Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Week Ending 09/12/16
Los Angeles Diocesan Council Returns Report of Property to Task ForceThe Council of the Diocese of Los Angeles received and then returned to the authoring Task Force the draft report on corporation sole property mandated by the last diocesan convention. The Council returned the report to the Task Force stating it needed to be more specific on individual properties, the tax status and the financial impact on the Diocese of receiving the property currently held by the bishop in a corporation sole. The draft report noted that there were no controls or transparency on the actions of the corporation sole, and that this was not in line with best practices of the Church. This report is one of the outgrowths of the ongoing struggle between Bishop Bruno and the Congregation of St. James Newport Beach over whether he could close and sell the property out from under a restart congregation about to become completely self-sufficient financially. The Update story on the original report is here.
Bishop Carol Gallagher Resigns from EDS BoardBishop Carol Gallagher, one of four Episcopal Divinity School Trustees who was not convinced that seminary needed to close, has resigned from the board citing several irregular actions. She especially objected to a public announcement that decision of the board was unanimous when she had not been polled on the matter, and the fact that the acting president was given less than 24 hours notice that he had to vacate his office for a new president. She also raised issues of race, noting that none of the persons of color had supported the decision cease granting decisions.
Australian Primate Makes Statement Supporting National Vote on Same-Sex MarriageThe current Prime Minister of Australia is taking steps to make good on his campaign promise to hold a national vote on whether to allow same-sex marriage. Australian newspapers report that in response the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier wrote the country's bishops urging them to help keep the discussion civil and noting that he did not expect the church to change its definition of marriage should the plebiscite be favorable, although the church would need to welcome those who chose civil marriage. He stated that Anglicans should be urged to vote their conscience. The idea of the plebiscite is controversial among those working for marriage equality, some favoring the vote and others afraid that it will simply divide the country more and hurt LGBT individuals. The bishop's full letter is here.
Task Force on Mending Anglican Relations Holds First MeetingArchbishop Justin Welby is proceeding to implement things requested at the January meeting of Anglican Primates. One of the things primates specified was a task group to explore how the Communion could mend relations and better walk together. That request was endorsed at the April meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. The task force has now met, and it is a broadly based group including TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, a Canadian bishop supportive of same-sex marriage, and Australian Archbishop Philip Freier (see preceding story). The task group also includes former Global South chair, Archbishop Ian Ernst, and the highest ranking woman in the Kenyan Church, Canon Rosemary Mbogo, who is known for interdenominational work and advocacy for women and girls. The former ACC vice-chair, Elizabeth Paver, Archbishop Sarker of Bangladesh, Archbishop Clarke of Ireland, and Archbishop Hing of SE Asia also are part of the group. The ranking Bishop from India will not be participating.
Standing Rock Protesters Gain Support from Obama, But Not the CourtsIn the on-going protests against a gas pipeline in North Dakota led by Sioux from the Standing Rock reservation, the courts continue to support the company building the pipeline, refusing to halt construction, except for a temporary stay on a small area near the reservation. However, President Obama ordered the Federal Agencies to deny permits for construction on lands they control. Meanwhile, following the lead of the Presiding Bishop and the Diocese of North Dakota, numerous Episcopal dioceses and organizations have announced their support for the protesters.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Week Ending 9/5/16
Same Sex Couples in the News in EuropeThe Church of England cannot escape the reality of same sex couples and marriage. This week the Church was hit with two pieces of headline news and a third emerged in the Finnish Lutheran Church which is in full communion with the Church of England. Pressured by a British newspaper, The Bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain, acknowledged that he lived in a committed, celibate relationship with a male partner. He had never hidden the fact, but it was also not publicized. Predictably the GAFCON leadership denounced the relationship and raised questions of secrecy when Chamberlain was consecrated last year. The Executive Secretary of the Anglican Communion on the other hand, issued a statement saying that since the Bishop was following carefully the Church protocols on matters of sexuality, there was no problem. While these statements were flying back and forth, a group of Church of England clergy signed a public letter saying that they had married their same sex partners despite church rules opposing same sex civil marriage. There are asking for a more inclusive policy that will allow individual parishes to be openly affirming of their marriages. To top off the week the Church of Finland issued guidelines saying that when civil same sex marriage becomes legal in Finland later this year, the church teaching will not change, and the church will continue to provide marriage only to couple comprising a man and a woman. They did say the civilly married couples would be welcomed and blessed at church. The Finnish Lutheran Church position contrasts with that of the Church in Denmark, where the head of that church recently performed a wedding for two Church of England men with the help of the men's Anglican parish in Denmark.
Episcopalians Continue Supporting Standing Rock Protests Against PipelineDuring the last week the number of oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota continued to grow as various interdenominational and indigenous groups rallied to the support of the Sioux who are trying to stop an oil pipeline from being constructed on land that contains sacred burial sites and jeopardizes their water supply. (See the Update from last week.) When the oil company suddenly switched its construction to a site specifically identified the day before in court filings by the Standing Rock tribe as filled with burial cairns, protesters rushed to the site only to be met by private security guards with pepper spray and dogs. Several of those in the crowd, including a young child needed treatment for dog bites. Episcopalians can follow all the news, which is not getting much press attention, at a Facebook site, Episcopalians Stand With Standing Rock.
St. James in Newport Beach Files Motion to Recover PropertyLast week the Petitioners who filed the original complaint against Bishop Bruno with the Episcopal Church filed a motion with the Hearing Panel asking to be allowed access to what had been their church property before Bishop Bruno locked them out as part of an attempt to sell the property to developers. The Church Attorney, who serves the Episcopal Church during the Hearing Panel process (not one of the parties) filed his own motion supporting the return of the property to the parish. Both of these were filed August 26. Two days later Bishop Bruno filed his response asking that the case be dismissed and charges dropped because of errors in the process, and because legal papers and letters were shared in public forums. In the bishop's motion, he denies any recognition to the parish or its rector. The most recent previous Update story on this ongoing saga is here.
After a Year, South Carolina Still Waits for Decision from State Supreme CourtIt is now a full calendar year since the oral arguments were made before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the case originally brought by the parishes that left the Episcopal Church to defend their claims to Episcopal Property. After the trial court favored the seceders, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina appealed. The reason for the long delay in issuing an opinion is not clear, but the chief justice at the time has retired (but remains a part of the court for this decision) and the court apparently is having trouble agreeing on an opinion. Journalist and blogger, Steve Skaradon has gone out on a limb and speculated the court members may have rejected an opinion written by the retired Chief Justice upholding the lower court and have had it assigned to another judge. Links on this site do not got to individual stories, so look for the September 3 posting.
News Around the Anglican CommunionChristians in the Peshwar region of Pakistan are praising a Muslim security guard who died preventing four suicide bombers from entering a church in a Christian colony. He raised the alarm, summoning other security forces and then started firing at the bombers. All four bombers were killed short of their target. Five other security people were injured.
Meanwhile, Anglicans in Seoul, South Korea are celebrating the opening of a women's ministry center that has been in planning or building stages for 20 years. It is a full service women's center offering a variety programs which should appeal to women and families. These will include religious and leadership programs, provide support for women facing a number of life stresses or who are recently released prisoners or defectors from North Korea.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Week Ending 8/29/16
Churches Support Pipeline ProtestThe Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles North and South Dakota is leading a protest against an oil pipeline that will cross the Missouri River just north of their reservation. They are concerned both because the land involved is considered sacred (and they own the mineral rights to it) and because a leak would potentially destroy the source of water for the reservation. Some leaders of the protest have been arrested; other tribes have gathered in support of the protesters, and there have demonstrations of support in various locations around the country. A number of the protesters are members of the Episcopal Churches on the reservation. The Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota issued an early statement supporting the protesters, and they were soon joined by the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, and now the Anglican Church of Canada. The situation is still ongoing.
Episcopal Schools Remain in the NewsTwo Episcopal Schools continue struggle with issues related to sexual abuse on campus. Legal issues continue surrounding conviction last year of a senior student who raped an underclass woman as part of a contest among graduating men at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. The young woman's lawyers have now filed a complaint because some parents raised money to help pay the senior's legal fees. They are holding the school responsible. Meanwhile in Boca Raton, the Board of St. Andrew's School has announced the dismissal of a second senior administrator at the school for mishandling two complaints about possible sexual abuse. They had terminated the head of school in May and hired an outside investigating team to explore a report of abuse. The team's report uncovered a second case. The terminated officials failed to follow state law requiring them to report possible abuse. Earlier update stories on these schools can be found here and here
Church of England Conservatives Start Down Path to SchismThe most recent interview with Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, where he commented on the awful way gays and lesbians have been treated by the church, was one more piece of evidence for clergy from 12 parishes who have begun preliminary steps to set up their own "church within a church" shadow synod. They are upset by what they see as the Church of England's softening stance against homosexuality, same sex marriage, and ordination of those in a same sex relationship. Episcopalians will recognize the similarity to the first actions and rhetoric taken by those who eventually left the church to form the Anglican Church in North America. In fact, ultra-conservative bloggers are already noting the parallel. Like ACNA the group has announced adherence to the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, and like ACNA the Church of England group looks to GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) for support. In return GAFCON has issued a statement supportive of the Church of England group, while carefully noting they did not initiate the meeting.
U.S. Government to Work with Church in Ghana to End Child SlaveryThe diocese of Accra in Ghana has launched a major effort to redeem children caught in child trafficking and slavery, and they have secured the U.S. government as a partner. Ambassador Jackson was present last week at the launching of a five year program to create a "City of Hope," a refuge for trafficked children and those in forced labor developed by the Diocese of Accra in the Anglican province of West Africa. With more than 22% of Ghana's children in the labor force and 14% dong hazardous labor, the church has begun a widespread initiative that includes not only rescue and rehabilitation of children, but affordable education, sustainable employment that will eliminate the need for child labor, and changes to public policy.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Week Ending 8/22/16
Copenhagen Lutherans and Anglicans Cooperate in Same Sex WeddingThe Church of England does not allow its clergy to preside at same sex marriages nor to bless same sex couples married in civil ceremonies. However, the Lutheran Church of Denmark does, and that church is in full communion with the Church of England. Thus when Nigel Rowley and his partner Mikel wanted to marry, Nigel (a long-time active member of the Church of England's Diocese of Europe Parish, St. Alban's in Copenhagen) arranged a unique cooperation between the Lutheran cathedral and St. Alban's. The two were married at the Lutheran Cathedral with the Lutheran archbishop presiding. St. Alban's choir joined with the Cathedral singers at the service. The Diocese of Europe has posted a press release on the service that was picked up by Anglican.Ink.
Diocese of Los Angeles Committee Issues Critical Report on Property IssuesBoth Anglican.Ink and Episcopal Cafe carried stories this week on the report of a committee set up to explore issues of the way Los Angeles Bishops hold title to property as Corporate Sole. Anglican.Ink has more background, and Episcopal Cafe a better link to the actual report. The issue is intimately tied to issues surrounding the decision a year ago by Bishop Jon Bruno to sell the property of St. James the Less in Newport Beach. (Update has followed the St. James story in detail. The most recent post is here.) The corporate sole holdings by a sitting bishop was developed at a time when state law did not allow a religious organization to own property. That law changed and dioceses created diocesan corporations. The committee criticized the lack of transparency, inadequate auditing and records of the corporate sole and has recommended that the corporate sole turn over all property that it can without tax liabilities to the diocesan corporation. It also recommends subordinating the corporate sole to the diocese and requiring reports. The canons of the Episcopal Church in general are set up assuming a diocesan corporation holds property.
Episcopal Church Encouraging Participation in Upcoming ElectionPresiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued a video appeal to Episcopalians to participate in the coming elections and to do so in light of the gospel. The interest of the presiding bishop in living the gospel is evident in the new look of the Episcopal Church web pages which right now feature links to the Episcopal Policy Network and a whole variety of election resources including information on elections in every state. Without endorsing a particular candidate or party, the Episcopal Policy Network provides information on positions taken by the Episcopal Church on major issues including foreign policy, global warming, racial reconciliation, and economic justice.
Two Long-Serving Anglican Archbishops to Retire in 2017This last week two of the longest serving archbishops in the Anglican Communion announced their retirements. Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales will retire in January 2017. Morgan has been a voice for inclusion and support of women as bishops during his 14 years as archbishop. He was part of the commission that drafted the Windsor Report in 2004. Just two months after Morgan retires, Archbishop Brown Turei will retire. He was consecrated as a bishop in the Maori section of the New Zealand Church in 1992 and became its Archbishop in 2005. The New Zealand Province of the communion has a unique governing arrangement with three co-equal ethnic strains, each with its own archbishop.
South African Church to Vote on Blessing Same Sex UnionsThe Anglican Church in Southern Africa Synod meeting next month will deal with a proposal that would allow blessing of civil same sex unions while explicitly saying that no clergy would be required to do so. The proposal also endorses the ordination of those clergy in civil unions. The measures will be controversial. Besides South Africa the province includes Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola, and two small British territories. South Africa is alone among African nations in having legally recognized unions for same sex couples, although a few French, Spanish, and British-ruled territories or cities also have recognition.
The Church in Brazil has joined a coalition of churches working to prevent the takeover of indigenous people's land by large agri-business corporations intent on exploiting the resources of the Amazon. At least 390 natives have been murdered and another 500 committed suicide in the last 12 years as a result of land takeovers. The coalition has met with top governmental officials and is supporting efforts to train community organizers to help indigenous people resist the open violence driving people from their lands.