Monday, October 24, 2011

The Hobbits March in One Year

From here.
The legacy media can't read the Hobbits because they're unfamiliar with life in the Shire. Ironically, they pronounce the death of the Tea Party while it is they who speak with the death rattle.

Near the final scene of the Lord of the Rings films, Gandalf crowns the new king and proclaims, "Now comes the days of the King." The crowd cheers. The new king kisses his queen to be. The crowd applauds. Then the king the approaches the four Hobbits: Frodo, Samwise, Peregrin, and Meriadoc. The Hobbits bow to the king. He stops them, saying, "My friends, you bow to no one." And the king leads the crowd in kneeling before the Hobbits.

That's something akin to what the Founders had in mind for the United States of America.

One year from this November 9th, the Hobbits march to the polls.

Read it all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

[Breaking News] Dioceses of Eau Claire and Fond du Lac have voted to approve merger

[UPDATE: The vote was later found to have been miscounted in the Diocese of Fond du Lac, and the measure failed. The merger has been defeated--deferred, postponed--who knows? Stay tuned.]

My sources in northern Wisconsin told me moments ago that the Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire and the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, both meeting in convention today, have voted to approve a merger of the two dioceses.

[Update - 2:58 p.m.:] A press release has just appeared on the Diocese of Fond du Lac website.

[Update - 3:44 p.m.:] An announcement has also appeared on the Diocese of Eau Claire website in which Bishop Edwin Leidel states:
Today our two dioceses made history. Never before have two dioceses in the Episcopal Church "junctioned" together. So, today we begin a new journey to create a new Diocese in northern Wisconsin.

The "junctioning," as it is being called (is there some reason why they want to avoid the term "merger"?), of the two dioceses has been a matter of study and discussion for the past several years and comes amidst losses in membership and attendance in both dioceses, but particularly the Diocese of Eau Claire.

Statistics for 2010 show that the Diocese of Fond du Lac has seen a decline in average Sunday attendance from approximately 2800 to 2100 (for the entire diocese) during the period from 2003 to 2010. The Diocese of Eau Claire has seen a decline in average Sunday attendance from approximately 1000 to 800 (again, for the entire diocese) in the past four years (2006-2010).

While this may be the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church that two dioceses have "junctioned," it appears that this solution may be adopted in other Episcopal dioceses with declining membership in the years ahead.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta to consider resolution restoring Pelagius as "a viable theological voice within our tradition"

From here, though you will have to scroll down to Resolution "R11-7"

Pelagius was condemned as a heretic in the 5th century. The case for reappraising Pelagius is a current theological fad (yes, theologians have those), but it is still rather amazing that it should come up as a resolution in an Episcopal diocesan convention. For those interested in concise explanation of why this matters, I recommend this article.

The full resolution from the Diocese of Atlanta is below:

R11-7 Contributions of Pelagius

Whereas the historical record of Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance, and whereas an understanding of his life and writings might bring more to bear on his good standing in our tradition, and whereas his restitution as a viable theological voice within our tradition might encourage a deeper understanding of sin, grace, free will, and the goodness of God’s creation, and whereas in as much as the history of Pelagius represents to some the struggle for theological exploration that is our birthright as Anglicans, Be it resolved, that this 105th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta appoint a committee of discernment overseen by our Bishop, to consider these matters as a means to honor the contributions of Pelagius and reclaim his voice in our tradition And be it further resolved that this committee will report their conclusions at the next Annual Council.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Chicago Consultation uses Indaba to Export TEC's LGBT agenda

The Chicago Consultation is taking its innovative views on human sexuality and justice to a conference at the Ujamaa Centre in South Africa. Designed to strengthen mission and advocacy connections, the Consultation will provide Indaba processing and Bible studies for bishops, church leaders and "grassroots advocates for LGBT people":

From here:
In mid-October, the Chicago Consultation and the Ujamaa Centre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal will convene a gathering in South Africa to strengthen mission and advocacy connections among Anglicans who are interested in the theology of human sexuality and justice. We believe that deeper connections with each other will make it easier for us to work together in mission and to communicate productively when challenging Communion-wide issues arise. The co-conveners of the consultation are Professor Gerald West, director of the Ujamaa Centre, and Professor Esther Mombo of St. Paul's University in Limuru, Kenya.

The consultation, which will involve about 55 people and last for three days, will be grounded in the Indaba process, prayer and Bible study and will explore theological perspectives on human sexuality and justice. Participants will include theologians, bishops, church leaders, grassroots advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and other people willing to engage in intensive conversations across cultural boundaries.

The participants in the consultation will share their experiences with the wider church through stories and video reflections and through the report of a listening team led by the Rev. Janet Trisk, a representative to the Anglican Consultative Council from the Church of Southern Africa. [Emphasis added.]


Monday, October 17, 2011

[Updated] EPGM disbands after 21 years of service to the Episcopal mission community

From Episcopal News Service:
Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission (EPGM) has announced that it will officially disband as a mission networking organization serving the Episcopal Church, according to an Oct. 15 news release.

The decision to disband was made at EPGM's annual meeting, held at the Everyone Everywhere 2011 conference in Estes Park, Colorado, and approved by consensus of the attending membership organizations, the release said.

EPGM began in 1990 as the Episcopal Council for Global Mission (ECGM). It was renamed in 1999 when its structural organizing plan was approved by Executive Council. General Convention adopted the plan in 2000.

Financial issues due to loss of funding from the 2009 General Convention and loss of membership contributed to the decision to disband, according to the release.

Read it all.

The Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission was once a fine organization--an umbrella group where all of the agencies and mission organizations that served the Episcopal Church could come together and work on goals and strategies and engage in cooperative efforts. As with so many other signs of TEC's implosion, it saddens me to see it die.

However, as Paul Harvey was famous for saying, we need to know "the rest of the story." The sentence mentioning the loss of membership is the key.

Following the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, the Diocese of New Hampshire applied for membership in EPGM. Viewed charitably, one could perhaps hope that the application meant there was a group in the Diocese genuinely concerned for world missions. A more skeptical view is that the Diocese was seeking to force recognition and acceptance from one of the few remaining Episcopal organizations where theological conservatives were in the majority. The application, and the debate over issues of sexuality that were racking TEC as a whole, only served to bring to a head longstanding disagreements over theology and the meaning of mission and evangelism.

In any event, New Hampshire's application to join EPGM put the conservative mission organizations in a difficult position. Many of the overseas Anglican provinces where missionaries from the conservative mission organizations served were determined to break fellowship with the Diocese of New Hampshire and even the whole of the Episcopal Church as a consequence of the consecration of a gay bishop. Some of these same Anglican provinces started refusing money from TEC, and they began questioning missionaries and mission organizations that worked in their countries about their participation in TEC and their position on TEC's actions.

Consequently, conservative mission agencies that had been a part of EPGM were faced with a choice of either losing their ability to send missionaries to various countries or else withdrawing from EPGM. The withdrawals did not happen quickly or without much prayer and discussion. New Hampshire's application to join EPGM was put on hold while these conversations occurred. But, in the end, EPGM willingness to admit the Diocese of New Hampshire caused the conservative mission agencies to leave. Titus Presler encapsulates this episode very well in his history of EPGM, published on the EPGM website (while it is still online). (See especially the section entitled, "EPGM Fractured by Sexuality Turmoil," pages 6-7.) As Presler notes, the agencies that left EPGM were the ones responsible for sending nearly all of the actual, long term missionaries from the Episcopal Church. These organizations have since formed a new umbrella network, the Anglican Global Mission Partners.

Interestingly, while the split in EPGM began over an application for membership from the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the list of current members on the EPGM website shows no listing for the Diocese of New Hampshire nor any organization from that diocese.

[Update 10/18/11]: For those who may be interested in what has happened to the organizations that left since the split, the Anglican Global Mission Partners continue to meet twice annually, usually hosting a missions conference at the church or seminary where they meet. Their meeting, two weeks ago, at St. James Anglican Church, in Newport Beach, CA, was in conjunction with the SALT Missions Conference. Their Spring 2012 meeting will be at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, and they are planning a Re:Mix Youth Missions Conference at the same time.

The agencies that are a part of Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP) have continued to grow. For instance, SAMS (formerly the South American Missionary Society) has changed its name to the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders. The number of missionaries being sent from SAMS has nearly doubled in the past decade, and they are now a worldwide organization, with missionaries on every continent.

The Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP) itself has grown through the number of new organizations that have joined since the split from EPGM. A personal observation: One would think that the contrast in the histories of the two entities since the split—even the contrast in sheer vitality between the two organizations—might be enough to convince TEC that they made a wrong turn somewhere.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Wall Street Journal: Twenty first century Excommunication

The Wall Street Journal has turned it's focus onto the Episcopal Church's campaign against departing churches:

When the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., left the Episcopal Church over disagreements about what the Bible says about sexuality, the congregation offered to pay for the building in which it worshiped. In return the Episcopal Church sued to seize the building, then sold it for a fraction of the price to someone who turned it into a mosque.

The congregation is one of hundreds that split or altogether left the Episcopal Church—a member of the Anglican Communion found mostly in the United States—after a decades-long dispute over adherence to scripture erupted with the consecration of a partnered gay bishop in 2003. But negotiating who gets church buildings hasn't been easy. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she'd rather have these properties become Baptist churches or even saloons than continue as sanctuaries for fellow Anglicans.

Read it all.