- The Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan, has taken the first step to lead his diocese out of the Episcopal Church because of the denomination's liberal drift. On November 2, delegates to Pittsburgh's annual convention voted 227 to 82 to change their diocese's constitution, removing language that requires "accession" to the national church. Pittsburgh became the third U.S. diocese to take the step, following San Joaquin, California, and Quincy, Illinois. The Episcopal diocese of Fort Worth followed suit just days later, on November 17.
- In a discovery that could defuse ethical concerns over stem cell research, scientists at Kyoto University have reprogrammed the skin cell of a mouse to its embryonic state. If the advance can be reproduced with human skin cells, it will provide a near-endless and readily available source of cells that act like embryonic stem cells, thus making the destruction of human embryos unnecessary. Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts, called the discovery "the biological equivalent to the Wright brothers' first airplane."
- The United Methodist Church's highest court ruled on October 30 that a transgendered man may remain pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church of Baltimore. The Rev. Drew Phoenix, formerly the Rev. Ann Gordon, had served at the church for five years but hadn't changed genders through surgery and hormone treatments until 18 months ago. In its ruling, the UMC's Judicial Council stated that "a clergyperson's good standing cannot be terminated without administrative or judicial action having occurred and all fair process being accorded." Conservatives are expected to push for a ban on transgendered clergy at the denomination's general conference to be held next year in Texas.
- Charismatic publisher Strang Communications announced in October that it will cease printing New Man and Spirit-Led Woman by January 2008. Both magazines will become online-only publications. "[T]he men's movement isn't what it used to be," said Stephen Strang, founder and co-owner of Strang Communications. "And the internet was hardly around when we started New Man. Now it's the wave of the future."
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Previous articles about the Pittsburgh diocese include:
Global Ultimatum | The larger meaning of Anglican leaders' demand that the Episcopal Church change its ways. (March 16, 2007)
Episcopal Bishops in Pa. Suspended, Warned | Philadelphia's liberal bishop accused of protecting abuser; Pittsburgh's conservative bishop warned against abandonment as diocese changes constitution. (November 6, 2007)
Dividing the Faithful | Conservatives fleeing the Episcopal Church regroup--apart. (February 9, 2007)
More news about making skin cells behave like embryonic stem cells includes:
Scientists Create Embryonic Stem Cells from Skin | Two teams independently discover a way to turn ordinary human skins cells into stem cells with the same characteristics as those derived from human embryos, a breakthrough that could open the door for advanced medical therapies. (NPR's Morning Edition)
Transforming Mouse Cells Into 'Embryonic' Stem Cells Easily | UCSF scientists are reporting what they say is a significant improvement in the technique for genetically reprogramming mouse cells to their embryonic state, a process that transforms the cells, in essence, into embryonic stem cells. (ScienceDaily)