it mathematically impossible for some failing students to ever catch up.

“It’s a classic mathematical dilemma: that the students have a six times greater chance of getting an F,” says Douglas Reeves, founder of The Leadership and Learning Center, a Colorado-based educational think tank who has written on the topic. “The statistical tweak of saying the F is now 50 instead of zero is a tiny part of how we can have better grading practices to encourage student performance.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Tom Krattenmaker: The evangelicals you don't know

If a larger pattern can be drawn from my recent perception-changing journey to one of the great bastions of conservative evangelicalism, the walls of division are not as formidable as culture warriors might like us to believe. They might even be shrinking.

Such were the hopeful observations I packed home with me after two days in Xenia, Ohio, on the campus of the evangelical sports ministry Athletes in Action. AIA is the athletics arm of the famed Campus Crusade for Christ International, which has championed Jesus on American college campuses and around the world since its creation by Bill Bright more than a half-century ago. Campus Crusade, like its founder before his death in 2003, has stood tall as an icon of conservative Christianity (and, sometimes, politics) in the fractious national debates of our times. So what would this non-evangelical progressive religion writer from the People’s Republic of Portland find during his two days at AIA’s small-town Ohio home?

Hospitality. Curiosity. Respect. And surprising amounts of incipient change in the air.

My own stereotypes had me in an apprehensive state as I checked into AIA’s dormitory-style retreat center on the eve of my visit. Were these dedicated sports-world missionaries going to scold me for critiquing aspects of their movement in my previous writings? Were they going to give me the hard sell for the rightness of their philosophy and cause? Were they going to question the validity of my beliefs?

No, no and no.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Bonnie Anderson discusses the Lambeth Conference with religion writers

This event is a conference for bishops and it seems completely right for this topic to kick off this historic event. But I think that this topic also speaks to the Archbishop’s hope to confront what he has identified as a “major ecclesiological issue.” I think that the Archbishop has given up trying to get our bishops to take an independent stand on the future of the moratorium of same sex blessings for instance, and is now moving to “plan B” and turning his attention to encouraging our bishops to understand their “distinctive charism” as bishops, perhaps in a new way. I envision Archbishop Rowan pondering in, to use his word, “puzzlement” why these bishops of the Episcopal Church don’t just stand up and exercise their authority as bishops like most of the rest of the bishops in the Communion do. Why would our bishops “bind themselves to future direction for the Convention?” Some of us in TEC in the past have thought that perhaps the Archbishop and others in the Anglican Communion do not understand the baptismal covenant that we hold foundational. Perhaps they just don’t “get” the way we choose to govern ourselves; the ministers of the church as the laity, clergy and the bishops, and that at the very core of our beliefs we believe in the God- given gifts of all God’s people, none more important than the other, just gifts differing. We believe that God speaks uniquely through laity, bishops, priests and deacons. This participatory structure in our church allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment. But I think our governance is clearly understood. I just don’t think the Archbishop has much use for it…

At the Lambeth Conference, I believe that the voice of the conformed bishop will be easily heard and affirmed. The prophetic voice will not be easily heard.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Polity & Canons

Bishop Jerry Lamb receives a Lambeth Invitation

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Conflicts

Clinton wins Puerto Rico but Obama gains delegates

Hillary Rodham Clinton won a lopsided, but largely symbolic victory Sunday in Puerto Rico’s presidential primary, the final act in a weekend of tumult that pushed Barack Obama tantalizingly close to the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former first lady was winning roughly two-thirds of the votes as she continued a strong run through the late primaries.

Before cheering supporters, she predicted she would have more combined votes than her rival when the primaries end Tuesday night, claimed victories in key swing states and said that no contender will command enough delegates to claim the nomination.

“In the final assessment I ask you to consider these questions. Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted in this historic election?” she said in an appeal to some 200 uncommitted superdelegates who hold the balance of power in the fight for the nomination.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Sunday Telegraph: 'Poor quality' of vicars alarms Church leaders

Church of England bishops believe that thousands of vicars are not up to the job, according to a confidential report.
It found that there are “serious concerns” at the top of the Church hierarchy over the quality of its clergy.

The internal report suggests that the standards of new clergy has dropped, because of the demands on the Church to fill vacant posts, while many vicars who have been in the job several years have lost their energy and enthusiasm.

To tackle the problems, the Church is to vet new applicants for ordination more vigorously and is considering changing the selection criteria and a pay review.
It has also introduced new guidelines for clergy in a bid to improve their preaching performances.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

After Caesareans, Some See Higher Insurance Cost

…it is not known how much of the overall increase in Caesareans is because of a rise in unnecessary operations, or how many Caesareans are done at the mother’s request, according to a 2006 report by the National Institutes of Health.

“I think it’s really a very small amount, but we need more data,” said Dr. Mary D’Alton, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and an author of the report.

She said she was amazed to hear that insurers would charge higher premiums or deny coverage because of a past Caesarean.

“I would think if it’s happening, the medical profession has to take a stand,” Dr. D’Alton said.

But to people familiar with the rough and tumble world of individual insurance, the companies’ practices are no surprise.

Individual insurance differs sharply from the group coverage with which most people are familiar. Group policies generally require that the insurer cover everybody in the group, and charge the same rates for all. But with individual coverage, insurers in many states can vary their prices based on medical history, exclude certain services or reject anyone they consider a bad risk. (Several states, however, including New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, ban such practices.)

Insurers say they need these strategies to protect themselves, because some customers apply only after they get sick or pregnant, skewing the pool toward people with high expenses.

Read it all, also from the front page of this morning’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine