Last year's palms become this year's ashes. Many Catholic churches still burn dried, leftover strips from Palm Sunday Masses to make their supplies of ashes for the next Ash Wednesday.
But more Western Pennsylvania churches planning Ash Wednesday services today will use purchased, boxed palm ashes compared to a few years ago, said Jerry Zufelt, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg. That's on top of the thousands of palm strips that local churches will buy from growers in Florida, Texas and other Southern states to pass out on Palm Sunday, which is April 17 this year.
Today marks the start of a key season for retailers who sell Christian and Jewish merchandise to places of worship and the public. Stores and suppliers in the region say the weeks surrounding Easter and Passover rival or surpass December's religious holidays in terms of being the year's busiest time.
Roughly half of JMJ Catholic Book Store's annual retail sales are rung up between February and May, as customers buy gifts and personal items for Lent and Easter and families prepare children for First Holy Communion, confirmation and graduation, said Linda Gentili, who owns the 17-year-old Bethel Park business with other family members. Mother's Day shoppers, too, stop in to look for religious items.
JMJ's church goods business is fairly steady year-round as parishes order ashes, palms and priests' vestments or have chalices and other altar items refinished, she said.
"We've been very fortunate that we've been able to do fine -- the economic downturn has affected a lot of people, but we have a niche product," Gentili said.
At first it was a feast, and now it's a famine. Whatever the menu, the people of a St. James church are determined to amass cash to build a medical clinic in an African village.
"No, it's not a fun meal," explains Paul Hazelton of tonight's fundraising dinner of beans and rice at St. James the Assiniboine Anglican Church.
"The bottom line is you're going to go home hungry. But hopefully, you go home feeling you did something right."
That something right is completing a medical clinic in Mayungwe, Uganda, a village that's a two-hour's drive southwest of Kampala. Hazelton says half of the proceeds of the $35 tickets are earmarked for the clinic project, and the rest is designated for Winnipeg Harvest.
Three years ago, the church and the local Muslim community co-operated on an interfaith dinner, raising about $12,000 for the $40,000 clinic, which will serve both Christian and Muslim patients. That effort was thought to be the first time Christians and Muslims in Winnipeg worked together on a common overseas project.
The initial funds paid for the brick walls and part of the roof, but since then, the villagers in Mayungwe have had to borrow money to finish the roof to avoid water damage, explains Pat Stewart, the Winnipegger who initiated the fundraising project. The retired nurse was asked by the villagers to build a clinic for them when she visited Uganda four years ago with a delegation of local Anglicans.
From Canada (The headline editor needs to be more careful)
On his first trip to Calgary and o Canada, Anglican Bishop anuel Magangani of Malawi had one immediate impression.
The cold weather.
But the bishop also received a warm reception and he was here for one special purpose.
"I'm only here for one reason and this is to thank our brothers and sisters here in Canada. I thank them for the support they've been giving us in many ways. Because without their support we can't do what we do," said Magangani, while visiting St. Paul's Anglican Church in the city.
The support began in December 2009 when Deer Park United Church and St. John's the Evangelist Anglican Church, both of Calgary, put together a 13-metre container of humanitarian supplies for the people of Malawi.
Support from Calgarians has also come in the form of medical supplies, water filters and donations.
Everything Calgarians have done for the people of Malawi has had a huge impact on their lives, said Magangani -something he is very grateful for.
"Our spiritual lives. We had about 10 priests by 2002. Now we are 27. We've been able to train them.
The recent Primates’ Meeting in Dublin did not set out to offer a solution to the ongoing challenges of mutual understanding and of the limits of our diversity in the Communion. But it is important to note carefully what it did set out to do and what it achieved.
In recent years, many have appealed to the Primates to resolve the problems of the Communion by taking decisive action to enforce discipline on this or that Province. In approaching the Dublin Meeting, we believed that it was essential to clarify how the Primates themselves understood the nature of their office and authority. It has always been clear that not all have the same view – not because of different theological convictions alone, but also because of the different legal and canonical roles they occupy as Primates.
Some have a good deal of individual authority; others have their powers very closely limited by their own canons. It would therefore be difficult if the Meeting collectively gave powers to Primates that were greater than their own canons allowed them individually, as was noted at the 2008 Lambeth Conference (Lambeth Indaba 2008 #151).
The unanimous judgement of those who were present was that the Meeting should not see itself as a ‘supreme court’, with canonical powers, but that it should nevertheless be profoundly and regularly concerned with looking for ways of securing unity and building relationships of trust. And one reason for the fact that it did not offer any new schemes for this was that those present were still committed to the Covenant process and had no desire to interrupt the significant discussions of this that are currently going on (as many of you will know, several Provinces have already adopted the Covenant and others are very close to finalising their decision).
The Primates were strongly focused on the situation of churches under threat, and this was reflected in the statements they issued. But it is also important to recognise that the Primates made no change to their existing commitments to both the Covenant process and the moratoria requests. The purpose of the Dublin meeting was, as I have said, not to offer fresh solutions but to clarify what we believed about our shared purpose and identity as a Primates’ Meeting. I think that this clarity was achieved, and achieved in an atmosphere of very demanding and searching conversation, which intensified our sense of commitment to each other and the Communion.
We were painfully aware of those who did not feel able to be with us, and held them in prayer each day, seeking to remind ourselves of the concerns that they would have wanted to put on the table. We were all agreed that the Meeting inevitably represented ‘unfinished business’, and were all committed to pursuing the conversations needed to consolidate our fellowship. We shall continue to seek ways of meeting at every level that will prevent our being isolated from each other in suspicion and hostility.
This week, hundreds of Anglicans are leaving the Church of England to prepare to join the Catholic Church as part of the new Ordinariate. Even though they’re converting in groups, rather than on their own, it’s a big step. Members of your family, your local community, life-long friends may be disapproving and feel distressed. I should know – my grandmother said she wouldn’t speak to me if I converted, and when I did, my father said it was “all a load of nonsense”.
Becoming a Catholic in my late teens felt a bit like moving from a small village to a big city – and actually, that was close to the truth. I grew up in a village in Cheshire, where many friends went to the local Evangelical chapel. It had lovely warm carpets and friendly hymns; when I started going to a Catholic church with marble floors, high ceilings and plainchant, I really was turning my back on my family’s cultural history.
My grandmother came from an Orange family in Liverpool, where to be on the wrong side of the Protestant-Catholic divide meant that you might have stones thrown at you in the street. Even in the late Seventies, there were prejudices. “The priests will take all your money off you,” I was warned. Another friend conceded that maybe “some Catholics could be saved”.
No wonder my family was surprised – especially since it happened quite by chance. I was 16, playing a concert at the Dartington Summer School in Devon. My mother and I were in a guesthouse down the road from Buckfast, the Benedictine abbey. We went to Mass there, mainly because it was within walking distance, and immediately I had this feeling of entering an enormous, strange, fascinating new world.
“DO you know what Spring Pilgrimage is?” asked Brenda Caradine, the chairwoman of the Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration in Columbus, Miss. “It’s when you Yankees come down South to see our antebellum homes and we take back your money.”
By turns coquettish and tender, Ms. Caradine, who also runs the Amzi Love Home, a restored 1848 home that now functions as a B&B, is just one of many personalities in the playwright’s hometown who might as well have been created by Williams himself.
Williams would have turned 100 this month, and towns and cities around the country are hosting fetes in his honor, but none more fittingly than Columbus, the playwright’s birthplace and his home until age 7. This year, the birthday celebration (March 24 to 27) coincides in part with the town’s Spring Pilgrimage (March 28 to April 9), the event that Ms. Caradine referred to, which is traditionally held during the azalea bloom.
Williams-themed festivities will include an exhibition of playbill and movie paraphernalia related to his stage and screen work at the Columbus-Lowndes Library (317 Seventh Street North); tours of St. Paul’s Episcopal (318 College Street), where his grandfather preached (don’t miss the stained-glass windows mentioned in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”); and performances of one of his more obscure plays, “Strangest Kind of Romance,” at the Rosensweig Arts Center (501 Main Street).
She survived an earthquake and her husband's kidnapping and has continued undaunted in her work to help the residents of a remote village in Haiti feed themselves.
For her efforts over the years at the Haitian mission supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Gillaine Warne of Greenville will be honored during the eighth annual Partnership Cange Symposium at Christ Church today.
The Rev. Fritz Lafontant, who was profiled in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” will present a progress report on his work in Haiti and talk about the urgent needs in the village of Cange.
Warne will be presented with the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award, given each year by the Virginia Theological Seminary to honor an Episcopal layperson “who, over a significant period of time, has given leadership and unique witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ within his or her congregation, community, diocese and in the world.”
Warne established a program called Partners in Agriculture to grow food to feed the hungry and teach farming to villagers in Haiti. More than 18,000 children in the area now are served through the program.
Bishop David Zubik hailed the arrival of bishop-elect William J. Waltersheid, the new auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, as a "long-anticipated and special gift." On Friday, Zubik announced his role as part of a restructuring at the diocese.
Waltersheid, who arrived in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, will be responsible for meeting with and assessing the needs of clergy, priests and deacons as episcopal vicar for clergy and secretary for clergy, Zubik said in a statement.
Considering Waltersheid's background of helping priests, "this position is natural for him," said the Rev. Ronald P. Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese. "From a religious perspective, this is like religious providence."
Waltersheid will be ordained at 2 p.m. Monday in St. Paul Cathedral, Oakland.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a message of condolence to the Anglican Archbishop of Japan, the Most Revd Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, expressing support and prayers for the Japanese people at this time.
The Archbishop said:
"The news of the horrific earthquake in Japan has shocked us all. We await further and more detailed news with apprehension, but I want to say immediately that our hearts and our prayers go out to all who have been affected and that we as a church will do what we can to offer practical as well as spiritual support at this time of great suffering and great anxiety for so many. A message of sympathy and support has already gone to the Anglican Archbishop of Japan, and we intend to keep in contact about the crisis."
THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York and more than 30 bishops committed themselves to making young people a priority in the Church of England, when they attended a conference held in Sheffield last week.
The Regeneration Youth Summit took place at St Thomas’s, Phila delphia Campus, on Thursday of last week, and was organised by the Church Army, the Archbishop of York Youth Trust, and a group of young people, including Sam Follett, aged 20, the youngest member of the General Synod.
More than 120 people aged from 15 to 21, and about 30 youth workers, discussed ways of better equipping the Church to reach out to young people. All delegates were invited to sign a pledge committing to the work of the Church and young people.
Dr Williams said that a living Church is one that “doesn’t leave you in your comfort zone”. Dr Sentamu urged young people to “take risks for Christ”.
Mr Follett, who is reading physics at the University of Nottingham, and is a lay representative for St Albans, said: “The big thing for me is that young people are going away feeling they’ve been listened to and encour aged by their church leaders. . . Follow-up events are already planned in St Albans and Nottingham.
“A lot of places are doing youth work very well today, but they are a minority. I think the way we do Church today sometimes doesn’t get the message out that faith in Jesus Christ is relevant to where young people are at. . . The message we have is good; we just need to think about the ways we are conveying it.”
Churches and agencies of the Anglican Communion have begun to plan how best to respond to the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami impacting countries across the Pacific Ocean.
The Secretary of The Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan) Shinya Samuel Yawata told ACNS this morning that the Provincial office is waiting to learn the extent of the destruction in northern Japan. He said he had not yet heard from any other dioceses, but wanted the rest of the Communion to know that the NSKK Province office is still functioning.
“Unfortunately we have not heard from people of northern Japan except from the news on the Internet. All phone lines are down because of heavy usage so we do not know much about what is going on. Viewing the Internet we can see that damage is substantial and already many deaths have been reported.”
“In Tokyo and the vicinity there is slight damage and some fires, but it is not detrimental,” he said. “The Provincial office had no damage. We all have to walk home because all traffic has stopped dead. Please inform the rest of world that the Provincial office has not sustained any damage and it is operational.”
Mr Yawata told Anglican agency USPG: “It was the biggest shake I have ever experienced.” He is particularly anxious to hear from Tohoku Diocesan Office where he believes there will be very significant damage.
On USPG's website Rachel Parry, the agency's Regional Manager for Asia, said: "We keep all the affected people in Japan, and in particular our fellow Anglicans, especially those who have not yet been able to be reached in Tohoku Diocese, in our thoughts and prayers. I have been promised that as soon as there is any further news, the provincial office will be in touch with USPG."
The head of the Anglican church in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan, Bishop Suheil Dawani, is fighting the Israeli Interior Ministry's decision not to renew his residency visa with a petition to the Supreme Court.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced six months ago that Bishop Dawani's visa would not be renewed but he has been allowed to remain in Israel pending a review of his case.
Mr Yishai took the decision after allegations emerged that the bishop had been involved in illegal land transactions.
While the Christian congregations in the region continue to dwindle - there are only a few thousand Anglicans in Israel and the West Bank - the churches remain major landowners of prime real estate in Jerusalem and other cities. The dealings surrounding church lands are often murky, with political and ownership disputes further muddying the waters.
The Rev. Jay R. Lawlor resigned Wednesday as pastor at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, three days after an elderly parishioner filed a police report accused him of assault, according to a letter received today by church members.
The letter from Bishop Robert Gepert, who heads the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan, said the church is launching its own investigation into the incident, which allegedly involved Lawlor shoving Marcia Morrison, 76.
Morrison was not injured, but told police she was emotionally traumatized.
"Regardless of what happened, and without laying blame, it does not reflect well on the whole community," said Gepert's letter. "As a result, I am obligated to initiate an investigation under Title IV of the Episcopal Church Canons. It also means I will begin searching for a priest-in-charge."
There have been tensions between Lawlor and the St. Luke's congregation since the priest started there as rector two years ago. Last week, Bishop Robert Gepert sent a letter to parishioners informing them that he was taking over the parish, disbanding its lay board and putting Lawlor on a fourth-month leave starting March 8.
Before he went on leave, Lawlor laid off terminated the employment of the parish secretary, music director and facilities manager.
From All Africa- (if I did the conversion right its a little over $5000 US.)
A four-man gang of armed robbers Monday burgled the Bishop's Court, the Anglican Diocese of Asaba in Delta State, taking away N800,000 and other valuables.
The bishop, Rt. Rev. Festus Mogekwu, and his wife were held at gun point inside their bedroom by the hoodlums at about 1 am who operated for about three hours. The bishop's three handsets, marriage rings, shirts, two lap-top computers and other valuables were also snatched during the operation. He said the suspects who brandished dangerous weapons, ransacked the mission house, shouting "where is the money?" and left with N800,000.
He said as soon as they cut down the burglary proof of his living room, they were asked to lie flat on the floor before they tied their hands and legs. He said the police and other security men in the court where brutalized by the robbers before they escaped through the fence.
Thanks to the men, the women had a great time. The "Palarine Mafia" treated the women of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour to Girls Night Out on Friday. The "Mafia," made up of the Rev. John Palarine, rector at Our Saviour, and a slew of other hardworking men from the congregation, prepared, served and cleaned up after an Italian feast.
Palarine, teasingly titled "Chef Giovanni" because of his well-known skills in the kitchen, said he enjoyed preparing generations-old family recipes.
"I love to cook, especially Italian food," Palarine said. "My father came to America from Italy." While a few men helped, "Chef Giovanni" create his ziti supreme with homemade marinara sauce, parmesan chicken medallions in mushroom sauce, scampi Renaldo, la crudaiola (a fresh tomato dish) and frozen yogurt parfaits. Other apron-clad men served as wine stewards or waiters bringing heaping bowls of olive oil and butter-dripping delicacies to tables filled with female friends.
St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach went back before the state Supreme Court Tuesday in the latest chapter in its long-running battle with the Episcopal Church.
St. James was one of three Episcopal churches in Southern California to split from the denomination in 2004, after the national church ordained a gay man as bishop in New Hampshire. The Los Angeles Diocese, later joined by the national Episcopal Church, sued St. James after the split, asserting ownership of the church property at 3209 Via Lido.
The state Supreme Court heard the case in 2009, siding with the Episcopal Church. It is now being asked whether the 2009 ruling was meant to be the last word, or whether it was sending the case back for trial in a local court.
The Supreme Court has 90 days to issue an opinion. Attorneys on both sides of the case expect a decision sooner.
The Episcopal Church thought the 2009 ruling settled the matter, since the court ruled that when St. James "disaffiliated from the general church, the local church did not have the right to take the church property with it."
It found that the local churches had agreed to be bound by the church's governing documents, which state that "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located."
The Indians have planned a public memorial service for the man who arguably was their greatest player, Bob Feller, the day before the season opener.
"A Memorial Service/Celebration of Life in honor of Bob Feller" will be at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights, at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 31. The Rev. Conroad Selnick, rector of St. Christopher's-by-the-River Episcopal Church in Gates Mills will officiate, the Indians said.
Feller, who lived in Gates Mills, was 92 when he died of complications of leukemia this past December. "Rapid Robert" Feller spent his entire 18-year professional career -- interrupted by a celebrated stint in the Navy during World War II -- with the Indians. After his first year with the Tribe, he returned to his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa, to finish high school.
The case of the missing ashes in Alameda is partially solved. Over the weekend just before the memorial service for Marvin Hockabout was to begin his family noticed the backpack that contained two boxes filled with his ashes was gone.
Someone found one of those boxes Tuesday night and called the Christ Episcopal Church in Alameda. Alameda detectives said they have since verified the remains and notified the family. They were to return the box as soon as possible.
Hockabout's family said they don't think the thief knew what was inside the backpack. Hockabout's widow said she planned a pilgrimage to several places around the world to scatter the remains. At least now she will be able to continue that effort.
Ash Wednesday services will not be confined to church interiors in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago this week. More than two dozen congregations, stretching from Chicago to Dixon, will be taking the Ash Wednesday rite of imposition of ashes to the streets, coffee houses and transit stations of their communities on Ash Wednesday, March 9.
The diocesan-wide initiative, known as Ashes to Go, was conceived by the Rev. Emily Mellot, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard in response to church members regrets about not being able to attend Ash Wednesday services at the church. Few had shown up at her daybreak Ash Wednesday service or the others at noon and early evening, citing work or other commitments. It struck her that the church ought to be taking the Ash Wednesday rite to where the people were at 7 a.m., the commuter rail stations. So last year she floated the idea before her parish's vestry, thinking it would be a project for another year. But the vestry was so taken with the notion "that we were at the Metra station with ashes, poster, handouts and volunteers nine days later."
Other Episcopal churches in Glen Ellyn and Palos Park followed suit, some partnering with local Lutheran churches to offer ash imposition and to hand out flyers on Lenten programs.
The National Cathedral celebrates Shrove Tuesday by hosting 'Mardi Gras Pancake Races.' Participants include National Cathedral clergy and staff as well as members from neighboring St. Alban's Episcopal Church.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day prelude to the Easter season for Roman Catholics and some Protestants.
“Lent is a period of spiritual discernment where you examine yourself and your life before God in preparation for Easter,” said the Rev. Baron Eliason of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
“In many ways, it’s a way to get ready, to sort of pack your bags ... so that when Easter comes you’re spiritually prepared.”
That spiritual preparation has traditionally meant abstaining from certain foods, like chocolate, or certain habits, like smoking.
Christ the King Cathedral member Ron Vowels said that abstention was an assumed practice during Lent. He said that in the past if someone had asked about his Lenten plans, “I would have said, ‘I’m going to give up chocolate ... because you’re supposed to. It’s Lent.’ ”
Tesco has reported that Instead of combining eggs, milk, flour and butter, its shoppers have been choosing quicker solutions today.
Tesco spokesman Trevor Datson said: “For centuries Brits prided themselves with their pancake-tossing abilities on Shrove Tuesday and in every town and village there would be a greatly heralded pancake race.
"However, the great tradition of pancake making and tossing soon looks like being consigned to history as nowadays society tries to make everything simpler.
"Judging by sales more and more people now rather just heat up a ready made pancake rather than risk making a mess in the kitchen."
Over the past five years the number of Brits "cheating" on Shrove Tuesday has doubled - this year alone an estimated 15m readymade pancakes or pancake mixes are expected to be sold across all retailers.
Ghanaian bishop Festus Yeboah-Asuamah told a recent meeting of Ghanaian theologians that while the challenges facing the Communion were “complex”, and that the answers may yet be “far away” there was hope in unity.
Speaking at the latest Continuing Indaba ‘hub’ meeting, Bishop Festus said, “There is hope! We should try as much as possible to keep the Anglican Communion together – we are one family.” He was one of ten theologians who met on March 4-5 to consider how Ghanaian culture and theology could shape the Continuing Indaba1 initiative taking place across the Anglican Communion.
Facilitated by Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe, Dean of St Nicholas Seminary in Ghana’s Cape Coast, the group considered a number of models of conversation from their cultural perspectives that resonate with the Scriptures and the traditions of the church.
The group, which comprised both lay and ordained men and women, considered how the Scriptures and Christian tradition might resonate with Ghanaian cultural perspectives to assist the Anglican Communion. In particular they discussed the place of the wisdom of the ‘Old Lady’ in Ghanaian culture. The Old Lady is understood as collective wisdom concerned for finding an end to otherwise endless dialogue by paying attention to the unity of the whole community. The theologians also reflected on the significance of the ‘linguist,’ the ‘gong gong’ or ‘proclaimer’, and the ‘talking drum’ in discovering identity and maintaining unity in diverse communities.
Canadian Anglicans will hold discussions this spring about whether baptism is necessary for taking part in communion — questioning a requirement of Christianity that has existed for 2,000 years.
“Official teaching is you have to be baptized first. But a number of clergy across the country feel strongly about this as an issue and many have approached their bishops about allowing for an ‘open table’ in which all could take communion,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who is the principal secretary to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, head of the Anglican Church of Canada.
It will be discussed when the House of Bishops meet in April, but not as an official topic, he said.
The idea — already rejected as a dangerous step by more orthodox Anglicans — was raised in an article this week in the AnglicanJournal.com in which an Ontario church pastor argues that removing the requirement of baptism would help stop the decline in the number of Anglicans attending services.
Charity organizations know there are homeless people in Waynesboro. A murder case winding through the local courts involving homeless men heightened awareness of the issue within the last year.
The challenge for those wanting to help them is finding out how many people in the city need shelter and what can be done to help them, one local minister said.
After months of planning and gathering information, a committee of ministers plans to solicit churches to host cold-weather shelters starting in the fall, said Lt. John Blevins, pastor of the Waynesboro Salvation Army.
But even that will serve as a gauge for the local need, said Blevins, who is a member of the homelessness committee.
"It's been really tough trying to figure out exactly what the need is as far as the homeless population here in Waynesboro," Blevins said.
That need came to light in the May 12 slaying of 44-year-old John K. Miller, a homeless man living along the banks of the South River. Another homeless man, Matthew Painter, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the slaying. A second suspect accused of helping conceal Miller's body still faces a murder charge.
Last year I posted this rant about giving up Social Media for Lent. I think it still holds true this year. Would love to hear what you think.
Oh the dreaded question that comes around every year as we Jesus-types start that time in our church life known as Lent. Lent is that time - 40'ish days before Jesus begins his walk to the cross - that is to be a time of repentance, reflection and humility all in preparation for Holy Week and Jesus' walk to the cross, his death and resurrection.
As part of the traditional Lenten experience, many people give something up, symbolically, mentally and/or physically sacrificing something that keep him/her separated from God. In this act of giving something up that in some ways has taken God's place in our lives, we thus learn to fight temptation to forget God, we examine our own brokenness and we promise to God to chance our ways or "repent."
One of the things that seems to be popular over the past few years is to give up social networking: Facebook, Twitter, etc. Yesterday, feeling a little snarky and willing to express my feelings as such, I posted this tweet:*
With his 12-year tenure as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York coming to a close, about 400 people participated Sunday afternoon in a celebration of the episcopacy of Bishop J. Michael Garrison during a special liturgy in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“Michael has been faithful in his time here, in his charge here,” noted Bishop John P. Croneberger, who delivered the sermon. “He has been called by God and anointed by God, and his gifts have been displayed here, and we are grateful.”
Garrison and Croneberger, who retired as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark in 2007, were part of a class of seven Episcopal bishops elected in 1998. The priests and their families developed a close friendship.
Garrison, the 10th bishop since the diocese was created in 1839, is set to retire April 30, when Bishopelect R. William Franklin is consecrated as the 11th bishop.
In an interview with The Buffalo News, Garrison, 65, looked back on his episcopacy with gratitude.
“Thanksgiving is really what it is,” he said. “It’s been an awesome experience, and I’m just very grateful that I’ve been entrusted with this role by the people of Western New York.”
A simmering, months-long conflict between congregants at Kalamazoo’s St. Luke's Episcopal Church and church officials reached a boiling point Sunday, with a police report filed against the pastor for allegedly shoving an elderly parishioner.
The Rev. Jay R. Lawlor was accused of pushing Marcia Morrison, 76, whose family owns Morrison Jewelers, during a heated discussion about recent events at the church. A witness said Morrison was not injured in the incident, which occurred immediately after Sunday morning’s service. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety confirmed that a police report was filed. Neither Lawlor nor Morrison could be reached for comment Sunday.
Sunday’s altercation at the church came four days after Episcopal Bishop Robert Gepert announced he was taking over the parish and disbanding its lay board, and after Lawlor terminated the employment of the parish secretary, music director and facilities manager.
About 100 members of the church met Sunday night at Kalamazoo College’s Stetson Chapel for a potluck and prayer service to talk about the turn of events and what happens now for the 174-year-old congregation.
The Rt. Rev. Chester Lovelle Talton was formally seated March 5 as provisional bishop of the Modesto-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin at Holy Family Church in Fresno, California.
Earlier in the day, delegates to a special convention had approved a resolution affirming Talton as the Central California Valley diocese's provisional bishop, said Cindy Smith, president of the diocesan standing committee.
"We've got 19 congregations and everybody was there and accounted for, all the parishes and clergy. The resolution that the standing committee put forward passed unanimously. Everybody very much wanted Bishop Chet," said Smith during a March 6 telephone interview from her Bakersfield home.
Talton succeeds the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, who had served as provisional bishop since Feb. 2008. Lamb had announced his intention to retire and called for the special meeting, in accordance with Article V Section 4 of the diocesan constitution.
"We had a great turnout, over 200 people, the church was packed," Smith said. The ministries of both Jerry and Jane Lamb were recognized during the afternoon festivities, which included the symbolic passing of the crosier from Lamb to Talton, she added.
The two bishops shared the sermon time, which Lamb used to thank the continuing diocese for its efforts to rebuild.
The government of Pakistan and much of the population there are being blackmailed by religious extremists who are uninterested in justice for all, said Anglican leader Dr. Rowan Williams.
And "this must not be allowed to happen," he asserted.
In a statement Monday, published in U.K.'s The Times, Williams made the observation that Pakistan was headed down the "catastrophic road" where political and factional murder becomes almost routine.
Last week's assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the country's minister for minorities and the only Christian cabinet member, is evidence of that, he noted.
"[T]o those who recognize something truly dreadful going on in their midst – to the majority in Pakistan who have elected a government that, whatever its dramatic shortcomings, is pledged to resist extremism – we have surely to say, 'Do not imagine that this can be 'managed' or tolerated,'" the Archbishop of Canterbury stated.
Millions of homes have gone into foreclosure in the past two years, and it seems that God’s houses also are starting to fall victim to the recession.
Nearly 200 American houses of worship experienced foreclosure or short sales in the past five years, and the numbers seem to be growing rapidly, said Chris Macke, a spokesman for the CoStar Group, a real estate analysis company.
In 2006, only two churches in the United States lost their buildings to foreclosure or short sale, Macke said. By 2009, the number had grown to 61, and there were 95 in 2010.
While that number is small, “what caught our attention was the rate of increase year over year,” Macke said. “What we’re seeing is religious real estate and secular real estate are subject to the same laws of economics.”
The recession has forced many southern New Jersey congregations to make do with less, as members don’t have as much money to tithe or put in the collection basket as they did in more prosperous times. But some congregations are hit harder than others.
A backpack containing an urn with human remains was stolen from Alameda's Christ Episcopal Church Saturday afternoon, said an Alameda police sergeant today.
The backpack, containing the urn and other personal items belonging to the deceased, was stolen from the church's rectory just before 1:30 p.m. as family members prepared for the funeral, said Sgt. Wayland Gee, supervisor for the Alameda Police Department's property crimes unit.
"It was in the widow's backpack with the urn and some other stuff she was carrying to the church for the services," said Gee.
The widow had arrived early to help with some preparations. "Then she went outside to greet family members arriving for the service," said Gee.
In less than two years, founders of Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church have not only managed to fill the pews, they have raised enough money to buy the former St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church property outright.
Christ the Redeemer, which broke away from Christ Church in Hamilton over what they saw as "moral drift" in the Episcopal Church as a whole, had been leasing the former Catholic church since 2009.
On Feb. 16, the Anglican church paid $1.6 million for the property, after raising $800,000 for a down payment in just six months. The deed was placed on the altar.
The Elliott Street church, built in 1967, features an unusual octagonal shape and colorful stained-glass windows. The Boston Archdiocese closed it in 2004 amid a round of parish closings and sold it to the Beverly Church of the Nazarene two years later.
The Right Rev. Geralyn Wolf, a convert from Judaism who stepped into the history books 15 years ago by becoming only the second woman in U.S. Episcopal Church history to be ordained a diocesan bishop, is planning to retire as Rhode Island’s Episcopal bishop late in 2012.
Wolf, who turns 64 next month, broke the news to some of her staff Thursday, her first day back after undergoing knee replacement surgery on Jan. 31.
She made a more public disclosure on Saturday at the close of an evangelism convocation attended by priests and lay people at the Providence Marriott.
Although she limps a bit, and is using a cane, the bishop said the repairs to her knee, which have temporarily kept her from climbing the stairs to her second-floor bishop’s office, had nothing to do with her planned retirement.