T.D. Jakes on Post-Katrina `Emotional Equilibrium’

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Bishop T.D. Jakes, the Dallas megachurch pastor, has made several trips to the Gulf Coast in his role as co-chairman of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund Interfaith Advisory Committee. The fund has committed $20 million to help religious institutions in the affected region. Jakes recently spoke about the continuing efforts ahead for clergy and their congregations along the Gulf Coast, even as a new hurricane season has begun. This interview has been edited for length and grammar: Q: What do you see as some of the greatest ongoing challenges for clergy affected by Hurricane Katrina?

A good God

Quote of the Day: Humorist Art Buchwald “I believe there is a God, but he’s not the one all the religions claim. The Christian religion, the Jewish religion, the Muslim religion-if you believe in their God, other people will say you’re an infidel. There’s a God out there, but not the one that causes all the trouble in the world.” -Humorist Art Buchwald, in an interview with Time magazine.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Presbyterians Call for Medical Marijuana (RNS) The Presbyterian Church (USA) on Wednesday (June 21) became the seventh major religious organization in the nation to support the use of medical marijuana. The consensus vote of the church’s General Assembly in Birmingham, Ala., comes as the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the issue next week. In explaining its reasoning for the policy shift, a church committee wrote that marijuana may alleviate the pain that some patients who are confined to “ineffective” prescription drugs are forced to endure. “Medical marijuana is an issue of mercy,” said the Rev. Lynn Bledsoe, a Presbyterian minister in Alabama.

JustFaith Opens Eyes to Injustice, Moves Hands to Action

c. 2006 Religion News Service GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. _ If she wanted, Mary Crowley could live an insulated life in her home in Hudsonville. She could go to church, go to work and do other things embedded in the fabric of suburban West Michigan culture. Three years ago, the schoolteacher’s eyes were opened to the broader world and her place in it.

Newark Episcopalians, Poised to Elect New Bishop, Mull Gay Choices

c. 2006 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ Back in 1998, a half-decade before Gene Robinson of New Hampshire became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and an international figure, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark considered him as a candidate. That year, Robinson made a nominating committee’s short list for bishop of Newark. He lost, finishing third. Now, as Newark Bishop John Croneberger prepares to retire, people around the diocese are wondering if any of the candidates to succeed him will be gay _ one early candidate who later withdrew is a lesbian.

JustFaith; and Newark’s new Episcopal bishop

In Friday’s RNS report Matt Vande Bunte writes about JustFaith, a group that works to open people’s eyes to injustice and spur them into action: If she wanted, Mary Crowley could live an insulated life in her Hudsonville home. She could go to church, go to work and do other things embedded in the fabric of suburban West Michigan culture. Three years ago, the schoolteacher’s eyes were opened to the broader world and her place in it. Now, Crowley serves a meal once each month at Hard Times Cafe and devotes a portion of her tithe to area hunger organizations. She also teaches English as a second language to Hispanic immigrants and is learning Spanish to facilitate the process.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2006 Religion News Service Gay Bishop `Disappointed but Not Devastated’ After Convention COLUMBUS, Ohio (RNS) As he sat back to reflect on his church’s nine-day General Convention meeting, Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said he was “disappointed but not devastated.” For Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the gathering held astonishing highs, such as the election of the church’s first female presiding bishop, and dampening lows, such as the approval of a de facto halt to any more gay or lesbian bishops. “This church knows what the right thing is,” Robinson said, “it’s just not quite ready to stand up for it.” The convention, which ended Wednesday (June 21), brought Episcopalians together to try to hammer out a compromise on sexuality issues; that included a promise to “exercise restraint” when considering gay bishops. “We heard from the presiding bishop-elect (Katharine Jefferts Schori) that she is absolutely committed to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church,” Robinson said. But Episcopal leaders feared that if their 2.2 million-member church did not respond to other Anglican leaders’ demands for a moratorium on the election of gay bishops, it would essentially cut itself out of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

COMMENTARY: A Rabbi Who Shattered the Stained-Glass Ceiling Retires

c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Question: What do Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, Brig. Gen. Coral Pietsch and Rabbi Sally Priesand have in common? Give up? They are four pioneering women who shattered the restrictive, discriminatory “glass ceilings” of their various professions and opened doors of opportunity for others to follow.

Bishop’s Early Career Laid Path for High-Ranking Post

c. 2006 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. _ From the sky to the ocean and nearly everything in between, Katharine Jefferts Schori uses her brain and her faith to try to make sense of it all. The self-described “recovering scientist” made the leap from professional science to religion in Corvallis, the Oregon city where she lived and worked almost half her life. On Sunday (June 18), she became the first woman elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Pope Reshuffles Cabinet, Retires One U.S. Cardinal

c. 2006 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Pope Benedict XVI made a long-awaited reshuffle of the Roman Curia on Thursday (June 22), ending the tenures of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s No. 2 official, and Cardinal Edmund Szoka, an American cardinal in charge of overseeing the affairs of Vatican City. Benedict replaced Sodano as secretary of state with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 71, the archbishop of Genoa, Italy. He replaced Szoka, the former archbishop of Detroit, with Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, 71, currently the Vatican’s foreign minister.

German Churches Piggyback on World Cup Frenzy

c. 2006 Religion News Service BERLIN _ Soccer is religion in some places. But German churches are stepping forward to make sure people don’t forget the real thing during the World Cup tournament. While fans race from one game to another across Germany, a host of German churches is on the sidelines to make sure that anyone who needs some time to talk to God, meditate or just think about religion has a place to go. “We want to do what we can,” says Bernhard Felmberg, who organizes sports programs for the Evangelical (Protestant) church in Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg.

Presbyterians:  All Politics Are Local?

In Seismic Shift, Presbyterians Make Room for Gay Clergy
RNS’ David E. Anderson reports from Birmingham, Alabama in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote:
The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination, in a seismic shift on the role of gays and lesbians in the church, voted on Tuesday (June 20) to allow local and regional bodies to ordain gays to the church’s ministries.

Presbyterians:  All Politics Are Local?

In Seismic Shift, Presbyterians Make Room for Gay Clergy RNS’ David E. Anderson reports from Birmingham, Alabama in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination, in a seismic shift on the role of gays and lesbians in the church, voted on Tuesday (June 20) to allow local and regional bodies to ordain gays to the church’s ministries.

Under Pressure, Presbyterians Ease Mideast Divestment Policy

c. 2006 Religion News Service BIRMINGHAM, Ala. _ Under intense pressure from church members and Jewish groups, the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Wednesday (June 21) modified its controversial position calling for “phased, selective divestment” in companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. While church leaders said divestment _ withdrawing church funds _ remains an option of “last resort,” Wednesday’s vote shifts the church’s focus toward negotiation with companies rather than an all-out financial boycott. The 500 commissioners, or delegates, said church funds could be invested “in only peaceful pursuits,” and ordered the church’s investments committee to continue dialogue with multinational firms operating in Israel and Palestinian territories.

Episcopalians Promise to `Exercise Restraint’ on Gay Bishops

c. 2006 Religion News Service COLUMBUS, Ohio _ Hoping to stave off schism within the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church agreed Wednesday (June 21) to “exercise restraint” before electing any more openly gay bishops. The 11th-hour resolution urges Episcopal leaders to refrain from electing bishops whose “manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.” The statement was a last-ditch attempt to appease anger at home and abroad after Episcopalians elected an openly gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop in 2003. The measure falls short of the “moratorium” that was requested by overseas Anglican leaders after Robinson’s election in New Hampshire. Coming at the tail end of a wrenching nine-day convention, the resolution pleased almost no one in this deeply divided church, and at least some bishops promised to ignore it.