Monday, February 27, 2012

Now is the time to pray ...

It is true, a church building is not the church, but oh, it is a home that tells the story of the people who lived there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Breaking News: VA Anglicans File Motion for Reconsideration on Personal Property Ruling

  VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli Files Brief in Support of Motion to
Fairfax County Circuit Court

UPDATED: The Commonwealth of Virginia's brief in support of the Anglican congregations is located here.  The congregations' motion is here.

From here:

Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, Virginia
(February 22, 2012) - Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia have filed a motion for partial reconsideration with the Fairfax County Circuit Court asking that the court reconsider the portion of its January ruling stating that certain personal property, including monetary gifts, given to the congregations prior to January 31, 2007, belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Since at least 2003, the congregations permitted donors to designate whether or not their donations were to be given to The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. By 2006, virtually all of the contributions held by these congregations were from donors who had indicated that their gifts were not to go to or be used for the benefit of The Episcopal Church or the Diocese.

“The core issue that we are asking the court to reconsider is the right of donors to restrict the use of their own gifts to the church of their choice. We believe that they could. This is a religious liberty issue at its core as the courts are not lawfully able to coerce contributions to a specific religious entity against the wishes of the donors. We ask that the court honor the gift restrictions designated by individuals that have faithfully offered their contributions to these congregations,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

On Wednesday, February 22, the Virginia Attorney General filed a brief with the Fairfax County Circuit Court in support of the defendant congregations’ motion for partial reconsideration.

“We are gratified that the Attorney General agrees with our argument and has filed a brief in support of this motion to protect the rights of charitable donors,” concluded Oakes.

The Circuit Court heard the church property case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. Last month, the Circuit Court ruled against the congregations, after they previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America.

For background on the case or to schedule an interview with a spokesperson, please contact Caitlin Manaois at (703) 683-5004 ext. 119.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Welcome to the 6th Annual CafeAnonsBall!

Once again - if it's Shrove Tuesday then you know it's time again for all of us at the cafe to celebrate our "CafeAnons" - all of you who drop by, drop in, and drop out of the cafe all year long and we never learn your name. 

We know that today we're not the only ones celebrating, either, and we'll check on our friends down in The Big Easy and see how they are doing!  You can check in on them here.

This is our 6th year celebrating all ya'all who hang out and sometimes wipe out while spooning up the pudding and dodging flying pies.  And we know that we have had a few pies flying this year!

Here are links to the CafeAnonsBalls from the last four years:
So pull up a chair and find your favorite table and let's celebrate that you are welcome - those we know and those we don't know - or don't know that we do know!  You know - and of course, so does Someone Else, something perhaps wise to keep in mind!


Ever wonder how Shrove Tuesday got started? Here's a short history:

For centuries, the English have celebrated Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, with merriment and antics and, especially, great quantities of pancakes. In fact, the fried flat cakes became so important to the holiday that is has also been called Pancake Day, or Pancake Tuesday.

Long ago, strict Christian Lenten rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products, so keen housewives made pancakes to use up their supplies of eggs, milk, butter and other fats. They could be easily made and cooked in a skillet or on a griddle. Families ate stacks of them, and pancakes were popular with all classes.

The rich Shrovetide pancakes were eaten as a ritual or symbol of self-indulgence before the fast. Early English recipes called for wheaten flour, eggs, butter or lard, a liquid (water, milk, ale or wine) and flavorings such as white or brown sugar, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger), orange flower water, scented sugars or liqueurs.

The pancakes were fried in butter or fat and served flat or rolled and sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with preserves or doused with alcohol. A special pancake, called a quire or pancake of paper, was made very thin and usually stacked. It was likened to a quire of "wafers" or writing paper.

Even the church bells that rang early on Shrove Tuesday morning summoning everyone to confession and to be "shriven" became known as Pancake Bells. They also reminded all to use up the "forbidden foods" before Lent. An old London rhyme went "Pancakes and fritters, say the bells on St. Peter's."

Now we know!


This being a CafeAnonsBall - we might need a refresher on exactly how to dance without stepping on everyone's toes (this might have been helpful to know earlier, eh Anons?).  Here's a short refresher - test on Friday:

Yes, it is Pancake Day, a food that's yummy and when thrown harmless - perfect for our CafeAnons!

Pancakes are being whipped up in the cafe kitchen as we speak and will be served hot with butter and syrup, your choices of fruits and garnish and chocolate bits for the IHOP fans amongst us.

Feeling inclined to whip up your own pancakes - well here's a lovely recipe that was a hit at the Cafe a few years ago:

Bette's Oceanview Diner, 1807 Fourth St. (between Virginia Street and Hearst Avenue), Berkeley, CA; (510) 644-3230. Open daily for breakfast and lunch.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Choice of berries, sliced bananas, raisins or chopped toasted nuts (optional)
Oil for griddle
The ingredients. The baking powder, baking soda and buttermilk work together to make these the lightest pancakes possible. -- Stirring the batter. The batter begins to react the minute the wet ingredients are added. Stir quickly and don't overstir; there should still be lumps in the batter.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Lightly beat the eggs with the buttermilk, milk and melted butter.

Just before you are ready to make the pancakes, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just long enough to blend. The batter should be slightly lumpy. If you want to add fruit or nuts, stir them in now, or you may sprinkle them on the pancakes while they are on the griddle. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat (375 degrees on an electric griddle). Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle or skillet, spacing the pancakes apart so they do not run together.

When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes and the undersides are lightly browned, turn and cook for about 2 minutes longer, until lightly browned on the bottom.

Serve immediately on warmed plates with the topping of your choice. YUM!

Ready for some tunes - here are some classics from our First Annual CafeAnonsBall:

And now let's get things going with a special dedication to all our CafeAnons - this one's for you:

Here is another dedication - this one goes out to all our friends at Church of the Apostles, Fairfax, as they say farewell this week to their church home on Pickett Road. Love you all!

We've probably set a record this year with the number of Anons dropping into the Cafe this past year. Sometimes the postings are insightful and heartfelt, and sometimes Anons find themselves hurling through the front door. But today we celebrate them all, though we know it's not without drama. This ones for you all, a tune to play as you post:

This one is from a great friend of Truro, Matt Maher - a great tune and a prayer for a time such as this.

Need inspiration? Time to return to Middle Earth:


Okay time to check in on the gang down celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans:

Live shot from the EarthCam in New Orleans.

So it's getting late which means it's time to pull out a Dylan tune. How about this one - left off of Mercy Me, it's one of my all-time favorite Dylan songs.

This morning I was driving to Truro for the Tuesday Morning Alpha Course and this song came to mind - feeling sad that we all may be leaving our church homes very soon, but still knowing that what we really have will be strengthened, the church family that, God willing, will grow and blossom where ever we may be planted. To God be the glory.

So it's true - we may not know our CafeAnons by name - but know that since God knows your name, we will count you as friends. This has been an amazing six years and the cafe is not just one person, but all of you over the years who have dropped by, pulled up a chair, ordered a pie and shared your heart, your frustrations, your dreams with others here. At the end day, behind every post is a real human being, a real person and even though indeed we may not know your name - it is true, God does. And I pray that He will bless you, that you will know that He loves us through the best and the worst of times, and we have hope not because we are so right, but because He is so good. Nothing escapes His attention, no nothing, not even in these thin hours - He is alive and He is at work and the power of His love will shine into the darkest places. I thank God for each of you. God bless you.

Diocese of Rhode Island's Episcopal Cathedral shutting down

From here:
Cathedral of St. John Providence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John -- which began as King's Church in 1722 and is the Diocese of Rhode Island's fourth oldest church -- is shutting down, with a final service set for April 22.

Parishioners of the cathedral church, the seat of Bishop Geralyn Wolf, learned the news on Sunday from the Right Rev. David Joslin, the cathedral's interim dean, and Deacon Barbara May-Stock, during the parish's annual meeting on North Main Street.

Parishioner Marjorie Beach says many were in tears when advised that because of declining numbers of pledging families and the cost of salaries and benefits, the parish could not longer continue -- at least for now. The church closed temporarily once before -- during the American Revolution. 
 Read it all here.

The following is an excerpt from the letter from the Acting Dean of St. John's Cathedral, the Rt. Rev. David B. Joslin announcing the closure of the cathedral:
Episcopal Diocese of R.I.'s Cathedral of St. John will close
On Sunday, February 19, 2012, the Annual Meeting was held at the Cathedral of Saint John. In this letter I want to report on the central focus of that meeting.

As you know, the Cathedral parish has experienced growing financial difficulty over a period of years. Now it has become more than a difficulty. Simply put, we are now out of money. Last year we had a deficit of about $250,000 which was covered by reserves. Now those reserves have been used up.

The Chapter has engaged in much prayer, anguish, and discussion. We have consulted with the Bishop and her staff and our former Wardens. As a result, the Chapter realized that we must suspend services and parish life at the Cathedral. Our last service will be on Sunday, 22 April 2012 at 9:30 AM, followed by a time to celebrate our past life together and to thank those who have faithfully served here.

As Acting Dean of the Cathedral of St. John, I announced this decision at the Annual Meeting. I can't exaggerate the pain of this process. We dreaded the conclusion but having exhausted all alternatives we found it was the only thing to do.

Please note that while services and parish life are being suspended it does not mean that the Cathedral is being permanently closed. Suspending services now leaves open the possibility of new uses for the Cathedral in the future mission strategy of the Diocese.

Let me add a personal note. I have greatly enjoyed my association with the Cathedral and with you, its people. When Bishop Wolf asked me to be the Acting Dean following Dean Krauss's retirement I was very pleased and looked forward to ministering with you. But I also knew of the financial difficulties we faced and the pain I would share with you if the Cathedral had to be closed. 
Read it all here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Today at the Cafe: Days of Elijah

This was in the worship at Truro Church this morning and I thought the roof was going to pop off. There's no God like Jehovah!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An interesting day ...

Late this afternoon, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows denied the motion filed by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia for an "award of prejudgment interest" from the seven Anglican congregations in Virginia.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bob Dylan's Leather Jacket to go on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of History in new exhibit opening April 5th

It was night that Bob Dylan plugged in and set the world of music on fire.

Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival
The event has become legendary in the American music lexicon, when Bob Dylan was booed while on stage at the Newport Folk Festival in the summer of 1965. With his rendition of Maggie's Farm followed by Like a Rolling Stone and stories of Pete Seeger trolling backstage with an ax looking to cut Dylan's electric power, what is clear is that it was a landmark event when rock, folk, blues, prophesy and poetry all smashed together in one performance and changed American music:

You can imagine what a shock it was to see the guy who they called the King of Folk, who had stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with Martin Luther King, Jr. when he gave his historic I Have a Dream Speech, came out swinging.

It was a far cry from his earlier showings at the Newport Folk Festival, like this one in 1963:

In the performance in Newport on July 25, 1965, just five days after releasing Like a Rolling Stone (now considered one of the greatest rock compositions and performances of all time), Bob Dylan wore a leather jacket with attitude.  That jacket is now part of a new exhibit "American Stories," and will also include other great American collectibles such as Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick, Abraham Lincoln’s gold pocket watch and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves. It is on loan from an anonymous collector.

American Stories will open in April next to the famed Star Spangled Banner Gallery in the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

Read more about it here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: Nova

Tip of the tinfoil to MW.  Dedicated to the people of the seven churches.

In the Crucible

“And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

Zech 13:9

Monday, February 06, 2012

Church of England Synod underway: Archbishop of Canterbury warns that allowing state-sanctioned "assisted suicide" spells "disaster" for society and the church

From here:

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that changes to the law to allow assisted suicide would spell "disaster" and a shift in society's attitude to the sanctity of life.

Dr Rowan Williams drew parallels between the change in attitudes in society towards abortion since its legalisation and the impact of a change in the law to permit assisted suicide.

"The default position on abortion has shifted quite clearly over the past 40 years - and to see the default position shift on the sanctity of life would be a disaster," he said.

"We are not committed to the notion - the eccentric notion - that Christians believe we should cling to life at all costs.

"We are committed as Christians to the belief that every life in every imaginable situation is infinitely precious in the sight of God.

"To say that there are certain conditions in which life is legally declared to be not worth living is a major shift in the moral and spiritual atmosphere in which we live.

"We can be realistic, we can be compassionate, in the application of the existing law."

Dr Williams was speaking during a debate at the General Synod of the Church of England on the independent Commission on Assisted Dying headed by former lord chancellor Lord Falconer.
The report published last month called for a change in the law to allow doctors to be given the right to help some terminally ill people to die.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia files for "prejudgment interest" against the seven Anglican congregations in Virginia

 UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon has commentary on this development up now which you may read here.  The seven Virginia Anglican congregations are set to respond to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia's motion for "Award of Prejudgment Interest" on February 9, a date set by law from the date the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia filed their Prejudgment Interest motion on  January 23.  By Virginia statute, the hearing is set for February 16th.  However, the Diocese of Virginia for some reason is seeking to rush the hearing up sooner to next Friday, February 10th, rather than the 16th as set by law.  The Anglican congregations have filed a motion opposing the attempt by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia change the hearing date.

The local online newspaper The Patch has the story here.  The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has filed a motion in the Fairfax Circuit Court for an "award of prejudgment interest" against the seven Anglican congregations in Virginia.

Last weekend the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia Shannon Johnston told the Annual Council meeting in Reston that regarding the recent favorable ruling over the Virginia church properties of seven of the congregations that voted to separate in 2006, "The bottom line is that just as we have been able to sustain our case throughout a lengthy and expensive legal process, I strongly believe that we will be able to do what it takes over the next months and years to be faithful to the Church’s mission with respect to each one of the properties involved."  Is this filing what he meant?

The filing also comes as The Episcopal Church's Executive Council was faced last week with a very public duel between the Presiding Bishop and the House of Deputies President over substantial budget cuts at 815, the headquarters of the national offices of The Episcopal Church.

Here is the Diocese of Virginia's filing:


The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia (the “Diocese”), by counsel,

moves the Court for an award of pre­judgment interest pursuant to Va. Code  8.01-3 02. In

support of its motion, the Diocese submits the following memorandum.

1. On January 10, 2012, this Court issued a 113 page Letter Opinion setting forth

three significant rulings in favor of the Diocese: (i) The Episcopal Church and the Diocese have

contractual and proprietary interests in each of the seven Episcopal churches that are the subject

of this litigation, and all real and personal property acquired by the churches up to the ñling date

of the declaratory judgment actions are to be conveyed promptly to the Diocese; (ii) the CANA

Congregations do not possess either contractual or proprietary interests in the property of the

seven Episcopal churches and are enjoined from further use or control of the property and must

promptly relinquish them to the Diocese; and (iii) the vestry empowered to elect directors to the

Falls Church Endowment Fund is the Episcopal vestry recognized by the Diocese. Op. at 14.

2. The Diocese is endeavoring to craft a Final Order which will encompass these

rulings and has communicated with the CANA Congregations to obtain an accounting of real and

personal property, including tangibles and intangibles such as bank deposit accounts, which have been

in their exclusive possession and control since the inception of the litigation. The parties

are attempting to reach agreement as to the sums on deposit at yarious financial institutions as of

the demarcation date identified by the Court, and the Diocese intends to identify such specific

amounts in the Final Order and have such order decree that such sums be returned to it.

3. The Diocese seeks an award of pre-judgment interest as to the liquidated sums on

deposit at various financial institutions as of the date of the Diocese’s filing of the declaratory

judgment actions. Va. Code   allows a jury or a court to “provide for interest on any

principal sum awarded . _ . and [to] fix the period at which the interest shall commence.” An

award of pre-judgment interest is completely discretionary with the trial court. Upper Occoquan

Sewage Authority v. Blake Constr. Co., 275 Va. 41, 655 S.E.2d 10 (2008); Dairyland Ins. Co. v.

Douthat, 248 Va. 627, 449 S.E.2d 799 (1994). The purpose of pre­judgment interest is to

compensate a plaintiff for the loss sustained by not receiving the amount it was entitled to and

restore the party to the position it would have occupied. Blake, 275 Va. at 63; Marks v. Sanzo,

231 Va. 350, 356 (1986). “[N]atural justice [requires] that he who has the use of another’s

money should pay interest for it.” Blake, 275 Va. at 63 (citations omitted).

4. An awarci of pre-judgment interest is appropriate here “to make the Plaintiff

whole.” Blake Constr. Co. v. Upper Occoquan Sewage Authority, 71 Va. Cir. 248 (Fairfax

2006), a/Td in part, rev ’d in part, 655 S.E.2d 10 (Va. 2008). For over five years, the Diocese

has been deprived of access to and use of the real and personal property of the seven Episcopal

churches at issue, including the amounts on deposit at various ñnancial institutions and

maintained in investment accounts. The financial sums are sizeable, ranging from several

hundred thousand dollars in the case of smaller churches such as St. Paul’s Church to several

million dollars as to The Falls Church and Truro Church. In addition to taking exclusive control

of the real property, the CANA Congregations took possession of the financial accounts and

claimed and maintained them as their own, precluding any use or application of such monies to

the spiritual and other missions of the Diocese. An award of pre­judgment interest is necessary

to make the Diocese whole and restore the Diocese to the position it was in at the time it filed the

declaratory judgment actions.

5. In concluding that the CANA Congregations do not possess either contractual or

proprietary interests in the property of the seven Episcopal Churches, the Court noted the

“pervasive control” exercised by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese over the churches. Op.

at 101. The Court emphasized the hierarchical structure of the Church and referenced “the

undeniable fact that these seven churches *were part of a hierarchical denomination for decades

and, in some cases for centuries” and that the congregations’ claims of autonomy and

independence were “contradicted by the overwhelming body of evidence before this Court.” Op.

at 101. The Court said that applying neutral principles of law, as established by United States

and Virginia Supreme Court precedents, it is “clear - indeed, to this Court, it is overwhelmingly

evident- that TEC and the Diocese have contractual and proprietary interests in the real and

personal property of each of these seven churches.” Op. at 104. The Court stressed that “whi1e

the CANA Congregations had an absolute right to depart from TEC and the Diocese, they had no

right to take these seven Episcopal churches with them.” Id. (emphasis in original) Given the

“compelling” evidence and “clear” law presented, the ultimate conclusion reached by the Court,

while disappointing to the CANA Congregations, could not have come as any surprise; and they

presumably segregated such sums and can readily turn the accounts over with the accrued

interest. See Op. at 102, 104. Moreover, that the CANA Congregations may have believed there

was a bona ñde dispute as to ownership of the real and personal property has no bearing on the

 decision whether to award pre­judgment interest. See Gill v. Rollins Protective Servs. Co., 836

F.2d 194 (4th Cir. 1987) (neither Code  8.01-3 82 nor Virginia case law makes an exception to

the general discretionary rule on pre-judgment interest for bona ñde legal disputes).

6. The amounts on deposit in various financial institutions by the seven Episcopal

churches as of the demarcation date identified by the Court (the date of the filing by the Diocese

of the various declaratory judgment actions) is easily discernible. This litigation has been

pending for over five years and the duration of the case and overwhelming evidence in favor of

the Diocese merit the award. See Tauber v. Comm. of Va., 263 Va. 520, 562 S.E.2d 1818 (2002)

(affirming decision to award prejudgment interest based on the “extended duration of this suit”

and “the overwhelming evidence in the record”). Pre-judgment interest as to these liquidated 

sums can and should be calculated and decreed to restore the Diocese to its position as of the

date of ñling the declaratory judgment actions. See Op. at 112. Pursuant to Va. Code  

the rate of pre-judgment interest is six percent.

WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons, the Diocese respectfully requests that the

Court order and decree that the Diocese’s request for an award of pre­judgment interest is

granted and, following entry of the Final Order, interest shall accrue at the judgment rate until paid.

BB NOTE: This is indeed sad news, but may we pause and consider prayer - we, the people of the Diocese of Virginia and the people of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic pray .... please pray too.  We will be able to go forward when we can trust again and know, in the depths of our hearts, that we are loved, not through our own merits, but by the merits of Jesus.  May it be so.