Saturday, June 16, 2007

As the weights of the clock, or the ballast in the vessel, are necessary for their right ordering, so is trouble in the soul-life. The sweetest scents are only obtained by tremendous pressure; the fairest flowers grow amid Alpine snow-solitudes; the fairest gems have suffered longest from the lapidary's wheel; the noblest statues have borne most blows of the chisel. All, however, are under law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight. ...FB Meyer photo

Pope, Orthodox leader to work for Middle East peace
Sat Jun 16, 2007
By Gavin Jones

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict and the leader of the Cypriot Orthodox Church pledged on Saturday to work for peace in the Middle East, saying they feared a widening crisis with "disastrous consequences."

In a joint declaration following a visit to the Vatican by Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, the two leaders said they would "intensify the quest for full unity among all Christians."

Chrysostomos II said earlier this week he would be willing to mediate to try to arrange a
meeting between the Pope and the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, Alexiy II, which would be the first meeting between a Pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch.
the rest

The Decline of the Sabbath
Less praying, more working and playing.
Friday, June 15, 2007

For many Americans, Sunday is unlike any other day of the week. They spend its luxurious hours curled up in bed with the paper, meeting friends for brunch, working off hangovers, watching golf, running errands and preparing themselves for the workweek ahead. But Sunday is also, for many, the Sabbath--a special day for religious reasons. Not that you would notice.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," we are told in Exodus. Of all the gifts Jews gave the world, that of a weekly day of rest is certainly one to be cherished. And yet the Sabbath is now marked more by its neglect than its keeping. Or so says Christopher Ringwald in his new book "A Day Apart."
the rest photo

How children lost the right to roam in four generations

When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere.

It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision.

Fast forward to 2007 and Mr Thomas's eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys none of that freedom.

He is driven the few minutes to school, is taken by car to a safe place to ride his bike and can roam no more than 300 yards from home.
the rest

Hillary's Campaign Removes Mother Teresa Image
Friday, June 15, 2007

The Clinton campaign removed an image of Hillary Clinton with Mother Teresa from a campaign video in response to a complaint from the late nun's religious order.

Joseph Cella, president of the politically conservative Catholic group Fidelis, said he brought the video to the attention of Sister Nirmala, Teresa's successor as the Superior General of the India-based Missionaries of Charity, The Politico reported.
the rest

Ministers say hate crimes act could muzzle them
Oren Dorell, USA TODAY
June 15, 2007

Minister Harry Jackson recalls being told about the black men who were lynched near his home in Florida in the 1950s and his family's flight to Ohio after a state trooper threatened his father at gunpoint for helping blacks register to vote.

"That was a real hate crime," Jackson says.

Crimes such as those spurred black ministers to join the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Today, Jackson, pastor of the Hope Christian Church in Lanham, Md., leads a movement against what gay activists say is their civil rights act: the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.

Jackson and more than 30 ministers say the law could prevent clergy from doing what their civil rights forebears did: preach against immoral acts. "We believe there is an anti-Christian muzzle-the-pastor kind of feeling behind this kind of law," Jackson says. "I need to be able to preach that adultery, fornication, straying from the way of the Lord is wrong."
the rest

Analysis: older churchgoers in Britain
Saturday, 16th June 2007
By: Peter Brierley.

Of the 3.2 million people going to church on an average Sunday in England, over 900,000 are 65 or over. That is one person in nine over 65 in the entire country.

The opportunity therefore to reach out to other folk in the country is huge, which is exactly what Manchester diocese found when they started their “Back to Church” campaign in 2005, and what the recently published Tearfund survey showed of some 3 million waiting to be invited back to church. A good many of such people are older people.

Through the wonders of modern health science we are living longer on average, and over the past 50 years the expectation of life, for both men and women, is some eight or nine years more, although women usually continue to live longer than men. Since until very recently the normal retirement age was 60 or 65 (that is, the extra years were not translated into an extended working life), these “extra years” being mostly when people are between 65 and 74. Those who are 75 today are often of similar health and energy as those who were 65 in 1957.
the rest

The Instruction of a Father
A wonderful series this past week on Revive our Hearts
Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Jun 11 - Start Your Day with God
Jun 12 - Trust and Obey
Jun 13 -
Guard Your Heart
Jun 14 -
Don't Spend Your Life, Invest It
Jun 15 -
Returning to Your First Love

Lesbian pathbreaker to be ordained in S.F.
Friday, June 15, 2007

A Lutheran congregation in San Francisco will ordain an openly gay partnered minister Saturday as part of a drive to equalize LGBTs within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Dawn Roginski's ordination at St. Francis Lutheran Church directly challenges the denomination's policy of
requiring lifelong celibacy of its gay and lesbian clergy while imposing no such restrictions on its heterosexuals.

The ceremony will mark the third such challenge to the policy in eight months.

The ceremonies, which run outside the usual guidelines of Lutheran ordinations to certify the credentials of openly identified sexual minorities, are supported by the Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project.
the rest

For them, faith trumps works
Evangelicals say Romney's Mormonism is the sticking point, not his politics.
By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
June 16, 2007

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Here's the problem with electing a Mormon president, as Jason Thurman sees it: "I don't believe he would be guided by God."

Thurman, 26, is tidying the annotated Bibles in the Shepherd's Fold bookstore. Over by the rack of Christian CDs, his co-worker Marty Thomas raises a similar concern."When it comes right down to it," says Thomas, 40, "a Mormon's strength is human. A Christian person's strength is superhuman. I want [a president] who has that extra on his side.

"In his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — a lifelong Mormon — has often reminded voters that he's running for commander in chief, not pastor in chief. What's important, Romney says, is that he has strong faith; the details are irrelevant.

But a sharp concern about the Mormon Church shows up in poll after national poll. About one in three voters would be less likely to support a Mormon candidate. The faith draws among the most unfavorable ratings of any religion. Doubts run especially deep among evangelicals, who may account for as many as half the votes cast in Republican primaries in the South.
the rest

No porn-again Christian
Online ministry aids X-rated addicts

By James Prichard, Associated Press
Jun. 16, 2007

Brian McGinness had an insatiable appetite for porn.

Day after day, for more than eight years, he spent countless hours surfing the Web for it, usually on a computer that he used after business hours at his old job.

Because of his compulsion to view pornography, McGinness spent more time away from home, so he lied to his wife about having to work overtime in the evenings. He felt guilty about what he was doing, believing that it was morally wrong and knowing that it was keeping him from his spouse and their two young children. But he also felt unable to control himself.

All that started to change one Saturday morning in December after he attended a breakfast of “Porn and Pancakes” organized by, an online ministry created to get Christians talking about their X-rated addictions. The site offers information on how and where to get help, links to the ministry’s podcasts, “accountability” software that tracks Internet sites visited by computer users and a list of upcoming appearances by members of “the X3 crew.”
the rest

Survey illuminates views of atheists and believers
By K. Connie Kang, Times Staff Writer
June 16, 2007

This has been a busy week in the faith community — a time of national meetings, grappling with divisive issues and the release of a public opinion poll on perceptions about "radical Christianity."

The nationwide survey by the Ventura-based Barna Group reported that 56% of atheists and agnostics believe that "radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam."

The independent marketing firm, which has tracked trends relating to beliefs, values and behaviors since 1984, looked at the beliefs of agnostics and atheists and compared them to believers over a two-year period.

The survey of 1,055 people indicated that atheists and agnostics tend to be younger and are more often male and single. Six percent of those 61 and older identified themselves as atheist or agnostic; 9% of those 42 to 60, 14% of those 23 to 41 and 19% of people 18 to 22 also identified themselves as atheist or agnostic.
the rest

Anglican Kenyans name U.S. bishop
By Julia Duin
June 16, 2007

The Anglican Province of Kenya has appointed its own bishop to oversee about 30 churches in the United States -- the third such effort by conservative African bishops to carve out pieces of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Canon Bill Atwood, 57, of Carollton, Texas, will be consecrated a suffragan bishop at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on Aug. 30, joining several other American bishops overseeing former Episcopal parishes now affiliated with the Anglican provinces of Rwanda and Nigeria.

"We are just working as rescuers," Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said yesterday, referring to conservatives distressed by liberal trends in the Episcopal Church. "We needed someone there [in America] who understands their culture. I am not there for name and fame and to build myself."
the rest

Boys to Men
Raising three sons has helped me appreciate the masculine virtues.
Friday, June 15, 2007

Excerpt: "But I can't shake the sense that boys are supposed to become manly. Rather than neutering their aggression, confidence and desire for danger, we should channel these instincts into honor, gentlemanliness and courage. Instead of inculcating timidity in our sons, it seems wiser to train them to face down bullies, which by necessity means teaching them how to throw a good uppercut. In his book "Manliness," Harvey Mansfield writes that a person manifesting this quality "not only knows what justice requires, but he acts on his knowledge, making and executing the decision that the rest of us trembled even to define." You can't build a civilization and defend it against barbarians, fascists and playground bullies, in other words, with a nation of Phil Donahues.

Maybe the problem isn't that boys are aggressive, but that we've neglected their moral education. As Teddy Roosevelt wrote to one of his sons: "I would rather have a boy of mine stand high in his studies than high in athletics, but I would a great deal rather have him show true manliness of character than show either intellectual or physical prowess." Manliness, then, is not the ability to survive in the wilderness, or wield a rifle. But having such skills increases the odds that one's manly actions--which Roosevelt and others believed flow from a moral quality--will be successful.

The good father, then, needs to nurture his son's moral and spiritual core, and equip him with the skills he'll need to act on the moral impulse that we call courage. A real man, in other words, is someone who doesn't run from an Osama bin Laden. But he may also need the ability to hit a target from three miles out with a .50 caliber M88 if he wants to finish the job."
the rest photo

Friday, June 15, 2007

What is the Church of God without the Holy Ghost?
Ask what would Hermon be without its dew, or Egypt without its Nile? Behold the land of Canaan when the curse of Elias fell upon it, and for three years it felt neither dew nor rain: such would Christendom become without the Spirit.

What the valleys would be without their brooks, or the cities without their wells; what the corn-fields would be without the sun, or the vintage without the summer—that would our churches be without the Spirit. As well think of day without light, or life without breath, or heaven without God, as of Christian service without the Holy Spirit. Nothing can supply his place if he be absent: the pastures are a desert, the fruitful fields are a wilderness, Sharon languishes, and Carmel is burned with fire.

Blessed Spirit of the Lord, forgive us that we have done thee such despite, by our forgetfulness of thee, by our proud self-sufficiency, by resisting thine influences, and quenching thy fire! Henceforth work in us according to thine own excellence. Make our hearts tenderly impressible, and then turn us as wax to the seal, and stamp upon us the image of the Son of God.
...CH Spurgeon photo

A Definitive Portrait of the Struggle in the Episcopal Church
Date: 14 June 2007

Bishop Martyn Minns
Bishop of the
Convocation of Anglicans of North America, a group of churches trying to secede from the Episcopal Church

In this first interview, we hear from Martyn Minns, leader of about 35 churches trying to secede from their parent body, the Episcopal Church. He was consecrated a bishop by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, although both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori requested that the ceremony not go forward.

He says that the separation has been difficult, but in his view necessary. He says that the Episcopal Church has abandoned traditional notions of authority, often treats truth as relative, and even puts in doubt the centrality of Christ. The election of Bishop Gene Robinson as the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire was, he says, merely symptomatic of the larger problems about truth and authority.

He has not engaged in direct dialogue with Bishop Robinson, but has been part of many dialogues over the years in the church. However, using Bp. Robinson as an example, he says that Bp. Robinson regards gay sex as sacred, but he regards it as sinful, and there is no room for compromise.

Archbishop Akinola endorsed legislation in Nigeria (which did not pass) that would jail gays and lesbians who gathered or touched in public. Bp. Minns defended Akinola, but not the law itself.
the rest

h/t BabyBlueOnLine

Richard Kew+: Long and Winding Road Home: Pt. 2 - The Episcopal Church
June 14, 2007

Excerpt: "This battle is about nothing less than who God is, how God has revealed himself to us, and what the implications of that might be in daily living. The starting point for any debate or discussion has to be the Trinity, and certainly not human sexuality.What has happened is that we have been shoo-ed by God out into a Wilderness, we have been dispatched into Exile. After the Jews were taking into exile in Babylon, a couple of generations passed before God began speaking to them with the red-blooded words of that great prophet in the tradition of Isaiah.

Exile is agony and can be utterly debilitating, but evidence from the history of salvation is that it is the place where God meets and renews his expectant people, having allowed them to shed much of the unhelpful baggage that they were carrying. My work with the Russian church in the 1990s brought me face-to-face with a church who had been forced to learn some incredibly painful lessons from a different kind of exile, now it is our turn.

If we look at the experience of the Jews and of church history, it is in exile that we experience theological and spiritual renewal that would have been impossible if our standard had still been flying high. In humiliation and sitting amidst the ruins we are called upon to wait until the Lord God is ready for us again. Maybe all this will take decades and not months, and all the time our demeanor should be humility in sackcloth and ashes.

There is much from the Episcopal Church that I will miss, but most of these things are from the old Episcopal Church, the one that used to exist, not the one that is being born in the confusion and error of today. I have fond and thankful memories, and my prayer is that even an ocean away I will be able to do something that will play a tiny part in the restoration of North American Anglicanism to the favor of the Lord."

the rest

(Part one here:
A Long and Winding Road Home )

Matt Kennedy: But I'm Not Dead Yet: Predictions of Demise Somewhat Overdone
June 15, 2007

I think we ought to hold off a bit on the “alphabet soup” rhetoric. The assured tones with which some predict fragmentation and dissolution are overdone and, I believe, unjustified. So far we see a group of provincial jurisdictions cooperating and acting in a somewhat coordinated fashion to achieve a unified end; an end, a goal, that is shared by at least one major domestic orthodox body.

the rest at Stand Firm

Iraq Priest Remains Kidnapped, As Thousands Flee
Friday, 15 June 2007
By BosNewsLife News Center

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)-- A Chaldean Catholic priest and possibly one young Christian remained detained Friday, June 15, more than a week after they were kidnapped by suspected Muslim militants in Baghdad, while Christians continued to flee the volatile Iraqi capital.

Church officials said Hani Abdel Ahad was seized June 6 with the five in Suleikh, a Sunni neighborhood in northern Baghdad. Four boys were released the next day, but one of them apparently remained in custody with the priest, Catholic news agency AsiaNews reported.

A ransom was allegedly made to the patriarch of the Chaldean church, Emmanuel Delly, but church officials have in past kidnappings often refused to confirm more details during negotiations, citing security concerns.

The kidnapping followed the killings of Chaldean priest Ragheed Aziz Kani and his three assistants in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, murders condemned by Pope Benedict XVI as "senseless".
the rest

Protests at Taverner's Allah in cathedral
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The premiere of a work by the leading composer Sir John Taverner in Westminster Cathedral next week has provoked discord because it glorifies the Muslim deity Allah.

Traditionalist Roman Catholics are planning to converge on the cathedral on Tuesday evening to protest over the work, which includes the singing of the 99 names of Allah.

A number have written to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, expressing concern that the Church will be seen to be endorsing the Islamic idea of God.
the rest

Anglicans prepare to gather in Winnipeg for crucial General Synod
Toronto, June 14, 2007

More than 400 people including delegates, partners and staff will gather in Winnipeg next week for the Anglican Church of Canada's 38th General Synod -- a crucial assembly that will elect a new national leader or Primate and once again tackle the difficult and divisive issue of the blessing of same-gender relationships.

The General Synod meets every three years and consists of bishops, clergy and lay people elected as delegates locally in each of the church's 30 dioceses. It is the Anglican church's chief governing body, dealing with everything from changes to church laws and practices to finances and the membership of committees that oversee church programs in years when General Synod does not meet.

The synod is being held at the Marlborough Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, with the diocese of Rupert's Land acting as host.
the rest

Council Defends Membership in Abortion Rights Group

The chair of Executive Council’s National Concerns Committee has written to the Bishop of Mississippi informing him that while The Episcopal Church does not support every action of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), Executive Council has no intention of withdrawing its membership.

The Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III wrote council April 13 noting that at the most recent annual meeting of the Diocese of Mississippi, clergy and lay delegates had approved a resolution objecting to the decision by Executive Council in January 2006 to
join RCRC on behalf of The Episcopal Church. the rest

Brazilian Gay Pride March vs March for Jesus: A Comparative Analysis
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
June 14, 2007

( - Some three million Christians marched through the streets of the Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo last week, only three days before the annual “Gay Parade”, chanting slogans against homosexuality and affirming their religious beliefs. The “March for Jesus”, held June 7th, was organized by a major evangelical protestant ministry in Brazil and included over thirty live bands playing religious music, many placed on top of flatbed trucks that rolled through the main avenues of the city.

One minister led the crowd, paraphrasing a traditional Latin exorcism prayer with “Vade retro, Satan!”, adding “Vade retro, homosexuality!” (Get back, Satan! Get back homosexuality!). Although the Associated Press, Reuters, and other English-speaking news services claimed that only a million people attended the march, the mainstream Brazilian press widely reported that three million attended, citing the Policia Militar (Military Police).
the rest

Beacon of Spiritual Strength
John Boyle
published June 15, 2007

Spiritual. Sensitive. Devoted. Loving. Funny.

When talking about Ruth Bell Graham, who died Thursday at 87, the list of adjectives could go on and on. But it wouldn’t be complete without the word “tough.”
the rest

The Silent Rock Behind a Famous Evangelist

Slide show: Ruth Graham Throughout the Years

ADF: Vote of Mass. legislators against marriage amendment demonstrates contempt for voters
Amendment popular with the people of Massachusetts falls five legislative votes short of inclusion on 2008 ballot

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The inability of the Massachusetts Legislature to vote in favor of placing a popular constitutional amendment in defense of marriage between one man and one woman on the 2008 ballot demonstrates contempt for voters and the influence of special interest groups, according to attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund.

“The political power of special interest groups advancing the homosexual agenda has deprived the people of the right to vote,” said ADF Senior Counsel Glen Lavy. “Political special interests shouldn’t trump what’s in the best interest of families and children. Who’s more important: our children or special interest groups?”

On Jan. 4, the Legislature voted to allow the amendment to move forward ( But Thursday, meeting in joint session as a constitutional convention, the body failed by five votes to muster the 50 votes needed to allow the marriage amendment to be placed on the ballot in 2008. the rest

You won't see Termination 2 at the movies
Liberal Hollywood shies away from abortion

Gerard Baker
June 15, 2007

In grim times Americans turn to Hollywood for escapist cheer, and this summer the fantasy factory has not disappointed. The multiplexes are unusually full of feelgood movies to chase away the troubled superpower blues. Gone are the searing indictments of US policy in the Middle East and the moving stories about the misery of being gay in the Far West. Instead, Americans are flocking to see a succession of movies – many of which not only make you feel good, but actually are rather good.

Two of the more lively and lump-in-the throat-inducing are causing a bit of a stir in political circles too, and not among the usual ranks of Hollywood-bashers. The first is Knocked Up. In the film an aspiring TV presenter gets pregnant after a one-night stand with a highly unsuitable man. Then there’s Waitress, about a woman plotting to run away from an abusive husband who suddenly discovers she is expecting his baby.
the rest

Albert Mohler: Why is Hollywood Afraid of Abortion?
Posted: Friday, June 15, 2007

Gerard Baker asks an interesting question - If Hollywood is so liberal, why is it afraid of abortion?

Writing in
The Times [London], Baker points to a pair of recent Hollywood releases, both of which deal with the issue of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Both movies depict women who decide not to have an abortion.

Baker then makes a most interesting observation:

This has some feminists outraged. They point out that in Hollywood, for decades – in everything from Sex and the City to Parenthood – women confronted with an unplanned pregnancy almost always choose to keep the baby. It is odd that Hollywood does this, given that it is a famously liberal bastion of the "pro-choice" position. If abortion, a tool for women to make their lives better, is such an important right, as Hollywood liberals passionately believe, then why not celebrate it with some positive, abortion-affirming role models?
the rest

NYT: Anglican Demand for Change Is Rebuffed by Episcopalians
June 15, 2007

The executive council of the
Episcopal Church announced yesterday that it would not comply with demands from leaders of the global Anglican Communion to retract the church’s liberal position on homosexuality and create alternative supervision for disaffected conservative Episcopalians.

The announcement came a day after the Anglican archbishop of Kenya said he would consecrate an American bishop in Texas to minister to alienated Episcopalians in the United States. In May, the archbishop of Nigeria installed a bishop in Virginia, a step considered by many to be outside the bounds of Anglicanism’s traditional lines of authority.

The churches in the Anglican Communion, which trace their heritage to the Church of England, have been brought to the brink of schism over the issue of homosexuality. The executive council’s action makes clear that the Episcopal Church, Anglicanism’s American branch, does not intend to back down.
the rest

Episcopal Panel 'Dodges' Response to Moratorium
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Jun. 15 2007

An Episcopal panel of clergy and lay people indicated on Thursday they will not give a response to the moratorium Anglican leaders requested for by September, arguing that only the General Convention has the authority to respond.

The next General Convention – The Episcopal Church's primary governing and legislative body – however, meets in the summer of 2009.

After a four-day meeting that ended Thursday, the Executive Council said that no governing body other than General Convention can agree to deny "future decisions by dioceses or General Convention" or interpret Convention resolutions. Primates (Anglican leaders) gave The Episcopal Church a Sept. 30 deadline to make an unequivocal pledge not to consecrate another openly gay bishop or bless same-sex unions.

"Neither the Executive Council, the Presiding Bishop, nor the House of Bishops can give binding interpretations of General Convention resolutions nor make an 'unequivocal common commitment' to denying future decisions by dioceses or General Convention," the statement titled "The Episcopal Church's Commitment to Common Life in Anglican Communion" read.
the rest

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Precious Lord Jesus,
Give me faith to behold . . .
my name engraved in Your hand,
my soul and body redeemed by Your blood,
my sinfulness covered by Your life of pure obedience.

May . . .
Your comforts cheer me in my sorrows,
Your strength sustain me in my trials,
Your blessings revive me in my weariness,
Your presence render me a fruitful tree of holiness,
Your promises establish me in peace and joy,
Your revivings kindle in me undying devotion.

Search my heart.
Show me more of my corruptions and helplessness, that I may . . .
flee to You,
cling to You,
rest in You,
as the beginning and end of my salvation.

May I never vex You by my indifference and waywardness;
or grieve You by my cold welcome.

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for Your great name's sake.
(A Puritan Prayer)

Wife of evangelist Billy Graham dies
Thu Jun 14, 2007

MIAMI (Reuters) - Ruth Graham, the wife of U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, died on Thursday after slipping into a coma, the popular preacher's office said.

Graham, who was 87, died at 5:05 p.m. EDT (2105 GMT) at her home at Little Piney Cove in Montreat, North Carolina, surrounded by her husband and five children, the office said in a statement.

"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team," Graham said in the statement.
the rest

Time: Episcopalians Defy Anglican Demand
Thursday, Jun. 14, 2007

(NEW YORK)—A key Episcopal panel defied conservatives Thursday, saying that Episcopal leaders should not cede authority to overseas Anglicans who want the church to halt its march toward full acceptance of gays.

The Episcopal Executive Council said that Anglican leaders, called primates, cannot make decisions for the American denomination, which is the Anglican body in the United States. "We question the authority of the primates to impose deadlines and demands upon any of the churches of the Anglican Communion," the council said in a statement, after a meeting in Parsippany, N.J.

The worldwide Anglican Communion has moved toward the brink of splitting apart since the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in 2003.
the rest

Reuters: U.S. move on gay bishops may widen Anglican split

Protestants: 260-Plus Abuse Cases a Year
By ROSE FRENCH Associated Press Writer
Jun 14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.

The figures released to The Associated Press offer a glimpse into what has long been an extremely difficult phenomenon to pin down - the frequency of sex abuse in Protestant congregations.

Religious groups and victims' supporters have been keenly interested in the figure ever since the Roman Catholic sex abuse crisis hit five years ago. The church has revealed that there have been 13,000 credible accusations against Catholic clerics since 1950.
the rest

Steps Jesus walked to trial restored to glory
By Malcolm Moore in Rome

One of the Roman Catholic Church's holiest relics, which contains the steps believed to have been climbed by Jesus on his way to trial before Pontius Pilate, has been restored to its former glory.

The Santa Scala, or Holy Stairs, were brought to Rome from Jerusalem in the fourth century AD and placed in the former papal palace opposite the basilica of St John Lateran.

However, restorers found that the sanctity of the staircase had not had an effect on the behaviour of some tourists. "We found chewing gum stuck to the wood of the stairs," said Alessandra Scerrato, the secretary of the Friends of the Holy Stairs association.The 28 white marble steps, which are encased in wood for their protection, are so holy that pilgrims are only allowed to ascend on their knees.

the rest photo

ENS: Executive Council declines to participate in Primates' 'pastoral scheme,' says only Convention makes policy
Members 'respectfully ask' Presiding Bishop to decline as well

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
June 14, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church's Executive Council told the Anglican Communion June 14 that no governing body other than General Convention can interpret Convention resolutions or agree to deny "future decisions by dioceses or General Convention."
The Council declined to participate in a plan put forward by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in February for dealing with some disaffected Episcopal Church dioceses.

statement, titled "The Episcopal Church's Commitment to Common Life in Anglican Communion," "strongly affirm[ed] this Church's desire to be in the fullest possible relationship with our Anglican sisters and brothers."

The text of the statement and its accompanying resolutions passed with limited debate.

the rest

The Living Church:

Council Rejects Primates’ Pastoral Plan; Insists on Diocesan Accession Clause

Seeker Unfriendly
We need more than worship that makes sense.

Mark Galli posted 6/14/2007

"We value God-honoring, understandable worship," announces
one Pennsylvania church on its website.

A North Carolina church says, "Meaningful and understandable congregational participation in worship is essential."

Another still, this one in Illinois, offers "intelligible worship that affects all of life."

If you are trying to reach seekers, people who don't know Jesus and have had little acquaintance with church culture, you don't want them to feel lost and confused when they worship with you. The Apostle Paul says as much when he cautioned the church in Corinth about excessive speaking in tongues: "For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit" (14:12).
the rest

Mass. Lawmakers Block Gay Marriage Vote
Thursday June 14, 2007
Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers voted Thursday to block a proposed constitutional amendment that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay marriage in the only state that currently allows it.

The narrow vote was a victory for gay marriage advocates and a devastating blow to efforts to reverse the historic 2003 state court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

The proposal needed 50 votes to advance to the 2008 ballot. It got 45, with 151 lawmakers opposed.
the rest

The Anglican Right
By Rev. Dwight Longenecker
June 13 , 2007

In the late 1970s, a group of Episcopal clergymen with typical American chutzpah wrote to Pope Paul VI. They said they wanted to become Catholics, and wished for their priestly ministry to be fulfilled by being ordained as Catholic priests. The only problem was that they had wives and children.

Paul VI received their petition, and they heard nothing. In the autumn of 1978, the pope died; then another pope died, and John Paul II took charge. The little group of Episcopal priests waited with crossed fingers and bated breath while Rome made a decision. In 1980 they finally had an answer: A procedure was to be established whereby former Episcopal priests could be ordained as Catholic priests, even if they were married. Individual bishops would apply to a papal delegate for a dispensation from the vow of celibacy, and after suitable training the Episcopal priests could be ordained as fully functioning Catholic priests.
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CANA Supports New Initiative from Anglican Church of Kenya

CANA’s Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns said on June 13, “I’ve read of the proposed consecration of the Rev’d Canon Bill Atwood by the Anglican Church of Kenya to serve as a suffragan bishop for Kenyan-related priests and churches in North America. This is welcome news. It is just one example of the willingness of various provinces in the Anglican Communion to support the mission and ministry of Anglicans in North America who can no longer be part of The Episcopal Church.”

Canon Atwood, founder and leader of the Ekklesia Society, is a long-time friend and ministry colleague of Bishop Minns. Bishop Minns also said, “I look forward to continuing to work with Bill in his new role. I anticipate that this development will result in new creative partnerships with CANA and the wider Common Cause cooperative.” Common Cause is a cooperative fellowship of Anglican groups in North America. “As others have noted, there are now more than 250 congregations in North America related to the Global South in the Anglican Communion. These missionary and pastoral initiatives demonstrate the deep divisions caused by The Episcopal Church which has departed from the biblical traditions of the church and has refused to listen to the requests made by the Anglican Communion’s Windsor Report,” Bishop Minns added. the rest

Bulgaria Sees 67,000 Abortions Annually as Underpopulation Continues
by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 13, 2007

Sophia, Bulgaria ( -- Nearly 67,000 abortions are done annually in the eastern European nation of Bulgaria according to a doctor who quoted figures from the country’s government. Elian Rachey said that he thinks the nation should do more to promote the use of contraception in order to reduce the high number of abortions that have decimated the population there.

Rachey said about one-third of all Bulgarian women decide what forms of contraception to use without consulting a doctor, resulting in their ineffectiveness.

Polling data from the national government finds that about 53 percent of all women said they started using contraception or birth control pills in their early 20s. Another 33 percent of women said they began using the birth control pill in their teenage years.
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New fears of clampdown in Burma
Thursday, 14th June 2007
By: Nick Mackenzie.

NEW CLAIMS of a clampdown on Christians in Burma (Myanmar) have been made, with a publisher of books on Christian theology threatened with 12 years’ imprisonment unless he desists.

Meanwhile other sources claim that the military regime there has begun to compile a list of known Christians, ranging from pastors and children’s homes to individual Christian families. It is believed that the list follows an official pronouncement that ‘to be Burmese is to be Buddhist’.

The persecution of Christians in Burma is not new: many Christian missions were expelled in 1966 and since then written permission has been necessary for any gathering of more than five people. Because of this many Christian groups there now operate ‘underground’. the rest

Faithful Christian Anglicans in US May have Alternate Structure by July
By Hilary White
LONDON, June 13, 2007

( – Anglicans who adhere to Christian moral doctrine are being offered an option that may allow them to remain in the Anglican Communion, despite pressure by homosexuals to marginalize them. The UK’s Telegraph reports that a coalition of “conservative” primates, based in Africa, is attempting to create an alternate episcopal structure to give shelter to those in the US church under siege by “progressive” supporters of homosexuality.

The Telegraph reports that six Anglican primates are planning the consecration of a prominent American cleric as a bishop in order to create a parallel organization to the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). Next month’s Synod in York will certainly discuss the issue of alternate bishops within existing provinces.
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Council may shift stand on abortion
At least one and possibly two resolutions are to be debated today to reject last week's "pro-choice" vote.
By Patrick Kerkstra
Inquirer Staff Writer
Jun. 14, 2007

Philadelphia's status as a "pro-choice" city could come to an end today, just one week after a divided City Council bestowed the symbolic title on the city.

There will be at least one and possibly two votes in today's busy Council session attacking the abortion-rights designation, which was condemned last week by Cardinal Justin Rigali despite the fact that it augured no actual change in Philadelphia's public-health policy.

Sponsored by Democratic Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the resolution states that Philadelphia supports "women's reproductive rights and freedom" and defends "the right to choose a legal and safe abortion as a final but critical option for women."
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Space station oxygen, water computers fail
June 14, 2007

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- Russian computers that control the international space station's orientation and supply of oxygen and water have failed, potentially extending the space shuttle's mission -- or cutting it short.

Russian engineers aren't sure why the computers stopped working. A failure of this type has never occurred before on the space station.

The station is operated primarily by the Russian and U.S. space agencies, with contributions from the Canadian, European and Japanese space agencies.

"We have plenty of resources, so we have plenty of time to sort this out," said Mike Suffredini, NASA manager of the space station program.

But the computer failure could extend space shuttle Atlantis' mission by at least a day and, in a worst-case scenario, force the space station's three crew members to return to Earth early if the computers aren't fixed.
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ENS: Executive Council set to discuss communiqué, Anglican covenant responses
Proposed statement, summary of draft covenant response lead June 14 agenda

By Nan Cobbey and Mary Frances Schjonberg
June 13, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] A task group of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council will propose June 14 that Council tell the Anglican Communion that no governing body other than General Convention can interpret Convention resolutions or agree to deny "future decisions by dioceses or General Convention."

A draft of the statement, titled "The Episcopal Church's Commitment to Common Life in Anglican Communion," says it "strongly affirm[s] this Church's desire to be in the fullest possible relationship with our Anglican sisters and brothers."

The draft would have the Council decline to participate in a so-called Pastoral Scheme proposed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion for dealing with some disaffected Episcopal Church dioceses. In March the House of Bishops said the plan "would be injurious to The Episcopal Church" and urged the Council to decline to participate.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Come ye after Me." Mark 1:17

One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of temperament. We make our temperament and our natural affinities barriers to coming to Jesus. The first thing we realize when we come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatever to our natural affinities. We have the notion that we can consecrate our gifts to God. You cannot consecrate what is not yours; there is only one thing you can consecrate to God, and that is your right to yourself (Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you. God's experiments always succeed. The one mark of a saint is the moral originality which springs from abandonment to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water springing up, perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God Who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus. Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.

If you abandon to Jesus, and come when He says "Come," He will continue to say "Come" through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ's "Come." That is the result in every soul who has abandoned and come to Jesus.

Have I come to Jesus? Will I come now?
...Oswald Chambers image

Billy Graham: Ruth 'Close To Going Home To Heaven'
By Mike Baker
Associated Press Writer
Wed, Jun. 13 2007
(RALEIGH, N.C.) Ruth Graham, the ailing wife of evangelist Billy Graham, fell into a coma Wednesday morning and appears to be close to death, a family spokesman said.

"She appears to be entering the final stages of life," said Larry Ross, Graham's personal spokesman.

The news came the same day Billy Graham said he and Ruth will be buried at the recently dedicated Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. In a statement, Graham said his 87-year-old wife, who has degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and has been bedridden at their home in the mountains of western North Carolina for some time, "is close to going home to heaven."

"Ruth is my soul mate and best friend, and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side," Graham said. "I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College."

Ross said Ruth Graham was treated two weeks ago for pneumonia and her health temporarily improved before declining because of her weakened condition. Ross said she is being treated at her home outside Asheville, in the town of Montreat. the rest photo

God Sells
Faith-based Media Earning Respect

By Father John Flynn
JUNE 11, 2007

( In spite of hostility to religion from a part of the media, faith-based material is flourishing in a number of sectors. The enthusiasm for films with a religious message shows no sign of flagging, especially with the recent announcement of a Christian entertainment company that it plans to build a $150 million studio to produce what they call "spiritainment.

"The year-old Good News Holdings hopes to make Massachusetts the home for the multimedia studio, the Boston Globe reported June 6. The company is young, but has already developed a number of products.

One of the first was FaithMobile, which delivers Bible verses through text messages. Another is, an Internet community for churches that offers tools for organizing prayer groups and Christian dating.
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Christian pastor beaten in India
A Protestant pastor was beaten near Bangalore by Hindu extremists. A former Hindu nationalist himself, Laxmi Narayan Gowda was severely wounded and burnt by his assailants.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Asia News

A mob of young Hindu extremists beat the pastor and tried to set him on fire before parading him naked in the suburbs of Bangalore, capital of Karnataka state. The Compass Direct News agency reports that Laxmi Narayan Gowda, an independent pastor and representative of the Global Council of Indian Christians, is now in hospital: he is badly wounded and has serious burns.

The incident took place at about 7 p.m. June 7th in Hessarghatta, about 30 kilometres from Bangalore. A group of about 50 people barged into the pastor's house and threatened him with violence unless he moved out of the area.

The group returned with 100 more people shortly after, cornered Pastor Gowda in a room in his house, and began assaulting him in front of his wife and two small children. Eye witnesses say that the mob was led by Extremists of the Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council).
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Google agrees changes on privacy
By Maija Palmer in London
Published: June 12 2007

Google on Tuesday made fresh concessions to European Union data protection officials, agreeing to limit the amount of time it keeps users’ personal search data to 18 months.

The US internet group also said it would “radically redesign” its policy on keeping information from “cookies” or identifier programmes on individual computers.

Google cookies are set to expire after 30 years but this could be cut down to just two in the face of European Union criticism.
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Spitzer is open to New York legalizing medicinal marijuana
Governor changes position after earlier opposition

ALBANY — Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, in a reversal of a campaign position, said Tuesday he could support legislation legalizing the use of marijuana for certain medicinal purposes.

The governor’s position comes as lawmakers stepped up a push in the final two weeks of the 2007 session for New York to join 12 other states and allow marijuana for those suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other painful conditions.

In a debate last summer, Spitzer said he opposed medical marijuana. Now he said he is “open” to the idea after being swayed by advocates in the past couple of months.
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Infanticide, Abortion Responsible for 60 Million Girls Missing in Asia
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
By Sherry Karabin

There is a little-known battle for survival going in some parts of the world. Those at risk are baby girls, and the casualties are in the millions each year. The weapons being used against them are prenatal sex selection, abortion and female infanticide — the systematic killing of girls soon after they are born.

According to a recent
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population Report, these practices, combined with neglect, have resulted in at least 60 million "missing" girls in Asia, creating gender imbalances and other serious problems that experts say will have far reaching consequences for years to come.

"Twenty-five million men in China currently can’t find brides because there is a shortage of women," said
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute in Washington, D.C. "The young men emigrate overseas to find brides." the rest

Churches Embracing Dance in Services
By Josh Jarman
Associated Press Writer
Sun, Jun. 10 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Tanya Washington closes her eyes as the first strains of music fill the church sanctuary.

With a nod, she opens them and strides forward to the upbeat tempo of a modern gospel tune. Her gossamer robe flutters as she moves in rhythm with the other dancers gathering before the altar.

But Washington is not concentrating on the dance steps she is about to perform, or the congregation watching from the crowded pews.

She's thinking about God.
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Anglican Communion Division Widen
The Anglican Church of Kenya has announced plans to install an American priest to oversee congregations in the US.

by Daniel Blake
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Anglican Church of Kenya has announced plans to install an American priest to oversee congregations in the US.

The controversial developments will reignite rumours of schism within the Communion, as the Episcopal Church in the USA becomes increasingly isolated due to its liberal stance on homosexuality within the Church.

The new plans by the African Church will see a third “missionary” group established in the US, made up of disillusioned American Anglicans hoping to be under the care of Church leaders with a more traditional faith in Scripture.

Worryingly for the Communion, the new plans exclude any comment or reference to Lambeth Palace, which is seen by many as further evidence of an increasingly dividing worldwide Church.
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A statement from Archbishop Peter J. Akinola
13th June, 2007

I have received news of the proposed consecration of Canon Bill Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi, in the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve Kenyan related congregations in North America. Canon Atwood has worked tirelessly throughout the Communion for the sake of the Gospel and is well known to many of us in the Church of Nigeria.

This action demonstrates a growing recognition by Anglican provinces in Africa that the situation in North America continues to deteriorate because of the intransigence of the leadership of The Episcopal Church. This was made most evident by the response of their House of Bishops to the carefully crafted Primates’ Dar es Salaam Communiqué. We cannot sit quietly by while those who continue steadfastly in the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ are denied adequate pastoral care and made the targets of pernicious lawsuits.

We look forward to working with Archbishop Nzimbi, Bishop-elect Atwood and this new pastoral initiative from the Anglican Church of Kenya. We pledge our ongoing prayers and enthusiastic support and cooperation through CANA – a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria already established in North America.
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Southern Baptists continue debate over tongues
Allie Martin
June 13, 2007

SAN ANTONIO - A Southern Baptist pastor and the dean of a Southern Baptist seminary squared off recently in a dialogue over the use of tongues in the denomination.

Earlier this year, trustees with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) adopted revised guidelines on baptism and the practice of tongues and private prayer languages among prospective missionaries.

KCBI, a Dallas-area radio station, aired what it called a dialogue between Dwight McKissic, a pastor from Arlington, Texas, who practices a private prayer language; and Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. Moore believes the practice of tongues has ceased.
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Ex-'gay' group: Surgeon General nominee's views backed by medical science
Jim Brown
June 13, 2007

The group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays is rushing to the defense of President Bush's nominee for Surgeon General, who has been under attack from homosexual activist groups because he believes homosexuality is a choice.

Homosexual groups are seeking to derail the nomination of University of Kentucky professor and cardiologist Dr. James Holsinger. They claim he is unfit to serve as Surgeon General because he voted to expel a female homosexual pastor from the United Methodist Church, because his church has a ministry for recovering homosexuals, and because he has said homosexual sex is unnatural and unhealthy.

Regina Griggs, executive director of
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX, says Holsinger is also being unfairly condemned because his church is inclusive of former homosexuals. the rest

Far From War, a Town With a Well-Used Welcome Mat
Published: June 13, 2007

Sweden, June 11 — Walking down the carpeted aisle of Sodertalje’s low-slung St. John’s Church on a recent morning, Anders Lago’s broad, blond features looked out of place among the crowd of hundreds of black-clad Iraqi mourners at a memorial service.

Mr. Lago is the mayor of this scenic Swedish town of 60,000 people, which last year took in twice as many Iraqi refugees as the entire United States, almost all of them Christians fleeing the religious cleansing taking place next to
Iraq’s anti-American insurgency and sectarian strife.

So the mourners are now part of Mr. Lago’s constituency, and their war is rapidly becoming Sodertalje’s war — to the mayor’s growing chagrin. Sodertalje, he says, is reaching a breaking point, and can no longer provide the newcomers with even the basic services they have the right to expect.

About 9,000 Iraqis made it to Sweden in 2006 — almost half of the 22,000 who sought asylum in the entire industrialized world. This year, when the United States has promised to take in 7,000 Iraqis, around 20,000 are expected to seek asylum in Sweden.
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Jesus is the Least of your Worries
Author: Jason Rantz
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.Date: June 12, 2007

Why has Christian religious expression increasingly been targeted for hostile attack by American college administrations, while other belief systems and ideological speech are given free rein? FSM Contributing Editor Jason Rantz shares his discoveries, which may arouse your indignation.

New York saw a victory for students “saved by Jesus” when a court ruled a student’s free speech rights were violated. According to the lawsuit, a fourth grader was prohibited from passing out “personal statements” to her classmates on how Jesus changed her life. The greeting card sized statement opened with - "Hi! I am Michaela and I would like to tell you about my life and how Jesus Christ gave me a new one."

School officials were concerned over the greeting cards. They claim that they were scared that students or parents would misinterpret the greeting cards not as a student’s personal opinion, but as a school-sponsored take on Jesus. the rest

Sony in talks with Church of England
By YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business Writer

TOKYO—Sony has begun talks with the Church of England over complaints that violent action sequences in a shooting game for the new PlayStation 3 console take place in what appears to be Manchester Cathedral.

The company learned of the complaints through media reports and began direct talks with the church "yesterday or today," Sony Computer Entertainment spokeswoman Nanako Kato said in Tokyo.

"We take the church's views seriously," she said. She declined to give details of the talks.

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Ruth Gledhill weblog: Canon Bill Atwood to become Bishop
June 13, 2007

'This could be the start of something very big,' says a commenter on StandFirm, about George Conger's news in Living Church of Bill Atwood's pending consecration in August. Jonathan Petre picked up on it also and Thinking Anglicans has some links. Canon Atwood is the man behind Ekklesia, one of the leading traditionalist organisations in the US. We've posted a story on it online. Meanwhile, more on that covenant. I have rather lost my thread on this whole covenant business. Again, you can catch up, if you can follow it all, on Thinking Anglicans, but I've been forwarded an interesting and amusing General Synod document on the covenant which I am reproducing before. I'm not sure if it has already appeared anywhere or not, I would guess it is some kind of response to the one the other Jonathan wrote about the other day. But it is new to me at least and so might be to some of you. Anway, what I enjoyed most about this latest document was its suggestion of who is to blame for the 'crisis' in the Anglican Church. It is of course me. And Jonathan. And possibly even Stephen. Invitation to Lambeth, anyone? the rest

New blow for Anglican Communion unity hopes
Wednesday, 13th June 2007
By: Nick Mackenzie

THE ANGLICAN Communion moved closer to a split today when the Anglican Church of Kenya announced plans to consecrate an American priest to look after congregations in the USA.

The move will create a third ‘missionary’ group of disaffected Anglicans in the US and was made without reference to Lambeth Palace.But observers are speculating that the decision by Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi is part of a wider move to create an alternative Anglican worldwide structure.
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