Saturday, December 31, 2011
It was something that had been in the making for a very long time. But just recently St. John the Evangelist became the first Roman Catholic-Anglican use parish in Canada.
"This is really the end of a long journey for St. John's," says Lee Kenyon of the Inglewood church.
Kenyon was the former parish priest and will be the new parish pastor in June, when he is ordained as a Catholic priest.
"It's been an Anglo-Catholic parish of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary for about 30 to 40 years now," Kenyon says. "As an Anglo-Catholic parish, it has emphasized certain things in common with the Catholic Church, particularly in matters of liturgy and ritual and worship.
"But also in terms of some theological aspects, as well. We've always placed a very high value on sacramental worship, a high view of the priesthood, Marian devotion, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the saints, prayers to the dead and that sort of thing. Things that are much more in common with the Roman Catholic way of thinking."
Kenyon says 90 per cent of parishioners affirmed that decision in November 2010.
From North Carolina- (with video)
A mystery in Mount Airy has a local thrift shop searching for a good Samaritan.
It centers on a donation that has the recipients thinking the gift was a little larger than intended.
It all started a few days ago, when volunteers at the St. James Episcopal Church Thrift Shop found a large amount of cash in a clothing donation that had just been dropped off.
A gift? Maybe. But parishioner Lynda Ellis says she felt it wasn’t intended.
Now the church is trying to track down the donor to make sure it was a gift and not a mistake.
“They may say no we really meant to donate that to you and that would be wonderful for our thrift shop and for our community but we really want to find that person and at least be able to thank them,” Ellis says.
I've learned in my years as a religion reporter that pastors collect some pretty interesting/crazy/touching stories.
I heard one yesterday from the Rev. George Glazier, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on the Ohio State University campus. I was interviewing Glazier for this story about church finances in 2012.
Here it is, paraphrased:
Glazier used to work at a church in Wheeling, W. Va., where an unkempt woman who appeared to be very poor would worship on Christmas Eve. That was the only time all year that she came, and the staff got to know who she was because of her appearance and because she didn't smell very good.
After the woman died, the church was shocked to find out she left $500,000 to the congregation. The reason? On at least one Christmas Eve, an usher was kind to her and gave her a good seat.
I'd say you never know how your kindnesses will pay off, but of course that's no reason to be kind. It is a remarkable story about how people can surprise you.
I'm sure the headline is a typo (right?)
St. James’ Episcopal Church will host the eighth annual communitywide “Messiah Sing-Along” today at 3 p.m., under the direction of Scott Smedinghoff.
Singers of all levels and abilities are invited to participate in the informal sing-along that will include the Advent and Christmas sections of Handel’s choral masterpiece, as well as the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
There will be several soloists including the rector of the church, the Rev. Scott B. Neal, a tenor and Mark Madison, a bass.
The chorus and audience will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra of local musicians.
Even those who don’t know the whole piece but want to sing or hum during a favorite part are welcome to the free event.
A limited number of copies of the score will be available to singers. Those who have their own copies are encouraged to bring them.
Light refreshments will be served in the church hall following the event.
To celebrate the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church being in full communion, an "Epiphany Lovefeast" will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at St. George's Chapel, 20274 Beaver Dam Road in Harbeson.
The service is part of the Moravian tradition and is a way to encourage prayer, religious conversation, the singing of hymns and the celebration of important events.
Odes are the primary order of service. In addition, food is often shared, usually in the form of buns and a drink.
The Moravian Church, the world's first Protestant denomination, was founded in Bohemia in 1457 and can be found in North Carolina and Pennsylvania today.
Grace Episcopal Church is losing its food-blogging rector, but the food blog itself may live on in some form.
“I’m working currently on an idea that will keep ‘Cookin’ in the ’Cuse’ alive, perhaps asking other folks to help curate and write those stories and perhaps edit from afar,” the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows said. “I’m not quite sure how we’ll work that out but I’m hoping there will be a model that will sustain it.”
Baskerville-Burrows will give her last sermon as Grace rector on Sunday. She’s accepted a job as director of networking with the Episcopal diocese of Chicago. Besides her job as rector and her food blog, she served as the Episcopal chaplain at Syracuse University and was a community columnist for The Post-Standard.
The process to find a new rector, or head pastor, for Grace could take a year or more, said Nancy Radke, a member of the Grace church vestry or council. In the interim, clergy or sometimes lay people will fill in, she said.
The Episcopal church in Alabama is getting a new bishop.
The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan will be invested as the state's 11th Episcopal bishop on Jan. 7 in Birmingham. The 56-year-old Sloan will replace the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley Jr., who is retiring.
Sloan will serve as chief priest and pastor to the Diocese of Alabama. That includes 90 congregations with more than 32,000 members in north and central Alabama.
Sloan who has served as Alabama's suffragan bishop since January 2008. Before that, Sloan served 14 years as rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Huntsville.
Friday, December 30, 2011
The Bishop of Durham has issued a hard hitting message for the New Year.
In it, Bishop Justin calls for confidence, optimism and hope based on God's love and urges generosity and courage to make a stance against the downturn in the economy and the impact on jobs.
"I would love to see business leaders making sane plans for expansion, investment and creation of jobs. Lets remember that investing in people is the very best asset any business can possess."
"I'm setting myself three New Year Resolutions to seek at all levels, generosity, care about moral values and spiritual renewal," he said.
"These are key messages for all of us to take to our hearts in what is sure to be a very challenging new year in 2012.
"But, if we all work together for the common good, we can turn these difficult times into something that can have a significant beneficial effect.”
New Year’s Day ushers in a new era for Roman Catholics and members of the Anglican Church who will have the opportunity to enter into “corporate reunion” with the Holy See.
An apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI, will lead to the creation of “personal ordinariates,” geographic regions similar to dioceses but typically national in scope.
Parishes in these ordinariates are to be Catholic yet retain elements of the Anglican heritage and liturgical practices. They are to be led by an “ordinary” who will have a role similar to a bishop, but who may be either a bishop or a priest.
The Vatican’s action was in response to repeated and persistent inquiries from Anglican groups worldwide who were seeking to come into sacramental communion with Rome.
Some are currently part of the Episcopal Church and others, though Anglican, are not part of the Episcopal Church. Ordinariates seek to provide a way to enter in “corporate reunion” as a group and not simply as individuals. This would allow them to retain their Anglican liturgical heritage and traditions, and to have their own leadership structure, accountable to the Pope alone.
When Ginny Steen prepared for the first Neighborhood Table community meal, she thought about 50 people would attend the New Year's Eve gathering.
Eight years later, organizers and other volunteers have kept the program going strong -- serving about 400 during the weekly Thursday meals and another 225 during the once-a-month Tuesday gatherings.
"We've grown a lot," said Steen, who started the tradition to provide a free meal and a place to socialize for the Wisconsin Rapids-area community.
The first Neighborhood Table meal was a spaghetti dinner. On Thursday night, volunteers served jambalaya. For dessert, they had a cake to celebrate eight years of operation and more than 150,000 meals served.
From Central PA-
Gregory Malia, the former Northeast Pennsylvania Episcopal vicar dubbed "the partying priest" by a New York tabloid, owes the Internal Revenue Service $358,576 in back taxes, according to a Thursday court filing.
Mr. Malia, 46, formerly of Laflin, failed to pay taxes in 2006, 2007 and 2008 on income derived from self-employment or through his interest in a small business, according to the filing in Luzerne County Court.
Attorney Edward Patrick Heffron, who represents Mr. Malia in another matter, did not return a telephone message Thursday night. Mr. Malia, who lives on Wall Street in New York City, could not be reached for comment.
According to the federal tax lien filing, Mr. Malia owes $130,367 in personal income taxes for 2006, $39,997 for 2007 and $188,211 for 2008.
The document did not specify Mr. Malia's self-employment or small business interest. State records indicate Mr. Malia remains the sole officer of New Life Home Care Inc., a pharmacy he founded in Pittston a decade ago for hemophilia patients.
Investigators from the state attorney general's office raided the offices of New Life Home Care in August 2009 as part of what a spokesman for the office called an "ongoing insurance fraud investigation." No charges were filed, but Mr. Malia and the company have faced several lawsuits alleging overbilling and misappropriation of funds.
Mr. Malia, the former vicar of St. James Episcopal Church in Dundaff, Susquehanna County, made national headlines in December 2008 when the New York Daily News painted him as a frequent guest at upscale city nightclubs and a patron willing to buy expensive champagne and leave five-figure tips.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
So much for "Heavenly Peace"-
The annual cleaning of one of Christianity's holiest churches deteriorated into a brawl between rival clergy Wednesday, as dozens of monks feuding over sacred space at the Church of the Nativity battled each other with brooms until police intervened.
The ancient church, built over the traditional site of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, is shared by three Christian denominations -- Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox.
Wednesday's fight erupted between Greek and Armenian clergy, with the sides accusing each other of encroaching on parts of the church to which they lay claim.
The monks were tidying up the church ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, following celebrations by Western Christians on Dec. 25. The fight erupted between monks along the border of their respective areas. Some shouted and hurled brooms.
Palestinian security forces rushed in to break up the melee, and no serious injuries were reported. A Palestinian police spokesman would not immediately comment.
Dennis Fornoff, the sexton of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Des Plaines, saw the one-foot long Baby Jesus in his manger at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
The next morning, a woman in the neighborhood informed him that the figurine was gone.
"I built the manger in my garage and my family donated the figurines. Seven or eight are still there and the manger," Fornoff told the Journal & Topics Newspapers. "These are heavy ceramic figurines painted in different colors and are very realistic looking."
The nativity was well lit.
A report has been filed with the Des Plaines Police Dept. and appears in the Des Plaines Journal's Dec. 28 edition Police Blotter.
“The eternal hope and yearning of the human race emerges from darkness into light in the birth of this child both humble and divine,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted in her homily for Christmas Eve, 2011. “We gather to celebrate his birth and recover that eternal hope.”
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori presented her homily during the hour-long 2011 CBS Christmas Eve television special originating from the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at General Theological Seminary in New York City. The special aired nationwide on December 24 and is available for on-demand viewing below.
Padre, I need to speak with you."
Robert is a wounded warrior in his early 20s who served in Iraq, and as he utters these words, I see an urgency in his eyes that I have learned to recognize as a pastor. His expression says: "I need to unload a whole bunch of stuff, and it's not going to be pretty."
Robert and I were at a Wounded Warrior Spiritual Retreat held by the Episcopal Diocese of Florida at the Cerveny Conference Center and Camp Weed in Live Oak. A partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project in Jacksonville, the ministry seeks to care for the spiritual wounds of veterans.
By New Year's Eve, all of our troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the lives of many warriors have been saved by the use of body armor and advances in battlefield medicine. That's the good news.
From New York-
The Rev. Claire Woodley-Aitchison has been rector at St. Mary's Episcopal Church for the past 10 years and during that decade the number of people attending the Mohegan Lake church has grown tremendously.
According to experts, the growth of the church is contrary to what's happening nationally to mainstream churches in the United States.
According to the latest data in Association of Religious Data Archives, in 2000 the Episcopal Church in Westchester County had an adherence rate of approximately 16 (16.1), which means that 16 out of every 1,000 people in the county are Episcopalian.
Woodley-Aitchison was invited to the church 15 years ago as a consultant to help the church sort out a conflict inside the congregation. Churches sometimes can have negativity and unless you do "good spiritual housecleaning," negative personalities can take over, she said.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tom Prichard is working to build 41 schools in the new nation of South Sudan. But he is also building something else: peace between former enemies in this war-torn region of East Africa.
South Sudan, which gained independence in July, has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the world. The need for better education is plain. And after decades of civil war, the need to build peace between former enemies is equally urgent.
Mr. Prichard uses one to support the other. "The pathway to peace has to be doing things that grow grass-roots reconciliation and understanding," says Prichard, executive director of Sudan Sunrise, the nonprofit group he founded in 2005.
In the 55 years since it gained independence from Egypt and Britain, Sudan has been in a state of nearly constant civil war. From 1983 to 2004, the hard-line Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir waged war against the largely Christian population in the south.
From Catholic Online-
With just a few short days before the official announcement of the new Anglican Ordinariate for the United States, I wanted to take some time to review some of the important developments that led to this momentous event, whose seeds can be found in the Pastoral Provision from Pope John Paul II in 1980.
Anglicans becoming Catholic is not new. It has happened often in the years since Henry VIII broke off relations with the Sea of Peter and took the reins of a "new" jurisdiction. Even former Anglican clergy had been received and ordained into Holy Orders - including Blessed John Cardinal Newman, who is now on his way to canonization.
But with the "pastoral provision," the Holy Father allowed diocesan bishops to establish Anglican Use parishes within their jurisdiction and to ordain former Anglican priests who are married, as Catholic priests. Such dispensations had been granted since the mid-20th Century to Anglican and Lutheran clergy on a case-by-case basis, but the provision set a formal mechanism in place to undertake this work.
Two of the earliest Anglican Use parishes under the provision were in Texas.: Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston and Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio. Recently I had a chance to talk with Fr. Christopher Phillips, pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement, about the early days of Anglican Use.
The Archbishop of Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) Daniel Deng Bul yesterday advised Christians to keep themselves away from corrupt practices which he said are now being heard everywhere in South Sudan.
While preaching at the All Saints Cathedral of Juba the Archbishop said that corruption is a sin and people who called themselves believers should not be mentioned in such practices, adding that all the things done should be for the benefits of the nation not individuals. Bul said there are many consequences of corruption and people who get addicted to it in particular should refrain and all South Sudanese should abstain from misusing public property. The Archbishop stated that it would be meaningless for South Sudan to vote for their independence and again does not satisfy people, and if corruption continues even the martyrs who died for the freedom of South Sudan would be in vain.
The Rev. John Roberts was our family priest from 1883 until his death in 1949. In a cheering change of pace, we white people were something of an afterthought to him compared to the Shoshone and Arapaho Indians who were his enthusiastic focus.
A Welshman, Roberts was 30 when he arrived on the Wind River Indian Reservation. This was a few years after President Ulysses S. Grant in effect “gave” the Shoshones to the Episcopal Church in an early version of modern-day faith-based initiatives designed to enlist religious denominations in aiding needy citizens.
Father Roberts became friends with both Chief Washakie and his fellow old soldier, my great-great-grandfather Sgt. Ed Alton. Washakie’s legend still shines radiantly from that bedarkened time. In “Son of the Morning Star,” a masterpiece about Custer and the Little Big Horn, author Evan Connell paints this lush picture of a preliminary June 17, 1876 battle: “embarrassing scenes alternated with moments of intense beauty. Chief Washakie, the great Shoshone, rode naked to the waist, wearing a bonnet with so many feathers that they swept the earth.”
For the past few years, whenever Bucks County declared a Code Blue emergency, only homeless people in Lower Bucks had a place to go.
Homeless people in Central and Upper Bucks had to find a way to get to Lower Bucks or stay outside in the cold.
“I think there’s a sense that there are more homeless people in Lower Bucks County than there are in Central and Upper Bucks County,” said the Rev. Lucy Amerman, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Buckingham.
“I don’t know the numbers. I think people who are homeless in Central and Upper Bucks are just less visible. But they’re there. They’re definitely there,” she said.
Bob Clark, facility manager at Covenant Church in Buckingham, said people regularly call or walk into his church seeking help.
Trinity Episcopal Church, Covenant Church and several other area churches and community service organizations have joined to offer the homeless in Central and Upper Bucks a place to stay on nights when temperatures drop below 20 degrees. The churches and service organizations call themselves the Coalition to Shelter and Support the Homeless.
To the Rev. Richard Turk, church wasn’t contained within the four walls of a sanctuary.
He ministered to prisoners throughout North Florida, served on a board that prepares ex-offenders to re-enter the workforce, helped build homes for the needy, collected presents for underprivileged children, served parishioners at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and taught college courses.
The former Catholic priest also was involved in an unlikely love story with a former Catholic nun that endured to his death Christmas morning. The Rev. Turk was 72 and died from complications of a heart condition.
“He had a servant’s heart, especially for the poor, the forgotten and the disenfranchised,” said Frank Cerveny, retired bishop of Florida. “He will be greatly missed because he was greatly loved.”
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
How about a little baseball diversion- HOF voting this week- (Like to see Tim Raines make it)
The Baseball Writers Association of America has the significant task of annually determining who is and isn't worthy of a bronze plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It can also be considered an unenviable task with the long list of steroids-tainted greats becoming eligible very soon.
Mark McGwire excluded, the BBWAA will wait one more year to mull the topic over as it first must focus on selecting the 2012 HOF class. Voting is released on Jan. 9.
This year's newcomers appear to be a pretty weak bunch, with the likes of Bernie Williams, Vinny Castilla, Javy Lopez and ex-Ranger Ruben Sierra highlighting the group. If anyone has a chance, it's probably Williams, who spent his entire 16-year career with the Yankees.
The Puerto Rican outfielder was a five-time MLB All-Star who earned four Gold Gloves. If Williams is elected, playing a key role on a New York team that won four titles will have just as much to do with it as his statistics.
Ballot holdovers who received more than 40 percent of the 2011 vote include shortstop Barry Larkin (62.1 percent), pitcher Jack Morris (53.5), reliever Lee Smith (45.3) and Jeff Bagwell (41.7).
I'll be surprised if Larkin doesn't get the 75 percent of the votes needed for election. And I'll be surprised if anyone else makes it.
Rt. Rev, Francis Benjamin Quashie, Bishop of the Koforidua Diocese of the Anglican Church has assured that, God would not allow Ghanaians to die because of the greed and selfishness of some politicians in the country.
He said often when one hears the pronouncement of some of the political leaders of the country, it makes one feel that the world would come to an end after the 2012 elections in Ghana.
Rt Rev. Quashie said sometimes the politicians tries to assure the people of peace, their pronouncement and actions does not give any assurance of peace and therefore called on the people of Ghana to have trust in God and serve him faithfully and he would be with the people of Ghana till the end of times as he assured.
Rt. Rev. Quashie was preaching the sermon on Christmas day at the Saint Peter’s Cathedral at Koforidua.
Religious Leaders and Christians have described this years' Christmas as unique as it is the first South Sudan is celebrating as an independent country.This follows the declaration of South Sudan as a separate country from Sudan in July.
The Dean of All Saints Cathedral Rev. Fraser Yugu said that this year's Christmas was far much different from other years with huge church attendance by Christian followers, including returnees from different countries after the country won its independence from the North.The Rev. Yugu also said that the celebrations were peaceful with no cases of violence registered."Last years' Christmas attendance was poor but this year, more than three thousand people prayed at All Saints Cathedral and it was a very colorful Christmas celebration" he told The Citizen yesterday at the Church premises.
Susie Hermanson spins a small gray basket sending dozens of little white balls spinning in a clockwise direction.
Twelve sets of eyes watch her closely.
She stops after one of the balls rolls from its metallic enclosure. Across the table, 10 feet away, Sherry Gieger has her fingers crossed, both hands raised above her head.
"O. 70," Hermanson calls out.
"Bingo!" Gieger exclaims, shooting out of her seat.
Gieger brings her sheet to Hermanson, who examines the numbers, her black eyeglasses perched on the end of her nose.
"We have a lot of false alarms," Hermanson says, but tonight Gieger's sheet is really a winner.
It's a cool, rainy autumn night, but inside it's warm and dry at 76 Federal St. The 50 or so people here know they'll have to be back on the street by 7 a.m. the next morning, but for now, it's bingo night at the homeless shelter in the St. James Episcopal Church.
For Hermanson, 67, the shelter's unofficial "Bingo Lady," it's all about providing that short reprieve from life's daily hardships.
A disagreement over the issue of blessing same-sex marriages in the Anglican diocese of Montreal has led some of its parishes to request the help of a retired bishop from western Newfoundland.
Bishop Leonard Whitten of Pasadena retired from his ministry in 2003, but has been asked to provide what’s known as a shared episcopal ministry to parishes within the diocese of Montreal that disagree with the stance taken by Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal.
Since 2007, at the direction of a diocesan synod, Clarke has authorized at least two blessings of two civil marriages without controversy.
However, in recent months, parishes in the diocese have protested the induction of a partnered gay priest, Very Rev. Paul Kennington, as the dean of Montreal and rector of Christ Church Cathedral and the ordination as a deacon of a partnered gay man, Rev. Robert Camara.
The governing board of the Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh has voted to affiliate with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh more than three years after a majority of parishes left to form the more conservative Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The board voted 11-7 last week to align solely with the Episcopalians, ending an agreement under which the cathedral was affiliated with both dioceses. That agreement had been in place since the Anglican parishes broke away from the Episcopal diocese in 2008 over differences including the authority of the Bible and the Episcopal church's ordination of gay clergy.
The Episcopal diocese has about 9,000 members in 29 parishes. The Anglicans have about 20,000 members in 74 congregations.
The governing board and the cathedral's congregation approved a resolution in October 2008 to let the cathedral continue to represent both groups, but congregation officials said the dual affiliation was making it difficult to grow.
Monday, December 26, 2011
From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-
Trinity Cathedral, whose shared governance by the rival Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of Pittsburgh had been a symbol of civility amid strife, has chosen to move forward as solely an Episcopal cathedral.
The 11-7 decision, taken with three Anglican members of the cathedral chapter absent, has lit up the Episcopal and Anglican blogospheres since it was made last week. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has criticized the procedural correctness of the vote.
A resolution that created the relationship in 2008 called for a Christian community "in which the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be evidenced in our practices of self-restraint, mutual accountability, and extending respect and forbearance to those with whom we differ."
"This is a very sad sort of thing," said the Rev. Catherine Brall, provost of the Downtown cathedral, who first proposed the shared arrangement. "It was a great idea. But, unfortunately, humans being what they are, it was difficult to put into practice. We gave it three years to work, and it just wasn't working."
The dual affiliation was created by an overwhelming majority of both the cathedral chapter and congregation in anticipation of the 2008 decision of the majority at the diocesan convention to leave the Episcopal Church. That group is now the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. The remaining Episcopalians continued the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The cathedral had leadership from both and answered to both Episcopal Bishop Kenneth Price and Anglican Archbishop Robert Duncan.
Riots and bankers' greed have sent Britain's communities "spinning apart in the dark" this year, the head of the Church of England will say in his Christmas Day sermon, warning against building a society on foundations of selfishness and fear.
Rioting and looting erupted across England this summer, leaving some towns ransacked and divided, while public anger against irresponsible behaviour and big bonuses in the banking sector has remained strong throughout the financial crisis.
"The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society. Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (picture) will say at Canterbury Cathedral in southeast England on Sunday, according to extracts released in advance by his office.
"Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark."
Williams, the spiritual leader for 77 million Anglicans around the world, told the Conservative-led coalition government earlier in December to consider the social impact of its austerity drive, particularly in cuts to youth services. He warned that Britain could face more riots unless communities and the authorities did more to reach out to disenfranchised young people.
Williams, no stranger to courting controversy with his remarks about politics, fairness in society and morality in global affairs, has also previously said the wealthy are not bearing their fair share of spending cuts.
From The Washington Post-
Sunday services were starting in 15 minutes at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, and Pastor Andrew Walton was alone in the carpeted common area, marking up a program with a highlighter. At this time of the week, the space is normally a crazy intersection of kids and adults.
But this was Christmas. The only sounds in the room were the hum of a coffee maker and the organist practicing upstairs.
“The staff is on vacation, and we wanted to give families some time at home,” Walton said, explaining why the typical schedule had been altered. With Sunday School canceled and a small crowd expected at the 11 a.m. service, Walton jettisoned his sermon and asked congregants to share stories.
Smaller Sunday crowds on Christmas? Seems counterintuitive. But the confluence of the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth with the conventional church-going day actually proved a conundrum for many pastors.
A new poll by LifeWay Research shows that about 10 percent of U.S. Protestant pastors canceled Sunday services this Christmas. Many others had abbreviated or altered services. Some said they would use the smaller crowds to give their second-string clergy a chance to practice.
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit on Sunday called for peaceful Christmas celebrations taking place across the new nation and urged police forces to take charge during the festivities.
Christmas Eve prayers were held at both Kator Roman Catholic Church led by archbishop Paulino Lokudu and Episcopal Church’s main cathedral at Mabil in Juba led by Daniel Deng Bul, with many other Christians attending prayers in different churches.
With a festive mood on the streets of the country’s capital Juba on Saturday, market areas and shops remained congested with residents busy with last minute shopping, as police authorities urged members of the public to be careful when using roads.
Lori Martin, of Howell, picked up a new Christmas tradition Sunday.
Instead of exchanging gifts and eating a holiday feast, Martin, 55, and six family members pitched in at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Marysville to bring Christmas dinner to others.
"You can't give to the community like this every day of the year," Martin said, as she gestured to people around her preparing and serving food in the church's steamy kitchen. "... It's a really good feeling."
Pastor Tracie Loffhagen of All Saints Episcopal Church, 543 Michigan Ave. in Marysville, said Sunday marked the sixth year the church has put on the Christmas dinner. Volunteers cooked and served up steaming trays of turkey, baked beans, scalloped potatoes and ham. Diners also had a pick of coleslaw, rolls and an assortment of pies, cakes and cookies.
About 30 parishioners of the Bishop Seabury Church gathered for the 10 o'clock service Christmas morning. They took part in communion, offered prayers for others, and sang "Joy to the World" and "Away in a Manger."
And perhaps some silently hoped this would not be the final Christmas service at the North Road church.
The future of the congregation in its church building is uncertain. After eight years of contention with the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, a decision by the congregation to leave the diocese, and a legal battle over the property, the 135-year-old parish is under court order to vacate the premises by Jan. 4.
The diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, said Friday he is trying to avoid that end. He said he is not insisting on the deadline and has asked to meet with the lay and ordained leaders Jan. 12, when he hopes to offer solutions that would return the historic Bishop Seabury parish to the Episcopal fold.
But the pastor of Bishop Seabury, the Rev. Ronald S. Gauss, said Sunday that 200 members of the congregation have voted unanimously not to rejoin the Episcopal church. He said Sunday that members also have voted to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a state Supreme Court ruling that the church and all its property must be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The story of Lawson Cook truly is a Christmas miracle.
That’s why it’s so appropriate that he played Baby Jesus in the Christmas Eve pageant at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
Last year at this time, his mother, Ejola Christlieb Cook, was five weeks pregnant and directing the pageant for the first time. Following the dress rehearsal, Cook ended up at Good Samaritan Medical Center, fearing she was having a miscarriage. The doctor found a heartbeat, and Cook was ordered on bed rest for a few days.
However, that wasn’t Cook’s last miscarriage scare. There were a few more throughout the pregnancy. Luckily, she delivered a healthy baby boy four months ago.
It just so happens that Lawson is the perfect age to play the Baby Jesus.
“For him to be here and play Jesus is huge for me,” Cook said. “There were quite a few times that we thought we might lose him, so he is my miracle baby.”
More than 50 children took part in this year’s Christmas Pageant, which came to life during Saturday’s 4 p.m. service.
St. Paul’s on the Plains Episcopal Church relied on its children to share “the greatest story ever told” during a Christmas Eve pageant Saturday evening.
It was at least the fifth time since she was 5 years old that 17-year-old Taylor Liggett performed as Mary, this time narrating as the mother of Jesus as she told of his storied birth 2011 years ago.
As youths from her church acted while dressed in Middle Eastern robes or as angels, Liggett described the virgin Mary’s visitation by an angel informing her she would give birth to the son of God, her journey to Bethlehem with Joseph, the birth of Jesus in a manger, and their visit by shepherds and wise men.
She lit candles between visits from angels, wise men and shepherds as the audience of more than 130 sang Christmas hymns.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
From Hong Kong-
The leaders of Hong Kong's Anglican and Catholic churches yesterday denounced the "selfishness" of a city beset by a widening gap between rich and poor, saying the quest for personal wealth was inconsistent with the true spirit of Christmas.
Seizing on last month's deadly fire in Mong Kok's Fa Yuen Street market as an example, Anglican archbishop Paul Kwong (pictured) said in his holiday message to the city that Hongkongers' selfishness was at the root of some of this year's most controversial issues.
Kwong accused the Fa Yuen Street hawkers in particular of being "cold-blooded" for protesting against plans to dismantle their stalls at night, a safety measure proposed after the fire broke out in the market in the early hours of November 30 .
He said their protests had shown they were more worried about their businesses than the victims of a fire that killed nine people - a number some dismissed as "a trivial matter".
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has called for Australians to dig deep and give generously to help the world's poor at Christmas time.
As Australia faces an economic downturn, now more than ever is the time to be generous, Dr Peter Jensen says.
In his heath annual Christmas Message, Dr Jensen spoke of the signs of financial difficulty in many parts of the world.
"For some countries it is not just a downturn," he said. "They will need to grapple with a breakdown in their economic systems.
"Already, many people go hungry each day. If times get worse, it will be the poor and disadvantaged who suffer most."
Christmas is the time to be generous, he says.
"The greatest inspiration to generosity that the world has ever known is Jesus.
From The New York Times-
Hanging from the wall of Bishop Ezekiel Kondo’s living room — a few blocks from a silver-coated dome marking the tomb of Sudan’s 19th-century Muslim leader, the Mahdi — are a cross, pictures of fellow clergy members and a photo of him with the former archbishop of Canterbury above a small plastic Christmas tree.
Much has changed for Bishop Kondo, and for the nation, since the holidays last year. Though he presides over one of Sudan’s largest churches, he is more in the minority than ever. South Sudan, with its large Christian population, became an independent nation over the summer, making for a Christmas of mixed emotions.
“This Christmas, since Southern Sudanese have gone, we don’t know what the attendance will be, but I would say people will celebrate with mixed feeling of joy and fear,” said Bishop Kondo, who is the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the former chairman of the Sudanese Council of Churches.
From NPR- (click on "listen" for the interview)
A decade of schism in the American Episcopal Church has taken a toll. New polls show the number of Episcopalians in the U.S. has dipped below two million for the first time in modern history. The church is losing conservatives who say it is too secular and accepting of gays and lesbians. Liberals are leaving to find spirituality not based on a centuries-old theology. The first female bishop of the Washington D.C. diocese -- one of the nation’s largest and home to the National Cathedral -- has a plan. She’s looking for ways to grow the church and bring people together. Diane talks with the Right Reverend Mariann Budde about saving the Episcopal Church.
Mariann Edgar Budde Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D. C.
Despite last-minute shopping trips, meal preparations and all the stress that comes from holiday arrangements, pastors are hoping people keep the true meaning of Christmas alive.
Pressure to get the perfect gift, frustration from standing in long lines and stress to create the perfect holiday family experience can make the holidays a hectic – and joyless – time, but clergy members are trying to make sure church members don’t lose focus of what’s really important.
“That is a challenge for everyone who either wears a collar or who calls themselves pastor or priest,” said the Rev. Jerald Hyche, senior pastor at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church. “It’s a challenge for us as well because obviously this is one of the busiest times of the year ... with us as well. It really does put us there with everyone else with all the extra services and details.”
In the Episcopal Church, the Advent season, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, help church members dedicate time to prayer, reflection and quietness, Hyche said. Still, it’s tough to find the time during the holidays.
“A lot of that is unavoidable,” Hyche said. “In the midst of the craziness, the focus is to take a moment to take a break.”
Friday, December 23, 2011
From The Church Times-
AT THE first Christmas in Bethlehem since the start of the Arab Spring, Palestinians are welcoming the new mood in the region — although without being able to point to specific signs that the revolutionary atmosphere is helping their cause.
A number of dark clouds still hang over the Holy Land, in the form of significant obstacles in the way of the Palestinians’ dream of statehood, and continuing tensions within the community.
On the positive side, international attention was refocused for a time away from the Arab Spring earlier this year, when the Palestinian leadership lodged a demand with the UN Security Council for international recognition of statehood. While this route will be blocked, the Palestinians achieved a breakthrough by being awarded full membership of UNESCO.
But these diplomatic gains have come at a price. Israel has responded by putting new energy into the West Bank settlement expansion programme. So, as the Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad was turning on the lights of a Christmas tree outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem earlier this month, the Israeli government was approving the construction of 40 new settlement units at Efrat, just to the south of the town.
At the tree-lighting ceremony, Mr Fayyad said that Christmas brought the attention of the world to Bethlehem for a brief moment each year. He might have gone on to say that this applies to the Holy Land and Palestine as a whole. In this year of the Arab Spring, as never before, all eyes have been fixed on developments in the wider Middle East.
From David Virtue-
Former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande, Jeffrey Steenson, is to be named the Ordinary when the Anglican Ordinariate is erected on January 1, 2012, sources tell VOL.
Word seeped out from the Vatican late last week that Steenson -- who left The Episcopal Church in 2007 over TEC's polity - has been tapped for the new post as the Ordinariate gets its first foothold in the United States.
The former Episcopal House of Bishops' member has been deeply concerned with the continued fracturing of Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church's insistence on autonomy has further distanced itself from other Anglican provinces and resulted in a shredding of the fabric of Anglicanism.
This reporter came into possession of a private communiqué late Wednesday revealing that Steenson is being tapped for the Ordinariate's top post. A second confidential source has confirmed the communiqué.
When asked if the former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande has received the nod to be the first Ordinary the source replied: "Yes, Jeffrey Steenson will be the new Ordinary."
On Tuesday, a third source, The Bovina Bloviator Blog theorized that Steenson would get the miter.
"It is being noised Jeffrey Steenson, the former Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande in the Episcopal Church, who was received into the Catholic Church in 2007 and is now a priest, will be named Ordinary of the American Anglican Ordinariate on January 1, 2012," the Bovina Bloviator posted under an Ordinariate Buzz header.
From The Phillippines-
The parishes of this city are asking their parishioners to give relief assistance for the victims of tropical storm Sendong.
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (EDNL) appeals to all parishioners in its area of responsibility to donate cash to thousands of victims. They are only receiving cash contributions since they have no means to transport in-kind donations.
Rev. Renato Abibico, EDNL Bishop, is asking each and everyone to share whatever little money for the victims. “Love through sharing, this after all is one of the themes of this season,” he said in his letter read during masses and through the media.
“Let us not forget that God was the one who started this (sharing) during the first Christmas – that He shared to us His unconditional love through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. Sharing our blessings, however, little it may be, will be great act of love, hoping that by doing so, we will all experience the true meaning of giving this Christmas,” he said in his letter.
Rev. Denver Marrero also of EDNL said all contributions will be coordinated with their Mindanao counterpart for proper distribution to victims.
Bishop Abibico also asks for prayers that the lessons of this disaster will truly be discerned.
From New Jersey-
Jackie Goedesky said it has been a journey of faith that has kept the Hands of Hope Food Pantry going for so many years.
It’s been 20 years since Goedesky, president of the pantry located at St. James Episcopal Church, and her friend Sue Gajewski decided to establish the nonprofit food pantry in 1992. Gajewski has since moved on and now lives in South Jersey.
“Sue came to me and said, ‘You are going to think I’m crazy, but I think we should start a food pantry,’ ” Goedesky recalled. “We went to the father with the idea and told him our concerns, and he told us to pray about it. It was three months later when we went back to him and said we will start the food pantry, and if it is God’s will then the pantry will succeed. If not, then it will not succeed.”
Outreach projects abound at Christ Episcopal Church in Bethany all year round, and Christmas is no exception.“We Come Bearing Gifts” and “A Baby Shower for Jesus” join carol singing, a church school pageant, and a beautifully decorated altar as time-honored December customs wholeheartedly favored by parishioners.
Named after the three kings who brought gifts to the Christ child, “We Come Bearing Gifts” was started in 1993 by parishioner Deborah Melycher of Prospect. The Rev. Dr. E. Bevan Stanley, the interim rector at Christ Church, enthusiastically declared, “We are very pleased that we could provide gifts for ten families. The generosity of this congregation is amazing and reflects our gratitude for all that God has given us.”
Each of the families received a large turkey plus all the trimmings, from potatoes and yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, rolls and butter, to pumpkin pie fixings, nuts, a box of chocolates and a fruit basket.
At the request of Christ Church, the 10 needy families provided wish lists for clothing, toys, school supplies, and gift certificates. Most desires were met. These included hats and mittens, pants, towels, art supplies, Elmo, a telescope, two bicycles, and gift certificates to Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, and Stop and Shop.
From New York-
Nearly a week after Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to takeover Duarte Square -- a Trinity Wall Street-owned piece of real estate -- an Episcopal minister in the city received some strange mail.
The mail was sent to the minister's home and it was addressed with his full name (including his middle name and his church title).
In the envelope, there were three superimposed photographs of Occupy Wall Street protesters being arrested at Duarte Square.
The captions on the pictures said, "Jim Cooper's Legacy," "The Trinity Episcopal Church Welcomes You" and "Do not forget the trust you committed to you as a priest of the Church of God," which is from the rite for the Ordination of a Priest in the Book of Common Prayer, p. 534.
There was no return address, but there appears to be a New York City postmark. What's more is there was no letter or note enclosed, just the superimposed pictures.
It's unclear who sent the mail or if other Episcopalians have received similar packets.
"Receiving it made me think, 'Is this a joke?' but then I couldn't think of who would send such a thing," the minister, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Business Insider.
"While the note wasn't threatening, I still wondered how someone got my home address and even knew my middle name," he said.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
From New Jersey-
The Rev. John Perris is a man of the cloth, not couture.
He hasn't hesitated in past years to lead services on Christmas morning in his slippers and pajamas underneath his vestments.
For many religious groups, dressing in their Sunday best may be part of worship. But Perris says keep it casual and the people will come.
This coming Christmas morning, he is encouraging his congregation at St. James Episcopal Church to come as they are — clad in pajamas of flannel, fleece, or a favorite SpongeBob SquarePants knit.
"It's a fun thing to do and it probably makes it easier for parents to get their children to come. So if we can make it easier for the parents, we're happy to do that," Perris said.
Perris does believe that it is appropriate to dress up as a sign that one is aware of God's presence and also a sign of respect for one's fellow worshipers. At the same time, "I also know that God knows us better than we know ourselves and we don't dress up to impress God," Perris said. "We come to God just as we are."
According to Perris, the St. James clergy has maintained the tradition for 15 years. There are some occasions designated for informal worship and congregants are encouraged to dress casual. "This custom that we've had for Christmas morning comes out of that idea. But it also comes out of the idea that we want to make it easy for people to come to church on Christmas morning when they may have first been gathering around the Christmas tree with family, so that it's very simple for them to both have their family celebration at home and to come worship," Perris said.
St. Mark's Cathedral, while professing its love for social justice, has denied a request by Occupy Seattle to pitch tents as "offices" in the cathedral's parking lot, a few blocks north of the movement's recent Seattle Central Community College encampment.
The pre-Christmas no-room-in-the-parking-lot decision was made by St. Mark's governing Vestry, which has in the past allowed the Tent City homeless encampment to pitch multiple tents in the lot of the Episcopal cathedral.
"The heart of the cathedral community is in social justice, but legal and financial constraints made it unrealistic for us to approve the request," said the Rev. Canon Rebecca McClain, senior priest on the cathedral staff.
Coast-to-coast actions by churches show that the nimbus of the Occupy movement is wearing thin.
Trinity Church, the wealthy Episcopal congregation in New York's lower Manhattan, has fed and clothed Occupy Wall Street protesters -- but has refused to let them camp on a church-owned gravel lot. Several demonstrators were arrested there last weekend after scaling a chain-link fence onto the lot.
Lutheran, Anglican and Episcopal leaders from the
United States and Canada met in December to explore new possibilities for
working together and to deepen their sense of unity for doing God's work
in the world. In a report issued from their meeting, the leaders stated
that their conversation and work together "are hopeful signs for the
"There was truly a spirit of Advent expectant hope as we met to pray
and plan for greater cooperation in ministry and mission," said ELCA
Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the meeting.
"There is so much more we can do when working together, whether that
is in military chaplaincy, global mission, campus ministry, planting new
congregations or advocacy. I look forward to our continued shared
leadership and to new possibilities that exist to proclaim the good news
of Jesus, engaging in God's work for the life of the world because of our
full-communion relationship," he said.
Gathered together for their second annual meeting was Hanson; the
Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Canada; the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the
Episcopal Church U.S.A.; and the Rev. Fred Hiltz, archbishop of the
Anglican Church of Canada.