Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Church of England to Allow Female Bishops as Soon as December

From Christian Post-

A dozen words will reverberate across the Christian world causing tears of joy or anguish depending on how you feel about women holding senior offices in church. Last week, Canon 33 of the General Synod, the governing organ of the Church of England, reads "A man or woman may be consecrated to the office of bishop." The decision came after a vote by the General Synod in London over an issue that the church has debated for almost 40 years. The new bishops may be appointed as early as this Christmas.

Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Right Reverend Mark Rylands, told Shropshire Star that changing the law was "good news" and the church stood to gain from the expanded pool of leaders.

More here-

For some, the blues can color holiday celebrations

From Pittsburgh-

“In my Christmas sermon, I always acknowledge the fact that for some, this isn’t ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’” said the Rev. Louis Hays, rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon.

“I offer words of comfort and hope and reassure those who are grieving or are alone that it’s OK not to be in the holiday spirit,” he said.

Rev. Hays said the church encourages families to seek professional help if they are having difficulty dealing with grief. because most clergy are not trained as counselors.

He said the best thing to do as clergy is to “provide the ministry of presence.”

More here-

Ferguson pastors urge peace after grand jury doesn’t indict

From The United Methodist Reporter-

As the grand jury announcement approached Monday night, worshippers at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral downtown sat quietly. There was no broadcast of the press conference. Those listening on their smartphones were asked to use headphones.

When the Rev. Mike Kinman announced the decision, one person at the back of the cathedral shouted a mournful cry and was escorted out by friends. Others in the congregation, including social worker therapist Celeste Smith, covered their faces as if in grief. Smith, who is white, listened to the announcement with Claudine Allen, also a counselor, who is black.

More here-

Presiding Bishop’s statement on the way forward from Ferguson

From ENS-

 Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on the way forward from Ferguson:

The Episcopal Church joins many others in deep lament over the tragic reality that continues to be revealed in Ferguson, Missouri. The racism in this nation is part of our foundation, and is not unique to one city or state or part of the country. All Americans live with the consequences of centuries of slavery, exploitation, and prejudice. That legacy continues to lead individuals to perceive threat from those who are seen as “other.” The color of one’s skin is often the most visible representation of what divides God’s children one from another.

More here-

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Songs, but what have they done with the Praise?

From The Daily Mail-

Broadcasting services from parishes and cathedrals across the country, for more than 50 years Songs of Praise has been much loved as the BBC’s flagship religious programme.

But after a relaunch as a magazine-style programme earlier this month in a move to attract a wider audience, loyal viewers have been left feeling it is becoming little more than ‘the One Show with added hymns’.

And even the clergy has hit out at the new format, with the Reverend Sally Hitchiner leading calls to bring ‘actual worship’ back into the programme, claiming it no longer felt ‘authentic’ and that spirituality seemed to be taking a backseat.

Read more:

Episcopal schools celebrate 50 years of education as mission

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson among featured speakers

The charisms of Episcopal schools – a “generous comprehensiveness, patience with ambiguity, and a search for wisdom grounded in a deep and abiding belief in the goodness and creativity of the world” – make them particularly suited to forming leaders for an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a gathering Nov. 21 in Anaheim, California.

More than 650 teachers, heads of schools, bishops, parish rectors, administrators, chaplains and others from across the world gathered Nov. 20-22 to celebrate Episcopal education and the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).

More here-

Monday, November 24, 2014

We Must Not Allow Religious Intolerance to Thrive

From Kenya-

Anyone who has ever been to my office has seen a picture of an old man hanging on the wall. This old man is Mr Jeremiah Ngunjiri; my 'guka' (grandfather) and the man I am named after in line with the Kikuyu tradition. My grandfather became a Christian at a very early age and ended up as a religious leader in the Anglican Church.

The convictions of his faith were apparent to anyone who interacted with him. The way he engaged you, the humility, mutual respect and openness of everything he did, spoke about his religious convictions. He lived his faith, genuinely, throughout his life. In a great testimony to this religious honesty amongst his children and grandchildren number tens of pastors and reverends in various Christian denominations; including my father who is a reverend in the Anglican Church. Christianity is real to us because of how he lived it.

More here-

Ocean City church endures year of hurt and healing

From Easton-

Brenda Dingwall still hurts.

A year ago, a man doused himself in gasoline, lit himself on fire and walked into her Episcopal church, St. Paul’s by-the-Sea, in Ocean City, Maryland.

Brenda’s husband and the church’s leader, the Rev. David Dingwall, ran into the building toward screams of people trapped in the food pantry by the man, who was engulfed in flames. Rev. Dingwall opened a door to free the people, but was overcome by smoke and died later that night.

More here-

Jack Alvey settles in at one of Alabama’s most historic Episcopal churches

From Selma-

As the son of a successful investment banker, Jack Alvey could have opted for a similar career, but something pulled him away from it and golf, his first love.

Investments and sub-par rounds eventually were put aside as he focused on the ministry—a decision he’s never regretted, as he settles in as the new rector at one of Alabama’s most historic Episcopal churches.

At the age of 30, he is believed to be the youngest religious leader of a church founded in 1838 and rebuilt after it was burned to the ground by Yankee troops, who invaded Selma during the Civil War.

More here-

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Women bishops: ‘The hate mail was always from other Christians’

From The Telegraph-

There has been no popping of champagne corks for the Rev Canon Dr Alison Joyce to celebrate the Church of England giving its final approval for women bishops.

The newly installed Rector of St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, London, may have been in the vanguard of campaigning for equal rights at the altar for 30 years – as one of the first women deacons in 1988, the first woman priest in Birmingham diocese in 1994 (when she was seven months pregnant) and, lately, the first female incumbent in her high-profile role at what is known as the “journalists’ church” – but there is an unmistakable war-weariness about her.

More here-

GTS Posts Mediation Update

From The Living Church-

A further step in the Organizational Mediation Process by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at the General Theological Seminary took place on Thursday, November 20, with the first meeting of the Logistics Committee via conference call facilitated by Bill Blank, the LMPC Associate Director.

The 14 members of the Logistics Committee represent all stakeholders in the GTS community: current students, staff, faculty, Board of Trustees members, spouses and partners, and alumni. Each member of the committee was appointed by their respective group.

More here-

Man hopes class will give him tools to escape poverty

From Knoxville- (with video)

This time last year, Steven Mull had lost his apartment, gotten kicked out of a friend’s apartment where he’d been staying, and was sleeping in his car, renting a motel room on weekends for visits from his two children.

He’d lost an expensive house after he couldn’t make the balloon mortgage payments, even while working multiple jobs. He’d lost his credit rating after declaring bankruptcy, unable to catch up on credit-card and other debt. He and his wife had separated, reconciled, then separated again and engaged in a lengthy court battle.

A couple of times, he’d even lost the will to live.

More here-

Saturday, November 22, 2014

St. Alban’s officially opens outreach center

From Texas-

 Ella Evans, 6, had been using the new Reed Outreach Center at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and School even before it officially opened on Friday.

Friday morning, about 450 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center, located at 1417 E. Austin St.

The center is equipped with a rock wall, a stage and an audio-video system for recording school plays. The church will use it for church events including picnics and youth group activities as well as hosting and mission trips.

The opening coincided with the school’s celebration of Grandparents Day.

More here-

Bishops Endorse Ex-Episcopalian and Champion of the Poor Fr. Paul Wattson for Sainthood

From Aleteia-

Grace works in strange ways. The path to sainthood of Fr. Paul Wattson, whose cause for beatification was endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops last week, may have begun with a practical joke one fateful day in 1844.

On that day Wattson’s father, Joseph Wattson, was kicked out of an Anglican seminary for joking that he was secretly a Jesuit.

The General Theological Seminary in New York City was cracking down on anything that smacked of  “Popery,” including the reading of the extremely popular tracts of John Henry Newman, which called for a return to the more liturgical traditions of the past.

More here-

Friday, November 21, 2014

Praying for time

From The Economist-

MID sighs of relief from the many, and muffled groans from the few, the Church of England on November 17th at last approved the appointment of women bishops. At a meeting of the church’s General Synod, only around 30 of the 480 people present raised their hands against the necessary change in canon law. A woman could be wearing episcopal purple by next year.

This was a big, but expected, landmark. The change was favoured by most of the church’s leadership, the clergy (one-third of which is female), and public opinion. If this week is remembered as an important one by historians, it may be for a different reason: it was the moment when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, acknowledged that the Anglican Communion, the global family of churches with a membership of about 80m, of which he is head, may be impossible to hold together.

More here-

‘New phase’ as Synod vote goes through

From The Church Times-

CLEARING the last legal hurdle to enable women to become bishops has started "a completely new phase of our existence as the Church", the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Speaking on Monday after the General Synod had formally voted to enact the women bishops Measure into law, Archbishop Welby said that, although the process had taken "a very, very long time", he was pleased that bishops could now be chosen on the basis of their abilities without regard to gender.

He also said that work had already begun to help the Church adjust to this development: "We are working very hard on the training and development of people, men and women, for senior positions in the Church."

More here-

What Bishop Frade May Have Meant When He Called President Obama A Sodomite

From Miami-

Miami's downtrodden, disenfranchised and undocumented probably have no greater friend than Bishop Leopold Frade, spiritual leader of Southeast Florida's 33,000 Episcopalians.

The Cuba-born clergyman -- once the Bishop of Honduras -- authorized the South Florida diocese's first same-sex wedding in 2012. Five years before that, he demanded that the Bush Administration give protected status to 101 Haitians refugees who had washed ashore in South Florida after a three-week ordeal at sea. Even earlier, he was convicted of trading with the enemy for helping Cuban refugees make it to Florida after the Mariel boatlift (the conviction later was overturned).

More here-

Pastors opposed to same-sex marriage vow not to participate in any civil ceremonies

From The Washington Post-

What’s the surest way conservative pastors can avoid any government mandate to perform same-sex marriages? According to one prominent religious journal and a growing number of ministers, the answer is not to perform any civil marriages at all.

First Things, a conservative religious publication, has launched a movement encouraging pastors to refuse to perform marriages as representatives of the state. A signing statement called “The Marriage Pledge” has been posted to the journal’s website, where ministers can affix their names electronically. The pledge was drafted by Ephraim Radner, an ordained Anglican and professor of historical theology at Toronto School of Theology’s Wycliffe College, and Christopher Seitz, an ordained Episcopal priest and senior research professor at Wycliffe.

More here-

Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for Liberia, West Africa

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe the Second Sunday in Advent, December 7, as a day of prayer for those in the Diocese of Liberia and the entire Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, areas heavily affected by the current Ebola pandemic.

“The Diocese of Liberia was founded by Episcopalians in 1836, and was a diocese of The Episcopal Church until the early 1980s, when it joined the Province of West Africa,” noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. “Today we continue in a covenant relationship of mutual support and fellowship.”
She continued, “Liberia is at the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak, and Episcopalians have turned Cuttington University (Suakoku) into a center for response in rural northern Liberia.  

The Anglican Province of West Africa includes all three nations (Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) where the pandemic continues to develop.  The suffering and death is enormous, the economy is devastated, schools are closed, yet the caring and compassionate response continues.”

More here-

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Three Rivers Episcopal is taking a vacation for a couple of weeks.

If you're looking for a Christmas gift idea "A Dog in the Manger" is being released later this week. Its a collection of Christmas stories I wrote and told on Christmas Eves past.

Manfred Fischer, pastor of the Berlin Wall

From The Post-Gazette-

As people the world over celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, it is worth remembering the man who fought to preserve it.

Born in 1948 to a mother who cleaned the houses of American military officers, Manfred Fischer spent his childhood in Frankfurt am Main, in the heart of what would become West Germany. He arrived in Berlin in the late 1960s to find a city divided by the notorious wall that would later become a central character in his life’s work.

After finishing his theological studies in the early 1970s, Pastor Fischer had his pick of a half-dozen parishes. He chose to serve the Church of the Reconciliation, the only one in Berlin bisected by the wall. He tended to his flock as East German guards with shoot-to-kill orders used the church bell tower overhead to dissuade potential escapees.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in Church

From Relevant-

What Millennials want out of church” is a pretty difficult question to answer, but a synopsis might be summed up as “a church that’s like (streaming music service) Pandora, that could also act as a spiritual guide and confidant.”

A study just released by church stats experts The Barna Group found that millennials (defined here as those between the ages of 14 and 30) are nothing if not hard to nail down.

The Building Matters

For the current generation of young adults, getting into the parking lot doesn’t mean that actual church attendance will happen. “Visual clarity” is a very big deal to millennials, and the study found that when things got confusing, whether it was where to go to find the sanctuary, or how to take part in rituals in traditional services, visitors would simply leave rather than try to find the answer.

Read more at 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Q&A: Billy Graham biographer talks about impact of Charlotte-born evangelist

From Charlotte NC-

Q Some Anglican publications have picked up something else that’s new with your book. Apparently, Billy Graham, you write, said that if he had it to do all over again, he’d be an “evangelical Anglican.” First, what is an evangelical Anglican?

A I’m not so sure, either.

Q In his crusades, he seemed to have little use for high-church rituals, bells, incense. Did he change later in life?

A I think that, in principle, he was intrigued by ritual and liturgy. He also had some very warm words to say about Greek Orthodox (worship) later in life. I think this was a genuine statement, but it was in principle. In fact, I don’t ever see him really engaging in any kind of a high-church tradition except ecumenically. He attended most of the World Council of Churches meetings. He had many Catholic friends. But I think this was more of – maybe not fantasy, but a self-image (thing).

Read more here:

Into the Fiery Furnace: Christian Couple in Pakistan Burned for Blasphemy

From Christianity Today-

In the most provocative incident since Pakistan’s highest court ruled this summer that blasphemy law abuses should be reigned in, a Christian couple were beaten and burned to death on Tuesday following accusations that the wife—five months pregnant—had burned the Qur’an.

Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi were bonded laborers (seen by many as a modern form of slavery) at a brick-making kiln who lived in a small Punjab town named for the first Anglican missionary to Pakistan. After a mob threw them into the same kiln, protests erupted in the provincial capital, Lahore, and the nation’s capital, Islamabad.

More here-

Exeter Cathedral treasure found in Oxfam bookshop

From The Church Times-

AN UNUSUAL email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop.

The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.

It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. On his death in 1881, his extensive collection of books was bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter.

More here-

Local clergy, parishioners preparing for new Bishop

From Jacksonville-

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina will consecrate its new bishop this weekend in Greenville.

Rev. Robert Skirving was elected to lead the diocese at a special meeting of priests and lay leaders in New Bern this spring. Skirving has been a minister for the past 28 years and has served in churches in Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The vote ended a year-long search for the diocese’s eighth bishop after Bishop Clifton Daniel resigned after 15 years to serve as Bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Provisional Bishop Peter Lee has served in the interim.

More here-

Confirmed atheist turned super preacher to take helm of Houston's St. John the Divine Episcopal

From Houston-

As an electrical engineer and a self-professed "angry athiest," Clay Lein had no truck for religion. God, he was convinced, was fools' folly ‑ a crutch for those who couldn't cut it on their own. His wife, Jill, and her father, an Episcopal priest, were free to believe, of course, but the Bible stuff just wasn't for him.

Baseball, though, was another matter.

Seated in a study at Houston's St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, where on Sunday he will deliver his first sermon as the 75-year-old congregation's new rector, Lein spun his tale of how a scoffing man of science was transformed ‑ through the agency of sports ‑ into a staunch believer.

More here-

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ghanaians must support measures to fight Ebola - Archbishop of Canterbury

From Ghana-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Portal Welby, has encouraged Ghanaians not to be scared of the Ebola disease but rather face the reality of its existence and support the measures being taken to seal it.

Most Rev. Welby said there was no medically demonstrated magic treatment for the disease, and thus urged Ghanaians to watch out for the signs or symptoms for early treatment.

He made this known during an interview with the Daily Graphic at the residence of the British High Commissioner, Mr Jon Benjamin, in Accra during a three-day visit from the United Kingdom to the country.

More here-

In Love With a Priest: Support Groups Spread

From The New York Times-

They had not planned on falling in love, but they did.

They did not want to become the objects of malicious gossip, but they are. They had not imagined living a life of furtive affections and secret rendezvous, but that is what has happened since the woman and the priest defied a Roman Catholic Church taboo and became romantically involved.

“Some people see me as a devil, something dirty,” said the woman, who, along with the priest she is involved with, agreed to discuss their situation, sitting for an interview at a hotel in a city far from his parish.

More here-

HM King Hamad receives Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf Bishop

From Bahrain-

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has today received Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf Bishop Rt. Revd Michael Lewis, currently on visit to Bahrain. HM the King welcomed Rt. Revd Michael Lewis and hailed his humanitarian efforts to promote the values of goodness, amity and tolerance. He took pride in Bahrain's long-standing status as a crossroad for religions and civilisations and a beacon of communication and tolerance.

"Bahrain, which embraces all people without any discrimination, will always be a model of co-existence and amity between all religions and doctrines on this land", he said. He lauded Bahrainis who have long shown, all along their deep-rooted history, their spirit of tolerance and amity, welcoming the followers of other religions, hailing their awareness, civilization and firm belief in lofty human principles.

More here-