Daily Archives: January 4, 2013

Bishop Mark Lawrence Writes Regarding the Declaratory Judgment

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I write to you in this Christmas season to share some news. Today, parishes representing approximately 75 percent of baptized members in our Diocese joined in filing for a declarative judgment in a South Carolina Circuit Court against the Episcopal Church (TEC). We are asking the court to declare that The Episcopal Church (TEC) has no right to the Diocese’s identity and property or that of its parishes.

We are saddened that we feel it necessary to ask a court to protect our property rights, but recent actions compelled us to take this action. As you know, The Episcopal Church (TEC) has begun the effort to claim the Diocese of South Carolina’s identity by calling for a convention to identify new leadership for the diocese, creating a website using the Diocesan seal and producing material that invokes the name and identity of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Our suit asks the court to prevent TEC from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent it from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before TEC was formed. It also asks the court to protect our parish and Diocesan property, including church buildings and rectories, which our forefathers built and even shed blood over, and you have maintained without any investment of any kind from the national church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

S.C. Diocese Seeks Declaratory Judgement to Prevent Episcopal Church from Seizing Local Parishes

This post is ‘Sticky’ at the head of the page – new posts are below.

See also: Bishop Mark Lawrence Writes Regarding the Declaratory Judgment and A Message to Clergy in the Diocese of South Carolina Regarding the Declaratory Judgment and The Diocese of South Carolina is the Only Authority to Convene a Convention in the Diocese and South Carolina Links

The Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and congregations representing the vast majority of its baptized members today filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.

The suit also asks the court to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation.

“We seek to protect more than $500 million in real property, including churches, rectories and other buildings that South Carolinians built, paid for, maintained and expanded ”“ and in some cases died to protect ”“ without any support from The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “Many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

Doris Donnelly–The Cleric Behind 'Les Mis'

Fans of “Les Misérables” on film or stage may be surprised to know that not everyone in France was of good cheer when Victor Hugo published the book in 1862. The anticlerical set was especially offended by the pivotal role of the Bishop of Digne, who helped determine the course of the novel by resuscitating the soul of Jean Valjean.

As Hugo worked on the novel, his son Charles, then in his 20s, objected to the reverential treatment of the bishop. He argued to his father that the portrayal gave undeserved respect to a corrupt clergy, bestowing credibility on a Roman Catholic Church opposed to the democratic ideals that he and his father held. Charles instead proposed that the catalyst for Jean Valjean’s transformation be a lawyer or doctor or anyone else from a secular profession.

The pushback didn’t work. Not only did Hugo hold his ground, but he amplified the importance of Charles-François Bienvenue Myriel, affectionately known in the novel as Monseigneur Bienvenue (Bishop Welcome). The book’s first hundred pages or so are a detailed chronicle of Myriel’s exemplary life, showing that his intervention on behalf of Jean Valjean was part of a long track record and not a singular aberration.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, History, Music, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Andrew Carey–A troubling year lies ahead for Church and State Matters in England

A troubling year lies ahead for church and state relations. All the signs are that Members of Parliament are flexing their muscles over the General Synod vote on women bishops.

They would like nothing less than to bounce the Church of England into an early decision, and some are actively seeking to interfere with a decision-making process that uniquely ties the Church and State together. Many supporters of women bishops will welcome this support from Parliament for their cause. Many of us agree that the Church of England must act quickly to resolve a question that has already been settled, not least by the overwhelming support of diocesan Synods. But threats from Parliament are unhelpful for many reasons.
In particular, dispersed power and the separation of British institutions are fundamental to our constitution. If any British institution seeks greater powers over another the balance of the British state is upset. We should expect Members of Parliament to exercise great restraint when it comes to their power. An over-mighty Parliament is as much a danger as an over-mighty Church. Both have their own respective responsibilities and rights and to overstep these is to upset a balance that has been worked out over centuries.

Religious freedom is threatened by a state that seeks to impose its own thinking on the Church. This is why the government’s pretence that it can outlaw the Church of England and the Church in Wales from ”˜opting-in’ to same-sex marriage is such a curious claim. It misunderstands the nature of marriage itself, which cannot be divided into civil and religious marriage. It forgets that canon law is also the law of the land. And it is an overreaching of government power.

The fourth element of the so-called quadruple lock is merely a recognition of the status quo, that only the churches can initiate change to their own canon law. Any move to compel the Church in one direction or another is completely unacceptable.

–Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2013 edition

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Women

(NPR) Old Greek Blasphemy Laws Stir Up Modern Drama

The police were not among [Elder] Loizos’ supporters. They said they received thousands of complaints about his “Elder Pastitsios” Facebook page… [that] criticized Elder Paisios as xenophobic and close-minded. [It also mocked the monk’s name ”” Paisios became Pastitsios, like the Greek pasta dish].

Last September, they arrested him and charged him with blasphemy, which carries up to six months in prison.

Many Greeks saw his case as a theocratic stifling of free speech. It was the first of two blasphemy arrests in recent months.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Greece, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta's 2012 Christmas Eve Sermon

What is God like? God is like Christmas! It’s just like God to get the good news to the shepherds first. Who were these guys? They were working the late-night shift. Day laborers but at night. Guys trying to make a buck. No pedigrees. Outside of the city.
Outside of the system.

That’s who gets the light show, the angelic choir concert and the word first. By right the announcement should have happened in the temple, with all the people like me standing around. But it doesn’t. And we can’t tell God how God should be God. Isaiah said it best, “Our thoughts are not his thoughts; neither are our ways his ways.” What can God possibly be up to by this? It has to be that God wants to jar our sense of order so we might finally be open to his order, “to a more excellent way.” And new ways and new openness are born in the imagination. God wants our imaginations. That’s got to be it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

(CEN) Transition in Leadership in the Church of Uganda

BISHOP Stanley Ntagali was installed as the eighth archbishop of the Church of Uganda in Namirembe Cathedral, Kampala on December 16th.

During the service outgoing Archbishop Henry Orombi signed a certificate of abdication and formally handed over the primatial cross, “which had become too heavy to bear” to Archbishop-elect Ntagali. Bishop Orombi, as he wants to be known, then spoke words of thanks and encouragement to his successor. Observers noted that a point might be being made to President Museveni who attended part of the service, who at 72 had had the constitutional provision for a limit to his term changed.

President Museveni urged the new archbishop to focus on young people, as 70 per cent of Uganda’s population are under 30. He noted that though the incidence of AIDS had initially dramatically declined since 1986 due to the Abstain, Be Faithful and use a Condom campaign, it was now on the rise. He urged the church to “use the pulpit to save our children”. He urged that sexual behaviour should be private and confidential, and that while they were not going to persecute or marginalise those who engaged in homosexual practice, they were not going to promote them.

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

(Church Times) Bishops lift ban on consecration of civil-partner clerics

Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops “considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality”. This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships.

The summary said that the Bishops did “not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships” until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop [Robert] Paterson’s group.

The summary, however, went on to say that the Bishops “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Pew Forum) Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress

he new, 113th Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of the members belonged to Protestant denominations.

Catholics have seen the biggest gains among the 533 members who are scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 3.1 Catholics picked up seven seats, for a total of 163, raising their share to just over 30%. Protestants and Jews experienced the biggest declines in numerical terms. Jews now hold 33 seats (6%), six fewer than in the 112th Congress, where Jews held 39 seats (7%). Protestants lost eight seats, though they continue to occupy about the same proportion of seats (56%) as in the 112th Congress (57%).

In addition, the Protestant share of each political party in the new Congress is about the same as in the 112th; roughly seven-in-ten Republicans are Protestants, compared with fewer than half of Democrats.

Read it all and enjoy the charts as well.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, House of Representatives, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

(CNN Belief Blog) Targeting 'Les Miserables' to Christians pays off at the box office

In spite of tepid reviews from some film critics, “Les Miserables” is booming at the box office, and that financial success can in part be traced to a group of its biggest boosters: Christians, particularly evangelicals whom NBC Universal went after with a microtargeted marketing strategy.

The story in “Les Miserables” is heavy with Christian themes of grace, mercy and redemption. The line everyone seems to remember is “to love another person is to see the face of God.”

NBC Universal looked to capitalize on those components and promoted the film to pastors, Christian radio hosts and influence-makers in the Christian community.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Movies & Television, Music, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Cathedral Dean Frank Limehouse’s 2012 Christmas Sermon–Mary Had a Little Lamb

Someone told me recently, “I just don’t get all caught up in theological dogma.” As the days of our lives slip by, it is possible that a person might not get all caught up in the true theology behind this “most wonderful time of the year.” And with eggnog in hand still want his or her Christmas to be a time for proclaiming peace and good will (not peace because of the birth of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away our sin giving us peace with God; not that, just “peace and good will”, a kind of mantra for postmodern America.)

So it is possible, at least for a while, to ignore the real meaning of Christmas. That is, as long as the internal and external events of my life proceed according to my plans; as long as I can keep at bay all forms of guilt from years of things done and left undone; as long as I can gloss over the world’s darkness to which the prophet Isaiah has alluded; as long as I can fend off the awareness that one day I too will die. For that long I can get by in this world without concerning myself with the truest meaning of Christmas.

But as soon as anything breaks through my delusional reality; as soon as guilt robs me of my peace, as soon as death threatens me, then absolutely nothing will matter more than the theological truth behind the Nativity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology

Peter Moore's Christmas Eve Sermon 2012 [Saint Michael's, Charleston]–No Room in the Inn

Now think with me about how, on that first Christmas Eve, Jesus beganhis life journey”¦as an outsider.

􀀁 Jesus was an outsider politically. He had to flee from Herod. Within a year of his birth, he was a refugee in Egypt.

ô€€ Jesus was an outsider to his own family. Despite his mother’s devotion, his brothers and sisters never seemed to have understood him. At times during his ministry they even thought he had gone mad.

ô€€ Jesus was an outsider to his townsfolk. The people of Nazareth accepted him ”“ yes, when he was the carpenter’s son. But when his ministry began, they all but threw him off the cliff for his “pretentious” messianic airs.

􀀁 Jesus was an outsider to the religious leaders. He had no formal theological training, nor did he have a proper school of educated disciples. His band of followers was riff raff from the boondocks up in Galilee.

􀀁 And Jesus was an outsider to the Romans. They saw him as a menace to the peace they had brokered with the Sanhedrin. For all they knew Jesus was a zealot, secretly plotting a revolt against them.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

More Music for Christmas–The Angel Gabriel: Kings College, Cambridge

Watch and listen to it all (the pictures of the chapel at about 1:09 and again at 2:22 are worth their weight in gold).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Music

Another Poem for the Christmas Season–Gary Johnson's December

A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves…..

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

Another Prayer for the Christmas Season to Begin the Day

O God, who when the fullness of the time was come didst send forth thy Son, born of a woman, to redeem mankind: Hasten the day of his dominion in all lands, and the increase of his government and of peace; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then the LORD said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per’izzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

–Exodus 3:8-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Richard Clarke's Christmas Message

At the heart of Christmas, we connect in particular with the wonder that God has such a total love for the world that he connects with us in the most complete of ways, in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is our task to encourage others as well as ourselves to make this connection. And we are to make this connection easier to grasp for others, through our witness to the love of Christ, and in our unselfconscious care for the unloved and unwanted of this world.

There can be surely little doubt that when people stop connecting with their religious faith ”“ their sense that they are in the hands of a God who loves them ”“ they may easily then start to lose faith in themselves, and hence lose faith also in those around them, and so become angry, embittered and fearful. For some, connecting with the faith they have inherited is natural and straightforward, for others connecting with religious faith is far from easy; whereas for others it is something utterly contemptible. For Christian disciples there is at Christmas an eternal reminder that we are loved for ourselves, and that every other human person is loved equally by God.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of Ireland, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

(The National) Church of England facing a crisis of faith

[The] Reverend Donald Davis urged the congregation to come closer.

“There’s not a lot of us today,” he said with his trademark staccato laugh. “Let’s huddle together for warmth….”

…a low point is also where the Church of England – of which St Luke’s is one of 16,000 churches – finds itself. Embroiled in divisive internal arguments over same-sex marriage rights and whether women should be allowed to serve as bishops, perhaps the most serious battle facing England’s state church is against an evermore secular society in which its role is far from clear.

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

(FT) Samuel Brittan–The decline of western dominance

…what has to be explained is not the west’s looming relative decline but its temporary pre-eminence. Of a world population approaching 7bn, the US and western Europe together account for a mere 770m. Their gross domestic product per head ”“ a very approximate guide to living standards ”“ is three times the world average. Such discrepancies can hardly be expected to last in an increasingly globalised planet. In 1500, just after Christopher Columbus’s voyages of discovery, China and India were both estimated to have had a total GDP considerably higher than western Europe’s and GDP per head only slightly lower. Earlier still, in about 1000, living standards were fairly uniform ”“ and low ”“ throughout the world but the estimates show China slightly in the lead.

The reversal towards an earlier norm has already started. Emerging and developing countries now account, for the first time in the modern era, for about half of total world output. Historians have offered endless explanations for the west’s temporary surge: religions that put more emphasis on the individual and his activities in this life; an intellectual climate more favourable to scientific thought; property rights that safeguarded acquisitions of wealth; less autocratic forms of government. The list is endless and doubtless all these elements played a part. In the late 18th century the government of England’s George III sent a trade mission to China, only to be rebuffed by the Chinese emperor who declared that his country had everything it required and did not need western trinkets.

But such attitudes could hardly be expected to last, faced with the evidence of an increasing western lead. What the west initiated the others would follow; and eventually began to initiate on their own.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Politics in General

(WSJ) Philip Hensher–The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note

How many cards did you send this holiday season? Probably fewer than 10 years ago. And how many did you receive? Probably fewer again. Whatever the case, wasn’t there a small burst of pleasure at seeing a once-familiar hand on the envelope, among all the dreary waste of modern postal delivery? Did you not feel that someone you knew had, for once, reached out and greeted you, in a way that an email or a text never could?

Handwriting is less important in our lives than it has ever been. In a British survey carried out in June, it was discovered that the average time since an adult wrote anything at all by hand was 41 days. One in three people surveyed said that they hadn’t written anything by hand for at least six months. Two out of three said that the last thing they wrote was for their eyes only””a hastily scribbled note, a shopping list or a reminder….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch