Daily Archives: July 30, 2009

Bishop Wright and ACI–Rowan’s Reflections: Unpacking the Archbishop’s Statement

Once we penetrate the complex language, the ABC is also eventually clear that the great majority at GenCon voted, in effect if not in so many words, against the two relevant moratoria. ”˜The repeated request for moratoria . . . has clearly not found universal favour’ is a roundabout but ultimately unambiguous way of saying ”˜the majority voted against the moratoria’. This puts in a different light the reference in the first paragraph to ”˜an insistence at the highest level’ (i.e. a letter from the Presiding Bishop) that the relevant resolutions ”˜do not have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria’. That may be true in a strict legal sense, though many will see this as an example of typical TEC behaviour, a grandmother’s-footsteps game of creeping forwards without being noticed. But the resolutions that were passed clearly had the effect (a) of reminding people that the way was in fact open all along to the episcopal appointment of non-celibate homosexuals, and (b) of reminding people that rites for public same-sex blessings could indeed be developed. The ABC is now clearly if tacitly saying, throughout the document, that there is no reasonable likelihood, at any point in many years to come, that TEC will in fact turn round and embrace the moratoria ex animo, still less the theology which underlies the Communion’s constant and often-repeated stance on sexual behaviour. Nor is there any reasonable likelihood that TEC will in fact be able to embrace the Covenant when it attains its final form a few months from now. That is the reality with which the Reflections deal.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Backers of Gay Marriage Rethink California Push

Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, said he spent June and early July asking the opinions of nearly two dozen California political consultants and pollsters and had been surprised by the almost unanimous opinion that a 2010 race was a bad idea.

“I expected having watched the protests and the real pain that the L.G.B.T. community had experienced that there would be some real measurable remorse in the electorate,” Mr. Solomon said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “But if you look at the poll numbers since November, they really haven’t moved at all.”

A major factor in any California balloting, of course, is money; campaigns here are remarkably expensive, with a number of costly media markets. The Proposition 8 campaign, for example, cost more than $80 million, with opponents spending some $43 million.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, State Government

Files Vanished, Young Chinese Lose the Future

For much of his education, Xue Longlong was silently accompanied from grade to grade, school to school, by a sealed Manila envelope stamped top secret. Stuffed inside were grades, test results, evaluations by fellow students and teachers, his Communist Party application and ”” most important for his job prospects ”” proof of his 2006 college degree.

Everyone in China who has been to high school has such a file. The files are irreplaceable histories of achievement and failure, the starting point for potential employers, government officials and others judging an individual’s worth. Often keys to the future, they are locked tight in government, school or workplace cabinets to eliminate any chance they might vanish.

But two years ago, Mr. Xue’s file did vanish. So did the files of at least 10 others, all 2006 college graduates with exemplary records, all from poor families living near this gritty north-central town on the wide banks of the Yellow River.

With the Manila folders went their futures, they say.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Young Adults

Religious Intelligence: New Lichfield welcome strategy aims to increase attendance

The Everybody Welcome package includes a leader’s manual, booklets for members, and a DVD of interviews and footage demonstrating the effects of a good welcome. The course gives tips such as: train a dedicated ”˜Welcome Team’ to look out for newcomers, analyse whether the service is sufficiently engaging, and check the quality of post-service refreshments.

The course has been designed by the Archdeacon of Walsall, the Ven Bob Jackson, and Lichfield’s director of Parish Mission, George Fisher. Archdeacon Jackson said: “The first hurdle for visitors is are we going to find friendliness when we turn up? And I think in most churches, and certainly the better ones, they do. The big problem is how to get in. Anyone can attend a service, but how do you start belonging to a church community?”

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

Churches battle in California courts

The California courts have handed the Episcopal Church and the ACNA a mixed bag of legal decisions this month in the battles over parish property. While both sides have trumpeted the importance of their legal victories, neither ruling is likely to settle the property litigation.

On July 21 the Fresno County Superior Court affirmed its May 5 ruling granting summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in its suit against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, while an Orange County Court on July 13 dismissed two motions filed by the Diocese of Los Angeles against St James Church in Newport Beach, that challenged the legal sufficiency of the parish’s cause of action in light of the California Supreme Court decision in favor of the Diocese.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

The Bishop of Georgia writes on General Convention 2009

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

The Bishops of Massachusetts Write Their Clergy about General Convention 2009

Of particular interest to our diocese, and indeed to many across our church and communion, were the two actions recognizing the ministry (D025) and pastoral needs (C056) of persons in same-sex committed relationships. These measures (appended below) were prayerfully and painstakingly crafted and deliberated upon, and deserve your careful reflection so that our summarization here, and the various interpretations being offered elsewhere, do not do injustice to the careful work that preceded their adoption.

D025, “Commitment and Witness to the Anglican Communion,” reaffirms our church’s commitment to mission and an ongoing listening process within the Anglican Communion, and it recognizes that lay and ordained ministry is being exercised by persons in committed, same-sex relationships in response to God’s call. It also acknowledges that we in this church and the broader communion are not of one mind about these matters. We voted for this resolution as a descriptive rather than prescriptive statement, and as such, we see it as a truth-telling contribution to the ongoing conversation in our communion.

C056, “Liturgies for Blessings,” calls for the collection and development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same-gender relationships, and acknowledges the church’s need to provide pastoral response to couples in same-gender marriages and unions, particularly in places such as our own state of Massachusetts where we are ministering in the midst of a discrepancy between what our civil law allows and our church canons do not.

Before we venture an interpretation of what this action of General Convention means for us here in the Diocese of Massachusetts, and before we can form any plans for how we might proceed accordingly, we feel it is important to take some time to speak, listen and pray with diocesan clergy and leadership, including the Standing Committee, as well as with our brother and sister bishops in similarly affected dioceses, so that how we ultimately go forward in Massachusetts not only responds with integrity to the pastoral needs in our local context but also takes into account, with what we hope can be some kind of consistency, the situations of our neighboring New England dioceses. All of this we do within the bounds of our wider Episcopal Church, which took this action in unity but not unanimity. We remain mindful that what we do locally and how we do it has implications for the wider body of which we are members.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Newsweek–Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution

Terisa, 41, is at the center of this particular polyamorous cluster. A filmmaker and actress, she is well-spoken, slender and attractive, with dark, shoulder-length hair, porcelain skin””and a powerful need for attention. Twelve years ago, she started dating Scott, a writer and classical-album merchant. A couple years later, Scott introduced her to Larry, a software developer at Microsoft, and the two quickly fell in love, with Scott’s assent. The three have been living together for a decade now, but continue to date others casually on the side. Recently, Terisa decided to add Matt, a London transplant to Seattle, to the mix. Matt’s wife, Vera, was OK with that; soon, she was dating Terisa’s husband, Larry. If Scott starts feeling neglected, he can call the woman he’s been dating casually on the side. Everyone in this group is heterosexual, and they insist they never sleep with more than one person at a time.

It’s enough to make any monogamist’s head spin. But the traditionalists had better get used to it….

It’s a new paradigm, certainly””and it does break some rules. “Polyamory scares people””it shakes up their world view,” says Allena Gabosch, the director of the Seattle-based Center for Sex Positive Culture. But perhaps the practice is more natural than we think: a response to the challenges of monogamous relationships, whose shortcomings””in a culture where divorce has become a commonplace””are clear. Everyone in a relationship wrestles at some point with an eternal question: can one person really satisfy every need? Polyamorists think the answer is obvious””and that it’s only a matter of time before the monogamous world sees there’s more than one way to live and love. “The people I feel sorry for are the ones who don’t ever realize they have any other choices beyond the traditional options society presents,” says Scott. “To look at an option like polyamory and say ‘That’s not for me’ is fine. To look at it and not realize you can choose it is just sad.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

Philip Turner: Communion And Hierarchy

Fr. [Mark] Harris with the rest of the communion opposes an international hierarchy with jurisdiction in the various local churches that make up the communion. He does, however, favor another form of hierarchy””one that finds no place in TEC’s constitution but nonetheless is now being argued in the courts of California, Pennsylvania, and Texas. For lack of a better term, I will call this the view of ecclesial hierarchy to be established in secular courts. The Office of the Presiding Bishop in the cases of the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Forth Worth is arguing before a secular court that TEC is a hierarchical church with supreme authority located in the General Convention, the Executive Council, and the Office of the Presiding Bishop. In this scheme, the various dioceses are sub-units in a subordinate relation to these governing entities. The courts may be receptive to this argument because the law tends to operate with a very simple distinction between hierarchical and non-hierarchical churches. In this typology, TEC will appear at first glance as hierarchical in a way that say Pentecostal Churches do not.

It is a matter of general agreement that this position is being argued in order to prevent the three dioceses mentioned above, upon their departure from TEC, from taking the property of the diocese with them. To Fr. Harris’ credit, he has another, and to my mind nobler, reason for defending this position. He does not want the dioceses of TEC to be able to act independently of the General Convention, the Executive Council, and the Office of the Presiding Bishop. Thus, Fr [Mark] Harris has a position that is, as it were, a knife that cuts in two directions. Internationally, he seeks to establish the unfettered autonomy of the several provinces of the communion and so preclude any form of “global governance,” and domestically he wishes to establish a form of hierarchy, like that of the Methodists and Presbyterians, that locates final authority in a national form of governance that has supreme authority over its constituent units.

Fr. Harris’ position, like that of the Presiding Bishop and the majority of TEC’s present leadership, when all is said and done, serves to identify TEC as a denomination within the spectrum of American Protestant denominations. That is, Fr Harris wants TEC first of all to understand itself as an expression of Christianity defined by the borders of a nation state rather than as an expression of Catholic Christianity that happens to be located within the boundaries of a nation state.

The conversion of TEC, with little catholic remainder, into yet another American denomination is reason enough to be concerned about Fr. Harris’ views.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

John Richardson on Rowan Williams' response to General Convention

This is as close as he comes to admitting ”˜schism’. In fact he specifically rejects the word in paragraph 24, describing it as simply “two styles of being Anglican”. Nevertheless, it envisages a future quite unlike the present, resulting from the decisions and actions of TEC and others.

Those of us who believe TEC is schismatic, who basically support ACNA and who are convinced the Covenant is a dead duck should not greet Dr Williams’ statement with automatic scorn. Its length is no more than we would expect from him, and its willingness to see both sides is intrinsic to his own theology. Nevertheless, there must still be a concern that he does not seem to accept the fundamental logic of what must happen when people pull in different directions.

Holding people together in such circumstances, whether by a covenant or by some other convention, may succeed, but it is in principle contrary to the underlying processes. Unless some means may be found by which TEC and others within the Communion can be made to pull in the same direction, then tensions will continue and a split is virtually inevitable.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

ENS: Episcopalians urged to support affordable health care

The Episcopal Public Policy Network issued a Policy Alert July 29 asking Episcopalians to contact their elected officials and urge them to pass legislation that would provide affordable health care to all Americans.

“For a while it looked like they were going to leave town without discussing it,” said DeWayne Davis, domestic policy analyst in the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations, adding that late on July 29 it looked like the bill would be discussed in the House of Representatives.

Congress is set to take a monthlong summer recess beginning August 3.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Zenit on Rowan Williams Response to GC 2009: Anglican leader speaks to Episcopal Pro-gay Ruling

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the leader of the Anglican Communion, has spoken to the decision of the Anglican church in the United States to go forward with ordaining homosexual bishops and blessing same-sex unions.

In his statement Monday, Archbishop Williams addressed the decisions made at the Episcopal general convention, held early this month.

The declaration, titled “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future,” expressed concern about the U.S. church decisions regarding same-sex lifestyles, noting that “a realistic assessment of what [the] convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; very serious anxieties have already been expressed.”

The archbishop said the issue is a matter of “whether the Church is free to recognize same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage.”

“In the light of the way in which the church has consistently read the Bible for the last 2,000 years,” he said, “it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also. A major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bay Area reporter: Episcopal Church OKs pro-gay measures

In the California Episcopal Diocese, “LGBT persons have and will be ordained,” explained Thomas M. Jackson, president of Oasis, an official LGBT ministry of the local diocese.

“That wasn’t the question,” he said. “The issue was whether or not people would be given a fair hearing if they were called to be considered to be a bishop.”

The Reverend John Kirkley, rector of the St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco’s Mission District, said he was “heartened” by the approval of ordination and blessing resolutions, at the same time voicing “hopeful patience” as the most “helpful response” to the Episcopal Church’s “small but significant steps forward.”

In moving on, both Jackson and Kirkley agree: Lay persons, deacons, priests, and bishops will abide by the constitutions and canons of the Episcopal Church that prohibit any kind of discrimination against gay people.

The ordination resolution in effect removes de facto moratoria on openly gay bishops.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A Boy, the Middle East and the Sea

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

As someone who grew up going to Lake George every summer and who probably takes the water far too much for granted, this one made me cry. Watch it all–KSH

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Middle East, Travel

Chicago Consultation responds to Rowan Williams' recent reflections in response to GC 2009

In his statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to the entire Communion, including provinces in parts of the world where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people face serious criminal penalties and even death. We hope and pray that the Archbishop’s strong condemnation of prejudice against GLBT people, and his call to penitence for our inconsistencies on these issues, will embolden Anglicans across the world to stand against hatred and discrimination when they encounter it in their midst.

We also urge all Anglicans, including the Archbishop, to regard the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the body of Christ as nothing less than a Gospel mandate and a requirement of our baptismal vows. To understand this issue as simply one of civil liberties or human rights ”” to which the Gospel also calls us ”” does grave injustice to our sisters and brothers in Christ and our fundamental understanding of baptismal theology.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention