Daily Archives: February 4, 2011

(WSJ) Russell Moore–Where Have All the Presbyterians Gone?

Are we witnessing the death of America’s Christian denominations? Studies conducted by secular and Christian organizations indicate that we are. Fewer and fewer American Christians, especially Protestants, strongly identify with a particular religious communion””Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc. According to the Baylor Survey on Religion, nondenominational churches now represent the second largest group of Protestant churches in America, and they are also the fastest growing.

More and more Christians choose a church not on the basis of its denomination, but on the basis of more practical matters. Is the nursery easy to find? Do I like the music? Are there support groups for those grappling with addiction?

This trend is a natural extension of the American evangelical experiment. After all, evangelicalism is about the fundamental message of Christianity””the evangel, the gospel, literally the “good news” of God’s kingdom arriving in Jesus Christ””not about denomination building.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Wonderful Local New York Area Story–Chicken Vanishes, Heartbreak Ensues

As with any theft, the worst part is the blow it deals to one’s faith in humanity. The chickens were in danger of being demoted from goodwill ambassadors to harbingers of doom, canaries in the neighborhood coal mine.

The sidewalk confabs reached a fever pitch. People were devastated.

A man with a neck tattoo shook his head and tut-tutted, “What kind of person would do something like this?” A woman in a church hat encouraged us to turn to God. Neighbors posted another sign: “439 Franklin misses Gertrude!” People scribbled commiseration. (“My son is sad! Find Gertrude!”) The crime was taken as proof of the decline and fall of civilization, and we found ourselves assuming the role of the comforter far more than the comforted.

Again, this is Bed-Stuy. Not Mayberry. Yet the response was more suited to a town with less in the way of a police blotter. Such dramatic emotional outpourings for a lost chicken seemed frankly disproportionate, since you can hardly walk a block in this town without being offered some tantalizing version of dead chicken….

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Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(SMH) Christians vent anger after opposition abandons promise on ethics classes

The opposition education spokesman, Adrian Piccoli, said the Liberal-National party took the view that ”the battle over ethics classes is finished”.

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But the announcement was met with anger by the influential Australian Christian Lobby.

Its NSW director, David Hutt, said the lobby was extremely disappointed by the decision.

”We had welcomed the opposition’s previous commitment to scrap the ethics classes should they win government and we cannot understand why they have now retreated from this,” Mr Hutt said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNA) Catholic Church querying US Anglicans for possible ordinariate

The first step is to respond to all U.S. Anglicans who have indicated an interest in the ordinariate and to learn more about them.

“Questionnaires have gone out asking them to identify more clearly who they are and what the nature is of their current community,” Cardinal [Donald] Wuerl explained. “The goal is to determine whether there is a response substantial enough to warrant the establishment of an ordinariate here in the U.S.”

“We’ve already seen how the Holy See, at the request of Pope Benedict, has established an ordinariate in England, Our Lady of Walsingham. And that would probably be a model for what we would do here in the U.S.”

“We’re a little ways off yet,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Tim Fountain–Radical attendance drop shows Anglican Primates Mtg. in "disunity"

Today, less than 8 years after the 2003 emergency Primates Meeting, 15 of the Primates are no-shows. There is loss of trust and a sense that words and efforts are meaningless – that the Episcopal Church in particular will act unilaterally against the mind of the Provincial leaders and global Anglican witness.

The Episcopal Church continues to decline, with its membership the oldest among U.S. denominations and its internal reports showing no reliable sources or patterns of growth. In an Anglican Communion of some 80 million members, only about 700,000 Episcopalians attend services on an average Sunday. The [partnered] gay bishop consecrated in 2003 downsized his diocese, spent most of his time at gay movement and media events, and recently announced his retirement after less than a decade in office.
A [partnered] lesbian bishop was consecrated, and some gay and lesbian couples have had high profile ceremonies, including a recent lesbian union worded contentiously as a variation on the Prayer Book marriage rite.

So, a small, affluent, socially homogeneous inner circle of a very small denomination indulges its fancies at the cost of a diverse, global Christian fellowship – a fellowship whose leaders hung in with misrepresentations and broken commitments while trying to maintain bonds of affection. That is, until this 2011 Anglican Primates Meeting in Dublin.

Read it all and make sure to take special note of the numbers of Primates attending.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Instruments of Unity, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007

(Church Times [II]) Some Comments on the Primates Meeting by Anglican Leaders

Speaking on behalf of the GAFCON Primates of Uganda, Rwanda, West Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Southern Cone ”” none of whom went to Dublin ”” Bishop Venables said that the meeting “had ignored the difficult issues that divide us.

“There was a denial of the serious­ness of the crisis facing the Communion which led to the absence of Primates representing two-thirds of the Anglican Com­munion, and there remains a com­plete lack of trust, which every day is getting worse.

“The Dublin meeting has just made things worse, as they did not deal with the reasons why people stayed away, or the causes of the divisions in the Anglican Church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011, Presiding Bishop

(Church Times [I]) Archbishop Rowan Williams plans trips to mend fences

The Archbishop of Canterbury will engage in a round of shuttle diplomacy in an attempt to improve relations with the Global South primates who boycotted last week’s primates’ Meeting.

Speaking during the closing press conference at the Emmaus Centre, near Dublin, on Sunday afternoon, Dr Williams spoke of his plans to visit some of the provinces of the absent Primates, such as South-East Asia. He said that he had recently met the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, one of the Primates who did not attend, taking part in “a very long and detailed conversation on a variety of matters”.

Such diplomatic endeavours would be a “long task”, he said; and trying to keep the diverse Com­munion together was “difficult”; but “the task we’ve been given, it’s part of the gift of living in the Church” and “part of the cross we carry”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011

(NY Times) As Islamist Group Rises in Egypt, Its Intentions Are Unclear

After maintaining a low profile in protests led largely by secular young Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition force, appeared to be taking a more assertive role Thursday, issuing a statement asking for President Hosni Mubarak to step aside for a transitional government.

“We demand that this regime is overthrown, and we demand the formation of a national unity government for all the factions,” the Brotherhood said in a statement broadcast by Al Jazeera.

The Obama administration has spoken cautiously about the future role of the Brotherhood, which has long been banned by Mr. Mubarak’s government, saying only that all parties must renounce violence and accept democracy. But one of the few near-certainties of a post-Mubarak Egypt is that the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge as a powerful political force.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Christianity Today) David Neff on Part II of the Cape Town Commitment–Living the Love

Several specific topics are worth noting.

First, corruption in church leadership. Corruption and greed are issues especially where the church is growing rapidly and new leaders cannot be developed fast enough to meet the needs. As a result, immature leaders with charismatic personalities abound. “Many use their positions for worldly power, arrogant status or personal enrichment,” the document’s authors complain. “As a result, God’s people suffer, Christ is dishonoured, and gospel mission is undermined.”

Leadership training programs have been instituted in many places to meet the urgent need, but, the document continues, “The answer to leadership failure is not just more leadership training but better discipleship training. Leaders must first be disciples of Christ himself.” Character formation as Christ followers should take precedence over training in the techniques of leadership.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Evangelicals, Missions, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, South Africa, Theology

(Washington Post) Protesters again fill Tahrir square for 'Day of Departure' rally

Tahrir Square filled again with vast crowds of anti-government demonstrators Friday morning, ahead of a massive protest planned to demand the immediate ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

A day after authorities launched an aggressive clampdown on foreign journalists and human rights activists observing the demonstrations, Friday’s gathering was calm and orderly, without the beatings and bloodshed that had horrified the world the day before.

After standing in long lines to pass through security checkpoints, thousands upon thousands of Egyptians entered the vast, open square and performed the weekly Friday prayers, kneeling and prostrating themselves in accordance with the muezzin’s call. Nearby, soldiers on duty kept watch.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East

(Living Church) Central Florida Challenges Title IV

Central Florida joins three other dioceses ”” Dallas, South Carolina and Western Louisiana ”” in expressing concerns about the new canons on discipline, which become effective July 1.

The diocese asks General Convention “to modify New Title IV, as it applies to the Diocese of Central Florida, so as to comply with the Constitution.” The resolution expresses two concerns about the new Title IV: that it “empowers the Presiding Bishop to take certain actions within the Diocese of Central Florida in violation of Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution,” and “creates a charging and trial system applicable to Presbyters and Deacons in violation of Article IX of the Constitution which provides that presbyters and deacons shall be tried by a court instituted by the convention of the Diocese.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Anskar

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst send thy servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and dist enable him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep thy Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when thou hast begun a good work thou wilt bring it to a faithful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, whose majesty is revealed in mercy: Grant that as we draw near to thee thy truth may set us free from the bondage of our own thoughts and desires, and that as we abide in thee our prayers may be an instrument of thy righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–Leslie S. Hunter

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

–Galatians 5:22-24

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

CEN–Dublin primates meeting marks an ”˜end to the communion as we know it’

The former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Dr. Phillip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute told CEN he was disappointed by the reports produced by the meeting. “Here we have reports on both the function and the organization of the Primates meeting that neither locate as an aspect of ecclesiology the office and role of a primate within a communion of churches nor speak of how the meeting and its standing committee are to address a province or diocese within the communion whose actions other Provinces do not recognize as in accord with scripture.”

“These reports are theologically vacuous,” Dean Turner said. “Sadly, they only display the fact that this Instrument has become dysfunctional. It has become dysfunctional because neither the Primates as a group nor the Primate who is primus inter pares were willing and able to address the actions” of the North American churches.

The “fabric” of the communion remains torn “because of a failure in leadership,” he said, noting that the “communion as we have known it is gone.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Instruments of Unity, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011, Theology

Joe Weisenthal–Did Ben Bernanke Just Admit That QE3 Is Coming?

Put it together. QE2 is due to run out this summer. Unless you think we’re creating so many jobs in a few months, that it’s obvious that we’re on the right track to full employment, then more QE seems in the cards.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The U.S. Government

(CNS) Catholic-Anglican dialogue group to begin meeting in May

The third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission will begin in May with 18 bishops and scholars set to examine the theology behind some of the thorniest questions creating tensions within the churches and keeping Catholics and Anglicans apart.

The Vatican released a statement Feb. 3 announcing that the dialogue commission would meet May 17-27 at the ecumenical Monastery of Bose in northern Italy and listing the 18 commission members.

Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, met in late 2009. They pledged to continue the formal dialogue even as the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the blessing of gay unions and the ordination of openly gay clergy threatened the unity of the Anglican Communion and made it more difficult for Catholics and Anglicans to see a way for their communities to draw closer together.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Australian Anglican head asks to join Supreme Court case

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, could join Newcastle Bishop Brian Farran as a defendant in a NSW Supreme Court case testing how the church runs professional standards matters nationally.
Archbishop Aspinall has asked to be named as fifth defendant in a case launched by former Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence and Cardiff priest Graeme Sturt after professional standards hearings in December.

The archbishop advised the court this week that he wanted to intervene in proceedings because the matters raised had general application to the operation of professional standards procedures in Australia.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

In Michigan 'Save Christ Church' leader calls for clergy resignation

Just days after 57 percent of voting members of the Christ Church of Lonsdale rejected their rector’s plea that they merge with Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland, opposition leader Walter Scott is calling for a brand new team of lay and clergy leaders.

In a letter to the Rev. Scott Gunn Monday, Walter Scott said of his Committee to Save Christ Church, “It is our sincere hope that the entire clergy will voluntarily resign prior to (the Feb. 13 annual) meeting and that includes the current vestry.”

Scott is offering to take on the role of senior warden, the highest lay position in the church and head of the governing board, which is called the vestry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Parishes, Theology

Steven Pearlstein–Much of America's recent growth may have been a mirage

As you might imagine, a spirited debate is underway on economics blogs about [Tyler] Cowen’s view that the Internet may not really be the productivity bonanza that was once predicted. So far, he notes, the Internet has generated far less income and far fewer jobs than earlier innovations – think of the automobile – and the benefits it has yielded have been confined largely to the upper end of the income scale.

For me, however, the more intriguing argument in “The Great Stagnation” is that much of our recent growth may, in fact, have been a mirage. It is no coincidence, he writes, that during the recent decades of slow growth in incomes and productivity, three of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy have been education, financial services and health care. And while government statistics show productivity in those sectors growing at the same pace as the rest of the economy, other data suggest otherwise.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Education, History, Science & Technology