Daily Archives: December 2, 2009

Tony Clavier–be of Good Cheer We are in Decline

Yet another commission reports that TEC is in steep decline. We are helped to digest this news with the sweetener that there are good things going on as we decline! So what happened to us?

The extraordinary thing about all this is our fairly sudden and dramatic collapse. The late fifties were a time of growth in numbers, income and “membership” both in England and the US. Over 3 million people in the US identified themselves as Episcopalians. New church plants were on the rise and special shorter courses were established in seminaries to train older men for ordination. For the CofE, things were better than at any time since Victoria died.

I do not for a moment believe that suddenly in the sixties people became less religious or religiously inclined. I do believe that Anglicanism lost its nerve. I do believe that we began to produce a leadership, lay and ordained, that assumed that the voices heard in academia and among the “culture-vultures” reflected the thoughts of most people. Yet the “intelligentsia” of that day ”“ I am not speaking of truly educated people ”“ no more reflected the feelings and thoughts of every day people then than they do now.

We went for a ride with “right thinking” people and still not cannot get it into our heads that these people, what ever their social or political ideals, are a vocal minority.

The vast majority of people were left out of this small company of the self-obsessed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Data, TEC Parishes

Fr Benedict Kiely–The sad demise of the Anglican Church: One Man's Journey

Classic Anglicanism always described itself as a “via media,” a “middle way” between the Protestantism of Geneva and the Catholicism of Rome. Anglicans claimed to be the authentic Catholic Church of England, that little dispute in the 16th century over papal supremacy being merely an “unfortunate incident” – so very English and polite. Sadly, the “via media” proved to be untrue for some of the greatest minds the Anglican Church ever produced, and a succession of brilliant converts – Newman, Chesterton, Knox, Benson and Muggeridge, to name but a few – found that the true Catholic Church of England was the Church the martyrs died for, in union with Peter.

However, even until comparatively recently, while the Anglican Church held to the ancient creeds of the Church, the possibility of eventual union with Rome could still be prayed for, and worked towards.

All that is now, tragically, a thing of the past; we have all seen on our television screens the implosion of the Anglican Communion over its abandonment of the traditional morality of Christendom for the
last two thousand years.

The Anglican Church is now completely divided – split here in the United States into at least three distinct groups. Large groups of the Anglican Church in Africa will have no contact whatsoever with the Episcopal Church in America.

First with its unilateral decision to ordain women and then with the consecration of an openly homosexual man as a bishop, the U.S. Episcopal Church signaled that the “via media” was over, and the Anglican Church had decided to join the mainstream of other Protestant churches who were rejecting the consistent witness of Scripture and tradition over ordination and sexual morality for the “zeitgeist” of contemporary culture, whatever it may be.

Read it all (page 16)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Notable and Quotable (II)

“You can’t stop a train that’s being fueled by cheap money,” as the Federal Reserve keeps its target interest rate near zero, said Mike Farr, president of the portfolio-management firm Farr, Miller & Washington. “We still have a day of reckoning ahead, but that day is being delayed for now.”

From this morning’s Wall Street Journal

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Stock Market, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

The Right Rev Eric Kemp: Bishop of Chichester RIP

Eric Kemp was not only the longest serving diocesan bishop of recent times but also the last “old-style” Anglican bishop who, once enthroned in his cathedral and ensconced in his palace, could retain his see for life. For centuries bishops were allowed, indeed expected, to hold their sees far into old age and die in office. Since 1975 the Church of England has required bishops to retire at 70, but the legislation did not apply to those already in post.

With the retirement of David Sheppard from Liverpool in 1997, Kemp alone remained. Hence it was something of an irony that Kemp, one of the Church’s leading canon lawyers and someone who played a large part in the revision of Anglican canon law, became the last vestige of the older order. He was Bishop of Chichester for 27 years from 1974 until 2001, 16 of them beyond the new retirement age, during which his contribution to the diocese, the Church of England and the wider Church was a particularly distinguished one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry

Members flee Church of Sweden in droves

The Church of Sweden (Svenska Kyrkan) is bleeding members at an increasingly rapid pace, at the same time as membership rolls in Islamic, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Christian assemblies are on the rise.

Between November 2008 and October 2009, nearly 72,000 people, or roughly 1 percent of the church’s 6.8 million members, asked to leave, according to church statistics reviewed by the TT news agency.

The number of people abandoning Sweden’s largest church is roughly 20,000 more than the previous year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sweden

China Sentences Five Church Leaders

Five members of an unregistered Chinese Protestant congregation have been sentenced to two years in a labor camp following a police raid on their church, a monitoring group said Wednesday.

The report comes less than a week after five leaders of the same church in the northern province of Shanxi were sentenced to prison terms of up to seven years on charges including illegal assembly, the toughest punishments against unofficial church leaders in more than three years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

WSJ Editorial: ObamaCare at Any Cost

We have now reached the stage of the health-care debate when all that matters is getting a bill passed, so all news is good news, more subsidies mean lower deficits, and more expensive insurance is really cheaper insurance. The nonpolitical mind reels.

Consider how Washington received the Congressional Budget Office’s study Monday of how Harry Reid’s Senate bill will affect insurance costs, which by any rational measure ought to have been a disaster for the bill. CBO found that premiums in the individual market will rise by 10% to 13% more than if Congress did nothing. Family policies under the status quo are projected to cost $13,100 on average, but under ObamaCare will jump to $15,200.

Fabulous news!

“No Big Cost Rise in U.S. Premiums Is Seen in Study,” said the New York Times, while the Washington Post declared, “Senate Health Bill Gets a Boost.” The White House crowed that the CBO report was “more good news about what reform will mean for families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing premiums under the broken status quo.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

A graphic display of county by county employment changes since 2007

Push play–powerful and painful.

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

Nigeria’s past heroes may have died in vain ”” Akinola

Chancellor, Bishop Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, Most Rev. Peter Akinola, has said the situation in the country indicates that the vision, sacrifice and labour of “our past heroes are now virtually in vain.”

He berated the nation’s leaders for sending their children to foreign schools with tax payers money after grounding the educational system.

Akinola argued that between 1990 and 2002, the federal budgetary allocation to the education sector only existed on paper, judging by the disparity between published figures and disbursments.

Akinola, who is also the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), spoke at the university’s maiden convocation on Monday. He spoke shortly after his investiture as the chancellor of the university by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olajire Olaniran.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Education

New Survey–England's cathedrals: 'heritage success story of our era'

England’s cathedrals are the country’s largest, most historic and most complex buildings yet they are generally in good repair and continuing to add to their glories by commissioning new works from fonts to fire doors and from choir schools to cafés, according to a new survey from English Heritage.

The English Heritage Cathedrals Fabric Condition Survey 2009 published today shows that cathedrals have spent more than £250 million on repairs since 1991 and most critical work has now been been done.

Over the next 10 years cathedrals need to spend some £100 million on mainly routine repairs, but relatively few of these are urgent, and more than £75 million of new developments are planned.

Only six cathedrals still need to carry out major repair programmes in the next 10 years: Canterbury – £16m, York – £8m, Lincoln – £13m or more, Salisbury – £15m, Chichester – £10m, Winchester – £4m. This leaves the other 55 cathedrals needing to spend an average of less than £1m each over the next 10 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Adrian Pabst: Moving towards a united Christianity

In the past two months, relations between the three main Christian churches have moved in more promising directions than perhaps during the past 50 years of uninspiring liberal dialogue. By opening a new chapter of theological engagement and concrete co-operation with Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, Pope Benedict XVI is changing the terms of debate about church reunification. In time, we might witness the end of the Great Schism between east and west and a union of the main episcopally-based churches.

First there was the Rome visit in September by the Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Moscow’s man for ecumenical relations. In high-level meetings, both sides argued that their shared resistance to secularism and moral relativism calls forth a further rapprochement of Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Declaring that “More than ever, we Christians must stand together”, Hilarion insisted that each side can appeal to shared traditions and work towards greater closeness in a spirit of “mutual respect and love”.

That this was more than diplomatic protocol was confirmed by the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow, Monsignor Paolo Pezzi. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he said that union between Catholics and Orthodox “is possible, indeed it has never been so close”. The formal end of the Great Schism of 1054, which has divided the two churches for a millennium, and the move towards full spiritual communion “could happen soon”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Notable and Quotable (I)

The world’s religious situation has not greatly changed. True, the old gods of Greece and Rome have long since been discredited and discarded. But new gods have arisen in their place, and other ancient faiths have experienced a resurgence. As a result of modern communication media and ease of travel, many countries are increasingly pluralistic. What people want is an easy-going syncretism, a truce in inter-religious competition, a mishmash of the best from all religions. But we Christians cannot surrender either the finality or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. There is simply nobody else like him; his incarnation, atonement and resurrection have no parallels. In consequence, he is the one and only mediator between God and the human race. This exclusive affirmation is strongly, even bitterly, resented. It is regarded by many as intolerably intolerant. Yet the claims of truth compel us to maintain it, however much offence it may cause.

–John R.W. Stott, The Contemporary Christian (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 64.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Inter-Faith Relations, Theology

John Gehring: Catholic bishops as culture warriors

Roman Catholic bishops have made big news recently by wielding significant influence over health-care debates in Congress. Many pundits and politicians are outraged at the bishops for ensuring passage of the controversial Stupak amendment, which critics argue rolls back access to a legal medical procedure as part of health-care reform. Some lawmakers have questioned the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ tax exempt status. “Do Catholic Bishops Run the United States Government?” a recent Huffington Post headline harrumphed. One editorial cartoon depicted the U.S. Capitol dome replaced by the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. As a Catholic and progressive who values my faith tradition’s commitment to the common good on such diverse issues as poverty reduction, immigration reform, nuclear disarmament and health care, I’ve been grappling to articulate a thoughtful response to the wave of headlines. Sound-bites don’t cut it.

For many decades, Catholic bishops have been leading advocates for universal health care as a fundamental human right. Catholic hospitals serve the poor and most vulnerable on the front lines of this crisis every day. One out of every six patients receives medical care from a Catholic hospital. The Catholic Church, which operates some 600 hospitals and 1,000 long-term care facilities and clinics, is the largest non-governmental provider of health care in the nation. The bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services staff have often been lonely voices advocating for both legal and undocumented immigrants to have quality health care, a politically charged issue even some liberal elected officials refuse to touch.

Catholic leaders are not newcomers to health care and earned a seat at the table….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Washington Post–Archbishop takes a reluctant turn in the spotlight

When the D.C. Council votes Tuesday on a historic measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the District, one of the most visible faces of opposition will be an unlikely one: Catholic Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, a mild-mannered man known for compromise, pragmatism and working behind the scenes.

For most of his three years in the nation’s capital, Wuerl, 69, has avoided the limelight — a prelate who prays in front of abortion clinics without calling in the cameras. His profile has been so low that some D.C. Council members — who are expected to overwhelmingly approve a bill giving gay couples the right to marry — said they have never met the highest-ranking Catholic official in the Washington region.

Wuerl’s emergence as a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage came late, after a summer of activism led by Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of a Pentecostal Beltsville church, and a small group of conservative clergy. But in the final days before the vote, Wuerl became the most influential opponent of the bill by using the church’s social service arm, Catholic Charities, as a negotiating tool. The Church said it would not be able to continue taking $18 million to $20 million in city funding for homeless shelters, medical clinics and other charitable endeavors if the wording of the law forced the Church to violate its teachings on marriage.

Read it all.

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

ENS–Committee sees vitality in Episcopal Church amidst challenges

The 2008 parochial reports show overall church membership at 2,225,682 people, with a total average Sunday attendance (ASA) at 747,376. Those totals compare with 2007 membership of 2,285,143 and total average Sunday attendance 768,476. The dioceses in the United States saw a 2.8 percent drop in membership and a 3.1 percent decrease in ASA. Overall church membership — including 10 non-U.S. dioceses — was down 2.6 percent and attendance dropped 2.7 percent for the entire church.

The median Episcopal Church congregation in 2008 had 164 active members (down four members from 2007) and 69 people in Sunday worship, the same as in the previous year. Membership declines in the Episcopal Church mirror a pattern seen in other Christian denominations. Recent nationwide data shows the median non-Roman Catholic congregation has 75 regular participants at worship on Sundays.

Four domestic Episcopal Church dioceses grew during 2008 in both overall membership and average Sunday attendance: Alabama, Navajoland Area Mission, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Data