Daily Archives: May 13, 2009

WSJ: An Upstart Church Movement Wrestles With Growing Older

Last weekend, Trinity celebrated its 10th anniversary. Its parishioners, numbering 500 to 700 every Sunday, attend prayer groups and take communion. But they do so while a band plays original works as well as contemporary songs based on traditional hymns.

Now, Trinity is at a crossroads. Mr. Mathes’s bandmate, Ian Cron, 48, is stepping down as lead pastor. At the same time, Mr. Mathes’s outside career is growing — he was the musical director for President Barack Obama’s pre-inaugural celebration. The church hired recruiters to search for a new pastor. Neither of the two leading candidates is a musician.

Trinity’s “season of change,” as Mr. Mathes describes it, is emblematic of the struggle that many religious institutions face as they reach a certain age: how to reach a new generation while remaining relevant to the needs of the congregation. But at churches like Trinity, which identify as Christian but deliberately choose not to connect with any denomination, the transition is especially challenging. These churches were founded by people in rebellion against established institutions. Ten years down the road, they have become the establishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Everett Washington Episcopal priest suspended after report of sexual misconduct

An Episcopal priest was permanently suspended from his position at an Everett church last week.

Father Lawrence Perry, who has served as head of Trinity Episcopal Church since 2000, was asked to leave after two adult congregants accused him of sexual misconduct, said Norah Joslyn, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, which governs the Everett church. Perry did not dispute the accusations, she said.

Makes the heart sad–prayers for all involved.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Holy Land Ordinaries in the Upper Room

“When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn13:1). The Upper Room recalls the last supper of our Lord with Peter and the other apostles and invites the Church to prayerful contemplation. In this vein we gather together, the Successor of Peter with successors of the apostles, in this same place where Jesus revealed in the offering of his own body and blood, the new depths of the covenant of love established between God and his people. In the Upper Room the mystery of grace and salvation, of which we are recipients and also heralds and ministers, can be expressed only in terms of love. Because he has loved us first and continues to do so, we can respond with love (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 2). Our life as Christians is not simply a human effort to live the demands of the Gospel imposed upon us as duties. In the Eucharist we are drawn into the mystery of divine love. Our lives become a grateful, docile and active acceptance of the power of a love which is given to us. This transforming love, which is grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:17), prompts us, as individuals and communities, to overcome the temptation to turn in upon ourselves in selfishness or indolence, isolation, prejudice or fear, and to give ourselves generously to the Lord and to others. It moves us as Christian communities to be faithful to our mission with frankness and courage (cf. Acts 4:13). In the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his flock, in the Teacher who washes the feet of his disciples, you find, my dear brothers, the model of your own ministry in the service of our God who promotes love and communion.

The call to communion of mind and heart, so closely related to the commandment of love and to the central unifying role of the Eucharist in our lives, is of special relevance in the Holy Land. The different Christian Churches found here represent a rich and varied spiritual patrimony and are a sign of the multiple forms of interaction between the Gospel and different cultures. They also remind us that the mission of the Church is to preach the universal love of God and to gather, from far and near, all who are called by him, in such a way that, with their traditions and their talents, they form the one family of God. A new spiritual impulse towards communion in diversity within the Catholic Church and a new ecumenical awareness have marked our times, especially since the Second Vatican Council. The Spirit moves our hearts gently towards humility and peace, towards mutual acceptance, comprehension and cooperation. This inner disposition to unity under the prompting of the Holy Spirit is decisive if Christians are to fulfill their mission in the world (cf. Jn:17:21).

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Middle East, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Anglican Journal: ACC delegates end meeting ”˜more hopeful’ for future, says Williams

While it “hasn’t necessarily dealt with the problems of the Anglican Communion once and for all,” the 14th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting has enabled members to “build solid relationships with the local church and with one another,” Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said on May 12, the final day of the 12-day council meeting.

“It has deepened our sense of obligation to, and involvement with, each other,” he said. His assessment of a meeting where delegates emerged “more hopeful” about prospects for the Anglican Communion was echoed by ACC delegates in a plenary, where they discussed key messages that they would bring back to their churches.
In a press conference on the last day of the ACC meeting, Archbishop Williams cautioned The Episcopal Church (TEC), whose General Convention is scheduled to be held this summer, against possible action ignoring the call for “gracious restraint” on the ordination of persons living in same-gender unions to the episcopate and on same-sex blessings. Those moratoria, including cross-provincial interventions, were recommended by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) and endorsed by this ACC meeting.

“I think actions on that resolution would instantly suggest to many people that The Episcopal Church would prefer not to go down the route of closer (relationships). That’s how it will be perceived,” he said in response to a question as to whether such action could push what he had warned as a possibility of the Anglican Communion splitting into a federation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury

Notable and Quotable

How can a culture avoid falling into a Dark Age or near Dark Age, when that appears, objectively, to be its destiny?….

The pressing immediate task is for the society to be sufficiently self-aware to recognize the threat of accumulating cultural weaknesses and try to correct them to stabilize the cultural network. Vicious spirals have their opposites: beneficent spirals, processes in which each improvement and strengthening leads to other improvements and strengthening in the culture, in turn furthering the initial improvement. Excellent education strengthens excellent teaching and research by some of those educated, activities that in their turn strengthen communities. Responsive and responsible government encourages the corrective practices exerted by democracy, which in their turn strengthen good government and responsible citizenship.

–Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead (New York: Random House, 2004), pp. 171, 174-175

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Resolutions of ACC-14

Read them all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

Bishop John Paterson's Address at the Closing Eucharist of ACC-14

When the members of ACC-10 arrived in Panama in 1996 and checked into the Hotel that was to be our home for the next two weeks, we were confronted by a large sign which said “On checking in to this Hotel, guests are required to leave their guns and weapons at the door”. Our Jamaican hosts have helped us to do just that once again. Our meeting has been characterized by some rigorous debates, but with respect and even affection across the floor of the house. As your outgoing Chair, I have been deeply grateful for that. And that surely is one of the many gifts that we can return home with, knowing that the ACC has met well, and the renewed confidence we can have in the strength and the life of the Anglican Communion. In my own case, ACC experiences over 21 years have provided me with wonderful friendships in many parts of the Anglican world, and those will always be treasured.

As well as being part of the ACC for so long, I have also had experience of two of the other “Instruments of Communion”. Only the Archbishop of Canterbury can have experience of all four Instruments, but some of us are able to claim experience of three of those four bodies. I served a six-year term as Primate, and attended a Primates’ Meeting in each of those six years. I have had the privilege and the pain of attending two Lambeth Conferences. The fact that the ACC is the only truly representative gathering under a Constitution agreed to by all the Member Churches, the only one of those four instruments where laity and clergy other than bishops can have a voice and a vote, is of lasting significance.

Anglican polity has always held that it is bishops in synod, or bishops in council, that are able to make decisions that guide the life of the church locally. For the Communion, the Primates’ Meetings cannot do that, although we should be able to look to our Primates for wise guidance and theological insights, but in my view that is quite different from making binding decisions from which the rest of the Church is excluded.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

ACC-14 Press Briefing 12th May 2009

On this last day of the Anglican Consultative Meeting (ACC-14) the delegates focused on final resolutions and the messages they will take back to their provinces. After a discussion in their discernment groups a closing plenary session was held with the members presenting positive and challenging insights from the meetings. Many commented on the quality of the worship, bible studies, and the design of the meetings, which encouraged conversation with a freedom to share ideas and thoughts.

People particularly mentioned the network groups and the ability to fully engage them in dialogue. Some concerns were raised about expectations in their provinces that they would come home with solutions to issues, which have plagued the communion for the past few years. Some of the delegates spoke about coming to ACC-14 with anxiety but that they now return home, “ with hope because of the relationships that have been built here, relationships of value that will last”. One Lutheran Bishop remarked at the end that despite everything going on, “ it feels like a communion”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the president of the Anglican Consultative Council spoke of these things in a press briefing as the meetings was concluding.

Watch it all (just under 21 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury

Christians in Mideast Losing Numbers and Influence

Christians used to be a vital force in the Middle East. They dominated Lebanon and filled top jobs in the Palestinian movement. In Egypt, they were wealthy beyond their number. In Iraq, they packed the universities and professions. Across the region, their orientation was a vital link to the West, a counterpoint to prevailing trends.

But as Pope Benedict XVI wends his way across the Holy Land this week, he is addressing a dwindling and threatened Christian population driven to emigration by political violence, lack of economic opportunity and the rise of radical Islam. A region that a century ago was 20 percent Christian is about 5 percent today and dropping.

Since it was here that Jesus walked and Christianity was born, the papal visit highlights a prospect many consider deeply troubling for the globe’s largest faith, adhered to by a third of humanity ”” its most powerful and historic shrines could become museum relics with no connection to those who live among them.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Islam, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Roman Catholic

David Brooks: They Had It Made

The men were the subject of one of the century’s most fascinating longitudinal studies. They were selected when they were [Harvard] sophomores, and they have been probed, poked and measured ever since. Researchers visited their homes and investigated everything from early bed-wetting episodes to their body dimensions.

The results from the study, known as the Grant Study, have surfaced periodically in the years since. But they’ve never been so brilliantly captured as they are in an essay called “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Wolf Shenk in the forthcoming issue of The Atlantic….

Even when we know something, it is hard to make it so. Reading this essay, I had the same sense I had while reading Christopher Buckley’s description of his parents in The Times Magazine not long ago. There is a complexity to human affairs before which science and analysis simply stands mute.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Psychology

The ACC 14 Friday Debate with all its Confusion and without Editing

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury

Ed Jones: Keeping the faith for church to reconcile

Call me naive, but I see another opportunity in Anaheim for our church to be a positive witness to the world–a model of how passionate believers can champion their causes and still remain committed to the foundational beliefs that unite them.

That’s another way of saying that the Episcopal Church, and other religious bodies, need to be able to discuss divisive issues in ways that go beyond the ol’ winners-and-losers model.

There’s little chance that a bolt of lightning will convince liberals and conservatives that their differences have evaporated. But with patience and humility, we as a church can still learn a lot from each other–if we stay at the common table.

There are some who say we’ve been listening too long, that’s it’s time for up-or-down votes on whether the Episcopal Church should allow more gay bishops or should officially bless same-sex relationships.

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

Daniel Burke–From the Depths, a profile of Katharine Jefferts Schori

[Katharine] Jefferts Schori seems to delight in drawing such unexpected connections between her scientific background and her religious duties. She compares Episcopal bishops to humpback whales because they gather for a few days each year, learn to sing a new song together, then head home to teach the song to others. She says “gravity” is an apt translation of “kabod,” the Hebrew word for God’s glory, because it suggests something pervasive, substantial, and inescapable. And while God shouted down Job’s doubts by pointing to His awesomely fashioned hippopotamus, Jefferts Schori urges Episcopalians to consider the anableps (left). These four-eyed fish can see above and below water simultaneously””a good example for Christians conflicted about whether to salvage this world or just wait for the next one. The point of such examples, Jefferts Schori says, is to encourage the church to see itself with new eyes, stop bickering about finer points of doctrine, and get about the business of healing the sick, clothing the naked, and relieving the impoverished.

Ultimately, religion and science speak the same language, and impart the same lesson, she says. Each teaches that the world is made of connections and that actions in one place have consequences, often unforeseen, in other places and times. And nowhere are the effects of our deeds as grave as in how we care for the environment, a dear subject for the nature-loving presiding bishop who once trolled the seas. Numerous times, she has passionately urged believers, politicians, and all people of good will to make care of God’s creation their topmost priority. As she explained in testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2007, “As a priest, trained as a scientist, I take as a sacred obligation the faith community’s responsibility to stand on the side of truth””the truth of science as well as the truth of God’s unquenchable love for the world and all its inhabitants.” In the beginning, Katharine saw the world, and saw that it was good; in the end, she is trying to save it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, TEC Conflicts

Shift to Saving May Be Downturn’s Lasting Impact

The economic downturn is forcing a return to a culture of thrift that many economists say could last well beyond the inevitable recovery.

This is not because Americans have suddenly become more financially virtuous or have learned the error of their free-spending ways. Instead, these experts say, Americans may have no choice but to continue pinching pennies.

This shift back to thrift may seem to be a healthy change for a consumer class known for spending more than it earns, but there is a downside: American businesses have become so dependent on consumer spending that any pullback sends ripples through the economy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

For Victims of Recession, Patchwork State Aid

As millions of people seek government aid, many for the first time, they are finding it dispensed American style: through a jumble of disconnected programs that reach some and reject others, often for reasons of geography or chance rather than differences in need.

Health care, housing, food stamps and cash ”” each forms a separate bureaucratic world, and their dictates often collide. State differences make the patchwork more pronounced, and random foibles can intervene, like a computer debacle in Colorado that made it harder to get food stamps and Medicaid.

The result is a hit-or-miss system of relief, never designed to grapple with the pain of a recession so sudden and deep. Aid seekers often find the rules opaque and arbitrary. And officials often struggle to make policy through a system so complex and Balkanized.

Across the country, hard luck is colliding with fine print.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Poverty, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--