Daily Archives: June 4, 2007

Oliver Thomas: God goes green

I used to marvel at how foolish an organism is cancer. It can’t seem to pace itself. Left to its own devices, it will greedily consume its host until the host dies, thereby causing the cancer’s own premature death.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. We’re like cancer. Unable to pace ourselves, we are greedily consuming our host organism (i.e. planet Earth) and getting dangerously close to killing ourselves in the process.

The difference is that cancer has an excuse: No brain.

Consider that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued one of its most sobering reports to date. The hundreds of scientists and scores of nations participating in the project paint an apocalyptic future of flooding, drought, disease and food shortages. In the face of such a crisis, one might expect people of faith to flock to the cause of protecting the environment. After all, the theological issue appears a simple one. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell in it!” proclaims Psalm 24:1. The earth is on loan. God owns it, and we are God’s caretakers or “stewards,” according to the Bible.

Despite all that, and the fact that 90% of us say we believe in God, most Americans appear reluctant to begin making the sacrifices necessary to address global warming. Evangelical Christian leaders in particular seem to be dragging their heels. So, why the hesitation? Why aren’t more Christians trading their SUVs for hybrids, turning down the thermostat and writing letters to Congress?

First, our political loyalties get in the way. Evangelical Christians tend to vote Republican, and party leaders such as the president and vice president have been outspoken in their skepticism about the urgency of the global climate crisis.

Then, there’s money. In the short run at least, it simply costs more to go green. Hybrid cars, fluorescent bulbs and alternative energy sources don’t come cheap. Until substantial government incentives or market forces change that equation, many Americans will opt to save a buck rather than the environment.

There’s also the fact that for many Christians, the Bible appears contradictory on the subject of global warming. Didn’t Jesus say there would be wars and rumors of wars, famine and earthquakes before he could return? Isn’t that exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting? For millions of Christians, the world’s downward spiral into political and ecological chaos may appear a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

Support Strong for Assisted Suicide as Kevorkian Leaves Prison

As Dr. Jack Kevorkian was released Friday from a Michigan prison after serving eight years for second-degree murder in the assisted death of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease, new polls suggest his cause retains strong support.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll released this week showed that 53 percent of Americans believe Kevorkian never should have gone to jail for the assisted suicide campaign he championed in the 1990s; 40 percent supported Kevorkian’s imprisonment.

Just 30 percent of the 1,000 adults questioned agreed that doctors and nurses should do everything possible to save the life of a patient. More than two-thirds said there are circumstances where a patient should be allowed to die with help.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and was conducted from interviews done between May 22 and May 24.

Religion had much to do with people’s answers, according to the AP. Only about one-third of those who attend religious services at least once a week said it should be legal for doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives. In contrast, 70 percent of those who never attend religious services say doctor-assisted suicide should be legal.

A plurality, 48 percent, said the law should not bar doctors from helping terminally ill patients end their own lives by giving them a prescription for lethal drugs; 44 percent said it should be illegal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Criminalizing the Homeless

Ms. ROWLAND: What has been going on is a concerted attempt to keep disfavored, certain disfavored people out of public parks and reserve them for the use of other people with more means and political power, and that’s fundamentally wrong. It’s unconstitutional.

Mr. HUFF: I’ve been through every shelter and everything in this city to help people, and I didn’t get any help from anybody, okay, until I went to church.

SEVERSON: Cody Huff was himself homeless after getting out of prison for drugs and crime. Now he has a successful business coordinating freight shipments for Las Vegas conventions. Now he hands out McDonald’s food certificates.

Mr. HUFF (to homeless people): We love you guys, man. We’re trying the best we can.

I always tell people don’t give homeless people money, because they’re either going to buy drugs, alcohol, or gamble with it, but if you give them a McDonald’s gift certificate for $5, they can go get a really good meal for that.

(to homeless people): Have you guys run into any church groups out here, the people that feed you? Thank God for those people.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Right there, right now. That’s Gail. That’s Gail Sacco right there.

Ms. SACCO (to homeless people): Okay, I got more in the car. Okay, there’s bananas and apples. Take whatever you need.

In the Bible, there’s at least 300 verses that tell — that God tells us to take care of the poor.

SEVERSON: Gail Sacco and Cody Huff were the primary targets of the city’s ordinance prohibiting feeding homeless in parks. This park is right across from city hall.

Ms. SACCO (giving food to homeless): So if we run out of this, I got more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Latest on blog setup: Archives shaping up

An opportunity to give feedback on the T19 Archive pages… And don’t forget. Any questions or problems? Write us: T19elves@yahoo.com

I think we have the T19 Archives working pretty well now. (They now show only T19 entries, whereas before they were mixing up T19 and Stand Firm entries). Try clicking on the monthly archive links at the bottom of the right sidebar and let us know what you think.

Is the current arrangement clear? useful?

The page design is about as boring as can be, but we can worry about that later… 😉 Right now we’re aiming for content and functionality.

I don’t know if it is possible to include more info along with the title of and link to each post:
— post date?
— author? (e.g. Kendall or elves)
— a short excerpt?

If possible, would you want to see some or all of that information?

If it’s helpful to compare with old T19 Archives, here’s link for April 2007 archives from the old blog

If you can’t get CaNNet to come up, here’s the link to that archive in the Google Cache

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Various Articles on Wycliffe Hall Oxford

An article by Giles Fraser received a response from Richard Turnbull here. Joanna McGrath also has a piece there, and a letter from some members of the Wycliffe community is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Bishop Ralph Spence's farewell: Bold letter on same-sex blessings

The Right Rev. Ralph Spence may be poised to step down from his post as spiritual head of the Diocese of Niagara but his influence remains strong here at home and across the Anglican Church of Canada.

Spence, who will play a key role at the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference in England next year, is one of two Canadian bishops behind a contentious pastoral letter from Canada’s Anglican bishops on same-sex blessings.

Released shortly after Canadian bishops met with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at a Niagara Falls retreat house in late April, the letter has drawn howls of protest from both sides in the 20-year-old debate on the legitimacy of blessing same-sex unions.

“We found that a lot of people in the middle really liked what we did and people at either extreme didn’t,” Spence said of the letter he penned with the Right Rev. Patrick Yu, suffragan bishop of Toronto.

“I think that in itself says we’re marching down the right road in trying to get people to speak to each other,” Spence said yesterday.

Read it all and there is more here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishop Steenson: Consciences Are Stretched to the Limit

“It seems wise that we identify some principles to guide us in dealing with the problems that will be created should one or more of our congregations attempt to alter their relationship with the diocese and The Episcopal Church,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Bishop of the Rio Grande, in a letter to the diocese.

“The effect of losing the active participation of even one or two of our larger congregations would be substantial, and we looked realistically at that scenario,” Bishop Steenson wrote. “Your diocesan leadership certainly does not have its head in the sand about the steps that need to be taken should this occur.”

The fact that the annual meeting of the diocese is scheduled only two weeks after the expiration of the Sept. 30 deadline for The Episcopal Church to respond to the primates’ communiqué increased the desire for some direction among a number of diocesan leaders, according to the Rev. Colin Kelly, rector of Trinity on the Hill, Los Alamos, N.M., and president of the standing committee.

“Our goal is to keep the diocese together,” Fr. Kelly said. “We are basically a healthy diocese and we believe the primates’ recommendations are the best way forward for us. We felt we needed to let Executive Council know how we feel.”

At its meeting in March, the House of Bishops referred the primates’ pastoral council scheme to Executive Council, which is scheduled to meet June 11-14 in Parsippany, N.J., June 11-14–its only meeting prior to the Sept. 30 deadline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Putin raises spectre of nuclear war in Europe

President Putin has warned the US that its deployment of a new anti-missile network across Eastern Europe would prompt Russia to point its own missiles at European targets and could trigger nuclear war.

In an exclusive interview with The Times, the Russian leader says: “It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US is located in Europe and will be threatening us, we will have to respond.

“This system of missile defence on one side and the absence of this system on the other . . . increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict.”

Russia has been alarmed at America’s plans to install a network of defences in Eastern Europe to shoot down incoming missiles it fears that Iran might launch

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe

Australian MPs to debate ban on therapeutic cloning

Church leaders are calling on NSW politicians not to support the overturning of a ban on therapeutic cloning.

A controversial bill to overturn the current ban on stem cell research, also known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, is due to be debated in the lower house of state parliament on Tuesday.

MPs from both sides of politics will be allowed a conscience vote on the legislation, which would allow therapeutic cloning but maintains the ban on human reproductive cloning.

If passed, the legislation would bring NSW in line with the Commonwealth, which overturned a ban on therapeutic cloning in December 2006.

But both the Anglican and Catholic churches are asking MPs to vote against the bill.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell said all members of parliament should reject the cloning of human embryos for experimentation and destruction.

“No Catholic politician, indeed no Christian or person with respect for human life who has properly informed his conscience about the facts and ethics in this area should vote in favour of this immoral legislation,” he said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Episcopal Diocese Could try to Evict Rebel Parish In Bristol Connecticut

When Fred Clark married his bride, Claudia, nearly 40 years ago, they stood before the deep blue and purple stained-glass windows that line the stone wall behind the altar at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bristol.

Together they baptized three babies, mourned the death of one of those children – 6-year-old Allison – and celebrated the marriage of another daughter at that same altar.

The church is far more than a place to worship for the Clarks, of course. It is like a second home.

But the Clarks – along with the vast majority of the congregation – have decided to risk their long association with Trinity by voting to split from the Episcopal Church over differences of opinion about Scripture that have manifested themselves in public squabbles over the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

With Trinity’s decision, the split within the Connecticut Diocese begins to resemble the increasingly contentious struggles going on in other Episcopal dioceses around the United States. It is no longer simply a war of words over theology but a pitched battle over buildings, property and money.

The split has united conservative congregations in the U.S., like Trinity, with like-minded African churches that believe the Episcopal Church’s liberal position on homosexuality goes against the Anglican beliefs inherited from the Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

The Episcopal Church Continues to Harden its Stance Against Marriage

Ralph Webb commented,

“Bishop Robinson’s allowance of blessing civil unions as a local option””even though such blessings are not required of priests””provides yet another illustration of how the Episcopal Church opposes the traditional definition of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman.

“It’s tragic that just within the last year, we have seen increasing evidence of a hardening of this position. Some Episcopal Church parishioners, parishes, parachurch groups, and diocesan bishops opposed state marriage amendments upholding the traditional definition of marriage last fall. And this spring, the denomination’s Executive Council passed a resolution urged against future General Conventions being held in states where the marriage amendments are in effect.

“And the tragedy is on full display in the bishop’s phrase, ‘Just like in marriages.’ What’s at stake here is the Judeo-Christian understanding that no other relationship””whether that of cohabiting heterosexual couples or same-sex partners””in which two people commit to living together can approximate marriage or should receive the church’s blessing. That understanding informs the Episcopal Church’s own Book of Common Prayer.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Anglicans debate sexuality

Many conservative Anglicans would agree with Nigerian lay minister Davis Mac-Iyalla that the summer of 2003””when the Episcopal Church approved the first openly gay bishop””left a gaping hole and wrenching pain in their hearts. But not for the same reasons.

For Mac-Iyalla, that summer was when the Anglican Church of Nigeria, in which he was born, baptized and became faithful turned its back on him because he is gay.

“God created me a gay man and put me in the womb of my mother. I was born into the church, baptized and sang in the choir,” Mac-Iyalla told parishioners Sunday at Trinity Church in Highland Park. “Now, the church rises against me when I speak who I am. The church is supposed to be a house of joy, a house of peace. It has become a place of fire.”

As the worldwide Anglican Communion of 77 million faithful spirals toward schism over issues of homosexuality, the leading Nigerian voice has been that of Archbishop Peter Akinola, who believes tolerating gays and lesbians violates Scripture. Akinola and other conservatives in the global communion have severed ties with the U.S. church. Last month, against the wishes of U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Akinola consecrated a new bishop to oversee conservative dissidents on American soil.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishop of Reading gives out egg timers to commuters

The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Reading, is stopping commuters in their tracks today to hand out egg timers at his local mainline train station with this challenge: take three minutes of silence a day to transform your life.

Bishop Stephen is urging the country to discover what happens when we simply stop and rest, in a passionate plea for the nation to ditch endless ‘to do’ lists, constant streams of emails, and an increasingly ’24/7′ culture.

Instead, by binning instant tea and coffee in favour of traditional methods that create time for reflection during their preparation, appointing a ‘happy hour’ when all televisions and radios in the house are switched off, baking bread, or simply enjoying a lengthy lie-in, the bishop’s book encourages readers to appreciate the need to create pauses in daily life – for our own, and society’s, health and wellbeing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Bishop Jim Kelsey Dies in an Auto Accident

I am very sorry to read this news.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Damon Darlin: More Advice Graduates Don’t Want to Hear

There may be another compelling reason to save and that is that while many aspects of retirement savings are predictable, the big unknowable is health care costs. “If you believe in the logic of the life cycle model, then once you get used to peanut butter, all else follows,” said Jonathan Skinner, a economics professor at Dartmouth College who has studied retirement issues and recently wrote a paper titled “Are You Sure You’re Saving Enough for Retirement?” for the National Bureau of Economic Research. “That’s the assumption that I am questioning: Do people want to be stuck in peanut butter in retirement?”

He said he came to the conclusion that a strategy to reduce retirement expenses “will be dwarfed by rapidly growing out-of-pocket medical expenses.” He noted projections based on the Health and Retirement Study, a survey of 22,000 Americans over the age of 50 sponsored by the National Institute on Aging found that by 2019, nearly a tenth of elderly retirees would be devoting more than half of their total income to out-of-pocket health expenses. He said, “These health care cost projections are perhaps the scariest beast under the bed.”

As Victor Fuchs, the professor emeritus of economics and health research and policy at Stanford University, told me, money is most useful when you are old because it makes all the difference whether you wait for a bus in the rain to get to the doctor’s appointment or you ride in a cab.

“Saving for retirement may ultimately be less about the golf condo at Hilton Head and more about being able to afford wheelchair lifts, private nurses and a high-quality nursing home,” Professor Skinner said.

His best advice for people in their 20s and 30s: maximize workplace matching contributions, seek automatic savings mechanisms like home mortgages and hope “that their generation can still look forward to solvent Social Security and Medicare programs.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly

Army Puts out a Call for more Chaplains

When Army Spc. Mark Melcher was shot by a sniper in Anbar province in April 2006, Chaplain Douglas Etter was there to hold his hand and comfort the dying Pittsburgher.

“Mark was a Mellon Bank employee who was felled … just 28 days after he joined us as a replacement. I kissed him and more than one of those boys on the forehead after making the sign of the cross there,” Chaplain Etter told a conference of returning veterans at Soldiers & Sailors Military Museum and Memorial last month.

Chaplains not only fulfill the services’ First Amendment religion obligation; they are “visible reminders of the holy” to troops in situations that can often seem to epitomize the unholy.

The Army Chaplaincy is stretched to the brink trying to ensure that servicemen and women have access to chaplains, typically troops’ most proximal and trusted humanitarian resource. Each service has its own chaplain staff, but the Army supplies the majority of chaplains who go to Iraq.

The Army is currently trying to fill 452 chaplain vacancies, said Lt. Col. Randall Dolinger, spokesman for the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains. The most pronounced shortages were in the reserves and National Guard, with a particularly acute shortfall of Roman Catholic priests, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Les Fairfield: Thirty Years at Trinity – Some Things I've Appreciated

The recent articles by Steve Noll… and Peter Moore [ed note: both posted below] in the blogosphere have occasioned some useful discussion here…. Some of you have pointed helpfully to ways in which Trinity might have prospered better in its young history, if such-and-such had occurred. I thought it might be a good time to share with you some of the features of Trinity’s life that I have particularly appreciated – some of the strengths that I’ve seen, along with its predictable “need-to-improve” areas.

First of all I have appreciated how Trinity has managed somehow to serve such a wide variety of constituencies – even within the Episcopal Church, not to mention our valuable Methobapterian sisters and brothers. Since for a generation – until Nashotah’s wonderful renaissance a few years ago – Trinity was the only reliably orthodox seminary in the Episcopal Church, the School needed to try and train Episcopalians from an extraordinarily diverse range of traditions. Amongst our students we have seen Five-Point Calvinists, Moderate Charles Simeonite Evangelicals, AngloCatholics, Moderate Alpha-Course Charismatics, AngloCowboy “Drop-Kick-Me-Jesus-Through-The-Goalposts-of-Life” Pentecostals, not to mention a few AngloMennonites like myself. I’m sure that all of you alumni occasionally felt that chapel worship was like Noah’s Ark, when we had clouds of incense, a fifty-minute exegetical sermon, and a message in tongues all in one service. And yet you all persevered in tolerating one another, and somehow the Trinity Chapel “wars of religion” never occasioned actual bloodshed.

Considering the strong convictions that everyone held, that’s no small grace. Likewise I have appreciated the way in which Trinity managed to serve a different variety of vocational constituencies. Probably half or more of you were headed for ordination, and yet you managed to coexist – and indeed often to cherish – those whose calling was to lay ministry. Think of the valuable part that the Youth Ministry folks have played in the School’s life, in the last fifteen years. In an environment that might well have ossified into cerebral monasticism, wasn’t it great when two youth ministers grabbed Bill Frey and stepped into Nanky Chalfant’s swimming pool? (Any observations occur to you at this time, Bill?) And Trinity even managed – somehow – to encompass Whis Hays’ cutting-edge Rock the World youth ministry ethos with Jason Smith’s Young Life style. I know these cross-cultural issues weren’t easy, folks, but you did it and I’m grateful.

Also I appreciate that Trinity has managed to serve both the “three-year-residential-MDiv” folks and the “extension education fanatics” (I speak as one of the latter). In the blogosphere discussion that Steve Noll’s article stimulated, this issue has come up repeatedly. Should clergy be formed in a residential environment (the Episcopal seminary model that goes back to the foundation of General in New York in 1818) or should Trinity take advantage of the Internet and make its education available in Idaho and Arizona and Alabama (and to the ends of the earth)? Should leadership formation be done intensively in a boundaried community like a seminary campus, or should it be done in local parishes with Internet courses wired-in from Trinity? Well, that conversation still goes on vigorously. I’m really grateful that Trinity didn’t come apart over that question. As you can see from the Trinity web site, the School continues to emphasize intensive residential education. We added mandatory Hebrew to the curriculum a year ago. To me that symbolized our commitment to a rigorous residential MDiv. But at the same time you can take nearly 60 credit hours online as well – the Diploma programs in Anglican Studies and Basic Christian Studies. Not to mention Jan Term and June Term and our extension sites in NM and VA and elsewhere. How did we manage to agree on both of those directions? I’m grateful. Well, I could go on. But I wondered if we might take this critical moment in the Episcopal Church to reflect a little on what actually worked, in Trinity’s first 30 years. What would you like to see perpetuated? Or morphed? Or replaced?

–The Rev. Dr. Leslie Fairfied recently retired as a Church History Professor at Trinity School for Ministry

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Peter Moore Responds to Steve Noll's Piece on Theological Education

In response to Steve Noll’s excellent piece on why Trinity (and Nashotah, from which I hold an honorary degree) must be supported by Network and Common Cause bishops, I would add only a couple of thoughts:

First, It is not just retired bishops like +Ben Benitez and +Alex Dickson who in their day refused to send students to Trinity. It is also quite a number of current Network bishops who have sought all kinds of alternative roots, as you suggest, and in some cases refused to allow students to come to Trinity. It has been frustrating for Trinity Deans to watch capable candidates be spirited off to England, Canada and other US seminaries who then, upon graduation, are almost totally unconnected to the US Episcopal/Anglican renewal scene, and woefully uninformed about historic Anglican evangelicalism. No one is saying that Ambridge is a great tourist destination, especially in February. But theological education there is solid, biblical, Anglican, and thoroughly in touch with all the theological currents in the wider church. Those who have suggested that qualified candidates, who wanted to come to Trinity, or might have come with a bit of encouragement, would “do better” to go elsewhere have to bear some responsibility for the chaos the Episcopal Church is in today. The fact that some of these bishops are my friends makes me very sad.

Secondly, the system that we now have is itself confusing. Frequently, I’ve heard bishops say that they are “willing” to have candidates go to Trinity. However, when the candidate goes before the Commission on Ministry, they are told that they must be broadened, and go elsewhere. This is a case of one playing “good cop” and the other “bad cop.” One senses collusion in these decisions.

Thirdly, it has become clear to me over the years that stereotypes about Trinity have nothing to do with the reality that one finds there. The stereotypes, however, are a necessary defense by the liberal leadership of TEC against any willingness to countenance the thought that historic biblical theology, coupled with missionary zeal, has a place within North American Anglicanism. Of course, this is historical nonsense. But the misrepresentation lingers. It is necessary that the liberals stigmatize Trinity as fundamentalist, or narrow, or anti-women, or hate-filled, or whatever — not because any of these labels stick, or have the slightest relationship to reality, but because they protect the users from actually facing the facts: Anglican evangelicalism has both an historic and a current place within North American Anglicanism, and until the recent unpleasantness was making great strides towards leading TEC backward to its roots, and forward to its true missional calling.

–(The Rev. Dr.) Peter Moore is a former Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Stephen Noll: An Open Letter on Theological Education


Dear Colleagues in the Gospel,

I write you about an issue close to my heart: the sustenance of orthodox Anglican theological education in the USA. As many of you know, I worked for 21 years at Trinity School for Ministry to fulfill its vision to reform and renew the Episcopal Church. Sadly, we failed. Any failure has multiple explanations, but I am convinced that one of them is the failure of conservative bishops to see the urgent need to send ALL orthodox and evangelical students to Trinity. Instead many naively accepted a pluralistic approach to theological formation. Trinity was seen as a nice new dish at the Episcopal smorgasbord, catering to certain renewal people, not the necessary remedy to a radically sick denomination.

(N.B. I am focusing on the seminary I know best, but there is a surely parallel story to be told for Nashotah House and the Reformed Episcopal seminaries. It strikes me that Trinity and the REC seminaries should naturally serve an evangelical Anglican constituency which seeks to be catholic-minded and Nashotah should naturally serve an Anglo-catholic constituency that seeks to be evangelically-minded.)

Two quiz questions will highlight the problem that blunted the kind of impact that Trinity was founded to accomplish. Which bishop refused to present the present Dean of Nashotah House for ordination because he took a job as Director of Library at Trinity? And which bishop refused to send any of his younger postulants to Trinity but sent them rather to his alma mater? Answers: Alex Dickson and Ben Benitez! I suspect Bps. Alex and Ben now regret those decisions, but they exemplify the mindset of conservative leaders during the critical period that Trinity was getting started.

The bold and visionary action taken by the founders of Trinity in the mid-70s was never matched by bold actions in the conservative dioceses to free students to train there. All it would have taken was a bishop, standing committee and commission on ministry in one diocese working cooperatively, and Trinity could have hosted every student who wanted to be formed with an Anglican Evangelical foundation. In the early 80s the Diocese of Pittsburgh opened the door, but within a few years the liberal holdovers on the COM found a way to stanch the flow by imposing a residency requirement, with the bishop’s consent.

In 1996, I helped set up through the AAC an alternative ordination track for ministry refugees (the new bishop of Pittsburgh was to provide the conduit for this track). By that date, the horse had already fled the barn as far as any hope of reforming the church through a flood of renewed clergy. Since that time, in fact, the flow of Trinity grads has been diverted to AMiA and other Christian traditions.

Trinity’s own leaders themselves, myself included, contributed to the problem. We were naïve to think that accreditation (1985) would make us acceptable in the mainstream Episcopal Church. Later on, Trinity’s leaders were also too slow to recognize that AMiA and other Common Cause groups were there coming constituency, thinking that we could woo liberals to give us a few crumbs from their ordination process. But as we all know, contemporary liberals are anything but liberal. Such a hope is surely now a vain hope.

The point of these recollections is to warn that the same failure of vision may be happening today. In my occasional visits to conservative gatherings in the States, I hear people saying: “We’ve sent student X to Gordon Conwell or to Beeson or Wycliffe in Oxford.” Or “We’ve set up our own fast-track training program.” And I have asked these colleagues: “What about Trinity?” “Oh yes,” they reply, “we are willing for students to train at Trinity, but”¦”

“Yes, but”¦” is not enough. Given the fragmented condition of conservative Anglicanism in North America, such decisions are understandable. But in my opinion, as a long-term solution to building a strong and unified Anglican church, they are inadequate and ominous. Say what you may about alternative models of theological education, a good seminary (or two or three) will be vital to the growth and long-term success of orthodox Anglicanism on that continent.

I say “that continent” because I live now in Africa and oversee the flagship theological centre of the Anglican Church of Uganda. The Church of Uganda recently identified an acute clergy shortage impending and has responded by increasing the numbers attending our “Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology” (we just doubled our intake). The church in Rwanda has likewise recognized the need for a theological college, as have other Provinces. So the need and call for strong theological colleges call is not just a North American phenomenon.

So what can be done? I think a couple simple decisions and declarations could clarify matters.

The Boards of Trinity and Nashotah House should announce that their primary mission is to serve the Network and Common Cause churches and that they will no longer receive students sponsored from revisionist dioceses (not a very costly decision since they won’t send students anyway).
The Network and Common Cause dioceses and churches should commit themselves to require all candidates for ministry to get their degrees from Trinity or Nashotah or a REC seminary, or at least to attend for one year to instill in them a common Anglican ethos.

As bishops and leaders in Network and Common Cause churches, you have great influence in these matters. Our movement has made a tremendous investment in these seminaries, and should not squander it. I have real doubts whether these institutions can survive without strong support from the churches they were birthed to serve. These seminaries in turn must focus themselves on building up the movement. If these things happen, there is a real chance that orthodox Anglicanism can emerge as a real church like the Presbyterian Church in America (note, with its Covenant Seminary) and not just a welter of “continuing” factions. If it doesn’t, I think we are sowing the whirlwind.

Thank you for listening.

Cordially in Christ,

The Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll

Vice Chancellor
Uganda Christian University

[ed note: This was posted on Stand Firm a week ago and received 115 comments at last count.]

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Priests without borders

Michael Clarke, 32, and his fiance, Lynn Dixon, 34, were raised Roman Catholic. They want to raise their children the same way.
But they can’t be married in the Roman Catholic Church. Dixon had been in a previous marriage, and the church forbids divorced couples to remarry in an official church ceremony. So the Allison Park couple began looking for priests who would conduct a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony outside the church.

“It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be,” Clarke said. But then Dixon stumbled upon www.rentapriest.com, an online directory of more than 300 married priests across the country willing to perform services traditional priests can’t or won’t.

While the concept sounds kind of like a sacrilegious Rent-A-Center, it’s actually a spiritual quest to aid couples or individuals in finding a priest to help them in their time of need, said Louise Haggett, who founded the nonprofit organization.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Discipline / Ordination Standards, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Philip Wright, Anglican Bishop, says love of country should motivate Belizeans

The word ”˜Democracy’ comes from two Greek words, demos, which means “people”, and kratos, which means “rule”. In a literal sense, democracy means “rule by the people”. It is a form of government with, as identified in an article I recently read, four key elements.

These are:

a) The rule of law that applies to all citizens, without exception,

b) The protection of the human rights of all citizens,

c) The active participation of citizens in politics and civic life, d) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.

It is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it captures the essence of what a democracy is.

The representative democracy we have here in Belize allows for our people to choose their leaders and to hold those leaders accountable for their policies and their conduct in office. It is true that much power is invested in the leaders (once elected) and they make numerous decisions on behalf of the people, and hopefully in their best interest.

However, the citizens always reserve the right to criticize their elected leaders and those who represent their interests and concerns. They reserve the right to express their opinions in a peaceful manner and with respect for the law and for the rights of others ”“ including those who may differ from them. This too is an essential part of the successful progress of any democracy.

It should be clear, then, that much of a democracy is built on the development of a meaningful relationship between the people and their elected officials and those who represent their best interests.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean

Hundreds gather at groundbreaking for Iqaluit's igloo church

The last groundbreaking for Iqaluit’s igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral drew Queen Elizabeth II and Sunday’s ceremony to launch its rebuilding was only slightly less illustrious.
On a gravelly dirt patch beside the Nunavut capital’s elementary school, hundreds of people formed a circle inside the perimeter of a bright yellow string where the walls will eventually go up.

Inuit and non-Inuit, usually divided for English and Inuktitut services, combined to sing hymns and read prayers in two languages.
“We are starting something bigger than a physical building, and that’s housing the spirit of God,” said Andrew Atagotaaluk, bishop of the Arctic diocese.
Premier Paul Okalik was invited to turn the sod, but was called away to Ottawa at the last minute. Many in Iqaluit thought it fitting that retired bishop Paul Idlout took the shovel instead. As he did so, the sun broke though the clouds.

It’s been a year and a half since fire destroyed Iqaluit’s only cathedral. On November 6, 2005, parishioners arrived for church, only to find yellow police tape around the door.

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

Anglican Diocese of B.C. reps favour same-sex blessing

The majority of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. representatives are in favour of the church blessing same-sex marriages, and have urged their delegates to the national conference that will decide the issue to approve the controversial topic which is splitting the church.

A survey of delegates today at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria comes at a sensitive time in the Anglican church worldwide. Schisms have developed between countries with large Anglican populations over whether the church should bless same-sex marriages.

One hundred and two delegates at a special session for representatives from Vancouver Island and Gulf Island churches said they are in favour of same-sex unions being blessed. They want the issue dealt with in Winnipeg June 19-25 at the national synod, an assembly of church leaders or delegates that discusses and decides upon church affairs.

“It’s clear the church is moving forward,” said Rev. Peter Elliott, a keynote speaker at the meeting here and the highest-ranking openly gay cleric in the Anglican Church of Canada.

“The Anglican Church is a big tent. We love and celebrate diversity, and people have the freedom of expressing their convictions.”

The 102 people who voted in favour of same-sex marriages being blessed and wanted the issue dealt with at the synod represented 51.7 per cent of the delegates.

Another 27 people voted in favour of same-sex unions being blessed, but thought the issue should wait.

A total of 45 people said they should never be blessed, and 19 delegates were unsure.

The survey was taken so the 10 delegates representing the area at the national conference would know local thought on the issue.

“It is useful for us to know the mindset of the synod delegates as a whole,” said Martin Henry, one of the delegates.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Norah M. Joslyn: On being Christian and Muslim

After an introduction to a Muslim prayer practice in early 2006, [the Rev. Ann] Redding knew she had been wrestling with a call to Islam. She approached a Muslim woman and told her so, and the woman replied, “Christianity has been good to you and you to it, and you don’t have to choose.” That made all the difference in Redding’s choice to practice Islam.

“What Islam has done for me is shed this light on Christianity and shown for me anew what a glorious way Christianity is,” she explains.

“We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the ”˜only begotten son of God.’ That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal,” she continues. “When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he’s unique in some way. Islam says the same thing. He’s the only human aside from Adam who is directly created by God, and he’s different from Adam because he has a human mother. So there’s agreement””this person is unique in his relationship to God.” Christianity also says that we are all part of the household of God and in essence brothers and sisters of Jesus. Muslims take the figurative language of “only begotten,” make it concrete and contradict it: God “neither begets nor is begotten.”

“I agree with both because I do want to say that Jesus is unique, and for me, Jesus is my spiritual master,” Redding says. “Muslims say Mohammed is the most perfect. Well, it depends on who you fall in love with. I fell in love with Jesus a long time ago and I’m still in love with Jesus but I’d like to think my relationship with Jesus has matured.”

She added that what Islam does is take Jesus out of the way of her relationship with God, “but it doesn’t drop Jesus. I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam, and he didn’t drop me off at the door. He’s there, too.”

Read it all (page 9) .

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Other Faiths, Theology