Daily Archives: March 25, 2008

Globally Lutheran membership jumps by nearly two million

Africa’s Lutheran churches saw their total membership increase over the past year by nearly two million, boosting the total number of members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) worldwide to more than 68.3 million.

The Geneva-based federation says that Lutheran churches in Asia also registered an increase overall in the period, while slight decreases were again recorded in other world regions.

With an increase of 368,861 members, or 8.2 per cent, to 4.87 million, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the largest LWF member church in Africa, now becomes the second largest worldwide.

The largest LWF church is the Church of Sweden, which remained nearly unchanged over the course of 2007, with a slight drop of 0.03 per cent to reach 6,893,901 members. Still, Germany remains the country with largest overall Lutheran count at 12.63 million, but they belong to different churches, some of which are organized on a regional basis.

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

Home Prices and Consumer Sentiment Slide

Home prices across the country continued to fall in January at record rates while one measure of consumer confidence reached a five-year low, sending Wall Street shares down in early Tuesday trading.

The value of single-family homes plummeted 10.7 percent in January compared with a year earlier, as measured by the Case-Shiller index, a closely watched survey of 20 major metropolitan regions.

It was the steepest year-over-year decline since the index began eight years ago, and economists said the slump was probably worse than at the height of the last housing recession in the early 1990s.

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

Washington Post: One Couple's Faith is Tested in a Terrible Car accident

Denny and Diana Glusko start and end their day with prayer. Despite the wrenching transformation of their lives, that much has never changed.

He bends low over his wife’s bed, her hand sometimes clasped in his, as both give thanks to God. Denny prays that Diana will breathe free of pain. For himself, he prays for patience. Just beyond the door are the usual disruptions of a hospital unit — the noise, the glare. But inside Room 2-007, it is different.

“Yours is the honor and the glory,” Denny says. Diana whispers, “Amen.”

Never have they questioned whether God has a purpose for this journey, which started one afternoon last May when their car veered across a rural road in Fauquier County, slammed into a ditch and flipped. He was driving when a cup of coffee diverted his attention and Diana gasped, “Oh, Denny!” He braced himself with the steering wheel and crawled out his shattered window without a scratch. She had nothing to grab for protection. Neither she nor Denny was wearing a seat belt.

The impact broke Diana’s second cervical vertebra, paralyzing her from the neck down.

In the days that followed, both asked God to forgive them for their disobedience of the law. Then they asked for guidance and strength for whatever lay ahead. Three seasons have passed, and Diana still is not home. Yet instead of despair, they talk of miracles — and faith.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Canadian Anglican Primate issues stern rebuke on jailing of natives

Canada’s Anglican primate has called the jailing of six Northern Ontario native community members a throwback to colonialism, a dangerous violation of the rights of native people and an act of the Ontario government putting itself above the law.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz’s unusually forceful language appears in a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, in which the Anglican leader implies that members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation are being punished solely for defending the sacred trust of their traditional lands.

He also links the jailing of KI Chief Donny Morris, the deputy chief and four councillors to the abuses of the residential school system, and says it has caused a “serious impasse” between Canada’s native peoples and the Ontario government.

On March 17, Mr. Justice Patrick Smith of the Ontario Superior Court ordered the KI six jailed for six months for being in contempt of court by refusing to allow mining company Platinex to test drill for minerals on land the band claims as its own.

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

Wisconsin Episcopal Church not alone in welcoming seekers from other traditions to its pews

Jennifer Davis, 34, of Milwaukee, who was raised a Southern Baptist, joined St. Paul’s four years ago after receiving a warm welcome while helping with the wedding preparations of a sister who is a member.

“I felt welcome from the time that I walked in the door, and that was a completely different feeling,” said Davis, who likes the church’s outreach to the needy. “I like that we’re taught directly out of the Book of Common Prayer, versus someone just putting it all in their own words.”

Mary Ellen Hermann, 47, of Greendale was content in the Catholic faith of her childhood until she attended an Episcopal service with a friend while working in San Francisco. Now remarried, she was then a divorced mother with three children. The Episcopal priest, a woman, also had been a divorced mother of three.

“Somehow, she got my number, and she called and paid a visit,” Hermann said. “Within minutes, she was helping organize baby-sitting for me and really giving me a great cheerleading experience, that I could do this and everything would be fine.”

At the time, the pastor of her Catholic parish had just told her that she couldn’t walk down the aisle with her daughter for the girl’s First Communion, because she was a single mother and he wanted to emphasize the Catholic Year of the Family.

“All of sudden I found myself going to that other church,” said Hermann. “I just stayed with it because it just fit.”

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

San Joaquin Special Convention May Violate Canon Law

The Rev. James Snell, rector of St. Columba Church, Frenso, Calif., and president of the standing committee in the Diocese of San Joaquin, said he is concerned that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, retired Bishop of Northern California, may be violating canon law and may be liable for presentment if they make good on plans to convene a special convention scheduled to be held at St. John-the-Baptist Church in Lodi on March 29.

“It’s one thing for her not to ‘recognize’ us,” Fr. Snell said. “Acting contrary to the canons of this diocese and of The Episcopal Church is another matter. The Presiding Bishop is not the ecclesiastical authority of this diocese and the canons of this diocese and the national church do not grant her the authority to call a diocesan convention or nominate someone for election as bishop.”

At the conclusion of the House of Bishops spring retreat on March 12, Bishop Jefferts Schori announced that she had nominated Bishop Lamb to stand for election as provisional Bishop of San Joaquin. She also said she would personally convene the March 29 special convention at which Bishop Lamb’s nomination was to be ratified. The agenda for the special convention also calls for undoing the constitutional changes approved during the annual convention last December. The constitutional amendments were used at the convention in December as legal justification to leave The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Polity & Canons

Major Alan Greg Rogers, RIP

These stories always do me in, but this one in particular really moved me. Maybe it was because he outlived both his parents, maybe because I have done military funerals myself and so could identify with many of the sounds, maybe it was because my mother grew up in Washington, D.C., and so I could see Arlington National Cemetery in my mind’s eye, maybe it was because it came on Easter week.In any event, you need to take the time to listen to it all–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Black Churchgoers Reflect on Obama's Race Speech

On Easter Sunday, many black worshipers and church leaders are talking about Sen. Barack Obama’s recent speech on race in America. NPR’s Audie Cornish in Nashville, Tenn., talks with Andrea Seabrook about what is being said on the pulpit and in the pews.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Race/Race Relations

A prayer by a Little Child to Brighten Your Day

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Spirituality/Prayer

A Statement from Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota

It is inappropriate to speak publicly about specific personnel matters. However, during these contentious times over the issue of sexual morality in the life of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, I have chosen to follow the recommendations of the bipartisan, international “Windsor Report.” Therefore, I will not ordain or license any clergy member who is unable to promise faithfulness in marriage or to abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage.

While Episcopalians in North Dakota are not of one mind on these matters, at our annual convention in 2005 a resolution was overwhelmingly passed which “commended the Windsor Report as a way forward together in spite of the differences which threaten to divide us” and expressed our desire for the Diocese of North Dakota “to remain both a member of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

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

Anglican Communion Network Bishops Meeting Announced

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

The Archbishop of York's Easter Sermon 2008: Victory and Peace of the Resurrection

The Risen Christ, who is the way, longs to lead you out of your prison of fear.
Jesus Christ’s resurrection assures us of God’s help to know his presence, forgiveness and peace.

It assures us of God’s help to fulfil his wishes and to respond to the needs of others; and to become fulfilled, caring and loving people. It is also the assurance that God will one day transform this decaying and dying world into a completely new world.

But, like Mary, the broken-hearted disciple, and like the confused disciples on the road to Emmaus and like the frightened disciples behind locked doors, you must have a personal encounter and experience of the Risen Lord.
Christ has to be risen for each one of us. For the belief that Christ rose on the third day is based more on encountering Christ in experience than the discovery of the empty tomb. We have to be prepared for an encounter with the Risen Lord.

He will then lead us in the triumph of the resurrection wherever we are. And every day will become a celebration of his feat of victory. We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

At Harvard, Students’ Muslim Traditions Are a Topic of Debate

Two issues of Muslim practice ”” whether the call to prayer should ring out across Harvard Yard and whether the university should grant women separate gym hours ”” have unleashed small waves of controversy over how Harvard practices tolerance.

Heated discussions have erupted on dormitory chat rooms, students said, while various opinion articles in the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, have denounced both practices.

“I think that because Harvard is a secular campus, there is a fear among some students that religious beliefs or practices might be imposed on people who don’t want anything to do with them,” said Jessa Birdsall, a 20-year-old sophomore who said she thought the university should accommodate the beliefs of all students.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Detroit Mayor Charged With Perjury

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a one-time rising star and Detroit’s youngest elected leader, was charged Monday with perjury and other counts after sexually explicit text messages contradicted his sworn denials of an affair with a top aide.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy also charged the popular yet polarizing 37-year-old mayor with obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.

Former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, 37, who also denied under oath that she and Kilpatrick had a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003, was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

“Some have suggested that the issues in this case are personal or private,” Worthy said.

“The justice system has been severely mocked and the public trust trampled on. … This case is about as far from being a private matter as one can get,” she said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Theology

Oliver "Buzz" Thomas: Paying for a pastor’s sins

It’s too early to tell whether the pot boiler over Barack Obama’s former minister will continue to simmer or subside, but the controversy presents a teachable moment for us on the subject of politicians and their pastors. First and foremost among the lessons learned is that most politicians have them. Pastors, that is. And, those ministers, priests and rabbis ”” if they are true to their calling ”” are beholden only to God. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that they aren’t always politically correct.

They might even anger or embarrass us. Lord knows I have. President Truman is said to have grown so irritated with his pastor that he didn’t speak to him for years.

Ministers have described their role as one of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. The question becomes whether a particular politician or candidate ought to be held accountable for a pastor’s more afflicting remarks.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, US Presidential Election 2008

Women's Caucus Plans Uninvited Visits to 11 Dioceses

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus recently announced plans to target at least 11 dioceses of The Episcopal Church for visits not at the invitation of the local bishop under its expanded Angel Project.

“New times create new opportunities,” wrote the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, EWC president and rector of St. Paul’s Church in Chatham, N.J., in an article on “listening” in the latest issue of the Ruach, the EWC newsletter. “The caucus board has conceived of a new incarnation of this project. Based on communication we have received, we have identified 11 dioceses that are decidedly hostile to the ministry of women, lay and ordained. There are, no doubt, many more.”

The dioceses to be targeted are: Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy (Illinois), the Rio Grande (New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle), San Joaquin (California), South Carolina, Southwest Florida and Springfield (Illinois). Diocesan officials and female clergy from at least three of the dioceses named were amazed to learn that their diocese was included on the list.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Peter Frank, director of communication for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “We have women clergy at all levels of leadership, including our senior staff officer in charge of clergy placement. If this is what hostility looks like, they really don’t have much to worry about.”

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

Statement from the Global South Primates Steering Committee, London, Mar 13-15, 2008

2. Following the inconclusive response to the repeated calls for repentance and the specific requirements of The Episcopal Church in the Windsor Report and the various Communiques (Dromatine Feb 2005, Dar es Salem Feb 2007), the undifferentiated invitations to the Lambeth Conference (July 2008) of the un-repenting Bishops who have clearly flouted the bonds of trust and “torn the fabric at the deepest level” of the Communion is causing a significant number of Bishops to be troubled, in deep consternation and dilenma as to their own Lambeth participation.

The controversial visit involving the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC (Oct 2007), without prior consultation with the Primates on its composition, procedure and accountability process, and its un-critical and overly generous assessment of the response of the House of Bishops (TEC) has further weakened the remaining fragile threads of trust in the Communion and severely affected hope for any genuine resolution.

These have caused various deepening negative assessments and cast further doubts on the state, will and ability, of the Communion to continue as a recognizable living and witnessing expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Consequently, initiatives and challenges have emerged which could lead to further fragmentation and disintegration in the Communion, which is already in the nadir of collegial trust and confidence.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Global South Churches & Primates