Saturday, December 20, 2014

Traditional weddings threat as church faces unprecedented insurrection over gay marriage ban

From Scotland-

CHURCH leaders are facing an unprecedented insurrection amongst their own ministry over their gay marriage ban, with signals some clergy will not carry out any weddings until the matter is resolved.

In what has been described as the biggest crisis to engulf it in living memory, over 50 Scottish Episcopalian Church (SEC) clergy - around one in six - have signed a letter condemning the stance of their bishops over same-sex marriage.

Amongst the signatories are some of the SEC's most prominent figures, including current and former deans of three dioceses, essentially bishops' deputies and the equivalent of an archdeacon in the Church of England, and two provosts, the senior priests in Episcopalian cathedrals.

More here-

NH priest anxious to see what changes may come to Cuba

From New Hampshire-

The Rev. Mark Pendleton of Christ Episcopal Church in Exeter said he has witnessed the struggles of the small country, and, like others, he is very anxious to see what happens in its new chapter.

"Cubans, I think, have always done a very good job of distinguishing between U.S. foreign policy and American culture," Pendleton said.

Pendleton has made eight missionary trips to the island country. He said the church has been Cuba's connection to much of the world for the past half century.

"It's been a lifeline for this very isolated country, and hopefully with these changes, we'll be able to draw closer to a diocese that used to be a part of the American Episcopal church," he said.

Read more:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bishop to continue midnight Mass tradition at Trinity

From Indiana-

 At 11 p.m. Christmas Eve, Bishop of Northern Indiana Edward Little – dressed in the traditional vestments of the ancient church – will carry a small bundle down the long aisle of Trinity Episcopal Church, 600 Franklin St.

In the quiet church lit by the flicker of more than 100 candles, Little will gently lay the figure of the baby Jesus in the manger next to his mother, Mary, starting the celebration of traditional Christmas midnight Mass.

More here-

Presiding Bishop makes historic visit to northern Haiti

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori recently became the first ever primate to visit northern Haiti.

“It is a very significant visit for us,” said the Rt. Rev. Ogé Beauvoir, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Haiti, during a Dec. 15 interview with Episcopal News Service at the diocesan office in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince.

Each Sunday Episcopalians in northern Haiti pray for the presiding bishop, said Beauvoir, who has lived in Cap-Haitien since becoming suffragan bishop in 2012, but with the exception of very few, they’ve never met her. As worshipers were boarding buses following the Dec. 14 Eucharist, they told Beauvoir, “’please express our thanks and love to our presiding bishop, tell her that we love her,’” he said.

More here-

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First woman bishop: ‘Now I hope to see more like me'

From The Telegraph-

She was once the stay-at-home vicar’s wife, putting her career on hold to look after their young children, but now the Rev Libby Lane has leapfrogged her husband to become the Church of England’s first female bishop.

Mrs Lane, 48, priest in charge of two busy parishes near Manchester, has been named as the next Bishop of Stockport, part of the Diocese of Chester, in the process becoming an unexpected symbol of women’s equality

The appointment comes a month after the Church’s ruling General Synod formally enacted a historic change to canon law admitting women to the episcopate.

More here-

First female rector admitted at St George’s Anglican

From The Caymans-

The Rev Mary Graham became the first priest from the Cayman Islands and the first woman to become Rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in Grand Cayman. After serving as Priest-in-Charge for one and a half years, she was admitted as the church’s fifth rector at a special service on Sunday, 14 December 2014.

Diocesan Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory, was the Chief Celebrant, and Archdeacon of Kingston, the Venerable Patrick Cunningham, was the Presiding Archdeacon.

More here-

Anglican Bishops Threaten Showdown Over Deputy Gov’s Slot

From Nigeria-

Anglican Bishops under Enugu Ecclesiastical Province have threatened showdown if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) failed to field an Anglican as running mate to the governorship candidate of the party, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

The eight bishops advised the party to make an Anglican the deputy to its candidate if it wants to enjoy the support of Anglicans in the state.

Spokesman of the bishops and the Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma, who addressed a press conference in Enugu along with five other bishops, alleged that despite the huge population and contribution of Anglicans in the development of the state, Chime’s government marginalised them in areas of lands, schools and political appointments.

According to him, since Ugwuanyi is a Roman Catholic, it would be wrong to field another Roman Catholic as running mate.

More here-

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Church of England Names Rev. Libby Lane as First Female Bishop

From The New York Times-

The Church of England on Wednesday named the Rev. Libby Lane, a priest for 20 years in the north of England, as its first female bishop, just weeks after church authorities took the final step to reverse centuries of canon law to begin what the archbishop of Canterbury called “a completely new phase of our existence.”

Ms. Lane, 48, who has served as a priest in several parts of the north of England, will be consecrated on Jan. 26, the Church of England said on its website.

More here-

The Telegraph-


From Tom Ehrich-

I wanted so much to applaud the final report issued yesterday by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

They are good people, they worked hard, and even though they were given an impossible assignment, they seem to have tried for fresh thinking about decline in the Episcopal Church.

As I read the report, I saw glimpses of fresh ideas. But in their actual recommendations, the task force took the easy road: they recommended structural and procedural changes for what are, essentially, not structural or procedural shortcomings. They have answered the wrong question.

In their call for a unicameral General Convention, for example, they raised an interesting model, and by limiting the bishops' participation to active bishops, they addressed a longstanding sore point.

More here-

Episcopalians, Here’s Your TREC Report Summary

From Church Work-

This week in the Episcopal blogosphere, many posts are being written in response to the TREC report. I’m probably going to write one myself fairly soon. Before I do, it seemed important to figure out exactly what the report recommends. And since I’m a blogger, I thought I’d share. Not everybody is going to wade through 70+ pages. Here are the TREC recommendations in less than 1000 words. NB: This is not an official summary.

First, a review:

The Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church was created by a resolution passed unanimously at the 2012 General Convention. A task force was created

"whose purpose shall be to present the 78th General Convention with a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration"

More here-

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Desmond Tutu urges Pope Francis to meet Dalai Lama

From Ecumenical News-

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has appealed to Pope Francis to reconsider meeting the Dalai Lama saying he is deeply saddened by the Vatican's decision.

"I am very aware of the dilemma in which so many have been finding themselves with regard to their relationships with His Holiness and the People's Republic of China," Tutu said in a statement on December 15.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates met in Rome at the weekend but after Pope Francis had refused to grant an audience to Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, the 1989 laureate, for fear of offending China.

Read more:

Anglican Diocese Plans for 2015 Gubernatorial Elections

From Nigeria-

In its bid to promote free, fair and credible elections, the Anglican Church of Lagos Diocese has planned to mobilise, sensitise and monitor the 2015 elections in Lagos State, as indicated by Rev. James Odedeji, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese.

He disclosed this in a press conference in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday. He said that the process had been carried out for the past 15 years and it had been profitable to the state.

According to Bishop Odedeji, with the permission of the federal government, "we have set up a forum for candidates running for the Lagos gubernatorial election to say or read to the people their manifesto in their forth-coming Vintage Government Election Debate to hold in January."

More here-

Religious-themed movies – helping or hurting the Christian story?

From ENS-

The latest in a slew of religious-themed films this year, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” starring Christian Bale as Moses, opened Dec. 12, but can it and others of its genre be considered Christian movies? And do they help – or hinder – the telling of the biblical story?

Some Episcopalians, like Faith Bryant of Highland, California, believe Hollywood’s creative license with movies like “Noah,” released in March and starring Russell Crowe as the ark-building patriarch, wreak havoc with beloved Bible stories.

More here-

The Tyranny of Orthodoxy

From Huffington-

Advent is dangerous. In my case I commenced my personal discernment to leave formation to become a Roman Catholic priest.

After 9 years as a member of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) I grew tired of the tyranny of orthodoxy, and deeply frustrated with being forced to live within it. I could not lie about my sexual identity no matter how good an upper middle class lifestyle religious life gave me. I could not be dishonest with the people I'd joyfully serve. To me Advent is a time of birth and new birth, not a season to consolidate groupthink or to publicly worship within a faith system because it feels safe or familiar.

More here-

Monday, December 15, 2014

TREC presents final report for General Convention 2015 consideration

From ENS-

The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) has presented its final report to the 78th General Convention and to the Church, and for inclusion in Reports to General Convention, commonly referred to as The Blue Book.

The report is available in English and Spanish.

TREC’s work was directed by Resolution C095, which was approved by the 77th General Convention in 2012, with the specific task of preparing recommendations to the 78th General Convention for reimaging and restructuring the church.

More here-

Pastors Who Podcast

From Slate-

In 1921, Scientific American published a story titled “A New Era in Wireless,” reporting that radio was no longer just for experts and tinkerers, but had spread to the masses. In Pittsburgh, the magazine reported, Calvary Episcopal Church was broadcasting a full church service every Sunday. “Think what this means to many people: the invalid, unable to go to church can enjoy its benefits without leaving his bed or wheel chair; the farmer, too far from town to go to church has the service brought to him; and the sick in the hospital are encouraged to get well by the wonderful words of the preacher,” the reporter gushed. “One can almost imagine being in church.”

More here-

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Marriage equality is good for the church

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Over the past few months, I have officiated at several same-gender weddings. Once this option became a legal reality in Pennsylvania, lots of couples inquired about being married in our church. I can honestly say that marriage equality has not only been a blessing for these couples, it has been good for the church.

Preparing for a same-gender marriage resembles most other wedding-planning rituals. Any couple (heterosexual or homosexual) who asks about being married in our church receives a fairly standard response: Weddings are done for couples who have a relationship with the church andideally are members of the congregation.

More here-

A theological debate is unleashed: Are dogs heaven bound?

From The Post-Gazette-

Will the Hound of Heaven, as a poet famously depicted God, let hounds in heaven?

The question of whether animals are in heaven, which has vexed theologians and laypeople for generations, has been the subject of animated debate in recent days, prompting fresh examination of the question and illuminating the passion of pet owners.

The worldwide debate was set off by reports, disavowed Saturday by the Vatican, that Pope Francis suggested heaven is open to all of God’s creatures. The pope, at his Nov. 26 audience at St. Peter’s Square, did remark that “the Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” He went on to quote Paul’s epistle to the Romans: “Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.

More here-

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pope Francis says all dogs go to heaven!

From The Chicago Tribune-

I have great news for my many canine readers: YOU’RE GOING TO HEAVEN!

The bad news is you’ll have to die in order to get there, but let’s focus on the positive for now.

While speaking to a boy whose dog had died, Pope Francis recently said: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God's creatures."

The pope’s comment wasn’t an official change in church doctrine, which has generally held that animals don’t have souls and thus don’t go to heaven. But his words were met with glee by groups like the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, not to mention your neighbor’s dog Bowser who, based on his proclivity for shoe chewing, never thought he stood a chance of making it through the pearly gates.

More here-

Four young Christians brutally beheaded by ISIS in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam

From The Daily Mail-

Four young Christians were brutally beheaded by ISIS in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, according to a British reverend forced to flee the country.

Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad, told the horrifying story how of the youths, all under 15, were murdered for standing up to the jihadists.

The vicar of the city’s St George's Church, the only Anglican church in the whole of Iraq, has had to leave the country for Israel amid constant threats on his life by Islamic State.

In a harrowing interview with the Orthodox Christian Network, he said ISIS had killed ‘huge numbers’ of believers in Jesus.

More here-

Canterbury Cathedral TV review – a quintessential hour of Church of Englandness

From The Guardian-

In its almost 1,500 years as Anglicanism’s mother church, I doubt whether Canterbury Cathedral has witnessed such a quintessential moment of Church of Englandness as we did in the opening episode of the three-part documentary Canterbury Cathedral (BBC2).

It came as the Holy Stitchers, women who meet for two hours on Thursdays to keep the clergy’s various vestments in good repair, meditated on changes wrought by the admittance of women priests. They are all so much shorter than the men that they had to have grievously extensive alterations to the antique robes. “One had to have a foot cut off it,” said one of the ladies. “It can’t go back on again. Joan suggested they should be interviewed by size.” The mixture of laughter and distress, the hint of froideur, spoke directly to the English soul – a moment of perfect communion among the Holy Stitchers, and between them and the viewers. I like to think the ladies spend their downtime making needlepoint samplers to decorate the vestry walls. Perhaps ones that say: “You don’t have to be Anglican to work here, but it helps.”

More here

Friday, December 12, 2014

Plan to groom ‘talent’ for high office in C of E

From The Church Times-

A RADICAL overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is under way.

A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions. Details will be published next month."

More here-

Female priest strip searched for drugs and firearms following sit-in

From Australia-

A female priest claims to have been strip-searched following a sit-in protest at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's Subiaco electoral office on Wednesday.

Anglican priest, the Reverend Lorna Green, said she was outraged to be stripped naked and searched for drugs and firearms.

Rev Green was among a group protesting at the alleged transfer to Nauru of a number of asylum-seeking mothers, family members and new-borns who had been brought to Australia from detention centres for the births.

She said they were simply buzzed in at Ms Bishop's offices, where they sat and prayed while police tried to get them to leave.

More here-

How Ridley Scott’s Exodus Strays From the Bible

From Time-

The biblical story was poetic, the history is murky at best

The Biblical story of Exodus hits the big screen on Friday with the release of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. The story is one of the most timeless in Western history, like the Odyssey or Shakespeare, only imbued with deeper spiritual significance, as Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim the hero as their own. This newest adaptation is classic Scott-style, very Gladiator, set in an ancient Egypt where Ramses is Pharaoh and Moses is Christian Bale.

More here-

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Report of the House of Deputies Study Committee on the Rules of Order

From The House of Deputies-

December 10, 2014

Dear Deputies and Alternate Deputies:

The House of Deputies Study Committee on the Rules of Order was appointed by President Jennings following the 77th General Convention. Her goal in appointing the committee was to undertake a comprehensive review and update to the Rules of Order that govern legislative business in the House of Deputies. During our work, she has encouraged us to think creatively about ways to improve the work of the House of Deputies.

Our study committee began its work by meeting with a parallel committee from the House of Bishops. During this meeting, we had a fruitful discussion and shared some of the experiences of our respective Houses and opportunities to improve the Joint Rules of Order.

More here-

Buffalo bishops say region’s economic progress should also benefit immigrants and the poor

From Buffalo-

The bishops of Buffalo’s Catholic and Episcopal dioceses have written a joint pastoral letter urging church members to help make sure immigrants, minorities and the poor, among others, share in the region’s economic progress.

While noting new development and revitalization in Buffalo, Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop R. William Franklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York said not everyone is benefitting.

More here-

Chicago Church Doesn't Just Feed The Hungry -- They Do It With Maitre D' Service

From Huffington-

On Dec. 7, the kitchen of All Saints Episcopal Church was packed with volunteers, and the aroma in the air was undeniably mouth-watering. The Chicago parish was hosting one of its two yearly Sunday dinners for needy community members, dishing up food, service and entertainment one might expect to find in a restaurant, rather than a church hall.

The night's menu boasted a wide range of dishes: roasted turkey breast, prime rib, salmon, roasted acorn squash, a broccoli-spinach souffle and sage stuffing, plus pecan and pumpkin pies. As guests filed in to sit at tables adorned with flowers, smartly dressed waiters flitted about the room. Rev. Bonnie Perry and other volunteers greeted the hungry guests as friends, while a group of singers from a local prep school readied their dinnertime performance.hunger

More here-

Central Pennsylvania diocese announces 3 nominees for bishop

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania has announced a slate of three nominees to stand for election as the 11th bishop of the diocese.

The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Search Committee on Dec. 1.
The three are:

The Rev. Canon David A. Pfaff, 50, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Milwaukee;

The Rev. Canon Audrey Cady Scanlan, 56, canon for mission collaboration and congregational life, Diocese of Connecticut;

The Rev. Douglas Everett Sparks, 58, rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Rochester, Minnesota (Diocese of Minnesota).

More here-

No rejoicing here: Scottish Episcopal Church’s marriage guidance

From Ekklesia-

Many Christians regard their wedding day as one of the most joyful, and spiritually significant, in their lives. Those preparing to celebrate marriage are part of the body of the church, whose other members may wish to rejoice with and support them as they make a costly, as well as fulfilling, commitment.

In Scotland, for the first time same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples will be able to get legally married. The new law takes effect on 16 December 2014, with weddings booked from 31 December.

In many churches there, as elsewhere, opinion is divided and discussions are taking place on how best to honour different views of what conscience demands. Meanwhile institutional churches need to provide pastoral care to those who feel called to pledge their love publicly to their life-partner, as well as those opposed.

There is little sense of this in the Scottish Episcopal Church’s College of Bishops’ Guidance for Clergy and Lay Readers in the light of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. This document is perhaps even more grim and threatening than the Church of England bishops’ February 2014 ‘pastoral’ guidance.

More here-

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Desmond Tutu cancels travels plans to Nobel summit to battle prostate cancer

From South Africa-

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has cancelled all travel plans for the rest of the year in order to battle cancer, his foundation said Tuesday.

The 83-year-old Nobel peace laureate will embark “on a new course of medication to manage the prostate cancer he’s been living with for the past 15 years”, a statement said.

Tutu had been scheduled to attend a Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Rome this week.

It is the latest medical setback for the anti-apartheid icon, who survived an illness believed to be polio as a baby and battled tuberculosis as a teenager. In 2011 he was hospitalised for “minor” elective surgery.

More here-