Network of orthodox Episcopalians and Anglicans gets attention
No doubt the creation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes is a significant development in the battle for the soul of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion worldwide. Dozens of articles on the subject are running in today's newspapers, and the orthodox Anglican web sites are cranking on all cylinders. But what does its creation, along with its founding charter and theological charter, really mean? There's little agreement.

Some news articles emphasize that this news is "not a harbinger of schism," and that the main point of the network is to "bring hope" and to be "a place to reconnect" for orthodox Episcopalians upset with the denominational leadership.

Other news articles say that those at the launching meeting in Plano, Texas, "hope [the network] will eventually replace the [Episcopal Church USA] as the authentic representative of the faith in the U.S."

Then there's the muddled middle analysis: "Rather than create a 'replacement' church in the United States, the delegates said they seek to convince the archbishop of Canterbury and 38 primates that head the 77-million member worldwide Anglican Communion that the new movement is the true Episcopal Church USA."

And the difference is? Ryan Reed, a delegate of the Ft. Worth diocese, explained to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that the network "allows us to be a part of the Anglican Communion in the long run. If the Episcopal Church continues to be removed from the Anglican Church, we will probably be recognized by the Anglican Communion."

But network moderator Robert Duncan, bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese, says that the delegates "did not discuss, at all, replacement." However, he said, "That is certainly one of the things that Anglicans around the world are suggesting as they look at what's happened here."

Jan Nunley, the Episcopal Church USA's deputy news director, told the Chicago Tribune that the network has no chance of replacing ECUSA. "I don't understand how they can say if the Anglican Communion is mad at the [U.S.] church, the church doesn't exist," Nunley said.

One of the reasons that "talk of schism was downplayed during the two-day meeting … is that parishes would likely be forced to surrender their properties to the denomination if they leave," reports the Associated Press.

"I think the ECUSA is beyond redemption and I would like to see Anglican conservatives touch not the unclean thing," blogger Christopher S. Johnson wrote. "However, I can understand the [network's] position. Simply walking away from all these buildings really wouldn't hurt the ECUSA that much. The ECUSA would either sell the properties and pocket the profits or plant new reliably-liberal groups in formerly-conservative parishes. Either way, American conservative Anglican witness would be even less visible than it is now."

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Upcoming battles between the network and the ECUSA leadership will no doubt focus on the network's plans to circumvent official ECUSA agencies in redistributing money to missions and in organizing "alternative episcopal oversight" to conservative parishes in liberal dioceses. But the network will have its own internal battles: its charter notes that "the affiliates of the Network hold differing positions regarding the ordination of women and pledge that we shall recognize and honor the positions and practices on this issue of others in the Network." But that hardly seems a long-term solution to the issue.

Expect more analysis and prognostications on this development (The links in Weblog's October posting on "Where Else to Go for News and Analysis of the Anglican Primates' Meeting" are just as relevant for this story). For now, it seems that that the creation of this network could be either a major or minor development, depending on how ECUSA officials and global primates (leaders of national Anglican bodies worldwide) respond to it. As American Anglican Council president David C. Anderson wrote in a recent letter to his members, "Will there ultimately be such a 'replacement' jurisdiction? We can't know, and even if we desired it, it is not up to the AAC or orthodox Episcopalians to make that decision. It is up to the Anglican Primates."

"We're acutely conscious that this has never happened before," Kendall Harmon, of the Diocese of South Carolina, told The Christian Science Monitor, We're trying to create structures where we can encourage and protect each other, and it's up to the international [Anglican] Communion to adjudicate this."

More articles

Salvation Army receives $1.5 billion:

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  • 'Soup, soap and salvation' comfort millions | Founded in the 1870s to provide "soup, soap and salvation" for lost souls, the Salvation Army now provides services to more than 42 million needy people a year at 9,000 centers in the United States (Los Angeles Times)

  • Kroc gift benefits Salvation Army centers | Gift is the largest single donation ever given to a charitable group (Associated Press)

  • Over $1.5 billion served | In a politically correct age the unabashed evangelism of the Salvation Army may appear a throwback, especially when set against the trendier outreach programs and rehab shops of today. But the homeless and addicted who continue to seek the Salvation Army's help in reclaiming their broken lives apparently find comfort in an outfit that speaks as much to their souls as their bodies (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal)

Kenya constitution:

  • Churches plot a constitution takeover | The faiths-led Ufungamano Initiative yesterday released its own draft constitution, which it said it wanted presented to Kenyans through a referendum run by the electoral commission (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Kibwana thrown out at Bomas | Assistant Minister Kivutha Kibwana was yesterday kicked out as a committee leader at the National Constitutional Conference for openly supporting the draft constitution released by religious leaders last week (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Draft bodes ill for review | The religious leaders who presented an alternative draft constitution yesterday run every risk of being seen to present a hidden agenda (Editorial, The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)

  • Throw out parallel draft, say Muslims | The document's rejection of kadhi courts had threatened the existing religious harmony, said Sheikh Juma Ngao, chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (East African Standard, Nairobi)

  • Bishop: Why church broke off | The church has lost faith in the constitutional review talks currently going on at the Bomas of Kenya, Catholic Archbishop John Njue has said (East African Standard, Nairobi)

Religion and politics:

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Marriage initiative:

Gay marriage and homosexuality:

  • Ohio Senate set to stamp marriage heterosexual only | As gay-rights activists and their allies protested outside the Statehouse yesterday, the Senate prepared to approve a bill today to declare heterosexual marriage as Ohio's "strong public policy" (The Toledo Blade, Oh.)

  • Austrian Christians offer to 'cure' gays | Salzburg Bishop Andreas Laun is backing the scheme offered by a Christian group called Living Waters (Ananova)

  • And they lived gaily ever after | Bush's endorsement of the idea of marriage is the kind of adventurous political initiative that could lay the groundwork for a slate of all the other things your mother always told you to do, such as getting the hair out of your eyes, standing up straight, changing your tone of voice when you talk to me and not leaving the house looking like that (Merrill Markoe, Los Angeles Times)

  • In gay-marriage ruling, boom for Provincetown | Since Massachusetts' highest court ruled that gays have a right to marry, Provincetown has been gearing up for the wedding business (The New York Times)

The Passion of the Christ:

  • Passions are swirling anew | It takes a particular sort of chutzpah to put a phony quote in the mouth of Pope John Paul II (Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times)

  • Secretary: Pope didn't ok Gibson film | The papal secretary rarely speaks to the press; his remarks were an apparent indication of concern over alleged papal endorsement of a film that has stirred controversy for months before it has been viewed by the general public (Associated Press)

  • Promo from the pulpit | Mel Gibson sneaked into the suburbs Tuesday for a private and closely guarded screening of his controversial film about the death of Christ (Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)

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Church life:

Church buildings:

  • Satanists blamed for church desecration | A church leader in Lincolnshire says a remote church has been desecrated by Satanists (BBC)

  • Sell churches, keep bishops' palaces | The Church is now steadily eating into its capital, rather than relying on income, to meet its bills (George Trefgarne, The Telegraph, London)

  • Church's building plans worry neighbors | Lexington residents say the area has rain runoff problems, which the construction could aggravate (The Roanoke Times, Va.)

  • Cuban Orthodox cathedral near completion | Hammers clanged inside a Byzantine sanctuary as workers rushed to finish the new St. Nicholas Cathedral in time for a visit Wednesday by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians (Associated Press)

Conservative church actions:

  • Presbyterian activist seeks funds cutoff | A Presbyterian activist who may be stripped of his ministerial credentials this month for suggesting church conservatives withhold funds from denominational coffers will speak tomorrow at National Presbyterian Church in Northwest (The Washington Times)

  • Southern Baptists may leave coalition | Alliance is called too liberal to earn churches' support (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)

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Jack Kelley:

Christians and media:

  • IDT gets animated | Newark telecom ventures into entertainment and partnership with Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)

  • Leap of faith | Christian radio and its broadcasters are thriving in the Winchester region (The Winchester Star, Va.)

  • Fred Rogers tribute to premiere in Pa. | A university orchestra and choir will perform the world premiere next month of an 11-movement composition that will serve as a tribute to the late Fred Rogers, known to millions as Mister Rogers (Associated Press)




  • Prayer amid the office machines | In the bustle and clamor of a Manhattan workday, thousands of New Yorkers take time out from their jobs to pray with one another, often in unlikely places (The New York Times)

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  • Legal foes war against video games | Though miles apart politically, Barry Silver and Jack Thompson are now united in a battle against a shared enemy: the behemoth video game industry (Palm Beach Post, Fla.)

  • Company cuts heavenly mobile link |A service promising to answer people's prayers with a text message apparently sent by Jesus has been shut down after complaints by Finland's mobile services watchdog (Reuters)

  • Give us this day our daily vocation | Since 1996 the Center for Faith and Work at the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has explored how we earn our bread (The Kansas City Star)

Clergy employment rights:

  • Clergy close to workers' rights | Clergy should soon be able to take their bishops to employment tribunals if they believe they have been unfairly sacked or badly treated (The Telegraph, London)

  • Priests to get employment rights | Among the proposals, priests employed on temporary contracts would have access to tribunal and legal protection from unfair dismissal (BBC)


  • Restlessness | What happens when Christian stores start selling on Sunday (Dale Buss, The Wall Street Journal)

  • LifeWay keeping stores closed on Sundays | Sunday will remain a day of rest for LifeWay employees, despite a recent decision by its biggest competitor to open its doors to sales on the Sabbath (The Tennessean, Nashville)

Da Vinci Code:

Other books:

  • Personal Jesus | In his new book, a BU professor looks at how the US turned a religious figure into a national celebrity (The Boston Globe)

  • Greene saved by damnation | If Graham Greene's growing unbelief vitiates the whole underpinning of his "theological thrillers", it always seemed to me that he contrives theological dilemmas for his characters that aren't really dilemmas in the first place (Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, London)

  • False idols and endless quests: Setting out to kill a few gods | In Killing the Buddha, Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet set out on a quest for nothing less than the One, and they were not afraid to look in strange places for it (Forward)

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  • E.T. the extra-theological | NASA project expedites questions of extraterrestrials' beliefs (The Kansas City Star)

  • NASA photo captures sacred | A huge reproduction of NASA's Earth photo should hang prominently in every place of worship, of every creed, denomination, faith, sect, or "ism." (Tom Harpur, Toronto Star)



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