Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday November 4: Afternoon posts -- Includes Schori's investiture sermon

Conservative Paradise Valley Episcopal church to come under oversight of Rio Grande Bishop

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 1:03 pm

The Paradise Valley church where the late Sen. Barry Goldwater worshipped and where his ashes are interred, where renowned broadcaster Hugh Downs was last Sunday’s lay leader, has worked out an agreement with Arizona’s Episcopal bishop to transfer pastoral oversight to a New Mexico bishop “whose views more closely reflect that of the parish.”

It’s an arrangement that other Episcopal parishes nationally will watch closely as they wrestle with what they say is a denomination that has strayed from orthodoxy and traditional Anglican teachings. It was exacerbated in 2004 with the ordination and installation of the fi rst openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire. That event riled the 77 millionmember international Anglican community and prompted calls to separate from the American church over the issue of homosexuality.

Now Christ Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church, led by the Rev. Kenneth Semon, has completed a three-way agreement that still keeps it part of the Arizona diocese, gives it a different bishop for pastoral support and offers parish members a way to redirect fi nancial donations to areas other than the diocese.

Describing themselves as a “Christ-centered, Bible-based Anglican community,” Christ Church members and vestry have sought a way to respond to changes in the larger church. The church has weighed whether to do nothing and risk losing members, whether to bolt from the Episcopal Church or align with a foreign Anglican communion, as a large breakaway faction from St. James parish in Tempe has done. Some parishes have renounced the Episcopal Church and joined the new American Anglican Council, which touts tradition and orthodoxy.

With the daunting prospect that some Christ Church members were poised to leave if nothing was done, the vestry established a committee to develop options for the parish, whose church sits on land donated by Goldwater. (His home sat on a mountain just south of the campus.) “He had a fence around his property, but he had a gate, and he’d come down here,” Semon said. “He owned all this land but gave us four acres, and we bought four acres” for the church erected in 1975 and recently remodeled.

Rector of Christ Church since 1999, Semon believes that his church will better relate to the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Steenson, bishop of the Rio Grande Diocese, who was the third signer to the agreement. “We are really waiting for the Anglican community to work this out at a higher level and provide a structure for orthodox Episcopalians, so we can still be part of the Anglican community,” he said.

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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s investiture sermon

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 1:01 pm


4 November 2006
National Cathedral

Where is home for you? How would you define your home? A friend in Nevada said to me just before I left that he had thought I would only leave Nevada to go home, and in his mind, that meant Oregon. But in the six years I spent there, Nevada became home. The state song is even called, “Home means Nevada.” And for a place filled with folk who have come from elsewhere, that is quite remarkable – all sorts and conditions of rootless people trying to grow new roots in the desert.

So where is home for you? Des Moines or Anchorage or Taipei or San Salvador or Port au Prince?

What makes it home? Familiar landscape, a quality of life, or the presence of particular people?

Some people who engage this journey we call Christianity discover that home is found on the road, whether literally the restless travel that occupies some of us, or the hodos that is the Way of following the one we call the Christ. The home we ultimately seek is found in relationship with creator, with redeemer, with spirit. When Augustine says “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee, O Lord” he means that our natural home is in God.

The great journey stories of the Hebrew Bible begin with leaving our home in Eden, they tell of wandering for a very long time in search of a new home in the land of promise, and they tell later of returning home from exile. And eventually Israel begins to realize that they are meant to build a home that will draw all the nations to Mount Zion. Isaiah’s great vision of a thanksgiving feast on a mountain, to which the whole world is invited, is part of that initial discovery of a universal home-building mission, meant for all. Jesus’ inauguration and incarnation of the heavenly banquet is about a home that does not depend on place, but on community gathered in the conscious presence of God.

In Death of the Hired Man, Robert Frost said that “home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” We all ache for a community that will take us in, with all our warts and quirks and petty meannesses – and yet they still celebrate when they see us coming! That vision of homegoing and homecoming that underlies our deepest spiritual yearnings is also the job assignment each one of us gets in baptism – go home, and while you’re at it, help to build a home for everyone else on earth. For none of us can truly find our rest in God until all of our brothers and sisters have also been welcomed home like the prodigal.

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Reconciliation is her byword

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 12:53 pm

A former oceanographer and bishop of the diocese of Nevada, Jefferts Schori’s election in June touched off widespread controversy in a church already split by disagreements on the ordination of gay priests.

We spoke with Jefferts Schori, a 52-year-old native of Pensacola, on the eve of her installation about the state of the Episcopal Church and her plans for unifying Episcopalians.

You’re a female bishop who supports the ordination of gays and lesbians, two things that did not sit well with many Episcopalians and Anglicans this summer. Did you foresee such a virulent reaction to your election?

I was aware that some of that reaction was a possibility … but it’s a fairly small minority in most places. They’re vocal. I certainly understand that they disagree. That’s a part of the richness and diversity of our tradition. We affirm the appropriateness of having a diversity of theological opinion, and we think that’s a blessing.

Some people worry that your election has hurt local churches as some members withhold finances. Have you heard about this?

Yes, there’s some withholding of finances, but people often vote with their pocketbooks. It’s not usually seen as a spiritually appropriate way of expressing dissent. But it’s certainly understandable.
Did you ever consider not accepting the position?


Read it all.

From the Associated Press: Episcopalians install female leader

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 12:51 pm

Katharine Jefferts Schori took office Saturday as the first woman presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, a first not only for her denomination but also for the global Anglican Communion, which has never before had a female priest leading one of its provinces.

In a ceremony at the cavernous Washington National Cathedral, filled by more than 3,000 well-wishers, Jefferts Schori took leadership of the U.S. church as the Anglican rift over the Bible and sexuality threatens to erupt into schism.

Jefferts Schori, 52, was bishop of Nevada when she was the surprise winner of the election for presiding bishop at the Episcopal General Convention in June.

Worshippers stood and faced the doors of the cathedral as Jefferts Schori knocked and entered, wearing a multicolored robe and miter. She walked in a procession toward the front of the church, led by people waving streamers and flags, as applause filled the sanctuary.

Outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold turned over the symbol of her new authority, the primatial staff, to Jefferts Schori.

She will now represent the American denomination to the many Anglican leaders angered by the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Her job is further complicated by her personal support for Robinson’s election. She believes the church should ordain gays and bless same-sex couples, though she insists she won’t impose her views on others.

“If some in this church feel wounded by recent decisions, then our salvation, our health as a body, is at some hazard and it becomes the duty of all of us to seek healing and wholeness,” Jefferts Schori said in her sermon Saturday.

Read the whole thing.

First Episcopal female priests were ‘rebels’

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 12:49 pm

Today is a happy day for the Rev. Alison M. Cheek, once considered a feminist rebel.

Thirty-two years after Cheek and 10 other women — the Philadelphia 11 — were “irregularly” ordained as the first female priests in the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will be consecrated as the first female presiding bishop.

It’s not something Cheek ever would have imagined in 1974 when she was ordained without the church’s permission.

“I never in my born days thought it would happen so fast,” she said by telephone from her home in Maine.

Women struggled for more than 100 years to be equal partners in the church, she said. After they were approved for the priesthood by the 1976 General Convention, the next breakthrough was the election of the first female bishop in 1988.

“I think the visual image of a woman behind the altar is important,” Cheek said. “Different women bring different things: Some steer toward the male position, and others try to operate in a more collaborative way. I don’t like to generalize, but I think we bring a more human touch, and that can create a different atmosphere.”

Read it all.

Bishop Robert Duncan’s Convention Address to Diocese of Pittsburgh

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 12:47 pm

Embracing Fruitfulness
The Bishop’s Address to the 141st Annual Convention

My Father cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every
branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
[John 15:2]

Fruitfulness…embracing fruitfulness: this is the theme of our 141st Annual Convention. Why this theme? Why now? The notion that we should focus on fruitfulness during the course of this last year was something that God gave to our good canon missioner, Mary Hays, back in January.

The theme of fruitfulness has been useful to us all, I think, but especially so to me this year as your bishop. This is the fifteenth time I have stood before you in an Annual Convention, the tenth time as diocesan bishop. Holy Scripture makes it plain that fruitfulness is our God’s evaluative category, the ground on which he judges the stewardship he has entrusted to us. From the very first instructions God speaks to Man and Woman – “Be fruitful and multiply.” [Gen. 1:28] – to the parables and teachings of our Lord, it is fruitfulness – increase – that is held up as the measure of fulfilling our purpose and His, the “measure of God’s pleasure,” if you will.


Worship (as represented by the 10th Anniversary Evensong) and Teaching and Fellowship and Pastoral Care (as symbolized by the Donegal event) do not, in themselves, produce new believers, but they are central to disciples who are committed to making new disciples. New disciples are brought through Christian outreach, in acts of love and service wherever there is human need or suffering, and in direct witness about Jesus Christ, with demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power, in every circumstance of human life. This explains our diocesan commitment to the Millenium Development Goals, to the .7% Lambeth Resolution, and to agencies like the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, Five Talents and ERD. Locally, conversion takes place in social ministries like healthcare and feeding and housing and short-term missions and youth ministries and summer camps. The measure of their fruitfulness is not in the numbers they serve, but, in fact, whether those served actually have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ presented and response made. How many homeless or hungry or dying or lost or adolescents actually make decisions to give the rest of their lives to Jesus and to His purposes? These are the fruitfulness questions. Many ministries and many congregations have ceased from their original fruitfulness because they have failed to embrace the pruning necessary to any kind of renewed fruitfulness. Has our message become “Jesus-lite” rather than the fullness of the radical living and demanding Jesus? The words in John 15:4 are haunting: “You cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Even moreso are the words from John15:2: “Every branch in me that bears no fruit [my Father] cuts off.”


One of the goals we set for ourselves for the first decade of the 21st century was to increase from 20,000 to 40,000 Episcopalians in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The truth is that some congregations have made remarkable contributions toward the goal, but mostly we are just staying even, and at present there seems no possibility of hitting the mark. Yet, it must be said that, if everyone of us brought one other person to saving faith in Jesus Christ in the next three years – and if they all joined our congregations and they mostly did not move away – we would be at 40,000 in 2010. Remember the 1:1:3 goal? Remember our hope of growing from 70 to 85 multiple-congregation parishes? We continue to have great challenges before us. Fruitfulness is the biblical measure of faithfulness. How must I be pruned, how must I be re-shaped, in order that Jesus can bear fruit through me? It is the great question for every Episcopalian (and every Christian), and for every congregation in our part of the world (and in every part of the world.) Why is it that in Nigeria and in Sabah (Malaysia) God’s people and their congregations are actually doing it, and not here? Let’s join them.


At its most fruitful, the Episcopal Church is only marginally fruitful. We here in Pittsburgh are only marginally fruitful. Our total membership grew a meager 1% last year, but our average Sunday attendance actually decreased by 63 souls! Again we ask, what must we change, what must we re-shape to be all that God intends? It is certainly not accommodation to the culture or compromise on the fullness of the Word of God or the person of Jesus Christ. Yet clearly it is also much more, for we can claim these minimums. From John 15 we are driven to ask, “What would it look like to be fully ‘in Him’ and consequently abundantly fruitful?”

This Convention faces another in its series of defining decisions. It is the Standing Committee’s judgment that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting at Columbus in June did not adequately respond to the requests of the Anglican Communion in the Windsor Report. Moreover, it is the Standing Committee’s judgment, in light of her teachings on the nature and work of the Second Person of the Trinity and her teaching on and authorization of same-sex blessings, that the election and confirmation of the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori to be Presiding Bishop is an aspect of the decision of the majority of the Episcopal Church to “walk apart” from the Anglican Communion. This “walking apart” is something the 140th Convention of this Diocese said, by resolution last year, it would not do. This “walking apart” is also something the Constitution of the Episcopal Church expressly rejects, committing us as “constituent members of the Anglican Communion, within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, propagating the historic Faith and Order.” Consequently, in Resolution One, this Convention is asked to confirm the action of our Standing Committee to appeal to the archbishops of the Communion for “alternative primatial oversight.” The Convention is also asked to confirm the Standing Committee’s action in withdrawing consent, under Article VII of the federal Constitution, for membership in our internal domestic province, the Third Province, the Province of Washington. The Chancellor, Mr. Robert Devlin, has rendered opinions about the propriety of confirming both actions.

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Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese Seeks Mediated Disengagement

November 4th, 2006 posted by kendall at 12:46 pm

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted yesterday at its annual diocesan convention to withdraw from a national church province and seek alternative oversight.

The clergy voted 97 to 14 in favor, with three abstentions, while the lay vote was 117 to 40, with 17 abstentions. The overwhelming vote, which was expected, does not change the diocese’s standing in the Episcopal Church. Nor will it have any immediate impact on the Pittsburgh diocese’s 20,000 members.

The resolution underscores the Pittsburgh diocese’s distancing from the national church’s new presiding bishop, the Right Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. stressed yesterday that the resolution’s passage cements the diocese’s commitment to being part of the Episcopal Church and a constituent member within the 70-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church, with 2.3 million members, is the American arm of the communion.

The resolution, he said, marks the diocese’s “continuing commitment to function under the constitution of the Episcopal Church …”

He said he would work with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori “to come to some mediated disengagement that will allow all of us to get on with the mission [of the church] as we understand it.”

Read it all.


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