Wednesday, May 27, 2015

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often

From Carey Nieuwhof-

It comes up in a surprising number of conversations these days. And no one’s quite sure how to respond to it.

The issue? Even committed church attenders are attending church less often.

Sure, the trend has been happening for years (gone are the days when people attended 50 out of 52 Sundays), but the issue is reaching a tipping point in the church today.

I first wrote about this two years ago in a post called 7 Ways to Respond as People Attend Church Less Often. In the last 24 months, the conversation has come up far more often and, to many leaders, feels much more urgent.

More here-

What difference will women bishops make? Quite a lot, it seems...

From Christian Today--

A leading witch and herbalist shared a Church of England platform last night with other women religious leaders including the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church and Gogglebox tv vicar Rev Kate Bottley.

Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation, challenged stereotypes of women at the event, the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London's liberal flagship church, St James's Piccadilly.

The Pagan Federation and the Druid Network have recently become fully-fledged members of Britain's religious establishment, having been voted into the Inter Faith Network UK as a body representative of its community.

More here-

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Md. Episcopal Diocese Chooses Replacement For Defrocked Bishop

From NPR-


A trial is set to begin next week for a defrocked Episcopal bishop. Heather Cook faces more than a dozen charges, including manslaughter for the hit-and-run death last year of a bicyclist in Baltimore. Prosecutors say she had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit and that she was sending text messages at the time of the crash.


After the accident, it was revealed that leaders from the Diocese of Maryland knew Cook had been arrested for a previous DUI before she was hired as the assistant bishop. They failed to pass that information on to the committee that appointed her.

MONTAGNE: Now, the diocese has appointed a new assistant bishop, who is a recovering alcoholic. Chilton Knudsen has made addiction counseling a key part of her ministry. She took a break from a conference on clergy addiction to talk to us and said her selection was no accident.

More here-

Orthodox Church of Antioch: the West feigns empathy for a problem of its own making

From Levant Report-

There’s been renewed American media coverage and di
scussion of the Middle East’s Christian population as a result of Islamic State’s (ISIS) purging of Christians in Mosul. While this attention is good, the entire presentation and discussion of current threats to the region’s Christians continues to be driven by distorted assumptions, contributing to a false and dangerous narrative that will only exacerbate and prolong the persecution. This false narrative tends to assume that western countries are benevolent players in the region, standing up for the rights of native Christians and against Islamic extremism.

France’s recent declaration of amnesty and resettlement assistance for Iraqi Christians was met, in various Christian and conservative corners, with celebration and adulation. Why can’t the U.S. issue the same appeal as France? “Why not us?” …some commentators are asking. Yet this completely ignores the root of the real threat to the Middle East’s Christians. This week’s official statement by the Orthodox Church of Antioch speaks to the heart of the problem, and cuts through the false narrative:

More here-

Responses to Ireland’s Vote

From The Living Church-

An overwhelming vote for same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland has drawn a careful response from Church of Ireland bishops. The vote announced at Dublin Castle found 1,201,607 with 734,300 against. Voter turnout in the majority-Catholic nation was 61 percent.

The people of the republic “have of course acted fully within their rights,” said a statement from the Church of Ireland’s archbishops and bishops. “The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.”

The bishops added: “The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set. Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may — in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law — continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.”

More here-

How ArchBishop Chukwuma, armed thugs attacked us – MD Enugu Housing Corporation

From Nigeria-

The Managing Director of the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, Mr. Emeka Onah, on Monday alleged that the ArchBishop of the Enugu Province, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma led armed church members to unleash terror on government officials last Friday. DAILY POST recalls that an attempt by the Housing Corporation to clear 9 hectres of land located at the Christ Church Uwani, was met with stiff resistance by angry priests and some members of the Anglican communion. The church later accused the government officials of attacking and wounding four priests in the process. However, briefing journalists in his office, Onah said the assault was the other way round as the ArchBishop allegedly kicked off the attack by personally beating the Corporation’s Director of works, Mr. Pius Chukwunta.

More here-

Is Christianity dying out?

From Alabama-

The finding that fewer Americans are identifying as Christian raises several questions, among them, Why, and also, Does it matter?
The Pew Research Center, which did the survey that produced the findings, addresses the first question. I invite you to consider the second.

First, note that the majority of Americans still consider themselves Christian: 70.6 percent. For comparison, Canada was 66 percent in 2011, according to Pew. The 2011 census for England and Wales (I don't know why just those two) put Christian affiliation at 59 percent.

More here-

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lost boy of South Sudan to bishop: religious leader returns to refugee camps

From Australia-

He was about 11 years old when bloody war arrived on his doorstep.

Militias murdered his father and burnt down their village.

Fleeing, he was separated from his mother and siblings and then spent the next 15 days walking across the border without any food.

"I survived but a lot of people died because of hunger, a lot of people died because of wild animals," he said.

Having converted to Christianity at a young age, he spent his years in refugee camps focussing on his religion before eventually being consecrated as a bishop.

More here-

Is the UK still a Christian country?

From The BBC-

Are we losing our religion? The answer for the UK seems to be "Yes", while the answer for the developing world is a resounding "No".

That was the conclusion of a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center in the US.

It suggests that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.

The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK - the "unaffiliated" - will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.

Pew's research also suggests there are likely to be more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2070, with Islam's share of global population equalling that of Christianity at just above 30% each by 2050.

More here-

Anglican Archbishop begs Amaechi, Wike to resolve their differences

From Nigeria-

Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niger-Delta North, Most Rev’d. Ignatius Kattey, yesterday urged the outgoing Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, and his successor, Nyesom Wike, to reconcile by settling their differences.

He stated this while delivering his sermon during a thanksgiving service to mark the beginning of the inauguration programme of the governor-elect and his deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Port Harcourt.

Kattey decried the partisan position taken by some traditional rulers and clerics during the general elections, and encouraged the two leaders to begin seeing each other as brothers, stressing that, “Pastors, men of God and traditional rulers should be non-partisan. They should not take sides in politics. Amaechi and Wike are both Rivers’ persons”.

More here-

What I learnt from 46 consecutive days in church

From The BBC-

For the Lent just gone by, I resolved to go to church every day. I'm a Catholic, so it would be Mass every day for more than a month. It felt like it would be a real struggle - a penance. It turned out to be anything but. It was a rich and enriching experience - spiritually, obviously, but I was also enraptured by the churches themselves, the communities they serve, and the people with whom I shared all those Masses.

I made it extra hard for myself by undertaking to go to a different church every day, so by Easter Sunday I'd been before 46 different priests in 46 different churches in 46 days. Someone pointed out to me at around the 35-priest mark that even the Pope probably hadn't heard Mass said by so many different priests in so many different churches in such a short space of time.

More here-

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Britain still deeply divided because of Henry VIII reformation, says Cambridge prof

From The Telegraph-

Britain will never be a united nation because rifts created during the reformation, in the time of Henry VIII, are still shaping culture and politics, a Cambridge academic has claimed.

Professor Robert Tombs said that the UK was still deeply divided into left and right, which emerged from the ‘anti-establishment’ breakaway protestant groups in the North and traditional Anglican and Catholic communities in the South.

“British characteristics that we still see, which marks us quite deeply, is the division which really began with Henry VIII and the beginning of the religious divide in England,” Professor Tombs told the Hay Festival.

“It left a division which has never healed and which still marks our deep attitudes.

More here-

Gay marriage will split the Catholic Church

From The Spectator UK-

Ireland, for so long the most overtly Catholic state in Western Europe, has voted for gay marriage by a stupendous margin – 62 per cent. Never before has a country legalised the practice by popular vote.

It would be naive to ask: how could this happen? Hatred of the Church is one of the central features of modern Ireland, thanks not only to the paedophile scandals but also to the joyless quasi-Jansenist character of the Irish Church, which was handed complete control of education in the Free State after partition in 1922. (Many of its priests were outstandingly holy and charitable, but you’ll get your head bitten off if you suggest that in today’s anti-clerical republic.)

Anyway, I don’t want to focus on Ireland. Homosexuality as an issue is a greater threat to the Catholic Church worldwide than the sex abuse scandals. Here’s why:

More here-

Column: Is Christianity Moribund?

 From New Hampshire-

Several days from now, at the invitation of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, I will head to Washington to participate in discussions about intercommunion between Episcopalians and United Methodists. Although I am new to the conversation, these two Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church, have been engaged in these ecumenical negotiations for many years now. In light of a recent survey, however, it is difficult to escape the impression that these two once-powerful religious entities are managing decline, especially in the Twin State area.

The headlines of the Religious Landscape Study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, are striking and, for people of faith, disturbing. The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christians has dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 over the past seven years. During the same period, those who identify as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” has risen from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent. Nearly one in five Americans, 18 percent, were reared Christian but now count themselves either as “nones” or members of another religious tradition.

More here-

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Michael Palin: my seven of the best (Churches)

From The Church Times-

CHURCHES, of one kind or another, have played important roles throughout my life, although, I must admit that I am no longer a devout worshipper, if indeed I ever was.

I remember filming for the Himalaya series at Rawalpindi in Pakistan, in the only brewery in the entire country. There was only one outlet for the products of the Murree Brewery, and that was a hole in the wall at the back of Raffles Hotel on the Grand Trunk Road. Here, liquor could be purchased, but only after I'd filled in a very thorough form: "Mother's Name; Father's Name; Place of Birth; Religion."

As I was on camera I felt I should be scrupulously honest; so I wrote down "Agnostic" and pushed the form towards him. He took one look, shook his head, and pushed it back to me. How could I be more specific? I thought again, and after some deliberation wrote "Agnostic with doubts". I pushed this across to him, he took it quite happily and passed me a large bottle of Murree whisky.

More here-

Former archbishop of Canterbury weighs in on fundamentalist threat

From Toledo-

The Right Rev. and Right Hon. George Carey includes among his passions his wife, Eileen; the Barclays Premier League football club Arsenal; and “certain things such as a peaceful world,” he told The Blade during an interview at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit.

The former archbishop of Canterbury elaborated on obstacles to peace that he sees.

“I really do feel very worried about” what is happening to Christians in the Middle East at the hands of the Islamic State, Lord Carey said. “I think we’re now living in a world more dangerous than ever.”


Detroit area 'Lutherpalians' blend faiths

From Michigan-

On a recent evening, Andrew Seng dressed up in a suit to officially become a Lutheran and an Episcopalian.

The 16-year-old was raised in the township's Advent Episcopal Church, which lost its building and in 2012 started holding services at nearby Sylvan Lake Lutheran. The congregations soon bonded and, in an unusual twist, eventually blended their worship.

After adding another Lutheran flock, parishioners in April voted unanimously to formally combine into a single assembly with full membership in two denominations.

So, the same ceremony at which Seng celebrated his confirmation also toasted the birth of a relative rarity in Metro Detroit: a Lutheran-Episcopal community now called Spirit of Grace Church with about 140 members — one of only four such mixes in the region and about 50 nationwide, church officials said.

More here-

Jon Meacham: Keep the Feast

From The Living Church-

At the largely full St. Jerome’s Church in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, historian and journalist Jon Meacham delivered a commencement address for Nashotah House Theological Seminary’s class of 2015.

Meacham, a proponent of a liberal perspective on same-sex unions, called himself a “diversity appointment” to Nashotah’s board of visitors, which drew laughter. Meacham described how his faith was formed by his years as a student of the University of the South (Sewanee) and a member of Saint Thomas’ Church, Fifth Avenue. He described both Sewanee and Nashotah as “small places devoted to big ideals.”

More here-

Editorial: Questions for the Bishop-Elect (Dallas)

From The Cafe-

The Diocese of Dallas last week elected George Sumner to be their next bishop, effective with his consecration. As with all bishops-elect, consecration cannot take place without consent. Given recent history of some dioceses asserting the right to leave the Episcopal Church, it is imperative that those taking part in the consent process ask Sumner his views on the polity of the Episcopal Church. Specifically, what is his stand on whether dioceses have the unilateral power to leave the Episcopal Church? The reasons Sumner and the Diocese of Dallas are of particular concern are laid out below.

More here-

Friday, May 22, 2015

St. Blasé’s welcomes you!

A little humor from The Living Church-

What follows is a (fictional) transcript between the Rev. Cindy Pendleton-Hokemeier, rector of St. Blasé’s Episcopal Church in General Oaks, KS (a suburb of Kansas City), and Tom Griffith, a writer for the General Oaks Herald. Any resemblance between actual persons and events is entirely coincidental.

Tom Griffith: Rev. Pendleton-Hokemeier, thanks for meeting with me, and congratulations on St. Blasé’s semicentennial celebration. The Herald sent me here to gather some information for the article we’re going to run in a few days.

Cindy Pendleton-Hokemeier: Thank you! We’re very excited about what God is doing in our community.

TG: So, tell me a little bit about your church.

CPH: Well, we’re a diverse, inclusive, and dynamic congregation in the heart of the suburbs. Our mission is to “care for all God’s children through service, justice, and intentional community-building.”

More here-

Civilians in South Sudan without relief as aid-workers stuck in camps

From The Church Times-

KILLINGS, rape, and the razing of houses to the ground are devastating the northern region of South Sudan, as aid agencies withdraw and the UN struggles to secure access.

Eyewitnesses report the targeted rape and killing of civilians, including children. About 100,000 people taking refuge in UN camps at Malakal, Upper Nile State, and Bentiu, Unity State, are now cut off, a spokesman for UNICEF, Jonathan Veitch, said on Tuesday.

"Survivors reported to UNICEF that whole villages were burned to the ground by armed groups while large numbers of girls and women were taken outside to be raped and killed, including children as young as seven," Mr Veitch said. "I don't know why people would do that to children; it's absolutely staggering that it's taking place."

More here-


A Rebuttal to the previous Salon post from Beitbart-

In a recent article in Salon Magazine, pro-abort Patricia Miller can barely control her glee in the numerical decline in the number of Americans professing an affiliation with the Catholic Church, as she imagines a nation where the most vociferous opponent to abortion-on-demand is silenced.

Miller asserts that conservative Catholic bishops have had a disproportionate influence in the culture wars, and she envisions the falling number of Catholics as lessening bishops’ moral authority on such issues as abortion and religious liberty.

The Catholic Church’s American downfall: Why its demographic crisis is great news for the country

From Salon-

The big decline in the number of Catholics may give progressives in the church a critical boost going into this fall’s Synod on the Family, which is part two of the historic meeting of bishops that Pope Francis called to consider reforms like allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. For years, conservatives have pointed to the Catholic Church’s relatively stable numbers during the orthodox papacies of Popes John Paul II and Benedict as evidence that it is conservative policies that will ensure the future of the church. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat famously warned in 2012:

[T]oday the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes. Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. … Practically every denomination—Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian—that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge in church attendance.

More here-

JPMorgan Gets Church’s Trust Mismanagement Claims Thrown Out

From Indianapolis-

JPMorgan Chase & Co. defeated claims that it put its own interests first and mismanaged trust accounts established for an Indianapolis church endowed by the descendants of drug company founder Eli Lilly.

Christ Church Cathedral sued the bank last year, saying it selected unsuitable and poorly performing investments, causing the church trusts to lose $13 million in value from July 2004 to December 2013.

U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney in Indianapolis on Thursday threw out the case, while allowing the Episcopal church to revise and refile some claims within a month. He faulted its lawyers for lumping together disparate JPMorgan units in its court papers and said their allegations lacked specificity.

More here-

St. John’s Episcopal displays symbol of inclusion

From South Carolina-

For the first time, a downtown Charleston church is flying a Gay Pride flag. The intent is to show that St. John’s Episcopal Church is a welcoming community, said church member and Straight and Gay Alliance president Travis Baldwin.

Those walking or driving along Quarrier Street in downtown Charleston may have noticed two new flags fluttering in the breeze at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“One is the official Episcopal flag and the other is the Gay Pride flag,” said Travis Baldwin, church member and president of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA). “St. John’s has always been an inclusive church since the late 1960s.”

He said the flags were the idea of the Rev. Canon Donald Vinson, of the Episcopal Diocese, who previously served as a supply priest for St. John’s and is now retired.

More here-

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Exeter Cathedral facing uncertain future after £12.8m Roman Baths project denied funding

From The UK-

Exeter Cathedral is fighting for its future after it failed to secure multi-million pound funding to uncover the city’s Roman baths.

The £8.7m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid would have seen the first century bath house, buried under the Cathedral Green, excavated and opened to the public.

But the ambitious plans to create a worldwide tourist attraction were dealt a major blow when the funding body decided not to support the project.

The Dean of the Cathedral admitted he was concerned for its future as staff try to maintain the £4,000 a day running costs of the Anglican building.

More here-

A Curious Discovery

From Huffington-

Today, the American government released the list of documents found during the raid on the Pakistani compound in which Osama bin Laden was found and shot. Much of it is predictable: Islamic theology, terrorist manuals, conspiracy theory books and so on. One document is, however, remarkable. It is no less than something entitled "Profiles of Bishops in the Church of England." At this point I could understand you checking the date to make sure that this is not a delayed 1 April blog -- but it isn't.

It's a bit unfortunate really, isn't it? Of all the Christian books and literature that he could have had to read, he ends up with this. But why did the man, who was for so long global Public Enemy Number One, keep this document on his bookshelves? The possibility that one of our bishops is in fact already in the employment of Al Qaeda is, I think, unlikely. All Anglican bishops are specifically chosen on the basis that they will strike terror into no one!

More here-

Anglican mission calls for recognition of seafarers’ role in migrant rescue

From ENS-

The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) have issued a joint press release calling on EU governments to recognize the key role of seafarers in the rescue of migrants at sea.

They have sent a letter to all heads of governments urgently requesting that more resources are mobilized for search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

The Mission to Seafarers, as one of 28 members of ICMA, fully supports this statement.

More here-

'Nones' are 'someones' in vibrant U.S. religious landscape

From Huffington-

The end is not near for religion in America - or elsewhere in the world.

What analysts are trying to divine, however, is the mystery of why more people are indicating "none" when asked their religious affiliation.

Does the evidence fewer people are identifying with specific faith groups herald a long-term loss of religious beliefs?

The debate gained momentum this month with the release of a Pew Research Center survey finding a substantial increase in the number of Americans who do not claim a religious affiliation. A few days earlier, prominent Baylor University scholars addressed the issue in a symposium on "The End of Religion?"

More here-

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Malaysia's Anglican bishop 'no' to same-sex marriages

From News Asia-

The Anglican church here will not allow same-sex marriages to take place on its pre­mises, said newly installed Anglican bishop Melter Jiki.

The 50-year-old bishop, who is the first native Kadazan chosen to lead the 90,000-strong Anglican community in the state, said this when asked about the church's policies and what to expect during his tenure.

"We are totally against the so-called same-sex marriage. We will not allow it in the church," said the father of four who was installed as the sixth Anglican bishop in Sabah on Tuesday.

Some Anglican churches in European countries have accepted gay marriages and even performed the ceremony in their churches.

Bishop Melter said while other Anglican dioceses and provinces decided to ordain women to the priesthood, South-East Asia had not taken the step yet.

"We are not ready for such a move.

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