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Bishop C FitzSimons Allison–The South Carolina Supreme Court is destroying our church based on a massive misunderstanding

From here:

COLUMBIA, SC
The state Supreme Court’s decision taking church buildings and millions of dollars of real estate from the Diocese of South Carolina prompted retired Chief Justice Jean Toal to call it “nothing less than judicial sanction of the confiscation of church property.”

The key to this unfortunate decision is the false assumption that the Episcopal Church is hierarchical. F.V. Mills’ Bishops by Ballot: an Eighteenth Century Ecclesiastical Revolution (New York: 1978) documents that the church’s founding fathers were adamant that they were establishing not a top-down but a bottom-up governance based on republican concepts “in place of hierarchical ones.”

No wonder delegates from Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina insisted at the organizing convention for the Episcopal Church that they have no bishops. The hostility toward tyranny was built into the church’s foundation, accepting only bishops whose authority would be “spiritual” and subject to checks and balances from the bottom up.

As one who has taught history for more than two decades, I can confidently assert that the national church was carefully founded not to be an hierarchical church. We have never even called the presiding bishop an archbishop, as most Anglican provinces do. The one time the General Convention considered creating a truly hierarchical church (1898), the proposals were clearly and forthrightly rejected.

Practical examples of this reality abound. One is especially applicable: Several dioceses separated from the national church when their states seceded from the union; following the Civil War, they returned only after voting to do so. Such is the inherent independence of dioceses.

As a bishop in the Episcopal Church, I could never have imposed a candidate for rector on any parish; I could only suggest. Quite often, my suggestions were not followed. Nor could I simply remove a clergy person, no matter how badly the parish might wish it, without a long canonical procedure.

From start to finish, the history of the Episcopal Church testifies to a body that is not a hierarchy of the sort this court ruling has presumed. To dispossess at least 29 congregations and more than 20,000 worshipers on the basis of such a flawed understanding of history would be a terrible injustice.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(NYT) Technology companies are doling out eye-popping salaries in a race to scoop up experts in artificial intelligence

Silicon Valley’s start-ups have always had a recruiting advantage over the industry’s giants: Take a chance on us and we’ll give you an ownership stake that could make you rich if the company is successful.

Now the tech industry’s race to embrace artificial intelligence may render that advantage moot — at least for the few prospective employees who know a lot about A.I.

Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.

Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them. All of them requested anonymity because they did not want to damage their professional prospects.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(AJ) Merger, possible church plant proposed for Peterborough, Ontario

Five existing Anglican and Lutheran churches in Peterborough could be merged into a single church, and a new “mission church” planted elsewhere in the city, under a proposal put forth earlier this month by the area bishop.

On October 1 and 2, Riscylla Shaw, area bishop for Trent-Durham within the diocese of Toronto, presented the plan to parishioners at two public meetings. It foresees three Anglican churches—St. Barnabas Anglican Church, St. Luke’s Anglican Church and All Saints’ Anglican Church—and Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church all closing “in the immediate future,” with parishioners gathering to worship for traditional services at the one remaining church, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.

At some point after that, Shaw proposed, a new church might be built, probably in the city’s southwest corner, to house a “new missional congregation.”

The idea, Shaw told the Anglican Journal, is that the newly-merged congregation at St. John the Evangelist would focus energetically on “bringing the Word, the good news of Jesus out into the street, into Peterborough and out to meet the people where they’re at,” gathering new parishioners to the point where the new church would need to be built to house them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

(Local Paper) Elizabeth Lewis Chimes in on the Lowcountry South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal mess

From there:

The litigation between the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church (TEC) has been an important contest over the past five years. Its outcome will determine whether 23,000 citizens of this state will have their freedoms of association and religion affirmed, or if they will be dispossessed of the properties faithfully established for their work of ministry.

The latter outcome would be particularly grievous, given it is possible only because the deciding vote on the state Supreme Court was provided by a justice with membership in the Episcopal Church. That is a clear and massive conflict of interest.

Recently Judge Joseph Anderson set Nov. 6-8 as the dates for mediation of both the state and federal cases. Those meetings in Columbia have the potential to finally bring peace and a fair resolution to all matters in both. That would certainly be a more just outcome than what has been provided so far at the hands of our state Supreme Court.

One can only hope that the high court will respond to the motions for rehearing and recusal, uphold its credibility, and give justice to the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Baltimore Sun) Lots of Closing and merging of Churches in the Greater Baltimore Area

But with attendance stagnating, maintenance costs rising and the population of Christians from which to draw shrinking, the two have decided to join forces. If the Baltimore Presbytery gives its approval next month, they’ll become one congregation before the end of the year, bringing more than 280 worshippers and 230 years of history together under one roof.

The merger would be the latest example of an increasingly common phenomenon: faith leaders closing or consolidating houses of worship as a way of adjusting to a culture that has grown less hospitable to their mission.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has closed a net eight churches since 2007 and plans to shutter one more — 174-year-old St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charles Village — if the congregation can’t present a feasible financial plan by January.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O God, whose love we cannot measure, nor even number thy blessings: We bless and praise thee for all thy goodness, who in our weakness art our strength, in our darkness, light, in our sorrows, comfort and peace, and from everlasting to everlasting art our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, world without end.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original), p.126

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Church of England bids to put mothers’ names on marriage certificates

Mothers’ names could finally be included on marriage certificates after ministers said that legislation put forward by the Church of England “provides a solution to this problem”, the Telegraph can disclose.

A draft bill tabled by a senior bishop has been welcomed by the Home Office, following an impasse over plans to update the documents, which currently only include the names of couples’ fathers.

The development comes three years after David Cameron pledged to make the change, saying that the existing system, which dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria, “does not reflect modern Britain”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Women

A Prayer from Eastern Church Vespers at the start of the Day

In the evening and morning and noonday we praise Thee, we thank Thee, and pray Thee, Master of all, to direct our prayers as incense before Thee. Let not our hearts turn away to words or thoughts of wickedness, but keep us from all things that might hurt us; for to Thee, O Lord, our eyes look up, and our hope is in Thee: confound us not, O our God; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

—-James Manning,ed., Prayers of the Early Church (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1953)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Percy Dearmer

God, our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity, new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity; that the eternal message of thy Son, undefiled by the traditions of men, may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through him who maketh all things new, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream, for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart….

–Jeremiah 29:4-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Must-not-Miss Radiolab Podcast–Anna in Somalia

Take the time to listen to it all–what an incredible story (Hat tip:EH).

Posted in Books, Prison/Prison Ministry, Somalia

Nicholas Davis–11 Classics Every Christian Should Read

Of course, nothing is more classic than the Bible. Aside from the Holy Bible, however, there are certain books that all Christians should read.
The following list of books is not comprehensive but should give you a head start on some great literature that will encourage you in the Christian life. Here are eleven classics (in no particular order) every Christian should read:
1. Basic Christianity by John Stott
“The Bible,” Stott wrote, “isn’t about people trying to discover God, but about God reaching out to find us.” Few books present an intellectually stimulating and satisfying view of the Christian faith as this one. It is chock-full of wisdom and golden nuggets of truth that help us know what we believe and why we believe it.
2. Confessions by Augustine
This is the famous autobiography of Augustine of Hippo, where he writes with such beauty and clarity the words, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
3. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
In this brilliant work, twentieth-century intellectual giant G. K. Chesterton explains with both style and substance his own reasons for being a Christian.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church History, Theology

Michael McManus–Why Aren’t Famous Sexual Offenders Prosecuted?

A growing number of prominent media moguls have been accused of sexual assault – Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and most recently, Harvey Weinstein.

Why have none been successfully prosecuted?

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Movies & Television, Sexuality, Violence

(WCC) Kenya church leaders view dialogue as best way out of political crisis

Church leaders in Kenya are proposing a national dialogue conference to help find ways of the resolving the current political and social crises facing the East African nation.

Apart from discussing the stand-off over fresh presidential elections, it would also help resolve a longstanding nurses and clinical officers’ strike.

On 10 October, the political crisis appeared to deepen after National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga announced that his coalition would boycott the polls set for 26 October.

Odinga had cited the failure by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to institute some reforms he had demanded as an “irreducible minimum” before another election is held. High on the list of demands is the removal of officials in the commission who he believes caused him to lose the 8 August polls. One of the officials is the chief executive Ezra Chiloba.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture