From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Tue, 18 Feb 2003 16:02:02 -0500

February 18, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Episcopalians join Mideast Interfaith Peace-builders 

(ENS) Six Episcopalians, who joined a Mideast Interfaith 
Peace-builders Delegation, returned from their two-week trip 
"deeply sobered by what we have heard and seen."

The trip, co-sponsored by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and The 
Witness Magazine, was coordinated by the Fellowship of 
Reconciliation. The delegation visited Palestine/Israel, Jordan 
and Lebanon January 25-February 8. "We have listened to 
representatives from dozens of Palestinian and Israeli 
organizations working nonviolently for a just peace in the 
Middle East, and have heard the stories and opinions of 
countless individuals whose views on the conflict span the 
political spectrum," they said in a statement.

The statement described encounters with Palestinian refugees in 
Lebanon with no rights, refugees who "have entered a second 
half-century of existence as a forgotten people. Crowded refugee 
camps, bursting at two to three times their intended capacities, 
house refugees whose rights to work, own property, and travel 
are severely restricted, and whose access to education and 
health care are minimal."

In Jordan, the delegation was told that "the nation's economic, 
environmental and political" situation has suffered critically 
over the last two years and that Jordan was feeling isolated by 
the U.S. government because it is being accused of not securing 
its borders with Iraq.

In a meeting with Anglican Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal in 
Jerusalem, he told the group of the missile attack at St. 
Philip's Church adjacent to the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, 
supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, two days before 
their arrival. "No one who is sane could claim that this was a 
mistake--it was a huge guided missile," he said. The bishop 
repeated an assertion the delegation heard from many in the 
region: "The root of this problem is the occupation."

Members of the delegation even ventured into Hebron, a 
Palestinian city with a nearby Israeli settlement that has been 
a flashpoint of violence in the last few years. They were told 
by Israeli settlers that Palestinian parents are encouraging 
their children to be suicide bombers. They stayed with 
Palestinian and Jewish families, "ordinary people who yearn for 
peace and security in this land, many of whom have given up hope 
of living alongside former neighbors."

In its statement the delegation said that health care workers 
spoke of "the traumatic effects on young and old alike and heard 
concerns expressed that the current state of violence will grow 
much worse if war begins in Iraq." In a meeting with U.S. 
embassy officials, they were told that "our government is 
committed to the creation of a 'sovereign and viable' 
Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel." They also saw the 
first stages of a wall being built by the Israelis to separate 
the two sides in the conflict.

(Episcopalians on the delegation included Michael Battle, Peter 
Churchill, Ethan Flad, Elisha Harig-Blaine, Christopher Pottle, 
Terry Rogers and Winnie Varghese. Individual trip reports and 
the final statement are available at

Archbishop of Canterbury reflective on eve of enthronement

(ACNS) On the eve of his enthronement as the 104th archbishop of 
Canterbury on February 27, Rowan Williams reflected on his 
spiritual journey in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily 

He spoke of his childhood with fond memories, describing early 
impressions of the Anglican tradition and how the whole 
Christian enterprise seemed to hang together in an imaginative 
and intellectual way. Originally a member of the Presbyterian 
Church of Wales, he recalled how the "discovery of liturgical 
life was tremendously engaging" and served as a grand narrative. 
"It is a story of what the world is like, and within that how 
different aspects of how we see God knit together," he told 
Charles Moore, editor of the paper. "I'm very interested in what 
can be done, what I can do, in promoting good, imaginative and 
solid liturgy."

Regarding the looming possibility of war with Iraq, Williams 
congratulated Prime Minister Tony Blair for his commitment to a 
moral vision of international affairs and a very strong belief 
that it is possible to intervene successfully. The archbishop's 
two greatest fears, however, are "the needs and the problems of 
Christians [and other minorities] in the region and the 
precedents set by preemptive military action."

While indicating his respect for President George Bush and his 
attempts to fight terrorism and avoid a repeat of the 
devastating events of September 11, 2001, Williams expressed 
concern about any one country taking on the role of global 

Underscoring the eagerness of most people in Muslim communities 
to distance themselves from the rhetoric of the terrorists, 
Williams said that Islam is "a religion whose primary focus and 
interest is about unity--the unity of God and the unity of the 
faithful community under God. It is one community under God. 
That is what has given Islam its moral power and passion through 
the centuries. Whereas Christianity has, I think, been more 
inclined to ironies and paradox, which has made the Muslims very 
impatient with us."

Touching on a topic that has stirred considerable controversy 
following his appointment, Williams said, "On homosexuality in 
general my worry is that, while we talk about particular bits of 
sexual ethics, we as Christians are in danger of losing the big 
cultural argument about sexuality, that it is a gift of God to 
be exercised in a way that shows God's faithfulness and 
commitment." He added that in the way the debates are drawn "we 
are not looking at what the real heart of Christian teaching is 
in sexual ethics."

Lutherans showing reluctance to discuss sexuality issues

(ELCA) Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran 
Church in America (ELCA) told a meeting of the church's Studies 
on Sexuality Task Force at a February 7-9 meeting that, during 
his travels around the church, he senses a reluctance among 
Lutherans to discuss sexuality issues.

Hanson encouraged the task force to return the topic of 
sexuality to "the culture of faith" and to "take the moment, as 
uncomfortable as it is." The task force has assembled two panels 
of consultants as it prepares study materials to encourage 
church members to talk about blessing same-gender relationships 
and accepting clergy living in such relationships. One purpose 
of the study is to shape recommendations for the 2005 Churchwide 
Assembly to set policies and to develop a social statement on 
sexuality to be considered in 2007.

"We are very much still in a process of listening and studying 
and learning," said Bishop Margaret G. Payne of the New England 
Synod, chair of the task force. "This spring is a particularly 
intense time as we meet with various groups." At April meetings 
the task force will hear from a panel of theologians and members 
of the scientific community. "We're wrestling very much with how 
to encourage the whole church to engage more fully" in the 
study, she said.

"Human sexuality is broken all over the place," said Bishop 
Peter Strommen of the Northeastern Synod and a member of the 
task force. He questioned whether blessing same-gender 
relationships could bring healing in much the same way that 
marriage does. Some on the panel said that the church would be 
"condoning " or "endorsing" homosexuality if it blessed 
same-gender relationships. Others urged the church to 
concentrate on what the Bible says about sexual relationships.

Following panel presentations from both sides on the issues, 
Payne said that she believed that "what was helpful for us was 
to have those positions embodied in people and have them speak 
individually about their thoughts, their pastoral experiences 
and their views of Scripture," said Payne. "Each task force 
meeting we have gives us a chance to move deeper into the 
studies. Each group we meet with and talk with helps us to 
understand more of the complexities of the issue."

(Information on the study is available at

Census shows that most Brits still identify with 

(ENI) Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of those surveyed in 
England and Wales still report that they belong to the Christian 
religion, despite falling church attendance. "These figures 
prove as a lie claims that England is no longer a Christian 
country," said Bishop Keith Sutton of Litchfield. 

The finding emerged as a result of the 2001 national census, the 
first to ask the 52 million who participated about their 
religious affiliations. The results showed that 37.3 million 
declared their adherence to Christianity, even though less than 
10 percent go to church weekly.

"It is a wake-up call to the churches when so many people 
identify as Christian but don't feel strongly enough to be part 
of a church," said David Goodburn, general secretary of Churches 
Together in Britain.

The second-largest faith in England and Wales is Islam with 
about 3 percent, or 1.5 million people, identifying themselves 
as Muslim, followed by Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism.

Among the surprises from the survey, 390,000 identified 
themselves as followers of Jedi, inspired by the warriors from 
the Star Wars movies. An Internet campaign urged people to 
answer "Jedi Knight" to the census question on religion. About 
15 percent, or 7.7 million people, declared they had no religion 
and another 8 percent declined to answer the question.

"Churches haven't lost the ground they thought they had," said 
Prof. Leslie Francis of the University of Wales in Bangor, chair 
of the interfaith group dealing with census authorities. 
"Non-practicing Christianity has real implications for how 
people live their lives and churches shouldn't give the 
impression that, if you don't practice Christianity, you're not 
part of us."

New study questions policies on clergy salaries

(ENS/Duke) Rather than relying on competitive free-market forces 
to determine clergy salaries, churches should provide all 
pastors with sufficient compensation to enable them to live out 
their call in relative comfort, according to a new study by 
Pulpit and Pew Research Project at Duke University.

"How much should we pay the pastor? A fresh look at clergy 
salaries in the 21st century" was written by Becky McMillan, 
associate director of the project, and Matthew J. Price, 
director of analytical research at the Episcopal Church's 
Pension Group.

In their report, the authors compare Protestant and Roman 
Catholic clergy salaries in "an effort to illustrate and 
highlight the differences and underlying rationales between free 
market and more centralized, collective decision-making 
approaches to setting salaries for pastoral leadership," 
according to the news release from Duke. 

The research examined clergy salaries among Protestants as set 
by church policy, as determined how much autonomy individual 
parishes have in setting salaries. Churches with so-called 
"connectional" polities--Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians 
and Episcopalians--have little autonomy over salaries and are 
subject to some degree of centralization--guidelines or 
requirements to pay pension and health care benefits, for 

For those parishes with more "congregational" 
polities--Baptists, Pentecostals, United Church of Christ and 
others--more freedom is available in determining clergy 
compensation and therefore they represent a more market-driven 

"Generally, in all but the very largest churches, salaries for 
clergy in Connectional polities are higher than those paid to 
clergy in Congregational polities, even when controlling for 
pastor education, experience and congregational wealth," 
according to the Duke release. "Regardless of polity, only a 
small percentage of pastors earn what most Americans would 
consider a professional level salary."

The report also highlights the fact that, while regional 
differences in salaries are not large, clergy salaries across 
the country have split between small and medium-sized churches 
that struggle to pay clergy even a modest stipend and larger 
churches that pay high, competitive salaries. The smaller 
churches are increasingly forced to move toward part-time clergy 
or those with less education and experience. "The report raises 
particular concern over the state of salaries for 
African-American clergy, the restricted upward mobility of women 
clergy, and the growing burden of debt incurred by clergy to 
fund their theological education," the release said.

In the second half of their report, the authors explore the 
impact of compensation on the sense of call and commitment, 
arguing that low salaries make it difficult for clergy to be 
true to their call, forcing some to consider other professions 
or forms of ministry.

The Episcopal Church was represented on the project by William 
Craddock, director of CREDO Institute, and Bishop Clay Matthews 
of the Office of Pastoral Development.

(Full text of the report is available at

Workshop on writing icons offered this summer in Lexington

(ENS) A "Six Days of Creation" Icon Writing Workshop will be 
offered this summer in Lexington, Kentucky, organized by St. 
Andrew Orthodox Church, exploring the dynamics of icon writing 
and the place of icons in Christian worship and the history of 
art. The July 27-August 2 workshop will be on the campus of 
Lexington Theological Seminary.

In addition to St. Andrew and the seminary, the workshop is also 
sponsored by the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts and 
the Gaines Center for the Humanities. Besides the intensive 
instruction by master iconographer, Xenia Pokrovsky, the worship 
offers a five-part lecture series by the Rev. Thomas Hopko, dean 
emeritus of St. Vladimir Theological Seminary in New York, and 
four scholars from the University of Kentucky which will host an 
exhibition of icons at its art museum.

Although icons have always occupied a central place in the 
devotional life of Eastern Christians, both Orthodox and Roman 
Catholic, there has been a recent surge of interest in icons 
among western Christians. Icon-makers inherit and transmit a 
millennia-old tradition where individual expression yields to a 
prescribed canon of palette and forms, according to background 
information for the workshop. 

During the workshop each student will complete an icon which 
will be displayed at the reception for the Six Days of Creation 
Icon Exhibition at the university museum on August 1.

Pokrovsky began learning iconography in the 1960s when it was a 
dangerous endeavor in her native Russia still under the 
atheistic yoke of communism. Yet she sought to fulfill her 
spiritual father's prophesy that she would become a leader in 
recovering and teaching icon writing throughout the world. She 
laments that, in the United States, the sacred art of icon 
writing is being turned into a commercial enterprise.

For more information call workshop director Mary Lowell at 
502-868-5461 or visit the web site at


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home