Daily Archives: January 3, 2010

Saddleback takes in $2.4M after donations plea

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren’s plea for donations to fill a $900,000 deficit at his Southern California megachurch brought in $2.4 million, Warren announced to cheers during a sermon at the church on Saturday.

Warren said the amount raised after the appeal was posted online Wednesday included only money parishioners brought in person to Saddleback Church by New Year’s Eve. More was arriving by hand and by mail, he said.

“This is pretty amazing,” said Warren, who made the announcement by bringing out 24 volunteers each holding a sign for $100,000. “I don’t think any church has gotten a cash offering like that off a letter.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Charles Morris in the FT: Archaic rules in civil marriages

Marriage clearly has to be regulated, but is it really the business of a liberal democratic state in the 21st century to impose restrictions on where and when people marry and what they want sung, said or played at their civil wedding? Politicians of all parties and all the traditional religions encourage marriage, yet it is enclosed in an unwelcoming, oppressive legal framework. A 2003 white paper designed to ease restrictions on times and locations was never given the parliamentary time needed to see it into law.

Meanwhile, couples have hit upon a way, albeit cumbersome, around the ban on religious content in civil ceremonies. It involves going through the minimum legal requirements at a register office and then devising and holding one’s own ceremony in a location that is neither a religious building nor one licensed for weddings. I know of one couple who used a village hall and another who chose a remote woodland clearing in West Sussex.

People may well be infuriated by the restrictions before the wedding, but their anger is probably assuaged by a honeymoon and then quickly forgotten. Unless more couples ”“ like the pair denied their Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem ”“ complain, the rules will remain, and most people marrying in England and Wales will continue to discover an overbearing and unwelcome guest at their wedding feast.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

In Canada General Synod pension fund changes to cost more, pay less

The Council of General Synod (CoGS) has approved changes that will increase the employer contribution paid by dioceses and reduce the amount of pension earned by plan members. The employer contribution will be increased to 11.2% of pensionable earnings in 2010 and up to 12.4% in 2011.

The amount of pension earned for members will be reduced from 2% to 1.8%.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

U.S.-China relations to face strains, experts say

The United States and China are headed for a rough patch in the early months of the new year as the White House appears set to sell a package of weapons to Taiwan and as President Obama plans to meet the Dalai Lama, U.S. officials and analysts said.

The Obama administration is expected to approve the sale of several billion dollars in Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan early this year, possibly accompanied by a plan gauging design and manufacturing capacity for diesel-powered submarines for the island, which China claims as its territory. The president is also preparing to meet the spiritual leader of Tibet, who is considered a separatist by Beijing. Obama made headlines last year when the White House, in an effort to generate goodwill from China, declined to meet the Dalai Lama, marking the first time in more than a decade that a U.S. president did not meet the religious leader during his occasional visits to Washington.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Foreign Relations

AP: Iran warns the West it will make its own nuclear fuel

Iran set a one-month deadline Saturday for the West to accept its counterproposal to a U.N.-drafted nuclear plan and warned that otherwise it will produce reactor fuel at a higher level of enrichment on its own.

The warning was a show of defiance and a hardening of Iran’s stance over its nuclear program, which the West fears masks an effort to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran insists its program is only for peaceful purposes, such as electricity production, and says it has no intention of making a bomb.

“We have given them an ultimatum. There is one month left and that is by the end of January,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, speaking on state television.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Wetumpka Episcopal church revives Epiphany service for new year

A new year, a new beginning — particularly for the congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wetumpka.

As with many Episcopal churches, Trinity will welcome 2010 with an Epiphany service Wednesday. Not only does it mark the culmination of the Christmas celebration, but it is the first time in years that the small but growing church has had a service.

Since dedicating its lovely new nave and sanctuary, the church has seen an increase in attendance and the future is promising, said Trinity’s rector, the Rev. Ben Al­ford.

“This is a new beginning, and we are really excited about it,” Al­ford said. “And we decided that this was the year to start back (with the Epiphany service),” said Alford of the church that has quite a rich history since it was estab­lished in the fall of 1947 by handful of Episcopalians.

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

NPR's Bob Mondello: The Year's Top 10 Movies (And their Friends)

See how many you can guess and how many you have seen.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Globalization, History, Movies & Television

Episcopal Church's Condo partnership frays ties with some in Cambridge, Mass., community

When the roof leaks at St. James’s Episcopal Church, water seeps into the sacristy and soaks the organ case and baptistry.

“It’s baptism by rainfall here,’’ said the Rev. Holly Lyman Antolini, as she pointed out holes in walls, stained-glass windows that have buckled, and a parish hall that will have to be torn down and replaced.

Antolini would like to have repairs done. But St. James’s, a fixture in Porter Square for more than a century, is strapped for cash.

So imagine her delight when Oaktree Development, a Cambridge company that creates urban multifamily housing, came tapping at the church’s door a year ago, offering a financial lifeline.

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

Christian Science Monitor: Ten best movies of the decade

Guess before you look and see how many you have actually viewed.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Movies & Television

NY Times: Pictures Documenting the Decade, 2000-2009

This is interesting and well worth the time. See if you can spot the picture of the Episcopal priest.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History

NPR: Global Economic Crisis Abated, But Effects Linger

One year can make a big difference. In January 2009, global unemployment was soaring, the international financial system was in near-meltdown, world trade was in free fall, and economists were warning that a turnaround was not in sight. Governments faced the prospect of widespread social instability and popular unrest, and historians were recalling that the Great Depression set the stage for World War II. In February, the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, told the U.S. Congress that the global economic crisis had replaced terrorism as “the primary near-term security concern of the United States.”

Since then, international stock markets have rebounded, unemployment rates have leveled off, world trade has picked up and the global economy is growing again. On Christmas Day, an apparent al-Qaida attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet in flight reminded Americans that terrorist attacks were still a danger. Intelligence officials are no longer describing global economic problems as the paramount U.S. security concern.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Anglican Journal: Anglicans working to end homelessness

In every major city in Canada, you can see people, huddled over grates, covered with sleeping bags, taking shelter in entrance ways to stay warm. The plight of the homeless is most troubling as winter comes to Canada, but it is a dangerous, precarious situation at any time. Sometimes those who lack affordable housing struggle in less visible ways, one rent cheque away from disaster.

Anglicans across the country are looking for ways to work for change. In November, Virginia Platt, a parishioner at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, was part of a group picketing a decommissioned military base in the city. The Right to Housing Coalition, of which the diocese of Rupert’s Land is a member, was protesting the fact that more than 100 houses on the base have remained empty for the past five years, costing $1.5 million per year to heat and maintain. The coalition is calling on the federal government to permit the houses to be used as transitional housing for families who lack affordable housing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Poverty

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department: One Palm Sunday…

It was Palm Sunday and, because of strep throat, four-year-old Stephen had to stay home from church with a babysitter. When the rest of the family returned home carrying palm branches, Stephen asked what they were for.

“People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by,” his mother explained.

“Wouldn’t you know it,” Stephen fumed. “The one Sunday I didn’t go, He showed up!”

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

NPR: Authors Find Fertile Mix Of Science And Religion

While Armstrong’s work looks at the lessons of the past, Atwood extrapolates from the past to create visions of the future. One of Atwood’s best known novels is The Handmaid’s Tale, which imagines a future in which America has become a Christian fundamentalist theocracy.

Atwood says science fiction became necessary when the contradictions between objective reality and religious orthodoxy became too difficult to ignore.

“Those things that we used to just believe in all the time went to Planet X where they are alive and well,” Atwood says by way of explaining the alternate realities that populate the genre. “Angels with flaming swords, the burning bush that speaks, you know, all of those really quite science fiction things in the Bible.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Defrocked Episcopal priest sues his own lawyer

The Rev. David Moyer, the outspoken former Episcopal priest who unsuccessfully sued his bishop in 2008 for sacking him, has filed a malpractice lawsuit against the lawyer who represented him – often free – for many years in his battles with the diocese.

The suit, filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, alleges that prominent Philadelphia litigator John Lewis and the firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads failed to adequately represent Moyer in the unusual trial against Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. and then failed to file an appeal when the jury rejected their claim.

Moyer and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont – where he serves as rector despite his ouster by the diocese in 2002 – are seeking millions of dollars in compensation for the legal costs of the trial and what they say is damage to Moyer’s and the parish’s reputations.

The lawsuit has sharply divided the Main Line parish, however, and angered some of Moyer’s conservative supporters around the diocese who supported his public challenges to liberal trends in the Episcopal Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Parishes