Daily Archives: August 20, 2009

Two Episcopal Congregations in Connecticut to Merge

It’s been 142 years since parishioners from Trinity Episcopal Church split off and formed St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. On Aug. 30, history will happen in reverse.

St. Paul’s, 212 Clay St., will host its last Sunday service at 9 a.m. Aug. 30 and the two congregations will merge.

“This is a sad day for St. Paul’s and it’s a time we need to give thanks for over a century of Christian life,” said the Rev. Clarke French, rector of Trinity, 227 Sherman St. “There is a group of people who attend St. Paul’s in their 80s that were baptized in there. It’s really a generational story.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Local Newspaper Editorial: Shift in health care debate

It’s clear that the opponents of the president’s approach to health care reform are being heard, even without shouting. President Obama has backed away from his previous demand that a health care reform bill include a new government insurance program. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., can take some of the credit.

Angry outbursts at public meetings on health care have been labeled “un-American” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., coined the awkward phrase “evil mongers” to describe people who disagree with him on health care.

Health care is a vital issue and a public debate is warranted. And a healthy contrast to name-calling took place Monday at the Daniel Island Club, where a large crowd gathered to hear Sen. DeMint talk about the hazards of extending government-run health care.

Stacey Lindbergh, president of the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association, told them, “No shouting, profanity or other inappropriate or uncivil behavior will be tolerated.” The prohibitions were heeded and the scattered protests were silent. And the audience got to hear the senator’s arguments against the proposals now before Congress.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Living Church: TEC Joins Healthcare Lobbying Effort

In an effort to mobilize supporters of healthcare reform, representatives from a number of Christian denominations and others are organizing a national call-in webcast that will feature President Barack Obama. The program will begin at 5:00 p.m. EDT this evening.

The “40 Minutes for Health Reform” webcast is being organized by the advocacy group Faith in Public Life. That group consists of representatives from the Episcopal Church, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Sojourners, the National Council of Churches in Christ, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, according to a release on the event.

“We believe there is a silent majority that has seen family and friends struggle,” said Kristin Williams, media relations associate for Faith in Public Life. “Those people are not the loud protestors at town hall meetings.”

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

What Lutheran Bishop Larry Wohlrabe Wanted to Say

“But I… must register some concerns about this document.

“First, I look for a social statement as a theological document to have THEOLOGY clearly evident as the Windows “operating system” throughout the whole document, helping us and the members of the wider society who may be listening in to think more thoughtfully and deeply with the Word of God leading the way. It strikes me that there are sections of this document, particuarly toward the end of it, where I felt as though the train had left the station, but the theological cargo didn’t get loaded.

“Second, I look for a social statement as a teaching statement to use the best tools from our Lutheran treasure-chest, and if new modes of reflection are proposed, to build good bridges to them FROM time-honored Lutheran ways of doing ethical reflection. At several points I wish this document did a better job at that. To cite just one example, our rich Lutheran understanding of ‘orders of creation’ deserves something more noble than the kind of ‘burial’ that it gets here in footnote #11.

“Third, it seems to me that this statement tends to move us away from saying that there is throughout the scriptural and confessional witness a FORM to sexual relationships that we are confident has the blessing and command of God. It seems to me that there is proposed in this document no FORM of sexual expression that grounds us, serves as our North Star reference point….but instead we are directed to certain qualities of all kinds of sexual relationships (of whatever form)–that they be loving, committed, faithful, etc (all good things, by the way!)

“That subtle move away from the ‘formfulness’ of human sexuality is perhaps most troubling to me because I believe it will diminish our capacity to address faithfully other, future issues regarding human sexuality that will surely arise in the years to come. I suspect that many ELCA Lutherans who are not present with us in this assembly hall would agree with me in this concern. Thank you.”

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

Bishop Paul Richardson: China’s place in the new world order

One interpretation of the global economic crisis is that it marks an important moment in the shift of power from the US to China. In his new book When China Rules the World (Penguin, £30.00) Martin Jacques argues that the fact that China is such a huge creditor and the US such a colossal debtor ”˜reflects a deep shift in the economic balance of power between the two countries’. He sees China seeking to establish a new international reserve currency to replace the dollar and pushing to create an alternative to the IMF, a body in which China participates but which it has criticised in the past.

Jacques makes a case for seeing the rise of China as making a major break in world history. China, he claims, is not so much a nation as a civilisation. We must stop fooling ourselves that as China grows in wealth and military strength it will become more like us. Instead it will offer the world an alternative to the hitherto dominant Western culture. Confucian values and a Chinese model of capitalism will become increasingly important as countries in Asia and Africa turn their backs on the US and Europe. Jacques is not alone in predicting China’s rise in economic and military might. Goldman Sachs has suggested China is set to equal the US economy by 2027. But Jacques goes beyond many other commentators in stressing that China will be different. It will not join the existing club and play by the rules: it will insist that some of the rules be changed.

There are grounds for caution. Even China’s high rate of savings and American indebtedness are not as straightforward as they seen. People in China save because they cannot depend upon social security to care for them in sickness or old age. Because they save such a large proportion of their incomes, domestic consumption cannot support Chinese industries which depend on international markets in the US and elsewhere to sell their products. China is worried about the size of its dollar holding but it will not be easy to reduce this without triggering a fall in the dollar’s value. One thing can be said for certain. The transfer of funds from China overseas helped to precipitate a disastrous expansion of credit in the US and Europe that triggered the economic crisis. In that sense, we are all paying the price of China’s rise.

Long-term a number of factors could slow China’s economic growth. Its population is set to increase only slightly over the next 20 years and then start to decline because of the one-child policy. At the same time America’s population will grow because of its birth rate and immigration. One Harvard economist has predicted that by 2030 America’s share of the world economy will have declined only slightly from 28 per cent to 26 per cent while China’s share will have risen from 5 per cent to 14 per cent. As long as China continues to impose censorship and restrict internet use, it is hard to see genuine creativity of the kind that stimulates economic advance flourishing. China’s universities are expanding but they are less impressive than they seem. Large numbers of engineers graduate every year but a McKinsey survey of resource managers in international companies found that only 10 per cent of Chinese engineering graduates were considered employable.

The absence of democratic controls and a free press makes it harder for China to combat corruption. It also means that people are forced to protest to make their voices heard. Low-level protests are taking place all the time across China and any one could easily escalate into a mass movement that would destabilise the regime. The Han Chinese may consider themselves heir to a great civilisation but this pride is not shared by China’s large population of ethnic minorities, most of whom would like to see genuine autonomy for their regions rather than the sham offered at present. It is not only Tibet that is seething with discontent. Xinjiang comprises about 20 per cent of China’s land mass. It was only incorporated into the country in the 18th century and the Muslim Uighurs make up 45 per cent of the population. Long-term discontent flared up in riots in July in which nearly 200 people died.

The breakdown of stability in China would be harmful to all of us. The best hope for China is that is continues to build on its past traditions by introducing democratic reforms and by offering a greater degree of autonomy to disaffected minority groups. One of the most alarming aspects of the Chinese as described by Martin Jacques and other observers is their sense of superiority to everyone else, an attitude with a strong racist component. It will not help in their relations with Africa and the rest of the world.

The same attitude was present in the old European colonial powers but it was tempered by Christian teaching. Christianity is spreading rapidly in China. It remains to be seen how much influence this is going to have on the course of development. It is one of a number of factors that render China’s future unclear.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Paul Richardson is the assistant Bishop of Newcastle. This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper, August 21, 2009 edition, on page 16

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Asia, China, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Globalization

Clean sweep for NY church in settlement with Broome Community College

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a favorable settlement agreement with Broome Community College on behalf of North Pointe Church, which is now allowed equal access to campus facilities after being told it was no longer permitted to meet on campus. ADF attorneys filed suit in February over the school’s discriminatory policy prohibiting religious groups from renting its buildings for meetings while allowing other similarly situated community groups to do so.

“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg. “We are pleased that Broome Community College now recognizes the constitutional right of churches and other religious groups to meet in public meeting facilities on the same terms as other groups.”

North Pointe Church had been regularly holding meetings in a rented facility on the Broome Community College campus for several months. But college officials invoked a ban on “religious services” and barred the church from continuing to rent space there after a few members of the public complained to the college about a church meeting in a public facility.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

South Carolina Bishop Distances Diocese from Episcopal Church

[Mark] Lawrence was elected bishop in 2006, but a majority of dioceses rejected his election amid fears that he would lead the conservative-leaning diocese to secede. In 2007, Lawrence was elected a second time and gained approval after offering assurances that he would try to keep the diocese in the denomination.

The bishop walked a fine line in his address to clergy Thursday, proposing that the diocese clearly distance itself from the Episcopal Church, but not advocating a full break with the denomination at this time.

“While I have no immediate solutions to the challenges we face, it is certainly neither a hasty departure nor a paralyzed passivity I counsel,” Lawrence said. “Either of these, I believe … would be for us a false peace and fatal security.”

Lawrence proposed several resolutions to be debated at a special diocesan convention Oct. 24. One would alter the ordination ceremonies of incoming priests to include a dissent with the recent pro-gay actions. The other would lead the diocese to withdraw from “all bodies of governance” in the Episcopal Church that have assented to the pro-gay moves “until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions.”

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

ELCA News: ELCA Assembly Adopts 'Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust'

Speaking in favor of adoption of the statement, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod, said she hopes the assembly does not become “so narrowly focused on the issue of homosexual sexual behavior that we missed the point that we’re speaking a clear word that needs to be heard by our culture,” particularly on topics about co-habitation outside of marriage, sex as a commodity, child pornography and more. She said the church has high expectations for all Lutherans, especially for ELCA professional leaders.

Speaking in opposition, voting member Curtis Sorbo, ELCA Eastern North Dakota Synod, said the social statement “should be a teaching tool. I don’t think that it is. Instead we have descriptions of different sexual relationships that we are asked to accept by bound conscience,” he said. “We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality in today’s culture because of a new reality. Our church needs to address this issue based on the authority of the word of God, not a description of public opinion and personal desires.”

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

Star Tribune: ELCA approves statement validating 'chaste' same-sex relationships

One vote. That was the margin Wednesday by which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America churchwide assembly approved a social statement that, among other things, acknowledges the validity of same-sex relationships that are “chaste, monogamous and lifelong.”

The margin was so close that Bishop Mark Hanson, the ELCA leader who presided over the vote, hesitated before announcing the outcome. Rules required the social statement to pass by a two-thirds vote; the final result was 66.67 percent.

“I thought it was going to be close, but I doubted very much that it would come out at exactly two-thirds,” said the Rev. Peter Strommen, chairman of the task force that drew up the social statement and pastor of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake.

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

Episcopal Elections in the Church of the Province of Central Africa

(ACNS) Northern Malawi

The Electoral College which sat at St Peter’s, Lilongwe, Malawi on Saturday 1st August 2009 elected the Revd Canon Fr Leslie Richard Mtekateka as the Bishop of Northern Malawi. The See fell vacant after Bishop Christopher Boyle resigned to take up a new post of Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Leicester in the UK.

Canon Mtekateka is presently serving as a parish priest in Karonga District, Malawi. He is one of the long serving priests in the Diocese having worked with the first Bishop of the Diocese Jack Biggers as his Chaplain, Diocesan Secretary and Archdeacon. He also served under Bishop Christopher Boyle.

Lake Malawi

The Venerable Fr Francis Kaulanda, Archdeacon of Lilongwe, was elected as Bishop to the vacant See of Lake Malawi by the Electoral College that met at St Peter’s, Lilongwe, Malawi on Saturday 1st August 2009.

The Diocese has been vacant since the passing on of Bishop Peter Nyanja in March 2005.

Fr Francis is a graduate of Zomba Theological College and Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation in Kitwe, Zambia. He is married with six children. He is currently serving as a Diocesan Youth Coordinator, Priest in Charge at Biwi and Archdeacon of Lilongwe.

Bishop William Mchombo
Acting Provincial Secretary

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Central Africa

Cambridge Massachusetts Mayor to marry her longtime partner in an Episcopal Church

On 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30 at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Mayor E. Denise Simmons shall be marrying her longtime partner, Ms. Mattie B. Hayes, in a celebration of love, acceptance, and togetherness. The couple shares a passionate interest in advocacy and support work for children and families, and their wedding ceremony shall touch upon those themes. This is certainly a joyous milestone for the Cambridge Mayor and her family, which is to be expected of a loving union; however, this same-sex marriage is also important on a broader scale, as it seems indicative of a more accepting, more tolerant society.

The wedding will take place at the historic St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, which has predominantly been serving Cambridge’s African-American community for over 100 years, and is presided over by the Rev. Leslie K. Sterling. The wedding ceremony shall be conducted by Rev. Irene Monroe, who has cultivated a reputation as a progressive and nurturing spiritual leader, and who has conducted extensive outreach efforts to the GLBT community. The Reverend writes religion columns for In Newsweekly (the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper in New England), for The Advocate, and for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal. Mayor Simmons is honored to have this progressive spiritual leader preside over her wedding, and to have the ceremony take place in such a historic and inclusive house of worship.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Parishes, Theology

Father Thomas of Ember Days Preaches on Anglican Fudge and Anglican Goo

I mean, can we really say that none of that stuff matters as long as we eat his flesh and drink his blood? Is it really all about what we do and not at all about what we believe? Well, no, not quite. If there are no limits at all, we don’t even have fudge any more, just goo, and I’m not here to commend Anglican goo.

Take this business about the sacrifice of Jesus. I suspect many of you haven’t heard this story, because unlike what happened at General Convention, this didn’t lend itself to being misrepresented by a secular press that is just looking to whip up anxieties and tell sensational stories, whether they’re true or not. A certain priest was elected bishop in one of our dioceses. Now even though our dioceses choose their own bishops, the Church as a whole has to approve episcopal elections by a majority vote of all the diocesan bishops and a majority vote of all the diocesan Standing Committees. Usually this sort of thing proceeds without much attention being paid, but in this case, for various reasons, people started to get suspicious about this priest’s theology, and more and more people began to think that he had gone too far, even by the rather generous standards of Anglicanism. One of the turning points in the whole process came when one highly respected bishop ”“ who is very much on the liberal side of things ”“ wrote a public statement saying, basically, “I can’t see that this guy believes that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice, or that it accomplished something for us that we couldn’t do for ourselves, in any way whatsoever. So I can’t consent to his election.” In the end, a majority of both bishops and Standing Committees said no.

Though I grieve for the diocese that now has to go through the election process all over again, I rejoice ”“ you have no idea how much I rejoice ”“ that our beloved Anglican fudge was not allowed to melt into Anglican goo. After all, how can we really accept the gifts of God for the people of God ”“ how can we feed on Jesus in our hearts by faith, with thanksgiving ”“ if we do not acknowledge in some way that Jesus gives his flesh to be broken for the life of the world?

There have to be some core elements somewhere, to keep our Anglican fudge from melting into a pile of goo. But what are they? They are the essentials of believing without which our doing makes no sense.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

Cotton Country Anglican on Bishop MacPherson's Talk on TEC and GC 2009

If there was one word spoken more by +MacPherson than any other last night it was some form of the word “differentiate.” Though the Bishop made clear that he was not necessarily calling for us to separate from TEC (in terms of a formal withdrawal), he was clearly advocating that we find ways to make ourselves different, distinct and separate from the agenda being pursued by TEC and The General Convention.

Though I am okay with the concept of patience and not feeling an urgent rush to attempt any sort of formal withdrawal from TEC, I do think it very important to be sure that we do not let ourselves get caught up in rhetoric and merely talk the talk of differentiation. We must walk the walk of differentiation so that what people around us see when they watch us walk is clearly recognizable as church men and church women carrying high the cross of Christ crucified as we unashamedly proclaim to the world our belief in Christ as the Son of the living God and as the only means to salvation and eternal life with God, the Father.

For me, the time has come for orthodox Anglican Episcopalians to be very clear that we have eaten all the fudge that we are going to eat. We do not want our bishops or other church leaders to “throw us a bone” now and then that has the aroma of Christian orthodoxy about it; no, what we want, what we need and what we must have, is the full Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: we can accept no less. We want and we need for the leader of our Anglican Communion to be clear and straightforward in stating what it is that makes us Anglican Christians and how it is that the world is to recognize us. We, and the world, need to understand why it makes a difference for us to be members of the Anglican Communion and, importantly, to be in communion with the See of Canterbury. What we need from the Archbishop of Canterbury is for his yes be yes, and for his no to be no.

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

Anglican Bishop blames ”˜weak’ churches for losing members and influence

Director of St Mark’s National Theological Centre and head of the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University, Professor Tom Frame, says churches must take some of the blame for the decline.

“The Christianity that most Australians have encountered is weak and insipid and in more than a few instances uninspiring and unintelligible, and the majority have no idea of what the Christian religion is offering,” he writes in his book Losing My Religion: Unbelief In Australia.

Professor Frame points to what he believes are three reasons for this.

“To some degree some churches are caught in a time warp, they’ve got the social and cultural forms of the 1950s and 1960s and have been unable to embrace the 1990s and the new millennium, so they do seem to be locked in time and their message with it,” he told ABC Online.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture

MPR News Transcript: The church and the question of non-celbate same sex unions

Budde: I’m not disagreeing with that, either, except that I think it is very dangerous to take our understanding of marriage and fidelity in relationships and try to imagine that even what Jesus was saying when he spoke the words that you quoted earlier because understandings of marriage in that time and that eras is very different from how people may experience marriage today. And to imagine that Jesus was speaking to the kind of realities that we are addressing now in same-gender, lifelong, committed relationships is just a huge distortion of the Palestinian world view that he was addressing.

He was addressing property issues. He was addressing men treating women like property and disposing of them at will and calling for a more egalitarian and respectful way that — and loving way — that men and women were to deal with one another. This is a time when women were treated like chattel and to have that idea of marriage held up to the standard that God calls us to now is, I think, is trying to take any view of order which was true in the Biblical era and make that standard for us now. It flies in the face of everything we know about now about how the Holy Spirit moves and works with us over time.

Harmon: This is exactly the kind of argument I think we need to have, by the way. The difficult here is the context that becomes the trump card, notice in her remarks, is the modern context. And so the Biblical context in the ancient world gets derated and we somehow suddenly know better how the Holy Spirit works in this modern era.

What’s so crucial to point out is there is such a thing as the history of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit works through the church, especially the church globally and the church historically through time. And the church historically through time that has always understood that this kind of behavior is out of bounds and marriage is the context and what’s the height of the arrogance is that you impose this new understanding on the shoulders of the all the Christians we now understand, all the Christians around the world who haven’t been persuaded by these arguments.

Read it all or better yet listen to the whole program.

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