Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pope at Santa Marta: The authority of Christian identity

Vatican Radio-

A Christian’s authority comes from the Holy Spirit, not from human wisdom or degrees in theology, said Pope Francis at morning Mass Tuesday, as he explained that Christian identity is having the Spirit of Christ, not the "spirit of the world”.

he people were astonished at Christ’s teaching because he spoke with authority. Inspired by the passage from the Gospel Pope dwelt on the nature of Our Lord’s authority and, as a consequence that of the Christian. He said that Jesus was “not a common preacher," because his "authority" comes from the '"special anointing of the Holy Spirit." Jesus, he said, is "the Son of God, anointed and sent" to "bring salvation, to bring freedom." And some, he noted, "were scandalized" by this style that belonged to Jesus, by its identity and freedom:

More here-


Massachusetts Bishop Gayle Harris makes history in Welsh cathedral

From ENS-

 As the Church in Wales prepares to enable women to become bishops, Bishop Suffragan Gayle Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts became the first female Anglican bishop to preside and preach in a Welsh cathedral.

“The church is not just enriched by women’s ordination, it’s more enabled and empowered by women’s presence,” she told Episcopal News Service during a telephone interview from the U.K. as she prepared for her historic participation in the 11 a.m. Eucharist service on Aug. 31 at St. Asaph Cathedral in Denbighshire, North Wales. “I see women bringing to the fore the desire that all people sit at the table of leadership, that all share in the benefits of the life of God. Nobody should be ignored or left out.”

More here-


National Goals Still Murky After Zhejiang Church Razings

From The New York Times-

Crosses continue to be torn down, churches bulldozed and shrines of folk religions destroyed in a campaign that began last winter in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, but the implications for national religious policy in China remain unclear, a leading Protestant expert on religion in China said.

At least 150 crosses had been removed by early July, and many churches and local shrines have been pulled down by the provincial authorities, said Philip Wickeri, the adviser to the Anglican archbishop of Hong Kong for theological and historical studies. The provincial Communist Party secretary overseeing the policy, Xia Baolong, is an ally of President Xi Jinping, but there has not been any sign yet of similar campaigns in other provinces, Mr. Wickeri said.

More here-


Bugandan Prime Minister visits Anglican Church of Canada

From Anglican News-

The prime minister and a delegation of officials from the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda visited the national offices of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto today [Aug 29], as a part of the Canadian leg of an international tour to the U.K., Sweden, Canada and the U.S.

Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga told the Anglican Journal that the tour is part of an effort by the kingdom to connect with the Bugandan diaspora and build support for various projects. He explained that the Kingdom of Buganda is a legal entity, recognized in the constitution. “Under [Ugandan] law, we can extend social services such as education and health, but we do not participate directly in politics,” he said.

More here-


Bishops advise, mostly, in Episcopal pastor selection

From North Carolina-

I’m the first to admit it. I’m just a little bit intimidated by bishops.

It’s all that beautiful, colorful clergy attire: albs, chasibles and copes, topped off with a red, white or gold mitre, said to be the most recognizable part of a bishop’s dress, not to mention the big ring and the pectoral cross.

Who doesn’t feel the heart skip a beat when Bishop Michael Curry of the N.C. Episcopal Diocese or Bishop William H. Willimon of the United Methodist Church come down the aisle at Duke Chapel in one of those long processions, accompanied by the booming voices of the congregation, the choir and the great organ. It’s awesome!

More here-

From AllAfrica-

In an effort to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the county, the Episcopal Church of Liberia in conjunction with the Episcopal Relief Development Organization in New York, United States of America on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 handed over some preventive materials to the C. H. Rennie Hospital in Margibi County for the use in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in the county.

The donation included twenty-six Ebola buckets, 20 bags of rice, five cartons of Argo oil, PPE, among others.

More here-


Monday, September 1, 2014

Yale and the Causes of Anti-Semitism

From Commentary-

Last week, the New York Times published a series of letters in response to an op-ed by Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, entitled, “Why Jews are Worried,” which examined the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.

One of the letters caught my eye. It blamed the rise of anti-Semitism on Israel and seemed to hint that Jews themselves are to blame for their support of Israel. Here is the letter in full:

More here-


Women Pastors In Prominent Churches Reveal Cracks In Stained-Glass Ceiling

From Huffington (RNS)-

Chicago. New York. Washington, D.C. In quick succession this year, three women have been chosen to lead historic tall-steeple churches in all these cities.

In May, the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner became the first woman solo senior pastor at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. In June, the Rev. Amy Butler was elected senior pastor of New York City’s Riverside Church. And finally, in July, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli began leading Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

“For women to speak in those pulpits and speak boldly as public voices in these very public buildings is very powerful,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, who recently hosted a dinner party with some of New York’s movers and shakers to welcome Butler to town.

More here-


Bishop Scott Benhase: suicide is "selfish"

A spirited discussion on Suicide over at the Cafe-

In his most recent eCrozier reflection published by The Living Church, “Robin Williams, My Friend, and the Selfishness of Suicide”, Bishop Scott Benhase of the Diocese of Georgia offers the following pastoral reflection:

I had a dear friend who committed suicide four years ago. Like Mr. Williams, he was brilliant. His brilliance, however, was in a different vocation. He was a palliative care physician. The irony of his life was that he could relieve everyone’s pain but his own (like Mr. Williams who brought so many people joy without finding joy himself). My friend knew he had many people who loved him dearly. I don’t know what was going through his mind and soul when he chose suicide. Clearly, he was in emotional and spiritual pain. Maybe he thought his suicide was an act of love and kindness to us who loved him? It was not. His act was neither loving nor was it kind. It was selfish. I know that sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true.

More here-


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Church lawsuit is latest spat over Lilly bequests

From Chicago and Indianapolis-

The church accuses JPMorgan, which was trustee over most of the Lilly gift until resigning in December, of “intentional mismanagement” and “self-dealing,” leading to $13 million in losses, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

JPMorgan has declined to comment. The bank is the successor via merger to American Fletcher National Bank and Indiana National Bank, which each received responsibility for managing one-third of Lilly’s gift. The other third originally went to Merchants National Bank, later known as National City Bank and now PNC Bank, which also gave up management around year-end. All the funds now are managed by the Christ Church Cathedral Foundation.

More here-


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Should Churches Try To Target Men More?

From Patheos-

The Jesuit Post’s Jeff Sullivan, SJ has written a nice post on the changing cultural understanding of manhood in post-Sexual Revolution America.

In doing so, he connects this with the noted fact of higher attendance of women at church and higher general religiosity, and cites authors as saying that there is a “problem”: “American churches have adopted primarily feminine language and ways of interacting and exploring spirituality.” This is a theme that we sometimes hear from Traditionalists: the pre-Vatican II Church was more masculine (all that lace and brocade, probably) and the post-Vatican II more feminine. That “masculine” is better than “feminine” is so taken for granted that it is never explicitly mentioned.

Read more:


Priest sues Perth Archbishop

From Australia-

Rev. Terry McAuliffe is suing Perth Archbishop Roger Herft for defamation, claiming his reputation was irretrievably damaged by the head of Perth's Anglican Church.

Mr McAuliffe hit the headlines last year when he initially refused to hand back a valuable diamond bracelet he found in Inglewood - instead offering to sell it back to owners Clyde and Lesley Bevan for half its value.

More here-


Number of women as clergy jumps for some denominations

From Chicago-

Some individual church denominations are reporting greater gains in the representation of women clergy and other ministers, but challenges remain.

Women ministers outnumber men in the Unitarian Universalist faith. They account for more than 58 percent of active ministers, up from 41 percent in 1994, according to a spokeswoman. Statistics were not available on the percent who serve in the lead role at their churches.

In the Episcopal Church, 48 percent of newly ordained clergy are women, according to a 2012 report by Church Pension Group. But employment among the newly ordained stands at 38 percent for women, compared with 62 percent for men.

More here-


Episcopal women recall 1974 priesthood struggle

From Chicago-

Eleven women took on the all-male hierarchy and centuries of tradition in the Episcopal Church 40 years ago by being ordained as priests, and their audacious actions inspired an eighth-grader in Chicago to live out her dream.

The Rev. Fran Holliday was a teenager when she felt a call to the priesthood, but continually met closed doors until she read about the ordinations in July 1974 in Philadelphia. The story of one woman in particular, the Rev. Nancy Wittig, stood out.

"It was so inspirational to me," said Holliday, now associate rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood. She wanted "to mark the event that was so practically and theologically important to the church" and invited Wittig to preside over three services in early August.

More here-


Friday, August 29, 2014

15 Augustine Quotes That Helped Shape Modern Christian Thought

 From Relevant-

Even though he though died on August 28, 430, the writings of Augustine of Hippo remain as theologically relevant and spiritually insightful as they did 1600 years ago.

The man who became a beloved-Bishop and would eventually be remembered as Saint Augustine, had such a dramatic conversion to Christianity at the age of 33, that he explored the philosophy of Scripture with a passion that led him to write hundreds of sermons and some of Christianity’s most influential books.

Here’s a look at 15 Augustine quotes that have helped shape modern Christian thought.



Medics still at risk from Ebola virus

From The Church Times-

THE floating Christian hospital organisation Mercy Ships has halted its latest visit to West Africa, as a result of the Ebola-virus outbreak that is affecting the region.

So far, 1552 people are reported to have been killed by the virus, which began in Guinea but has spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. Another outbreak was reported last weekend in the Congo. On Thursday, the World Health Organisation warned that the number of cases could rise to 20,000 (3069 cases have been reported to date).

The MV Africa Mercy is now docked at the Canary Islands because it is not equipped for an infectious epidemic.

More here-


Suds, faith found at California laundromat

From California-

Over the long months that Victoria Mitchell lived in her car with her infant daughter, there was one bright spot in her life: doing laundry.

Every month, Mitchell would trek to a local laundromat and take advantage of Laundry Love, a growing faith-driven movement that helps those who are homeless or financially struggling by washing their dirty clothes for free.


Kassoff, his arms laced with tattoos, recalled a time in his life just over 10 years ago when he was in a similar situation to many of those who come — addicted to heroin and living in his car. At his lowest point, he said, he started attending services at his local Episcopal church.

More here-


Liberia’s Cuttington University, diocese at epicenter of Ebola crisis

From ENS-

Liberia’s Cuttington University, located near one of the epicenters of West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, is reaching out to its surrounding communities while worrying about the epidemic’s impact on the now-closed school’s future, and mourning the loss of graduates and friends.

Meanwhile, throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone, Episcopal Relief & Development is in regular contact with local church partners who “are leveraging their widespread presence and trusted reputation to alleviate suffering and contain the Ebola outbreak” that has killed at least 1,427 people in West Africa since March 2014, according to an Aug. 27 press

More here-


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Church banned from using altar to serve cups of tea

From the Telegraph-

For many Christians, the altar is the most sacred part of any church.

Covered with a white cloth, it is the holy place where worshippers kneel to receive Communion and feel closer to God.

However instead of the body and blood of Christ, one church group has applied to use their blessed altar to serve tea, biscuits and orange squash.

Worshippers at the St Michael and All Angels Church in Uffington, Lincolnshire, wanted their oak altar to double up as a place to “serve refreshments”.

But Mark Bishop, chancellor for Lincoln, and a judge of the Church of England's Consistory Court, decided the altar could only be used for worship, not to serve snacks.

More here-


The Seal Cannot Be Broken: Priestly Identity and the Sacrament of Confession

From ABC Australia-

The Anglican Communion has demonstrated, yet again, how eager it is to keep up with changing times. In line with society's greater recognition of the devastation wrought by child sexual abuse, a recent Synod has sought to remove any impediment to good professional practice and individual conscience by allowing individual priests to report on serious crimes they may have learnt about through confession.

It has not taken long for commentators to wonder if the much slower moving Catholic Church will eventually follow suit. Thus, while Alison Cotes congratulates the Anglican Church in Australia for giving short shrift to the inviolability of confession, she also wonders if "in the fullness of time, the Roman Catholic Church will also see that what was good theology in 1215 may not be so useful, or even moral, 800 years later."

More here-


Magdalene House: Helping Women in Transition

From Arkansas-

Work is underway to provide funding for a home and sanctuary for women recovering from violence, prostitution, trafficking, addiction and incarceration.

Friday's fundraiser, held at St. Paul's Episcopal, was a way to introduce Magdalene House to the public. The house is modeled after facilities in Memphis and Nashville, that serves as safe, supportive transitional housing for women coming out of prison and on their way to rebuilding their lives. Most or all have drug addictions, were sexually abused as teens and were prostitutes.

Magdalene Fayetteville's first home will house six women for two years and will provide safety, acceptance, and access to medical and dental care, therapy, education and job training free of charge.

More here-


Yale Episcopal chaplain Rev. Bruce Shipman digs deeper

From The Washington Post (Follow up to a post from yesterday)-

Time to revisit Rev. Shipman, the Episcopal Chapman at Yale.  Readers will recall that Rev. Shipman wrote a letter to the N.Y. Times, responding to an op-ed about growing violent anti-Semitism in Europe, suggesting that the “best antidote would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.”  I pointed out that by holding Jews responsible for anti-Semitism, Rev. Shipman was engaging in unacceptable victim-blaming. Let me put it even more bluntly now: he is blaming the victims of racism for the existence of racism.

More here-


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update from Iraq – Canon Andrew White

From Iraq-

My Dear Friends,

How I long to be able to tell you positive things here. So for a moment I will not tell you the negatives. This is the week of our children’s first communion, it is one of the biggest events in the churches year. Each day the children come for several hours of intense study. There is such excitement. Yesterday as I sat down with the children I asked them why they were so excited. 

They basically said that when they were baptised their parents had promised that they would follow Yesua but now they have decided themselves. I was able to give each of the children a mega-voice solar powered bible, we have had many donated to us from “Leading the Way” in Australia and Northern Ireland. These bibles have been such a cause for joy amongst us, some are also going to be given to the people in the North who have had to flee leaving everything including their Bibles. So amongst the devastation there has indeed been the joy of our Lord.
More here-


10 MORE Things Churches Can’t Do While Following Jesus

From Patheos-

First, let’s just be clear: I’m not saying it is impossible to do these things if you’re following Jesus.

But, I am saying that if you are doing these things you aren’t following Jesus while you do them – because they aren’t what Jesus would do.

Not all churches are doing these things, but there’s enough who are that it’s more than worth talking about.

Also, this is also not meant to be a complete list or even a “Top Ten” list. After all, I’ve already written a list of 10 other things (well, mostly other) the Church can’t do while following Jesus.
This is just a list of ten things that come to mind for me when I think about what the Church is doing that it seems to me Jesus wouldn’t care for very much.

Read more:


Site helps churches connect digitally with worshippers

From CBS-

Whether it's the Bible, Quran or Torah, for centuries religions have worked to get the word out. Now, congregations are embracing the digital world to build their communities, CBS News' Elaine Quijano reports.

When Sean Coughlin was growing up, his Christian faith was always a big part of his life.

"I played baseball and went to church, that's really all I did," Coughlin said.

But after he moved to New York as an adult, he was frustrated with the challenges of finding a congregation on his own.

"I know there are dozens of sites to help you find a doctor or a restaurant or a vacation but no good sites to help you find a place of worship," Coughlin said.

So he quit his corporate job and started FaithStreet.com, a directory for religious institutions across the country.

More here-


Mississippi notified of successful canonical consent process

 From ENS-

The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Mississippi that Bishop-Elect Coadjutor Brian R. Seage has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

More here-


Episcopal chaplain at Yale: Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism for not making peace with genocidal enemy

From The Washington Post-

Speaking of moral obtuseness (or how “Palestine makes you dumb,”) I reprint for you in full Rev. Shipman’s letter as published today in the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014

The writer is the Episcopal chaplain at Yale.

More here-


Shipman's response-


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A message from Bishop Shaw

From Massachusetts-

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE sent on Aug. 25 the following message to clergy and parish and diocesan leadership:

My Sisters and Brothers,

As my date of retirement nears, I want to be in touch with all of you and to thank you for your continued expressions of care and concern.  We have known since the beginning, when I was diagnosed with brain cancer in May of last year, that we are dealing with a difficult kind of cancer.  We have been hopeful in the therapies we’ve pursued over these months, but we now know that for me there is no cure.  At the recommendation of my medical team, I’ve decided now to pursue a course of treatment that will provide a good quality of life, though for how long, we can’t be sure.

More here-


Priest raises eyebrows with Gosford Anglican Church signs on race, gay marriage and the media

From Australia-

Father Rod Bower is not your average priest. The Anglican Church minister is on a mission to keep religion relevant, and is using his parish notice board in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast as a way to get noticed.

"We have a voice out into the wider community that a lot of other parishes don't have," Fr Bower told 7.30.

And while he has attracted a legion of younger fans on social media, he realises that not everyone agrees with what he is doing.

"Some people are really comfortable and excited about that, other people are very anxious and cautious about it," he said.

More here-


An Ancient Prayer Saved My Faith

From Patheos-

An ancient prayer saved my faith.

A friend in college had invited me to attend a nearby Episcopal church. It was a disorienting place with its vaulted ceilings, stone columns, and ornate stained glass. Even more so were all the books I had to keep up with, the strange customs, and the weirdly dressed parade that began the service.
It was strange. And beautiful.

Then the priest began the service, and the opening prayer he said was unlike any opening prayer I’d ever heard.

Unlike any prayer at all.

He said what I later came to know as the Collect for Purity.

Read more: