Welcome to Transfigurations! This blog is intended to serve the orthodox Anglican community and the wider Christian community. We pray that all that is posted here will be faithful to the Scriptures as the inspired word of God, speak the truth in love, edify, bless and transform this local body of Christ, and be an impetus for revival, repentance, prayer and intercession!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry;
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide;
Take not Thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen;
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men;
From sale and profanation
Of honor and the sword;
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!
Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall;
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to Thee.
... Gilbert K. Chesterton web gallery
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:2-5 photo
Friday, December 22, 2006
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Isaiah 35:1-2 photo
Pope: "Birth of Jesus is Not a Fable, It is a Story that Really Happened"
Calls Children to be Witnesses of Christ among friends and family
By John-Henry Westen
December 21, 2006
(LifeSiteNews.com) - In a meeting today with children from the group Italian Catholic Action, Pope Benedict XVI said "The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago." The Pope added, "Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God Who, out of love, chose to become man."
"In the face of the little Jesus," said Benedict, "we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child. This 'Divine Child' ... demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem." the rest
Property at issue as nine churches quit ECUSA
by Douglas LeBlanc
22 December, 2006
THE Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, said in 2005 that non-Nigerians would be welcome in what is now the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Now he has just over 7000 new members, mostly non-Nigerians, after nine churches in the diocese of Virginia announced that they had voted to leave the Episcopal Church in the United States and align with CANA instead.
Another two churches will vote in January. Four others left the diocese earlier this year and aligned themselves with other Anglican provinces. The 15 churches account for 11 per cent of baptised members and 18 per cent of average Sunday attendance, the diocese said.
Most of the nine congregations have fewer than 300 members, but three of them have megachurch numbers by Episcopalian standards: The Apostles, Fairfax (1050 members); Truro, Fairfax (2500); and The Falls Church (2800), which meets in a city of the same name.
The nine voted on two proposals: to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church, and to contend with the diocese for property rights. Truro and The Falls Church, both founded in the colonial era, are worth a combined $25 million. the rest
Real moral courage
Dec. 22, 2006
More Episcopal parishes voted over the weekend to leave the U.S. church, and perhaps those responsible for the parishioners' anguish over the direction of this Christian denomination feel little remorse. Perhaps they think they stood tall for the moral good when they decided as they did in national conventions on the question of homosexuality.
But theirs was, in my view, a narrow, proud and pointlessly provocative act when they accepted an openly gay man as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire and agreed that parishes could bless same-sex unions if they chose.
They could have found other ways less offensive to many fellow Episcopalians to address wrongs done to gays and lesbians while also understanding that their shrug of the shoulders about scripture could have serious, adverse consequences for Anglican brothers and sisters struggling for their very lives in Africa. the rest
Anglican Splinter Group: Vote not 'Anti-Gay'
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Dec. 22 2006
Congregations who stepped out of the Episcopal Church were welcomed Thursday into their new Anglican home – the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns of Truro Church in Fairfax, Va., one of the largest churches that split from the U.S. church body on Sunday, addressed a letter to the new CANA congregations expressing optimism for the future.
"Your congregational votes were a remarkable testimony to your desire to find a way to continue to remain true to your call as faithful Christians within the Anglican tradition," said Minns, who was appointed as missionary bishop by the Church of Nigeria earlier this year to lead the splinter group.
"I am delighted that we will be walking together into an exciting future."Eight congregations broke from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia this week over the controversial issue of homosexual ordination and marriage and voted to affiliate with the Church of Nigeria. the rest
God became man, took upon him a birth from the fallen nature. But why was this done? Or wherein lies the adorable depth of this mystery? How does all this manifest the infinity of the divine love towards man? It is because nothing less than this mysterious Incarnation (which astonishes angels) could open a way, or begin a possibility, for fallen man to be born again from above, and made again a partaker of the divine nature.
...William Law art
Why not Leave?
December 21, 2006
Every once in awhile, a commenter on one of the orthodox Anglican blogs will raise the question: "Why not just leave?" Sometimes they’re asking, "Why not leave the Episcopal Church?" Often these are ECUSA revisionists who are irritated because they've won the battle, or at least they thought they had, yet we're not dead, we're not willing to admit we've been defeated, and we refuse to quit fighting. We're ruining their victory. My own bishop raised just this question for over half of his most recent annual diocesan convention speech. The answer, of course, is simple. We intend to keep you up at night.
But sometimes the question is not "Why don't you leave the Episcopal Church?," but "Why don't you leave Anglicanism?" Those who ask are often former Episcopalians who have found relief in another church, often Roman Catholic or Orthodox, and they are asking us to join them.
These are people who left Anglicanism because they saw that the ECUSAn ship was sinking. Often they speak out of genuine concern. They now stand safely on the shore, and they are offering a hand, as they fear it is only a matter of time before we sink beneath the waves. I do appreciate their concerns, which, I believe, are genuine.
Others, however, have left Anglicanism, and look back with either the hurt of disappointed lovers, or the anger of those who seem to believe themselves betrayed, who have been sold a bill of goods. The message I too often hear from these people is that not only is the ship sinking, but it was never anything but a leaky tub anyway, and the damned thing deserved to sink.
Sometimes I detect even a note of gleefulness that the useless hulk is going down, and those who stay aboard deserve their fate. But whether they're hurt, or angry, or gleeful, the message is the same. Anglicanism was a bad deal from the start. But it's not too late to get aboard the real ship, the one ship that will never sink. the rest
When You're Sick of Prayer
Two books that make a delightful difference.
Review by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
Addressing fellow believers, J. C. Ryle once wrote, "If I know anything of a Christian's heart, you are often sick of your own prayers." The sickness is drearily familiar: You can't think of what to say. Or you tell God he's majestic, but then you recall that the Subaru needs an oil change. You promise God that you'll fight the good fight and doze off as you speak. You feel stagy and self-conscious at prayer. You try to confess your sins, but your shifty psyche won't come clean. (Both of these fine new books quote C. S. Lewis, who fought his dishonest prayers by beginning like this: "May it be the real I who speaks; may it be the real Thou that I speak to.")
[review of two books: Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight by J. I. Packer and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference by Phillip Yancey]
Universe's first objects possibly seen
December 19, 2006
By Robert Roy Britt
(SPACE.com) -- Astronomers might have seen the very first stars in the universe. If so, these are incredible stars, some 1,000 times as massive as the sun.
The alternative is just as interesting: The objects might be early black holes consuming gas voraciously and spitting out radiation like crazy as nascent galaxies form.
The observations, by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, were first reported on a preliminary basis in November 2005 in the journal Nature. A new analysis was announced Monday.
"We are pushing our telescopes to the limit and are tantalizingly close to getting a clear picture of the very first collections of objects," said Alexander Kashlinsky of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author on two reports to be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. "Whatever these objects are, they are intrinsically incredibly bright and very different from anything in existence today."
The light comes from objects that are more than 13 billion light-years away. That means the light began its journey more than 13 billion years ago. The universe is just a smidgeon older, at 13.7 billion years, and astronomers are pretty sure it took a few hundred million years for the matter of the Big Bang to spread out enough, and cool, to allow the first stars to form. the rest
Top 10 Junk Science Moments of 2006: here
The Real Schismatics and Bigots
by Patrick J. Buchanan -
December 22, 2006
“I grew up in the Episcopal Church. I hope I don’t cry when I talk about this. But the issue is: Are we going to follow Scripture?”
So an anguished Katrina Wagner, a member of the leadership of Truro Episcopal parish, told Washington Post reporters Bill Turque and Michelle Boornstein. They have been covering the sad Christmas story of the breakup of the Episcopal Church in Northern Virginia. Nine parishes have voted to secede from the American church.
What forced the break was the installation at the National Cathedral of Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada as presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Schori has blessed homosexual unions and supported the consecration as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire of V. Gene Robinson, a priest who had left his wife to enter a homosexual union. At last report, Robinson was cohabiting with his gay lover.
Traditionalists have had it with the hierarchy, and the in-your-face elevation of a green and trendy liberal prelate to lead them broke it. Not only have the nine parishes severed ties, with more considering secession, seven of 111 Episcopal dioceses have rejected Schori’s authority. Sad as the story seems, however, it produced mirth and mockery from Washington Post columnist Howard Meyerson. the rest
Pope slams "dismal" theories on gay marriage rights
Fri 22 Dec 2006
ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict spoke out on Friday against legal recognition for unmarried couples and "dismal theories" on the rights of gays to marry which he said stripped men and women of their innate sexual identity.
"I cannot hide my concern about legislation on de facto couples," the Pope said in a Christmas address to the Rome clergy, weighing into a raging debate in Italy over what legal rights should be given to unmarried and gay couples. the rest
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. Zechariah 2:10-13 photo
Polish MPs bid to make Jesus king
A group of Polish members of parliament have submitted a bill seeking to proclaim Jesus Christ king of their overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Forty-six deputies - 10% of the lower house - signed the bill, which was tabled earlier this week, reports say.
Some Polish clerics however have criticised the move as unnecessary. the rest
Church leaders meet with Episcopal bishop
Church wanted to report to new leadership
BY MARIA BARAN
December 21, 2006
EDWARDSVILLE - Leaders of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church say they are cautiously optimistic about their relationship with their bishop after he reinstated the licenses of most of the Eucharist ministers and is scheduling a date to confirm eight members.
In October, the Edwardsville church had requested leadership under a bishop other than Bishop Peter Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield due to an ongoing dispute that culminated with Beckwith in November 2005 refusing to confirm eight members because one is a lesbian.
But a series of meetings held this month may be paving the road for a reconciliation.
Beckwith, who could not be reached for comment, met with the Rev. Virginia Bennett, pastor of St. Andrew's, and six Vestry members Dec. 6 in Springfield. Five days later, he reinstated the licenses after meeting with most of the lay ministers. the rest
Anglican spiritual leader visits Bethlehem
Thursday, December 21, 2006
(Bethlehem):The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem on Thursday and prayed at the traditional site of Jesus' birth.Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, was on a four-day trip to the Holy Land along with other British church leaders.
The group included Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Great Britain, and the Reverend David Coffey, Moderator of the Free Churches.
The leaders have called for prayers for the beleaguered town, where the Christian community has suffered economic hardship and anxiety about their homes and their security. the rest
What Came "After Jesus?" A Look at CNN's Take on the Question
Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2006
Just in time for Christmas, the major news media regularly present magazine cover stories and prime-time television events that focus on the historical questions concerning the birth of Jesus Christ and the theological issues central to Christianity.
Like clockwork, the programs and articles appear -- often following a predictable pattern. A question related to a Christian claim is raised and a panel of experts is asked to respond. This panel most often ranges across the theological spectrum, providing the appearance (and sometimes the reality) of a fair consideration. These are secular news magazines and networks, after all. The supposed interest of the media lies in the current relevance of the issues and the impact of these beliefs upon the world. We should not expect the secular media to serve as evangelists for the Christian Gospel. We are right to expect that the media should be fair in their consideration of these subjects.
Fairness does not mean that evangelicals should not expect to see non-evangelical and non-Christian viewpoints expressed. Liberal theologians and biblical scholars are to be expected among the sources cited or consulted. Fairness does suggest that the orthodox position and a representation of evangelical conviction should be present as well. the rest
UK: Mohammed overtakes George in list of most popular name
By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent
Mohammed, and its most common alternative spelling Muhammad, are now more popular babies' names in England and Wales than George, reflecting the diverse ethnic mix of the population.
The Office for National Statistics said there were 2,833 baby boys called Mohammed in 2006.
Why Japanese girls want Christmas romance
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
Get yourself a wonderful boyfriend by Christmas; Best Christmas date spots; Christmas for lovers – the magazine headlines tell the story: all a Japanese girl wants for Christmas is the perfect date.
In a country where less than one per cent of the population is Christian, Christmas has been reinvented as the most romantic time of the year.
For many Japanese women being taken to an expensive restaurant on Christmas Eve is a crucial indicator of success, while having to go shopping with female friends marks one as a "loser dog", the Japanese equivalent of a Bridget Jones singleton. the rest
The Smallness of God and Anglican Struggles
Fr. Stephen Freeman
December 21, 2006
We draw near to the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity, and I cannot fathom the smallness of God. Things in my life loom so large and every instinct says to overcome the size of a threat by meeting it with a larger threat. But the weakness of God, stronger than death, meets our human life/death by becoming a child - the smallest of us all - man at his weakest - utterly dependent.
And His teaching will never turn away from that reality for a moment. Our greeting of His mission among us is marked by misunderstanding, betrayal, denial and murder. But He greets us with forgiveness, love, and the sacrifice of self.
This way of His is more than a rescue mission mounted to straighten out what we had made crooked. His coming among us is not only action but also revelation. He does not become unlike Himself in order to make us like Him. The weakness, the smallness, the forgiveness - all that we see in His incarnation - is a revelation of the Truth of God. He became the image of Himself, that we might become the image we were created to be.
My heart has continually turned this week to thoughts of the Anglicans - many of them friends from an earlier time in my life. The news tells me that a number of congregations in Virginia have said they will no longer remain in communion with the Episcopal Church. It will be a painful Christmas for many. My prayer for them is not merely success in one more of the ongoing skirmishes that mark life in our post-Christian era, but that God give them the gift of smallness - to be meek, to be weak, to lose if need be. No one can defeat you if you are willing to be small enough, meek enough, weak enough, if you are willing to lose. Christ traded a throne for a cave. Some may have to trade buildings and beloved properties for the Kingdom of God. It’s a swap that’s been made before.
Orthodox Christians in America and England should never forget the kindness shown to us by Anglicans. Many of our Churches were allowed to grow in their parishes, in a kind sharing of facilities. St. Vladimir’s Seminary first met at the General Seminary in N.Y. St. Tikhon himself, I am told, once lived on that campus.
There was a great generosity from Anglicans that helped make St. Sergius Theological School in Paris a reality. More than that was the simple friendship and warmth given to refugees when huge parts of the Orthodox world seemed to be collapsing. Organizations such as the Fellowship of St. Sergius and St. Albans helped to foster understanding that certainly enriched parts of the theological world.
Today the Orthodox Church has, in its turn, provided a home for many Anglican refugees, fleeing a different collapse - but the hospitality is the same. Many of us had to become “small” in order enter the narrow door of Orthodoxy. But again, this is the way of the Kingdom.
May God give His grace to all - even to those whom I have counted as enemies. It is for their sake that God became small in the first place. How can we do less?
Found here-HT to T19
Another Loudoun Congregation To Break From American Episcopal Church
By Margaret Morton
Created: Thursday, December 21, 2006
The congregation of Potomac Falls Episcopal Church in Sterling joined with seven other Virginia parishes last week in voting to break away from the national church over disagreements about permitting women priests and same-sex unions, the appointment of a gay bishop and other leadership issues.
Two other Loudoun parishes-South Riding Church in South Riding and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ashburn- had previously announced their decision to sever connections with the American Episcopal Church. Another conservative parish, Church of Our Savior Oatlands, south of Leesburg, is going through a period of study on the issue.
The Potomac Falls Episcopal Church is a daughter church of historic The Falls Church, where George Washington once worshipped. Currently, the parish holds Sunday services at Horizon Elementary School in Cascades, according to its rector, the Reverend Jack Grubbs. the rest
Christian leaders seek to help pastors battle desires
Gay-sex controversies have led not to new theology but to a call for the church to help pastors fight their urges.
By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
December 21, 2006
DENVER — Recent gay-sex scandals involving evangelical pastors have prompted much soul-searching among conservative Christian leaders.No one has proposed rethinking the theology that homosexuality is a sin. Instead, there's a growing consensus that the church must do a better job of helping pastors resist all immoral desires, such as a lust for pornography, an addiction to drugs or a lifelong same-sex attraction.
Seminary professors, Christian counselors and veteran clergy say the best way to help pastors fight temptation is to get them talking — even about their most shameful secrets. They don't want a sordid tell-all from the pulpit each Sunday. But they would like pastors to bare their weaknesses and admit their lapses before a small group of "accountability partners" — friends committed to listen with empathy, then rebuke or advise as needed.
"Our current environment demands perfection of pastors," said Craig Williford, president of the Denver Seminary. "It doesn't allow leaders to struggle, to be human, to deal with their issues without fear of losing their ministry. We need to help them find safe harbors." the rest
The American Anglican Council Applauds Virginia Churches’ Faithfulness
AAC Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2006
The American Anglican Council (AAC) fervently applauds the faithfulness of the nine Diocese of Virginia churches that announced Sunday, December 17, 2006, their plans to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church (TEC) and affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), the U.S. missionary district of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. The nine churches, with a combined membership of nearly 8,000 and average Sunday attendance of just over 4,300, join four other Diocese of Virginia churches that have disaffiliated from TEC over the past year.
“CANA is growing rapidly, and the AAC joins the Virginia churches in our gratitude to the Church of Nigeria and its archbishop, the Most. Rev. Peter Akinola, for providing much-needed oversight and support during this difficult time in the United States,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, AAC President and CEO.
TEC has continually rejected biblical orthodoxy over the past four decades, and the speed of its moral and theological decline has increased since General Convention 2006, when the convention failed to adequately respond to the Windsor Report and worldwide Primates’ requests. the rest
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The liberal church in meltdown
The rift within the Episcopal Church is a sign of the failure of liberal Christianity
This past Sunday several churches in Northern Virginia announced that their congregations had voted overwhelmingly to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate themselves with Anglican dioceses in Nigeria and Uganda.
Their reasons were the same ones that have prompted Episcopal congregations and even entire dioceses across the country to sever their national ties in recent months: decades of liberalising trends in the Episcopal Church that have led to, among other things, the confirmation in 2003 of the openly gay V Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire and the election in July 2006 of a presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Diocese of Nevada, who is not only a woman (a contentious issue among conservative Episcopalians) but supports both Robinson's confirmation and church blessings for gay unions.
Jefferts Schori pooh-poohed the mass departure of the Virginians, declaring that they were a splinter collection of malcontents looking for a "quick fix" and that they had failed to embrace "diversity" and "tension," which she defined as the essence of Anglicanism.
She has her head in the sand. The Episcopal Church is in serious trouble only compounded by the current schism. It is a church in demographic free-fall, its numbers now standing at 2.2 million (by Jefferts Schori's own estimate), down from 3.4 million at its heyday in 1965. At the 2,700 Episcopalian parishes nationwide, the median Sunday worship attendance is 80 people, and the churches they attend would be crumbling ruins were it not for their substantial endowments left over from the 19th century, when most of them were founded. the rest
Election to Council Presidency Surprises Western Louisiana Bishop
Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana was so surprised by his “raising up” as president of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice that he asked for time alone to pray before consenting to the nomination. The newly constituted council met with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Dec. 4-6 in Weehawken, N.J.
“That was not what I expected when I went to New York that week,” Bishop MacPherson told The Living Church. “One of the important things to bear in mind is that I differ somewhat in my support of the Windsor Report. I want [The Episcopal Church] to stay in the Anglican Communion and to follow the Windsor Report. I talked to the [council] about that fact. I wanted them to have clarity and understand where I’m coming from.”
The council is comprised of bishops who are either presidents or vice presidents of the nine geographic Episcopal Church provinces. Bishop MacPherson, who was elected to a second three-year term as president of Province 7, which includes the dioceses in Texas and surrounding states, said Bishop Jefferts Schori may make some changes to the way council functions. Bishop Frank Griswold, her predecessor, used the council as somewhat of a listening post to understand how national and international issues were affecting individual dioceses and provinces. the rest
Russia Begins Clampdown on Churches
December 20, 2006
By Sher Zieve – A new Russian law demands that churches in that country submit the names of worshippers and the content of weekly sermons to Russian authorities. The Russian Orthodox Church advised that the NGO law, which was originally passed to include non-governmental organizations, has been extended by the Russian government to include churches.
Moscow Patriarchate legal expert Ksenia Chernega commented: “We should not return to the malpractice of the Soviet era when every step of a religious organization was controlled by the government, the text of the sermon was verified and the state kept an eye on every religious document.”
Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin added: “It would be rather strange to count praying people in every parish or monastery and precisely register every donation, which is suggested by an amendment to the Law on Non-Profit Organizations.” the rest
Furor in Italy over "gay nativity" in parliament
By Philip Pullella
Wed Dec 20
ROME (Reuters) - Two leftists in Italy's ruling coalition on Wednesday outraged fellow lawmakers by placing four dolls representing homosexual couples near the baby Jesus in the official nativity scene in parliament.
The two parliamentarians from the small "Rose in the Fist" party said their gesture was to promote the legalization of gay marriage and granting legal recognition to unmarried couples.
Bruno Mellano and Donatella Poretti placed the Barbie and Ken-type dolls in the parliamentary nativity scene, each couple lying down embraced among the shepherds witnessing the birth of Jesus.
Each of the two doll couples, which parliamentary ushers removed after a few minutes, wore miniature placards with slogans in favor of gay rights. the rest
Canada: Anglicans on verge of split over same-sex marriage
Canadian church prepares for synod vote as question divides U.S. congregations
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
With the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion starting to crumble over homosexuality, Canadian Anglicans know they face the same danger next year when their church's governing council meets to vote on blessing same-sex unions.
At least seven congregations in Virginia have voted in the past few days to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church. They include two large historic parishes dating back to colonial times, Truro Church and Falls Church. As many as 10 per cent of Episcopal parishes elsewhere in the country are expected to follow suit.
At the same time, a clergy group representing 20 per cent of Anglican parishes in England met last week with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, titular leader of the 77-million-member world Anglican Communion, to demand a parallel structure within the Church of England rejecting homosexuality. the rest
The Economist: Wars of religion
Dec 19th 2006
From The Economist print edition
Schism in Virginia
TIME was when liberal Episcopalians were all for listening to the voices of the developing world while their conservative brethren were not so sure. No longer. The voices of the third world have spoken loudly on the vexed issues of ordaining women and gays and blessing same-sex unions—they are against the lot—and the roles have been reversed.
On December 17th eight Episcopal parishes in Virginia announced that their members had voted, mostly overwhelmingly, to break with America's Episcopal Church over the ordination of gays and women. The church hierarchy is strongly in favour of both these: in 2003 it allowed the ordination of Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner, as bishop of New Hampshire. The conservatives loathed that, and they dislike the leadership of the presiding American bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The schismatic parishes included two of the oldest and richest in the country—Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in the town of that name—which occupy property worth a combined $25m. The Falls Church once numbered George Washington among its vestrymen. It is now the church-of-choice to Washington's conservative power elite, including Michael Gerson, George Bush's former speechwriter, Porter Goss, a former head of the CIA, and Fred Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard. the rest
Todd Granger: Who determines the member Churches of the Anglican Communion?
It appears likely that some sort of discipline for The Episcopal Church will either be proposed or determined at the upcoming Primates’ Meeting in Dar Es Salaam, discipline that could take the form either of the expulsion of The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Commuion (which I think unlikely); or the demotion of The Episcopal Church to less than full membership in the Anglican Communion, in which the communion relationships with The Episcopal Church will vary from province to province within the Communion. (See my essay, “On Methodists, ‘associated’ Churches and the Anglican Covenant” for a suggestion of what this might look like.) Given this, the question has arisen, “Who has the authority to determine the member Churches of the Anglican Communion?” Clearly the answer is one or more of the “Instruments of Unity” of the Anglican Communion: the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury - though ++Cantuar is perhaps better understood as a “servant” of unity, and the Anglican Consultative Council, newest of the instruments.
The answer to the question of which instrument of unity is determinative of membership seems largely to depend on the theological and ecclesiastical opinions of the person answering. Theologically conservative Episcopalians and Anglicans, or “reasserters”, have tended to understand either the Lambeth Conference or the Primates’ Meeting as having this authority. Thus, on this view the primates meeting together in February 2007 could determine the discipline to which The Episcopal Church would be subjected, or could at least make a recommendation the Lambeth Conference which will meet in 2008, understanding that the episcopal Conference will take up their recommendation and reject it or act on it. Theologically liberal or revisionist Episcopalians and Anglicans, or “reappraisers”, tend to deny such determinative (or even commendatory) authority to the primates, and some have suggested that the Anglican Consultative Council, by virtue of its more “democratic” nature (it is the only instrument to include in its membership clergy and laity as well as bishops), has the membership-determining authority. the rest
Reading between the lines: Commentary on the latest Press Release from the Diocese of Virginia
December 19, 2006
One of the things we learn when we've been in Virginia for a while is that saying things "directly" is not exactly the "Virginia Way." And so when we read the latest press releases from the Diocese of Virginia, we begin to recognize that reading them is an art form. They must be read between the lines - only hold on to your hat, it might become useful.
For the past month we've been treated to several rather interesting press releases and letters from the Bishop of Virginia and the Diocese. First there is a protocol for departing congregations, then there is "I never knew you" statement that there is no protocol for departing congregations, then there is a "yes, well, there is a protocol for departing congregations and I know the Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia actually wrote it and the Bishop of Virginia put his stamp on it, but it really isn't what we all said it was." And then there were the letters - the three-page "Bishop is going to sue my cat" letter followed by the "why can't we all just get along letter" followed by the "you'all are just a bunch of Nigerians" letter followed by the a literal statement of the facts, followed by last night's latest press release. The rest at BabyBlueOnline
Katharine Jefferts Schori: Reconciliation Is the Episcopal Mission
ENS:'Large, viable remnant' wants to continue as Episcopal congregation
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
In what strange quarries and stoneyards the stones for the celestial wall are being hewn! Out of the hillsides of humiliated pride; deep in the darkness of crushed despair; in the fretting and dusty atmoshpere of little cares; in the hard cruel contacts that man has with man; wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely way, there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple. ...Phillips Brooks photo
'Fringe' Church winning the believers
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
December 19, 2006
Pentecostals are the fastest-growing group of Christians. Attendance at their services has moved into third place behind Anglicans and Roman Catholics in England, according to research published today.
Once regarded as a fringe sector, they outnumber Methodists, although it is not strictly fair to compare the two. Methodists belong to one church while Pentecostals tend to gather in independent churches or groups of churches.
Pentecostals are so called because they practise the charisms, the “gifts of the Spirit” listed by St Paul in chapter 12 of his first letter to the Corinthians. The name is derived from the Feast of Pentecost, when the Disciples were gathered in Jerusalem and were inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak in many languages, enabling them to preach the gospel to the nations. Speaking in tongues, along with prophecy, healing and leadership, are among the charisms practised in Pentecostal churches today. the rest
Advent: Waiting on Christ
Crosswalk Family Editor
It's that time of year again - Advent. It's always tempting to skip over Advent and jump right into the euphoria of Christmas Day - after all, the rest of the United States began gorging itself on Christmas cookies in October. But, I believe something is lost when we rush through the beautiful, reflective season of Advent.
One of my favorite elements of Advent is its dual purpose - it's not just a liturgical season carved out for reminiscing over the days before Christ, but a time set aside to anticipate Christ's second, glorious coming. Like the ancient Israelites we wait in anticipation of an event we can only dimly imagine - an event where all that is right, good, and truthful will come to fruition in His perfect timing. the rest of the meditation
Nurse’s Refusal to Assist in Abortion Leads to Hospital Policy Protecting Conscience Rights
By Gudrun Schultz
December 19, 2006
(LifeSiteNews.com) - A nurse’s refusal to participate in the abortion of a baby with Down Syndrome led a Chicago hospital to develop a policy protecting the right of health-care workers to refuse on moral grounds, Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink reported yesterday.
Mary Bauer was 48 when she decided to enter nursing, eventually taking a position in the obstetrics unit at a Chicago hospital. On her first day at work, she was told she would be participating in the abortion of a baby diagnosed with Down Syndrome, at 22-weeks gestation.
Bauer refused."I just told them, ‘I can’t take that patient. I’m very pro-life. I cannot participate in any way, shape or form. I just can’t do it, so I need an alternate assignment," Bauer told CitizenLink.Fearful that she would lose her position, Bauer investigated Illinois law and discovered two statues protecting health-care workers who object to participating in medical procedures on moral grounds. the rest
Another Pastor Out at New Life Church
By The Associated Press
Tue, Dec. 19 2006
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A pastor who worked with young adults at New Life Church has admitted sexual misconduct and resigned just weeks after former church leader Ted Haggard stepped down over sexual immorality.
Christopher Beard, who headed the "twentyfourseven" ministry that taught leadership skills to young adults, resigned Friday, said Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at the 14,000-member church.
Brendle said Beard told church officials about "a series of decisions displaying poor judgment, including one incident of sexual misconduct several years ago."
The church said in a statement that the misconduct was with another unmarried adult several years ago. Beard, who worked at the church for nine years, has since married. the rest
18,000 Xmas pilgrims expected to cross from J'lem to Bethlehem
By Irit Rosenblum, Haaretz Correspondent
The Tourism Ministry will be implementing special arrangements to make it easier for an expected 18,000 pilgrims to cross from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, December 24 and 25.
The steps, which are being taken in cooperation with the police, the Israel Defense Forces and the IDF liaison with the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem, include shuttles to Bethlehem, and more personnel to handle the heavy traffic at the Rachel crossing into Bethlehem. Each pilgrim will also receive a holiday greeting and gift from the Tourism Ministry.
Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said that in the interest of ensuring freedom of religion, Defense Minister Amir Peretz has approved the passage of 500 Palestinian Christians from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and that the ministry is also working closely with the private Palestinian tourism sector. "We view pilgrimage as a bridge to peace." Herzog added. "The ministry is doing everything it can to assist believers to obtain the greatest possible access to Christian sites in general and to Bethlehem in particular. Beyond our desire to make things easier for tourists, we are aware of the importance of tourism for Bethlehem and the Palestinian economy and are working in complete cooperation with the the IDF and the police to show maximum consideration for tourists during the holiday." the rest
Jerusalem Post: Back in time to the City of David
ABC's Take on the Episcopal Rift
Posted by Ken Shepherd on December 18, 2006
ABC's Laura Marquez displayed last night how the media just don't get religion.
Introducing her story on a rift in the Episcopal Church as conservative parishes in Northern Virginia voted to leave the American branch of the Anglican Communion for greener theological pastures, Marquez blamed conservatives for troubling the church's still waters.
"Members of Virginia's Truro Church may have been singing the words "The Church's One Foundation," but the action they took today rocked that foundation to its core."
In other words, conservative, orthodox Episcopalians are the bad guys, prompting a "secession" as Marquez called it, from the Episcopal Church. But that just shows Marquez's confusion as to the church's true foundation.
The opening stanza of the scripturally-inspired hymn Marquez was referring to talks of Christ being the foundation of the church and the third stanza speaks of Christ guarding His Church from "those who hate her" and "false sons in her pale" and how over "both foe or traitor, She ever shall prevail." the rest
News re: split of VA churches
The Age: Conservative moves stir Anglican troubles
LA Times: Blessed be the lawyers
THE DECISION BY two Virginia congregations to leave the Episcopal Church of the United States and submit to the leadership of a Nigerian archbishop is rooted in a dispute about God's will. But the parting of theological ways inevitably involves things of this world.
The Virginia congregations voted not only to change their institutional allegiance but also to hold on to church property. The latter decision moved the bishop of Virginia to issue a statement asserting the larger church's "canonical and legal rights over these properties."
Agape Press: Stage Set for Costly Legal Property Fight in Episcopal Church USA
BBC: Profile: Archbishop Peter Akinola
Amy Wellborn: Anglicanisms
Snow: Don't read meaning into church schedule change
Spokesman says breakup of Episcopal Church over homosexuality unrelated
Posted: December 19, 2006
A change in the White House church schedule was just that: a change and not necessarily related to the front page news coming from the Episcopal Church about what a Nigerian bishop calls a "satanic attack" on the organization, according to a White House spokesman.
Tony Snow, the spokesman, told Les Kinsolving, WND's correspondent at the White House, that he just didn't know the cause for the recent schedule change.
"Yesterday on the Internet, the following news was reported nationwide from the White House, and I quote: 'Loaded into press van 2, the pool assumed the proper sobriety of an anticipated church visit, only to be told five minutes later that 'church is cancelled,' no reason offered.' And my question, did this last-minute cancellation of Episcopal church worship have anything to do with this morning's top of page one reporting of the biggest split of more than 200 years of Episcopal church history?" Kinsolving asked.
"I wish I could just say a flat, no. I have no idea," Snow said. the rest
Leader: Episcopal Church not splintering
By RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer
NEW YORK — The Episcopal Church is not splintering, despite a decision by several Virginia parishes to leave and join Anglican conservatives, the head of the church said Monday.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the parishes' move would not encourage other parishes to align with Nigeria's Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, who has called the church's growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack."
"This is a handful of congregations of a total of nearly 7,200, the vast majority of which are engaged in healthy and vital ministry," Jefferts Schori said Monday, a day after six Virginia parishes, including two of the state's most prominent, announced they would break away. the rest
Monday, December 18, 2006
When therefore the first spark of a desire after God arises in thy soul, cherish it with all thy care, give all thy heart into it; it is nothing less than a touch of the divine loadstone, that is to draw thee out of the vanity of time, into the riches of eternity. Get up therefore, and follow it as gladly as the wise men of the east followed the star from heaven that appeared to them. It will do for thee as the star did for them, it will lead thee to the birth of Jesus, not in a stable at Bethlehem in Judea, but to the birth of Jesus in the dark centre of thine own soul. ...William Law photo
So many Anglican questions, so little ink
Every time I sit down at a computer keyboard to write a 700-word column about the global Anglican wars, my head starts spinning.
There is just too much history, too much doctrine, too many names and too many competing networks, jurisdictions and churches. How can anyone keep all the facts straight? How can you describe the various sides in the debates in language that is accurate and as neutral as possible? I have the advantage, as a columnist, of being able to take a narrow focus on specific voices, issues and opinions. But I remember what it was like when I was a reporter covering news stories linked to this global conflict.
This is hard work and I know it. Believe me, I know it.
As I have written before, most mainstream reporters are framing their stories as if the votes by traditionalists to flee the Diocese of Virginia and the U.S. Episcopal Church are part of a national, American story. Period. This is wrong. This is a local story, a diocesan story, a national story and a global story. The global story is the biggest, since it involves the possible splintering of the third-largest Christian body in the world. And then there is the issue of when this national, Episcopal war began. It’s been raging, at the very least, since the late 1970s. the rest
Conservatives' Grip on Key Virginia Court Is at Risk
By Jerry Markon and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 18, 2006
A growing list of vacancies on the federal appeals court in Richmond is heightening concern among Republicans that one of the nation's most conservative and influential courts could soon come under moderate or even liberal control, Republicans and legal scholars say.
A number of prominent Republican appointees have left or announced plans to leave the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which has played a key role in terrorism cases and has long been known for forceful conservative rulings and judicial personalities.
Republican concerns also are fueled by the pending Democratic takeover of Congress, as several of President Bush's 4th Circuit nominees were already bottled up in the Senate when Republicans ran it. From the GOP's perspective, the situation now will worsen. The rest
Episcopal Parishes in Virginia break away
Titusonenine: More News Links on the Momentous Decisions of a Number of Virginia Parishes
The Living Church: Seven Virginia Parishes Vote to Leave Diocese
Connecticut Six: Network Moderator Commends Virginia Churches
BBC: Schism looming for Anglican Communion
Washington Post: 7 Va. Episcopal Parishes Vote to Sever Ties
Washington Times: 8 Virginia flocks break away
Episcopal Parishes in Virginia Vote to Secede
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: December 18, 2006
Two large and influential Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly yesterday to leave the Episcopal Church and to affiliate with the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, a conservative leader in a churchwide fight over homosexuality.
Five smaller churches in Virginia also announced yesterday that they had voted to secede, joining four others that have already left and three more expected to announce their decisions soon. Some affiliated with other archbishops in Africa.
The secessions could lead to battles over the churches’ property, although both sides say they want to avoid legal fights. The move is also likely to escalate divisions in the worldwide Anglican Communion, a 77-million-member alliance in which the Episcopal Church is the American branch.
The Rev. Martyn Minns, rector at one of the two large parishes, Truro Church in Fairfax, said at a news conference: “A burden is being lifted. There are new possibilities breaking through.”
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The voice is John,
the word is Christ
The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him”.
To prepare the way means to pray well; it means thinking humbly of oneself. We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.
If he had said, “I am the Christ”, you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself. He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.
... from a sermon by Augustine, bishop, 4th century icon
ENS: Virginia bishop vows to care for remaining Episcopalians, assert rights to departing congregations' property
Presiding Bishop says 'quick fix' of departing is not ultimate solution
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Episcopal News Service] Bishop Peter Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia said December 17 that he was saddened by the fact that, as of that afternoon, Nigerian and Ugandan congregations were "occupying Episcopal churches."
Lee's statement came as eight of Virginia's 195 congregations announced that their members had voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of Uganda or the Anglican Church of Nigeria by way of the Anglican District of Virginia, part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The members of the eight congregations amount to about 8,000 of the diocese's roughly 90,000 Episcopalians.
The Episcopal Church includes some 7,200 congregations in its 100 domestic dioceses, and about 150 in its 10 overseas dioceses and one convocation.
The full text of Lee's statement is available here.
KJS statement: "We are saddened when individuals decide they must leave the Episcopal Church, for we are diminished when any brother or sister departs from the community," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in reply to a reporter's inquiry late last week.
"We live in a time and a society that is easily drawn to polarities. These departures are taking place in most mainline denominations, and are an expression of the anxiety of our times and the discomfort many people feel in trying to live in tension. Anglicanism has always held that living in the tension of comprehensiveness is our vocation. God gives us a gift in the midst of that diversity, and we more fully know both truth and God's will for us when we are able to embrace that diversity. The quick fix embraced in drawing lines or in departing is not going to be an ultimate solution for our discomfort."
|Announcement of Truro Church vote to leave Episcopal Diocese of VA|
December 17, 2006
Third Sunday of Advent
Courtesy of AnglicanTV
YMCA returns to its Christian roots
By Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times
December 17, 2006
NASHVILLE -- Every day, 2,500 people pour into the Green Hills Family YMCA to lift weights, shoot hoops, and swim. Scott Reall believes many are searching for salvation.
On a recent evening, as disco music blared out of an aerobics room down the hall, Reall led a small group in prayer. Heads bowed, hands clasped, about a dozen men and women sang "Amazing Grace." They had come to the YMCA -- some in pearls, some in tank tops -- to share their struggles with depression, and their hope that Christ would pull them through.
"People come to the YMCA hurting," said Reall, who gave up his work as a fitness trainer to run a Christian ministry at the Y. "Alcoholism, bulimia, divorce, grief, pornography addiction, loneliness, drug abuse. They're looking for so much more than exercise."
Reall is at the vanguard of a small but growing movement to bring Christ back into the Young Men's Christian Association. About 13 percent of the 2,600 YMCA branches across the United States have set up special committees to promote Christianity. Hundreds of Y leaders convene each year to swap ideas on how to "lift up the C in the YMCA." the rest
NYT: An Atheist Can Believe in Christmas
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: December 17, 2006
IF last holiday season charitably could have been described as the war-on-Christmas Christmas — with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News declaring war on the warriors and others declaring war on him — maybe it’s not such a stretch to think of this year’s prevalent yuletide theme as the war-on-Christ Christmas.
And not just Christ by himself, of course. Also God and Allah and every other version of an omnipotent, unseen deity who inspires annual celebrations, love, obedience and occasional fanaticism among untold millions.
At least such a theme is the message that book buyers seem to be sending. “The God Delusion,” a jeremiad against religious belief by Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist at Oxford, reached No. 4 on the New York Times best-seller list recently and sits at No. 6 today, a week before Christmas. “Letter to a Christian Nation,” another spirited defense of atheism, by its American standard-bearer, Sam Harris, reached No. 6 in October. He wrote a previous best seller, “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason.” the rest
Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion
By Rowan Cantuar
Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglican Communion
Sat, Dec. 16 2006
'He comes the prisoners to release, In Satan's bondage held.' These are words from one of my favourite Advent hymns, 'Hark the glad sound!' And they draw our minds towards an aspect of Christmas that is often neglected because we prefer some of the 'softer' elements in the story.
Jesus of Nazareth was born, lived, died and rose because human beings were not free. Since the dawn of human history, men and women had been trapped – even the very best of them – by the heritage of suspicion and alienation towards God and fear of each other. They had been caught up in the great rebellion against God that began even before human history, the revolt of God's creatures against God out of pride and self-assertion. Satan, the fallen angel, stands as a sign of this primordial tragedy, showing that even the most highly endowed being can be corrupted by self-assertion. All of the intelligence and spiritual dignity belonging to the angels did not stop Lucifer from the ultimate madness of rejecting the God in whose presence he stood.
And this corruption of intelligence and dignity spreads like an epidemic through the universe. We know and sense that we are living in something less than truth or justice, but don't know how to get out of the trap. The birth and life of Jesus don't first of all change our ideas – they change what's actually possible for us. They set us free. the rest
Va. parishes split from Episcopal church
By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press Writer
Dec. 17, 2006, 12:25PM
FAIRFAX, Va. — Two of the largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly Sunday to break from The Episcopal Church and join fellow Anglican conservatives forming a rival U.S. denomination.
Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.
The archbishop hopes to create a U.S. alliance of disaffected parishes called the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Truro rector Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria earlier this year to lead Akinola's American outreach.
Ninety percent of Falls Church parishioners and 92 percent of Truro members who cast ballots in the last week supported cutting ties with The Episcopal Church, parish leaders said Sunday.
Six other Virginia parishes are voting this month whether to leave.
The Truro and Falls Church break is likely to spark a lengthy, expensive legal fight over the historic properties, which are worth millions of dollars.
The Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of global Anglicanism, has been under pressure from traditionalists at home and abroad since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. link
Sunday, December 17, 2006
BREAKING NEWS: Truro votes overwhelmingly to sever ties with the Episcopal Church
Truro Church has also voted 92.1% to sever ties with The Episcopal Church and join CANA immediately. They also voted 94.3% to retain their property. link