New ways of being church

Ruth Gledhill, Times Religion Correspondent and blushing-bride-to-be, reports that, in preference to TEA, many in the Synod would prefer WINE – women in a new episcopate. 30Days likes a drop of wine, it’s true, and so is indebted to one of its readers who assures us that it really stands for ‘We’re into new ecclesiology.’

More new ways of being church

Talking of wine, the following billet doux from the Diocese of New Hampshire (prop: Vicky Gene Robinson) fell onto the 30Days desk on St Valentine’s Day:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to you from an alcohol treatment center where on February 1, with the encouragement and support of my partner, daughters and colleagues, I checked myself in to deal with my increasing dependence on alcohol. Over the 28 days I will be here, I will be dealing with the disease of alcoholism, which, for years, I have thought of as a failure of will or discipline on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop drinking altogether.

During my first week here, I have learned so much. The extraordinary experience of community here will inform my ministry for years to come. I eagerly look forward to continuing my recovery in your midst. Once again, God is proving His desire and ability to bring an Easter out of Good Friday. Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are in mine.

Your Brother in Christ, +Gene

A quick Google search identifies at least six other ECUSA bishops in recent years who have trodden the same path, although it seems that they mostly took to the bottle in office rather than, as seems to be the case here, simply forgetting to list boozing in the section marked ‘hobbies’ on the application form.

Still more new ways

30Days is indebted to the Church Times for news of Coventry Cathedral’s exciting new venture – a speed-dating evening for 90 Christian singles aged between 18 and 45. Participants were apparently able to enjoy candlelit tours of the cathedral, a bar, and background classical music – and all for just £19·50 per person! The Dean of Coventry, the Very Revd John Irvine, is quoted as saying: We look forward to this event – which is another first for Coventry Cathedral. Anna Shepherd, the cathedral press officer, added We always thought the cathedral would provide the right atmosphere for this sort of thing. As far as I know, there have been no objections.

Off message

The Revd Mervyn Roberts, communications officer for Coventry diocese, has called the blind-date wedding of two strangers – arranged by a Birmingham radio station – an outrageous publicity stunt. Mr Roberts said that the wedding, which took place at the end of January, was even worse because of its proximity to National Marriage Week.

Stewardship news

The Church of England may have desperate need for £60m to save dilapidated churches but, as we reported last month, the Commissioners can still find £2·5m for a new house – eight bedrooms and a one and a half acre garden – for the next Bishop of Oxford. Meanwhile in York, Bishopthorpe Palace is to be refurbished, a process said to be likely to take eighteen months. ‘You don’t want to know how much that is going to cost’ was the cryptic comment of one person in the know. While this is being done, Archbishop Sentamu will have to slum it in a nearby hovel which had been on the market at a price rumoured to have been around £450,000. Sadly, that too needs ‘refurbishing’ at a cost claimed to be not far from the price paid for it, and in the meantime the archbishop will live in the unrefurbished Palace.

Old ways of being new church

30Days has reported from time to time on the exciting doings at the Open Episcopal Church, which now apparently boasts two Cardinals! Step forward Cardinal Jonathan Blake and Cardinal Elizabeth Stuart! But the more attentive readers will already be asking themselves what has happened to the third member of the unlikely triumvirate running the OEC, Archbishop Richard Palmer. Luckily, a portentous press release wafted into the 30Days office from ‘The United Episcopal Church in The Province of Great Britain and Ireland (A Home for Open Evangelicals and Old Catholics in Inclusive Ministries and Witness)’ (sic) This is to confirm it droned that on the 7th day of February 2006 Archbishop Richard Arthur Palmer did, by Deed of Promulgation, devolve all powers and authority pertaining to the governance and oversight of the Open Episcopal Church in the Province for Open Episcopal Ministry and Jurisdiction upon The Right Reverend Jonathan Clive Blake and the Right Reverend Professor Elizabeth Stuart. On the same day, by Declaration and Founding Mandate Archbishop Palmer founded the United Episcopal Church in the Province of Great Britain and Ireland. Both Churches will now continue their ministerial work in amity and Christian love for each other.

30Days looks forward to observing all this amity in the week to come.

TV licence

The Book of Daniel, a new series featuring an Episcopalian parish priest that first appeared on NBC television in the USA in January, has been pulled unceremoniously from the schedules after only three episodes. It had been promoted as the only show on television in which Jesus appeared as a recurring character and the only network prime-time drama series with a troubled, pill-popping Episcopal priest, Daniel Webster, as the main character. Touted as the riskiest show of the year, it included a wife who relied on midday martinis, a 16-year-old daughter who was a drug dealer and a 16-year-old adopted son who was having sex with the bishop’s daughter. At the office, the priest’s lesbian secretary was sleeping with his sister-in-law. Other reports pointed to heterosexual adultery between two bishops, teenage sexual encounters and Mafia extortion via Roman Catholic connections. Whether it was scrapped for reasons of realism or ratings is unclear.