Daily Archives: June 10, 2007

South Carolina Episcopalians proceed on new bishop

Representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina gathered Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church on James Island to vote to continue where the 216th diocesan convention left off late last year, reconvening delegates for the purpose of electing a new bishop.

Though some church officials expressed concerns over the procedures adopted to reconvene as well as the perceptions of church officials outside the diocese, all but a few dissenters voted to proceed as planned in an effort to fast-track the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence into the bishop’s office.

This entailed suspending Rule 21 of Canon 31, which was established in late 2005 for the purpose of electing a new bishop but which would have required officials this time to start from scratch with a new convention, a new set of delegates, a new Electing Convention and a new set of candidates. That standard process could have taken a year, Bishop Edward Salmon said.

Representatives from only two Charleston area churches ”” Grace and St. Mark’s ”” voted against suspending the rule.

The diocese’s standing committee now takes control of the election process, and individual parishes will elect delegates whose sole purpose is to choose the bishop.

Lawrence has provoked concern among Episcopalians who fear he could lead the diocese away from the Episcopal Church and realign with another Anglican authority if the church did not repudiate its tolerance for gay clergy and affirm a more traditional reading of Scripture. A church crisis was sparked when, in 2003, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, who is divorced and openly gay, was elected bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.

Salmon said the special Electing Convention will be Aug. 4, and the new bishop might be consecrated Jan. 25, the day of St. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Evolution issue separates candidates

Evolution has roiled state and local school boards for years. Now it’s entered presidential politics.
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, have been explaining their positions ever since they and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo first indicated in a May 3 debate that they do not believe in evolution.

Their religious views, they say, are compatible with science.

“I think science is marvelous and wonderful, and I enjoy the benefit of it every day,” Huckabee told reporters Wednesday at a lunch. He said he embraces Scripture, but “to me, it’s not a conflict with science.”

People may say the story of creation is “preposterous,” Huckabee said, but “if I believe anything about God, I believe that he’s in the miracle business.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, US Presidential Election 2008

Watchdog Group Slams Google on Privacy

Google Inc. (GOOG)’s privacy practices are the worst among the Internet’s top destinations, according to a watchdog group seeking to intensify the recent focus on how the online search leader handles personal information about its users.

In a report released Saturday, London-based Privacy International assigned Google its lowest possible grade. The category is reserved for companies with “comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy.”

None of the 22 other surveyed companies – a group that included Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and AOL – sunk to that level, according to Privacy International.

While a number of other Internet companies have troubling policies, none comes as close to Google to “achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy,” Privacy International said in an explanation of its findings.

In a statement from one of its lawyers, Google said it aggressively protects its users’ privacy and stands behind its track record. In its most conspicuous defense of user privacy, Google last year successfully fought a U.S. Justice Department subpoena demanding to review millions of search requests.

“We are disappointed with Privacy International’s report, which is based on numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings about our services,” said Nicole Wong, Google’s deputy general counsel.

“It’s a shame that Privacy International decided to publish its report before we had an opportunity to discuss our privacy practices with them.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Law & Legal Issues

Notable and Quotable

“To tamper with the gospel is to trouble the Church….Indeed, the Church’s greatest troublemakers (now as then) are not those outside who oppose, ridicule and persecute it, but those inside who try to change the gospel…. Conversely, the only way to be a good churchman is to be a good gospel-man. The best way to serve the Church is to believe and to preach the gospel.”

–John R.W. Stott, Message of Galatians (Bible Speaks Today) [IVP, 1984]

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Martyn Minns: Girding for battle, hoping for change

In May, Bishop Martyn Minns became head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a conservative group with ties to Nigeria. Minns, 64, led 11 Virginia congregations to break ties with the Episcopal Church last year. For 16 years, he has been rector of the historic Truro Church, where George Washington’s father once served on the vestry. Now, Minns prepares for a battle with the denomination he left behind.

Why did you decide to leave the Episcopal Church?

I really do believe that the Episcopal Church kind of left me. They have moved to adopt positions and attitudes that are at odds with where the rest of the Anglican Communion is and where I am. And so in that sense, I’ve not really changed that much. But they have.

Why not stay put and practice your beliefs in your own church?

That’s obviously something I tried to do. But the problem I had is that most of the congregation here felt they could no longer continue in that mode, and in fact, we lost over 100 families. They voted with their feet.

What are the consequences of your decision?

We’re actually now facing potentially the largest lawsuit the Episcopal Church has ever initiated against congregations. They are trying to evict us and indeed to take all of our property and all of our resources away from us. … Our replacement cost is estimated at about $30-million, and we’re just one of the churches.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, CANA, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Religion and Ethics weekly: Down Syndrome

FAW: … even though Benjamin has Down syndrome.

BETH ALLARD: Just like any other child, you give him an opportunity, and work with them, and they can do whatever they aspire to do.

FAW (To Ms. Allard): Even if they’re different?

Ms. ALLARD: Yeah.

FAW: Now Beth Allard marvels at her son. But when she remembers what her pediatrician told her when she was pregnant at 36, she can only shudder.

Ms. ALLARD: She said, “I just want to let you know what your life’s going to be like. He’s going to make your life hell. He won’t be able to read or write or do anything. He may not be able to speak.” The reason I considered terminating the pregnancy was, well, my doctor’s telling me this. And I don’t know much about it, so maybe she’s right and I really need to do this.

FAW: Largely because of her Catholic faith, Beth Allard decided to continue her pregnancy.

ELLEN WIXTED (Talking to Husband): My concern is that if I do that …

FAW: Seven years ago, faced with the prospect of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome and heart defects that often afflict those infants, Ellen Wixted, 35, chose to abort her baby.

Ms. WIXTED: I just couldn’t imagine having all of the normal stresses of being a parent and on top of that, you know, raising a child with really, you know, potentially very severe physical disabilities as well as an unknown degree of mental retardation. All I could envision was a spiral of, sort of not being able to work, not being able to work in the studio, not being able to, you know, have a normal life. What that led to logically was ending the pregnancy, which I felt was morally wrong.

FAW: Now, with two children born later, Ellen Wixted says that decision to abort haunts her as much today as it tormented her then.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

From the New York Times Magazine: the Inequality Conundrum

In 1976, Richard Freeman wrote a book called “The Overeducated American.” So many Americans had been getting college degrees that the relative wages of white-collar professionals had started to fall. It no longer paid to go to college and, for most of the ’70s, fewer people did. Just so, incomes of the educated began to rise again.

People like Freeman, a labor-market economist, waited for the cycle to turn. They expected that with white-collar types riding high again, more people would stay in school, and incomes at the top would level off once more.

But they never did. Instead, the rich kept getting richer. Across the spectrum of American society, the higher your income category, the more your income continued to grow. And for a quarter-century, albeit with zigs and zags along the way, that rich-get-richer pattern has held. The figures are striking. In 2004, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s latest official analysis, households in the lowest quintile of the country were making only 2 percent more (adjusted for inflation) than they were in 1979. Those in the next quintile managed only an 11 percent rise. And the middle group was up 15 percent. Do you sense a pattern? The income of families in the fourth quintile ”” upper-middle-class folks with an average yearly income of $82,000 ”” rose by 23 percent. Only when you get to the top quintile were the gains truly big ”” 63 percent.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics

Gordon Brown to give up power to pick Church of England leaders

Gordon Brown is preparing to give up the prime minister’s historic right to choose the Archbishop of Canterbury – and other Church of England bishops.

The move to grant “operational independence” to the Church will represent one of the biggest changes to its relationship with the state for centuries. It is just one of a swathe of “royal prerogative” powers, held by the prime minister, which Mr Brown is planning to do away with once he takes over at Number 10 later this month.

In a move he has already announced, he will also give up his prerogative power to declare war without the consent of parliament. Military action, such as the invasion of Iraq, will in future have to be approved in advance by MPs.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church-State Issues

Latino evangelicals seek just immigration law

Latino evangelicals are becoming more politically active in hopes of persuading Congress to support an immigration reform package that weighs border security with a compassionate approach toward undocumented immigrants.

The political activism among Latino evangelicals, however, has created a rift with other evangelicals that could unravel political alliances on critical conservative issues such as abortion.

It also could dilute the voting power of a key segment of the Republican Party.

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the evangelical movement. Latino evangelicals also are more likely to be Republican as Latino Catholics, who make up the majority of Hispanics. As their numbers grow, Latino evangelicals have the potential to offset the traditionally Democratic Hispanic vote.

The last election showed that Latino evangelicals are turned off by the hard-line stance on immigration taken by some conservative Republicans. As a result, any advantage Republicans stand to gain because of a surge in Latino evangelicals could be lost, making it harder for evangelicals to get support for conservative issues such as abortion, traditional marriage and school prayer.

Latino evangelicals are upset that other evangelicals either oppose any sort of legalization for undocumented immigrants or remain silent on the issue.

“Only a minority of White Evangelicals have spoken out on the issue. Most have avoided it, and we hear their silence,” said the Rev. Luis Cortes, president of Esperanza USA in Philadelphia, one of the largest Hispanic evangelical groups in the country, with a network of 10,000 churches and groups.

“We are in a battle, so we need our brothers and sisters to stand with us. If they aren’t going to stand with us, then how can they ask us to stand with them?”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches

One Florida priest tries to keep an Episcopal parish on track amid a national uproar

Reaction among parishioners at the conservative Redeemer church has varied. Some have left. Others struggle over whether national leaders have erred, and many have redirected their money from the national church to a foreign diocese.

Pat Mudgett, 56, is one of them.

“I just felt loud and clear in my own mind that the Lord does not condone what was happening in the national church, and I shouldn’t be supporting that, ” said Mudgett, explaining why she redirects her donations.

Robinson believes his charge is to keep his parish together as congregations around the country pull out of the Episcopal Church in protest. Forty-five have done so thus far, and last month, a group of Anglicans based in Nigeria consecrated a Virginia priest to oversee a North American group of Episcopal defectors and other Anglicans not associated with the Episcopal Church.

Scholars call the situation unprecedented in the Episcopal Church and say it poses a greater potential for fissure than previous controversies, such as the ordination of women in the 1970s or changes to the prayer book.

“This thing is just an unholy mess, ” said David Hein, chair of the religion and philosophy department at Hood College in Frederick, Md. “This is the kind of thing that drives people into secularism.”

At Redeemer, Robinson tries to insulate his flock from the larger debate. Like leaders in the 33, 000-member Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, he has no plans to leave the Episcopal Church. Such a move could prove costly, as legal battles over property rights would certainly break out between the national church and the parish.

With 775 attendees on a typical Sunday, Redeemer is the diocese’s largest parish. Its members, a diverse group of singles, retirees, empty nesters, young families, gay and straight, exemplify the struggle that grips the church.

Robinson works hard to keep their focus off the controversy, but he doesn’t ignore it either. He has preached about it, held forums and invited the head diocesan bishop, the Rev. John B. Lipscomb, to talk to parishioners.

Robinson also backed the leaders of Redeemer last year when they wrote the diocese asking it to pursue national leadership by a more conservative presiding bishop. Three other churches made the same request, but the diocese declined to act.

Still, Robinson admits his efforts sometimes fall short. So far, he’s lost several families and some homosexual members.

Kevin Beachy, 48, left Redeemer about two years ago for the Lutheran Church. He and his wife did not want their children suspended in a prolonged identity crisis.

“We just felt that the church had abandoned a lot of its traditional teachings on morality and sort of put the Bible on the back burner, ” said Beachy, a finance manager.

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

South Carolina Sets Aug. 4 Bishop Election

The consent period had just begun when the diocese’s annual convention met Nov. 9-10. Rather than adjourn, Eugene “Nick” Ziegler, the diocese’s long-time chancellor, advised the secretary of convention that it recess. Recessing, Mr. Ziegler stated, might save the diocese significant time and money if it needed to call another election because the delegates to the 2006 annual meeting would not be discharged and could be recalled if necessary.

The 90-minute June 9 meeting began with Morning Prayer before the business session was formally reopened. The first person recognized to speak was Ted Halkyard, a lay member of Grace Church, Charleston, who asked that the diocese employ the highest degree of transparency in its second attempt to receive consent to the election of Fr. Lawrence as bishop. In the only other piece of business, delegates elected Wade Logan to replace Mr. Ziegler, who has resigned as chancellor.

Bishop Salmon told The Living Church that the diocese’s standing committee had met immediately after convention adjourned on Saturday and would be completing plans for the Aug. 4 election after another meeting next week. Among the decisions yet to be made are whether to permit candidates other than Fr. Lawrence on the ballot. Rather than conducting a full search process, Bishop Salmon said the standing committee might permit either nominations by petition during an interval before the election or nominations from the floor on the day of the election.

“There was a good spirit at convention,” Bishop Salmon said. The standing committee wants to put in place a plan that builds on that, he added. “None of us want this election to fail.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Faith Leaders Debate Effects Of Limits on Emissions

As President Bush resisted mandatory limits on carbon emissions at a G-8 summit in Germany yesterday, several U.S. religious leaders urged Congress to speedily enact such limits to avoid a catastrophic rise in global temperatures that would particularly hurt the poor.

But in sharply divided testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, some evangelical Protestant leaders took the opposite tack, also citing concern for the poor.

Trading the same admonitions from Jesus to protect “the least of these,” the climate-change activists said the poor would suffer most from extreme weather; skeptics of climate change said the poor would be hit hardest by the cost of shifting to cleaner energy sources.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and a former oceanographer, argued that “global poverty and climate change are intimately related.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Climate Change, Weather, Religion & Culture

Zaccheaus Fellowship Open Letter to the Members of General Synod 2007

As men and women who have experienced same-sex attraction in our own lives and who still strive to live chastely in accordance with traditional Christian teaching, the members of Zacchaeus Fellowship are gravely concerned by the motions before Synod that would bless and affirm same-sex unions.

Contrary to what is implicitly suggested by the recent direction of our Anglican Church of Canada, not all persons with same-sex attractions want these attractions affirmed. We are especially concerned for those whom we describe as “silent sufferers” in the pews. These are the many individuals who adhere to the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and wish for the church neither to condemn them as persons nor to encourage them to act on those same-sex attractions. To approve Resolution A186 or A187 would pull the rug out from under such people.

Please be warned that the current controversy is not simply about inclusion of those who are in same-sex unions. While we concur with the consensus to include all persons in our church, we believe a misperception has arisen, namely, that accepting persons of homosexual orientation must lead to the accepting of same-sex unions/marriages. In fact, no one is excluded from our church because of sexual orientation; the rite of baptism includes us all.

Recently the Reverend Canon Michael Patterson, director of evangelism in the Diocese of Niagara, was quoted in the Toronto Star (June 2, 2007) as indicating that same-sex marriage is the law of the land and that the church needs to accept that reality or risk becoming irrelevant. He also said, “We need to be the face of the church in the world, and I fear that we are losing that opportunity.”

In fact, to be the face of the church in the world, we need to be proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and his transforming power in people’s lives. The church should focus on what God accomplishes through the person of Christ and not let secular law dictate church discipline. While same-sex marriage is the law of the land, it is contrary to Scripture, Tradition, and good solid Christian reason.

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

The Modern Churchpeople's Union responds to the Draft Anglican Covenant

We oppose the Draft Anglican Covenant on the grounds that

Ӣ it would transform the Windsor process from admonition and counsel into an
unprecedented and unjustifiable ecclesiastical coup d’état;

Ӣ its central proposal is to transfer power from the presently autonomous Provinces to a
Meeting of the 38 Primates. The ambiguity of the text leaves open the possibility that
this power would be unlimited, unaccountable, and irreversible;

Ӣ the consequences of this development for Anglican theology and polity, and for
ecumenical agreements, would be extensive and have scarcely been explored;

”¢ the proposed innovation in granting juridical power to the Primates’ Meeting would be
a distortion and not a legitimate development in Anglican ecclesiology;

Ӣ the consultative processes and timetable are wholly inadequate and in particular they
completely marginalise the voice of the laity;

Ӣ the proposals have not been adequately justified in their own terms (the creation of
trust) nor in the wider terms of better ordering and facilitating the mission of the

Ӣ and yet Anglicanism has a rich storehouse of dispersed authority, of hospitality,
mutual respect and trusting co-operation, of valuing difference and openness to new
developments, of the honest and open search for truth, all of which can provide an
alternative to the Draft Anglican Covenant as grounds for hope for the future.

Read it all.

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

Bishop Davd Gillett: God's Invitation to Love

THE FIRST Sunday of June brings us to Trinity Sunday. God as Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the distinguishing mark of the Christian understanding of God – yet so widely misunderstood!

When Mohammad was laying the foundations of Islam in Arabia the misconception was that the Trinity consisted of God, Jesus and Mary. Then, over the years many have given the impression that the Trinity is more or less the same as believing in three gods. It is this kind of thinking that has led some Christians to become Unitarians. But, in spite of the philosophical difficulties in trying to explain the Trinity, Christians have persisted in believing in God, the three in one. What is it that we find so attractive and compelling about God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Read it all (page 12).

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