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Archive for the ‘My Unbroken Chain of Faith’ Category

 

NOTE:  I stumbled across this blog post recently and it is so deliciously ironic given the liberal proclivities of many of my Episcopal Church friends that I could not resist the temptation to re-post it here.  Get a satisfying sipping drink and enjoy both!

 

 

GLH

 

 

English: Shield of the US Episcopal Church, co...

English: Shield of the US Episcopal Church, colors from http://www.episcopalchurch.org/imageshop_11785_ENG_HTM.htm. The shield was adopted in 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

By JAY AKASIE, Posted: August 31, 2012 on The Fiscal Times Business Buzz

 

During his acceptance speech in Tampa Thursday night, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that he was risk-averse during the early years of establishing his private equity firm, Bain Capital. So he didn’t approach his elders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to ask them to invest a portion of their pension fund in the venture. But, he said, one of his partners snagged the Episcopal Church’s pension fund, set up to fund the retirements of that denomination’s clergy.

 

“That shows what I know,” said Romney. “Another of my partners got the Episcopal Church pension fund to invest. Today there are a lot of happy retired priests who should thank him.”

They should indeed, and they could thank their pension fund managers while they’re at it. Though it hasn’t fared quite as well over the last few years, the Episcopal Church’s pension fund, with some $9.5 billion in assets as of March 31, 2012, is one of the best run and most successful around.

That may come as something of a surprise to anyone who has heard many of the Mainline Protestant clergy preaching left-wing, anti-capitalist messages from their pulpits every Sunday. When masses of privileged college students and aging hippies pitched their tents in Zuccotti Park one year ago, for instance, prominent Episcopal parishes in New York — including the venerable Trinity Church, a parish that derives much of its operating income from its well run and closely guarded Manhattan real estate portfolio — threw their public support to the anti-establishment rabble … even though they continued to hit up their well-heeled, Wall Street banker parishioners for money.

There’s a growing conflict between religion, ideology and wealth derived from capitalism. A decade ago, a group of ideologues from Harvard University – faculty members so far to the left that they could make the Episcopal Church clergy green with envy — objected to the salaries being paid to the managers of the Harvard Management Company, the sterling investment group that oversees that school’s $35 billion endowment.

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The protesting faculty members had no clue as to how top-flight investment managers are compensated. Tired of trying to explain to a bunch of Ph.D.s how Wall Street works, many of Harvard Management’s stars left the firm and set up shop on their own.

Across the pond, the Church of England recently decided to divest its pension fund’s stake in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Although that media company has provided the Anglican clergy’s pension fund with solid returns over the years, they apparently weren’t too fond of Rupert Murdoch’s penchant for free and unfettered capital markets.

The question now is whether the clergy of the Episcopal Church will do the same — considering, of course, the Church Pension Fund still holds a stake in Bain. But in the world where parishioners are admonished to “do as I say, not as I do,” I suspect the Episcopalian clergy are just fine with their lucrative Bain Capital investment.

 

Read more at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Blogs/Business-Buzz/2012/08/31/The-Episcopal-Church-Bain-Capital-and-Heavenly-Returns.aspx#xPoQabK4eUAV3c2r.99

 

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Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tragedy at St. Peter’s Church, Ellicott City

May 4, 2012

Baltimore — The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is saddened beyond words by the shootings May 3 at St. Peter’s Church in Ellicott City, Maryland. The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland, immediately offered prayers for the victims in the chapel of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore, when he learned the news later that evening. Clergy of the diocesan staff have been present with the parish and members of the St. Peter’s staff, and have said prayers over the victims. The diocese holds the victims, their families, and the people and staff of St. Peter’s Church and pre-school in its continued prayers. A nearby Episcopal church, St. John’s Parish in Ellicott City, opened their doors late Thursday evening to offer a place of support and prayer.

Howard County police are investigating the shooting. According to them, two women, Brenda Brewington, administrative assistant, and the Rev. Mary-Marguerite Kohn, co-rector of the parish were found shot inside the church office yesterday just after 5 pm. A custodian called 911.

Brewington was pronounced dead at the scene. Kohn was transported to Shock Trauma in critical condition.

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“It is like you were sent by God”, that was the simple thank you message from freed Iranian fisherman Fazel ur Rehman after American sailors rescued him along with other distressed and adrift in the Persian Gulf after their vessel broke down and was taking on water.

It probably was not the headline the Mullahs wanted to see in the New York Times, but there is was for all the world to see. 

What are the odds that twice in one week Americans would rescue Iranians, feed them and send them home in a matter of hours with God speed wishes.

Now compare that to the Iranian decision to sentence to death an America in Iran to visit his elderly grandmother on charges that he is a spy for the Great Satan.  The ex-Marine Amir Hekmati had the permission of the Iranian interests section–the U.S.-based diplomatic representative for Iran in Washington D.C. to travel to Iran in August to visit his elderly grandmother. He was arrest on August 29 and Iranian officials initially urged the family to keep quiet in order to facilitate his release. But in December, Iranian media showed a video of Hekmati allegedly confessing to working for the CIA a charge his family denied.  Iran has used this same tactic to torment the US since the days our embassy staff was held hostage for 444 days.

Maybe there is a sign from God somewhere in these intertwined stories. As tensions rise between Iran and the US over nuclear weapons and other issues and it looks like it will get worse before it gets better suddenly something completely unexpected happens—not once but twice.  The Great Satan rescues Iranians in need, offers them food and hospitality and gets them safely home.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you—maybe the Iranian Mullahs should study their lessons!

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Iowa Couple Married 72 Years Dies Holding Hands, an Hour Apart (ABC News)

ABC NewsBy CHRISTINA NG | ABC News – Wed, Oct 19, 2011

A devoted Iowa couple married for 72 years died holding hands in the hospital last week, exactly one hour apart.

The passing reflected the nature of their marriage, where, “As a rule, everything was done together,” said the couple’s daughter Donna Sheets, 71.

Gordon Yeager, 94, and his wife Norma, 90, left their small town of State Center, Iowa, on Wednesday to go into town, but never made it. A car accident sent the couple to the emergency room and intensive care unit with broken bones and other injuries. But, even in the hospital, their concerns were each other.

“She was saying her chest hurt and what’s wrong with Dad? Even laying there like that, she was worried about Dad,” said the couple’s son, Dennis Yeager, 52. “And his back was hurting and he was asking about Mom.”

When it became clear that their conditions were not improving, the couple was moved into a room together in beds side-by-side where they could hold hands.

“They joined hands; his right hand, her left hand,” Sheets said.

Gordon Yeager died at 3:38 p.m. He was no longer breathing, but the family was surprised by what his monitor showed.

“Someone in there said, ‘Why, then, when we look at the monitor is the heart still beating?'” Sheets recalled. “The nurse said Dad was picking up Mom’s heartbeat through Mom’s hand.”

“And we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom’s heart is beating through him,'” Dennis Yeager said.

Norma Yeager died exactly an hour later.

“Dad used to say that a woman is always worth waiting for,” Dennis Yeager said. “Dad waited an hour for her and held the door for her.”

The inseparable couple was engaged and married within 12 hours in 1939 on the day Norma Yeager graduated from high school.

“She graduated from high school on May 26, 1939, at about 10 a.m., and at about 10 p.m. that night she was married to my dad at his sister’s house,” Sheets said.

The vibrant duo had a “very, very full life.”

They worked as a team. They traveled together, they were in a bridge club together and they worked in a Chevrolet dealership, creamery and other businesses together.

“They always did everything together,” Sheets said. “They weren’t apart. They just weren’t.”

Dennis Yeager described his father as an “outgoing” and “hyper” man who was still working on the roof of his house and sitting cross-legged with no problem at age 90.

“The party didn’t start until he showed up,” he said. “He was the outgoing one and she supported him by being the giver. She supported Dad in everything. And he would’ve been lost without her.”

Dennis Yeager said it is strange today to go into his parents’ home and see the “two chairs side-by-side that they sat in all the time,” empty. He said it was in those chairs that his parents cheered on the Arizona sports teams they loved and rarely missed an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Price Is Right.”

According to their obituary, besides their children, the Yeagers are survived by her sister, Virginia Kell, and his brother, Roger Yeager, as well as 14 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Their grandson Randy Yeager said he has been inspired in his own 13-year marriage by his grandparents’ loving and lasting marriage.

“Grandpa and I were talking this summer about all of the people getting divorced for this reason or that and he mentioned that nobody stays together anymore,” Randy Yeager wrote to ABCNews.com in an email. “I told [him] that my wife Mara and I would never be getting a divorce and he said, ‘That’s because you’re old school, like me!’

“That was one of the greatest compliments I could have ever received and one I will strive to live up to for the rest of my life,” Randy Yeager said.

The couple were put in a casket together holding hands for their funeral this week, but are being cremated and will have their ashes mixed before burial.

“All their life has been together,” Sheets said. “So, when it came to the funeral home, the family asked, ‘Can we have them put in the casket together holding hands?’ Because that’s the way their life was.”

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble , and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”—The First Amendment

While the separation of church and state has served us well, the scorecard is far from balanced.  The latest is the action of Vanderbilt University to threaten the Christian Legal Society, a campus club made up of law students at the university with decertification because its constitution requires club officers to participate in Bible study and be Christian.  The university says this violates its non-discrimination policy by prohibiting non-Christians from being members.

Huh?

Do you think they can even explain that with a straight face?  If the First Amendment means anything it surely means people have a constitutionally guaranteed right to the “free exercise” of their beliefs and to speak freely about them and peaceably assemble to express them—and when the Government or Vanderbilt University crosses the line the people have a right to “petition the government for redress.”

So where is the ACLU?

Oh I forgot, they only represent atheists!

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“A helicopter was flying around above Seattle yesterday when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft’s electronic navigation and communication equipment. Due to the clouds and haze the pilot could not determine his position or course to steer to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign and held it in the helicopter’s window. The sign said “WHERE AM I ?” in large letters. People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign said, “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.” The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map and determine the course to steer to SEATAC (Seattle/Tacoma) airport and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER” sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded, “I knew that had to be the MICROSOFT building because they gave me a technically correct but completely useless answer.”

A good friend of mine and Mac ‘true believer’ sent me this joke.  I opened the email just as I finished writing up the notes from our first Membership Growth Team workshop where we discussed the issues of the long slow decline in church membership, attendance and support.  It is a problem not just for the Episcopal Church but for every mainline denomination.

In our discussions we also asked ourselves why was this decline happening and what could we do to turn the situation around and get growing again.  The why is this happening question is a tough one.  Among the reasons people give for not being part of the church include:

  • I feel like I am going through the motions of the ritual but I still don’t have Jesus in my life.
  • The hierarchy and rules of the church are not relevant to my life.
  • I am seeking spirituality in my life that the church does not fulfill for me.
  • The church is more about politics and not about faith.
  • I can still believe in God and pray without getting up Sunday morning to go to church.
  • The people in church are not like me.

The common denominator in all these sentiments is that the church does not always satisfy the hunger in our hearts for a more personal connection to Jesus, or make us feel that God loves us because we feel uncomfortable in the place He calls his house of worship, or ignite that passion that makes us feel embraced by unconditional love.

The truth is God does not live in church and Jesus was turned off by the rules of the temple and the elders of his time, but instead of staying in bed and feeling sorry for himself he got up and went out to create places in the hearts of each person he touched, or healed or broke bread with that transformed their lives.  He taught us that our faith not only sets us free but enables us to see ways to turn the “technically correct but completely useless” situations of our lives don’t have to be that way.

Sometimes today the church is off-putting because we go through the motions and rituals of faith being “technically correct” but then go out and do the same “completely useless” things that brought us to the Table for renewal in the first place.

The church growth challenge is that church growth is not about the church, it is about us. When the church fails in its mission to help each of us discover Jesus in our lives and see the wonder and miracles that happen around us each day, we look for it elsewhere.  To get the church growing again it must be able to ‘connect with people’ in ways beyond the ritual and ceremony.

Faith is not something we do on Sunday morning, faithful is something we are every day.  Practicing our faith is that ‘rhythm of life’ experience that reassures us that we are not walking alone no matter where we are or what we are doing.  We are human and so we stumble.  But God still loves us and Jesus is still waiting patiently for us to see him at our side.

The lesson of the first membership growth workshop is to help people find Jesus in their lives on their own terms, in their own ways and time, in community with others seeking to discover Him too.  Otherwise we’re just practicing spiritual correctness and it will be “completely useless” and completely obvious to everyone.

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This was Welcome Home Sunday at St. Timothy’s Danville.  The beginning of a new church program year and one of several feast days we celebrate with one combined service outside on the patio.

We use it to celebrate the many blessings in our lives and the many we ways we have to do God’s work through the many mission and ministry programs our parish offers.  Tables abound with information and people to answer questions about what the program is about and how you can help.

We welcomed representatives of the beneficiaries of our annual Fruits of the Harvest benefit for outreach next month.  This year those causes are:

  • Earthquake Relief in Haiti supporting the Episcopal Church Foundation campaign to rebuild Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince and scholarships for students displaced by the earthquake at the Little Sisters of St. Therese of the child Jesus Catholic School.
  • Episcopal Relief & Development’s USA Disaster Response Fund for rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by tornadoes in Alabama and floods in North Dakota.
  • Shelter, Inc. of Contra Costa County support for Mountain View Emergency Family Shelter in Martinez.

Welcome Home and Pentecost are times for our entire congregation to come together to worship and celebrate our community life together and then have a BBQ.  While the diversity of our worship styles is good, coming together on these feast days reminds us that we are the Body of Christ in a larger sense that our corporate worship service units us as brothers and sisters with those we seek to serve.

But this Welcome home Sunday was 9/11 and the tenth anniversary of that horrible day sobered us as we prayed for the victims and their families and remembered a time when we came together as one national family and put aside our political differences to hold each other up when we needed it most.

Church Growth one Person at a Time—Welcome Home

We also celebrated this day with a new tradition.  We received eight new members who came through our doors and felt God’s warm embrace in this family of faith.  And there they were standing in front of a large family to be blessed as we received them into the household of God with word familiar from our own baptismal vows.  And then we fed them lunch, heard their stories, passed the peace and helped them find a mission or ministry that calls to them.

“Will you receive these persons as new members of this parish family, supporting them in their life in Christ and receiving their gifts of ministry for the building up of this congregation and of Christ’s mission in this place?

We Will!”

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