Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What is marriage now?

From The Christian Century-

Amid endless debates concerning same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, one biblical passage is often curiously absent. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul reflects on the merits of married and single life. If unmarried persons struggle with sexual self-control, he says, they should marry, “for it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”

The King James Version translates Paul’s sentiment more bluntly: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Wide embarrassment on all sides no doubt accounts for neglect of this passage—but also makes it an unexpected resource. If no side owns it, the passage may offer a rare place to meet for fresh discernment. If no one likes the passage, its very neglect might offer an unexpected way out of our impasse.

More here-


Anglican Bishop Preaches Detribalised Nigeria

From Nigeria-

The Bishop of Abuja, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, has called for a united and detribalised Nigeria for the nation to grow and developed to its desired height in the face of the challenges confronting it.

Okoh, the Archbishop of Abuja and Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), made this call during the official flag-off of the 25th anniversary celebration of the church.

He said that the challenges affecting the nation, which is currently affecting the church is the issue of tribalism and the absence of unity.

More here-


7 lessons from the Vatican’s wild and crazy Synod on the Family

From RNS via Salt Lake-

Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders wrapped up their two-week Vatican summit on the challenges of modern family life Sunday without reaching a consensus on a number of hot-button topics. So where does that leave Francis’ papacy? And the church?

Here are seven takeaways:

More here-


Hope For General Theological Seminary As Board Will Consider Rehiring Faculty

From Huffington-

The embattled General Theological Seminary will keep its controversial dean and has offered to negotiate employment possibilities with the majority of its faculty who quit teaching classes and were subsequently fired. One trustee has resigned over the board’s decision.

Last month, eight full-time professors quit teaching classes and attending official seminary meetings or chapel services until they could sit down with the seminary board to discuss concerns about the seminary’s dean, the Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle.

The seminary board accepted the resignations of the faculty, which the professors said they had never offered. The dispute left the flagship Episcopal seminary scrambling to find teachers for its classes.

More here-


Thieves steal pews, altar from two Chesterfield churches

From Virginia-

An altar, several pews, a bishop's char and a candle holder were all stolen from two Chesterfield churches in the past month. Police say the crimes amount to about $6,000 in stolen items.

Police are searching for the thieves and trying to determine whether the two cases are related.

Thieves hit St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Iron Bridge Road on September 28 and stole several items, including the bishop's chair and several church pews, according to Chesterfield Police.

 "It was the sense of violation that you know, is so difficult," Father Ray Nelson of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church said of the crime, also pointing out it had to be more than one person, because the items were so heavy.

More here-


Monday, October 20, 2014

Baghdad pastor visits Tacoma, faults US policy and implores church to help Iraq’s Christians

From Olympia-

A summer of bloody persecution has left Iraq’s diminished Christian community “a million times worse” than it was under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, said a minister known as the vicar of Baghdad during a visit to Tacoma on Sunday.

“I think it could be one of the worst persecutions of Christians in history,” Canon Andrew White said at Tacoma’s Life Center church.

Read more here:


Pope Francis starts Pope Paul VI on path to sainthood

From The Week-

Pope Francis marked the end of a spirited gathering of Catholic bishops in Rome by beatifying the pope who started the Synod of Bishops, Paul VI. Pope Paul VI, elected in 1963, presided over the last part of the Vatican II council and over his 15-year reign implemented many of its momentous reforms to the Catholic Church. He is not as popular as either Pope John XXIII, who launched Vatican II, or Pope John Paul II, both of whom Francis canonized earlier this year.

You need one miracle for beatification — the first step toward possible sainthood — and the one attributed to Paul VI was the survival of a California boy (now a healthy teenager) who was supposed to have been born with serious birth defects.

More here-


Episcopal leader takes time for tiny congregation

From Western Kansas-

Sunlight washed across the living room of the A-frame house Sunday morning.

The savory aroma of a simmering pork roast added to the festive atmosphere as a small group sang and prayed together. Some sat on folding chairs; others sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a sofa.

On this sleepy morning a passerby on Kingman Avenue would have no idea worshiping inside the home was the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori.

More here-


Bp Dietsche of NY issues statement on GTS, calls for reinstatement of faculty

From The Cafe-

This statement was sent as an email to the Diocese this morning

Sunday, October 19, 2014
My brothers and sisters,

I write to you following the resolutions of the Board of Trustees of General Seminary on Friday regarding the continuing conflict involving the seminary dean and the majority of the faculty. I believe that you have a right to know my thoughts and convictions on this matter.

More here-


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Church Vanishes

From Patheos- Philip Jenkins-

I’m doing a little math, and the consequences are troubling.

My own Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) just released its annual statistics, showing a rate of decline that would be truly amazing if it were at all unexpected. Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) fell by 2.6 percent. Those percentages may not sound like much, until you realize that these are figures for a single year, and they closely echo the percentage drops for several preceding years. (I discussed these broader trends at this site back in 2012). The report received a “nothing special” headline at Episcopal Cafe, “Rate of decline in Sunday attendance little changed from recent years.”

But here’s my mathematical point. Obviously, those rates are not going to carry on year after year, precisely as in the past decade or so. Sometimes they will be lower than that, sometimes higher. But for the sake of argument, assume that the rates for recent years do continue more or less unchecked.

Read more:


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why is the Catholic Church cannibalising the Book of Common Prayer?

From The Telegraph-

I’ve always felt sympathetic to foreigners on holiday in England who come across a church advertising Mass and displaying crucifixes and statues inside. When they discover later that they have been at a service of the Church of England, not of the Roman Catholic Church, they are puzzled and confused.

So what would you think if you went into a church and heard the clergyman begin: “God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit…”?

If you said it was an early part of the Anglican service of Holy Communion, you’d be right. But I’ve just been looking at a new service booklet with the Order of Mass according to the Use of the Ordinariate. It begins with that prayer, yet it is a Roman Catholic liturgy. Instead of bells-and-smells Anglicans stealing the Catholics’ clothes, as it were, we have Catholics (Roman Catholics) cannibalising the Book of Common Prayer.

More here-


Hundreds sign worker justice petition to Episcopal Presiding Bishop

From Ekklesia-

Within a few hours over 550 people have already signed a petition to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, calling for reinstatement of eight fired seminary professors.

The move follows the intransigence of the Board of Trustees of General Theological Seminary in New York, a flagship Episcopal institution, over their sacking of most of the GTS faculty for a protest and work stoppage concerning allegations of abuse and a hostile work environment against the Dean and President.

The Board has dismissed the allegations against the Dean through a private investigation involving an outside lawyer, but have ignored or bypassed due process and the procedures set out in the Seminary's own handbook, say supporters of the dismissed professors.

More here-


General Seminary trustees issue statement

From ENS-

 On October 17, 2014, The General Theological Seminary issues this statement:

“Shaping the future leaders of our Church is a responsibility we take very seriously; to that end, the concerns raised by eight members of the Faculty were given full consideration by both the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. Our chief goal is a fruitful and fulfilling school year for our students.

“We are above all an institution of the Church, and we – both as individuals and as officials of the Seminary – strive to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting our guiding Christian principles. In this spirit, the Board has reviewed the findings of an independent investigation and reached three resolutions.

More here-


Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, former Episcopal leader, dies at 69

From The Boston Globe-

Soft-spoken and clad in a subdued black robe of his monastic order, the Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw seemed an unlikely choice in 1994 to lead one of the largest Episcopal dioceses in the nation. Yet his unswerving devotion to spirituality and his unwillingness to avoid political controversy turned him into one of the most visible and vocal religious leaders of his time.

“Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to do the will of God,” Bishop Shaw told the Globe two years into his 20-year tenure as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

More here-


Friday, October 17, 2014

Pray for us, say Bermuda Anglicans

From Bermuda-

Anglicans around the world have been asked to pray for Bermuda as it braces for Hurricane Gonzalo.

The call went out today from Bermuda’s Anglicans while the Island still deals with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fay.

Fay’s 100mph winds caused flooding from sea swell in coastal areas. They also left many roads impassable because of fallen trees, and left most people without electricity, cellphone coverage or access to the Internet.

The storm caused no fatalities, although there were numerous injuries as windows and doors blew out under the pressure of the wind. However, Bermuda is now facing a much bigger potential danger in Gonzalo, which has become a Category 4 hurricane and is predicted to make a direct hit on Bermuda on Friday morning with wind speeds in excess of 130mph.

More here-


Bishops call for Ebola focus to be on overseas care

From The Church Times-

THE scale of the suffering in West Africa should be in the forefront of people's minds when considering the Ebola virus, not the fear of a small outbreak in the UK, two C of E bishops have said.

Their words came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the number of dead had reached 4447. Anthony Banbury, Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, told a special session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that, unless more concerted action was taken against the disease, the world would "face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan".

The Government this week introduced a much criticised system for screening passengers returning to the UK from West Africa, at a cost of £9 million.

More here-


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Justin Welby: what should we do about ISIS?

From Prospect Magazine-

One hundred years ago, the first casualty reports from the Battle of Mons were received. Although the war had been declared on 4th August, the first British casualty was on the 21st. He is buried opposite the last one, who fell in the same area four years and millions of dead later.

The front line was back where it had started. I saw their graves at the service in August to remember the outbreak of the war at the St Symphorien cemetery in Belgium. Seventeen-year-old John Parr lay near 40-year-old George Elison, who had also fought at Mons in 1914, served in all the major battles of the war and was killed a few minutes before the armistice. Laid to rest together by chance, their graves seemed to cry out against the miscalculations and stupidities that led to more than 10m deaths in those years.

More here-


Hong Kong Anglican Archbishop Calls for 'Dialogue' to Resolve Political Crisis

From Christian Post-

The leader of the Anglican Church of Hong Kong has issued a statement calling for "dialogue" between pro-democracy protestors and government officials.

Archbishop Paul Kwong issued the statement Tuesday where he said that he was "saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict."

"In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening," stated Kwong.

"Our clergy and laity, and all people in Hong Kong share the gravity of the situation, and acknowledge the present ordeal as an extraordinarily difficult time of trial. We will face a situation of deep internal conflict and division for a long time to come."

More here-


Local churches monitoring Ebola situation

From Philadelphia-

Catholics consider the bread and wine to be turned into the body and blood of Christ during Mass. While some parishes allow communicants to sip from the chalice, parishioners at Mount Carmel who want to receive Holy communion in the form of wine as well as bread take it by intinction, where the bread is dipped into the wine.

“We don’t do it from the cup, we feel there is too much possibility of the communication of disease,” Hagan said.

Bishop Clifton Daniel of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania issued this statement about the Ebola situation: “The Episcopal Church is committed to the well-being of all people. The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania does not perceive an immediate threat to our community at this time. Because of this we will continue to celebrate the Eucharist and worship as we normally do and invite people to join us. We continue to pray for those affected by the outbreak of Ebola and lift them up in our hearts and prayers.

More here-


Churches host national conference on healing in Titusville

From Florida-

Father Rob Goodridge has seen the flow of pain from sickness up close, from the bodies wracked with cancer to once limber men reduced to wheelchairs because of back pain. And in each case the spiritual leader of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Titusville has turned to an ancient formula of laying on of hands and anointing with oil as symbolic gestures of the soul-healing power of faith.

"It's healing of the body, mind and spirit," Goodridge says. "But what is greater is that people come to know Jesus, often in a new way. What you find is that people don't need him when things are going great but then, when things are broken, that's when we cry out."

More here-


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City subpoenas pastors' sermons in equal rights ordinance case

From Houston-

Houston's embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case's discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession."

More here-


Welby praises 'long overdue' move as House of Lords approves women bishops

From Christian Today-

The House of Lords yesterday approved plans to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The proposal was passed by the General Synod in July but required the consent of Parliament. It is expected to be agreed in the House of Commons next week.

In his speech before peers, Archbishop Justin Welby commended the proposal as "a change of historical significance".

More here-


Thousands back call for reinstatement of 'GTS Eight'

From Ekklesia-(with link to the petition)

A petition calling for the reinstatement of eight sacked faculty members at General Theological Seminary in New York is receiving huge support.

Over a thousand people have signed the petition in just 48 hours.

Supporters have urged as many signatories as possible before a meeting between the seminary board of trustees and the professors scheduled for Thursday 16 October. Former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the meeting, it has been announced.

In addition, some 1,200 academics have now pledged not to work with GTS until the situation is resolved (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20931), over 1,000 people are involved with an online-support group and several hundred are involved with the reinstatement campaign through Twitter (@safeseminary and @Reinst8GTS8)

More here-


On the Clock: General Theological Seminary and the Fate of Protestantism

From Patheos-

In conversations with my students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, I’ve been asked, “Why does the crisis at The General Theological Seminary matter?  Doesn’t The Episcopal Church have too many seminaries anyway?”  The answer, of course, is, “Yes, it does.”

Even if the in-coming class of seminary freshmen in The Episcopal Church was divided by the number of seminaries that the church has and those students were then assigned in equal numbers to the church’s schools, that strategy could not possibly guarantee the future of theological education at each of those locations.  And even though no institution of higher education can be sustained by tuition alone, none of our seminaries have the kind of endowment that would make the math work.

Read more:


From church triumphant to ‘least of these’

From The Washington Post-

News articles about turmoil at General Theological Seminary had immediate impact on those of us who attended Episcopal seminaries.

But the news “went viral” far beyond that small coterie and for reasons beyond nostalgia.

For one thing, it’s a juicy soap opera. Faculty playing hardball, then finding themselves unemployed. A dean pushing back, then losing credibility as word about him spread. A board looking confused and high-handed. Students wondering if they, too, should go on strike.

More here-


Southeast Florida diocese announces 5 nominees for bishop coadjutor

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida has announced its slate of nominees for bishop coadjutor of the diocese. The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee, which was tasked with leading the process, which began seven months ago.

The nominees are:

The Rev. Michael J. Battle, vicar, St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina;

The Very Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, rector, St. Peter’s in the Woods Episcopal Church, Fairfax Station, Virginia;

The Very Rev. Peter Eaton, dean, St. John’s Cathedral, Denver, Colorado;

The Rev. John C. N. Hall, rector, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, Sarasota, Florida; and

The Rev. Allen F. Robinson, rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

Detailed information about each nominee can be found online here.

More here-


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A fictional forerunner of Pope Francis?

From Los Angeles Times-

The bishop declines to move into his official residence, which he considers “hopelessly antiquated.” He disdains “velvet and brocade and gilt cherubs with paint peeling off their backsides.” He inveighs against “formalism, feudalism, reaction, old men following old ways because the old ways seem safer and they are unprepared for the new.”

“I believe that the church in this country is in drastic need of reform,” he tells a fellow priest. “I think we have too many saints and not enough sanctity, too many cults and not enough catechism, too many medals and not enough medicine, too many churches and not enough schools .…. Our clergy are undereducated and insecure, yet we rail against anti-clericalism and communists. A tree is known by its fruits — and I believe that it is better to proclaim a new deal in social justice than a new attribute of the Blessed Virgin.”

More here-


Former Presiding Bishop Griswold to facilitate GTS Faculty/Trustees meeting

More from the Cafe-

Former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the Oct. 16 meeting between trustees of the General Theological Seminary and eight professors whose employment is at the core of the dispute involving complaints about the conduct of the school’s dean and president.

The General trustees agreed Oct. 13 during a teleconference to have the facilitated discussion with the aim of achieving greater clarity, understanding, and reconciliation, according to trustee Chair Bishop Mark Sisk (retired of New York).

A meeting between trustees and the professors was already scheduled for Oct. 16. The addition of a facilitator is a new development, one apparently suggested by the eight professors and agreed to by the board. The board asked Griswold to fill that role.

More here-


Rate of decline in Sunday attendance little changed from recent years

From The Cafe-

The 2013 statistical totals for the Episcopal Church are now posted at the Research and Statistics site and the General Convention site.

The table, Episcopal Domestic Fast Facts Trends: 2009-2013 shows a -2.6% change 2012-2013 in average Sunday attendance (ASA), little different from the -2.7% change 2011-2012.

Median ASA across all domestic congregation was 61 in 2013. In 2009 the median 66 and has fallen or held steady each year since. 60% of congregations in 2013 had an ASA of 200 or less. This percentage has varied very little over the last five years.

Though pledge and plate grew 0.8 percent 2012-2013, the U.S. inflation rate was 1.5 percent in 2013.

More here-


Anglican Church provides land for Ebola fight

From Sierra Leon-

Ola During Children’s Hospital in the East End of Freetown can now boast of a well-spacious Ebola Isolation Unit outside its hospital premise, following the gratis provision of a portion of land measuring 0.5 acres within Bishop’s Court at Fourah Bah Road, east of Freetown.

The Anglican Church provided the land for the construction of a temporary Holding Unit in the period of Ebola crisis, after which, from a Memorandum of Understanding signed, should be demolished and handed back to the church’s authority.

More here-