Several Christian churches in Calgary are participating Sunday in the Back to Church Sunday campaign - a global movement which started a few years ago in England.
One of them is Hope Lutheran Church.
"We recognize that crossing the threshold into a church, if you don't know anyone inside, can be a bit intimidating and often times our own stories of faith were about coming with someone we knew whether it was our parents or a friend that invited us," says Pastor Daranne Harris.
"So that personal connection with people we think is a great way to introduce people to what goes on in a church and how people's faith life connects with attendance in a congregation."
She says the initiative was initially aimed at people who have drifted away from the church but anyone can be invited and all are welcome.
Hope Lutheran has encouraged each member to invite one person to come with them to worship and/ or engage in a service project. "For us, worship is about encountering God," says Harris. "We hear of God's love for and enduring commitment to humankind and creation in song, liturgy, scripture and sermon proclamation."
The ongoing and sometimes contentious debate in churches regarding homosexuality is back in the public eye in oversized print, thanks to 10 Toledo-area billboards proclaiming competing messages.
After Toledo's Central United Methodist Church posted a single roadside billboard in late April that said, "Being Gay Is a Gift from God," the Rev. Tony Scott of the Church on Strayer felt compelled to offer an opposing point of view.
The Maumee megachurch this week bought nine billboards that proclaim, "Being Gay is NOT a Gift from God -- Forgiveness, Love, and Eternal Life Are."
"I love everyone. There's nothing on that billboard about hate," Mr. Scott said in an interview. "I'm getting hate mail from lesbian and gay people, but my point is that I love them too much to let someone believe a lie. I love this city too much to let a lie be sown."
Lynn Braun, chair of Central UMC's lead team, said she was not surprised that another church is advertising a different theological opinion.
"I'm somewhat surprised it didn't happen earlier," she said. "We felt it important to express our faith this way. I think people have the right to express their faith the way they see fit, and I think it helps the community to know where churches stand."
When most church members hear the word "stewardship" they think money. Capital campaigns. The annual pitch for tithing.
But the Rev. Canon Chuck Robertson says proper stewardship involves more than fund-raising. It's about taking care of each other, of newcomers, and of the community at large.
"It's not about a program," he said, "it's about a new way of thinking about who we are."
Robertson, the Canon to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and author of 10 books including "Transforming Stewardship," will host a workshop on Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to noon at St. John's Episcopal Church. The public is invited.
The on-going conversations about whether and how to restructure the Episcopal Church got a boost this week when the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, a member of the House of Bishops who is also the church's chief operating officer, presented his fellow bishops with what he called a way of testing the "grassroots support" for such change.
On Sept. 23, the PowerPoint of Sauls' presentation and the model of a resolution that diocesan conventions could submit to General Convention were made available online here. The Spanish version of the resolution is available here. Sauls' transcription of the notes he used to narrate the PowerPoint presentation is here. Sauls told Episcopal News Service during a Sept. 22 interview that what he offered "was in no way intended to be a proposal or resolution or even a suggestion, particularly. It was more that these are the ways that we might could go about doing something." Sauls added that his presentation "didn't begin to be the sum total of ideas" that have been and are being discussed elsewhere in the church.
"This is not a bishop-imposed [initiative]; this is testing to see if there's a grassroots support for this kind of thing," Sauls said.
A range of reactions has greeted his presentation made Sept. 20 to the House of Bishops meeting in Quito, Ecuador. Some people have commented on the broad outlines of his suggestions while others have focused on his decision to make such a presentation to the bishops.
THE Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), a group formed in June to provide alternative episcopal oversight for conservative Evangelicals (News, 1 July), has compared its formation to the Arab Spring in the Middle East, and has told “the Church of England Establishment” that it “will not be robbed of its Anglican identity”.
Writing on the AMiE website, Canon Chris Sugden, secretary of the Panel of Bishops of AMiE, and Canon Vinay Samuel, a member of the Steering Committee of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, describe the formation of the new society as a “game changer”. It indicates that conservatives will “no longer play the game of the Church of England as defined by the Church of England Establishment”.
The group, which procured the ordination of three clerics from the diocese of Southwark in Kenya in June, speaks of a “wall of silence” from the C of E in the face of its grievances about homosexual practice and the draft legislation for consecrating women bishops. It also complains of a lack of support for church-planting.
An Anglican congregation in Vancouver is abandoning a historic church in the city's downtown core after losing a court case spawned by divisions within the church over same sex marriages. The St. John’s congregation says it's giving up the Granville Street church, which it's used for almost 100 years, and moving its Sunday services to another location.
This follows a B.C. court ruling that said the church property belongs to the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, and a subsequent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada not to hear an appeal of that ruling.The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the appeal put an end to a legal squabble over who owns church properties and bank accounts used by dissident congregations.The St. John's congregation is among four B.C. parishes that broke away from the mainstream church because of their opposition to blessing same sex marriages.
The Anglican Archbishop of Wales has urged the government to abandon its plan to inaugurate a “presumed consent” policy on organ donation, assuming that all people are organ donors unless they specifically say otherwise.
Dr. Barry Morgan said that organ donation should be seen as a free-will gift. He decried the suggestion that human organs could be treated as an “asset of the state.”
Zimbabwe's top Anglican bishop says that an excommunicated church leader close to the country's president has taken over an orphanage housing 80 children.
Bishop Chad Gandiya, leader of the mainstream Anglican group, says the breakaway leader also has seized mission schools and priests' homes on the church premises near Murewa, some 50 miles east of the capital, Harare.
The incident comes amid a report of economic unrest aimed at white-controlled companies in urban centers and mines. The Christian Science Monitor reported that youths affiliated with President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party have adopted tactics similar to those used during the seizure of white-owned farms in the past decade.
In the church dispute, Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was excommunicated four years ago after he was accused of inciting violence in sermons supporting Mugabe's party. Kunonga, though, still has the protection of police loyal to Mugabe and already has taken over the main Harare cathedral and church bank accounts.
The clergy of Trinity Episcopal Church traveled over the summer to China, Australia, Jamaica, Alabama, Georgia and Massachusetts all from the comfort of church member’s suitcases.
Inspired by the children’s book “Flat Stanley,” Trinity Church members printed pictures of Rector Gerald Sevick, Assistant Priests Genevieve Razim and Eric Hungerford and Deacon Robert Horner to color, then took along their “Flat Clergy” as they traveled the world.
The mission was simple: The Flat Clergy served as a reminder to families of their church family back home, and how we are called to take the Gospel of Christ wherever we go. At each stop, they took photos and sent them to Parish Life Minister Molly Carr to share with the congregation.
With border issues at the forefront of the news, many people's response is to seek opportunities for learning, reflection and dialogue about the complex topic.
To that end, Border and Immigration Ministries at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church this fall will offer two forums, a film screening, a retreat and a field trip to the border.
• "St. Philip's Border and Immigration Ministry Asks 'Why?' " will be presented at 10:15 a.m. Sunday in the West Gallery at the church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave.
The forum will be led by Margi Ault-Duell from BorderLinks, a bi-national educational group focusing on issues of immigration, community formation, development and social justice in the borderlands between Mexico, the United States and beyond.
The forum will explore the root economic and social factors that motivate countless numbers to leave home and face the often grim realities of migration to the United States.
Bishop Peter James Lee will become interim dean of the American Cathedral in Paris in early 2012.
The announcement was made by the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, bishop-in-charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, according to an article posted on the Anglican Communion News Service.
The current dean, the Very Rev. Zachary Fleetwood, will resign as dean of the American Cathedral in October and move to Edinburgh to become rector of St. Columba's-by-the-Castle. Fleetwood has served as cathedral dean since 2003.
"Bishop Lee brings a lifetime of experience to the position, assuming leadership at a critical period in the life of the cathedral community,” said Whalon.
In October, the cathedral will break ground on the largest capital improvement project since the church was constructed in 1886. The two-year long project includes plans to modernize the cathedral's physical plant, to create new space to accommodate the parish's growing ministry and mission needs, and to provide expanded office space for the cathedral staff and the offices of the convocation.
The origins of the American Cathedral, a congregation in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, date to the 1830s when U.S. Episcopalians began to gather for worship in Paris. The current cathedral was consecrated on Thanksgiving Day in 1886 and has since served as a center for worship for Americans and other English-speaking people in Paris.
The following Daily Account, issued by the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs, offers an overview of the sixth day of conversations and activities of the House of Bishops, which is meeting Sept. 15-20 in Quito, Ecuador.
The September 20 session began with Morning Prayer. Bishop Carol Gallagher of Diocese of North Dakota read the Gospel in Cherokee.
Emcee for the day was Bishop Sean Rowe, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
In the morning session, Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, gave a presentation about structure of the Episcopal Church, "Becoming A Domestic And Foreign Missionary Society: An Adaptive Moment." The presentation sparked much conversation among the HOB.
In the afternoon:
- Bishop Jim Curry of Connecticut reported on the activities of Bishops Working for a Just World.
- Archbishop Albert Chama, Primate of Central Africa, offered his reflections and thanks to the HOB.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori chaired the business session, during which:
- HOB had a moment of silence for Bishop Robert Anderson and Bishop Walter Righter, who died since the last HOB meeting.
- Bishop Luis Ruiz of Ecuador Central addressed the HOB about the current conflict in the diocese. He said that he and the diocesan leadership have been working with the presiding bishop and Bishop Clay Matthews. He announced his intention to resign and expressed his thanks for the solidarity he received from the HOB. Also the diocesan leadership will resign from their respective positions. Bishop Victor Scantlebury was named by the presiding bishop as interim bishop for the Diocese of Ecuador Central.
The Episcopal Church's chief operating officer has asked the House of Bishops to engage the laity and clergy in their dioceses in conversation in support of a potential structural reform that he said could shift the church's focus toward mission.
The Rt. Rev Stacy Sauls on Sept. 20 offered the bishops a "model" resolution for each diocese to submit to the 77th General Convention in 2012 for consideration.
"We find ourselves at an adaptive moment in the time of the church, if we choose to take it," said Sauls at the start of a presentation titled "Becoming a Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: An Adaptive Moment."
Sauls gave his presentation during the Sept. 20 morning session of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops Sept. 15-20 meeting being held at the Hilton Colón Hotel in downtown Quito.
The model resolution would call for a special commission to be charged with "presenting a plan to the church for reforming its structures, governance, administration, and staff to facilitate this church's faithful engagement in Christ's mission…."
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson would appoint members to the special commission. The resolution would also call for a special meeting of General Convention before the 78th General Convention in 2015.
The Episcopal bishop whose acquittal in a church "heresy" trial 15 years ago ignited the ongoing schism within the U.S. Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion died last week in Pittsburgh.
Bishop Walter Righter, 87, set off a firestorm of controversy when he ordained an openly non-celibate homosexual man to the Episcopal deaconate in 1990. His heresy trial concluded in 1996 with a 7-1 dismissal of charges by a panel of fellow bishops. The episode further stoked disputes over scriptural authority and sexual ethics within America's once historically most prestigious Mainline denomination.
"I look around the Episcopal Church today where there are no impediments to the ordination of gay or lesbian members.… None of that would have happened without Bishop Righter's leadership," pronounced a prominent pro-gay rights California priest in a Righter obituary. "When the history of the movement for the full inclusion of the LGBT community in our church is written, there is no doubt that Walter Righter will be one of its great heroes."
For the "sake of the diocese" the leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador – including members of the Standing Committee, Bishop Luis Fernando Ruiz, the chancellor, its legal representative and all other diocesan leaders – have agreed to resign by Oct. 1.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Sept. 20 convened a meeting of the leadership, along with Bishop Victor Scantlebury and Bishop Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church's bishop for pastoral development, at the Hilton Colón Hotel in Quito, where the agreement was reached.
By resigning their positions, the leadership yields its authority to the presiding bishop; she appointed Scantlebury, who had served as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Chicago until he retired July 1 to serve as interim bishop.
The announcement was made to the House of Bishops, which has been holding its fall meeting Sept. 15-20 in Quito, during its business session. Jefferts Schori, Scantlebury and Matthews have been holding meetings with the Central Ecuador leadership throughout the six-day meeting.
"They have been advising me to think about my resignation," said Ruiz in Spanish through an interpreter. "This is something that really hurts me … but as I have been saying, if this will contribute to calm in the diocese, and I can get my life back in order.
On the morning of Thursday, September 22nd, Bishops from the Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Churches, dressed in their ecclesiastical vestments and mitres, will reach out to thousands of commuters across the greater Toronto area to invite them 'Back to Church'.
The outreach is part of an international Christian initiative, which has designated Sunday, September 25th as 'Back to Church' Sunday. On that day, thousands of Anglicans, Evangelical Lutherans and other Christians throughout the world will be accompanying their friends and relatives back to church.
"The Church is an integral part of society, woven into its history and fabric," says Bishop Philip Poole of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. "Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran bishops look forward to meeting and chatting with commuters even for a few moments to invite people to return to church or to try us out for the first time. You'll be most welcomed at church or your place of worship this or any weekend."
The Bishops will be handing out a simple invitation to all who will accept one. They will be visiting GO stations in Ajax, Brampton, Agincourt and Barrie.
Have you heard the one about the comic who took on the establishment that loves him? Frank Skinner, the comedian, has accused atheists of threatening humanity. Interviewed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Skinner, a practising Catholic, urged fellow believers to stand together against secularists who undermine religion.
Even if it had been Dr Rowan Williams issuing this call to arms, the audience at Canterbury Cathedral would have stopped fanning themselves with their programmes, sat up and taken notice: turning the tables on, rather than turning the other cheek to, atheist bullies represents a sensational departure from the script British Christians have recited for generations.
But the man advocating that we “stop giving in” to atheists is a popular entertainer, the football-loving king of “laddish” humour. The issue is no longer a surprising rethink; it is a breathtaking act of subversion.
By outing himself as a believer – even in miracles, God help us – Skinner was sticking two fingers up at the liberal establishment. The BBC, a pillar of that establishment, for whom Skinner works, has shown what it thinks of religion. They have nipped and tucked at God slots for years, so now the skeletal model looks nothing like its original, vibrant self. Atheists such as Charles Handy share their scepticism on Thought for the Day, and the new “face” of BBC religion is Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a self-proclaimed atheist. As for Richard Dawkins, his non-stop exposure and fanatically loyal ageing groupies have turned him into the Cliff Richard of atheism.
The Rev. Canon Andrew Dietsche and the Rev. Canon Petero Sabune have been added to the previously announced slate of five candidates to stand for election as bishop coadjutor for the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
Sabune, 58, the Episcopal Church's Africa partnerships officer, and Dietsche, 57, the New York diocese's canon for pastoral care, were nominated by petition to stand for the election, scheduled for Oct. 29 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.
The other nominees are:
the Very Rev. Peter Eaton, 53, dean of St. John's Cathedral in Denver, Colorado;
the Rev. Cathy Hagstrom George, 55, priest-in-charge of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts;
the Rev. Canon John Harmon, 47, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.;
the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, 57, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio; and
the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, 58, bishop-in-charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. The consecration is scheduled for March 12, 2012, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Seven meetings from Oct. 11-14 will be held for members of the diocese to become acquainted with the nominees.
Vehicle and foot traffic flows uninterrupted on the bridge separating Colombia and Ecuador at Tulcán, a border town where annually thousands of Colombians cross over, seeking refuge from violence and persecution. The national police are present on both sides, but no one is stopped, no questions asked, no identification is required to enter.
Some of the bishops and spouses who made the long trip through the Andes made a similar trip to the Arizona/Mexico border in advance of the House of Bishops fall meeting in Phoenix in September 2010, just after the Arizona legislature passed what was then the strictest immigration law passed in the United States (Alabama has since passed an even stricter law aimed at curbing undocumented immigration).
On Sept. 17, a group of Episcopal Church bishops and spouses rode in a bus for four and a half hours one way from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to Tulcán, one of its most popular border towns, to hold a noonday prayer service on the bridge in honor of the thousands of Colombians who each year cross over in search of refuge and a new life.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. George Leonard Carey, will visit the Episcopal Nashotah House Theological Seminary this fall, speaking at its convocation Oct. 28 and the installation service of its new dean and president, the Rev. Edward Salmon, on Oct. 27.
Carey served as the spiritual leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans from 1991 to 2002. Described by Nashotah House as a "faithful teacher and spirited defender of Biblical and orthodox Christianity," Carey was known for his emphases on evangelism and interfaith efforts. But he was also considered controversial by many. He oversaw the church's transition to allowing women priests and managed the dissent that followed, has spoken out against the ordination of openly gay and lesbian priests and in support of immigration limits in England.
Nashotah House is one of 11 Episcopal seminaries in the country. More information about the school is available at www.nashotah.edu.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Province IX in Quito, Ecuador (Diocese of Ecuador Central) from September 15 to September 20. The following is an account of the activities for Monday, September 19.
The Episcopal Church House of Bishops began Monday, September 19 with Morning Prayer and Bible Study. The Bible study focused on the Mission of the Church through the lens of Matthew 5:21-26. At the conclusion of the Bible study, HOB chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Massachusetts asked the bishops to reflect on their call to be reconcilers asking, “What is the breach you feel most compelled to repair?”
Emcee for the day was Bishop Paul Lambert of Dallas. Bishop Clay Matthews reintroduced the theme “Proclaiming the Gospel: Caring for the Least as Bishops in the 21st Century.”
The morning was devoted to a panel discussion on Migration, Poverty, Indebtedness, and the Environment in Ecuador. Panelists were Franklin Canelos, economist and university professor; the Rev. Nilton Giese, General Secretary of Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (Latin-American Council of Churches); Esperanza Martinez, sociologist, biologist and researcher with Oil Watch; and Ana White, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst at the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations. Each presented data which detailed the many points and aspects of the topic; presentations were in English and Spanish.
Veronica Murombedzi sits aimlessly in the overcrowded kitchen and ponders her next move. Most of her family’s belongings, from kitchen utensils, sofas, bed, TV and radio sets are all crammed in the room, which also serves as a lounge and bedroom.
Some of her family’s property is lying in the yard since they moved into the house last week. “This house belongs to some late relatives of one of our parishioners,” Muro-mbedzi explains.
“She offered us accommodation here after we were thrown out of Daramombe Mission.“On the first day, we slept by the roadside, where the deputy sherrif dumped us.”
Veronica is the wife of Father Muyengwa Murombedzi, the Anglican priest who was recently evicted from Daramombe Mission in Chivhu by Nolbert Kunonga.
Kunonga is the ex-communicated bishop of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA)’s Harare Diocese, who now runs a rival church, the Anglican Church Province of Zimbabwe.
Daramombe Secondary School headmaster, Denford Javangwe, Daramombe Primary School head and senior nursing staff were also evicted as Kunonga upped his stakes in the property wrangle between himself and the CPCA.
“We believe that everything happens for a reason,” Veronica said last week. “Our parishioners still want us to work with them, so even if we were to stay in the open for us to be there for them, we were going to do that.
Hundreds of United Methodist clergy are expressing deep concerns over a pledge made by a renegade group of fellow ministers to marry same-sex couples. Their concern is that if the pledge is carried through, the future of the denomination is in jeopardy.
“We do not know how many, if any, marriages or ‘holy unions’ of same-sex couples will be performed by UM clergy in the near future,” reads a letter, currently signed by more than 400 pastors, to the Council of Bishops. “But we do know the destructive effects that will result in our local churches and throughout the denomination if such services are performed by UM pastors.”
The Presbyterian and Episcopal denominations have seen several larger, growing, conservative congregations seeking to distance themselves from national hierarchies that have forced recognition of homosexual clergy and marriage onto their denominations. Large churches in Virginia, Texas and California have taken measures to pull out of the U.S. Episcopal denomination. The Presbyterians are seeing a new, conservative denomination split away after national leadership voted to drop longstanding prohibitions on homosexuality.
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Province IX in Quito, Ecuador (Diocese of Ecuador Central) from September 15 to September 20.
[September 18, 2011] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided at Eucharist at Catedral del Buen Señor, Quito, Ecuador, and preached in English and Spanish, noting “No one receives more than another, for all we have is a gift from God.” “Nadie recibe más que otro, por todo lo que tenemos es un regalo de Dios.”
The House of Bishops, meeting in Quito, joined the parishioners of the Cathedral along with Episcopalians who traveled hours for the Sunday morning Eucharist.
The following is the text of the Presiding Bishop’s sermon:
Catedral del Buen Señor, Quito 18 septiembre 2011
It is very good for brothers and sisters to live together in peace – even if it doesn’t happen very often. Human life has been marked by conflict since Cain and Abel. Their conflict was about whose religious offering was better – sheep or crops. They were competing for God’s recognition.
The arms deal has been described by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) as "the litmus test of South Africa's commitment to democracy and good governance". We rightly take pride in our constitution. There is nothing more destructive of democracy than corruption.
The arms deal represents the betrayal of South Africa's struggle against apartheid, hence my commitment for the past 15 years to expose the corruption which the arms deal unleashed.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane assigned me to represent the Anglican Church at the 1996-98 parliamentary defence review. The defence white paper acknowledged that there was no conceivable foreign military threat to our country and that eradication of poverty was the prime priority in the post-apartheid era.
The Anglican Church's stance, in common with other voices of civil society, was that every cent we could muster should be allocated to education, health, housing, job creation and crime prevention.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, the members of the House of Bishops and the HoB spouses/partners group, which is meeting concurrently, visited various sites of mission and ministry in and beyond Quito.
One group traveled to the Episcopal mission in Tulcán, located more than four hours outside of Quito, on the border between Ecuador and Colombia. While there, they conducted a prayer service at the bridge where people seeking refuge cross. And they met Colombian refugees -- a woman and her young daughter -- who have fled the violence and troubles in that country.
Another group traveled to Iglesia San Felipe, an Episcopal Church in Ibarra, a city of about 182,000 people, located about three hours from Quito. The group met with its vicar, the Rev Carlos Zapata, and retired priest, the Rev. Marco Mejia and his wife, Dolly, and parishioners and learned about the ministries sponsored by the church for the people in that area. Since Zapata took over the ministry five years ago, average Sunday attendance has increased from five people to 50.
The church members talked about their ties with the Dioceses of Atlanta, which helped them purchase the building; Connecticut, which as strong ties to the church; New Jersey, which helped build a sports center; and Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, which purchased the pews.