Saturday, March 03, 2007

Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, 'Your will be done, not mine.' Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God's will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God's love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God's name. ...Henri J. M. Nouwen photo

Drawing the line
Anglicans to Episcopal Church: Return to fold by Sept. 30 or face possible schism
By SUE NOWICKI BEE STAFF WRITER
March 3, 2007

The much-anticipated meeting of the Anglican Communion leaders in Tanzania is over and the line has been drawn in the sand: The U.S. Episcopal Church — part of the worldwide Anglican Communion — must agree by Sept. 30 not to consecrate another gay bishop or officiate at gay unions or it will face a reduced role in the Anglican family.

The communiqué was signed unanimously, including by U.S. Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, who has fueled international furor with her liberal interpretation of Scripture and political statements.

The ultimatum is in line with the publicized desires of Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin, headquartered in Fresno. He has accused the national church of wandering into apostasy and heresy.

He has positioned the diocese to remain in the Anglican Communion if, in fact, that body pushes the U.S. Episcopal Church to less than full status or an outright split.
the rest

Only God!
Reported by Charlene E. Cothran

Saturday, March 3, 2007

There is nothing new under the sun. I’m pretty sure that gay folks have been around since shortly after the beginning of time. But what I’m just realizing is that God has been DELIVERING gay folks for just as long! For such a time as this, He has called out, sanctified and planted some incredibly powerful and wonderful people. One such person is the Rev. Carla Thomas Royster, founder and pastor of Blessed Redeemer Church in Burlington, NJ. An educator in one of New Jersey’s finest school districts, Royster also holds a Master of Divinity which prepared her for the work given her by divine appointment.

The 6’ 4” former college basketball star immediately strikes you as a no-nonsense disciplinarian. Then she smiles and her love for God and people fill the room.

A seven year pastor to a growing congregation, Royster enjoys a sterling reputation both locally and throughout the Northeast via the American Baptist association of churches where she is often featured as a speaker. She and husband Mark are raising two beautiful boys. With all going so well, why would she bother to expose herself to a congregation who knew nothing of her previous life as a lesbian in a tell-all book? “To set people free,” says Royster who withheld her original
manuscript for nearly five years. “I finally obeyed God.” the rest

(HT to
Connecticut Six)

Michael Poon: The Ways of Obedience: Scripture and Global South
Lent 2, 2007
Singapore

Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: . . . ” (Venite)

It was not a time for elation for Global South Primates when they received the
Communion Sub-group Report at Dar es Salaam in February 2007. The remarkable turn of events in that mid-February weekend did not change that. All the more the present is not a time for celebration, but for self-examination and more costly discipleship, for the sake of the common good of the Communion.

The present does not merely call for a refreshed study of the methods of interpreting scripture (cf.
Tanzania Communiqué, on “The Hermeneutical Project). Such can become a self-absorbing exercise that reflects “internal division” rather than having anything to do with the transforming good news for a world inflicted with human grief, borrowing Canterbury’s words.2 More pointedly, such exercise is safe. It is difficult for the Communion to come to a common mind on methodology anyway. All can continue their own familiar and separate ways.

To obey Christ today, Global South churches need to submit themselves to the Scripture in a more radical manner. It takes more than merely having orthodox upbringing and evangelical friends for a person to be an orthodox today. The crisis is not out there in the West, but at the home front. The challenge before the churches is in translating their formal confession of the authority of the Scripture into practice: what does it mean in concrete terms for Christian communities to live under the authority of God’s Word?
the rest

Anglican Report Episode 21

Kevin and Bill Discuss:

Jesus Tomb
Tanzania
Sub Group Report
Communique
Covenant

Courtesy of AnglicanTV

Episcopalians should look beyond their differences
3/3/2007

If anyone reading this has ever felt left out, as if you don't belong, read on.

"The Misfits" is more than a movie that was filmed in Reno once upon a time with Marilyn Monroe. It is a way of life. And nowhere can it be as sorely experienced as when it comes to religion.

Eugene Peterson in his introduction to the Gospel of Luke in The Message writes: "But religion has a long history of doing just that, of reducing the huge mysteries of God to the respectability of club rules, of shrinking the vast human community to a 'membership.' But with God there are no outsiders."

All of this became painfully more real to me as I read of the recent gathering of the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion embracing 77 million people throughout the world.

The primates are the heads of their respective branches of what we in the United States call the Episcopal Church. They are all men, with the exception of our primate, the first woman to hold that office, Katharine Jefferts Schori, formerly Bishop of Nevada. (And that a woman holds that position is just part of the problem.)
the rest

Commentary at titusonenine

Friday, March 02, 2007

God is always present and always working towards the life of the soul and its deliverance from captivity under flesh and blood. But this inward work of God, though never ceasing or altering, is yet always and only hindered by the activity of our own nature and faculties, by bad men through their obedience to earthly passions and by good men through their striving to be good in their own way, by their natural strength and a multiplicity of holy labours and contrivances. Both these sorts of people obstruct the work of God upon their souls. For we can cooperate with God no other way than by submitting to the work of God, and seeking, and leaving ourselves to it. ... William Law photo

Matt Kennedy: The Laws of Ecclesiastical Impossiblities
March 2, 2007

The House of Bishops is powerless, the General Convention is powerless, the Executive Council is powerless and to think otherwise only reveals your deep ignorance of the democratic polity of the Episcopal Church.

Since the release of the Dar es Salaam Communique we have been treated to a myriad of dissertations on ecclesial “polity”: statements, letters and declarations penned by bishops and hierarchs, priests and scholars to the effect that what is being asked of the House of Bishops, the House of Bishops cannot (“cannot” mind you) do. We are, as we have been told, a “democratic” church. We are not like those more primitive, virtually medieval, provinces of the Global South where pre-critically minded archbishops and bishops lord it over oppressed majorities who hunger and thirst for the freedom to have church sanctioned homosexual sex. Any decision, therefore, effecting the whole church, especially one of such significance and magnitude as complying with the Dar es Salaam Communique, lies far beyond the purview of the House of Bishops and must either be made at a specially called meeting of the General Convention or wait until the 76th General Convention in 2009.
the rest at Stand Firm

This Weekend's Total Lunar Eclipse

After a drought of 2½ years, we can finally look forward to a total lunar eclipse on the evening of March 3, 2007. On that night the Moon gradually slides into and out of the shadow cast by Earth in space. It is one of the grandest and most beautiful events in nature!

We haven't had a total lunar eclipse since October 27, 2004 — which coincidentally took place during the decisive Game 4 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals! Yet March 3rd's event will be the first of three total lunar eclipses to take place within the next 12 months.

Unlike a solar eclipse, which you have to view through a special protective filter to protect your eyes, a lunar eclipse is easy to see with any filter. And you don't need any special equipment to view it — you can watch it with your eyes alone. But using binoculars or a small telescope will make the viewing experience more rewarding.
the rest photo

Dazzling New Saturn Images Released
Mar 1, 2007
PASADENA, Calif.

(AP) - The international Cassini spacecraft has beamed back to Earth never-before-seen angles of Saturn from high above and below its majestic rings. The planet is fully surrounded by the rings in images released Thursday by NASA.

"Finally, here are the views that we've waited years for," Cassini scientist Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said in a statement.

"It just doesn't look like the same place. It's so utterly breathtaking, it almost gives you vertigo," Porco said.

Cassini snapped the images while in a highly inclined orbit during the past two months.

The $3.3 billion Cassini mission, funded by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997. It is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
story and photo more photos

The Secret attraction

Barnes and Noble can't keep the book on its shelves, and it's rocketed past Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to take over the No. 1 spot on Amazon.com's Top Sellers list. Oprah Winfrey dedicated two shows to it last month (which accounts for much of its success). And Simon & Schuster announced yesterday it's ordering another 2 million copies, the biggest reprint in the publisher's history. What is it? It is The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, and for $23.95, you, too, can learn this Aussie woman's method to attract whatever you desire - health, wealth, happiness, (world destruction?) - by simply thinking in harmony with it.

In
his review of the book, Don Whitney writes, "The Secret is nothing more than Name It-Claim It, Positive-Confession, Prosperity Theology (without God and the Bible), built on a foundation of New Age self-deification."

According to Whitney, Byrne tells readers:

"You are God in a physical body. ... No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the Universe. ... And now you know The Secret."
As Whitney points out, this secret is "nothing less than Satan's original lie in the Garden of Eden, 'You will be like God' (
Gen. 3:5)."

Believers may dismiss Byrne's book as tripe, but it's obvious that others are not just buying it - they're buying into it.
link

New 'Postmodern' Bible Targets Seekers, Evolution Advocates
By
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Mar. 02 2007

American culture has been "hijacked by extremists" - atheists and fundamentalists - one author believes. That leaves a lot of people in the "middle ground" where although there may be a belief in Jesus, their interests are far from conventional Christianity.

A new Bible series is now targeting that middle ground. The first volume of a "postmodern" edition of the Bible was released this week, reaching out to seekers and skeptics. And it also invites people of different faiths and those who believe in evolution.

"You see, I believe that if Jesus was alive today, he would understand that his ancestors, just like ours, were beasts," says Ruth Rimm, author of the new The Lost Spiritual World series.

When Rimm, a high school teacher in the Bronx borough of New York, became a Christian, she wanted to give believers who are in "the middle" a place to go – a place not threatening and of comfort. Rimm professes belief in Jesus and in evolution, which some Christians are debating as theory and not scientific fact.
the rest

Bishop-elect Lawrence Has Sufficient Bishop Consents
03/02/2007

The Diocese of South Carolina has been informed that a majority of the bishops of The Episcopal Church have given consent to the consecration of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina.

The Rev. J. Haden McCormick, president of South Carolina’s standing committee, made the announcement on the diocesan website.

Before Fr. Lawrence can be consecrated, the diocese also needs the approval of a majority of diocesan standing committees.
the rest

Young Jews walk out on religious life
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Kiryat Tivon

As a member of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community, David wore a long black coat and a black hat covering his Jewish skullcap.

He spent 10 hours a day studying the Torah, the Jewish holy book, and the Talmud, rabbinical discussions on Jewish law, ethics and customs.

David says that he used to want to be a rabbi - but that was then.

Now, David, 24, wears blue jeans and loose-fitting T-shirts. He no longer believes in religion, saying that he is completely secular.
the rest

US, Nigerian Anglicans Seek New Solutions for Same Sex Unions and Gay Ordination
By Howard Lesser Washington, DC
02 March 2007

Listen to the Rev. Kendall Harmon - mp3

A pending bill in Nigeria that would introduce stiff criminal penalties for same sex marriages and public displays of affection among homosexuals is drawing strong criticism from human rights groups. Introduction of the legislation comes on the heels of a meeting last month in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania of the Anglican Communion, the world’s third largest Christian denomination. That church has been sharply split between traditional Church leaders representing Africa and the developing world and some Anglican clergy from the United States over same sex unions and the consecration of gay bishops. The Reverend Canon Kendall Harmon is Chief Theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. He explains how difficult it has been for Anglicans to find common ground on an issue that deals with protecting the civil liberties of minorities, including the rights of homosexuals.
the rest

No Affirmation of Christian Sexual Morality from Anglican Mother Church at Synod
Language failed to pass affirming that Bible permits sexual relations only between married man and woman

By Hilary White
LONDON, March 1, 2007

(LifeSiteNews.com) – The Church of England's General Synod met Wednesday and declined to make any final statement on the acceptability of homosexual activity itself but restated that merely having the homosexual “orientation” does not bar full participation in the life of the church.

The Guardian reports that language failed to pass that would have affirmed that the Bible permits sexual relations only between a married man and woman and that being “gay” is a choice of actions, not a natural condition determined by genes.

The Synod rejected proposed language affirming “respect (for the) the patterns of holy living to which lesbian and gay Christians aspire,” and said “that homosexual orientation in itself is no bar to a faithful Christian life or in full participation to lay and ordained ministry.”
the rest

Anglican game is worth the candle, says Williams
by staff reporters
2 March, 2007

THERE IS no retreat from the sexuality debate, Dr Williams told the General Synod on Monday, a week after the conclusion of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam.

“It feels as though we are caught in a battle very few really want to be fighting; like soldiers in the trenches somewhere around 1916, trying to remember just what were the decisions that got everyone to a point where hardly anyone was owning the conflict. . .

“So it is natural to want to say: ‘This is a war no one chose; there must be a simple way of halting the conflict and getting the troops home’. . . Unhappily, though, the truth is that, when conflicts have passed a certain point, simple solutions are unlikely to work, to the extent that they ignore the things that bred the conflict in the first place, and that have never been addressed.”

The Archbishop expressed his frustration at the intransigence of people on each side: the “virtual fundamentalism which simply declines to reflect at all about principles of interpretation” and the “cultural snobbery, content to say that we have outgrown biblical principles”.
the rest

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Canada: Top court to rule on epic battle for same-sex survivor benefits
Sue Bailey, Canadian Press
Thursday, March 01, 2007

OTTAWA - Canada's top court will end a legal odyssey over same-sex survivor benefits when it hands down what could be a landmark ruling Thursday.

The Supreme Court had to sort out whether Ottawa is on the hook for retroactive Canada Pension Plan payments worth an estimated $100 million.

Albert McNutt of Truro, N.S. travelled to Ottawa to be there in person when the court rules. He's one of five co-claimants in a class action first spearheaded by the late legendary gay activist George Hislop.

About 1,500 people or their estates - including Hislop's - will be affected.
the rest

Hawaii: Civil union supporters upset at bill's death
Staff and wire reports
March 1, 2007

Gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered advocates decried the demise of a bill before House lawmakers that would have created civil unions for same-sex couples in Hawaii.

"It was obviously very discouraging to feel that the unequal treatment of the minority is going to be perpetuated because people are afraid of not being re-elected," said Jo-Ann Adams, head of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Caucus for the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

The bill was shelved in the House Judicial Committee late Tuesday night, and advocates blamed Committee Chairman Tommy Waters.
the rest

Does release of church leader signal change?
Advocates for persecuted Christians watching actions in China closely

Posted: March 1, 2007

The recent early release of a Christian house church leader from a prison sentence for talking to international organizations about the destruction of a house church in
China has advocates of religious freedom in the restricted nation wondering whether changes are coming, according to reports from Voice of the Martyrs.

The current case involves Liu Fenggang, who was released recently after serving most – but not all – of his three-year prison term for "providing national intelligence to overseas organizations," according to the organization that supports and advocates for persecuted Christians around the world. At least it's an acknowledgement in this case that the Chinese government is aware of world opinion.
the rest

Episcopal head seeks gay compromise
March 01, 2007

Appearing on a live webcast, the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop began the painful task Wednesday of persuading members to roll back their support for gays—at least for now—so the denomination can keep its place in the world Anglican fellowship.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who personally supports ordaining partnered gays, told a studio audience, callers and those who submitted questions by e-mail that they should make concessions that Anglican leaders are seeking to buy time for reconciliation.

''To live together in Christian community means each member takes seriously the concerns and needs of other members,'' Jefferts Schori said. ''If we can lower the emotional reactivity in the midst of this current controversy, we just might be able to find a way to live together.''
the rest

John Shelby Spong: Former Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Newark
Commentary
March 1, 2007

Church Should Repent, Not Gays

Why would I form my belief about gay unions and gay clergy from my faith?

That is not where one goes for the knowledge that is the catalyst for destroying prejudice.
Historically my faith has taught that sex was evil, that celibacy was the higher path of virtue, that marriage was a compromise with sin, that slavery was a legitimate human institution and that women were created to be second class citizens.

Some have tried to use the old “separate but equal” argument, but it did not work in segregationist America and it will not work for religious systems trying to justify their patriarchal sexism. With that kind of a track record why would anybody go to their faith tradition to inform their attitudes toward homosexuality?

Is the Bible’s presumed condemnation of homosexuality more virtuous or lasting than its commitment to polygamy, slavery or the hatred that God was portrayed as expressing for other religious traditions than that of the chosen people?
the rest

Statement by Raymond Dague,
Attorney for St. Andrews Church, Syracuse, NY
March 1, 2007
12:00 pm

"Today there was oral argument between the lawyers for the Diocese of Central New York (Bishop Skip Adams), the lawyers for Presiding Bishop Schori, and the attorney for St. Andrews in Syracuse, NY. Judge James P. Murphy of the New York State Supreme Court did not issue an immediate decision, and it will be forthcoming at a later date.

Whatever the judge decides, either for or against the parish, there will be no immediate change in the parish's right to continue to worship in their church. The litigation will proceed on to further stages in what the judge once termed "protracted litigation."

"God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for Himself the knowledge of them, that He may train us up in a dependence upon Himself and a continued readiness for every event."
...Matthew Henry

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Altar of St. Andrews, Syracuse NY

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God and in the power of His might.”
—John Wesley to William Wilberforce (Thank you, Nancy!)

A quote from the last letter that John Wesley wrote to William Wilberforce, a man who had been converted under Wesley's ministry and who was a member of Parliament. The letter concerns his opposition to slavery and encouragement for Wilberforce to take action for change. Parliament finally outlawed England's participation in the slave trade in 1807.
Written February 24, 1791 (Feast of St. Matthias!)

Please pray for St. Andrews Church in Syracuse NY as Bishop Skip Adams' lawyers and Bishop Schori's lawyers litigate to seize our church.
Court proceedings begin at 10:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2007.

Bishop Gladstone Adams III (Central New York): Regarding the Communique
February 28, 2007
Via E-Mail

Dear Clergy of Central New York,

You are aware of the recent Communique from the primates of the Anglican Communion. During this last week I have prayed and pondered over its contents, not wanting to be merely reactive. Furthermore, I leave for the House of Bishops meeting on March 14th when I will be able to hear more from our Presiding Bishop and be in discussion with the rest of the bishops about a possible way forward in response to the Communique.

As I am sure is true for you, the Communique has some things in it which I find encouraging as well as things which cause me great concern. As I share a few thoughts with you I am not going to make a point-by-point response. I am also offering a time for the clergy to come together to discuss the Communique and how it effects us as a Diocese after the March House of Bishops meeting. This meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, April 18th at St. David’s, Dewitt. A reminder will be sent out closer to that date.

I would alert you to my expectation that this March meeting will almost certainly not produce a specific response from the House of Bishops to the primates. What I believe will happen is the opportunity will be given for a broad consideration of the Communique, the seeking of clarification of its expectations, and an encouragement to take the conversation back to each diocese in order to inform the subsequent September House of Bishops meeting.


the rest at Stand Firm

update_2-28-07.mpg

Stand Firm

Showdown in Africa
Religion: A midnight session narrowly averts a divide between The Episcopal Church and worldwide Anglicans
Edward E. Plowman

A new round of turmoil is sweeping through the leadership ranks of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the aftermath of the meeting of the world's top Anglican leaders (primates) last month in Tanzania in East Africa.

If the primates are "asking us to undo what we have already done, that is a step many of the [U.S.] bishops would be unwilling to take," Connecticut liberal bishop Andrew Smith told a reporter.

Smith was referring to the official response TEC made last June to the Anglican Communion's request in the 2004 Windsor Report.
the rest

Just Give It Up
February 27, 2007

A few days ago Jim Kushiner was kind enough to point you to my
The Dust of Adam, an exegesis of the traditional Ash Wednesday rite. At the end of the first week of Lent, which is a little late but better than never, I'd like to say something in favor of the traditional discipline of giving things up for Lent.

It is a discipline I would urge upon you, whatever your tradition. You can start now, and treat the free week as the spiritual equivalent of being able to hit from the lady's tee just this once. Giving things up for Lent has, in my experience, two obvious benefits.

The first is that you very quickly find out how much a hold the world has on you. This is a lesson to which I give intellectual assent but I don't think I often really see what it means. We like to think of ourselves being happy to give up anything for the Lord just like that, even our lives, but most of us find it hard to give up something that really doesn't matter.
the rest

'Cloning to kill' bill on way to Iowa governor's desk
Jim Brown and Jody Brown
OneNewsNow.com
February 28, 2007

An Iowa pro-life group is lamenting the fact that, in the wake of a bill's approval in the State House, human cloning will soon be legal in the state. The state's Democratic governor has indicated he plans to sign the legislation when it crosses his desk. Pre-vote lobbying apparently included a phone call from pro-abortion rock star Sheryl Crow to a member of the Iowa House.

The Iowa House and Senate have passed a bill that repeals the state's human cloning ban that was established in 2002. The House vote was a close one, 52-46, and followed an even closer Senate vote (26-24). The measure permits "somatic cell nuclear transfer," also known as human cloning for the purpose of destroying human embryos. Iowa Governor Chet Culver says he looks forward to signing the bill.
the rest

What Bones of Jesus?
By Brent Bozell III
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Excerpt: "Other than a syrupy boost -- an embarrassingly syrupy boost -- from an "exclusive" appearance on NBC's "Today" show, the national media for once aren't buying into this cheap publicity stunt and have found a load of skeptics to denounce the film, maybe because the list of experts, both scientific and religious, is endless.

Perhaps the most important debunker is professor Amos Kloner, who oversaw the original archaeological dig of this tomb in 1980. "It makes a great story for a TV film," Kloner told the Jerusalem Post. "But it's completely impossible. It's nonsense."
the rest photo

Scholars and clergymen in Jerusalem slam new Jesus Documentary

Some Vitamin Supplements Increase Death Risk Say Researchers
28 Feb 2007

Vitamin supplements taken by millions of people every day for their health could be increasing their risk of death a new Danish-led study suggests.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The international research team reviewed the published evidence on beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E, Vitamin C and selenium. The team was led by Dr Goran Bjelakovic, from Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.

These dietary supplements are marketed as antioxidants and people take them in the hope they will improve health and guard against diseases like cancer and heart disease by eliminating the free radicals that cause "oxidative stress" and damage and kill off cells. Antioxidants are also marketed as anti-aging products because they are thought to slow down the aging process. the rest

Homosexual Activists Consider Targeting Private Christian Schools for "Homophobia"
Want provincial ministry of education to exert “more control" over curriculum and staff hiring
By Gudrun Schultz
OTTAWA, Ontario, February 27, 2007

(LifeSiteNews.com) - Ontario private schools are coming increasingly under the lens of homosexual activist groups for "homophobic" teaching stemming from the schools' primarily religious foundations, a report in Ottawa's homosexual news media indicated earlier this week.

In an article warning about the increasing trend toward private and religious schools in the province, Ottawa's Capital Xtra objected to religious schools that teach children "only their own values."

The article quotes Tony Lovink, a homosexual Christian teacher in the Ottawa public school system, as saying, "All private schools tend to be at least implicitly homophobic. And I would say all religiously formed independent schools are definitely homophobic."
the rest

New GA Bill Mandates Ultrasounds Before Abortions
Submitted by Monica Lorraine on Wed, 02/28/2007

A bill requiring that a woman would have to beoffered a look at an ultrasound image of her fetus beforeundergoing an abortion is on its way to the full Senate after being approved by a committee.

The bill sponsored by Senator Nancy Schaefer of Turnervillewould mandate that ultrasounds be offered on women seekingabortions. The woman would then be given the chance to see theimage. The bill is a top legislative priority for anti-abortion activists in Georgia this session. Schaefer said yesterday that she hopes that women viewing the images would decide against having an abortion.
the rest

Episcopal divisions long in coming, visiting Bolivian bishop says
By Lori Arnold

Six years ago Bishop Frank Lyons left the United States to do missionary work with the fledgling Anglican Church in Bolivia.

These days he finds himself back in America from time to time on a different type of mission—ministering to a well-established, but fractured, denomination.

In late January, he spent a week in San Diego guiding several congregations that have left the Episcopal Church over such issues as the inerrancy of God’s Word, the divinity of Christ, and the ordination of homosexual priests and women. Similar struggles are emerging across the country as the denomination pushes forward with a more liberal interpretation of the faith.

Several of those congregations have retained their ties to the Anglican Church, which has 38 independent yet connected provinces worldwide. The U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, is one of the more liberal provinces in the Anglican community. The majority of the provinces, especially in Africa and South America, are conservative and oppose ordination for homosexuals and women.
the rest

Anglicans to vote on issues regarding gays and lesbians
The Associated Press
February 27, 2007

LONDON: The Church of England's assembly votes Wednesday on an issue that has deeply divided the global Anglican Communion: how members should interpret Scripture on sexuality.
Two motions, both of which regard lesbian and gay Christians, will be considered at the General Synod, the parliament of the Church of England, which is meeting this week to discuss church business.

Neither motion, including one by a member of an evangelical group, would change church law. But both seek to alter the atmosphere of the debate.

The motions were put forward early last year, but they are widely seen as a continuation of the last installment of the debate: a meeting by Anglican leaders earlier this month in Tanzania, which included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
the rest

Bishops raid funds to pay for palaces
Ruth Gledhill
February 28, 2007

Bishops have been accused of raiding cash set aside for the Church’s mission in order to fund their own palaces and houses.

Papers circulated at the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in London show that £20.7 million was spent on supporting bishops in 2005. By 2007 this figure will have risen nearly 50 per cent to £29.5 million, largely because of spending on bishops’ houses. There are 44 diocesan bishops in the Church of England and 69 suffragan and area bishops. This compares with 9,500 stipendiary clergy.

The parish mission fund, which this year received £4.6 million from the Church Commissioners, is regarded as one of the Church’s success stories. Most of the cash goes to small projects around the country. Examples include churches in pubs, rollerskate parks and youth centres.
the rest

Chancellor: Cessation of Lawsuits Must be Part of Comprehensive Agreement
02/27/2007

The Episcopal Church will not suspend or withdraw from property lawsuits it initiated unless there is a comprehensive agreement that takes into consideration “all the other recommendations of the primates’ communiqué,” said David Booth Beers, chancellor for the Presiding Bishop.

Mr. Beers responded Feb. 26 to a proposal to suspend property litigation that was made by lawyers representing some of the 11 congregations which voted in December to disassociate from the Diocese of Virginia. In their Feb. 19 communiqué, the primates had unanimously “urge[d] the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation.”

In his reply Mr. Beers noted that the leadership of the departing congregations have not made any effort to come into compliance with the requests made by the primates in their communiqué.
the rest

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

From time immemorial men have quenched their thirst with water without knowing anything about its chemical constituents. In like manner we do not need to be instructed in all the mysteries of doctrine, but we do need to receive the Living Water which Jesus Christ will give us and which alone can satisfy our souls. ... Sadhu Sundar Singh photo

The Episcopal Church and the Rift over Homosexuality
Talk of the Nation,
February 27, 2007

In the civil war over homosexuality in organized religion, the Episcopal Church faces division over its acceptance of gay bishops and same-sex couples. It's one of the most divisive issues to major religions since slavery. Guests debate the issues surrounding homosexuality in the church community.

listen

Gay bishop weighs in on Anglican debate
Updated 2/27/2007
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

As the Anglican Communion and its U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, battle over a potential split this year, the openly gay Episcopal Bishop whose election in 2003 ignited the controversy said Tuesday that his God would prevail in a battle over control of the church. the rest

Gene Robinson: A Word of Hope
February 27th, 2007
here

More from +Gene: A Response to "A Season of Fasting"
February 27, 2007
here

Video: Venables predicts two-tier communion

Ruth Gledhill blog

Judge asks diocese to hold off on bankruptcy
From Times Staff and Wire Reports
February 27, 2007

A judge attempting to fashion a settlement between the San Diego Roman Catholic Diocese and plaintiffs who have alleged sexual abuse by priests asked Monday that the diocese not file for bankruptcy before a session set for Friday.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr made the request after a negotiating session between lawyers for the diocese and the plaintiffs. Bishop Robert Brom has said the diocese might file for Chapter 11 reorganization in the face of lawsuits by 150 people.
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Samuel Gregg: 'One more Christian, one fewer Chinese' tenet dying
Religious freedom is not yet a reality in China, but thanks partly to free markets its dawn seems less far off

February 28, 2007

COMMUNIST regimes rarely advertise their failures. This makes all the more striking the recent report about religion's resurgence in China on the front page of the Chinese Communist Party's English-language flagship, China Daily.

Basing its comments on a poll of 4500 people by Shanghai university professors which found that 31.4 per cent of people over 16 considered themselves religious, the newspaper reported that extrapolating these results across China indicated that about 300 million Chinese regard themselves as religious. Of these, about 40 million are Christian, far higher than the 2005 official estimate of 16 million.

Even more striking are the demographics associated with China's religious growth.
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Philipines Pro-Life Youth Rally Sees 10,000 Teenagers Oppose Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 27, 2007

Manila, Philipines (LifeNews.com) -- Over the weekend, more than 10,000 pro-life young people attended a rally in the Filipino capital. Organized by the nation's leading pro-life group, the youth who attended made commitments to abstain from sexual relations until marriage and to fight to keep abortions illegal in this island nation.

Pro-Life Philippines coordinated the rally along with pro-life groups at various colleges and universities and Ali Atienza, who heads inner city development in Manila, spoke to the crowd.

His father, Lito Atienza, is the mayor of Manila and also the president of Pro-Life Philippines.

The teenagers gathered in the San Andres sports center and complex and pledged their support for upholding pro-life principles and leading upstanding lives.
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US Christians Continue to Welcome Anglican Communiqué on Episcopal Church
US Christians continue to respond to the communiqué released by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania which asks that the US Episcopal Church "make an unequivocal common covenant" by September 30 that it will not authorise same-gender blessings or consecrate gay bishops.

by Maria Mackay
Posted: Monday, February 26, 2007

The Institute on Religion and Democracy is the latest US Christian body to welcome the communiqué released by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their meeting in Tanzania earlier in the month.

The communiqué issues an ultimatum to The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States over its position on human sexuality. In particular, the Church is given seven months (until September 30, 2007) to convey its definitive position on the blessing of same-sex unions and the elevation to episcopal orders of a candidate living in a same-sex relationship.

IRD Director of Anglican Action, Ralph Webb, said, “We commend the Primates for their strong reaffirmation of the Anglican Communion’s standard of teaching on marriage: that it is a permanent union between one man and one woman, and that Christians are to be abstinent outside of marriage.”
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Kendall Harmon–Reflections on the Significance of the Dar es Salaam Primates Communique (I): Closing the Jim Naughton-Bishop Sisk Loophole

A week ago Monday,
in an interchange with USA Today, I wrote this:

…the American church has turned weaseling out of what words mean into a high art form and that may still be an issue….

Well, soon thereafter the weaseling began. It was very fast.

the rest at titusonenine

Virginia property litigation to continue, church's attorneys say
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Monday, February 26, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have told two attorneys representing some of the 11 Diocese of Virginia congregations involved in a legal dispute over possession of church property that "there is no basis at this time" to put that litigation on hold.

Washington, D.C. attorneys Mary A. McReynolds and Steffen N. Johnson asked by letter on February 22 that the litigation be put on hold after the communiqué issued at the end of the recent Primates' Meeting "urge[d] the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation."
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Bishop Schori Says One Thing, but Does the Opposite
Commentary by Raymond Dague,

Attorney for St. Andrews Church in Syracuse, New York
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It took Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori less time to go back on her word this year than it did for the former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to go back on his word in 2003.

On February 19, 2007 Bishop Schori as one of the primates at the Dar es Salaam meeting in Tanzania signed a communique which said that:

"We are deeply concerned that so great has been the estrangement between some of the faithful and The Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in the civil courts.

"The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations."
Communique-ACNS

At the exact moment she and the other primates penned those words, Mrs. Schori’s lawyers in Washington, D.C. were seeking to intervene in lawsuits pending in New York and Virginia in attempts to seize the local parishes from the worshipers who built and paid for them, and who worship in them on every Sunday. What a perfect time this was to drop her attempts to seize these local churches, and in doing so demonstrate that she was a woman and bishop of integrity who meant what she said!

Alas, it is apparently not to be. Yesterday, Mrs. Schori’s lawyers sent 91 pages of papers to be filed today in the state supreme court in Syracuse in their attempt to seize one parish. Those papers are part of her attempt to intervene in the lawsuit that the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York brought last summer against St. Andrews Church in Syracuse at the behest of Bishop Gladstone “Skip” Adams, III. In this lawsuit the Diocese, and now the Episcopal Church, seeks to seize the local church of St. Andrews in Syracuse, New York from its parishioners.

With the papers of her lawyers dated February 26, 2007, Mrs. Schori can give no excuse for her behavior, other than to admit the obvious: She signed the Dar es Salaam communique only to get along with the other primates. She never meant what she said, and never intended to do what she said. The pious words of her statements were just for show. They cannot be taken seriously, because it took her only seven days between her saying one thing, and have her lawyers do the exact opposite.

There is nothing in the legal papers sent to me by her attorneys seeking “to suspend all actions in law.” The papers contain nothing to allow the people of St. Andrews the use of its property, despite her communique that she would not “deny the use of that property to those congregations.” The legal papers do the exact opposite. They are part of a well funded legal campaign which is being prosecuted against parishes nationwide to take the church buildings from those who have worshiped in them.

Perhaps it is strangely appropriate that this little parish in snowy upstate New York be the first one against which she displayed her contempt for her fellow primates and the communique to which she solemnly affixed her signature. After all, when her lawyers filed legal papers against St. Andrews Church in Syracuse in mid-January, it was the first parish in the country to be targeted by the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in her struggle to enforce her rule over a parish which refuses to accept her theology.

The last presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, completely destroyed his credibility with the primates of the Global South when he did something similar. On October 16, 2003 Bishop Griswold signed a primates statement which told the Episcopal Church that to proceed to consecrate a man as bishop living in a relationship with his same-sex partner would
“tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level,” “tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level,” and warned the American church not to do it. Yet 17 days later Frank Griswold was the man who was the principal bishop to do that which he himself said should not be done. He consecrated a homosexual bishop for the Diocese of New Hampshire as that new bishop’s male partner proudly watched the ceremony.

It took Frank Griswold 17 days to go back on his word. It took Bishop Schori only 7 days. Will the bishops of the Anglican Communion, or for that matter will anyone, take Bishop Schori’s word seriously after this? Only the most gullible should believe her at this point.

The case is on for the argument of motions on Thursday, March 1, 2007 in Syracuse, including Bishop Schori’s motion to intervene in this lawsuit on the side of Bishop Adams and the Diocese of Central New York. Her lawyers will be up from Washington to try to convince the judge to let them into the case. The people of St. Andrews Church in Syracuse covet the prayers of all as the Central New York Diocese and the Episcopal Church tries to take their church away from them.

Raymond Dague is the attorney for St. Andrews Church in Syracuse, New York and is defending the lawsuit brought against it by the Diocese of Central New York and the Episcopal Church.
http://www.DagueLaw.com

Monday, February 26, 2007

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control. ...Henri J. M. Nouwen photo

Christian persecution on the rise throughout India
Allie Martin
OneNewsNow.com
February 26, 2007

Five Bible college students were recently attacked by militants in India, and officials with the ministry Gospel for Asia say violence against Christians in that country is ongoing and on the increase.

The five students were from a Gospel for Asia (GFA) Bible College in the Indian state of Maharashtra, in the state capital of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) sharing their faith on the streets of a local village. Reportedly, as they arrived at the village, the five were approached by an anti-Christian mob that threatened to kill them.

According to GFA's sources, the Bible College students were severely beaten by the militants. All five of the assaulted Christians were taken to a local hospital and treated, and two of the men are listed in critical condition with severe head wounds.

GFA founder K.P. Yohannan says the students' classmates are standing strong, despite the current climate of anti-Christian oppression and violence. "The entire [body of GFA] Bible School students are saying the same thing," he notes, namely that they are taught "that Jesus sent us out as sheep among wolves, and this is what the Lord said would happen."
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Matt Kennedy: Reading the Dar Es Salaam Communique Part 2
February 26, 2007

Excerpt: "In recent days some dispute has arisen with regard to the intent of the primates. Do they seek a commitment from the Episcopal Church not to permit public rites for same sex blessings to take place at all or do they seek a commitment from the bishops of the Episcopal Church that they will not personally authorize such rites?"
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Archbishop of Canterbury: Presidential Address at General Synod
Monday 26th February 2007

After the debates at the American General Convention last summer, I wrote directly to all the primates of the Communion to ask about their reaction and the likely reaction of their provinces as to whether the resolutions of Convention had met the proposals of the Windsor Report for restoring something like normal relations between the Episcopal Church and others in the Communion. The answers were instructive. About eleven provinces were fairly satisfied; about eleven were totally dissatisfied. The rest displayed varying levels of optimism or pessimism, but were not eager to see this as a life and death issue for the Communion. Of those who took one or the other of the more pronounced view, several on both sides nonetheless expressed real exasperation that this question and the affairs of one province should be taking up energy to the near-exclusion of other matters.

The public perception, as we’ve been reminded by several commentators in the last week or so, is that we are a Church obsessed with sex. The responses I received to my letter to Primates suggests that this is what many within the Church feel as well – and I’d be surprised if many in this chamber did not echo that. It feels as though we are caught in a battle very few really want to be fighting; like soldiers in the trenches somewhere around 1916, trying to remember just what were the decisions that got everyone to a point where hardly anyone was owning the conflict, just enduring it (we don’t of course have to go as far back as 1916).
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Jesus' Family Tomb Discovery is a Titanic Fraud
NEW YORK,
February 26, 2007

(LifeSiteNews.com) - "Titanic" director James Cameron and Canadian TV-director Simcha Jacobovici are claiming they have evidence of a Jerusalem tomb that allegedly houses the remains of Jesus and his family. However the foremost archaeologists in Israel have slammed the claims as totally without foundation.

Israeli archeologist Amos Kloner, who was in charge of the 1980 investigation of the tomb which is the subject of the new claims by Cameron-Jacobovici, said "The claim that the burial site has been found is not based on any proof, and is only an attempt to sell." Kloner added, "I refute all claims and efforts to waken a renewed interest in the findings. With all due respect, they are not archeologists." Kloner said that while "it makes a great story for a TV film," there is "no likelihood" that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb, and dismissed the claims as "impossible" and "nonsense."
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CRY FROM A TINY HEART
Time to re-open abortion debate

Eamonn Holmes

25 February 2007

THOSE images of 22-weekold Amillia Taylor, the most premature baby ever, will have had an enormous impact across the world.

Nobody could fail to be moved by her tiny but perfectly-formed feet and her little body, barely longer than a ballpoint pen.

Her survival - and the fact that she has every chance of developing normally with no serious health issues - could become the most important story of the year.

Why? Because in law Amillia had no rights. Everybody else seems to have but, according to the law, Amillia did not exist.
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Church seeks unity on gay rights
By Robert Pigott Religious Affairs Correspondent,
BBC News

Monday, 26 February 2007

When the Synod of the Church of England meets this week the shadow of another meeting thousands of miles away on the shores of the Indian Ocean will be hanging over it.

That is because the same chill wind of division that preoccupied the archbishops in Tanzania will be blowing through Church House in Westminster.

At last week's gathering, the leaders of the world's 38 independent Anglican churches achieved what had seemed an improbable consensus.
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Statement from Bishop William Love
Diocese of Albany

I applaud the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the Primates of the Anglican Communion for their willingness to meet and work together in an attempt to bring reconciliation within the Anglican Communion and to sustain the life of the Communion around its biblical and apostolic core.

The extensive prayer, discussion and generosity of the Primates, seems to have borne fruit. Next month the House of Bishops will meet in Texas to review all the dimensions of the agreement which was supported and signed by all of the Primates in Dar es Salaam, including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The Primates agreement can be read in its entirety at: ACNS


The Diocese of Albany, as demonstrated by the results of the Primates’ meeting, stands in the mainstream of Anglican life and teaching. By the grace of God, we will continue to do so. Keeping our focus on Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we reach out to one another in Christian love and charity, treating all people with dignity and respect. As Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are called by our Lord to be obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with all who will receive it.

I ask for the prayers of each member of this Diocese as we continue to move forward in answer to our Lord’s call. May God use each one of us as an instrument of His love and healing grace in this torn and broken world.

Faithfully Yours in Jesus Christ,

+ William H. Love
Bishop of Albany


By email-Albany Priests and Deacons update
February 26, 2007

Anglican Head Reveals Efforts for Unity, Makes Homosexual Stance Clear
By
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Feb. 26 2007

The issue in the Anglican Communion right now has nothing to do at all with the place of the Bible, the head archbishop of the denomination said.

The current divide in the 77-million member Communion is rather due to "the fact that some people in the church, a minority, especially in the United States, have chosen to read the Bible in a new, very controversial way," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told UK's The Guardian newspaper.

Theological differences, particularly on the issue of homosexuality, have divided the majority of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, which consecrated an openly gay bishop in 2003 - an action that most Anglican leaders call a departure from Scripture and from Anglican teaching. As the U.S. Anglican wing faces a deadline to clarify their stance on homosexual ordination and blessing same-sex unions, Williams made it clear that the Communion has always stood against the ordination of active homosexuals.
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Events in Africa affect Minnesota Episcopalians
As U.S. Episcopalians face a Sept. 30 deadline to comply with Anglican Communion demands to back off on gay bishops and same-sex unions, Twin Cities churches are standing by their points of view.
By
Pamela Miller, Star Tribune
February 24, 2007

As the conflict between theologically liberal U.S. Episcopal parishes and the worldwide Anglican Communion over same-sex unions and gay bishops intensified yet again this past week, Minnesota Episcopalians were paying close attention -- and standing by their points of view.

At St. Mark's Cathedral in Minneapolis, which welcomes gay worshipers, the news that top church leaders meeting in Tanzania had taken the hardest line yet on those issues bred disappointment -- but not defeat.

"It's folly to think that a pronouncement will stifle this conversation," said the Rev. Spenser Simrill, St. Mark's dean. "We will continue to offer same-sex blessings here. the rest



BERKELEY SEMINARIAN PAVES WAY FOR GAY CHRISTIANS AMIDST TURMOIL IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

US Christians Continue to Welcome Anglican Communiqué on Episcopal Church
US Christians continue to respond to the communiqué released by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania which asks that the US Episcopal Church "make an unequivocal common covenant" by September 30 that it will not authorise same-gender blessings or consecrate gay bishops.
by Maria Mackay
Posted: Monday, February 26, 2007

The Institute on Religion and Democracy is the latest US Christian body to welcome the communiqué released by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their meeting in Tanzania earlier in the month.

The communiqué issues an ultimatum to The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States over its position on human sexuality. In particular, the Church is given seven months (until September 30, 2007) to convey its definitive position on the blessing of same-sex unions and the elevation to episcopal orders of a candidate living in a same-sex relationship.

IRD Director of Anglican Action, Ralph Webb, said, “We commend the Primates for their strong reaffirmation of the Anglican Communion’s standard of teaching on marriage: that it is a permanent union between one man and one woman, and that Christians are to be abstinent outside of marriage.”
the rest

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I lay my head upon Thy infinite heart,
I hide beneath the shelter of Thy wing;
Pursued and tempted, helpless, I must cling
To Thee, my Father; bid me not depart,
For sin and death pursue,
And Life is where Thou art!
Anonymous photo

Gay-Rights Advances Likely in Congress
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007

Anti-gay bias has flared up in Hollywood and pro basketball recently, and soon the topic will be thrust dramatically into a new forum — a reshaped Congress likely to pass the first major federal gay-rights bills.

Wary conservative leaders, as well as gay-rights advocates, share a belief that at least two measures will win approval this year: a hate-crimes bill that would cover offenses motivated by anti-gay bias, and a measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Also on the table — although with more doubtful prospects — will be a measure to be introduced Wednesday seeking repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military.
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Pope speaks out against "designer babies"
Sat Feb 24, 2007

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Saturday condemned genetic engineering and other scientific practices that allow people to select so-called "designer babies" by screening them for defects.

In a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life, a Church body of experts, the Pope also attacked artificial insemination and the widespread use of medical tests that can detect diseases and inherited disorders in embryos.

"In developed countries, there is a growing interest for the most sophisticated biotechnological research to introduce subtle and extensive eugenics methods in the obsessive search for the 'perfect child'," the Pope said.

He said the right to life was increasingly under attack in the world, citing pressures to legalize abortion in Latin America, and euthanasia in the richest countries.
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Episcopalians Not Ready to Swallow 'Bitter Pill'
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Sat, Feb. 24 2007

Conversations over the issue of homosexuality are not going away within the Anglican churches, said the U.S. Episcopal head on Friday. But all the while, the U.S. church body believes it has a gift that it does not want to let go of.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke to church leaders at the Episcopal Church Center in New York saying that the Anglican Communion has given them a "hard and bitter pill" for them to swallow as to whether to remain in full communion with the worldwide denomination or become autonomous in its stance of fully supporting homosexual ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions.

"It's an enormous cost and price that's being asked of us," Schori told Episcopal leaders, "and I don't think we can or should pay that price." Schori supports the full inclusion of homosexuals.
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DAR Anglican Report Interviews

Interviews from Tanzania

Courtesy of AnglicanTV

Rivals walk legal tightrope to expand freedoms in China
By Joseph Kahn
February 25, 2007

BEIJING: Li Jinsong and Li Jianqiang are Chinese trial lawyers who take on difficult political cases, tangle with the police and seek solace in the same religion, Christianity.

But like many who devote themselves to expanding freedoms and the rule of law in China, the two of them spend as much time clashing over tactics and principles as they do challenging the ruling Communist Party.

The two lawyers are part of a momentous struggle over the rule of law in China. Young, well-educated and idealistic, they and other members of the so-called weiquan, or rights defense, movement, aim to use the laws and courts that the Communist Party has put in place as part of its modernization drive to constrain its own power.

The informal network of rights defenders may be the only visible force for political openness and change in China at a time when the surging economy and the country's rapidly expanding global influence have otherwise strengthened party leaders. The authorities have refrained from suppressing it entirely, at least partly because it operates carefully within the law and uses China's judicial system, as well as the news media, to advance its aims.
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Meaningful meetings
February 25, 2007

U.S. Episcopal Church reaches a crossroads

Two meetings set two worlds apart might have a profound effect on the religious life of thousands of Episcopalians living in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

The first meeting took place Feb. 10 at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Lodi.
The meeting was presided over by the president of the Episcopal Church House of Deputies, the second-highest ranking officer of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

It's one of 38 Anglican communions that make up the world Anglican Church.

The meeting was held to assure local church leaders and members in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin that the national Episcopal Church is taking steps to make sure they're supported in case the San Joaquin Diocese at the next convention decides to pull away from the national church to become a non-Episcopalian diocese.
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