Daily Archives: September 29, 2007

Washington Times: Episcopalians plan to leave denomination

Fifty-one Anglican and Episcopal bishops announced plans yesterday to form a separate Anglican province in North America within 15 months, giving disaffected Episcopalians a chance to flee their increasingly liberal denomination.

The Common Cause partnership, which includes bishops from several Episcopal dioceses and leaders of nine Anglican organizations, met yesterday in Pittsburgh. The leaders represent 600 congregations and more than 100,000 people.

The bishops said they will meet in December to put together an office staff for a 39th province of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.

“We took some steps in the right direction,” said Bishop Martyn Minns, the former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax who now leads the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a group of 60 former Episcopal churches that have left the denomination. “It was quite a journey but I am pleased with the movement we made.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Common Cause Partnership

Gay activist says split regrettable but admits it might make life easier

The leader of a Toronto gay Anglican group says he would be sorry to see a split in the church but thinks his own life might be made easier if a conservative wing were to break away.

“I’m getting to the stage where I’m not sure that I want to be perpetually justifying my existence in the church as a gay man,” Chris Ambidge of Integrity Canada said yesterday.

“I want to get along with worshipping God and doing what I need to be doing in the church,” he added.

Ambidge, who is chair of the Toronto chapter of the gay and lesbian justice ministry, was responding to news that conservative Anglicans are planning to establish their own church.

“They have serious theological issues with the direction the rest of the church is going. I feel sorry for them that they feel they need to draw the circle tighter and to circle the wagons,” he said.

He said his preference is for the church to remain united.

Differing opinions over same-sex marriage are at the heart of the debate, explained Ambidge, who worships in The Church of the Redeemer at Avenue Rd. and Bloor St.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Notes from a clergy conference in the Rio Grande

Second, ++KJS is quite insistent that a clause be added to the St. Clement’s contract making it null and void if they cease to be an independent congregation of join another part of the Anglican Communion/ She, rightly in my mind, sees this as crucial for TEC. I believe she repeated that at least once and referred to that principle several times in the question and answer session. However, the agreement is signed, sealed, delivered and the money became an investment instrument the minute it was received. I don’t believe it can be legally reopened. But she is steely eyed committed to see that this clause gets in all the next agreements. “Warning Will Robinson!”

Third, two bishops threatened +Jeffrey, over this agreement with St. Clement. CO and I believe XX were the bishops. He was really upset by this ”“in tears and shaking- and it included deposition, law suits, not allowing him to resign. . . We were quite angry on hearing this and wondered if they realized they were talking to a NM ”“ TX bishop. Their cities may have a lot of urban gang problems; but, they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande

Episcopal session seen as mixed bag

Depending upon what you read this week, Episcopal leaders appeared to either bow to the wishes of worldwide Anglican Communion leaders, or they moved further away from their Anglican family.
The New York Times wrote Wednesday that Episcopal bishops, meeting during a conference in New Orleans, “rejected” demands of Anglican leaders by adopting a resolution that defies the Anglican Communion’s directive to change several church policies regarding the place of gays and lesbians in their church.

The Associated Press reported on the same day that Episcopal leaders said they will “exercise restraint” in approving another gay bishop and that they will not authorize official prayers to bless same-sex couples.

The Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Utah’s Episcopal bishop, said simply that the Episcopal House of Bishops voted to essentially reconfirm the 2006 resolution passed by her church’s general convention held every three years. She voted against the nonbinding 2006 measure that urged Episcopal leaders to exercise restraint in future votes on ordaining gay bishops.

“I felt like we lost some ground and we gained some ground,” Bishop Irish said in a phone interview. “And that’s what pretty much happens in our church.”

She read directly from the resolution, saying that the bishops agreed to exercise restraint by “not consenting to consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the church and will lead to further strains on communion.” Exactly what constitutes a “challenge” to the church may vary from case to case, according to Bishop Irish.

Read it all. So riddle me this, Batman. If they were so clear why did the press have such varying interpretations? And how is the language of even the first section really doing what they were asked?

Jared Cramer sees the B033 section for what it is, even if some Episcopal Church leaders who should know better do not:

I suspect that the section on B033 will be the most contentious. In the full statement the bishops respond to the Primates’ request for just who B033 is talking about by speaking as clearly as possible: “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.” I would like to make two points. First, this resolution calls for restraint in any such election. To me, the word “restraint” suggests pause, taking time to consider the implications of what any such election may mean. Sure, the resolution specifies “exercise restraint by not consenting,” but I think that language is not as strong as an explicit and ill-advised moratorium would be [Bingo!–KSH]. Furthermore, I find it encouraging that ++Katharaine explicitly noted that with regard to the partnered lesbian priest currently up as one of eight nominees to be the next bishop of Chicago there needs to be reflection. She then goes on to note that partnered gay and lesbian clergy are certainly still qualified to serve as bishops.

Second, non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains. That is, there are others whose manner of life might also present a challenge to the life of the communion. I believed then and still believe now that this resolution is intended to “cut both ways”; it is intended to say that if the manner of life of someone up for bishop presents a challenge to the wider communion (whether she is gay or he is a misogynist or, say, would encourage more of those problematic border crossings) then those involved in giving consent to that election should exercise restraint and caution, fully aware of what any of those elections would mean.

In short, I have no problem with the HoB statment’s clarification of B033.

Yes, because the clarification also involves qualification, and that is why I DO have a problem with this section since it does not do what the Windsor Report asks for. That is worth being reminded of one more time:

the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Andrew Goddard offers a Comprehensive Analysis of the House of Bishops New Orleans Statement

The sad fact is that, on any careful objective reading of the HoB statement, the glass is nowhere near either ”˜half full’ or ”˜half empty’. It may appear to be so on first examination but in fact once one has removed the froth there is little nourishing left in the glass. To change the metaphor, what is being offered here are essentially the same TEC sweets the Communion has been offered over recent years only now in a more attractive wrapping and with a stronger sugar coating.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the American church has already walked too far apart from the Communion and too much of it sincerely believes that it has walked that way led by the Spirit. As a result, despite much prayer and great effort by many, what has been offered by its bishops to the Communion is ”˜too little, too late’.

The challenge now, with the Lambeth Conference less than a year away, is to discern what this means for the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole. That is a task that cannot be left to the Archbishop on his own or relying solely on advisors at Lambeth and the Anglican Communion Office. It requires the Primates who offered their guidance at Dar to be gathered in some manner so as to provide a common and coherent response to the statement from TEC’s HoB on the basis of their own understanding of the needs and demands we are facing together. There can be little doubt that TEC’s relationship with the Communion still remains as it was declared to be at Dar ”“ “damaged at best” – and that “this hasconsequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Bishop MacPherson's Pastoral Letter about the HoB meeting

[via e-mail]

A Pastoral Letter from
The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson
III Bishop of Western Louisiana
September 27, 2007

Please read at all services on the weekend of September 29-30, 2007. In addition to reading, this may also be reproduced and distributed. [Canon III.12.3(b) Constitution and Canons of General Convention 2006].

A response and reflections on the House of Bishops meeting
[September 19-25, 2007 New Orleans, Louisiana]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:

A week and a half ago Susan and I set out for New Orleans and the advent of the House of Bishops meeting. This gathering has been in the thoughts and prayers of many since March of this year when the bishops of the Church made their initial response to the Communique issued by the Primates. I know, and will say at the outset, there are varying views amongst people across the Church as to the response and outcome of this important meeting, and I speak to this a little later in this letter.

We went to this meeting with the knowledge of being held in prayer by so very many across our diocese and places beyond, and we are grateful. We went knowing the weight that rested upon the work of the bishops and the ultimate statement that would be made. As we travelled, the scripture passage from Joshua 24:15 kept coming to mind, “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

For Joshua, it was a declaration that would set the tone for those who shared in the story of Israel’s life in its land. Pausing for a moment and looking back at the path taken by Joshua, we find that his book simplifies what was not only a long, but also complex process, by which the Israelites settled in Canaan. The history of their battles and struggles prevail over the course of twenty-two chapters, and then lead us into the concluding two chapters. It is in these concluding verses that we discover the loyalty of the Israelites to their God who has given them the land they now occupy.

A careful reading of the book in its entirety will reveal that the affirmation of God’s purpose for Israel was served even by the difficulties and evil that were encountered, but more important, for you and for me it serves as a vehicle to lead us to an understanding of obedience to God, and in whose image we are created.

As shared some time back, the passage “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” is simply stated, yet expresses the focus that Susan and I have shared as we have sought to live out our lives in faithfulness before, and for, the Lord.

In reading Joshua’s declaration there is no doubt as to what is intended. He has gathered all of the people together, reviewed with them the gracious acts of God toward them down through history, and then challenges them to choose whom they will worship – the God of all creation or other gods. They concur with him and in turn enter into a solemn covenant with one another and God. Down through the years, and to this day, life is always confronting us with choices and alternatives. We have a choice – God or the worldly things which surround us.

It was with this on my heart and mind that I entered the city of New Orleans. My prayer was that we would enter into a solemn covenant with God through the response that we would make as bishops of the Church.

Our time over the many days was spent sharing in Bible study with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, worship, closed executive sessions, and at times with business being conducted with the media present.

A highlight for many was on Saturday, September 22, when most of the bishops and spouses spent the day in either Mississippi or the New Orleans area, doing hurricane relief work. Due to the condition of my knee, and the fact that I was on a crutch, Susan and I signed up to go and work in the kitchen of the Cathedral making sandwiches for those who were labouring in the field. This unfortunately didn’t work out as they assigned us to go and work on a building site. The vision of me endeavouring to hang sheet rock while balanced on a crutch dissuaded us.

With this background, permit me now to speak to the larger, and more important picture, the response of the bishops of The Episcopal Church to the Primate’s Communique. In the course of the week a portion of our time was shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d Rowan D. Williams, and with some members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. I would not be honest if I didn’t share that the week was intense, and the conversation for the most part, quite serious. I was taken a bit in our early conversations to find a number of bishops, whom have most often tended to disagree with me, expressing concern about the outcome of the meeting and our ongoing relationship within the Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury. These expressions were built upon by a number of them, and particularly following the presentations made by the Archbishop and some of the members of the Joint Standing Committee.

As a part of his time with us, the Archbishop shared his concern about the direction of the Church as it relates to our ecclesiology. I personally felt he was speaking with a sense of deep concern and pastoral care. The Joint Standing Committee, represented by both lay and ordained members, as did the Archbishop, spent time in conversation with us formally and informally. When each of them addressed the gathering, they demonstrated great candor while being gracious. Their messages were to the point, and they were uniform in their expressed feeling that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church. Underscoring this however, was the fact that we, The Episcopal Church, cannot be implementing change without regard to the effect it has on the wider Communion.

The message that was delivered to us was clear: the Communion wants more from us than was offered in Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006), and it needs to be unequivocally so.

As I listened to each of the speakers and the message of desired clarity, I honestly could not help but feel the resolution submitted by the Windsor bishops addressed their concerns exactly. Unfortunately though, not only our resolution, but the resolution submitted jointly by the Bishop of Louisiana in concert with the Bishops of Los Angeles and Washington, which was a modified version of the Windsor bishop’s resolution, were not able to get to the floor. It was the posture of the House to have a writing committee that had been appointed, take these documents and draw upon them in the development of the statement of response.

This committee repeatedly brought drafts to the House for consideration in executive sessions, and in each case the contents were debated. I can assure you, every effort was made to produce a document that contained the Windsor compliant language of the Windsor bishops proposed resolution. Sadly, the effort was in vain.

The final document has left frustration on both sides of the aisle, and basically states the following:

* “We reconfirm that Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006) that bishops and Standing Committees exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the Communion.”
* “We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
* “We commend our Presiding Bishop’s plan for episcopal visitors.”
* “We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.”
* “We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.”
* “We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”
* “We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.”

For those who have read the Communique and the Windsor Report, you will note this fails to respond clearly to that which has been asked of us. My disappointment with the above is that it falls short of providing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates of the Communion with the response they sought with respect to definitive clarity.

As many are aware, the document was approved by the House of Bishops with one dissenting vote, and this coming from one of the more progressive bishops. As to my personal action, I sat mute, and in doing so, supported this work. Should I have been vocal at this stage, yes, but I failed to do so and take responsibility for my silence.

Where will we go from here? This will be determined by the response that will be made by the Archbishop, Joint Standing Committee and Primates, and the direction we take in living out the faith that has been entrusted to us, and the proclamation of the Gospel as we fulfill the mission of the Church, and this is in the “Making of Disciples: restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” I pray the response will come in time for our Diocesan Convention on October 12-13 at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre Hotel in Alexandria.

It is important to note, we have accomplished much toward this end with our reconciliation and healing work over this past year; our unwillingness to be distracted from the ministry to which God has called us and to which we have responded with great commitment. Those participating in this endeavour spoke clearly as to what the expressed desire is – faithful submission to the will of God; maintaining a focus on the Gospel and the mission of the church; respecting one another and our differences, and being a continuing part of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion in communion with the See of Canterbury. I pray that we, as the Diocese of Western Louisiana, will continue to focus on these things as we move forward together in the days ahead.

In closing, permit me to end with that which I began, “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This has not changed, and my prayer is that while not having changed, I trust there has been growth in my faith and relationship with Christ. Although I failed to speak out at the time of the final vote, I remain committed to the Windsor Report and in being the Bishop of a Windsor compliant diocese. My position with respect to the requests of the Primate’s Communique has not changed and I will continue to work toward the development of the Anglican Covenant.

As your bishop, I am committed to ministering to the whole of God’s people in this diocese, and ensuring that we live with fullness into our Baptismal Covenant. To do this, I need your help and prayers and trust you know of my prayers for each of you.

“O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” [BCP p.832]

Faithfully offered in the love of Christ,


The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson

III Bishop of Western Louisiana

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

A partial list of the bishops attending the Common Cause Council in Pittsburgh

[via e-mail. Update: here’s the link on the Network website]

A number of folks in the comment threads have asked to know which bishops were in Pittsburgh. Here is a partial list we received by e-mail.

Bishops Attending the Common Cause Council of Bishops

An incomplete list of bishops present at the Common Cause Council of Bishops. We plan to finalize this list in the very near future.

The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman (The Episcopal Church – Quincy)
The Rt. Rev James Adams (The Episcopal Church – Western Kansas)
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bill Atwood (Kenya)
The Rt. Rev. Fitz Allison (The Episcopal Church – Retired)
The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith (The Episcopal Church – Springfield)
The Rt. Rev. David Bena (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)
The Rt. Rev. Richard Boyce, OCD (Anglican Province of America)
The Rt. Rev. C. Peter Brewer, OSF (Anglican Province of America)
The Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti (Guest, Network International Convocation)
The Rt. Rev. Alex Dickson (The Episcopal Church – Retired)
The Rt. Rev. Charles Dorrington (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan (The Episcopal Church – Pittsburgh)
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Fairfield (Uganda)
The Rt. Rev. Michael Fedechko (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. George Finke (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. Sandy Green (Anglican Mission in the Americas)
The Rt. Rev. Royal Grote, JR. (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Most Rev. Walter Grundorf, D.D. (Anglican Province of America)
The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey (Uganda)
The Rt. Rev Donald Harvey (Anglican Network in Canada)
The Rt. Rev. Paul Hewett (guest)
The Rt. Rev. David Hicks (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker (The Episcopal Church ”“ Fort Worth)
The Rt. Rev. T.J. Johnston (Anglican Mission in the Americas)
The Rt. Rev. William Love (The Episcopal Church ”“ Albany)
The Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons (International Convocation)
The Rt. Rev. William Millsaps (guest)
The Rt. Rev. Maryn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)
The Rt. Rev. Daniel Morse (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. Winfield Mott (Anglican Province in America)
The Rt. Rev. William Murdoch (Kenya)
The Rt. Rev. Chuck Murphy (Anglican Mission in the Americas)
The Rt. Rev. Donald Parsons (The Episcopal Church – Retired)
The Most Rev. Leonard Riches (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. John Rodgers (Anglican Mission in the Americas)
The Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven (The Episcopal Church ”“ Pittsburgh)
The Most. Rev. Dr. Larry L. Shaver, Obl./OSF (Anglican Province of America)
The Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton (Reformed Episcopal Church)
The Rt. Rev. William Wantland (The Episcopal Church ”“ Retired)
The Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung (guest ”“ Anglican Mission in America)

The Rev. Cn. Roger Ames (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)
The Rev. Cn. David Anderson (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)
The Ven. Amos A Fagbarniye (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)
The Rev. Nathan Kanu (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership

Time Magazine on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

And in New Orleans, the Episcopal Bishops, in a near-unanimous voice vote [as noted before, we now know this is untrue although what is true remains unclear–KSH], essentially confirmed what they had said less formally on other occasions: They rejected the notion of Communion involvement in the bishops they choose, promised to “exercise restraint by not consenting” to non-celibate gay bishops and pledged not to approve prayers to bless gay couples.

All of this falls short of what the global Anglican leadership asked for. Indeed, at the end of August, the Chicago Episcopal diocese named an openly gay woman as one of five nominees for a bishop’s position. And a pledge not to come up with a specific prayer for gay marriages doesn’t necessarily mean that individual priests won’t continue to perform improvised ceremonies.

Read it all. I am frustrated that this reporter didn’t talk to me and took one word from the RNS article (posted just above) instead of putting it in context. The reason it is insulting is that they think others in the Communion will not be clever enough to see their attempted ruse. So it is not just a failure to tell the truth, it is a failure to love and to respect the dignity of their listerners around the Communion–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Anglican TV: Common Cause Press Conference Friday

Anglican TV has now posted the video of the press conference from yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Here’s the link.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Common Cause Partnership, Resources: Audio-Visual

The Religion News Service Article on the New Orleans Bishops Meeting

In making a “pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions” at this time, they noted that the church has never adopted any rite for such blessings.

[But the Primates already knew this, what they were concerned about was local pastoral provision for same sex blessings which is occurring even without any General Convention authorized rite–KSH].

Whether the bishops’ response will satisfy either the Anglican primates or dissident Episcopalians remains in question.

“It’s a great example of apostolic leaders acting like lawyers,” said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, a conservative theologian from the Diocese of South Carolina. “They’re hiding behind language that’s parsed and [this attempt to pretend using language as a weapon is–KSH] insulting.”

The bishops’ “reluctant bargaining effort to keep their foot in the door,” of the Anglican Communion, will just lead to increased chaos in the U.S. and abroad, Harmon said.

But the statement’s seemingly overwhelming support from conservative and liberal bishops proves that it strikes a balance on a divisive issue, said Jim Naughton, a spokesman for the Diocese of Washington.

“Much of the church would like to move forward on issues of full inclusion,” he said. “We would like to authorize blessings for gay relationships, we would like to say that all orders of ministry in our church are open to our gay and lesbian members. We’re not happy with the statue quo. But tactically this seemed by far the wisest thing to do.”

Read it all. But Jim Naughton is not telling the truth about the Bishops not telling the truth. It is not the status quo. It is still creating facts on the ground in multiple dioceses which put into practice something Anglicans have never agreed to do and the Bible has never been understood by the Church to permit. That is why Integrity entitled its press release “INTEGRITY APPLAUDS BISHOPS’ STRONG STAND AGAINST PRIMATES”.

Update: And speaking of creating facts on the ground, anyone remember this statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury?

But I distinguish as clearly as I can between a question a theologian may ask and an action or determination the church may take, or only the bishop may take. I think that is a necessary distinction for the life and health of the church. It would be a tragedy if the church sought to suppress questions. But it is equally a tragedy when the church creates facts on the ground that foreclose discussions and reflections on such questions.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

David Shiflet: God Made Flesh, Then Plastic

Anyone seeking a mischievous stocking stuffer for Christopher Hitchens or less exalted scoffers need look no further. A growing phalanx of religious action figures–including Adam, Eve, Daniel, Job, Esther, Goliath, Samson and Jesus–offer a tweaking reminder that despite Heathendom’s best efforts, the faith-based marketplace is forever expanding.

Plastic saints, to be sure, aren’t exactly new. Mary, mother of Jesus, has long ridden shotgun in Catholic vehicles. Yet some of the faithful, including a few with a gift for retail, concluded that she needed reinforcements. David Socha, chief executive of One2believe, which offers a line of religious action figures, told the Associated Press that there is a “battle for the toy box” under way, in which good and evil vie for the young. “If you’re very religious, it’s a battle for your children’s minds and what they’re playing with and pretending,” he said. “There are remakes out there of Satan and evil things.”

Old Scratch and associates may now have their hands full. Jesus, for example, comes in several incarnations, including a football player, skier, roller blader and the best-selling “Baseball Jesus Sports Statue,” offered by Catholic Supply for $20. “A contemporary statue for today’s youth,” the sales pitch says of the figure, promising a hands-on reminder that “Jesus is with us in everything we do, watching over us & involved in all of our acts & activities.” The company’s Web site also anoints its statue with a bit of marketplace myrrh: “As seen on the Conan O’Brien show!”

The deployment of Jesus and other biblical bigs to the toy-box war includes some contemporary updates. One supplier, in a bow toward divinity and diversity, offers figures in both dark- and light-skinned models (Adam and Eve, it should be noted, are portrayed in post-fall attire reminiscent of bathing suits). Meantime, at the Family Values Center, there’s Moses ($12.99), who comes with “shield and sword, along with fully illustrated comic book.” Interestingly, two female dolls–Deborah the Warrior and Queen Esther–cost $24.99. Must be their wardrobes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Anselmic Sees What Occurred in New Orleans

So, heading into this meeting TEC’s bishops were aware that if the necessary reassurances were not given they risked being disciplined, possibly even suspended from the Anglican Communion. Equally though, it’s patently obvious that there is no real desire to pull back from the course they have charted for themselves. Most observers predicted that what would emerge from this meeting would be a form of words which would be enough to satisfy the majority of the Communions Primates that TEC is seeking to comply with their wished, whilst at the same time giving themselves enough ”˜wiggle room’ to continue as before. And that’s exactly what they have done.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Minnesota Responds to the House of Bishops Meeting

Via email:

Memo to: Clergy and Diocesan/Congregational Leaders
From: The Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek
VIII Bishop, Diocese of Minnesota

Have you ever worked on a statement with ±150 colleagues? And have you ever done so considering the nuanced meaning of words and phrases to a worldwide audience? That pretty well describes the last two days of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Within hours after its release Tuesday afternoon, it was commented upon and interpreted by scores of people and so it is my hope that this /Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners/ (attached below) will be read more carefully than the comments and criticisms about it. Please spend the time to read it slowly. What does it say? What doesn’t it say? I believe it is a pretty accurate description of us that is quite clear about what we stand _for_ in the name of God and also sets limits as to what we are willing to take from others outside of The Episcopal Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, +Rowan Williams, and several members of the Steering Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (the only body with a constitution and agreed-upon authority in the Anglican Communion) met with us and urged us to be clear. I believe we were. I also believe we answered everything we were asked to answer. It is clear that some were looking for a repudiation by The Episcopal Church (TEC) of earlier actions, but that is something we neither could nor would do.

Will there be reactivity to this /Response/? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow? Watch and listen, but first of all measure your own reactions and re-read those passages or phrases to which you most strongly react. Upon second or third reading, do you hear them the same way? If so, that is worth pursuing in conversation in your congregation or with your clergy group. If not, it is worth reflecting on what this touched (or even triggered) in you. We need to be aware that in times of tension like this, our fears and anxieties are likely to be near the surface, more easily unsettled.

The big picture is that we are considering matters that are not about winning or losing, but of discernment and meaning and within relationships. Where is the Holy Spirit leading the Christian Church and leading humanity? How do we identify the marks of the Holy Spirit in what feels like a progression, in comparison with the spirit of the age we live in? Most especially, how do we do this /within time/ when we do not yet have the luxury of looking back at the past where we sometimes have more clarity? Some argue that this is precisely why we must go very slowly, yet that seems more than unjust when people are suffering. So, The Episcopal Church is moving forward while trying not to inflict more pain or to provoke more controversy.

At times like this I am most concerned about reaction without reflection, for in haste our reactions are usually determined by fear, particularly one of the following: the fear of losing or failing or losing out or losing one’s touchstones and one’s bearings. It seems to me that when we struggle with our inclusion we are most afraid of losing out, of not counting. And when something new comes along that seems so unusual, so different from the ways we have always seen the world and how we understand God’s creativity, it seems that our experience is one of disorientation, the fear of losing our bearings. That seems to describe the church we live in today. No wonder there are tensions.

I pray that our personal and communal responses may be guided by hope, the hope which comes from trusting in God to inspire us, and more-to knit us together in one heart even when we cannot be of one mind.

* * *

I am pleased with the comments in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Dean Spenser Simrill and the Revs. LeeAnne Watkins and Mariann Budde, for they put the matter into perspective for people, which Martyn Minns does not do as well, glossing over the limitations which our structure puts upon us. Notice that the headlines here and in the New York Times yesterday love to focus on the controversies and the differences and do not choose to see how many in the House of Bishops have come to be of one heart.

* * *

In general, the meeting of the House and Community (including our partners) of Bishops was a good experience. +Rowan Williams spoke a few times, preached at a stirring ecumenical gathering where the jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr., “stole the show” from everyone else there, setting us all on fire. +Rowan was at his best Friday morning, offering a wonderful bible study which revealed his deep knowledge, intellectual brilliance and spiritual insights. This is where we saw the man of faith, and he inspired us. +Katherine was perceptive, able to
enumerate, synthesize and describe what we had come to in our discussions, both our agreements and where we still had work to do. She can be very charming and funny, as well, and at the end we gave her a standing ovation for her work among us and on our (TEC’s) behalf during her first year. Our chaplains gave voice to the prayers we were not articulating well, as we wrestled inwardly and outwardly. Our Anglican Communion guests brought us both challenge and gift: differing points of view and the warmth of international friendships.

I have never been to New Orleans before, so I can only guess what is missing from the number of empty lots, falling down buildings and neighborhoods, and the personal stories of those who live there. Tourism and business are way down. Complaints abound about the lack of a good governmental response on any level, and yet churches and agencies get kudos-both for the work that so many local and out of state volunteers do and for the caring listening which affirms people so much. Most of us took Saturday to participate in rebuilding, and I am very glad I did. We worked alongside honor student volunteers from Tulane putting in the beams and flooring of a house. Cliff, our crew chief (about 20), is doing this work “for a while” before he begins college. We did not need to talk much, for there was an easy rhythm to our work together.

We have done what we have done, and it was worth the time, the effort, the care and the prayer, and I thank you for yours. We offer this to God, to the Church, and to all those whose lives may be affirmed and strengthened by it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops