In the waning days of the Episcopal Church’s July 5-15 General Convention in Denver, a weary sense of déjà vu descended on the bishops and the lay and clergy deputies who make up the church’s highest legislative body. Twenty-four years ago the General Convention made headlines by permitting the ordination of women as priests.
When most Americans think of small towns, say Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, they think of churches: “Each of us carries a mental map of the perfect small town. Whether or not we are of religious temperament, this exercise in mental cartography invariably includes churches.” Frantz and Collins know whereof they speak.
By the time this issue of the magazine is in your hands, the fate of health-care reform may have been decided by Congress. The legislative process, like the proverbial production of sausage, is not neat or pretty. If a bill passes, it will not be all the Obama administration hoped for and it will be a lot more than the Republican opposition wants.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America both have slashed their 2009 budgets, cutting programs and laying off scores of personnel as denominations continue to suffer from the recession.
“The Church’s Unfinished Sexual Revolution” was the title of an article in the spring 2006 issue of Yale Divinity School’s Reflections magazine. In it longtime Christian ethicist James B. Nelson described some progress in church thinking about sexual ethics, but contended that the church’s agenda on sexuality remains “confusing, unsettled, unfinished.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved in 2006 a procedure for ordaining gay and lesbian candidates for ministry, but the first step in that direction was not taken until a San Francisco regional body did so last month.
Active membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to drop, registering a dip of about 46,000 members last year to 2.26 million, according to statistics released by PCUSA officials in Louisville, Kentucky.