Daily Archives: February 14, 2008

Religious groups seek new life with merger

As local religious leaders made plans to gather for a forum today, one area interfaith organization is hoping to gain new life by merging with another.

The Kentuckiana Interfaith Community, a once-active group that had languished in recent years, announced late last year it was ceasing operations in its current form.

It now has agreed to become a subgroup in another group with a similar name and mission ”” the Center for Interfaith Relations.

The Kentuckiana Interfaith Community historically was led by the delegates of bishops and other denominational leaders, while the Center for Interfaith Relations is mainly led by lay people.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations

Robert Reich: Totally Spent

WE’RE sliding into recession, or worse, and Washington is turning to the normal remedies for economic downturns. But the normal remedies are not likely to work this time, because this isn’t a normal downturn.

The problem lies deeper. It is the culmination of three decades during which American consumers have spent beyond their means. That era is now coming to an end. Consumers have run out of ways to keep the spending binge going.

The only lasting remedy, other than for Americans to accept a lower standard of living and for businesses to adjust to a smaller economy, is to give middle- and lower-income Americans more buying power ”” and not just temporarily.

Much of the current debate is irrelevant. Even with more tax breaks for business like accelerated depreciation, companies won’t invest in more factories or equipment when demand is dropping for products and services across the board, as it is now. And temporary fixes like a stimulus package that would give households a one-time cash infusion won’t get consumers back to the malls, because consumers know the assistance is temporary. The problems most consumers face are permanent, so they are likely to pocket the extra money instead of spending it.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

An incident One Day in New York City Recently

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Bishop Tom Wright defends Archbishop Rowan Williams on the Sharia Law Fracas

The astonishing misrepresentation of Archbishop Rowan in virtually all newspapers over the last few days, and the scorn and anger which this has fueled, have caused many people within the church to ask what on earth is going on. The issues are complex, but let me try to highlight the key points.

Obviously it would be good for people to read the whole lecture, which is available on line at his website together with further clarification. There is an excellent summary and discussion of the whole issue by Andrew Goddard available on the Fulcrum website.

First, the lecture which Rowan gave was the start of a series organized by and for the legal profession, about the nature of law. He was not making a public statement about his belief in Jesus (people have asked me ”˜why doesn’t he speak about Jesus?’ and the answer is ”˜he does, a great deal of the time, but this wasn’t that sort of occasion’). He was addressing some of the most serious and far-reaching questions which face us both in Britain and throughout western culture, and was doing so with the sensitivity and intellectual rigor which the occasion, and his audience, rightly demanded. We should be grateful that we have an Archbishop capable of such work, not demand that his every word be instantly comprehensible by the casual uninformed onlooker. If I ask someone to fix my car, or my computer, I don’t expect to understand everything they say about the technicalities; rather, I’m glad someone out there knows what’s going on and can do what’s necessary.

Second, the fundamental issue he was addressing is the relation between the law of the land and the religious conscience of the citizen…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Executive Council reviews budgets, considers draft of letter to the Episcopal Church

Members of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council February 13 learned that diocesan financial contributions to the wider church’s budget exceeded what was expected in 2007 and will likely also increase in 2008.

Josephine Hicks of the Diocese of North Carolina, chair of Council’s Administration and Finance Committee (A&F), and Episcopal Church Treasurer Kurt Barnes reviewed the performance of the 2007 budget and presented A&F’s proposed 2008 budget. Council will vote on the budget February 14 during the concluding day of this four-day meeting in Quito.

Also during the afternoon plenary session at the Hilton Colon hotel, a task group charged with writing a letter to the Episcopal Church, to be released at the end of the meeting, presented a first draft and asked for feedback. Council members read the draft as it was projected on a large screen in the plenary meeting room. Task group chair Sherry Denton of the Diocese of Western Kansas asked the members to individually relay their feedback to the task group.

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

Bishop Don Harvey interviewed on CBC Ottawa

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

In Vancouver Anglicans vote to split over same-sex blessings

Members of what is described as the largest congregation in the Anglican Church of Canada voted strongly Wednesday to split with Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham over his support for same-sex blessings.

“It means that the community speaks with one mind,” said St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church spokeswoman Lesley Bentley, after a preliminary count showed that out of 495 ballots cast, only 11 opposed the split and nine abstained.

“What it is is very uniting.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Obama’s Lead in Delegates Shifts Focus of Campaign

Senator Barack Obama emerged from Tuesday’s primaries leading Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton by more than 100 delegates, a small but significant advantage that Democrats said would be difficult for Mrs. Clinton to make up in the remaining contests in the presidential nomination battle.

Neither candidate is expected to win the 2,025 pledged delegates needed to claim the nomination by the time the voting ends in June. But Mr. Obama’s campaign began making a case in earnest on Wednesday that if he maintained his edge in delegates won in primaries and caucuses, he would have the strongest claim to the backing of the 796 elected Democrats and party leaders known as superdelegates who are free to vote as they choose and who now stand to determine the outcome.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said she could still pull out a victory with victories in the biggest primaries still to come, including Ohio and Texas next month. But Mr. Obama’s clear lead in delegates allocated by the votes in nominating contests is one of a number of challenges facing her after a string of defeats in which Mr. Obama not only ran up big popular vote margins but also made inroads among the types of voters she had most been counting on, including women and lower-income people.

Should the cracks in her support among those groups show up in Ohio and Texas as well, it could undermine her hopes that those states will halt Mr. Obama’s momentum and allow her to claim dominance in many of the biggest primary battlegrounds.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Four bishops' renunciations of ministry accepted by Presiding Bishop

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted four bishops’ renunciations of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, a senior representative of her office has confirmed.

The Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, said the Presiding Bishop — in letters dated January 23 and sent to related General Convention, diocesan, pension and deployment offices — has accepted the renunciations made by David J. Bena, resigned bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.; Andrew H. Fairfield, resigned bishop of the Fargo-based Diocese of North Dakota; and Howard S. Meeks, resigned bishop of the Diocese of Western Michigan, based near Kalamazoo.

A similar letter was sent January 14 regarding the renunciation made by Jeffrey N. Steenson, resigned bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande, an Albuquerque-based jurisdiction encompassing New Mexico and a portion of Southwest Texas including El Paso.

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

New Yorkers Encouraged to Get Busy with Free Condoms

The city wants New Yorkers to “get some” this Valentine’s Day. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene unveiled its 2008 safer sex awareness campaign with new posters, banners, and TV ads featuring a colorful and sexy message. The city also unveiled a new look for the wrapper of its free condom.

The slogan is — wait for it — “Get Some.”

Street teams from the health department will meet commuters around the city Thursday to hand out the new NYC Condom for Valentine’s Day, officials said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

'My Mistress's Sparrow' Gives Love a Bad Name

Writer Jeffrey Eugenides, who edited the new anthology, My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro, takes a unique look at love through this short story collection.

He points out that love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births, on dysfunctional families and matrimonial boredom ”” and, in short, they simply give love a bad name.

“I started to realize that not only the love stories that I liked, but actually the love stories that everybody liked, had a certain bittersweet quality to them. The stories in this collection are by no means tragic, but in order to even get to a measure of happiness, the characters usually have to go through a lot of difficulty,” Eugenides says.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books

Fort Worth's 2nd Report on the possibility of re-aligning with the Province of the Southern Cone

Provincial Polity
Instead of having a cumbersome General Convention that meets every three years for three weeks at great expense, with four clergy and four lay deputies from each diocese in the House of Deputies and all bishops in the House of Bishops, as in The Episcopal Church, there is a Provincial Synod (Canon 5) of the Southern Cone that meets every three years for three days. It is comprised of the Bishop and one clergy and one lay delegate from each diocese in the Province. This would be a much smaller legislative body on the provincial level, producing considerable cost savings and a council of far more manageable size for conducting business. Also, as a member diocese we would have a seat on the Provincial Executive Council (Canon 6), helping to direct program and budget. Our Bishop would have the right of voice at Council meetings, even if we were already represented on the Council by a priest or lay person.

Presiding Bishop/Primate
The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, also referred to as the Primate or Archbishop, is not a separate, full-time, salaried position, as in TEC. Instead, the Bishop elected as Primate continues to serve as a diocesan bishop, like all the other bishops of the Province. There are no “national church offices” staffed with a bureaucracy of paid church employees. This makes for a much smaller structure and budget and keeps the emphasis for mission and ministry on the local diocesan level.

Provincial Budget
The budget of the General Convention of TEC was set at just under $50 million for 2008. Most of this funding comes from an “asking” from each diocese, in the amount of 21% of its annual income. The remainder comes from investment income and other sources. The annual budget of the Province of the Southern Cone totals less than $100,000 and is funded by the member dioceses on a proportionate basis, with contributions ranging between $2,000 and $6,000. Additional support comes from overseas partners. The funds are used mostly for basic costs of administration and communications. This minimal provincial cost keeps the focus and funding for ministry in the local dioceses.

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

Statement by the Church of Uganda Provincial Assembly Standing Committee on Lambeth 2008

(Church of Uganada News)

Church of the Province of Uganda
Statement by the Provincial Assembly Standing Committee on Lambeth Conference 2008

1. The Lambeth Conference is a gathering that brings together the Bishops of the Anglican Communion from all 38 Provinces of the Communion at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The conference is usually held every ten years. It provides Bishops with an opportunity for “worship, study, and conversation,” discussing and making resolutions that affect the Anglican Communion.

2. At the 1998 Lambeth Conference under Resolution 1.10 the Bishops overwhelmingly passed a resolution that rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.” The conference also rejected the blessing of same-sex unions.

3. In 2003, in flagrant disregard of this resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (TEC) elected as Bishop Gene Robinson, a divorced man living in an active homosexual relationship. The Primates, who are the Archbishops of all the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, met shortly after that and warned the Episcopal Church not to proceed with the consecration of a practicing homosexual as a Bishop. They warned that, if they proceeded with the consecration, their action would “tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.” Less than a month later, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church presided over the consecration of Gene Robinson. This action has divided the Anglican Communion in a profound way.

4. The Primates of the Communion have asked the American Church to halt further consecrations of practicing homosexuals and ceremonies for the blessing of same-sex unions. Regretfully, TEC has continued to bless same-sex unions, in ceremonies that were presided over, among others, by two Bishops.

5. The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) produced a statement entitled The Road to Lambeth that calls for this crisis to be resolved before the next Lambeth Conference is convened. The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda endorsed this position at their meeting in December 2006. Since this crisis has not yet been resolved, the Bishops of the Church of Uganda have resolved that they will not be participating in the Lambeth Conference to be held in July 2008 in Canterbury, England, a position that the Provincial Assembly Standing Committee strongly endorses. This decision has been made to protest the invitations extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, to TEC Bishops whose stand and unrepentant actions created the current crisis of identity and authority in the Anglican Communion.

6. The Church of Uganda, by this decision, wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the resolutions of the 2006 Provincial Assembly and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which, in substance, denounced homosexual practice and called upon the Church to remain faithful to the Holy Scriptures.

7. Consultations are going on at different levels on how to deal with this crisis, which, among others, include planning for a meeting of Biblically orthodox Anglican Bishops, clergy, and laity to be held in Jerusalem in June 2008. We request the Church to continue in prayer as efforts are being made to find a lasting solution to this crisis. Further developments regarding this matter will be communicated to the Christians in due course.

Issued in Kampala this 12th day of February 2008

The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Lambeth 2008

Living Church: Second ”˜Interim Pastoral Presence’ Appointed for San Joaquin

The Rev. Canon Brian Cox, rector of Christ the King Church, Santa Barbara, Calif., has been appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as an “interim pastoral presence” in the Diocese of San Joaquin. He joins the Rev. Canon Robert Moore, who was named in January.

“I think the Presiding Bishop’s desire was to have a balanced pastoral presence as we seek to rebuild relationships on all sides,” Canon Cox told a reporter from The Living Church. He added that he hopes to begin “meeting people from all perspectives” and earning their trust during a listening tour of the diocese Feb. 19-22.

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

From ABC Nightline: Teens and Prescription Drugs

Caught this one during the early morning work out–very sobering.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Teens / Youth

Egyptian Court Allows Return to Christianity

Cairo’s highest civil court on Saturday ruled that 12 Christians who had converted to Islam could return to their original church, ending a bitter yearlong battle over identity and minority rights.

It was the second time in recent months that a court has upheld the rights of religious minorities, in a country that is 90 percent Muslim and where the distinction between civil law and religious principles is increasingly blurred.

The case involved Coptic Christians who had converted to Islam to obtain a divorce. The Coptic Orthodox Church does not allow dissolving a marriage. Islamic law, however, allows men to end a marriage easily.

For a time, Christians who converted in order to divorce were allowed by the courts to formally return to their original faith. But in recent years, as a more conservative sentiment has spread throughout the country and the government, the courts have not allowed converts to return to Christianity.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

From NPR: Does Britain Leave Doors Open for Terrorism?

Britain is one of the most open societies in the West. But some think its openness has made the country vulnerable to attacks by homegrown terrorists. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith talks about the terrorist threat.

i happened to catch this this morning on the way to an early morning meeting. Be on the watch for a section toward the end of the interview where Archbishop Rowan Williams recent lecture on Sharia law and its possible place in Britain were discussed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Terrorism

Executive Council gets briefing on Ecuador's challenges

Members of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council February 12 heard from a government official, an academic and a Latin American church leader about the challenges facing Ecuador.

The briefing came after Council members, Church Center staff and their guests traveled earlier in the day to one of eight venues in and around Quito to learn about and briefly engage in the mission of the Diocese of Ecuador Central.

Augusto Saa, a minister in the office of the Ecuadorian Vice Chancellor, spoke to Council about Ecuador President Rafael Correa’s plans for the country and the work he has already done to repay what Saa called the country’s “social debt” to those whom he said previous Ecuadorian governments had marginalized. Saa said that marginalization came about despite the country’s richness in natural resources.

“We are living in a very favorable moment,” Saa said, adding that he believes there is the “political will” to change the way the government relates to people.

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

What One Woman Did to a Store which Lost her Laptop

Is your laptop worth $54 million?

Raelyn Campbell of Washington, D.C., is suing Richfield-based Best Buy for that amount after it lost her laptop computer while it was in for repairs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Tom Baldwin: Something must give ”” or will the fight be stopped?

The Democratic presidential contest is now between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

Hillary Clinton is retrenching behind what her advisers call “a demographic brick wall” in Ohio and Texas ”“ believing that Barack Obama’s recent momentum will be brought to an abrupt halt next month by the blue-collar and Latino voters who have largely backed her elsewhere.

Mr Obama still surges forward, putting his faith in the “fierce urgency of now” helping him to vault over the next big round of elections on March 4, when 444 delegates are at stake, in the same way that he has already defied the laws of political campaigning.

Something, or someone, has to give. And eyes are turning to the party leadership of 796 “super-delegates” to be a referee that stops this fight before it reaches the presidential nomination convention in August.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008