Daily Archives: July 15, 2010

A Statement from the Chairman of Forward in Faith

From here:

Like you, I was very disappointed at the outcome of last weekend’s debate at General Synod in York and appalled at the intransigence of some feminist clergy and their supporters. What kind of a church is it that is willing to ignore the leadership of its Archbishops and to renege on a solemn promise given to Parliament about an honoured and permanent place for us?

We now face a most serious situation, made all the worse by the refusal of the Synod to pass the Archbishops’ amendment. Resolutions A & B – which provide the basis in law on which the ordination of women can be opposed – are to be removed. This means that any opposition which might be tolerated will be based on the recognition of supposed prejudice rather than the respect of theological principle. Further, the abolition of the PEVs is proposed, which will leave our constituency in an intolerable position. All we would be allowed under the draft Measure as it now stands is access to a male bishop, whose own beliefs need not coincide with ours. That is sexism writ large.

Despite the dreadful result in York, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Catholic Group in General Synod, along with all those who supported them in the debate. In the coming weeks, a new Synod is to be elected and it is vital we all do all we can to ensure the return of as many orthodox candidates as possible, in order that a Catholic presence on the Synod can be there to continue to represent the interests of Catholic Anglicans throughout this divisive and unnecessary process.

That these are very difficult times for all of us goes without saying; we need, above all, to take time to pray, to consult together and to support one another, as we try to discern our respective ways forward ”“ not just in faith, but also of course in hope and in love.

–(The Rt. Rev.) John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham

Posted in Uncategorized

Churchgoing up, says poll, but experts have caveats

A Gallup Poll has found that Americans’ self-reported church attendance has increased slightly since 2008. But sociologists of religion are quick to caution churches about the reliability of such figures.

The Gallup data, released in late June, were primarily based on the question: “How often do you attend church, synagogue, or mosque?” Exactly 43.1 percent of Americans in 2010 said they attended a house of worship “at least once a week” or “almost every week.” That’s up from 42.8 percent in 2009 and 42.1 percent in 2008.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Court hears arguments on summary judgment filings in Fort Worth Case

In a hearing…[yesterday] Judge Ralph Walton granted three motions favoring St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation of the Diocese. At issue in the case is payment of a bequest made to St. Andrew’s in 2002 by a longtime parishioner. As he had done in past hearings on earlier motions, Judge Walton dismissed attempts by representatives of the national leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) to bring issues from a case pending in Tarrant County into the trust case before the Hood County court.

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

Mark Chaves: Evangelical churches do a better job of retaining youth than others

Evangelicals care more than mainline Protestants about keeping their young people in the faith. This is the striking conclusion James Wellman reaches in his fascinating book, “Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest” (Oxford). Based on observations, interviews, and focus group discussions with people from 24 evangelical and 10 mainline churches, all vital churches with stable or growing memberships, this lively book compares these two religious cultures in many ways. How people think about youth and youth ministry emerges as a key difference: “For evangelicals, if children and youth are not enjoying church, it is the church’s fault and evangelical parents either find a new church or try to improve their youth ministry. For liberals, the tendency is the reverse; if youth do not find church interesting it is their problem. Evangelicals are simply more interested and invested in reproducing the faith in their children and youth and their churches reflect this priority.”

Even though evangelical and mainline churches both lose many young people to the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated, and even though both groups lose more young people than they did before, evangelical churches still lose fewer young people than liberal churches lose. Evangelical families emphasize religion more than mainline families do, and evangelical churches involve young people in a denser social web of youth groups, church camps, and church-based socializing, all of which increase the chances that a young person will remain in the fold as an adult. This is one reason that evangelical denominations have not suffered the same membership declines in recent decades that more liberal, mainline denominations have suffered.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Youth Ministry

AP: Congregations struggle in Aging, Decaying church Buildings

About halfway through Sunday service at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, as worshipers passed around the collection plate, a chorus of screams pierced the air.

Chunks of the ceiling in the 52-year-old church near Hickory came crashing down on the crowd of 200 or so, striking about 14, who were later treated and released from nearby hospitals. A jagged piece of the ceiling, roughly 10 feet by 10 feet, dangled from exposed wires over the back pews as deacons struggled to guide panicking worshipers from the building.

“My jaw just dropped,” the Rev. Antonio Logan said. “I thought, ‘This can’t be real.'”

Caring for old church facilities is an increasingly acute problem, particularly for mainline Protestant denominations. As membership declines and budgets shrink, the beautiful edifices of American Christianity can feel like weights dragging down churches that are forced to spend money on maintenance and repairs instead of ministry, charity and other Gospel-derived imperatives.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

NY Times Magazine: The New Abortion Providers

There’s another side of the story, however ”” a deliberate and concerted counteroffensive that has gone largely unremarked. Over the last decade, abortion-rights advocates have quietly worked to reverse the marginalization encouraged by activists like Randall Terry. Abortion-rights proponents are fighting back on precisely the same turf that Terry demarcated: the place of abortion within mainstream medicine. This abortion-rights campaign, led by physicians themselves, is trying to recast doctors, changing them from a weak link of abortion to a strong one. Its leaders have built residency programs and fellowships at university hospitals, with the hope that, eventually, more and more doctors will use their training to bring abortion into their practices. The bold idea at the heart of this effort is to integrate abortion so that it’s a seamless part of health care for women ”” embraced rather than shunned.

This is the future. Or rather, one possible future. There’s a long way to go from here to there. Between 2000 and 2005, the last year that statistics are available, the number of abortion facilities in the U.S. dropped 2 percent ”” a smaller dip than those in the preceding five-year periods, but a decline nonetheless. “The ’90s were about getting abortion back into residency training and medical schools,” says Jody Steinauer, an OB-GYN professor at the University of California at San Francisco, the hub of the abortion-rights countermovement in medicine. “Now it’s about getting abortion into our practices.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

AP: Vatican issues new sex abuse norms after crisis

The Vatican issued a new set of norms Thursday to respond to the worldwide clerical abuse scandal, cracking down on priests who rape and molest minors and the mentally disabled.

The norms extend from 10 to 20 years the statute of limitations on priestly abuse and also codify for the first time that possessing or distributing child pornography is a canonical crime.

But the document made no mention of the need for bishops to report abuse to police and doesn’t include any “one-strike and you’re out” policy as demanded by some victims’ groups.

The document also listed the attempted ordination of a woman as a “grave crime” to be handled by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, just as sex abuse is. Critics have complained that including both in the same document implied equating them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

BBC: Argentine Senate backs bill legalising same sex marriage

Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage after the Senate voted in favour.

The country’s Chamber of Deputies had already approved the legislation.

The vote in the Senate, which backed the bill by just six votes, came after 14 hours of at times heated debate.

The law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, had met with fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and other religious groups.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Argentina, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, South America

Diana Olick: Home Sellers Slashing Prices, While Banks Mow the Lawn

We knew the price stabilization was largely due to increased buying activity on the low end from the home buyer tax credit. The issue now, front and center, is foreclosures. We’ve already seen a few reports, and I expect we’ll see more, that show new foreclosures “stabilizing,” while bank repossessions are increasing.

First of all, the stabilization is at such a high rate that it’s clearly an unsustainable stabilization for the economic recovery. New foreclosure notices need to drop, not just bump around at their near-record highs. And frankly the bank repossession number is a much bigger deal, because that is going to translate into immediate inventory on the market.

Of course they do, but in Los Angeles at least, they’re getting a big incentive to dump it fast. L.A. last week passed a new city ordinance that fines banks, servicers, whoever owns the foreclosed property, up to $100,000 for letting the property fall into disrepair. We’ve heard and seen plenty of stories about run-down, stripped homes littering the landscape, with their overgrown lawns and broken front fences standing as glaring examples of what is not recovering in the housing market.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

–Romans 12:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Orombi advises against anger, revenge

Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi has called upon Ugandans to desist from anger and revenge. In his message in the wake of the twin bomb blasts on Sunday, Orombi said revenge was not a solution and neither was a sectarian approach.

Over 70 people were killed and scores were injured.

“Let us instead focus our energies on being a part of the fight against terrorism in our country. Each one of you can use your eyes as a great weapon to fight this evil. Let us not breed unnecessary suspicion against one another, but seek for the common goal of a peaceful and just society,” he said.

A peaceful society, Orombi explained, is the right of everyone regardless of age, race, gender or religious inclination. “It may cost this nation a lot to try and be a good neighbour to the Somalis who are struggling to have a governable nation,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Violence

John Martin: Life After the Church of England General Synod

Over the next few months the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have an opportunity to provide leadership, and this too will be monitored well beyond the borders of England….

…as the synod debate made manifest, there is a huge theological gap between opponents and the majority in favor. Ecclesiology was not to the fore during the debate in York. As Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham has urged, there needs to be much more exploration of mono-episcopate, headship, and sacramental assurance.

The archbishops are in a difficult place. It is their responsibility to be a focus of unity. Anglicanism has always depended on an element of compromise in the interest of the health of the wider communion. Compromise is weakened when there is even a hint that this is at the expense of principles and good theology.

Complexities abound. On the face of it, the ecclesiology of those on different sides in the debate seems to be irreconcilable. Moreover, there is the question of eventual reunion with the Church of Rome ”” and again the circles appear impossible to square.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Theology, Women

Atheist Group Sues Central Florida City For Prayers

Making good on an earlier threat, a Central Florida atheist organization has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Lakeland over its practice of opening City Commission meetings with prayer.

Atheists of Florida filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Tampa on Monday. It names the city and Mayor Gow Fields “in his official capacity as Chairman of the Lakeland City Commission” as defendants and seeks to “protect individual civil and Constitutional rights, including the right to be free from government intrusion into, entanglement with and endorsement of religious matters.”

Atheists of Florida and EllenBeth Wachs, director of its Lakeland chapter, are listed as the plaintiffs in the suit.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Political Clash Grows over Funding for Ground Zero Mosque

A major political clash is brewing in New York over a planned mosque near Ground Zero, with Republicans demanding an investigation into the mosque’s funding and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling such a probe “un-American.”

Long Island Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, wants a probe of the $100 million project, as does GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio.

“That just is so out of character for what this nation stands for,” Bloomberg said at a Monday (July 12) press conference.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, House of Representatives, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

General Seminary Reaches Agreement Which will Ease Immediate Financial Concerns

On July 1 The General Theological Seminary (GTS) reached agreement in principle with its chief lending institution, Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company (M&T Bank) on terms for a $5.3 million short term loan that will provide working capital for the upcoming school year, the Rev. Lang Lowrey, GTS Interim President, announced in a recent letter to trustees. While subject to definitive agreements and final approval by both institutions, the plan provides General with a $5.3 million line of credit on which it can draw for operating expenses until the Seminary proceeds as planned with the sale of four residential units in the building known as Chelsea 2,3,4. The loan will be repaid from the proceeds of the sale which could take up to a year. At a special meeting in March, 2010 Trustees were made aware of an impending cash shortfall that could affect Seminary operations as early as the fall of this year. At their meeting in May, 2010 the Board approved the sale of up to four apartments in Chelsea 2,3,4. Since the building was renovated six years ago, three of the four apartments to be sold have been leased to outside tenants.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, The Banking System/Sector, Theology