Daily Archives: September 8, 2007

Cary Mcmullen: Is divorce different for a minister?

About two weeks ago, two celebrity pastoral couples suffered public crackups within days of each other. Randy and Paula White, pastors of Without Walls International Church in Tampa — reckoned in 2005 the second-largest church in America and the fastest-growing — announced they are going their separate ways. By all accounts, it is an amicable split, and Randy White will continue as pastor of Without Walls while Paula follows her star as a preacher, author and “life coach.”

About the same time, singer and evangelist Juanita Bynum had a rather more nasty breakup with her estranged husband, Thomas Weeks, pastor of Global Destiny Ministries in the Atlanta area. According to police, Weeks had to be restrained from choking and stomping on Bynum in a hotel parking lot. She went to the hospital, and he has been charged with assault and battery.

No doubt, divorce is painful and tragic. I would even say in a few cases, it is necessary for the health of those involved. But when a pastor’s marriage goes on the rocks, should it be no big deal? If either of the Whites marry again, it would be their third marriage. Does this matter? Should members of Without Walls mind that their pastor hasn’t set a very good example?

Some might say pastors are human, too, and that it is unfair to hold them to a different standard. Others might say that is the price of leadership — that leaders should be held to a higher standard.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Standing-room-only opening in Central Florida at 'La Cage'

The Broadway musical has won several awards and was later tuned into an American movie called The Birdcage, which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. La Cage features a gay couple in which one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. The couple has been together for 20 years but make changes when their son bring home his fiancee and her conservative parents.

Janine Papin, Trinity Prep’s fine-arts department chairwoman, said earlier that she wanted do the show to “push the limits.” She said the play is about family and tolerance, not about homosexuality.

Fred Trabold, a 32-year-old attorney who graduated from Trinity in 1993, agreed with the bishop’s decision.

“The issue is whether the Trinity Preparatory School, which is an Episcopalian school, should honor the bishop of the Episcopalian church,” Trabold said. “It’s not a matter of homophobia. I saw the movie The Birdcage and it was hilarious.”

[Bishop John] Howe had no further comment Friday night two hours before curtain.

“I really have said all I want to about it,” he said.

Ah, er, might one point out that it is the Episcopal Church? Episcopalian is a noun. Anyway, read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Terry Mattingly: Presbyterian fight headed to Supreme Court?

Leaders on both sides know it may take a U.S. Supreme Court decision to tie up the many loose ends in this legal fight – affecting millions of dollars worth of pensions, endowments and church properties nationwide.

Similar conflicts are shaking the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other old-line Protestant bodies.

There will be unity in the future, said [Parker] Williamson, but it will not look like the unity of the past.

“There isn’t going to be a central, merged denominational office somewhere,” he said. “The new church unity will be in new networks of people with common beliefs. It’s going to look more like the World Wide Web, not the old industrial model.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

Texas Episcopal diocese releases timeline chronicling claims of sexual abuse

Over the course of four decades, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and St. Stephen’s Episcopal School officials were told repeatedly that the Rev. James L. Tucker had molested minors in the past but they took no action against the former St. Stephen’s chaplain, according to a timeline released last week by the diocese.

According to the timeline, an investigation this year found at least nine people ”” including one from Houston not publicly acknowledged until now ”” who claim to be victims.

Also, for the first time since the diocese announced the allegations in May, the former head of St. Stephen’s, Allen Becker, who had received allegations from students in the 1960s, has issued a public apology, saying he “should have responded differently.”

Tucker, who retired in 1994, will face charges in a church trial unless he admits guilt and agrees to resign from the ministry, diocesan official said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Love to the Diocese of Albany

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Love
September 7, 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At our Diocesan Convention in June, I spoke of what I have come to see as a “spirit of poverty and fear” that has come over much of the Diocese, negatively impacting our ability to serve God and His people. Far too many parishes are in a survival or maintenance mode, due to limited finances and fear. As I stated at the Convention and will say again, that is not what God wants for us. Satan knows all too well our human vulnerability when it comes to money and material possessions, and he is using it against us, to bring chaos into our individual lives and to limit our effectiveness in serving God and growing the Kingdom.
What many regard as a financial issue is really a spiritual issue. With rare exception, such as a major medical emergency or loss of job, the majority of the financial struggles in our individual lives and our parishes is self-created, not because the expenses aren’t real, but because we have listened to the ways of the world and failed to trust God with our money, which in fact, is really His money on loan to us. Martin Luther once said, the last part of a person to be converted is their wallet. Unfortunately, as I look at how few people tithe, and how money is often used as a weapon, I believe there is more truth in that statement than most of us would like to think.
The world would have us believe that if you have enough money, if you live in this particular neighborhood, if you drive that particular car, if you wear these particular clothes, if you have this particular job, if, if, if”¦then you will have peace and happiness and fulfillment. The reality is, without God as the center of our life, we will never have peace. Far too many people have believed the lies of the world, and now find themselves hopelessly in debt, trying to work two or more jobs, totally exhausted, with no time for themselves or their family, and even more tragically, no time for God. Approximately 50 percent of all marriages are ending in divorce, with financial issues being a major contributing factor. More and more children are growing up in single parent families or homes where both parents are working all hours of the day and night with little to no parental supervision. Our jails are overflowing with young men and women who came from such backgrounds.
I could go on and on with an ever growing list of societal woes that are either directly or indirectly related to society’s quest for material wealth and possessions. The bottom line is, for far too many people, life is tragically out of balance. The quest for the “almighty” dollar and all that can be bought with it, rather than blessing us, is destroying us.

For our own spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health and well being, and that of our families, it is essential that we bring balance back into our lives. To help us achieve that goal, I have invited the folks from Crown Ministries to come to the Diocese. An informational meeting about the Crown Ministry Program that I would like to see shared throughout the Diocese, will be held as follows: Sept. 10th ”“ Potsdam; Sept. 11th ”“ Unadilla; Sept. 12 ”“ Johnstown; Oct. 1st ”“ Elizabethtown; Oct. 2nd – Coxsackie; and Oct. 3rd ”“ The Cathedral of All Saints, Albany. Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m..
As your Bishop and Brother in Christ, I am asking that every active priest and deacon in the Diocese as well as the key lay leadership from every parish in the Diocese, attend one of these meetings to learn more about the program and how it works. It is my sincere hope and prayer that every parish in the Diocese of Albany will offer the Crown Ministry Ten Week Program beginning this January. Based on everything I have seen and the people I have talked to, the Crown Ministry Program is an excellent, sound, biblically based program that has a great deal to offer. They have helped countless people throughout the world reprioritize their financial affairs, learn to budget more effectively, get out of debt and come see money and material possessions as the blessing God intends them to be, rather than the curse they can become, when our priorities become confused and misguided. God has given us money to help us ”“ not to control us.
To the naysayer out there ”“ Will Crown Ministries solve all our problems? Probably not, but it is a good start. Is it perfect? No, but it has much to offer if we give it a chance. I invite you to join me, as we move forward in an attempt to bring a greater sense of balance into our financial lives.
For those who have come to trust God with their money and material possession, they have been set free of the huge financial albatross that drags so many people down, wreaking havoc and misery in their lives. True financial freedom can only occur when God is in control of our finances. Crown Ministries can help us learn how to more effectively invite Christ into our financial lives, in order that we might become better stewards of that which He has entrusted to us. I look forward to seeing you in the coming days and weeks. God Bless You!

Faithfully Yours in Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Bill Love is Bishop of Albany

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

Pope says abortion "not a human right"

Pope Benedict rejected the concept that abortion could be considered a human right on Friday and urged European leaders to do everything possible to raise birth rates and make their countries more child-friendly.

The 80-year-old German Pontiff told diplomats and representatives of international organizations that Europe could not deny its Christian roots because Christianity had played a decisive role in forging its history and culture.

“It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself,” he said in an address at the former imperial Hofburg Palace.

“This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right — it is the very opposite. It is a deep wound in society.”

Read it all.

Update: The full text of the Pope’s speech is here and it includes the following:

It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right ”“ it is the very opposite. It is “a deep wound in society”, as the late Cardinal Franz König never tired of repeating.

In stating this, we are not expressing a specifically ecclesial concern. Rather, we are acting as advocates for a profoundly human need, speaking out on behalf of those unborn children who have no voice. I do not close my eyes to the difficulties and the conflicts which many women are experiencing, and I realize that the credibility of what we say also depends on what the Church herself is doing to help women in trouble.

I appeal, then, to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, nor to abolish in practice your legal system’s acknowledgment that abortion is wrong. I say this out of a concern for humanity. But that is only one side of this disturbing problem. The other is the need to do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children. Encourage young married couple to establish new families and to become mothers and fathers! You will not only assist them, but you will benefit society as a whole. We also decisively support you in your political efforts to favour conditions enabling young couples to raise children. Yet all this will be pointless, unless we can succeed in creating once again in our countries a climate of joy and confidence in life, a climate in which children are not seen as a burden, but rather as a gift for all.

Another great concern of mine is the debate on what has been termed “actively assisted death”. It is to be feared that at some point the gravely ill or elderly will be subjected to tacit or even explicit pressure to request death or to administer it to themselves. The proper response to end-of-life suffering is loving care and accompaniment on the journey towards death ”“ especially with the help of palliative care ”“ and not “actively assisted death”. But if humane accompaniment on the journey towards death is to prevail, urgent structural reforms are needed in every area of the social and healthcare system, as well as organized structures of palliative care. Concrete steps would also have to be taken: in the psychological and pastoral accompaniment of the seriously ill and dying, their family members, and physicians and healthcare personnel. In this field the hospice movement has done wonders. The totality of these tasks, however, cannot be delegated to it alone. Many other people need to be prepared or encouraged in their willingness to spare neither time nor expense in loving care for the gravely ill and dying.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Martyn Minns reports on the recent consecrations

Bishops Bill Atwood, John Guernsey, and Bill Murdoch are personal friends of many years and we are looking forward to working with them in the coming months as part of the Common Cause Partnership. These new initiatives are a dramatic demonstration that we are not alone as we seek to bear witness to the transforming love of Jesus Christ that is rooted in the ‘faith once and for all delivered to the saints.’

These missionary and pastoral initiatives by our friends in the Global South also make clear that they will not abandon us to those who seek to silence our voices by pernicious lawsuits and canonical threats. It is my hope that one result of these creative partnerships will be a renewed emphasis on mission and reaching the unchurched with the Gospel.

Read it all.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.

–Psalm 30: 11,12 (RSV)

I have always loved the KJV translation of this verse:

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

Robert Brooks and Todd Granger Debate the ACC and Anglican Communion Membership

Canon Brooks piece is here and Todd Granger’s response is there. Sadly Canon Brooks took no notice of, nor bothered to interact with, the important arguments of Martyn Davie.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal

The Bishop of Colorado Writes the Church of the Holy Comforter

Church of the Holy Comforter

Dear Friends,

This past Monday I was sorry to learn that your rector, The Reverend Chuck Reeder, has tendered his resignation effective October 1 and that simultaneously the members of your vestry have also resigned effective October 1. These actions follow soon after a meeting I had with your rector, wardens, and treasurer on August 8 during which I was informed that The Church of the Holy Comforter is currently facing significant financial challenges. These difficulties, I am told, stem from the fact that 42% of pledge income to the parish is currently being withheld by members of the parish who are unhappy with The Episcopal Church””members who, as it was explained to me, have no intention of contributing to ministry of The Church of the Holy Comforter so long as it remains a member of The Episcopal Church.

During that same meeting, I explained to your parish leadership that our Diocesan Canons have a provision by which my office will work with the leadership of any parish that is so “imperiled” to thoroughly assess the situation and to develop a viable plan for the future of the congregation. Over the past several weeks, my office, working with your Senior Warden, John Bosio, began taking steps to put that process in place. Subsequently your rector and vestry decided to resign. Even so, you should know that this process of assessing the life of the parish and developing a plan for recovery will continue to move forward under the direction of my office. For those of you that have concerns about the buildings and property, they belong as always to the Episcopal Church, and I am committed to seeing that the Episcopal Church continues to exercise its ministry in that location in the days and years to come. Moreover, your parish leadership has graciously expressed their intent to work with my office to that end without engaging in any disputes over the ownership of property. For their thoughtfulness and good will, I am indeed grateful.

You should know too, that although they have already tendered their resignations, your wardens and vestry have stated their desire and commitment to cooperate with my office to provide for a smooth transition as we identify the steps that will be necessary to provide The Church of the Holy Comforter with new pastoral leadership and guidance in the days ahead.

Over the next week, I will be in conversation with your rector and wardens to identify the specific steps and the timetable for the upcoming transition. Just as soon as that work has been done, you can expect to hear directly from me. To that end, I have scheduled a parish meeting for Thursday, September 6, at 7:30 p.m. at The Church of the Holy Comforter to update you on the situation and to outline the next steps that will be taken to reorganize and redevelop The Church of the Holy Comforter.

Although I am indeed saddened to know that some members of your congregation have expressed a desire to leave The Episcopal Church, I trust that they do so in good faith and out of a heartfelt desire to respond faithfully to the call of God in their lives. I want you to know that I continue to hold those individuals in my prayers and to ask God’s blessing on them in the same way I hold all of you in my prayers during these difficult days.

Just as The Church of the Holy Comforter has had a wonderful and vibrant history of ministry in the Broomfield area and in The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado in the past, I am confident that it will continue to do so in the days ahead. I am committed to working with you to that end, and, as always, I am confident in the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit working within us and among us to bear the fruit of God’s purpose in our lives. For now, God’s peace and blessing be with you. I will look forward to speaking with you soon.

Yours faithfully in Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev) Robert O’Neill is Bishop of Colorado

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

The Diocese of South Carolina Awaits Completed Consent Forms

Read it all and follow the link for more also.

This may be of interest also.

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

Poll: Clinton, Giuliani Least Religious

People view Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudy Giuliani as the least religious of the major presidential candidates, according to a poll released Thursday. Mitt Romney was seen as most religious, but his Mormonism may hurt him with voters.

Seven in 10 in the nonpartisan Pew Research Center poll said they believe it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs, including broad majorities of both parties. Most also see each major presidential hopeful as at least somewhat religious ”” important because people who view a candidate that way are likelier to have a favorable opinion of them.

Of those expressing an opinion on the candidates’ beliefs, 46 percent said they consider Romney, a Republican contender, to be very religious, far more than any other candidate. Yet a quarter of all Republicans ”” including 36 percent of white evangelical Protestants ”” said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said the former Massachusetts governor has “the same hopes and aspirations for his country” as voters, adding, “Any sort of abstract aversion toward him because of his denomination will likely fade.”

Read it all.

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