Episcopal Church Continues Uninterrupted Decline


September 22, 2016

Episcopal Church Continues Uninterrupted Decline

Declines in Episcopal Church membership continue a downward spiral that began in the early 2000s. Updated statistics made available this week by the Episcopal Church Office of Research show a denomination continuing a gradual, uninterrupted decline in 2015. The U.S.-based denomination shed 37,669 members in 2015, a decline of -2.1 percent, while attendance declined -20,631, down -3.4 percent. A net 43 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,510 congregations.
The pattern is consistent with past years, in which dioceses in New England, the Rust Belt and predominantly rural areas post sharp declines, while dioceses in the South either retain their numbers or decline at a more gradual rate.
Episcopal Church officials, including former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori — who completed a nine-year term in office in late 2015 — have predicted that decline would level off after years of internal dispute and the departure of dioceses, congregations and individual members. While there were no major congregational departures in 2015, the denomination still exceeded its baseline rate of decline of approximately 28,000 members a year by a substantial margin. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has struck an optimistic tone, encouraging the church to embrace its role in “the Jesus Movement” even as he seeks to address a workplace culture marked by “fear, mistrust and resentment” at the church’s national headquarters.
Curry’s own Diocese of North Carolina, which had mostly escaped membership decline in the past 15 years, aided by a booming state population, experienced a -0.9 percent drop in membership and a -4.8 percent drop in attendance in 2015. The diocese has seen its average attendance drop -14.7 percent since 2005.
Dioceses posting large membership declines include New York (-9.6%), Central New York (-5.1%), Newark (-6.1%), Maryland (-7.1%), Iowa (-7.6%), Eastern Michigan (-5.6%), Michigan (-6.4%), Missouri (-6.8%), South Dakota (-7.1%), Western Kansas (-6.7%) and Navajo Missions (-11.9%). Several overseas jurisdictions also posted large membership losses, including Ecuador-Central (-35.6%), Taiwan (-7.6%), and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe (-21.4%). More than half of the membership decline in the Episcopal Diocese of New York (-5,682 members) appears to have originated from St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan, where the parish purged nearly 3,500 inactive members from its rolls.
A handful of dioceses posted gains, including Central Florida (+0.7%), Easton (+0.4%), Lexington (+1.7%), Upper South Carolina (+1.0%), Eau Claire (+1.6%), North Dakota (+1.1%), Montana (+0.4%), Oklahoma (+0.6%), Eastern Oregon (+1.1%), Hawaii (+1.1%) and Nevada (+2.8%). The church’s “renewing” dioceses, which are rebuilding after a majority of their members departed the Episcopal Church, continue to be a mixed bag: Fort Worth posted a gain of 57 members (+1.2%) and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina grew 319 members (+5%) while Pittsburgh dropped 28 members (-0.3%) and San Joaquin posted a decline of 147 members (-6.9%) (the tiny remaining Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, Illinois was absorbed into the Diocese of Chicago).
In attendance, dioceses posting large declines include Connecticut (-7.6%), Albany (-7.5%), Central New York (-6.5%), Churches in Europe (-9.6%), New York (-6.3%), Virgin Islands (-6.6%), Western New York (-10.6%), Maryland (-6.9%), Central Gulf Coast (-6.3%), Fond Du Lac (-9.7%) and Ohio (-6%). The church’s smallest domestic normal diocese by attendance continues to be Northern Michigan, which declined -6.7% to 475 attendees on an average Sunday. Most internal provinces (regional groupings of dioceses) did not have a single diocese report any attendance growth, with only dioceses in Province III and Province XIII reporting any gains with U.S. dioceses. Those dioceses reporting attendance growth include Central Florida (+0.2%), Lexington (+3.1%), the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (+3.5%), Alaska (+2.3%), Arizona (+0.4%), Hawaii (+2.1%), Nevada (+3.4%) and Utah (+3.4%).
The denomination continues to see church size shrink, with the average Episcopal parish attracting 58 worshipers on a Sunday, down from an average of 65 in 2011. Similarly, 71 percent of the denomination’s churches have an attendance of fewer than 100 persons, while less than 4 percent attract 300 or more. The trend lines do not bode well for the future, with 55 percent of congregations experiencing decline of 10% or greater in the past five years. In contrast, only 18 percent of congregations grew their attendance by 10 percent in the same time span. As a whole, the denomination has experienced a 26 percent drop in attendance since 2005.

Tagged with: Anglican • Episcopal • Episcopal Church • Institute on Religion & Democracy • Jeff Walton • Katharine Jefferts Schori • mainline • Mainline Decline • Mainline Protestant • mainline Protestantism • Mainline Protestants
 

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The US Embassy in Israel issued a travel warning Wednesday urging all US citizens to “carefully consider and possibly defer travel”…..


(Having driven this area, and accidently driving down a road between not yet at peace Israeli and Syrian dug in troops, this warning brings back memories. {An Israeli trooper stood up and shouted at me to get the ….. out of there. I did.}

Jerusalem Post
http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/US-Embassy-issues-travel-warning-for-northern-Golan-Heights-467751

The US Embassy in Israel issued a travel warning Wednesday urging all US citizens to “carefully consider and possibly defer travel” to the northern Golan Heights, “until the situation stabilizes.”

The warning comes after multiple mortar rounds, emanating from Syria, landed in Israeli territory near the border.

The statement added that all US government employees are temporarily prohibited from personal travel north of Route 87 and east of Route 918 in the Golan Heights.

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Car found with gas canisters near Paris’ famous Notre Dame cathedral last Sunday


French policeman stabbed during gas canister car arrests
33 minutes ago
From the section
Europe
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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-373

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Reuters
Image caption
The authorities had been in a “race against time”, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said
A policeman in France has been stabbed during an operation to arrest three women in connection with a car found with gas canisters near Paris’ famous Notre Dame cathedral last Sunday.
Police opened fire after the stabbing in Boussy-Saint-Antoine, south-east of Paris, wounding one of the women.
Officials said the suspects were “radicalised” and appeared to have been preparing an immediate attack.
In November, 130 people died in Paris in attacks by so-called Islamic State.
A state of emergency has been in place in France since then.
The Peugeot 607 was found early on Sunday on the Quai de Montebello, just metres from the cathedral which attracts millions of tourists every year.
The car had its hazard warning lights flashing and no number plates, police said.

Image copyright
AFP
Image caption
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of Paris’s most popular tourist attractions
Documents with writing in Arabic were also found in the car, police said.
One of the canisters, on the front passenger seat, was empty, and there were no detonating devices inside.
A man on the terrorism watch list was arrested on Wednesday as well as an associate of the car’s owner.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the three women arrested on Thursday – aged 39, 23 and 19 – “had been radicalised, were fanatics and were in all likelihood preparing an imminent, violent act”.
Investigators, Mr Cazeneuve said, had been in a “race against time”.
One of those arrested is reportedly the daughter of the car owner who had already been questioned.
According to French media, the car owner was on an intelligence watch list.

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Eunuch stripped before them and refused to get dressed unless they paid up


ws Home » City » Mumbai
TNN | Sep 1, 2016, 11.43 PM IST
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Eunuch-strips-in-local-does-not-budge-till-young-couple-pays-up/articleshow/53969414.cms

Mumbai: A young couple, new to travelling by trains, underwent a horrific ordeal on a Harbour local recently when a eunuch stripped before them and refused to get dressed unless they paid up. An eyewitness from the compartment later posted about the incident on Facebook to highlight the menace of begging on trains. Despite tagging senior railway officials on social media, action is yet to be taken.

The incident took place in a 4.45pm Belapur local on August 25. The eyewitness, Jitesh Utekar, is a student and was about to board the train at CST when a young couple approached him and asked which train should they take for Wadala. Utekar told them that the Belapur-bound train would. “I took a window seat while the couple sat on a row of seats opposite me. Being Janmashtami and a state holiday, there were only 10 to 15 passengers in the coach. At Sandhurst Road, a eunuch boarded the compartment and started to beg for money. The eunuch approached the couple and started to touch them repeatedly, asking for money,” said Utekar. The girl refused to pay. The eunuch started hurling filthiest of abuses at the girl.
Top Comment
Begging is a systematic & controlled business in Mumbai & nothing will be done because it pays a lot of people to keep it running.
Anthony Dmello

What followed caught all passengers unawares. “The eunuch stripped below her waist and said she wouldn’t get dressed unless the couple paid her money. The couple was embarassed. Other passengers shouted at the eunuch but she did not flinch. Eventually, the couple paid her Rs 10. The eunuch got dressed but did not stop mouthing expletives. She alighted at Reay Road station,” Utekar added. The couple did not say a word for the rest of the journey and quietly got off at Wadala. “I did not dial the security helpline as my friends haven’t had a good experience with phone operators,” Utekar claimed.

The RPF said they received maximum complaints against eunuchs from mail and express trains. “We conducted a drive in mail and express trains in August and made 250 arrests,” said Sachin Bhalode, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (CR). He added he would act on the latest incident.

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Why are our kids getting fatter? (New Zealand article)


Niki Bezzant
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11697961

5:00 AM Sunday Aug 21, 2016

Being a Kiwi kid is a risk factor for obesity. Photo / Getty Images

I have always thought it strange to refer to obesity as an epidemic. It implies being fat is somehow catching, like a virus.

But looking at our childhood obesity statistics, you can see some factors that, just as with viruses, make it more likely a child will “catch” obesity.

Simply being a Kiwi kid is a bit of a risk factor, sadly. We are ranked the third-most-obese country in the OECD. One in nine children in New Zealand is obese (11 per cent) – about 85,000. A further 22 per cent are overweight – about 170,000.

Maori and Pacific children are more likely to be obese – at 15 and 30 per cent respectively. And if you’re poor it’s even more catching. Children in the most deprived areas are five times as likely to be obese as children living in the least deprived areas, according to the Ministry of Health.

Why are our kids getting fatter?

It’s a complex question, and of course the answer is not simple.

However, there is wide consensus among the experts that we live in increasingly obesogenic environments. That is, environments that make it easy for us to get fat – where making a healthy choice is harder than making an unhealthy choice.

Recently I reread the report from the World Health Organisation Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, chaired by Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor.

The report details what needs to happen to address this urgent, global issue. Its recommendations are comprehensive and the language is firm.

Young women are skipping meals to drink. Photo / Getty Images
Niki Bezzant: Are you suffering drunkorexia?

The great news is a new study found feelings of happiness developed relatively quickly from eating fruit and vegetables. Photo / Paul Taylor
Niki Bezzant: Happiness is a big green lettuce

It can be inspiring to follow wellness bloggers who post gorgeous shots of themselves in their activewear, with their perfect acai smoothie bowls. Photo / iStock
Niki Bezzant: Instagram lunch is only virtual

“The greatest obstacle to effective progress on reducing childhood obesity is a lack of political commitment and a failure of governments and other actors to take ownership, leadership and necessary actions,” it says.

For years health experts in New Zealand have called on the government for comprehensive action on obesity, meaning a combination of legislation, education and community-based initiatives. It’s fair to say there has been a muted response.

And so it is left to non-government groups to take action. Fortunately, some good things are happening.

One of these, about to start, is the Empower programme, a partnership between two non-profit groups, Life Education Trust and Garden to Table – for which I’m proud to be an ambassador.

The programme’s goal is to fight childhood obesity, through a combination of nutrition education and hands-on learning in the garden and kitchen.

This has the potential to instil lifelong knowledge, skills and habits in 32,000 kids in 170 schools around NZ.

Tellingly, one of the Who’s recommendations for education is about teaching kids to cook.

Giving kids these skills – not just what’s healthy but also how to make healthy happen – has the potential to create a healthier generation, maybe one with more years in its life and life in its years than ours.

Niki Bezzant is editor in chief of Healthy Food Guide.

– Herald on Sunday

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UN admits contaminating Haiti’s water with cholera


‘We were involved’: UN admits role in introducing cholera in Haiti

Researchers say there is ample evidence that cholera was introduced to Haiti’s biggest river in October 2010 by inadequately treated sewage from a UN peacekeeping base

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 11:20am

UPDATED : Fri
Associated Press

The United Nations is saying for the first time that it was involved in the introduction of cholera to Haiti and needs to do “much more” to end the suffering of those affected, estimated at more than 770,000 people.

Researchers say there is ample evidence that cholera was introduced to Haiti’s biggest river in October 2010 by inadequately treated sewage from a UN peacekeeping base. The United Nations has never accepted responsibility, and has answered lawsuits on behalf of victims in US courts by claiming diplomatic immunity.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq’s statement referring to the UN’s “own involvement”, , came a step closer to an admission of at least some responsibility and was welcomed by lawyers for the victims.

SSIt is high time for the UN to make this right and prove to the world that ‘human rights for all’ means for Haitians too

Mario Joseph, human rights attorney

“This is a major victory for the thousands of Haitians who have been marching for justice, writing to the UN and bringing the UN to court,” said Mario Joseph, a Haitian human rights attorney whose law firm is leading a high-profile claim on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims who blame the UN for introducing the disease.

“It is high time for the UN to make this right and prove to the world that ‘human rights for all’ means for Haitians too,” he said.

Haq said in the statement that the United Nations has been considering a series of options, and “a significantly new set of UN actions” will be presented publicly within the next two months.

He told reporters later that a UN-appointed panel already looked into the UN’s involvement and found that a local contractor failed to properly sanitise the waste at the UN base.

“We’ve been trying to see exactly what we can do about our own particular role as this has been going on” and how “to bring this outbreak to a close,” he said.

Haq wouldn’t say whether reparations were under consideration.

His statement on UN involvement was first reported by The New York Times.

Five UN human rights experts criticised the United Nations in a letter to top UN officials late last year for its “effective denial of the fundamental right of the victims of cholera to justice”.

However, a US federal appeals court has upheld the United Nations’ immunity from a damage claim filed on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims who blame the UN for an epidemic of the deadly disease in Haiti. In a decision issued late Thursday, the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York affirmed a lower court’s January 2015 dismissal of a lawsuit brought in the worst outbreak of cholera in recent history.

“We have considered all of plaintiffs’ arguments on appeal and find them to be without merit,” the US appellate judges said.

Haq reiterated on Thursday that the UN’s legal position in claiming diplomatic immunity “has not changed”.

According to government figures, cholera has sickened more than 770,000 people, or about 7 per cent of Haiti’s population, and killed more than 9,200. As of March, it was killing an average of 37 people a month.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and only 24 per cent of Haitians have access to a toilet. Sewage is rarely treated and safe water remains inaccessible to many.

At a dusty crossroads on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital, local residents gathered on Thursday at a trash-clogged stream to wash clothes and bathe.

“So now they are going to find a way to clean the disease from the country? It’s been here for years and it seems like it is here to stay,” said labourer Jhony Nordlius as he pushed a wheelbarrow past a fetid canal where children were splashing and collecting garbage.

Maxcilus Vale, who ekes out a living shining shoes by the trash-clogged waterway, was more hopeful.

“Maybe now we’ll get more sanitation and water treatment to help make cholera go away. I hope so because it has harmed many people,” said Vale, as he washed his socks in a roadside pool of stagnant water.

Researchers said cholera was first detected in the central Artibonite Valley and cited evidence that it was introduced to Haiti’s biggest river from a UN base where Nepalese troops were deployed as part of a peacekeeping operation which has been in the country since 2004. Cholera is endemic in Nepal.

In December 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a US$2.27 billion initiative to help eradicate cholera in Haiti and the neighbouring Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, but the ambitious 10-year plan is underfunded. According to a report last November, only US$307 million has been received.

Haq said the announcement of UN plans for new action to address cholera was made in response to a draft report by the UN special investigator on extreme poverty and human rights.

Ahead of its release, likely in late September, he said “we wanted to take this opportunity to welcome this vital report.”

Haq said its findings and recommendations “will be a valuable contribution to the UN as we work towards a significantly new set of UN actions”.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:

UN admits contaminating Haiti’s water with cholera

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What a few can deliver…… ENTER STAGE RIGHT Port Huron, Michigan


Local theater group Enter Stage Right was slated to open their first season with Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at the Citadel Stage on Aug. 4, but have been delayed due to building safety issues with the sprinkler system. A new date will be announced by the end of the week.

Aside from fixing the sprinkler system, the black box theater floors still need to be stained and finished, a handicap lift needs to be installed to allow visitors to access the basement, the ticket booth and concession stand need to be built, and minor aesthetic works needs to be completed.

But that’s not stopping the cast from telling the tragedy of Hamlet.

“After ‘Hamlet’ we still have a lot of work to do,” said Regina Spain, Enter Stage Right director. “We are going a little rustic right now, but we have everything essential we need to host our first show.”

While the cast rehearsed the production, crew members worked to install lighting and air conditioning on Monday – both essential for the show to go on. Seats and risers were installed Tuesday.

Laura Lynn Lavely, left, acts out a scene with John Lusk and Anson Pavlov, Monday, Aug 1, during rehearsal for Hamlet at the Citadel Stage in Port Huron. (Photo: ANDREW JOWETT, TIMES HERALD)

The theater will open for the first time at 7 p.m. Thursday. The show will start at 7:30 p.m. Hamlet will run Aug. 4 -14, Thursday through Sunday. Shows running Thursday through Saturday will begin at 7:30 p.m., Sunday shows will be at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $16 and can be purchased at http://www.thecitadelstage.org.

But the Hamlet production will have a different cast set-up than Shakespeare enthusiasts are used.

The genders of all of the main characters have been switched. Male characters will be played by women, and female characters by men.

“We are used to thinking poor Ophelia, she went mad in love and killed herself,” Spain said. “We wanted to see if it would have a different meaning if it was a man in pursuit of a girl who went mad, and surprisingly for us, it didn’t change anything.”

Spain said the gender swap turned into a wonderful example of universal desires.

“At our core, male and female, we have the same emotions, wants, desires, and fears,” she said. “At our core, we are the same.”

Spain said she is interested to see how members of the audience perceive the change.

After the Hamlet production is wrapped up, Enter Stage Right will focus on raising the remaining funds needed to install the handicap lift that will allow patrons to access handicap accessible bathrooms in the basement.

Originally the project was quoted at $7,000, Spain said. But as the project progressed it was found that additional architecture work, like moving the ceiling, will need to be done in order to accommodate the lift. That put the project closer to $18,000.
Pictures and rest of article here “At our core, male and female, we have the same emotions, wants, desires, and fears,” she said. “At our core, we are the same.”

Spain said she is interested to see how members of the audience perceive the change.

After the Hamlet production is wrapped up, Enter Stage Right will focus on raising the remaining funds needed to install the handicap lift that will allow patrons to access handicap accessible bathrooms in the basement.

Originally the project was quoted at $7,000, Spain said. But as the project progressed it was found that additional architecture work, like moving the ceiling, will need to be done in order to accommodate the lift. That put the project closer to $18,000.
Spain said the gender swap turned into a wonderful example of universal desires.

Entire article The Times Herald.com enter stage right

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