Monday, December 5, 2016

Zuma blasts churches for meddling

From South Africa-

A bullish President Jacob Zuma yesterday reiterated his call for the church and the clergy to stay away from politics – despite his party regularly having visited churches when campaigning.

Zuma was addressing thousands of Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ members during their international thanksgiving day celebrations at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday.

Buoyed by the sermon of Chief Apostle Professor Caesar Nongqunga, who said the president should be forgiven for all his transgressions, Zuma wasted no time in putting the church in its place.

“It is sad to see the church and church leaders getting mired into matters of politics instead of praying for leaders,” Zuma said.

“I urge the church to pray for us as leaders, pray for our people to stop the hatred. I urge you to assist us to build a stable nation built on love.”

Leaders of the SA Council of Churches have been unequivocal in their call for Zuma to step down, being vocal advocates of the Save SA campaign.

More here-

The War on Christmas: Notes from a conscientious objector: the Rev. Robert Winter (Opinion)

From Cleveland-

"Yes, Virginia, there is a 'War on Christmas'."

The battle is over controlling the narrative. And Christians are too often fighting on the wrong side.

The problem is manifestly not that we have "secularized" the birth of Christ. That's a complete red-and-green herring. Jesus himself already did that--his birth celebrates the invasion of human life in all its messy, secular (that is, temporal) splendor by the eternal power and love of God. That, and not cards, carols and candy canes, is the central meaning of Christmas. "Secularize" it? Impossible. God has already secularized it for us.

More here-

Army halts Dakota Access oil pipeline and says new routes will be explored

From The LA Times-

The Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday denied permission for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross under a section of the Missouri River, handing at least a temporary victory to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters.

The decision came after months of protests by thousands of self-proclaimed “water protectors” — bolstered by the arrival of more than 2,000 U.S. military veterans — who have opposed the pipeline out of concern that it could rupture and contaminate the river, which they say provides drinking water to the tribe and 17 million other Americans.

The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, whose chief executive, Kelcy Warren, has said the company would not be willing to explore alternative routes.

More here-

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Non-denominational Evangelical minister, Episcopal priest: One man leads two congregations in historic Catonsville church

From Baltimore-

It's 8 a.m. Sunday at St. Hilda's in Catonsville, and the priest in the pulpit wears a white robe and green chasuble to celebrate the Episcopal Mass — a formal liturgy with roots that date to the 16th century.

Two hours later, he has exchanged the alb and chasuble for a black Joe Flacco jersey to lead an evangelical service — his language now part Billy Graham, part Rodney Dangerfield.

"For the last seven weeks I've talked to you about sex," the Rev. Jason Poling says. "Today I'll address a completely separate issue: marriage."

Poling, 43, founded the evangelical New Hope Community Church in Pikesville 13 years ago. This year, at the invitation of Maryland Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton, he launched St. Hilda's, a new Episcopal congregation in Catonsville.

More here-

Rancho Santa Margarita Episcopalian elected bishop of Los Angeles diocese

From Los Angeles-

A Rancho Santa Margarita Episcopalian priest and the former director of the Nixon Library Foundation was named bishop of the six-county Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, church officials announced Saturday.

Receiving 122 clergy and 194 lay votes at the Ontario Convention Center, Saturday, the Rev. John H. Taylor, 62, was elected bishop of the area that represents about 136 neighborhood congregations and 40 schools across six counties, including Orange.

Taylor serves as vicar for St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and school in Rancho Santa Margarita.

“I look forward with joy to serving alongside my fellow ministers – laypeople, deacons, priests and bishops – as we continue to proclaim the gospel in word and deed,” he said.

Ordained as a priest in 2004, Taylor also served in the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Fullerton and has written two novels. Taylor is married to Kathleen Hannigan O’Connor and has four adult children.

More here-

Saturday, December 3, 2016

No jokes: Two priests and a rabbi hold meetups in Waltham

From Massachusettes-

Two priests and a rabbi walk into a bar, or in this case, a cafe in Waltham.

What happens next isn’t a punch line, as you might expect, but a weekly meet-up featuring three diverse Waltham clergy with a simple message: come talk to us.

Started by Rev. Sara Irwin of Christ Church Episcopal and Father Angel Marrero from Santuario Luterano at the First Lutheran Church of Waltham, the one-hour informal event, held every Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Cafe on the Common, at 677 Main St., is meant to give people a welcome space in which to express their opinions and talk to the diverse crew.

Marrero said the three-person team, which also includes Rabbi David Finkelstein of Temple Beth Israel, is as diverse as you can get.

More here-

Chaplain to reflect on time serving soldiers

From Georgia-

Wherever the call led him, the Rev. Lou Scales followed. Over the past 50 years, it’s led him all over the world.

At 9:15 a.m. Sunday, at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Martinez, Scales will reflect on his varied life of ministry.

Born in Alabama, Scales began his ministry in a small Methodist church in June 1967. In 1976, he joined the Army as a chaplain. He considered it an opportunity to reach a segment of people who typically are exiting the church – young adults.

Scales said those in their late teens and early to mid-20s leave the church because it’s boring or they find something else in their lives that is more meaningful to them. Yet that’s part of the very population he was sent into.

“When they get into the Army, they run into real life, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to be part of their faith development,” he said.

More here-

Thank you, Very Rev. Tracey Lind: Cheer of the Day: editorial

From Cleveland-

CHEERS . . . to the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, who is stepping down from her post Jan. 29 after 17 years at the helm. Lind has disclosed to her congregation and the public that she was recently diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration, a progressive disorder of the brain that was making it increasingly difficult for her to do her job.

More here-

US Episcopal Bishop Visits Syracuse to Consecrate New Female Bishop of CNY

From Syracuse-

Bishops representing the Episcopal Church are coming to Syracuse as the local Central New York Denomination Consecrates its first female Bishop tomorrow, the eleventh for the church.  The Presiding US Bishop of the Church, The Most Reverend Michael Curry will preside over the service.  He is the first African-American to lead the church.  In terms of instilling Social Justice, he likens what he think needs to be done by people to the teachings of the church.

“And when I say it looks something like Jesus of Nazareth, I mean the Jesus of Nazareth who said ‘the spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to set at liberty all those who are oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable.’ The Jesus of Nazareth who said ‘all of religion” all of it ‘is summed up in love of God and love of neighbor.’”

More here-

Friday, December 2, 2016

Clergy v. Therapy: there’s a difference

From Utah-

Slowly but surely, the mental health epidemic among today’s college-age population is getting more and more attention.

Utah abounds in addiction and suicide rates. Common mental health struggles include depression, anxiety, bipolarism, disordered eating, suicide ideation, addiction and many more. 

Many Utah residents can benefit from professional therapy, but fail to see it as an option under the cultural or religious circumstances.  While a bishop, priest, pastor, or rabbi can offer love, companionship and a prayer of strength, they cannot offer the clinically proven expertise that a professional can, said Steve Sturgeon, an Episcopal priest who serves at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Logan. 

“In the training I received to become an ordained clergy member in the Episcopal Church, there was a strong emphasis on the fact that in the pastoral care and counseling that we might give to members we always needed to remember and to communicate the fact that we are not therapists,” Sturgeon said.

More here-

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Presiding Bishop releases letter about the Diocese of Haiti

From ENS-

Sadly, as we discussed in Haiti, some of those divisions have led to the pending disciplinary proceeding under Title IV of the canons against the Bishop Diocesan, largely stimulated by allegations made by the Bishop Suffragan. Since our meeting, it has become even clearer that this proceeding will continue to move toward an unflattering public trial within the next few months — with painful allegations by both bishops against each other and testimony by clergy of the Diocese as witnesses on both sides — unless away can be found to resolve it amicably. Moreover, since our meeting, divisions among the lay and clerical leadership of the Diocese embodied in both the Bishop Diocesan and the Standing Committee, on the one hand, and the Bishop Suffragan, on the other, have led to the recent filing by the Standing Committee of the petition under Title III of the Church’s canons requesting that I begin the canonical process by which the pastoral
relation between the Diocese and the Bishop Suffragan may now be involuntarily

More here-

Justin Welby: Putting money in its proper place

From The BBC-

He lives in Lambeth Palace, surrounded by priceless artefacts and can legitimately claim to be the ecclesiastical leader of more than 85 million pilgrims. But the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, knows the experience of having little in the way of possessions.

As a 12-year-old boy, he recalls leaving rented flats in the dead of night, tiptoeing out of several buildings because his father was unable to pay the landlord. The fees for his final two years at Eton were never paid but absorbed by the school. He has known the insecurity and humiliation of not having enough money to pay the bills.

That experience appears to have shaped his determination to hold loosely to the trappings of this world.

As he writes in his book Dethroning Mammon, which is published on Thursday: "The problem with materialism… is not that it exists, but that it dominates. It shouts so loudly that it overrides our caring about other things of greater value."

More here-

Local clergy joins peaceful ‘water protectors’ at site of Standing Rock pipeline protests

From Philadelphia-

You’ve likely read quite a bit about protests of the plans to build Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Violent clashes between protestors, police and other security personal have been a regular occurrence since early fall. Chestnut Hill minister Cliff Cutler of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church recently returned from a peace mission at the site of the protests. The following is his account of the time he spent there.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked for clergy to come to their support and calm the tensions. They are protecting the water of the Missouri River (and their water supply) from the Dakota Access Pipeline that will move 470,000 barrels of oil a day under the river.

The Rev. John Floberg, Canon Missioner for the Episcopal Church on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, put out the call on Oct. 22, hoping for 100 clergy to respond. The night of Nov. 2, as we gathered for the first time in the Cannon Ball, N.D., gymnasium we numbered more than 500, from 25 faith traditions, 45 states and four countries.

More here-

Homeless, at-risk women to get housing help in Bozeman

From Montana-

St. James Episcopal Church and nonprofit HRDC said Wednesday they’re opening up a historic church-owned home in downtown Bozeman as transitional housing to help homeless women get back on their feet.

The Canterbury House will serve as many as four homeless or at-risk women at a time. The women will pay $200 a month in rent and stay in the home for nine months to a year, said HRDC housing director Sara Savage.

During their stay, Savage said, women will also work with social workers to help them get to the point where they can obtain permanent housing.

More here-

Shut-down St. John's Episcopal Church in Bay Ridge might be preserved

From Brooklyn-

Brooklyn's historic “Church of the Generals” might be saved from demolition.

That's the word from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which is selling vacant St. John's Church in the Fort Hamilton section of Bay Ridge.

This is a closer look at the front entrance of now-vacant St. John's.This is a closer look at the front entrance of now-vacant St. John's.

Preservationists, politicians and neighborhood residents fear the distinctive Arts and Crafts-style church and parsonage at 9818 Fort Hamilton Parkway will be torn down after they are sold to make room for new-from-the-ground-up residential development. 

More here-

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What is the future for Episcopal Clergy?

From Episcopal Cafe-

An Invitation to the Church …

… to wonder and ponder with the Board for Transition Ministry

Our goal is to invite the church to think out loud about how we bring ordained leaders to our churches. From our experience, study and prayer, we recognize these to be important issues in our time. We invite dialogue in the many and diverse ways we have available: conversations on social media, at church gatherings such as meetings of diocesan transition ministers, diocesan conventions, the House of Bishops, and other leaders in our church. We offer this not as a declaration, but as an invitation to dialogue.

More here-

Cardinal Wuerl apologizes to Pittsburgh victim of sex abuse

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

In his first year as the Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988, Donald Wuerl publicly voiced doubts about a lawsuit filed by a former seminarian who claimed that when he was a boy, a priest had sexually abused him for years.

Despite the skepticism, now-Cardinal Wuerl did send the priest off for a psychiatric evaluation. The bishop became convinced soon enough that the allegations against the Rev. Anthony Cipolla were credible. He prevented the priest from returning to the ministry even through a high-stakes legal battle with the Vatican in the 1990s.

Now Cardinal Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, is paying tribute to Tim Bendig, the abuse survivor who filed that initial lawsuit, apologizing for his initial doubts and saying he helped protect other children and reform the church.

Abuse survivors such as Mr. Bendig call on church leaders to “uphold our own moral teaching,” Cardinal Wuerl said.

More here-

Convention & General Seminary

From The Living Church (with link to the survey)-

The Committee to Study the Relationship of General Theological Seminary and General Convention has asked for wide participation in a survey it issued Nov. 29. These are two of the questions appearing on a SurveyMonkey page:

How familiar are you with the historical relationship between General Convention and General Seminary?

Do you believe the current relationship between General Seminary and General Convention is beneficial?

The Rt. Rev. Arthur Williams, chairman of the committee, writes:

General Convention 2015 Resolution D075 (“Reinvigorate the Accountability of General Theological seminary to General Convention”) frames the work of the Committee to Study the Relationship of General Theological Seminary and General Convention.

The committee, chaired by the Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams, Bishop Suffragan retired, Diocese of Ohio, has four additional members: the Rev. Cathie Caimano, Diocese of North Carolina; William Cathcart, Esq., Diocese of Oklahoma; Dianne Audrick Smith, Diocese of Ohio; and the Rev. Sylvia Vasquez, Diocese of California.

More here-

Royal Commission lawyers deliver call to condemn church on abuse

From Australia-

A far-reaching paedophile ring, involving victims and predators from Tasmania, was active within an offshoot of the Anglican Church, Royal Commission lawyers have alleged in a damning submission.

Counsel assisting, Naomi Sharp, has also recommended the actions of former Tasmanian Bishop Philip Newell be found to have helped cover up allegations against a serial paedophile priest.

The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania has rejected the proposed finding against Philip Newell, who was the church’s Bishop here from 1982 until his retirement in 2000.

Its high powered silk Neil Clelland, QC, called on the commission to extend Bishop Newell a greater level of “understanding” which it had granted other church officials.

re here-

Vandalized church holding special service to remove graffiti from walls

From Indiana-

A church in Brown County is holding a special service on Wednesday to remove graffiti from its walls.

Someone spray painted “Heil Trump” and drew a swastika on St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom on Nov. 15.

The vandalism was one of a number of incidents across the country since Donald Trump won the presidential election.

It is the first time the church has been vandalized since 1959.

On Wednesday evening, the church is planning to hold a special service to remove the graffiti, followed by a community dinner.

The service starts at 5 p.m. and everyone is welcome.

More here-

also here-

Emergency Relief Reaches Yei

From South Sudan-

An emergency airlift of 1.5 tons of fortified food was delivered to the beleaguered people of Yei, South Sudan. The flight originated in Entebbe, Uganda. Feed the Hungry East Africa (FTHEA) arranged the flight to South Sudan.

The city of Yei has been isolated due to insecurity since July. The UN reports that 100,000 people are trapped in the town and continued fighting in the region has made overland traffic very dangerous. Feed the Hungry East Africa consigned the shipment to the Yei Ecumenical Emergency Relief Committee (YEERC), a cooperative effort of church leaders in Yei, including the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of South Sudan.

Hilary Adeba, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, served as the coordinator in Yei. The Bishop said “the fighting has had an immediate and serious impact on local populations with hundreds of people dead or injured or forced into displacement.” He indicated the food will be distributed to the most vulnerable in Yei - widows, orphans and unaccompanied children.

More here-

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reconciling Evangelism

From The Living Church-

The Lausanne Covenant, largely written by the late Anglican evangelist John Stott, states that “evangelism requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” During the Evangelism Matters conference in Dallas on Nov. 18-19, Episcopalians discussed their part in that task.

More than 400 conference participants and 75 volunteers converged on the Church of the Transfiguration to respond to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s call to create space for evangelism. Since his election, Curry has sometimes described himself as Chief Evangelism Officer of the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers said that Evangelism Matters is meant to “inspire, equip, and send evangelists” and to “create life-giving, loving, liberating relationships with God, with each other, and with the whole world.”

Throughout the conference, speakers urged Episcopalians to embrace evangelism — jokingly referred to as “the E word” — claiming it was not new to the Anglican tradition. Recalling the Vatican’s lending of the crozier of St. Gregory the Great to the Anglican Communion’s Primates’ Meeting in January, Curry reminded the gathering that the pontiff sent evangelists like St. Augustine of Canterbury “not to have tea with the queen … but to tell of the love of Christ.” The only reason Episcopalians exist, he said, “was because someone was doing evangelism.”

More here-

Pope Francis tipped for Armagh during his visit to Ireland in 2018

From Ireland-

POPE Francis is set to travel to Armagh, Ireland's ecclesiastical capital, when he visits Ireland in August 2018.

There was strong speculation on Monday night that the pontiff will visit the city's Catholic and Anglican cathedrals and hold an open-air Mass.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed a long-awaited papal trip to Ireland after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.

It is expected he will travel north as part of his itinerary and among venues suggested for an open-air Mass has been Armagh's Athletic GAA grounds.

However, SDLP councillor Thomas O'Hanlon said on Monday that the venue "would need to be able to accommodate the tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of people who would want to attend".

More here-

Ex-Anglican priest guilty of child abuse in Perth, WA over 30 years

From Australia-

A FORMER Anglican priest has been found guilty of sexually abusing five boys over a 30-year period in Western Australia's south.

Raymond Sydney Cheek, 84, had been on trial in the WA District Court charged with committing an act of gross indecency and two counts each of indecent assault and indecent dealings with a child between 1955 and 1985.

The jury returned its verdict on Monday after deliberating for almost one day.

Cheek will face a sentencing hearing in February and was granted bail in the meantime with strict conditions, including that he not reapply for a passport and must stay away from airports, and must not have any contact with children or his victims.

More here-

Churches join ecumenical group in helping refugees — one family at a time

From Minnesota-

In August, when Dauda Bushiri, Amina Marundu and their three children, Muslim refugees from the Congo, arrived on a flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, 20 Episcopalians were there to greet them.

Indeed, the congregants from St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church had already arranged for the family to move into an apartment off of Larpenteur Avenue on the northeast side of St. Paul.  And within days, the church group got the children signed up for school – the two girls at the Saint Paul Music Academy and the boy at Murray Middle School.

“There is so much to do – in terms of transportation, or getting documents translated, or getting clothing for the family or arranging for the Internet,” said David Borton, a church member who cochairs the committee that is helping to resettle the family.

More here-

Standing Rock ministry stands resolutely with Sioux Nation’s cause

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation remains resolute after a week of emotional events in the ongoing effort to protect the tribe’s land and water supply.

The week began Nov. 20 when some of the hundreds of people who tried to remove burned-out vehicles blocking the Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806 on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation were hit with rubber bullets and doused with fire hoses in sub-freezing temperatures. The bridge had been blockaded since an Oct. 27 confrontation.

Seven students from the Seminary of the Southwest who were on a pilgrimage to Standing Rock Reservation witnessed to the confrontation and wrote about it on social media.

“Here is what we witnessed tonight,” wrote Matt Stone on his Facebook page. “3 water cannons, tear gas, a concussion grenade and rubber bullets fired at nonviolent protectors. This is the most grave injustice I have ever witnessed.”

More here-

NEW BISHOP: Next Episcopal leader emphasizes service

From Central New York-

“I have a real love and passion for small-church ministry,” says the Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe, the incoming bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.

Duncan-Probe’s most recent parish was just that — about 60 parishioners when she got there, and 500 when she left.

“We have a tendency in the church to want people to come in. Instead of focusing on people coming in, we focused on going out in service," she said. "And of course, as we engaged more with the world around us, we began to grow."

The 14-county diocese includes many small towns as well as cities, like Binghamton, Ithaca, Elmira, Watertown and Syracuse. The new bishop has visited all four regions in advance of her consecration on Dec. 3.

More here-


From First Things-

A man down the bar from me turned and said, “Is that a costume, or are you really a priest?” I have often been asked this question when tucked away in my corner seat at the bar at New York’s Death & Co., a good spot for reading and having a crisp martini. Even months from Halloween, people in the East Village assume that a man in clerical garb must be in costume, but once they learn that I am a coconspirator in the world of cocktail enthusiasm, fine conversation flows.

It started in Washington, D.C. Derek Brown, one of the forces behind the recent craft cocktail revival, wanted to complete his confirmation while I was a priest at his parish. As I instructed him in the Catholic faith, he initiated me into the mysteries of craft cocktails. “A priest walks into a bar” has launched a thousand mediocre jokes. But since those days of reading Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity with Derek, and being invited by him to the openings of new speakeasies, I’ve discovered that “A priest walks into a bar” can also be a perfectly appropriate beginning to giving thanks at the end of a day (a good or bad one), to finding friendship in a foreign city, and even to bringing a bit of charity and Christian fellowship to places where communities have long gathered.

More here-

Monday, November 28, 2016

Standing Rock is a new turn in Christian ties with native Americans

From The Economist-

WHATEVER the final result of the huge, long-running protests by native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the demonstrations will surely be remembered as a landmark in relations between organised religion, Christianity in particular, and indigenous people. Along with representatives of over 200 indigenous groups from across the New World, camped out at the Standing Rock Reservation since April, Christian clergy have been adding their voice to the protests in multiple ways.

Given that Pope Francis called for a rapid switch away from fossil fuels in his environmental encyclical, you might expect the radical end of the Catholic church to be the religious community most intensely engaged in this cause. But it is liberal or "mainline" Protestant churches who have made the running. If there is one individual who personifies Christian support for the indigenous protests, it is the Reverend John Floberg, who is responsible for Episcopal (Anglican) parishes on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock.

More here-

'Secret' of Church Growth Lies in Theology, According to Study

From Canada-

Canadian researchers have statistically demonstrated the "secret" behind growth of churches - theology. Many other studies have linked church growth to members and pastor age groups, society and family conditions among many any suspect factors. But a five-year study carried out by Wilfrid Laurier University and Redeemer University College in Ontario found that churches following conservative Christian beliefs were more likely to grow than churches teaching liberal doctrines.

The researchers surveyed over 2,200 members of Presbyterian, Anglican, Lutheran and United churches in Ontario, and attended 22 churches. About 9 of them were the congregations which had witnessed 2% growth over the last decade, while the other 13 had declined by the same rate.

The pastors and the members were given a set of 40 questions on their beliefs and personal faith practice.

More here-