Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thomas Becket relic arrives at Westminster Abbey as pilgrimage continues

From Irish News-

A relic of Thomas Becket, returning to England for the first time in 800 years, arrived at Westminster Abbey as a week-long commemoration of the martyr continues.

The fragment of bone, believed to come from the murdered archbishop's arm, was held by the Basilica of Esztergom in Hungary.

At the start of a seven-day "pilgrimage" to Canterbury Cathedral, where he was murdered in 1170, Becket's relic was received at Westminster Cathedral in London by Cardinal Vincent Nichols before mass was celebrated.

Throughout the week, senior clerics from the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches have been conducting a series of services.

More here-

Pioneering Episcopal priest, Joan Grimm Fraser dies at 68

From Religous News Service-

The Rev. Joan P. Grimm Fraser, an Episcopal priest and leading spokesperson on women’s issues in church and society has died.

Mother Joan recently represented the Episcopal Church and the International Atlantic Province of the Episcopal Church on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The province includes six dioceses in New York, two dioceses in New Jersey and the off-shore dioceses of Haiti, the Virgin Islands and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. About the UNCSW she had said, “It is an opportunity to give a voice to women here and abroad who don’t have a voice” about health, poverty and justice.

More here-

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Anglican Leader Says Archbishop Welby 'Half-Right' Telling Christians Not to Talk About Faith

From Christian Post-

A conservative Anglican leader is defending Justin Welby's comment that Christians shouldn't talk about their faith in public by explaining that the archbishop's statement is "half-right."

At an interfaith event held in London earlier this month, the head of the 88 million-member Anglican Communion drew a line between evangelism and proselytizing by saying: "I draw the line in terms of respect for the other; in starting by listening before you speak; in terms of love that is unconditional and not conditional to one iota, to one single element on how the person responds to your own declaration of faith; and of not speaking about faith unless you are asked about faith," said Welby, according to the Telegraph.

Read more at-

Could religion help you live longer?

From CBS-

Women who frequently attend religious services have a lower risk of death from all causes, including heart disease and cancer, than those who do not, new research suggests.

The study, published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, does not prove a cause and effect relationship, but the researchers say the association appears to be strong.

"The results suggest that there is perhaps something about the communal religious experience that is very powerful," study author Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public, told CBS News.

For the analysis, VanderWeele and colleagues pulled data from a long-running national health study of female nurses to examine attendance at religious services and subsequent death in women.

More here-


From First Things-

Cardinal Robert Sarah is one of the adornments of the Catholic Church, although it’s very unlikely that this man of faith, humor, intelligence, and profound humility would appreciate my putting it that way. His 2015 book, God or Nothing, is selling all over the world, currently available in twelve languages with more to come. 

The book tells his story, that of a contemporary confessor of the faith who accepted episcopal ordination knowing that he might well be killed for his witness to Christ by the madcap Marxist dictator who then ran his West African country, Guinea. But the point of God or Nothing is not to advertise the virtues of Robert Sarah: The book is an invitation to faith, addressed to everyone, but with special urgency to those parts of the world dying from a suffocating indifference to the things of the spirit.

More here-

No, You Can’t Have a Sip

From Huffington-

My mother, by her own admission, pretends to be an alcoholic every Sunday. She contemplated converting to Catholicism, not because Pope Francis was such an inspiring faith leader, but because forgoing the wine during communion is much more commonplace in the Catholic church, as opposed to the Episcopal. Why is she not so inconspicuously shooing it away in the first place? Germs.

Growing up, my mother forced me and my brother to dip our communion wafer in the wine, rather than take a full sip, hoping this would somehow cut down on the transference of germs. During flu season, she would tell us to “just pretend” to dip. Basically, my brother and I were encouraged to be deceitful while in the midst of taking the sacrament of communion.

More here-

Desmond Tutu’s daughter married a woman, and was forced out of the South African clergy

From The Washington Post-

In a country still deeply riven by division over differences — in race, class, political affiliation and more — it is Mpho Tutu's "sameness" to her new wife that has created a stir.

Tutu (now Tutu-Van Furth) is the daughter of South Africa's first black archbishop and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and is really only the "same" as her wife in one way — they are both women. But in almost every other imaginable way, they are different. Tutu is black, South African, a devout priest and, as she puts it, "vertically challenged." Marceline Tutu-Van Furth is lanky, Dutch, atheist and a professor of pediatric diseases in Amsterdam.

More here-

Episcopal diocese fund-raiser to help children in Syria

From Western Massachusetts-

The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts' Christ Church Cathedral is sponsoring an inter-faith fund-raiser to aid children in war-torn Syria.

The June 5th event, from 5 to 8 p.m., at The Cedars, 419 Island Pond Road, is being organized by cathedral to benefit the New Hampshire-based nonprofit, NuDay Syria, a member of the American Relief Coalition for Syria.

"As a church community we feel a strong need to respond to the overwhelming crisis in Syria. Through other members of our greater church we found out about this organization located near us, doing amazing work," said Steve Abdow, the diocese's canon for mission resources.

More here-

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study

From The Guardian-

The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales, according to new analysis.

The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population.

“The striking thing is the clear sense of the growth of ‘no religion’ as a proportion of the population,” said Stephen Bullivant, senior lecturer in theology and ethics at St Mary’s Catholic University in Twickenham, who analysed data collected through British Social Attitudes surveys over three decades.

More here-

Bishops issue post-General Conference letter to the church

From The United Methodist Reporter-

Reviving a tradition that is more than a century old, the United Methodist Council of Bishops sent this letter today to the people of The United Methodist Church following the 2016 General Conference, held in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20. The letter reads as follows:

“To the people of The United Methodist Church:

The Council of Bishops brings you greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has called us to be servant leaders of the church. In 1812, Bishop Francis Asbury, Bishop William McKendree and General Conference Secretary Daniel Hitt sent the first letter to churches following General Conference. This letter seeks to revive that tradition. Many bishops will also be communicating individually in their own areas.

Hundreds of lay and clergy delegates from around the world gathered in Portland, Oregon, along with bishops and pastors, church members and staff, volunteers and visitors, to engage in Christian conferencing, to make decisions for our church’s future, to affirm our global connection, to worship and to celebrate God’s faithfulness.

More here-

Episcopal priest pleads guilty, avoids jail for video incident with woman

From Albany-

An Episcopal priest from Bethlehem will be sentenced to probation for three years after pleading guilty Monday to attempted unlawful surveillance for trying to film a woman getting dressed in a Salvation Army Thrift store last year.

The plea deal on the misdemeanor that the Rev. Adam Egan agreed to in Colonie Town Court with his attorney, Steve Coffey, by his side also includes a stay away-order of protection for the victim. After his arrest, Egan was placed on administrative leave as pastor at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Delmar

Outside court, Coffey said he doesn't believe Egan is still affiliated with the church in Delmar and is receiving professional help.

More here-

St. James's Episcopal Church rector named dean of Washington National Cathedral

From Richmond-

When President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation stone at the Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 27, 1907, the Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith’s great-grandmother was in the audience.

More than a century later, Hollerith, 52, is set to become dean of the cathedral, taking him from Richmond and his family’s deep ties to the Episcopal church in Virginia.

Church officials announced Monday that Hollerith, the rector at St. James’s Episcopal Church, will advance to one of the nation’s most prominent houses of worship, where costly repairs are continuing after the 2011 earthquake that was felt across the East Coast. While Hollerith, known as Randy, is grounded in the foundations of his faith, his skill as a fundraiser was also seen as an attribute in the move to Washington.

More here-

Monday, May 23, 2016

Relic of murdered archbishop Thomas Becket on England 'pilgrimage'

From The Daily Mail-

A relic of Thomas Becket is to be returned to England for the first time in 800 years in a week-long commemoration of the murdered archbishop.

The fragment of bone, believed to come from Becket's arm, is held by the Basilica of Esztergom in Hungary.

It will travel from his birthplace in London to Canterbury Cathedral, where he was murdered in 1170, as part of a seven-day "pilgrimage".

More here-

Tutu's daughter leaves Anglican Church after marrying a woman

From South Africa-

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's daughter has confirmed she has quit preaching in the Anglican Church after marrying a woman.

Reverend Mpho Tutu-Van Furth says her licence to preach is being revoked.

She and her partner, Marceline van Furth, are on honeymoon in Bali after tying the knot at Franschhoek in the Boland.

Tutu-Van Furth says she has decided to surrender her ministerial duties because the South African Anglican Church does not recognise same-sex marriages.

More here-

Presbyterian leaders try to make sense of dwindling membership

From Pittsburgh-

Yes, the Rev. Sheldon Sorge has seen his share of dwindling Presbyterian congregations shutting their doors in declining neighborhoods or communities. And just last week, he saw yet another congregation leave for a more conservative denomination.

But as the general minister of the Pittsburgh Presbytery travels around Allegheny County, Rev. Sorge says he sees plenty of vibrant Presbyterian congregations that seem to defy the bleak picture depicted by the denomination’s own numbers.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lost 6 percent of its membership in 2015, and that came after three consecutive years of 5 percent declines. Current membership is just under 1.6 million. The Pittsburgh Presbytery, still one of the nation’s largest, saw a 7 percent decline to 28,518 last year.

More here-

My Turn: Saving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: A sacred part of our collective story

From Alaska-

I have never been to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and yet, it is a part of me, and I a part of it. I have been an Alaskan since 1972 when my husband and I packed our earthly belongings into our VW bus sporting a sign declaring, “Alaska or Bust!” and headed west. I am captivated by Alaska’s vast natural beauty and rich history, and have written four books about my adopted home.

As a member of the Episcopal Church, I am in communion with Christians from many walks of life, including many of the Gwich’in people, whose ancestral land lies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Nine out of ten Gwich’in people are not only my fellow Alaskans, but they are also my brothers and sisters in Christ as part of the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Kenya's Crackdown on Fake Pastors Stymied by Real Ones

From Christianity Today-

One of Africa’s boldest attempts to prevent bad behavior within its mushrooming churches has been abandoned.

In 2014, Kenya’s attorney general, Githu Muigai, banned new churches amid a “miracle-faking” spree. Muigai began 2016 by proposing a lengthy list of new reporting requirements, including minimum theological education for pastors, annual membership thresholds, and churches joining an umbrella organization.

At the same time, the Communications Authority of Kenya announced a new policy that banned radio and television preachers from asking listeners to send in money or get saved at the end of their broadcasts.

The changes were welcomed by the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK). “Horrible things are happening in the church today,” bishop Beneah Salah told The Standard, a Nairobi newspaper. “There is a lot of commercialization of the gospel.”

More here-

Archbishop: Anti-Semitism 'embedded' in British culture

From Canterbury (via Salt Lake)-

Anti-Semitism is “deeply embedded” in British culture, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said.

“We’ve seen a very sharp rise over the last year or so in anti-Semitic expression. It is absolutely intolerable,” Welby told a gathering of Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim leaders at his Lambeth Palace residence in London on Thursday (May 19).

“It’s deeply imbedded in so much of our culture in this country, as is racism,” added the archbishop, who is the spiritual leader of the world’s 75 million Anglicans.

Welby said he was “not looking at any political party.” But his comments follow harsh criticism of the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, over anti-Semitic remarks by some of its members. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and member of parliament Naz Shah were suspended from the party for making statements that attacked Jews.

More here-

Anglican Church rejects grazing reserves across Nigeria, warns of ‘civil war’

From Nigeria-

The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has warned the Federal Government to avoid what it described as a possible second civil war, by dismissing the plan to create grazing reserves for Fulani Herdsmen across the country.

The warning was given by the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, while delivering a keynote address, with the theme: “The poverty of riches”, during the third session of the 9th synod of Anglican Bishops in Nigeria, Friday.

According to the church, the intended approach would mean an “unwarranted special preference”, which could only spell evil in time to come.

The church said the plan by the government may be misconceived as making Fulani Herdsmen indigenes of every part of the country.

More here-

When God Is Strange and Awful

From Christianity Today-

God is strange. At times, he is awful.

There’s no getting around these excruciating facts after reading Victor Lee Austin’s memoir, Losing Susan: Brain Disease, the Priest’s Wife, and the God Who Gives and Takes Away (Brazos).

At age 38, Susan Austin was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Due to the marvels of modern medicine, she healed. But the cancer treatments brought about the condition that ultimately ended her life—something called white-matter disease. Victor, Susan, and their two children initially felt relieved, only to discover a slow deterioration under way in Susan’s brain.

Readers will admire Victor’s fidelity to his wife and longsuffering, but his years caring for Susan were marked by second-guessing, uncertainty, and doubts. As a husband and a father, a theologian and an Episcopal priest, he limped his way through the fog of maintaining a home, teaching ethics, and leading church members through prayers his wife could no longer pray.

More here-

Cuomo set to change Sunday blue laws

From New York-

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced  a proposal earlier this week to update New York's 80-year-old liquor laws, a move that would benefit the state's craft beverage industry. If passed, the legislation would permit the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants and bars before noon on Sundays.

The state's blue laws, or laws set in place to enforce religious practices, prohibit the sale of alcohol in restaurants and bars from 4 a.m. until noon on Sundays. With the governor's proposed legislation, alcoholic beverages could be served between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon on Sundays.

The Rev. Eileen Weglarz, of Christ Church Episcopal in Hudson, questions if these changes will enhance life in New York, especially for those struggling with alcoholism.

"I'm not wild about the idea," she said. "We have become such a secular country. People don't think about it [religion] anymore."

More here-

Anglican Church of Kenya's new Archbishop elected

From Kenya-

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has elected a new archbishop who will serve as the sixth head of the church.

The Right Reverend Jackson Ole Sapit of the Kericho diocese was elected archbishop of the ACK at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi by an electoral college of 191 delegates from the 38 episcopal dioceses from across the country representing about five million Kenyan Anglicans.

He was nominated along with five other candidates – Julius Wanyoike (Thika Diocese), Joel Waweru (Nairobi Diocese), Moses Masamba (Mbeere Diocese), James Ochiel (Southern Nyanza Diocese), and Lawrence Dena (Malindi Diocese).

There were no women candidates, as the Anglican Church in Kenya only allows women up to the archdeacon level.

Sapit, who will also serve as the bishop of the All Saints Cathedral Diocese, succeeds outgoing Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, who is due to leave office in June.

More here-

also here-

Friday, May 20, 2016


From First Things-

When Pope Francis announced his willingness to appoint a commission to study whether women can serve as deacons in the Catholic Church, my first thought was: Here we go!

And sure enough, FutureChurch, the liberal Catholic organization that has subtly pushed for the ordination of women to the hitherto all-male Catholic priesthood, not only praised Francis for his statement but announced its intention to set up a website, sponsor a retreat for women feeling the “call” to become deacons, and, clearly most important of all, lobby the U.S. bishops to start pestering Rome about opening the diaconate to the female sex. The less subtle Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) faulted Francis for not going all the way and opening the priesthood to women, but it did offer him some limited praise: “WOC advocates that a new commission on the diaconate include discussions on priestly ordination for women in the Roman Catholic Church.”

The “discussions” WOC has in mind seem to be historical in nature. In its press statement, WOC invokes “historical evidence” of the existence of “several women deacons” in the early Church and asserts that, in ordaining women deacons, the Vatican would merely be “recognizing its own history.”

More here-

Thousands join Archbishop Welby for online Bible study

From Anglican News-

The Archbishop of Canterbury was joined by thousands of Christians around the world today for his first live Bible study on Facebook. Archbishop Justin Welby discussed John 1:35-42 with the Revd Chris Russell, the archbishop's advisor for evengalism and witness, and answered questions from viewers.

The event was watched live in countries including the UK, USA, South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Australia, the Seychelles and Japan. It is still available to view on Facebook as a video.

In the passage, the disciples have their first encounter with Jesus, which is a life-changing experience – they are given a new identity in Jesus Christ. During the discussion the Archbishop answered questions posted on Facebook, including one on how relevant this encounter with Jesus is to the lives of young people today.

More here-

New chapter for anglican church

From Kenya-

The church acquired a notoriety in the 1980s and 1990s when its leaders, such as David Gitari, Henry Okullu and Alexander Muge rubbed the political establishment up the wrong way

The Anglican Church of Kenya will be having a new archbishop by this weekend to replace the outgoing Eliud Wabukala. All eyes are trained on the premier protestant congregation and the man it will choose to lead it to the next decade.

So far, bishops James Ochiel (South Nyanza), Moses Masaba (Mbeere), Joseph ole Sapit (Kericho), Joel Waweru (Nairobi) and Lawrence Dena (Malindi) have thrown their hats into the ring. Any one of them will be handed the archbishopric crosier to lead the Kenyan Anglicans.

ACK has been a political hotbed for many years and as such, its elections attract lots of interest among the political class. Already there are talks that both Cord and Jubilee power brokers are circling overhead looking to plant a man favourable to their causes to head the church, a claim the church leadership denies.

More here-

Bruce Caldwell to be provisional bishop of Lexington

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Bruce Caldwell will serve the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington as its provisional bishop following affirmation from the clergy and laity attending a Special Convention on May 14 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Winchester, Kentucky.

Caldwell served the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming as bishop for 13 years, ending his tenure in 2010. Since then, Caldwell has served as the interim spiritual leader of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as assisting bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his family.

Since March 9, the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington has been under the ecclesiastical authority of the Standing Committee, an elected body of clergy and lay leaders, following the suspension of Doug Hahn as the bishop of Lexington. Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, working through the canonical disciplinary and pastoral processes of the church, took this action after learning that Hahn had a sexual relationship with an adult female parishioner and intentionally withheld this information when seeking the position of bishop.

More here-

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Archbishops’ ‘wave of prayer’ rolls across the country

From The Church Times-

FROM paper aeroplanes inscribed with prayers suspended from the ceiling of St Paul’s, Leamington Priors, to an evening prayer-walk around Kirkham, in Preston, to the beating of the bounds in Sloane Square, in London, parishes across the country have responded creatively to the Archbishops’ Pentecost summons to prayer.

The call for a “great wave of prayer” for the evangelisation of the country was issued in February, when the Archbishops wrote to every serving parish priest in the Church of England (News, 5 February). Under the banner “Thy Kingdom Come”, events are being held across the country over a nine-day period, culminating in services at six cathedrals this weekend.

Among the partner-organisations is 24-7 Prayer. Asked about the take-up of the initiative, its founder, Pete Greig, said on Tuesday that he had been delighted by the “overwhelming” response.

More here-

On Augustine by Rowan Williams, Augustine by Robin Lane Fox review – the theologian, with and without sex

From The Guardian-

These two new books on Augustine of Hippo, the towering figure of late-antique Latin theology, could not be more different, but that will hardly come as a surprise. Robin Lane Fox is an ancient historian who once wrote a book (The Unauthorised Version, 1991) announcing his own atheism and his intention to expose the historical contradictions underlying the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Rowan Williams retired as archbishop of Canterbury in 2012 – while in the role he repeatedly defended the rights of the religious to resist secularism. Lane Fox writes with a historian’s gift for exposing the strangeness of a different culture; Williams immerses himself in the theological subtleties of one of antiquity’s most ambitious thinkers.

Williams’s book, a collection of revised articles (and one sermon) written for different audiences, has all the trappings of academia: sophisticated, challenging prose, German titles in the footnotes, sometimes even untranslated Latin (not all of it, I am bound to say as a classicist, reproduced perfectly). But for all that, it is less a critical study than an attempt to enlist the ancient writer as an ally for the modern theologian. For Williams, Augustine matters as the thinker who elevated doubt, questioning and self-consciousness – gathered up in the idea of “confessions”, which became the title of his most famous work – to a spiritual state. The underlying message is that if we, in our secular world, feel paralysed by the moral complexity around us, that should lead us not to postmodern relativism and ennui, but to acknowledging that our own limitations and weaknesses are what make us human, and – more importantly – that true knowledge and wisdom are dependent on our philosophical acceptance of God within the community of Christian believers.

More here-

‘The Church Might Divide’: Nation’s Third Largest Faith Group Makes Key Decision in Bitter Battle Over Gay Marriage

From The Blaze-

As the United Method Church meets for its General Conference in Portland, Oregon — an event that is held once every four years — church leaders continue to deal with a contentious issue that threatens to splinter the denomination: homosexuality.

In a narrow vote of 428-405 on Wednesday, the Council of Bishops — the top policy arm of the nation’s third largest faith group — voted to assess and review current church law on sexuality, the Associated Press reported.

The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, which outlines church regulations, is explicit in noting that marriage is confined to one man and one woman. The official church rules on matrimony read, “We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman,” with pastors falling under strict guidelines.

More here-

Episcopal clergy support Methodists working for full inclusion of LGBTQ members

From Oregon-

Currently, and through May 20, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church is meeting at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. They are currently and will be struggling with the same issues of inclusion for LGBTQ persons that we in The Episcopal Church have struggled with. For this we offer a statement of support:

Statement of Support for The United Methodist General Conference

Clergy and members of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Oregon welcome our brothers and sisters in The United Methodist Church as you gather in Portland for your 2016 General Conference. As your denomination gathers to celebrate and discern God’s will for you, particularly around questions of human sexuality, we will be holding you in prayer. Episcopalians in Oregon are eager to share our experience of extending a full and unequivocal welcome to those who experience gender and sexual diversity. Our conversations around gender and sexuality – like yours – have not been without much pain and struggle, but we believe that the Spirit of God has brought us to a holy place in which the gifts of all people are being utilized by the church in creative and exciting ways.

More here-