Daily Archives: September 29, 2009

Houston (or rather King County, Washington State) We Have a Problem

County expenses have been growing at about 6 percent annually, but revenue has grown only about 2 percent a year.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

10th Largest ELCA Congregation in the U.S. Votes to Leave the Denomination

Community Church of Joy, Glendale, Ariz., ended its affiliation Sept. 27 with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.
The congregation was the 10th largest in the ELCA with 6,800 baptized members. According to the 2009 ELCA Yearbook, Community Church of Joy’s current operating expenses are more than $2.7 million. It gave more than $207,915 to the ELCA and other organizations in benevolence. By a unanimous vote of 129-0, Community Church of Joy terminated the relationship at a congregational meeting following worship.
“I was praying that (the vote) would be a clear direction from the congregation,” said the Rev. Walter P. Kallestad, senior pastor of the congregation. Seeking to be consistent with the congregation’s decision, Kallestad announced to the congregation his intention to resign from the ELCA’s clergy roster.

Read it all and check out the three documents linked to here also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Abortion Fight Complicates Debate on Health Care

As if it were not complicated enough, the debate over health care in Congress is becoming a battlefield in the fight over abortion.

Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion. And the abortion opponents are getting enough support from moderate Democrats that both sides say the outcome is too close to call. Opponents of abortion cite as precedent a 30-year-old ban on the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions.

Abortion-rights supporters say such a restriction would all but eliminate from the marketplace private plans that cover the procedure, pushing women who have such coverage to give it up. Nearly half of those with employer-sponsored health plans now have policies that cover abortion, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The question looms as a test of President Obama’s campaign pledge to support abortion rights but seek middle ground with those who do not. Mr. Obama has promised for months that the health care overhaul would not provide federal money to pay for elective abortions, but White House officials have declined to spell out what he means.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate, Theology

Local paper Editorial: Time should be up for Iran

The topic is bound to come up in looming talks that officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China will have with representatives of Iran.

Unfortunately, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy pointed out last week at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on nuclear proliferation, years of gradually stronger sanctions against Iran for ignoring that body’s to stop enriching uranium have only led to “more enriched uranium, more centrifuges” for enriching it, and a vow to “wipe a U.N. member [Israel] off the map.”

That history shows that more talk will only lead to more talk while Iran forges ahead.

With or without the help of Russia and China, however, the U.S. and European nations, must meet Iranian defiance head on with severe economic sanctions.

The time for talking should be past.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Notable and Quotable

The biblical writers take the opposing view [of the (post)modern mentality]. Truth statements do indeed correspond to what is out there. Biblical affirmations are neither arbitrary nor provisional but have all the weight of eternity behind them. And the biblical authors clearly assume that despite capacities for misreading our own desires into this truth, seeing only what we want to see, refusing to see what is actually there, we can still know this truth. And this is so despite the many innocent mistakes we might make in reading the Scriptures.

–David Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), page 80

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Nigerian Anglican Bishops receive Youth Fellowship Awards

In his remarks shortly before he was given the Award, Rt. Rev Chukwuneye urged youth to acquaint themselves with skills to compete and fulfill their divine mandate globally beyond the shores of local church and not only concentrating energy in local churches or dioceses.

According to him, discovering the purpose for which every life and the society exit will go a long way in achieving excellence and making the world a better place for all.

“God has a purposed in forming Rising Stars Fellowship. God is God of purpose; in you discovered the purpose for which God brought you to existence? You must key to the global purpose of God, not only concentrating on localized worships, but global worships for all nations of the world. God expects you to be given thanks and in doing that, we will be able to affect the society positively”Chukwunonye said.

He urged Christians to always avoid living segmented, haphazard and divergent lifestyles faithful Jesus who lived an exemplary life while on earth not be fixed to a particular character.

“As Christians, we should avoid exhibiting to avoid disgracing the conflicting attitudes at home, office, church market and other places ,because as Christians we should approach life positively to affect our generation as if there is no tomorrow,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Hindu converts to Christianity to keep Caste status

Church leaders in India have welcomed the call by the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly for India’s federal government to allow Hindu Dalits who convert to Christianity to keep their protected status as members of a Scheduled Caste (SC).

On Aug 25 the legislature of the southeastern Indian state passed a resolution presented by the state’s chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy that petitions the national government to amend the Constitution to confer SC status on Dalit Christians.

The Indian Constitution allows quotas in educational institutions and government jobs for members of castes once considered “untouchable,” to support their social and economic advancement. According to the 1950 Presidential Order however, SC privileges are meant only for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, but not Christians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Lowcountry S.C. Principal Lucy Beckham named National High School Principal of the Year

Beckham has been an educator for more than 33 years, an administrator for 15 years and principal of Wando, the state’s largest high school, since 1998. She oversaw the school’s move into its new building in 2004, and she helped create four career-related schools of study and a ninth-grade academy to ensure students have more opportunities for personal connections. Students meet weekly with faculty advisers and, as upperclassmen, with an administrator or counselor who monitors and supports them through graduation.

Under Beckham’s leadership, Wando has been the recipient of numerous statewide and national accolades. The school was named one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, its band was recognized as best in the nation, and both its newspaper and culinary arts programs have garnered national honors.

After receiving the award, Beckham told those gathered that this honor wasn’t about her and that it was their award. She credited teachers, students, parents and the community for making the school the great place that it is. She called it a principal’s dream to be in a town such as Mount Pleasant, where officials support the school any way they can.

“Wando is an incredible place,” she said. “Everyone here is committed to excellence.”

Read the whole article from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Teens / Youth

Joy R. Jones Chimes In

Have you ever seen the brochure, “What did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?”

When the brochure is opened, the pages inside are completely blank. In the early 1990s Episcopal Chaplain Penelope Duckworth at Stanford University had that brochure posted to her door. She was way ahead of her time.

This letter addresses my confusion regarding the commanding involvement of the Diocese of Portland as it struggles to beat up many of its own parishioners.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Michael J. Henchal: Another Look at "Gay Marriage"

Regrettably, we all know that the bond between marriage and procreation was ruptured some decades ago. Today about 40% of children in America are born outside of marriage and in some groups that percentage rises to about two-thirds of all births.

Now, the state tells us that even being male and female has nothing to do with marriage. So if you eliminate openness to permanence, fidelity, openness to children, and male and female, what is left of marriage? It becomes no more than a relationship for mutual support and sharing of property and, since the state cannot legislate mutual support, it ends up little more than a contract regarding property rights. Marriage has been reduced to the least common denominator.

Now I am no hopeless romantic, but this sounds to me like a frightening reduction in the nature of marriage, a social structure so necessary for the well-being of society. At this point, you can see that what the state does is never more than civil unions. An individual couple may, by their own consent, choose to bind themselves in a religious or even nonreligious ceremony to more than a mere contract regarding property rights, but the state makes no such demand. The state sees no difference between marriage and civil unions. But, is that really the “marriage” we want as a society, and, for that matter, as voters?

If marriage means marriage, with all the elements of that definition I have listed above, and if marriage is not just civil union, then there is nothing discriminatory about restricting marriage to one man and one woman. That’s simply the definition of the thing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

National Catholic Register: Defending Marriage in Maine

Portland Bishop Richard Malone has publicly supported the repeal of the law.

“We oppose attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex,” said Bishop Malone. “A same-sex union can never realize the unique and full potential that the marital relationship expresses.”

The organization Stand for Marriage Maine, which is fighting for the repeal of the law, released its first television ad last Tuesday, featuring Boston College law school professor Scott Fitzgibbon. Their “Yes on 1” campaign billboards and yard signs are beginning to appear around the state.

Read it all and make sure to follow the link to the youtube video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Sudan Tribune: Archbishop Marona laid to rest in Juba

The retired Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Marona Biringi, died in Khartoum on Friday, September 18 and was laid to rest on the following Friday at All Saints’ Cathedral in Juba town.

The late archbishop died at the house of his son, Hon. Justin Joseph Marona, the Chairman of Economics Committee in the National Assembly at Kalakala, South of Khartoum on Friday at around 10:00 PM.

Rev. Dr. Marona was a Baka by tribe from Munga Can in Maridi County of Western Equatoria State. He was born in Maridi in 1941. In 1981 he was ordained deacon and in 1982 ordained priest. On Apri, 22, 1984 he was consecrated the bishop and became the first diocesan bishop of Maridi under the Diocese of Yambio.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Parish Ministry

Indianapolis Star: Lutheran 'reformers' decide to wait a year

Most in the crowd this weekend were individuals or couples. Roughly one-fourth were pastors; many represented congregations deeply split by the controversy. Of the denomination’s 65 sitting bishops, organizers said they believe only about 10 are sympathetic.

But what was a gathering that a few months ago expected only about 400 people at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in Fishers exploded into a standing-room-only, 1,200-plus affair that had to be moved to Holy Spirit Catholic Church at Geist.

“The ground has shifted, and it is still shaking,” said the Rev. Paul Ulring, a pastor from Columbus, Ohio, and a reform leader. “The real question before us is, what do we do next? The church has changed a lot. There’s no going back.”

Before the gathering ended, the crowd stood and sang “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage.” For many, that defines a key element behind the outrage — that the ELCA’s acceptance of same-sex relationships was a turn from biblical principles.

“We saw this decision as a slap in the face of the authority of the Scripture,” said the Rev. Larry Gember, pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield. “I think there is outrage. We’re trying not to be bitter. At this point, we are trying to move forward in a positive way.”

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

Michael Paulson Interviews Rob Bell

Rob Bell is one of the hottest names in contemporary evangelical life. He is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., but is better known for his books, and especially, for his road show, which combines preaching with performance art. He is much talk about among folks trying to discern what’s next for American evangelicalism. Bell is currently touring in conjunction with a book, “Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering,” and last weekend he appeared at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. I caught up with Bell by telephone in Ottawa to ask him what he’s up to.

Q. What does it mean to you to be an evangelical?

A. I take issue with the word to a certain degree, so I make a distinction between a capital E and a small e. I was in the Caribbean in 2004, watching the election returns with a group of friends, and when Fox News, in a state of delirious joy, announced that evangelicals had helped sway the election, I realized this word has really been hijacked. I find the word troubling, because it has come in America to mean politically to the right, almost, at times, anti-intellectual. For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Lee Smith: Something is rotten in the state of Egypt

The Obama administration’s Arab-Israeli peace process is in more trouble than even the White House realizes. To be sure, the Israelis and Palestinians are both dug in, and when the president sought baby steps from the Arabs toward normalizing relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait rebuffed the administration. But now even Cairo, where Obama hit his reset button with the Muslim world, has made its stand, albeit much less publicly. The campaign against Egyptian editor and analyst Hala Mustafa for meeting with Israel’s ambassador to Cairo is sufficient evidence that the first country to have a peace treaty with Jerusalem is no closer to normalization than it was when Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Accords 30 years ago.

Recently, Israel’s envoy to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, visited Mustafa at her office in the Al-Ahram newspaper building, home to the semi-official daily to which Mustafa often contributes, and where she edits the quarterly Arabic-language journal, Democracy.

“The ambassador had a proposal to convene a symposium and asked me to participate,” Mustafa told me by phone. “Egyptians, Israelis and Palestinians were to discuss Obama’s initiatives and the peace process. Since we would need authorization from Al-Ahram and other state institutions, I didn’t give him any final decision.”

Nonetheless, chairman of the Egyptian press syndicate Makram Muhammad Ahmed claimed that Mustafa’s brief interview with Cohen violated the boycott of the Zionist enemy that the syndicate adopted in 1983.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Israel, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle