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A Prayer For This Web Site
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices; Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"For those who Influence Public Opinion,"
Book of Common Prayer, page 827

In our church, neither a person's gender nor their sexual orientation matter; what does matter is how they serve Jesus Christ as Lord.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Web Site Moved to New URL

During November, 2006, this web site moved to a new URL:


The web site is an independent ministry and is not affiliated with Epiphany Church in Independence. Messages and features from December forward and into 2007
are located at the new web site.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

When an Archbishop Stands up to an Airline

Rome/London: Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has frequently felt impotent in the face of a divided and troublesome Church congregation he leads. On Friday, however, he proved he was a force to be reckoned with when he stepped into the row over whether a British Airways check-in worker could wear a crucifix on a necklace at work.

Speaking in Rome, where he had met the Pope, Dr. Williams said consultations had begun on a possible disinvestment of BA shares. A few hours later, faced with the possible sale of the Church's £10.25 million-worth shares in British Airways and the lingering possibility of a boycott, the U.K.'s flag carrier suddenly announced a review of its 34-page uniform policy, saying it was "unfairly accused" of being anti-Christian.

Dr. Williams spoke with fervour, declaring that, if the airline felt the cross was a source of offence, then he himself would find that fact to be "deeply offensive."

The Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group, which advises its investment bodies, contacted BA shortly after Dr. Williams's comments and sent a letter to chief executive Willie Walsh requesting a meeting.

Nadia Eweida will hear next month the outcome of an appeal against the company's decision that she cannot openly wear a crucifix on a necklace at work. Ms. Eweida, 55, has refused to go back to her job at Heathrow Airport.

Mr. Walsh did not suggest she would be able to wear her necklace, but said: "Our staff has suggested that we allow the wearing of religious symbols as small lapel badges. This will be considered..."

Dr. Williams is not only leader of the Church of England, but also of the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican community. If the Church of England sold its shares — small in comparison with the £5.6 billion stock market value of BA — it might have a passing effect on BA's share price. But an Anglican boycott could damage sales and angry customers had been contacting the airline.

Asked at a Rome press conference if he would support a boycott, Dr. Williams noted the dispute had erupted after his own flight to Rome on BA had been booked. "I have a responsibility for the proper use of the resources of staff and money and reorganising at short notice expensively and complicatedly didn't seem to me a responsible use of them," he said.

But then he added: "I'm actually consulting with others in the Church of England about our whole attitude to BA in which, as you know, we have some financial investment. And that's a question that's already been raised for discussion with the Church Commissioners in London."

The Church owns around £10.25 million shares through its church commissioners body, which owns £9 million, and the pension fund which owns £1.25 million.

The Archbishop said: "People of any faith should have the right to display the signs of their faiths in public."

Dr. Williams had clearly made the best use of his time in the air. "It is just perhaps worth noting with some irony," he said, "that amongst the duty-free jewellery items for sale are some crosses."

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Are Church Fires the Latest Thing by Conservatives?

Church fire called act of intolerance
Police say religious zeal led Bible student to burn Episcopal church

By LEIGH HORNBECK, Staff writer
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Clarification: Caleb Lussier, the man accused in the arson of Christ Church in Pottersville, also allegedly burglarized the church by stealing religious items.
POTTERSVILLE -- The Bibles were safe the night Christ Episcopal Church turned to tinder, allegedly at the hands of Caleb Uriah Lussier, police said Monday.

Lussier, 20, allegedly confessed to police that he used gasoline to torch the church in late May after he gathered the Bibles in a bag and placed them outside the reach of the flames.

Lussier, of Plymouth, Mass., is a student at the Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, not far from Christ Episcopal. Investigators said he acted out of a religious zeal that also may have played a role in a fire at another church in his hometown and in threats against three other houses of worship.

Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said Lussier thought the members of Christ Church were hypocrites who deviated from the teachings of the Bible and the word of God. He allegedly robbed the church twice in May. On one occasion he left behind a message written in a Bible: "You've been warned." On May 30, a fire at the 77-year-old church burned out of control before firefighters arrived.

Last week, a congregant from another local church spotted Lussier at services and told Warren County sheriff's investigators he seemed out of place. Police in Plymouth didn't have a record on Lussier, but they did have an unsolved fire at a church in December 2005 at which a bag of Bibles also was left outside.

Working off those details and other similarities, police arrested Lussier in his dorm room Sunday. He has not been charged in Massachusetts, but Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Bridget Norton Middleton said investigators were aware of the charges against him in New York and had been in contact with local police.

Cleveland said Lussier confessed to robbing the Christ Church and setting fire to both houses of worship. He also allegedly admitted to sending threatening letters three churches in his hometown. He was charged with two felony counts of third-degree burglary and a count of third-degree arson, a felony.

"He didn't think they were following the Bible the way they thought they should," Cleveland said. "He holds to the principle, but he said he went about it in the wrong way."

The executive vice president of Word of Life Fellowship Inc. issued a statement after Lussier's arrest.

"The student acknowledged that his actions in this incident are not consistent with the teaching received at Word of Life Bible Institute," John Nelson wrote. "Word of Life condemns this reprehensible act, and this student will be expelled immediately."

Word of Life is an evangelical ministry founded on Long Island in the 1930s. The founder, Jack Wyrtzen, began as a street preacher on Long Island. By 1940, he owned a camp and conference center in Schroon Lake in Essex County, just north of Pottersville. The Bible Institute was founded in 1971 and, according to the church's Web site, 695 missionaries work in 46 countries.

The arrest brought relief to the tiny congregation of Christ Church in the small town about 85 miles north of Albany.

"We never wanted retribution," said John Watson, a lay leader at Christ Church. "Our feeling is if Christ can forgive us for hanging him on a cross, there's not much we can't forgive."

Watson said the members of the Episcopal church will pray for Lussier, and they are gathering donations to rebuild the church. A congregation of about 20 people has been meeting at the Wells House Bed and Breakfast in Pottersville.

A 15-year-old boy was charged this summer in connection with the May 30 fire; Watson said women in the church are knitting the boy a sweater and a scarf. Police have not yet found a link between Lussier and the boy. According to his confession, Lussier acted alone, but Cleveland said the 15-year-old knows details about the fire he could not know if he hadn't been involved. The teen was charged in Family Court.

Lussier was arraigned in Chester Town Court. He is being held in Warren County jail for lack of $250,000 cash bail. He is scheduled to return to court later this month.

Hornbeck can be reached at 581-8438 or by e-mail at lhornbeck@timesunion.com.

All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2006, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Arson Fire? It Just Makes Us Stronger!

Channel 27 in Topeka has had very good coverage of the fire at St. David's Church and a

televised report here

tells the story, with an interview with an official from Grace Cathedral, also in Topeka.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Presiding Bishop Begins Her Work in Chicago

Bishop wants to heal church
The first woman to lead the Episcopal Church hopes to end a global rift over gays, women, and she's kicking off her term with work in Chicago.

Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter

November 13, 2006

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrapped up her first week as chief pastor of the Episcopal Church on Sunday in Chicago by celebrating an institution she believes can heal the world.

Jefferts Schori also believes that the fractured U.S. arm of the Anglican Communion can heal itself while eradicating poverty and halting the spread of AIDS.

"Doing the larger work," she says, will enable the 2.4 million-member church to transcend the differences that divide it--including the debates surrounding gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex blessings.

"We need to pay attention to [healing the church]," said Jefferts Schori, who was installed this month as the first female presiding bishop in the Anglican Communion. "But it's not a matter of one before the other. ... I live in hope."

Celebrating mass Sunday in All Saints Episcopal Church on the North Side, Jefferts Schori implored the congregation to give its all to the Episcopal Church's mission. Members of the church's Executive Council, an elected body that conducts national church business, also were in the audience, meeting this week in Chicago.

High on the presiding bishop and council's agenda are the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a blueprint for a better world, which Jefferts Schori sees as an "invitation to see beyond our narrow self-interests." Those goals have been the heart of virtually every sermon and interview she has delivered since her election at the church's triennial convention in June.

Contentious issues

That election has not been unanimously celebrated. Eight American bishops have requested a more conservative leader to oversee their dioceses. Three -- Quincy, Ill., San Joaquin, Calif., and Ft. Worth -- do not ordain women.

Others attribute their discontent to her theology. In 2003, as Nevada's bishop, Jefferts Schori voted with the majority to approve an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. She also supports the blessing of same-sex couples.

Also, some prelates from Africa, Asia and Latin America have said they cannot treat Jefferts Schori as their equal.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has not acted on the requests, instead instructing the American bishops to work it out internally. A meeting in September approached a resolution, Jefferts Schori said. Another attempt will be made before year's end.

On Sunday at All Saints, 4550 N. Hermitage Ave., congregants erupted into applause and smiles as Jefferts Schori marched into the sanctuary led by nine young acolytes--eight of them girls -- and sat in a wood throne dressed head to toe in regal navy and white vestments.

Although nervous about making a positive impression, Cicely Thom, 10, said the presiding bishop did not intimidate her.

"She didn't feel like a stranger to me," she said. "She was really nice."

Jefferts Schori's sermon called on congregants and church leaders to consider text in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus lauds the poor widow who gives all she has to the temple.

"Beware of the folks who like long robes and respective greetings," she quoted Jesus as saying. Still wearing vestments, her tone garnered gales of laughter.

"Ouch! Surely that cannot have anything to do with us," she said with sarcasm.

`Willing to bet their all'

Speaking of an earlier reading, she referred to another widow who gives her last meal to the prophet Elijah after he promises her that God will not let her die.

"Even today it is widows and mothers of dependent children who are the most desperate both here and across the world," Jefferts Schori said. "Those widows are willing to bet their all in hopes that somebody, even a God they haven't met, will respond.

"You and I have to be willing to be foolish enough to believe that God will feed the hungry and set the prisoners free and open the eyes of the blind. We have to be willing to make that last desperate bet and bet it all if we're going to follow this Jesus."

Ruth Frey, 44, said she was inspired by Jefferts Schori's sermon and hopes the presiding bishop is not distracted during her nine-year term from the mission in her message.

"She's got a lot of work cut out for her," Frey said. "If she can hold that vision up -- to center on the Gospel in ways that everyone can agree on -- it's going to be a huge step forward."


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another Arson Fire in One of Our Churches, in Topeka, Kansas

Officials say Topeka church fire was arson

Associated Press

TOPEKA - Arson was the cause of a Friday morning fire that gutted the interior of a Topeka church, including its sanctuary, a local official said.

Authorities estimated damage to St. David's Episcopal Church at between $2.5 million and $3 million, though its walls and most of its roof were intact after firefighters from five engine companies subdued the blaze.

No injuries were reported, but the congregation faces rebuilding the church.

"Fire officials have determined this to be an arson fire," said Greg Bailey, the local fire marshal, declining to give more details because an investigation was continuing.

Church and fire department officials said the fire might have started in a chapel and spread through the adjacent, larger main sanctuary.

Authorities' conclusion that the blaze was no accident stunned church members.

"We're processing the information," said Margaret Telthorst, the head of the church's governing council. "We're grieving, and we're comforting each other."

She wouldn't speculate on who might have set the fire. "Every organization is going to have people who disagree with it, but there's nothing we can even begin to speculate about," she said.

The church, founded in 1953, has 600 to 700 members and is among Kansas' 10 largest Episcopal parishes.

"We may be experiencing a total loss here," said Dean Wolfe, the Episcopal bishop for Kansas. "It's more substantial than we originally thought."

Wolfe and the Rev. Don Davidson, the church's rector, said several area churches from different denominations immediately offered the use of their buildings. St. David's, which normally has services at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., plans to have its Sunday service at 1:30 p.m. at a nearby Lutheran church.

The Episcopal church moved its offices to a nearby vacant home it owns.

Davidson said the loss is difficult for church members because the building is where important events in their lives, including marriages and funerals, occur.

The church's chapel normally is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The blaze was reported to Topeka firefighters shortly after 5 a.m., and they had it under control within the hour, though it wasn't reported as fully out for several more hours.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

First Woman Leader of Episcopal Church

Writer, The Associated Press

November 02, 2006

I'm clear about this role involving the entire breadth of The Episcopal Church Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori thought the odds she would be elected to lead The Episcopal Church were 'ridiculous' _ absolutely against her.

'I was a woman, fairly young, I hadn't been a bishop all that long, and I was serving a diocese that's not part of the Eastern establishment,' Jefferts Schori said.

The surprise? She won anyway, in balloting at the Episcopal General Convention this June.

On Saturday, Jefferts Schori will be installed as presiding bishop at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., becoming the first woman priest to lead a national church in the nearly 500-year-old Anglican Communion.

'The Bible is full of stories of the younger son being called and the outsider being called,' by God to serve, Jefferts Schori said in an interview this week with The Associated Press. 'I think courage is a central characteristic of leadership. If you're not willing to go into dangerous places, you have no business doing this work.'

The perils for anyone leading The Episcopal Church right now are considerable.

The 2.3 million-member denomination is at the center of a worldwide Anglican feud over how to interpret what the Bible says about sexuality. Jefferts Schori unapologetically supports ordaining gays and allowing blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. In 2003, she voted to confirm New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. The uproar over his consecration is threatening to split the Anglican family, which The Episcopal Church represents in the United States.

'I'm clear about this role involving the entire breadth of The Episcopal Church,' Jefferts Schori said. 'But at some level, I don't think it's appropriate for me to disguise what my own theological understanding is. I'm someone who believes transparency is incredibly important. It's part of integrity.'

Many Episcopalians are celebrating that openness. But it also has drawn protests, and her pioneering role as the church's first woman leader also has upset some.

Seven U.S. conservative dioceses have rejected Jefferts Schori's authority and asked Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, to assign them another national leader. Three of the dioceses do not support ordaining women.

Overseas, some tradition-minded Anglican leaders, meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, said they would snub her at the next global Anglican meeting in February.

Asked what she wanted to say to those Anglican leaders, she shrugged and said, 'Get over it.' On Wednesday, she asked four conservative Anglican archbishops who are meeting this month with Episcopalians challenging her authority to also make time for a session with her.

'I think the reality is clear that the archbishop of Canterbury isn't going to assign somebody to be an alternate primate' _ the Anglican term for a national church leader, said Jefferts Schori, who traveled to London last month to speak privately with Williams.

But she insisted she would not impose her views on anyone in the church.

Having served just five years as a bishop, Jefferts Schori knows her experience may seem all too brief for such an important job. But she has spent her life tackling outsized challenges.

She is an oceanographer who graduated from Stanford University and earned a doctorate at Oregon State, working at sea with boat captains more accustomed to all-male research crews.

A pilot with more than 500 hours logged, she flew her plane to visit parishes in the sprawling Nevada Diocese. She also rock climbs with her husband of more than 25 years, Richard Schori, a theoretical mathematician. Their daughter, 25-year-old Katharine Johanna, is a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

Jefferts Schori decided to pursue full-time ministry after federal funding for her scientific research dried up. She earned a master's from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., and was ordained in 1994.

As she begins work at church headquarters in Manhattan, where her predecessor Bishop Frank Griswold just finished his nine-year term, she hopes to find a way to reconcile with conservatives overseas and at home.

She believes Episcopalians should fulfill the request from Anglican archbishops that the American church stop consecrating any more gay bishops for now, and temporarily refrain from developing an official prayer service to bless same-gender couples.

'At some level if it becomes clear that the relationship is broken, that there's no possibility for a new life in that relationship, then the pastoral thing to do is to find a creative way to separate, a gracious way to separate,' Jefferts Schori said. 'I hope we don't have to go there. My hope is for finding life that is still present in relationships, and if we go the separation route, the door is left open and the lights on.'

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's Investiture Sermon

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached at her November 4 investiture service, which was set in the context of Holy Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral. The full text of Jefferts Schori's sermon follows:

4 November 2006
National Cathedral

Where is home for you? How would you define your home? A friend in Nevada said to me just before I left that he had thought I would only leave Nevada to go home, and in his mind, that meant Oregon. But in the six years I spent there, Nevada became home. The state song is even called, "Home means Nevada." And for a place filled with folk who have come from elsewhere, that is quite remarkable – all sorts and conditions of rootless people trying to grow new roots in the desert.

So where is home for you? Des Moines or Anchorage or Taipei or San Salvador or Port au Prince?

What makes it home? Familiar landscape, a quality of life, or the presence of particular people?

Some people who engage this journey we call Christianity discover that home is found on the road, whether literally the restless travel that occupies some of us, or the hodos that is the Way of following the one we call the Christ. The home we ultimately seek is found in relationship with creator, with redeemer, with spirit. When Augustine says "our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee, O Lord" he means that our natural home is in God.

The great journey stories of the Hebrew Bible begin with leaving our home in Eden, they tell of wandering for a very long time in search of a new home in the land of promise, and they tell later of returning home from exile. And eventually Israel begins to realize that they are meant to build a home that will draw all the nations to Mount Zion. Isaiah's great vision of a thanksgiving feast on a mountain, to which the whole world is invited, is part of that initial discovery of a universal home-building mission, meant for all. Jesus' inauguration and incarnation of the heavenly banquet is about a home that does not depend on place, but on community gathered in the conscious presence of God.

In Death of the Hired Man, Robert Frost said that "home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in." We all ache for a community that will take us in, with all our warts and quirks and petty meannesses – and yet they still celebrate when they see us coming! That vision of homegoing and homecoming that underlies our deepest spiritual yearnings is also the job assignment each one of us gets in baptism – go home, and while you're at it, help to build a home for everyone else on earth. For none of us can truly find our rest in God until all of our brothers and sisters have also been welcomed home like the prodigal.

There's a wonderful Hebrew word for that vision and work – shalom. It doesn't just mean the sort of peace that comes when we're no longer at war. It's that rich and multihued vision of a world where no one goes hungry because everyone is invited to a seat at the groaning board, it's a vision of a world where no one is sick or in prison because all sorts of disease have been healed, it's a vision of a world where every human being has the capacity to use every good gift that God has given, it is a vision of a world where no one enjoys abundance at the expense of another, it's a vision of a world where all enjoy Sabbath rest in the conscious presence of God. Shalom means that all human beings live together as siblings, at peace with one another and with God, and in right relationship with all of the rest of creation. It is that vision of the lion lying down with the lamb and the small child playing over the den of the adder, where the specter of death no longer holds sway. It is that vision to which Jesus points when he says, "today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." To say "shalom" is to know our own place and to invite and affirm the place of all of the rest of creation, once more at home in God.

You and I have been invited into that ministry of global peace-making that makes a place and affirms a welcome for all of God's creatures. But more than welcome, that ministry invites all to feast until they are filled with God's abundance. God has spoken that dream in our hearts – through the prophets, through the patriarchs and the mystics, in human flesh in Jesus, and in each one of us at baptism. All are welcome, all are fed, all are satisfied, all are healed of the wounds and lessenings that are part of the not-yet-ness of creation.

That homecoming of shalom is both destination and journey. We cannot embark on the journey without some vision of where we are going, even though we may not reach it this side of the grave. We are really charged with seeing everyplace and all places as home, and living in a way that makes that true for every other creature on the planet. None of us can be fully at home, at rest, enjoying shalom, unless all the world is as well. Shalom is the fruit of living that dream. We live in a day where there is a concrete possibility of making that dream reality for the most destitute, forgotten, and ignored of our fellow travelers – for the castaways, for those in peril or just barely afloat on life's restless sea.

This church has said that our larger vision will be framed and shaped in the coming years by the vision of shalom embedded in the Millennium Development Goals – a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, the young educated, women and men treated equally, and where all have access to clean water and adequate sanitation, basic health care, and the promise of development that does not endanger the rest of creation. That vision of abundant life is achievable in our own day, but only with the passionate commitment of each and every one of us. It is God's vision of homecoming for all humanity. [Applause]

The ability of any of us to enjoy shalom depends on the health of our neighbors. If some do not have the opportunity for health or wholeness, then none of us can enjoy true and perfect holiness. The writer of Ephesians implores us to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – to be at one in God's shalom. That is our baptismal task and hope, and unless each of the members of the body enjoys shalom we shall not live as one. That dream of God, that word of God spoken in each one of us at baptism also speaks hope of its realization.

The health of our neighbors, in its broadest understanding, is the mission that God has given us. We cannot love God if we fail to love our neighbors into a more whole and holy state of life. If some in this church feel wounded by recent decisions, then our salvation, our health as a body is at some hazard, and it becomes the duty of all of us to seek healing and wholeness. As long as children live exposed on the streets, while seniors go without food to pay for life-sustaining drugs, wherever peoples are sickened by industrial waste, the body suffers, and none of us can say we have finally come home.

What keeps us from the tireless search for that vision of shalom? There are probably only two answers, and they are connected – apathy and fear. One is the unwillingness to acknowledge the pain of other people, the other is an unwillingness to acknowledge that pain with enough courage to act. The cure for each is a deep and abiding hope. If God in Jesus has made captivity captive, has taken fear hostage, it is for the liberation and flourishing of hope. Augustine said that as Christians, we are prisoners of hope – a ridiculously assertive hope, a hope that unflinchingly assails the doors of heaven, a hope that will not cease until that dream of God has swallowed up death forever, a hope that has the audacity to join Jesus in saying, "today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

And how shall that scripture be fulfilled in our hearing? In the will to make peace with one who disdains our theological position – for his has merit, too, as the fruit of faithfulness. In the courage to challenge our legislators to make poverty history, to fund AIDS work in Africa, and the distribution of anti-malarial mosquito nets, and primary schools where all children are welcomed. In the will to look within our own hearts and confront the shadows that darken the dream that God has planted there.

That scripture is fulfilled each time we reach beyond our narrow self-interest to call another home.

That scripture is fulfilled in ways both small and large, in acts of individuals and of nations, whenever we seek the good of the other, ifor our own good and final homecoming is wrapped up in that.

God has spoken that dream in us, let us rejoice! Let us join the raucous throngs in creation, the sea creatures and the geological features who leap for joy at the vision of all creation restored, restored to proper relationship, to all creation come home at last. May that scripture be fulfilled in our hearing and in our doing.

Shalom, chaverim, shalom, my friends, shalom.

[Congregation responded: Shalom]

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church