Archive for November, 2011

The Good Book

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

As many in the English-speaking world celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible–the most re-printed English translation even today, it is fitting that a reference to Scripture (Mt. 13.12) appeared as the headline on the two New York tabloids yesterday. The Bible is part of our culture–one of many reasons that it should be studied in the most secular schools.

“The Rich Get Richer” referred to the recent lottery win by some financial tycoons. They apparently plan to give some of the mega-millions away, which wouldn’t disappoint the source of the Scripture, who also said that the poor in spirit would be blessed–but who also said that in the fullness of time, “the rich would be sent empty away.” —J. Douglas Ousley

The People Speak

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I expect to offer several reflections on the recent election in the coming days.

But first in most Episcopalians’ minds must be the fact that our bishop coadjutor-elect was first rejected by the Nominating Committee. He was then nominated by petition; he led on the first ballot; and he won by a huge majority on only the third ballot. The official system failed; the people won.

And most of us present in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine also noticed that Canon Andrew Dietsche seemed to be the least concerned of the candidates with being a spokesperson for the church in the media and on the national and international stage. Rather, he would try to help struggling parishes to survive and flourish. Many of us share this priority and we should be grateful that the election results seem to endorse this emphasis on the parish. —J. Douglas Ousley

Finally, the End of the Beginning?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The weather forecast is clement and the postponed election for a Bishop-Coadjutor for the Diocese of New York seems set to happen this Saturday.

While many clergy and laity continue to mull over the qualities of the various candidates and rumors circulate, the mood in Manhattan seems more subdued than it was three weeks ago. Perhaps, “resigned” is a better word. We will not be offered the candidates of our dreams so we shall have to choose from among the ones set before us.

That said, I don’t think nominations from the floor can be ruled out, and it is at least possible that the convention will be deadlocked. Perhaps these prospects are contributing to the subdued consciousness. But they at least give us additional reasons to pray for the Diocese of New York. —J. Douglas Ousley

Shepherd of a Dwindling Flock

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Since the convention last Saturday to elect a new Bishop of New York was postponed due to the snowstorm, we have three extra weeks to brood about the election.

In the meantime, the Episcopal Church has released figures on 2010 that indicate yet more decline. Down 16% in membership in the past ten years, the annual decline last year increased from 2% to 3%. Median attendance has gone from 72 in 2006 to 65 in 2010.

The 2012 proposed budget for the Diocese of New York also appeared recently, and it projects one-third of diocesan expenditure devoted to the numerous parishes which are not self-supporting.

Happily, every candidate for bishop has talked about the need for congregational growth and development. Yet the extreme spiritual and financial challenges of our church at this time may have been the major reasons why so many able candidates from within our diocese declined to stand for election. —J. Douglas Ousley