Saturday, November 22, 2014

St. Alban’s officially opens outreach center

From Texas-

 Ella Evans, 6, had been using the new Reed Outreach Center at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and School even before it officially opened on Friday.

Friday morning, about 450 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center, located at 1417 E. Austin St.

The center is equipped with a rock wall, a stage and an audio-video system for recording school plays. The church will use it for church events including picnics and youth group activities as well as hosting and mission trips.

The opening coincided with the school’s celebration of Grandparents Day.

More here-

Bishops Endorse Ex-Episcopalian and Champion of the Poor Fr. Paul Wattson for Sainthood

From Aleteia-

Grace works in strange ways. The path to sainthood of Fr. Paul Wattson, whose cause for beatification was endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops last week, may have begun with a practical joke one fateful day in 1844.

On that day Wattson’s father, Joseph Wattson, was kicked out of an Anglican seminary for joking that he was secretly a Jesuit.

The General Theological Seminary in New York City was cracking down on anything that smacked of  “Popery,” including the reading of the extremely popular tracts of John Henry Newman, which called for a return to the more liturgical traditions of the past.

More here-

Friday, November 21, 2014

Praying for time

From The Economist-

MID sighs of relief from the many, and muffled groans from the few, the Church of England on November 17th at last approved the appointment of women bishops. At a meeting of the church’s General Synod, only around 30 of the 480 people present raised their hands against the necessary change in canon law. A woman could be wearing episcopal purple by next year.

This was a big, but expected, landmark. The change was favoured by most of the church’s leadership, the clergy (one-third of which is female), and public opinion. If this week is remembered as an important one by historians, it may be for a different reason: it was the moment when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, acknowledged that the Anglican Communion, the global family of churches with a membership of about 80m, of which he is head, may be impossible to hold together.

More here-

‘New phase’ as Synod vote goes through

From The Church Times-

CLEARING the last legal hurdle to enable women to become bishops has started "a completely new phase of our existence as the Church", the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Speaking on Monday after the General Synod had formally voted to enact the women bishops Measure into law, Archbishop Welby said that, although the process had taken "a very, very long time", he was pleased that bishops could now be chosen on the basis of their abilities without regard to gender.

He also said that work had already begun to help the Church adjust to this development: "We are working very hard on the training and development of people, men and women, for senior positions in the Church."

More here-

What Bishop Frade May Have Meant When He Called President Obama A Sodomite

From Miami-

Miami's downtrodden, disenfranchised and undocumented probably have no greater friend than Bishop Leopold Frade, spiritual leader of Southeast Florida's 33,000 Episcopalians.

The Cuba-born clergyman -- once the Bishop of Honduras -- authorized the South Florida diocese's first same-sex wedding in 2012. Five years before that, he demanded that the Bush Administration give protected status to 101 Haitians refugees who had washed ashore in South Florida after a three-week ordeal at sea. Even earlier, he was convicted of trading with the enemy for helping Cuban refugees make it to Florida after the Mariel boatlift (the conviction later was overturned).

More here-

Pastors opposed to same-sex marriage vow not to participate in any civil ceremonies

From The Washington Post-

What’s the surest way conservative pastors can avoid any government mandate to perform same-sex marriages? According to one prominent religious journal and a growing number of ministers, the answer is not to perform any civil marriages at all.

First Things, a conservative religious publication, has launched a movement encouraging pastors to refuse to perform marriages as representatives of the state. A signing statement called “The Marriage Pledge” has been posted to the journal’s website, where ministers can affix their names electronically. The pledge was drafted by Ephraim Radner, an ordained Anglican and professor of historical theology at Toronto School of Theology’s Wycliffe College, and Christopher Seitz, an ordained Episcopal priest and senior research professor at Wycliffe.

More here-

Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for Liberia, West Africa

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe the Second Sunday in Advent, December 7, as a day of prayer for those in the Diocese of Liberia and the entire Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, areas heavily affected by the current Ebola pandemic.

“The Diocese of Liberia was founded by Episcopalians in 1836, and was a diocese of The Episcopal Church until the early 1980s, when it joined the Province of West Africa,” noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. “Today we continue in a covenant relationship of mutual support and fellowship.”
She continued, “Liberia is at the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak, and Episcopalians have turned Cuttington University (Suakoku) into a center for response in rural northern Liberia.  

The Anglican Province of West Africa includes all three nations (Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) where the pandemic continues to develop.  The suffering and death is enormous, the economy is devastated, schools are closed, yet the caring and compassionate response continues.”

More here-

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Three Rivers Episcopal is taking a vacation for a couple of weeks.

If you're looking for a Christmas gift idea "A Dog in the Manger" is being released later this week. Its a collection of Christmas stories I wrote and told on Christmas Eves past.

Manfred Fischer, pastor of the Berlin Wall

From The Post-Gazette-

As people the world over celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, it is worth remembering the man who fought to preserve it.

Born in 1948 to a mother who cleaned the houses of American military officers, Manfred Fischer spent his childhood in Frankfurt am Main, in the heart of what would become West Germany. He arrived in Berlin in the late 1960s to find a city divided by the notorious wall that would later become a central character in his life’s work.

After finishing his theological studies in the early 1970s, Pastor Fischer had his pick of a half-dozen parishes. He chose to serve the Church of the Reconciliation, the only one in Berlin bisected by the wall. He tended to his flock as East German guards with shoot-to-kill orders used the church bell tower overhead to dissuade potential escapees.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in Church

From Relevant-

What Millennials want out of church” is a pretty difficult question to answer, but a synopsis might be summed up as “a church that’s like (streaming music service) Pandora, that could also act as a spiritual guide and confidant.”

A study just released by church stats experts The Barna Group found that millennials (defined here as those between the ages of 14 and 30) are nothing if not hard to nail down.

The Building Matters

For the current generation of young adults, getting into the parking lot doesn’t mean that actual church attendance will happen. “Visual clarity” is a very big deal to millennials, and the study found that when things got confusing, whether it was where to go to find the sanctuary, or how to take part in rituals in traditional services, visitors would simply leave rather than try to find the answer.

Read more at 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Q&A: Billy Graham biographer talks about impact of Charlotte-born evangelist

From Charlotte NC-

Q Some Anglican publications have picked up something else that’s new with your book. Apparently, Billy Graham, you write, said that if he had it to do all over again, he’d be an “evangelical Anglican.” First, what is an evangelical Anglican?

A I’m not so sure, either.

Q In his crusades, he seemed to have little use for high-church rituals, bells, incense. Did he change later in life?

A I think that, in principle, he was intrigued by ritual and liturgy. He also had some very warm words to say about Greek Orthodox (worship) later in life. I think this was a genuine statement, but it was in principle. In fact, I don’t ever see him really engaging in any kind of a high-church tradition except ecumenically. He attended most of the World Council of Churches meetings. He had many Catholic friends. But I think this was more of – maybe not fantasy, but a self-image (thing).

Read more here:

Into the Fiery Furnace: Christian Couple in Pakistan Burned for Blasphemy

From Christianity Today-

In the most provocative incident since Pakistan’s highest court ruled this summer that blasphemy law abuses should be reigned in, a Christian couple were beaten and burned to death on Tuesday following accusations that the wife—five months pregnant—had burned the Qur’an.

Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi were bonded laborers (seen by many as a modern form of slavery) at a brick-making kiln who lived in a small Punjab town named for the first Anglican missionary to Pakistan. After a mob threw them into the same kiln, protests erupted in the provincial capital, Lahore, and the nation’s capital, Islamabad.

More here-

Exeter Cathedral treasure found in Oxfam bookshop

From The Church Times-

AN UNUSUAL email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop.

The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.

It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. On his death in 1881, his extensive collection of books was bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter.

More here-

Local clergy, parishioners preparing for new Bishop

From Jacksonville-

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina will consecrate its new bishop this weekend in Greenville.

Rev. Robert Skirving was elected to lead the diocese at a special meeting of priests and lay leaders in New Bern this spring. Skirving has been a minister for the past 28 years and has served in churches in Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The vote ended a year-long search for the diocese’s eighth bishop after Bishop Clifton Daniel resigned after 15 years to serve as Bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Provisional Bishop Peter Lee has served in the interim.

More here-

Confirmed atheist turned super preacher to take helm of Houston's St. John the Divine Episcopal

From Houston-

As an electrical engineer and a self-professed "angry athiest," Clay Lein had no truck for religion. God, he was convinced, was fools' folly ‑ a crutch for those who couldn't cut it on their own. His wife, Jill, and her father, an Episcopal priest, were free to believe, of course, but the Bible stuff just wasn't for him.

Baseball, though, was another matter.

Seated in a study at Houston's St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, where on Sunday he will deliver his first sermon as the 75-year-old congregation's new rector, Lein spun his tale of how a scoffing man of science was transformed ‑ through the agency of sports ‑ into a staunch believer.

More here-

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ghanaians must support measures to fight Ebola - Archbishop of Canterbury

From Ghana-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Portal Welby, has encouraged Ghanaians not to be scared of the Ebola disease but rather face the reality of its existence and support the measures being taken to seal it.

Most Rev. Welby said there was no medically demonstrated magic treatment for the disease, and thus urged Ghanaians to watch out for the signs or symptoms for early treatment.

He made this known during an interview with the Daily Graphic at the residence of the British High Commissioner, Mr Jon Benjamin, in Accra during a three-day visit from the United Kingdom to the country.

More here-

In Love With a Priest: Support Groups Spread

From The New York Times-

They had not planned on falling in love, but they did.

They did not want to become the objects of malicious gossip, but they are. They had not imagined living a life of furtive affections and secret rendezvous, but that is what has happened since the woman and the priest defied a Roman Catholic Church taboo and became romantically involved.

“Some people see me as a devil, something dirty,” said the woman, who, along with the priest she is involved with, agreed to discuss their situation, sitting for an interview at a hotel in a city far from his parish.

More here-

HM King Hamad receives Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf Bishop

From Bahrain-

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has today received Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf Bishop Rt. Revd Michael Lewis, currently on visit to Bahrain. HM the King welcomed Rt. Revd Michael Lewis and hailed his humanitarian efforts to promote the values of goodness, amity and tolerance. He took pride in Bahrain's long-standing status as a crossroad for religions and civilisations and a beacon of communication and tolerance.

"Bahrain, which embraces all people without any discrimination, will always be a model of co-existence and amity between all religions and doctrines on this land", he said. He lauded Bahrainis who have long shown, all along their deep-rooted history, their spirit of tolerance and amity, welcoming the followers of other religions, hailing their awareness, civilization and firm belief in lofty human principles.

More here-

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pope Francis to open Vatican conference on traditional marriage

From The Tablet-

A month after closing a Synod of Bishops on the family stirred by controversy over divorce, same-sex unions and other nonmarital relationships, Pope Francis will open an interreligious conference dedicated to traditional marriage.

The Vatican-sponsored gathering, on the "Complementarity of Man and Woman," will take place 17-19 November and feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries and various Christian churches, as well as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism.

The conference will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society," according to organisers.

Speakers will include Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Great Britain, and Anglican Bishops N.T. Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali.

More here-

Despite church-state separation, voting in church as old as America

From Houston-

In the beginning, North America was God's country. Throughout much of what later would become the United States, church and state were one. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, the church of choice was Congregational; in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, Anglican; Maryland, Anglican and Catholic.

It was not until December 1791 that the First Amendment of the newly enacted Bill of Rights - guaranteeing freedom of religion - swept away the cobwebs of state-sanctioned belief.

Today, the concept of separation of church and state is fundamental to the American way of life. Except on Election Day.

As Harris County voters Tuesday help select a new governor and other key officials in an unusually contentious mid-term election, many will cast their ballots at places of worship. Almost one-fifth of the county's 1,069 precincts vote in churches. And while election officials say they endeavor to ensure that such venues are neutral, recent studies suggest that even when overt political messages are absent, religious spaces can subtly affect voter choices.

More here-

Anglican Ordinariates Mark Five Years of Benedict XVI’s Unitive Document

From National Catholic Register-

When Cardinals Donald Wuerl of the Washington Archdiocese and Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stopped by for a visit to the ordinariate community of St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, the cardinals and priests halted in the church on the way out to sing together the hymn Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy.

In a quiet way, it was a remarkable, unplanned scene: Fathers Mark Lewis and Richard Kramer, who had begun their ministries as Episcopal priests, singing a hymn to the Virgin Mary with two cardinals of the Catholic Church, Msgr. James Watkins, pastor of Immaculate Conception, and several priests from Rome, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of then-Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Read more:

Two pastors and 90-year-old man face charges for feeding the homeless

From Christian Today-

Two Florida pastors and a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless received a citation on Sunday after they distributed food to the needy.

Pastor Dwayne Black of The Sanctuary Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Pastor Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, and Arnold Abbott of Love Thy Neighbor, Inc. were cited for violating a Ft. Lauderdale ordinance that specifies how food can be distributed in public.

Legislation passed last month says that outdoor food programmes must provide a portable toilet, and cannot be within 500 feet of residences. Abbott, whose non-profit has fed over 1,400 people since 1991, said that the portable toilet requirement is a financial burden.

More here-

Maryland: New community church emerges in Canton

From ENS-

On Saturday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m., the new community Church on the Square held its first service at historic 1025 S. Potomac Street, on Canton’s O’Donnell Square in Baltimore, Md.

After months of renovation, the leaders of Church on the Square launched a worshiping community. The church startup, a joint venture between the Episcopal and Lutheran denominations, is only the second of its kind (the first being Church of the Apostles in Seattle, Wash.)

Church on the Square, formed through collaboration of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod, might just be a vanguard example of the future of mainline denominational worship. Serving the up-and-coming community of Canton, Church on the Square seeks to be a different kind of church. Neither denominational nor non-denominational, the leaders claim a multi-denominational community in which individuals are supported by their sponsoring entities.

More here-

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Executive Council Preliminary Draft Budget 2016-2018

General Convention Office-

Executive Council's Finances for Mission Committee began work in the fall of 2012 on the draft budget for the 2016-18 triennium that Council will propose to the Program, Budget, & Finance Committee (PB&F) for the 78th General Convention. This preliminary draft budget represents the results of our thinking so far, and not a final proposal. This proposal is being released to the public so that Council can hear your comments, questions, and other input on it before we finalize our proposal in January 2015, and present it to PB&F. We do welcome your feedback on the survey instrument found at:

Council's budget process has included wide input from many people across the church. We asked each Committee, Commission, Agency, and Board (CCAB) of the church to undergo a visioning process and create budget priorities for its area of ministry. The Joint Standing Committees of Executive Council then reviewed the input of the CCABs and created priorities for their areas of ministry. Finances for Mission, working closely with the officers of The Episcopal Church (the Presiding Bishop, President of the House of Deputies, Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Officer of General Convention), then consolidated all the visionary input into a visionary budget draft.

More here-

Anglican Communion members gather for anti-trafficking, slavery consultation

From ACN-

Anglicans from across the Communion will be gathering in Rome, Italy, from 3rd - 7th November 2014 to discuss their churches’ work to end human trafficking and modern slavery.  The consultation is being convened by the Anglican Alliance and hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon.

The purpose of the consultation is to learn about the work of churches around the Anglican Communion in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking. The group will reflect on the most effective approaches and agree on recommendations for a Communion-wide response. These will focus on the prevention of trafficking and slavery, protection and support for survivors, prosecution of perpetrators, and policy and advocacy work with governments and the private sector.

More here-,-slavery-consultation.aspx

Discernment period ends

From The Joint Nominating Committee-

The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has released the following statement:

Church Wide Nomination period for Presiding Bishop ends;
Discernment Process for Bishops Opens.

In The Call for Discernment and Profile for the Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop, the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) established the period from September 1 through September 30 when any member of The Episcopal Church could submit the name of a bishop they believed should be considered as the next Presiding Bishop. The JNCPB would like to express thanks for the significant and positive response received during the last month. Over 165 people representing more than 60 dioceses submitted names.  That period is now closed.

More here-

Association of Theological Schools Announces Focused Visit to EDS

From EDS-

EDS President and Dean Katherine Hancock Ragsdale has received a letter from the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (COAATS).

The COAATS stated that it had become aware of “several events reported to have occurred at Episcopal Divinity School this past academic year.”  As a result, the Board of Commissioners of the COAATS has decided to make a focused site visit to the School this fall.

The Board of Trustees and President welcome the outside perspective that the COAATS will bring.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Great grandson of Valentine ‘Wall’ Hatfield still searching for answers

From West Virginia-

Father Russell Hatfield, rector of the Tazewell County, Va., cluster of parishes of Episcopal Churches, is a man of God and a direct descendant of one of the Hatfields who was killed during the early years of the famous Hatfield-McCoy Feud.

Russ Hatfield’s great grandfather, Valentine “Wall” Hatfield, older brother of William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, was arrested in 1888 and charged — along with six other Hatfield family members — with the murder of Allifair McCoy who was killed when she attempted to flee from Randall McCoy’s cabin that was set on fire by the Hatfields.

“My great grandfather was a peaceful man,” Russ Hatfield said. “He knew he didn’t have anything to do with the events that led the Kentucky posse to issue all of those arrest warrants for other family members. My great grandfather gave himself up. He was innocent, but they found him guilty.

More here-

Episcopal Church in Michigan passes gun resolution

From Detroit-

The Episcopal Church in Michigan has passed a controversial resolution calling for stiffer gun control, drawing sharp criticism from conservative members who say it violates the right to bear arms.

The dispute is part of a larger debate among Episcopalians and other mainline Protestants about the future of their churches as they face sharp declines in membership.

Some conservatives say the gun resolution is the latest example of the Episcopal Church focusing on promoting liberal social issues such as gun control and same-sex marriage instead of the gospel, alienating congregants. But liberals say that their views are in line with the teachings of Christianity.

More here-

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Anglican clergy support greater separation between church and state

From The Telegraph-

More than four in 10 Anglican clergy would support loosening ties between church and state or severing them altogether, a major new study on attitudes in the pulpit in the UK shows.

The research also found that a significant minority of serving clerics would support breaking up the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion and even the Church of England itself along doctrinal lines amid disputes over issues such as homosexuality and the interpretation of the Bible.

Polling by YouGov for the Religion and Society Programme, an academic unit based at Lancaster University, also found that just over half of serving Anglican clergy believe Christians in Britain are suffering discrimination from the Government through the application of equality laws.

More here-