Daily Archives: October 15, 2007

Peter Toon: Questions facing American Anglicans and The Common Cause Parternship

12. The route from Sect-type, extra-mural Anglicanism, to the Denominational-type of Anglicanism (which is necessary in order to become an alternative Province to the PECUSA in the USA) is a route that has NEVER been undertaken before anywhere in the world. In the conditions of the USA (with great emphasis on liberty and the right to express personal opinions) it will be extremely difficult even to get started on moving on this unexplored and un-chartered route. But the Common Cause Partnership has begun. And we pray that out of the many will be made the One. [Yet one wonders whether the Primates who are encouraging the creation of the Sect-type, extra-mural, Anglicanism, have thought about in any detail the immensity of the task in creating an alternative Province to PECUSA. Further, has any one of them seriously thought about the 1977 seceders and whether or not they should be consulted and involved in the route towards one Province for all seceders?]

13. There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father. Paul tells us that there cannot be truth without unity and unity without truth in his Epistle to Ephesus; and Jesus in his Priestly Prayer in John 17 prays that we shall be one for that is his will. Many of us appear not to desire to be one! We think that possessing what we regard as truth is sufficient to justify our isolated standing before God in sect-type churchmanship. Maybe we are beginning to change our minds and see that truth and unity, or unity and truth, belong always together and to claim to have truth and to shun unity is a totally false position.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis

Central Pa Episcopal bishop talks about homosexuality and the Anglican church

Q: What has been the situation in this diocese?

A: I have said to the diocese that there will be no permission for blessing of same-sex unions until the General Convention of this church has made a decision.

That is not because I feel that faithful persons in a chaste, loving relationship should not have the grace of God acknowledged by a blessing, but I also am bound as a bishop of the church to be responsible and faithful and obedient.

Q: You said in New Orleans that “sometimes traveling as a body means slowing down the pace, in the hope that all can make the journey.” What should gay and lesbian Episcopalians understand when you say that?

A: I want them to hear that the commitment to the journey of full inclusion continues. We don’t know what it will ultimately look like. But we want them to know we’re still on the journey.

What I have found is that many gay and lesbian Christians are concerned not just about their sacramental inclusion, but about the church. Many have shared that they’re willing for us to pause and have that conversation. There are some who are pretty angry, and I understand that.

Read it all.

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

Philadelphia Inquirer: A church is set to turn an important corner

Half a dozen years ago, a congregation looked one last time toward the building raised by members’ hands and out across the graves in the churchyard, and wept. Then, the churchgoers turned and left.
This week, they’ll install a new rector, welcome the public to a talk by an Anglican bishop from Rwanda, and play host for the second time to a regional meeting of their new affiliate, the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

“God has blessed our socks off,” said the Rev. Kenneth Cook, assistant to the rector at what was St. John’s Episcopal Church of Huntingdon Valley and now is St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church of Churchville.

“It’s a cool church,” said the Rev. Mark E. Rudolph, scheduled to be installed as its rector Thursday. Rudolph, who was ordained in the Reformed Episcopal Church and served seven years as rector at St. Philips in Warminster, described his path to St. John’s as “circuitous.”

And it was, at least compared to the path walked by members of St. John’s Montgomery County parish ”“ which was decisively away from the Episcopal Church USA. They were among those who broke with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania over church trends they feared veered too far from fundamental beliefs.

They were not among those who plunged into legal battle with the diocese over “sticks and bricks,” as they call it.

“If we are going to live and die for this property,” Cook said, remembering the agonizing talks, “we might as well admit this is an idol for us.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gay church loses members as acceptance spreads

Metropolitan Community Church began in 1968 as an alternative for gays who felt alienated by most churches’ condemnation of homosexuality.

After a contentious summer in which the denomination suspended local worship for a month and revoked the credentials of the local pastor, the Rev. Beau McDaniels, Hope Metropolitan Community Church members are doing what many congregations do after a fight with church headquarters.

They are thinking about joining another denomination. The United Church of Christ, a liberal Protestant church that has ordained openly gay clergy and affirmed same-sex marriage, is mentioned as a possible successor to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Vikki Del Fiacco, a former Metropolitan member in Daytona Beach, has already switched over. She is training for the ministry with Port Orange United Church of Christ.

Del Fiacco likes the United group because “it’s open and affirming of everyone.” She noted Metropolitan founder Troy Perry “never thought MCC would last long term.”‘

Its original mission was “to be accepting,” Del Fiacco said. “But other denominations are accepting now.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches

Marilyn McCord Adams Preaches on Sinning Against the Holy Spirit

Two weeks ago, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) replayed the scenario, to its–at any rate, to my–shame. Evidently, their conversations with the Archbishop began by celebrating the uniqueness of the ”˜79 prayer book’s baptismal covenant in which, besides renouncing Satan and turning to Christ, besides pledging faithfulness in common prayer and Christian service, we promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.” The Presiding Bishop reports that while the majority interpret this to mean that gays and lesbians are deserving of “the fullest regard of the church,” the House of Bishops showed itself “willing to pause” in “its consideration of full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the life and ministries of the Episcopal Church.” Bishops reaffirmed 2006 General Convention resolution to exercize restraint by withholding consents to episcopal elections of persons whose lifestyle would pose a serious problem for other members of the Anglican communion. Bishops went further by promising not to authorize rites for the blessing of same sex partnerships until the communion is of a different mind or a future General Convention decides otherwise. (The American House of Bishops has no authority to bind future General Conventions.)

For some bishops, these resolutions were a matter of conscience. It’s no secret that I disagree with them, but that is not my point right now. My focus is instead on the spiritual danger of “going along to get along,” of willingly sacrificing what one believes to be the dignity and well-being of real and present persons on the altar of institutional objectives. The lust for institutional harmony and stability is strong. It repeatedly seduces us, whether the issue is race, gender, sexual orientation, fair trade and wages, immigration and asylum, or something else. But Jesus Christ did not show Himself “willing to pause”: Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the woman with scoliosis, the lame and the blind on the Sabbath day! Jesus warns, “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven!”

Happily, the bible’s God does not observe pop-psychological parenting rules not to threaten without following through. Repeatedly, the bible’s God prophesies doom and ruin to wake people up and win repentance. In the midst of present church controversies, one thing is certain: Jesus’ pronouncement should shock us out of our complacency, chasten our behavior, and keep us on our knees!

Read it all.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Progress Cited in Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Scientists reported progress yesterday toward one of medicine’s long-sought goals: the development of a blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, and even do so years before truly debilitating memory loss.

A team of scientists, based mainly at Stanford University, developed a test that was about 90 percent accurate in distinguishing the blood of people with Alzheimer’s from the blood of those without the disease. The test was about 80 percent accurate in predicting which patients with mild memory loss would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease two to six years later.

Outside experts called the results, published online yesterday by Nature Medicine, promising but preliminary. They cautioned that the work needed to be validated by others and in much larger studies, because there have been many disappointments in the past.

“Looking for biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease is a very hot area,” said Dr. William Jagust, professor of public health and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. “Things tend to get a lot of attention, and they are not always borne out.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Jonathan Sacks: Religion and science are twin beacons of humanity

In 1997 a group of scientists issued a declaration in which, among other things, they argued that “human capabilities appear to differ in degree, not in kind, from those found among the higher animals. Humankind’s rich repertoire of thoughts, feelings, aspirations and hopes seems to arise from electrochemical brain processes, not from an immaterial soul”.

Is that all we are? Where, on this definition, will we place the book of Psalms, King Lear, Monet’s water lilies or the Bodleian Library, Oxford? Where will we locate the individuals who risked their lives to save lives during the massacre in Rwanda, or the Buddhist monks today who confront the military regime in Burma in the name of freedom? Do we adequately capture the parameters of the human spirit by reducing it to “electrochemical brain processes”? Clearly not.

The declaration is guilty of an elementary mistake of logic, the genetic fallacy, the belief that because Y “arises from” X, Y is no more than X. An oak arises from an acorn, a butterfly from a caterpillar, but they are not the same things. Music arises from a disturbance of airwaves, but that does not make music mere noise. Everything that lives can be traced back to the first ribo-organisms. But that does not mean that all forms of life are essentially the same.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

A Conversation with Elizabeth Paver, member of the ACC Standing Committee

Lay Canon Elizabeth Paver (picture here) is one of three members on the Anglican Consultative Council from the Church of England, and is a member of the ACC Standing Committee. She was therefore one of the international guests at the recent House of Bishops in New Orleans which was attended by the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates. Canon Paver worked for 40 years in education before her recent retirement, and served many roles over that time, as for example Head Teacher at Intake Primary School in Doncaster and President of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

I met Canon Paver when I was an observer to the ACC 13 meeting in Nottingham. A participant on my blog, Sander, wrote in a comment in the midst of a lengthy discussion of the Joint Standing Committee Report in a thread below as follows:

#76, I have heard reports this afternoon that Canon Elizabeth Paver, one of the four who did not respond in time, has since responded and given her concurrence to the opinions of the other 9 who did respond.

Because I am aware of Mrs. Paver’s convictions, I wanted to understand more fully her sense of the recently released Report on the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC (Anglican Consultative Council) on the New Orleans meeting of the House of Bishops. The following is an article I wrote based on several conversations with Canon Paver–KSH.


When the report was issued, Canon Paver noted, it was in such haste that she was shocked. “ It wasn’t in the time frame we were led to believe when we went to New Orleans. It was my understanding that it was to be a report only to the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore it did not need to be finalized so quickly.”

The report was drafted NOT in the United States with a full committee around the table, but was done by email. In Mrs. Paver’s view this prevented the committee from doing its work properly.

In any event, once the report was being finalized quickly, Elizabeth Paver read the material. This created a dilemma for her. “I think the process in New Orleans was accurately reported,” she observed. However there was a division on the committee itself as to whether the American House of Bishops had responded adequately to the requests of the Primates in Tanzania, and the report did not reflect this division of opinion.

“When the report was published, its conclusion represented a majority view, but it certainly was not a unanimous view,” she asserted.

When the report was made public in its final form, Mrs. Paver was confused. She was listed as having not responded, which was accurate as she had missed the Tuesday deadline but following conversations with ACC staff on the day of publication she agreed that the Report was an accurate account of the Standing Committees conclusions but needed to reflect the minority view also. She agreed with the description of what transpired in New Orleans, but also agreed in principle with Bishop Mouneer Anis that what the the primates called for had not been provided. She was assured that Bishop Mouneer’s Response would be appended to the report in full which covered the areas that concerned her.

It is important for people to understand the crucial significance of the call for a moratorium on same sex blessings, Mrs. Paver insisted. “From my perspective, anything other than a full moratorium would mean that the whole report is brought into disrepute,” she observed.“If there is no moratorium and this can be demonstrated then in my view the Joint Standing Committee will need to issue a further statement.”

Two comments about this from yours truly. First, here is a faithful laywoman who was clearly let down by the system. The bizarre and rushed way that this report was put together meant that she was reported not to have responded, and then it was alleged that she concurred. Actually, she did respond but not in time for the rushed release, and she agreed with the reports description but not its evaluation (which is hardly concurrence).

Second, her comments make clear the degree of miscommunication involved in the report as far as the moratorium is concerned. The JST somehow believed based on communication that took place in New Orleans that there was a moratorium on same sex blessings being officially allowed and/or encouraged in all dioceses, when as Gene Robinson as well as other bishops have made clear that is simply not the case.

This means that the entire JSC report about New Orleans is even further called into question–KSH.

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

David Steinmetz: Episcopalians now face a reunited opposition

Until recently, fragmentation seemed to be the strategy du jour of traditionalists in the current Anglican crisis. This crisis was precipitated by the decision of the Episcopal Church to consecrate a divorced non-celibate gay man as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. A minority of Episcopalians in the U.S. and a majority of Anglicans worldwide disagreed strongly with this decision and set about to scupper it.

Offshore Anglican archbishops, mainly in Africa, came to the rescue of American traditionalists by offering membership in their own traditionalist provinces. It seemed like an almost perfect solution for American conservatives. Africans provided them with new missionary bishops to oversee their congregations in the United States, while providing a way for former Episcopalians to remain (more or less) in unbroken communion with the archbishop of Canterbury.

But therein lies the rub. The problem was not that American traditionalists lacked friends overseas but rather that they seemed to have far too many of them, including sympathetic archbishops from Bolivia and Singapore. By August, conservatives could choose between missionary bishops from Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya — and many of them did. Once again an Anglican dissenting group seemed headed toward fragmentation and diminished influence.

That is, until Sept. 27-28, when Anglican conservatives made a move toward greater unity among themselves. Bishops and bishops-elect from the Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Province of America, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as missionary bishops from Uganda and Kenya met in Pittsburgh as a Common Cause College of Bishops.

According to a joint statement, the bishops “repented” of the divisions that had existed among them and vowed to meet every six months as a continuing College of Bishops. Their primary agenda was to unite as soon as possible the divided Anglican groups of which they were representatives into one undivided church. Toward that end the participating bishops agreed to share clergy across the lines that still separated them.

Among the supporters in principle of this agreement were several dissenting bishops of the Episcopal Church, who proposed to bring their dioceses with them, including (one assumes) titles to church property. The dioceses present were Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy, Western Kansas, Springfield and Albany.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Conflicts

Oliver Thomas: So what does the Constitution say about religion?

As America’s finest continue shedding their blood in Iraq and Afghanistan, we do well to take stock of who we are and what we’re up against. What we’re up against is a fanatical cadre of theocrats bent on imposing their view of Theo on everybody else. At gunpoint.

Who we are is a little more complicated. On paper, we’re the freedom people. I say “on paper” because that’s where it all starts. We have the oldest written constitution on the planet. We can be proud of that. What we can’t be proud of is that many Americans don’t seem to know what it says, particularly when it comes to our nation’s first freedom: religious freedom.

Ask most Americans what the Constitution says about God, and their answers may surprise you.

“One nation under God?”

Nope, that’s the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Oh, yeah, right, right. How about, ‘Endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights’?”

Sorry, but that’s the Declaration of Independence.


Mostly what you’ll get is a lot of blank stares. Trust me. I’ve tried it in nearly 50 states. Fully 55% of the country, according to a recent survey by the First Amendment Center, believes that the U.S. Constitution establishes us as a “Christian nation.” Worse still, while nearly all Americans say freedom of religion is important, only 56% think it should apply to all religious groups. The truth is that the Constitution says nothing about God. Not one word. And, you can bet that some of the local clergy back in the 1780s howled about it. Newspapers, pamphlets and sermons decried the drafters’ failure to acknowledge God.

Read it all.

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

Savannah: Christ Church parishioners support split with Episcopalians

Christ Church leaders canceled a late morning worship service Sunday to measure the congregation’s support of their recent decision to break from the Episcopal Church.

More than 200 parishioners gathered at the downtown parish at 11 a.m. to cast ballots and find out what happens next. A vast majority of voters said they supported the split.

Senior warden Steve Dantin tried to explain to the congregation why the church aligned with an Anglican entity in Africa after its break with American Episcopalians.

“These entities represent a lifeboat. It’s a temporary measure,” Dantin said. “All of these lifeboats will ultimately be leading towards a mother ship, and the mother ship will more than likely be an alternate Anglican province in the United States.”

The meeting follows the Sept. 30 decision by church leaders – known as the vestry – to leave the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and join the more conservative Anglican Province of Uganda. Both the American and Ugandan churches are members of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department: Jumping mayor Bruises tomato

The Lord Mayor of Belfast has apologised to a council worker left with back injuries after he tried to leapfrog her during a photoshoot.
Lorraine Mallon suffered a slipped disc when Jim Rodgers’ knee accidently hit her head as he attempted to vault her.

Ms Mallon had been dressed as a tomato to launch a gourmet garden event in Botanic Gardens last month.

The Ulster Unionist councillor said he attempted the act of athleticism at the request of photographers.

“I have been absolutely devastated over what has happened,” he said.

“There had been three false runs and I think Lorraine thought this was just another one.

Read it all and a picture is here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Historic Christ Church Congregation Affirms Vestry Decision to Continue in the Anglican Communion

October 14, 2007- Savannah, GA. By a decisive margin of 87% the congregation of historic Christ Church voted overwhelmingly to affirm the vestry’s September 30, 2007 decision to place itself under the pastoral care of The Rt. Reverend John Guernsey, Rector of All Saint’s Church in Woodbridge, VA and a bishop of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s province of Uganda, Africa. The action followed a prolonged process of disciplined prayer and discernment.

“It saddens us that The Episcopal Church (TEC) has chosen to walk apart from the rest of the Communion. We have been an Anglican parish since the founding of the Colony of Georgia, and it is important to us that we continue to participate as members in good standing with the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said Steve Dantin, Senior Warden.
TEC, the U.S. “branch” or province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, received a final call from the Anglican Communion to return to orthodox Christianity and to signify the same by taking certain actions no later than September 30, 2007. TEC failed to comply, and thus it abandoned the communion previously existing between TEC (including the Diocese of Georgia) and Christ Church. Therefore, Christ Church appealed to Bishop Guernsey and Archbishop Orombi for their pastoral care and oversight, which has been granted.

“This has been a long and arduous journey,” said Dantin. “It was gratifying to see the large number of parishioners participate in this process. Our congregation has spoken clearly.”
Along with 33 other Anglican congregations in the U.S., Christ Church is under the authority of Archbishop Henry Orombi of the Province of Uganda, which has a membership of 9.5 million people. Christ Church is one of over 1,000 congregations representing more than 200,000 U.S. Anglicans and 1,200 clergy who are associates of the Anglican Communion Network, an ecclesial, Anglican body in the U.S. Christ Church is also an affiliate of the American Anglican Council, an advocacy group for Anglican orthodoxy in the United States.

“We look forward to working to build a biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America,” said The Reverend Marc Robertson, Rector of Christ Church. “In the meantime nothing is changing at Christ Church. Our location, mission, ministry, education and worship services are continuing as usual.”

Founded in 1733 with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the Mother Church of Georgia and the oldest continuous Christian congregation in the state. Christ Church predates the establishment of The Episcopal Church in the United States and the Diocese of Georgia. Early rectors include British evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on its original site on historic Johnson Square in downtown Savannah, Christ Church continues as an active and thriving congregation.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia

Rift between Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church likely would lead to court

TEC spokeswoman Neva Rae Fox said a Quincy vote to leave would have to go through the church’s General Convention in 2009 in order to be recognized. Dioceses can’t leave The Episcopal Church on their own say-so because they were created by the church’s General Convention, Fox said.

“They’re dead wrong on that,” said Wicks Stephens, legal adviser for the Anglican Communion Network in Pittsburgh, of which the Diocese of Quincy is a part.

“If you read the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, in order for a diocese to come into union with other dioceses of The Episcopal Church through the General Convention, that diocese has to meet certain standards, including forming itself, becoming financially sustainable and other things, including allegiance to The Episcopal Church.”
The Rev. Jim Naughton, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., said, though, that “this is an argument that didn’t exist until they needed it to exist.”

“No one has previously interpreted constitutions and canons in this way,” said Naughton, whose diocese leans liberal and who contributes to an Episcopalian blog called The Lead.

But the Rev. John Spencer, president of Quincy’s joint standing committee, agreed with Stephens.

“If you actually read the constitution carefully, what it says is the people and the churches and the clergy form a diocese,” Spencer said.

Dioceses, the vicar of St. Francis Church in Dunlap said, created the General Convention, not the other way around.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized