Friday, September 30, 2016

Faith in Focus: For love of money?

From Central PA-

The song on the radio advertisement for a casino or some other establishment says “I want money, that’s what I want.”

Is it okay to want it?

As we know, to love money brings us to the root of many evils. It’s not about money being evil, having money being bad, or needing money making you someone destined for eternal suffering.

We have been given teachings meant to shape us into the way humans are to relate to others and to the material world. There are some things we absolutely must have. About these things we pray that we have what we need.

More here-

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why we baptised our baby despite almost never going to church

From New Zealand-

Are we frauds?

We want to pave as many paths to participation for our progeny as possible, so connecting her with our local parish seemed like a sensible idea. Whether she walks down it later in life will be up to her.

But we haven't been back to church since. And the aforementioned baptism was one of a very few times we've attended church on a Sunday. I don't see anything wrong with that.

But some do. Some might say we're "cop outs", "token", "lazy", or "cheats". Others - avowedly anti-religion - might question whether a baptism really was in the best interests of our baby.

More here-

The Reformation and its consequences revisited

From Irish Catholic-

Eamonn Duffy at Cambridge and Diarmuid MacCulloch at Oxford are the leading historians on the Reformation writing in English. Together with the historical novelists Hilary Mantel and Philippa Gregory, they have brought the intricacies and consequences of the Reformation in Tudor England before the wider public.

Their success in different genres is a tribute not only to the fascination and drama of the period, but to the quality of their works.

MacCulloch’s latest offering is a collection of 22 of his writings assembled from articles, papers and book reviews to stand beside his biography of Cranmer, his History of Christianity: The First 3,000 years, and of the Reformation – the latter sub-titled “Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700”. It runs to 450 pages with some 14 colour plates. 

More here-

I‘m the gay son of a preacher man. When I came out to Dad, he was perfect

From The Guardian-

“What was your dad like when you came out?” When people discover I’m both gay and the son of an Anglican vicar, the Reverend Ian Godfrey, their response is often a predictable variation of this question.

The assumption is, of course, that a devout, spiritual servant of God will at the very least have a few reservations about homosexuality. They’re picturing criticism, rejection, maybe even abandonment.

I empathise with the insinuation. The church’s attitude towards the gay community has never exactly been harmonious, and the institution undoubtedly still has something of a homophobia problem.

More here-

Growing St. Thomas Episcopal Church opens doors this weekend

From Rhode Island-

Standing in the heart of Smithfield’s Greenville village as the ebb and flow of traffic continues on Routes 116 and 44, St. Thomas Episcopal Church remains a historic sanctuary to the community it serves.

With a growing congregation over the last few years, along with renovations to its structure, the church will open its doors to the community on Saturday and Sunday for an open house filled with food and information.

“Come on by and see what you’re missing,” says church rector Susan Carpenter.

Carpenter says this is the first time the church, which has been a staple in Smithfield since the late 1800s, has had such an open house.

“It’s a way for the community to come in as we open our doors and invite the community to come and see what we’re all about,” said Carpenter. “The community has been noticing we’ve been more active and vibrant.”

More here-

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Archbishop Of Canterbury: Children Must Be Taught To Understand The Jihadist Mind

From Christian Today-

Children in the West need to understand what drives Islamist jiahdists to extreme acts of terror and murder, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Justin Welby said: "It's very difficult to understand the things that impel people to some of the dreadful actions that we have seen over the last few years unless you have some sense of religious literacy.

"You may reject and condemn it – that's fine – but you still need to understand what they're talking about."

The Archbishop was addressing the head teachers of Anglican secondary schools at Coventry Cathedral.

He referred to the "religiously-motivated violence" of Islamic State.

More here-

Anglicans not ready to take back priests accused of being gay, court told

From Kenya-

The Anglican Church of Kenya is not ready to welcome back three priests who were cleared of allegations that they were homosexuals.

Anglican Church of Kenya Trustees’ lawyer Syphurine Nyongesa Mayende said believers will not trust the priests.

The trustees were in court Tuesday seeking to stay the judgement issued by the Labour court on September 9 pending an intended appeal.

Justice Byram Ongaya ordered the church to reinstate Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau, the Rev James Maina Maigua and the Rev Paul Mwangi Warui.

Justice Ongaya also ordered the church to pay a total of Sh6.8 million, being accrued salary since August 2015 when they were sacked and compensation for psychological trauma, by December 1, 2016.

More here-

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

British Cathedral Numbers Grow

From The Living Church-

English cathedrals are experiencing growth in people attending worship, according to a report by the Church of England’s Research and Statistics unit.

The report, “Church Statistics 2015” [PDF], reinforces conclusions drawn in a 2014 Church of England report, “From Anecdote to Evidence” [PDF].

“It would be wrong to think that the growth of cathedrals is happening at the expense of the rest of the Church; instead consider cathedrals as the vanguard of renewal,” said Becky Clark, senior cathedrals officer and deputy secretary of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. “They have the locations, the leadership, the staff, and the confidence to be at the forefront of what an outward-looking, societally focused, just and fair church can be.”

More here-

We Need to Rescue Nigeria - Wike

From Nigeria-

Rivers State Governor, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike has stated that the painful general hardship flowing from the country's economic crisis affect all Nigerians, hence all hands must be on deck to resolve the challenges.

He also said that his administration has already established a working framework to shield the people of Rivers State from the negative effects of the economic downturn.

Wike spoke yesterday at the Saint Cyprian Anglican Church, Port Harcourt, during the inter-denominational church service to mark Nigeria's 56th Independence Anniversary.

More here-

Former priest hits out at church over support for wind farm near Hawick

From Hawick England-

A retired Anglican priest says he is appalled by the Church of England’s support for a proposed wind farm near Hawick as he believes it would be a blot on the landscape of the Borders. 

Andrew Warburton, formerly a priest in Oxfordshire, said he is ashamed of his church for refusing to consult with residents likely to be affected by the Highlee Hill wind farm being lined up near his current Newcastleton home. “I am appalled that the Church Commissioners of England have had the gall to support this development in Scotland,” writes Warburton, in a letter to Scottish Borders Council.

Read more at:

Standing Rock oil pipe protest may become “the new Selma”

From Anglican News-

The Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church has delivered an impassioned speech in support of the Standing Rock Sioux community. Bishop Michael Curry told them that their stand against a controversial oil pipeline could become as important in US history as the 1965 civil rights stand in Selma, Alabama. Selma is considered a turning point in racial equality in the US after a peaceful protest by African Americans demanding the right to vote was met with police violence.

The Presiding Bishop made his comments at the weekend during a solidarity visit to the Sioux protest camps along the Canon Ball River. They are opposed to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline which is set to run through sacred burial grounds and under the Missouri River.

More here-

Home planned for women released from prison or abused

From Arkansas-

She hopes to start a transitional home for women who have been incarcerated or survived abuse, sexual violence or addiction.

A chaplain for 25 years and prison mentor, Kaczmarek envisions a two-year program in Little Rock modeled after a program in Nashville, Tenn., known as Magdalene and Thistle Farms. It would be known as Magdalene -- Coming Home.

The program is in the planning stages, and an informational "FUNraiser" will be held Oct. 6 at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, in Little Rock.

The idea for the project grew out of Kaczmarek's experience mentoring a woman in prison and coordinating fellow mentors.

Read more: The Courier - Your Messenger for the River Valley - Home planned for women released from prison or abused.

More here-

Monday, September 26, 2016

Help our youth

From Barbados-

Anglican clergyman Reverend John Rogers has urged Barbadians to step out and help guide the nation’s youth as he underscored the need for mentorship in the society.

Speaking at a church service this morning at his St George Parish Church to launch National Youth Week, Reverend Rogers questioned whether adults had created a void in the society by not mentoring and helping to guide young people.

“Have we created a void for our young people? Is there a case where we did not pass down the lessons that we were taught? We often talk about attending Sunday School as children and all we have learnt, why aren’t we enforcing that for our children? Have we broken the line of transmission?” Rogers questioned.

More here-

Managed decline?

From Australia-

According to statistics and a recent pew sheet of my church; the Anglican Church has been in decline in the West for over 100 years. Numbers of Anglicans in Australia have also been in steady decline since 2001.

Being part of a traditional parish in the Diocese of Sydney, the challenge of growth and decline is more than just cyclical, it is generational. While the majority of the diocese has moved its worship form away from traditional setting, parishes like St Paul's Burwood has the challenge of protecting and using the liturgy regularly while still focusing on outreach.

Four key elements

My rector noted in the pew sheet there are four elements which form the key to the healthy growth of any church; prayer, welcoming, nurturing, and worshipping.

More here-

Episcopal Church membership continues steady decline

From Christian Times-

The Episcopalian Church membership continues its gradual decline as it lost 37,669 members in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, the worship attendance in the U.S.-based denomination decreased by 20,631. Forty-three parishes have also been closed.

According to the statistics released by the Episcopal Church Office of Research, its membership decreased by 9 percent in the past five years. In 2011, the church reported having 1.9 million active members. The number has decreased to 1.7 million by 2015.

Average church attendance lowered by 12 percent in the past five years and 26 percent in the last 10 years. Despite the decline in church attendance, the average pledge has increased by 0.7 percent from $2,626 in 2014 to $2,707 in 2015.

More here-

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Anglican 'Church' For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England

From Christian Today-

An Anglican mission to rival the Church of England has set out plans to evangelise the UK.

The mission is already reaching out to evangelical Christians in dioceses that are "closed to conservative evangelicals".

The plan is to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.

The influential Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, is backing the plan.

It involves new Anglican churches being independent from the country's "official" established church.

More here-

Pints with a priest spur biblical talks

From Texas-

That Roman Catholic clergyman-turned-reformer Martin Luther distilled his religious conviction as he steeped in his favorite beverage: “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven. Thus, let us drink beer!”

Graydon and K.D. Hill are purveyors of brew and biblical discussions. The couple is also the proprietors of Barrow Brewing, host site for the Priest’s Pint, a monthly confab with clergy and anyone who thirsts for discussions about faith.

There’s beer, too.

More here-

Part-time clergy make room for lay ministries

From New Hampshire-

One of the biggest trends in church life is one that denominations actively discourage: the growing use of part-time clergy to lead congregations. No longer able to afford full-time pastors, churches are defying warnings and signing up part-timers, who often have other jobs and limit their church work to 10 or 20 hours a week

Congregations braving these waters have plenty of company. Five years ago, 55 percent of United Methodist congregations in New England had a part-time pastor. Today, it’s 70 percent. The percentage is nearly as high (about 66 percent) for both the United Church of Christ in Maine and the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Having a part-time leader is no longer an oddity. It’s the norm.

More here-

Washington National Cathedral to install new dean

From Christian Century-

Growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, Randolph Marshall Hollerith recalls visiting the Washington National Cathedral as it was being built, especially watching the stone carvers work. Now he is the cathedral’s dean.

“I have powerful memories of that sacred space as a child,” Hollerith said. “It was my first experience I had of the numinous, in the nave of the cathedral.”

With his installation service planned for October 23, Hollerith begins his work as he would in any size of parish, he said.

“I’m very much in a listen-and-learn mode,” he said. “I’m not someone who comes in with a preordained sense of vision. . . . You have to lead from the heart of the community.”

More here-

Why most people leave religion? They just ‘stop believing’

From Salt Lake-

It's bad news for organized religion: A majority of the religiously unaffiliated — the so-called "nones" — say they fell away from faith not because of any negative experience, but because they "stopped believing," usually before age 30.

Gloomier still for religion is this: Nones make up 25 percent of the American population, making them the single largest "faith group" in the U.S., ahead of Catholics (21 percent) and white evangelicals (16 percent).

And only a fraction — 7 percent — say they are looking for a religion to belong to at all.

Those are among the more salient findings of a new study of the religiously unaffiliated conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.

More here-

Friday, September 23, 2016

Victorian family values are a myth, Archbishop tells Mothers' Union

From The Telegraph-

The idea of a Victorian golden age of traditional family values is a “myth”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted as he urged Christians to face up to the reality of divorce, cohabitation and gay marriage in the 21st century.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who argued in the House of Lords against the legislation extending marriage to same-sex couples, said new family structures  including same-sex unions are now a reality “whether we agree or not”.

His remarks came in a sermon to representatives of the Mothers’ Union (MU) from around the world at a special service in Winchester Cathedral to celebrate the organisation’s 140th anniversary. 

More here-

Namibian churches battle with LGBT issues

From Namibia-

Namibian Christendom is for the first time confronted by a topic that, until now, as far as the Namibian church establishment is concerned, has always been a straightforward matter: the Namibian Constitution does not guarantee marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Previously the men and women of the cloth in Namibia were not worried about such a then ‘trivial topic’.

It was an issue relegated to South African churches where LGBT marriages are allowed, but the churches must now figure out whether or not to conduct such marriages for their members.

It took a threat of a legal battle by members of the Dutch Reformed Church to wake up the Namibian Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, and a motion submission by the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay in South Africa to wake up the Anglican Diocese of Namibia. Now the Council of Churches in Namibia says it is planning to have an awareness workshop on LGBT issues in the near future.

More here-

Welby: don’t count God’s wealth in Monopoly money

From The Church Times-

THE spirit of St Francis was present in Assisi this week, as Anglican and Orthodox church leaders joined Pope Francis and representatives from other faiths at the small Italian town to pray for peace.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, invited to address participants, spoke of the illusion of wealth. “Our money and wealth is like the toy money in a children’s game: it may buy goods in our human economies that seem so powerful, but in the economy of God it is worthless.”

Instead, he said, God speaks to us through those who have nothing, the most helpless, and the poorest. “We need to be reminded daily of our poverty in spirit, to thirst for the riches of God’s mercy.”

Archbishop Welby was joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb, the leading religious authority in Sunni Islam. All took part in a conference, “Thirst for Peace: Religions and cultures in dialogue”, organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the diocese of Assisi.

More here-

Relentless Decline Of The US Episcopal Church Continues

From Christian Today-

The US Episcopal Church has lost nearly ten per cent of its members in just five years, latest figures show.

Large falls in church membership began at the start of this millennium. Statistics from 2015 show a drop-off of more than 37,000 baptised members, a fall of 2.1 per cent.

This takes the total Episcopal Church membership to a new low of fewer than 1.8 million. Just four years earlier, in 2011, there were more than 1.9 million.

While nearly a quarter of churches grew by more than 10 per cent from 2011 to 2014, this was offset by the larger number - four in ten - that lost 10 per cent or more of their members over the same period. 

More here-

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tutu discharged from hospital

From South Africa-

 Retired cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was discharged from hospital on Wednesday, after he was re-admitted on Saturday to treat an infection, his family said.

The 84-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been living with prostate cancer for nearly 20 years, was re-admitted to hospital to treat an infection following surgery this month.

More here-

This Group Celebrates Kenya’s Religious Diversity by Painting Religious Centers Yellow

From Smithsonian-

Over the last few months, temples, churches and mosques in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi have turned a bright shade of yellow. While this isn’t the result of a divine touch, the bright colors are meant to celebrate Kenya’s long-held traditions of religious and cultural tolerance at a time of great tension.

In recent years, Kenya has not exactly had a glowing reputation when it comes to religious openness. Even before the religious terrorist group al-Shabaab began its campaign of brutal violence and kidnapping, the relationship between Kenya’s Christian and Muslim populations wasn’t exactly rosy, Antonia Blumberg reports for the Huffington Post. However, by visually binding the country’s houses of worship together, a project called “Colour in Faith” hopes to help bring these communities together in spite of attempts to sow discord.

“Kenya has had a long established culture of religious acceptance, tolerance, accommodation and exchange,” organizer Yazmany Arboleda tells Claire Voon for Hyperallergic. “These cultures are being undermined by an infusion of hardline interpretations of faith and the deepening of a global identity based on media stories about division, terrorist attacks, and insecurity. The risk is a cultural confusion that would have agents of insecurity succeed in dividing these societies.”

Read more:

Drama as Anglican Church Bishops flee Anambra over IPOB’s sit-at-home threat

From Nigeria-

A five-day meeting of the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, in Awka, Anambra State was hurriedly called off on Wednesday, as the clergymen hurriedly left the state following the threat issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

IPOB had on Sunday warned residents in the South-East to stay in doors on September 23 as a mark of solidarity as it carries out a worldwide rally to protest the continuous incarceration  of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

The pro-Biafra group had threatened that markets, banks and other institutions should be shut down, while movement restricted.

More here-

The ‘nones’ are more numerous than you think, but many won’t show up on Election Day

From Religion News-

A quarter of U.S. adults do not affiliate with any religion, a new study shows — an all-time high in a nation where large swaths of Americans are losing faith.

But while these so-called “nones” outnumber any religious denomination, they are not voting as a bloc, and may have little collective influence on the upcoming presidential election.

The rapid growth of the religiously unaffiliated, charted in a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute Thursday (Sept. 22), is raising eyebrows even among those who follow trends in American religiosity.

More here-

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Failure of ecumenism would imprison mercy, Anglican archbishop says

From Catholic News Service-

Churches that are not reconciled with one another weaken the experience of mercy that unites believers to God and with each other, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury said.
By not reconciling with one other, "our worship is diminished and our capacity to grow close together with God is reduced," he said Sept. 20 in Assisi during a discussion on ecumenism.

"The failure of ecumenism imprisons mercy and prevents its liberation and its power with one another," he said.

Speaking before Pope Francis arrived in Assisi for an interreligious peace meeting, Archbishop Welby joined other Christian leaders exploring how love, charity and mercy help foster peace and unity among Christian denominations.

More here-

Diocese of Toronto elects first openly gay bishop

From Anglican Journal-

A gay man living with a male partner is among three priests to have been elected suffragan bishops in the diocese of Toronto this weekend.

On Saturday, September 17, members of an electoral synod elected the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, Canon Kevin Robertson and Canon Jenny Andison as suffragan, or assistant, bishops. Each will be responsible for one of the diocese’s four episcopal areas: York-Scarborough, York-Credit Valley, Trent-Durham and York-Simcoe. Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop, will decide which bishop will serve in each area. Bishop Peter Fenty is currently the bishop responsible for York-Simcoe.

Canon Kevin Robertson, incumbent at Christ Church, Deer Park in Toronto, was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. According to an article on the diocese of Toronto website, Robertson, who lives with his male partner, said it was a “historic day.” He said he believed he was the first openly gay and partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps even in the entire Anglican Church of Canada.

More here-