Saturday, November 26, 2005

God has brought us into this time; He, and not ourselves or some dark demon. If we are not fit to cope with that which He has prepared for us, we would have been utterly unfit for any condition that we imagine for ourselves. We are to live and wrestle in this time, and in no other. Let us humbly, tremblingly, manfully look at it, and we shall not wish that the sun could go back its ten degrees, or that we could go back with it. If easy times are departed, it is that the difficult times may make us more in earnest; that they may teach us not to depend on ourselves. If easy belief is impossible, it is that we may learn what belief is, and in whom it is to be placed.

Frederick Denison Maurice


He has not made us for nought; He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us on to the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us; so that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me." We "may cast all our care upon Him who careth for us." What is it to us how our future path lies, if it be but His path? What is it to us whither it leads us, so that in the end it leads to Him? What is it to us what He puts upon us, so that He enables us to undergo it with a pure conscience, a true heart, not desiring anything of this world in comparison of Him? What is it to us what terror befalls us, if He be but a hand to protect and strengthen us?

John Henry Newman
Biography

Lord, help us to remember it is all about You. Our duty is to trust You implicitly, to listen to Your voice in Scripture and in prayer, to cast out all fear and to be humbly bold in Your service. In Jesus. Amen.

Christian Legal Group Asks Judge to Drop Conn. Gay Marriage Case

A Christian legal group based in Washington, D.C., is asking a Connecticut court to drop a lawsuit that would redefine marriage to include same-sex partners.

The American Center for Law and Justice issued a “friend of the court” document on Wednesday with a superior court in New Haven, Conn., asking the judge to dismiss the Kerrigan v. The State of Connecticut, et. al.case.

The case was filed in the New Haven court last year by seven homosexual couples who said “civil unions” that confer the same legal benefits of marriage were not enough for those who seek to have the same legal benefits as heterosexual married couples and seek for society to recognize that their union is a marriage, denoting a life long commitment with the purpose, in several instances, of raising children.

The rest at Connecticut Six

Arabic Christian channel a hit?
By Julia Duin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 26, 2005

The founder of the nation's first Arabic Christian TV channel says the programming is attracting phone inquiries from curious Muslims.

The Southern California-based channel Alkarma, whose name means "the vineyard" in Arabic, premiered Oct. 17. It is the brainchild of Samuel Estefanos, an Egyptian-born businessman.

The channel gets 10 to 15 calls a day from Arabic speakers with Muslim surnames who are intrigued that Alkarma would give away a movie known as the "Jesus Film" and other materials.

"Some of them call and say they are Muslims and need to know more about Christ," Mr. Estefanos said. "Other people are Christians but say they don't know anything about Christ. In the Middle East, even though if your religion says 'Christian' on your identity card, that does not mean that you know Christ."

Mr. Estefanos invested about $200,000, much of it his own money, to purchase airtime and equipment for the 24-hour channel. The station still needs about $40,000 a month to operate. Total contributions so far total about $10,000 a month.
The rest

New Reports Tell of Executions, Torture of Christians in North Korea
New reports from former North Korean eye-witnesses indicate that the totalitarian government tortures, executes Christians and people related to the faith.
Posted: Saturday, November 26 , 2005, 16:13 (UK)

New reports from former North Korean eye-witnesses indicate that the totalitarian government tortures, executes Christians and people related to the faith.

In the last two weeks, reports from defectors have offered the world a glimpse of the oppressive and fearful conditions inside North Korea.


The Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday released an article about the experience of a former North Korean prisoner. Kim Chol-soo, the pseudonym adopted by the prisoner to protect relatives in North Korea, said that he witnessed the death of many fellow prisoners due to excessive work and starvation, including a former defector beaten to death for contacting Christians in China.

“Most people died of malnutrition and its complications,” said Kim, according to AP, noting that prisoners only receive 21 ounces of food per day – a starvation ration. The ex-inmate is a survivor of the prison camp at Yodok, about 70 miles northwest of Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea.

Another eyewitness, a 30-year-old North Korean defector, told the L.A. Times that in 1996, five middle-aged men accused of running an illegal church were forced to lie on the ground as a steam roller crushed them. The rest

Indonesian Sunday School Teachers Lose Appeal
The three Sunday school teachers in Indonesia sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly converting young Muslim children to Christianity have lost their appeal to have their sentences overturned.
Posted: Saturday, November 26 , 2005, 11:12 (UK)

International Christian Concern has reported, from Indonesian sources, that the three Sunday school teachers in Indonesia imprisoned in India have lost their appeal to have their three-year sentences overturned.

Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun. had run a popular Sunday school program in which several Muslim children participated in after obtaining parental consent.


Despite Indonesia’s constitution guaranteeing religious freedom, as well as the right to propagate that religion, Islamic radicals have succeeding in pushing through the legislature laws intended to prevent the spread of Christianity.

The women were sentenced in a court case which, according to reports, had seen the regular intimidation of the judges and the women if they were not found guilty, after a local Islamic group brought charges against the three women for breaking the “Child Protection Act.”

Christian Freedom International’s President, Jim Jacobson, visited the women in the prison in the Indramayu district of West Java where he found them living in conditions of squalor. Story

Proposed Religion Class in Kansas Labels Intelligent Design as 'Mythology'
Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005
Posted: 10:45:04AM EST

The intelligent design theory is going to be studied at the University of Kansas next semester, but not in the way advocated by supporters of the alternative to the evolution theory.

The course, to be offered by the university religious studies department, is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies" and will explore intelligent design as a modern American mythology.

"To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it's just another example of labeling anybody who proposes [intelligent design] to be simply a religious nut," said John Calvert, an attorney and managing director of the Intelligent Design Network in Johnson County, Kan., according to the Associated Press. "That's the reason for this little charade."

Paul Mirecki, chairman of the university religious studies department, however insisted that intelligent design, like creationism, is mythology.
The rest

Vermont High School Teacher Accused of Administering Biased, 'Liberal' Vocabulary Quiz
Friday, November 25, 2005 04:59:20 PM

A high school teacher is facing questions from administrators after giving a vocabulary quiz that included digs at President Bush and the extreme right.

Bret Chenkin, a social studies and English teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School, said he gave the quiz to his students several months ago. The quiz asked students to pick the proper words to complete sentences.

One example: "I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes." "Coherent" is the right answer.

Principal Sue Maguire said she hoped to speak to whomever complained about the quiz and any students who might be concerned. She said she also would talk with Chenkin. School Superintendent Wesley Knapp said he was taking the situation seriously.

"It's absolutely unacceptable," Knapp said. "They (teachers) don't have a license to hold forth on a particular standpoint."
Story

HIV Escalating: 20% Increase in Canada; Doubles to 40 Million World-Wide
By Terry Vanderheyden and Steve Jalsevac
OTTAWA, November 25, 2005

(LifeSiteNews.com) – There are now almost 58,000 people with HIV in Canada, up 20% from 2000, according to recently released figures from the United Nations and World Health Organization.

Homosexual sex accounted for the majority of new cases, at 45%, while 25% of new cases were in women, the report said. Ten years ago only 10% of new cases were in women. Heterosexual sex accounted for 30% of new cases, with intravenous drug use responsible for the remainder. Young women aged 15 to 29 were particularly affected, accounting for 42% of the new HIV cases in women, up from 13 percent 20 years ago.

A growing phenomena is the spread of HIV to women by so-called bi-sexual men who pass on infections acquired by homosexual sex to women sexual partners. In the United States this is said to be an especially serious problem among black Americans.
The rest

CNY Diocese: Local paper reviews the highlights of The Diocesan Convention
from the Syracuse, NY Post-Standard
Saturday, November 26, 2005

by Renee K. Gadoua

Some excerpts:

At least two local Episcopal clergy appear to be fans of the English author, G.K. Chesterton.

The Rev. David T. Andrews concluded a brief presentation about the upcoming national Episcopal General Convention with an excerpt from the end of Chesterton's book, "Orthodoxy."


Andrews' comments came during last Saturday's session of the two-day annual convention of the Central New York Diocese of the Episcopal Church at the Holiday Inn in Salina.

A few hours later, Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams referred to the same quotation during his sermon and convention address at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral.

Coincidence? Or, as Adams said, a sign that "great minds think alike?"

The repetitive Chesterton reference - on the value of joy and mirth - provided a welcome light moment to a day that included concerns about financial struggles, personnel issues and allusions to the threatened status of the worldwide Anglican Church.

Chesterton, the English author and convert to Roman Catholicism, died in 1936. He wrote poetry and essays and is perhaps best known for his mystery series featuring Father Brown.

The section Andrews and Adams mentioned comes from the ending of Chesterton's 1908 book, which is considered part spiritual memoir and part defense of Orthodox Christianity.


"Joy," Chesterton wrote, "is the gigantic secret of the Christian."

Andrews, a local deputy to General Convention and rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chittenango, urged about 350 people at the local convention to learn from Chesterton's observation.

"Let us share with Chesterton and follow a Lord who loves us even when we make mistakes and will keep on loving us," Andrews said. "Let us show by our ability to listen that we can and will be a place of joy and live our lives with a grateful heart that is open and vulnerable to love."

Another excerpt:
Lest anyone doubt the Episcopal Church reflects diversity, consider the numerous shades of orange at last week's convention. The convention packet alone included paper in three versions: one reminiscent of elementary school fliers, one a deep autumnal tone and a third a peachy orange.

Wardrobe choices of convention attendees created a rainbow. (Who are we mere mortals to judge if colors clash?)

Two women who work in the diocesan offices looked sharp, wearing black pants and black jackets over orange tops. A few SU caps were on tables, and one man wore a bright SU winter scarf all day. Others wore ties of varying orange hues, and women sported numerous orange expressions, including abstract and foliage prints.

Organizers chose orange not in honor of Syracuse University sports, but as a sign of the church's light, said Judy Fried, secretary of convention.

One delegate brought orange to the convention in an unusual way. She frequently picked up a pair of scissors with orange handles, which she used to cut thread while doing needlework as she listened to speakers.
Full article here

Here is the unedited quote from Chesterton's Orthodoxy:
"Joy, which is the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian."

It is hard not be overwhelmed by some of the sheer banality of the CNY diocesan convention. Did a church which considers itself "inclusive" not want to offend pagans? And with all the weighty issues confronting this diocese, ECUSA and the Anglican Communion, is the focus on the color theme the best that could be said? -PD

Another account written of what happened during the convention: Here

Friday, November 25, 2005

If New Testament Christianity is to reappear today with its power and joy and courage, men must recapture the basic conviction that this is a Visited planet. It is not enough to express formal belief in the "Incarnation" or in the "Divinity of Christ"; the staggering truth must be accepted afresh -- that in this vast, mysterious universe, of which we are an almost infinitesimal part, the great Mystery, Whom we call God, has visited our planet in Person. It is from this conviction that there springs unconquerable certainty and unquenchable faith and hope. It is not enough to believe theoretically that Jesus was both God and Man; not enough to admire, respect, and even worship Him; it is not even enough to try to follow Him. The reason for the insufficiency of these things is that the modern intelligent mind, which has had its horizons widened in dozens of different ways, has got to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact -- that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.

J.B. Phillips


Christ is the Son of God. He died to atone for men's sin, and after three days rose again. This is the most important fact in the universe. I die believing in Christ.

Watchman Nee - Note found under his pillow, in prison, at his death.

Charles Moore - The Meaning Of Advent (From the Daily Dig)
— Brad Drell @ 9:02 am
11/25/05

From this site:
Though Advent (literally “arrival”) has been observed for centuries as a time to contemplate Christ’s birth, most people today acknowledge it only with a blank look. For the vast majority of us, December flies by in a flurry of activities, and what is called “the holiday season” turns out to be the most stressful time of the year.

It is also a time of contrasting emotions. We are eager, yet frazzled; sentimental, yet indifferent. One minute we glow at the thought of getting together with our family and friends; the next we feel utterly lonely. Our hope is mingled with dread, our anticipation with despair. We sense the deeper meanings of the season but grasp at them in vain; and in the end, all the bustle leaves us frustrated and drained.

The rest at Drell's Descants

STOCKHOLM: Anglican bishop criticizes Vatican over gays
By Daniel Frykholm
11/24/2005
STOCKHOLM

(Reuters) - Gay U.S. Anglican bishop Gene Robinson said on Thursday a Vatican document barring practicing gay men from becoming Roman Catholic priests showed a profound misunderstanding of homosexuality.


The document, due to be published next week, says men with "deep-seated" gay tendencies cannot become priests and that only those who have overcome their homosexuality at least three years before ordination can do so.

"I think the Vatican, or whoever wrote this statement, should spend a little more time listening to its gay and lesbian members rather than putting out statements," said Robinson, having read media reports on the document.

"This strikes me as language from people who profoundly do not understand gay and lesbian people ... who know next to nothing about being gay or lesbian," Robinson, whose ordination as bishop in 2003 plunged the Anglican Church into crisis.

The document reinforces existing Roman Catholic policy that many in the Church believe has not been properly enforced, but Robinson told Reuters during a visit to Stockholm it would only force people to lie about their sexual orientation.

the rest at Virtueonline

Anglican Consultative Council: Church of Canada Remains Important Part of Communion
The Anglican Church of Canada "remains an important part of the Anglican Communion" the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has told members of the Canadian Council of General Synod (CoGs).

Posted: Thursday, November 24 , 2005, 7:07 (UK)

The Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has told members of the Canadian Council of General Synod (CoGs) that the Anglican Church of Canada “remains an important part of the Anglican Communion”.

Bishop John Paterson, of Auckland, New Zealand gave the comments to the CoGs, which will give the Church of Canada renewed hope in its future with the worldwide Anglican body.

Paterson said, “The Communion needs Canada and I believe Canada needs the Communion.”

He also stated that he hoped that the “listening process” that had been laid down, would allow churches throughout the entire Communion to think about and appreciate each others’ differences.
Story

'Pornography': TV's taboo word
Posted: November 25, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
by Judith Reisman

Following a recent interview for yet another documentary on pornography, I thought of so many things I should have said about pornography.

I had discussed its role as producing impotence, robbing men of their manhood. I had addressed its psychopharmacology as an "erototoxin." I had documented its presence in adultery, divorce, rape, child sex abuse and incest.

Civility, humanity, I said, has always hung by the thinnest of threads. We allow ourselves to be coarsened at the greatest risk. Life in the last five decades should have proven to us all – or at least to any hominoid with a modicum of sense – that the license of licentiousness is always followed by the most heart-rending violence to our bodies and our souls. We can daily see around us that the most vulnerable, the smallest and the weakest pay the price for our arrogance and our appallingly selfish ignorance.
The rest

All Good Gifts
November 25, 2005

We know that Adam's sin was pride, but many of the old English poets stressed the love that his pride repaid with disobedience. In other words, they saw that the fundamental manifestation of pride is ingratitude. So George Herbert portrays Christ reproaching us on His way to Calvary (I'm quoting from memory here):

Then all they do condemn me with that breath
Which I do give them daily, unto death.
Thus Adam my first breathing rendereth:
Was ever grief like mine?

I've been thinking about that verse these last few days. It's easy enough for the Christian to remember to thank God for at least a few of the good things He has given us. We might even remember once in a while to thank God for the breath in our lungs, for our mere existence, since it is with each of us as it was with Adam, that God has taken some dust from the earth and breathed into it, that we might be a living soul.

But Adam in his pride wanted to seize for himself what he saw as a good thing that God had not given him. In his disobedience he showed himself ungrateful for what he was given (since he wanted even more), and ungrateful for what had been withheld from him (since he judged that he might provide for himself a fairer enjoyment of goods). He forgot to thank God for the prohibition. Another way to look at it is that he forgot to praise God for the inequality between himself and his Maker.
The rest

Abstinence Includes Sexual Activity Says Maryland Middle School
By Hilary White

POTOMAC, November 24, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Maryland Gazette reports today that the eighth-grade health class at Herbert Hoover Middle School identifies two types of sexual intercourse as “abstinence.”

It would seem that even after decades of sex ed, saturation of sexual imagery in the media and the virtual abolition of sexual mores since the 1960’s that educators still cannot effectively identify the sexual act.

Webster’s College dictionary defines the verb “to abstain” as “to refrain voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy.” A chart showing different forms of contraception in the Herbert Hoover health class, however, includes three types of “abstinence” : “no intercourse,” “withdrawal” (ejaculation outside of the body) and “rhythm” (no intercourse during ovulation).

Parents have complained to the school saying that their children were being put at risk by the misinformation. Cindy Richards said, “Since when did the term abstinence change to include the two most ineffective forms of birth control possible?”
The rest

C. S. Lewis Superstar
How a reserved British intellectual with a checkered pedigree became a rock star for evangelicals.
by Bob Smietana
posted 11/23/2005 10:00 a.m.

At first glance, C. S. Lewis and Elvis Presley seem like polar opposites. But a closer look will show that these two cultural icons have a lot in common.

Like Elvis, C. S. Lewis had been a soldier. Both men came to fame on the radio. Both men's homes (Graceland and the Kilns) have become pilgrimage sites. Both left behind estates now valued in the millions. And both rose from relative obscurity—Elvis, a Mississippi truck driver, and Lewis, a tutor at Oxford—to become larger-than-life figures profiled in books and movies and beloved by legions of adoring fans. Like Elvis, even after death, Lewis remains a superstar.

Clive Staples Lewis was anything but a classic evangelical, socially or theologically. He smoked cigarettes and a pipe, and he regularly visited pubs to drink beer with friends. Though he shared basic Christian beliefs with evangelicals, he didn't subscribe to biblical inerrancy or penal substitution. He believed in purgatory and baptismal regeneration. How did someone with such a checkered pedigree come to be a theological Elvis Presley, adored by evangelicals?

The rest-excellent!

President Bush in China -- Brave Support for Religious Liberty
Posted: Friday, November 25, 2005 at 2:34 am ET

Before the week ends, I want to draw attention to what many (but not all) in the mainstream media have missed -- President George W. Bush's brave and strategic support for religious liberty during his recent visit to Asia.

The President's first public appearance in Beijing was at Gangwasi Church (Protestant), where he also attended services last Sunday. This event came even before the official welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People.

From the President's
comments after the service: My hope is that the government of China will not fear Christians who gather to worship openly. A healthy society is a society that welcomes all faiths and gives people a chance to express themselves through worship with the Almighty.
China recently arrested a pastor for printing and distributing Bibles, and the Chinese are still deprived of genuine religious liberty. The China Aid Association reported that the Chinese government arrested eight house-church pastors just prior to the President's visit.

The rest-Albert Mohler

Home Education Seen As Timely Solution to Failing Public Schools
By Bill FancherNovember 23, 2005

(AgapePress) - An effort to double the number of home school students in the United States is off and running, and already the response has been positive. E. Roy Moore, the man behind the launch of the "
Homeschooling Family to Family" project, believes the time is right to push home education.

"Christian faith home schooling is America has come of age," Moore says, "and it's time now to get on offense and become more outreach- and evangelistic-oriented in our presentations." He believes faith-based home schooling is an increasingly attractive option, especially since growing homosexual influence in public schools and the schools' anti-parent policies regarding sex education and abortion are raising the anxiety level of many parents today.

Also, the home education advocate notes, failing standards of education, social engineering in the classroom, and drugs and violence on school campuses have led to a surge in home schooling in recent years. Meanwhile, he points out, home schooling has experienced tremendous changes, growing from its early days of being viewed with suspicion and skepticism by government and education officials to now offering large state conventions and curriculum fairs and even exerting influence with state legislatures around the nation.
The rest

Bird Flu Spreads to Far Western China
Nov 25, 6:17 AM (ET)
By AUDRA ANG

BEIJING (AP) - China on Thursday announced the spread of bird flu to a far western region, while Indonesia reported its first outbreak of the virus in the tsunami-ravaged Aceh province where hundreds of chickens have died from the disease.

The Nov. 17 outbreak in Turpan, a city in China's Xinjiang region, killed 11 birds and prompted the destruction of 5,180 more, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the Agriculture Ministry.

News of the outbreak - China's 21st in recent weeks - came a day after the country confirmed its second human death from bird flu.
The rest

Priests Citing New Problem in Gay Policy
By
LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: November 24, 2005

A day after the disclosure of a new Vatican directive that deters most gay men from joining the priesthood, some priests say they are shocked by one easily overlooked clause. It says that spiritual directors and confessors in seminaries "have the duty to dissuade" any candidates "who show deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from joining the priesthood.

These priests said this would turn the confessional and spiritual counseling sessions, which seminarians previously regarded as private and supportive meetings, into a tool for weeding gay men out of seminaries.

"The relationship between a seminarian and his confessor or his spiritual director should not be about enforcing church documents, but to serve as spiritual guides," said the Rev. Michael Herman, a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago who has recently publicly identified himself as gay in order to speak out against the Vatican's action.
the rest

Iran: 5000 Fanatic Muslim Clerics To US Mosques
by J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Nov 24, 2005

Mosques in America need more clerics. The solution? Send hard-line, fanatic clerics to the United States. Fill in the blanks: the US sleeper cells are getting more murder-hungry clerics by which to instruct neighborhood Muslims in how to rise up and take over America.

They are already taking over the Netherlands by threatening that country with murder in the streets. Therefore, according to recent press reports, the citizens won't speak anything negative about Islam for fear of being murdered. It's called "self-censorship" there. With that the Muslims can overtake a society.

In Pakistan Muslim males are kidnapping Hindu women from their houses. They force the Hindu females to "convert" to Islam. If others in the family report these crimes, they are in danger of being killed. Therefore, there are some families escaping wholesale to Canada, India and elsewhere. In other words, Muslims can overtake a society by kidnapping young Hindu girls for Islam.
Story


How a Town Became a Terror Hub
Belgian Haven Seen At Heart of Network

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, November 24, 2005

MAASEIK, Belgium -- The phones at city hall began ringing nonstop one morning last year when several masked figures were spotted walking through the cobbled streets of this pastoral town. A small panic erupted when one of the figures, covered head to ankle in black fabric, appeared at a school and scared children to tears.

It turned out the people were not hooded criminals, but six female residents of Maaseik who were displaying their Muslim piety by wearing burqas , garments that veiled their faces, including their eyes. After calm was restored, a displeased Mayor Jan Creemers summoned the women to his office.
The rest

Britain: Churches send in the faithful to put Narnia on map
By Ruth Gledhill and Dalya Alberge

CHURCH leaders are encouraging families to see The Chronicles of Narnia over Christmas because of the new Disney film’s Christian message.

The Walt Disney organisation has appointed Christian Publishers and Outreach, an evangelistic publishing company, to promote the Christian message behind the story in churches across Britain.

Premier, the Christian radio station, is running a Narnia promotional campaign, urging schools and churches to do a range of Narnia activites, such as holding parties, running family services titled The Gospel According to Narnia and organising plays based on C. S. Lewis’s classic book.
The Methodist organisation MethodistChildren has written a special Narnia service for churches across Britain to use, focusing on the theme of gift
-giving and receiving that is central to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The rest

Primates defend leaked letter
Date: Nov 25, 2005

Seventeen Archbishops have released a letter they had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury challenging his address to last month’s Global South Meeting, but after a storm of controversy greeted the letter one Primate withdrew his name, while another criticised its public release.

The 17 Primates from the southern hemisphere rejected Dr Williams’ theological analysis of the crisis within the Anglican Communion, and questioned the wisdom of the establishment of the Church of England.

The letter expressed agreement with much of Dr Williams’ message, but expressed disappointment with what he had left ‘unsaid’. They claimed that his interpretation of church discipline bypassed rather than expounded the specificity of scripture. They also questioned the propriety of the establishment of the Church of England, following the recent Civil Partnership legislation. They said that the “willingness of the Government to override clear Christian teaching” on marriage “raises a serious question whether the church-state relationship is obsolete and a hindrance to the Gospel.”
The rest

Monks come to blows at rebel monastery in Vatican dispute
(Filed: 25/11/2005)

Orthodox monks traded blows yesterday in the Mount Athos monastic community in northern Greece as a bitter fight between church authorities and a rebel monastery turned violent.

A spokesman for the besieged Esphigmenou Monastery said workmen and rival monks tried to demolish the community's offices at Karyes, the administrative centre of the medieval sanctuary - from which women and female animals are banned.

"They used pickaxes, spades and crowbars to try to break down the door," said Father Neophytos. "They were trying to throw us out."

Police said nobody was injured in the clashes.
Story

Dr Williams hopes for 'Lambeth-lite'
By Bill Bowder

THE SHAPE of the next Lambeth Conference could be decided at a key meeting in London on 6 December.

A group of eight Primates, bishops, and lay people from across the Communion make up the Lambeth design group. With Dr Williams, they will consider radical changes to the conference which could lower the chances of conflict.

Dr Williams is already on record as saying that he wants a "Lambeth-lite", with fewer resolutions, Sue Parks, manager of the conference, said this week. She also thought it likely that the design group would drop the idea of preliminary regional meetings. Meetings were held in the run-up to the 1998 Lambeth Conference to air agenda issues, but were not seen as effective.
If the regional meetings are dropped, and with no further meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council until after the conference, the 2007 Primates' Meeting will be one of the last chances to affect the agenda.

One way for people to air their views will be on the new website
http://www.lambethconference.org/. It goes live for the new conference during Advent. "People can make any comments they want to about the conference there," Ms Parks said.

Commentators suggested that Dr Williams had to hold his ground concerning the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Communion. Global South leaders last week argued that the American and Canadian provinces should not be invited unless they "truly repent".
The rest

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Lord, I am glad for the great gift of living,
Glad for Thy days of sun and of rain;
Grateful for joy, with an endless thanksgiving,
Grateful for laughter -- and grateful for pain.

Lord, I am glad for the young April's wonder,
Glad for the fulness of long summer days;
And now when the spring and my heart are asunder,
Lord, I give thanks for the dark autumn ways.

Sun, bloom, and blossom, O Lord, I remember,
The dream of the spring and its joy I recall;
But now in the silence and pain of November,
Lord, I give thanks to Thee, Giver of all!

... Charles Hanson Towne


We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer Home Page

Catholic Church Warns New Vaccine May Increase Underage Sex
The Catholic Church in Scotland warns that Gardasil, the new vaccine against cervical cancer currently being tested on 360 Glasgow women, may encourage young girls to have underage sex.
Posted: Wednesday, November 23 , 2005, 11:50 (UK)

The Catholic Church in Scotland has voiced its concern for a new vaccine designed to eradicate cervical cancer, warning that it may encourage young girls to have sexual relationships, reports Scotland on Sunday.

Gardasil has been trialled over the last two years on 360 women between the ages of 16 and 23 from Glasgow, the city chosen specifically because of the city’s high levels of underage sex and related sexual health problems.

The drug is the first to provide protection against the cancer and works by giving women immunity to different types of sexually transmitted viruses that cause around 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

“So far the vaccine has been 100 per cent effective,” said Dr Gordon Crawford of Glasgow-based CPS Research, the group behind the trial. “We haven’t seen anyone given the vaccine test positive for pre-cancerous cells.

“This trial was part of a much bigger worldwide study looking at the effectiveness of the vaccine, and our results have been reflected elsewhere.”

The drug has come up against fierce opposition because of the advice of the manufacturers who claim its effectiveness is greatly increased if given to patients before they are sexually active and so should therefore be prescribed to girls as young as 10.
Story

Book of Hope to Join Massive Cooperative Effort in Rwanda
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005
Posted: 5:52:22PM EST

An international Assemblies of God ministry that distributes scriptural storybooks for children will deliver more than two million to students in Rwanda in memory of the 100 days of genocide that killed more than one million people in the central African nation.

Book of Hope International, an organization with the mission to get the “Word of God into the hands of children and youth around the world,” will participate in a major faith-based initiative to bring hope and comfort to the children of a country suffering from painful memories. The project, titled “Hope: Rwanda,” will coincide with the country’s 100 days of genocide on April 7, 2006 through July 15, 2006.


“Our mission is presenting God’s word to children around the world,” said Calvin Ratz, the East African coordinator of Book of Hope.

“We are motivated in this particular instance because 12 years ago when the genocide took place and a million people were slaughtered, the world turned its back on Rwanda. We are trying to do this to make the statement that there are Christians in other parts of the world who want to do something to express Christ’s love to the people of Rwanda.” Story

Fox News Channel Won't Show Pro-Abortion Ad on Samuel Alito
by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 22, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The Fox News Channel says it will not show an ad sponsored by abortion advocacy groups that bashes Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on abortion. Attorneys for the news station say the ad is factually incorrect
.
The groups backing the ad include the Alliance for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for The American Way and NARAL, a leading pro-abortion organization.

The ad attacks Alito on abortion, quoting from his 1985 letter in which he said there is no right to abortion in the Constitution and adding he was happy to work to overturn abortion during the Reagan administration.
The rest

Mainline Church Leaders Urge Congress to Stop Genocide in Darfur
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005 Posted: 3:38:27PM EST

WASHINGTON – Top representatives of America’s largest mainline churches are standing together against the humanitarian crises in Darfur, Sudan, through a joint letter issued to members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson - presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick – stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. general assembly, and the Rev. Peter D. Weaver – bishop and president of the Council of Bishops at the United Methodist Church, were among seven leaders who signed onto a letter urging Congress to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act before the year passes.


The Senate approved on Nov. 18 the Darfur Act (S. 1462), and the House is expected to vote on it when members return from the Thanksgiving break.

The letter reminds members of Congress that the United States has already recognized the humanitarian crisis in Darfur as “genocide” and that not it would be a “travesty” for the nation to do nothing to stop the violence.

The rest

Why Thanksgiving Matters
Albert Mohler
Speaker, Author & Seminary President

The holiday police are at it again; looking for violations of the nation's new policy of separating faith and civic celebrations. The same folks who will soon be trolling courthouse squares looking for manger scenes are now calling on Americans to have a happy Thanksgiving . . . but leave God out of it.

School textbooks filled with revisionist history tell children that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration at which the Pilgrims thanked the Indians for teaching them how to survive the harsh New England climate and plant successful crops. God is simply not part of the picture.

Some educators, worried that even the word "thanksgiving" might be too controversial, have renamed the holiday "Turkey Day." Of course, this implies that the central thrust of the celebration comes down to poultry.

The revisionist historians want to have it both ways. They present the Pilgrims as wild-eyed religious fanatics--precursors to the Religious Right--and then suggest that the first Thanksgiving was essentially a secular holiday.

The rest

Britain: Great and good have little truck with God
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

BRITAIN’S elite are half as likely to believe in God than the general population, and far less likely to believe in life after death, a survey suggests.

Michael Irwin, a retired GP and former chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, wrote to 1,600 randomly selected people listed in Who’s Who. To his surprise, 761 took the time to write back.

One Anglican bishop said that he did not believe in the survival of individual “souls” after death. The bishop did admit, however, to the possibility of a non-specific “life force” energising everyone on Earth.

Dr Irwin, 74, who as a former medical director of the United Nations is listed in Who’s Who, had replies from the authors Bamber Gascoigne, Colin Wilson, Naim Attallah and Colin Dexter, the agony aunt Clare Rayner, the zoologist Keith Vickerman, the anthropologist Alan MacFarlane, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Haskins and Lord Young of Norwood Green.

Dr Irwin, who has published his findings in a booklet, What Survives?, said that previous surveys, such as a Reader’s Digest poll of March this year, suggested that 64 per cent believed in the existence of God and 58 per cent in an afterlife. In the recent national census, more than 70 per cent described themselves as Christian.

The rest

Catholics warn C of E over women bishops
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 23/11/2005)

The Roman Catholic Church has issued a scathing critique of Church of England
plans to admit women bishops, warning that the reform would "radically" impair their relations.

In an official paper, the Catholic bishops said that consecrating women was "a tremendous and intolerable risk" that could cause "irreparable damage", both within and outside the Anglican Church.

It said that while the Church of England was free to do as it wanted, such a step was at odds with the "texts and spirit" of recent statements on unity drawn up between the two Churches.

While the Catholic Church's opposition to women priests and bishops is well known, the blunt tone of the 10-page document will disappoint the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
Story

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

God, who is Love, has freely bestowed on all men those things which are necessary for both the spiritual and temporal life, but since He offers salvation and His Holy Spirit to all as freely, they are lightly esteemed. But prayer teaches us to value them, because they are as necessary as air and water, heat and light, without which life is impossible. The things for our spiritual life God has freely provided, but men so lightly regard them that they offer no thanks to their Creator; but on the other hand, His gifts of gold, silver, and precious jewels, which are scarce and obtained with great difficulty, they highly esteem, though with such things the hunger and thirst of the body cannot be assuaged, nor the longings of the heart be satisfied. With such folly do men of the world act with regard to spiritual things, but to the man of prayer are given true wisdom and eternal life.

Sadhu Sundar Singh

FIRST PERSON: Christmas Under Fire -- and the Return of the Grinch
By Ralph BarkerNovember 22, 2005

(AgapePress) - After the elections in 2004, an interesting fact emerged. It became clear that one important reason George Bush won re-election with such a clear mandate was a mainstream backlash against homosexual marriage. This is fascinating in that homosexuality was never a major part of the campaign.

Why did this powerful undercurrent have such an effect on the electorate? Without any warning or fanfare, a majority of voters had reached their tolerance level. They didn't talk about it; they simply did something -- they voted. With their vote they said "enough is enough." It takes a lot to move the masses to any action. But in this case the flagrant defiance of the laws by homosexuals and elected officials in granting, performing, and participating in same-sex "weddings" ushered many Americans past their point of tolerance.

I believe a similar dynamic is taking place today regarding the stealing of Christmas. Christians are getting fed up with the gross hypocrisy demonstrated by retailers as they use Christmas for profit, all the while denying the soul of the holiday: Jesus Christ.

The rest

Declared 'Extinct,' But Still Worshiping
11/22/2005

It was relatively easy on Nov. 19 for the Rochester diocesan convention to declare a viable parish that claims 91 members “extinct.” But when the Rt. Rev. Jack McKelvey arrived two days later at All Saints’ Church in Irondequoit, N.Y., to collect the keys to the property, the parish’s lawyer informed Bishop McKelvey that he would not be turning over the keys that day “or at any time.”


All Saints’ has repeatedly refused to pay its canonically mandated parochial assessment, $16,000 for 2005. In a letter to the rector and vestry dated Nov. 15, Bishop McKelvey warned the Rev. David Harnish that he would be prohibited under church law from celebrating the following Sunday, and warned the vestry that their congregation would legally cease to exist if the resolution was approved at the diocesan convention that weekend.

“I will come to the church on Sunday morning at the regular time to conduct a prayer service and be available with others of my staff to answer any and all questions which members of your congregation may have,” Bishop McKelvey wrote.

The rest

Faith is required of thee, and a sincere life, not loftiness of intellect, nor deepness in the mysteries of God. If thou understandest not... the things which are beneath thee, how shalt thou comprehend those which are above thee? Submit thyself unto God, and humble thy sense to faith, and the light of knowledge shall be given thee, as shall be profitable and necessary unto thee.

... Thomas à Kempis,
Of the Imitation of Christ

Ozarks group leaves U.S. Episcopalians

A group of Springfield area Episcopalians upset over decisions by the U.S. church is breaking away to form their own congregation.

Among their complaints is the 2003 confirmation of an openly gay bishop, which has splintered the Episcopal Church across the country.

The Springfield group of about 60 members will join a network of congregations loosely overseen by the symbolic leader of the world Anglican Communion.

The Ozarks Anglican Council, as the new group is called, plans to hold its first weekly service Sunday in a borrowed Lutheran church. The head clergyman will come from Tulsa.

The rest at titusonenine

Multiculturalism has betrayed the English, Archbishop says
By Ruth Gledhill

St George's Day should be celebrated and the English should reclaim their national identity and culture, Dr John Sentamu says, a week before his enthronement in York.

BRITAIN’S first black Archbishop has made a powerful attack on multiculturalism, urging English people to reclaim their national identity.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said that too many people were embarrassed about being English. “Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me, let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains,” he said.

He said that the failure of England to rediscover its culture afresh would lead only to greater political extremism.

Story

LIFE DIGEST: New test may mean more abortions of Down children; Thomas: confirmation fights are all about abortion
Nov 21, 2005
By Tom Strode
Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (BP)--A new advance in technology may mean a new setback for one group in the human family.The recent announcement of a screening test that can identify unborn children with Down syndrome in the first trimester has raised the specter of even more babies with the condition being aborted. Already, doctors estimate about 80 percent of mothers who receive positive results for Down syndrome in the second trimester decide to abort their effected children, according to The New York Times.

Sponsors and researchers involved in the $15 million study involving more than 38,000 American women hailed the results, which found that combined blood and ultrasound tests are able to identify Down syndrome 11 weeks after conception, The Washington Post reported Nov. 10, the day the research results were released in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The rest

Revisiting the All Saints Case
Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 at 4:20 am ET

The New York Times editorializes on the Internal Revenue Service's investigation of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, concluding that "it would seem to be hard to justify picking on a church that has a long record of opposition to wars waged by leaders from both parties."

The church was targeted for investigation after its former rector preached a sermon just prior to the 2004 election, castigating President Bush for the war in Iraq. The sermon was highly political, but the preacher did not endorse a candidate. On the November 11 edition of
The Albert Mohler Program, I defended the church's freedom to speak to issues from its pulpit and I interviewed its current rector. Even as this church represents the religious left, I argue that evangelicals must understand that the investigation of this church could be experienced by virtually any congregation in America. We cannot claim religious liberty for ourselves without defending the liberty of others.

Here is the troubling part of the Time's editorial: With the feverish courting of religious voters these days, the I.R.S. does have the daunting task of separating politics from church policy. The I.R.S. is assigned this "daunting task of separating politics from church policy." With all due respect, that would appear to be outside the competence of the nation's tax agency. In effect, this assignment puts the I.R.S. in the position of making what amounts to theological judgments. Does anyone really think this is a good idea?

Albert Mohler

The Holy Harry Potter Wars
by Todd V. Lewis, Ph.D.
Dr. Lewis is the Chair of the Communication Studies Department at Biola University. MovieMinistry is proud to have him on our Board of Advisors.

Joanne Rowling reportedly began to write her fantasy series on scraps of paper she found at a local café. Little did she know that within a few years her efforts would translate into 192 million plus books in at least 43 languages sold world-wide, three motion pictures to date, billions of dollars gained in residuals from video sales plus toy tie-ins, and marketing a phenomenon that continues to astound, entertain, enthuse, and anger. Harry Potter is an industry to "himself," a fictional young boy who has, in recent years, fomented controversy that continues to rage throughout a world that consumes his literary adventures voraciously.

The debate rages with each new Harry Potter book or movie. Reading or watching Harry Potter will turn unsuspecting children to witchcraft and black magic, say some. Reading or watching Harry Potter will instill Christian values and teachings in children and adults, say others. Both sides in the debate turn to arguments offered by some of the most influential spokespersons for evangelical Christianity and other mainstream religious leaders. Both sides within religious subcultures share the same core values and spiritual convictions, but opinions and perspectives on Harry Potter draw the theological "line in the sand" like no other spiritual debate topic in recent memory.

The rest

Euthanasia Doctor Commits Suicide after Finding Patient He Killed Was Not Terminally Ill
By Terry Vanderheyden
ZURICH
November 21, 2005

(LifeSiteNews.com) - A doctor acting for the Swiss euthanasia group, Dignitas, has committed suicide after learning that a German woman he euthanized was not terminally ill. Dignitas is under investigation after news of the woman's death
.
The 69-year-old woman contacted Dignitas with a medical report stating she had terminal liver cirrhosis; an autopsy conducted later in Germany revealed the woman was in good health other than depression, and that the medical report was falsified. The woman, whose name was withheld, allegedly convinced her German GP to falsify the report so that she could get sick leave from work.
The rest

Palau Preaches to Overflow Crowd in China Church
Monday, Nov. 21, 2005
Posted: 11:08:00AM EST

BEIJING – Evangelist Luis Palau preached to local Chinese believers in Beijing on Sunday at an evening service that followed an earlier morning service with President Bush. His 40 minutes of passion to win souls to Christ resonated among the overflow audience at Gangwashi Church.

Ten minutes before the service commenced, the main chapel was filled to the back. Some attendants were escorted to the adjacent rooms where they were able to sit on pews and watch the introduction of the 71-year old renowned evangelist from television sets. The crowd sang hymns passionately as they waited for the opening of the service.

The Rev. Ying Dufeng, pastor of Gangwashi Church, presided over the evening service. She introduced Palau as an “old friend,” who has been a frequent guest speaker at the church in each of his visits to Beijing.

Dr. Palau then went to the pulpit to greet the audience and in no time began exerting his evangelistic vigor as he rolled into the sermon. After a brief moment of humor and digest on his meeting with President Bush and former Minister of Information Zhao Qizheng during the past three days, he shared with the crowd how meeting God through Jesus Christ can be a "staggering" event in their lives.
Story

Conservatives Warn of 'Third Way' Approach to Sexuality Debate
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005
Posted: 11:50:31AM EST

WASHINGTON – Conservative leaders from across denominational and geographic borders issued a joint letter warning against “third way” proposals that may change mainline church teachings on sexuality.

"This letter is a shot across the bow of those who, having failed in a frontal assault on biblical standards barring sex outside the marriage of man and woman, are now trying to subvert the standards indirectly,” said the Rev. James V. Heidinger, chair of the Association of Church Renewal that sent out the letter.


According to a Nov. 21 press release from ACR, the letter is meant to inform U.S. mainline Christians of the “new strategy” used by gay-rights advocates in changing current standards on ordination and marriage.

Traditionally, Christians either believed homosexuality is a sin or believed homosexuality – if examined closely in today’s context – is not a sin. This new strategy introduces a “third way” viewpoint on the sexuality debate, where churches agree that homosexuality is a sin but gives room for individuals, churches, and bodies room to dissent.

“This new strategy is less direct." The letter stated. “Yet the effect would be the same: to undermine and ultimately to set aside the historic Christian teaching that affirms God's good gift of sexual intimacy solely within the marriage of man and woman.”

The rest

Monday, November 21, 2005

In the secret of God's tabernacle no enemy can find us, and no troubles can reach us. The pride of man and the strife of tongues find no entrance into the pavilion of God. The secret of his presence is a more secure refuge than a thousand Gibraltars. I do not mean that no trials come. They may come in abundance, but they cannot penetrate into the sanctuary of the soul, and we may dwell in perfect peace even in the midst of life's fiercest storms.

Hannah Whitall Smith
Hannah Whitall Smith Online Books

All Saints sends bishop away without keys
by Douglas LeBlanc

IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. — For the second consecutive day, All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church gave Bishop Jack McKelvey less than he had ordered in a letter to the parish’s rector, David Harnish.

In a
letter dated Nov. 15, McKelvey informed Harnish and the parish’s wardens that he intended to conduct services on Sunday the 20th and to receive the keys and assets of the church on Monday the 21st.

McKelvey told reporters on Sunday that the timetable was uncertain on how the diocese would proceed with All Saints. “It’s too soon right now to say what the next steps will be,” he said in Monday’s edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

McKelvey’s letter indicates, however, what the bishop had ordered for Monday morning: A compliant transfer of All Saints’ property and assets to the diocese.

The rest at ACN

Irondequoit Church Defies Diocese
by Seth Voorhees
Published Nov 21, 2005

Two days after Rochester's Episcopal bishop declared All Saints Church extinct, he came by to pick up the keys to the building Monday. That didn't happen.

“We did not bring the keys to the parish, or the church,” attorney Raymond Dague told Bishop Jack McKelvey, as they stood outside the Irondequoit church. “We will not be turning them over to you today, or at any time.”

Parishioners of All Saints Episcopal Church have sung hymns and said their prayers in the same place since 1927. But a difference in philosophy threatens to shut the parish down.

All saints owes the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester $16 thousand dollars -- money the church refused to pay because the diocese and Episcopal church of the USA supported the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire two years ago.

The rest at Connecticut Six


Diocese of Rochester NY:
Lawyers scrap at All Saints today
Marketta Gregory
Staff writer

(November 21, 2005) — A delegation from Rochester's Episcopal diocese — including the bishop and an attorney — requested the keys and assets from All Saints Episcopal Church today.

"We wanted to come by and request that the assets be tranferred," said Philip Fileri, chancellor for the diocese. "It's the responsibility of the diocese to protect the assets," he told Raymond J. Dague, an attorney representing the Irondequoit church.

"The church isn't open and we did not bring the keys," Dague said, speaking for the church that was voted out of the diocese Saturday for not keeping up its payments to the diocese. The lapse in payments was a way for the church to take a stand against the diocese and the Epicopal Church USA, which supported ordaining a gay bishop without the approval of the worldwide church, called the Anglican Communion.

"We no longer acknowledge your authority," Dague added.The two attorneys argued briefly over whether it was legal for the diocese to take control of the property and assets, as the bishop and others stood silent.

"I heard a hint of a possible lawsuit," Dague said after the diocesan representatives had left.


McKelvey had a news conference this afternoon and fielded more questions from the local media about what would happen next. He didn't offer any specifics, however. We're trying to deal with this one step at a time, McKelvey said, indicating that he hoped to avoid a lawsuit.
Story

Erasing America’s Religious Heritage
November 21, 2005
Janet Parshall

Michael Newdow garnered national attention by working to eliminate the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. He lost the first round before the liberal Ninth Circuit but he filed again and his case is currently pending.

But he’s not waiting for the decision. He’s working now to strip the words, “In God we Trust” from the nation’s currency. He thinks the motto “excludes people who don’t believe in God.”
Newdow wants us to forget our religious heritage. He thinks the rights of the minority overrule the will of the majority. According to one survey, 4/10th of 1 percent of adults in this country claim to be atheists and a majority of Americans believe in God. But put his case in the hands of liberal judicial activists, and we’ll have to start printing new money.

Few people in this country believe that the trip-wire of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment is hit by putting “In God we Trust” on our money. Newdow’s actions are yet another attempt to strip the culture of any acknowledgement of religion.

Beyond the News

Chinese Christians step out of shadows for Bush
By David Eimer in Beijing
Published: 21 November 2005

China's Christians are more used to police surveillance and harassment and worshipping in secret than basking in the limelight. But a visit by US President George Bush to the Gangwashi Church near Tiananmen Square for a morning's service, offered a rare chance for them to step out of the shadows.

Outside the church, one of five officially recognised protestant places of worship in Beijing, hundreds of riot police cordoned off the area yesterday, while plain-clothes officers circulated in the curious crowd.

But inside, the choir sang "Joyful, joyful, we adore thee" in the Bush's honour and, after the service, the pastor presented the President and First Lady with Chinese bibles. "May God bless the Christians of China," the President wrote in the church's visitors book.

For President Bush, a born-again Christian whose core constituency in the US is the religious right, pressing his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on the need for greater religious freedom has been one of the most important aspects of his forty hour visit to China. "My hope is that the government of China will not fear Christians who gather to worship openly," said Mr Bush as he left the Gangwashi church.

But there is little sign that China's leaders are listening.
Story

New Suspect in Indonesia Christian Beheadings Found; Families Grant Forgiveness
A new suspect in the beheadings of three teenage Indonesian Christian girls was found after three-week-long investigation. Families of victims, meanwhile, expressed forgiveness to the murders.
Posted: Monday, November 21 , 2005, 9:25 (UK)

A new suspect in the beheadings of three teenage Indonesian Christian girls was found after three-week-long investigation. Families of victims, meanwhile, expressed forgiveness to the murders.
The 23-year-old suspect, Irfan Masuro, was arrested in Poso in Central Sulawesi province on Nov. 13, an Indonesian police spokesman Sunarko Danu Ardanto told Agence France Presse (AFP) Saturday.


Ardanto added that the police found blood stains on a bayonet of Masuro's that matched samples from one of the slain girls.

The three Indonesian Christian high school girls, aged 15-19, were beheaded by a group of five unidentified men riding on motorcycles, in the town of Poso in the province of Central Sulawesi, on Oct. 29. A fourth girl was able to escape but was seriously wounded, according to reports.

The rest

Adversity is not simply a tool. It is God's most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, adversity becomes easier to bear.

Charles Stanley
In Touch

Closed All Saints holds rites
Dissolved Irondequoit church's Sunday service full of 'extinction' references
Steve Orr
Staff writer

(November 21, 2005) — IRONDEQUOIT — With the bishop who helped sanction the church sitting quietly in a rear pew, members of All Saints Episcopal Church held services Sunday, a day after the local diocese dissolved the Irondequoit parish.

"This has been a terrible but rewarding time, for we learned how to stand up for our Lord Jesus Christ," said All Saints' rector, the Rev. David Harnish.

On Saturday, leaders of the Episcopal Diocese in Rochester voted to declare the church "extinct" for failing to pay about $16,000 in fees and to seize its assets.

The Irondequoit church withheld the money in protest of a 2003 decision by national church leaders to allow same-sex marriages and ordain a gay priest in New Hampshire.

The Rochester diocese has supported that 2003 decision, though a considerable number of other Episcopalians have not — and the dissolution of All Saints has attracted widespread attention in the international church.

"There are those throughout the world who are praying for us this day," Harnish said at the beginning of Sunday morning's service.That service proceeded in seemingly normal fashion, with about 50 people in the pews of a small sanctuary with whitewashed walls and a dark wooden roof.

The rest

My Post To The HOBD Listserv On The Diocese of Rochester
— Brad Drell @ 11:35 pm


The voice of those who would work for unity within our church was drowned out at this Diocesan Convention. I take this in stark contrast to our Diocesan Convention in a conservative diocese that would still hold out hope for our church remaining united.

If this is just about money, I am a monkey’s uncle.

I find the Bishop’s remark about his pastoral care to be in very poor taste under the circumstances. I find his ruling that a motion to table being out of order to be specious. I find his protest of sitting and not participating in the service, not even bowing to the cross as it passed, yet insisting on being present, to be childish. I think this Bishop makes a lair of himself when he says “May we make the decisions without malice and wish that those who choose to walk another path do so with our blessing,” and then show up at this church and behave this way. His appearance at this parish after the vote, his ruling a motion to table out of order, and his dismissal of the pleas to wait six months until after General Convention show nothing but malice in making these decisions.

I am deeply saddened by this. Was six months so long to wait for $16,000? Was it necessary to show up that Sunday, the day after the vote to disband this parish? Was it? This wasn’t necessary to defend the Diocese’s alleged property rights in the parish property. This was an arrogant coup de gras. It is unbeffiting an apostle of Jesus Christ to do such a thing.

The rest at Drell's Descants

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An extinct parish celebrates the Eucharist
by Douglas LeBlanc

IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. — On a bright and cool Sunday morning in this suburb of Rochester, the tensions between the Diocese of Rochester and an evangelical congregation led to this spectacle: Bishop Jack McKelvey sat in protest, sometimes chatting and sometimes silent, through a Holy Eucharist.

One day before, on Nov. 19, the diocese’s annual convention agreed to a proposal from the diocesan council that made All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church extinct, at least in the eyes of the diocese. Approval of this resolution, based on a rare diocesan canon, means the diocese considers the Rev. David Harnish, rector of All Saints since 1986, its former rector; considers the All Saints vestry dissolved; and considers the building and all assets of the parish to be in diocesan hands.

The approved resolution resulted from the parish’s repeatedly declining to pay its $16,000 apportionment for 2005. Parish leaders said their consciences no longer allow them to support the diocese because it favors ordaining gay clergy and blessing gay couples. For All Saints, these leaders said, it became a question of the authority Scripture has over the lives of Christians.


In a letter dated Nov. 15, McKelvey attempted to forbid Harnish from celebrating the Eucharist on Nov. 20, the morning after diocesan convention’s vote.

The rest at the ACN website

God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honour and glory.

Augustine
Works and Biography

5 questions about Christian blogging

I was contacted via email last week by a young journalist from a Patrick Henry College student news magazine, and asked these questions about Christian blogging. Here was my reply back to her, in raw unedited form. If any of it gets published, I’ll link to the edited sanitized version here.

Q: What makes a Christian blog different from a secular blog in the material that they cover? Why have a “Christian blog” and not a neutral blog that’s written by a Christian? What are you, as a Christian blogger, hoping to communicate to your audience?

A: Many Christian blogs are different from a secular blog in that the Christian bloggers write about Christian subjects, whether it is devotional thoughts, Christian perspectives on everyday life, theology, or spiritual reflections. Some bloggers choose to have a distinctly Christian blog in order to communicate with a Christian audience, or prefer to be up front with their Christian testimony. However, I think the greater opportunity is to write a quality blog about whatever subject matter one is passionate about, and allow the bloggers own voice and passion to come through. It is this personal voice that I find most valuable in blogging, since it is my hope that blogging will foster more dialogue and understanding among our human diversity. I prefer to be known as a blogger who happens to be Christian, than a Christian blogger.

The rest

Taskforce of lawyers ready for Anglican split
20 November 2005
By Kieron Wood

American Anglican bishops have set up a taskforce of lawyers to prevent breakaway conservative congregations holding onto property worth billions of dollars.


The group was set up following a meeting in San Juan of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA). The Church is facing a schism over the decision of the diocese of New Hampshire to ordain a practising gay man as bishop.

Conservative dioceses in the US have threatened to secede from ECUSA and form their own Anglican province. Some parishes in liberal dioceses have already declared themselves out of communion with their bishop and have asked traditional bishops from other provinces - particularly England and Africa - to carry out confirmations and ordinations.

A liberal Episcopalian group has already drawn up plans to oust the conservatives in the event of a split. The group proposes to file charges against the bishops in Church courts, replace them with interim liberal bishops and then file claims in the secular courts to seize diocesan property.

The rest at Connecticut Six