Monday, December 31, 2007

The Gate of the Year'

I said to the man, who stood at the gate of the year

Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown'
And he replied 'Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known Way'.

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life, our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife
of things both high and low,
God hideth his intention.

God knows. His will Is best.
The stretch of years which wind ahead,
so dim to our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears are premature;
In Him all time hath full provision.

Then rest; until God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
of Life's stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God's thought around His creatures
our minds shall fill.
....Minnie Louise Haskins image

"God doesn't do waste," says archbishop on YouTube

LONDON (Reuters) - The Archbishop of Canterbury has followed the Queen's lead in posting his annual message on YouTube, where his green theme for the New Year is "God doesn't do waste."

Rowan Williams criticizes society's willingness to create waste in its ceaseless search for the latest and best.

"Despite constant talk about recycling and thinking 'green', we're still a society that produces fantastic quantities of waste," he says.

"Look at the number of plastic bags flapping around by the roadside, in town and country alike and you see what I mean.
the rest

ACNS: Archbishop of Canterbury's New Year message - God 'doesn't do waste'

Pope Benedict XVI Criticizes Lack of Hope in Western Society
By VOA News
31 December 2007

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves St. Peter's square, 31 Dec 2007Pope Benedict XVI has criticized Western society for what he called its lack of hope, which he said leads many people to seek sexual gratification instead of practicing faith and family values.

The pontiff also deplored poverty and other evils burdening families in Rome and elsewhere. He made his comments in St. Peter's Basilica during a homily at the final evening prayer offered there in 2007.

Pope Benedict then expressed hope that efforts by the faithful to deal with such problems will be successful and bear fruit.
the rest

Christianity's Edge over Islam in Holy Book War
By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Dec. 31 2007

Believers of Christianity and Islam are competing to spread their respective holy book around the world, but distributors of the Bible have some advantages over the Koran.

The Bible is translated into 2,426 languages (complete or in part) and counting, including 900 English versions ranging from street slang to comic book-like translations, according to The Economist. On the other hand, the Koran is disadvantaged by the belief by some that the word of God must not be changed, even translation-wise.

Although most Muslims now accept translation of the Koran, it is still widely held that reading and memorizing the Koran in Arabic is superior. There are only 20 English versions of the Koran compared to the nearly 1,000 versions of the Bible in the same language.
the rest

From desert to oasis: the miracle of Christmas in Japan
by Pino Cazzaniga

In the land of the Rising Sun, signed by secularism and commercialism, misery and suicide, Christianity offers “a trustworthy hope” of which the pope speaks in his encyclical. The tale of Christmas Eve from our correspondent, and PIME missionary.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The feast of Christmas is the best mirror to reflect the reality of Christianity in this nation. Virtually none of the 122 million Japanese ignore that fact that kurisumasu (from Christmas) is the principle holiday of December even if few know of its origins.

In order to understand how it is celebrated, we must divide Japan into two areas: the desert and the oasis. The desert is the image of all of Japan, its territories and people; the oasis its Christians Churched. Many of these oasis risk being overtaken by the desert sands, others instead are centres and sources of hope and attraction for the evangelisation of these people.
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Leaving A Church Behind
Congregation Prepares For A New Beginning
Courant Staff Writer
December 31, 2007

WATERTOWN — - It was the last Sunday service at Christ Church. Unable to go "further in a church that continued in a false gospel," the entire congregation, including the rector and church leaders, will sever ties with the national Episcopal Church and reform under a new name: New Hope Anglican Church.

One of the "Connecticut six," the half-dozen churches in the state diocese that disagree with national leadership on departure of scripture, including the appointment of a gay bishop, the congregation will trade its historic building on the town green for a free community room at the Thomaston Savings Bank around the corner.

The Sunday service will be held at the bank, starting Jan. 6, until they find or build another house of worship. the rest

Watertown congregation abandons church, severs Episcopal link

Bishop left in dark over secret gay service
Dominic Kennedy
December 31, 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury kept a special communion service for gays so secret that he failed to tell the Bishop of London it was happening in his diocese, The Times has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams inflamed the row over homosexuality which is tearing apart the Anglican Church when it was reported that he had agreed to hold a eucharist for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clergy.

But even his critics have been taken aback to learn that he did so by making an incursion on to the patch of the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, without giving notice or seeking permission.
the rest

Australia: Conroy announces mandatory internet filters to protect children

Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy says new measures are being put in place to provide greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites.

Senator Conroy says it will be mandatory for all internet service providers to provide clean feeds, or ISP filtering, to houses and schools that are free of pornography and inappropriate material.

Online civil libertarians have warned the freedom of the internet is at stake, but Senator Conroy says that is nonsense.

He says the scheme will better protect children from pornography and violent websites.
the rest

Chicago's Episcopal Church of the Mediator closes doors after 129 years
By Tara Malone, Tribune staff reporter.
Tribune staff reporter Manya Brachear contributed to this report
December 31, 2007

By 10:30 a.m., eight altar candles at the Church of the Mediator on Chicago's Southwest Side had been snuffed for the final time. Wall hangings and flags laid bundled in back pews, waiting to be parceled off to nearby congregations.

Hymnals and prayer books had been offered to parish members, mementos of the church that closed Sunday, ending 129 years of service.

The church closed because of dwindling membership, an aging congregation and the resulting financial constraints, leaders said. Average weekly attendance had dwindled to about 30 members, parish leader Mary Reich said.
the rest

Take Episcopal Church at its word, says Archbishop Williams
January 15, 2008

The spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion says it would be "unrealistic and ungrateful" to expect the Episcopal Church to make yet another attempt to explain itself.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in a letter to the heads of the 38 member churches in the communion, released December 14, said Anglican churches should accept at face value Episcopal promises not to ordain any more gay bishops.

"It is practically impossible to imagine any further elucidation or elaboration coming from [the Episcopal Church] after the successive statements and resolutions" issued by the U.S. church in the last 18 months, Williams wrote.
the rest

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Watertown Churchgoers Walk Away from 243-year-old Episcopal Parish, Start New Anglican Church
Press release (via email)

Watertown, CT, December 30, 2007 — Members of Christ Church Parish today held their last service before leaving their church building forever to found a new Anglican congregation in town.

Parishioners along with the church's rector, Rev. Allyn Benedict, chose to walk away from Christ Church after a years-long disagreement with the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut. Rev. Benedict, one of the priests of the churches known as the Connecticut Six, will resign as rector, along with the entire vestry of the church, effective December 31.

"Making the decision to depart hasn't been easy for any of us," said Rev. Benedict. "Our church family has stood, witnessed and prayed together for several years before taking this step. Having 'counted the cost' of leaving, we are now paying the price as we go out, taking nothing with us. But Jesus is faithful, our heavenly Father is our provider, and the Holy Spirit has anointed us to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives. We have everything we need. We go out in new and living hope! "

Christ Church Parish has a 243-year history in Watertown. It was formed in 1764 by decree of King George III of England and helped establish The Episcopal Church, which, up until the present time, has been the American branch of the global Anglican Communion. However, TEC's unbiblical innovations contrary to the teaching of the Communion have lead to a break between TEC and many Anglican provinces, including a majority of the membership of the worldwide Anglican Communion; they also forced Christ Church's parishioners to break from the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut.

"For five years now, we engaged in the debate, took a stand, let our voices be heard, and tried to make a difference" says Paul LePine, who as senior warden was the ranking lay member of Christ Church Parish. "At this stage, it appears that there is nothing more that this faithful little community can do to reform The Episcopal Church as an organization. So we have decided to surrender the fight and move on."

Many, if not all, of Christ Church's parishioners and Rev. Benedict are forming New Hope Anglican Church in Watertown. The new church is part of The Common Cause Partnership, which is a federation of Anglican Christians in North America.

New Hope Anglican Church will hold worship services in the Anglican tradition beginning on Sunday, January 6, 2008 at the Thomaston Savings Bank, 565 Main Street, Watertown.

"We're excited to see what God has in mind for New Hope Anglican Church," offered Kevin Kallsen, senior warden of the new church. "The people here are committed to worshipping in the Anglican tradition and reaching out to the community with the good news of Jesus Christ."

For more information about New Hope Anglican Church,
call 860-631-5170,

Christian men and women, old and young, should study well in the New Testament, for it is of full authority, and open to understanding by simple men, as to the points that are most needful to salvation. Each part of Scripture, both open and dark, teaches meekness and charity; and therefore he that keeps meekness and charity has the true understanding and perfection of all Scripture. Therefore, no simple man of wit should be afraid to study in the text of Scripture. And no cleric should be proud of the true understanding of Scripture, because understanding of Scripture without charity that keeps God's commandments, makes a man deeper damned... and pride and covetousness of clerics is the cause of [the Church's] blindness and heresy, and deprives them of the true understanding of Scripture. ...John Wycliffe image

Tens of thousands rally in Spain in defense of traditional family
The Associated Press
December 30, 2007

Tens of thousands of people in predominantly Roman Catholic Spain rallied Sunday in defense of the traditional family in a country where the government has legalized gay marriage and facilitated divorce.

The crowd roared when Pope Benedict XVI appeared on giant TV screens in a live hookup from St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, praising the crowd.
the rest

Bhutto's son Bilawal crowned head of political party and dynasty
Jeremy Page of The Times, in Naudero, Pakistan
December 30, 2007

He walked into the room as Bilawal Zardari, a fresh-faced 19-year-old history student who recently finished his first term at Oxford University.

He walked out as Bilawal "Bhutto" Zardari, the newly crowned head of the political party - and the dynasty - that his mother, Benazir Bhutto, led until her assassination on Thursday.

After an emotional four-hour meeting in the Bhuttos' ancestral home, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) announced that Bilawal, Ms Bhutto's eldest child and only son, would succeed her as official chairman of the party. But he would return to Britain to continue his studies at Christ Church, Oxford, and his father and Ms Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, would run the party as co-chairman until he graduated in three years' time, the PPP said.
the rest

Saturday, December 29, 2007

In a Christian community, everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the fellowship. ...Dietrich Bonhoeffer image

Peggy Noonan: Be Reasonable As Iowa sizes up the candidates, so do I.
Friday, December 28, 2007

By next week politically active Iowans will have met and tallied their votes. Their decision this year will have a huge impact on the 2008 election, and a decisive impact on various candidacies. Some will be done in. Some will be made. Some will land just right or wrong and wake up the next day to read raves or obits. A week after that, New Hampshire. The endless campaign is in fact nearing its climax.
the rest

Bishop Schofield removes Episcopal vicar from Atwater post
December 28, 2007

ATWATER -- Father Fred Risard, vicar of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church here, received an unwelcome e-mail on Christmas morning from the Diocese of San Joaquin. It said that the holy day was Risard's last day of service at the mission church and that arrangements would be made for him to pick up his personal things.

Risard said he'd known for months that his days with the San Joaquin Diocese were numbered. But in an earlier conversation -- he thinks it was in September -- with Bishop John-David Schofield, he said he was told he could remain in his post until the end of 2008 -- earlier if he found another job.

However, when Schofield arrived at the church Sunday to help celebrate the Eucharist and give the message, he said before the concluding blessing that, contrary to speculation among parishioners, he wasn't there to close the church or to fire the priest. Then he added that the priest had to go simply because of dwindling funds from dwindling worshippers.
the rest

Why the emergency care crisis is deepening
The emergency medical care system needs a fundamental restructuring that will allow it to perform its primary function—the evaluation and treatment of patients with true emergencies

Friday, December 28, 2007
By John S. O'Shea, M.D.

America's emergency rooms are in crisis.

Emergency medicine encompasses the care of patients with traumatic injuries or serious signs and symptoms of disease. Quick evaluation and rapid treatment of these patients obviously cannot be done on an "elective" basis. These services are invariably provided under the auspices of a hospital and are available to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Moreover, hospital emergency departments (EDs) are the only part of the health care system that is required by federal law to provide care to all patients, regardless of ability to pay. A sizable number of patients who visit the ED do not require the level of care that an emergency room provides. In Maryland, for example, patients with non-urgent medical problems account for over 40 percent of ED visits. here image

Pakistan-born Bishop condemns Bhutto assassination
by Daniel Blake, Maria Mackay and agencies
Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Pakistan-born Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, has called the assassination of Benazir Bhutto a “body blow for freedom and democracy in Pakistan”.

Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan and leader of the opposition, was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack on Thursday as she was leaving a political rally at Rawalpindi. Sixteen people were killed in the attack.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who is the former Bishop of Raiwind Lahore and who was forced to flee Pakistan as a result of persecution, said Bhutto had been a “friend for many years”.
the rest

Vatican to create more exorcists to tackle 'evil'
By Nick Pisa in Rome

The Roman Catholic Church has vowed to "fight the Devil head-on" by training hundreds of priests as exorcists.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 82, the Vatican's Exorcist in Chief, announced the initiative amid the Church's concerns about growing worldwide interest in Satanism and the occult.

According to plans being considered, each bishop would have a group of priests in his diocese who were specially trained in exorcism and on hand to take action against "extreme Godlessness".

Fr Amorth said: "Thanks be to God that we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on.
the rest

Pakistan offers to exhume Benazir Bhutto
By Isambard Wilkinson, Pakistan Correspondent,
and Bonnie Malkin

The Pakistani government has offered to exhume the body of murdered opposition leader Benazir Bhutto if her party requests it.

The government has claimed the former leader died after hitting her head on her car's sunroof during the suicide attack, a version of events that the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has said he has no reason to contradict.

But Miss Bhutto's party dismissed the official account, branding it as "ludicrous" and a "pack of lies". One aide who bathed Miss Bhutto's body before her burial said she saw a gunshot wound in her head.

the rest

Rioting in Pakistan kills 38, causes tens of millions of dollars ...

Pakistan Dispute Erupts Over How Bhutto Died

Crossing Over
"What will prevent the 250-pound linebacker from deciding he wants to share the locker room with the cheerleaders?"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Deconstructionist professors have been trying for years to convince us that gender is a social construct. Now, it seems, politicians and even employers are doing their best to put this theory into practice--2007 may go down in history as the year of the transgendered person.

Take the announcement in October that, under a state law that takes effect in January, schools in California not only can't discriminate by sex but also can't take into account "a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth." Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has just issued a similar order in her state, barring discrimination against state workers based on their "gender identity or expression." And members of Congress have been trying for several months to add crimes against the transgendered to the list of categories punishable under federal hate-crimes law.
the rest

Friday, December 28, 2007

Southport's St Luke's church in ‘sexism’ row over search for new priest
Dec 28 2007
by John Siddle, Southport Visiter

A SOUTHPORT church has been accused of sexism as it searches for a new priest.
The Parochial Church Council of St Luke’s, St Luke’s Road, is adhering to a 15-year old resolution that bans female ministers from serving at the church.

Consequently, the Anglican church will only consider male applicants in its quest for a replacement to outgoing priest, Fr Ian Shackleton.

According to one former parishioner, the resolutions are working contrary to Christian beliefs of acceptance.
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Young, Restless, and Ready for Revival
On-campus Christians are seeking holiness in unexpected numbers.
Becky Tirabassi

While preaching at Rockharbor, my home church in Costa Mesa, California, where thousands of students and young adults attend, I quoted the old Puritan John Owen on the need for personal holiness—not exactly the hottest topic today: "There is not a duty we perform for God that sin does not oppose. And the more spirituality or holiness there is in what we do, the greater enmity to it. Sin never wavers, yields, or gives up … no area of one's life indeed is secured without a struggle."

Then I issued a call to confession. Suddenly the biggest guy in the auditorium charged the platform and dropped to his knees before me. He was sobbing so hard that people in the front row began to cry along with him.

Over the last three years, I have witnessed thousands of such confessions at churches and at more than 30 campuses, both secular and Christian. I've discovered that this generation of young men and women is crying out for revival.
the rest-Excellent! image

Thursday, December 27, 2007

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

One of the most delightful qualities of divine love

is its abiding character. The pillars of the earth may be moved out of their places, but the kindness and the covenant of our merciful Jehovah never depart from His people. How happy my soul feels in a firm belief of this inspired declaration! The year is almost over, and the years of my life are growing few, but time does not change my Lord. New lamps are taking the place of the old; perpetual change is on all things, but our Lord is the same. Force over turns the hills, but no conceivable power can affect the eternal God. Nothing in the past, the present, or the future can cause Jehovah to be unkind to me.

My soul, rest in the eternal kindness of the Lord, who treats thee as one near of kin. Remember also the everlasting covenant. God is ever mindful of it—see that thou art mindful of it too. In Christ Jesus the glorious God has pledged Himself to thee to be thy God and to hold thee as one of His people. Kindness and covenant-dwell on these words as sure and lasting things which eternity itself shall not take from thee. ...CH Spurgeon

UK: One in five C of E bishops faces sack
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

More than a fifth of the Church of England's bishops could face the axe under new proposals being drawn up by its leaders.

Secret documents discovered by The Daily Telegraph reveal that the Church Commissioners - the financial wing of the Church of England - are considering reducing traditional funding for the hierarchy.

The proposals come in the wake of criticism that the Church is top heavy and the bishops too costly, while congregations are shrinking and parishes are strapped for cash.
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Prison benefits offered same-sex couples, not marrieds
New law to discriminate against wedded inmates
December 27, 2007

Prisons in Oregon are preparing to offer inmates who claim a
same-sex partnership special privileges specifically denied married inmates, a memo from state officials has confirmed.

The e-mailed memo from Max Williams, director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, was sent to workers in his department.

The memo referenced two state laws, Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2007, through which lawmakers created legally recognized partnerships for same-sex duos.
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Ravi Zacharias at Penn State University Q & A 1 of 6

Ravi Zacharias at Penn State University Q & A 2 of 6

Ravi Zacharias at Penn State University Q & A 3 of 6

Ravi Zacharias at Penn State University Q & A 4 of 6

Ravi Zacharias at Penn State University Q & A 5 of 6

Ravi Zacharias at Penn State University Q & A 6 of 6

Priests scuffle with brooms, stones, at Church of Nativity in Bethlehem
December 27, 2007

BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity today as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.

The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities.
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Archbishop of Sydney: The Gobal Anglican Future Conference
Archbishop Peter Jensen
27 December 2007

A Global Anglican Future Conference is planned for June 2008. The aim of the Conference is to discuss the future of mission and relationships within the churches of Anglican Communion. Those who wish to retain biblical standards especially in the area of sexual ethics have spent much time and effort in negotiations on these issues in the last five years. They want to move on together with the gospel of Christ’s Lordship, a gospel which challenges us and changes lives. Israel is planned as a venue because it symbolises the biblical roots of our faith as Anglicans. I want those in the fellowship of our Diocese to know what this is about and why I am involved.

In 1998, the Lambeth Conference made it clear that the leaders of the overwhelming majority of Anglicans world-wide maintained the biblical view of sexual ethics – that sexual relationships are reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. Five years later, however, actions were taken in Anglican Churches both in Canada and the United States of America which officially transgressed these boundaries in defiance of the Bible’s authority. the rest

Mysterious Encounters
Benedict XVI resurrects the aesthetics of the Mass

By Michael Knox Beran
December 24, 2007

Excerpt: "For Benedict, the music and poetry of the liturgy are not merely ornamental; they are essential to the education to the soul. “How often,” the pope exclaimed, in October, to members of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, “does the rich biblical and patristic tradition stress the effectiveness of song and sacred music in moving and uplifting hearts to penetrate, so to speak, the intimate depths of God’s life itself!”

It is this conception of the educational power of rhythm that underlies the pope’s defense of the Latin Mass and of the baroque and Gregorian traditions. It is a fair assumption that, in liberating these forms from liturgical purgatory, His Holiness hopes that their rhythmic virtues will serve as a bulwark against the bad rhythm (kakometros) that today permeates the West." Full Article

Hindus, Christians Clash Again in India
December 27, 2007

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Hindu extremists burned down the house of a prominent Christian politician in eastern India Thursday, officials said, as violence by gangs from both sides continued despite a curfew imposed after two days of attacks against Christians by Hindu hard-liners.

A mob of Hindus torched the house of Radhakant Nayak, a member of the Indian parliament's upper house and a Christian leader in the area, Nayak told the CNN-IBN news channel.
the rest

Selling the Good Book by its cover
Publishers have found a niche -- a big one -- for stylized Bibles inspired by pop culture. Almost anything goes.
By Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 25, 2007

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. -- The original scribes of the Bible may have been inspired by God. Their modern-day successors? They find inspiration in vacuum cleaners, polka-dot bedspreads and a slick, hot-pink Juicy Couture purse.

This all may sound a bit irreverent. But consider it from the Bible publisher's point of view: How do you sell a really old book that 91% of households already have.
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Albert Mohler: On Discussing Doctrine in Public
Thursday, December 27, 2007

We must first express a bit of sympathetic understanding for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. As the spiritual head of the Church of England -- a state church, after all -- and as head of the Anglican Communion, he is in the awkward position of having every word he utters made a matter of potential media attention.

That said, this particular Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have a more difficult time than most making himself clear. At one point, even the British press warned him that his statements were so confusing that reporters had difficulty knowing what the Archbishop was trying to say. Just a few weeks ago he
responded to atheist Richard Dawkins by stating: "There are specific areas of mismatch between what Richard Dawkins may write about and what religious people think they are doing." That is about as convoluted a response as one might imagine possible. the rest

'Refreshing’ Archbishop is Anglican of the Year
Ruth Gledhill: Religion Correspondent
December 27, 2007

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has been named “Anglican of the Year” by members of the Church of England.

Dr Sentamu, the Ugandan-born Archbishop who won international plaudits after he cut up his clerical collar on live television in protest at the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, beat the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, into second place.
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Suicide Bombing Kills Bhutto,
At Least 20 Others at Rally
Firefight Between Sharif Backers And Government Supporters Kills Four

Associated Press
December 27, 2007

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto died in a suicide attack that killed at least 20 other people shortly after the Pakistani opposition leader addressed a political rally. A party aide said she was undergoing surgery.

Police official Abdul Karim said Ms. Bhutto had already left the area in her vehicle when the blast went off, just minutes after her speech to thousands of supporters.
the rest

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hallelujah Chorus Nuns

God, who had fashioned time and space in a clockwork of billions of suns and stars and moons, in the form of his beloved Son became a human being like ourselves. On the microscopic midge of planet he remained for thirty-three years. He became a real man, and the only perfect one. While continuing to be the true God, he was born in a stable and lived as a working man and died on a cross. He came to show us how to live, not for a few years but eternally. ...Fulton Oursler image

A Creche Without Christians
Christian Persecution in the Middle East

By Nina Shea

December 24, 2007

In the two millennia since the child’s birth in a humble manger in Bethlehem, the good news of Christianity has spread to every continent, inspiring more followers than any other religion today. But the lands that once were the cradle of Christianity have turned distinctively inhospitable to the faith. Fiercely intolerant variants of Islam are taking hold in the region, many of them fueled with ideology and funds from Saudi and Iranian extremists.

From Morocco to the Persian Gulf, we are seeing the rapid erosion of Christian populations, thought to now number no more than 15 million. These are the communities that have disproportionately been the region’s modernizers, the mediators bridging east and west, its educators and academics, as the Lebanese Catholic scholar Habib Malik observes. For empirical evidence he has to look no further than his own father, a principal drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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Bibles used to smuggle drugs into Canada
Wednesday, 26 December , 2007

Toronto: As the world celebrates the Christmas season, Canadian law-enforcement agencies have unearthed a drug cartel that used Bibles to smuggle contraband into the country.

The cartel has been busted at the country's busiest Pearson International Airport.

The smugglers had unglued Bible covers and put drugs in plastic bags inside before fixing them back.
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Global Anglicans Face Test of Strength
Top conservatives plan "Anglican Future" event in Jerusalem six weeks before Lambeth.

Tim Morgan
December 26, 2007

This morning, Dec. 26, conservative Anglicans announced they will gather in Jerusalem (see press statement below) about 6 weeks before the historic Lambeth conference in the UK. Lambeth will start in mid-July and end in early August 2008.

Many conservative bishops will boycott Lambeth due to the fallout over The Episcopal Church's actions supportive of GLBT clergy and couples, TEC's rejection of global accountability, and its re-interpretation of core scriptural teachings.

TEC's ambiguous response to the Windsor Report and its refusals to follow the guidance of Anglican primates meeting in Tanzania in early 2007 to end gay ordinations, same-sex blessings, and property litigation against conservative parishes have undermined Anglican unity worldwide.
the rest

Mass held at ground zero one last time
By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 25, 2007

NEW YORK - The first midnight Mass at ground zero was celebrated as workers were still clearing debris from the World Trade Center and recovering bodies after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The last was held Monday night, giving police, firefighters, recovery workers and victims' families a final chance to pray on Christmas Eve at the site, where intensifying construction is increasingly taking up open space.
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Muslims join Christians for Mass
Shiite Muslim clerics and tribal leaders are among the crowd in Mar Eliya, a Chaldean church in Baghdad, for the Christmas Mass said by Emmanuel III Delly, the patriarch who last month was elevated to become Iraq’s first Roman Catholic cardinal.

By Usama Redha and Kimi Yoshino, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
December 26, 2007

BAGHDAD -- Outside Mar Eliya church, not much had changed since last Christmas: Concrete blocks still surround the building and guards check the IDs of those entering.

But inside, hundreds of Iraqi worshipers -- Christians and Muslims -- were crammed into the overflowing Chaldean Catholic church Tuesday, celebrating the holiday and the fact that they felt safe enough to venture out of their homes to attend Christmas Mass."

Last year was the year of misery, desperation and sadness," said Samar Jorge Gorges, 33. "But this year is better. So many people attend the Mass and you can see that their praying was joyful."
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Keeping the faith in China
By James Reynolds BBC News, Beijing
Tuesday, 25 December 2007

At an underground church service in China, you pray as quickly as you can - and hope the police do not come running in.

At the end of an alleyway in the north of Beijing, 40 Chinese Christians gather in a small classroom. At the beginning of the service, they bow their heads and pray.

Their priest, Zhang Minxuan, stands in front of them. Twenty years ago he was a barber with no interest in religion. Then he got into trouble with the Communist Party and was jailed. After that he became a Christian.
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Miscarriage And Abortion Triple Chances Of Future Low Birthweight Babies
Dec. 23, 2007

Women who have miscarried or had an abortion run three times the normal risk of having a subsequent low birthweight baby, suggests new research.

The more miscarriages or abortions a woman has, the greater are her chances of giving birth to a child that is underweight or premature in the future, the research shows.
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The Conscience of an Anglican
A man under authority

by Alan Jacobs

For some time now, people have been asking me why I haven't written anything on the current—or, depending on your point of view, everlasting—crisis in the Anglican world. After all, I have been an Anglican for nearly twenty-five years, virtually all of my adult life; indeed, my experiences in other denominations, before I discovered Anglicanism, were so brief and tentative that I don't even know how to be a Christian except as an Anglican. Nor do I wish to be a Christian in any other way. Surely I have some opinions on the mess the Anglican Communion is now in, on how it got this way, and how it might get out again?
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The world is not a warehouse to serve our greed, Archbishop tells worshippers
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
December 26, 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday blamed mankind’s greed for endangering the environment.

In his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams said: “When we threaten the balance of things, we don’t just put our material survival at risk. More profoundly, we put our spiritual sensitivity at risk, the possibility of being opened up to the endless wonder by the world around us.”

He said that the world was not merely a “warehouse of resources to serve humanity’s selfishness”, and he urged people to treat each other and nature with “reverence”.

The Archbishop also singled out for praise the atheist Richard Dawkins, the Oxford professor recently outed as a carol singer, whom he described as being in touch with the “amazement and awe” of God’s creation. the rest

Bishop at forefront of Episcopal divide
Supporters and critics agree the San Joaquin Diocese's leader was a powerful force in his conservative flock's vote to secede.

By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 24, 2007

FRESNO -- Bishop John-David Schofield's tone was urgent this month as he exhorted delegates from his Central California diocese to leave the Episcopal Church.

For more than 20 years, Schofield said, he had watched in dismay as the national church strayed from Scripture and made controversial decisions about theology and sexuality, including the role of gays in the church. Now, he told delegates to his diocese's annual convention, it was time to act.
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Anglican Diocese of Melbourne backs legalisation of abortion
Wednesday, 26th December 2007
By: George Conger

THE DIOCESE of Melbourne has backed the legalization of abortion. In a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission made by an all-women panel appointed by Archbishop Philip Freier, the diocese stated public acceptance of abortion ‘indicates that a change in the law is timely.’

While abortion ‘is a serious moral issue’ it should not ‘remain a matter for criminal law,’ the diocese said.

Melbourne’s submission was one of 40 from church, medical and community groups to the Reform Commission reviewing state abortion laws. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s submission opposed the decriminalization of abortion, but urged further resources be directed towards the support of women with problematic pregnancies.
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Issued by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON),
June 15-22, 2008, The Holy Land
Press Release

Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.

The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith. The Holy Land is the planned venue. From 15-22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out, to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead.

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FAQ about the conference

GAFCON website

Monday, December 24, 2007

Frisco Christmas Lights - Wizards in Winter

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Welcome, all Wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer in winter, day in night,
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav'n to earth!
... Richard Crashaw Art

A very blessed and holy Christmas to all the readers of this blog!
May the wonder of the angels, the joy of the shepherds
and the peace of Christmas be found in your hearts and homes!
-Pat Dague

Losing our religion?
By Alister McGrath

Fewer people may now go to church every Sunday, but that doesn't mean Britain is suffering from a crisis of faith, argues Alister McGrath

The decline in British church attendance continues. Parents who go to church are less and less likely to pass on their faith to their children. The "Decade of Evangelism" seems to have done little to reverse this trend. As many congregations grow older, there is no sign of young people queuing to fill the empty pews.

The figures hide significant variations. About 50 per cent of British church congregations are slowly dwindling - but 15 per cent are holding their own and 35 per cent are even growing. There are important surges in attendance at Christmas services, especially at cathedrals. Organised religion may be in decline, yet a concern for spirituality remains important for many.
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TitusOneNine: Two Christmas Messages Compared

China falls for Christmas -- at least in its stores
Sun Dec 23, 2007
By Simon Rabinovitch

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's shopping malls in late December leave little doubt that the country has been smitten by Christmas, if not in quite the way devout Christians might hope.

Christmas has secured a spot on the Chinese calendar as a cherished excuse to buy, buy, buy. And while Christianity is indeed spreading in the officially atheist country, many shoppers have only a faint idea of the holiday's religious connection.

But their manner of celebration is sure to win the blessing of at least one group: economists.
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In awe of England's medieval Anglican cathedrals
By Ray Moseley Chicago Tribune
December 23, 2007

England's medieval Anglican cathedrals — the soaring, awe-inspiring skyscrapers of their day — remain among the world's architectural treasures, their history entwined with that of saints and sinners, kings and queens, and ordinary folk.

There are more than 40 of them, and any listing of the most important is bound to be subjective. Thus, the seven cathedrals discussed in this article are simply my favorites.

These churches were built after the conquest of England in 1066 by William of Normandy (aka the Conqueror). Early cathedrals were in Norman style, another name for Romanesque; then came English Early Gothic, Decorated (classical Gothic) and Perpendicular (late Gothic). After renovations and additions, most cathedrals now represent a melange of styles.
the rest Salisbury Cathedral photo

UK: Catholics overtake Anglican congregations
Sunday December 23, 2007

Catholic churchgoers now outnumber Anglicans for the first time since the Reformation partly due to the massive migration from Catholic countries, according to new research.

Church of England services are no longer Britain's most popular form of worship and have been overtaken by Catholic mass, a study by the organisation Christian Research has found.

The large number of EU nationals from Eastern Europe who have immigrated to the UK in recent years have swelled the numbers attending masses across the country.
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NYT: Anglican Archbishop Faults Feuding Factions
The New York Times
December 22, 2007

The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, sent a lengthy letter to the members of his warring Anglican Communion onDec. 14, saying that both sides had violated the Communion's boundaries and put the church in crisis.

He criticized the American branch, the Episcopal Church, for departing from the Communion's consensus on Scripture by ordaining an openly gay bishop and blessing same-sex unions, "in the name of the church."

But the archbishop faulted conservative prelates in Africa, Asia and Latin America for annexing American parishes and an entire California diocese that have recently left the Episcopal Church, and for ordaining conservative Americans as bishops and priests.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: "God with us." We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!
...John F. MacArthur, Jr. image

Judas Was a "Demon" After All, New Gospel Reading Says
Stefan Lovgrenfor
National Geographic News
December 21, 2007

Judas was a traitor—even a "demon"—according to a new translation of the recently revealed Gospel of Judas.

The new interpretation contradicts the first translation, released by the National Geographic Society in April 2006. But the debate is far from settled.

That initial interpretation of the newfound gospel says that
the apostle was following Jesus' orders when he gave Jesus up to enemy soldiers.

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The great awakening
By Anshel Pfeffer

Excerpt: "Israel is in the throes of a major religious awakening, reaching deep into all parts of society, but no one has been told about it yet. This renaissance of Jewish learning is going unreported and largely unremarked upon because it has not resulted in a perceptible shift toward one religious stream or denomination. There is no new mass movement, and none of the charismatic rabbis or teachers has turned into a guru with a following of thousands." the rest

The Bishop of San Joaquin Writes The Presiding Bishop
Posted by Kendall Harmon
Received via email:

Dear Bishop Schori,

Thank you for your letter of December 14, 2007 asking for clarification of my status. Much has happened in the past few weeks that have a bearing on that status. I am proud of the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Last year when the vote was taken to change the Constitution, that first vote was not only required by Canons but, in essence, was a "straw vote". Little was at stake, for truly no action had –or could– be taken.

This year the delegates to the Annual Convention came fully cognizant of what has taken place in Virginia and Southern California where litigation has been pursued vigorously against those who oppose the innovations of The Episcopal Church and who, consequently, have stood up for their faith and remain protective of the property they have built, purchased and maintained with no help either from The Episcopal Church on a national level nor –in most instances– from the local diocese either.
the rest at TitusOneNine

Canada: Bishops meet with clergy to discuss network
Solange De Santis and Marites N. Sison

staff writers
Dec 22, 2007

Since the Anglican Network in Canada held a conference in late November to announce a new church structure for parishes conservative on the subject of homosexuality, several bishops have called clergy in for clarification of their intentions, but no priests have been disciplined.

Three dioceses – Ottawa, Montreal and Hamilton, Ont.-based Niagara – last fall voted to permit church blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples, moves that some Anglicans oppose.
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Uncertain at best
We serve God better when we don't wait for 100 percent certainty

Andrée Seu
December 29, 2007

I hope you will accept a New Year's revolution in lieu of a New Year's resolution. I want to share one of the most helpful things I learned in 2007, which will get a workout from me in 2008, and for the duration. It concerns liberation from the fallacy of 100 percent.

Let me explain that there has long been a troubling gap between my theology and my life. The Bible just doesn't reach where the rubber meets the road. It says I am given "all things I need for life and godliness," but my opinion has been that I am given only "some things." I find in Scripture general principles like "love your neighbor," "be slow to speak," and "do not cast pearls to swine."

General principles are fine if you live in a general world. But I live in an insistently specific world where the issues are:

"Should I take this job?" "Should I marry this man?" "Should I skip writing today to be with my Mom?" "Should I let Calvin learn on the stick shift?" "Christian school or homeschool?" "Milk without the bovine growth hormones and antibiotics at $4.19/half gallon, or with the undesirables at $1.95/half gallon?"
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Blair converts to Catholicism
Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2007

LONDON - Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, now the Middle East peace envoy, has converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, the head of Britain's Catholics said on Saturday.

Blair, whose wife and children are Catholic, was received into full communion with the Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Muphy-O'Connor on Friday.

"I am very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church," Murphy-O'Connor said in a statement.
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Anglican District of Virginia Churches Remain Confident
ADV Files Brief in Case to Prevent Church Property Seizure
(via email)

FAIRFAX, Va. (December 21, 2007) – The 11 Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) churches filed a brief in the Fairfax County Circuit Court regarding the Multi-Circuit Property Litigation. The brief explains the validity of the Virginia Division Statute (Va. Code § 57-9) in determining that the Virginia congregations are entitled to keep their church property due to the division within The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia, and the Anglican Communion. (Case No. CL-2007-0248724)

“As our brief today explains, the evidence at the trial strongly demonstrated that our congregations have satisfied each of the core requirements of this law. There has been a ‘division’ in The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia (“Diocese”), and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and our congregations have joined a ‘branch’ of the divided body created as a result of that division,” said Jim Oakes, Vice-Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.

“This division occurred as a result of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese separating themselves from the historic Christian faith by deciding to reinterpret Scripture on a number of different issues. Although the reasons for the division involve important issues of biblical truth, the existence and effects of the division are plain and evident for all to see, without regard to religion.

“The evidence also showed that this law was applied no less than 29 times to recognize the legal rights of congregations to keep their property. Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has made various amendments to the Virginia Code as it relates to religious organizations, but it has not seen fit to narrow or repeal the Division Statute. The General Assembly continues to believe that when congregations separate from a denomination, the neutral and objective principle of majority rule should govern ownership of property. In addition, The Episcopal Church admitted in its complaint that it does not hold title to any of these eleven churches, and that the churches' own trustees hold title for the benefit of the congregations.

“As the Global South Primates said in 2004, The Episcopal Church has ‘willfully torn the fabric of the communion at its deepest level and as a consequence openly cut themselves adrift.’ We are sorry that The Episcopal Church has moved away from the historic teachings of the church, but we should not be forced to go with them,” said Oakes.

The Anglican District of Virginia ( is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia. Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops. ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people. ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community. ADV is currently comprised of 21 member congregations.

To schedule an interview with an ADV representative, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Caitlin Bozell (ext. 119) at (703) 683-5004

Friday, December 21, 2007

Justice and Judgment are thy throne
Yet wondrous is thy grace;
While truth and mercy joined in one,
Invite us near thy face.
Isaac Watts image

TLC: Bishop Schofield: ‘Not My Wish to Leave’
December 21, 2007

Not long after he was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1988, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield recalls traveling to the Episcopal Church Center in New York City on business and being mistaken for Bishop Calvin Schofield, who was Bishop of Southeast Florida at the time.

“They were expecting this tall, trim, handsome bishop and there was a brief look of dismay when they realized I obviously wasn’t the strapping athletic person they were expecting,” he said laughing at the memory.

Episcopalians have seemingly been mistaking Bishop Schofield for someone else ever since. Even before Dec. 8, when he presided at the diocesan convention, which voted to leave The Episcopal Church and
affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, some of his critics accused him of being reckless, schismatic, or even dishonest. the rest