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Episcopal Church Rejects Anglican Guidance

BY ERIN ROACH                                                                                                                               ©2007 Baptist Press\

 
he Episcopal Church has rejected a recommendation by Anglican leaders to form an alternative leadership structure for conservative U.S. dioceses and parishes that are at odds with the liberal leadership of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Some observers think the bishops' defiance could lead to the exclusion of the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion following increasing differences over the issue of homosexuality. Meanwhile, a New York Times article noted that the Episcopal Church finances at least a third of the Anglican Communion's annual operations and a split could have serious financial implications.

The primates of the Anglican Communion, during a meeting in Tanzania in February, called on the Episcopal Church to stop granting official prayers for homosexual couples and stop the consecration of homosexual bishops. Anglican leaders believe homosexuality violates Scripture, and they asked the Episcopal Church to adhere to that teaching or face discipline, the Associated Press reported.

Also, the primates expressed concern over the growing number of U.S. dioceses and parishes breaking with the Episcopal Church and affiliating with Anglicans in other nations, which is against communion tradition and has led to lawsuits over church property. The primates suggested that disgruntled dioceses and parishes could submit to the leadership of a conservative structure parallel to Schori in the United States, and they gave the Episcopal Church until September 30 to respond. 

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Max Lucado Stepping Aside

BY ERIN ROACH                                                                                                                            ©2007 Baptist Press

Max Lucado, a popular Christian author, is stepping aside as senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio following a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, a disorder the American Heart Association says affects more than 2 million Americans and if left untreated could lead to a stroke, the San Antonio Express-News reported March 14.

"I told our elders, 'Your quarterback's tired,'" Lucado said. "... I compare what is happening to going from being president of a college to joining the faculty. It was a painful decision, a hard decision, but I feel very peaceful about it now. I've been thinking about it since September." 

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Lobbying Begins to Allow Women Clergy 
in Christian Reformed Church

BY PATRICIA MISH                                                                                                          ©2007 Religion News Service
 
Lobbying has begun to persuade delegates to this year's Christian Reformed Church Synod to overturn measures that would allow all CRC churches to ordain women but bar them from serving as synodical delegates or deputies.
The measures were approved by last year's Synod, but allowing all churches to ordain women must be ratified this June to take effect.

"I'd like to see women in the Christian Reformed Church be empowered to lead," said the Rev. Jacci Busch, a Calvin College chaplain and member of vigil organizer Hearts Aflame. "It's a matter of putting ourselves as a denomination and as a people before God in prayer over the issue of women in office. We want God to heal our denomination and to move the issue forward."

Hearts Aflame is one of two groups formed to build momentum for change as the Synod approaches. A second, called Cloud of Witnesses, plans a number of lobbying efforts.

Shirley Roels, a management professor at Calvin College and a member of Cloud of Witnesses, attended the vigil. "I work with a lot of students thinking about ministry," she said. "There is an abundance of men and women. The church needs their energy so badly, and I just want the church to have places for all of them."


Archbishop of Canterbury Says Slavery 
Reparations Should be Paid

BY AL WEBB                                                                                                                         ©2007 Religion News Service
 
Saying that apologies don't go far enough, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has suggested the Church of England should consider paying back the money it once received as compensation when the hundreds of slaves it owned were freed.

Williams said on March 26 that the church and other organizations profited from the "historic legacy" of compensation after Britain outlawed slavery in the early nineteenth century. The leader of the Church of England said the church still has a "responsibility" to make amends in some fashion.

The immediate problem, he said, is in deciding where the money should go, or how much money might be involved. "I haven't got a quick solution to that," he conceded.

The archbishop made his suggestions during a radio debate marking the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of slavery--although it was another 26 years, until 1833, that the slaves themselves were actually freed. The British government paid 20,000 pounds--equivalent to nearly $3 million today--to Anglican organizations and individuals for what was described as "loss of property and revenue" when the slaves were freed. "While it sounds simple to say, all right, so we should pass on the reparation that was received" when the Church of England, on orders from the government, freed its slaves, "exactly to whom?" Williams asked. "Exactly where does it go?"

"So I haven't got a quick solution to that," but "I think we need to be asking the question and working at it," he said. "That's, I think, (what) we're beginning to do."

Anti-slavery campaigners in Britain have been calling for years for reparations to be made to the descendants of slaves, or said the money should be used to help pay off the debts of African nations.

The Church of England's record in the slave trade included the 665 slaves for which the Anglican bishop of Exeter and three business colleagues were paid nearly 13,000 pounds in 1833. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Foreign Parts, an Anglican group, received another 8,828 pounds from the British government when the society's slaves were freed from its plantation in Barbados.

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