Daily Archives: October 1, 2014

(RNS) Muslim inmate takes his case for a beard to the Supreme Court

It’s not every day that a coalition of legal minds is rooting for a violent inmate convicted of stabbing his girlfriend in the neck.

When Gregory Holt’s case arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (Oct. 7), lawyers won’t be arguing about what landed him a life sentence in an Arkansas state prison, but rather what he wanted to do once he got there: grow a beard in observance of his Muslim religious beliefs.

The state of Arkansas says he can’t. Holt ”” a convert to Islam who now calls himself Abdul Maalik Muhammad ”” says he would keep his beard no longer than half an inch. But prison officials, backed by the state’s attorney general, argue that even such a short beard poses security risks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

Goodluck Jonathan pledges greater service as Anglicans honour President

“By his Christian conviction, character, conduct, confession and competence, he has exhibited commendable Christian stewardship and now today, the Primate, on behalf of All Anglican faithful nationwide and in conformity with cherished biblical counsel and Christian heritage, has rolled that our beloved Servant leader be conferred with the PRIMATIAL Award of Excellence in Christian Stewardship to the glory of God and in praise and thanksgiving to God for His gift to us in the Church of Nigeria.”

With the above statement, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) led by the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Anglican, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh yesterday presented its highest award to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The award is the highest be conferred on an individual for service to humanity and to God.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(HBR) Where The fastest growth in U.S. employment will occur going forward

When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks into its crystal ball, it sees an aging population in need of care and a construction industry still rebounding from the Great Recession. In the decade from 2012 to 2022, the fastest growth in U.S. employment will take place in the health care, health care support, construction, and personal care fields. These four categories are expected to account for more than a third””about 6.6 million””of all new jobs.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(BBC) ISIS 'adapting to air strikes

Nearly two months on since the US began air strikes against Islamic State (IS) positions in northern Iraq, there are signs that the militants are adapting to the new reality.

Witnesses and tribal sources in IS-controlled areas have told Reuters news agency of a drop in the number of militant checkpoints and fighters using mobile phones less, apparently to avoid being targeted by air raids.

Reuters also reported that militants have been seen to ditch conspicuous convoys of armoured vehicles in favour of motorcycles.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Archbp Justin Welby–Survivors of abuse are never the ones to blame

The time has come when, as a society, we say that those who are abused are never at fault. In the Church of England, the issue is known as ”˜the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults’. It is not simply a question of children. Adults who have been the survivors of previous abuse when they were younger, or who are in a vulnerable position because of pastoral need, are no more to blame than anyone else. They are the objects of a terrible wrong. And I pledge that any allegation brought to the Church will be taken seriously and rigorously investigated.

I long for the day when not only in the institutions of the Church, but also among every Christian, we show that we understand that those who have things done to them are never the ones to be blamed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(NYT Q and A) What You Need to Know About the Ebola Outbreak

How contagious is the virus?
Officials have emphasized that people are only infectious if they have symptoms of Ebola. There is no risk of transmission from people who have been exposed to the virus but are not yet showing symptoms. You are not likely to catch Ebola just by being in proximity to someone who has the virus. It is not spread through the air like the flu or respiratory viruses such as SARS.

Instead, Ebola spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids. If an infected person’s blood or vomit gets in another person’s eyes, nose or mouth, the infection may be transmitted. In the current outbreak, most new cases are occurring among people who have been taking care of sick relatives or who have prepared an infected body for burial.

Health care workers are at high risk, especially if they have not been properly equipped with protective gear or correctly trained to use and decontaminate it.

The virus can survive on surfaces, so any object contaminated with bodily fluids, like a latex glove or a hypodermic needle, may spread the disease.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(WWM) Algerian Christians: ”˜”˜We must not yield to fear’’

The assassination of a French tourist by militants in Algeria has raised the fear of new terrorist attacks in the country. Hervé Gourdel, 55, was beheaded on September 24 by a radical Islamist group, ”˜Soldiers of the Caliphate’ linked to Islamic State in Iraq, in the north-eastern region of Kabylie.

Gourdel, who was an experienced hiker, was kidnapped on September 21, along with 5 Algerians, but his companions were released 14 hours later.

His murder has sparked a wave of indignation and anger, notably via social media. It reminds Algeria and the world of the civil war of the 1990s, also known as ”˜”˜The Black Decade’’ when more than 150,000 people died violently, while thousands of others went missing. This followed the annulment of an election won by an Islamist group, after which the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) sought to gain power, opposed by the Algerian military.

Now, members of the Christian community in Bejaia, one of the main cities in Kabylie, are particularly concerned over the threats posed by militants. “If we consider the fate reserved by IS fighters for Iraqi Christians, there is genuine reason to express concerns over the church in Algeria. That is why we must be vigilant,’’ said Omar, 31, member of a Protestant church in Bejaia.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Algeria, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(HP) The Madness of the Rev. Kurt Dunkle and the Trustees of General Theological Seminary

Here’s why you should care about this:

It is a spiteful act. Take a moment to read the original announcement. The protesting faculty took pains to be as diplomatic as possible, leaving readers uncertain as to what their specific complaints were. The word “heavy-handed” does not even begin to describe the administration’s response to their tact.

It is deceitful. The dean and president (who is also a reverend) reportedly announced to the student body that the protesting faculty had resigned. They did not.

It is unreasonable. The dean and president has basically fired people for wanting to talk to his superiors. In what universe is this an appropriate course of action?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Conflicts, Theology

(RNS) Tensions at Episcopal Church’s oldest seminary reflect larger crisis

The Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., has also seen a battle erupt between its dean and faculty. Of the Episcopal Church’s 10 seminaries, several are facing financial challenges. Bexley Hall Seminary in Ohio affiliated with Seabury-Western Seminary in Illinois to form Bexley Seabury in 2013.

“There appears to be a profound lack of theological reflection in the process of change that the Dean has undertaken, which along with an impatience with relationship-building, that is strangely at odds with the mission of a seminary to form and prepare priests for mission in parish communities,” Andrew Gerns wrote in a post for Episcopal Cafe.

In 2013-2014, GTS enrolled 70 students and had $10.6 million in expenditures and $27 million in investments, according to ATS. GTS had faced about $40 million of debt that it was attempting to pay down through property sales and redevelopment.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(HP) What Is Happening At General Theological Seminary?

Faculty members at the country’s oldest Episcopal seminary are facing off against the school’s President, blasting him for his allegedly bullying, heavy-handed leadership style.

Eight professors at New York’s General Theological Seminary announced Friday that they are not going to teach, attend meetings, or participate in common worship until they can meet with the school’s Board of Trustees, according Anglican Ink.

In a letter distributed to students, the professors accuse the seminary’s Dean and President, The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, of failing to collaborate or take their grievances seriously, creating a climate “fraught with conflict, fear, and anxiety.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Remigius

O God, who by the teaching of thy faithful servant and bishop Remigius didst turn the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of thee, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith; Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, take thou full possession of my heart, raise there thy throne, and command there as thou dost in heaven. Being created by thee, let me live to thee. Being created for thee, let me ever act for thy glory. Being redeemed by thee, let me render to thee what is thine, and let my spirit ever cleave to thee alone; for thy name’s sake.

–John Wesley

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he left everything, and rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ”˜The old is good.’”

–Luke 5:27-39

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Statement from the General Seminary Board of Trustees

Yesterday, after much prayer and deliberation and after consulting our legal counsel, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary voted with great regret to accept the resignations of eight members of the Seminary faculty. The Board came to this decision with heavy hearts, but following months of internal divisions around the future direction of General Seminary, some faculty member’s demands for action not possible under the governing structure of the Seminary, and the eight faculty members’ refusal to teach, attend meetings, or even worship, it has become clear that this is the best path forward in educating our students and shaping them into leaders of the church. However, even after accepting the resignations, the Seminary is willing to meet with any former faculty member about the possibility of reconsidering the resignation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bishop Bill Atwood: Kenyan House of Bishops Embrace GAFCON, Reject Indaba

Last week, the church gathered for the Provincial Synod including the Finance Meeting, the Standing Committee, and the House of Bishops. There were a host of issues, both national and international. Though I’ll describe some of the findings, they are not the only things of importance. What was most remarkable was the atmosphere of the conversation among the Bishops. Kenya, like every other nation, has many divisive problems.
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“GAFCON is the future and it’s life. The ACC is dominated by Western liberals and doesn’t have any life to offer,” offered one of the senior bishops. There were many voices of agreement and no dissent.

When the “continuing Indaba” process came up, there was an energetic and vociferous rejection of it as a fundamentally flawed and corrupt process. There was agreement to stop participating in it, though some of the younger guys wanted to try “taking over” and rejecting the liberal agenda. That happened just before a break where there was lots of conversation with them about the lies and corruption at ACC and Primates meetings.

On the positive side, the enthusiasm for GAFCON was reflected with a resolution formally partnering with GAFCON/GFCA that established a budget line-item toward financial support of GAFCON. That was approved both by the House of Bishops and then later by the Provincial Synod without dissent!

When Archbishop Eliud introduced the topic of Women as Bishops, many bishops were expecting a contentious debate. What actually happened though was a reflection of years of relationship building that Archbishop Eliud has emphasized. There have been ministry times and wonderful meetings with SOMA teams. Last year, Archbishop Foley Beach was on a SOMA team with Bishop John Guernsey where prayer and relational healing took place that caused the Bishops to emerge more unified than ever.

As the House of Bishops met to consider the topic, the conversation was spirited but all the conversation remained collegial and respectful. As the conversation proceeded, many points were brought out including the fact that this was not just something impacting Kenya, but that relationships with other Provinces would be impacted as well. Different bishops warned of taking action that would be in opposition to Nigeria’s position. Others said that a decision to include women as bishops at this time would also be damaging to the Anglican Church in North America because it is such a high priority for a significant number of leaders. I didn’t have to bring that up, others thought of it, too.

It is interesting that not one province that has women bishops has remained orthodox. While it may not be a cause and effect relationship, the situation is so unsettling that it begs inquiry to try and figure out what is going on before proceeding.

As problem solving, prayer, and conversation proceeded, a proposal was suggested to engage in a prayerful theological study and conversation with GAFCON partners to seek a theologically sound consensus. While the discussions proceed, a five year moratorium on women candidates as bishop was proposed.

In the end, that is what passed: a five year moratorium on considering women as candidates for bishop while prayerful, theological study is done in conversation with other GAFCON Provinces (and a few other provinces who are committed to orthodoxy). Also mentioned was the need to address the cultural pressures that are at play. In general, voices outside the church are pushing for removing gender from any role and trying to advance same-sex relationships….

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