Daily Archives: March 18, 2012

Grant LeMarquand–African Responses to New Hampshire and New Westminster: An Address

When I received a letter from the President of the Historical Society asking if I would consider being the speaker at this year’s annual meeting I was flattered. Then I read the fine print: would I consider talking about “the position of the third world Anglican churches in the current crisis”¦it would be helpful to have a clearer picture of the response of the African churches than the rather cryptic press accounts sometimes provided.

” The “crisis,” of course, is the situation we now find ourselves in as a global communion following two events in North America: the decision at General Convention 2003 to ratify the election of a man who is a practicing homosexual to be the Bishop of New Hampshire, and his subsequent consecration, and the decision by the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada to allow the blessing of same-sex unions within the diocese and the production of a liturgy for that purpose. These events have resulted in a perhaps unprecedented negative response by many in the communion. With regard to the letter of invitation I must be fair ”“ the topic was left completely up to me ”“ I was in no way coerced to speak about this subject. But the letter made its point: grave misunderstanding is far too easy if we know little about the context from which a statement is made or a position is taken. Even those of us Anglicans who live within the same culture have had a difficult time communicating with each other recently. How much more confusion is possible if we speak from differing culture contexts? The topic which the President’s letter suggested was both timely and crucial. But I immediately saw the potential landmines.
First, although I have lived in Africa and I love Africa, and although I have spent much of my academic life seeking to comprehend that wonderful place more deeply, I am not an African and I cannot presume to speak for Africa. Africa is an immense, varied, and complicated place. I am well aware that whatever I say some of my African friends will be well within their rights to question my judgement, or even my presumption to render an opinion. There is no one “African position” on the subject of homosexuality; neither is there one monolithic opinion about the wisdom of the actions of the Canadian and American churches, although it is quite clear that there is a majority opinion. Second, I was immediately aware of who my audience would be for this talk, and aware that many in the room would not share my own opinions about the meaning of the present situation. And finally, I am deeply conscious that our present troubles have left many of us emotionally raw. The issues of sexuality with which we have been struggling (and which can now be seen to involve also issues of culture and race, of money and power) touch all of us at deep levels of our being. Anger is not far from the surface of conversations. I have told my students many times that I would much rather be a church historian writing about these events three hundred years from now.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Reuters) Archbishop of Canterbury quits, says next Anglican leader needs 'rhino skin'

Unlike Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism is a loose family of member churches with the Archbishop of Canterbury as its spiritual leader. As such, Williams had prestige and respect, but no direct powers beyond the Church of England he leads.

Considered a liberal when he became archbishop in 2002, he made several concessions to conservatives to try to keep them from splitting away. In the process, he ended up disappointing both progressives and traditionalists and lost authority.

“His efforts have run into the sand,” said Clifford Longley, a commentator on religious affairs. “He’s not managed to do what he hoped he would be able to do.”

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

A Look Back–Paul Elie's Atlantic Article in March 2009 on Rowan Williams

As Williams began his tenure as archbishop in 2003, though, the ordination of Robinson sent the issue of gay bishops to the head of the agenda. By last summer, with the Lambeth Conference approaching, schism seemed inevitable. Some bishops opposed to homosexual clergy held a rival conference in Jerusalem, denouncing Williams as a liberal pawn. Traditionalists announced plans to “go over” to the Roman Catholic Church or form their own church unless Williams got rid of Robinson. Gay activists circulated an old essay by Williams in which he had eloquently celebrated gay and lesbian relationships; the commentariat mocked him as a holy fool for some approving remarks he had made about Islamic law. Friends of Williams said he might resign. “God has given you all the gifts,” one friend told him, “and as your punishment, he has made you archbishop of Canterbury.”

The schism hasn’t come””not yet. The Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest group of Christians after the Catholics and the Orthodox, is still standing””a “hugely untidy but very lovable” body, in the words of its most famous member, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate. But its unity has been compromised. In December, a half-dozen bishops broke with the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and announced their plans to found a rival Anglican Community for North America.

It is now, with his office under pressure from both left and right, that Rowan Williams’s real work is beginning….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Guardian Editorial–Rowan Williams: Farewell to a man of intellect, integrity and spirituality

The Church of England is still bitterly divided over the issue of gay clergy and gay marriage, while the general synod has rejected his compromise formula for the introduction of women bishops, which would have installed male co-bishops to appease traditionalists. Repeatedly, over the years, Dr Williams’s attempts to mediate between disputing factions of his church have been rebuffed. Hardline evangelicals have at times treated his leadership with barely concealed contempt; liberals have despaired over his refusal to risk church unity by standing with them.

But when he has managed to break free from ecclesiastical firefighting, Dr Williams has contributed much to the quality and tone of public debate….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

An Economist Article on the Church of England–The rise of evangelicalism is shaking up the C of E

At present the archbishop’s strongest challengers are liberals outraged by his compromises on women bishops and by his opposition to the government’s plans to allow gay marriage. (It is now certain there will be women bishops; the question is how generously to accommodate clergy or parishes who will not submit to their authority.) But when the current generation of ordinands hit their stride, the balance may swing in a conservative direction. They are likely to give their bishops a hard time. Many of the rising generation of keen young clerics already make it clear they wish to work in large evangelical churches, ripe for American-style mission, rather than in slums or charming villages where social views are relaxed and doctrinal purity is not prized.

Still, as Simon Barrow, of the liberal religious think-tank Ekklesia, points out, the Anglican evangelical movement is a mixed bag. It ranges from the Alpha-course founders who are happy to deal with Catholics, Orthodox Christians and other denominations, to more sectarian types who are keener on erecting high doctrinal fences. Evangelicalism, like Anglicanism as a whole, is a fairly broad church. So powerful is the nation’s resistance to “narrowness” that even religious fervour rests on compromises.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Vincent Nichols pays tribute to outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Nichols said: “In the last three years I have grown to appreciate more and more the fine qualities of Archbishop Rowan: his kindness, his sharp intellect, his dedication to striving for harmony between peoples, especially within the Christian family, his courage and his friendship. These will be much missed when he steps down from his demanding office in December. I will miss him.

“I thank him for all the service he has given, recalling particularly his warm welcome to Pope Benedict at Lambeth Palace, a visit reciprocated with similar joy just last week.

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

Statement from the Diocese of Egypt on the death of Pope Shenouda III

Together with all Egyptians, the Episcopal / Anglican Church of Egypt mourns the loss of Pope Shenouda III, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Pope Shenouda passed away yesterday (Saturday 17 March) at the age of 89 and 41 years after his enthronement as the 117th Patriarch of Alexandria. Pope Shenouda was a great example of a Bishop who is committed to teaching his people regularly. Every Wednesday for the last 41 years, he met with his people (between 5000 and 6000 each week) to answer their questions and teach from the Bible. He wrote many books, which were translated into several languages.
Pope Shenouda had a great missionary vision. He consecrated two missionary bishops in Africa, and he planted churches and monasteries in all of the continents of the world. He gave special care to all of the Copts in the diaspora. Pope Shenouda had a warm heart for ministry to the poor. He had a special meeting with them every Thursday, where he supported them through funds, counselling and prayer.
During the time of Pope Shenouda, the Coptic Orthodox church has grown tremendously. He gave special attention to theological education, opening several new seminaries. He also cared for the youth of his church and consecrated two bishops mainly for ministry to youth.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Coptic Church, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecumenical Relations, Egypt, Middle East, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Cole Moreton–The next Archbishop of Canterbury–The battle for Britain's soul begins here

So when people talk about Britain losing touch with its Christian roots, which Christianity do they mean? The answer lies in the Thirty-Nine Articles, written in 1563, and the basis of the trinity of Church, Crown and state. Scotland, Wales and Ireland contribute to the soul of Britain but the special status given to the Church of England put the Articles at the core of the Christianity that has shaped us. That core remained intact at an institutional level until recently.

Now the ties that bind Church and state are snapping. The population has changed. The claims of Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other faiths must be recognised, as must atheism. Because the Government wants our votes, it often takes the lead on social change. The Church sees itself as standing up for enduring truths.

The brilliant, dedicated people working in the parishes ”“ as in other faith groups ”“ were doing the Big Society long before David Cameron named it. But as an institution, the Church of England is failing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

Marybeth Davis–Marriage: When Pre-Engagement Hopes Meet Reality

While I anticipated that marriage would change my circumstances, I did not anticipate how much it would change me.

Yes, my relationship is full of plenty of romance and laughter and companionship, but it’s also full of difficult conversations, compromise, and sacrifice. In my pre-engagement idealistic daydreams of marriage, my fiancé was simply “husband,” a generic abstract entity that made no demands on me, who simply provided for me and met my needs. Surely I knew””somewhere and vaguely””that marriage would call on me to make sacrifices, but making sacrifices in the abstract? Piece of cake. Making actual, concrete sacrifices? Anything but. My fiancé’s very presence in my life challenges me to expand my perspective, to direct my attention outward, and to seek the good of someone else. Instead of rescuing me from my burdens, my fiancé actually rescues me from my self-centeredness.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, who has taught us in thy holy Word that the law was given by Moses, but that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: Grant that we, being not under the law but under grace, may live as children of that Jerusalem which is above, and rejoice in the freedom of our heavenly citizenship; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

–Psalm 66: 8-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Terry Mattingly: Is it Time for Reappraising Catholics to leave the Roman Catholic Church?

[As] theologian Tom Beaudoin, who teaches at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York City, [writes]:

Whatever one thinks of this ad, it seems to mark a particular moment in the unfolding history of the Catholic Church in the United States. That a full-page ad in one of the most influential newspapers in the country would ask members of a major religious group to walk away from that group is an extraordinary occurrence.

I hope that before people take sides pro or con on the ad, before the tendency to separate into “evil vs. good” or “good vs. evil” here, we might be able to take this opportunity for some serious thinking, and ask: What is happening with religion in general and Catholicism in particular today that would make such a moment possible?…

Are you thinking “what ad”? Well, you better read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Egypt's Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III dies

Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III has died at the age of 88, state television has announced.

The leader of the Middle East’s largest Christian minority was reported to suffer from cancer that had spread to several organs.

Coptic Christians make up 10% of Egypt’s population of 80 million.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Death / Burial / Funerals, Egypt, Middle East, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Family as Calling: Finding Vocation In and Near the Home

For Gene Edward Veith Jr., provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College, Martin Luther’s doctrine of vocation undergirds a truly Christian theology of the family. Vocation, as he describes it, is “the way God works through human beings.” In his latest book, Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood (Crossway), Veith looks to Luther’s ideals of loving and serving our neighbor, and to his view of the family as a “holy order” unto itself. Coauthored with daughter Mary J. Moerbe, a deaconess in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the book applies Luther’s understanding to the various family vocations (marriage, parenthood, and childhood) and the “offices” within those vocations (husband, wife, father, mother, and child). Author and Her.meneutics blog contributor Caryn Rivadeneira spoke with father and daughter about Luther’s vision of family life….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Church History, Lutheran, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Atheists plan to wash road Saturday of anointing oil left by Christians a year ago

“What concerns us is the message that it sends,” said Atheist of Florida member Rob Curry. “A very chilling message that, if you’re not a Christian, if you don’t believe as we do, then you’re not welcome.”

Curry’s referring to a road-anointing performed on CR 98 last year as part of the “Polk Under Prayer” campaign, where Christians poured olive oil on the asphalt and prayed over it, calling for a revival in the area.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, City Government, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Travel