Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday May 17 posts. Batch 1

Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Interview with the Diocese of Singapore’s Diocesan Digest

May 17th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:21 pm

Q – So how do you see then things developing pre-Lambeth 2008 and post-Lambeth? If you can make a wish, what will that be?

A – I’m hoping and praying that we shall have no more actions that polarize the Communion between now and Lambeth 2008. This is the point I have already brought to the Canadian House of Bishops which we are trying to get across to the American House of Bishops. But also trying to say to some other provinces: Don’t step up the level of intervention in this crisis because all of that is just pulling us further and further apart. So I hope we can have a bit of moratorium on this, and in a way, a reflection on what kind of a church we want to be. Now, some parts of the Communion would be happy if we could be just a federation of loosely connected local bodies. I’m not happy with that. We could be more than that. We should be more than that. We should be living out of each other’s life and resources and vision and be more closely connected. Because I think that is what the New Testament assumes the local church should do and not live in isolation. They lived with each other, from each other’s life. So, that’s my vision.

I see the next Lambeth Conference ideally as the place where Bishops can really be re-equipped for their central task of enabling mission and in every sense educating the people of God and equipping them for their outreach. That’s how I can see it.

Q – This actually gets you to my next question. Do you think therefore a sort of centrally driven or some sort of concerted organized effort through the Primates or Province representatives?

A – I think at the moment we are in a very confused state with the structure of the Anglican Communion. People turn to the Primates because there doesn’t seem to be anything else that works, a forum for people’s interest, that meets regularly, that can assemble at short notice, which can work together. At the same time, I don’t think the Primates’ Meeting ought to be isolated from other bodies. And I have some hope for the integration of the Primates in the Anglican Consultative Council. Perhaps that will give us a better tool. I think we do need in our shared counsel the voices of priests and lay people as well as Primates and bishops. And the challenge is how to find a structure that will help us cohere in that way. We have some good examples. In fact the meeting of the Theological Education group that has been going on in Singapore this weekend brings together bishops, priests, lay people for a common task around the Communion which is not driven I think by a London-based or a New York-based agenda. It’s owned by everybody. It’s quite a good model. I think we need that sense of the whole Communion setting the agenda and getting away from the suspicion, right or wrong, that the agenda’s been fixed from somewhere else.

Read it all.

Richard Walton: It’s time for the big-time consumers to pay up

May 17th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:06 pm

When I walked out of my house one morning this week to retrieve the Democrat, I was greeted by the foul taste of smoke, and it made me sick. Not literally sick, of course, but figuratively. I am sick to death of the recklessness, inconsiderateness and blatant laziness I am forced to endure on a daily basis. What’s worse, however, is that my 7-year-old daughter is actually sick. Home from school with a high fever due to allergy-related causes.

As most Tallahasseeans already know, the smoke is from the wildfires that are burning in southern Georgia and northern Florida, some 100 miles away. These are not the first such fires in recent Florida history, and they surely won’t be the last. But what many may not know - although they could if the cared to - is that throughout the world deserts are expanding, drought seasons are extending and fresh water supplies are evaporating, all of which create conditions rife for more wildfires. Therefore, it is now time - past time, truthfully - to start pointing fingers at the cause of this devastation.

We can no longer hide behind flaccid excuses of weather patterns supposedly moving in historical cycles, which is exactly what a prominent Tallahassee lawyer tried to tell me recently, as if we are simply in the midst of a quite natural 100-year drought cycle. The problem of climate change, global warming, environmental degradation, the destruction of creation, or whatever one wants to call it, has been apparent for at least 20 years now. Not scientifically conclusive, mind you. But there has been more than enough evidence to warrant caution.

Thankfully, many have heeded these global warnings. They have gone about their business conservatively; they have contributed financially; and they have acted self-sacrificially. At the same time, however, others have taken the opportunity to continue to conduct themselves with recklessness, selfishness and laziness. And I, for one, am sick of it.

Read it all.

Belfast Dean: Church appointment process wrong

May 17th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:04 pm

The Dean of Belfast, Dr Houston McKelvey, has criticised the appointments procedure for senior clergy in the Church of Ireland.

In a strongly-worded article in the current edition of Belfast Cathedral Digest, he said: “I don’t think that the Church of Ireland has got it right in terms of its process of recognising priests who could be bishops and having a method which enables their appointment.

“I am concerned that my Church is meant to be a model to the world. How can we hold politicians to account under the Gospel when they are at least the product of a much more open and accountable system? How can we talk about justice when our system would not pass the standards set for public appointments?”

The Dean’s comments come in the wake of the recent appointment of a new Bishop of Connor by the House of Bishops, following the earlier failure of the Electoral College to agree on a new Bishop-elect.

It should be stressed, however, that Dean McKelvey’s remarks were made in the period following the meeting of the Electoral College, and before the House of Bishops met and appointed the Bishop-elect Canon Alan Abernethy.

The Dean was clearly commenting on church procedures, and not on any individual clergy.

Under the Church of Ireland procedure an Electoral College of up to 60 people, representing clergy and laity, consider the election of a new bishop.

Read it all.

Bishop Lipscomb Announces Dates of his Official Departure

May 17th, 2007 posted by kendall at 11:45 am

Read it all.

Mary Glasspool: Report of the Maryland Deputation to the 2007 General Convention

May 17th, 2007 posted by kendall at 11:23 am

The 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church took place in Columbus, Ohio from June 12 - 21, 2006. Of lasting and striking importance was the election of both a new Presiding bishop: The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori; a new President of the House of Deputies: Ms. Bonnie Anderson; the establishment of achieving the Millennium Development Goals as a mission priority along with the endorsement of the ONE Episcopalian Campaign; work on Church Reparations for Slavery; a host of resolutions on justice, liturgical and ministry issues; and six resolutions addressing the Anglican Communion and our Church’s relationships and commitments to it and in it. These last were watched closely by people throughout the Anglican Communion as our Church made every effort to respond clearly, solidly, and fully to recommendations of the Windsor Report, published in October of 2004. Our Church not only “expressed regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003,” but it also offered “its sincerest apology to those within the Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion” and asked forgiveness. We reaffirmed in the clearest and strongest possible terms our commitment to interdependence in the Anglican Communion and our “desire to live into the highest degree of communion possible.” And we further pledged our commitment to the Listening Process and the Anglican Covenant Development Process - both of which were recommended in the Windsor Report. On the last day of General Convention, we passed Resolution B033, which “Calls upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” You have probably heard much about this last, and doubtless you will hear more before this Convention is over. So I want to use this time to urge all of our participation in the Listening and Covenanting Processes, which, unfortunately, have gotten far less publicity.

First, I have a confession to make. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Primates, the Anglican leaders of the 38 Provinces worldwide. Whenever they meet, we usually read about it in the newspapers and online and we read their communiques and other people’s commentaries on their communiques and we may even, have responses to their communiques. And I was thinking. There are approximately 77 million Anglicans in the world who comprise the Anglican Communion. And there are 38 Primates. I’m not a numbers person so I did have to use a calculator, but I divided 38 by 77 million to discover what percentage of the Anglican Communion the Primates are by number and I got this: the Primates are four one-hundred-thousandths of a percent of the Anglican Communion! Now I say this with all due respect - and I’m not stupid: I realize that the Primates are chosen leaders of their Provinces. But the Episcopal Church is not exclusively a hierarchical Church. We are also a Church which values and honors the voices of lay people, deacons, and priests as well as bishops. We are a both-and Church, not an either-or Church. And every single one of us here is invited to participate in the Listening and Covenanting Processes of the Anglican Communion!

Read it all.

Bishop T.D. Jakes: Living Large, and Letting Go

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 11:07 pm

He’s about to turn 50, and to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary. It’s time to take stock.

Is he happy? Satisfied?

Why wouldn’t he be? This is the fabulous Bishop T.D. Jakes. Neo-Pentecostal preacher of the famous mega-church Potter’s House in Dallas. He is a best-selling author, TV personality and head of TDJ Enterprises, which produces books, music and films. His church now has more than 30,000 members and when he last preached in Atlanta he drew more people than Billy Graham ever has. He lives in a mansion, drives a fancy car and wears sharp clothes. He is very, very big, literally and figuratively.

Still, he pauses a long time. “I am becoming satisfied,” he says finally. “I feel like I have little to prove and none to impress. I’m starting to settle in like a bear in a cave in winter. I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin than I used to be. I’m finding my own sweet spot and I’m enjoying these years.”

This is what he recommends — for you and for me, for all of us. This is at the heart of his latest book, “Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits.”

“Most people I encounter, they’re not happy,” he says in a recent interview in the restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel. “And we’re acting like it doesn’t matter. Either they’re in debt or their relationships are not going well.” The reason, he says, is that “we get stuck, we get trapped, either we have economic demands, or we need to fit in, or we have too many expectations for ourselves. We’re enslaved, we’re imprisoned by decisions made 20 years ago.”

And we get defined by people when they first meet us. “Oh, T.D. Jakes, preacher. But they put a period there where they should put a comma. I’m a lot of other things, too. . . . I want to do something else with the second half of my life.”

This is the perspective that comes with age. “Life itself is our most precious resource . . . and time. . . . We’re not where we were in our 20s. We’re losing our parents, our children are in their adolescence, and no matter how successfully busy we are, we are overwhelmed. It’s not about how to get money. Success is about being fulfilled.”

He says he is a work in progress, that he’s willing to ask himself questions he wouldn’t have asked 10 or 20 years ago. “Repositioning yourself gives you nimbleness of mind to evolve,” Jakes says. “We keep trying to fit ourselves into this box. Nobody fits in it. We try to color within the lines but creative people want a blank piece of paper. Every relationship — work, marital, political — becomes crystallized. You have to find fresh inspiration. You have to find it in living and enjoying.”

Read it all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BREAKING: Statement from the Diocese of Fort Worth Standing Committee Regarding APO

FORT WORTH, Texas - The Executive Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has adopted a statement of the diocesan Standing Committee calling for the diocese to move forward with its appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO).

The Bishop and Standing Committee of the diocese first appealed for APO at the General Convention in June 2006. That appeal was endorsed by the diocesan Executive Council in September 2006 and by the Diocesan Convention in November 2006. The Bishop and diocese remain firmly convinced of the need for alternative oversight; therefore, the Standing Committee, meeting Monday, May 14, adopted the following statement as an assessment of the current situation and a proposal to actively pursue all viable options. It was adopted by the Executive Council in its regular bymonthly meeting. The mood of the council was both thoughtful and sad, yet it was considered prudent to "explore the possibilities and count the costs." According to the Constitution of the diocese, the Executive Council "exercises the powers of the Convention between meetings thereof."

The text of the statement is as follows:

Where are we with the appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight?

When the Diocese of Fort Worth first appealed for APO at the General Convention in June 2006, it was hoped that a special pastoral relationship could be established with an orthodox primate, in the interest of preserving unity and fostering mission, in the face of an impaired relationship with the newly elected Presiding Bishop. The original appeal was made in good faith and was directed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primates of the Communion and the Panel of Reference. (Subsequently, it was decided not to approach the Panel of Reference about this in light of other pressing cases already before it.)

As seven other dioceses made similar appeals during the course of the summer, it was agreed to combine them into one appeal, asking the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a commissary who would act on his behalf, providing a special primatial relationship with the appellant dioceses. He arranged a summit in New York in September with interested parties to discuss the matter in an attempt to come up with "an American solution to an American problem." This meeting failed to reach an agreement, with the PB-elect claiming that she has no primatial oversight of TEC dioceses and cannot therefore give to another what she does not have. Subsequently, representatives from the appellant dioceses met in November with the steering committee of the Global South primates to present their requests for APO. This meeting ended with the assurance that they would respond with
a plan to address the expressed needs of the appellant dioceses.

On November 18, 2006, the Fort Worth Diocesan Convention voted overwhelmingly in support of the APO request that the Bishop and Standing Committee had made in June. A second New York meeting was held later that month, but none of the appellant bishops attended because no proposal had been made for discussion. This meeting ended with the Presiding Bishop offering a plan for a Primatial Vicar, to be appointed by her and be accountable to her. The appellant bishops rejected the proposal as unacceptable.

The APO requests were presented to the primates meeting in Dar es Salaam in February 2007. At the conclusion of the meeting, a Communiqué was issued that proposed the establishment of a Pastoral Council, which would oversee the ministry of a Primatial Vicar, to be selected by the Windsor Bishops coalition and be accountable to the Council. This plan was rejected by the House of Bishops at their March meeting at Camp Allen even though their approval was not sought. Nothing further has been heard about this from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Every attempt to find "an American solution to an American problem" has failed. Following the two meetings in New York and the House of Bishops’ rejection of the primates’ proposed Pastoral Council at their March meeting, it now seems clear that there is no desire on the part of the present TEC leadership to provide an acceptable form of Alternative Primatial Oversight within The Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop of this church has refused to accept the key recommendations of the Windsor Report, has failed to seek implementation of the essential requests of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué, and has denied basic tenets of the teaching of the New Testament. By her statements and actions, the course she wishes to pursue is clear: to lead TEC to walk apart from the Anglican Communion. This is a course we cannot follow. For all these reasons and others, we do not wish to be affiliated with her, nor with anyone she may appoint or designate to act on her behalf.

So where does this leave the Diocese of Fort Worth’s appeal for APO?

While we remain open to the possibility of negotiation and some form of acceptable settlement with TEC, it appears that our only option is to seek APO elsewhere. This may entail a cooperative effort with other appellant dioceses in consultation with primates of the Anglican Communion, to form a new Anglican Province of the Communion in North America. A second possibility would be for the diocese to transfer to another existing Province of the Anglican Communion. Athird possibility would be to seek the status of an extra-provincial diocese, under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as presently recognized in several other cases.

We believe that we must now explore these possibilities.

The Bishop and the Standing Committee of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

May 14, 2007

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth consists of 55 congregations serving 24 north central Texas counties. The major cities in the diocese include Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Wichita Falls, Grand Prairie, Richland Hills, Brownwood, and Stephenville. The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker has served as the third Diocesan Bishop of Fort Worth since 1995. The diocese enjoys companion relationships with the Dioceses of Northern Malawi and Northern Mexico.

Hat tip and thanks to Stand Firm for their fantastic job of staying online even on the busiest Anglican news days.

The original document on the Fort Worth website is here:

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Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Fulcrum Conference Address on Being Disciples
May 16th, 2007
posted by kendall at 2:23 pm

Discipleship is, as your title indicates, a state of being. Discipleship is about how we live; not just the decisions we make, not just the courses we attend, but a state of being. It’s very telling that at the very beginning of St John’s Gospel, a text to which unsurprisingly I’ll be coming back later (St John 1.38-39), when the two disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus they say, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’, Jesus says, ‘Come and see’, and they remained with him that day. The Gospel teaches us that the bottom line in thinking about discipleship has something to do with staying.

No accident then that later in the same gospel the language of abiding is what is used to speak about the relation of the disciple to Jesus. In other words, what makes you a disciple is not turning up from time to time. Discipleship may be being a student in the strict Greek sense of the word, but it doesn’t mean turning up once a week for a course, or even a sermon. Discipleship is not an intermittent state; it’s a relationship that continues. In the ancient world being a student was rather more like that than it is these days. If you said to a modern student or prospective student that the essence of being a student was to hang on your teacher’s every word, to follow his or her steps, to sleep outside their door in case you missed any pearls of wisdom falling from their lips, to watch how they conducted themselves at the table, how they conducted themselves in the street, you might not get a very warm response.

But in the ancient world, it was a rather more like that. To be the student of a teacher was to commit yourself to living in the same atmosphere and breathing the same air; there was nothing intermittent about it. Discipleship in that sense is a state of being in which you’re looking and listening without interruption. It’s much more like, for instance, the state of the novice monks as they appear to us in the sayings of the Desert Fathers, who are just hanging around hoping that they’ll get the point, who occasionally say desperately to the older monks, ‘Give us a word, Father’, and the older monk says something really profound like, ‘Weep for your sins’ followed by about six weeks of silence. Or indeed the relationship between (even today) the Buddhist novice and the master in a Zen house, where something similar applies. You’re hanging around; you’re watching; you’re absorbing a way of being, and you yourself are in a state of being. You learn by sharing life; you learn by looking and listening. So “‘Rabbi where are you staying?’ … ‘Come and see.’ … They saw where he was staying and remained with him that day.” is quite a good beginning to think about discipleship. And, as I hinted, I don’t think it’s any accident that John puts it right at the beginning of his Gospel. If we’re going to understand what he has to say to us about discipleship, we have to understand about abiding and sharing, and this non-intermittent side of being a disciple.

I shall have a little more to say about in a while about that sharing a place, an atmosphere, a state of being. But let us just stay with what it involves for a moment and think about it in terms of discipleship as a state of awareness.

Read it all.

David R. Anderson: The Acts 15 Example

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:31 pm

But read Acts 15. That’s not what happened. Peter and James, the acknowledged leaders of the Jewish camp, both listened as Paul and his assistant Barnabas “told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the gentiles.” After a long silence, Peter stood up and said, Why would we ask these poor gentiles to keep the law when we Jews have been at it for all these years and haven’t exactly made great progress? “On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” James said Amen, and the whole church united to send even more reinforcements with Paul and Barnabas into the great gentile mission field. (And today, you and I are Christians a world away from Jerusalem because of their spiritual wisdom and courage.)

The dispute among Anglicans worldwide is wrenching. I know how difficult it would be for Anglicans in other parts of the globe to preach and live a gospel of inclusion for gays and lesbians. I do not live in that culture, and I can only reverence their struggle.

But we live in a time of seismic, buckling change. Within miles of each other, and sometimes in the same city or village, people live in three different worlds: pre-modern, modern and post-modern. The notion
that the gospel would be believed and presented in the same way in all three worlds— that we must all hew to the line coming from central headquarters— is not only wifty thinking, it’s bad missions policy.

But there are those in the Anglican Communion who believe it’s time to toe the line or get gone. They know that, by itself, the homosexuality issue is a slender reed to lean on (the biblical references are too few — none from Jesus — and too debatable), so the line in the sand is called the “authority of the Bible.” That was also the argument of the “circumcision party.” As observant Jews they were devoted to Torah, and their charges against Paul came with
chapter and verse. This is what we must not miss: The biblical stakes could not have been higher. And yet Peter and James chose to follow God beyond scripture, realizing that God was writing, in their very courageous act, a new revelation.

The beauty of the Jerusalem Summit is that no one had to be wrong so others could be right. Allowing Paul to preach in gentile territory a gospel that would have been frankly offensive in Jewish lands did not mean that everyone had to live that gospel (you can be sure the “circumcision party” did not!). It was simply an inspired recognition that the gospel was bigger than any one articulation of it.

That inspiration is what the Anglican Communion needs. I sorely wish we had a certain archbishop who would call a Canterbury Summit. ❏

Read it all.

Missouri Episcopal Church statues destroyed in overnight vandal attack

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:55 pm

St. John’s Episcopal church was vandalized Monday night. Music director Melva King said she arrived at work today to find a large wooden cross upside down against the church?s front doors. In the church?s garden, two religious statues were found beheaded.

“They cut off the heads, the thumbs, even the heads of the birds,” Father Jerry Miller said. “It’s some really weird stuff.”

Renee Vestal, administrative assistant for St. John’s, pointed out that the vandals had ignored everything else in the garden except for the religious icons.

“As soon as I saw what was done,” Vestal said, “I knew it was not a prank and was planned.”

Read it all.

Virginia Seminary Names new Dean and President

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:48 pm

Alexandria, VA – The Board of Trustees of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia (VTS) announced today that Dr. Ian Markham, dean of Hartford Seminary and professor of Theology and Ethics, has accepted the invitation to become the fourteenth Dean and President of Virginia Seminary. Dr. Markham will succeed the Very Reverend Martha J. Horne, who is retiring after serving with distinction as Dean and President of the Seminary over the past thirteen years.

“The Board of Trustees and the Seminary community are enthusiastic about the appointment of Dr. Markham, and eagerly anticipate his arrival on campus in August 2007,” said David Charlton, chair of the Seminary’s Nominating Committee. “He was elected by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees after a thorough search and consideration of a large number of candidates by the Nominating Committee.”

Dr Markham and his wife Lesley spent three days in late April visiting the Seminary campus. During the visit, Dr. Markham met with trustees, faculty, students, staff, alumni, and clergy from the Washington, DC area. Said Charlton, “The Nominating Committee received an enthusiastic response from the community as a result of that visit. After three weeks of considering responses from the Seminary family on campus and throughout the country, the Committee unanimously nominated Dr. Markham to the Board of Trustees for election as the new Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary.”

Dr. Markham has been Dean of Hartford Seminary and Professor of Theology and Ethics since August of 2001. He also served as Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Hartford Seminary from 2001 to 2005, and directed the seminary’s accreditation self-study process from 2002 to 2003. Prior to serving as Dean of Hartford Seminary he was Foundation Dean and Liverpool Professor of Theology and Public Life at Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, England, from 1998 to 2001, where he served as a member of the senior management team and strategic planning committee; Liverpool Professor of Theology and Public Life at Liverpool Hope University from 1996 to December 1998; and Lecturer and sub Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Exeter in England from 1989 to August of 1996.

As a theologian and an ethicist, Dr. Markham has taught courses at the graduate level in Christian theology and religious diversity, constructive theology, historical theology, worship, and spirituality. He is the author of numerous publications, including Do Morals Matter: A Guide to Contemporary Religious Ethics (Blackwell, 2007), A Theology of Engagement (Blackwell, 2003), Truth and the Reality of God (T & T Clark, 1998), and Plurality and Christian Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 1994). He has edited and contributed to many collections of essays, such as Globalization, Ethics and Islam (Ashgate, 2005) and September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences (Oneworld, 2002). He is a candidate for holy orders in the Diocese of Connecticut and will be ordained to the diaconate on June 9, 2007.

Dr. Markham holds a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from the University of Exeter, an M. Litt. in Philosophy and Ethics from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Divinity in Theology from the University of London. He and his wife Lesley have one son, Luke. A more complete summary of Dr. Markham’s background, experiences and numerous publications can be found on the Virginia Seminary website at

Dr. Markham will assume his duties as dean and president of Virginia Seminary in August of 2007. “It will be an honor and privilege to serve as Dean of Virginia Seminary, which has served the Gospel and the Church with distinction for so many years,” said Dr. Markham upon being informed of his selection.

“The success of our search for a new Dean and President is due to the dedication and contributions of members of the Nominating Committee, and many individuals within and beyond the Seminary community,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia and chairman of the board of trustees at VTS. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Nominating Committee, we thank you for your prayers during this period of discernment and for your continued support of our beloved Seminary’s ministry to the church and its witness to the world.”

Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1823. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. The Seminary currently represents more than 40 different dioceses and 9 different countries.

Ivy League Crunch Brings New Cachet to Next Tier

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 10:43 am

Lehigh University has never been as sought after as Stanford, Yale or Harvard. But this year, awash in applications, it churned out rejection letters and may break more hearts when it comes to its waiting list.

Call them second-tier colleges (a phrase some administrators despise) or call them the new Ivies (this, they can live with). Twenty-five to 40 universities like Lehigh, traditionally perceived as being a notch below the most elite, have seen their cachet climb because of the astonishing competitive crush at the top.

“It’s harder to get into Bowdoin now than it was to get into Princeton when I worked there,” said William M. Shain, dean of admissions and financial aid at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., who worked at Princeton in the 1970s, which is one of those benefiting from the spillover as the country’s most prestigious colleges turn away nearly 9 out of 10 applicants.

At Lehigh, known for its strength in engineering and business, about 12,000 students applied this year. That is a whopping 50 percent increase in applications over seven years ago and more than 10 times the seats available in a freshman class of 1,150. The median SAT score of admitted students has climbed about 10 points a year in recent years, officials said.

Students have generally been quicker to adapt to the new realities than parents have been, many guidance counselors said.

Read it all.

When It Comes to Church Membership Numbers, the Devil’s in the Details

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 9:14 am

The Southern Baptist Convention, with some 16.2 million members on the books, claims to be the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. But the Rev. Thomas Ascol believes the active membership is really a fraction of that.

Ascol, pastor of the 230-member Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., points to a church report showing that only 6 million Southern Baptists attend church on an average Sunday.

“The reality is, the FBI couldn’t find half of those (members) if they had to,” said Ascol, who asserts his own congregation attendance swells to at least 350 every Sunday.

Next month, Ascol plans to bring a resolution to the denomination’s annual meeting in San Antonio, calling for “integrity in the way we regard our membership rolls in our churches and also in the way we report statistics.”

For religious organizations, membership figures are a lot like a position on the annual list of best colleges. A rise is trumpeted as a sign of vitality, strength and clout. And a drop probably means somebody somewhere checked the wrong box on some unimportant survey.

Vast differences in theology and accounting practices make it nearly impossible to really know how many members a church body has, whether active or occasional worshippers. That, in turn, makes side-by-side comparisons nearly impossible.

“Church membership is not as straightforward as it seems,” said the Rev. Eileen Lindner, associate general secretary of the National Council of Churches. “It’s not like, who’s a member of Costco?”

Read it all.

Dinesh D’Souza: A Tribute to Charles Taylor

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:26 am

Taylor’s magnum opus is Sources of the Self, a magisterial account first published in 1989 of the origins of the modern identity. This book is an education in itself, and I suggest reading it twice, once to grasp the powerful and sweeping scope of the argument, and then a second time, to digest the rich morsels. Here you will see how traditional Christian morality was supplanted in the West by the morality of the inner self, so that we now have two rival moralities contesting the public sphere, with Christian morality on the defensive and what Taylor calls the morality of authenticity in the ascendancy.

Taylor’s book The Ethics of Authenticity is a wonderful short account of why our young people today attach such a high value to such things as “sincerity” and “self-fulfillment.” Somehow Polonius’ advice to Laertes—”To thine own self be true”—has become a kind of contemporary gospel. Taylor describes it this way: “There is a certain way of being human that is my way. I am called upon to live my life in this way and not in imitation of anyone else’s. This gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life, I miss what being human is for me.” Taylor traces the intellectual lineage of this way of thinking, and shows why some of the most enthusiastic backers of modernity fail to appreciate the deeper moral sources that modernity draws and indeed depends on.

I first encountered Taylor in the mid-1990s through his book Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition. Accustomed as I was to having my own critique of political correctness challenged by academics educated beyond their intelligence, I was astounded to find in Taylor a much more profound account of the rise of identity politics than anything I had encountered. Basically Taylor makes the case for the universal application of fundamental liberal principles while at the same time making room for recognizing group identity and group claims where only secondary liberal values are concerned.

Read it all.

Bishop Dorsey Henderson: A Pastoral Letter to the Church in Upper South Carolina

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:22 am

Secondly, we must remember that, while we respect their position and their convictions, the Primates are only one of four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion. The other three are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Lambeth Conference, which includes all bishops of the Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council is probably my favorite because it is the only one of the four which includes in its membership representatives other than bishops and archbishops. Its makeup is more consistent with the American model of ministry and leadership in the Church in that it includes lay people as well as bishops, priests and deacons. All four instruments have their role, but none is primary, none is supreme. Accordingly, while the Primates may request that The Episcopal Church respond in a particular way and in accordance with a deadline, they do not have the authority to mandate either response or deadline. At Camp Allen, the Archbishop of Mexico was asked how he had experienced the Primates’ Meeting at Dar es Salaam. He responded that it was great—that although he arrived in Dar es Salaam as an archbishop, he departed as a “cardinal”! His point was clear. The Primates had assumed unto themselves authority which they have not heretofore possessed. I believe the Primates have, on the whole, good intentions. However, it is clear to me that they do not fully understand our heritage, the difference between their extensive authority and the limited constitutional authority of our Presiding Bishop, or our polity. Third, the Presiding Bishop—after the House had taken final action on the three resolutions—was asked this important question: “Do you feel that you still have the authority to appoint a Primatial Vicar (for those dioceses which have requested one)?” She answered, “Yes. There is nothing final in these resolutions”—or words to that effect. Indeed, the Presiding Bishop responded to those dioceses last December. Working with some of their bishops, and with several others of us, she offered a model that honored their requests and is consistent with our Constitution and Canons. She is still prepared to do so. I support her in that determination. Finally, as the Archbishop of Armagh, chair of the Lambeth Commission, wrote in The Windsor Report, “This Report is not a judgment. It is part of a process.” The process—very much like a conversation—continues. Actions by the Church in Canada and the United States provoked much of our present conversation. The Archbishop of Canterbury joined the conversation. Then the Primates, and then the Anglican Consultative Council, added their voices. The conversation continued with the resolutions of the General Convention last summer, adopted in response to Windsor. Then the Primates spoke again. Now the House of Bishops has continued the discussion. The conversation will continue. We in Upper South Carolina, striving to be faithful within both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, having our voice, will be part of it. With God’s grace, and our continued commitment to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers”, we will together come out in the place God wants us. Beloved, this period in the life of the Church makes us anxious. You are anxious. I, blessed to be your bishop, am anxious. And your clergy are anxious, probably to a person. If you are not already praying for each other, for your clergy and bishop, about this anxiety and its inevitable distraction from ministry, I urge you to do so. In that same regard, I am attempting to have the same insight into the contents of this letter that I would have were I still the rector of a parish, or a vicar, or a communicant in the pew. Would it increase, lower, or have no effect on my anxiety? I think I would hear—as I hope you hear—my commitment as your bishop to give everything I have and know how to give, to maintain our faithfulness to God in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion. Anglicanism is not only dear to me, but I believe it to be the clearest manifestation of authentic Christianity yet achieved. The Episcopal Church is dear to me—and I believe its development in the setting of the New World to be the clearest manifestation of authentic Anglicanism yet achieved. Neither is perfect. The Kingdom of God is not yet fully realized on earth. God is not finished with us yet! But that’s why we have the Holy Spirit, sent to lead us into all truth and to strengthen us as the Body of Christ for Christian living.

Read it all.

Controversy Emerges at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:18 am

One of England’s most respected theological colleges is facing claims that staff feel bullied and intimidated as the institution becomes increasingly conservative.
The discontent at Wycliffe Hall, an evangelical Anglican college which is part of Oxford University, has seen several resignations among its small academic staff and claims that one of its most prominent members, the regular Thought for the Day contributor Elaine Storkey, was threatened with disciplinary action.

The college has been accused of becoming more theologically conservative, more hostile to women’s ordination and more homophobic since the appointment of its principal, Richard Turnbull, a vicar from Basingstoke and a former accountant without senior academic managerial experience, two years ago.

Last night, the governing council announced it had launched an internal review and pledged support for Dr Turnbull. The dispute at Wycliffe, which is a permanent private hall that has been able to matriculate its own theology students as members of the university since 1996, could not have come at a more awkward time. Oxford is conducting an internal review into such halls, most of which are religious foundations, amid concerns about their academic standards, facilities and intellectual openness.

A document circulating among staff claims: “The college is in chaos following a barrage of resignations, forcing a crisis meeting of the governing body to limit the damage to the college’s reputation… From September 2007, Wycliffe Hall will have lost all its best loved and most respected staff members. Turnbull will replace them all with conservative evangelicals. More than half the teaching staff have resigned this year. Most will not be replaced in time for the opening of the next academic year…the college will not be capable of teaching its regular curriculum.”

The document alleges that when Dr Storkey raised concerns about increasing tensions inside the college at a closed meeting, she was sent a letter by the principal by courier to her home demanding her appearance before a disciplinary tribunal. Dr Storkey, who is on sabbatical, refused to comment, saying only: “There is some substance to that.”

Read it all.

Lawyers Argue Legal Status of Same Sex Unions

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:13 am

The judges repeatedly asked Mr. Klein and Ms. Rosenberg whether they believed gays and lesbians had a history of long-term discrimination and political powerlessness, two elements in establishing a suspect class.

Ms. Rosenberg acknowledged that homosexuals have long been treated as inferior but said it would be difficult to say they are politically powerless in Connecticut, pointing to the civil union law passed by the General Assembly in 2004 without pressure from the courts as evidence.

She added that it was possible that the legislature would approve same-sex marriage within the next several years. (The Joint Judiciary Committee passed a same-sex marriage bill last month, 27 to 15, but legislative leaders announced Friday that they did not have enough votes in the House to pass it, so it will not come to the floor for a vote this year.)

Justice Richard N. Palmer, who was appointed by Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., an independent, noted that African-Americans had made advances over the last several decades but were still considered politically powerless when many discrimination cases made their way through court. Then he turned to Ms. Rosenberg and asked: “Is that your argument: Give them more time and they’ll do better?”

“Yes,” Ms. Rosenberg replied.

Noting the stall in the legislature on the same issue, Justice Flemming L. Norcott Jr., also appointed by Governor Weicker, said, “If they were doing better, they would have passed that bill across the street,” prompting a wave of laughter through the packed courtroom, which is across the street from the State Capitol.

If the court found that gays and lesbians were a suspect class, the state would be required to prove that it had rational basis for making a distinction between homosexual and heterosexual couples.

In many ways, the arguments were complicated by the fact that civil unions officially bestow the same legal protections as marriage, and one judge referred to marriage itself as an “intangible” benefit. “We’re talking about a word here,” Ms. Rosenberg said. “All those benefits, at least under state law, have been granted.”

But Mr. Klein retorted that “marriage is not just a bunch of legal rights.”

“It is a status that the state confers on people,” he said. “A status that has profound personal meaning to individuals.”

Read it all.

Michael Gerson: Missionaries in Northern Virginia

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:11 am

But the religion of the global south has a great virtue: It is undeniably alive. And it needs to be. A mother holding a child weak with AIDS or hot with malaria, or a family struggling to survive in an endless urban slum, does not need religious platitudes. Both need God’s ever-present help in time of trouble — which is exactly what biblical Christianity claims to offer.

Some American religious conservatives have embraced ties with this emerging Christianity, including the church I attend. But there are adjustments in becoming a junior partner. The ideological package of the global south includes not only moral conservatism but also an emphasis on social justice, an openness to state intervention in markets, and a suspicion of American economic and military power. The emerging Christian majority is not the Moral Majority.

But the largest adjustments are coming on the religious left. For decades it has preached multiculturalism, but now, on further acquaintance, it doesn’t seem to like other cultures very much. Episcopal leaders complain of the threat of “foreign prelates,” echoing anti-Catholic rhetoric of the 19th century. An activist at one Episcopal meeting urged the African bishops to “go back to the jungle where you came from.” Not since Victorians hunted tigers on elephants has the condescension been this raw.

History is filled with uncomfortable turnabouts, and we are witnessing one of them. Serious missionary work began in Nigeria in 1842, conducted by a Church Mission Society dedicated to promoting “the knowledge of the Gospel among the heathen.” In 2007, the Nigerian outreach to America officially began, on the fertile mission fields of Northern Virginia. And the natives here are restless.

Read it all.

For New Yorkers, Jerry Falwell evoked strong feelings

May 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:08 am

Falwell became an instant national figure in the 1970s, when he created the Moral Majority, a new conservative evangelical, political movement. But as the years went by, he would periodically say outrageous things that became part of his profile: that Desmond Tutu was a “phony”; that abortion-rights activisists, feminists and gays “helped” 9/11 happen; and that a Teletubbies character was a subversive gay icon.

“He did not bear good witness to Christ, but was sort of a caricature,” said R. Clinton Taplin, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Spring Valley and a lay Episcopal reader. “In my view, he didn’t do anything to make the faith relevant to anybody. He tried to make evangelicals modern and modernists irrelevant, and I don’t think he succeeded.”

Falwell’s trumpeting of moral issues, in particular his opposition to abortion, struck home with many Catholics, even if his theology seemed quite foreign.

“His influence was limited in this part of the country, but he certainly turned up the volume for the pro-life, pro-traditional values, silent minority,” said Monsignor William Smith, professor of moral theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. “Whether or not you cared for all aspects of the style, I would not find many faults with what he advocated.”

Eileen Peterson of Stony Point, a Roman Catholic who works with several anti-abortion ministries in Rockland County, said the Catholic-evangelical divide meant little.

“I believe that man is in the arms of a loving savior, and I believe he is being welcomed by all the babies he tried to save,” she said.

Many liberal and moderate Christians, even if they respected Falwell’s right to speak out, regretted that he became the voice of Protestant America to many.

“We need more voices in the public arena, not less, but with a humility that, on this or that issue, we could be wrong,” said Bishop Stephen Bouman of New City, the New York leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “The idea of a ‘moral majority’ I found too filled with a kind of pride that is misplaced.

“He was a seminal figure, in that before him and others, the evangelical voice was not part of the scene. But I believe that that voice should speak not only to private morality issues, but about biblical values that liberal Christians and moral majority Christians ought to agree on.”

Read it all.

Susan Jane Taylor RIP

May 15th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:56 pm

Read it all.

Religious Persecution?

May 15th, 2007 posted by kendall at 8:25 pm

It may not be what you think.

A BBC Northern Ireland Sunday Sequence Segment on the Martyn Minns Installation

May 15th, 2007 posted by kendall at 4:39 pm

William Crawley interviews Stephen Bates of the Guardian on the matter, listen to it all.