Daily Archives: February 19, 2009

ACNS: Anglican Communion Consultation on Evangelism and Church Growth

As a follow up on the aspirations and desire of the Bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference “to develop a worldwide vision and strategy of church planting, growth and mission”,[1] taken forward by the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates,[2] the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, invited a small but diverse group of people involved in evangelistic and church growth ministry, from around the Communion to a consultation to take forward the recommendation of setting up an Evangelism and Church Growth Network.

The group met at St Andrew’s House (London) on 10-11 February 2009, and began their meeting with sharing their personal experiences of the ways in which they have been involved in the ministry of evangelism and Church growth.

By the end of a two-day engaging meeting the group had a common mind on the following…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Latest News, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Tracking history: former Railroad Porter rides in style

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations

An Orange Sky of Monarchs

You really need to see this, it is simply spectacular. Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest

First Inter Parliamentary Conference on anti-Semitism reception held at Lambeth Palace

On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, The Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and Chair of the Council of Christians and Jews, hosted a reception at Lambeth Palace on 17 February 2009 for the participants in the first Inter Parliamentary Conference on anti-Semitism.

The Conference which is the first of a series, follows the work of the ‘All Party Parliamentary Committee on anti-Semitism’ which produced a major report in 2007 and is chaired by Mr John Mann MP. Since then, the Committee has engaged with Parliamentarians concerned with anti-Semitism around the world to create a network and now an agreement to hold regular conferences under the auspices of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition on Combating anti-Semitism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Faiths

US commander: Troops 'stalemated' in Afghanistan

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan offered a grim view Wednesday of military efforts in southern Afghanistan, warning that 17,000 new troops will take on emboldened Taliban insurgents who have “stalemated” U.S. and allied forces.

Army Gen. David McKiernan also predicted that the bolstered numbers of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan – about 55,000 in all – will remain near those levels for up to five years.

Still, McKiernan said, that is only about two-thirds of the number of troops he has requested to secure the war-torn nation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, War in Afghanistan

ENS: Episcopal Church petitions to join property case, wants Duncan to vacate offices

Saying that all property held by or for a diocese can only be used for the mission of that diocese and the Episcopal Church, the church has asked a Pennsylvania court to allow it to join an ongoing case concerning the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In papers filed February 13 with the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, the Episcopal Church also asked the court to declare:

”¢ that the members of the diocesan leadership now recognized by the Episcopal Church are “the proper authorities entitled to the use and control of the real and personal property” of the diocese,

Ӣ that the property may be used only for the mission of the diocese and the wider church,

Ӣ that deposed Bishop Robert Duncan and the leaders of the group of Episcopalians that left the diocese on October 4, 2008 must provide an accounting of that property, and

Ӣ that Duncan and the breakaway leaders must vacate the diocesan offices and turn over control of the property to the current leadership.

The petition to intervene in the case is available here. It was signed by retired Diocese of West Missouri Bishop John C. Buchanan, who is the parliamentarian for the House of Bishops and is described in the petition as trustee ad litem (Pennsylvania law requires unincorporated associations, like the Episcopal Church, to sue in the name of one of its members as trustee ad litem).

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

Remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Department of Justice African History Month Program

Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us. But we must do more- and we in this room bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must – and will – lead the nation to the “new birth of freedom” so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations

AP: Roman Catholic schools trying to survive

Maryland is considered the cradle of Roman Catholic education in America, but if that heritage is to endure, decisive action must be taken soon to address falling enrollment at Baltimore’s parochial schools, the archbishop said.

For a decade, leaders have prayed the situation would turn around, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien said. But this academic year, enrollment at archdiocese schools is down 5%, or approximately 1,200 students, according to the archdiocese. That’s the equivalent of four full schools and twice the average decline of the previous five years.

“To punt any further would be to lose the school system completely,” O’Brien said. “It’s obvious that some action has to be taken.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Calculated Risk Analyzes the Obama Housing Plan

For homeowners there are two key paragraphs: first the lender is responsible for bringing the mortgage payment (sounds like P&I) down to 38% of the borrowers monthly gross income. Then the lender and the government will share the burden of bringing the payment down to 31% of the monthly income. Also the homeowner will receive a $1,000 principal reduction each year for five years if they make their payments on time.

This is not so good. The Obama administration doesn’t understand that there were two types of speculators during the housing bubble: flippers (they are excluded), and buyers who used excessive leverage hoping for further price appreciation. Back in April 2005 I wrote: Housing: Speculation is the Key

[S]omething akin to speculation is more widespread ”“ homeowners using substantial leverage with escalating financing such as ARMs or interest only loans.

This plan rewards those homebuyers who speculated with excessive leverage. I think this is a mistake.

Another problem with Part 2 is that this lowers the interest rate for borrowers far underwater, but other than the $1,000 per year principal reduction and normal amortization, there is no reduction in the principal. This probably leaves the homeowner far underwater (owing more than their home is worth). When these homeowners eventually try to sell, they will probably still face foreclosure – prolonging the housing slump. These are really not homeowners, they are debtowners / renters.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan

Garrison Keillor: Upward and onward

This morning I read the obituary of an English writer I’d never heard of named Edward Upward, who died last Friday at the age of 105. (In fact, he outlived his obituarist, Alan Walker, who died in 2004.)

Ed went to Cambridge and was a friend of W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood and his career seems to have wilted in the heat of their brilliance. They became famous and he got a job teaching school.

And then he joined the Communist Party, which is a heavy load of bricks to carry, and he married a hard-line Communist named Hilda, and he wrote an essay announcing that good writing could only be produced by Marxists, whereupon he suffered writer’s block for 20 years. (Talk about poetic justice.)

“The middle decades were bleak for Upward,” wrote Walker. “During a sabbatical year designed to give Upward the chance to write, he suffered a nervous breakdown.” And then when he did publish again, he had become an antique. His autobiographical trilogy, “The Spiral Ascent,” was received by critics like you’d receive a door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesman.

And then there was the problem of walking around with the name Edward Upward.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Death / Burial / Funerals, Humor / Trivia, Parish Ministry

Jason Byassee–Perilous presence: Christians in Uganda

“You can’t understand Africa without understanding religion,” said Emmanuel Katongole, a Catholic priest from Uganda. As he led a tour of Kampala, Uganda’s capital, it was soon clear what he meant. Slogans such as “Jesus cares” and “Try Jesus” adorn taxicabs. Ads for a Catholic bank named Centenary print the letter T as a cross. Businesses have such names as “Holy Light Clinic,” “Born Again Bankers” and “Holy Hair Care.” “There is no Western-style division between secular and sacred or public and private here,” Katongole said.

But the infusion of religion into everyday life has not made Uganda a peaceful land. “We have a culture in Uganda of taking power by the point of a gun,” said Archbishop John Baptist Odama. The archbishop’s see, based in the town of Gulu in the north of the country, has been the scene of a vicious civil war for the past 22 years. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, has waged an antigovernment insurgency, savagely attacking rural villages and abducting children, who are turned into soldiers or sex slaves. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 children have been kidnapped over the years.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Religion & Culture, Uganda, Violence

An Editorial from the (South Carolina) State: Senators must protect consumers, not payday lenders

The historically more conscientious, deliberative Senate must rescue consumers from a flimsy payday lending bill hastily passed by the House that would solidify payday lenders’ grip on our state.

The House bill would do nothing to stop payday lenders from making repeated loans to borrowers at triple-digit interest rates. It’s up to senators to push for strong protections that help keep consumers from drowning in a long-term cycle of debt.

The best remedy is to ban payday lending, but many lawmakers oppose that. Fine: Then regulate the industry tightly so it does what it continually alleges is its aim ”” to provide short-term, emergency loans. That shouldn’t be hard for the Senate. It passed strong legislation last session to do just that, only to have Speaker Bobby Harrell, who authored the industry-friendly legislation the House passed last week, sabotage it.
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The House’s payday lender-friendly bill would limit the number of loans a consumer can get to one at a time and require a database be used to enforce the limit. But it also would double the maximum amount of a loan, from $300 to $600.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government

For Uninsured Young Adults, Do-It-Yourself Health Care

In the parlance of the health care industry, Ms. [Alanna] Boyd, whose case remains unresolved, is among the “young invincibles” ”” people in their 20s who shun insurance either because their age makes them feel invulnerable or because expensive policies are out of reach. Young adults are the nation’s largest group of uninsured ”” there were 13.2 million of them nationally in 2007, or 29 percent, according to the latest figures from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York.

Gov. David A. Paterson of New York has proposed allowing parents to claim these young adults as dependents for insurance purposes up to age 29, as more than two dozen other states have done in the past decade. Community Catalyst, a Boston-based health care consumer advocacy group, released a report this month urging states to ease eligibility requirements to allow adult children access to their parents’ coverage.

“There’s a big sense of urgency,” said Susan Sherry, the deputy director of Community Catalyst. She described uninsured young adults as especially vulnerable. “People are losing their jobs, and a lot of jobs don’t carry health insurance. They’re new to the work force, they’ve been covered under their parents or school plans, and then they drop off the cliff.”

If Governor Paterson’s proposal is approved, an estimated 80,000 of the 775,000 uninsured young adults across New York State would be covered under their parents’ insurance plans. That would leave hundreds of thousands to continue relying on a scattershot network of improvised and often haphazard health care remedies.

In dozens of interviews around the city, these so-called young invincibles described the challenge of living in a high-priced city on low-paying jobs, where staying healthy is one part scavenger hunt and one part balancing act, with high stakes and no safety net.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Young Adults

Thomas Friedman: Muslims Standing up Against Terrorism in India

If suicide-murder is deemed legitimate by a community when attacking its “enemies” abroad, it will eventually be used as a tactic against “enemies” at home, and that is exactly what has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The only effective way to stop this trend is for “the village” ”” the Muslim community itself ”” to say “no more.” When a culture and a faith community delegitimizes this kind of behavior, openly, loudly and consistently, it is more important than metal detectors or extra police. Religion and culture are the most important sources of restraint in a society.

That’s why India’s Muslims, who are the second-largest Muslim community in the world after Indonesia’s, and the one with the deepest democratic tradition, do a great service to Islam by delegitimizing suicide-murderers by refusing to bury their bodies. It won’t stop this trend overnight, but it can help over time.

“The Muslims of Bombay deserve to be congratulated in taking this important decision,” Raashid Alvi, a Muslim member of India’s Parliament from the Congress Party, said to me. “Islam says that if you commit suicide, then even after death you will be punished.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Islam, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

ENS: Anglicans in the Americas plan mission gathering

Members of the six Anglican Communion provinces in the Americas will gather February 22-27 in San José, Costa Rica, for the Conference of the Anglican Churches in the Americas in Mutual Responsibility and Mission.

The February meeting will allow participants to tell their colleagues about their mission and ministry along with training opportunities. In addition, conference participants will spend Ash Wednesday working at various ministry sites with Costa Rican Anglicans.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Latin America & Caribbean, South America