Monthly Archives: June 2009

Wall Street Journal: The Albany-Trenton-Sacramento Disease

President Obama has bet the economy on his program to grow the government and finance it with a more progressive tax system. It’s hard to miss the irony that he’s pitching this change in Washington even as the same governance model is imploding in three of the largest American states where it has been dominant for years — California, New Jersey and New York.

A decade ago all three states were among America’s most prosperous. California was the unrivaled technology center of the globe. New York was its financial capital. New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the nation after Connecticut and Massachusetts. All three are now suffering from devastating budget deficits as the bills for years of tax-and-spend governance come due.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, State Government, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

House of Bishop's Theology Committee Report on Communing the Unbaptized

The sense of the Committee is that our work is not yet complete and that we have not had sufficient time to discuss all of these matters as fully as we would like. We offer this document to the House of Bishops and the larger General Convention as an initial reflection. In this document we try to reflect some of the issues around which our discussions have coalesced, though often without resolution. We also raise several issues and questions regarding the practice of “open communion.” These are issues that have either come up in our face to face discussions or from our examination of essays written on this topic or from conversations at various levels in our own dioceses. There may be need in the future to produce a more substantial document after further discussion and consultation with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and after receiving responses to this paper.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, General Convention, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Bruce Robison: The Covenant aligns with Episcopal identity

Some have suggested that the choice is between polar extremes: either we submit to an authoritarian international hierarchy, or we describe ourselves as some kind of autonomous American “denomination” affiliated on an ad hoc basis with some of the other churches around the world sharing similar historical backgrounds.

My view is that the covenant offers a third possibility–one more authentically aligned with our identity as a church that has from its beginning understood itself as simultaneously independent and interdependent – independent in terms of polity and governance, to be sure, but profoundly interdependent in character and spiritual identity.

The covenant is at its heart about recovering and renewing within our Anglican family of churches the spirit of Christian life reflected in Paul’s word, “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you'” (I Corinthians 12:21). The covenant says that it is from within the Anglican Communion that we of the Episcopal Church will continue the long process of learning what it means to be one in Christ Jesus.

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

Mark Tooley: A Tale of Two Churches

Arguably the Episcopal and Methodist Churches have been America’s historically most influential. Numerous American elites, including many of the Founders, were and are Episcopalian, making it often the de facto “established” church. And Methodism became America’s largest church in the 19th century, creating the evangelical populist ethos that robustly survives today, if now mostly among other denominations.”¨

Like other Mainline denominations, Episcopal and Methodist seminaries succumbed to theological liberalism early in the 20th century, reaching radical crescendos in the 1960s, when both churches began numerically to decline, a decline that continues until this day.

But the two denominations now seem set on different trajectories, as vividly illustrated by very recent events. Last week, the newly formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) convened its first provincial assembly, bringing into one denomination an estimated 100,000 regular worshipers and 700 congregations. Most of these Anglicans have left the Episcopal Church since 2003, when Gene Robinson became the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Methodist, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

David Brooks: Vince Lombardi Politics

The great paradox of the age is that Barack Obama, the most riveting of recent presidents, is leading us into an era of Congressional dominance. And Congressional governance is a haven for special interest pleading and venal logrolling.

When the executive branch is dominant you often get coherent proposals that may not pass. When Congress is dominant, as now, you get politically viable mishmashes that don’t necessarily make sense.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

A Picture of Your Blog Host with the Toy Maltese

This is Kendall Harmon and Temah.

Posted in * By Kendall, * General Interest, Animals, Harmon Family

Anglicans welcome new bishop to Algoma

A well-respected scholar and theologian is the Anglican Church of Canada’s Bishop of the Diocese of Algoma.

An overflowing congregation in Sault Ste. Marie welcomed Stephen Gregory Weed Andrews as its 10th bishop Monday at a ceremony at St. Luke’s Cathedral.

In addition to 11 of Ontario’s bishops and more from across Canada, the head, or primate, of the church, Fred Hiltz, attended and spoke of Bishop Andrews’ many assets.

“He has a very keen academic mind, and is a very skilled writer and speaker, particularly in the area of New Testament,” said Hiltz at a post-ceremony gathering at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

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

Post and Courier: Why Mark Sanford will stay

Amid a whirlwind of public criticism, a good dose of humility and lots of soul-searching over his affair with an Argentine woman, Gov. Mark Sanford on Monday said that one of the key reasons he has decided to stay in office is to avoid influencing the 2010 gubernatorial primary.

If Sanford would step down, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would become South Carolina’s 116th chief executive. Many see that as giving Bauer a leg up over other Republican candidates in next spring’s gubernatorial primary.

Bauer would have the spotlight, and the 18 months left in Sanford’s second term for a trial run to win over voters. That possibility has political insiders angling behind the scenes and dictating, in part, how Sanford’s fall from grace plays out.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 121

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Benedict XVI: On Saint Paul, a Model of Love for Christ

St. Paul is an example of a priest who was completely identified with his ministry — just as the holy Curé d’Ars would also be — conscious of possessing a priceless treasure, that is, the message of salvation, but in an “earthen vessel” (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7); thus he is at the same time strong and humble, intimately persuaded that everything is God’s doing, everything is grace.

“The love of Christ possesses us,” the Apostle writes. This could well be the motto of every priest — that the Spirit compels (cf. Acts 20:22) him to be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2). The priest must belong totally to Christ and totally to the Church; to the latter he is called to dedicate himself with an undivided love, like a faithful husband to his bride.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Sound of Silence: The Culture Wars Take a Break

The culture wars may not have ended, but on some fronts the combat has gotten rather quiet. For instance, family values.

True, David Letterman’s awkward joke about a daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska prompted denunciations of the “media elite” (though it also boosted Mr. Letterman’s ratings).

But the admissions of extramarital adventures by two Republican stalwarts, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina on Wednesday and Senator John Ensign of Nevada the week before, did not help their party’s cause and stood in dim contrast to President Obama’s recent success in co-opting parts of the conservatives’ cultural agenda ”” whether voicing his opposition to gay marriage, or delivering Father’s Day homilies on parenting.

Still another instance of what may be an emerging politics of accommodation, with both parties seeing the benefits of the center, came earlier this month when Mr. Obama announced his selection of Jim Leach, a former congressman, to head the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church/State Matters, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

The bride wore white, and the bridesmaids wore collars

Wedding attendants are going to the dogs.

Pet-loving couples are increasingly including their dogs (and other pets, to a much lesser degree) in the wedding parties of some very formal weddings — decking them out in silk and satin and including them in the receiving line, on the program and in the portraits.

“Many people think of their pets as family members, and they wouldn’t think of having a special day like this without that member,” says Celina Bojorquez, co-owner of Beverly Hills Mutt Club, purveyor of upscale accessories like doggie tuxedos ($70 and up) and couture dresses ($170 to $500).

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Animals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

New North American Anglican grouping won't last says Gene Robinson

Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual man living openly with a partner, whose 2003 consecration as bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire created a backlash among traditional believers within the U.S., church, told Ecumenical News International he does not believe the new Anglican grouping has long-term viability.

“A church that does not ordain women or openly gay people – I don’t see a future for that,” Robinson told ENI after delivering a sermon on 28 June at the First Presbyterian Church in New York City during the city’s annual gay pride festivities.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Helen Smith: In my experience, the internet is not the disease but rather the symptom

A commenter in response to the news story, I think, hit the nail, on the head, “the internet is not the disease but the symptom.”

If a marriage is good, one will want to spend more time with their spouse, and perhaps if strained, will try to escape in various ways, which might include going online. Or, in my case, both spouses could spend a lot of time online and then use it to make their marriage better. Glenn and I discuss stuff online all the time and always have something fun to talk about. I have never laughed as hard at some of the things I read or had to think so much in response to some of them. So, I guess, like any hobby or vice (take your pick), it depends on how one uses it as to whether it is positive or negative.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Marriage & Family

Robert J. Samuelson: (Financial) Panics 'R' Us!

Up to a point, some retrenchment of the financial sector is healthy. It absorbed too much of America’s talent while pursuing strategies that, in hindsight, misallocated the nation’s investment capital. But there are perils to overregulation. It could dampen the normal risk-taking required for solid economic expansion.

However the debate concludes, regulation isn’t a panacea against future crises. The idea of “enlightened regulators” who are vastly more perceptive than the bankers, traders and money managers they regulate is a fiction. Even in early 2007, when the problems of subprime mortgages had emerged, few regulators or economists foresaw a wider financial meltdown. They didn’t see the impending chain reaction. The problem wasn’t a lack of regulation; it was a lack of imagination.

So the next crisis could come from anywhere — perhaps the follies of government, not finance. Between now and 2019, the U.S. federal debt could rise to $11 trillion , projects the Congressional Budget Office. U.S. Treasury bonds are the bedrock of the global financial system; they’re considered safe and reliable. What if a glut of bonds causes investors to lose faith? What are the implications? Good questions. The seeds of the next crisis almost certainly won’t be found in the debris of the last.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Telegraph: The terminally ill need care and protection – not help in committing suicide

The letter is signed by

The Most Rev Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

Sir Jonathan Sacks
Chief Rabbi

It reads in part:

Now, by way of an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, the legality of assisting people to end their own lives is again to be debated. The amendment seeks to protect from prosecution those who help friends or relatives to go abroad to commit suicide in one of the few countries where the practice is legal.

This would surely put vulnerable people at serious risk, especially sick people who are anxious about the burden their illness may be placing on others. Moreover, our hospice movement, an almost unique gift of this country to wider humankind, is the profound and tangible sign of another and better way to cope with the challenges faced by those who are terminally ill.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Obama says Honduran ouster was 'not legal'

President Barack Obama says the weekend ouster of Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya was a “not legal” coup and that he remains the country’s president.

Obama spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on Monday after meetings with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Obama said he wanted to be very clear that President Zelaya is the democratically elected president.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Central America, Foreign Relations, Honduras, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

At Mosque opening in Massachusetts, tensions permeate interfaith gathering

The controversy over the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury Crossing has posed one of the biggest challenges to interfaith relations in Boston in years, and the tension was readily on display during the Friday morning opening ceremonies for the new mosque.

Inside the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College, mosque backers hosted an interfaith breakfast whose honorary cochairmen included an Episcopal bishop, a Catholic priest, and the heads of the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.

Critics have accused the mosque’s backers of being extremists and radicals, but much of the mainstream Christian leadership, as well as the political leadership, in Boston appears to have rejected the allegations. On the way in to the breakfast, I encountered Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts and asked him why he was there. He noted that about 400 Muslims who work downtown regularly worship in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and said he wanted “to honor them,’’ he also called the new mosque “much needed for interfaith dialogue.’’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops

Pope Says Tests ”˜Seem to Conclude’ Bones Are the Apostle Paul’s

The first scientific tests on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul, the Roman Catholic saint, “seem to conclude” that they belong to him, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Pastor Urges His Flock to Bring Guns to Church

Ken Pagano, the pastor of the New Bethel Church here, is passionate about gun rights. He shoots regularly at the local firing range, and his sermon two weeks ago was on “God, Guns, Gospel and Geometry.” And on Saturday night, he is inviting his congregation of 150 and others to wear or carry their firearms into the sanctuary to “celebrate our rights as Americans!” as a promotional flier for the “open carry celebration” puts it.

“God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” Mr. Pagano, 49, said Wednesday in the small brick Assembly of God church, where a large wooden cross hung over the altar and two American flags jutted from side walls. “I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”

The bring-your-gun-to-church day, which will include a $1 raffle of a handgun, firearms safety lessons and a picnic, is another sign that the gun culture in the United States is thriving despite, or perhaps because of, President Obama’s election in November.

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

Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years in Prison for Ponzi Scheme

A federal judge sentenced Bernard L. Madoff to 150 years in prison on Monday for operating a huge Ponzi scheme that devastated thousands of people, calling his crimes “extraordinarily evil.”

In pronouncing the sentence ”” the maximum he could have handed down ”” Judge Denny Chin turned aside Mr. Madoff’s own assertions of remorse and rejected the suggestion from Mr. Madoff’s lawyers that there was a sense of “mob vengeance” surrounding calls for a long prison term.

“Objectively speaking, the fraud here was staggering,” the judge said. “It spanned more than 20 years.”

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

Thomas Friedman: Invent, Invent, Invent

We should be taking advantage. Now is when we should be stapling a green card to the diploma of any foreign student who earns an advanced degree at any U.S. university, and we should be ending all H-1B visa restrictions on knowledge workers who want to come here. They would invent many more jobs than they would supplant. The world’s best brains are on sale. Let’s buy more!

Barrett argues that we should also use this crisis to: 1) require every state to benchmark their education standards against the best in the world, not the state next door; 2) double the budgets for basic scientific research at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology; 3) lower the corporate tax rate; 4) revamp Sarbanes-Oxley so that it is easier to start a small business; 5) find a cost-effective way to extend health care to every American.

We need to do all we can now to get more brains connected to more capital to spawn more new companies faster. As Jeff Immelt, the chief of General Electric, put it in a speech on Friday, this moment is “an opportunity to turn financial adversity into national advantage, to launch innovations of lasting value to our country.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

USA Today: Rising national debt raises prospects of eventual inflation

Inflation is as dead as the Wicked Witch of the West in a waterfall. The consumer price index has actually fallen 1.3% in the past 12 months. So why is everyone so worried about soaring prices?

In a word: debt. The government owes the world $11.4 trillion ”” $37,000 for every person in the U.S. In the next fiscal year, the government will add $1.8 trillion to the deficit.

The government could simply print more dollars to pay off our debts with cheap currency ”” a tempting but inflationary solution. Politicians wouldn’t have to ask citizens to pay for the government’s services, and citizens wouldn’t have to think about the actual cost of what they demand ”” until, of course, the currency collapses, interest rates soar and the economy craters. Some on Wall Street are betting on just that scenario. Universa Investments ”” linked to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Wall Street’s biggest book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”” is adding strategies that will soar if inflation takes off. Respected hedge fund adviser 36 South Investment Managers is raising $100 million for a fund that will bet on soaring price increases. And Marc Faber, editor of the Gloom Boom & Doom Report, a newsletter, predicts that U.S. inflation will someday match Zimbabwe’s ”” that would be 236 million percent a year.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Religion and Health Care Reform

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: As President Obama pushed health care reform a coalition of religious leaders joined the effort with a rally and interfaith prayer service in Washington. The event brought together Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and others who called for universal and affordable health care. The group said health care is a moral issue and called the nation’s current situation too immoral to tolerate. One of the participants in that interfaith coalition is Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. Her order is the Sisters of Social Service. She is also a lawyer. Sister, welcome.

Sister SIMONE CAMPBELL (Executive Director, NETWORK): Thank you.

ABERNETHY: In that coalition, your number one priority is expanding health care for everyone. Talk about that.

Sr. CAMPBELL: It’s a shocking outrage in our country. It’s a moral outrage that we have almost 50 million people without coverage, without access to a doctor, and we have even hundreds of thousands more that can’t even use the coverage that they have. That’s wrong. We have to change it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

French Village Life Blog: An Anglican church in France

Let me tell you a little about our Anglican Church here in France. I should begin by saying that it is a privilege to have such a Church, as of course France is a Roman Catholic country and does not need to permit other religions to have a base here. However, the Anglican Church has good relationships with the Catholic church, and we are always aware of our standing in the country.

Our church comes under the Diocese of Europe, overseen by the Bishop of Gibraltar, as do all other Anglican churches in Europe.

Ten years ago an English vicar and his wife felt called to come to Brittany to start a centre for worship. All the legalities complied with , they opened their own home, with a group of half a dozen people , for Sunday worship. Contacts were made during the next year with a Catholic teaching monastery , who kindly offered a set of rooms to be used on a Sunday. Set in their beautiful gardens, it was a wonderful place to worship at the weekly services….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Europe, France, Parish Ministry

Some GOP lawmakers await Sanford resignation

Some Republican state lawmakers are privately saying they want Republican Gov. Mark Sanford to step down ”” of his own volition ”” this week.

Meanwhile, Sanford has spent portions of the last few days phoning key lawmakers and Republican Party activists, apologizing for his affair with an Argentinian woman that left him out of touch with his staff and other state leaders for the better part of a week.

On another note, a source close to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said Sunday that Bauer has approached members of the Senate to discuss the possibility that, if Sanford resigns, Bauer would only serve the remainder of the governor’s term, focusing on job creation, and would not run for governor in 2010 as Bauer had originally intended.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

Archdeacon calls for ”˜new parish model’

An Archdeacon in the Church of England is calling for a “new parish model” which would engage with what he sees as “the need for non-geographical ministries”.

Such a structure need not lose sight of the “best of local, incarnational ministry,” argues the Ven Paul Slater, Archdeacon of Craven, diocese of Bradford.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Religious Intelligence: Presiding Bishop deposes bishops

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has deposed two more retired American bishops, announcing on June 12 that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of ministry of the retired Bishop of Quincy the Rt Rev Edward MacBurney and the retired Bishop of Southern Virginia the Rt Rev David Bane.

However, the two bishops have stated they have not renounced their orders, but were being accepted into the House of Bishops of the Province of the Southern Cone under Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Press-Enterprise: Harmony exists among Inland Episcopalians in fractious times

As the Episcopal Church prepares to hold its triennial convention in Anaheim next month, most of the media focus has been on continuing divisions over the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

Delegates are expected to vote whether to develop formal marriage rites or blessings for same-sex couples, and on reversing a 2006 moratorium on the consecration of bishops who are in same-sex relationships.

Yet, in most Episcopal parishes throughout the Inland area, the divisions over homosexuality rarely come up in conversation, priests and parishioners said. Theologically conservative and liberal members worship and volunteer side by side, disagreeing on issues such as gay bishops but united by the combination of a Catholic liturgical tradition and a Protestant belief in letting non-clergy interpret the Bible.

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

In Nigeria Gospel Anglicans celebrate new ministers

Recently, it was celebration galore at the Gospel Anglican Church, Ajagbadi, Lagos. The occasion was the ordination service for new ministers of the church. The new clerics were resplendent in their white robes which, according to them, stood for purity.

The ordination service commenced at when the bishop and other ministers walked in amid songs of praise by the choristers and the entire congregation.

The church wore a solemn look as the candidates to be ordained were presented at the altar by the Gospel Anglican Bishop of Lagos, Rt. Rev. Chukwuereka Iheanachor. The man of God prayed for the glory of God to overwhelm the new ministers of the gospel and for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

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