Archive for November, 2010

Growth to Be Thankful For

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

In her November 13 address to Diocesan Convention, Suffragan Bishop Catherine Roskam noted that a quarter of the parishes in the Diocese of New York are growing–some, quite rapidly. The Diocese itself has remained stable in recent years, which therefore means that some churches are declining.

Nevertheless, a stable diocese in an Episcopal Church in decline is something to be thankful for. (The Church of the Incarnation has remained stable in attendance and contributions over the past 10+ years, while the number of persons on the official rolls has increased.) We can also be glad that one person among the countless speakers mentioned church growth. —J. Douglas Ousley


Quarter Million Dollar Bishop

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

At the annual Convention of the Diocese of New York on November 13, the Bishop of New York announced that he was calling for his successor of “co-adjutor” to be elected at a special convention on October 29, 2011. The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk has served in New York since 1998, he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 72 in 2014.

Subsequent to this announcement, the delegates voted that an extra $250,000 be added to the budget to pay for this election. It was not clear to me why so much money was needed; I assume it is to cover travel costs for the search committee to visit candidates and to pay for videos of final nominees and their travel to New York.

Popular election of bishops is an important part of the American system and, I believe, there is much to be said for it. Our leaders are often drawn from a much wider pool of candidates than those of other Anglican churches and laypeople and clergy are more attached to them because they have been involved in their selection. (For example, our Annual Meeting in January will elect Incarnation’s delegates to the Convention that chooses the new Bishop of New York. So all of us can have a part in the process.)

On the other hand, the quarter-million dollar expense is indicative of the increasing complication of the selection process. If less money were available, nominees would have to come from nearer New York City–thus making things simpler while still allowing for thousands of candidates to be available. It is not clear that the price is right. —J. Douglas Ousley


War of the Hitchens’

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

It is remarkable to read Peter Hitchens’ memoir, The Rage Against God:How Atheism Led Me to Faith, just after his brother, Christopher’s autobiographical reflections, Hitch-22. The latter is famous for his atheistic tract, God is Not Great. Peter details his own return to faith in conscious sibling rivalry. Ironically, both brothers, who have been known as foreign journalists and political analysts look likely to be remembered for their opposing views of religion.

My own views of the books: While Peter’s memoir meanders is a bit critical of trendiness in the Church of England, he offers many good reasons for embracing the consolations of faith. While Christopher’s tract is filled with weak atheistic arguments, his memoir is brilliant and often riveting. Both brothers deserve the gratitude of believers for bringing religious questions back onto the best-seller list. –J. Douglas Ousley