Daily Archives: February 26, 2008

Bookkeeper In Florida Episcopal Church embezzled more than $500,000

The bookkeeper for Episcopal Church of the Advent turned herself in Thursday on charges she embezzled $512,000 from the church.

Investigators with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said Rosanne Stone, 50, took the money from three church accounts over four years. She was arrested on charges of grand theft and money laundering. She was released from the county jail on $1,000 bail.

Sgt. James McQuaig said it was possibly the biggest embezzlement case the Sheriff’s Office has ever seen. He said Stone used the money to buy antiques, jewelry, furniture, silverware, lamps and glassware on eBay.

“We counted and literally have hundreds of items seized as evidence,” McQuaig said.

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of West Texas' 2008 Diocesan Council Address

[In his Advent letter Archbishop Rowan Williams] also suggests that this working group “will also have to consider whether in the present circumstances it is possible for provinces or individual bishops at odds with the expressed mind of the Communion to participate fully in representative Communion agencies, including ecumenical bodies. Its responsibility will be to weigh current developments in the light of the clear recommendations of Windsor and of the subsequent statements from the ACC (Anglican Consultative Council) and the Primates’ Meeting; itwill thus also be bound to consider the exact status of bishops ordained by one province for ministry in another. At the moment, the question of ”˜who speaks for the Communion?’ is surrounded by much unclarity and urgently needs resolution”¦Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship.” These are enormous challenges and I, and the committee, need your prayers in the days ahead.

Perhaps the Archbishop got to the bottom line when he illustrated the issue as being “whether or how far we can recognise the same Gospel and ministry” in one another. We’ll see if we have both the wisdom and the will to arrive together at the yet-to-be determined far shore. We’re stuck, and we need to look for ways to become un-stuck.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Chuck Collins Writes His Parish: Realignment update

Baroness Caroline Cox, several times this past weekend, quoted Archbishop Ben Kwashi: “We have a message worth living for; we have a message worth dying for; don’t you [in the West] compromise the message we are dying for.”

I heard from a friend in England several weeks ago that an announcement was imminent that would be very good news for the orthodox in the U.S. I learned from others that it would involve a plan for churches to connect to the Anglican Communion apart from the Episcopal Church – this is what we have been waiting for since the vestry letter September 2006. It was reported that this would have the blessing of the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I hoped that this would allow Christ Church and churches like ours to disassociate from the Episcopal Church with the blessing of Canterbury, yet still remain a member of the Anglican Communion.

This is the news I’ve been waiting for but, I’m sad to say that it is not good news.

It turns out that the four U.S. bishops have only resurrected an old idea that was earlier rejected as inadequate by orthodox Episcopalians, i.e. the Presiding Bishop’s plan for alternate episcopal oversight. The plan of the four Windsor bishops is unworkable on every level. It will not help orthodox churches in hostile dioceses because it depends on the good will of revisionist bishops towards their orthodox congregations. For no reason at all bishops can say “no” to episcopal visitors (Communion Partners), and can still require churches to financially support the Episcopal Church (in their lawsuits against conservative congregations!). How is this good news for traditional churches? And for churches like Christ Church, it provides no way to connect to the Anglican Communion apart from the Episcopal Church. No wonder the Presiding Bishop endorsed it; it’s her plan and she gives up nothing! The plan of these four bishops is a last gasp from a dying institution.

Not only does this plan fail to address any real issues, it threatens to change the focus of discussion in dangerous ways. Instead of calling the Episcopal Church to repentance for breaking the trust of the Anglican Communion, these four (and other Windsor bishops?) are now figuring out ways to let the Episcopal Church continue with what it is doing now and in the future. The problem for these four bishops is not the Episcopal Church, but orthodox churches and dioceses that threaten the unity because they can no longer associate with the Episcopal Church. The strategy is to blame Peter Akinola and Bob Duncan for the disunity we face, rather than the Episcopal Church who repeatedly refused to respond positively to the pleas of the Anglican Communion.

Everything in this discussion hinges on the “pendulum.” Windsor bishops are 100% invested in the idea that the Episcopal Church, that has swung wildly to the liberal side, will one day swing back to a moderate centrist theology. But there is no indication in recent history or church history in general that there will be such a swing. There is no pendulum. Instead, I believe, the Episcopal Church is set on a trajectory away from mainstream Christianity that will never again intersect with mainstream Christianity. There are simply two churches within the Episcopal Church today with two totally different theologies and agendas. My concern is that we might get 5, 10, 20 years down this road before realizing that the likes of Louie Crew, Presiding Bishop Schori and Bishop Jon Bruno (and the next generation of revisionists that will control the Episcopal Church) will never concede to anything like a more balanced view of theology and morals.

Bishop Lillibridge gave a forceful address at the Diocesan Council last Friday for the essentials of the faith (See the next blog entry–KSH. It was heartening to hear him so strongly upholding the core teachings of the faith as nonnegotiables. As he attends the meetings of the Windsor Continuation Group in the months proceeding Lambeth we need to be praying for him. I will ask him to take to their meetings our concerns (and of many in West Texas from the feedback we’ve received) that churches who cannot in conscience submit any longer to the Episcopal Church be given a way to continue being “Anglican.” Hopefully this Continuation Group will uphold some of the disciplinary portions of the Windsor Report, something that hasn’t happened to date.

I am thoroughly energized by what God is doing at Christ Church these days. Our effort at Council last week was a remarkable witness to the vitality and life we are experiencing in the Holy Spirit. Leslie Kingman and Linda Camp, and the over 200 volunteers, deserve a huge thanks for showing our bishops and diocese that we are positive about our future and that we want to help guide and influence our diocese. Caroline Cox was overwhelmed by the spirit of our worship and fellowship on Sunday. I also appreciate the work the vestry and others are doing to collect information on the areas pertaining to the realignment.

The following is offered with the unanimous support of our parish leaders (meeting at the vestry retreat a few weeks ago) to assure our congregation that we continue steadfast in our mission and core values:

As the Vestry of Christ Church
»We remain firmly committed to Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture.
»We are prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom and direction in light of the dilemma within the national Episcopal Church.
»We are preparing for our future, valuing our community and our rich heritage.

–The Rev. Chuck Collins is rector, Christ Church, San Antonio, Texas

Posted in Uncategorized

Payday lenders might be reined in South Carolina

Borrowers could have only one payday loan at a time worth $500 or less under state legislation aimed at tightening restrictions on an industry some say traps clients in a cycle of debt.

The Senate sent the legislation ”” after closely defeating a proposed ban on the industry ”” to the House for consideration.

“I am not pro-payday lending or anti-payday lending,” said Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-James Island. “I am trying to do the best for the people of South Carolina. I am trying to help reach a compromise. I think people are shortsighted if they say we need an outright payday lending ban.”

Payday loans are small, short-term, unsecured loans that borrowers promise to repay out of their next paycheck or regular income payment, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Scarborough, a member of the House committee that will first review the Senate bill, said the Legislature should find ways to “clean up the industry.” The lenders, he noted, serve a purpose for people who need the types of loans not available at banks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Economy

The Full Pew Survey on Religious Affiliation and Life in America

Take the time to check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

In Kentucky Religious leaders unite to oppose casino proposal

Every major religious advocacy group has united in opposition — Catholic and Protestant, black and white, conservatives who view gambling as a destructive personal sin and liberals who see an industry that preys on the poor.

Despite religious groups’ disagreements on other issues in Frankfort, “this is the one thing that seems to galvanize everyone,” said Hershael York, a Frankfort pastor and past president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “That ought to say something to the political world.”

Good for them. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Gambling, Religion & Culture

House of Bishops will Address ”˜Bishops in Communion’ Plan

During a Jan. 31 meeting at Lambeth Palace with the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas; Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies; the Rev. Christopher Seitz, and the Rev. Ephraim Radner, Archbishop Williams agreed to write and formally invite five primates to participate. Some primates have still not responded since receiving the official invitation. The five primates are: Archbishop Gomez; Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East; Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean; Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi; and Archbishop Donald Leo Mtetemela of Tanzania.

“The bishops who have been designated Episcopal Visitors, together with others who might well consider being included in this number, share many concerns about the Anglican Communion and its future, and we look to work together with primates and bishops from the Global South,” Bishop Howe said. “The bishops will work together according to the principles outlined in the Windsor Report and seek a comprehensive Anglican Covenant at the Lambeth Conference and beyond.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

NY Times on the Pew Forum Survey: Poll Finds a Fluid Religious Life in U.S.

More than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or no religion, according to a survey of religious affiliation by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report, titled “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey,” depicts a highly fluid and diverse national religious life. If shifts among Protestant denominations are included, then it appears that 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations.

For at least a generation, scholars have noted that more Americans are moving among faiths, as denominational loyalty erodes. But the survey, based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans, offers one of the clearest views yet of that trend, scholars said. The United States Census does not track religious affiliation.

It shows, for example, that every religion is losing and gaining members, but that the Roman Catholic Church “has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes.” The survey also indicates that the group that had the greatest net gain was the unaffiliated. Sixteen percent of American adults say they are not part of any organized faith, which makes the unaffiliated the country’s fourth-largest “religious group.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light.

Psalm 78: 14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Sunday Telegraph: Church of England plans to sell off its palaces

Resplendent with moats, gatehouses and banqueting halls, bishops’ palaces are among some of the grandest buildings in the country.

Now, however, the historic homes, which have belonged to the Church of England for centuries, could be sold off in a bid to raise money for cash-strapped parishes.

A confidential internal review is examining whether the diocesan bishops’ houses, nine of which are palaces, are appropriate for the Church to keep. The bishops’ residences are worth about £120 million, but cost up to £9 million each year to maintain.

Read it all.

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

A Blogger in Upper South Carolina Writes About His Parish’s Financial Meeting

Today we had a pre-church meeting about last year’s deficit of $53,127.86, the previous year’s loss of $46,104.05 today’s operating funds of only $8,000, and a 2008budget that includes a $56,076.11 deficit. Where to begin? Since the sermon was shortand sweet by Mary Cat, we can spend the next week solving the financial problems of the Church.
It looks like two years of deficit spending finally generated some interest in the workings of this small corner of the Episcopal Church. The budget numbers presented were sufficient for the pewsters to formulate many theories for the causes, and a number of possible solutions.

Cutting expenses was urged by many today. Expenses in 2005 were $525,310 and had risen to $589,437.11 in 2007. In fact expenses rose $23,000 from 2006-2007 after a deficit of $46,104 in 2006. Seems like belt tightening should have started last year.

Read it all.

(Hat tip: Stand Firm)

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

South Indian Bishop, 73, fights global oppression

Bishop George Ninan tends to divide people into two groups: those who have political freedom and economic opportunity and those who have had their God-given rights taken away.

Since he’s an Anglican bishop from South India, one might think he would see people as Christian or Hindu or Muslim. Or that he might see those from South India as being distinct from other Indians or even other Asians.

But Ninan’s world view has been shaped by speaking out on behalf of oppressed people of many faiths and cultures – and by being threatened by several governments.

“In a just society, people are not only created equal, but have equal rights to resources,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, India

Philip Meyer: Why faith and science will remain worlds apart

News media love conflict, and when religion and science clash in political arguments, they like to stoke the flame.

For example, in a Republican debate last year, Politico’s Jim Vandehei asked candidates who didn’t believe in evolution to raise their hands. One of the three who did, Sam Brownback of Kansas, complained later in New Hampshire, “One of the problems we have with our society today is that we put faith and science at odds with each other. They aren’t at odds with each other. If they are, check your faith or check your science.”

Brownback, a Roman Catholic, is out of the race now, but he was right in his claim. Science and religion can co-exist.

Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard paleontologist who died in 2002, argued in Natural History magazine 11 years ago that science and religion occupy non-overlapping domains. As an agnostic, he could consider the question objectively.

My agreement with him is based on a different perspective experienced a decade earlier. I had been reporting for a journalism review on newspapers’ naive treatment of ghost stories and other unverified claims of the supernatural.

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

Church undergoes a 'family argument'

Kentucky Episcopalians heard a combination pep talk and Bible study yesterday from one of the leaders in efforts to keep the fragile Anglican Communion together despite what seem irreconcilable differences over sexuality and theology.

The Rev. Katherine Grieb told the annual meeting of the Diocese of Kentucky that divisions in the church are as old as the church itself, and Bible passages offer differing models on whether to split or stay together despite differences.

We’re having a family argument,” said Grieb, a Virginia Theological Seminary biblical scholar and a member of a team drafting a “covenant” to hold together the Anglican Communion, which consists of the Episcopal Church and other national churches descended from the Church of England.

“There never was a golden age when everybody in the church agreed about everything,” she said at the gathering at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in southwestern Jefferson County.

And the problem with this argument is-say it again after me–there are different kinds of differences. Read it all.

Update This is worth rereading also, it includes this:

It is so very sad to see a …[Church leader] once again parlaying the ECUSA hierarchy’s offical party line which is: to be Episcopal means to agree to disagree agreeably, we have been through struggles before, and this is yet another struggle through which the church will find her way.

The problem is the hidden theological assumption here that all theological differences are the same. They are NOT.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fewer Youths Jump Behind the Wheel at 16

For generations, driver’s licenses have been tickets to freedom for America’s 16-year-olds, prompting many to line up at motor vehicle offices the day they were eligible to apply.

No longer. In the last decade, the proportion of 16-year-olds nationwide who hold driver’s licenses has dropped from nearly half to less than one-third, according to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration.

Reasons vary, including tighter state laws governing when teenagers can drive, higher insurance costs and a shift from school-run driver education to expensive private driving academies.

To that mix, experts also add parents who are willing to chauffeur their children to activities, and pastimes like surfing the Web that keep them indoors and glued to computers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Teens / Youth

The heat keeps rising in the Democratic race

Another day, another mini-dustup between the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.

Regardless of how “honored” she felt late last week about sharing a debate stage with Obama, Clinton spent the weekend expressing both anger and ridicule toward him, as The Times’ Michael Finnegan and Mark Barabak detailed here. Today, there surfaced a more indirect effort to undermine Obama, apparently emanating from the Clinton team.

Throughgout much of the day, the lead item on the influential Drudge Report has been a photo of Obama dressed in native garb as he visited Kenya two years ago — a picture that, according to the post, was circulated by “stressed Clinton staffers.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

U.S. is still overwhelmingly Christian, study finds

America remains an overwhelmingly Christian country, but the nation’s religious life also shows great fluidity, with many adults switching religious affiliations or abandoning ties to organized denominations altogether, according to a new survey released today.

The study also suggests that, in the near future, Protestants may no longer make up a majority of Americans.

Barely 51% of Americans are Protestants, and among people between the ages of 18 and 29, just 43% identify with this branch of Christianity, according to the study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

More than four in 10 adults, or 44%, have switched religious affiliations, moved from being unaffiliated with any faith tradition to affiliated, or abandoned any ties to a specific religion altogether, according to the study. But the study also found that Americans who identify themselves as Christians has remained constant — nearly 8 in 10.

Today’s 148-page study, made public at a teleconference from Washington, D.C., is the first report of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, a project in the works for more than a year. The interviews were conducted from May 8 to Aug. 13 in 2007. The study was based on interviews in English and Spanish with a representative sample of more than 35,000 adults.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable

“I am very struck by our inability to communicate.”

–Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori toward the very end of the session today with active clergy of the diocese of South Carolina

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

Existing Home Sales Hit 9-Year Low

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of single-family homes and condominiums dropped by 0.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units. That was the slowest sales pace, going back to 1999, and was seen as evidence that the steepest slump in housing in a quarter-century has yet to hit bottom.

The median price of a home sold in January slid to $201,100, a drop of 4.6 percent from a year ago. Particularly alarming, analysts said, was the fact that the inventory of unsold homes jumped to a 10.3 months’ supply, meaning it would take that long to sell the 4.19 million homes on the market at the January sales pace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market