From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
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 www.forusa.org.)
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
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
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
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