Saturday, February 10, 2007

Before we look at how we make Jesus Lord, we need to see what it is we mean when we talk about lordship. To make Jesus Lord of our life means to surrender control of every area of our life to Him. We come under His authority. His authority is supreme over our authority. We start taking orders from Him - we do what He tells us to do. That's what lordship is - Christ reigning as supreme authority over our life. Making Jesus Lord of our life is not something passive. It's not a state of being, it's a state of doing. Those whom Jesus recognizes as His own are those who do the will of His Father in heaven. ...Keith Green photo

Adult Stem Cells Taken from Human Fat Tissue Used to Treat Heart Failure
By Gudrun Schultz
MADRID, Spain,
February 9, 2007

( - A heart attack victim was treated with stem cells taken from his own fat tissue in a groundbreaking new experiment taking place in Spain this week, Science Daily reported Feb.7.

In a collaborative effort, Dr. Francisco Fernandez-Aviles, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Chief of Cardiology Service at Gregorio Marañón and Dr. Perin, Director of New Interventional Cardiovascular Technology and Director of Stem Cell Center at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s, have undertaken the attempt to use human adipose (fat) tissue as a source of adult stem cells to regenerate damaged heart muscle.

The cells were removed from adipose tissue in a procedure similar to that of liposuction. After processing, the stem cells were injected directly into the patient’s heart, targeting areas of damaged but still viable tissue.
the rest

Dissident Presbyterians Consider Way Out of PC(USA)
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Feb. 10 2007

Dissident Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations were invited to join a new presbytery within the conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

At a winter convocation this week, the New Wineskins Association of Churches – a network of over 120 evangelical churches discontent with the PC(USA) but not yet separate – considered the future relationship with its parent denomination and a way out possibly through a merger with the EPC.

"The Holy Spirit is drawing us toward you," said EPC Moderator Paul Heidebrecht, on Thursday, according to the Presbyterian News Service. "We are truly impressed by the mission-driven polity" of the NWAC.
the rest

Portugal Observes Day of Contemplation Before Abortion Vote
By The Associated Press
Sat, Feb. 10 2007

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - The Portuguese were observing an official day of contemplation Saturday, a day before a referendum on liberalizing abortion in this conservative Catholic nation.

A two-week campaigning period was suspended 24 hours before the referendum, allowing the country's 8.9 million registered voters to mull their decision before casting ballots on Sunday.

Portugal has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union, alongside Poland, Ireland and Malta. It allows abortion only until the 12th week of pregnancy if the mother has been raped, her health is in danger or the fetus is malformed.

The referendum — the second after a 1998 ballot on the same issue did not gather enough votes to change the law — will ask the Portuguese if they support liberalizing abortion for all women until the 10th week of pregnancy.
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NYT: New Episcopal Leader Braces for Gay-Rights Test
Published: February 11, 2007

At a book party last week at the New York headquarters of the
Episcopal Church, a line of more than 100 fans waited to have the church’s new presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, sign copies of her new book of sermons, “A Wing and a Prayer.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori, the first woman presiding bishop in the history of the Anglican Communion, appeared a bit surprised at the celebrity treatment but clearly enjoyed the sentiment.

She is about to head off to a hostile reception.
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Church of the Resurrection In Chicago; Following The Bible

Church of the Resurrection, West Chicago, has begun negotiating with Bp. William Persell on how they might gracefully disassociate from the Diocese of Chicago and seek other Anglican oversight. After sending the bishop a letter asking permission to leave with their property, the vestry met with Bp. Persell last week and Sr. George Koch sent the bishop this very gracious letter summarizing the meeting and laying out their hope for the future:

the rest at Drell's Descants

NYT: Inviting Africa’s Anglicans to Gather Under a Bigger Tent
Published: February 10, 2007

IN times of turmoil, Njongonkulu Ndungane, the Anglican archbishop for southern Africa, has a favorite spot: a wooden seat that encircles a massive fruit tree in his garden at the foot of Table Mountain. He calls it his thinking bench.

Perhaps never before has he had so much use for it. The global Anglican Communion, of which his province is the oldest African member, is teetering on the brink of schism over the issue of homosexuality. A global meeting of church leaders in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in mid-February is shaping up as perhaps the biggest confrontation yet between branches that condone gay clergy and same-sex unions, and those that reject them as violations of Scripture.

Archbishop Ndungane (pronounced un-dun-GAN-ee), who succeeded Archbishop
Desmond Tutu just over a decade ago as the leader of southern Africa’s four million Anglicans, is pleading for acceptance. In Archbishop Tutu’s mold, he argues for a broad-tented church in which believers of various stripes live in harmony. the rest

Among Episcopalians, division is prevailing topic
By Sandi Dolbee
February 10, 2007

It's a church ingrained in our country's history, having arrived with the early settlers at Jamestown in 1607. Before there were Mormons, Methodists and Southern Baptists, there were Episcopalians – though they were called the Church of England back then.

After the Revolutionary War, followers changed their name to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, which became an independent branch of what is now the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Through the centuries, the Episcopal Church has given us more U.S. presidents than any other denomination. The Washington National Cathedral, which has become America's spiritual gathering place, is an Episcopal church.

So it should have come as no surprise that this storied denomination would find itself in the thick of the country's culture wars. As religions debated the role of homosexuals in their faiths, the Episcopal Church ordained its first openly gay bishop. As talk escalated about a female candidate for U.S. president, the church elected its first woman presiding bishop, the top leader of the denomination.
the rest

Friday, February 09, 2007

If we could only see the heart of the Father, we would be drawn into praise and thanksgiving more often. It is easy for us to think that God is so majestic and so highly exalted that our adoration makes no difference to him. Our God is not made of stone. His heart is the most sensitive and tender of all. No act goes unnoticed, no matter how insignificant or small. A cup of cold water is enough to put tears in the eyes of God. God celebrates our feeble expressions of gratitude. ...Richard J. Foster the rest

Dividing the Faithful
Conservatives fleeing the Episcopal Church regroup--apart

Congregations leaving the Episcopal Church (TEC) over scriptural authority have had little trouble finding new oversight. More difficult has been achieving unity among the departed. The most hierarchical Protestant denomination has become a potpourri of missions, convocations, and networks.

Traditional Anglican polity requires that congregations submit to the leadership of a bishop. In December 2006, nine Virginia churches left TEC and aligned with the Convocation of Anglican Churches in America (CANA), a U.S. mission launched by Nigerian primate and outspoken conservative Peter Akinola. One month later, Christ Church in Plano, Texas, announced its affiliation with the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), an outreach of the Rwandan archbishop. Also in January, a dozen churches in Southern states requested oversight from the Kenyan archbishop. Anglican primates from South America and Uganda are also overseeing several former TEC parishes.

The congregations left TEC for similar reasons. The conservative exodus that began in earnest after the 2003 consecration of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson gathered momentum following the June 2006 election of Katharine Jefferts Schori, a liberal, as presiding bishop. But some prominent conservatives, such as Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, have remained with TEC in an attempt to reform it from the inside.
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Anglican split goes far deeper than gay dispute
Tom Heneghan, Reuters
Published: Friday, February 09, 2007

PARIS -- It’s not all about gays.

The worldwide Anglican Communion is on the brink of schism, with African prelates leading a charge against the U.S.-based Episcopal Church for consecrating a gay bishop. A showdown is shaping up for an Anglican summit next week in Tanzania.

But the split in the 77-million strong Communion runs far deeper than the dispute over Gene Robinson, the gay cleric made bishop in 2003, historian Philip Jenkins thinks.

Liberal Anglicans in rich countries and traditionalists in the Global South read the Bible in such different ways that they could be in quite different churches, he argues in his recent book “The New Faces of Christianity.”

“There is an absolutely fundamental division over the nature of authority,” Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, told Reuters by telephone. Widely varying views are the result.
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Christians urged to go to bat for German home-schoolers
Jim Brown
February 9, 2007

An attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association says Germany's Hitler-era ban on home schooling has reached a troubling apex with the seizing of a teen home-schooler, who was interrogated by police then forced to go undergo psychiatric treatment for "school phobia."

Last week, German police and social workers removed 17-year-old home-school student, Melissa Busekros, from her home. Then the authorities proceeded to place the teen in a Nuremberg psychiatric hospital, where she was interrogated by a psychiatrist for more than four hours and finally released.

But as Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) senior counsel Chris Klicka point outs, that was not the end of the student’s troubles. "Fifteen police officers and some social workers came back, and they removed Melissa, took her into state custody, and put her in the psychiatric ward because the psychiatrist, believe it or not, had concluded she had 'school phobia.' It's just completely ridiculous," he says. "She's still in the hospital."
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Lutheran Panel Votes to Expel Gay Minister
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, February 9, 2007

A disciplinary committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ruled yesterday that a gay pastor in Atlanta must give up his pulpit, saying it was reluctantly enforcing a "bad policy."

Following a five-day church trial last month, seven of the committee's 12 members voted to remove the Rev. Bradley E. Schmeling, 44, from the clergy as of Aug. 15.

The committee set that date to give the denomination an opportunity to reconsider its policies on homosexuality at its next churchwide assembly, Aug. 6-12 in Chicago. Activists on both sides of the issue predict that Schmeling's case will stir vigorous debate at the Chicago session.

The 4.9 million-member ELCA allows gay men and lesbians to serve as ordained clergy as long as they remain sexually inactive. Schmeling formally notified his bishop last year that he was in a committed, monogamous relationship with Darin Easler, a former ELCA pastor who has since joined the United Church of Christ, which welcomes gay clergy. The bishop brought charges, leading to the trial.
the rest

ENS: Tanzania's Anglican Church to host Communion's Primates
Participants to gather near 'Abode of Peace'
By Matthew Davies
Friday, February 09, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] The Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT), under the leadership of the Most Rev. Donald Leo Mtetemela, will host the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion for their February 14-19 meeting at the White Sands Hotel in Jangwani Beach near Dar es Salaam -- Arabic for "Abode of Peace."

International concerns facing the Primates will include discussion of a report focusing on the response of the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention to the Windsor Report; a presentation on the Millennium Development Goals and the work of the Poverty and Trade Task Team, introduced by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and Hellen Wangusa, recently appointed Anglican Observer at the United Nations; and conversations about the future of the Church in China and its relationship with the Anglican Communion.

Sessions will also be devoted to reports on the Panel of Reference, which considers situations where congregations are in serious dispute with their bishop and unwilling to accept his or her episcopal ministry; an Anglican Covenant, proposed in order to give explicit articulation and recognition to the principles of co-operation and interdependence which hold the Anglican Communion together; the Listening Process, which strives to honor the process of mutual listening, particular to the experience of homosexual persons; a proposal for an in-depth worldwide study of the way Anglicans interpret the Bible; and theological education.
the rest

Episcopal leader backs gay equality
Yonat Shimron
(Raleigh) News & Observer

CHAPEL HILL - Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who faces the prospect of fracture between the liberal Episcopal Church USA and the more conservative Anglican Communion, spoke without apology Thursday about her convictions that gays and lesbians are entitled to full rights.

Her visit to the Triangle, where at least three churches splintered after a gay bishop was ordained in 2003, came just before a trip to Tanzania next week. There she will meet with 38 heads of the national churches of the Anglican Communion, including some who have indicated they will not sit at a table with her.

Jefferts Schori, 52, said Thursday she would not waver from forging a new way forward for the 2.4-million member Episcopal Church. That new way includes a commitment to the full equality of gays and lesbians, which she and many others in the denomination see as a new civil rights issue.
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Who Gets Episcopal Property?
Episcopal church dispute heading to court as factions fight over property ownership
Date published: 2/9/2007

First, the fight. Then, the separation. Then, lawyers filing papers in court about property.
A religious divorce is under way at a tiny church in the Northern Neck and at 14 other parishes in Virginia that recently voted to split from the Episcopal Church.

Members of St. Stephen's Church in Heathsville say they still speak to each other and occasionally play bridge together. In December, however, a majority of the congregation voted to sever its ties with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and join a new Anglican group headed by an African archbishop.

In Heathsville, the Anglicans have claimed church property and changed the locks on the doors and the signs out front.

Ousted Episcopalians have elected new leaders and now worship with a new Episcopal rector at a Methodist church. Yesterday, the loyalists were cleaning up an old house in the village to serve--temporarily, they hope--as a parish hall.
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My neighbors to the north of Syracuse:
More to come
No letup in sight for a few days; hundreds of emergency calls taken
Friday, February 09, 2007
By Douglass Dowty Staff writer

A prodigious snowstorm pounded Oswego County for a fifth day Thursday, leading county and state officials to declare snow emergencies as nonprofits struggled to stay open for the needy and elderly.

And the worst might be still to come: Lake-effect squalls are expected to hang around for the next few days, according to the National Weather Service.

"We could be looking at snow here in historic proportions," said Parish town Supervisor Stephen Stelmashuck, after watching 88 inches fall since Sunday. "I had my driveway completely clear when I went to bed, and when I got up this morning, there was snow up to my waist. This is the worst it's been over a long period I've seen here."
the rest

Please pray!

UK: Rise in abortions after Christmas
8 February 2007

Heavy Christmas drinking and partying, leading to unprotected sex, could be to blame for a record number of abortions last month, says a UK charity.

A total of 5,992 abortions were carried out at Marie Stopes International's nine UK clinics in January - a rise of 13% on the 5,304 in January 2005.

This is more in a month than at any time in the charity's 32-year history.

But pregnancy advice groups said the figures probably reflected poor access to contraceptive services.
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Sokoto General Synod Communique
09 FEBRUARY 2007

A Communique Issued at the end of the Special one-day General Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Held at St. Paul’s Church Dendo Road, Sokoto on Wednesday 7th Feb 2007.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) met in a one day General Synod session on Wednesday 7th, February, 2007 at St. Paul’s Church, Dendo Road, Sokoto in the Diocese of Sokoto with the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, his Grace the Most Reverend Peter J. Akinola, DD. CON presiding.

The Synod after a prayerful and exhaustive deliberation on matters affecting the church and the society issued the following communiqué.


The Synod is happy with the observable peace, tolerance and mutual co-existence of people of various faith traditions in Sokoto State. This is no doubt the result of outstanding leadership qualities of both the State Governor and the Sultanate. Worthy of special mention is the warm hospitality of both the government and people of Sokoto State towards the successful hosting of this Synod. It is our prayer that God will bless them more abundantly.
the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

Comments at titusonenine

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God" (Eph. 5:20).

No matter what the source of the evil, if you are in God and surrounded by Him as by an atmosphere, all evil has to pass through Him before it comes to you. Therefore you can thank God for everything that comes, not for the sin of it, but for what God will bring out of it and through it. May God make our lives thanksgiving and perpetual praise, then He will make everything a blessing.

We once saw a man draw some black dots. We looked and could make nothing of them but an irregular assemblage of black dots. Then he drew a few lines, put in a few rests, then a clef at the beginning, and we saw these black dots were musical notes. On sounding them we were singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below."

There are many black dots and black spots in our lives, and we cannot understand why they are there or why God permitted them to come. But if we let God come into our lives, and adjust the dots in the proper way, and draw the lines He wants, and separate this from that, and put in the rests at the proper places; out of the black dots and spots in our lives He will make a glorious harmony. Let us not hinder Him in this glorious work! --C. H. P.

"Would we know that the major chords were sweet,
If there were no minor key?
Would the painter's work be fair to our eyes,
Without shade on land or sea?"

Would we know the meaning of happiness,
Would we feel that the day was bright,
If we'd never known what it was to grieve,
Nor gazed on the dark of night?"

Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties. --C.H.Spurgeon
Link photo

ENS: TANZANIA: Central Tanganyika bishop questions legitimacy of singling out the Episcopal Church
Thursday, February 08, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] Tanzanian Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of the Dodoma-based Diocese of Central Tanganyika, in January 26 Epiphany letter, has acknowledged that not all the Tanzanian bishops are of one mind and he questions the legitimacy of singling out the Episcopal Church on matters of human sexuality when the issues permeate throughout "all of our development and mission partners," he said.

The letter was in part a response to the Tanzanian House of Bishops December 7, 2006 statement that declared the province in a state of "impaired" communion with the Episcopal Church in light of recent actions of General Convention and its response to the Windsor Report, which the statement called a "failure to register honest repentance for their actions that were contrary to the dictates of Holy Scripture..."

"The way we do God's mission is to strategize our mission and then look for resources for the mission," Mhogolo said in his letter. "The recruitment of people, both within and outside the country becomes part of our efforts in realizing God's mission. The material funding for God's mission impacts our goal to see God's mission is well resourced. [The Episcopal Church] with its relief and development agencies is only a small part of our funding and partnership organizations."
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Dr. Carey: Covenant Process Will Require Patience

In an address in which he traced the conflict and crisis that have shaped Anglicanism throughout its history, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey urged patience as the Communion’s leaders strive to create an effective covenant.

Speaking Feb. 7 in Goodson Chapel at Duke University, Dr. Carey noted that while Anglicanism’s structures and theology don’t bear the hallmarks of a confessional church, “it has subscribed to various confessional statements, including the Prayer Book, the 39 Articles and the Lambeth-Chicago Quadilateral.” He said that the “the abandonment of these norms, together with a serious weakening of the scriptures as our definitive and authoritative guide, has led conversely to the strengthening of structures, but these, as we have seen, were not strong enough to deal with the current crisis which Anglicanism faces.”
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Atlanta Parish Votes to Leave Episcopal Church, Align With CANA

A majority of the members of St. Andrew’s in-the-Pines Church, Peachtree City, Ga., who attended a special meeting have voted to leave The Episcopal Church. Members voted 145 to 67 (or 68 percent) on Sunday, Feb. 4, to separate from The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Diocese of Atlanta. The church’s vestry also voted to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) – the U.S. missionary branch of the Anglican Church of Nigeria – in order to maintain the parish’s ties to the worldwide Anglican Communion.

St. Andrew’s senior warden David Wardell said the parish, which intends to retain its property, plans to work with the Diocese of Atlanta to achieve an amicable separation.

“Our decision to disaffiliate is a reflection of our commitment to the biblical faith, which is now in direct contrast with the belief and practice of the majority of TEC’s leadership,” Mr. Wardell said. “However, the vestry has a strong willingness to work together with the diocese and Bishop [Neil] Alexander so that this separation can occur with Christian charity, not hard feelings or hostility.”

For complete coverage of the primates' meeting, and to find more news, feature articles, and commentary about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion not available online, we invite you to subscribe to The Living Church magazine. Call 1-800-211-2771 today to start your subscription.
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Bishop: Anglican Communion Finally at Critical Point
'Something Has Got to Happen Soon' in the Anglican Communion

By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Feb. 08 2007

By this time next year, the Anglican Communion will "certainly" not be where it is now, said the Bishop of Durham ahead of the critical Primates meeting.

Tom Wright, bishop of one of the oldest dioceses in England, told UK's The Times online edition that every meeting has looked like a "make-or-break" one for the last three years, since the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. This time around, however, the global Anglican church seems to have finally come to its critical point.

"We are closing in on the fact that something has got to happen soon," said Wright in the interview with the UK news agency.

Invitations are already out for next week's global meeting with the head bishops of each Anglican province and soon the Archbishop of Canterbury has to send out invitations for the 2008 Lambeth Conference – a decennial meeting that could see the absence of the Church of Nigeria and conservative Anglicans in the United States if the Communion does not resolve the issue over homosexuality soon.
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AAC President Comments on Recent Actions by the Diocese and Bishop of Virginia Against 11 Anglican Congregations and 21 Priests
February 8, 2007

For Immediate Release
Contact:Jenny Abel

Last week, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, filed civil litigation against 11 Virginia congregations that recently departed the diocese and joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). Bishop Lee also inhibited 21 priests associated with the churches under the charge of “abandonment of Communion.” The 11 parishes, which have repeatedly emphasized their desire and willingness to meet the bishop and diocesan leaders at the negotiation table rather than in court, called the legal action by the diocese an “act of betrayal” and has requested that the diocese “step back from this precipitous behavior” so that an “amicable and reasonable” resolution may be pursued.

“These actions by the Diocese of Virginia are shameful and un-Christian, and the bishop’s refusal to consider further negotiation appears to be intentionally punitive,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, American Anglican Council (AAC) President and CEO. “After leading the churches to believe that their disaffiliation decisions would be respected and responded to with Christian charity and without litigation, the bishop and other diocesan officials have indeed betrayed and deceived these churches, plus attempted to shipwreck the ordained ministry of many faithful priests.”
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To Cleave or To Cleave?
The Primates' Meeting in Tanzania
Fulcrum Newsletter, February 2007
by Graham Kingsvicar of St Mary Islington and theological secretary of Fulcrum

Dear Fulcrum Friends,

The traditional English word 'cleave' has two meanings, which are the exact opposite of each other: 'to stick together' and 'to split'. Both are used in the King James Version of the Bible in well known passages in the book of Genesis, which have resounded for centuries.

'Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh' (Hebrew dabaq, Genesis 2:24) and 'Abraham...clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.' (Hebrew baqa, Genesis 22:3).

Both meanings are poignant this coming week as the
Primates of the Anglican Communion go to the place of their meeting - with each other and with God - near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The context is tense and the discussions intense. Rhetoric from 'left' and 'right' has been ratcheted up, emails have been leaked and reporters will gather and circle. Key decisions are going to be made: there is now no deferring or referring. In the midst of all of this, and surrounding it, has to be prayer.
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Two Strands of Faith?
No, Two Different Religions
Albert Mohler
Thursday, February 08, 2007

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church USA is no stranger to controversy. To the contrary, she seems to seek it out. Just consider her comments published in the February 5, 2007 edition of
USA Today.

In an
article by reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman, Bishop Schori is described as wearing priestly vestments that portray a "new dawn" for her church, complete with orange glow, green hem, and "a dawn-blue band below purple heavens." Presumably, she means all this to be taken seriously.

Yet, as Grossman explains, the Episcopal Church's first female Presiding Bishop is a divisive figure. In Grossman's words, she is "[t]he leader who faces a costly fracture among the faithful, a crack radiating across the Anglican world." Some of her churches have bolted the flock, and others are expected to follow soon.
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Temple Mount becoming mosque for Muslims only
Top archaeologist blasts Israeli inaction as Islam 'takes over' Judaism's holiest site

February 7, 2007
By Aaron Klein

Temple Mount
JERUSALEM – The Israeli government is "doing nothing" while the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount discard Jewish artifacts and attempt to turn Judaism's holiest site into an exclusive prayer zone for Islam, a leading Israeli archeologist charged today.

Hebrew University's Eilat Mazor said the Waqf, the site's Muslim custodians, "want to turn the whole of the Temple Mount into a mosque for Muslims only."

"They don't care about the artifacts or heritage on the site," Mazor told the Israeli news site

"The Waqf has acted terribly, taking thousands of tons of artifacts from the First Temple, the Second Temple, as well as Muslim artifacts, and throwing them away."
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Values Play Into Treatment Recommendations, Study Finds
Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Many doctors believe they have the right not to tell patients about treatments that they object to on moral or religious grounds and to refuse to refer patients elsewhere for the care, according to the first study to examine physicians' views on such situations.

In the survey of 1,144 doctors nationwide, 8 percent said they had no obligation to present all possible options to patients, and 18 percent said they did not have to tell patients about other doctors who provide care they found objectionable.
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Strong-arming Britain's Catholics
IAN HUNTER, Special to the National Post
Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Canadian Catholics, particularly those involved with child adoption, should be keeping a close eye on recent events in Britain.

The Labour government has proposed new human rights legislation (bearing the Orwellian title Sexual Orientation Regulations), to become effective April, 2007; the new regulations make it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of any public service. Fines range from $2,000 for a first offence to $50,000 for second or subsequent offences.

The issue is: Where does this leave Catholic adoption agencies? And the answer to date is: up a creek without a paddle.

In 2003, when Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was principal author of a Vatican document (issued from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) which stated unequivocally that it would be "gravely immoral" for Catholic agencies to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

But that is just what the new British Regulations will require Catholic adoption agencies to do. So the most senior Catholic prelate in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair, and to each member of his Cabinet, proposing an exemption for Catholic agencies.
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Gay teens coming out earlier to peers and family
Despite wider acceptance, some still feel isolated and harassed
By Marilyn Elias

Kate Haigh, 18, a high school senior in St. Paul, recalls attending her first meeting at the school's Gay-Straight Alliance club when she was in the ninth grade. "I said, 'My name is Kate, and I'm a lesbian.' It was so liberating. I felt like something huge had been lifted off my shoulders, and finally I had people to talk to."

Zach Lundin, 16, has brought boyfriends to several dances at his high school in suburban Seattle.

Vance Smith wanted to start a club to support gay students at his rural Colorado school but says administrators balked. At age 15, Vance contacted a New York advocacy group that sent school officials a letter about students' legal rights. Now 17, Smith has his club.

Gay teenagers are "coming out" earlier than ever, and many feel better about themselves than earlier generations of gays, youth leaders and researchers say. The change is happening in the wake of opinion polls that show growing acceptance of gays, more supportive adults and positive gay role models in popular media.
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Poll Finds Surge of Religion Among Chinese
Edward Cody

Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 8, 2007

BEIJING, Feb. 7 -- A new government-sponsored survey on spirituality in China has found that the number of religious believers among the country's 1.3 billion people is far higher than generally known, amounting to as many as 300 million.

The findings, based on a poll of 4,500 people conducted by professors at East China Normal University in Shanghai, supported growing indications that many Chinese are searching for new value systems to replace the communist doctrine that has been jettisoned in favor of market economics and a race for prosperity. the rest

Survey finds 300m China believers
7 February 2007

The number of religious believers in China could be three times higher than official estimates, according to a survey reported by state media.

A poll of 4,500 people by Shanghai university professors found 31.4% of people above the age of 16 considered themselves as religious.

This suggests 300 million people nationwide could be religious, compared to the official figure of 100 million.

China is regularly criticised for cracking down on unauthorised worship.
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Leaders of 11 Defecting Churches Gather In F.C. for CANA Installation Ceremony
By Nicholas F. Benton
Thursday, 08 February 2007

Clergy representing the 11 churches in Virginia that voted in December to depart the Episcopalian Church gathered for an extraordinary convocation at the historic chapel of the Falls Church Episcopal in downtown Falls Church last Saturday.

All had been placed under “ecclesiastical censure” by the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia Peter James Lee last month, a step toward defrocking if they don’t recant their role in their churches’ defections.

But they were all granted formal status Saturday under the auspices of the recently-formed Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), the association linked to the Anglican Bishop of Nigeria, at a standing-room-only ceremony at the F.C. chapel.
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Mich. Ruling Alarms Gay Rights Advocates

A Michigan appeals court ruling that bans public universities and state and local governments from providing health insurance to partners of gay employees has alarmed gay rights advocates nationwide.

They fear the decision could encourage similar rulings in 17 other states whose bans on gay marriage could be interpreted to prohibit domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.

Michigan last week became the first state to rule that public employers cannot offer health benefits if the benefits are based on treating same-sex relationships similar to marriage.
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Vt. to revisit gay marriage
ROSS SNEYD, Associated Press Writer

MONTPELIER (AP) — Seven years after Vermont broke new ground by legally recognizing the relationships of gay and lesbian couples through civil unions, advocates are beginning to lobby for full marriage rights.

The civil union law confers on same-sex couples all of the rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage, but it's still not enough, members of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force said Wednesday.

"In 2000, Vermont decided to legally recognize same-sex couples," said Stan Baker, the lead plaintiff in a 1997 lawsuit that led to adoption of civil unions. "Now it's time to equally recognize same-sex couples."
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Nigeria's Akinola is driving force in Anglican world
Thu Feb 8, 2007
By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) - The worldwide Anglican Communion is officially led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, but he's facing growing competition these days from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

A staunch defender of traditional Christianity, the energetic Akinola, 63, leads a movement of "Global South" churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that has brought the 77-million-strong Communion to the brink of schism.

The power of these churches, which now account for more than half of the Communion, will be on display next week when the primates, or heads of member churches, hold their two-yearly meeting in the Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam.

The traditionalist primates are threatening to snub their new United States counterpart, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, for supporting gay clergy and have persuaded Williams to invite a conservative Episcopal bishop to the meeting along with her.

Depending on where Anglicans stand on homosexuality, Akinola is seen either as the symbol of the shift of Christianity's centre of gravity to the Global South or the man out to divide the third-largest denomination in the faith.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Broken Covenant: Signs of a Shattered Communion
By Parker T. Williamson

Special to The Layman Online
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

There was a time when Presbyterians knew what they believed. Rooted in Scripture, denominational leaders guarded the truth that had been entrusted to them. Aspiring ministers were tested for an unequivocal commitment to the church's faith.

Essential beliefs were specified, and candidates for ordination subscribed to them in writing. No scruples, no behind the back finger crossing, no "wink, wink" reservations, no private definitions of Biblically conceived and confessionally affirmed doctrine. The lines between belief and unbelief were clearly drawn and commonly understood. If you wanted to be ordained a Presbyterian, you had to believe what Presbyterians believe.

Today, having lost more than half the denomination's membership in the last few decades, decimated its budget, consumed its endowments, and jettisoned most of its missionary force, Presbyterian Church (USA) managers are clinging to the vestiges of a vanishing institution. What happened? What caused an unparalleled witness to the Gospel in the United States of America to be so rapidly swept toward oblivion? These are questions, not of conjecture, but of history.
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South Dakota, Utah legislators consider bills banning abortion, challenging Roe v. Wade
Feb 7, 2007
By Staff
Baptist Press

PIERRE, S.D. (BP)--Less than a year after South Dakota pro-lifers failed in their effort to place an abortion ban on the books, legislators there are trying again -- and they're not alone.

Pro-life legislators in both South Dakota and Utah are promoting bills that would ban abortion except in cases of rape, incest, the mother's life or medical necessity. In both states, the goal is to pass a bill that will lead to a lawsuit and the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

South Dakota's governor signed a bill into law last year banning abortion except to save the mother's life, but a petition campaign placed the law on the ballot, where it was overturned.
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ADF attorneys to represent Gideons arrested for distributing Bibles on public sidewalk
Two Christians charged with trespassing

February 07, 2007

PLANTATION KEY, Fla. — Two members of Gideons International arrested for distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk will be represented by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys. Anthony Mirto and Ernest Simpson were arrested, booked into jail, and charged with trespassing.

“The First Amendment protects the right to engage in religious speech on a public sidewalk,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “Members of the Gideons have been highly respected for decades as peaceful providers of free Bibles to those who want them.”

On Jan. 19, Mirto and Simpson began distributing copies of the Bible on a public sidewalk outside Key Largo School. Neither man entered school grounds. After the school’s principal called police, a Monroe County Sheriff’s officer asked the men to leave immediately or face trespassing charges. As the men prepared to leave, the officer decided to arrest both individuals.
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Harvard in biggest curriculum overhaul in 30 years
Wed Feb 7, 2007
By Jason Szep

BOSTON (Reuters) - Harvard University announced on Wednesday its biggest curriculum overhaul in three decades, putting new emphasis on sensitive religious and cultural issues, the sciences and overcoming U.S. "parochialism."

The curriculum at the oldest U.S. university has been criticized as focusing too narrowly on academic topics instead of real-life issues, or for being antagonistic to organized religion. Efforts to revise it have been in the works for three years.

One of the eight new required subject areas -- "societies of the world" -- aims to help students overcome U.S. "parochialism" by "acquainting them with the values, customs and institutions that differ from their own," said a 34-page Harvard report on the changes.
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Who Watches The Watchers In Surveillance Society?
By Reuters
Sun Feb 4, 2007

CHICAGO - In some cities in Europe and the United States, a person can be videotaped by surveillance cameras hundreds of times a day, and it's safe to say that most of the time no one is actually watching.

But the advent of "intelligent video" --
software that raises the alarm if something on camera appears amiss -- means Big Brother will soon be able to keep a more constant watch, a prospect that is sure to heighten privacy concerns.

Combining motion detection technology with the learning capabilities of
video game software, these new systems can detect people loitering, walking in circles or leaving a package. the rest

Anglican Communion Network Partners with Anglicans for Life

Anglicans for Life has a new name, a new partnership and is starting a new decade, after 40 years of championing issues of the sanctity of life in the Episcopal Church. The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) has accepted Anglicans for Life as its first organizational affiliate.

“Partnering with the Network lends credibility to us as a team player among Anglicans,” said Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans for Life based in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. “We want to reclaim the Anglican Church as a pro-life church. Being part of the Network speaks volumes to people about how all biblical teachings on marriage, family and sanctity of life issues are connected and how important it is to work together to uphold them.”

Formerly known as “N.O.E.L., the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life Research and Education Foundations, Inc.,” Anglicans for Life was originally founded as “Episcopalians for Life” in 1966 by Bishop Joseph M. Harte of the Diocese of Arizona. “The name Anglicans for Life is more descriptive of the broader scope we now have in addressing life issues including abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, abstinence, and adoption,” said Forney. “It also speaks of our new international reach as we respond to requests for help now coming in to us from countries like Kenya, Slovakia, Mexico, the UK and Australia.”
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Orthodox Episcopalians Present Solution for 'the American Problem'
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Feb. 07 2007

In quest for a solution to "the American problem" within the Anglican Communion, a group of Orthodox Episcopalians have proposed a new compact that called for no further delay in resolving the divide.

In the "Interim Compact of Anglican Loyalty," Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC) urged for a new orthodox Anglican structure in North America that would operate independently from the worldwide Anglican body until the Communion formally rids the American continent of the Episcopal Church and charters a reliable replacement province for orthodox Anglicans.

The compact was presented over the weekend to each of the 38 primates who are scheduled to meet at the annual Primates meeting on Feb. 14 in Tanzania and also in support of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert W. Duncan, head of the Anglican Communion Network. Duncan was invited to attend the Primates meeting as a representative of orthodox U.S. interests.
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Swiss Court okays euthanizing the mentally ill
Jim Brown
February 7, 2007

A Christian group that seeks to promote biblical morality in Europe says a recent ruling in Switzerland could lead to the forced euthanasia of mentally-ill patients. Euthanasia for terminally-ill patients is already legal in that country.

A Christian group that seeks to promote biblical morality in Europe says a ruling Friday by Switzerland's highest court opens the door for people with serious mental illnesses to be euthanized against their will.

The Federal Tribunal's decision puts mental illnesses on the same level as physical ones in a country that already allows physician-assisted suicide for terminally-ill patients. In its ruling, the tribunal said "If the death wish is based on an autonomous decision which takes all circumstances into account, then a mentally ill person can be prescribed sodium-pentobarbital and thereby be assisted in suicide."
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Maine: $250,000 to Teach 'Transgenderism'
By Lee Duigon
Feb 7, 2007

The great state of Maine has budgeted a quarter of a million dollars for a program to teach public school children about... transgenderism.

You know what transgenderism is. It's when a man has his willy cut off, dons a dress, and goes around looking like he's left over from a Monty Python skit. Or it's when a woman has her breasts cut off and tries to walk like John Wayne.

If this grosses you out as an adult, try to imagine having to "learn" about it in the third grade. Some children are uneasy about clowns; this stuff will give them screaming nightmares. It ought to give Maine's adults nightmares, too, when they pay their taxes.
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Hillary's Religious Roots
At 13, she met a Methodist minister who became a lifelong friend.
By Susannah Meadows

Feb. 12, 2007 issue - If Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush have anything in common, it is a deeply rooted wariness of outsiders. Both the president and the woman who hopes to succeed him have always relied on a small, closed circle of friends and advisers who have been with them for years. So it's not surprising that there are so many familiar faces on Clinton's new campaign team. Ad maker Mandy Grunwald, pollster Mark Penn, strategist Ann Lewis and others are loyalists from Bill Clinton's White House.
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Fear of bias keeps U.S. Muslims out of military
Tue Feb 6, 2007
By Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Desperately short of soldiers who speak Arabic and understand Islam, the U.S. military is quietly courting American Muslims. But they show little enthusiasm for an institution many say is prejudiced against them.

"The military have the same problem as civilian government agencies, such as the FBI," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group.

"There is a general reluctance to join because Muslims think there is bias against them and career prospects are limited."

Pentagon statistics show there are more Jews and Buddhists than Muslims serving in the 1.4 million strong, overwhelmingly Christian armed forces.
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ENS: In Cuba, Presiding Bishop affirms 'sea of possibilities' for ending oppression
Council names new suffragan bishops; one is first woman to hold office
By Bob Williams
Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Episcopal News Service] Vast as an ocean deep with common good is the dream to be realized by God's people, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said while visiting the Episcopal Church of Cuba's Synod meeting February 2-4 in Cardenas.

Highlights of the 98th annual gathering included the appointment of two new suffragan bishops -- Nerva Cot Aguilera and Ulises Aguero Prendes -- to assist Interim Bishop Miguel Tamayo in local oversight of some 40 congregations serving Cuba's estimated 10,000 Episcopalians. In a June 10 liturgy at Havana's Holy Trinity Cathedral, Cot will become the Anglican Communion's first woman bishop in Latin America.

Metaphors of fishing and abundance were central as Jefferts Schori -- preaching at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, now in its 100th year -- addressed the Sunday gospel reading in which Jesus calls his disciples to cast nets that yield new followers in the faith.

The dream of God is "a better life for all the world, and not only for one country," Jefferts Schori said in Spanish during her homily for the Synod's closing Eucharist. "What is the dream of the Episcopal Church in Cuba?"

She spoke of "a sea of possibilities" for ending human suffering -- from the local sharing of nutritious vegetables to caring for the elderly and infirm -- outlining how the "abundant life that God dreams for all creation" overcomes the death inherent in "oppressive and cruel systems."
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Sermon at the opening Eucharist of the Synod of the Episcopal Church of Cuba
The Most Rev. Andrew S. Hutchison,
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
February 7, 2007


Episcopal church names first female bishop in Cuba

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"I am already being poured out as a drink offering." 2 Timothy 4:6

"I am ready to be offered." It is a transaction of will, not of sentiment. Tell God you are ready to be offered; then let the consequences be what they may, there is no strand of complaint now, no matter what God chooses. God puts you through the crisis in private, no one person can help an other. Externally the life may be the same; the difference is in will. Go through the crisis in will, then when it comes externally there will be no thought of the cost. If you do not transact in will with God along this line, you will end in awakening sympathy for yourself.

"Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." The altar means fire - burning and purification and insulation for one purpose only, the destruction of every affinity that God has not started and of every attachment that is not an attachment in God. You do not destroy it, God does; you bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar; and see that you do not give way to self-pity when the fire begins. After this way of fire, there is nothing that oppresses or depresses. When the crisis arises, you realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do. What is your way of fire?

Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be. ...Oswald Chambers

Judge deals setback to sex businesses
She upholds city's rule to move establishments away from schools and churches

Some of Houston's best-known topless clubs might have to relocate because of a federal judge's recent ruling, city officials said Monday.

In the latest decision on local regulation of sexually oriented businesses, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas has ruled the city can double, from 750 to 1,500 feet, the distance required between the clubs and "sensitive" areas including schools and churches.

That new requirement could imperil dozens of topless clubs and adult book stores.

Atlas wrote that the ordinance, passed in 1997, didn't violate the businesses' First Amendment rights because alternate sites are available where they could relocate and comply with the regulations.

The businesses could appeal last week's ruling, preventing immediate enforcement. Attorneys for those businesses, who filed suit over the ordinance in 1997, couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
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Perspectives: Zeus our problem
Matt Friedeman
February 6, 2007

For Christians, any other "god" -- or the tangible reality reflected in our lives -- is an idol worth rebuking. The Church, like much of the world, has been enticed by the temptations of eroticism, wine, music, beauty, and wealth. And sometimes, the Church has fallen hard for them.

It has been centuries since Zeus-worshippers assembled at an Athenian temple to bend their hearts to the old Olympian. The Roman empire outlawed such gatherings in the late fourth century and, well, that was the end of that.

Until now.

While probably not much of a threat to global religiosity, modern pagans (around 20) recently paid homage to Zeus with costumes, hymns, wine, and incense. Said one wag from the WorldMag blog: "One may well ask why anyone would exchange the loving, self-sacrificial Christ for a malicious demigod who married his sister, raped women, and was more like a sinful human being than a transcendental authority."
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Primates: Schismatics to be "pruned from the branch"
Ruth Gledhill
06 February 2007

"There are many in America who are trying to have their cake and eat it, who are doing the schismatic thing and then accusing those who object of being schismatic." This is what Bishop of Durham Dr Tom Wright told me in a wide-ranging discussion we had on the forthcoming
Primates' Meeting in Tanzania. He was quite unequivocal. He said too many in TEC are guilty of "doctrinal indifferentism." The Covenant Design Group in Nassau successfully produced a good document, he said. The Primates have little choice but to follow Windsor at the meeting next week. And if Windsor is followed, then Gene Robinson and those who consecrated him should voluntarily absent themselves from the councils of the Communion, including the Lambeth Conference, unless they express regret in the terms set out in Windsor. Only a Windsor-rooted response in Tanzania can save the Communion from schism. "Almost everybody involved with this question recognises that there is no way forward from here without pain. It is painful for everybody. There are not going to be winners and losers. There are going to be losers catergory one, two, three, four and five." In reading his words, it is worth remembering that not only is he the intellectual equal of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the two men are good friends. So I reckon this gives us a good idea of how events might unfold next week.

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Haggard says he's not gay
By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer

The Rev. Ted Haggard emerged from three weeks of intensive counseling convinced he is "completely heterosexual" and told an oversight board that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser.

That is according to one of the disgraced pastor's overseers, who on Monday revealed new details about where Haggard has been and where he is headed.

The Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur also said the four-man oversight board strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work instead of Christian ministry if Haggard and his wife follow through on plans to earn master's degrees in psychology.
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Marriage 'undervalued' says Archbishop
Feb 6 2007
Rhodri Clark, Western Mail

BROKEN marriages are costing society dear, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.
Dr Rowan Williams, left, attacked the "commentating classes of north London" for failing to appreciate the benefits of long marriages.

His comments were supported by clergy in Wales, but Welsh Women's Aid said people should not put up with domestic abuse for the sake of preserving their marriage.

Dr Williams said, "A great deal of the running is made in the commentating and reflecting terms by people who do not perhaps fully see how much they are trading on the inherited capital and stability and yes, the prosaic heroism that has evolved over generations. The fluidity, changeability of relationships and the transience of marriage may look perfectly fine if you belong to the commentating classes of north London but you don't have to go many miles to see what the cost is for people who cannot take that sort of thing for granted."
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Biblical Episcopalians Pay the Price
By Grant Swank on Feb 06, 07

Apostate Episcopalians think they have won. They have not won. One only wins when one wins for eternity. Those who are anti-God though religious are just that - religious without God. And they will eventually pay the price in hell.

In Attleboro, MA, per Charles A. Radin of the Boston Globe, biblical Episcopalians cried, embraced and held on to their allegiance to Christ and His church. That meant vacating their sanctuary as the denomination took over the property.

Other Episcopalians are facing the same carnage. Some are fighting via lawsuits. The Episcopal Church in America is split into shreds over those who are theologically liberal in endorsing that which is abhorrent to the God of the Bible. They support homosexual activity. God does not.

They also endorse killing womb babies. They testify to writing their own religion rather than adhering to the Scriptures as God’s revealed truth. They boast on creating dogma not in keeping with the Bible. They advertise their appreciation for other religions as equal with Christianity.

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'New dawn' cracks Episcopal Church
Some congregations leave over female bishop

By Cathy Lynn Grossman
USA Today

NEW YORK — Every time Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori dons her personalized vestments, there's a vision of sunrise.

Colors of the "new dawn," cited so often by the prophet Isaiah, are sewn into her personalized mantle and bishop's hat — an orange glow rises from a green hem to a dawn-blue band below purple heavens.

Jefferts Schori herself stands for a new day in her church:

• The first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
• The first and only female primate, head of one of the 38 national and regional churches, in the world's largest non-Catholic Christian denomination.
• The leader who faces a costly fracture among the faithful, a crack radiating across the Anglican world.

Since her election in June and installation in November, a tiny but influential number of churches from Virginia to California — "one-half of 1 percent of the 7,200 congregations," she says — have spurned her leadership and the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church to align with Southern Hemisphere traditionalists.

The long-simmering tensions between those who adhere to a strict interpretation of the Bible and those who read it less literally came to a boil in 2003. That's when the church's governing body approved the election of the church's first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
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Monday, February 05, 2007

He knows when we are spiritually ready to receive the blessing to our profit and His glory. Waiting in the sunshine of His love is what will ripen the soul for His blessing. Waiting under the cloud of trial, that breaks in showers of blessings, is as needful. Be assured that if God waits longer than you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious. God waited 4000 years, till the fulness of time, ere He sent His Son. Our times are in His hands; He will avenge His elect speedily; He will make haste for our help, and not delay one hour too long. ... Andrew Murray photo

Once a Church, Now a Mosque -- Europe Abandons Christianity
Albert Mohler
Posted: Monday, February 05, 2007

The sight is disconcerting at best -- beautiful buildings that once housed Christian worship now transformed into bars, restaurants, entertainment clubs . . . and mosques. The cityscapes of Europe are increasingly dotted with church buildings transformed into secular or explicitly non-Christian uses. The abandonment of these buildings is a sign of a much more fundamental abandonment -- the abandonment of Christianity itself.

The current edition of
Newsweek's European Edition takes this transformation as its cover story. As reporter William Underhill recounts:

For the Muslims of Clitheroe, collective worship has never been easy. It's been 40 years since the first Asians settled in the little town close to England's industrial heartland, but the 300-strong community has struggled ever since to find a suitable site for a mosque. No longer. In December the town council finally approved plans for the conversion of a handsome but derelict structure: a disused Methodist chapel. "There is a feeling of overwhelming relief and joy," says Sheraz Arshad, a local Muslim leader. "Just because it looks like a church, there's no reason why it can't be used as a mosque."
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Nominees for Olympia Bishop Announced

The search committee in the Diocese of Olympia has identified five candidates for the election of a diocesan bishop.

The nominees are: the Rev. Richard A. Burnett, rector of Trinity Church, Columbus, Ohio; the Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, rector of St. Thomas’, Medina, Wash.; the Rev. Gregory Rickel, rector of St. James', Austin, Texas; the Rt. Rev. Bavi Edna (Nedi) Rivera, Bishop Suffragan of Olympia, Seattle, Wash.; and the Rev. Angela F. Shepherd, rector of St. Philip's, Annapolis, Md.

The election will take place May 12. The bishop-elect will succeed Bishop Vincent Warner who is retiring.
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Taking Sides
Thursday, February 3, 2005

YOU MIGHT expect that in its short legislative session the Virginia General Assembly would have more important business than intervening in internal arguments within the Episcopal Church over gay rights. But a bill pending in the state Senate would make it far easier for Episcopal congregations upset at the church's consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire to bolt from the national church yet keep their buildings and property. The bill, championed by Sen. William C. Mims (R-Loudoun), responds to a real problem: Mr. Mims argues persuasively that Virginia law on the subject is archaic. But his bill would make matters worse, not better. It should be voted down.

While some Episcopal congregations are angry about the church's toleration of gay clergy, they have not, by and large, left the church. One reason may be that their property is, while purchased with local money, held in trust for the national church. So if they leave, they leave their church behind physically as well as spiritually. Mr. Mims's bill would change that. It would give a congregation's property to the local congregation when it secedes from a church unless the property is specifically deeded to the national church or -- under an amendment he is proposing -- unless a trust agreement explicitly designates the national church as having its use. The bill is not explicitly directed at the Episcopalians, but it seems to respond directly to their current fight. And its result would be that conservative Virginia congregations could leave the Episcopal Church without becoming homeless.
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PCUSA to Discuss Future Identity Amid Declining Membership
By Audrey Barrick
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Feb. 05 2007

Amid a continuing exodus of congregations from the national church body, the future identity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a key focus at an upcoming meeting.

"Communion and Conversation: Beginning a Dialogue on the Future of Middle Governing Bodies" will bring representatives from PC(USA)'s local bodies – synods and presbyteries – to discuss changes in the form of government as the denomination struggles with declining membership.

The middle governing bodies, synods and presbyteries, have mainly felt the effect of churches departing with members and financial support decreasing.

"All of our presbyteries own up to experiencing the crunch of having fewer resources to do a more complex ministry than in previous times,” the Rev. Gary Torrens, coordinator of governing body relations in the Office of the General Assembly and the GAC, said in his paper "Is There A Presbytery Crunch?" according to the Presbyterian News Service.

The Presbytery of East Tennessee recently saw congregants at a megachurch vote to leave the denomination and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church voted 1,172-10 for the split last week over theological differences, including the infallibility of Scripture.
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