Non-yew news

30 Days readers will remember the case of Bill Melnyk, aka OakWyse, the Episcopalian priest outed as a druid last year, who recanted his druidism in December and then recanted his recantation in April this year, in order to concentrate full-time on providing pagan ritual for anyone with $100 to waste.

In a turnaround, reminiscent of certain members of the House of Bishops of the CofE on the matter of the ordination of women, our Bill lost no time after his second recantation in recanting a third time. As we go to press, Pennsylvania bishop, Chuck ‘No Witch Hunts’ Bennison, has not yet divulged whether Fr OakWyse still has a place in his go-ahead diocese, but it can surely only be a matter of time before the great man speaks.

Church growth

The website of the Open Episcopal Church (Proprietors: Archbishop Richard Palmer and Bishop Jonathan Blake – see 30 Days passim) announces that yet another bishop is to be consecrated, although apparently not until 2006. The lucky chap is the Revd Canon Roger Whatley ssb, MA, MB, ChB, but more than that we cannot tell you, as he appears not to be involved with any of the ten ‘regular worshipping congregations’ which the OEC now boasts.

Those interested in attending the historic event might wangle an invitation by visiting the website of another of Palmer ’n’ Blake’s set-ups, the Society for Independent Christian Ministry, and joining the ‘Friends of SICM’ (sic), the eleven members of which are presumably the hardcore devotees of this exciting, radical experiment.

Bargain of the month

30 Days readers should lose no time in visiting the website of the ‘much misunderstood’ Bishop John Shelby Spong – A New Christianity for a New World – where they will discover that the subscription of $34·95 is currently reduced to $24·95 – a saving of a whole $10! Those who sign up will receive Bishop Spong’s ‘poignant perspective on Christianity and the news’, a new essay every week for the entire year, to say nothing of a special weekly Q&A feature where Jack answers their questions.

A sample essay on the Bible gives a flavour: ‘One has only to chart the evil and pain that many people have endured in history because someone regarded the Bible as the “Word of God”’; or again: ‘Later the gospel writers would violently twist out of context the writings of the prophets, to prove such things as the literal accuracy of the Virgin Birth, or to demonstrate that the ancient prophets supported the doctrinal and credal development of the 4th and 5th centuries of the Common Era.’ Great stuff, indeed, and so much in demand that 30 Days confidently predicts that the sub will be down to $14·95, or even $4·95, any day now. Contain yourselves long enough, mind, and he’ll be offering to pay you to read his heap of self-serving compost.

Holiday news

30 Days readers who have still to book their holidays this year, and who are looking for somewhere warm, sunny and not too liberal, might think about Trinidad and Tobago. The temperature is in the upper 80s Fahrenheit through much of the summer, although it seems to have been unseasonably higher back in May, when the Bishop of Port of Spain, Calvin Bess, withdrew his invitation to the Bishop of Chelmsford, John Gladwin, to preach at the Cathedral on Corpus Christi, following the latter’s letter to The Times declaring his support for Bishop Gene Robinson, and the authorisation of same-sex blessings in Canada. Presumably the Diocese of Chelmsford will even now be arranging to twin itself with the altogether cooler – in more senses than one – Diocese of New Westminster.

Financial Times

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when a bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA announces which member of staff has been embezzling diocesan funds! Step forward Bishop Charles E Jenkins of Louisiana, who has just written to members of his diocese to tell them that Diocesan Controller, Mrs Selwa Perry, has confessed to misappropriating funds over several years from the diocesan account for her personal use. ‘Selwa has resigned,’ he writes, ‘and I have accepted her resignation.’

Last year the diocese declined to prosecute the former headmaster at a diocesan-owned school, after a routine audit revealed that over the course of several years the Revd Paul Hancock had, in a manner designed to avoid detection, paid himself nearly $102,000 in what he said were ‘salary advances’; so it may be that Mrs Perry will be able to enjoy a more comfortable future than perhaps she deserves, once she has made the ‘full restitution’ she has promised.

Nevertheless, she will obviously be in need of one-to-one pastoral care in the coming weeks and months, so it is just as well that she is married to Bishop Jenkins’ right-hand man, Rex Perry, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Louisiana. His $120,000 (£65,000) stipend and benefits package should keep the wolf from the door, though, until his wife finds a new outlet for her talents.

Bog Irish

Just as the glitterati strutted their stuff at the Palais de Festivale in Cannes for the world premiere of the curiously named sixth episode in the Star Wars saga ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’, exciting news reached 30 Days from the Church of Ireland Press Office under the oh-so-topical headline ‘Star Wars Provides Model for New Children’s Ministry Approach’. According to a new report on children’s ministry, ‘the Church’s role is not to “fill buckets” but to “light fires” in a model of ministry that owes more to Yoda in Star Wars than to instructional models familiar from the caricatures of traditional public school masters.’

One looks forward to a whole new breed of Sunday School teachers on the Emerald Isle, all of whom will of course be two foot high males of unknown species, who live in a swamp, are nine hundred years old, and armed with light sabres – all of which ought to provide some fascinating challenges for the Child Protection Officers.

Archbishop Robert Eames is 68.