Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thurs. Nov 2, a.m. posts

Presiding Bishop invites fellow Primates into dialogue

November 2nd, 2006 posted by admin at 9:33 am

Jefferts Schori writes to archbishops of Kenya, Nigeria, West Africa and West Indies

[Episcopal News Service] Emphasizing her commitment to reconciliation and shared mission across the Anglican Communion, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori — in one of the first actions on the initial day of her nine-year term — sent on November 1 the following letter to four fellow Primates.

1 November 2006

The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria
The Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies
The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev. Justice Akrofi, Primate of West Africa


To my esteemed brothers in Christ:

While I have not yet had the privilege and honor to meet all of you, I very much look forward to working with you in the coming years as we endeavor to lead the Body of Christ in this portion called the Anglican Communion. I deeply value the possibilities we have in the Anglican Communion for addressing the mission God has given us to reconcile the world he has created. In the spirit of Lambeth 1998, the Episcopal Church has identified the Millennium Development Goals as the framework for our missional work in the coming years. I would hope we might see the common interest we all have for seeing those Goals met, as they provide a concrete image of the Reign of God in our own day, where the hungry are fed, the thirsty watered, and the prisoners of disease and oppression set free.

I understand that you will be in the United States in mid-November for a gathering at Falls Church, Virginia. Considering the difficulty and expense of such a journey, I hope that during your visit you might be willing to pay a call on me, so that we might begin to build toward such a missional relationship. If that is a possibility, I hope you will contact this office as soon as possible. I would be more than happy to alter my schedule to accommodate you.

I look forward to hearing from you, and meeting you. May God bless your ministries and your travels.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

“Episcopal Leader Denies Bible Condemns Gays”

November 2nd, 2006 posted by admin at 9:15 am

If one does a Google News search this morning to see what the media is reporting about Katharine Jefferts Schori in preparation for her investiture, the headline that is repeated over and over and over again (about 50 times so far) is this one:

Episcopal Leader Denies Bible Condemns Gays

Which seems to be the headline of choice for a short Associated Press piece that has gone out to television stations around the country, including very brief snippets of an interview +Jefferts Schori has given to the AP.

Here’s the NBC News post of the story:

Episcopal Leader Denies Bible Condemns Gays
Woman Believes People Are Created Gay

POSTED: 8:28 am EST November 2, 2006

NEW YORK — The Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church said she doesn’t believe that the Bible condemns “committed” gay and lesbian relationships.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, who’ll be installed Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, supports ordaining gays and allowing blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

In 2003, she voted to confirm the denomination’s first openly gay bishop.

For that reason and others, seven conservative Episcopal dioceses have rejected her leadership.

In an Associated Press interview, Jefferts-Schori said she believes homosexuality is “how one is created,” so the church should offer what she calls “a sacramental container” to help gays and lesbians find “holy ways of living in relationship.”

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas said it’s not one of the conservative dioceses asking the archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a conservative national leader to oversee them.

Dallas Bishop James Stanton said in a statement Monday that he still disagrees with the direction of The Episcopal Church, which in 2003 ordained its first openly gay bishop and this year elected a new presiding bishop who supports ordaining gays and blessing same-sex couples.

But he said the language in the request from the seven other dioceses rejecting incoming Jefferts-Schori and seeking an alternate leader had “caused confusion and some anxiety” in his diocese.

Jefferts-Schori is scheduled to be installed as presiding bishop on Saturday in Washington.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.

We have not seen the long version of the AP interview yet. If anyone else stumbles across it before we elves or Kendall find it, please post the link in the comments!

We did see one other brief excerpt from what is likely the same interview while browsing the web last night. That was a story on CBN that we found via Google:

Church Head Doubts Jesus is Only Way
Associated Press
November 1, 2006 - NEW YORK (AP) - The woman who’ll be installed this weekend as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church doesn’t consider Jesus Christ the only way to God.

In an Associated Press interview, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori said, “If we insist that we know the one way to God, we’ve put God in a very small box.”

The Bible declares that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

But Jefferts-Schori says she doesn’t believe that “one person can have the fullness of truth in him or herself.”

Instead, she says, “Truth is, like God, more than any one person can encompass.”

Eight Episcopal dioceses have asked Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who heads the world Anglican Communion, to put them under a leader other than Bishop Jefferts-Schori.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights reserved.

David Broder: Behind The Gridlock

November 2nd, 2006 posted by kendall at 9:15 am

But even these relatively upbeat scholars acknowledge certain dangers in the degree of polarization we are seeing. First, it makes it far harder to address long-term challenges such as the underfinanced condition of our Social Security and Medicare systems and the needs of the retiring baby boomers.

Second, because the divisions no longer stop at the water’s edge, it becomes far more difficult to maintain a steady course in foreign policy. The partisan nature of the Iraq debate underlines that risk.

Third, the polarization is particularly hard on the third branch of government, the judiciary. Hearings on judgeships — especially the Supreme Court — have become full-scale political campaigns, with all the nastiness we have come to expect in those races. And some Republicans have made whipping boys of sitting judges.

Finally, there is the damage that polarization does to the whole structure of trust on which any system of representative government must rest.

The authors write: “If polarized parties are what can get 120.3 million Americans to cast ballots — the largest number in U.S. history — why worry? Because a healthy civic culture ought to do more than bestir voters; it should build their trust in the nation’s political institutions. It is in this respect that, alas, querulous partisanship can become corrosive.”

Read it all.

Diocese of Dallas Priest Henry Pendergrass Moves to the Southern Cone

November 2nd, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:27 am

Read his whole letter here and there is a little more information there.

The Los Angeles Times interviews Gene Robinson

November 2nd, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:41 am

Is reconciliation possible?

I’m arguing that we don’t all have to be in the same place on this issue. The greatest gift the Anglican Communion has to offer is its 400 years as an enormously hospitable umbrella beneath which has existed a wide spectrum of beliefs.

We don’t find our unity in a unanimity of opinion. We find it when we go to the altar rail and receive the body and blood of Christ — then we go back to the pews and fight about everything. You’ll find us all over the map on abortion, stem cell research, who should be president and everything else one can think of.

How do your efforts play in the orthodox dioceses of Africa, home to a vast majority of the world’s Anglicans?

I want Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria in my church. The problem is they don’t want me in their church. I believe Peter Akinola is going about his journey back to God as faithfully as he knows how. I just wish he could acknowledge that is exactly what I’m doing as well.

Nonetheless, several conservative dioceses, including one in Central California, recently voted to be placed under someone else’s jurisdiction, possibly someone in Africa.

What a lousy basis for an allegiance, being against homosexuals. How far can that go? What can they really share with these far-off dioceses? Are they really going to put themselves under the authority of those bishops? What if one of them feels called by God to be ordained in ministry? Are they going to go to Africa to speak with a bishop about it? It makes no sense.

Of course, those people are more than free to leave the Episcopal Church. For their own spiritual health, that may be the best thing for them. I only wish them well. But what’s wrong with staying together while we figure this one out?

Nearly every major denomination is obsessing over gay ordination and same-sex marriage. Is organized religion in the Western world at a crossroads?

This may well be the beginning of some kind of realignment of communities of faith, the ultimate shape of which is not at all clear. But it may well be along the lines separating those who see God’s love extending to everyone in a sort of forgiving embrace from those who see the role of religion as setting up rules whereby you know whether you are in or out.

At its root, this debate is really about whether God is the deity that says, “I will love you if” — you fill in the blank — or a god that says, “I just love you.”

Any words of advice for Jefferts Schori, whose election and support of gay rights have been a source of controversy?

I’d remind her that no matter how well or poorly she does as presiding bishop, she’s going to heaven.

Immediately after her election, I confessed to Katharine: “I was completely self-serving in voting for you. It was the only way I could get off the front page!”

I was also the one who came up with the idea of the pink buttons passed around that day that said, “It’s a girl!” over her name and the date. In fact, I had the honor of giving her my own button on the floor of the House of Bishops. She loved it.

Here’s the full article.

No new diocesan roundup for a few days

November 2nd, 2006 posted by admin at 6:25 am

All, we continue to receive helpful and interesting diocesan convention news daily. Thanks to each of you who has sent in links and information. Frankly the elves are too distracted (and discouraged) by all the Schori investiture news to do much with diocesan convention news for a few days. Look for an update early next week. In the meantime, please keep sending in news and links!

From NPR’s Day to Day Program: Connecticut Bishop Allows Same-Sex Unions

November 2nd, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:23 am

(For background on this please reread here).

Bishop Andrew Smith, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, has given priests in his diocese the authority to bless same-sex unions. But is he breaking faith with part of his flock? Some parishes in his state have already objected to his decision.

Bishop Smith talks with Alex Chadwick about why he made the policy change, and how he intends to unify parishes over the issue.

Listen to it all.

Some Protestant churches feeling ‘mainline’ again

November 2nd, 2006 posted by kendall at 6:22 am

St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church in this historic southern Virginia town welcomed 24 new members last month — a tiny breath of life in a denomination faced with a daunting decline in national membership.
Next week, when Virginians vote in 2006’s divisive midterm elections, the people of St. Mark may split “red” conservative or “blue” liberal. But when they gather to pray, this is a “purple” place, red and blue mixing in the pews.

“God is calling us to something bigger than just our political views,” says the Rev. Gary Erdos, pastor of St. Mark.

It is classic mainline Protestant in nearly every respect: It embraces an interpretive approach to Scripture rather than taking the Bible literally. It makes a strong commitment to social justice and social action drawn from Gospel teachings.

Classic in every respect but one: St. Mark is growing. Membership has jumped from 500 to 1,200 people since 1997, and Sunday attendance climbed from 200 to 500.

By comparison, total membership in the seven largest mainline Protestant denominations — United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian Church (USA), Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches — fell a total of 7.4% from 1995 to 2004, based on tallies reported to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Meanwhile, the total membership count for Roman Catholics, the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention, Pentecostal Assemblies of God and proselytizing Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) reported to the Yearbook is up nearly 11.4% for the same period.

Read it all.


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