Saturday, January 20, 2007

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

No man may turn his back in the day of battle or refuse to go to the holy war. We must fight if we would reign, and we must carry on the warfare till we overcome every enemy, or else this promise is not for us, since it is only for "him that overcometh." We are to overcome the false prophets who have come into the world and all the evils which accompany their teaching. We are to overcome our own faintness of heart and tendency to decline from our first love. Read the whole of the Spirit's word to the church at Ephesus.

If by grace we win the day, as we shall if we truly follow our conquering Leader, then we shall be admitted to the very center of the paradise of God and shall be permitted to pass by the cherub and his flaming sword and come to that guarded tree, whereof if a man eat, he shall live forever. We shall thus escape that endless death which is the doom of sin and gain that everlasting life which is the seal of innocence, the outgrowth of immortal principles of Godlike holiness. Come, my heart, pluck up courage! To flee the conflict will be to lose the joys of the new and better Eden; to fight unto victory is to walk with God in paradise. ...CH Spurgeon

Dear Readers,

I will still be in Florida for a few more days visiting relatives. Blogging will be sporadic. I hope to post a final report about the AMIA conference from Fr. Bob Hackendorf when he is able to get to it.

There has been a lot of news in the Episcopal/Anglican world this week. Most people will have been checking out the other main Anglican blogs. In case you have missed anything, here are a few links:

A News Release from the Communications Office of The Diocese of Virginia
Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’

PB Schori on Virginia

The Rev. Dr. John Yates Writes to The Fall's Church

AAC Statement on Developments in the Diocese of Virginia

Impressions of the AMiA Winter Conference from Jacksonville, Florida by Fr. Robert Hackendorf, Rector of St. Andrews in Syracuse, New York (Day Three)
Friday, January 19, 2007

This is Friday, the third day of Winter Conference. A few attendees have gone home, but most of the faithful seem to be here still. There is a sense of expectancy in the air, in anticipation of hearing from the Global South Primates later this morning.

Once again, Morning Prayer was led by the Rev. Roger Salter, Rector of St. Matthew’s Church in Birmingham, AL. We used the office from the 1928 BCP and I was pleased to see many young faces joining us in prayer at such an early hour (7:15 am, which followed what have been two very late nights for many of us) Father Salter gave us a wonderful exposition of the theme verse of the conference, expanding the tent. I can only imagine that his flock is blessed to have such a fine expositor of Scripture as their pastor.

We left Morning Prayer to hear from J.I. Packer, who continued his outstanding exposition of First Corinthians. This session had the theme “Leaders under the light and power of the Holy Spirit.” Dr. Packer noted that when he first began his ministry as a Bible teacher there was seemingly little interest in the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit, but the last 40 years have seen a surge of teaching and curiosity about this subject, due largely to the spread of the Charismatic Renewal. Dr. Packer said “The Holy Trinity is a team in which all three persons have a job to do. The Father is the planner, … the Son is Mediator and the Means of everything that happens… the Holy Spirit is the executive agent of the Godhead… everything that happens is “by” the Holy Spirit. Our Bible Study concluded with a three-fold charge from Dr. Packer: 1) Seek maturity for yourself and for those you lead; 2) Oppose rivalry, quarrels, tension and division; 3) Serve the Church with honesty and humility.

Following our studies in I Corinthians, Bishop Sandy Greene facilitated a panel discussion with Archbishops Tay, Yong Ping Chung, Kolini, Dirokpa, and Mtetemela. (Bishop Thad Barnum headed up a separate group with Archbishops Nzimbi, Akrofi, Ernest Malango and Ntahoturi.)

The first questioner raised the concern as to whether the DNA of the various fellowships of Orthodox Anglicans would allow for an eventual reunion in a unified Church some day.

++Tay pointed out the DNA metaphor, although very trendy these days, has its limitations, it seems to discount the free will decisions we all make that either promote or detract from unity.

++Mtetemela said that Christ calls us to unity, and our disunity is disobedience to Christ.

++Kolini said that “when we are here, we are in unity.” He recalled Christ’s statement that he did not come to bring peace, but division, even among families. Further, some divisions, such as the division between light and darkness, cannot be reconciled—one chases away the other. He mentioned how Rick Warren said that he had more in common with a believing Anglican than a Liberal Baptist. +Kolini went on to say that although there is division among the denominations, there is unity in the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. There can’t be real unity in the Church until there is separation from heresy.

The second and final question concerned the Primate’s meeting in Tanzania and the GS primates posture towards Katherine Schori.

++Yong Ping stressed the need for prayer. He said that we should pray that the Lord would “shut the mouth of the Devil…and open the mouth of the orthodox leaders in that meeting.”

++Mtetemela said that as a host in Africa, you do not kick out a stranger in your home, but you might ask why they are there. He asked for prayer since there is a certain amount of “righteous anger” on the part of many primates, that the Lord would give them grace to speak the truth in love. The focus of the meeting will be the entire Church, not Katherine. The issue is not ECUSA, but how the Devil is tearing apart the Church by distorting the truth.

++Kolini said that the problem with Katherine is not a gender issue, but a faith issue. The primates are going to Tanzania in obedience to the Holy Spirit. The GS primates will “do what the HS tells them to do.”

Bishop Greene concluded the panel discussion with a prayer for the Primates.

The panel discussion was followed by a wonderful presentation from Dr. Jack Deere of Wellspring Church. Dr. Deere is well known for his advocacy of the use of spiritual gifts in the life of the Church. He pointed out that Liberalism often discounts the role of the supernatural, but sadly many Evangelicals do the same thing. He talked about how the sign gifts can function within a parish without compromising the ultimate authority of the Scriptures.

The afternoon gave us time to attend more workshops and to gather with our Regional Networks. I attended the Northeast Network meeting, led by our Network Leader Ken Ross and Bishop Thad Barnum. Like the rest of the AMiA, we giving priority to new church plants. Our region also tithes 10% of our income to ministry to the poor. We are looking forward to our next regional gathering at Gordon Conwell Seminary in late April.

It was announced that the 2008 Winter Conference will be in Dallas. I can hardly wait.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Impressions of the AMiA Winter Conference from Jacksonville, Florida by Fr. Robert Hackendorf, Rector of St. Andrews in Syracuse, New York (Day Two)
Thursday, January 18, 2007

This is the second day of Winter Conference. Jacksonville is still unseasonably cool and dreary, but when you live in the Northeast, you take what you can get!

Morning Prayer was led by the Rev. Roger Salter, Rector of St. Matthew’s Church in Birmingham, AL.

Following the Daily Office, J.I. Packer brought the morning devotional. He began with a reference to I Chronicles 12:32: And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. The men of Issachar mentioned in this text were conspiring to make David King. Dr. Packer made the observation that those attending the Winter Conference are from a variety of ecclesiastical jurisdictions, and yet the people gathered in Jacksonville have this in common: they understand the times; they understand that our task is to make Jesus King-- to have Jesus acknowledged as Lord in the Church of God, so that the Church once again lives under the authority of revealed truth. Orthodox Anglicans are on a journey. Many of us have suffered “intolerable unfaithfulness” and “intolerable pressures”. But it is critical that we maintain our unity. Dr. Packer pointed out that our circumstances have forced us to debate and confront the larger Anglican entities from which we have departed. However, we must not allow “everlasting debate and disputes” to characterize our common life together. We must not live as if “Always arguing is one aspect of righteousness in God’s sight!” Our life together should be as a united family in Christ. Dr. Packer used this concern for unity in the Orthodox Anglican family to launch a fine exposition of First Corinthians chapter one which he entitled “Leaders under the Cross and Power of Christ.” This was a fine, scholarly and practical teaching from the Word of God. How refreshing—and what a great way for this day to begin!

The next speaker was Bishop Chuck Murphy, the Chairman of the AMiA. In a sense, his address was a “State of the Movement” address. Bishop Murphy told us of the growth and expansion of the AMiA as a missionary movement in North America. First, he spoke about this year’s Winter Conference. Over 1,600 attending the Opening Eucharist. Over 1,200 are registered for the Conference. (this is growth of 50% over the 2006 Conference, which at the time was the largest Winter Conference to date). People have come the this conference from 36 States and 15 Nations. 6 international Archbishops and 2 retired Archbishops are present. 9 Anglican bishops (in addition to the AMiA bishops) are present. 8 Anglican Organizations, including the Anglican Communion Network (represented first and foremost by their Moderator, Bishop Robert Duncan), the Church of England in South Africa, Bishop Lyons with his growing convocation of clergy and parishes, Chris Sugden from Anglican Mainstream, and Bishop David Pytches of the New Wine Movement in Britain. The Rev. Terry Fullam, a legendary leader in the renewal of the Episcopal Church, The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon of the Prayer Book Society, David Virtue of Virtue Online and Dr. J. I. Packer are with us as well.

Bishop Murphy encouraged us to prepare for expansion. The Anglican Mission has grown from 11 brave parishes in 2000 to 108 parishes by the end of 2006. But even those numbers don’t tell the whole story. In addition to the 108 parishes, there are 13 affiliated fellowships, which are growing and will become parishes when they are large enough. Further, there are 64 parishes currently “in the pipeline” and moving toward full affiliation status. There are 9 new parishes in Canada. On average, the Mission welcomes a new parish every 3 weeks. The Anglican Mission now has a presence in 27 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Most of our parishes are not “refugees” from ECUSA, but are newly planted congregations.

Bishop Murphy then spoke of the importance of upholding the distinctives of the AMiA:

Missionary Outreach, as opposed to Institutional Denominationalism
Genetic Linkage to the Global South, being under Authority
Mission and Church Planting Focus vs. Maintenance Focus
Building by the Planting of Networks
Building by Releasing Authority

Then, the Chairman shared the vision for the Networks undergirding the work of the Mission:

There are now 14 Networks in the U.S. and Canada
These Networks oversee 108 congregations
These Networks are currently raising up 35 new church plants
Together, the Network Leaders serve as a “steering committee” for our movement

Bishop Murphy acknowledged the arrival of Ellis Brust as our President and Chief Executive Officer and Cindy Brust as Director of Communications. Andy Piercy is coming on board for worship development. Ray Seigler will head up The Fellows Program.

As he concluded, Bishop Murphy mentioned our new corporate name, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is the umbrella for the Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, and the Anglican Coalition in America. He alluded to our new programs for leadership development and new outreach initiatives to Hispanics and Asians. It was very clear that the AMiA is indeed “expanding her tent!”

The workshops offered are of outstanding quality. Church planting, worship leadership, children’s ministry, youth ministry, the new trial use Prayer Book, and evangelism were among the workshops offered.

I was most excited to learn of the emerging youth ministry efforts of the mission, dubbed “YAMIA”. You can find out more about this at the new website As a former youth pastor, I was very excited to see the care and enthusiasm for reaching the next generation displayed by the youth ministers present at the conference. I was glad my own youth pastor was able to attend the YAMIA-sponsored workshops.

In the evening, I was privileged to be on a cruise of the St. John’s River, which, other than the Nile, is the world’s only river to flow from South to North. The Lord certainly has a sense of humor— like this unusual river, the AMiA is a movement that flows from the (Global) South to the North! The cruise was sponsored by
Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee, whose profits benefit the widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide. At St. Andrew’s, we are great fans of this outfit and their coffee. “Drink a Cup and Do Good” is their motto and it fits.

Coming back to the riverside, I headed back to the hotel to write this synopsis of the day’s events. Once again, tired but encouraged, I reflect on how happy I am to be here. I have seen a glimpse of the future of North American Anglicanism as it could be, and I am glad. Thanks be to God!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Impressions of the AMiA Winter Conference from Jacksonville, Florida by Fr. Robert Hackendorf, Rector of St. Andrews in Syracuse, New York (Day One)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

As we arrived at the Hyatt Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida for the first evening of the Anglican Mission Winter Conference, I felt like I was entering a giant family reunion. I saw many old friends from every part of the country. Classmates, associates, acquaintances from other gatherings—even former Rectors and professors. From the start, I felt like I was home—not an alien observer on some ecclesiastical planet far, far away.

There are 11 of us from St. Andrew’s, and as we had dinner at the Hotel before the Opening Eucharist, our Bishop, +Sandy Greene, came by and offered us a word of greeting and encouragement. Everyone was very excited to see him. This is so different from any diocesan function I have ever attended! What makes this experience unique? As I sit and watch the folks from our parish and so many others it occurs to me—people are really happy to be here.

As I begin to take my place before the liturgy, there are what seems to be over 100 clergy—Deacons, Presbyters, Bishops and Primates vested and lining up for the Procession. The priest next to me exchanges greetings. He is also from Upstate New York. By now, the M.C. is organizing the procession. (this is always a bit like herding cats, but this event is well organized and goes well). The praise and worship cascades from the Hotel ballroom. Crown Him the Lord of years,/the Potentate of time,/Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime./All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;/Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity. The energy in the room is palpable. The worship space is full to overflowing—the congregation numbers over 1600, the largest Winter Conference ever. The hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” reverberates in the place. Hands are raised in worship. Bishops, including several primates along with the AMiA Network Deans take their place next to the Altar.

Archbishop Kolini begins the liturgy “Blessed be God…” the congregation thunders back the response. The first lesson is the Scripture that sets the theme for the Conference:

"Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.”

“Spreading out and settling in the desolate cities…” this seems to describe the mandate and growth of the Anglican Mission so well! I am struck by how appropriate these verses are for us.

The Second Lesson was Revelation 3:7-13, the part of John’s vision that speaks of an open door. The Gospel is John 17:20-26, a part of Christ’s prayer in the Garden.

Archbishop Yong Ping delivered a powerful sermon on these texts. He pointed out that Isaiah 54 was the byword of William Carey’s missionary movement. The AMiA is first and foremost a missionary movement. Like Carey, we must expect great things from God and attempt great things for God. He spoke forcefully about the Open Door—God opens doors for his Church, but we never know what is on the other side of the door until we step across the threshold. What awaits us there is not always easy. Finally, the Archbishop emphasized the centrality of prayer. Christ began his earthly ministry with 40 days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness, and he brings his ministry to a close with this prayer in the garden.

After the Creed, Bishop Chuck Murphy, Chairman of the AMiA, led the Anglican Mission clergy in a reaffirmation of their baptismal vows and reaffirmation of the Solemn Declaration of Principles. The latter part of this moving experience went like this:

Bishop: …I now call upon you to reaffirm the Solemn Declaration you made when you entered this Mission.

What do you believe about the Holy Scriptures?

Clergy: I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation.

Bishop: What do you believe concerning the faith of this church?

Clergy: I affirm the catholic creeds, the dogmatic definitions of the General Councils of the undivided Church, the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal, 1662, the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England in their literal and grammatical sense, and the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888, since the same are conformable to the Scriptures, and I consequently hold myself bound to teach nothing contrary thereto.

Bishop: What, therefore, is your solemn declaration?

Clergy: I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrines, Discipline and Worship of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission in America.

Bishop: Almighty God, who has placed this faith in your heart, give you the grace and power to conform your ministry according to these vows and this solemn declaration.

Clergy: Amen.

Next, the Network Leaders are recognized. The 14 Networks are clusters of pastors, church planters and lay leaders who meet for strategic planning, mutual encouragement and the support of church planting. The Leader of our Network (the Northeast Network), Ken Ross was present. These leaders represent some of the most mature, gifted people I have ever known. There can be no doubt that the Anglican Mission is blessed by their ministry.

We watch a video produced by Jay Greener which features testimonies from members of Anglican Mission congregations, interlaced with commentary from Bishop Murphy and Archbishop Kolini. They talk about the Great Commission mandate of the AMiA. The testimonies are very moving. You cannot escape the feeling that there is great forward momentum in this missionary movement.

Archbishop Moses Tay, the retired primate of South East Asia is the Celebrant. He leads us in the Eucharistic Prayer from the Kenyan Prayer Book. A sea of red epsicopal vestments surround the altar. The Primates of the Congo, Central Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, the Indian Ocean, and Rwanda stand next to Archbishop Moses. After the consecration, Archbishops, Bishops and Network leaders take their posts at the 8 stations to distribute Holy Communion. Prayer teams are positioned throughout the ballroom, praying for those who desire prayer. The service is long (it will last 3 hours by the time we are done), but no one seems to mind. I am tired from my early morning flight, but the time seems to fly—I am so glad to be here.

After all have received, Archbishop Kolini introduced some of our guests. He began by introducing two Bishops from CESA (the Church of England in South Africa). He laments the way these brothers have been isolated and marginalized. The compassion with which he spoke of this, is the very same compassion that led him to offer protection and oversight to North American Anglicans. This is Gospel-based inclusion! Truly, with this Archbishop, there are no more outcasts within the household of faith.

Bishop Duncan brought greetings from the Anglican Communion Network. He commended AMiA for their unique “church planting charism.” His words were, as usual, eloquent and gracious.

Archbishop Kolini recognized retired Archbishop Moses Tay. ++Tay was one of the original backers of the Anglican Mission. Archbishop Kolini recalled how Tay left the 1999 meeting in Kampala saying “something had to be done” about the situation in the U.S. Church.

The Primate of the Indian Ocean, Abp Gerald Ernest, commended the AMiA for her courage.

Bishop Lyons of Bolivia brought greetings in Spanish and English. He received perhaps the strongest response from the crowd when he said that soon [All orthodox Anglicans in the U.S.] will be together in one church. He recognized over a dozen U.S. clergy present who were under Bolivian oversight. Bishop Lyons said he wanted to learn from the experience of AMiA.

Archbishop Dirokpa of the Congo gave his greetings in French. (Abp Ernest translated for us) He said that AMiA had a “prophetic mission to save the Christian Faith in America.”

The Archbishops of Kenya and Tanzania also brought greetings.

At the end, we employed the Blessing used in several African provinces of our Communion: All our problems, We send to the Cross of Christ; All our difficulties, We send to the Cross of Christ; All the Devil’s works We set on the Cross of Christ.

After the Final Procession, I find my fellow New Yorkers and make my way back to my hotel room. What a great and glorious evening. The seventh AMiA Winter Conference has begun. Even at this late hour, we are all glad to be there; we’re awed by what we have witnessed and warmed by the sweet spirit that permeated the worship of God in that hotel ballroom.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

God sees your life from His eternal perspective. He will take whatever time is necessary to grow your character to match His assignment for you. If you have not received a divine commission lately, it may be that your character needs maturing. Are you impatient to begin your work before God has refined your character? A small character will fail in a large responsibility every time. Don't be too hasty to get to the work. Character-building can be long and painful. It took twenty-five years before God entrusted Abraham with his first son and set in motion the establishment of the nation of Israel. Yet God was true to His word, and thousands of years later people continue to be blessed by the account of Abraham's life and by his descendant, Jesus.

How is God building your character? Do you sense He has a task for you that will require a far greater man or woman than you presently are? Will you yield to God as He works in your life to prepare you for your next assignment?" ...
Henry Blackaby art

Dear Readers,

Blogging will be minimal for the next few days. I am attending the
AMIA Winter Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Please pray for traveling mercies and for a powerful moving of the Holy Spirit among those gathered there!

Pat Dague

Rowan Williams accused of helping to 'destroy Church'
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent of The Times

January 16, 2007

A senior American bishop has launched an extraordinary attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, accusing him of aiding and abetting "those who would destroy our Church".

The Bishop of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, the Right Rev Paul Marshall, charges Dr Williams with endorsing the "crudely divisive" actions of conservatives and of "callous treatment" of North American Anglicans over the issue of homsexuality.

Bishop Marshall, who has been condemned as "revisionist" by conservatives, says Dr Williams has made a "laughing stock" of the US church over the gay issue.

In a document posted on an internal church discussion website, he accuses Dr Williams of "shunning" liberal British bishops while meeting conservatives such as Bob Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh.

In language reminiscent of battles fought over race and slavery, he also accuses the Archbishop of appointing a "virtual lynch mob" to draft a new unity document, or covenant, intended to avert schism.

He describes this as tantamount to turning the Anglican fellowship into a "curial bureaucracy" using tactics reminiscent of "the great and oppressive Coloniser."

He also compares the Archbishop to US leaders during Vietnam, arguing that just because Dr Williams is "smart", it does not mean he is right.
the rest

Nigerian Bishops Warn of Schism in Anglican Church
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Jan. 16 2007

Anglican leaders from the Church of Nigeria have warned the worldwide communion that they "cannot walk together" with provinces that do not repent of their departure from Scripture.

In a communiqué issued at their annual retreat on Jan. 9-13, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria said that it maintains its posture not to share fellowship with member-Provinces that "denigrate the authority of Scripture."

"Our participation in this worldwide fellowship is contingent on genuine repentance by those who have chosen to walk away, for two cannot walk together except they are in agreement," said the Most. Rev. Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria in a statement. "Christian unity must be anchored on Biblical truth."

The Nigerian primate’s statement was directed to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church which had consecrated an openly gay bishop and elected Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports same-sex unions in recent years, as Presiding Bishop of the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.
the rest

Senate bill attacks free speech of churches, pro-family groups
Jan 15, 2007
By Erin Roach

Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (BP)--Senate Democrats and a few Republicans have slipped into a lobbying reform bill a section that would drastically impact the mission and function of churches and nonprofit organizations -- such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council -- that seek to inform voters on moral issues.

One of the provisions of S. 1 now being considered by the Senate would require churches and other nonprofits, classified as “grassroots lobbying firms,” to report to the House and Senate any time they spend money to communicate to their constituents on public-policy issues that are before Congress. Failure to comply could result in thousands of dollars in fines and even criminal penalties.
the rest

Will Saudis Ban the Letter ‘X'?
January 15, 2007

The letter "X" soon may be banned in
Saudi Arabia because it resembles the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom: the cross.

The new development came with the issuing of another mind-bending fatwa, or religious edict, by the infamous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — the group of senior Islamic clergy that reigns supreme on all legal, civil, and governance matters in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The commission's damning of the letter "X" came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether it should grant trademark protection to a Saudi businessman for a new service carrying the English name "Explorer."
the rest

Pornography -- The Real Perversion
By Dinesh D’Souza
Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On a recent trip to Istanbul I encountered a group of Muslim students who insisted that American culture was morally perverse. They called it “pornographic.” And they charged that this culture is now being imposed on the rest of the world. I protested that pornography is a universal vice. “Yes,” one of the students replied, “but nowhere else is pornography in the mainstream of the culture. Nowhere else is porn considered so cool and fashionable. Pornography in America represents an inversion of values.”

As I returned home to the
United States, I wondered: are these students right? I don’t think American culture as a whole is guilty of the charge of moral depravity. But there is a segment of our culture that is perverse and pornographic, and perhaps this part of American culture is the one that foreigners see. Wrongly, they identify one face of America with the whole of America. When they protest what they see as the glamorization of pornography and vice, however, it’s hard to deny that they have a point. the rest

God and Stem Cells
By Dr. Paul Kengor
January 11, 2007
Dr. Paul Kengor

On Thursday, January 11, the new Democratic Congress followed through on its ambitious agenda to promote embryonic stem-cell research. As it moves forward, President George W. Bush will be grabbing his veto pen. As he does, we will hear charges that the president is “anti-science,” and that faith has once again trumped reason.

This allegation will not be restricted to the pages of The New York Times. I recently read an article by a right-leaning British observer who took issue with President Bush’s “anti-scientific perception that stem-cell research should be deterred.” The author considered whether this alleged unsophisticated attitude was the product of a very “un-European willingness” by Americans “to believe in supernatural forces.”

This unflattering view of not only the American president but millions of like-minded citizens is hardly uncommon. It also requires some explanation:

First, a crucial distinction: George W. Bush, like many Americans, opposes federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. No one opposes research on adult stem cells or stem cells acquired through umbilical cord blood or bone marrow—the debate is over stem cells acquired through the killing of an embryo. Bush is against the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of scientific research.
the rest

By J. Grant Swank, Jr
Jan 16, 2007

While such theologically liberal denominations as the Episcopal Church continue to baptize practicing homosexual lifestyles as God ordained, they add to the increase of sexually transmitted diseases.

It is supposed to be the mission of the Christian church to preach the gospel of salvation through Christ. Yet the theologically liberal denominations have side lined that biblical mandate for their own politically liberal causes, one prime one being the encouraging of active homosexuality.

These congregations are usually known as "inclusive churches," that is, their yard signs read that homosexuals in particular are welcomed there. And the welcome is not to introduce the homosexuals to the alternative lifestyle of holiness in Christ but a continuance of practicing homosexuality.
the rest

51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse
January 16, 2007

For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.

Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.
the rest

Anglican Church At Crossroads Over Gay Bishop
The Anglican Church is still at a "crossroads" and could split as the bitter debate rages on about how to resolve the issue of ordaining homosexual clergy, according to Archbishop Drexel Gomez.

16th January
By Rogan M. Smith

On Monday, Archbishop Gomez said the consecration of a practicing homosexual in the United States three years ago is still threatening to tear the church apart.

He was speaking during a press conference at the Anglican Diocese in Nassau.

Anglican leaders from around the globe are in the capital this week to try and heal the rifts caused by the appointment of gay bishop, Gene Robinson.

Mr. Robinson’s appointment as bishop of New Hampshire brought an angry reaction from conservatives and religious leaders in the US and all over the world who warned that the church could split.

Archbishop Gomez was appointed late last year by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams to head an Anglican Covenant to examine the fallout in the Anglican Communion.
the rest

Monday, January 15, 2007

If I want only pure water, what does it matter to me whether it be brought in a vase of gold or of glass? What is it to me whether the will of God be presented to me in tribulation or consolation, since I desire and seek only the Divine will?
... François de Sales

Churches request Anglican diocese, bishop
Many seeking conservative alternative to Episcopal faith
January 15, 2007
Mike Brown

Delegates from a dozen churches in Memphis and across the South will ask the Anglican Church of Kenya to form a diocese and appoint a bishop for them in America.

The unprecedented request was given to Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, who was in Memphis over the weekend for meetings and services hosted by St. Peter's Anglican Church in East Memphis.

The archbishop said he will discuss the request with worldwide Anglican leaders in February and he hopes to have an answer by April.

"We must go slowly and assure that in every step we are giving honor and glory to God," Nzimbi told delegates from Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina and Missouri.
the rest

Ruth Gledhill weblog: TEC Bishop savages Rowan Williams
Monday, 15 January 2007

Paul Marshall, the Bishop of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has written this extraordinary attack on Rowan Williams, sent to some members of TEC's House of Bishops before their meeting in Texas last week and sent to me just now. As you will see if you read it, this guy has missed his vocation. He should be out here in the blogosphere, with all of us. Others blogging on this already include Jim Naughton, from the Washington diocese, who says Marshall articulates what many have been feeling for some time. Marshall has previously been attacked for his revisionist views, including on StandFirm. I think he is being just a bit too hard on the Archbishop. Dr Williams has written about why he decided to invite Schori to the Primates' meeting in Tanzania, and has also had meetings with US liberals that a fringe Bishop such as Marshall could not possibly know about. The orthodox are worried. Poor Dr Williams is being attacked from all sides. In the letter below, Bishop Marshall writes of the pending crucifixion and resurrection of The Episcopal Church as it is presumably 'forced' to split. But if you ask me, it is the Archbishop who's being crucified here, not TEC or anyone else. the rest

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Battle May be Decided by Adult Film Industy
January 13th, 2007

In a repeat of the famous Betamax versus VHS, it appears that the adult film industry has chosen HD DVD over Blu-ray as their publishing medium of choice.

VHS eventually won over Betamax because the adult industry preferred it. In the late 70’s and early 80’s many video rental stores popped up around the country and they rented out mostly adult films in the VHS format. This sealed the fate of Betamax. It is thought that adult films is the main reason that the VCR gained ground in the first place.

Blu-ray was the adult industries preferred standard as of last year but recent trends have changed the minds of some studios. One factor is that there are many more HD DVD players in the form of Xbox 360’s already in consumer’s living rooms. Considering the problems Sony has had with production of Blu-ray based PlayStation 3, its no wonder some are questioning the Blu-ray format.
In another bizarre move, Sony apparently has banned some adult studios from using the Blu-ray format. One producer, Digital Playground, has claimed that Sony prevented them from publishing movies in the Blu-ray format.
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Exit Interviews
Why blacks are leaving evangelical ministries.

Edward Gilbreath

I used to take a certain amount of pride in being the first African American on staff at Christianity Today. But I was routinely humbled when I realized that being first isn't all it's cracked up to be. When you're the only one, there's always a sense that you're in an extremely unstable position, as if one healthy gust of wind could topple you—and with you, the hopes of other people with your skin color.

Sometimes, I had to remind myself to "be black," to make sure the rest of the editors weren't overlooking some important point or advancing something that might be insensitive to nonwhites. This became exhausting. On the one hand, I wanted to be a good race man and represent "my people" well. But on the other, I hated all that responsibility. I just wanted to be an excellent journalist.
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Religion, Born Again
By Rainer Traub
January 15, 2007

Amid wrenching change worldwide, people are returning to old-time religion. In the name of God, terrorists are happily maiming and killing; in the United States, the Christian Right has a stranglehold on government. On this increasingly God-fearing globe, only Western Europe looks like the last bastion of secularism - or are the faithful here too returning to the fold?

Rome, April 2005. People stand shoulder to shoulder on St. Peter's Square. Pope John Paul II has passed away and the colorful crowds, including truant schoolgirls and dudes with dreadlocks - more like fans at a rock concert than churchgoers - have converged on the Vatican to pay their last respects.

The flood of visitors has hardly slowed in the year since, but the attraction now is the new Holy Father. Germans in particular are flocking to see "their" Pope, Benedict XVI, with some 50,000 seeking an audience during his first six months as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Are these signs of a religious renaissance in notoriously secular Europe - especially among the young? Or are the multitudes at the Holy See more groupies than true believers - a product of the same media hype that feeds our fixation with soccer icons, pop divas and Hollywood stars?
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How Far Is Too Far: When Is It Time To Leave A Church?
The Albert Mohler Radio Program
Friday, January 12, 2007

Guest Host: Dr. Russell Moore
Guests: Os Guinness, Rev. John Yates and Judge Paul Pressler

Recent division in the ECUSA forces us to consider reasons to leave a church.

link to audio

Communiqué from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria
A Communiqué issued at the episcopal retreat held at the Ibru Anglican Retreat Centre, Agbarha Otor, Delata State Nigeria

15 JANUARY 2007

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) with 93 participants met for their annual Retreat at the Ibru Retreat Centre, Agbarha Otor, from 8th -13th January, 2007, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Revd Peter J. Akinola, DD, CON presiding. The Bishops deliberated extensively on the theme, ‘Empowered Leadership’ and came up with the conviction that leadership is a trust from God which must be exercised in a responsible manner for the good of the people and the glory of God, bearing in mind that all who hold leadership positions will one day give an account of their stewardship to God. During the retreat several sessions were devoted to intensive spiritual rejuvenation and reflection after which the following communiqué was issued:

The Cornerstones of Leadership

We believe that the cornerstones of good leadership include honesty, integrity, sacrifice, selflessness, and accountability. We therefore call on our leaders to ensure that such qualities guide their conduct in and out of office bearing in mind the judgment of posterity. We strongly reject the prevailing conception of power as an avenue for personal enrichment.

the rest at ACNS

A Mission of Understanding
At U-Md., Evangelical Christian Teen Breaks Into the Mainstream, Out of His Comfort Zone
By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 15, 2007

Danny Leydorf's world was about to be turned upside down, and he couldn't wait.

The extroverted teenager had shined at the mostly evangelical Annapolis Area Christian School since kindergarten, but now he wanted to test his faith in a more diverse world. With hopes of becoming a lawyer or politician, he badly wanted to understand people who didn't think like him.

"I feel like I exist to be interacting," the lanky, towheaded 19-year-old said eagerly one day last summer, shortly after his graduation, "and part of that is just getting out there."

So he'd deliberately picked a large, secular college: the University of Maryland. But the week before he was to leave, the wider world dealt him a blow.
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Runners take a spirited path
In Plymouth-Livonia area, club members exercise bodies, faiths
January 15, 2007

This is a prayer group that really makes people sweat. And the dozens of men, women and children who are a part of F5 wouldn't have it any other way.

F5 is a spiritual running and walking club that draws members from the Plymouth-Livonia area. Part of a nationwide trend, religious groups like F5 are springing up outside the walls of traditional churches. And many of these groups encourage fresh connections with the natural world.
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Adultery could mean life, court finds
That's what the law says in sex-drug case Cox appealed
January 15, 2007

In a ruling sure to make philandering spouses squirm, Michigan's second-highest court says that anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

"We cannot help but question whether the Legislature actually intended the result we reach here today," Judge William Murphy wrote in November for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel, "but we are curtailed by the language of the statute from reaching any other conclusion."
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Virginia Assembly To Tackle Abortion
One Measure Would Outlaw Most Procedures
By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 15, 2007

RICHMOND -- Abortion rights advocates are gearing up to fight more than a dozen bills before the General Assembly this year, including a measure that would outlaw nearly all abortions in Virginia should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

The debate over abortion is a yearly ritual for the Republican-controlled General Assembly, but a pending Supreme Court decision on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and this fall's legislative races could heighten the discussion this year.
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'No Home Where the Christian Religion is Practiced'
Dan Wooding
ASSIST News Service

Persecution against Christians in Burma revealed in new report called ‘Carrying the Cross’

LONDON, UK -- A shocking new report about a range of tactics used by the military regime in Burma to suppress Christianity is about to be released in London.

Called “Carrying the Cross: The military regime’s campaign of restriction, discrimination and persecution against Christians in Burma” it cites a document, allegedly from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which has been widely circulated in Rangoon with the headline “Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma.”

It begins: “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced.”

The report will be launched at a meeting of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Burma to be held in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons, London, on Tuesday January 23.
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Nigeria: Anglican Bishops - OBJ, Atiku Feud Bad for Nation's Image
January 15, 2007
Napoleon Ehiremen Warri

ANGLICAN Bishops have called on President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice, Atiku Abubakar, to exercise restraint and display maturity saying their feud impacted negatively on the country's image.

Rising from a week-long Episcopal Retreat, the House of Bishops, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) led by Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, noted that the altercation between the duo was unbefitting of their high offices and position.
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Breaking News: Two More Parishes in the Diocese of Virginia Vote Today to Leave The Episcopal Church

On Sunday, January 14, two more parishes in the Diocese of Virginia voted to sever ties with The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican District of Virginia, CANA.

Church of the Epiphany
Herndon, Virginia

Resolution #1: 78% voted yes to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with CANA
Resolution #2: 89% voted yes for the majority to keep the property

Our Saviour, Oatlands
Hamilton, Virginia
Resolution #1: 97% voted yes to sever ties with the Episcopal Church affiliate with CANA
Resolution #2: 97% voted yes for the majority to keep the propertyYou can click on the headline above to read the resolutions (at the Epiphany website). Please keep these two parishes, their vestries, and their clergy in your prayers.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.
...Edwin Markham

Kenyan bishops to visit Attleboro
Saturday, January 13, 2007

Steve DuPlessie had just begun working full time as a teaching pastor at his church, Good News Bible Chapel in Attleboro, when he had a visit from another pastor who was looking for a temporary home.

That pastor, the Rev. Paul Mwaniki, was a native of Kenya and was looking to start a new Anglican church in Attleboro as an offshoot of Kenyan churches that had been established in the Boston area.

Although Anglicans and evangelical Christians follow different religious traditions, DuPlessie said he and Mwaniki immediately connected. Mwaniki, he said, introduced himself as a believer in Jesus Christ and in the Bible as the inspired and authoritative word of God.

"We found we share a common faith," he said. "That's what unites us."
the rest (found at titusonenine)

Timeless Faith: New converts attracted to ancient, God-centered worship
By Diane Reynolds, Times staff writer
Saturday, January 13, 2007

Until the first weekend in January, Mike Judd of Westminster made the long commute to the Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, but now he attends the new St. James the Apostle Orthodox Church in downtown Westminster, the first Eastern Orthodox church in the county.

For Judd, the Eastern Orthodox Church offered him what his fundamentalist upbringing didn't: a Way I want to keep the cap in Way for emphasis- or method - for following Jesus.

Eastern Orthodoxy, Judd found, wasn't just about accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savior and going back to the life he was leading."

Orthodoxy practices the discipline of Christianity," he said. "There's a depth."The Orthodox faith emphasizes piety, he said, the concept that Christians should live their faith in love by changing their everyday behavior to conform to God's will.
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Churches Neglect Older Folks; Potlucks Won't Do
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Jan. 12 2007

Meet the new U.S. Pentecostal missionary, the Rev. John Heide. His mission field: adults 50 years and over. That constitutes an even larger mission field than the teenagers most churches are targeting, according to Heide.

Society is seeing a shift in population to older folks, or what Heide and the Assemblies of God call "mature adults." According to Heide, there are over 90 million people in America who are 50-plus years of age. They are the Baby Boomer generation. And they are one of the largest mission fields and also one of the most neglected, Heide says.

"For the most part, the church is neglecting this area," Heide told The Christian Post. "Our goal is to change that."

Heide became the first appointed AG U.S. Missions representative specifically to "mature adults" in September. But he wasn't sent into nursing homes, where only about five percent of those 65 years and older reside, he noted. Instead, he's going to the churches and Bible colleges to catch the huge population wave of senior adults and expose them as a significant mission opportunity.
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Use of new Red Crystal finally allows Israel to join Red Cross
By Reuters

GENEVA - The world's largest relief organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, on Sunday began using a third emblem whose adoption allowed Israel to join after a decades-long struggle.

The red crystal on a white background is an alternative to either the cross or the crescent and is intended to provide protection to relief workers operating in areas of conflict.

Both the Israeli Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency services joined the umbrella relief organization in June 2006, six months after the movement's signatory states and national societies agreed to the new emblem at a specially convened conference.

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For YouTube, read PewTube
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Sunday Telegraph

The video-sharing website most used for pop promotions, film trailers and personal "vidcasts", is set to become the next tool in the Church of England's battle to curb declining attendances.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to use the site to broadcast his sermons in an attempt to make the Church more relevant to the internet generation.

A video will also be put on YouTube later this month urging other churches to advertise the contemporary style of their services and suggesting ideas introduced under the Fresh Expressions initiative, which was set up by Rowan Williams.
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A Sliver of a Storefront, a Faith on the Rise
Published: January 14, 2007

The storefront, it turned out, was more front than store: a drug den masquerading as an auto-sound business. And the sight of six hoodlums being paraded out in handcuffs was sadly familiar among the brick tenements of west Harlem.

But for Danilo Florian, who stumbled upon the police raid in November 2002, it was nothing less than a revelation.

“This could be a church,” he muttered. “Lord, that is the place.”

Mr. Florian, a factory worker by day and a pastor by night, was desperate to find a home for his small congregation, which faced eviction from its dank basement sanctuary. In a lucky confluence of real estate and religion, he tracked down the storefront’s building manager, cajoled him into a five-year lease at a nice rent and even talked him into joining the church.

Now, on most nights when the neighborhood winds down to rest, the fluorescent lights inside the room flicker to life, and the spartan, whitewashed space rattles under a sonic barrage of prayers, yelps and tambourines. As a teenage band pounds out bouncy Latin rhythms, men in crisp business suits that belie their dreary day jobs triumphantly pump their fists. Women in flowing skirts shout, stomp and gyrate wildly. The air crackles.
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