Daily Archives: August 26, 2009

Roman Catholic Priests learn best practices in parish management at seminar

You don’t think there are enough hours in the day for laypeople? Try being a parish pastor.

There’s all the spiritual and sacramental ministry the position entails, plus the work that goes along with being, quite often, the only priest in a sizable suburban parish with plenty of staff and even more demands.

How does a pastor handle it all? This summer, in an effort to help answer that question, the International Institute for Clergy Formation at Seton Hall University in New Jersey joined with the Washington-based National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management to offer a “best practices” seminar to 28 parish priests — most of them from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which constitute Region III of the U.S. bishops’ conference, but also from West Virginia, Florida and Louisiana.

The idea to conduct such a seminar had been in the mind of Father Paul Holmes, a Newark, N.J., archdiocesan priest, since 2000, when he taught at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. But different assignments — and his own “busy-ness” — kept him from actively pursuing the idea for several years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Bishop Jack Iker: First Bishop consecrated for new Anglican province

It was my joy and privilege on Saturday, Aug. 22, to share in the consecration of the Rt. Rev. William H. Ilgenfritz, the first new bishop for the Anglican Church in North America. Archbishop Robert W. Duncan was the chief consecrator, and the other co-consecrators were Bishop Keith Ackerman, Bishop Edward MacBurney, and Bishop William Wantland, who also preached at the service. Thirteen bishops participated in the apostolic laying on of hands in the historic ceremony. Bishop Ilgenfritz continues to serve as Rector of St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Charleroi, Pa., in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The service took place at the local Roman Catholic parish a few blocks away, called Mary, Mother of the Church. The new bishop previously served here in the Diocese of Fort Worth as Rector of St. John’s Church in Brownwood from 1990 to 1994.

It is important to recognize that this first consecration was of a Forward in Faith Bishop and that it creates a new diocese for FIF congregations across the country. This new Missionary Diocese of All Saints begins with about 13 congregations and is charged with planting new churches for traditional anglo-catholics in the United States and Canada. Bishop Ilgenfritz continues to serve as Vice-president of Forward in Faith, North America.

This consecration fulfills the vision of the Episcopal Synod of America, formed in 1989 here in Fort Worth, to create a non-geographic diocese or province for congregations upholding the faith and practice of the historic catholic church, including the tradition of an all-male priesthood. It secures a continuing line of apostolic succession for traditional anglo-catholics, which is no longer possible in The Episcopal Church in the United States.

Please continue to pray for Bishop Ilgenfritz and this new missionary diocese.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Aug. 25, 2009

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

Bishop Tom Wright on the Scotland prisoner Release Decision

Let me first say that one of my closest friends lost two of his closest friends in the Pan Am jet and I remember vividly the anguished phone calls as he dashed up to Lockerbie to help identify bodies and property. I am not about to minimize the horror and appalling criminality of the bombing.

I haven’t fully made up my mind about the release of the man convicted but I sense that the reaction in America may not fully understand how many people here see things.

What people in America may not realize is this.

1. There is a widespread opinion in the UK that the man in question was put up as a fall guy for various reasons and actually had nothing to do with the Pan Am flight. This opinion is not based on hearsay or guesswork but on the continued strong representations which have been made from various quarters about evidence that wasn’t presented, and about various factors which led up to the finger being pointed at Libya rather than, say, Syria or other sources of terrorism. I know the decision to send the man home wasn’t based on a retrial or the consideration of such evidence, but we have had that put forward by serious reporters over quite a long time, creating a climate in which many, perhaps the majority in the UK, really do believe that the conviction was, at best, not proven. There was quite a shrewd article in our of our papers today saying that the real shame about his sending back is that there should have been a retrial with the new evidence and he might have been cleared.

2. Many people in the UK see the reaction in the U.S. as being typical U.S. anti-Arab and particularly anti-Libya reaction. Because we are conditioned to be a bit worried about U.S. knee-jerk pro-Israel attitudes we tend to distance ourselves from that kind of position….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Terrorism

Boeing to Seek 787 Assembly Line Permit in South Carolina

Boeing Co. said it will apply for a building permit to add a 787 Dreamliner facility in South Carolina in a “procedural” move as the company considers its first commercial assembly line outside of Washington state.

The planemaker plans to notify South Carolina officials today that it’s filing for permits, Russ Young, a spokesman at Boeing’s commercial-aircraft headquarters near Seattle, said in an interview yesterday.

“This does not mean we’ve decided to locate the second line there,” Young said. “It’s strictly a procedural step. The process is comprehensive and requires significant lead time.”

Boeing is considering Everett, Washington; Charleston, South Carolina; and “other locations” for a Dreamliner assembly line….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

David Leonhardt: Real Choice? It’s Off Limits in Health Bills

Consider the following health insurance plan.

It refuses to pay for certain medical care and then doesn’t offer a clear explanation. It does pay for unhelpful care that ends up raising premiums. Its customer service can be hard to reach or unhelpful. And the people who are covered by this insurer have no choice but to remain with it ”” or, at best, to choose from one or two other insurers that are about as bad.

In all likelihood, I have just described your insurance plan.

Health insurers often act like monopolies ”” like a cable company or the Department of Motor Vehicles ”” because they resemble monopolies. Consumers, instead of being able to choose freely among insurers, are restricted to the plans their employer offers. So insurers are spared the rigors of true competition, and they end up with high costs and spotty service.

Read it all

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

Washington Times: Lutheran schism feared after votes on Same Sex Unions

Mr. [Bill] Sullivan, a former ELCA pastor, is national coordinator for the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), a collection of 226 congregations founded in March 2001 with 25 charter member churches dissatisfied with the denomination’s liberal drift.

Now the trickle has turned into a flood.

“It’s been going nonstop,” he said of his phone.

On Friday alone, he scheduled three visits to ELCA churches in Buffalo, N.Y. Sioux City, Iowa and Jacksonville, Fla., for later this fall. They are thinking of leaving, as were the 15 people who had stopped by the hotel suite that day. Twenty-five inquiries had come in that week alone, and that was before all the vote tallies were in down the street at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

He glanced at his e-mail.

“The train wreck is just about over,” he said, reading from a post sent by a delegate on the convention floor. “The first responders need to be ready.”

Read it all.

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

Gerald B. Kieschnick's Address to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, August 22, 2009

Lutherans are no strangers to discord and divisiveness. The Lutheran church was born under such conditions. Yet we also know the path to concord, expressed in these rather straight forward words in The Formula of Concord, written during a notable time of doctrinal controversy and discord in the church. Hear these words from the Kolb-Wengert translation:

“For these controversies are not merely misunderstandings or semantic arguments, where someone might think that one group had not sufficiently grasped what the other group was trying to say or that the tensions were based upon only a few specific words of relatively little consequence. Rather, these controversies deal with important and significant matters, and they are of such a nature that the positions of the erring party neither could nor should be tolerated in the church of God, much less be excused or defended.

“Therefore, necessity demands explanation of these disputed articles on the basis of God’s Word and reliable writings, so that those with a proper Christian understanding could recognize which position regarding the points under dispute is in accord with God’s Word and the Christian Augsburg Confession and which is not, and so that Christians of good will, who are concerned about the truth, might protect and guard themselves from the errors and corruptions that have appeared among us.”

The writers of this Formula pledged themselves, and I quote, “to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments, as to the pure, clear fountain of Israel, which alone is the one true guiding principle, according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated.” Discord can become concord when Christian individuals and Christian church bodies are faithful to the Holy Scriptures, which reveal the Gospel of God’s grace, forgiveness, and salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Read it carefully and read it all.

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

Russell Roberts: Will Time Prove Ben Bernanke Wrong?

Yes, we have avoided a depression. But let us count the costs.

Financial firms that made irresponsible and imprudent decisions have been rescued, propped up and bailed out.

AIG has received about $180 billion. That is almost $2,000 for every American household. That money has gone to sustain the bonuses of AIG and the financial health of its counterparties, such as Goldman Sachs. This is an obscene travesty.

The Fed currently holds $600 billion worth of Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie mortgage-backed securities. I am not optimistic about how that will turn out.

The Fed has injected hundreds of billions of reserves into member banks. This will fuel future inflation unless Bernanke is willing to raise interest rates when the recovery begins. There will be tremendous political pressure on him not to do so. So inflation is likely to come along with any recovery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, History, The U.S. Government

FT: Deficit fears put Obama’s reforms in Jeopardy

Tuesday’s sharply upgraded forecasts for growth in US national debt over the ext decade could hardly have come at a worse time for Barack Obama. Shortly after he was elected last November, the president let it be known he preferred the “big bang” approach to domestic reforms.

As Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff put it, you should “never allow a crisis to go to waste”. In other words, the financial meltdown was seen as an opportunity for Mr Obama to enact as many of his key reforms, including healthcare, within the first year of taking office.

But fears of the Great Depression have receded only to be replaced by mounting concern over the country’s long-term creditworthiness. Rather than shoring up the appetite for domestic reform, the rising tide of fiscal panic could threaten large chunks of Mr Obama’s agenda.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, President George Bush, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Washington Post: Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy Dies at 77 After Cancer Battle

Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most powerful and influential senators in American history and one of three brothers whose political triumphs and personal tragedies captivated the nation for decades, died late Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77. He had been battling brain cancer.

His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the statement said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.”

President Obama released a statement Wednesday morning, pointing out that “virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. . . . Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time. . . . Our hearts and prayers go out to” the Kennedy family.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Senate

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

–1 Kings 3: 9,10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Keith Fournier: Why Roman Catholics Should Care about their Lutheran and Anglican Brethren

I love the fullness of truth found within Catholic Church. I also carry a burden to see the prayer of Jesus, recorded in St. John, Chapter 17, answered. There is a connection. Into a world that is fractured, divided, wounded, filled with “sides” and “camps” at enmity with one another, the Church is called to proclaim, by both word and deed, the unifying love of a living God. The heart of the “Gospel” is the message that in and through Jesus Christ, authentic unity with God – and through Him, in the Spirit, with one another- is not only possible but is the plan of God for the entire human race. The Church is the way.

We report on the work of the Holy Spirit within the Orthodox Church. We report on what is good, as well as what is challenging, within Christian communities which descend from the Protestant Reformation. Many are facing great challenges, such as those within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church. This IS a “Catholic” issue because part of being a Catholic is having a concern for all Christians, including those with whom we are not (yet) in full communion but with whom we share a common Baptismal bond. The Second Vatican Council affirmed that the “fullness of truth ‘subsists’ within the Catholic Church”. This truth makes Catholics all the more responsible. “To those to whom much is given, much more will be required.” (Luke 12:48)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), TEC Conflicts

Albert Mohler on the Lutheran Decision: Wearing the Disguise of Faithfulness

A revealing statement on the Lutheran decisions came from Barbara Wheeler, who serves as an advocate for the acceptance of homosexual ministers in the Presbyterian Church (USA). “What you’re seeing is two things: the society is in the process of changing its collective mind about the moral status of same-sex relationships, and there’s a parallel theological movement.” She is exactly right, for the theological movement to normalize homosexual relationships is working hard to accommodate the Scriptures and the church’s historic teaching so that it matches the changing mind of the larger society.

The claim that these two contradictory understandings of the Bible’s teachings on human sexuality can coexist and be recognized as being equally faithful to the Scriptures is nonsense. Those pressing for the normalization of homosexuality must put the Scriptures through hoop after hoop of theological acrobatics. The claim that a church can both condemn and bless homosexual relationships with equal faithfulness falls false on its face. Worst of all, it sows a disastrously deadly confusion about the nature of sin — a confusion that subverts the Gospel and brings eternal consequences. Should homosexuals repent of their sin, or come to the church for the blessing of their homosexual unions? There can be no multiple-choice answer to that question. The actions in Minneapolis will reverberate far into the future. Woe unto those who cloak such decisions with the disguise of faithfulness.

Read it all.

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

Mary Dejevsky on the Health Care Debate: A mean streak in the US mainstream

The reason why Obama is finding health reform such a struggle ”“ even though it was central to his election platform ”“ is not because an extreme wing of the Republican Party, mobilised by media shock-jocks, is foaming at the mouth, or because Republicans have more money than Democrats to buy lobbying and advertising power. Nor is it only because so many influential groups, from insurance companies through doctors, have lucrative interests to defend ”“ although this is a big part of it.

It is because very many Americans simply do not agree that it is a good idea. And they include not only mainstream Republicans, but Democrats, too. Indeed, Obama’s chief problem in seeking to extend health cover to most Americans is not Republican opposition: he thrashed John McCain to win his presidential mandate; he has majorities in both Houses of Congress. If Democrats were solidly behind reform, victory would already be his.

The unpalatable fact for Europeans who incline to think that Americans are just like us is that Democrats are not solidly behind Obama on this issue. Even many in the party’s mainstream must be wooed, cajoled and even ”“ yes ”“ frightened, if they are ever going to agree to change the status quo. Universal healthcare is an article of faith in the US only at what mainstream America would regard as the bleeding- heart liberal end of the spectrum.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Europe, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Subsurface Deterioration in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Early I posted on the theme of subsurface deterioration in the Episcopal Church, and used the diocese of Lexington as an example.

Since I recently posted David Keller’s comments about the struggles in the diocese of Upper South Carolina, I thought I would look at the numbers for that diocese. According to the national statistics site church membership in Upper South Carolina went from 25,569 in 1997 to 26,087 in 2007, a gain of 2.0%. During the same ten year span, however, average Sunday attendance went from 9,278 to 8,439, a decline of 9%.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data