Daily Archives: August 30, 2009

Do the Current Episcopal Church Statistics reflect the Trauma in the four Realigning Dioceses?

No, as you can see plainly from this chart.

I post this today because earlier I read the following:

St. Francis is one of 28 parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

According to the Episcopal Church Annual of 2007 (which reflects parochial reports from 2005) there were 67 parishes in the diocese of Pittsburgh that year. So the quite significant drop in active baptized membership in the domestic dioceses of TEC from 1997-2007 of -9.7% does not yet reflect the realignments in Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Data

AP IMPACT: Secret process benefits pet projects from feneral Stimulus Money

A sleepy Montana checkpoint along the Canadian border that sees about three travelers a day will get $15 million under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. A government priority list ranked the project as marginal, but two powerful Democratic senators persuaded the administration to make it happen.

Despite Obama’s promises that the stimulus plan would be transparent and free of politics, the government is handing out $720 million for border upgrades under a process that is both secretive and susceptible to political influence. This allowed low-priority projects such as the checkpoint in Whitetail, Mont., to skip ahead of more pressing concerns, according to documents revealed to The Associated Press.

A House oversight committee has added the checkpoint projects to its investigation into how the stimulus money is being spent. The top Republican on that committee, California’s Rep. Darrell Issa, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday, questioning why some projects leapfrogged others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009

Methodists Say No to partnered Lutheran Gay Clergy

Lutheran ministers who are in same-sex relationships will not be allowed to serve as clergy in United Methodist congregations despite the new full communion agreement between the two denominations.

Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, made clear on Wednesday that UMC’s ban on noncelibate gay clergy still stands.

“Our Book of Discipline on that subject did not become null and void when they took that vote,” said Palmer, according to the United Methodist News Service. “It still applies to United Methodist clergy.”

Read it all.

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

Young Methodist clergy evangelize in cyberspace

Young United Methodist clergy see the elephant in the sanctuary ”“ the fact more ministers are headed for retirement than the pulpits ”“ and they are grabbing the mops.

The concerned under-35 crowd is doing what comes naturally. It is using social media ”“ Facebook, Twitter and blogs ”“ to form an online community to search for ways to draw more young people into ministry and into the pews.

A core group of 10 young clergy met with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in February. As a result, hundreds of young clergy are now talking and creating relationships in cyberspace through their own Web site, www.umcyoungclergy.com.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Evangelism and Church Growth, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Young Adults

War of words between Vatican and Berlusconi clan heats up

A war of words between the Roman Catholic Church and Silvio Berlusconi’s clan heated up Saturday as reports said the row had led to the Vatican cancelling a meeting between its number two official and the Italian prime minister.

The reports said the Vatican had called off the talks scheduled for late Friday after the newspaper headed by Berlusconi’s brother Paolo attacked the boss of the Italian Catholic bishops’ daily, Avvenire, a persistent critic of the prime minister’s sexual peccadillos.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Politics in General, Roman Catholic

Sanford gets no support in the South Carolina State House

Gov. Mark Sanford always has been a loner, but on Saturday he didn’t have a friend in the House.

Not a single member of the House Republican Caucus spoke up for the embattled GOP governor in this oceanfront city at an organizational meeting that wrapped up with a 45-minute discussion about why Sanford should resign or be impeached.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican, resisted calls from members to circulate a caucus letter to urge Sanford to step down or begin immediate impeachment action. Harrell said he wants the caucus to wait until a State Ethics Commission investigation is complete to ensure that impeachment proceedings would be based on fact.

The investigation began Aug. 10 and is expected to take between four and six weeks to complete.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

Notable and Quotable

When I was still chief executive at Optus, I was invited to address a Herald function. I imagine the Herald thought I would talk about telecommunications or some such. But the week before, Pauline Hanson gave her so-called maiden speech. I thought it disgraceful; its key message was that Aborigines were not an underprivileged group and the influx of Asians into this country would seriously damage our society.

I read a definition of racism and bigotry and extracts from her speech and invited the audience to compare the two. In the Federal Parliament the next day, she said I should be dismissed from my job and never allowed to work in business again.
Shortly thereafter I was invited to coffee with the then deputy lord mayor of Sydney, a gentleman of Chinese extraction. When I got there I was offered no coffee and taken into the Great Hall. A young woman said, “Mr Cousins, we are the choir from the Quandong Province in China and we will sing for you, because you have defended us.” They proceeded to sing.

I told the deputy lord mayor it was wonderful but completely out of proportion. I merely made one speech. He replied, “That’s all you did. But it was one speech more than anyone else.”

When you step off the ledge of doubt, there are rewards. And when you leap, someone, somewhere will sing for you.

Geoffrey Cousins in the Sydney Morning Herald

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Concerns for our Planet

Watch it all (just under 2 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization

CSM: What Katrina has wrought, four years later

The storm that crashed into New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast four years ago wreaked a shocking $80 billion in damage and resulted in 1,836 confirmed fatalities. But since then, its overall legacy has broadened and, one hopes, has not been all bad.

Count these among the lessons it taught and the changes it spawned:

ӢVolunteers matter a lot in a time of crisis.

”¢FEMA’s mission has shifted from a top-down to a bottom-up approach.

ӢNew appreciation has emerged of the need to retain and restore wetlands to help absorb storm surges.

ӢStorm-tracking capabilities have advanced in ways that improve public safety.

ӢHurricanes have moved to the center of the climate-change debate.

Read it all.

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

Sunday (London) Times–Revealed: Lockerbie link to oil exploration deal

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism

Ethics panel investigation of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford Under way

Calls are growing louder for Gov. Mark Sanford to resign over his extramarital affair and questionable travel on commercial, state and private planes.

Those who were on the fence are now calling for his resignation, and those who were demanding his resignation now say he should be impeached.

Even a leader of Sanford’s own Republican Party said the governor may soon find himself alone in thinking he should stay in office.

Read it all from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

Some Roman Catholic bishops assail health plan

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lobbying for three decades for the federal government to provide universal health insurance, especially for the poor. Now, as President Obama tries to rally Roman Catholics and other religious voters around his proposals to do just that, a growing number of bishops are speaking out against it.

As recently as July, the bishops’ conference had largely embraced the president’s goals, although with the caveat that any health care overhaul avoid new federal financing of abortions. But in the last two weeks some leaders of the conference, like Cardinal Justin Rigali, have concluded that Democrats’ efforts to carve out abortion coverage are so inadequate that lawmakers should block the entire effort.

Others, echoing the popular alarms about “rationing,” contend that the proposals could put a premium on efficacy that could penalize the chronically ill.

“No health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform,” Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, declared in a recent pastoral letter, urging the faithful to call their members of Congress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

North Carolina House Representative Heath Shuler on the Health Care Debate

Shuler: The things I’d really like to see, and I think this is kind of throughout the U.S., are accessibility, quality of care and affordability. One of the things I would really like to ensure is that people aren’t dropped from the system, or a pre-existing condition doesn’t (exclude them from) coverage.

I think that a bill, whether it’s crafted by our office or a working relationship with other members of Congress, what I’d really like to see is for it to implement the Asheville Project that’s been so successful.

(In 1997, the city of Asheville implemented the Asheville Project, a wellness program that encourages employees to regularly visit a doctor and emphasizes disease prevention. The program, Shuler said, resulted in a 50 percent decrease in absenteeism while saving participants $600-800 a year and the city $1,200 per person per year.)….

AC-T: You basically want to go back to scratch and start over (with reform)?

Shuler: I’ve spoken to House leadership, and I feel that’s the best way for us to proceed forward. I do believe that we need to be sure that we get people access to quality health care, affordability and a quality outcome. The way we have to do that is starting over.

Read it all.

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

UAE Seizes North Korean Weapons Shipment to Iran

The United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying North Korean-manufactured munitions, detonators, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades bound for Iran in violation of United Nations sanctions, diplomats said.

The UAE two weeks ago notified the UN Security Council of the seizure, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition they aren’t named because the communication hasn’t been made public. They said the ship, owned by an Australian subsidiary of a French company and sailing under a Bahamian flag, was carrying 10 containers of arms disguised as oil equipment.

The council committee that monitors enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea wrote letters to Iran and the government in Pyongyang asking for explanations of the violation, and one to the UAE expressing appreciation for the cooperation, the envoys said. No response has been received and the UAE has unloaded the cargo, they said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea