Friday, May 27, 2011

10 Years of Life with Potter in One Word

Bishop Nazir-Ali addresses the Western Church

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is the former Bishop of Rochester (Church of England) 1994-2009. He is currently Director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue.  Tip of the Tinfoil to Anglican TV.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Someone get Jonathon Edwards on the phone

Is it really possible Tom Wright doesn't know why Americans ask him about hell?

He's so swift in his judgements about America (what has gotten into him lately?) - and now Americans - as though he is completely clueless about why. Any American teenager who has studied American history or American literature for five minutes knows the answer.

We - even now, even after all this time - we are the children of the Pilgrims. We are the children of the Puritans. We are the children of New England. While the religious fervor of our Puritan founders may have waned, our need to know whether we are in the "elect" has not diminished. Americans have inherited the examined life of our Puritan mothers and fathers, we consistently and constantly examine our lives to know if we are in the elect, secularized though it may be now. Why do we put all our bad news on public cable systems and broadcast them all over the world - we must confess our sins, that we might not be doomed but in fact be saved. We examine our life privately as individuals and publicly as a nation - will we be saved?

This has a secular meaning now, but it's woven into the fabric of American culture. That N.T. Wright seems to be totally unaware of this significant part of the American character and history is quite frankly astonishing.

In fact, this element of our culture may be one of the most significant differences between America and England. They have stamped out the memory of their own Puritan history (and with good reason), but we have not. Our Puritan history was tempered by southern Jeffersonianism, just as strong and significant in shaping the American culture - that is, we can start again, we can return to the Garden, we can remake ourselves and start all over again, the New Adam.

American culture is founded on a hybrid of Puritan Jonathon Edwards and Enlightened Thomas Jefferson and what is surprising is that for all our learning, all our immigration of other cultures and creeds, still - after all these years, the force of our Puritan founders still runs deep like a river through our cultural life all the way to this day when Rob Bell dares to call the question.

Thursday, May 26
I have a dream

In the comments below, James writes, "We should not have engaged the issue of hell, as a Christian community, as we did. There was something very wrong about this debate."

That is true, the reaction to the publicity for the publication of Rob Bell's new book illustrated that again, this issue runs deep, but not just in our religious life, but also in the public sphere. Mercy seems to be missing from the shelves.  The "rush to judgment" was swift, and there seems to have been little time in the rush to consider why Rob Bell hit a nerve.

Bishop Wright appears to take the tack of "why all the fuss?"  He sadly dismisses the question, but not without issuing his own judgement in the process.  Why are Americans so concerned about hell (and why perhaps Bell did write his book)?

The fact remains, as Wright aptly observes, that Americans do consider hell more than he does.  In doing so he fails to grasp that this observation is integrated into the fabric of our society.  The Great Awakening in part is based on the premise that if we do not turn to God we are damned.  This causes a society to transform itself – by both liberal and conservative by the way.  It is the engine that pushes the train forward, that we may not be damned, but may be saved.  If anyone wants to understand America, this is key.

What I find fascinating about any kind of "damnation" - be it religious or secular - is that it continues to be such a force in our political and cultural landscape today.  It comes from both the religious and political left and the right, the differences being not that there is no damnation, but what criteria is identified to justify being condemned. Wright is naive if he thinks he can just sweep away the question with the wave of theological hand, dismissing those childish Americans with their preoccupation about hell. 

We can argue the theological underpinnings about whether hell exists or does not exist or who may or may not actually be there.  But the point here is that there is a strong concept that there are consequences of justice that if we do get it wrong we are condemned.

This is so deeply, deeply embedded into the American character that to dismiss it with a pontificating wave is just quite simply incredulous.  It would be one thing if Bishop Wright had never been to the United States or spent his entire career locked up in a tower, but the fact remains he has come across the pond on many occasions and since he might fashion himself inclined to care about justice issues he might want to consider digging deeper and ask the question Why rather than shut down the conversation as being irrelevant.

Of course it’s relevant - the concern with the environment is one thing, but another quite frankly is the entire issue of race and slavery.  America to this day is haunted by its slave-owning past.  Whatever the Dream might posses for new generations, there is still this ghost of slavery that permeates our national life even to this day. 

Martin Luther King Jr.'s genius, for example, was to appeal to the dream of something more, but he still appealed to the dream inherited by our Puritan ancestors - the Dream of the Promised Land.  But if we are not deemed worthy to walk into the Promised Land, it is then inferred we are condemned.  And that shame, that sentence of condemnation continues to haunt our society.  Dr. King appealed to the spiritual implications that if we did nothing to change our society to one where "one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers" we too would be like those horrific racists who blemished this land with their sin.  The implication is that if we do not do this, if we do not partake in the Dream of the Promised Land, we are doomed.  If there is no hell - secular or religious, then why work so hard to change the world in which we live? 

Are we progressing toward some secular "New Adam" as Jefferson may have dreamed, a natural new aristocracy of the great - Americans do seem to continue to look for the perfect man, the perfect leader and if one is lacking, that too is broadcast from the housetops.  But at the same time, it is not still the Promised Land that we journey toward, knowing too that if we don't make it, if we are found with "sin the camp" we expose it for all the world to see on CNN or in The New York Times so that we might be found worthy and be saved.

In England, the Puritans of course temporarily overthrew the Monarchy (and of course, Oliver Cromwell then finally became a despot king of sorts himself). But in America, we temper our secular Puritan fervor with a native optimism so clearly articulated in recent years by Ronald Reagan.  That optimism tempers the searing and often cranky eye of judgment that we experience in our harsh assessments of our cultural experience.  But that optimism was severely tested by 9/11.

Is 9/11- that one act - done more to shift the landscape of American society than any other single event in modern American history?  Was it not catastrophic?  Did it in many ways reveal that Jonathon Edwards' warnings are ingrained - or were ingrained - into the conscience of a nation even if we don’t remember why:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. - From Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

The implication is there, if we can't seem to grasp why we are so worried - not just for the safety of our nation, but our own corporate salvation.  9/11 was like a visible picture of hell in real time, one that we all who witnessed that day in person or in television, yes, in real time will never forget.  The questions that are raised from it - are we safe, are good, are we blessed, are we saved are not so easily answered.  From the recent "economic downturn" it appears that many thought there was no longer any sort of interior moral compass to compel people to do good and thus apparently shut their eyes turned revered financial institutions into Darwinist casinos banked by the indebtedness of the naive and the stupid.  Will those bankers go to hell?  Will the debtors go to hell?  Why should they worry if there is no hell?  If there is no hell, is there no justice?  And if there is no justice, then what compels us to do good?

I wonder if the characteristic American optimism is in some ways based on the inherited certainty of hope that this country is indeed "in the elect," that it is "the Promised Land," the "City on the Hill," and that if you can make it here, you will not be "some loathsome insect over the fire," but be redeemed.  You are free here to do good.  We sing of that great land in our national hymns and we believe.  But what if all is not well?  And what if there is no hell, after all - then does that mean there is no Promised Land after all?  If there is no hell and everyone gets to go, then why do we work so hard? 

Again, these ideas are couched in the religious terms of the New England settlers, but they are translated today into secular American thought.  The Puritan investment into the American culture runs deep, but it is not without consequences.  They may have passed on their robust commitment to work and a future hope, but that commitment also carries forward to the ashes of 9/11 and reveals the fear of judgment from that day, that it all was just a dream after all and judgement is upon us, or worse, Hitchins is right.  There is no God.

And so we turn to N.T. Wright for an answer.

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan!

Today is Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday - and of course, all of us here a the Cafe are celebrating! Happy Birthday!

And here is a performance from the Rolling Thunder Tour, circa 1974-75. The song, Tangled Up on Blue, reflects on his life from his major works, Blood on the Tracks.

Oh, but he was so much older then, he's younger than that now.

Here's a fun - even charming - jamming session from 1999 from the television series Dharma & Greg. Enjoy!

Here is an interesting tour of Greenwich Village where Dylan lived in the early 60s:

And the first public performance of Blowin' in the Wind:

Here are some cool links to read up - and take a fun trivia test!

Tangled Up In Trivia: Are you a true Dylan fan? Take this 30 question quiz to find out. (Rolling Stone)

Busy Being Born: Read a tribute to Dylan that discusses what his music owes to his fans. (Slate)

I know I've Seen That Face Somewhere: See pictures from behind the scenes of Dylan's first electric tour of Europe in 1966. (TIME)

Hey, Hey Woody Guthrie:  See pictures of people mentioned in Dylan's songs. (LIFE)

I Had to Say Something to Strike Him Very Weird: The AV Club rounds up some of Dylan's stranger moves. (AV Club)

How Does It Feel: You know Things Have Changed when Dylan graces the cover of AARP Magazine. (AARP)
Politician Got On His Jogging Shoes: Watch Rep. Joseph Crowley take a page out of Dylan's book. (The Daily What)

Talkin' New York Town: "I swung onto my old guitar/Grabbed hold of a subway car/And after a rocking, reeling, rolling ride/I landed up on the downtown side/Greenwich Village." Watch a walking tour of Dylan's former stomping grounds: (TIME)

Here's a cool video of Dylan through the years:

And a fun surprise for an audience with David Crosby and the Byrds:

and finally, these songs are making a big comeback, finally, finally, finally ...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: John Guernsey elected to lead new Anglican Diocese based in Virginia - The Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic in the ANCA

The Rt. Rev'd John Guernsey was elected this morning by lay and clergy delegates representing the congregations of the new Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic to be their diocesan bishop.  Meeting in a special Constitutional Convention by the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) at Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, VA.  Bishop Guernsey was elected on the first ballot.

Bishop Guernsey, who was the long-time rector of All Saints Dale City and a leader in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia serving as Deputy to General Convention for many years until his parish voted to separate from the Episcopal Church in 2006, outlined his vision for the new diocese:
Having served in Northern Virginia for all of my ordained ministry, I have a deep commitment to the work of the Kingdom in this region. I have long prayed for the Lord to move in power to renew and heal His Church, that we might reach the lost with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. The formation of this new diocese is the Lord’s doing and I believe that I am called to be a part of it.
I envision a diocese that is prayer-based and mission-focused; a diocese of congregations that are growing and multiplying, served by clergy who are walking in faith and holiness; a diocese that is passionate to reach the lost and the next generations, discipling new believers to maturity in the Word; a diocese that joyfully worships the living Lord and is transformed by His power.

Support of Clergy and Congregations
I am committed to the pastoral support of clergy and their families. I presently serve a non-geographical diocese spread across the country and it is a challenge to stay in touch. I regularly phone the clergy, I pray each day for them, I connect by email. My wife always travels with me, and we love to spend time with the clergy and their spouses and children.

In this diocese, I would continue those important links, but I would also make it a priority to meet monthly with the clergy for worship, to study the Scriptures, to share our concerns and pray for one another. I would expect to meet with several groupings across the large area of the diocese. I would help create ways for our clergy and their families to support and care and pray for one another.

My parish visitations are usually over a full weekend, which creates opportunities for teaching and discipleship, fellowship and encouragement. I come to a congregation to serve and I ask the clergy to offer a plan for how best to use the visitation to support them in the Lord’s work in that place. I love opportunities to teach the Scriptures, to talk with and counsel the leadership team, to get to know the congregation and to pray for them.

The Church’s Mission
The Anglican Church in North America is clear in its Constitution that “the fundamental agency of mission in the Province is the local congregation.” That means that the diocese exists to serve the churches, not the reverse. The work of mission is the responsibility of the clergy and people of our congregations. The role of this new diocese is to support and encourage and to do those things the congregations cannot.

Together, as the congregations and clergy, we will reach the lost, and we will do that, first, through personal evangelistic witness. It is not enough to be part of a mission-minded Province or diocese or congregation if we are not ourselves sharing the Gospel with those we know.

We will plant churches of all sorts and descriptions, using new models and methods, as well as tried and true ones. We will grow and give birth to new dioceses.

We will reach the nations. Our links with the Global South have given us a new vision for Kingdom partnerships around the world. We must engage in the task of presenting Christ to unreached peoples across the globe and here at home. The proximity of our nation’s capital is also part of God’s calling to us—how does He want us to use that opportunity for Gospel witness?

Personal Discipleship
We will be people of the Word. We proclaim biblical authority, but each of us must be deeply rooted in the Scriptures through personal reading and meditating on the Word and through disciplined study.
We will be faithful disciples, who will demonstrate to the world what it looks like to be the people of God. We will disciple others, raising up the next generations in Christ.

We will seek the healing of the Lord for our own lives, walking in greater holiness and purity. We will be quick to give testimony to His grace and mercy and transforming power.

We will worship the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength. We will offer ourselves before Him in the beauty of holiness. Worship through the richness of our Anglican heritage will glorify the Lord and it will invite others to come to know Him.

We will be faithful stewards in our finances. We will proclaim the joy and freedom that is found in trusting the Lord through tithing.

Seeking God’s Vision
I take very seriously the warning in Jeremiah 23 about the false shepherds and prophets, who “speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord...But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” (verses 16, 18). God judges those who claim to speak for Him without first having come before Him in prayer.

Yet the Lord promises to reveal Himself to those who seek His face. “But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people” (verse 22).

If I am called to this new diocese, I know the Lord would have much more to say to me and to all of us about His will and plan. It would be my responsibility and my joy to lead us in seeking Him and His vision for our life together.

My life verse is 2 Corinthians 4:5: “We seek not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” May the Lord give me and all of us the grace to walk humbly before Him, doing all for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ our Lord.
In addition, he answered questions posed to him by the ADV:
Bishop, Diocese of the Holy Spirit of the Anglican Church in North America

Yale University (New Haven, CT) B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), History, with Honors Episcopal Divinity School (Cambridge, MA) M.Div., Biblical Studies

Spiritual Autobiography

I grew up in a Christian home and, through the witness of my parents, gave my life to Christ as a very young boy. My father modeled putting one’s faith into practice in the world; he was deeply committed to racial reconciliation and the church’s ministry among those in need. My mother taught me about prayer; I remember a time when I was upset over something in my homework I couldn’t seem to grasp, and she showed me how to pray it through. I knew that I belonged to Christ and I readily told people that when I grew up I was going to be what Jesus wanted me to be—though I didn’t yet know what that was.

As a teenager active in the church, I was hungry for more of the Lord. But I was aware that I didn’t see lives being changed in our parish or its youth group in which I was actively involved. I hadn’t been taught the Scriptures and so my longing for the supernatural reality of God led me to explore a number of inappropriate spiritual practices we’d now term “New Age.” I wasn’t rejecting Jesus, but I lacked guidance and discernment to seek Him rightly through the Holy Spirit.

During high school, I volunteered in many different ministries, particularly in the inner city. In college, I chose an urban studies major as a way of pursuing my desire to work with the poor, perhaps through a career in government service. After my sophomore year, however, I won a competitive internship, working for a summer as the aide to the administrator of the entire welfare and social service department of the City of New York. It was a terribly disillusioning experience. I came away knowing that God needed people in that environment, but I was not called to be one of them.

With my career goal now unclear, I decided to take time off from college; I had extra credits and could have graduated in three years, but I felt I needed clarity of direction first. I accepted an invitation from an Episcopal layman from Liberia, West Africa to come to his country and do economic planning for the Liberian government. My letter to my contact confirming my plans was lost in the mail, so the government job wasn’t arranged and I ended up being put to work for one of his companies, the Carrier Air Conditioner distributorship. I had a tremendous amount of the time alone to think and pray and reflect, and through it the Lord finally got through to me that He was calling me to ordained ministry. When I finally said “yes” to Him, I had an amazing certainty and a  peace that this was His will. He then made it clear that my time in Liberia was at an end and that I should return home to finish college and go through the ordination process.

At the conclusion of my final interview before seminary, I was asked by the committee if I had any questions to ask them. I said that I did and asked this: “Why is it that we pray to God the Father through God the Son and seem to leave God the Holy Spirit out of it completely?” It was the question of a naïve 20-year old, but it made the committee very uncomfortable. Finally, one member said, “Well, it sounds like you’ve asked a good question. Maybe when you go to seminary you’ll learn the answer and come back and tell us.”

I went off to the seminary my bishop had attended and wanted me to attend, but by this time it had become a very, very liberal place. By God’s grace, I went in believing in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and came out believing it. But I didn’t learn the answer to my question about the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t, of course, simply asking an abstract question about liturgy, but about the supernatural reality of God the Holy Spirit. What I learned instead was that the Holy Spirit was controversial. I was told very clearly that there were people out there who were “into” the Holy Spirit but we were not among them and that I should not expect God to do today what I saw Him doing in the pages of Scripture.

I did, however, meet my wife, Meg, in seminary, without a doubt the best thing that came out of the experience for me! She was from Virginia and so it was that we came here after seminary, she to serve a parish in Culpeper, while I worked at Christ Church in Alexandria.

One of my duties was to assist the lay stewardship chairman, which the Lord used to begin a process of transformation of my use of money. A wise priest I met challenged me to tithe and Meg and I, after much discussion and prayer, began to do so. We discovered a new joy in trusting the Lord and a freedom from anxiety about money and possessions that we’d never known before. It turned out that money had been a logjam in my spiritual life—breaking free in the area of finances resulted in a greater openness to God’s work in my life in other ways, as well.

In December, 1981, I was called to serve as Vicar of All Saints’, then a mission of 36 families worshiping in Triangle, near the Quantico Marine base. The guidance I’d received in seminary to put the Holy Spirit aside did not, to say the least, satisfy the longing that I had for more of the Lord. I began to hear testimonies from clergy and mature lay leaders about the working of the Spirit in their lives. I had much to learn and many theological questions to ask. But finally, the Lord in His goodness led me to the place of a deeper surrender to Him than ever before. I asked one of the godly lay leaders to lay hands on me and pray for the fullness and power of God’s Holy Spirit to fill me.

While the prayer time itself was quite unemotional, the Lord who is ever faithful began from that moment to work in me and through me in ways I’d only yearned for. I developed a passion for the Scriptures. I found a new fervency in prayer and a new intimacy in worship. In my ministry, I saw new power as I shared Jesus. As much as I wanted people to come to know Christ, I had not led anyone to faith in Him in four years of ordained ministry. After I received that empowering of the Holy Spirit, people began to respond to sermons and teaching by coming into my office, falling on their knees and asking to give their lives to Christ. Nothing in seminary had prepared me for that!

The Lord began to give me a greater love for prayer, for evangelism and for the healing ministry, three priorities which have been central to my ministry for the past 28 years. In these areas I again had much to learn and He blessed me with colleagues on staff at All Saints’ who could teach me many things. What a joy to be a part of God’s transforming work in people’s lives. How exciting to be in a parish where that transformation is the norm rather than the exception. And I’ve been privileged to be sent out on many short-term missions with SOMA, training leaders in the power of the Spirit in a number of countries around the world. God has also done His gracious healing work in my own life, freeing me from the hurts of the past to be more the pastor and husband and father He made me to be.

In our family, the Lord gave us many blessings of His love. He gave us two fine sons, who attended St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, where Meg had gone in 1979 to serve as Chaplain. Meg’s mother, physically disabled all her life but a spiritual powerhouse, came to live with us for the last 20 years of her life. Both our sons are now married, and they and their wives are all walking with the Lord. Our elder son, Nathaniel, is a computer science engineer and he and his wife, Mandy, are youth ministry volunteers. Our younger son, Michael, is in seminary preparing for ordination and he and his wife, Tracy, are praying about a long-term missionary call to Uganda.

The call to serve as bishop has been a surprising journey. Twenty years ago I was nominated to be Bishop of Colorado (along with two priests named Bob Duncan and Martyn Minns!). When I wasn’t elected, the Lord spoke clearly to me that I was to stay at All Saints’ and so I declined to be considered in dozens of episcopal elections after that. In December, 2006, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda elected me to be their Bishop for Congregations in America—without consulting me, I might add—though they delayed notifying me or announcing it publicly until the following June. I was consecrated in September, 2007 and given the responsibility to look after the then 26 U.S.
congregations of the Church of Uganda, while continuing to serve as rector of All Saints’. (The number of churches grew to 53 in June, 2009 when, at the launch of the Anglican Church in North America, the Ugandan House of Bishops transferred me and all their U.S. clergy and congregations into the ACNA.)

Meanwhile, Meg had been told by the Lord in August, 2006 that the coming academic year was to be her last at the School. The Lord didn’t tell her any more than that, but in obedience she went to the headmistress and said, “This is my last year.” Her last faculty meeting was just days before I was informed I’d been elected bishop, and so she has been free to travel with me. We’ve followed a more African model of the bishop and his wife together as we’ve visited churches across the country. Serving in this way has been a gift from the Lord to us. Meg has such a heart for clergy spouses and children and it has been so very important to us to spend time with our clergy and their families.
Early in my ministry, the Lord gave me a verse to guide my life and service of him: “We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). I constantly pray that the ministry I offer will always be a ministry of servanthood, seeking only to glorify Jesus Christ.

Here he answers questions:

Why would God be calling you to be Bishop of this new diocese?
I don’t presume to know God’s will and God’s reasons! But I do feel increasingly called to serve the Lord and His Church in this new diocese. I would hope that I could help establish the diocese as prayer-based and mission- focused. I would also hope to contribute to the continuing healing from all that we experienced in our former context.

Describe your leadership style as Bishop: how you relate to clergy and laity; what you think and have done about missions; how you feel about raising money?
I have developed a pattern of multi-day visitations to churches (usually a full weekend), with opportunities for teaching, fellowship, meeting with the leadership and spending time with the clergy and their families. Meg and I always prefer to stay in homes, often with the clergy. I go to serve the church, to teach, listen and encourage.

I have a high priority of ministering to clergy and their families. I telephone the clergy regularly to check in and to pray for them. I am always looking for emerging leaders, particularly those of the next generation, to encourage and disciple.

I am committed to continuing to engage in front-line mission work personally. In 2010, Meg and I spent a week in a remote, desert area of Kenya, working with a large team of mostly young evangelists who were on mission planting churches among unreached peoples. This sort of experience always stretches me and encourages me to keep the proclamation of the Gospel at the forefront of everything I do. In my preaching I seek to spur the church to engage in mission and evangelism and I often invite those who do not yet know the Lord to surrender their lives to Him.

Dealing with stewardship has been a priority in ministry and a significant part of my own journey in Christ. I teach biblical stewardship and readily witness to the blessing of tithing in our own family. I taught financial stewardship at Virginia Seminary for 12 years, as a consultant in dozens of dioceses and congregations, and most especially at All Saints’ Church in Dale City.
To what degree are you committed to the Anglican 1000 church planting initiative? Describe your church planting experience.

I am tremendously excited by the vision of planting 1000 churches in the first five years of the Anglican Church in North America. I assisted in the planning for the first Anglican1000 summit and was greatly encouraged by it. I scheduled the Diocese of the Holy Spirit’s 2011 Annual Synod immediately prior to the second Anglican1000 Summit and at the same venue in order to encourage our diocesan leaders to participate in the Summit. I will also be attending the Exponential Church Planting Conference in Orlando this April.

My former parish, All Saints’ Church in Dale City, planted Christ Our Lord Church in Lake Ridge, one of the most important mission experiences we ever had. I have promoted church planting in our diocese and visited and encouraged those new starts already underway. We have new lay-led fellowships, church plants served by ordained church planters (both tent-makers and those sent out by a sponsoring church) and new congregations begun as second worship sites of existing parishes. It is so heartening to see how the vision for church planting is taking hold, as even some of our smallest churches are launching new congregations.

Please describe your discipline of prayer, study and worship.
I’m an early riser and I am nurtured and strengthened by my morning time in Scripture and prayer. I’ve been reading through the Bible each year for decades, following a number of different patterns. As part of my intercessions, I pray every week through a cycle for all of my diocese’s churches and all of the clergy, their spouses and children. My wife, Meg, and I usually read the Daily Office together and we’re presently doing a study of 1 John. I’m also reading a number of books on Islam to learn more about this critical challenge facing the Church in our day.

Please describe how you spend quality time with your wife and family. Describe what rests and rejuvenates you.

Meg travels with me to all our parish visitations, so I am blessed that we get to spend so much of our time together in ministry. I also enjoy just relaxing with her. We travel so much that we have discovered the importance of having regular days off on the road. We’ve been privileged to see fascinating and beautiful places as we visit churches across the country. I’m an extrovert, but I know that I need to be freed from being “on” and around people all the time. We’ve gone to museums and lots of botanical gardens (a particular love of Meg’s), we’ve taken long walks and we’ve just sat and enjoyed spectacular scenery.

We also used our frequent flier miles to great advantage. This past spring, we took our sons and their wives on a week’s holiday to our namesake island, the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel. It was such a wonderful experience for us—from hiking the cliff walks to laughing over board games. And we’ll be going back in 2011.
Read it all here.

UPDATE:  Here is the press release from the Anglican District of Virginia:
The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) held a Constitutional Convention on May 20-21, 2011 at Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, Va. At this event, ADV delegates voted to petition the Anglican Church in North America to become a diocese and adopted new governing documents (Constitutions and Canons). Pending approval of the diocesan petition, the Anglican District of Virginia elected The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey to serve as bishop of the diocese, to be named the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.

Bishop John Guernsey has served in various clergy roles during his years of ordained ministry in Virginia. He served as rector of All Saints’ Church in Dale City, Va., for 29 years before serving as the head of the Diocese of the Holy Spirit in the Anglican Church in North America. For more background on Bishop Guernsey and to read his vision statement for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, click here.

“Our hope is that the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, under the courageous and blessed leadership of Bishop John Guernsey, will continue to follow the path Christ is setting for us as we strive to grow and share our faith,” said Anglican District of Virginia Chairman Jim Oakes.

“In just a few years, we have grown to over 40 worshipping congregations, are planting churches, and have almost 7,000 people worshipping in our churches each Sunday. My prayer is that this new diocese within the Anglican Church in North America will make the trumpet sound even louder and bring more worshippers together in mission and ministry, continued Oakes.”

ADV is hopeful that the Anglican Church in North America will accept the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic as one of its member dioceses later this year. While the new diocese will be connected directly to the Anglican Church in North America, many of its congregations will continue to be in partnership with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). CANA is a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America.

Anglican District of Virginia takes formal steps to join the Anglican Church of North America as a diocese

The Anglican District of Virginia, meeting in a special Constitutional Convention today, took formal steps to become the newest diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.  First bishop for the new diocese will be elected tomorrow.  Prayers are appreciated.  More info on the way - stay tuned!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nine Questions

#7 of the Rolling Stone Readers Picks of the their favorite Bob Dylan songs. Rolling Stone writes:
The song that first branded Dylan a prophet asks nine questions and answers none of them. A rewrite of the anti-slavery spiritual "No More Auction Block," Dylan claimed to have knocked out this meditation on humanity’s inhumanity in 10 minutes. The version of the song most people heard in 1963 wasn’t Dylan's – it was Peter, Paul and Mary's cover, which hit Number Two on the pop chart. But in any version, the words are so simple, it sounds like they'd been handed down from the sky on stone tablets. "It’s absolutely wonderful writing," says Merle Haggard. "It was timely then and is still timely today."

You can read the article and hear the pieces here

And the Tenth Question ...

Number One however is not a big surprise - oh yes, Dylan did do that one in China.  He always does that one in concert.  Rolling Stone calls it the single greatest song of all time.  And it rocks at the Dylan's concerts, when the lights come up and the audience sings along asking perhaps a bigger question then all nine asked in Blowin in the Wind (and a question that, you may remember, even Spock couldn't answer in The Voyage Home), especially when it drips with his signature sarcasm that no doubt is aimed - like so many of his greatest songs are as well - at himself.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Diocese of San Joaquin elects new Bishop

Great news!  The Rev'd Dr. Eric Menees has been elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of San Joaquin.  He will follow the Rt. Rev'd John-David Schofield who has served as Bishop of San Joaquin since 1988.  Here is a video of an excellent teaching he did recently from Anglican TV:

Here is the announcement of the election:
Election Results
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin
Standing Committee
4159 East Dakota Avenue Fresno, CA 93726

RE: THE ELECTION OF THE BISHOP COADJUTOR The Standing Committee, in accordance with Title I, Canon I, Sec. 1.04 (Canons of the Diocese of San Joaquin); Article X(5) (ACNA Constitution); and Title III, Canon 8, Sec. 1 (Canons of the ACNA), is pleased to announce on behalf of special convention convened in Fresno, California, at the Anglican Cathedral of St James, Saturday, May 14, 2011, the election of The Rev?d Dr. Eric Menees on the second ballot, as Bishop Coadjutor-elect of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.

Consecration is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 24, 2011, 3p.m.; and Enthronement on Sunday, October 23, 2011, 4 p.m.; both to be held at People?s Church, 7172 North Cedar Avenue, Fresno, CA 93720-3368.

Faithfully yours in Christ, The Rev'd Jack Estes, President
Standing Committee

More on Dr. Menees:
The Rev. Dr. Eric Menees currently serves as the Rector of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in San Marcos, CA. A graduate of the General Theological Seminary, Fr. Menees received his Doctor of Ministry from Seabury Western in 2006.
After he graduated from seminary Fr. Menees was ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and subsequently served as the Deacon/Priest in Charge of the Church of Epiphany and the Associate Rector of the Church of the Messiah, both of which were Spanish language ministries.
The Rev. Menees served as the Chaplain to the Bishop’s School in La Jolla prior to becoming Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in San Marcos, CA. For reasons of conscience, the Rev. Menees left Grace Episcopal and founded the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in 2006. He is a vowed Third Order Franciscan.
The Rev. Menees is married to Florence Guadalupe Mira-Menees and has a daughter, Milagro, aged 17 and a son, Sebastian, aged 10.

UPDATE: The Fresno Bee reports:

The Rev. Dr. Eric Menees is the new bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, following his election Saturday by clergy and lay delegates at a special convention at St. James Cathedral in east-central Fresno.

Menees, rector of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in San Marcos in Southern California, will replace Bishop John-David Schofield, who has announced plans to retire in October.

The Rev. Van McCalister, assistant to the dean at St. James, said delegates cast two ballots before a majority vote for one candidate was reached. The other candidates were the Very Rev. Carlos Raines, dean of St. James Cathedral; and the Rev. Dr. Ronald Jackson, chaplain and tutor at Trinity College in Bristol, England.

The final vote for Menees was 120 of the 168 clergy and lay delegates. Separate majority votes were required among the clergy delegates and lay representatives.

Menees is a graduate of General Theological Seminary. He received a doctorate of ministry from Seabury Western Theological Seminary in 2006.

Menees was ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He served in Spanish-language ministries and as the chaplain of the Bishop's School in La Jolla. He was rector of Grace Episcopal Church in San Marcos before founding the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in 2006.

Menees and his wife, Florence Mira-Menees, have a 17-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.

McCalister said Menees will be consecrated at a service in the larger People's Church in September and enthroned in late October, which coincides with Schofield's retirement.

Schofield was elected bishop in 1988. In 2007, Schofield helped lead a movement for the diocese to secede from the U.S. Episcopal Church over debate about same-sex blessings, consecration of a partnered gay priest and how to interpret the Bible over such issues.

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin extends from Elk Grove south to Lancaster, and from Hollister east to Henderson, Nev.

Read it all here.

High Water Rising

Friday, May 13, 2011

Breaking News: Bob Dylan writes a letter

Bob Dylan today released a letter to his "fans and followers" regarding news stories that erroneously circulated that he had somehow been "censored" at his concerts in China.  This is a very rare event for him to speak publicly - and he signs off with his signature wit.  Here is his letter:

Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year. First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China. This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn't happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook. If anybody had bothered to check with the Chinese authorities, it would have been clear that the Chinese authorities were unaware of the whole thing.

We did go there this year under a different promoter. According to Mojo magazine the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages. The Chinese press did tout me as a sixties icon, however, and posted my picture all over the place with Joan Baez, Che Guevara, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The concert attendees probably wouldn't have known about any of those people. Regardless, they responded enthusiastically to the songs on my last 4 or 5 records. Ask anyone who was there. They were young and my feeling was that they wouldn't have known my early songs anyway.

As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There's no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.

Everybody knows by now that there's a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I'm encouraging anybody who's ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.

-Bob Dylan

So on this note, here's a inventive video for Dylan's Mostly Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine from the landmark Blonde on Blonde.

Rolling Stone writes about the letter:
In an unprecedented move, Bob Dylan posted a message on his official website this morning addressing the controversy surrounding his concerts in China last month. Unconfirmed reports had circulated that Dylan had allowed the Chinese government to censor his setlist.
Some pundits took shots at Dylan over the allegations, particularly New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. "The idea that the raspy troubadour of ’60s freedom anthems would go to a dictatorship and not sing those anthems is a whole new kind of sellout," she wrote in a widely mocked column. "Even worse than BeyoncĂ©, Mariah and Usher collecting millions to croon to Qaddafi’s family, or Elton John raking in a fortune to serenade gay-bashers at Rush Limbaugh’s fourth wedding."

She went on to chastise him for not playing "Hurricane" (which he hasn't played anywhere since 1976) and wrote that Dylan "sang his censored set, took his pile of Communist cash and left."

We had our own thoughts on Ms. Dowd's column here.  Never thought we'd see both Maureen Dowd and NT Wright hitting their mid-air motorbikes in the same year.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Justice not "seen to be done" - The Archbishop of Canterbury on the death of Osama bin Laden; Theologian N.T. Wright calls American actions "vigilantism"

From The Telegraph:

Dr Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, criticised the White House for repeatedly changing its account of the raid on the al-Qaeda leader’s compound in Pakistan.

Killing bin Laden when he was not carrying a weapon meant that justice could not be “seen to be done,”  the Archbishop suggested.

Rowan Williams raises questions on bin Laden's death.
But lawyers and senior figures from politics and the military said Dr Williams was not living in “the real world” while relatives of 9/11 victims expressed outrage at his remarks.

A senior Government source described the Archbishop's comments as “very unwise”, adding: “One has to give some thought for all the unarmed people that bin Laden killed. This was a very silly thing to say.”

Dr Williams’s intervention represents the most outspoken statement so far by a mainstream religious leader since the US Navy Seals team stormed bin Laden’s hideout and killed the world’s most wanted man on Monday.

The row came during another day of developments in which the US was seen to change its account of the controversial special forces raid yet again.

US officials disclosed that just one of the five men killed in the operation was armed, contradicting the White House’s earlier picture of a continuous 40-minute shoot-out between special forces and terrorists.

Relations between the US and Pakistan worsened as Pakistani military chiefs demanded that America reduce its troop presence in the country to a “minimum”. After days of questions in Washington over how bin Laden could find shelter in the town of Abbottabad, army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani threatened to “review” cooperation with the US in the event of “any similar action “violating the sovereignty” of Pakistan.

President Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York, to meet relatives of those who died in the World Trade Centre attacks and lay a wreath. The President said bin Laden's death proved that America would never fail to bring terrorists to “justice”.

“When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” Mr Obama said. "We were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act - that they received justice.”

However, during a press conference at Lambeth Palace, Dr Williams questioned whether “justice” had been demonstrated by the US action.

“The killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done,” he said.

The White House’s “different versions of events” during the past week “have not done a great deal to help”, he said.

“I don’t know full details any more than anyone else does. But I do believe that in such circumstances when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a war criminal, in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed.”

Read it all here.

Has N.T. Wright "jumped the shark" from lofty position in academia?  Or has he forgotten there's a war going on?

UPDATE: Noted Anglican theologian and former bishop of Durham NT Wright has also written a piece critical of the United States actions against Osama bin Laden as well:
Consider the following scenario. A group of IRA terrorists carry out a bombing raid in London. People are killed and wounded. The group escapes, first to Ireland, then to the United States, where they disappear into the sympathetic hinterland of a country where IRA leaders have in the past been welcomed at the White House. Britain cannot extradite them, because of the gross imbalance of the relevant treaty. So far, this is not far from the truth.

But now imagine that the British government, seeing the murderers escape justice, sends an aircraft carrier (always supposing we’ve still got any) to the Nova Scotia coast. From there, unannounced, two helicopters fly in under the radar to the Boston suburb where the terrorists are holed up. They carry out a daring raid, killing the (unarmed) leaders and making their escape. Westminster celebrates; Washington is furious.

What’s the difference between this and the recent events in Pakistan? Answer: American exceptionalism. America is allowed to do it, but the rest of us are not. By what right? Who says?

Consider another fictive scenario. Gangsters are preying on a small mid-western town. The sheriff and his deputies are spineless; law and order have failed. So the hero puts on a mask, acts ‘extra-legally’, performs the necessary redemptive violence (i.e. kills the bad guys), and returns to ordinary life, earning the undying gratitude of the local townsfolk, sheriff included. This is the plot of a thousand movies, comic-book strips, and TV shows: Captain America, the Lone Ranger, and (upgraded to hi-tech) Superman. The masked hero saves the world.

Films and comics with this plot-line have been named as favourites by most Presidents, as Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence pointed out in The Myth of the American Superhero (2002) and Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil (2004). The main reason President Obama has been cheered to the echo across the US, even by his bitter opponents, is not simply the fully comprehensible sense of closure a decade after the horrible, wicked actions of September 11 2001. Underneath that, he has just enacted one of America’s most powerful myths.

Perhaps the myth was necessary in the days of the Wild West, of isolated frontier towns and roaming gangs. But it legitimizes a form of vigilantism, of taking the law into one’s own hands, which provides ‘justice’ only of the crudest sort. In the present case, the 'hero' fired a lot of stray bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan before he got it right. What’s more, such actions invite retaliation. They only ‘work’ because the hero can shoot better than the villain; but the villain’s friends may decide on vengeance. Proper justice is designed precisely to outflank such escalation.

Of course, ‘proper justice’ is hard to come by internationally. America regularly casts the UN (and the International Criminal Court) as the hapless sheriff, and so continues to play the world’s undercover policeman. The UK has gone along for the ride. What will we do when new superpowers arise and try the same trick on us? And what has any of this to do with something most Americans also believe, that the God of ultimate justice and truth was fully and finally revealed in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, who taught people to love their enemies, and warned that those who take the sword will perish by the sword?

Ruth Gledhill's got it all here. The Rt. Rev'd Dr. N T Wright, formerly Bishop of Durham, is now the Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

St. James Newport Beach wins ruling from the California Supreme Court for its day in court

via email:

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – May 5, 2011 – The California Supreme Court today held that St. James Anglican Church can defend its property rights against the claims of the Episcopal Church with evidence in a court of law.  The Court confirmed that its 2009 Episcopal Church Cases decision did not end the property dispute in the Episcopal Church’s favor as it had claimed.  “Further proceedings are still necessary to finally decide the dispute,” said the Court.

Today’s decision, titled Rasmussen v. Superior Court (Bunyan), returns the case to the Orange County Superior Court where St. James will now have the right to defend itself with evidence before a court of law, including having motions heard to dismiss church volunteers who have been sued by the Episcopal Church.

Eric Sohlgren, St. James’s lead attorney, said, “St. James has been vindicated.  The California Supreme Court has soundly rejected the idea that its prior decision required the people of St. James to move off the property they built and paid for over many decades.  St. James will, at last, get its deserved day in court to present evidence showing that it has the legal right to the property.”

In upholding St. James’s right to put on its defense, the California Supreme Court rejected an argument of the Episcopal Church that a 1991 letter issued by a bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles – which promised St. James that it could hold its property free of any Episcopal interest – had been declared invalid by the 2009 opinion.  The Court said, “We express no opinion regarding the legal significance, if any, of the 1991 letter.  We merely hold that a court must decide the question.”

St. James senior pastor, the Rev. Richard Crocker, said, “I’m thankful and grateful for this opinion.  We are looking forward to having our day in court.”

Before St. James had the opportunity to present its evidence, the Orange County Superior Court ruled in 2005 (see case summary, below) that the Episcopal Church’s allegations were legally defective.  After the trial court dismissed the Episcopal complaints, the appellate courts took years to decide what law should apply to the dispute, eventually ruling that the Episcopal complaints could go forward.

In early 2009, the California Supreme Court sent the case back to the Orange County Superior Court, where St. James for the first time answered the Episcopal complaints, raised affirmative defenses, began discovery, and looked forward to defending the property that its members bought, paid for and maintained since its founding six decades ago.  In its 2010 opinion, the Court of Appeal majority essentially ruled that St. James could not defend itself, and that the Episcopal Church was entitled to judgment in their favor based on their allegations alone.  Today’s decision from the California Supreme Court rejects that unprecedented result.

The Episcopal lawsuits against St. James stemmed from a decision by the members of St. James Church in August 2004 to align themselves with another branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and end the church’s affiliation with the Episcopal Church over core theological differences involving the authority of the Bible and Jesus Christ.  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles sued St. James Church, All Saints Church, Long Beach, CA, and St. David’s Church, No. Hollywood, CA, and over two dozen volunteer board members in September 2004, including for monetary damages.  Subsequently, the national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits. 

St. James Anglican Church continues to hold services every Sunday at its Newport Beach location as it has for the past six decades.

The California Supreme Court decision may be found here:

A Brief Recap:  St. James Anglican Church’s Fight to Keep its Property

In August 2004 St. James Church ended its affiliation with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church over theological differences involving the authority of Holy Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles brought lawsuits against St. James Church, All Saints Church, Long Beach, CA, and St. David’s Church, No. Hollywood, CA, and their volunteer board members in September of 2004. Subsequently, the national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits against the three local church corporations and their volunteer board members.

In August 2005 the Honorable David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of St. James Church and struck the complaint brought by the Diocese of Los Angeles. In October 2005 Judge Velasquez issued a similar ruling in favor of All Saints and St. David’s Churches. These early victories arose from early challenges to the Episcopal allegations made by the Diocese and the Episcopal Church, and as a result, no trial ever occurred and St. James never had an opportunity to defend those claims on the merits.  The Episcopalians then appealed to the California Court of Appeal sitting in Orange County on this very limited court record, arguing that under neutral principles of law they had a probability of prevailing and had alleged legally viable claims.

In July 2007 the Court of Appeal rejected nearly thirty years of California church property law by ruling that a secular court must defer to the determinations of the highest level of the church hierarchy regarding ownership of local church property, regardless of any agreements between the parties, the corporate documents, who paid for the property, or who held the deed. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court judgment in favor of St. James, and ordered the case back to the trial court.

In August 2007 St. James filed a petition with the California Supreme Court, which the Court unanimously and quickly accepted under the name of Episcopal Church Cases. The Court heard oral argument in the case in October 2008.

In January 2009 the California Supreme Court ruled in Episcopal Church Cases that church property disputes in California must be resolved by neutral or non-religious principles of law, not by civil courts merely deferring to the decrees of church “hierarchies” or larger church bodies. As a result, every church property dispute in California now will be resolved based on non-religious factors that are unique to the dispute. While adopting this non-religious method of resolving property disputes between churches, however, the Court seemed to defer to the Episcopal Church’s alleged “trust canon,” which purports to create a trust interest in church property owned by local congregations. The Court made its ruling despite the fact that St. James purchased and maintained its property with its own funds and has held clear record title to its property for over fifty years. St. James believes that this ruling overlooked decades of trust law in California that only allows the owner of property to create a trust in favor of someone else, and will as a result have wide impact for local church property owners throughout California that seek to change their religious affiliation.

In late January 2009 St. James formally asked the California Supreme Court to modify its January decision.

In February 2009 the California Supreme Court granted the St. James request, and modified its decision to confirm both that the suit against St. James is not over and that no decision on the merits of the case has yet been made. Instead, the Court clarified that its decision was only based on the limited record before it, which will now be augmented through the normal discovery and trial process.

In late February 2009, the case against St. James Church corporation, the volunteer board members, and clergy returned to the trial court in Orange County where St. James can assert factual and legal arguments that were not addressed on appeal through discovery, depositions, motions, and trial. Using the legal standard set forth by the California Supreme Court, the Orange County Superior Court will eventually decide the merits of this dispute. For example, St. James has brought a complaint against the Diocese of Los Angeles based on a 1991 written promise that it would not claim a trust over the property of St. James on 32nd Street in Newport Beach.

On June 24, 2009, St. James filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. A response from the Court regarding its decision to hear St. James’s petition can be expected by October 2009. If the Court takes the case, a decision would be rendered by mid-2010.

On July 13, 2009, St. James Church won a significant legal battle in its property rights case in Orange County Superior Court when Judge Thierry P. Colaw denied two motions brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and The Episcopal Church which sought to end the case in their favor.

In October 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a petition by St. James to hear its church property rights battle with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church (TEC). 

In November 2009, St. James returned to the California Court of Appeal for a hearing to argue that the February 2009 opinion by the California Supreme Court stated that the case is not over and that the litigants will continue their case in Orange County Superior Court.  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church (TEC) argued that the California Supreme Court decided the lawsuit in its favor and demanded that the church turn the property over to the Diocese.

In March 2010, two justices of the California Court of Appeal essentially ruled that St. James did not have the right to defend itself in court, conduct discovery or even have a trial, and that the Episcopal allegations alone were enough for St. James to lose its property.  Dissenting Justice Fybel said that the majority’s opinion was “unprecedented,” “revolutionary” and “without any basis in law.”

In May 2010, St. James petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeal’s majority opinion. 

In June 2010, the California Supreme Court unanimously agreed to hear the St. James petition, ordering briefing and argument on this one issue:  “Did the Court of Appeal properly direct the entry of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the national Episcopal Church under Episcopal Church Cases (2009) 45 Cal.4th 467?”

On May 5, 2011, the California Supreme Court held that its prior 2009 decision in Episcopal Church Cases did not end the property dispute, but that St. James now has the right to defend itself in court with evidence.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Osama Bin Laden is Dead

 From the Washington Post:
Osama bin Laden, the longtime al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed Sunday by U.S. forces, President Obama announced late Sunday night.

Acting on an intelligence lead that first surfaced last August, Obama said he authorized an operation to kill bin Laden, who was hiding in a compound deep inside Pakistan. The president, in a rare Sunday night address to the nation, said U.S. forces killed bin Laden during a firefight and captured his body.

 From the New York Times:
The terse announcement came just after 9:45 p.m. Sunday from Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “POTUS to address the nation tonight at 10:30 PM Eastern Time,” he wrote on Twitter, sharing the same message that had just been transmitted to the White House press corps.

According to Brian Williams, the “NBC Nightly News” anchor, some journalists received a three-word e-mail that simply read, “Get to work.”

The nation’s television anchors and newspaper editors did not know, at first, that President Obama would be announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, an extraordinary development in the nearly ten-year-long war against terrorism waged by the United States and its allies. But reporters in Washington suspected almost immediately that the announcement could be about bin Laden.

That speculation was not aired out on television immediately, but it did erupt on Twitter and other social networking Web sites. Wishful thinking about bin Laden’s death ricocheted across the Web — and then, at 10:25 p.m., while Mr. Obama was writing his speech, one particular tweet seemed to confirm it. Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wrote at that time, “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.”

Mr. Urbahn quickly added, “Don’t know if it’s true, but let’s pray it is.” He was credited by many on the Web with breaking the news, though he did not have first-hand confirmation.

Within minutes of that tweet, anonymous sources at the Pentagon and the White House started to tell reporters the same information. ABC, CBS and NBC interrupted programming across the country at almost the same minute, 10:45 p.m., with the news. “We’re hearing absolute jubilation throughout government,” the ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz reported.

Brian Williams, an NBC News anchor, told viewers, “This story started to leak out in the public domain largely when some Congressional staffers started to make phone calls.”

The government sources remained anonymous, as the Associated Press said, “in order to speak ahead of the president.”

Mr. Obama’s address, initially planned for 10:30 p.m., was delayed repeatedly. CNN reported that he was writing the address himself.

By 11 p.m., he still had not spoken, but the news was spreading virally around the world without him. At that time there were more than a dozen Facebook posts with the word “bin Laden” every single second. The New York Post’s Web site blared, “We Got Him!” The Huffington Post front page read, “Dead.”

And around the country, Americans gathered around televisions to digest the news. “This ends a chapter in the global war on terrorism which has defined a generation,” the NBC correspondent Richard Engel said.

Read it all here.

And outside the White House tonight: