Thursday, January 18, 2007

January 18, 2007 Backup (18:30 EST)

Ok, T19 is getting hammered with traffic, so time to activate the backup again. Here are all of the January 18 posts currently on the Titusonenine main page. We'll post any new stories here tonight as individual entries. We know that is much easier to read.

Archbishop Gomez leads in search for a way forward for the Anglican Communion

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:07 pm

Speaking about the work of the CDG, which assembled here Monday and winds up its meeting tonight, Archbishop Gomez, who is also bishop of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, noted that its members would
approach their work with a focus on “unity within community.”

“This is important because… each province of the communion is an autonomous province within the worldwide communion. So while we want to come together and be united, we also have to protect the right of each entity to exercise its autonomy within the body,” Gomez explained. “So we will be looking at the theology of unity within diversity, how to hold the two together. Against that background, we will be dealing with what is traditionally called ‘Anglican comprehensives.’ That is, in Anglicanism, we, up to this point, have been able to hold together certain diverse theological views and still remain as one communion.”

Despite the focus on unity within community, Archbishop Gomez admits the grim outlook in some quarters of the Church.

“Some people are saying that a split is inevitable and our hope is that we can avoid a split,” he said. “Because if we end up with two kinds of, what I call, subgroups, the question is how do they relate with one another.”

Read the whole piece.

Breaking News from the Diocese of Virginia: Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:15 pm

A News Release from the Communications Office of The Diocese of Virginia

Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’

For release: Thursday, January 18, 2007
Contact: Patrick Getlein 1-800 346-2373 x 30

Today, January 18, 2007, the Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia took a step forward in preserving the mission and ministry of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church for current and future generations of Episcopalians and adopted a resolution concerning the property of 11 Episcopal Churches where a majority of members – including the vestry and clergy – have left The Episcopal Church but have not relinquished Church property and have continued to occupy the churches and use the property owned by the Diocese.

Specifically, the Executive Board declared the property of those churches – real and personal – to be abandoned in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese.

“All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Church or Mission within this Diocese is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.” (Canon 15.1)

“No part of the real property of a Church, except abandoned property, shall be alienated, sold, exchanged, encumbered or otherwise transferred for any purpose without the consent of the congregation … [and] the Bishop, acting with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee of the Diocese.” (Canon 15.2)

Having declared the property abandoned for the purposes for which it is set aside, namely the mission of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, the Executive Board is required to protect the property, according to the Canons:

“[W]henever any property, real or personal, formerly owned or used by any congregation of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia for any purpose for which religious congregations are authorized to hold property under the provisions of the Code of Virginia or any amendment thereof, has ceased to be so occupied or used by such congregation, so that the same may be regarded as abandoned property by the Executive Board, which shall have the authority to declare such property abandoned and shall have the authority to take charge and custody thereof, the Executive Board shall take such steps as may be necessary to transfer the property to the Bishop…” (Canon 15.3)

The unanimous decision by the Executive Board also authorizes the Bishop to take such steps as may be necessary to recover or secure such real and personal property.

Read it all, including Bishop Lee’s letter to the diocese which follows.

For reference: The two posts on the Diocese of VA website are here and here.

Notable and Quotable

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 4:53 pm

Anti-sacramental, anti-ritual evangelicalism emphasizes a personal relationship with God, but tends to encourage what Anthony Giddens calls “pure relationship,” a relationship that is not tacked down with external anchors and supports. A live-in relationship, without benefit of the rites and legalities of marriage, is a pure relationship. Evangelicalism tends to encourage a live-in relationship with Jesus.

This is wrong, a departure from Christian tradition, and unbiblical. It also places unbearable burdens on the soul. Tempted by the devil, Luther slapped his forehead to remind himself of his baptism. His standing before God was anchored in Christ, to whom he had been joined by baptism.

For evangelicals, assurance cannot be grounded in anything so external and objective. Spontaneous enthusiasm is the test of sincerity, and the source of assurance. But eternal, self-scrutinizing vigilance is necessary to ensure that the enthusiasm is really spontaneous.

Enthusiasm was supposed to liberate the soul from all the dead forms, but it comes with its own set of chains.

–Peter J. Leithart, The Unbearable burden of Evangelicalism

A Recent ordination Sermon by Bishop Michael Ingham

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 4:50 pm

You know that religious fundamentalism is growing in every major faith tradition, including our own. Religious fundamentalism is based on fear – fear of change, fear of loss, fear of the future and what it means to personal or tribal identity. When people see all their anchors being pulled up, and the world they know set adrift upon uncertain seas, they re-assert old dogmas, old traditions, and insist that God demands all this to stem the tide of change.

In itself this is understandable. It is a natural human reaction. But it is a human reaction and should not be confused with God’s action. And one of the jobs of a priest is to know the difference between God’s action and human reaction, and to help people avoid the mistake of confusing one for the other.

Secular fundamentalism is quite different, but no less real. This is the distorted view that we are sufficient unto ourselves, that all we need is an effective marketplace where all our human problems can be resolved to everyone’s mutual profit. It is the view that everything important in human life can be measured, that everything significant can be quantified - by economic indicators, for example, or the expanse of our lawns - that the purpose of human life is to maximize individual well-being, and that people are to be valued by their success in the market place as the principal indicators of their human worth.

I would say this is the dominant religion of the West today. It’s the culture we live in, the air we breathe. So we have these two fundamentalisms – one religious, one secular; one based on fear, the other on pride: one that has tried to co-opt and capture God, and one that has tried to banish God – and in the midst of this our priests and leaders have to be not just pastors but also prophets, not just comforters but also sounders of the alarm. We need from our priests, and indeed from all the baptized and faithful members of our Church, the leadership and vision to set us free from captivity both to false religion and to false ideologies alike.

Fear and pride are the very opposite of biblical values. They are not what God wants nor what God offers us through Jesus Christ. Our Scriptures bear witness to a Son of God whose very incarnation sets us free from idolatry, free from false attachment to bad religion and to unsustainable economic systems. Genuine biblical spirituality opens us to truth from any source so long as it incarnates the compassionate grace and mercy of God who has created all people as inter-connected, members one of another; as St. Paul says, to be one with each other and with the earth that supports us.

Kenneth Leech, a great Anglican writer, says genuine Christian orthodoxy is subversive, not conformist, it overturns human convention in the name of divine wisdom, it is not dogmatic but transformative, it doesn’t fit into patterns of domination and exclusion but stands against them for a radical inclusion. Christian orthodoxy is not a tribal theology, a God-on-my-side sectarianism. It’s a global vision of a world united in its very plurality, a world at one in its respect for difference and its deep commitment to justice. This is not the narrow orthodoxy of fundamentalists and demagogues, nor even may we say of some archbishops and primates. It’s the radical orthodoxy of Jesus, grounded in his incarnation as the Son of God, who also lived in dangerous and polarized times and who refused all its temptations of avoidance and power.

Read it all.

Bella DePaulo: Single Americans are hardly flying solo

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:40 pm

You could hear the anxiety in the headlines: “Social Isolation Growing,” “It’s Lonely Out There” and “Turn to a Close Friend (If You Have Any).” The spate of stories followed the publication earlier this summer of “Social Isolation in America,” a study showing that Americans do not have the number of close confidants they once did. Asked to name people with whom they had discussed important matters, Americans in 1985 listed three. By 2004, the number was down to two.

As the “confidant crisis” was about to become little more than a ghost of headlines past, fear was roused again by new pronouncements from the Census Bureau. Peek in the window of any household, we learned, and you are more likely to see just one person living there than a family of mom, dad, and the kids. In fact, for the first time in the history of the country, households that included a married couple (with or without children) slipped into the minority.

The news could not be dismissed out of hand by the argument that the supposedly unmarried households included couples who were unmarried in name only. Cohabiting couples, including both heterosexual and same-sex, make up only 5.4 percent of all households, far below the 27 percent of households where a person lives singly and the 9.8 percent of households with single parents.

The growing number of unmarried households and solo dwellers, together with the declining number of confidants, could be troubling. Suppose, for instance, that the average of two confidants that Americans reported were the result of married people naming about four confidants and singles close to none. Isn’t that what we assume when we say that people who are single “don’t have anyone”? And wouldn’t those numbers also be consistent with our intuitive understanding of marriage as adding not just a spouse but links to friends and family of the spouse?

In fact, though, the number of confidants reported by married and single people was nearly identical — married people named just 0.2 more confidants than did single people. When people marry, they may well add a spouse to their confidant list, but they also seem to demote someone else.

The emotional sustenance provided by confidants is not all that we humans seek from each other. Often, we just want companionship. There are also times when we look for a ride or a loan, information about job possibilities or recommendations for a decent dentist. Other goals could never be reached with the help of just two confidants. To effect neighborhood improvement or social change, for instance, we need far reaching connections. We need a community or a movement, not just a collection of individuals.

When Americans are asked to name not just the people with whom they discuss important matters, but also the people they see often and approach for help, it turns out that they have far more than just two important people in their lives. A Pew study, “The Strength of Internet Ties,” found that Americans have a median of 35 people whom they consider to be more than just acquaintances. Solo dwelling Americans are not social isolates. They can sit at their computers and connect to people oceans away, or right next door. And, the Pew study showed that e-mail is not substituting for face time. People who e-mail more often have more in-person and phone contact with others, not less.

Read it all.

Michael Medved: The youthful candidate is passing with the years

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:36 pm

Voters tell pollsters that they crave a fresh start in Washington, with new ideas and, presumably, younger, more energetic leadership. Instead, what they’ve got is the most elderly Congress and one of the oldest crops of presidential candidates in history. No wonder so many members of the younger generation feel disenchanted with the political process!

According to the Congressional Research Service, the average age for senators just went up by nearly two years to 61.7. House members also got grayer — reaching an average age of 55.9 (for a job that’s open to all citizens 25 and older).

Among presidential candidates for 2008, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who just announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, stands alone not just because of his race, but because of his age. At the time of the inauguration, Obama will be 47 — older than four previous presidents but far younger than his prominent rivals. Nearly all leading competitors for the White House (Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, among Democrats; Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, among Republicans) would be over 60 at the inauguration. Even the youthful-looking John Edwards would take office at 55 — making him older than the clear majority (23) of presidents who have won election.

The advanced age of current contenders contrasts with some of the most thrilling campaigns in American history. In 1960, John Kennedy triumphed at age 43, beating the 47-year-old Richard Nixon. Abraham Lincoln (despite the nickname “Old Abe”) won the White House at age 52, while Franklin Roosevelt was only 51.

More recently, Reagan, 69, and the first President Bush, 64, both won office at a time of life when people usually retire, but most other contemporary presidents represented a decidedly more youthful demographic. In the epic 2000 confrontation between Bush and Gore, the combatants were 54 and 53. Jimmy Carter won the White House as a one-term Georgia governor at 52, while Bill Clinton took the presidency at 46 (with running mate Al Gore, a mere lad of 44).

In 2008, a youthful outsider would have a tough time replicating those feats because of the crushing cost and fiercely competitive nature of today’s nomination battles. By and large, only veteran politicians, multimillionaires or celebrities can raise that kind of money and survive the brutal pre-convention struggle for attention. Current realities heavily favor politicians with strong name recognition and well-developed national followings — meaning older candidates who are well-established with the public.

Read it all.

Robert M. Ross: Not Familiar to Everyone

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:21 pm

Many pundits have offered solutions to counteract the declining membership of The Episcopal Church. I want to suggest that one of the solutions may be as simple as a page number.

When I arrived at the new clergy training in the Diocese of Virginia, I met a man who had been hand picked for the leadership position by Bishop Peter Lee because he possessed a great track record for accomplishing church growth. One of the cornerstones to church growth in his eyes was the officiant of the service announcing the page numbers in both the prayer book and hymnal.

His theology on this matter was quite clear. If we are to attract new members, we are going to have to make people feel welcome, not just by the ushers or the greeting committee, but also by the officiant. He reminded us that well before coffee hour a parish has had numerous chances to make a positive or negative impression on its newcomers or visitors. “What better way to show your newcomers they are welcomed,” our trainer told us, “than by helping them through our complicated prayer book.”

Read it all.

Joel Edwards: Let us not Miss the Imago Dei in Each person

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:30 pm

“…all my guilt-gongs went off yesterday when I heard that the Healthcare Commission were investigating cases of abuse against people with learning disabilities in residential care. It wasn’t just my mother: my wife works with people with learning disability.

Yesterday also, a senior doctor unveiled evidence of ‘distressing complications’ for some elderly patients in the NHS. She first stumbled on this evidence, not a consultant, but as a visiting relative.

In our increasingly defensive culture it’s hard to know where blame stops and accountability begins. But the Healthcare Commission said that the widespread abuse was due to a lack of training, awareness and leadership, acerbated by low morale.

But it’s not just the Health Service. Something else is going missing from our society. It’s the profound belief that people are to be respected not only because of their age or vulnerability but because they are made in the image of God.

As the medical scientist Gareth Jones puts it, ‘Whenever confronted by another human being,’ he says, ‘we are in the presence of images of God, who makes claims on us.’”

Read it all.

A Picture is worth 1000 words

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:05 pm

Read it all.

IRD Calls for Diocese and National Church to Work with Virginia Parishes, Not Against Them

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:01 pm

Read it all.

Bonnie Anderson’s Letter to the Panel of Reference

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 10:45 am

Read it carefully and read it all.

At Saint Stephen’s, for people on both sides of the divide, the path to salvation is no longer clear

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:24 am

Yet the fallout has been particularly acute in Heathsville, a tiny town on Virginia’s pastoral Northern Neck. Those who voted at St. Stephen’s to stay Episcopalian were a quarter of the membership, a much larger percentage than at the other churches, and that group has already voted itself new leadership as it plans to rebuild its congregation and reoccupy the building. Small groups of Episcopalians at the other churches are just starting to organize.

But in a town of 5,000 people, the effect of the vote is different from that of the bustling D.C. suburbs, where the other churches are. It has meant tense small talk in line at the Food Lion and friction between longtime friends.

Barbara Tricarico, who voted to stay Episcopalian, breaks into tears when she looks at the cracked wooden sign her husband pulled out of the bed of a pickup truck: “St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.” Tricarico just happened to see men removing it in the days after the vote, to replace it with a new sign: “St. Stephen’s (Anglican).”

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she said, “and I don’t have a heart problem. I just started bawling.”

But it seems to make it worse, she says, when anyone says something about it.

“You know that expression ‘least said, quickest mended’? These are watermen, farmers, doctors who have to see each other for the rest of their lives, so they don’t say much,” said Sandy Kirkpatrick, who launched the youth group at St. Stephen’s and is now the senior warden of the Episcopal group. “Country people don’t talk about these things.”

So private and reserved were the St. Stephen’s parishioners about the controversy, even as it unfolded over months and years, that many said they didn’t even know who was on which side until the tally list was announced.

Kirkpatrick, who moved from Fairfax County to Heathsville 11 years ago, has had long conversations about the nuances of faith with Margaret Radcliffe, now senior warden of St. Stephen’s (Anglican), who moved from Richmond a few years earlier. In the past, the women would write each other lengthy e-mails, sometimes in the middle of the night, about their very different views of the Bible, and they met regularly up until a lunch a few weeks before the vote.

Today the women communicate in the realm of officialdom, writing letters from their respective church positions as the two groups hash out whether they can share space while negotiations — or litigation — unfold far above their heads. “Your sister in Christ,” Kirkpatrick’s letters end; “Faithfully,” end Radcliffe’s.

Read it all.

Notable and Quotable

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:36 am

If you went to the airport, and there were no airplanes landing, and there were no airplanes taking off, you’d say, ‘There’s a problem!’ If you went to the train station, and there were no trains coming and no trains leaving, you’d say, ‘There’s a problem!’ So why is it that we can be a part of churches that go on year after year with almost no truly unchurched people coming to faith in Christ, and with very few people really becoming more Christlike, and yet think there’s no problem. Friends, if that describes your church, ‘There’s a problem.’”

–Mark Mittelberg and Bill Hybels, Building a Contagious Church: Revolutionizing the Way We View and Do Evangelism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), p.24

(Hat tip: BD)

A Dying Church Allows for new Life

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:11 am

Midfield First Baptist Church, which had dwindled to about 40 mostly elderly, white worshippers, recently held its last service in the church building it had called home for nearly 50 years.

A week later, it handed over the keys —- and its $1.8 million property —- to a predominantly black Baptist church called New Beginnings in a property giveaway that gives new meaning to the church’s name.

“Somebody came up with the idea: Why don’t we just give them the building?” said the Rev. Eugene Nail, 78, pastor of Midfield First Baptist since 2000. “It was built with tithes and offerings, and it’s the Lord’s building anyway.”

As one church dies away and another is born, Nail called it an “old ending and a new beginning.”

“We’re going to turn it over to them —- the church and everything in it,” Nail said. “Midfield First Baptist will cease to exist. … The town needs ministering to. Our people are too old. They had to kiss reality in the mouth.”

Midfield First Baptist no longer had a choir, but it had a ladies’ praise ensemble made up of five women in their 70s.

“We wanted to close with dignity,” said Midfield music minister Gene Hayes. “Our people saw it was a good thing to continue our legacy through this group of people.”

Midfield First Baptist was founded in 1952 as a mission of another nearby Baptist church. The congregation held tent services before the education building went up in 1958. The 600-seat sanctuary was built in 1966.

Back then, Midfield First Baptist was thriving. “It’s always been blue-collar, U.S. Steel people,” Hayes said. “It’s always been a generous and missions-minded church.”

Read it all.

The White House Seeks to Avoid an Iraq Showdown

January 18th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:09 am

A Democrat-driven resolution on Iraq that has attracted the support of at least two Republicans threatens to expose fissures within the GOP over the unpopular war.

Republicans are deeply divided on the war in Iraq and how Congress should react to President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 more troops to join the estimated 130,000 already there.

Ten Republicans met behind closed doors late Wednesday with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a bid to generate consensus on Iraq. The senators emerged from the meeting to announce that no deal had been reached.

“This is a very fluid situation,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

The meeting came after Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, both Republicans who have sparred with the administration on the war, announced that they would co-sponsor the resolution.

The resolution would put the Senate on record as opposed to sending more troops to Iraq. It also calls for the U.S. military mission to switch from major combat to training Iraqi troops, counterterrorism and keeping foreign fighters out of Iraq.

“It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq,” the resolution states.

Read it all.


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