Daily Archives: August 11, 2009

RNS: Lutherans prepare to debate gay clergy

The ELCA assembly comes on the heels of the Episcopal Church’s decision last month to lift its de facto ban on gay bishops and develop rites for same-sex unions.

“We’ve been paying pretty close attention to the Episcopal Church it should really be a warning to the ELCA of going down the path of approving in any way of same-sex relationships,” said the Rev. Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE, a conservative group. “They are on the verge of triggering what may be a schism within the whole Anglican Communion.”

Chavez said Lutheran CORE is fighting the ELCA proposals “because it completely disregards the clear words in Scripture giving boundaries for sexual relationships as a lifelong relationship of one man and one woman.”

Scripture remains a paramount concern in the debate, and no wonder: Lutherans trace their roots to Martin Luther, who believed in “sola scriptura,” ”” that the Bible contains everything necessary for salvation.

“One thing ‘sola scriptura’ is not is a way of expressing that the Bible is to be taken literally, exactly as written,” said Phil Soucy, spokesperson for Lutherans Concerned, a pro-gay advocacy group. “…We do pray for gay rights, and full inclusion is very much within the message of the Gospel and the message of Christ.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Al Zadig: Discipleship is Non-Negotiable

On Sunday, July 19th, I preached a sermon called: The Great Recall Virus. In light of events at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, I made the diagnosis that our church all over the country is suff ering from this deadly disease. The recall virus defi ned is an IN-ABILITY TO RECALL WHO WE BELONG TO AND WHY”¦ A virus so severe that it leads to not only to what you read in the paragraph below, but one that has the potential to lead each one of us astray.

I will never forget the moment I knew The Great Recall Virus had hit the National Episcopal Church. It came as I sat in att endance at the convention of the Diocese of Washington in the National Cathedral. The convention preacher stood up and said these words:

“We live in a pluralistic world. A world of peoples with many belief systems and values. Our Christian, especially evangelical mission no longer can be as simple ”“ as if it ever was ”“ as telling people about Jesus, so that thy may be as we are and believe as we do. Perhaps our mission, by necessity, must continue to focus on more common human, not especially Christian concerns ”“ alleviating poverty, civil rights, the ill, economic exploitation, environmental devastation”¦”

As I sat in stunned silence, I was shocked to see the preacher receive a standing ovation!

Is there a remedy? Enter a new season of our Beta Course. As you know by now, we have divided our courses here at St. Michael’s into three:

Alpha: Cultural Christian to Believer
Beta: Believer to Disciple
Gamma: Disciple to Mission Apologist

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts

Guardian: Survey set to reveal number of gay clergy in Church of England

A national survey of the number of homosexual clergy in the Church of England will take place this year, according to gay rights campaigners.

Inclusive Church, a network of individuals and organisations working for better recognition of minorities, says the survey will be the first of its kind and will prove that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) clergy play a crucial role in the everyday life of the church.

The online survey will ask participants whether they are single, in a relationship, and have had a blessing or thanksgiving service to celebrate their partnership. They will also be asked what position they hold and which part of the country they work in.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

American Graduates Finding Jobs in China

Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.

Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.

“I’ve seen a surge of young people coming to work in China over the last few years,” said Jack Perkowski, founder of Asimco Technologies, one of the largest automotive parts companies in China.

“When I came over to China in 1994, that was the first wave of Americans coming to China,” he said. “These young people are part of this big second wave.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Economy, Education, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

George Clifford: Rethinking General Convention I

(3) In sharp contrast, the HOD, with over eight hundred and forty members, meets once every three years for ten days. Half of each diocese’s HOD deputation is lay; priests or deacons comprise the other half. The HOD has a more fluid membership than does the HOB, as dioceses elect deputies for a single three-year term, although many deputies do serve multiple terms. Alternates may also substitute for a deputy during part or all of a Convention. Deputies have no staff to prepare briefings on the vast array of subject matter and a sizable number, based on my observations, seem largely ignorant of HOD parliamentary procedures. These problems were glaringly apparent when eight hundred plus deputies allotted themselves only ten minutes to consider most resolutions, then spent much of that time on parliamentary questions. To their great credit, most Deputies work long hours, strive to do their best for Christ’s Church, and seek to understand an incredibly broad gamut of issues that encompass liturgical, pastoral, theological, and ethical subjects far beyond the competence of any one person. The problem is not with the Deputies as individuals but with the Church’s structure, which imposes this impossible task on these good people. It is no wonder that well before Convention’s end most deputies (and many bishops!) look overwhelmed and fatigued.
(4) General Convention’s structure inherently entails some self-selection on the part of lay deputies. Ten days of sessions with travel can easily mean twelve days away from home. Even with their Diocese paying expenses, few working poor or lower middle class people, who generally receive little if any vacation time, can attend. Single parents may have difficulty arranging twenty-four hour childcare during their absence. I suspect that few high-powered professionals, corporate executives, or small business owners attend, reluctant to be away from their work that long. In other words, those present must have sufficiently flexible schedules to give the Church an uninterrupted block of ten or twelve days, valuing the Church above their other commitments. Anecdotally, rather than based on formal research, lay deputies appear to be mostly upper middle-class and closer in age to retirement than to high school. The deputies were laudably diverse in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Except for their degree of commitment to the Church, I wonder how well the socio-economic status of HOD lay deputies mirrors that of the Episcopal Church.

In sum, General Convention structure is dysfunctional. In particular, the HOD because of its size, lack of resources, and infrequent meetings cannot give the majority of legislation adequate time or informed consideration. Arguably, the Episcopal Church should revise its governance process.

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

Retired Massachusetts Bishop John B. Coburn, former House of Deputies president, dies at 94

(ENS) After the war, Coburn began a distinguished career in the Episcopal Church, first as rector of Grace Church in Amherst, Massachusetts, a position in which he also served as chaplain at Amherst College (he also established and coached Amherst’s first lacrosse team). He served as dean of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey, from 1953-57. He earned a doctorate in divinity from Princeton University in 1955. In 1956 he co-founded the Chapel of Saint James the Fisherman in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, along with James Pike. In 1958 he was elected dean of the Episcopal Theological School, where he served for more than a decade guiding the school through expansion and the inclusion of female students. Coburn became rector of St. James’ Church on Madison Avenue in New York City after a year of teaching English in Harlem.

From 1967-1976 he served as president of the House of Deputies, guiding the church through controversial issues of race and social justice, women’s ordination and the adoption of a new Book of Common Prayer.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

Religious Intelligence: New Anglican row looming as gays and lesbians shortlisted in bishop election

The Episcopal Church’s split with the Anglican Communion widened this week as two dioceses announced slates of candidates for the episcopate that include three gay and lesbian clergy.

The news comes less than a week after the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams held that gay clergy were out of bounds for Anglican Churches. It was improper for any member of the clergy to be “living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond,” Dr Williams said, adding that the homosexual or unchaste heterosexual “chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.”

On Aug 1 the Diocese of Minnesota released its list of approved candidates standing for election on Oct 30: the Rev Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints’ Church, Chicago; the Rev Mariann Edgar Budde, rector of St John’s Church, Minneapolis, and the Rev Brian Prior, rector of the Church of the Resurrection, Spokane Valley, Washington.

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

Financial Times: Church of England searches for yield

After what it must have deemed a decent interval since triggering a furore over its attack on traders and bankers as “robbers and assassins” last year, the Church of England is shamelessly seeking more yield.

Just to refresh your memory, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, last September said it was right to ban short selling, while John Sentamu, archbishop of York, called traders who cashed in on falling prices “bank robbers and asset strippers”.

But the Church Commissioners had a tough year in 2008, as the Church’s total assets dropped from £5.7bn to £4.4bn, a 23 per cent fall over the period. Clearly, faith alone was not enough.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Credit Markets, Economy, Stock Market

In Maine Episcopal Church Grapples With Same-Sex Marriage Issue

JH [Josie Huang]: “Just to be clear, the Episcopal Church defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.”

BL [Bishop Stephen Lane]: “That’s correct.”

JH: “Can you address the contradiction of blessing same-sex marriages when that definition stands? Do you think the church is going to change its definition of what marriage is at some point?”

BL: “I think the church is having a broad conversation about marriage and about the church’s role in relation to marriage. Marriage is one of the few parts of our life where the clergy act as agents of the state and stand in on behalf of the state and sign the marriage licenses. But the church’s interest is in the quality of the relationship and the quality of the commitment between the partners and in asking for God’s blessing. So one of the questions that’s being raised by this whole matter is, is it the church’s role to marry, or is it in fact the church’s role to bless a marriage? I’m not willing predict and I’m not sure whether the church will change its definition, but we may change our understanding of how the church relates to marriage.”

Yes, this is about marriage among other things, and that is why it is such a big deal. Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Diocese of Pennsylvania Property Dispute Indicates Widening Church Gap

A local Episcopal parish that is defending its property against a claim from the Episcopal Church is filing a brief in a similar California case.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont filed an amicus brief in a case against St. James Anglican Church Newport Beach, where the local Episcopal diocese is claiming St. James’ property because the church withdrew from communion with the Episcopal Church. The amicus, or friend of the court filing, outlines Good Shepherd’s side of the Montgomery County dispute for the court’s benefit. St. James has appealed a previous ruling of the California Supreme Court to the Supreme Court of the U.S.

“We see our amicus brief for St. James, Newport Beach as an act of witness to our parish motto ”“ non ministrari, sed ministrare ”“ not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” said Bishop David Moyer, the rector at Good Shepherd. Bishop Moyer added that the brief was filed out of “thanksgiving for the many blessings we have received from near and far in our struggles for the Gospel and the Catholic religion.”

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

Beaver County Times: Local graduate Alex Heidengren’s body found in lake

[Alex] Heidengren is the son of the Rev. John and Blanche Heidengren. John Heidengren is rector of Prince of Peace Church in Hopewell Township.

Alexander Heidengren, according to his Facebook page, was a 2008 graduate of Beaver County Christian School in Beaver Falls. Monday, many condolence messages were posted by friends, one reading, “It’s good to know you’re in heaven, Alex, but we’ll miss you and the great person you were.”

A.J. Young of North Sewickley Township, who graduated from Beaver County Christian School a year after Heidengren, recalled the upper hallway of the school filled with the sound of Heidengren playing piano.

“He was always practicing for something,” Young said. “He was extremely skilled at music,” adding that Heidengren never used sheet music.

“His whole lifestyle was to worship God,” Young added. “I can’t honestly think of anyone who would have a negative thing to say about him.”

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Update: There is a little more here also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

Wheaton College saddened by loss of student Alex Heidengren

From here:

The Wheaton College community is saddened by the death of sophomore Alex Heidengren. Alex, 18, had participated as a counselor in the Summer Leadership School at HoneyRock in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Local authorities began a daylong search for him on Saturday morning, August 8, when camp officials became aware that he was missing. His body was discovered late Saturday evening, in Long Lake by underwater cameras operated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

Other departments participating in the search and recovery operations included the Three Lakes Police and Fire Departments, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin State Patrol Air Unit, Oneida County Emergency Management, and canine units from Three Lakes Police Department and the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department. Volunteers also searched the area.

HoneyRock is the Northwoods Camp and Campus of Wheaton College (IL), located in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

Update on Alex Heidengren RIP

From here:

The Prince of Peace Church family mourns the loss of one of our own: Alexander James Heidengren, son of The Rev. and Mrs. John Heidengren We appreciate the overwhelming response of prayers, love and support that goes out to the Heidengren family and our website will be updated as information becomes available.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

AP: Wait for sex and marriage? Evangelicals conflicted

When Margie and Stephen Zumbrun were battling the urge to have premarital sex, a pastor counseled them to control themselves. The couple signed a purity covenant.

Then, when the two got engaged and Margie went wedding dress shopping, a salesperson called her “the bride who looks like she’s 12.” Nonchurch friends said that, at 22, she was rushing things.

The agonizing message to a young Christian couple in love: Sex can wait, but so can marriage.

“It’s unreasonable to say, ‘Don’t do anything … and wait until you have degrees and you’re in your 30s to get married,'” said Margie Zumbrun, who did wait for sex, and married Stephen fresh out of Purdue University. “I think that’s just inviting people to have sex and feel like they’re bad people for doing it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Young Adults

Paul Carpenter: Clarify the assisted suicide debate

There is a good way to resolve a large part of the debate over legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

Two powerful establishments — religions that seek to spread dogma by force and some elements of the medical industry — have ferociously opposed any suggestion that individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to spend their final days in agony.

There is no reconciliation possible for the religion-based opposition. If we allow terminally ill people to decide for themselves how and when to die, it follows that people should be allowed to think for themselves in general , which would be an anathema to tyrannical clerics.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology