Daily Archives: October 11, 2007

Andreas Westergren: One Church?

It was interesting to see how the Swedish church, after the controversial decision to bless same-sex partnerships (not formal marriages), was criticised by fellow-members of the “Porvoo Agreement,” namely the Church of England and the Church of Finland, for not letting them be more involved in the discussion. Bilateral critique like this follows from the premise of mutual accountability! And unless our agreements take such a shape, they run the risk of being little more than small-talk.

From my point of view there is much at stake in the Anglican Communion’s attempts to reshape itself, since it stands at the crossroad of many traditions. If it manages to find a new form of its own communion, it might be able to act as mediator between different strands in the Church; if not, it will still bear consequences for the whole Church, albeit negative ones. The question, as I understand it, pertains not only to the decisions that will be made but also to how seriously the different churches will take the debate””and each other””throughout this time of decision-making; or, to return to my initial reflection: it is a question not only of articulating an appropriate compromise but of the readiness to find oneself””and Christ””through the encounter with the other.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Theology

The Bishop of Utah: "We have no expectations of our people"

A few years back I was told about an incident that happened at one of our larger Salt Lake churches. A new couple had attended the main service one day, and at the coffee hour following, asked the parish administrator what were the expectations of members of this congregation? The administrator who told me this story said she was flabbergasted””no one had ever raised that question before and she didn’t know what to say.

This report stayed with me because I wondered what it would say about us if the reply was “We have no expectations of our people.” I am sure the administrator in question found something to say, other than that, but the question remains interesting to me.

Do we in fact have expectations and just hope that people will pick them up by osmosis? Or, are we so anxious for new members that we fear any articulation of expectations might put them off our church?

Or, do we use the gentler word, ‘norms,’ and reserve the occasion of speaking to them to vestries or other smaller groups?

Or are they to be found in the mission/ vision or hopes/plans category.

Perhaps our expectations are just ‘there,’ embedded in our life together, but they only show up as we quietly reject people who don’t live up to them?

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Bob Carlton: All Your Souls Are Belong to Us: odyssey, fluidity, life worlds

A stimulating response to a David Brooks piece I was going to link to anyway, so read both it and the Brooks please.

What I would have liked to have seen, however, was a reference to key thinker Zygmunt Bauman in this area. It is something with which we will all have to contend: what Bauman calls liquidity as one of the central aspects of modern life–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Youth Ministry

Some TEC Bishops attempt to exploit a perceived loophole and hide the truth

We elves and some of our friends have been busy analyzing TEC bishops’ statements. We’ve found a troubling pattern. We hope this analysis will be helpful, and encourage you to circulate this widely. (please credit T19 if you do circulate this)

Important Update: In the course of discussing this with readers, I’ve realized I made a mistake in lumping together the five bishops who included the “breadth of response” language in their responses to the New Orleans statement. In particular [b]+Ed Little[/b] should not just have been lumped in the list as if he was trying to exploit some loophole. Upon re-reading his statement, that would be clearly UNTRUE. Please see my comment #44 below. Apologies for the confusion and not giving +Little’s statement more careful attention. It shouldn’t have been just lumped in the batch. –elfgirl

Some TEC Bishops try to exploit a perceived loophole and hide the truth

In my work the other night compiling and organizing various TEC bishops’ letters and statements following the New Orleans HoB meeting, one phrase began to leap out at me as it was repeated and emphasized by quite a few TEC bishops. Some among the TEC bishops, notably +Jack McKelvey, seemed to be claiming that the public same sex blessings occurring in their dioceses fall under the Primates’ allowance of a “breadth of private pastoral response.”

Two examples should suffice, though at least 5 bishops, and perhaps others, have highlighted this phrase in their discussions of the New Orleans HoB meeting:

+Duncan Gray of Mississippi:

We also articulated, again as requested, the fact that this church has never authorized the blessing of same gender unions. We spoke clearly to the fact that a majority of dioceses already function on this matter in the way that we do in this diocese. We also made reference, as the Primate of Australia suggested we do, to the fact that the Primates themselves have affirmed that pastoral care for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters requires the Communion ”˜to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

+Jack McKelvey of Rochester, (a bishop and diocese who are on record (see pp 11 ”“ 13) as supporting and allowing public SSBs for nearly 30 years):

We quoted the Primates in their May 2003 statement saying that we have a pastoral duty, “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “. . . It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.” This will be honored in the Diocese of Rochester and I believe in many dioceses throughout our church.

+Larry Benfield of Arkansas(a diocese which had just recently, under +Benfield’s predecessor +Larry Maze, begun to allow public SSBs to be conducted by its clergy; +Benfield may be changing the policy in the diocese, it is not yet totally clear.) also specifically cited “breadth of private response” language, as did +Henry Parsley of Alabama and +Ed Little of Northern Indiana.

So, what were the Primates actually affirming in May 2003, and is the TEC HoB’s adoption of this phrase consistent with the original usage or intent? It appears that this is a key question. Let’s trace the history of this language and the intent behind the original language, first looking at the actual use of this phrase in New Orleans.

1. TEC HoB Usage of the Phrase “Breadth of … response” in New Orleans

On Sept. 24, in the midst of the TEC HoB meeting, TitusOne Nine published the proposed draft of the TEC response to the primates. That draft response included this section:

5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these differing viewpoints.

We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In 2003 they wrote “there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual persons.” The Primates have written that there must be a breadth of private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.

Note how here the proposed text explicitly acknowledges the public blessings of same-sex unions occurring in various dioceses and tries to claim that such blessings fall under the “breadth of … pastoral responses” envisioned by the Primates. The TEC bishops suggest and appear to want to believe that the only matter of concern to the Primates was the official authorization of liturgical rites for same-sex blessings at a national level, in spite of the fact that the Dar es Salaam Communiqué explicitly stated the Primates’ concern about TEC’s “pastoral provision” in various dioceses.

In the final statement from New Orleans, that section re: Same-sex blessings was modified to read as follows:

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “…It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

Again, the TEC bishops are trying to claim that the Primates’ 2003 statement would encompass and allow the current practice of public same sex blessings occurring in many TEC dioceses.

As noted, the language in question goes back to the May 2003 Primates’ Communiqué following the Primates meeting in Gramado, Brazil. Let’s look at that more closely…

Read it all (you can also download this)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Daniel Goldman: E-Mail Is Easy to Write (and to Misread)

AS I was in the final throes of getting my most recent book into print, an employee at the publishing company sent me an e-mail message that stopped me in my tracks.

I had met her just once, at a meeting. We were having an e-mail exchange about some crucial detail involving publishing rights, which I thought was being worked out well. Then she wrote: “It’s difficult to have this conversation by e-mail. I sound strident and you sound exasperated.”

At first I was surprised to hear I had sounded exasperated. But once she identified this snag in our communications, I realized that something had really been off. So we had a phone call that cleared everything up in a few minutes, ending on a friendly note.

The advantage of a phone call or a drop-by over e-mail is clearly greatest when there is trouble at hand. But there are ways in which e-mail may subtly encourage such trouble in the first place.

This is becoming more apparent with the emergence of social neuroscience, the study of what happens in the brains of people as they interact. New findings have uncovered a design flaw at the interface where the brain encounters a computer screen: there are no online channels for the multiple signals the brain uses to calibrate emotions.

Face-to-face interaction, by contrast, is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us not only from their tone and facial expressions, but also from their body language and pacing, as well as their synchronization with what we do and say.

Read it all. Of course this is also true of blogs and blog comments. Might I suggest that before you post a comment you ask–is this written in such a way that it is least likely to be misunderstood? KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Michael Kinsley: God as Their Running Mate

Mitt Romney wants the J.F.K. deal with voters: If you don’t hold my religion against me, I won’t impose my religion on you. But that deal made little sense in 1960 and makes no sense today. Kennedy said, “I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair.” But the Roman Catholic Church holds that abortion is the deliberate killing of a human being. Catholic liberal politicians since Mario Cuomo have said they personally accept the doctrine of their church but nevertheless believe in a woman’s right to choose. This is silly. There is no right to choose murder. Either these politicians are lying to their church, or they are lying to us.

These days presidential candidates are required to wear their religion on their sleeve. God is a personal adviser and inspiration to all of them. They all pray relentlessly. Or so they say. If that’s not true, I want to know it. And if it is true, I want to know more about it. I want to know what God is telling them–just as I would want to know what Karl Rove was telling them if they claimed him for an adviser. If religion is central to their lives and moral systems, then it cannot be the candidates’ “own private affair.” To evaluate them, we need to know in some detail the doctrines of their faith and the extent to which they accept these doctrines. “Worry about whether I’m going to reform health care, not whether I’m going to hell” is not sufficient.

What exactly should we worry about? Most important, we need to know what forms of conduct a candidate’s religion forbids or requires and how the candidate interprets that injunction. Is it a universal moral imperative or just a personal lifestyle choice? Every religion has its list of no-nos. Mormonism’s is very long and includes alcohol, coffee, tea and such forms of sexual behavior as “passionate kissing” outside wedlock. If Romney’s church doctrines require efforts to impose these restrictions on others, Romney has a Cuomo problem: he cannot be a good Mormon and a good President. He needs to show at the least that he has thought about this.

Some church doctrines give offense even though they don’t constrain an outsider’s behavior in any way. They can imply a more general worldview, and voters have a right to know if a presidential candidate shares that perspective. Until recently, just about all religions had a built-in patriarchal worldview–God the Father, male priests and so on–that many today find offensive. To what extent has the candidate’s church moved with the times, and what has the candidate done to push his or her church in the right direction? I say the right direction, but many voters, of course, believe that this kind of modernization is the wrong direction. They also are entitled to know where the candidate stands and to vote on that basis.

Read it all.

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury Speaks out on the Middle East

Q: Help me understand Archbishop, why these Christians, these exiles from Iraq have been targeted?

A: Since the Iraq war, Christian communities in Iraq which have lived there for literally thousands of years have been seen as, in some sense, agents of the West. People described how the sort of notes that were pushed under their door, the messages and threats they received said ”˜you are American agents’ or ”˜you are Zionist agents and we’re going to have to get rid of you.’ So there’s a very clear link in people’s minds with the conflict.

Q: That link is a causal link in effect and I don’t want to put words into your mouth. Britain and America invaded Iraq and therefore these Iraqi Christians are suffering. Is that a link that you would make?

A: I’m afraid it’s a very clear link. This is the link that’s made locally and whether justly or not, that is how it’s seen. Now, as I say, these are Christians who’ve lived in that society for generations, they’re not newcomers, they’re not aliens. Certain – I’m happy to say small – extremist groups regard them as aliens, it suits their own political agenda. But these are groups with no scruples and with considerable resources.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Middle East

A BBC Audio Segment: Does the future of the world depend on peace between Muslims and Christians?

Listen to it all (starts just past 13 minutes in).

Update: there is more from Time Magazine here, including this:

It is time that Muslims and Christians recognized just how similar they are ”” the fate of the world depends on it. That’s the message being sent out today by 138 Muslim leaders and scholars in an open letter to their Christian counterparts saying that world peace hinges on greater understanding between the two faiths.

The 29-page letter is addressed to Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and 25 other Christian leaders. Organized by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan, it’s the first time so many high-profile Muslims have come together to make such a public call for peace. Launched first in Jordan this morning, and then in other countries over the course of the day, the letter’s big unveiling takes place at a joint press conference by Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, and John Esposito, Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. By pointing out the similarities between the Bible and the Koran, between Christianity and Islam, the letter’s signatories are hoping to convince Christian leaders to “come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions.”

Quoting from both holy texts, the letter notes that both Christianity and Islam require believers to believe in only one god and insists that it is the same god. It points out that both religions are founded on goodwill, not violence, and that many of the fundamental truths that were revealed to Muhammad are the same ones that came to other Christian and Jewish prophets.

Because of this, the letter says, Muslims are duty-bound by the Koran to treat believers of other faiths with respect and friendship ”” and that Muslims expect the same in return. “As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them ”” as long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.”

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

Albany Bishop wants unity amid discord

Bishop William Love has broken his public silence on the latest national Episcopal drama with both a call for unity and a strong reaffirmation of his conservative views.

Love, back from a high-stakes meeting of the country’s Episcopal bishops, reiterated in a letter to local priests Tuesday that he won’t allow the blessing of same-sex unions — public or private — in the 19-county Albany diocese. He also won’t ordain gay deacons or priests.

And he argued that the church should keep its troubles from spilling out of the pews and into courtrooms, where several dioceses have found themselves in messy property disputes.

Read it all.

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

Ellen Holmes Baer: Hooked by Hooker

Driven to the Internet, I see Richard Hooker described as the “closest counterpart in the Anglican-Episcopal denomination to Luther for Lutherans or Calvin for Presbyterians or Wesley for Methodists.” His books on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity explain every aspect of Anglican doctrine, and I’m sure the vicar of my little church in Roxboro, North Carolina, has read them all.

Hooker defined the essential character of our early church as broad, tolerant and inclusive at a time when it was threatened by Roman Catholicism on one side and Protestant extremism on the other. He’s credited with defending the Anglican cause against the Puritans who wanted to get rid of bishops and turn us into Presbyterians. When Hooker died in 1600, the pope said that his ideas would remain until the end of the world.

Even though I just met Richard Hooker and hardly know him, I’m struck by the way he acknowledged the diversity of ideas within the church as a strength, saying, “Carry peaceable minds, and you may have comfort by this variety.” I can’t help but think of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was recently quoted in TIME as saying that God intends that our church members “have something to learn even from the people we most dislike or instinctively mistrust.” The reporter said it’s a nice thought, but will it be enough to stop a split?

Well, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been finding myself less and less willing to talk about controversial topics, including this one. Most people tend to rant these days, and I just don’t want to listen. I’m getting to be a lot like Dogbert who says in the Dilbert cartoon, “There’s really no point in listening to other people. They’re either going to be agreeing with you or saying stupid stuff.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Identity, Church History, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Moreover Josi’ah put away the mediums and the wizards and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilki’ah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

–2 Kings 23:24-25

Posted in Uncategorized

Another bishop weighs in on the HoB meeting: +Burnett of Nebraska

Another bishop acknowledges that blessings freely occur, even if they’re not “authorized:”

With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”

[via e-mail]

A Brief Reflection on the Recent Statement from the House of Bishops
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett

[Note: the full text of the Bishops’ Statement follows this reflection.]

At the conclusion of our recent meeting in New Orleans, some one hundred and fifty bishops approved a document entitled Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This approval came on a voice vote with only one audible dissenting vote. Anytime such a document receives this level of support in our diverse community of bishops, you can be sure that it either represents a wide consensus, or that it reflects the fact that most, if not all, of those present and voting are not completely happy with the results, but have chosen to compromise on one or more elements. My own sense is that the latter reality is in play here. And my guess is that individual members of our own diocese will find themselves in a similar place, i.e., in agreement with some parts of the statement, but not with others.

As I think about what we said in New Orleans, I am reminded of an old saw about preaching: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you told them.” In many ways, our statement was part three of that homiletic counsel. We told them (our Anglican Communion partners) what we have already told them twice before.

Our statement of Response is in three parts: (1) an introduction and preamble; (2) a “bullet point” summary; and (3) an elaboration and explanation of the bullet points. Also, this statement is carefully worded and nuanced. An accurate interpretation of any one part must be undertaken in terms of the overall content of the whole.

In short, here is my interpretation, followed by a couple of closing comments.

First, we said nothing new in terms of our strong desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion, or in terms of our responses to requests that have been made of us by our Anglican Communion partners.

Our description of General Convention resolution B033 was just that””a description””along with a word about what we believe the resolution means to most bishops. I say “most,” because some of the bishops feel bound by this resolution, and some do not. I count myself in the latter group, as I believe it is canonically and constitutionally inconsistent for bishops and/or standing committees to surrender, categorically and in advance, the sacred duty to give or to withhold consent to any Episcopal consecration.

With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”

In keeping with this theme we also reaffirmed our message to the church from our Spring 2007 meeting in which we called for justice and dignity for gay and lesbian persons throughout the world, and, in particular, across the Anglican Communion.

Second, we reaffirmed our intention to live within the constitutional and canonical framework of The Episcopal Church. We did this not only by affirming our Presiding Bishop’s plan for “Episcopal Visitors,” but also by acknowledging that changes of policy on various issues could only occur by action of General Convention””and quite apart from any “consensus” in the wider Communion.

Third, we strongly urged an end to extra-provincial incursions by uninvited bishops. We insisted on fulfillment of the promise to implement a “listening process” around the Communion on matters of human sexuality. And we encouraged the Archbishop of Canterbury in his “expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”

Finally, I offer two thoughts””one hopeful and one not so.

Here is the hopeful thought: Since our meeting I have been heartened by the generally positive response to our statement by the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates””many of whom, by the way, share our frustration that we have been prodded by a few (who do not have the authority to do so) to go through these machinations. I hope this process will lead to a more productive unity with those who really do cherish the broad traditions of Anglicanism. We shall see.

My not so hopeful thought, however, has to do with my nagging sense that in our fervor to preserve the institutional ties within our Communion, in some cases with provinces and persons who have already declared themselves out of communion with us, we have yet again postponed our full commitment to a truly inclusive church. If that is the case, then I seriously doubt that what we have said and done in New Orleans will either preserve the Anglican Communion as we have known it, or promote the gospel of Jesus as we have received it.

As always, I stand ready to visit and discuss these issues with clergy groups and or parish groups across our diocese.

Grace and peace,

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Ordinations by Two Ugandan Bishops Set for Saturday, October 13 at St. James Church, Newport Beach

NEWPORT BEACH, October 10, 2007 ”“ Hundreds of Anglicans from across the southwest will gather at 10 am this Saturday at St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach to witness three ordinations which will be overseen by Bishop Evans Kisekka of the Anglican Church of Uganda and by Bishop John Guernsey, U.S.-based missionary bishop from the Anglican Church of Uganda. Kisekka will officiate at the service and Guernsey will preach.

Ordination services are not a frequent occurrence in any Anglican congregation. Being ordained priests will be St. James’s Brian Schulz and from Flagstaff, Arizona, Chuck McKinney. At the same service, St. James’s Discipleship Pastor Cathie Young will be ordained to the transitional deaconate.

In the Anglican tradition, there are three distinct orders of ordained ministry: deacon, priest and bishop. Following graduation from seminary, the first step toward becoming a priest is to be ordained a deacon. Deacons typically serve in that capacity for six months to one year before they are ordained to the priesthood. Deacons typically read the Gospel at worship services, help serve during Holy Communion, and help direct the order of worship services. They are able to preach, teach and aid in pastoral care as directed by their bishop and overseeing clergy. As priests Schulz and McKinney will assume more responsibility which will include serving as the primary celebrant during Holy Communion as well as administering other sacraments such as presiding at baptisms and weddings, as well as blessing and declaring pardon in God’s name.

Brian Schulz and his wife Julie arrived at St. James several years ago when his journey to ordained ministry brought the newlyweds to Southern California for Brian’s seminary education at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. During their time at St. James, Brian and Julie welcomed their first child, Simeon, age two. Prior to entering seminary Brian was marketing director for Coca-Cola in Beijing, China. Brian was ordained on the East Coast to the transitional deaconate about a year ago and began immediately to serve at Christ’s Church, a St. James church plant in Highland.

Cathie Young is well-known at St. James as she and her husband Philip have been members for more than 20 years and Cathie has served on the fulltime staff of St. James for 16 years. Cathie was raised in a Christian home and received her call to fulltime ministry when she was a teenager. “Interestingly, my call came as a result of the testimony of a visiting American woman missionary who was serving in Africa. She showed her slides of her ministry in Africa one night at our church and was led to specifically invite young people to give their lives to Christ for fulltime service. My heart burned within me and I received my call that night. It’s God’s great irony that the call issued by a woman who served in Africa should culminate almost 40 years later in an African ordination!” The change from lay ministry to ordained ministry follows the completion of her Masters of Divinity degree through Fuller Seminary in June 2007. At the completion of her time as a transitional deacon, she will be ordained a priest.

St. James Anglican Church is a community dedicated to loving and serving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Worship services with Holy Eucharist are held Sunday mornings: 7:30 am ”“ traditional; 9 am ”“ contemporary; 11 am charismatic. Holy Eucharist is also held Wednesdays at noon. St. James is located at 3209 Via Lido, Newport Beach, CA 92663. Visit www.stjamesnb.org for more information about the church.

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

So, are Same-Sex Blessings "authorized" in the Diocese of Rochester NY?

Odd that the Diocese of Rochester is not on Integrity’s list of dioceses that conduct Same-Sex Blessings.

The Diocese of Rochester has been by many accounts at the forefront of advocacy for GLBT issues. It’s where Integrity is headquartered after all. And there has been an active and determined inter-faith push for Same-Sex blessings etc. in the city of Rochester.

Many in Rochester seem proud of their diocese’s lead on same-sex blessings an GLBT issues. A newspaper article published at the time of Gene Robinson’s consecration in 2003 highlights Rochester’s lead role in GLBT issues in ECUSA:

The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, part of the larger Anglican tradition, has been a national leader on gay issues. So it’s natural that local Episcopalians would focus on the November 2 “consecration” of a gay man, the Rev. Gene Robinson, as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire. […]

In any case, Robinson has been a rising star in the church. In 1999, he sought election as bishop of the Rochester diocese and came in second, says the Rev. Canon Carolyn Lumbard, head of diocesan communications. “This diocese,” she says, “is interested in gifts and talents.”

“It’s going to be an interesting time in the Episcopal Church,” says Neil Houghton, a local Episcopalian who attended Robinson’s consecration.

Houghton is active in the church in several ways. He’s the senior warden at the church where he’s worshipped with for 20-plus years, St. John’s of Honeoye Falls. And he’s the Northeast Regional vice president of Integrity USA, a national not-for-profit group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons that has organizational counterparts in Canada, Australia, and Uganda.

Armed with this experience, Houghton brought back some indelible impressions from New Hampshire. The consecration, he says, was “a holy sacrament, but also a celebration.” He acknowledges the event drew protesters and advocates. But he says “there were also everyday people from New Hampshire, kids and families.” He saw around 250 students from the University of New Hampshire there, with T-shirts reading, “Gay? Fine With Me!” On the other hand, he watched a tiny group — followers of Pastor Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas — proclaiming “Sodomites Die in Hell.”

“I hate that [the consecration] will cause grief and pain to some, but it was an absolutely glorious experience,” says Houghton. But how is this playing in Honeoye Falls? Houghton says the congregation at St. John’s recently met to discuss the issue. “There was almost unanimous support for what the church is doing,” he says. “This,” he says, “is a very liberal, tolerant area in the Episcopal Church, and even the Roman Catholic Church.” (Local members of Integrity share weekly services at St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church downtown with Catholics who belong to Dignity, a similar religious support group.)

According to Houghton, there have been “blessings” of gay unions in the local diocese for around 30 years. Indeed, says the Rev. J. Brad Benson, chair of the diocesan Committee for Gay and Lesbian Ministry, the diocese has had a gay ministry “for education and to dispel harmful stereotypes” for more than 20 years. Benson notes that some local Episcopalians are “concerned” about what’s happening in their church. But that’s nothing new, he says in effect. Some people, he says, left the church during the civil rights era — “because they didn’t want to share a pew with a person of a different color.”

Rites are central to the Anglican tradition, of course. So are local Episcopal churches developing liturgies for blessing gay relationships? “Officially,” says Neil Houghton, “there is no adopted liturgy in the Episcopal Church.”

Spokesperson Lumbard says the diocese will be looking at what to offer as “resources” in this regard. “It’s coming,” she says, without giving a timeframe. Bishop McKelvey, she says, “would support the blessing of lifelong, monogamous, committed [same-sex] relationships.”

But she emphasizes that what’s under discussion here is not gay marriage.

Wow, performing SSBs for 30 years and not on Integrity’s list. Looks like you need to try a little harder, Integrity. Or be a bit more honest?

And what’s this about no officially approved liturgies? More word games, apparently. Thanks to a Canadian publication from 2003, we can all read a liturgy that’s been developed in the diocese of Rochester. See pp. 12-15. And don’t miss the article on page 11, as well, which confirms the leading role the diocese of Rochester has played in GLBT issues in ECUSA.

Just one more example of the fundamental deceit and dishonesty occurring in TEC on the matter of SSBs. A diocese performing such ceremonies for 30 years is not officially recognized as conducting public rites. WOW. Words fail.


P.S., and lest anyone think this is some kind of un-intentional oversight, how about the fact that the Diocese of Newark is not listed. Nor is Los Angeles listed.

But maybe Elizabeth Kaeton is hallucinating about this SSB that occurred in the middle of a Sunday morning worship service? And maybe Susan Russell is exaggerating a tad when she states:

“Same-sex blessings occur in the Diocese of Los Angeles all the time,” she said listing several parishes including her own of which she was aware. “We don’t ask for permission because Bishop Bruno has told us that he cannot give it until General Convention approves an official liturgy. He has told us that we are free to exercise appropriate pastoral care for our presbyters.”

You think they’re lying? Nah. Kaeton, Russell, and +VGR are the honest ones. It’s TEC that’s lying with it’s claim that only a few dioceses allow SSBs.

We could also easily add Massachusetts, and Olympia, and perhaps Chicago, Missouri and Minnesota (see p. 15’s sidebar), …, oh and did we mention New York? How about Atlanta? It’s a quickly growing list! I’m sure with more effort we could expand this.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Your blog host

Hey every once in a while we need to jazz it up with pictures.

Posted in Uncategorized

All Saints Pasadena challenges IRS 'vagueness'

The large and liberal All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California””after squirming on the hook for two years as the Internal Revenue Service examined the content of a preelection sermon””has been tossed back into the religious stream because its “political intervention” favoring one candidate “appears to be a one-time occurrence.” The church will not lose its tax-exemption over the October 31, 2004, sermon.

In delivering that judgment, the Department of the Treasury letter that arrived September 10 also noted that policies were in place at the 3,500-member church to prevent prohibited political campaign activities. But the department urged the church to remind future speakers not to endorse candidates.

Because the IRS did not indicate where rector emeritus George Regas may have crossed the line in his sermon (“If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush”), the present rector, J. Edwin Bacon Jr., announced September 23 that the church is mounting a counteroffensive.

“While we are pleased that the IRS examination is finally over,” Bacon said at a news conference, “the IRS has failed to explain its conclusion regarding the single sermon at issue. Synagogues, mosques and churches across America have no more guidance about the IRS rules now than when we started this process.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

Christians take closer look at their daily bread

Many Christians say grace before a meal, thanking God for the food on their tables. But few stop to consider where their food came from, how it was grown and at what cost it arrived on their plates.
A conference at Duke Divinity School starting Monday attempts to bring clarity to that prayer, so often cited but seldom explored.

“Our Daily Bread: A Theology and Practice of Sustainable Living” is Duke’s latest venture into the moral implications of eating, a subject that has been much discussed recently with a crop of popular books on the perils of the industrial food supply.

The conference is aimed at clergy and lay leaders and draws on some of the leading thinkers in the field. One is a geneticist. Another a poet and farmer. But all share a conviction that churches ought to bring a discussion of food into their pulpits.

“How we eat is the single most important decision we make about the health of our planet,” said Ellen Davis, a professor of Bible and practical theology at the divinity school, who championed the conference.

The idea is not to encourage pastors to eat organic, but to examine the ways in which Christians have become alienated from their food sources and have neglected their responsibility to care for creation. Instead of encouraging sustainable agriculture and a love of the environment, many Christians are preoccupied with building even bigger sanctuaries and paving even larger parking lots.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Roman Catholic Priest banned for falling in love

In the latest in a series of sexual scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, a priest who declared his love for a woman has been banned from hearing confessions and removed from his pastoral duties.

Even though he remains a priest and can still say Mass, the effective dismissal of Father Sante Sguotti from his parish in Monterosso near Padua in northern Italy comes soon after another parish priest near the pilgrimage site of Lourdes in France was forced out because he had a girlfriend.

Catholic worshippers in Asson in south-west France had heard Father Léon Laclos confess that he was having a sexual relationship with one of his parishioners and his contention that being in love had brought him closer to his congregation and to God.

Both clergy had support from large numbers of their parishioners. The debate could ultimately threaten the Catholic Church in the same way that the row over homosexuality is splitting the Anglican Communion, although the stronger hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church means that in the short-term, it will withstand the dissent without schism, even if the laity and clergy are discontent.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Court Says Freemasons Fall Under Religious Protection Law

Freemasonry may rank with Christianity, Judaism and Islam as an official form of “religious exercise,” a California court of appeals suggested in a ruling on Oct. 3.

As such, Masons would fall under the protections of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), the landmark law that says government may not infringe on religious buildings without a compelling interest.

“We see no principled way to distinguish the earnest pursuit of these (Masonic) principles … from more widely acknowledged modes of religious exercise,” the statement said.

The case involves the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral (LASRC) and the Scottish Rite Cathedral Association of Los Angeles (SRCALA). The court concluded that “chief” Masonic principles include “the reverence of a Supreme Being and the embrace of other forms of religious worship.”

The court said it could find “no decisions analyzing whether Masonic practices are sufficiently religious in nature to qualify under RLUIPA,” which says the government cannot “impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person.”

The court’s statement countered a lower court’s opinion that “the `Freemason’ organization is (not) a religion.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Newsweek: The Search for Common Ground on Abortion

The authors of the 40-page report””a cross-section of evangelical leaders and Third Way staffers and consultants””acknowledge the difficulties involved in bridging the considerable political and cultural divide on such thorny issues. (Indeed, a leader of the National Right to Life Committee has called the Third Way approach “a political ploy to silence the debate.”) But consensus is possible, the authors argue””through better communication and a greater willingness to focus on common goals. Those goals include reducing the need for abortions through better access to birth control, and also by providing more financial support for would-be mothers who might otherwise abort due to financial concerns. One of the evangelical leaders who has endorsed the idea of working together is the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, pastor of the Orlando-based Northland Church, who also serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. The former president of the Christian Coalition, who now preaches to a congregation of 12,000, talked with NEWSWEEK’s Eve Conant on the prospects of bridging the cultural divide as the 2008 election looms. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You are endorsing a paper that talks about bridging a gap between evangelicals and progressives. Does that mean that you are a progressive evangelical yourself?
Rev. Joel C. Hunter: It depends on the issue. I’m pro-life, I’m against the redefinition of marriage, and I’m against pornography and gambling. On issues related to compassion I’m more progressive””such as doing all we can for the environment, fighting poverty and the AIDS epidemic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches