Monday, February 17, 2020

South Sudan peace talks: Machar and Kiir in deadlock over states

From The BBC-

The two rivals are under increasing international pressure to meet a deadline of 22 February to implement a power-sharing deal.

The US last year warned that it would impose sanctions on anyone working against the peace process.

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, have said they will visit South Sudan once a national unity government is formed.

Mr Machar has long demanded that President Kiir reverse his decision to increase the number of states to 32, seeing it as a way to give positions to presidential loyalists and boost his power base.

On Saturday, the president agreed to return to a system of 10 states and sacked all 32 state governors, raising hopes of an end to the deadlock.

More here-

ACK Archbishop urges government not to relent in the fight against graft

From Kenya-

The  Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit has hailed the progress made in the fight against corruption and urged the head of state and investigation agencies not to relent in the fight against graft.

Speaking at ACK St Paul church in Lodwar on Sunday, ole Sapit said the war on corruption had reached unprecedented levels and urged the institutions mandated to fight the scourge to keep up the war.

“If you see a governor being locked in and hounded out of office because of corruption it means the country is headed in the right direction,” he said.

The clergyman said there should be no sacred cows and anyone found guilty of corruption should carry their own cross.

He said the corrupt must not be made heroes and the nation must guard against introducing language that normalises theft.

More here-

13 Christian leaders criticize Trump policies they fear will increase poverty

From Christian Post-

Thirteen Christian leaders have signed onto a letter speaking out against President Donald Trump’s budget proposal and other administration policies that they say will add to the nation’s poverty and hunger issues. 

The Circle of Protection, a coalition comprised of leaders from various Christian organizations, published an open letter Tuesday calling out “administration actions that affect people in poverty.”

“As leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity, representing church bodies and networks serving more than 100 million Americans, we are concerned about administration action to cut safety net programs that help low-income people,” the letter reads. “The gospel of God’s love for all people moves us to speak together on this issue.”

More here-

Jefferson City church celebrates first black priest, former member

From Missouri-

Grace Episcopal Church on Sunday commemorated the lives of two African Americans whose contributions shaped both the Episcopal Church in general and Grace Episcopal specifically.

Sunday's special service honored Absalom Jones, the first black ordained priest of the Episcopal Church, and Julia Cooper, a former member of Grace Episcopal Church.

Jones, who was disappointed with racism/discrimination at Methodist Church in 1787, founded the Free African Society — a mutual aid society for blacks — with Richard Allen. Jones went on the found the first black Episcopal congregation in 1794, and in 1802, he became the first priest to become ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Mainline Protestant pastors driving support for same-sex marriage: LifeWay study

From Christian Post-

Last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan consecrated its first openly lesbian bishop, the Rev. Bonnie A. Perry. Anna Stania, director of Communications for the diocese, told The Christian Post that Perry’s candidacy received no opposition because of her sexual orientation. “We have experienced an overwhelming outpouring of joy, grace and excitement since her election and consecration.”

The study also indicates that white pastors (27 percent) are more likely to see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage than African American pastors (15 percent) or pastors of other ethnicities (6 percent).

It further suggests that those with a doctorate (27 percent) or a master’s degree (32 percent) are more likely to support same-sex marriage than pastors with a bachelor’s degree (9 percent) or no college degree (6 percent).

The survey results also show that pastors of churches with fewer than 50 in attendance (33 percent) are more likely to support same-sex marriage than those at churches with 100 or more in attendance (19 percent).

More here-

Father Josh: A married Catholic priest in a celibate world

From Dallas-

The priest wakes up at 4 a.m. on the days he celebrates the early Mass, sipping coffee and enjoying the quiet while his young children sleep in rooms awash in stuffed animals and Sesame Street dolls and pictures of saints. Then he kisses his wife goodbye and drives through the empty suburban streets of north Dallas to the church he oversees.

In a Catholic world where debates over clerical celibacy have flared from Brazil to the Vatican, Joshua Whitfield is that rarest of things: A married Catholic priest.

The Roman Catholic church has demanded celibacy of its priests since the Middle Ages, calling it a “spiritual gift” that enables men to devote themselves fully to the church. But as a shortage of priests becomes a crisis in parts of the world, liberal wings in the church have been arguing that it’s time to reassess that stance. On Wednesday, Pope Francis sidestepped the latest debate on celibacy, releasing an eagerly awaited document that avoided any mention of recommendations by Latin American bishops to consider ordaining married men in the Amazon, where believers can go months without seeing a priest.

Even the most liberal of popes have refused to change the tradition.

It is “the mark of a heroic soul and the imperative call to unique and total love for Christ and His Church,” Pope Paul VI wrote in 1967.

More here-

Friday, February 14, 2020

Texas Episcopalians pledge $13M to ‘repair and commence racial healing’

 From Houston-

In what leaders say is an “unprecedented” move, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas this week pledged $13 million for programs aimed at reconciling the effects of slavery.

The new funding will go to “repair and commence racial healing,” leaders said. It will include scholarships focused on historically black churches, leaders said.

“The goal is to support the people of our communities who were actually injured by our past actions,” Rev. C Andrew Doyle, head of the Houston-based diocese, said in a statement.

More here-

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Anglican cleric: ‘Safe, legal abortion’ respects a woman’s right to life

From Barbados-

The church must find ways to “facilitate a respectful and protected space for all members of the society in so far as they do not breach the rights of others in terms of liberty and justice”, and this includes women’s rights to abortion, a senior Anglican cleric in Jamaica said here last night. 

“To deny a woman access to safe and legal abortion is clearly an affront to ethical health practices; respect for self-determination; and most of all, the woman’s right to life,” said the Very Reverend Father Sean Major-Campbell, Dean of Kingston and Rector of Christ Church in Vineyard Town. 

“It seems most appropriate for the woman to be the final decision-maker in the matter since she is the greater burden bearer; since she really bears the challenge alone; since her physical, psychological, and emotional investments would far outweigh that of the father, doctor, pastor, and so on.”

More here-

Anglican leader admits Church of England's racism

From Daily Sabah-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called the Church of England "deeply institutionally racist" and apologized for Britain's treatment of black people and other minorities since World War II.

Anglican clerics adopted a motion late Tuesday seeking forgiveness from the so-called Windrush generation that moved to Britain from former Caribbean colonies since 1948. The mass migration was promoted by the government to help rebuild the U.K. from the ruins of war. Yet none received documents confirming their U.K. citizenship and the Caribbean countries' subsequent independence saw many denied basic rights. Dozens were also wrongly deported in a scandal that rocked the government of former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the highest-ranking cleric in the Anglican communion, told the General Synod there was "no doubt" the Church of England was still "deeply institutionally racist." "We did not do justice in the past, we do not do justice now, and unless we are radical and decisive in this area in the future, we will still be having this conversation in 20 years' time," the archbishop said.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Michigan consecrates its first lesbian bishop

From Christian Post-

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan has consecrated its first openly lesbian bishop, in a move that the liberal mainline regional body is confident will not lead to further large-scale departures from the denomination.

The Rev. Bonnie A. Perry was consecrated as the eleventh bishop of the diocese at a ceremony held Saturday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

Perry had been elected bishop in June of last year on the fifth ballot of the Special Electing Convention held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit. She got the votes of 64 clergy and 118 laity, which surpassed the minimum requirement of 55 clergy and 94 laity, according to Anna Stania, director of Communications for the diocese.

Stania also told The Christian Post that Perry did not experience any opposition to her candidacy because of her sexual orientation or that she is married to someone of the same-sex.

More here-

Monday, February 10, 2020

ACK clergy boycott UK forum over presence of gay leaders

From Kenya-

Some Anglican clergy from Kenya have boycotted the Lambeth Conference in the UK protesting the presence of gay senior church leaders.

Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit says the Church is opposed to homosexuality.

“We are having the Lambeth Conference in the West this year, but some of us have boycotted because of the invitation of practising gay bishops. We can’t be mixed,” he told worshippers yesterday during the consecration of Kerugoya St Thomas Anglican Cathedral in Kirinyaga County.


The conference is usually held after 10 years to discuss theological and social issues that affect the Anglican communion worldwide.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Michigan ordains its first female and openly lesbian bishop

From Michigan-

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan on Saturday ordained and consecrated Dr. Bonnie Perry as its first female and openly lesbian bishop at a ceremony in Dearborn.

Perry said the ceremony was "one of the most intense experiences" of her life, as she was surrounded by clergy and community members who came to welcome her into the diocese.

She said she wants to help all communities and people feel at home.

"For me, it's about full inclusion for all people -- straight, gay, bi, trans, gender fluid -- this is about everyone, all are welcome," Perry said. "Every time you exclude someone you exclude the possibility of change and transformation."

Perry received 64 clergy votes and 118 lay votes to be elected bishop; she needed a minimum of 55 clergy votes and 94 lay votes. All the candidates up for the position of bishop were women, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. The diocese was formed in 1836.

More here- 

and here-

Saturday, February 8, 2020

St. John's Episcopal Church begins allowing same-sex marriages

From Florida-

Gay couples attending St. John's Episcopal Church can now marry within the church after the local congregation's vestry released its decision recently allowing the change.

For the past year, a consultation group of nine long-time parishioners at St. John's met to discuss the change through a process of "prayerful discernment," explained rector Dave Killeen, who has been at St. John's for the past decade.

The consultation group then advised the vestry, which ultimately made the decision to allow same-sex marriages at the congregation.

"We want to do our very best to care for God's people at St. John's," Killeen told the Democrat. "All couples will be treated equally... We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable and has a place here at St. John's — that they know they are loved and valued."

At its 2015 general convention, the Episcopal Church approved same-sex marriage ceremonies in the church. It also redefined its canonical language for marriage to gender-neutral terms.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Michigan prepares to consecrate first woman, lesbian bishop

From Michigan-

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan will get a new leader this weekend, and it will be a historic event on two fronts.

The Reverend Bonnie Perry will be consecrated as bishop at a ceremony in Dearborn on Saturday. She will become the first woman and first openly-LGBTQ person to lead the diocese, which covers 77 Episcopal congregations in southeast Michigan.

Perry has been an ordained Episcopal priest and deacon since 1990. She comes to Michigan from Chicago, where she has led the All Saints’ congregation for 27 years. She was elected bishop of the Michigan diocese in June 2019.

“This was the diocese that I wanted to come to,” Perry said on Friday at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit, where she will be based. “There is a justice, social justice legacy here that I wanted to build on. I loved the interplay between suburbs and urban, and wealth and despair. All of that seemed completely compelling to me.”

More here- 

and here-

Friday, February 7, 2020

Stolen baby Jesus statue makes his valiant return to St. Paul's by-the-Sea

From Oregon-

It was a year ago in December that a mysterious person was caught on security footage stealing the baby Jesus figure from St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church’s annual Nativity installation.

But this past Sunday, Father Matthew D’Amario said before the service began, “I declare this baby Jesus statue restored to the use for which it has been dedicated and consecrated.”

The church, located on Third Street and Baltimore Avenue, puts up the manger scene around Christmas in tandem with the Ocean City light show. But goodwill apparently was in short supply in December 2018, as the infant went missing.

“We have plastic in front of the scene to protect the blow-up plastic figures in the manger,” D’Amario said. “We realized in late December, after Christmas, that the baby Jesus in the manger was gone.”

More here-

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Gunmen attack Anambra church, bishop alleges threat to life

From Nigeria-

Gunmen, on Tuesday, attacked the Cathedral Church of St Michael’s, Umuikwu Anam, in the Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The Anglican Bishop of the Mbamili Diocese, Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke, disclosed this to journalists on Wednesday.

He also alleged threat to his life and those of other clerics in the diocese.

“There were shootings on Tuesday by the hoodlums, who stormed the church to pull down the ongoing cathedral building of the Diocese of Mbamili,” Okeke stated.

The bishop said he had sent a Save-our-Soul message to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on the development.

More here-

Sandy Springs worshipping community closes but church remains open

From Atlanta-

A Sandy Springs church has ceased services for its worshipping community, but the church itself has not closed yet.

Highpoint Episcopal Community Church hosted its last service Jan. 12, and though its membership had been on the rise, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta decided to stop services there because the worship community was no longer financially viable.

Rev. Lang Lowery, the church’s canon, said Episcopal churches are categorized as a mission, parish or worshipping community, with the last designation meaning the congregation had relinquished self-governance to the diocese because of its finances.

More here-

Trinity Episcopal Church Gains National Recognition

From St. Louis-

Trinity Episcopal Church is receiving national recognition for its contributions to LGBTQ history in St. Louis. 

The Central West End church became the first and only site in Missouri and the Episcopal Church to be named on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the LGBTQ community.

The church became an early supporter of gay rights and LGBTQ parishoners in 1960s and people living with AIDS in the 1980s. Trinity was ahead of the game, said the Rev. Jon Stratton, the rector at the church.

“We were inclusive far before the national church was,” Stratton said. “We have been a place of welcome for the LGBTQ community for well over 50 years. Which again was not a typical thing in churches and wasn’t really even typical within the Episcopal Church going that far back.”

More here-

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Should the United Methodist Church Split over Same-Sex Marriage?

From Anxious Bench-

I am not a Methodist—well, not anymore. I grew up in the United Methodist Church (UMC), but have been a member of various other denominations since my college years. So the current debates within the United Methodist Church are not my fight. But they do interest me, both because of my religious history and because I am a religious historian.

Most mainline American Protestant denominations have liberalized their stance on same-sex relationships in recent years. The Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the American Baptist Churches, USA (ABCUSA), and the Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA), among others, now preside over same-sex marriages and ordain ministers in same-sex relationships. The United Methodist Church, by contrast, retained its traditional stance barring both of those practices longer than other mainline denominations.

More here-

Anglican bishop’s son denied asylum, deported back to El Salvador

From Christian Post-

The son of an Anglican bishop in El Salvador who fled his native country for the U.S. following death threats from a gang was recently deported, according to his father.

Josue Alvarado Guerra, the 34-year-old son of Bishop David Alvarado of the Diocese of El Salvador, was deported back home after being detained in Ohio by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last November. He had been in the U.S. since October 2016 and worked as an undocumented day laborer. 

Bishop Alvarado sent a letter to Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. confirming that his son was back home, according to Episcopal News Service.

“We thank the God of life for allowing us to have Josue back in our house and share with him the difficult experiences he lived in detention,” wrote Alvarado, according to ENS.

More here-

Diocese of Chicago and Episcopal Church reach settlement with ACNA Diocese of Quincy

From ENS-

The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and The Episcopal Church have reached a settlement with the Diocese of Quincy in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and 15 parishes and missions in that diocese over real property, other assets and church records that were part of the former Episcopal Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church in 2008.

The settlement, the terms of which are confidential, includes property at issue in a suit filed in 2013 in a circuit court in Peoria.

“I give thanks for your perseverance and courage through the past eleven years, and I am grateful that this settlement will benefit God’s mission in the Peoria Deanery for many years to come,” Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee of Chicago wrote in a letter to the people of the deanery. “Participating in your ministry has been one of the great joys of my time as bishop of Chicago, and I continue to rejoice at your commitment to our beloved Episcopal Church and the communities and people you serve,” added Lee, who will retire in August.

More here-

Monday, February 3, 2020

Church of England apologizes for saying only married straight people should have sex

From Christian Post-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York
John Sentamu have apologized for a decree issued by the Church of England which said that only heterosexual married couples should have sex and that sex in gay or straight civil partnerships “falls short of God’s purpose for human beings.”

“We as Archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologize and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust,” the archbishops said in a statement, according to Belfast Telegraph. “We are very sorry and recognize the division and hurt this has caused.”

The House of Bishops of the Church of England last week issued a pastoral guidance, which said, “For Christians, marriage — that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows — remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

More here-

Interfaith Partnership For Refugee Resettlement: Finding New Homes, Building Safer Lives

From Connecticut-

While IPRR was born by members of Trinity Episcopal Church and Newtown Congregational Church, it has since gained representatives from Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Baha’i Community, Congregation Adath Israel, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, among other local houses of worship.

The project is open, however, Mr Chamiec-Case told The Newtown Bee in August 2016, to “anyone who wants to participate. While we have been organized by faith communities, we are not restrictive.”

The first family settled by IPRR, a family of six, arrived in November 2017 from Tanzania. The second family — a mother and her two sons, who had spent 22 years in a Rwandan refugee camp — arrived in mid-2018.

IPRR arranged for housing for each family, and helped furnish each apartment. Volunteers also drove family members to school, or work, or appointments, until at least one member obtained a driver’s license.

More here-

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Church of England launches first global index aligned to the Paris accord in push to address ‘climate emergency’

From Ontario-

The Church of England Pension Board, overseer of the £2.8bn retirement savings pot for the Anglican clergy, will on Thursday launch a passive index aligned with the Paris climate goals on the London Stock Exchange.

The church will invest an initial £600m in the FTSE TPI Climate Transition Index which follows calls from Mark Carney, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, for pension funds to tackle the financial risk of climate change.

Through its £12bn endowment and investment funds, the Church of England has become a powerful international advocate for sustainable investment and better governance standards. It immediately sold its shares in Brazilian miner Vale after a dam collapse in Brazil that killed more than 200 people, while also ridding its investment portfolio of thermal coal and tar sands.
Starting in 2023, the church will also sell shares in other fossil fuel companies that are slow to respond to global warming.

More here-

Islamic extremists hack 36 to death with machetes, including Christian pastor in DRC

From Christian Post (Congo)-

Suspected Islamist militants hacked to death over 30 people, including an Anglican pastor, in overnight attacks on villages in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Tuesday, four villages were raided by the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist group, in the west of Beni territory, Reuters reports. The rebel group has its origins in Uganda but is now based in DR Congo's Beni region.

Beni Governor Donat Kibwana told AFP that members of the terrorist group hacked all victims to death with machetes. In total, 36 individuals were killed, including an Anglican pastor. 
The main attack took place in Manzingi, a village northwest from Oicha, while the pastor was killed in the village of Eringeti. 

More here-

CoE Archbishops: Sorry for saying sex is only for married heterosexuals

From Episcopal Cafe-

Thursday evening, Archbishops Welby and Sentamu issued an apology of sorts for the timing of the recent statement on sex outside heterosexual marriage. That statement, however, was not withdrawn. The timing has drawn criticism because it came during a review of the C of E’s position on sexuality – a review forced upon Welby by General Synod against a similar statement.

The Church Times reports:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have apologised for the release of last week’s pastoral statement on civil partnerships, acknowledging that it “jeopardised trust”. The statement will not be withdrawn, however, after the College of Bishops voted against a proposal to do so. Issued on Thursday evening, at the end of a two-day meeting of the College, the Archbishops’ statement recognised “the division and hurt” the statement had caused.

More here-

Rector 'delighted' to stay: Evan Garner looks forward to serving St. Paul's

From Arkansas-

Evan Garner didn't get the job -- and, he says, he is "more than OK with it. I am delighted."

The Rev. Glenda Curry, rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Homewood and former president of Troy University in Montgomery, was recently elected to succeed the current bishop of Alabama, who is retiring. But Garner, who is rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, was on the short list of nominees for the position. Having just moved to Fayetteville when the Rev. Lowell Grisham retired, he wasn't ready to move on.

"When they asked me why I wanted the job, I told them plainly that I didn't," he says of the interview process in Alabama. "I didn't want to be a bishop, and I didn't want to give up the fruitful ministry that I enjoyed here.

More here-

Friday, January 31, 2020

Anglican Bishop Ruwona back in court

From Zimbabwe-

Manicaland Diocese Anglican Bishop, Eric Ruwona, appeared in court on Wednesday for routine remand on fraud charges involving US$700 000 which he, together with three accomplices, allegedly siphoned from church coffers.

He will be back in court again on February 24 when the court is expected to furnish him with a trial date.

Ruwona, who is denying the charges, is out on $15 000 bail.

As part ot the bail conditions he was ordered to report once every Friday at Mutare Central Police Station and not to interfere with State witnesses.

The presiding magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe, also ordered him to continue residing at No. 1 Oak Road, Murambi.

Allegations were that the bishop and his three accomplices, who are still at large, hatched a plan to defraud the diocese.

More here-

In Good Faith: Being starstruck is something to be embraced

From Oregon-

Have you ever been starstruck? I remember one year when I was a kid, my father took me to Carnegie Hall for a concert featuring a narration by the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame first baseman Willie Stargell. Being in the music business himself, he knew the conductor and I went that evening with the promise, or at least the hope, that I’d be able to go backstage afterwards to meet this baseball legend. 

I lived for baseball back then. I knew all the stats and all the players’ uniform numbers. Being from Baltimore, I certainly wasn’t a Pirates fan, a team that had beaten the Orioles in the World Series twice in the 1970s.

But still, I was so excited to meet a true superstar, and I even brought one of Willie Stargell’s baseball cards, hoping that he might sign it. My brother still laughs at the sight of me standing before this giant of a man, staring up with eyes wide open, haltingly asking “Mr. Stargell” to please sign an autograph, and then watching me drop the card, not once but twice. He graciously signed it for me, but from a dignity standpoint, this was not my finest hour. 

More here-

Christ Church Episcopal: Weaving the spiritual and social fabric of the community for 200 years

From Greenville S.C.-

“They found it! They found it!” Rector Harrison McLeod rushes into his office at Christ Church Episcopal. “The cornerstone looks like every piece of vertical granite, so it was hiding in plain sight,” he says. “We’re going to dig it up this afternoon for Sunday’s celebration.”

Work crews had located the sacred cornerstone just in time to kick off the first of the church’s bicentennial celebrations that will run through 2020.

To thumb through the archives of Christ Church is to hold South Carolina history in your hands. Diplomat Joel Poinsett, businessman and benefactor Vardry McBee, U.S. Sen. Joseph Earle all have ties to the oldest church in the city of Greenville. For centuries, promises and programs presented from the religious center’s pulpit have canvassed the community, casting a hue upon all that has been as colorful as the nave’s great Ascension window.

More here-