Daily Archives: January 24, 2009

Church Times–Church unity: progress slows while local enthusiasm grows

NATIONAL and international dis­cussions about church unity have been largely replaced by local action, church leaders say this week. The Archbishop of Canterbury confesses that he “finds echoes” of impatience with national bodies within himself.

Five church leaders ”” Dr Willi­ams, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Dr Martyn Atkins (Meth­odist), the Revd Jonathan Edwards (Baptist), and the Revd Roberta Rominger (United Reformed Church) ”” responded to a set of four questions asked by the editors of the Baptist Times and the Church Times. Their replies are also published in the Methodist Recorder and Reform.

They acknowledge a loss of impetus in national efforts to bring about unity. Dr Atkins talks of “less enthusiasm for unity as an end in itself”; Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor speaks of “a slowing down of progress”, des­pite increased commitment; and Dr Williams says: “You won’t find much interest in what you might call the ”˜negotiating’ side of unity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, England / UK

Virginia Episcopal bishop retiring early

Virginia Episcopal Bishop Peter J. Lee said Friday that he will retire three months early, on Oct. 1, in a bid to save money for his financially-strapped diocese.

“My resignation will occur several months earlier that I had originally anticipated,” he said to 700 Episcopalians gathered at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s annual council at the Reston Hyatt, “but I believe it is an appropriate and necessary response to the realities we face.”

His early resignation will save the diocese $63,000, one-quarter of his salary package that includes housing, travel and other benefits, according to diocesan treasurer Mike Kerr.

Read it all.

Update: A chart of some of the diocese of Virginia Statistics is here.

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

Proposed Resolutions for the Diocese of North Carolina Convention

Check them out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

North Carolina Episcopal convention held in Winston-Salem

But the central theme of this year’s convention is a little different.

“Our theme is ‘All Are Welcome’ and we’re passionately committed to being a church where all are welcome,” [Bishop Michael] Curry said.

A portion of the weekend’s convention focuses on proposed resolutions. And this year delegates are tackling a rather controversial subject.

“We’re vested with power by the state of North Carolina to act in the contract of marriage. On the other side as a church and the Episcopal Church, the other thing we do is to bless that union of people,” said Randall Keeney, priest at St. Barnabas church in Greensboro.

But Keeney is proposing a resolution that would encourage clergy to decline to act as agents of the state in the actual legal contracting of civil marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Bishop Wantland writes the Presiding Bishop

Read it all.

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

Jeremy Grantham: We Need to Halve Private Debt

But let us look for a minute at the extent of the loss in perceived wealth that is the main shock to our economic system. If in real terms we assume write-downs of 50% in U.S. equities, 35% in U.S. housing, and 35% to 40%
in commercial real estate, we will have had a total loss of about $20 trillion of perceived wealth from a peak total of about $50 trillion. This relates to a GDP of about $13 trillion, the annual value of all U.S. produced goods and services. These write-downs not only mean that we perceive ourselves as shockingly poorer, they also dramatically increase our real debt ratios. Prudent debt issuance is based on two factors: income and collateral. Like a good old-fashioned mortgage issuer, we want the debt we issue to be no more than 80% of the conservative asset value, and lower would be better. We also want the income of the borrower to be sufficient to pay the interest with a safety margin and, ideally, to be enough to amortize the principal slowly. On this basis, the National Private Asset Base (to coin a phrase) of $50 trillion supported about $25 trillion of private debt, corporate and individual. Given that almost half of us have small or no mortgages, this 50% ratio seems dangerously high. But now the asset values have fallen back to $30 trillion, whereas the debt remains at $25 trillion, give or take the miserly $1 trillion we have written down so far. If we would like the same asset coverage of 50% that we had a year ago, we could support only $15 trillion or so of total debt. The remaining $10 trillion of debt would have been stranded as the tide went out! What is worse is that credit standards have of course tightened, so newly conservative lenders now assume the obvious: that 50% was too high, and that 40% loan to collateral value or even less would be more appropriate. As always, now that it’s raining, bankers want back the umbrellas they lent us.

[And as for our future expectations]….Under the shock of massive deleveraging caused by the equally massive write-down of perceived global wealth, we expect the growth rate of GDP for the whole developed world to continue the slowing trend of the last 12 years as we outlined in April 2008. Since this recent shock overlaps with slowing population growth, it will soon be widely recognized that 2% real growth would be a realistic target for the G7, even after we recover from the current negative growth period. Emerging countries are, of course, a different story. They will probably recover more quickly, and will continue to grow at double (or better) the growth rate of developed countries.

Read the whole sobering analysis.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Obama Seeks to Broaden Support for Stimulus Plan

The White House released new details of an $825 billion economic recovery package on Saturday as President Obama sought to broaden the plan’s appeal a day after stepping squarely into the fractious Congressional debate over the proposal.

In his weekly video address, Mr. Obama argued that the package of spending programs and tax breaks was critical not only to turn around the economy but to rebuild the nation for a new era.

In the address, posted for the first time on the White House Web site, Mr. Obama made the case that the package would help students go to college, protect workers from losing health care, lower energy bills and modernize schools, roads and utilities.

“This is not just a short-term program to boost employment,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education, health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Credit Crisis Is Pinching Charities

SCO Family of Services, a nonprofit agency based on Long Island, started the year with a $25 million credit line at its bank, which it planned to use to pay its bills while awaiting government reimbursements and donations.

Now, after its bank has cut its credit line twice and withdrawn a promise to support a critical bond offering, the organization is worried about whether it can pay its employees this month.

“I spend a good part of my day every day just trying to manage cash flow,” said Johanna Richman, chief financial officer at SCO, which provides services to children with developmental disabilities.

SCO is one of hundreds of charities caught in the credit crunch as skittish banks reduce their lines of credit or cut them off entirely at a time when the need for their services is climbing sharply, nonprofit leaders say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Lights go out across Britain as recession hits home

Britain’s days as the fastest growing economy in Europe were officially declared over yesterday as the deepest recession in a generation saw consumers turning off the lights and Poles returning home.

While official figures showed the economy contracting at its fastest since 1980, National Grid said demand for electricity had fallen over Christmas at homes and factories across the land, and Poland confirmed that thousands of its citizens were coming home from Britain and Ireland.

National Grid said it was cutting its forecast for electricity consumption this year because of the recession. The thousands of people being laid off each week and the hundreds of firms cutting production are reducing demand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina: Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age

This Monday, January 26th will mark the anniversary of my consecration. I have been here for a year and have now visited every parish at least once and all but a few of the missions of the diocese. It has been, for Allison and me, a year of total immersion. Or to mix the metaphor, when people have asked if it has been a steep learning curve I’ve answered, “No, not really-it has been a vertical ascent.”

It would have been challenging in a normal year of diocesan and church life. But when one considers we hosted the Presiding Bishop and several of her staff less than a month after my consecration, engaging in a challenging but, I believe, hospitable dialogue; I attended two gatherings of the House of Bishops where former bishops under whom I’ve served were deposed, and at each I spoke and wrote against their deposition; I attended the GAFCON gathering in Jerusalem, as well as participated at the once in-a-decade Lambeth Conference with its related events this summer; three diocesan conventions voted to join a fourth diocese in leaving The Episcopal Church and two of these departing dioceses I have served for 27 years of my ordained ministry, and many of the priests and deacons I’ve worked beside have subsequently been deposed; an aspiring new province in North America known as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has emerged; and the dissolving of the Anglican Communion Network (with whom many in this diocese have been substantially linked) is charted for the mid-point of this present year. This brings the picture of a constantly changing landscape to mind as a descriptive and understated metaphor. These are indeed hinge times and this for me has been a baptism of fire. Yet as I write this I am not discouraged-rather I believe I have seen more clearly in recent days the path we are called to take.

During an interview for the Jubilate Deo with Joy Hunter in late 2007, shortly before I arrived in South Carolina, she asked, “Do you have a vision for how to proceed?” I said, “Stay close to God, meet often with the clergy, and love the people-then we’ll talk about vision.” I must say given the time demands I have had to scratch and claw for the space to stay close to God, and by his grace I believe I have-or rather he has kept me there in spite of myself. As for meeting often with the clergy, it has been more difficult than I anticipated, but I haven’t abandoned the commitment. I just could not have imagined the number of people who would want to meet with me and for reasons I could not have anticipated. In parish ministry I usually found the challenge was moving from prioritizing my schedule to scheduling my priorities. But this past year it often seemed I’ve been scheduled by other’s priorities and I’ve been left to scramble for time to even discover what my priorities should be. As for loving the people, yes I do and mostly have! So now, after a year, it is time to talk about vision.

Let’s begin with a question I asked myself before God in prayer. “What should a diocese do and more specifically-what should the Diocese of South Carolina do?”
.I believe we are to help shape the future of Anglicanism in the 21st Century through mutually enriching missional relationships with dioceses and provinces of the Anglican Communion (Romans 1:11-12; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15), and through modeling a responsible autonomy and inter-provincial accountability (Philippians 2:1-5; Ephesians 4:1-6) for the sake of Jesus Christ, his Kingdom and his Church.

We are to proclaim the gospel and make disciples for Jesus Christ and God the Father in the power of the Spirit who become responsible members of local parishes or missions and witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ in their personal and corporate context. The diocesan structures and staff are to do this, specifically, by assisting our existing congregations so that they may grow in numerical and spiritual vitality and plant new congregations within the diocese in places where the church is inadequately present.

I have heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that one ought to be able to summarize one’s vision in a statement that can fit on a t-shirt. My summary of this, put succinctly is, God has called us-To Make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age. This has been extremely focusing for me as I have met recently with the staff in making financial decisions, some of which have been difficult because of the need to cut back our diocesan budget due to loss of investment income as well as tightening budgets in some of our parishes. More importantly it has given clarity to how I foresee reshaping Diocesan Council and its various committees. As we draw closer to Diocesan Convention I plan to meet with clericus gatherings to begin to unfold how I see this vision implemented through strategy and from strategy to structure and from structure to involvement. I’ll be writing and talking about this often in the days and weeks ahead.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Missions, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

From the Email Bag

I recently received this:

I wanted to take a minute to say thank you for closing the comments on Bp Robinson…[recently]. I very much enjoy coming to the site to visit and find much of what I read by you and others enlightening, but the current state of affairs is such that passions are inflamed. The vitriol at times is breathtaking and depressing. One of the gifts of being a conservative is a certain amount of reserve when dealing with trying circumstances. That has been lost both in political and now church dialogue.

I thank you for trying to keep things at a level that is respectful but allows for a range of ideas and opinions to be expressed.

Please note that strictly speaking comments were not closed, but they were pre-vetted, which is sometimes necessary on certain topics. In any event respectful and on topic discussion is what we are after–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

For Some in Euro Zone, Dream Turns Nightmarish

“The Italians, the Spaniards, the Greeks, we all have been living in happy land, spending what we did not have,” said George Economou, a Greek shipping magnate, contemplating his country’s economic troubles and others’ from his spacious boardroom. “It was a fantasy world.”

For some of the countries on the periphery of the 16-member euro currency zone ”” Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain ”” this debt-fired dream of endless consumption has turned into the rudest of nightmares, raising the risk that a euro country may be forced to declare bankruptcy or abandon the currency.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--