Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Liberal Anglicans verge on heresy"

It took me awhile to quit laughing at this pathetic title of a piece in the London (Ontario) Free Press by Canadian journalist Rory Leishman. "Liberal Anglicans verge on heresy."   Verge?????

The problem is that the Canadians have never really mastered the British art of understatement. When they try it they just look wimpy.

But after I stopped laughing, I read the rest of the piece, and Leishman's last two paragraphs were worth the effort:
Over the centuries, heretical sects have broken with the injunctions of Scripture. These sects have disappeared. Like a number of other liberal denominations, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the United States are now poised also to lapse into heresy and wither away.

Regardless, Christians can be certain about the ultimate survival of the holy, catholic and apostolic church. In the words of a classic hymn: "Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, but the church of Jesus constant will remain. Gates of hell can never 'gainst that church prevail; we have Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail."

Read it all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Colorado Episcopal Church Battles Diocese

DENVER (AP) - Colorado's largest Episcopal congregation was left in turmoil Tuesday after leaders voted to leave the denomination and the bishop responded by dismissing the parish's leadership.

The controversy at Colorado Springs' Grace Episcopal Church and St. Stephen's Parish is the latest in a tense dispute among Episcopalians and their fellow Anglicans worldwide over how they should interpret what the Bible says about sexuality and other issues.
[Read it all.]
The leaders of Grace and St. Stephen's voted to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria led by Archbishop Peter J. Akinola.

Armstrong has led the 2,500-member congregation for 19 years. The diocese said in a statement Jan. 3 that he had been placed on 90-day leave the previous week, following a nine-month review of the church's finances. It did not release details of the allegations against him.

Parish leaders cited the handling of Armstrong's suspension, along with the denomination's rejection of the "historic faith," as reasons for the vote.

Senior warden Jon Wroblewski said the parish had fought for a return to orthodoxy within the denomination but has lost hope in reform.

"It's clear that The Episcopal Church no longer believes in the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. It's also clear that purported Episcopal values of 'inclusion' do not apply to orthodox believers," Wroblewski said in the statement.

Several Virginia Episcopal churches voted late last year to align with Akinola, including prominent congregations in Fairfax and Falls Church. Clergy in the breakaway churches were warned by Episcopal leaders that they could be removed from the ministry.

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, a fellowship of churches that traces its roots to the Church of England.

Anglicans have been debating for decades how they should interpret Scripture on salvation, truth and sexuality. Those divisions reached the breaking point in 2003 when Episcopalians consecrated the church's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Read it all.


On the Net:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Episcopal Bishops Reject Ultimatum

From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) - Episcopal bishops meeting privately in Texas have rejected demands from the world's Anglicans that they provide an alternate leader for conservatives who oppose ordaining gays - a move that brings the church to the brink of expulsion from the Anglican Communion.

In the strongest and most direct language yet defending their support for gay relationships, the bishops said that accepting a second leader for traditionalists would violate Episcopal church law and the founding principles of the church.

"We cannot accept what would be injurious to the church and could well lead to its permanent division," the bishops said in the resolution.

Last month, Anglican leaders emerged from a meeting in Tanzania with an ultimatum for the U.S. denomination. They gave Episcopalians until Sept. 30 to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize official prayers for same-sex couples. Otherwise, they said, the church risked a much-reduced role in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Islam Could Become Europe's Dominant Religion, Experts Say

By Kevin McCandless Correspondent
March 02, 2007

London ( - As the Anglican Communion continues to fight over homosexuality and as church attendance plummets, experts say that Islam is well on its way to becoming the most dominant religion in Europe.

Meeting in London this week in their General Synod, the leaders of the Church of England continued to feverishly debate the role of gay and lesbian priests, an issue that increasingly threatens to cause a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

This follows another meeting in Tanzania last week in which Anglican bishops issued an official warning over the matter to the Episcopal Church, the American wing of the Communion. Under threat of being relegated to a lesser role in the Communion, the Episcopal Church must promise by the end of September not to consecrate another homosexual bishop or introduce prayers for gay couples.

Currently, research studies show that church attendance in Britain is dropping precipitously, as well as across the whole of Western Europe.

According to Christian Research, a British think tank, only 6.3 percent of the British population in 2005 attended Christian services on a weekly basis.

The group also projects that around 4,000 churches will close over the next 15 years, being sold off or rehabilitated for other uses.

Reflecting a trend around Europe, British churches in the past decade have been transformed into restaurants, cafes, art galleries, mosques, and in one notable instance, a training school for circus acrobats in Bristol.

But while church attendance on the continent reportedly shows a similar decline, the level of Muslim religious participation and the Muslim population itself has exploded.

In recent years, experts say that young European Muslims are returning to the faith which their parents observed only sporadically, becoming much more devout.

Though Muslims only comprise around 3 percent of the British population, Christian Research says that in 35 years there will be twice as many Muslims in mosques on Friday as there are Christians in churches on Sunday.

In a 2004 ICM poll of 500 British Muslims, 51 percent said that they prayed every day.

In November, a study by the Spanish magazine Alba said that more mosques and prayer centers have been built in France than churches over the last century, with over 4,000 mosques currently serving the largest Muslim population in Europe.

Europe has seen a wave of Muslim immigration during the last century, in large part from the countries of North Africa, and some experts predict that they will become the dominant population by the end of this century.

In January, the Islam-Archive Central Institute, a government-sponsored think tank, projected that Muslims will be the majority population of Germany by 2046, based on their higher fertility rates.

Brent Nelson, an expert on European Islam at Furman University in South Carolina, told Cybercast News Service Thursday it was hard to guess what a Europe with a large Muslim minority would look like.

However, he said that unless Christians and Muslims as a whole learn to compromise and live together, there was a danger of a clash between the two cultures.

From introducing daily prayers into the workplace to building mosques and minarets in cities, there would be endless grounds for conflict in the future, he said.

"The danger is that Europe will not come to terms with what it means to absorb a large Muslim population," he said. "And in turn that Muslims won't come to terms with what it means to live in the West, the need to compromise with Western values. If that doesn't occur, you'll have a culture war which will dwarf anything we've seen in the United States."

David Masci, a senior research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said Thursday it was difficult for many Muslim immigrants to accept the secular nature of countries like Holland.

"Look," he said. "Holland is a society which is very, very liberal in terms of attitudes towards gender and towards sexuality. These people are clearly pushing against that."

However, he added that the Pentecostal and Evangelical strains of Christianity were showing a revival in Europe, spurred on by an influx of immigrants from Africa and Asia.

Though he didn't believe that Muslims would become the majority in Europe, he said he did see Muslims and Evangelical Christians eventually working together to achieve common goals, in areas such as curbing abortion laws and same-sex marriages.

Sara Silvestri, an expert on European Islam at Chatham House, a London-based think tank, that many Muslims also had a tendency to exaggerate their religious beliefs when asked.

In times of crisis, she told Cybercast News Service , events over the last five years and the media spotlight on Islamic issues pushed previously nominal Muslims to be more active in their faith.

"I know Muslims who don't wear a veil, who don't grow a beard, but who still identify themselves as a Muslim in the social sphere," she said.

On Wednesday, Nicole Bourque, a professor of religious studies at Glasgow University, said that she thought increasing numbers of Christians would convert to Islam in the coming years.

She said that she knew of around 200 converts in Glasgow alone, mostly lapsed Christians who had grown up without a strong religious background.

While many were women who had married Muslim men, she said many had been attracted to learn more about Islam by its increased profile since 2001.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oh, and by the way...

One other thing the Primates asked of The Episcopal Church in their recent Communique from the Tanzania meeting was:

On property disputes
The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.

When I first read the Primates Communique, I would have bet some serious money that nothing in this Communique would stop the Episcopal Church's attorneys, who seem hell-bent on suing as many departing congregations and, in general, inflicting as much pain on orthodox Anglicans as they possibly can.

Well, I was right...
Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have told two attorneys representing some of the 11 Diocese of Virginia congregations involved in a legal dispute over possession of church property that "there is no basis at this time" to put that litigation on hold.

Washington, D.C. attorneys Mary A. McReynolds and Steffen N. Johnson asked by letter on February 22 that the litigation be put on hold after the communiqué issued at the end of the recent Primates' Meeting "urge[d] the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation."

The Primates' recommendation concerning litigation was one of a number of interrelated recommendations which they made concerning the way the Episcopal Church should deal with disagreements among its members.

In their February 26 reply, David Booth Beers, chancellor to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and his colleague Heather H. Anderson, first reminded the two attorneys that the Anglican Communion is a federation and not a "juridical or legislative body."

Thus, they wrote, it "has no legal authority over the affairs of its members."

I hope the Primates are paying attention.