Daily Archives: June 13, 2008

Scientists From Around the Globe Join ABC News in a Forum on Surviving the Century

Are we living in the last century of our civilization? Is it possible that all of our technology, knowledge and wealth cannot save us from ourselves? Could our society actually be heading towards collapse?

A dramatic preview of an unprecedented ABC News event called “Earth 2100.”According to many of the world’s top scientists, the answer is yes, unless we take action now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Bradley Wilcox: Honoring Thy Fathers

For millions of children across the U.S., this Sunday will not be a cause for celebration. Because of dramatic increases in divorce and nonmarital childbearing, about 28% of our nation’s children — more than 20 million kids — now live in a household without their father, up from 10 million kids (14%) in 1970, according to a recent Census Bureau report. Moreover, because most of these boys and girls see their dads infrequently (once a month or less), Father’s Day will offer cold comfort to many of these children.

Our nation’s epidemic of fatherlessness is just the most salient indicator of what University of Chicago theologian Don Browning has called the “male problematic” — the tendency of men to live apart from their children and to invest less emotionally and practically in their families than women do.

This situation has not gone unnoticed in America’s houses of worship.

Read the whole article.

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

Bishop Bennison Verdict Due In July

Ecclesiastical Court proceedings to determine whether Charles Bennison may remain Episcopalian bishop in the five-county region concluded yesterday.

Two counts against Bp. Bennison concern whether he committed “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.” Church prosecutors allege that he failed to protect underage parishioner Martha Alexis from sexual predation by John Bennison, his younger brother, and kept the matter a secret from the girl’s parents.

The abuse continued nearly throughout Ms. Alexis’s high school years in the early 1970s when John served as youth group leader in St. Mark’s Church in Upland, Calif. The elder Bennison, then rector of the church, hired his brother for the job as he worked on his seminary studies.

If the panel of nine priests and bishops finds that Bp. Bennison failed in his priestly duties, he could lose his standing as bishop and face further sentencing. They will issue their ruling within 30 days.

Read it all.

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

The Diocese of Pittsburgh Moves the Date of its Next Convention

After extensive consultation, and with the consent of the Standing Committee, I am moving the time and place of the 143rd Annual Convention of the Diocese to Saturday, October 4th, 2008, at St. Martin’s Church, Monroeville.

Registration of clerical and lay deputies will be from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. The Convention Eucharist will begin at 8:30 a.m. The business session of Convention will begin immediately following the Eucharist. Lunch will be served at midday. It is anticipated that all matters required to come before the Annual Convention will be complete during the afternoon, with adjournment at the completion of said business.

The date and place of the Annual Convention having been previously set, I am announcing this change under the provisions of Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Diocese. The expressed threat of deposition of the Diocesan Bishop at a September meeting of the House of Bishops is the “sufficient cause.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

Bishop Riah Loses Latest Court Battle

The former Bishop in Jerusalem has lost the second round of his court battle with the diocese over the ownership of a church school in Nazareth. Last month an Israeli court upheld a magistrate’s ruling ordering Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal and his family to turn custody of the “Bishop Riah Educational Campus” in Nazareth over to the Diocese pending a final court decision.

In a statement filed on its website, the Diocese in Jerusalem said that shortly before his retirement in March 2007, Bishop Riah established a charitable trust staffed by members of his family and sought to transfer the assets and administration of the diocese’s Christ Church School in Nazareth over to the new “Bishop Riah Educational Campus.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Israel, Middle East

Foreclosures Rise 48% in May as U.S. Bank Repossessions Double

Bank repossessions more than doubled in May and foreclosure filings rose 48 percent from a year earlier as previously foreclosed properties dragged down housing prices, RealtyTrac Inc. said in a report today.

One in every 483 U.S. homeowners lost their houses to foreclosure or received either a default warning or notice that their home would go up for sale at auction, RealtyTrac said. That was the highest rate since the Irvine, California-based company began reporting in January 2005 and the 29th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Nevada, California and Arizona posted the highest rates in the U.S. and New Jersey entered the Top 10, according to RealtyTrac.

“It’s definitely a different kind of market than what we got used to a couple years ago,” said Devin Reiss, owner of Realty 500 Reiss Corp. in Las Vegas. “We used to sell homes in a day. Now 50 percent of our sales are foreclosures.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Church Times: in C of E Most bishops prefer code of practice

Debate about women bishops will dominate the General Synod agenda next month. In all, the Synod will spend about seven-and-a-half hours discussing the various ways forward.

The General Synod will meet on the York University campus from 4 p.m. on Friday 4 July until 1 p.m. on Tuesday 8 July. The chief item on the agenda is the consideration of the recent Manchester report (News, 2 May), which outlined the various options for introducing women into the episcopate in the Church of England, and accommodating those who find women bishops unacceptable.

The matter first comes up on the Friday evening, when the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, introduces the issue and briefs the Synod on the plans for the following morning. These involve an hour-and-a-quarter in group discussions, beginning with prayer. These are followed by a two-hour “take note” debate, in which the general concerns of the different positions in Synod can be aired.

Controversial matters are customarily avoided on a Sunday during the York sessions, and the Synod returns to women bishops on Monday afternoon, spending three-and-three-quarter hours debating the motion proposed by the House of Bishops: no legislative security for traditionalists, but, instead, a code of practice. The Archbishops have said that they expect amendments to this motion in order to test the mind of the Synod. These can be submitted as late as Sunday afternoon; so it will be impossible to predict until the day what choices the Synod will be faced with.

Read it all.

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

An Important Comment from Ephraim Radner on the the SPREAD document

From the thread below:

I received a note late today from a faculty member of Trinity Schol for Ministry informing me that John Rodgers has personally told him that he is NOT the author of the SPREAD document to which I have responded. (As I noted, no author was cited.) Another name was mentioned as the author, but rather than potentially further confusion by passing along second-hand information, I will not repeat it. According to the note, John Rodgers is NOT the convener of SPREAD either, as David Virtue reported. What he will say at GAFCON, I am told, is not known.

I apologize for associating John Rodgers’ name with a document he apparently did not write, and with an organization for which he is not the convener.

As early as 2005, however, Rodgers was one of two signatories to a Petition to certain Global South Primates (still on the SPREAD website), where he was listed as “Chairman” of SPREAD. Perhaps he no longer is. He seems to know the author of this particular piece. The Petition he did put forward, however, and which he signed certainly covers the same ground as the “Urgent Call”. It describes Rowan Williams as a an “anti-Scriptural” “threat” to the Gospel and to Anglicanism who refuses to “repent”, and the like””the Petition also likewise lumps in Abp. George Carey into an equivalent camp, quite misleading readers as to Carey’s actual views””and so on. The main difference between the two pieces is that, in the earlier one, the need for a new Communion is laid out as implicitly necessary, now it is laid out as absolutely so. My arguments apply in each case across the board””so I have no apologies to offer on that score in the least. The Petition, I would note, lists several items where Williams is imputed views on the basis of his sitting on the editorial board of something. I don’t know whether this should apply, by analogy, to the SPREAD documents.

I shall have my piece revised so that Rodgers’ name is changed to “the author”, and make other related adjustments.

Meanwhile, I find it interesting that in the thread of one post ”“ the present one ”“ the topic is tied to the dean of one seminary associated with a writing that itself associates the Abp. of Canterbury with “anti-Christ” (and yes, “the author” does indeed “associate” him in this way), with many apparently agreeing that this is a fair characterization, while just above is another posting, from a member of that dean’s own faculty, commending Rowan Williams’ fine theology (pace the Petition’s unmitigated condemnation of his orthodoxy), based on an invited paper delivered at an Eastern Orthodox seminary conference. I’m glad it’s all so clear to everybody ”“ including seminary faculty, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Global South ”“ since apparently Williams has “guaranteed” everybody else’s actions in a decisive way, through his failures””proleptically initiating, it seems, the AMiA itself and its vision even before he was Archbishop of Canterbury””and thereby managed through the deployment of his moral vacuum, to set the course for the New Future.

The whole thread is quite important and I encourage your participation therein. I am closing comments on this entry so that any further comment will continue on the thread below–thanks.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Theology

Mike McManus: The Anglican/Episcopal Battle Sharpens

When I interviewed Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans of North America (CANA) this week, he was already in Jerusalem a week before the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCon) which will gather 300 conservative bishops representing 35 million Anglicans, more than half of those in the world.

Most are from the “Global South,” such as Africa, Asia, South America, Australia. However, many are “missionaries” from those countries to the U.S., such as Minns, who has attracted 55 conservative congregations, most of which have fled the increasingly liberal Episcopal Church. Another 250 have left for such groups as the Anglican Mission in America.

The gathering of GAFCon bishops is almost revolutionary, because only weeks later, the Archbishop of Canterbury will preside over Lambeth, a conference for the world’s Anglican bishops. The Global South bishops decided not to attend Lambeth, but to hold their own gathering instead.

Does this mean there will be split in the Anglican Communion?

Minns thought not: “We are in a process of realignment. When children grow up, you have to re-do your relationship, and begin to relate as equals. They are no longer kids and want to share in the leadership of the family. Institutional change is difficult.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA, Global South Churches & Primates, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

The World Clock

One of our readers emailed me this this morning. Check it out–and make sure to watch it for a minute or two as many displays rotate through the clock.

Posted in * General Interest

Wall Street Journal: A Child's Death And a Crisis for Faith

The recent death from untreated diabetes of an 11-year-old Wisconsin girl has invigorated opposition to obscure laws in many states that let parents rely on prayer, rather than medicine, to heal sick children.

Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston, Wis., are facing charges of second-degree reckless homicide after their child, Madeline Kara Neumann, died on Easter after slipping into a coma. The death, likely preventable with insulin, has renewed calls for Wisconsin and dozens of other states to strike laws that protect parents who choose prayer alone in lieu of medical treatment.

The case also has frustrated the Church of Christ, Scientist, the main promoter of prayer as therapy, which says a few tragic cases have unfairly tarred a practice that can restore health. The Neumanns, a Christian couple who run a prayer group out of their coffee shop, are not Christian Scientists. The National Center for Health Statistics, a federal agency, estimated in 2004 that more than 2% of the population uses prayer rituals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry

Executive Council Gets Training on Communication Skills

Executive Council members meeting in Albuquerque June 13-15 will receive an introduction to the public-narrative process that will be used as a leadership tool at General Convention next year. A portion of the council will be part of a group of about 65 people that will receive further training in the public-narrative process at the conclusion of the council meeting on June 16.

The project is being conducted in response to Resolution D043 from the 75th General Convention in 2006, which called for “a participatory, vision-focused dialogue on the mission of the church” at the 76th General Convention.

“The Episcopal Church isn’t good at stating its own identity,” Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, told Episcopal News Service. “The people in The Episcopal Church don’t have a common language to talk about who we are in The Episcopal Church and what we are called to do because of who we are.”

Read it all.

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

Incredibly, the Cubs win Again

After 11 innings–rah!

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Bishop Graham James of Norwich: On Refusing Lambeth invitations

I have lost count of the number of people who have commiserated with me because I am going to the Lambeth Conference. They either assume it will be an ecclesiastical punch-up or imagine the company of over six hundred bishops must be a foretaste of everlasting punishment.

An overload of episcopal fellowship will be bearable because of the cultural and theological diversity among the bishops, let alone their varied personalities. My real regret is that the diversity will be diminished compared with the last two Lambeth Conferences, because there have been so many refusals of the Archbishops invitation. While I wouldn’t relish any sort of ecclesiastical punch-up, I will be disappointed if we don’t discuss the issues which are currently so divisive. We need to do so in ways less oppressive than some of the plenary sessions last time, but it is difficult to have a debate if some of the main contenders are not represented.

Those bishops who refuse to come stand in a longer tradition than they may realize. Archbishop Longley invited 151 bishops to the first Lambeth Conference in 1867. (He even included all retired bishops: we would need an extra university campus if that was tried again.) In the event 76 bishops turned up, almost exactly half those who were invited. This time the proportion will be a good deal higher.
Bishops will stay away from this year’s Lambeth Conference for the opposite reason given by the original refuseniks. They think the Lambeth Conference has too little authority. They also believe its standing has been fatally weakened by the way in which Resolution 1.10 from the last conference has not been obeyed in some parts of the Anglican Communion. There seems to be less concern over the failure of the Communion to implement and obey many other resolutions over the years. But they ask, not unreasonably, what is the point in passing Resolutions if nothing is resolved? Doesn’t this simply reveal a vacuum of authority at the heart of Anglicanism?

It is intriguing that the Lambeth bishops have, from the beginning, produced a stream of resolutions, reports and pastoral letters. The Colenso affair (the hot topic at the first conference), evolution, birth control, the South India scheme or the ordination of women: there has always been some Communion-breaking issue which has tested episcopal unity and also spawned lengthy pronouncements. The current convulsion over sexuality doesn’t seem at first sight so very different.

But it has introduced a new, if not entirely unprecedented, factor. The Dean of Sydney, the Very Reverend Phillip Jensen, was recently reported as saying that the problem with the Lambeth Conference was the attendance of bishops who had consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson (who has not received an invitation himself). Those who consecrated him, argued Dean Jensen, were ‘false teachers who have acted in a way which makes fellowship with them impossible’. So it seems you cannot even confer, let alone worship, with those whom you believe have led the Church into error.

I am glad the same stance was not taken by the vast majority of English Anglicans when the decision was made to ordain women to the priesthood. The Act of Synod on episcopal ministry, as well as the provisions within the Measure itself, were grounded in a desire on both sides of that issue to remain in fellowship with each other despite profound differences. If things had been different, then I don’t suppose I would even be writing this article. If progress is slow on the ordination of women to the episcopate, it is the desire to remain in fellowship and with as much sacramental unity as possible which makes the task of devising legislation exacting.

Perhaps in these matters we need to renew our acquaintance with the Donatists. The parallels are inexact, though Dean Jensen’s words do carry some echoes of those fourth-century schismatics who thought they were more faithful to the Gospel than anyone else. The origins of the Donatist controversy centred on the consecration of Caecilian as Bishop of Carthage around 311. The claim, especially of bishops in Numidia, was that the consecrators included those who had betrayed the Christian faith in the Diocletian persecution and so were false teachers.

As time went on, the Donatists exploited economic unrest in North Africa, and consequent resentment of Rome as an imperial power and ecclesiastical authority, to add fervour to their cause. More locally, Numidia had no fondness for Carthage. In the current controversies within our own Anglican Communion, resentment of American hegemony and Western cultural imperialism is frequently exploited too.

St Augustine cut the branch on which the Donatists sat by stressing that the unworthiness of the minister did not effect the validity of the sacrament, a theological position so central to Anglicanism that it found its way into the Thirty-Nine Articles. But the long-lasting nature of the Donatist controversy weakened severely the North African Church. The Donatists only disappeared when almost the whole of the North African church was wiped out by Muslim conquest in the seventh century. If parallel it is, it is a grim one.

Back in the 1860s, Archbishop Longley recognized the imperfections of Anglican ecclesiology but placed considerable faith in the determination of this developing worldwide Communion to remain in fellowship. He believed that conferring with one another was a way to unity. In his day, St Augustine challenged the Donatists to public debate about that theological imperative derived from Christ himself – the unity of the Church. They were not responsive. I fear that those who have refused the Archbishop’s invitation to this Lambeth Conference will damage the unity of the church and the mission of Christ in our own time more than they seem to know.

–This article appears in the May 2008 edition of New Directions magazine

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Global South Churches & Primates, Lambeth 2008

A BBC Northern Ireland Sunday Sequence Audio Interview with Gene Robinson

Listen to it all (about 17 3/4 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts