Daily Archives: October 28, 2007

NY Times Magazine: Evangelical Crackup

Many conservative Christian leaders say they can count on the specter of a second Clinton presidency to fire up their constituents. But the prospect of an Obama-Giuliani race is another matter. “You would have a bunch of people who traditionally vote Republican going over to Obama,” said the Rev. Donald Wildmon, founder of the Christian conservative American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., known for its consumer boycotts over obscenity or gay issues.

In the Wichita churches this summer, Obama was the Democrat who drew the most interest. Several mentioned that he had spoken at Warren’s Saddleback church and said they were intrigued. But just as many people ruled out Obama because they suspected that he was not Christian at all but in fact a crypto-Muslim ”” a rumor that spread around the Internet earlier this year. “There is just that ill feeling, and part of it is his faith,” Welsh said. “Is his faith anti-Christian? Is he a Muslim? And what about the school where he was raised?”

“Obama sounds too much like Osama,” said Kayla Nickel of Westlink. “When he says his name, I am like, ”˜I am not voting for a Muslim!’ ”

Fox, meanwhile, is already preparing to do his part to get Wichita’s conservative faithful to the polls next November. Standing before a few hundred worshipers at the Johnny Western Theater last summer, Fox warned his new congregation not to let go of that old-time religion. “Hell is just as hot as it ever was,” he reminded them. “It just has more people in it.”

Fox told me: “I think the religious community is probably reflective of the rest of the nation ”” it is very divided right now. This election process is going to reveal a lot about where the religious right and the religious community is. It will show unity or the lack of it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Truro Church will install a new rector

The Anglican District of Virginia will install the Rev. Tory Baucum tomorrow as rector of Truro Church in Fairfax. The Anglican District is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia and part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

The installation will take place at 11:15 a.m. at Truro Church, 10520 Main St.

Baucum serves as a missioner of Alpha International and an adjunct professor of mission at Asbury Theological Seminary. He received a doctorate in intercultural theology with expertise in the catechumenate, Christian revitalization movements and the history of preaching.

Posted in Uncategorized

Methodists Meet to Evaluate Transgenderism, Starting With Baltimore Pastor

The Rev. Drew Phoenix is many things to many people.

To congregants of St. John’s of Baltimore, he’s the fun-loving pastor who counsels them, takes their children hiking, explains Scripture and plunges into worthy causes.

To conservative Methodists, Phoenix embodies another front in the culture wars: a rebel who has defied God and nature and should be removed from ministry.

To mainstream society, Phoenix is an enigma who transcends traditional sexual boundaries, provoking uncomfortable questions about the interplay between body, mind and soul.

To the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church, he’s number IV on the docket for its Oct. 24-27 session: “A Review of Bishop’s Decision . . . Whether Transgendered Persons Are Eligible for Appointment in The United Methodist Church.”

The issue of transgenderism seems too hot to touch for religious Americans already bitterly divided over sexual orientation. A number of Methodist theologians and ethicists asked to comment for this article declined.

But as scientific advances and changing sexual mores allow transgender people to slowly move into the mainstream, religious leaders will soon have to grapple with the theological implications of sexual identity, scholars say.

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

Executive Council receives draft response to proposed Anglican covenant

Jefferts Schori also reported briefly on the September meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. Noting the presence of members of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the New Orleans meeting, she said “the bishops heard some very challenging words from the visitors.”

She said that she was pleased with the statement the bishops issued to the Anglican Communion at the end of the meeting. “Not everyone was comfortable where we stood, but we stood together,” she said.

The JSC also recognized that the Episcopal Church has a “vocation in this season to keep the issues of human sexuality before the communion,” Jefferts Schori said, adding that not all of the JSC members like that situation, but she said they do recognize the Episcopal Church’s vocation.

The communion is involved in a “signal shift” these days, Jefferts Schori said, back to mission questions and “basic living issues.” She cited the recent communiqué from the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa as an example.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Cary McMullen: Stitches In Time To Save a Church?

It has been an eventful two weeks in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. With a suddenness no one could have foreseen, the Orlando headquarters of the diocese has become ground zero for the latest phase of controversy in the Episcopal Church.

Last week, nine priests in the diocese – two of them from Polk County – met with Bishop John Howe to discuss ways they and parts of their congregations might “disaffiliate” with the Episcopal Church. The move was not exactly a surprise. It had been rumored that as many as 17 priests, disaffected by the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church, might seek to break away. But following the Oct. 18 meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in, and the implications have reverberated around the Episcopal blogosphere. More on that momentarily.

Howe has been in a tough spot. He’s conservative on moral questions and participated in various consultations among the minority of bishops unhappy with the Episcopal Church’s actions on the ordination of gays and the blessing of their unions.

But Howe has steadfastly pledged his loyalty to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the international Anglican Communion, and he has been reluctant to take steps that might put himself at odds with Williams.

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

Sunday Telegraph: C of E to empower foreign bishops

The Church of England is set to allow foreign archbishops to intervene in its affairs, secret papers reveal.

Under controversial plans being drawn up by the Church’s bishops, leaders from Africa and South America would be able to take over the care of parishes in this country.

They threaten to end the historic power of bishops to have ultimate control over their dioceses because parishes could ask for overseas prelates to carry out important duties, such as leading ordination services

The proposals are part of a covenant or rule book of beliefs that has been endorsed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as a last ditch attempt to prevent the Anglican Church from splitting over gay clergy.

It is designed to stop provinces taking unilateral action and argues that Churches that defy traditional teaching should be asked to repent of their actions or face being expelled from the worldwide Communion. However, liberals have warned that these moves mark the most significant shift in the Anglican Church since the Reformation and could lead to a split in the Church of England.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Much of U.S. Could See a Water Shortage

An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn’t have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York’s reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.

Across America, the picture is critically clear – the nation’s freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.

The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.

“Is it a crisis? If we don’t do some decent water planning, it could be,” said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the Denver-based American Water Works Association.

Water managers will need to take bold steps to keep taps flowing, including conservation, recycling, desalination and stricter controls on development.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Climate Change, Weather

Bonnie Anderson Asks Executive Council for Help

Loyalist Episcopalians in dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network feel isolated and lack access to important information to help them plan for their future, said Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, during brief introductory remarks to Executive Council, Oct. 26 in Dearborn, Mich.

“Every time that I’m in one of those places, I get a lot of questions, both public and private,” she said. “I want Executive Council to be aware of the concerns of these people and to perhaps discuss responses to some of these. I don’t know the answer myself to all of these.”

Mrs. Anderson focused on a visit she made to Fort Worth, Texas, last month to attend a meeting organized by the local Via Media chapter. Using an overhead projector, she displayed a sampling of questions that she has received during her visits. Many of the questions relate to how these persons will remain connected if their dioceses realize plans to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.

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

In Print: Biography reveals late Episcopal priest struggled with Christian paths to God

In his final years, the Rev. Paul Hoornstra faced heart disease, cancer, blindness, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

Through it all, he never questioned his belief in God.

“He only questioned which path to follow,” said his former Tuesday lunch buddy, Bryan Springthorpe.

Springthorpe’s biography, “Crossing the Bridge: The Life and Works of the Reverend Paul Hoornstra,” appears in bookstores and churches this month. The 361-page biography captures the events and struggles of the late Episcopalian priest known locally for launching two local churches and restoring a congregation on Tybee Island.

Springthorpe began work on the book shortly after Hoornstra’s death in 2003 at age 83.

“He was a fascinating guy and a great inspiration to me,” Springthorpe said.

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

Who shall partake? Churches grapple with the question of when to deny sacrament

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on communion, “grave matters” that should cause a person to refrain from communion include missing Mass on Sundays “without serious reason” and dishonoring one’s parents “by neglecting them in their need and infirmity.” Add being pro-choice, using birth control and engaging in premarital sex, says Father Robert Bussen of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Park City, and “if you really take the checklist seriously, nobody could receive communion.”

The canons of the Episcopal Church say that all “baptized Christians” are invited to communion. But more and more Episcopal churches aren’t following those rules, says the Rev. Canon Mary June Nestler, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. “Instead, they’re extending the invitation of communion to any person who feels led to receive it.”

That said, the Episcopal Church does recommend denying communion in some cases ”” described in the church’s Prayer Book as people who are “living a notoriously evil life” or “are a scandal to the other members of the congregation.”

In her 28 years of ordination, she says, she has never had to deny communion and has only witnessed two denials ”” a person involved in a serious financial misconduct of parish funds and the case of a triangle of adulterers. Even then, says the Rev. Nestler, the priest did not refuse communion on the spot. Instead, as advised in the Prayer Book, the priest spoke privately to them, advising them not to come to the communion table until they had given “clear proof of repentance and amendment of life.”

But faced with an uncertain situation, says the Rev. Nestler, “I would say it’s best to err on the side of generosity, because Christ’s table is a generous table. Second-guessing at the communion rail is always a difficult call.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Eucharist, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology