Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bishop Jon Bruno, bishop diocesan to the See of Los Angeles, faces Title IV hearing this coming week

From Episcopal Cafe-

The final stage of the disciplinary process of the Episcopal Church against the Rt Revd Jon Bruno, bishop diocesan of the Diocese of Los Angeles, begins this Monday, 27 MAR. The hearing runs through Tuesday & Wednesday. The hearing is regarding charges of misconduct, brought against Bishop Bruno by the members of the former mission church, St James the Great in Newport Beach.

The folks from St James the Great filed charges against Bishop Bruno in a final attempt to prevent the sale of the building in which the mission congregation met. Bishop Bruno had dissolved the mission of St James the Great in preparation to sell the building, which he controls as one of the properties of the bishop’s Corporation Sole of Dio LA.

More here-

Who does the Benedict Option exclude and who does it benefit?

From American Magazine-

On this episode of the podcast, Matt Malone, S.J., and Kerry Weber are joined by James Martin, S.J., to talk about the Benedict Option, and the duty of Catholics to engage with issues of social justice.

The episode begins with a discussion of the homelessness, the war in Syria and ongoing health crises in Haiti, before introducing Rod Dreher’s controversial new book, The Benedict Option. Patrick Gilger, S.J. joins to talk about his recent essay on the book for America.

“What [Rod Dreher] calls for in The Benedict Option is a strategic withdrawal from certain aspects of American society,” Father Gilger said. “So his solution to this is a monastic one—his particular interpretation of monasticism, which is to withdraw into small communities of faith and practice, so as to form ourselves better.”

More here-

Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.

From The New York Times-

In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.”

The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.

It’s hard to imagine this happening today. No father in his right mind (if the admissions office happened to ask him!) would admit that his child was a natural follower; few colleges would welcome one with open arms. Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”

Harvard’s application informs students that its mission is “to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society.” Yale’s website advises applicants that it seeks “the leaders of their generation”; on Princeton’s site, “leadership activities” are first among equals on a list of characteristics for would-be students to showcase. Even Wesleyan, known for its artistic culture, was found by one study to evaluate applicants based on leadership potential.

More here-

A San Antonio parish wins a Texican stand-off against its bishop.

From The American Spectator-

It’s gotta sting.

The Vatican has just whupped Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, upholding the right of the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement to place itself under the authority of a more congenial bishop. What should have been no more than a dust-up in the sacristy unexpectedly reached its “This Time He’s Gone Too Far” moment when Archbishop Garcia-Siller yanked the parish’s beloved and long-time pastor, Father Christopher Phillips.

In a letter dated January 19, 2017, and addressed to the parishioners of OLA, the archbishop explained that Father Phillips would leave the parish “to dedicate some time to reflect on certain specific concerns that I have shared with him.” Foremost among the archbishop’s “concerns” is the possible existence of “expressions in the life of the parish that indicate an identity separate from, rather than simply unique, among the parishes of the archdiocese.” (Huh?) During his time of reflection, Father Phillips “will not have the responsibility of pastoral care or authority in the parish.”

More here-

Anglican conflicts continue

From Zambia-

THE Anglican Diocese of Manicaland has been rocked by divisions after fierce fighting erupted in January over the handling of funds and church administered schools leading to the temporary ex-communication of 40 church officials.

The 40 leaders and congregants mainly from St Agnes Chikanga who have since been restored to their positions had been suspended after complaining about the mishandling of funds raised in 2015 and 2016 to develop St Catherine Girls High School in Rusape.

Of the 40 ex-communicated, 26 of them were arrested and appeared in court charged with inciting violence.

In addition it is said individuals who were handpicked by the diocese leader, Bishop Erick Ruwona to handle finances and administration of schools which include St Catherine Girl's High went on to borrow funds at a local bank to finish up the developments.

It took a personal visit by Zambian Archbishop, Albert Chama, the Church's Province of Central Africa (CPCA) leader to resolve the conflict and reinstate the suspended officials to their positions.

More here

Did We Worship Our Way to Trump?

From Red Letter Christians-

How did we get here? No, not just how did Americans manage to elect to the presidency someone so astonishingly arrogant, persistently dishonest, brashly ignorant, fundamentally disrespectful, proudly profligate, clearly hateful, and altogether incompetent? Rather, how did American Christians – particularly white Christians – come to the point where they could support such a person?

Without the Christian vote, Trump would never have made it into the Oval Office. I suspect worship has a lot to do with it.

The patterns of worship in American churches helped pave the way for Christians to offer him their vote. Clearly, there is not just one reason Trump took more than 80% of the white evangelical vote and the majority of the white Catholic and mainline Protestant vote. But it comes down to this: many American Christians worship the same god as Trump.

More here-

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Anglican leader who defrocked, reconciled with gay priest dies

From Toronto-

Rev. Terence Edward Finlay was a long-serving Toronto Anglican Church leader who championed reconciliation efforts with indigenous communities. He also made headlines for defrocking a gay priest in 1992 but later became an advocate for the LGBTQ community.

Finlay died Monday in Toronto. He was 79.

“One of the things I remember most about him was his smile and laughter,” said current Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson in a statement posted to the diocese of Toronto’s website.

“Essentially, right at the heart of things, he was a joyful, hopeful, happy person, and deeply faithful . . . He loved people and met them from all walks of life.”

Born in London, Ont., on May 19, 1937, Finlay was ordained a deacon in 1961 and then a priest a year later. He served at the diocese of Huron before leaving for the diocese of Toronto in 1982, where he was elected a suffragan bishop in 1986, coadjutor bishop in 1987 and installed as the 10th Bishop of Toronto in 1989.

More here-

Episcopal Church leader hosting First Baptist Church sermon

From Williamsburg-

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, will lead a sermon at Williamsburg's First Baptist Church Sunday morning.

"It's very, very rare for an Episcopal bishop to come to a Baptist church." First Baptist Pastor Reginald Davis said.

Bishop Curry was scheduled to ring the church's Freedom Bell during Black History Month last year, but an unexpected illness prevented his appearance.

Davis visited the bishop while in the emergency room, and his prayers and concern convinced the bishop to make a return trip.

Davis said he thought it would be wonderful to host the first African-American leader of the Episcopal Church to speak before his parish. He anticipated a message of inclusiveness that reaches across denominations.

Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Christ's love and self-sacrifice will triumph over evil and despair'

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke powerfully today of how Christ's victory on the Cross overcame evil.

He called for a memorial for those killed in the London terror attack, in particular to PC Keith Palmer.

Archbishop Justin Welby said the best memorial would be a country that could live together in peace and harmony.

But there also needed to be a physical memorial to those murdered.

'There needs to be a memorial because remembering helps us not repeat. But the best memorial we can build is a country at peace with each other and at peace with itself,' he said at a prayer vigil at Westminster Abbey with leaders representing Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The continuing journalism saga of, 'Will someone please explain Christianity to ...'

From Get Religion-

Welcome of episode three (yes, the podcast) of the ongoing saga of mainstream journalists wrestling with the picky details of Christian tradition and doctrine (that whole Bible thing, you know) about the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

To catch up on this drama, you may want to glace at "Here we go again: Will someone please explain Christianity to the Associated Press?" and then "Seeking correction No. 2: Will some please explain Christianity to the AP photo desk?"

Concerning that second item, I must report – sadly – that, as of this morning -- the Associated Press website still contains the inaccurate photo tag line that reads:

The renovated Edicule is seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's old city Monday, Mar. 20, 2017. A Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven.

More here-

Friday, March 24, 2017

MPs join row over Llandaff election

From The Church Times-

WELSH MPs have joined a growing campaign to challenge the method of appointing the next Bishop of Llandaff, in the wake of the rejection of the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, despite unanimous support from Llandaff representatives in the electoral college.

An open letter from the MPs to the Church in Wales College of Bishops was co-ordinated by Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend. The letter, signed by nine MPs, suggests that the process has been “flawed” and has produced “con­­siderable disharmony, anger, and confusion”. It refers to allegations of homophobic com­ments made at the electoral college, and recom­mends a pause in the process and a new elec­tion, “open to past and new can­­didates”, to produce an “open and transparent decision”.

The Bishops produced a shortlist of candidates at a meeting last week, which does not include any of those discussed by the electoral college in February, thus excluding Dr John, who received the unanimous support of the 12 Llandaff representatives. At the weekend, Dr John accused the Bishops of “anti-gay discrimination”.

More here-

Former Liverpool vicar given suspended jail term over £100,000 diocese thefts

From Liverpool (BBC)-

A former Anglican vicar who stole more than £100,000 from his diocese has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Michael John Fry, 57, of Aigburth Vale, Liverpool pleaded guilty to committing eight offences over an eight-year period ending 1 January 2014.

What began as an administrative failing became "dishonesty" and "an enormous breach of trust", Judge Elizabeth Nicholls told Liverpool Crown Court.

Fry was sentenced to 20 months in jail, suspended for two years.

Fry misled Liverpool diocese about the number of funerals which he had conducted and illegally kept fees from 1,250 parochial funerals.

He spent the money on alcohol, books, and travel, the court heard.

Passing sentence, the judge said "the good you have done in the community outweighs the harm".

More here-

Texas Anglican-use parish adopted into Anglican ordinariate

From Texas-

A vigorous Catholic parish in Texas, led by a former Anglican priest, has been incorporated into the Anglican Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, ending a battle for control.

The Anglican ordinariate—which is responsible for the Anglican communities in America coming into the Catholic Church under the provisions of 2009 papal document Anglicanorum Coetibus—announced that the parish of Our Lady of Atonement had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the ordinariate. The parish, along with its school, had previously been a part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Father Christopher Phillips, a married Anglican priest, had originally entered the Catholic Church and been ordained to the Catholic priesthood under the “pastoral provision” for Anglicans set up by Pope John Paul II. He brought many Anglican lay people with him, and attracted others to the community, making Our Lady of Atonement a flourishing parish community.

More here-

Spokane's New Episcopal Bishop Talks with Inland Journal

From Spokane-

Last Saturday, Spokane’s Episcopal Diocese installed its first female bishop. Gretchen Rehberg is a Pullman native who went back east to go to college. She earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and taught at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

Eventually the call to a religious vocation took her away from academia. She went to New York City and studied to be a priest. She was ordained and served her first parish in York, Pennsylvania.

In 2005, she heeded another call, this time to come back to the Northwest, closer to family. She went to work at the Episcopal church in Lewiston, Idaho. Last fall, she heard that Spokane’s Episcopal bishop, James Waggoner, was going to retire, and so she applied.

Doug Nadvornick with Gretchen Rehberg    5:22    “So what’s the process…we just stay in debate.”

Gretchen Rehberg is the new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane. She is the spiritual leader for 36 churches in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. You can hear Doug's story from her ordination ceremony at the SPR website. Click on the regional news tab.

More here-

Episcopal church presiding bishop to visit Springfield

From Western Massachusetts

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, who is the first African American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will celebrate morning liturgy and evensong Oct. 15 at Christ Church Cathedral as part of the church's 200th anniversary.

He will also attend a luncheon reception following the liturgy at what is the cathedral seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts at 35 Chestnut St. 

Curry was installed during services Nov. 1, 2015 at Washington (D.C.) National Cathedral, succeeding Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman leader of the church.

A graduate of Yale Divinity School and formerly bishop of North Carolina, he was elected presiding bishop by a landslide vote at the denomination's national assembly in June 2105 in Salt Lake City, Utah, that was attended by the Right Rev. Douglas Fisher, ninth diocesan bishop here.

More here-


From First Things-

The Anglican pastor and poet George Herbert died of tuberculosis on March 1, 1633, just one month shy of his fortieth birthday. Like his famous contemporary and friend John Donne and his nineteenth-century American echo Emily Dickinson, Herbert did not publish his poems during his lifetime. From his deathbed he entrusted them to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, granting him permission to either destroy or preserve them. The poems, he said, contained “a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul.” Later that year they were published in Cambridge as The Temple, and they have never been out of print since then.

Izaak Walton’s hagiographical account of Herbert’s life, published in 1670, helped to shape the iconic image of him as “the poet of a placid and comfortable easy piety” (T. S. Eliot)—not to say the quintessential Anglican perched midway between the rigors of Geneva and the extravagance of Rome. This image of Herbert and his place in the history of English spirituality prevailed in a 1907 collection of his poems which the editor introduced in this way:

More here-

Prayer is not wishful nonsense. It helps us to shut up and think

From The Guardian-

Yesterday, a minute or so before 3pm, with a policeman struggling for his life outside, and with details of what had gone on still sketchy and confused, the work of parliament was suspended. David Lidington, leader of the House of Commons, rose to explain why the lockdown was necessary. And his Labour opposite number, Valerie Vaz, replied that “Our thoughts and prayers are with the police officer”, a sentiment with which Lidington concurred and with which the house murmured its agreement.

I wandered over and unlocked the church, putting up a board to invite passersby to come in and light a candle or say a prayer. You can see Big Ben from some parts of my parish and the church was filled with the sound of helicopters overhead and police sirens whizzing past. A handful of people dropped by over the couple of hours I sat there. Not many, I know, but it was still worth opening up. It was my way of showing respect. Of expressing solidarity. Of managing my own anxiety. This church was bombed by the Nazis on the first day of the blitz. It has seen great violence. And it has been calmly rebuilt. It symbolises the defiance of Londoners in the face of terror. This felt the right place to be. And as I sat quietly, I kept up with unfolding events via Twitter. And that was my mistake.

More here-

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Archbishop of Canterbury to make 12-day visit to Holy Land

From The Guardian-

The archbishop of Canterbury is to make a high-level 12-day visit to the Holy Land in May, focusing on religious freedom and the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East.

It will be Justin Welby’s first official visit to the Holy Land since becoming archbishop four years ago, although he made a private visit in 2013 during which he was criticised for not visiting Bethlehem.

In May, he will cross the imposing separation barrier that Israel has erected to visit the birthplace of Jesus. He plans to meet the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun, and Palestinian Christians whose homes, land and livelihoods have been affected by the wall that almost encircles Bethlehem and adjacent villages.

Lambeth Palace said Welby’s central priority on the trip was to affirm the Christian community in the Holy Land, to support and encourage the work of the Anglican St George’s Cathedral in East Jerusalem and to identify challenges regarding religious freedom in the region.

More here-

Beyond spring cleaning: New York cathedral’s tapestries get 16 years of grooming

From The AP-

Think your home furnishings are a dust magnet? New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine just spent 16 years cleaning and conserving its rare, supersize wall hangings.

Now the historic house of worship is inviting the public to enjoy the fruits of its labor — “The Barberini Tapestries, Scenes from the Life of Christ,” which once graced the Vatican and European palaces. They were designed by baroque master Giovanni Francesco Romanelli; created by weavers for Francesco Barberini, the nephew of Pope Urban VIII, from 1644 to 1656; and donated to the cathedral in 1891, a year before its cornerstone was laid.

Centuries ago, tapestries were appreciated not only for their beauty but also for being a warm buffer against chilly palace walls.

More here-

Morning Laugh

As Members Move Away, East Austin Churches Try To Hold Onto Their Roots

From Texas-

Another church a couple miles east has already moved.  St. James Episcopal Church left its old home on MLK a few years ago and moved to a spacious new facility on Webberville Road. Renette Bledsoe, senior warden at the church, says they deliberately stayed in East Austin.

“That’s just simply the historical foundation of this church, and sure, the church could have moved someplace else, but that is not what the people wanted,” she says.

Bledsoe says the church follows a philosophy of “radical hospitality,” making a point to include people of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations. St. James was originally founded in 1941 as a space for African-Americans who, at the time, weren’t welcome at Austin’s white Episcopal churches. Bledsoe said the church’s 16 original founders actively recruited a more diverse congregation.

“People made an effort to go out and invite others to come and to worship, people that may not have looked like them, to invite them to come in and to worship,” she says, “and then more people invited people to come in.”

More here-

Historic restoration of Jesus’ tomb completed

From Crux-

The tomb of Jesus has been resurrected to its former glory.

Just in time for Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was entombed and resurrected.
Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine’s stone fa├žade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years.

“If this intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said Monday. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”

More here-

Princeton Theological Seminary reverses decision to honor Redeemer’s Tim Keller

From RNS-

Faced with mounting criticism for its decision to give a major award to the Rev. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s best-known conservative Christian thinkers, Princeton Theological Seminary has reversed course and said Keller will not receive the honor.

In an email to faculty and students on Wednesday morning (March 22), the president of the venerable mainline Protestant seminary, the Rev. Craig Barnes, said he remains committed to academic freedom and “the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community.”

But he said that giving Keller the annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness – named after a famous Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian – might “imply an endorsement” of Keller’s views against the ordination of women and LGBTQ people.

More here-


From The Living Church-

I do not know why my cats seem attracted by prayer, but they are. Perhaps it’s because my lap will remain in a fixed position for 20 minutes. Maybe it’s because they like my fuzzy robe. Maybe there really is an air, an attitude, a spirit of peace and serenity that gathers around those who pray: that feeling you have when you step inside an ancient sanctuary and instantly recognize an odor of holiness, a space sanctified by decades of prayer, the hopes and dreams and anguished breaths clinging to its walls like lingering incense smoke.

I do not know.

But what I do know is that, settling onto the couch for Morning Prayer, coffee cup in one hand, tablet in the other, I inevitably find one or both fuzzy lumps snuggled next to me, purring in my ear from the couch’s back, or plopped in my lap.

As a layman in the Episcopal Church, this is my primary point of contact with the Book of Common Prayer and the spirituality that flows from it. Liturgical scholars, who are almost inevitably priests, focus on the sacraments, argue about Baptism and Eucharist, and mess with and shake up the words of Sunday services in the belief that tweaks here or there (or full-on overhauls) will save the church.

More here-

NEWS FLASH! BREAKING EXCLUSIVE! Blue Book details revealed!

From Seven Whole Days-

As long-time readers will know, this blog has been the source of exclusive breaking news about the Episcopal Church’s General Convention Blue Book for the last three General Conventions. What is the Blue Book, you ask? It is the collection official reports from various church bodies made available to bishops and deputies ahead of each triennial gathering. You can read them from past years in this wonderful gallery of church geekery.

If you looked at that gallery of geekery, you will immediately notice that the Blue Book was, in many years, actually a so-called Blue Book. Only in 2015 did our church return to the Godly custom of making sure the Blue Book is actually blue. This is good, because Jesus said, “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; any time blue is not blue, it comes from the evil one.” Or something like that.

More here-

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This ‘Church Hunters’ Reality Show Parody Is the Perfect Send-up of Church Shopping

And on the lighter side-

John Crist and Aaron Chewning, the duo behind comedy videos including “Millennial International” and this takedown of the Christian music industry, has released a new video that is both the perfect parody of the show House Hunters as well as church shopping.

Enjoy, Church Hunters, part 1.

Gay clergyman turned down as Welsh bishop 'blocked twice before'

From The Guardian-

A gay Anglican clergyman who has been rejected as the next bishop of Llandaff was allegedly blocked from appointment as a bishop in Wales twice before on the grounds of his civil partnership.

Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans Cathedral, told the Guardian his name was put forward for election as bishop of Bangor in 2008 and mooted as bishop of St Asaph the following year.

On both occasions, he said, the then archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, told electors that people in civil partnerships were not eligible to be consecrated. “This was untrue, since an official statement of the Church in Wales in December 2005 had made it clear that civil partnership was open to all clergy and lay people alike,” said John.

Morgan had “no legal or canonical basis [for his declaration] that anyone who was civilly partnered was ineligible,” he added.

More here-

Prophets of Doom Should 'Shut Up' - Anglican Bishop

From Ghana-

Most Rev Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, Archbishop Primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, has asked all prophets of doom in Ghana to shut up because God has done a lot of good for the country for which he deserves commendation.

According to him, the peace Ghanaians have enjoyed over the years following successive changes in government alone should be reason for Ghanaians, including prophets, to be thankful to God instead of always prophesying doom for the country.

His comments come at a time Prophet Reindorf Oduro Gyebi, founder of God's Crown Chapel in Daaban, a suburb of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, claimed that he prophesied about the Kintampo Waterfall accident that has killed 18 students a week ago.

Prophet Gyebi, in a follow-up interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra100.5FM on Monday 20 March, indicated that there was going to be more of such calamities in the country.

More here-


From Church Militant-

In a victory for a Texas parish, the Holy See has approved the admission of Our Lady of Atonement Catholic Church into the Anglican Ordinariate, effective March 21.

Our Lady of the Atonement was the nation's first pastoral provision parish, established in 1983, after Pope John Paul II made special provisions for former Anglicans to found Catholic parishes where traditional Anglican liturgy is offered. The Vatican established the North American Ordinariate in 2012, and ordained its first bishop, Steven Lopes, in 2016.

The Holy See is now directing that all pastoral provision parishes in the United States and Canada be integrated into the Personal Ordiariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Our Lady of the Atonement will join 40 other Ordinariate parishes in North America.

More here-

Religious views of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch raise questions

From Lancaster-

As the confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch unfold in Washington, D.C.,  this question arises: If confirmed, would he be the first Protestant Justice to join the U.S. Supreme Court since 1990 when David Souter was appointed, or would he be the sixth Catholic  Justice on the high court?

Ever since he was nominated by President Donald Trump, Gorsuch’s religion has been a source of interest.
Gorsuch was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado.

What makes that interesting is that St. John’s Episcopal is considered to be a “progressive” church. A number of news outlets have reported that the church condemns anti-Muslim speech and is an open and affirming congregation, meaning that it welcomes gays and lesbians. It is one of a number of churches in the state that Pride Guide Colorado lists as a welcoming congregation. The Rev. Susan Springer, the church’s rector,  said the church includes liberals, conservatives and people in between.

More here-