Daily Archives: March 31, 2009
Details of Bishop Nazir Ali’s new work have not been finalized, the diocese noted, leading to speculation that the 59 year old bishop might be preparing for another role in the Anglican Communion in light of his high profile stance within the conservative wing of the church.
However, the General Secretary of the Church of Pakistan, Humphrey Peters tells The Church of England Newspaper the news of the resignation came as a surprise. “So far we have no idea nor have we heard anything from Bishop Michael Nazir Ali. But, in case he feels like working for Church in Pakistan in these most critical times, the Church will be more than happy to welcome him.”
A spokesman for the Gafcon movement, stated while its leaders were generally aware of Dr. Nazir Ali’s wish to move on, they had no specific knowledge about his Saturday announcement.
THE first task for the leaders of the Group of 20, who will meet in London on April 2nd, will be to do no harm. Don’t fall out over whether Germany and China are spending enough public money to get the world economy going. Let’s not have a row over how to run the IMF. And spare us a tirade against “market fundamentalism”.
The second task is to do something useful. Ideally, the G20 would boost government spending, partly by giving the IMF more money. And it would take five minutes to shunt the re-regulation of finance into groups that can deliberate now and act later, when there is more time and less ire: the last thing to fear from Wall Street today is irrational exuberance.
It is the third task that is being neglected. Publicly, the G20’s leaders would be shocked, shocked if anyone were to turn against open markets. Even so, trade is collapsing and an insidious protectionism is on the rise (see article). As the storm rages, the London summit looks like offering nothing but pieties. The trading system needs more than that.
What is the nature of the moral challenge they face?
Commitments have been made. The Millennium Development Goals I think provided a really important focus over the last few years for the responsibility of the developed nations to the less developed ones. This is no time to think of alibis for that because there is no economic problem that is just local in our world. We’ve already seen growth rates slowing down in Africa. It’s estimated that perhaps as many as over 50 million people could be in absolute poverty in the next few years – so I think that has to be at the top of the list this week.
City officials and housing advocates here and in cities as varied as Buffalo, Kansas City, Mo., and Jacksonville, Fla., say they are seeing an unsettling development: Banks are quietly declining to take possession of properties at the end of the foreclosure process, most often because the cost of the ordeal ”” from legal fees to maintenance ”” exceeds the diminishing value of the real estate.
The so-called bank walkaways rarely mean relief for the property owners, caught unaware months after the fact, and often mean additional financial burdens and bureaucratic headaches. Technically, they still owe on the mortgage, but as a practicality, rarely would a mortgage holder receive any more payments on the loan. The way mortgages are bundled and resold, it can be enormously time-consuming just trying to determine what company holds the loan on a property thought to be in foreclosure.
In Ms. James’s case, the company that was most recently servicing her loan is now defunct. Its parent company filed for bankruptcy and dissolved. And the original bank that sold her the loan said it could not find a record of it.
“It is what some of us think is the next wave of the crisis,” said Kermit Lind, a clinical professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and an expert on foreclosure law.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
As we continue to move towards our Diocesan Special Convention on April 18th, I am mindful that it may be helpful to hear a brief recap of what we as a household have done to date with regard to the 2009 budget and our forecasts for the future. In addition, I will include some of my hopes and expectations for our time together that day.
As you are aware, in October the 2009 diocesan operating budget was passed by convention along with a funding source that allows diocesan council to utilize a portion of the EMF corpus to underwrite any expenses not covered through the other channels of revenue (the aggregate coming from parish apportionments and additional investment income). As part of the budget resolution, the convention approved an additional resolve that called for a special convention in which we are to “review” the 2009 budget and consider “one or more proposals for a sustainable budget for the balance of 2009 and beyond.”
So where are we now and how do we move forward? We are in a different financial place than where we were even 6 short months ago. That difference requires that we look again at both our diocesan ministry and resources and use this time as an opportunity to discern how to realign and re-commit ourselves to God’s project. We are at a place where the household must come to terms with which mission and ministry opportunities it is prepared to sacrifice if we remain committed to budgeting for what we can afford rather than for what we are called to do.
The reality is that our anticipated revenue for 2009 and beyond will not exceed $2,000,000 annually (and may actually be less as we have not yet received all of the 2008 Parochial Reports that were due on March 1). We currently have a budget of $2,985,835. That difference is significant and will require serious reductions in program, personnel and delivery of ministry over a period of time if we are to reduce our expenditures to more closely meet our anticipated revenue.
What we will be asking during the Special Convention is that all members come ready to do two things:
1) to learn first-hand more about our current financial situation as a diocese and
2) to participate fully in conversations regarding priorities of ministry and mission.
It is the canonical responsibility of the Diocesan Council to manage and adjust the diocesan operating budget. Thus, the input and guidance collected from the household gathered in Special Convention will be crucial as we seek a sustainable mission rather than a place of stagnating maintenance.
Sufficient documentation and explanations of what these documents tell us will be the first order of business on April 18th. With the help of our Treasurer, we will show how the market downturn has hurt us and how we can avoid locking in those losses.
We will share not only what would be eliminated with a drastically reduced budget, but also, as one Council member suggested: “what do we get for $2,000,000?”
The second order of business will be to divide into small groups to discuss what has been presented, to prayerfully make some hard choices as we set priorities for our life together into the future, and report those insights to the full convention to further empower the Diocesan Council to proceed on behalf of all.
This is a single agenda convention. No other item of business can be brought before the gathering. This is an extremely important conversation and is not about personal agendas. Rather, this is about the very life and witness of The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Come and help us discern the future direction of our common mission.
–(The Rt. Rev.) Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr. is Bishop of Michigan
… by enmeshing the White House so deeply into G.M., Obama has increased the odds that March’s menacing threat will lead to June’s wobbly wiggle-out. The Obama administration and the Democratic Party are now completely implicated in the coming G.M. wreck. Over the next few months, the White House will be subject to a gigantic lobbying barrage. The Midwestern delegations, swing states all, will pull out all the stops to prevent plant foreclosures. Unions will be furious if the Obama-run company rips up the union contract. Is the White House ready for the headline “Obama to Middle America: Drop Dead”? It would take a party with a political death wish to see this through.
Furthermore, there’s no reason to think the umpteenth restructuring will produce compelling results. Cost control without a quality revolution will make little difference. There’s no reason to think Americans are going to flock to G.M. cars. (The president lauded their fantabulousness, but G.M. sales fell 51 percent during the first two months of this year while the overall market declined by 39 percent.) Politically expedient environmental demands will make the odds of profitability even more remote.
Corporate welfare rarely works when the government invests in rising firms. The odds are really grim when it tries to subsidize fading ones. (In the ’80s, Chrysler already had the successful K-car in the pipeline.)
The most likely outcome, sad to say, is some semiserious restructuring plan, with or without court involvement, to be followed by long-term government intervention and backdoor subsidies forever.
If you look at Mr Obama’s top priorities, you get a sense of just how little the Europeans are prepared to give him. More help in Afghanistan? Most Europeans will do the bare minimum. A co-ordinated fiscal stimulus? Sorry, Europe is out of cash as well as troops.
Europe’s grudging attitude to the new president is not only discourteous. It is unwise and self-defeating. Mr Obama is an internationalist. But the American public is war weary and preoccupied by the domestic economic disaster. If even a liberal, internationalist president seems to be getting nothing out of America’s allies, then protectionist and isolationist voices in Congress will only get louder.
Any such development would be disastrous for Europe. The US remains the core of the global economy and the guarantor of security in Europe. The continent’s leaders have a huge interest in fostering and fanning the new American internationalism represented by Mr Obama. Instead, they seem to be doing their utmost to pour cold water on it.
In the bid for a fat envelope this year, it may help, more than usual, to have a fat wallet.
Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year.
Institutions that have pledged to admit students regardless of need are finding ways to increase the number of those who pay the full cost in ways that allow the colleges to maintain the claim of being need-blind ”” taking more students from the transfer or waiting lists, for instance, or admitting more foreign students who pay full tuition.
Private colleges that acknowledge taking financial status into account say they are even more aware of that factor this year.
An overseas rights activist said Monday that authorities in China’s predominantly Muslim far west are closing unregistered Islamic schools and conducting house-to-house searches in a new security crackdown in the restive region.
The campaign under way for five weeks in the city of Hotan underscores Beijing’s persisting concerns about separatist movements in its Central Asian border province of Xinjiang.
While anti-government protests and a security clampdown in Tibetan areas have grabbed attention over the past year, China has also been battling unrest in Xinjiang, with a flare-up in violence last year that killed 33 people. Like the Tibetans, many of Xinjiang’s ethnic minority Uighurs have chafed under Beijing’s rule and restrictions on the practice of religion.
I understand the frustration of adults who see kids doing things like this with no comprehension of the possible outcomes. That New Jersey teen may have intended those nude photos for her boyfriend (disturbing in and of itself), but she didn’t seem to grasp that once those images were out in cyberspace, there would be no controlling where they went.
This is where the debate over who’s really to blame begins to rage. It’s the kids’ fault for being so stupid. It’s the parents’ fault for not raising them with decent values or knowing what their offspring are up to. It’s the media’s fault for producing an endless flood of sexual imagery selling everything from music to breath mints. It’s the youth culture’s fault for normalizing the public sharing of every private thought and act. It’s the computer geniuses’ fault for building an infinite network that has spawned a viral world of unintended consequences.
There may be some truth in all of these. But teens have been known to foil the best intentions of their parents, and the media techno-genies are out of the bottle and not about to go back in.
Surely there is a better way to impress upon kids the importance of exercising common sense than by threatening to make them pariahs for life. “Re-education” classes are probably a good idea, but not under the threat of prosecution, which tends to create a fair amount of resistance.
Read it all. Interestingly, retired South Carolina Bishop Edward Salmon visited the parish which I serve this past Sunday and raised this very (uncomfrotable) subject during his adult Sunday school class–KSH.
At a meeting last week of the Urban Church Network, leaders of 80 predominantly black churches in Allegheny County discussed how to stem a financial crisis that has forced some pastors to take a second full-time job and a few churches to close.
Their first concern was how to help neighborhoods through times so hard that robbery and high blood pressure have soared, said the Rev. Jermaine McKinley, assistant director of the Metro-Urban Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. With little of their own to give, they want to teach others how to tap into the government stimulus package to improve their communities.
“Most churches are not in the business of building houses. We don’t build roads. But what we can do is help the community to address the issue,” she said.
As an assertion of government control over a huge swath of the industrial landscape, President Obama’s decision to reshape the automobile industry has few precedents.
In essentially taking command of General Motors and telling Chrysler to merge with a foreign competitor or cease to exist, Mr. Obama was saying that economic conditions were sufficiently dire to justify a new level of government involvement in the management of corporate America.
His message amounted to an inversion of the relationship that had helped define the rise of American manufacturing might in the 20th century; now, Mr. Obama seemed to be saying, what is good for America will have to be good enough for General Motors.
While each of the words can be unpacked to address our present situation, I believe we can state the above sentence, more succinctly””“We are to make Biblical Anglicans for a global age.” If you prefer the T-shirt version, it is “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age”.
The Bishop continued in his address to unpack how that vision may be implemented.
In addition to elections to leadership positions, four resolutions were presented for a vote. Three of the four were not announced to the delegates ahead of time, but presented and read from the floor and distributed in written form immediately prior to our being asked to consider them and vote on them.
The three resolutions which were introduced from the floor seemed to me to be especially related to the pending issues in our national church. Thus, they were charged with meaning and implications and, not surprisingly, produced strong reactions. Ultimately two were passed. One was a resolution that reaffirmed our belief in the uniqueness of Christ. The second was a resolution in response to the election of Rev. Kevin Thew Forester to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. It states, among other things and in summary, that this Convention believes significant questions have been raised regarding the Rev. Forester’s faithfulness to the Doctrine of the Trinity as it is defined and articulated in the Nicene Creed; and because of those questions, the Convention recommends that the Bishop and Standing Committee withhold its consent to the consecration of the Rev. Forrester to the office of Bishop in the Episcopal Church.
One wonders why it is necessary to introduce resolutions such as these which are rooted in basic tenets of our Church. The fact that they are considered important enough to be voted on as resolutions by the Convention reminds me that now we cannot take our beliefs for granted, even within our Church.
Repeatedly I am asked, Al, as Rector of St. Michael’s Church, what is going to happen to us in all these debates and splits in the Episcopal Church? Is St. Michael’s leaving the Episcopal Church? Is the Diocese of South Carolina leaving? What are the options? Why do we care? Can’t we just keep our heads down here in South Carolina, after all, we seem to be doing fine!
The short answer is, we follow the lead of our Bishop as he guides this diocese through icebergs. The reality is that the Episcopal Church continues to make decisions and take actions that are making it look more and more Unitarian than anything Christian. Because of that, over the past 24 months, there has been a veritable exodus out of the Episcopal Church by many individuals, churches and dioceses. So, what about the Diocese of South Carolina? Let me reflect on the above by telling you about the recent convention of the Diocese of South Carolina. I also urge you to read the accompanying article by our Junior Warden, Ann Hester Willis.
As you may know, each year, clergy and lay leaders from all over the Diocese of South Carolina join our Bishop for an annual convention to elect new leadership, address the state of the church and strategize about Kingdom ministry. This took place at Christ Church, Mount Pleasant on March 12-13. I urge you to look at the resolutions that were passed (which can be found on the diocesan website). Let me pause here and say how much I enjoy convention. We have amazing clergy leadership in this diocese and because of our crazy schedules, I find this is one of the only times annually I see all my fellow colleagues!
However, back to the above questions. There were specifically two events that shape my thoughts, the first being the resolution regarding the confirmation of the Bishop of Northern Michigan.
In the Episcopal Church, every diocese elects its own Bishop. However, that election must be confirmed by every other diocese in the United States. In other words, the Diocese of South Carolina has the right to vote against the election of another Bishop for reasons of theology, doctrine or any other concern.
The announcement of the election of the Bishop of Northern Michigan sparked controversy because he (the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester) is also a practicing Buddhist, had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and is “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together.” This craziness should not surprise any of us. He simply is the poster child for the continuing Unitarian drift in the Episcopal Church, a commonplace universalism that says among other things, all religions are the same. In fact, in a recorded sermon delivered on Trinity Sunday posted on the St. Paul’s Church, Marquette MI website, the Rev. Kevin Thew Forester preached the following: “One of the amazing insights I have found”¦is that, no matter what you name that source, from which all life comes””you can name that source God, Abba; you may name that source Yahweh; you may name that source Allah; you may name that source “the great emptiness;” you can name that source many things”¦ everything that is comes from the source. And you can name the source what you want to name the source. And our response to that is with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving, to return everything back to that source, and there’s a spirit who enables that return”¦and you can be a Buddhist, you can be a Muslim, you can be a Jew, and that makes sense.”
While this sounds so palatable and comfortably cultural, it is not Christianity! John 14, in a passage that in many ways defines love, we hear these challenging words of Jesus: “I am the way the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by me.” Yet Scripture has predicted these days we find ourselves in. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 3. Paul writes: In the last days, there will come times of stress. For men will hold the form of religion but deny the power of it. We find a similar word in Titus 1:16”¦they profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds”¦And so it is in our denomination today. We have all the great vestments and pageantry, but more and more, emptiness with no solid theology.
By the way, the resolution passed which urged the standing committee to vote against the confirmation of this bishop.
The other event I wish to highlight is the Bishop’s Address. Again, you can read this on the website. Bishop Lawrence made an analogy that the Diocese of South Carolina could be compared to a motorcycle. The front wheel being Scripture and our Gospel Ministry. The back wheel is the mission of the diocese. However, as a diocese, we have a sidecar, an appendage and that sidecar is the Episcopal Church. Our denominational affiliation has been sidelined in this diocese because of the Unitarian/non Biblical direction of the Episcopal Church. What does this mean? After all, surely things will get even worse at the General Convention of the United States this summer in Anaheim, California. The answer is that for now, as a church within the Diocese of South Carolina, and as a diocese within the larger denomination, we continue to be part of the Episcopal Church USA, but with a bigger desire to remain part of the world wide Anglican Communion.
The reality is that unlike ever before, our Bishop now has options he will be weighing to guide us as a diocese. Options that include other provinces and partnerships connected with the worldwide Anglican Communion. So, it is back to what I stated earlier”¦the short and long answer to the first questions is that we follow the lead of our faithful Bishop who believes Jesus is who He says He is. Please keep Bishop Lawrence, his wife Allison and their family in your prayers.
–The Rev. Al Zadig is rector of Saint Michael’s, Charleston, South Carolina