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Episcopal bishop's ability to unify likely will be tested

The Rev. Robert W. Ihloff, the New Jersey priest elected the 13th Episcopal Bishop of Maryland last weekend, said he hopes to be a unifying influence in his new diocese.

Plans are being made for his consecration and installation in the fall, on a date yet to be decided, he said.

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It was clear at the convention in Frostburg that chose Father Ihloff that he has his work of reconciliation cut out for him.

While the need to patch up differences -- "to strive for unity in this household," in the words of retired Maryland Bishop A. Theodore Eastman -- was the subject of prayers, meditations and sermons throughout the three-day meeting, deep differences among the clergy and lay delegates remain.

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Conflicting views on diocesan management and priorities, including the way parishioners' contributions are allocated, were indicated by a sharp debate that preceded rejection of one of the convention's resolutions.

The vote went against a group of parishes seeking a one-year suspension of mandated assessments, money that supports the central offices and staff of the diocese.

Among the sponsors of the resolution were urban parishes whose wealth and size have been reduced by demographic changes.

Agreeing that more intensive studies are needed of how diocesan money is raised and spent, the Rev. Robert Stucky, rector of St. Mark's on the Hill in Pikesville, lamented the way some parish assessments must be appealed as too high year after year.

"I don't think the system we have is the best possible system," Father Stucky said.

In one of the rare public references at the convention to the recently disclosed embezzlement of an estimated $2.2 million by the denomination's treasurer, Father Stucky reminded the delegates that "our national church is wracked by a very serious financial scandal."

But the Rev. C. Allen Spicer of the Church of the Nativity in Cedarcroft, who opposed the temporary halt to required assessments, said it would be unfair to saddle the new bishop of Maryland with what could be a seriously reduced level of spending.

Such a reduction would be likely, Father Spicer said, if a system of "volunteer giving" were adopted -- even for only one year.

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Another example of an ideological split among the Episcopalians was the close vote to adopt a resolution calling for an end to the nation's "economic and social embargo" on Cuba.

Opposing the measure, George H. Williams, a layman from the Church of the Resurrection in Joppa, said that Fidel Castro is a "despot" and the criticism of the U.S. government's "bipartisan policy toward Cuba is sending the wrong message about what the Episcopal Church is all about."

Dale Balfour, a lay woman from St. Thomas Church in Garrison Forest, also opposed the resolution, but for different reasons.

Blaming the "loss of individual liberties" in the U.S. on "the Christian Right," Ms. Balfour said, "Our first concern with peace and justice should be in our own diocese."

Lovely Lane:

The 45-voice choir of Jefferson Township High School in Oak Ridge, N.J., will perform during the 11 a.m. worship service Sunday at Baltimore's Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, 2200 St. Paul St. The public is invited.

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The Rev. Errol G. Smith, Lovely Lane's pastor, said the student choir has made acclaimed guest appearances in Europe and Canada as well as the United States.

Information: 889-1512.

Polish bishop:

"Philosophical and Theological Reflections on Modern Cosmology" is the subject of a conference today and tomorrow on the campus of Baltimore's Loyola College, at which Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph M. Zycinski of Tarnow, Poland, will be one of the speakers.

The conference is arranged by Cosmos and Creation, a group interested in the relationship between science and faith which has been meeting at Loyola since 1982. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Bishop Zycinski, professor of the philosophy of science at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow, Poland, will speak at 7:30 p.m. today and at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.

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H. John Wood, optics engineer for the Hubble Space Telescope at Goddard Space Flight Center, will discuss "Recent Information From Outer Space" at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The programs will be in McManus Theater. Information: 617-5025.


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