from elsewhere

America

 

Female senior pastors in US Protestant churches double, says study

The number of female senior pastors in U.S. Protestant churches has doubled over the last 10 years, new research has suggested. Still, the study by the California-based Barna Group indicates that the number of such pastors remains small at 10 percent. The figure stood at five percent in 1999. The research also indicates that, despite being generally better educated than their male counterparts, women serving as ministers of U.S. Protestant churches are paid less than men.

Though the Barna study indicates that 77 percent of female pastors have a seminary degree, compared to 63 percent of their male counterparts, the average annual compensation package for female pastors in 2009 is US$45 300, compared to US$48 600 for men. Still, the study notes that, "While male pastors have experienced a substantial increase in compensation packages since 1999 - up 21 percent -femalepastors received an even greater jump, growing by 30 percent. In other words, the difference in compensation has been cut by more than half, from US$6900 per year to about US$3300 annually''

In a 2005 study of U.S. clergy, "Who Shall Lead Them? The Future of Ministry in America," author Larry A. Witham noted that despite a rise in the number of ordained female clergy in Protestant churches, there had been a marked "cycle of victory and excitement followed by limits and disappointment," and that fewer "women than expected have landed top clergy jobs While nearly half are sole pastors, they serve mostly small churches''

The 2009 Barna research suggests that a key reason female clergy continue to be paid less than men is due to the size of their churches. Male pastors, the study says, "lead congregations that average 103 adults in attendance on a typical weekend compared to 81 adults at churches led by female pastors''

Six out of 10 women serving as clergy, the survey found, are affiliated with what are called "mainline" Protestant churches, such as the American Baptist Churches , the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal (Anglican) Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , the United Methodist Church , and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Full study at: www.barna.org/

Ecumenical News International Daily News Service, 16 October 2009

 

South Africa

The Missing Archbishop

The man who filled Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu's shoes as South Africa's Anglican archbishop is being sued for maintenance by his wife of 22 years. Two years ago, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane announced to his family that he would b e resigning from the church and would be going on a 10-day retreat in Polokwane, Limpopo, to "meditate'! But the clergyman never returned.

Now his estranged wife, Nomahlubi Vokwana-Ndungane, who had kept her husband's disappearance "in the family" has turned to the courts in a desperate bid to force him to support her financially. The shocking allegations surfaced this week when the couple was called to the Family Court in Cape Town for mediation.

The archbishop, who heads the Historic Schools Restoration Project since removing his mitre, did not attend the hearing. Instead, he sent a lawyer to ask for a postponement.

In an exclusive interview, his 69-year-old wife told the Sunday Times that she could barely support herself. Holding back tears, she said in the past two years her only source of news about her husband was the media. She said they had only met once during this period, when she had swallowed her pride to ask for assistance "on something''

"I was still living in Bishops court when he left," Vokwana-Ndungane said. "When it was time for the new archbishop to move in, I got a call from Rob Rogerson, the diocesan secretary, to ask me where I'd b e moving to. I told him that I'd move to an apartment that I owned in Bantry Bay.

"I never thought I'd be undergoing things like this at this age. One wants to retire without any stress."

She said she had sold her supermarket in Khayelitsha, which was left to her by her first husband, to allow her more time to travel with Ndungane when he was archbishop of Cape Town .

"When I married him in 1987, he was still a provincial executive officer to Archbishop Tutu. My business was doing excellently and I carried the brunt of payment for every household cost. He would say: 'When I take retirement from the church, I'll be the one to take care of you,'" she said.

Vokwana-Ndungane said she had approached the court because she did not know what else to do. She claimed she has had to put up with rumours that her husband had divorced her.

"One friendly parishioner told me she had heard that I'd been divorced. When she saw my shock, she clammed up."

The couple met during the archbishop's first year of study at the University of Cape Town. When he was jailed on Robben Island for three years because of his involvement in demonstrations against pass laws, the couple split up.

"When he came back, I had married and so he got married too."

They later reunited when both their spouses died and were married in Newlands, Cape Town, on February 26 1987.

Vokwana-Ndungane spoke of a life of juggling a business to keep food on the table, being a priest's wife and the hardships involved in helping her husband to rise in the Anglican church's ranks.

Her husband helped her to raise her two children from her previous marriage. But now she feels like the rug had been pulled out from under her.

Trying to explain her feelings of confusion and betrayal, Vokwana-Ndungane said: "Having to live like this is not pleasant. You keep asking yourself a lot of questions and providing your own answers."

Ndungane declined to comment. His lawyer, Kaamilah Paulse, said he would file responding papers in court this week.

 

Rome

Vatican-SSPX talks to start "in next few days" - Schonborn

Doctrinal negotiations between the Vatican and the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) are due to start "in the next few days," according to Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, and Rome will not "let the Lefebvrists off easy for everything."

In particular, he told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper in Bavaria over the weekend, "the SSPX will be told very clearly what is not negotiable for the Holy See. This includes such fundamental conclusions of the Second Vatican Council as its positions on Judaism, other non-Christian religions, other Christian churches and on religious freedom as a basic human right." Here is our news story.

This is going to be interesting. The SSPX has been insisting for decades that it represents the true Roman Catholic faith while the Vatican and the vast majority of the Church took a wrong turn at Vatican II.

By allowing wider use of the traditional Latin Mass and revoking the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops, Pope Benedict has taken two of the groups main rallying points off the table. Now it comes down to the core issue of accepting the fundamental reforms of the 1962-1965 Council concerning Catholicisms relations with other religions.

So will the SSPX accept the Vatican ultimatum, if indeed it turns out to be as clear as Schonborn portrays it?

In their public statements, SSPX bishops were triumphant after the decree lifting the excommunications was published and determined to stand firm in its meetings with the Vatican. Its interesting to note that they describe these upcoming sessions as "meetings" or "doctrinal discussions" (entretiens doctrinaux), while Schonborn calls them "negotiations" (Verhandlungen). Since the full reintegration of the SSPX is at stake, the word "negotiations" seems more suited to these sessions.

Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, one of the four readmitted, said the bishops had no intention of changing their views in these sessions." No, absolutely not," he said. "We do not change our positions, but we have the intention of converting Rome, that is, to lead Rome towards our positions."

Bishop Richard Williamson, whose denial of the Holocaust-era gas chambers overshadowed the reporting of the ban lifting, wrote on his blog:"No doubt some Conciliarists in Rome are hoping that the Decree will serve to draw the SSPX back into the fold of Vatican II, but the Decree itself, as it stands, commits the Society to nothing more than to entering into those discussions to which the Society committed itself in 2000 when it proposed the liberation of the Mass and the ending of the "excommunications" as preconditions in the first place."

SSPX Superior General Bernard Fellay, who has said the negotiations would be "not necessarily short, maybe even long,"has been more nuanced. On the one hand, he told the Italian agency APCom (here in English) in July: "We will not make any compromise on the Council. I have no intention of making a compromise. The truth does not tolerate compromise. We do not want a compromise, we want clarity regarding the Council."

On the other hand, at the ordination of eight new SSPX priests in Econe, Switzerland held in June despite Vatican warnings, Fellay said: "The biggest problem is philosophical. Two philosophies meet: the classical scholastic philosophy and modern philosophy. The pope is very eclectic and we feel that he has been marked by a subjective philosophy less when he talks about morality than when he speaks in the abstract. Our scholastic philosophy is more obj ective." The pope and the SSPX, he said, maybe speaking "about the same thing, but differently'

The German SSPX chapter seems to be on a similar wavelength. In a report on its website, it said the three theologians reported to make up the Vatican team at the sessions "are all Thomists, so a fruitful discussion should be possible."

French religion writer Nicolas Seneze, author of a history of the SSPX called La crise integriste (The Traditionalist Crisis), wrote on Faith World from Econe that Fellay s statement was "a timid opening." Could it actually be an audacious opening gambit? Up until now, the SSPX only aimed to convince the Vatican that it was wrong about the Council. Now it also wants to persuade it that Benedict, a tireless preacher against relativism, is a subjective and faulty philosopher. Get ready for some long and difficult negotiations.

Reuters, H October 2009

 

 

America

Testing the Faith

'Gay' man sues Bible publisher for 'mental anguish' $10 million sought for 'negative connotation' toward homosexuals

A homosexual man is suing a third national Bible publisher for "mental anguish" after he says the company published Bibles with a negative connotation toward homosexuals.

Bradley LaShawn Fowler of Canton, Mich., alleges Tyndale House Publishers manipulated Scripture when it published Tyndales New Living Translation Holy Bible and the New Life Application Study Bible by usingthe term "homosexuals" in aNew Testament passage, 1 Corinthians 6:9.

"One Bible dictates homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God, while the other is completely void on the issue altogether," Fowler wrote in a statement on his blog.

Find out what God REALLY says about sex and homosexuality in the best-selling book that champions the absolute truth of Scripture: "Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You've Never Been Told" -autographed!

As WND reported, Fowler, who had a blog on Sen. Barack Obama's campaign website last year, filed his initial complaint against Christian publishers Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing. Fowler, who represented himself in both lawsuits, said in his complaint against Zondervan that the publisher intended to design a religious, sacred document to reflect an individual opinion or a groups conclusion to cause "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder."

He told the Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV in 2008 that he wants to "compensate for the past 20 years of emotional duress and mental instability''

According to JoAnne Thomas on PvightPundits.com, Fowler explained his complaint on his blog last year, referencing the I Corinthians 6:9 passage: In 1970, I Corinthians 6:9 read as followed [sic] - Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulteres [sic], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.

In 1982 ,the same scripture read like this - Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodimites [sic].

In 2001 the same scripture reads like this - Surely you know that the people who do wrong will not inherit God's kingdom. Do not be fooled, those who sin sexually, worship idols, take part in adultery, those who are male prostitutes, or men who have sexual relations with other men, those who steal, are greedy, get drunk, lie about others, or rob thses [sic] people will not inherit God's kingdom.

When Fowler filed his initial claim against Zondervan, he allegedits Bibles' references to homosexuality as a sin made him an outcast from his family and contributedto physical discomfort and periods of "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."

Both civil complaints were dismissed because Fowler did not file his complaints before the three-year federal statute of limitations expired.

However, Fowler filed a lawsuit against Tyndale House Publishers in January and is still seeking $10 million in damages. Fowler filed a motion for entry of default and a motion of summary judgment in district court, but the judge denied his motions, saying Fowler presented no proof that he served the defendant properly. The judge ordered him to reissue the original summons and complaint to Tyndale.

Fowler wrote on his blog that he has "a long battle awaiting him."

"When William Tyndale Publishing [sic], Inc., Zondervan Publishing, Inc., and Thomas Nelson Publishing, Inc. began revising the scriptures, each publisher implemented the term homosexuals within its Bible, yet failed to follow what the scripture teaches about doing so," Fowler wrote on his blog. 'As a result, homosexuals have endured a life long struggle of being accepted within the American culture." WorldNeWaily, 9 October 2009

 

Poland

Polish Lutherans shy away from women pastors

A leader of Poland's Lutheran church has rejected accusations from an international conference of theologians that the church's refusal to ordain women as pastors amounts to "structural violence''

Jerzy Sojka, spokesperson for the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland, which has 80 000 members, told Ecumenical News International that the matter of women clergy was not excluded from discussion but added, "Our situation is not conditioned by theological considerations alone but also by economic, social and cultural questions, as well as by ecumenical relations. Although a debate on this issue is taking place, it also needs quiet reflection."

The lay Lutheran was responding to a conference declaration by 30 women theologians from Poland, Germany, Russia, Latvia and Brazil that Lutheran churches in Poland and Latvia were being unjust in excluding women from their ordained ministry. Most member churches of the Lutheran World Federation, which represents 68.5 million Lutherans worldwide, do ordain women.

In their declaration at the end of the 9 to 13 September conference at Mikolajki, a town in north-eastern Poland, the female theologians said that qualified Lutheran women in Poland were still waiting to "live their vocation to the full," while colleagues in Latvia had been admitted to the ordained ministry in 1975 but were debarred again in 1992.

The statement added that Lutheran women in Poland and Latvia were victims of the "structural violence experienced for centuries by women in the church," which was "often invisible, silent and systemic," and "exercised through unjust social and ecclesiastical structures."

The declaration called on leaders of both churches to comply with European standards by ensuring a "just partnership for women and men''

In an interview with ENI on 18 September, Sojka said his church's governing synod had studied women's ordination, and hoped to debate it. Still, he noted that the forthcoming 16 to 18 October synod session would be preoccupied with choosing a new presiding bishop to replace Janusz Jagucki, whose term was shortened in April after media reports that he had informed for the secret police under communist rule.

"Work on this theme [of women's ordination] continues but we must give the synod time to study the relevant materials," said Sojka. "We are, unfortunately, only a small community here, and we have to take the conservative Polish context into account."

At least 15 women deacons have teaching rights in the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland. It is the country's largest Protestant denomination, and its governing synod last voted against allowing women pastors in 1990.

Although synod members instructed a theological commission to prepare a position statement in 1999, the Polish church's bishops reiterated in December 2003 that only men were to be admitted to its priesthood, and said that Lutheran Polish clergy should abide by the church's law when participating in services with other denominations.

Jonathan Luxmoore Ecumenical News International \ND\

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