Category : Pastoral Theology

(Wash Po) Ryan Danker–Historic church should rethink Washington, Lee plaque removals

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials – as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place – disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

From the very start of the Christian faith, believers have remembered the “great cloud of witnesses” who came before them. During the third century, the church in North Africa regularly commemorated early martyrs on the anniversary of their death – the origin of saints’ days.

Whether honored through holidays or monuments, the church still recognized the complexity of the human situation and never expected perfection from these early saints. Scripture and church history provided plenty of evidence of their shortcomings: Paul’s thorn in his flesh, Peter’s denial of Christ, Augustine’s lust, Thomas Aquinas’ borderline gluttony, Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic tendencies, John Calvin’s use of capital punishment, and John Wesley’s failed marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

The indefatigable former Bishop Chimes in (Again) on the Anglican/Episcopal mess in South Carolina

From there:

It has been publicly announced that the Diocese of South Carolina will enter into mediation with The Episcopal Church (TEC) at the Federal Courthouse in Columbia November 6-8. All parties to the ongoing litigation in both the State and Federal courts have agreed to participate. Many understandably hope this will bring an end to years of litigation. What is an appropriate expectation of the outcome?

A word often used by the TEC bishop and legal counsel is “reconciliation”. While an attractive word to readers and pleasing to the ear, it creates false expectations. To be reconciled implies, by definition, coming back together. It requires one or both parties to repent of their past actions and positions. That is unreasonable in this case.

Neither the Diocese of S.C. nor TEC has shown any evidence of changing course on any of the issues that created the initial divisions years ago. The Diocese has moved on, becoming formally affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and TEC has continued with its own theological agenda. The two are not compatible and are, if anything, further apart than ever.

And nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

So what is a reasonable expectation? What might be sought, and could work, is a “settlement” that ends all the litigation and enables both dioceses to go their separate ways in peace. The Diocese of S.C. granted that grace from the beginning in 2012 to parishes wishing to remain with TEC. The 80% who chose to disassociate from TEC should be allowed to do the same. The two opposing dioceses share a common history in S.C. and a heritage each has some claim to. Perhaps there is a way to honor that reality outside the “winner takes all” setting of the courtroom.

The resources of both groups would be preferably spent on the work of ministry to which each feels called. A workable settlement would allow each to go its way in peace to pursue their separate callings. If that is the goal of the mediation, by both parties, then much good could come of it. Failing that, expect the litigation to continue.

[The] Rt. Rev. Dr. C. Fitzsimons Allison is 12th Bishop (ret.) of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Misery Filter

In America we have education for success, but no education for suffering. There is instead the filter, the well-meaning deception, that teaches neither religious hope nor stoicism, and when suffering arrives encourages group hysteria, private shame and a growing contagion of despair.

How to educate for suffering is a question for a different column. Here I’ll just stress its necessity: Because what cannot be cured must be endured, and how to endure is, even now, the hardest challenge every one of us will face.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A S Haley on a recent Roman Catholic Dean’s sermon on Marriage–Is It Man over God, or God over Man?

This is an outstanding homily on last Sunday’s Gospel reading recounting Jesus’ skill in handling the Pharisees and the Herodians who tried to entrap him on the payment of taxes to the government (Mt 22:15-22). The Very Rev. John Lankeit, dean of the Cathedral of Ss. Simon and Jude in Phoenix, Arizona, shows Christians how to use Jesus’ logic to refute the trick assumption behind the question: “Do you believe in…[same-sex] marriage?”

Read it all and listen to the whole homily.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Diocese of Melbourne) Please reject euthanasia: Church to Victorian Government

Melbourne Anglicans have pleaded with the Victorian Government not to legalise medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia just before the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed in the lower house of the State Parliament.

The church’s synod discussed the bill on 19 October at their annual synod at St Paul’s Cathedral as a few blocks away Victorian MPs debated the bill in State Parliament.

Medical ethicist Dr Denise Cooper-Clarke told the synod the bill’s proposed safeguards were inadequate, that it was inherently discriminatory, and that improved palliative care was a much safer and more compassionate way to address “bad deaths”.

She said the bill would fundamentally change attitudes to suicide at a time when the Government was trying to reduce youth suicide.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Must Not Miss Science Times Article–To Mend a Birth Defect, Surgeons Operate on the Patient Within the Patient

The patient, still inside his mother’s womb, came into focus on flat screens in a darkened operating room. Fingers, toes, the soles of his feet — all exquisite, all perfectly formed.

But not so his lower back. Smooth skin gave way to an opening that should not have been there, a bare oval exposing a white rim of bone and the nerves of the spinal cord.

“All right, it’s the real deal,” said Dr. Michael A. Belfort, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

The Church Times on the Anglican/Episcopal Conflict in South Carolina (III): Kendall Harmon’s letter to the editor

From here:

From Canon Kendall S. Harmon
Sir, — Thank you for your article about the sad South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal dispute (News, 6 October). While we hope for a peaceful settlement, we have grounds for being very cautious based on the past behaviour of Episcopal Church bishops and lawyers.

Specifically, in this instance, the current Provisional Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt Revd Gladstone “Skip” Adams, was formerly Bishop of Central New York. While he was bishop of that diocese, he got into a dispute with one of his parishes, the Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, New York. After the court ruled that the parish did not belong to the parishioners but the diocese, the parish offered $150,000 to buy back their own church from the diocese as a way forward for both sides. The diocese refused but ultimately sold the building to a worshipping community of Muslims for $50,000.

It was the late business and management guru Peter Drucker who said that “the best indicator of future performance is past performance.” Given what happened in Central New York with the same Episcopal Church leader, you can see why we in South Carolina are wary.

Please join us in praying for all involved.

KENDALL S. HARMON
Canon Theologian, Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Church Times on the Anglican/Episcopal Conflict in South Carolina (II)–The timeline accompanying the article

(This timeline is very slightly edited for the purposes of greater accuracy by yours truly. Where it occurs it is noted in italics–KSH).

Also from here:

SOUTH CAROLINA: A TIMELINE

1785

The Diocese of South Carolina is founded by the parishes of the former South Carolina colony.

1789

The Diocese becomes one of the nine founding dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the US.

2003-2006

Church leaders in the diocese begin to express disagreement over issues such as the ordination of partnered gay clerics, leading to the departure of some leaders. Eight dioceses pass resolutions requesting alternative primatial oversight.

2006

The diocesan convention of South Carolina elects the Very Revd Mark Lawrence as its Bishop, and while he does receive the endorsement of a majority of bishops in the Episcopal Church (TEC), he does not from the majority of Standing Committees, based on a technicality.

2008 After a second election, Mark Lawrence receives the required majority of both bishops and standing committees, having stated that he did not intend to break away (News, 9 August 2007).

2008-2009 The National Episcopal Church, without the knowledge or permission of the Diocese of South Carolina, retains the services of a lawyer to work on its behalf. The lawyer was a former chancellor of the Diocese of South Carolina.

2009

The Supreme Court of South Carolina (overturning a ruling from 2003) rules that the property and assets of All Saints’, Pawley’s Island, belong to the group that voted to leave TEC and join the Church of the Province of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission in America (News, 1 October 2009).

2010

April The Diocese of South Carolina declares that the Presiding Bishop of TEC, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, has no authority to retain lawyers in the diocese, and demands that she withdraw them (News, 8 April 2010).

September TEC accuses the Diocese of removing references to it from the official name of the churches and websites of more than half its 44 parishes. Bishop Lawrence denies the claims (News, 29 September).

October The diocesan convention agrees six resolutions, which, it says, will “protect” it from intrusions from the broader Episcopal Church (News, 27 October 2010).

2011

October TEC accuses Bishop Lawrence of filing amendments to the corporate charter of the Diocese’s non-profit corporation, deleting all references to the Episcopal Church and obedience to its constitution and canons. It also says that he had “done nothing to stop other parishes which are outwardly moving in the direction of withdrawal” from TEC (News, 14 October 2011).

November A disciplinary board for bishops of the Episcopal Church rules that Bishop Lawrence had not abandoned communion between TEC and his Diocese (News, 2 December 2011).

2012

October A second disciplinary panel is convened, and Bishop Lawrence has his ministry restricted by the Presiding Bishop, pending an investigation. The Diocese responds with a resolution threatening to “disaffiliate” from TEC, which is passed (News, 19 October 2012).

December The Presiding Bishop declares that Bishop Lawrence has been removed from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church, and calls a diocesan convention to elect a new bishop and standing committee for the continuing diocese, made up of 12 parishes and congregations who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church (23 November 2012).

2013

January A lawsuit is filed in the South Carolina Circuit Court against TEC by two corporations claiming to represent the Diocese of South Carolina and some of its parishes, seeking a declaratory judgment that they are the sole owners of the property, name, and seal of the Diocese. This includes 29 parish churches, valued at $500 million (News, 11 January 2013).

A judge issues a temporary restraining order preventing the new TEC diocese from using the name or symbols of the Diocese. It becomes the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) to comply.

The Rt Revd Charles G. vonRosenberg is elected Provisional Bishop and immediately invested by the Presiding Bishop. A new standing committee and diocesan council are elected.

March Bishop vonRosenberg files a complaint in the US District Court against Bishop Lawrence, citing violations of the Lanham Act, a US federal law prohibiting trademark infringement and false advertising. The suit, vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, states that Bishop Lawrence is engaging in false advertising by representing himself as bishop of the Diocese.

TEC also files its response to the breakaways’ lawsuit, saying that Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese have no authority over the assets or property of the diocese.

August More than 100 clerics are given notice of removal from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church by Bishop vonRosenberg, worded so that they can return in the future. (Three clerics have since returned.)

2014

A back and forth of appeals — to add four individuals, including Bishop Lawrence, to the breakaway lawsuit; and to include in the trial alleged correspondences before the suit between lawyers and parties. These are dismissed by Judge Diane S. Goodstein. She rules that the trial must begin on 8 July.

A 14-day trial is held in the Dorchester County Courthouse in St George, South Carolina, before Judge Goodstein (News, 8 August 2014).

2015

February Judge Goodstein rules in favour of the breakaway group, giving them the right to hold on to the name and property of the Diocese. The Episcopal Church appeals to the South Carolina Supreme Court (News, 13 February 2015).

March The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules in favour of Bishop vonRosenberg in the federal false-advertising lawsuit, sending vonRosenberg v. Lawrence back to the US District Court in Charleston for another hearing. A US district court declines to hear the vonRosenberg v. Lawrence case until the state case is resolved, however.

June The Episcopal Church [in South Carolina (ECSC)] claims to offer a settlement allowing the disputed parishes to keep their church properties if the Diocese and trustees relinquished their names, identities, and all assets. The Diocese says that the offer did not come with authority to bind all parties on the Episcopal Church side, however, and that the counsel for the national Episcopal Church did not sign the offer and provide the necessary proof of authority, as requested.

2016

Bishop vonRosenberg announces his retirement as Provisional Bishop. The Rt Revd Gladstone B. Adams III is elected and takes office in September.

2017

March The breakaway Diocese votes to join the Anglican Church in North America (News, 17 March).

August The South Carolina Supreme Court overturns portions of the ruling from 2015 stating that the diocese could keep church property and retain its name. It states that the Diocese must return the 29 parish churches, valued at $500 million, to the Episcopal Church (News, 18 August).

The federal case, vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, is assigned to US District Court Judge Richard Gergel, and scheduled to proceed to trial in March next year.

September Post-opinion motions are filed by the breakaway Diocese, seeking a rehearing and asking for recusal of one of the Supreme Court justices, Justice Kaye G. Hearn, for “bias and conflict of interest”. The Episcopal Church requests in its reply that the “wrong, rehashed, and untimely” post-motions are denied a re-hearing. The Diocese reaffirms its position in another reply. The court’s decision is pending.

October All three parties and their legal representatives meet Senior US District Judge Joseph F Anderson Jr. in Columbia SC to discuss dates and procedures for mediation among all parties in both the federal and state litigation. It is agreed that mediation will take place on 6 November for three days.

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

The Church Times on the Anglican/Episcopal Conflict in South Carolina (I)–The original Article

The Diocese left the Episcopal Church in 2012 after years of disagreements over issues including the ordination of openly gay clerics. The parties have since been entangled in a bitter dispute over the right of the congregations of the breakaway Diocese to retain their identity and property, including 29 parish churches valued at $500 million.

In August, the state’s Supreme Court overturned portions of a ruling from 2015 that the Diocese could keep church property, and retain its name. In February 2015, the Circuit Court Judge, Diane Goodstein, had ruled that the separated diocese had the right to leave, and rejected the Episcopal Church’s argument that it had legal interest in the diocese’s property (News, 13 February 2015).

The South Carolina Supreme Court said in a complex 77-page ruling that those parishes that had “acceded” to a canon law, known as the Dennis Canon — which states that a member diocese cannot voluntarily withdraw its membership of the Episcopal Church if its assets are “trusted” in the national body — did not have full rights to retain its property. Only the seven congregations which had not acceded were judged to have these retaining rights.

The Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina, the Revd Jim Lewis, explained on Monday: “Justices decided that, if a parish of the diocese had ever acceded to the governance of the Episcopal Church in written form, then that was considered good enough to qualify as having agreed to the Church having a trust interest in their property. We based our actions on the All Saints’, Pawley’s Island, case back in 2009, which established the precedent that the Dennis Canon did not have effect in the state of South Carolina.”

Read it all.

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

James Workman Chimes in on the Anglican/Episcopal Dispute and the Supreme Court in South Carolina

From there:

When a friend heard that the Episcopal Church is continuing a lawsuit over ownership of church real estate in the Diocese of South Carolina, knowing it could drive 20,000-plus Christians from their meeting places, that person said, “That’s just not Christian.”

I cannot disagree. Apart from the legal arguments, when a fair person weighs the biggest issues, it’s real estate versus unimpeded worship and ministry.

It is hard to see that the Episcopal Church is being Christian in this action.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Telegraph) Church of England to debate services for same-sex couples after bishop of Hereford backs diocese’s call

The Church of England will debate blessings for same-sex couples after a motion was passed by one diocese, with the support of the local bishop, calling for a formal liturgy.

The Bishop of Hereford, who spoke in favour of the change and voted for the motion, said he thinks clergy should be helped to carry out a more formal service with recently married gay couples.

Hereford’s diocesan synod has voted to support a motion calling on the House of Bishops to “commend an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Church of England publishes a Statement on mediation with survivor Gilo

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(NR) David French–It’s Past Time to Rethink Modern Sexual Morality

You can sum up the sexual ethic of the sexual revolutionary in one sentence: Except in the most extreme circumstances (such as incest), consenting adults define their own moral norms. One-night stands? Fine, so long as there’s consent. May/December relationships. Fantastic, so long as there’s consent. Workplace liaisons between boss and subordinate? No problem, with consent. Adultery? Yes, there are tears, but the heart wants what it wants.

The practical result of consent-focused morality is the sexualization of everything. With the line drawn at desire alone, there is no longer any space that’s sex-free. Work meetings or restaurants can be creative locations for steamy liaisons. Not even marriage or existing relationships stand as a firewall against potential hookups.

The problem, of course, is that people don’t walk around broadcasting their desires. We don’t have a flashing “yes” or “no” that hovers over our heads. So someone has to make the ask. Someone has to make the move. Consent is determined by the request, and in a completely sexualized culture, the request can come at any time, anywhere, and from any person you encounter — regardless of the power imbalance or the propriety of the location.

And for powerful people in particular, the ask so often has fruitful results — sometimes out of genuine desire, sometimes out of fear, and sometimes out of a sense of intimidated resignation — that the ask quickly blurs into expectation, and expectations can yield demands.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Prime Minister backs Church of England drive to eradicate modern slavery

The Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury have given their backing to the launch today of a project aimed at mobilising the Church of England’s 12,000 parishes in the battle to eradicate modern slavery.

Theresa May welcomed the Clewer Initiative, a three-year programme to help the Church of England’s 42 dioceses work to support victims of modern slavery and identify the signs of exploitation in their local communities.

The project was being launched today at Lambeth Palace at an event attended by representatives from Church of England dioceses and other denominations, along with MPs and charities involved in work to combat modern slavery.

In a statement of support for the launch, Mrs May said: “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. I value the work that the Clewer Initiative will be doing to enable the Church of England dioceses and wider church networks to develop strategies to tackle modem slavery.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Doubts Grow Over Archbishop Welby’s Account of When He Knew of Abuse at Iwerne Camps

The Anglican Church has been embroiled for most of this year in a scandal involving decades-old abuses that occurred in elite Christian holiday camps for boys where Justin Welby worked in his 20s, before eventually assuming his current post as the Most Rev. Archbishop of Canterbury.

The archbishop has said that he knew nothing of the abuse until 2013, when the police were informed about it, and he apologized in February for not having done more to investigate the claims further.

But now the grown men who were victims of the abuse as boys are coming forward to challenge the archbishop’s version of events, casting doubt on his claims of ignorance.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence