Daily Archives: June 26, 2007

Anglican parishes no longer in Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Seek Funds For Lawsuit Defense

Eleven Virginia churches being sued by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia for leaving the denomination with their property last year have set a goal of raising a combined $3 million to $5 million for their pooled legal expenses.

But an informal poll by The Washington Times revealed that more than half of these churches can’t afford to give funds or have made no plans to do so.

United against them is their former denomination, whose New York headquarters alone claims $300 million in assets.

The two largest parishes, Truro Church in Fairfax and the Falls Church in Falls Church, plan to provide at least $1 million each. So far, Truro has raised $900,000. But estimated contributions from the other nine churches are less than $200,000.

An official for the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), a confederation formed by the 11 churches, says the money will be raised somehow.

“From our perspective, the Episcopal Church has limitless resources,” said Jim Oakes, ADV vice president. “We don’t, but we have enough for this situation. They are throwing everything they can at us, but we are in a very solid position legally. I think they know that. But they want to make this such an unpleasant and terrorizing process so that others won’t try the same thing.”

Read it all.

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

Leander Harding: Godly Bishops

In what follows I am going to take it as established that the historic episcopacy is a continuation of the apostolic ministry which has evolved in the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that therefore an episcopacy which has integrity and authenticity will be self-consciously seeking an ever greater conformity with the ministry of the first Apostles. One way of speaking about godliness in the episcopacy would to enumerate all the virtues that would go into a truly consecrated character. So we would speak of prayerfulness, learning, humility, the spirit of service, zeal for souls and so on. But how might a bishop find a way into these virtues? How can the motivation to grow in real godliness be sustained? I think by dwelling on the originating encounter with the crucified and risen Lord which propels the Apostles into their ministry. Essential to the ministry of the first Apostles is that they are witnesses to the resurrection and it is in the resurrection encounters that we should expect to find the distinctive shape and power of the apostolic ministry

Three locations dominate my thinking, meditation and prayer about the apostolic office. First there is John 20:19-23. The apostles are really cowering behind closed doors and the crucified and risen one appears to them. He shows them his hands and his side. They are glad when they see the Lord and he then says to them, “Peace be with you, As the Father has sent me even so I send you.” Then the Lord breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” To be an Apostle is to be one who is sent. Jesus is the Apostle of the Father and in his turn the crucified and risen one sends out his own apostles whose mission is to create by their witness a community of witness to the crucified and risen Lord and to the presence of his Spirit. At the heart of this witness is the extension of the reconciliation which has been offered to them. That the Apostles are given the authority to proclaim the reality of reconciliation and to distinguish false from true reconciliation is not some arbitrary power but a personal authority and knowledge that comes from their own actual personal redemption and what they have learned from welcoming and embracing the one who comes to breathe into them God’s peace.

The apostolic ministry originates in a personal encounter with the saviour. There is no way for these original witnesses to claim their vocation without looking upon the one whom they have betrayed and abandoned. They cannot be reconciled to him who holds out his wounded and glorified hands without embracing their own faithlessness and sinfulness. This dynamic is portrayed even more starkly in the encounter between Jesus and Peter on the beach in the twenty first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Peter rushes to the beach where the Lord meets him over a charcoal fire and asks those excruciating questions, “Peter, do you love me?” There by that charcoal fire Peter must think of another interrogation and of his betrayal of the Lord. Peter can only answer the call to go and gather and feed the sheep by embracing the fire of his own sin. The connection between a personal confession of sin and the reception of the call to gather in and feed the flock of Christ that is being driven home to Peter on the beach in Galilee is there as well behind those closed doors in Jerusalem. The reception of the crucified and risen one’s commission to go and tell the nations begins necessarily with a personal sense of sinfulness and failure which is provoked by the sudden breaking in of the undeserved forgiveness of God. I am not speaking so much of a particular type of conversion experience but of the reality of knowing oneself as a betrayer and crucifier of the Lord and knowing oneself as the recipient of an undeserved and costly forgiveness. There is a place where shame and joy grow together, where a growing consciousness of the enormity of human sin and rebellion and a consciousness of the astonishing goodness of the seeking, searching, sacrificial love of God grow together. In this place which is at once a place of deep humiliation and deep peace, the words of the Lord “even so I send you,” can be rightly heard and when heard are an irresistible invitation to return love for love. Here the human race is being remade by a new genesis, a new inspiration of God’s Spirit. From this place the forgiveness of sins can be declared and the lost sheep of the Father gathered in. Here is the wellspring of godliness in the ministry of bishop and shepherd. The way into this place is the way of humility, of lowliness and of deepening repentance.

The third scriptural location I propose is suggested to me by Lesslie Newbigin. It is Paul’s encounter with the crucified and risen Lord on the road to Damascus, recorded in Acts 9. Paul is a persecutor of the church of God and is thrown from his horse by his encounter with the Lord. Lying in the dust he hears the Lord say to him, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Here we have the same revelation of sinfulness and of utterly undeserved love and forgiveness which strips Paul of any righteousness of his own. The disciples in Jerusalem, Peter on the beach and Paul on the road all share in the same humiliation which is at once an exaltation, in the same death which is at once life. In Paul’s circumstance an aspect of this originating apostolic encounter is made especially clear. In order to embrace his call to be an apostle, Paul must not only confess himself as God’s enemy but in order to grasp the wounded and glorified hand stretched out to him, Paul must also grasp the hands of those he has persecuted. Paul must recognize the nascent church as the body of Christ. Paul cannot be reconciled to God without being reconciled to God’s people. Paul recognizes that God is building a new people which shall be marked off not by the works of the law but by faith in the crucified and risen Messiah. Paul recognizes that God’s promise to recreate humanity, to reconcile the nations in a renewed Israel is coming true in and through Jesus. In Paul’s call we learn that to be a witness to the resurrection is to be at one and the same time a witness to the reality of the new Israel which is the body of the Christ.

Just these few encounters we have considered point us to elements that are at the heart of the ministry of episcopacy and which if they are held fast set a person on the same road toward holiness and godliness trod by the first Apostles. We learn that the apostolic ministry begins with a deep and personal apprehension of the forgiveness of sins by the crucified and risen Lord. That included in this forgiveness and reconciliation with God is the fact of the church and the body of Christ and that the new human life that comes in this encounter by the gift of the Spirit propels one into the life of mission, evangelization and witness.
The witness and authority of the original Apostles is intensely personal. They stand before the world as men personally convicted and personally redeemed by their encounters with the crucified and risen Lord. It is possible for us to distinguish between the evangelical concern for personal faith and the catholic concern for the body of Christ and for the apostolic ministry as a vital organ in the body of Christ, but these elements are encountered in the Bible always simultaneously as inextricably intertwined. The first Apostles are living proof and a sacramental sign of the forgiveness of sins, the reconciliation with God and the reality of the one body dependent on its one head, by their very presence. The message authenticates the person and the person authenticates the message.( It is of course possible for those who succeed in this office for this relationship between person and message to be impaired and this is perhaps the source of ungodliness in episcopal ministry.)
We come to our encounter with the crucified and risen one through the testimony of these original witnesses as that testimony is transmitted to us through the Word of God and through the succession of apostolic teaching and witness. The challenge for the contemporary bishop who wishes to stand in the shoes of the original Apostles is to dwell in and upon the Word of God in such a way that this originating apostolic encounter becomes real and personal and having once found this originating moment of encounter to return to it again and again and let it be the engine of the bishop’s teaching, preaching and witness. This call to return again and again to epicenter of the apostolic earthquake is a call to prayer and contemplation. It is a call to a life of study of the Bible and of the faithful teachers who by God’s grace make a faithful succession to the Apostles possible. It is call to mission, to evangelization, to invite others into this encounter (which is bound to come in different ways for different people) with the crucified and risen Lord.

This call is also a call to guarding the unity of the church. The new life with God which the saviour comes to bring us at so great a price is a new life with each other no less than with God. It is the restoration of God’s plan that he should be our Father and we should be his children and loving brothers and sisters of each other. At the center of the apostolic experience of forgiveness is the reality of the one people of God and the body of Christ. The Apostles witness to the reality of the forgiveness of sins not just as an idea, as a teaching of the master, but as something which he has accomplished by his costly work and which has now through the power of the resurrection and the gift of the Spirit appeared. The unity of the college of the apostles in witness and in love is part of the Gospel which they proclaim. The Bible already tells the sad story that this testimony can be marred by a lack of unity and by attempts to find the center of the church in anything other than the forgiveness of sins brought by the death and resurrection of the Lord. If the secret of godliness in the episcopacy is dwelling upon the personal invitation to confession and the personal offer of redemption given by the outstretched, wounded and glorified hand of the risen one, then the bishop seeking godliness will want to lead the whole church back to this one cornerstone that it might be built up in unity and by the Spirit of love which is breathed by Christ into his church at just this point. There must be an impatience with anything which would seek to define the church on any other basis and there must be a resolute resistance to any attempt to draw the church away from utter dependence on the actual death and resurrection of her Lord. A godly bishop is one who stands in the center of the church as an authentic and personal sign of the reality of forgiveness and new life with God and among people which comes through the utter dependence of the whole church upon its one head and upon the actual events of the death and resurrection of the Lord.

–The Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Trinity School for Ministry

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

Paul Lauritzen: Daniel Callahan & Bioethics

from Commonweal:

Toward the end of The Troubled Dream of Life, Callahan warns that it is not enough to provide compelling arguments about the proper understanding of illness, aging, and death in human life; we also need new images of human mortality. We need the right image because in confronting our mortality we are dealing with a level of consciousness that is “deeper than that which can be wholly influenced by our logic and arguments.” This claim-somewhat surprising from someone so deeply committed to the role of reasoned argument in the formulation of public policy-has stuck with me. I’m not sure that Callahan has ever really provided the image we might substitute for that of modern medicine’s supremely powerful researcher overcoming the limitations of human embodiment.

Or maybe he has. Driving me from the Hastings Center to his apartment last fall, Callahan suddenly pulled his car over to the side of the road and parked in front of a church. He wanted to show me something, he said. As it turned out, he was taking me to the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, a church built by the Rockefeller family, where they worshiped for decades. We walked in. Past a simple but elegant exterior, the entranceway opened to a sanctuary of remarkable beauty. At one end of the nave was a stained-glass window designed by Matisse; at the other end, one by Chagall. Eight other stained-glass windows, all by Chagall, flanked the nave.

All these stained-glass windows are strikingly beautiful, but one exceptionally so. Commissioned by the children of John D. Rockefeller Jr. as a memorial to their father, the window sits in the narthex of the church, luminous with the brilliant blues for which Chagall’s windows are famous. The window struck me as providing just the kind of image for which Callahan’s entire work has called. It is not the image that one might associate with the aspirations of modern medicine-say, Lazarus being raised from the dead. Instead, the window depicts the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke, with its recognition of our common humanity rooted in the fragility of human life. In the intersecting tracery of the window, Chagall has captured both the interdependency and the brokenness of human life. Yet the scene is one of hope, and of confidence in the face of great adversity. One sees both sadness and joy.

In Setting Limits, Callahan agues that by striving for “grace under adversity,” and by embracing a “communal spirit” and an “ethic of service,” the elderly can serve as role models for the rest of us. Perhaps it is this spirit and this care for the other depicted in the Chagall windows that draws Callahan to them. Yet, whatever it is that attracts Callahan to Chagall-two Chagall prints grace the walls of Dan and Sidney’s living room-the depiction of the story of the Good Samaritan in Union Church is in fact a window on Callahan’s whole career. As those who read his books will discover, the complexity, honesty, and beauty of Chagall’s Good Samaritan illuminate Callahan and his life’s work.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Jefferts Schori marks the church's 400 years, urges more growth

Jefferts Schori wasn’t shy in discussing the church’s history in America.

“There are a whole lot of evil tales wrapped up in the history of this place, and a whole lot of good ones,” she said. “The rub is telling the difference.”

She specifically addressed the church’s complicity in the slave trade and the subjugation of American Indians.

“That has not yet fully redeemed itself,” she said. “The work is not yet over.”

“In the next century, God will call on us all in humility to redeem the evil deeds of the past.”

Yesterday’s service was not a somber affair, though. It was warm, but an occasional breeze offered enough respite to keep the crowd focused on the celebratory tone of the day.

“That it’s lasted this long is astounding,” David Silek, who came from Front Royal in Warren County for the day, said of the Episcopal Church’s presence in the U.S. “I realized how blessed we’ve been when I was driving down here on I-95. I realized the difference then from now. If I were the captain, I could now call the queen and say, ‘We’re here.'”

Sandra Garner, a parishioner from Petersburg, took an even more succinct approach: “It means to me that God is alive.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

John Parker: Voice and Vote

It was the South Carolina Diocesan Convention of 2002, I believe, during which Bishop Salmon voiced something I will never forget.

In an effort to assure the continuity of some sort of traditional Christianity in the Diocese (it wasn’t directly under threat; the resolution was foreseeing a day like today), some well-intentioned soul proposed that we approve a resolution stating something like, “Be it resolved that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of all.” Given the utterly heretical antics which have occurred in various places since that time, one can certainly understand the intention, especially in retrospect.

But Bishop Salmon, in his wisdom, approached the microphone before anyone else could say anything and said, “People: the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not up for a vote. He is the Lord whether or not one believes it or accepts it.” This was a moment of important clarity. In fact, Bishop Salmon was honoring his vocation as an Anglican episcopos, a firm voice defending the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

One wonders, in the history of Anglicanism in North America, where this all went so far off track””if it was ever on track. One surprising and notable fatal flaw inherent in Anglican/Episcopalian synods and conventions is the democratic process, especially whereby the unchangeable doctrines of the historic Christian faith are debated and often hang delicately in the hands of majority rule.

Since the very task of Christianity is paradosis (Greek), traditio (Latin), tradition””to receive only that which has been passed along from the beginning, and then to pass only that along to the next””it is totally foreign to the Christian faith that if 60% of all bishops, clergy, and laity vote in favor of something, then it should be done. This approach might be fine if the debate is to send missionaries either to Africa or to Asia. It is no problem to vote on whether or not to host the next General Convention in Miami or in Reno.

But the Christian faith itself is not up for a vote. In fact, it is not even open for debate among self-professing Christians. Why? Once again, because Christianity is received. One can receive it and accept it or not, but it is not subject to change. Red lights should flash and sirens should sound whenever anything is proposed to be believed which never in the history of the Christian faith has been both delivered and received.

Since Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever”, so then teachings about him are “the same yesterday, today, and forever”. And because the Church is the body of this unchangeable Jesus Christ, then too, the structure and belief of the Church is unchangeable and unchanging.

Since Jesus Christ, by his divine-human nature shows us precisely what it means to be both human and man, then we have no need to debate what true humanity looks like, nor what true manhood is. Jesus Christ is not just the “last Adam”; he is the true Adam, the true Man. True manhood and true personhood is one and the same: love defined as seeking and doing nothing but the will of the Father in Heaven, which always involves crucifixion, denial of self, and following””not leading.

Women also can turn to the purest, most perfect woman who ever lived to see precisely what it means to be woman. Mary, the ever-Virgin Theotokos (God-bearer), who is””even according to the ECUSA hymn, borrowed from the Orthodox””“more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim” and who “lead(s) their [the saints’] praises”, is she. And she is not just the second Eve, she is the true Eve””the most ”˜real’ woman. The one who heard the word of God and kept it. Mary is the holy example of love, purity, and chastity, not to mention joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

There is no true humanity, personhood, apart from Jesus Christ. There is no femininity, womanhood, apart from the Theotokos. There is no Christianity without both. There is obviously no Christianity with out Christ; but there is no Christ without his holy Mother, Mary. It is perhaps this lack””the near extinction of the veneration of the Mother of God in Anglican circles””which is at the root of today’s struggles.

But then again, there are two quotes which are also instructive: His Eminence (now) Metropolitan KALLISTOS Ware (most famous for his excellent books The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way) said, “St. Athanasius said, ”˜God became man to make man God.’ But God also became man to make man, man.” We have much to learn from this.

I do not know to whom to attribute the second quote, which I will paraphrase. “It is truly a sick world when we have veered so far from Christ, that the example and highest goal is to attain the status of fallen man (as opposed to attaining to Christ)””even for women.” In other words, in our modern society, the standard for all people (even for women) is the fallen male.

How utterly sad””truly sad””that the Anglican Church of Canada””like so many others””should believe that Christianity is up for a vote. I suspect we should be relieved that in order to approve SSB, 60% had to be in favor. I suppose we should all breathe a sigh of relief that it ”˜failed’.

But it didn’t. As has been seen in our own country, the fact that it is up for a vote and debate at all indicates that it is only a matter of time, every second of which is precious for our salvation.

And how totally ironic that these votes should take place on the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of our Lord, June 24. St. John’s preaching was indeed a fore-running of the Lord’s, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Repent indeed. Change your minds.

John the Baptist preached as a voice in the wilderness as a sign of what was to come. But now already the Lord is come, is sacrificed for us, and indeed is risen! Neither these holy and life-giving events nor any facet of Christianity is up for vote.

To be in the wilderness now is an unnecessary choice. The Church can be found, and it is not far away. As the prophet Ezekiel said, “So turn, and live!”

–Fr. John Parker is Priest-in-charge of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and can be reached at frjohn [at] ocacharleston [dot] org

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Theology

Are there really 64 million U.S. Roman Catholics?

From USA Today:

Are there really more than 64 million U.S. Roman Catholics?

That’s what the 2007 Official Catholic Directory, due out this week, will say. But what about the dead, the double-counted and the disgruntled ex-Catholics ”” all of whose names may still plump up parish rolls?

Yes, there are probably “ghosts” in the lists, says demographer Mary Gautier, senior researcher for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, in Washington, D.C. The center analyzes data for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

CARA’s analysis counts 64.4 million Catholics in 2006, up from 63.9 million in 2005. (The directory’s overall totals are higher because they include Puerto Rico, Guam and American protectorates.)

Totals are up, with minor fluctuations ”” 1% a year for the past 25 years, Gautier says. “But counting Catholics is more art than science.”

Read it all.

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

Peter Sprigg: Only married couples deserve financial support from society

Society gives “benefits” to marriage because marriage gives benefits to society. Therefore, when those who are not married, such as people in homosexual or cohabiting relationships, seek to receive such public benefits, they bear the burden of proof. They must show that such relationships benefit society (not just themselves) in the same way and to the same degree that authentic marriage between a man and a woman does.

This is a burden they cannot meet. Only the union of a man and a woman can result in the natural reproduction that is essential literally to continue the human race. And research clearly demonstrates that married men and women ”” and children raised by their married, biological mother and father ”” are happier, healthier and more prosperous than people in any other living situation. These are the true benefits of marriage.

The legal and financial benefits of marriage are not an entitlement for every citizen regardless of lifestyle. They give an incentive to enter into the socially beneficial relationship of authentic marriage and give protection to the social institution of marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

TitusOneNine Top Ten: June 18-24

We usually try to post this weekly feature on Monday’s but didn’t have any time available to do so yesterday. Here are the most-commented-upon blog entries for the week June 18-24. Comment totals as of 06:30 EDT Tuesday, June 26.

Neal Michell: What the Kenyan Initiative Means (92)
Follow-up to Seattle story (Muslim ECUSA priest) — Updated (87)
More from Cherie Wetzel on Executive Council (77)
Wall Street Journal: Christopher Hitchens Book Debunking The Deity Is A Surprise Hit (51)
Second Lawsuit Filed Against St. John’s Anglican Church by Diocese of San Diego (48)
From IRD: The Episcopal Church’s Second Strike (47)
Breaking: Extremely Narrow DEFEAT for local option of SSBs at Canadian General Synod (46)
Britain’s Brown Vows to Learn From Iraq (46)
The Case For and Against the of Blessing Homosexual Unions in the Anglican Church of Canada (45)
7 in 10 Americans Say Economy Is ‘Getting Worse’ (44)

And for those keeping track, if we based this list on total number of comments received in a week, instead of limiting it to entries posted in a given week, the Seattle Times story on the Rev. Ann Redding would have made the list for a second week, as it received approximately 64 comments after we listed it as our top ten “winner” last week. It is now the new T19 overall leader with a total of 138 comments.

Posted in * Admin, * General Interest, Top Ten on T19

Resolutions from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney

These Resolutions are from the Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney, held in the Chapter House of St Andrew’s Cathedral from 6.00pm to 10.00pm, Monday 25th June

1. Consecration of Canon Bill Atwood
Canon Atwood is well known to and respected by many diocesan leaders in Sydney. He was a friend to many during the episcopate of Archbishop Harry Goodhew; he has maintained these relationships since the election of Archbishop Peter Jensen and is especially highly regarded and respected by Archbishop Jensen.
The Standing Committee voted as follows:

“Standing Committee requests the Diocesan Secretary to inform the Rev Canon Dr Bill Atwood of the deep pleasure of the Diocese of Sydney at the news of the announcement by Archbishop Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya, of the forthcoming consecration of Dr Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints’ Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi on 30 August 2007. We assure Dr Atwood of our continuing prayer for his ministry as he supports Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.”

2. Invitations to Lambeth.

Being aware that Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, and his five Regional Bishops – The Rt Rev Robert Forsyth, Bishop of South Sydney; The Rt Rev Glenn Davies, Bishop of North Sydney; The Rt Rev Peter Tasker, Bishop of Liverpool; The Rt Rev Ivan Lee, Bishop of Western Sydney; and The Rt Rev Alan Stewart, Bishop of Wollongong -had all received personal invitations from Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the Lambeth Conference to be held in 2008;
and also being aware that Archbishop Williams had requested a reply to the invitation by 23 July, 2007,
Standing Committee engaged in a lengthy discussion about Lambeth 2008 with the Archbishop and Bishops of the Diocese.

Archbishop Jensen commenced the discussion by commenting on the present situation of the Anglican Communion as he observed it and the implications of the invitation to most Bishops in the Episcopal Church, including those who had agreed to or participated in the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, but excluding Bishop Gene Robinson and also Bishop Martyn Minns.

In response to the discussion, the Standing Committee resolved the following advice to the Archbishop and Bishops:

“Standing notes that disregarding the clear requests of many bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued invitations to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008 to the bishops of the Episcopal Church of the USA who agreed to and/or participated in the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire.

“Standing Committee therefore –
(a) respectfully requests the Archbishop of this diocese to communicate to the Archbishop of Canterbury our dissatisfaction at the attempt to maintain union with the unrepentant while continuing to refuse fellowship to faithful and orthodox Anglicans such as the Church of England in South Africa,

(b) respectfully requests the Archbishop and bishops of this diocese not to accept the invitation to Lambeth without making public in protest, speech and liturgical action, both prior to and at Lambeth, our diocese’s principled objection to the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of scripture, and who have consequently excluded orthodox Anglicans from their fellowship, and

(c) respectfully requests the Archbishop and bishops of this diocese to approach other orthodox bishops of the communion with the purpose of meeting in England at the time of the Lambeth Conference for Christian fellowship and the planning of joint action within the Anglican Communion to contend for the faith of the Apostles once delivered to the saints.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Lambeth 2008

USA Today: Civil unions can protect rights without violating religious roots

After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004, more than 20 states rushed to pass constitutional amendments barring the practice. Backers said their initiatives would have no impact beyond marriage. In particular, they disputed the argument that these measures would prevent state and local governments from offering benefits to same-sex partners. As one supporter of Michigan’s 2004 initiative told USA TODAY, “This has nothing to do with taking benefits away. This is about marriage between a man and a woman.”

Skip forward to 2007. Apparently it does have something to do with taking benefits away. In February, a Michigan court ruled that the state’s amendment bars public employers from offering health coverage and other benefits to unmarried partners, gay or straight.

Similar moves to revoke domestic-partner benefits are afoot in other states. Kentucky’s attorney general recently decided that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville could not offer such benefits. A lawsuit is pending in Ohio over Miami University’s benefits.

These developments expose the disingenuous arguments that surrounded many of the ballot measures. They also underscore the usefulness of civil unions as a middle ground in states that want to reserve the unique status of marriage for heterosexual couples. Civil unions don’t carry the religious and cultural significance of traditional marriage, but they can protect gay couples from those who would use marriage laws to deny them benefits.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality

Top US court rules against 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a school that suspended a student for brandishing a banner proclaiming “Bong Hits 4 Jesus,” in one of the more bizarre recent free-speech cases.
The high-school pupil, Joseph Frederick, had argued that the school principal had infringed his constitutional right to free speech by suspending him in January 2002 over his apparently pro-cannabis message.

But in a five-three decision, the Supreme Court found that schools “may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use.”

“We conclude that the school officials in this case did not violate the First Amendment by confiscating the pro-drug banner and suspending the student responsible for it,” the ruling written by chief justice John Roberts said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Brian Alexander–Free love: Was there a price to pay?

Many problems have been glossed over in the psychedelic, Jefferson Airplane, “make love, not war” sheen the era has received, not least of which was the soaring rate of sexually transmitted diseases. There was a price for all that free love. From 1964 through 1968, the rates of syphilis and gonorrhea in California rose 165 percent, according to published reports.

“There was a lot of drug use, group sex, communal sex,” says Dr. David Smith, who founded the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic with $500 of his own money. “It would be an understatement to say there was a spike in STDs. That’s like saying a hurricane is a strong wind.”

Clinic doctors would regularly visit local communes to track sexual partners of infected people.

“Well, Bill had sex with John, and John had sex with Cindy,” explains Smith. “So we often said, ”˜Well, let’s just bring in a gallon of penicillin and inject everybody.’”

Smith sums up his feelings about how the scene degenerated from carefree experimentation into a disease-ridden mess: “We went from idealism to despair.”

Read it all from MSNBC.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Defrocked pastor is gay hero in Atlanta

Atlanta- The tattered cloth scraps started arriving at St. John’s Lutheran Church shortly after the Rev. Bradley Schmeling took his stand against the church hierarchy, each with an embroidered or drawn message of support.

“God is with you. Make fire in Atlanta,” reads one of the hundreds of prayer cloths. “All love is holy,” says another.

Schmeling’s refusal last year to resign after telling a church bishop he was in a gay relationship has earned him quite a following.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches

Giuliani’s Views on Abortion Upset Roman Catholic Leaders

From the NY Times:

One American bishop, Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., recently wrote a caustic column for his Catholic newspaper calling Mr. Giuliani’s position “pathetic,” “confusing” and “hypocritical.” Other bishops said that they would not criticize a candidate by name but would not hesitate to declare Mr. Giuliani’s stance contrary to Catholic teaching.

Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark said: “I think he’s being illogical, as are all of those who take the stand that ”˜I’m personally opposed to abortion but this is my public responsibility to permit it.’ To violate human life is always and everywhere wrong. In fact, we don’t think it’s a matter of church teaching, but a matter of the way God made the world, and it applies to everyone.”

The presidential campaign of John Kerry, a Democrat, suffered in 2004 when about a dozen of the nation’s more than 200 bishops declared that they would deny him communion because of his abortion stance. A debate ensued among the bishops over whether it was right to enforce doctrine at the communion rail and whether the church had ventured too far into partisan politics.

But some American bishops who favored denying communion said that recent comments by the pope would bolster their approach. Pope Benedict XVI told reporters last month that Catholic legislators in Mexico who had recently voted to allow abortion had effectively excommunicated themselves from the church. A Vatican spokesman immediately issued a clarifying statement saying that politicians who voted for abortion rights should “exclude themselves from communion.”

Bishop Robert J. Baker of Charleston, S.C., said of the pope, “The general thrust of his statement was, it’s within the bishop’s right to take a strong stand in this regard.”

Read it all.

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

Anglican Journal: Emotions run high in Canada after blessings defeated

Bishop Michael Ingham, whose Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster authorized rites for same-sex blessings in 2002, said, “No one can take comfort from this vote because the majority voted in favour of local option. For many, there would be a sense of betrayal.”

Bishop Sue Moxley said she was “just really disappointed” that the house of bishops “would be holding back when it’s clear other people are ready to go.” She said some dioceses might simply go ahead and allow same-sex blessings.

Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton, chair of the Primate’s Theological Commission, said, “I don’t think there were any winners. We know that people on both sides ”¦ leave tonight with a profound sense of sadness that the body of Christ is broken.”

Read it all.

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