Monday, December 31, 2007

BabyBlue: The "Hammersten Hierarchy of Human Behavior" revisited

From BabyBlue Online:

Perhaps it is time to revisit The Hammersten Hierarchy of Human Behavior (or the "HHHB"). Created by a brilliant scientist in his spare time, it focuses on four reasons or tiers for why we do the things we do. And it works every time.

We do the things we do because we are:

#1. Lazy
#2. Stupid
#3. Evil
#4. Altruistic


Good to know that the #1 reason why people do what they do is because they are lazy and not because they are stupid.

But of course #1 reason we usually assume people do the things they are do (especially if we are upset about it) is because we think they are evil.

And the #1 reason we think we do the things we do is because we are altruistic.

We associate malevolent intentions by those we oppose and benevolent intentions by ourselves. Ah, but according to The HHHB, the #1 reason we do the things we do - we and our opponents - is because we are lazy. We didn't read the report. We missed the meeting. We watched football. We went to the Mall. We overslept. We weren't paying attention. We forgot to return the call. We didn't feel like it.

The #2 reason why people do the things they did is because they are stupid.

Yes, stupidity reigns. Surprised? Of course, we don't want to be the ones to say we are stupid - just them. But as Christians who are fallen it's apparent there is enough stupidity to go around. "I don't know," is a good example. Of course, it's hard to admit that, "I don't know," which makes us even stupider.

We can be foolish and we can be ignorant. In a global world where cultural blunders are simple to accomplish since we consistently wear cultural blinders, it's amazing we are not constantly at war because of our stupidity. Thank God for grace.

The third reason, according to The Hammersten Hierarchy of Human Behavior is because of malevolence - evil. It's often the first reason we jump to - especially in politics and religion. Those blasted Death Eaters. Evil does exist and how much of a percentage we want to attach to this third tier may either come from our experience or our mood - but often quite frankly, it's the #1 place we go to when our opponents are actually either lazy or stupid - how disappointing. Remember, Jesus understood this quite well, even as he was hanging on the cross, a moment of excruciating evil. But he looked upon those who had nailed him to the cross (and that would include us, for our sin put him there, didn't it?) and he said, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." The phrase they don't know what they are doing is a very kind way of saying we're stupid. That has got to infuriate the devil - to see an outpouring of mercy from the One whom he's worked hard to see hatred burst out. Oh it burst out, all right, right out of the tomb. Oops.

On the other hand, according to the HHHB - evil does really exist. It's not cartoon "evil" - it's the real deal, the full enchilada, and it makes it into the hierarchy. Closing our eyes and wishing it away is not going to do it. How much of a percentage we assign it's place in the hierarchy may have to do with our theology - or our mood - but it's #3.

So before we jump to #3 or think about pretending #3 doesn't exist, shall we give each other the benefit of the doubt and realize that whom ever may have wronged us are probably lazy or stupid. Not exactly a joyful thought, but one that's probably closer to the truth.

Of course, there is #4 - altruism. It's a place we all want to live, but very few actually do. It's the Land of Oz before the Wicked Witch of the West shows up. It's the place we all want to go to when we want to publicly shame others, we feign #4 for ourselves - don't we? But isn't #4 decided by others, and not ourselves? It's like humility - if we think we are humble, we are definitely not.You can read more on the "HHHB" here.

In the meantime, here's a little entertainment while we consider the news of the world . . .

Read it all.

A new Common Cause church

From the New Hope Anglican Church website:

Watertown Churchgoers Walk Away from 243-year-old Episcopal Parish, Start New Anglican Church

Watertown, CT, December 30, 2007 Members of Christ Church Parish today held their last service before leaving their church building forever to found a new Anglican congregation in town.

Parishioners along with the church's rector, Rev. Allyn Benedict, chose to walk away from Christ Church after a years-long disagreement with the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut. Rev. Benedict, one of the priests of the churches known as the Connecticut Six, will resign as rector, along with the entire vestry of the church, effective December 31.

"Making the decision to depart hasn't been easy for any of us," said Rev. Benedict. "Our church family has stood, witnessed and prayed together for several years before taking this step. Having 'counted the cost' of leaving, we are now paying the price as we go out, taking nothing with us. But Jesus is faithful, our heavenly Father is our provider, and the Holy Spirit has anointed us to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives. We have everything we need. We go out in new and living hope!"

Christ Church Parish has a 243-year history in Watertown. It was formed in 1764 by decree of King George III of England and helped establish The Episcopal Church, which, up until the present time, has been the American branch of the global Anglican Communion. However, TEC's unbiblical innovations contrary to the teaching of the Communion have lead to a break between TEC and many Anglican provinces, including a majority of the membership of the worldwide Anglican Communion; they also forced Christ Church's parishioners to break from the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut.

"For five years now, we engaged in the debate, took a stand, let our voices be heard, and tried to make a difference says Paul LePine, who as senior warden was the ranking lay member of Christ Church Parish. "At this stage, it appears that there is nothing more that this faithful little community can do to reform The Episcopal Church as an organization. So we have decided to surrender the fight and move on."

Many, if not all, of Christ Church''s parishioners and Rev. Benedict are forming New Hope Anglican Church in Watertown. The new church is part of The Common Cause Partnership, which is a federation of Anglican Christians in North America.

New Hope Anglican Church will hold worship services in the Anglican tradition beginning on Sunday, January 6, 2008 at the Thomaston Savings Bank, 565 Main Street, Watertown.

"We're excited to see what God has in mind for New Hope Anglican Church," offered Kevin Kallsen, senior warden of the new church. "The people here are committed to worshipping in the Anglican tradition and reaching out to the community with the good news of Jesus Christ.

For more information about New Hope Anglican Church, call 860-631-5170, visit http://www.newhopeanglican.org/index.cfm or e-mail bdonlon@newhopeanglican.org.

H/t to Transfigurations.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Life after deposition

From the Joyful Anglican, a repost first published in 2006, but very relevant still [boldface mine]:

On November 13, 2005 the people of South Riding Church voted to end their affiliation with ECUSA and to transfer to the Anglican Church of Uganda, Diocese of Ruwenzori.

On November 14, 2005, I submitted my letter of resignation to the Bishops of Virginia as missioner of South Riding Church, and submitted the faxed letter from the Bishop of Ruwenzori, the Right Rev. Benezeri Kisembo, dated November 13, 2005, receiving me into the Diocese of Ruwenzori.

As a courtesy to the Bishops of Virginia, I appeared at their request before the Standing Committee, and presented my case, for the record, on why the congregation and I found it necessary to leave ECUSA at that time.

The Standing Committee asked no questions whatsoever.


On December 20, 2005, the Bishop of ECUSA in Virginia notified me that he had received my letter of resignation as a voluntary renunciation of ministry under ECUSA Canon III.13. The Declaration of Removal stated, in the face of my reaffirmation of calling to the priesthood and my refusal to sign the statement of renunciation required by Canon III.13, that I was “released from the obligations of the ministerial office, deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of a Minister of the Episcopal Church conferred in ordination, and is removed from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church.” The Declaration, of course, was published to all the authorities—including the Recorder of Ordinations and the Church pension Fund, pursuant to the Canon.

As I read the anguish of my brothers and sisters still in ECUSA, seeking to be “enduring ECUSA”, and truly enduring the persecution of “innovating ECUSA”, I feel their pain. The facts I have just recited are a cold reminder of the fate that likely awaits many who can no longer endure the innovations; a fate which one “enduring” Bishop has characterized as the ecclesiastical equivalent of capital punishment.

More than that, if you have grown up all your life in the Episcopal Church as I had, it is the equivalent of what happens when in some cultures a person converts to Christianity. They are permanently banished from the family. A funeral is held. Their names are removed from the family records and they are never spoken of again.

It hurts.

With almost 100 years of uninterrupted service to ECUSA over three generations, my decision to leave was not taken unadvisedly or lightly, but deliberately, prayerfully, and casting my future—and the future of my family and my church—upon the mercy and grace of God.

I’m on the other side of the Red Sea now, and I want to write all of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing the same crossing I had to face almost a year ago... I want to say to you right now there is life beyond deposition! There is life, direction, purpose, a refining of our ability to put our whole trust in Christ, and a pillar of cloud and a fire by night to lead you on this side of the Red Sea! True, there are no leeks and onions. You will be at the mercy of God in terms of the resources you need. But isn’t his manna healthier for you and me than all the leeks and onions ECUSA could offer?

I am both grieved, and thankful, for the crystal clarity of GC2006 in regards to ECUSA’s determination to walk apart from the faith once delivered, and the majority of the Anglican Communion. While I believe that clarity was present in the aftermath of GC2003, now is not the time to cannibalize each other with differences over timing. Now is the time to grasp hands and help each other across the Red Sea by whatever means to the Promised Land God has for us. To that end, let me suggest three principles that ought to guide our discussions and our prayers as we help each other to the Promised Land . . .

Read it all.

Cranmer: Number three in "Eight for 2008"

My particular favorite is number three in this Eight for 2008 list from Cranmer (and as he states: "[Cranmer] would like to stress that these are not eight prophecies, or even eight likely occurrences, but merely eight wishes to make his 2008 somewhat more fulfilling than 2007 has been. He does not want to waste his wishes on the impossible – like world peace – so he shall restrict them to the highly improbable"):

3 The Church of England shall reassert itself as the spiritual heart and the moral voice of the nation once again, and its pews shall be filled to overflowing (Cranmer realises that this may demand a change in leadership, and so his desire is for the Most Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, to become Archbishop of Canterbury).

You can read all eight here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Episcopal Diocese of San Diego convention information

Here's info on the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego diocesan convention, to be held February 8-9 at St. Margaret's in Palm Desert.

Here's a direct link to the resolutions. Many of them seem to be house-keeping, although I haven't had a chance to really take a look. There are two that I'm particularly interested in: Resolution 08-07, which I helped put together and which my church vestry submitted (yea!), and Resolution 08-09, which has an extremely long proposers' list and requests the formation of a task force to study holiness in relationships.

Resolution 08-07 says:

Title: Resolution Regarding The Episcopal Church and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Proposed by: St. Michael's by-the-Sea Vestry

Whereas the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church by official action on January 12, 2006, formally affirmed the affiliation of the Episcopal Church in the United States with the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,” formerly known as the “Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights,” which is an organization which actively promotes abortion on demand for any reason for all nine months of pregnancy and

Whereas we believe the goals and principles of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) as stated on their Website conflict with biblical theology related to the sanctity of human life, and

Whereas the 75th General Convention of 2006 was denied the opportunity to make any vote concerning the continued membership of The Episcopal Church in the RCRC

Therefore be it Resolved that the 2008 Convention of the Diocese of San Diego (34th Annual Diocesan Convention) dissociates our Diocese from that action of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church which affirmed the affiliation of the Episcopal Church with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and from any participation in or support of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

EXPLANATION OF RESOLUTION:

In January, 2006, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church formally affiliated with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The Episcopal Church as a whole has never had the opportunity to vote on this affiliation. At our February 2006 convention, the Diocese of San Diego passed a resolution requesting that this affiliation be voted on at General Convention 2006 since membership in an organization which supports abortion affects TEC as a whole and each member by association.

All resolutions relating to RCRC membership died in committee and none were presented to General Convention for vote. In light of this, as well as published statements by the RCRC which contradict the Book of Common Prayer and General Convention resolutions regarding abortion, we would request that the Diocese of San Diego disassociate itself from the decision of the Executive Council to affiliate with the RCRC and also not participate in or support, financially or otherwise, the RCRC.

And Resolution 08-09 says:
Title: A Resolution Urging the Bishop to Form a Task Force to Study Holiness in Relationships and Blessings in Churches of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

Proposed By: Mr. Joe Ardizzone MSW, Ms. Trudy Ardizzone MSW (St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, De l Mar), The Rev. Dr. Mac Collins (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, City Heights), The Rev. Cathey Dowdle (Christ the King Episcopal Church, Alpine), The Rev. Canon Joan Butler Ford (St. Paul’s Cathedral), Mr. Jim Greer (St. Paul’s Cathedral), The Rev. Andrew Green (St. Paul-in-the-Desert, Palm Springs), The Rev. Canon Barnabas Hunt (St. Paul’s Cathedral), Ms. Carolyn Lief, The Rev. Richard Lief (St. Paul’s Cathedral), The Rev. Dr. Alex Nagy, The Rev. Nancy Nagy (St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, Borrego Springs), The Rev. Canon Andrew Rank (St. Paul’s Cathedral), The Very Rev. Scott Richardson (St.Paul’s Cathedral), The Rev. Michael Russell (All Soul’s Episcopal Church, Point Loma), Canon Christine Spalding (St. Paul’s Cathedral), The Rev. Canon Allisyn Thomas (St. Paul’s Cathedral), The Rev. Canon Gerald Walcutt (St. Paul’s Cathedral), The Chapter of St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Vestry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, City Heights.

Be It Resolved, that the Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego is urged to appoint a theologically diverse Task Force of clergy and lay people reflective of the Diocese, to study Holiness in Relationships and Blessings in Churches of this Diocese from the perspectives of holy scripture, church history and tradition; practical, pastoral and sacramental theology; and the movement of the Holy Spirit; and then prepare an academic paper on the subject to be presented to the 2009 Convention of the Diocese of San Diego, with additional recommendations as that Task Force might deem appropriate.

EXPLANATION OF RESOLUTION:

Whereas much of the conflict in the Episcopal Church concerns the issue of holiness in relationships, and

Whereas the Order for Marriage found in the Book of Common Prayer states that Christian marriage is between a man and a woman, and

Whereas, there are persons in the Episcopal Church (gay and lesbian, seniors and others constrained by financial concerns) who are in committed, monogamous relationships who wish to have their relationships blessed in the church by a clergy person, and

Whereas there are persons in the church, who because of their understanding of scripture and what constitutes a faithful life are opposed to such blessings occurring in the church, and

Whereas liturgical practices surrounding the blessing of unions are not consistent throughout the greater church, and

Whereas the House of Bishops in their September 25, 2007 response to “questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners,” noted that the 1998 Lambeth Conference called on provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a “listening process” designed to bring all Anglicans fully into the Church’s conversation about human sexuality and holy relationships, and

Whereas engaging in such a listening process is a fundamental step before engaging in any action on the matter.

AAC message from Bishop David Anderson

Via email [boldface mine]:

Beloved in Christ,

At this time of year one is prone to think back over the past year: reflecting on what has and hasn't happened, on what we did and didn't do, and how that can help shape our decisions for the next year.

Intrinsic to this is discussing it all with God and confessing the things done that shouldn't have been done, and those things undone that should have been done, and asking the Lord to forgive our feeble attempts at obedience. If we do not discuss our year's work with the Lord, it will not be truly Christian work or ministry.

This last year has been an epic battle within the Anglican Communion. A year ago the American Anglican Council was making preparations for our presence and ministry at the Dar es Salaam (DeS) Primates' Meeting that was held in February. At the last three Primates' Meetings the AAC has arranged to be nearby for news gathering, communication, document gathering and sharing, and the deployment of trained volunteers to assist with any requests for informational materials. The AAC is uniquely structured to put such teams in the field, drawing from our own domestic volunteers in the USA and also turning to missional partners globally to bring together a cross-cultural group that can analyze, report, counsel and advise as occasion arises. In DeS we also provided photos to news organizations on several continents.

Always there are high hopes that the right people would come together as leaders and do the right thing. Our default setting seems to be on HOPE, thinking that surely next time the powers at the top will actually do what a reasonable Anglican would pray that they do.

When the Panel of Reference (POR) was created, it could have done so much to prevent the rupture within the Communion, but they were given no funding, little encouragement, and sparse opportunity to meet and complete. Dr. Williams may have thought (and I shall for the moment give him the advantage of the doubt) that they could produce something useful when he set them up, or else WHY would he had done so?

Subsequent decisions by the Palace however, guaranteed the POR's inability to forcefully address the requests and problems because they were not resourced and not put under a time schedule to produce results - results that would be enforceable in some substantive way. A less optimistic view would be that Dr. Williams knew this all along and it was designed as yard art, to look like he was really trying but guaranteed to fail. Perhaps only Dr. Williams and God know which view, the optimistic or the other, is true. Someday all will know for certain, though by then it may not matter.

Dr. Williams came to believe that a mystical group called the "Windsor bishops" was the key to moving the Anglican Communion forward. He appeared willing to sacrifice the troubling revisionists and the most orthodox and go with a minimalist group which could find agreement in the Windsor Report (however interpreted and described). He forced through the DeS Primates' Meeting a Communique which had several dubious parts, including a belief that TEC might move toward the center if given encouragement. It gave TEC until September 30 to decide, a date which came and went. The AAC documented TEC's lack of compliance during that seven month period, and yet even with this documentation in hand, Dr. Williams could not bring himself to say forthrightly that TEC had failed the Communique test and would be disciplined. Truly, in Dr. Williams mind, the missionary rescues in the USA by overseas Provinces seem to be more objectionable than the issues behind such actions; in his view, "Border Crossings" are worse than pantheism, syncretism, Bible editing, and the homosexual agenda promoted by the revisionist TEC leadership.

Perhaps it is true that one definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expect a different outcome, but we do keep expecting someone to do the right thing. Although we had hoped that it would be Canterbury who would step forward as the "father in God" of the entire Communion, it is again the Primates connected to the Global South who, full of conviction and the truth of the Gospel, have courageously filled the leadership vacuum.

Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are inviting fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event in Jerusalem, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008. This GAFCON event, which was agreed upon at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi a few weeks ago, will give the orthodox Anglicans from around the world the opportunity to gather, to learn, to take counsel together and to go forward equipped to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to a world sitting in the shadow of unbelief. The gathering will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church's faith: thus this journey begins with a pilgrimage.

The first thing that springs to my mind is the planning necessary to accommodate all the people who will want to come. I remember the summer of 2003 when Canon David Roseberry and I had planned a small gathering of church leaders at his church near Dallas, to take place after the General Convention in Minneapolis and to be jointly hosted by Christ Church, Plano, and the American Anglican Council. As people heard of the gathering, more wanted to come, so we upped our estimated attendance several times. Finally, as a number of unfaithful and unholy decisions were made by the General Convention of TEC, the rallying cry of the orthodox became, "See you in Plano," and David Roseberry and I had to begin to think really big. Hurting people who wanted to be hopeful came, bishops, priests and deacons and laity came, over 2000 in all. Over 800 clergy were vested in the great procession in the Eucharist. A note of encouragement from Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict, was read by Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh. Plano became a term and Plano II and Plano West happened as people took the hope and enthusiasm back home to their areas. The relentless grinding down of the orthodox members by the Episcopal Church, the subsequent departures and planned departures, the law suits and litigation, the depositions and deceit of TEC have all taken their toll, and many of our faithful Anglicans in North America are hungry and hopeful.

Could Jerusalem 08 (GAFCON) be more than a simple gathering of the faithful? Might this meeting be on a global scale what Plano was in the USA: the crystallization of the future; the future taking form and substance in our midst, and bringing us forward into a reality shaped and formed by the Holy Spirit of God? What might God do with Jerusalem 08 and GAFCON?

Have a Holy New Year, and open your heart and soul for all the blessings that God has for you.

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President & CEO
American Anglican Council

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2008 Global Anglican Future Conference - A Pilgrimage to our Roots

So, does this announcement mean that I can take down my counter on the right marking the number of days since the Primates' September 30 deadline as stipulated in the Dar-Es-Salaam Communique? Is this the Primates' official answer to ECUSA's non-reply from the HOB meeting? I'm not sure, but I'll think about it.

Press release issued by Primates organizing the Global Anglican Future Conference:

Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.

The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith. The Holy Land is the planned venue. From 15-22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out, to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead.

At the meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), and Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishops Don Harvey (Canada), Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone), Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted by telephone. These leaders represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world.

Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables said “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people that we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”

The gathering set in motion a Global Anglican Future Conference: A Gospel of Power and Transformation. The vision, according to Archbishop Nzimbi is to inform and inspire invited leaders "to seek transformation in our own lives and help impact communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Bishops and their wives, clergy and laity, including the next generation of young leaders will attend GAFCON. The GAFCON website is www.gafcon.org. . .

Read it all and check out their website.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas, Dear Atheist (and Free Mark Steyn!, too)

From Albert Mohler:

Richard Dawkins appears quite comfortable with his status as the world's most influential apostle of atheism. He can rest his atheist laurels on the reputation of his best-selling book, The God Delusion, and his incessant advocacy of atheism in the media worldwide. To date, Professor Dawkins has demonstrated a take-no-prisoners approach to pressing his case, arguing that parents who inculcate religious beliefs within their own children are guilty of a form of child abuse.

And yet, it seems that Dawkins now wants to call himself a "cultural Christian." The BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] reports that Dawkins now wants the traditions of cultural Christianity and plans to sing Christmas carols this season "along with everybody else." Now, why would an atheist want to sing Christmas carols?. . .

Read it all.
H/t to The WebElf Report. And check out their new blog, Free Mark Steyn! As Binks says:
Why this blog? I’m defending Mr. Mark Steyn and his right to say stuff, not every single thought he ever had or wrote or said. Don’t know the guy, yet I’ve read (and enjoyed) the hateful and narrow-minded Islamophobical screed America Alone, and many other of his columns, comments, videos, and suchlike– and actually wrote to The Steyn himselfs on certain aspects of the AA book I disagreed with. No doubt he’ll address my concerns in an upcoming abjcct apology edition of the book, over which I demand complete editorial control, including the cover art, dedication, pagination, font, and paper-quality.

Our freedoms are under attack, and this is the thin edge of the wedge, and a foretaste of more and worse to come. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Just saying, that’s all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Bishop of San Joaquin writes the Presiding Bishop

From TitusOneNine:

Received via email:

Dear Bishop Schori,

Thank you for your letter of December 14, 2007 asking for clarification of my status. Much has happened in the past few weeks that have a bearing on that status. I am proud of the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Last year when the vote was taken to change the Constitution, that first vote was not only required by Canons but, in essence, was a "straw vote". Little was at stake, for truly no action had –or could– be taken.

This year the delegates to the Annual Convention came fully cognizant of what has taken place in Virginia and Southern California where litigation has been pursued vigorously against those who oppose the innovations of The Episcopal Church and who, consequently, have stood up for their faith and remain protective of the property they have built, purchased and maintained with no help either from The Episcopal Church on a national level nor –in most instances– from the local diocese either.

The people of The Diocese of San Joaquin came to the Convention fully aware that years of meetings with the leaders of The Episcopal Church have accomplished little or nothing.

They came fully aware, too, that at the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans this past September a last minute attempt to provide some semblance of oversight was proposed. The sad thing was that those most affected by the innovations of The Episcopal Church had no part in this proposal and to this very day have never seen what such a plan involves. It is true that the vote on Saturday December 8 protest, but it was much more than this. To understand December 8th's vote as a protest only would be to misunderstand the courage of the people within the Diocese of San Joaquin.


They were saying that no matter what the consequences, they take a stand for a clear reading of Scripture, the faith that The Episcopal Church first received - but from which it has departed - and for Catholic Order within the Anglican Communion. Truly, the vote was for their bishop and diocese to remain in the Anglican Communion with the fullness of the heritage we have received as a part of that worldwide body. Once again, it was much more than this.

It was an expression of profound gratitude to the Global South who have expressed support in many ways and more specifically to the Primate of the Southern Cone, his House of Bishops and their Provincial Synod for their understanding of our plight - along with that of many others within The Episcopal Church - and their willingness to offer a place of refuge.

Their offer, as you know, was conditional until such time as The Episcopal Church repents of those decisions and actions that have caused a rift in the wider Anglican Communion.

Furthermore, I understood the Convention's actions as a request that I provide episcopal oversight of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone of South America. Accepting such an invitation to be a part of the Southern Cone's House of Bishops may not necessarily define my relationship with The Episcopal Church particularly since this may only be a temporary arrangement. This is true in light of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter in which he proposes facilitated conversations not only between us but among others in the Anglican Communion.

The purpose of December 8th's vote, then, was not to change anything within the Diocese but quite to the contrary. With the status of The Episcopal Church's member-ship in the Anglican Communion looking more and more precarious, the people of San Joaquin simply wanted to remain what we have always been, namely Anglican.

On the very day your letter arrived asking for clarification, the Advent Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury was received. In it he pointed out clearly the distress in many parts of the Anglican Communion caused by the unilateral actions of The Episcopal Church.

In his own words he fully understands that "A scheme has been outlined for the pastoral care of those who do not accept the majority view in TEC, but the detail of any consultation or involvement with other provinces as to how this might best work remains to be filled out and what has been proposed does not so far seem to have commanded the full confidence of those most affected." He continues: "Furthermore, serious concerns remain about the risks of spiralling disputes before the secular courts, although the Dar- es-Salaam communique expressed profound disquietude on this matter, addressed to all parties."

Giving thought to the future, the Archbishop makes reference to the upcoming Lambeth Conference during which he trusts: "Whatever happens, we are bound to seek the fruitful ways of carrying forward liaison with provinces whose policies cause scandal or difficulty to others."

Ultimately, then, it is the Archbishop's proposal for a course of action in the months ahead that may affect my status. Since everything that the Diocese of San Joaquin has done, it has done with an eye toward remaining Anglican and in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his proposal should naturally take precedence.

As he says, "I wish to pursue some professionally facilitated conversations between the leadership of The Episcopal Church and those with whom they are most in dispute, internally and externally, to see if we can generate any better level of mutual understanding. Such meetings will not seek any predetermined outcome but will attempt to ease tensions and clarify options. They may also clarify ideas about the future pattern of liaison between TEC and other parts of the Communion. I have already identified resources and people who will assist in this."

Despite the dismal failure of meetings with the leadership of The Episcopal Church over the past two decades, I will remain open to the Archbishop's proposal and not close the door on anything that the Holy Spirit may accomplish through these efforts. It may well be that in these facilitated conversations my own status and even that of The Episcopal Church vis-à-vis its membership in the Anglican Communion will be clarified. This, then, is both my hope and my prayer.

Sincerely,

--(The Rt. Rev.) John-David Schofield is Bishop of San Joaquin

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shoe Thursday: Holiday edition III

J-41 Anchorage
And what, you may ask, do these shoes have to do with Christmas? Hardly festive or glitzy.

Well, these are the shoes I have worn the most in the past week as I dash from place to place to finish Christmas shopping (and shopping and shopping and . . .). Yes, we ordered most presents online this year, but there are still the little things that require footwork, and these J-41s are comfortable!

Anglican traditionalists plan summit summer 2008 pre-Lambeth

From George Conger [boldface mine]:

. . . Meeting in Nairobi last week, the Global South Steering Committee, under the presidency of the Primate of Nigeria Archbishop Peter Akinola, discussed plans for a gathering of bishops to be held weeks before the start of the 2008 Lambeth Conference at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

The meeting would not be a shadow Lambeth Conference, but would include traditionalists who may boycott Lambeth. Bishops from Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and other global south provinces are likely to sit out Lambeth 2008 due to Dr. Williams’ invitation to the liberal American bishops and his rejection of the African consecrated bishops to the US.

Dr. Williams has urged all of the Communion’s bishops to attend Lambeth. In an Advent letter released after the Global South Nairobi meeting concluded, he used his strongest language so far in making the case for all those invited to come. A refusal to attend Lambeth “can be a refusal of the cross - and so of the resurrection,” Dr. Williams said.

Plans for a Global South-led gathering of bishops have been in the works for over a year. However they have gained momentum in recent months as the pace of the disintegration of the Episcopal Church quickened, and as the perception that delay and obfuscation were all that could be expected from the central bodies of the Communion took hold among traditionalists.

Read it all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Getting paid to go to church

From Ruth Gledhill at the Times (U.K.):

Non-Christians are to be paid £30 a time to go to church under a new research programme to find out why more people do not practise the Christian faith.

The new “mystery worshipper” scheme will be modelled on the “mystery shopper” schemes used by researchers to guage the service offered by hotels, shops and other branches of the service industry.

The project could even result in a church “league table” where churches are ranked according to the percentage they score out of a possible total of 98 points.

While the intention is to keep this league table as a secret internal document, it would almost certainly be made public by someone who stood to benefit from the exposure, creating ecclesiastical parallels with schools and universities in the religious firmament. . .

Christian Research wants non-Christians to assess the churches because, in common with increasing numbers of church leaders, the organisation wishes to find out what does and does not work for the reluctant churchgoer. Christian Research is working with ShipofFools to promote the project.

According to the 2001 Census, more than seven in ten people in England consider themselves Christian. But a recent church census by Christian Research found that fewer than one in ten of the population actually go to church.

Benita Hewitt, executive director of Christian Research, who recently joined the organisation from a commercial research background, said: “I worked for many years with retailers and hotels where mystery shopping is quite natural. I am going to bring some of those research techniques into researching the Church.”

The non-church goers will be experienced mystery shoppers who are used to assessing the service offered by hotels, shops and restaurants.

The Telford pilot involved a range of denominations and styles of service from Anglo-Catholic to a service involving a “lot of people lying on the floor and being healed.”

The results had been “amazingly positive”, she said. . .

Read it all.

Rowan Williams: Three Wise Men are 'legend'

From Ruth Gledhill's blog, Articles of Faith:

. . . [A]ccording to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the fact that there were Three Wise Men is nothing but 'legend'. The Christmas cards which show the Virgin Mary cradling baby Jesus, with the shepherds on one side and the Three Wise Men on the other, are guilty of 'conflation', he said. Dr Williams was talking to Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 5. There was also lots about the 's' word.

By that of course I mean schism, not the other 's' word. And no they do not amount to the same thing. Unless by 's', you mean scripture of course. But I must resist the temptation to digress. Anyway, you can listen for yourself. Click on the Wednesday show. I recommend it, especially the first part, where he is being grilled by Ricky Gervais on whether it is really more illogical to believe in God than Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. . .

He also talked about his Advent letter, and how one of his main objects was to try to get as many bishops as possible to Lambeth. Between two-thirds and three-quarters, including many conservatives, have already accepted, he revealed. My own view of the Advent letter is here.

Read it all.

A Christmas Letter from Archbishop Orombi, Uganda

From here:

To: The Church of Christ
Overseas


Dear Brethren,

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord! Christmas is already on us yet it looks like not long ago we went through one.

Christmas message is of the God who is generous. He is not only generous but also mindful of his creation. He gave his only one son to come among us and experience our natural birth, life and death.

He was born in Bethlehem a small town of no significant yet historically important because it is known as the city of King David.

The heavenly king is born in the city of King David, what a royalty. I believe we have a picture in Christmas of a humble king born in a humble stable to show the humble nature of incarnation of the almighty God. This is the picture of the God who loves his people whom he treasures and sought to become part of—God with us (Emmanuel).

We can now see the dawn of the light of God coming onto the darkness of human misery. Once we were in darkness of hopelessness but now we have hope because the Saviour has come to identify with us.

In a world where so much has gone wrong—wars, floods, earthquakes, injustice, greed, abortion, prostitutions, broken families, the birth of Jesus bring new hope. It shows a new understanding of the love of God.

God was not afraid to come and face the brokenness of humanity but was willing to be part of it. He shares in our pain, confusion and lost-ness. We can never forget the price he paid.

This great sacrifice is what speaks to us in Uganda as we witness transformation taking place in a family suffering with A HIV/ADS positive family members. A mother whose child has died of malaria, a family who has lost a home due to the floods, a family starting again after many years in the camp. All look to a God who understands the pain and suffering of humanity by personally getting involved.

As this is a season of celebration may the Lord fill you with a lot of joy and peace! May you experience his love afresh as you celebrate this Season! May the New Year bring hope and Prosperity!

We remain together in the spirit of togetherness as we serve him. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” Luke 4:14

Have a wonderful Christmas!

In His Service,

+ Henry Orombi (signature)

The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.

H/t to Holy Trinity Anglican Church, South Haven, Michigan.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dark fire

This came to mind when writing the post below on abortion as a moral choice. From C.S. Lewis in Screwtape Proposes a Toast:

All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by 'religion' ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.

Common Cause Partnership: Timeline and Issues

From the Common Cause Partnership website:

This following two came out of the September 25-28 Council of Bishops.

Timeline
  1. College of Bishops organized: September, 2007

  2. Theological Statement and Articles ratified by all Partners

  3. CCP Leadership Council 1 (Article 4): week of December 3 or January 6

  4. a .Organizing meeting
    b. Leadership elected
    c. Communications office created (Article 6)
    d.Committees named:
    i. Executive (Article 4)
    ii. Admissions (Article 5)
    iii. Mission (Article 7)
    iv. Education (Article 8)
    e. Additional task forces created:
    i. Prayer Book task force
    ii. Episcopate task force
    iii. Budget adopted
  5. Province by province visitation and appeal for recognition of the "separate ecclesiastical structure in North America"

  6. CCP Leadership Council 2: Advent, 2008

  7. a. Reports and adoption of work from committees and task forces
  8. Constitutional convention for an Anglican union held at the earliest possible date agreeable to all the Partners

Issues for the Lead Bishops' Roundtable
Within the stated timeline, we intend to address the following items:
  • How we can best exercise our episcopate in common.

  • A Rule of Life for bishops.

  • The ways and means of a mutual review of candidates for bishop before consecration.

  • Common worship.

  • Stating and maintaining a common Anglican ethos.

  • How we will live together with bishops and congregations and dioceses that do ordain women and others that do not ordain women, affirming that we will not violate anyone's conscience on this matter.

  • The relation of clergy and congregations to bishops. Will our dioceses be rigidly fixed or flexible, allowing for affinity-based arrangements?

  • The shape and nature of our common episcopal oversight. Will it be conciliar as it was in the early church and as it is maintained in some parts of the Orthodox churches and as it is reflected in some aspects of the Anglican Communion? Will it follow a more hierarchical model? Or will it be modeled after the Western institutional structures, such as the federation model, with which we have been familiar in The Episcopal Church?

  • Exploring ways to form a leadership "pipeline" from congregational life onward that will lead candidates to offer themselves for ministry, including ordination, in an expanding, mission-minded Church.

  • Exploring resources for the bishops' care for clergy and their families, including burned-out clergy and clergy families in trouble.

  • Exploring with the seminaries of the Church how they can best serve us and how we can support them in our new mission context.

  • Exploring a Common Cause electronic newsletter, with the intention of incorporating the various newsletters of the Partnership members.

  • Exploring the standards, spiritual and moral, of ordained and lay leaders.

  • Consistent with resolutions of Lambeth Conference, seeking to draw continuing churches, not members of the Common Cause Partnership, into fellowship.

  • Opening ecumenical dialogues.

Common Cause Partners build for new Anglican future

From here:

The first meeting of the Common Cause Leadership Council created the structure necessary for building a federation of orthodox Anglicans in North America. Three delegates from each of the ten Common Cause partners gathered in Orlando, Florida December 17-18. The Council unanimously elected Bishop Bob Duncan as Moderator. Delegates also elected Canon Charlie Masters of Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) as General Secretary and Mrs. Patience Oruh of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) as Treasurer. The Leadership Council recognized the ratification of a statement of theology and formed the committees called for by the Common Cause articles of confederation adopted in September 2007. A communiqué from the Common Cause Leadership Council can be found below.

-------------------------------------

Communiqué
We, the gathered bishops, priests and lay representatives of the Anglican bodies federated in Common Cause held the first annual meeting as the newly formed Common Cause Leadership Council of the Common Cause Partnership on December 18th, 2007, in Orlando, Florida.

We created the structure called for in the Articles of Federation now adopted by nine of our partners. We elected officers of the Federation and formed an executive committee, as well as other committees and task forces. We have also begun work to harmonize and strengthen our common call to Christian education and mission. We expect these committees and task forces to begin work early in the New Year. We are beginning to explore the expanding possibilities for ecumenical contact with fellow Christians in North America and around the world.

Our actions today dramatically reversed the fragmentation and separation of the past. We stand committed to the "faith once delivered to the saints" as expressed in our now ratified theological statement. The Common Cause Partnership is united in faith with the vast majority of members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. We are especially grateful for the support and recognition given to us by the provinces of the Global South that have encouraged us to come together in common cause for the Gospel. We are particularly thankful for the presence with us of Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, the recently retired primate of the Province of Southeast Asia and one of the earliest supporters of the rebirth of orthodox Anglicanism in North America, representing the Anglican Coalition in Canada.

Each Common Cause Partner will continue to live out its unique role, maintaining its distinctive ministry and character, noting the provision of the Articles of Federation that "the autonomy of the individual Jurisdictions and Ministries, and their constituent bodies, is in no way restricted or superseded by membership." In the months and years ahead we anticipate a growing number of joint mission initiatives that will strengthen our witness as united and faithful Anglicans in North America. "So in Christ, we who are many, form one body..." (Rom. 12:5). To God be the Glory.

And here's the new Common Cause Partnership website.

From the Anglican Communion Network: “Separate structure” next week [Updated]

Update: From the Rev. Bill Thompson, dean of the Western Convocation of the ACN in the Stand Firm comments [boldface mine]:

. . . All this meeting ever was to be was the next step (after the CC bishops met in September) in forming the “separate ecclesiastical structure” that was in the ACN release from Daryl Fenton. This is going to be the next step forward, the concrete beginning of the formation of such a structure. Being declared a province is a ways off, but that does not mean that the CCP aren’t working hard to build the foundation for that future province. We are seeing it before eyes.

Also I would be the most surprised guy on the planet if the ACI communication is having any effect one way or the other on any of the discussion at this meeting in Orlando.

Also, while there are always going to be some friction as so many groups seek to work together, from where I sit I see some challenges, but I don’t see the splintering that others seem to think exists. Patience is the byword here. By itself the fact that this meeting is taking place is very good news. God is working in this.

Original: From the Anglican Communion Network website:
The next major milestone in the development of Common Cause is next week, when the Common Cause Leadership Council gathers in Orlando, Florida on December 18 for its inaugural meeting. The Council comprises the head bishop, a clergy representative, and a lay representative from each Partner. This body represents Common Cause in all its fullness, and has the authority to do the work of the Partnership.

This is the organizing meeting of Common Cause, at which the assembly will elect its first officers and establish its initial committees and task forces. As such, December 18, 2007 will mark the formal beginning of a “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America. Following this meeting, Common Cause will be in a place to seek official recognition from the Primates of our Communion.

Read it all.

A Child of the Snows


There is heard a hymn when the panes are dim,
And never before or again,
When the nights are strong with a darkness long,
And the dark is alive with rain.

Never we know but in sleet and in snow,
The place where the great fires are,
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth
And the heart of the earth a star.

And at night we win to the ancient inn
Where the child in the frost is furled,
We follow the feet where all souls meet
At the inn at the end of the world.

The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
For the flame of the sun is flown,
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
And a Child comes forth alone.

G.K. Chesterton
(1874 - 1936)

Abortion as a (im)moral choice [Updated]

UPDATE: While Hosea6:6 (see below) offers the one of the best intellectual comments against abortion, Paula Loughlin presents the best reason (spiritual, emotional, and grounded in the realities of what a girl might face) to actively speak out against those who present abortion as a viable alternative condoned by the church:

Right now there is a girl who considers herself a Christian. She attends church, she believes the Bible and recites the creeds with all sincerity. She may even be active in her youth group and trys her best to witness the love of Christ to all.

But she like so many of us thought she was ready to have sex. Maybe she is planning on marrying the boy. Maybe she fell victime to a moment of temptation. It might have happened once or many times. But she had sex and she is now pregnant.

The church she attends does not talk much about sex or pregnancy or birth or abortion. The pastor and youth leaders trust the half hour of Sunday school and the hour of Tuesday night youth group have given the girl and others all they need to make a good moral decision. They let it be known that sex should be saved for marriage but that pretty much all they let be known.

Now she is pregnant. She prays and prays about what to do. Because she does want to live her life as a Christian she decides to find out what churches teach about abortion. Whether it can ever be a moral choice which not only is not wrong but will glorify God and bring her closer to Him. If she belongs to any mainstream Protestant denomination she will soon find that abortion though viewed as a imperfect choice remains a valid one in any number of circumstances. The circumstances range from being a threat to the life and health of the mother or needing to complete one’s education. Still the girl has doubts but decides to speak with someone at a local abortion clinic. There she meets with a spiritual counselor. A clergy man or woman who is a from the very same denomination as the girl. Told all the Christian reasons why an abortion is the best choice for her she makes the appointment.

Then the feet in the stirrups, the pinch of the needle, the numbness, the sound of the vacuum, the tugging and cramping and the invasion. That awful invasion. A glass of juice, a rest, a prescription and an aftercare sheet. No baths, no douche, no sex. Call 911 if you start bleeding heavily. Have a friend drive you home.

It is only then she discovers that the church she trusted to lead her into Truth, has lied. That the serpent has left the garden and is in the rectory.

Original Post: From an ordained cleric writing for RH Reality Check (via Stand Firm) [boldface mine]:
. . . At another point, a few years later, I did have an abortion. I was a single mother, working and pursuing a path to ordination in the Episcopal Church. The potential father was not someone I would have married; he would have been no better a candidate for fatherhood than my daughter's absent father. The timing was wrong, the man was wrong, and I easily, though not happily, made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

I have not the slightest regret about either of these decisions, nor the slightest guilt. I felt sorrow and loss at the time of my abortion, but less so than when I'd miscarried some years earlier. Both of my choices, I believe, were right for me and my circumstances: morally correct in their context, practical, and fruitful in their outcomes.

That is, both choices were choices for life: in the first instance, I chose for the life of the unborn child; in the second, I chose for my own vocational life, my economic stability, and my mental and emotional health and wholeness.

Shortly after my ordination to the priesthood, I was asked to speak at the National Abortion Federation's annual meeting, on a Clergy Panel, with the theme of "Abortion as a Moral Choice." I wondered skeptically who would attend such a panel, but to my surprise, the room was packed with people - abortion providers and other clinic workers. Our audience was so eager and grateful to hear their work affirmed, to hear religious authorities assuring them that God was on their side! I understood that I had a responsibility, indeed, a call, as a pro-choice religious professional, to speak out and to advocate publicly for women's reproductive rights and health, and I have tried to be faithful to that call.

To talk theologically about women's right to choose is to talk about justice, equality, health and wholeness, and respect for the full humanity and autonomy of every woman. Typically, as moral theologians, we discuss the value of potential life (the fetus) as against the value of lived life - the mature and relational life of a woman deciding her capacity to continue or terminate a pregnancy. And we believe that, in general, the value of that actual life outweighs the value of the potential. . .

The author of this piece is associated with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) (and no, I'm not linking to their site). Having read through the RCRC website, I know that they do promote the idea that deciding to abort one's child is blessed by God. And in one of their justification papers, the author describes having an abortion as "self-defense" for a woman.

I think the best comment at Stand Firm is from Hosea6:6 [boldface mine]:
Let me get this straight, the author made a free will decision to engage in sexual activity with a man who she was not married, did not plan to marry and was not a good candidate to be a good husband or father, as a result from this evening’s “entertainment” was an undesired new life with unique DNA, an unintended externality.

Individual Rights - Since this new life, a daughter, has unique DNA, it is not a part of the woman’s body. Since this is a developmental stage of reproduction of humanity, it is incorrect to claim the same status as virus or other pathogen with unique DNA. The desirability has no impact on the right, as loathsome speech is still protected. Therefore this mothers choice violated her daughters right to be born as she had been and every other adult was given the chance.

Distributive Justice—If mom had been given life the daughter should be given life.

Utilitarian—Utility must be on the whole good not the good of a specific individual. While the mother and father certainly benefit from the mothers decision to forgo any responsibility of killing the child and rationalizes using a utility argument, she abuses the theory for the utility of the good of the daughter is not counted, neither of the benefit to society this life could contribute or the happiness of her future husband or the contribution of grandchildren after but purely focuses on the mother’s tangible prosperity which is an improper use of this theory.

Hmmm ... her moral choice seems to fail by three secular theories, in fact two outright make claim for her action to be an immoral action.

I think this author needs a good Catholic school education (where I was taught logical ethics to a level that seems more emphasized then my Protestant schooled friends), for theological heritage of thinking about ethics and moral goods. I was reminded by of this a weekend ago listening to a Catholic lawyer go through result of unintended evil by a good act (thus mitigating the former) or the good resulting from an evil act (thus negating the former), but this is evil result from an evil act.

----

Pure Christan ethics are much simpler and she still fails Thy shall not murder.

Also that bit forbidding of sacrificing a child to the god of prosperity (which is actually what this is at it’s root, child sacrifice for the offering of prosperity - I bet this priest never thought of it that way but her own words in this article betray her to prove that’s exactly what she did and thought, but a new nifty name mane child sacrifice acceptable).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Five Talents International announces new microcredit program in Sudan

Somehow I missed this story from the Anglican Communion Network in November on the Five Talents Ministry, something Bishop Martyn Minns talked about in my interview with him for AnglicanTV and where he serves as Chairman Emeritus.

Vienna, Virginia — Five Talents International announced today it will be funding an innovative microcredit program in southern Sudan, an area that is transitioning from the ravages of more than 20 years of war. Almost three years after a peace agreement, hundreds of thousands are still internally displaced and others who have found a home are looking to rebuild their shattered lives.

Working with a consortium of partners including the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Five Talents will be assisting a village banking project in Wau Diocese, which was started in September 2005, and currently has 270 members. This is one of the first projects of this type in southern Sudan.

“We have a Christian imperative to reach those who are living in extreme conditions,” said Craig Cole, executive director of Five Talents International. “Life must get better for those affected by generations of war. Creating jobs is one way to transform these communities.”

The services provided through this project will include adult education (beginning with literacy training), local savings mobilization, business development training, Biblical values in the marketplace training, small business development investing and rural microcredit provision.

“This program starts by teaching fundamentals and, over time, members build on those fundamentals and are able to support their families through businesses,” said Suzanne Schultz, Five Talents International Director of Program.

Five Talents’ invitation to participate in this consortium, which includes World Concern, World Relief, Economic Projects Trust Fund of the Navigators, Stromme Foundation and Integra Foundation, was based on Five Talents’ experience and knowledge in working with church leaders, ability to increase capacity within these types of projects, and experience with business-skills curriculum relevant to beginning entrepreneurs.

“Because of the turmoil, many organizations are not working on the foundations for long-term development,” Cole said. “We are one of a few organizations attempting to rebuild the economy and communities’ ability to be self sufficient.”

Five Talents hopes this program will be a model that can be expanded and replicated into other parts of the Wau Diocese and across Sudan, if funding is found. . .

Read it all.

How I got my groove back: Holiday edition II

Okay, it's not Thursday yet and I still haven't "caught up" from Thanksgiving, but I love shoes again! Thanks to the Manolo (but of course!)
Dolce & Gabbana Golden Peep Toe Pump

Manolo says, here are the beautiful Dolce and the Gabbana golden peep toe pumps, perfect for the most festive of holiday events not involving Santa-intoxicated children and mountains of tattered wrapping paper.

Not that I will ever wear these, but just looking at them is enough for now. Merry Christmas!

Brad Drell comments on ++Canterbury's Advent Letter

From Drell's Descants:

Speak softly and carry a big stick. That is what a battle hardened U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, said, based, not surprisingly, on an African proverb that adds the phrase “and you will go far.”

Our dear Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, would have done well to learn from this proverb. He indeed speaks softly, but has no big stick. . .

+Rowan then continues to stand on where he is on Lambeth invitations - no “border crossers” and no Bishop Robinson. If only he would exclude those who voted for Robinson’s consecration or maybe just those who participated in it, and have not recanted (aka Bishop Wolfe), then this might actually be balanced and mean something. Perhaps he could rescind the invitation of bishops who have permitted same sex blessings post Windsor, like our own Presiding Bishop and Bishop Bruno. As it stands, +Rowan’s handling the invitations punishes conservatives who have violated the Windsor Report far more than liberals. But, time may tell. If Bishop Schofield’s invitation is not rescinded, that might mean something.

Unlike most conservatives, I welcome the facilitated conversations of which +Rowan speaks. Why? Because I already know the result, as the liberals will finally be seen by Canterbury to be as unreasonable and unrelenting as they are. +Rowan is frankly looking for any solution, let alone a reasonable solution, to the problems that confront the Communion. What he has to come to finally realize is that the left will give him no chance of a reasonable solution. He has already stated (allegedly) that the Southern Cone programme is reasonable under the circumstances. When the TEC left rejects every single option for amicable settlement, he’ll know where he stands.

What I find disquieting is that we have to have yet another meeting to determine what is to be done with TEC. God so loved the world that He sent his Son, and not yet another committee. . .

Read it all.

Hitting the 500-year wall

From Terry Mattingly [boldface mine]:

Every half a millennium or so, waves of change rock Christianity until they cause the kind of earthquake that forces historians to start using capital letters.

"What happened before the Great Reformation, we all know," said Phyllis Tickle, author of "God Talk in America" and two dozen books on faith and culture. "We know, for instance, that some sucker sailed west and west and west and didn't fall off the dad gum thing. That was a serious blow."

So Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and then a flat, neatly stacked universe flipped upside down. Soon, people were talking about nation states, the decline of landed gentry, the rise of a middle class and the invention of a printing press with movable type. Toss in a monk named Martin Luther and you're talking Reformation -- with a big "R" -- followed by a Counter-Reformation.

Back up 500 years to 1054 and you have the Great Schism that separated Rome and from Eastern Orthodoxy. Back up another 500 years or so and you find the Fall of the Roman Empire. The transformative events of the first century A.D. speak for themselves.

Church leaders who can do the math should be looking over their shoulders about now, argued Tickle, speaking to clergy, educators and lay leaders at the recent National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta.

After all, seismic changes have been rolling through Western culture for a century or more -- from Charles Darwin to the World Wide Web and all points in between. The result is a whirlwind of spiritual trends and blends, with churches splintering into a dizzying variety of networks and affinity groups to create what scholars call the post-denominational age.

Tickle is ready to call this the "Great Emergence," with a tip of her hat to the edgy flocks in the postmodern "emerging church movement."

"Emerging or emergent Christianity is the new form of Christianity that will serve the whole of the Great Emergence in the same way that Protestantism served the Great Reformation," she said, in a speech that mixed doses of academic content with the wit of a proud Episcopalian from the deeply Southern culture of Western Tennessee.

However, anyone who studies history knows that the birth of something new doesn't mean the death of older forms of faith. The Vatican didn't disappear after the Protestant Reformation.

This kind of revolution, said Tickle, doesn't mean "any one of those forms of earlier Christianity ever ceases to be. It simply means that every time we have one of these great upheavals ... whatever was the dominant form of Christianity loses its pride of place and gives way to something new. What's giving way, right now, is Protestantism as you and I have always known it.". . .

The truly "emerging churches" are the ones that are opening their doors at the heart of this changing matrix, she said. Their leaders are determined not to be sucked into what they call "inherited church" life and the institutional ties that bind. They are willing to shed dogma and rethink doctrine, in an attempt to tell the Christian story in a new way.

"These emergent folks are enthusiastically steering toward the middle and embracing the whole post-denominational world," said Tickle. "We could end up with something like a new form of Pan-Protestantism. ... It's all kind of exciting and scary at the same time, but we can take some comfort in knowing that Christianity has been through this before."

Interesting thoughts, but I see it rather that the split that happened 500 years ago is dissolving. In many ways, the Protestant experiment has failed, as evidenced by the decline in the mainline Protestant churches. That the "Vatican didn't disappear after the Protestant Reformation" doesn't give the whole story--the Vatican did not become truncated and dying--the Roman Catholic Church is growing in ways the mainlines are not.

And it's said above that "The truly 'emerging churches' are the ones that are opening their doors at the heart of this changing matrix. . .Their leaders are determined not to be sucked into what they call "inherited church" life and the institutional ties that bind. They are willing to shed dogma and rethink doctrine, in an attempt to tell the Christian story in a new way." To me, that sounds a lot like what has been going on in ECUSA although I know it's meant here to refer to the emerging church movement. But, read it all and see what you think.

H/t to achievable ends.

A Church in Conflict – Update – An allegation of manipulating the vote

From El Bohemio:

SAN FRANCISCO (EBN). The Episcopal Church U.S.A. (ECUSA) on Friday, December 14, 2007 released a posting through Episcopal Life Online that may indicate the direction Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori will take in dealing with the breakaway Diocese of San Joaquin and its leader, Bishop John-David Schofield. . .

The posting goes on to say that a “lawsuit would be filed against the departed leadership and a representative sample of departing congregations if they ...attempted to retain Episcopal Church property”.

The actions, while harsh, are consistent with ECUSA’s view that individuals may leave the church but neither congregations nor dioceses have that same right. The desired effect is that churches and diocesan property, much of it acquired with locally raised funds, end up in the hands of ECUSA.

Bishop Schofield’s view, in part, is that the Diocese, with all of its buildings and churches, predates its affiliation with ECUSA and hence it is free to leave with what it brought to a voluntary affiliation. . .

While the secular press has made much of the issues involving homosexuality, in effect reducing the battle to a dispute over “gay marriage”, the rumblings coming from San Joaquin and other orthodox dioceses in ECUSA reflect grave concerns as to how the foundational doctrines of the church may be being changed. Some clergy wonder openly, if the present trend continues, whether belief in Christ will even be viewed as the path to salvation in a future and evolving ECUSA.

In response to these changes in the church, Bishop Schofield has led his diocese toward secession through two successive annual elections. In both, the delegates overwhelmingly voted to leave ECUSA.

The last vote, which took place on December 8, 2007, finalized the secession and provided for the affiliation of the Diocese of San Joaquin with the Province of the Southern Cone which Bishop Schofield finds is more in keeping with the orthodoxy of his Diocese and with the traditional values of the Anglican Communion. The Province of the Southern Cone is headed by Archbishop Gregory Venables and encompasses the southern end of South America.

Both sides anticipated what was largely viewed as an inevitability and both had readied themselves for what each knew would be an ugly fight. In what may ultimately be called the Battle of the San Joaquin, the Diocese fired the first shot during the vote for secession on Saturday. By Monday, December 10, 2007, ECUSA responded with a volley of its own via its in-house press organization, the Episcopal News Service (ENS).

In an ENS bulletin entitled “Archbishop did not endorse Southern Cone’s invitation to San Joaquin, Anglican Communion spokesman says”, Reverend Mary Schjonberg wrote: “During the days leading up to the convention’s vote, San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield implied that Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury) approved of the Southern Cone plan” and further, quoted Bishop Schofield as having said “‘According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a ‘sensible way forward.’”

The Schjonberg article goes on to state that Canterbury never endorsed such a plan leaving the reader with the impression that Bishop Schofield might have released false information in order to influence the delegates’ votes in favor of secession. A closer inspection of the facts, however, does not support such a damning implication and clearly vindicates Bishop Schofield.

The statement attributed to Bishop Schofield (“According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a ‘sensible way forward’”) is not something the Bishop invented. Rather it echoes a London Times article of November 9, 2007 by Ruth Gledhill, the Times Religion Correspondent.

When I asked Canon Jim Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion Press Office about the Times article and about Dr. Williams’ position as laid out in the ENS article, he responded in a tersely worded statement that “There is no endorsement from Dr Williams on the matter. Bishop Venables is keenly aware of this as well.” Canon Rosenthal did not, however, respond to the substance of the Times article or address the issue of possible informal discussions having taken place between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone regarding the problems of the Episcopal Church and its dissident orthodox dioceses.

Archbishop Venables, responding to a question from El Bohemio News as to whether he had discussed the issue of alternative oversight with Dr. Williams, released the following statement through the press office at the Diocese of San Joaquin: “We neither sought nor claimed the endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We [Abp Venables] did however share our plans with him and would not have wished to proceed without doing so.” It would be hard to believe that this “sharing” of plans did not include some attempt on the part of both Dr. Williams and Archbishop Venables to resolve the crisis in the best way possible.

Moreover, the Schjonberg article states further that “in a November 27, 2007 letter to a Diocese of Fort Worth delegate who had asked for verification of similar assertions (about alternative oversight via affiliation with other provinces), the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Anglican Communion secretary general, (said) ‘I would be surprised to hear that the Archbishop (of Canterbury) would formally support such a development which is contrary to the Windsor Report.’” (emphasis added)

In spite of the denial, the mere addition of the word “formally” as a qualifier seems to leave the door open that some sort of informal discussion and possible accommodation had been reached at the highest levels in the Anglican Communion. Indeed, such was intimated to me by a party that wishes to remain anonymous given the sensitivity of the issue.

The existence of the London Times article and the statement of Archbishop Venables clearly vindicate Bishop Schofield’s position. Whatever else may be taking place in Canterbury as the Anglican Communion struggles with this crisis will probably remain a matter of speculation. One thing though is certain: the Battle of the San Joaquin will continue until one side or the other prevails or until someone intercedes.

As to the tone of the ENS article authored by Reverend Schjonberg, El Bohemio News asked the ECUSA press relations office if Episcopal Life Online and other such “news” sources were in fact “official publications of the church and ... representative of the church’s position.” The ECUSA press office responded in the affirmative in effect admitting that there is less “news” in the journalistic sense in such articles than there is advocacy for the church’s position.

Read it all.

Stand Firm Exclusive: Bishop Iker calls Schori’s claims of offering to “engage in dialogue” false

From Greg Griffith at Stand Firm:

. . . Having observed the actions and statements of Presiding Bishop Schori on one side, and Bishops Schofield, Ackerman, Duncan and Iker on the other, I was surprised to read that "repeated offers" had "not yet been seriously engaged," so I contacted Bishop Iker and asked him about the Presiding bishop's statement. . .

Read it all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Communion is 'gift of God,' Canterbury tells Primates in Advent Letter" [Updated]

UPDATE: Take a look at BabyBlue's analysis, Kendall Harmon's first reaction, and, of course, Christopher Johnson's "take". I can only end with Christopher's final paragraph:

One fervently prays that the conservative provinces will follow through on their threats to boycott Lambeth if the Americans show up and that the conservative dioceses in the US and Canada will join them. Because some of us lifelong Anglicans are just about done with this ridiculous excuse for a Christian tradition.

And for me, the scariest phrase in the entire letter is "professionally facilitated conversations."

Original Post:
From EpiscopalLife Online [boldface mine]:
Calling the Anglican Communion "a gift of God" and describing it as "a voluntary association of provinces and dioceses," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written to the Primates and Moderators reflecting on their responses to the Joint Standing Committee's analysis of the New Orleans statement from the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops.

In his much-anticipated Advent Letter, released December 14, Williams addresses concerns about the escalation of interventions from Anglican leaders into the affairs and common life of other provinces and offers proposals for the next steps in the lead up to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

Williams vowed to pursue "professionally facilitated conversations between the leadership of The Episcopal Church and those with whom they are most in dispute, internally and externally, to see if we can generate any better level of mutual understanding."

He also intends to convene a small group of Primates and others "to work on the unanswered questions arising from the inconclusive evaluation of the Primates to New Orleans and to take certain issues forward to Lambeth."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori welcomed Williams' Advent Letter. "In this season, as we focus on hope and preparation, I am glad to hear of the Archbishop's interest in facilitating further conversations," she said. "While I have repeatedly offered to engage in dialogue with those who are most unhappy, the offer has not yet been seriously engaged. Perhaps a personal call from the Archbishop will bring to the table those who have thus far been unwilling to talk. Advent is both a time to ready our eyes to see God in unlikely guises, and to put our hope in God's ultimate graciousness.". . .

"So we have no consensus about the New Orleans statement," [Archbishop Williams] added, noting that some of the more negative assessments from primates "were clearly influenced by the reported remarks of individual bishops in The Episcopal Church who either declared their unwillingness to abide by the terms of the statement or argued that it did not imply any change in current policies." Some of the positive responses, Williams said, "reflected a deep desire to put the question decisively behind us as a Communion; some of these also expressed dissatisfaction with our present channels of discussion and communication."

Williams acknowledged that because the Anglican Communion has "no single central executive authority," there is no clear indication of how to proceed. "However, it is important to try and state what common ground there is before we attempt to move forward," he said. "[T]he existence of our Communion is truly a gift of God to the wholeness of Christ's Church and...all of us will be seriously wounded and diminished if our Communion fractures any further.". . .

Williams described a full relationship of communion as meaning a common acknowledgment of: the authority of Scripture as 'the rule and ultimate standard of faith', an authentic ministry of Word and Sacrament; and "that the first and great priority of each local Christian community is to communicate the Good News."

He called the debates on human sexuality issues "significant" but warned of "symptoms of our confusion about these basic principles of recognition. It is too easy to make the debate a standoff between those who are 'for' and those who are 'against' the welcoming of homosexual people in the Church."

The Instruments of Communion, Williams said, "have consistently and very strongly repeated that it is part of our Christian and Anglican discipleship to condemn homophobic prejudice and violence, to defend the human rights and civil liberties of homosexual people and to offer them the same pastoral care and loving service that we owe to all in Christ's name.

"But the deeper question is about what we believe we are free to do, if we seek to be recognizably faithful to Scripture and the moral tradition of the wider Church, with respect to blessing and sanctioning in the name of the Church certain personal decisions about what constitutes an acceptable Christian lifestyle.". . .

Williams identified the interpretation of Scripture as the underlying issue in the current tensions regarding human sexuality. "Where one part of the family makes a decisive move that plainly implies a new understanding of Scripture that has not been received and agreed by the wider Church, it is not surprising that others find a problem in knowing how far they are still speaking the same language," he said, referring to the Episcopal Church's decision to elect and consecrate an openly gay bishop living in a committed relationship and some Anglican dioceses' provisions to bless same-gender relationships.

"And because what one local church says is naturally taken as representative of what others might say, we have the painful situation of some communities being associated with views and actions which they deplore or which they simply have not considered," he added.

Raising concerns about incursions of Anglican leaders into other provinces, Williams emphasized that successive Lambeth Conferences and Primates' Meetings have "cautioned very strongly" against such provisions of "supplementary ministerial care through the adoption of parishes in distant provinces or the ordination of ministers for distant provinces."

"It creates a seriously anomalous position," he said. "On the ground, it creates rivalry and confusion. It opens the door to complex and unedifying legal wrangles in civil courts. It creates a situation in which pastoral care and oversight have to be exercised at a great distance. The view that has been expressed by all the Instruments of Communion in recent years is that interventions are not to be sanctioned.". . .

Commending the bishops for their hard work, Williams urged the Primates to honor their intentions, recognizing that it has been a very costly and demanding experience, "testing both heart and conscience."

Despite his decision to withhold invitations to the 2008 Lambeth Conference to a small number of bishops "whose episcopal ordination was carried through against the counsel of the Instruments of Communion," Williams said the Conference needs "to be a place where diversity of opinion can be expressed."

The Lambeth Conference should not be viewed as a canonical tribunal or a general consultation, Williams said. "It is a meeting of the chief pastors and teachers of the Communion, seeking an authoritative common voice. It is also a meeting designed to strengthen and deepen the sense of what the episcopal vocation is."

"[A]n invitation to Lambeth does not constitute a certificate of orthodoxy but simply a challenge to pray seriously together and to seek a resolution that will be as widely owned as may be," he added. "And this is also why I have said that the refusal to meet can be a refusal of the cross - and so of the resurrection. We are being asked to see our handling of conflict and potential division as part of our maturing both as pastors and as disciples. I do not think this is either an incidental matter or an evasion of more basic questions."

Williams acknowledged the time and effort that has gone into the responses already produced by the Episcopal Church and said that further meetings are unlikely to produce "any more substantial consensus than that which is now before us."

"It is of enormous importance that the Communion overall does not forget its responsibility to and for that large body of prayerful opinion in The Episcopal Church which sincerely desires to work in full harmony with others, particularly those bishops who have clearly expressed their desire to work within the framework both of the Windsor Report and the Lambeth Resolutions," he said. . .

Read it all.

Bishop Schofield’s Pastoral Letter to be read Sunday in Diocese of San Joaquin parishes

From Stand Firm [boldface mine]:

PASTORAL LETTER TO BE READ IN ALL CHURCHES THE DIOCESE OF SAN JOAQUIN (Or, published with attention drawn to it from the pulpit)
Sunday, December 16, 2007

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our one and only Lord and Savior. By an overwhelming majority of nearly 90% (173 to 22), our Annual Convention voted Saturday, December 8th, to uphold the authority of Holy Scripture and thereby preserve our place in the worldwide Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury by realigning our Anglican identity through the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas under the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Archbishop and Primate.

This historic and momentous decision by our Annual Convention was the culmination of The Episcopal Church's failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for the cessation of false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Scripture.

However, we are no longer operating under the looming shadow of this institutional apostasy because our Annual Convention wisely and prayerfully accepted the gracious invitation for sanctuary from the Southern Cone. Under a plan developed with their House of Bishops and ultimately discussed between Archbishop Venables and a number of other Primates and Bishops we were offered hope by the Southern Cone. I wish to emphasize that Convention's action is not a schism over secondary issues but a realignment necessitated by false teaching as well as unbiblical sacramental actions that continue to take place in The Episcopal Church. As our new Archbishop so succinctly put it: "Christianity is specific, definable and unchanging. We are not at liberty to deconstruct or rewrite it. If Jesus was the Son of God yesterday then so He is today and will be forever." After our Annual Convention voted to accept the invitation from the Southern Cone, the first words to the Diocese of San Joaquin from our new Archbishop were these:

Welcome Home. And welcome back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion.

"But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. My brothers (and sisters), I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." [Philippians 3:7-13]

Your Father in God. ++ Gregory

The orders of all Diocesan clergy have been recognized by the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone and appropriate certificates have already been issued. A period of discernment for those who request it and agreed to by the bishop has been provided for those clergy who desire more time to consider whether or not to accept the invitation welcomed so heartily by the majority of Convention.

Likewise, all parishes will be given a similar discernment period. No one is being asked to act against his conscience. Surely, if there is one outstanding mark of this recent decision to realign with the Southern Cone it is freedom from oppression and threat. As your Bishop, I would ask you to treat those in the minority with graciousness and love and keep them in your prayers. It is a difficult time for all of us. We have to deal with a turn of events that no one wanted. For the majority who travel with the Diocese, however, nothing will change. The familiar ways in which you worship, your clergy, the Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal, lectionary and place of worship will all remain the same with one notable exception. In the Prayers of the People, "Gregory our Archbishop" is to appear where the Prayer Book offers intercession "For N. our Presiding Bishop".

Among those things that will remain the same is the solid teaching of the word of God free from worldly compromise, giving priority to your spiritual well being, faith, and salvation along with a future in the Anglican Communion. You may well discover, too, what it is like to witness to your faith without having to apologize for or feel embarrassed by the decisions of a Church over which you had no control. All of this has been assured by the courage of your Annual Convention, which - in turn - could have done nothing without Archbishop Gregory Venables and his Province of the Southern Cone going before us first and by their taking the bold step of faith they did on our behalf. We shall be forever grateful to them and trust that we will prove as much a blessing to them as they have been for us.

While there may be a degree of uncertainty over the future of our material possessions, we are not to despair. We all know there are no guarantees in this life, only the next. Time and again God has provided us with what we have needed to do His work for the advancement of His Kingdom and the building up of His Church. Why would we question whether the One who identifies Himself as "the same yesterday, today, and forever" change now?

Faithfully yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+John-David Schofield, Bishop