Saturday, October 1, 2011
A 135-year-old parish that broke away from the Episcopal Church after it consecrated its first openly gay bishop cannot keep its building and land, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Friday.
Justices rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling by the Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, which like dozens of parishes nationwide split from the national Episcopal Church after the 2003 appointment of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Bishop Seabury Church’s governing board voted in 2007 to join the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
Similar land disputes involving breakaway Episcopal parishes have been playing out across the country, with most courts ruling in favor of the national church and its dioceses. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case involving a California church in 2009.
The Groton parish’s lawyer had argued that the Episcopal Church has no right to the property and the land deed is in the parish’s name. But the state diocese said church rules prohibit congregations from walking away with church properties, and those properties are held in trust for the denomination.
From The BBC-
This month the campaign to allow women bishops in the Church of England could clear another hurdle.
Supporters are surprised and encouraged by the backing it has been getting in the Church's regional councils, or synods.
"We were expecting positive votes but the overwhelming majorities have been more encouraging than we expected," says Helena Jenkins, a parishioner of St Luke's church in Sevenoaks, Kent.
"I like to think it's the Holy Spirit moving, because I just feel so strongly that this is the right way for the Church to go," says Ms Jenkins, a member of the campaign group Women and the Church.
"And I think even some people who have difficulty with the idea of women in ministry have been listening perhaps more than they were."
The measure needs the approval of half the synods of the Church's 44 dioceses before it returns to the General Synod, which could take a final vote on the measure next July.
The retired longtime Episcopal bishop for Western Washington has been barred from exercising his ministry following what his successor calls “a credible allegation of recurrent marital infidelity.”
The Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner served as Episcopal Bishop of Olympia from 1989 to 2007: Warner surprised the 2002 Episcopal diocesan convention by announcing he was divorcing his wife of nearly four decades. He remarried shortly after his divorce.
“I first heard the allegations several weeks ago, and promptly reported them to the Presiding Bishop’s office, which is the procedure required by the canons of the Episcopal Church,” said Bishop Greg Rickel, Warner’s successor.
“On Monday I received word that Bishop Jefferts Schori had restricted Bishop Warner’s ministry.”
Rickel said the allegations did not involve contact with minors or individuals under Warner’s pastoral care. The retired bishop had opened a consulting business in conflict resolution.
The infidelity allegations will be investigated and resolved according to canons of the Episcopal Church.
“The news grieves me and may be difficult for some of you,” Rickel wrote in a letter to the diocese.
Warner underwent a kind of post-midlife male makeover in the last years of his tenure as bishop.
Friday, September 30, 2011
The Cathedral Church of St. John, a grand old granite church at 10 Concord Ave. that was started in Wilmington more than 150 years ago by Alexis Irenee du Pont and others, will close in July.
The decision was announced last Sunday following worship. This week, a letter was mailed to the cathedral's 120 members.
"We have fought long and hard and have done everything possible to continue our worshipping congregation here at St. John's, but reality says it is time to close," wardens Tom Angell and Deborah Layton wrote in the letter.
It's a decision that was not entirely a surprise, in that only special bequests have kept the church going, given that money from the congregation has fallen short each month by several thousand dollars.
From The Washington Times-
In his new book, “The Shadow of a Great Rock,” the eminent literary critic Harold Bloom laments that few people today read and fully appreciate the King James Bible of 1611. But Mr. Bloom is talking about the beauty of the language and the majesty of the
most sonorous passages in the seminal 17th-century translation rather than its appeal as a source of religious devotion or comfort.
As it marks its 400th anniversary this year, the King James Bible is suddenly a trending topic, the focus of a surge of scholarly, curatorial and public interest - not to mention ecclesiastical anxiety - that includes a spate of books and essays as well as “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,” a fascinating new exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
The King James Bible, or KJB, has from the beginning led a double life. It is the sacred Scripture of the Protestant communion, particularly of Episcopalians and Anglicans, but it also is a literary masterpiece - “the sublime summit of literature in English,” which it shares only with Shakespeare, and “a basic source of American literature,” Mr. Bloom declares.
“Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Emily Dickenson, are its children, and so are William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy,” he writes.
From New Zealand
New Zealand's largest insurer of churches and heritage buildings announced yesterday that it would stop offering earthquake coverage throughout the country.
The British-owned Ansvar Insurance suffered $700 million worth of losses in the Christchurch earthquakes, including losses on the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals and the Christchurch Arts Centre.
It is the first insurer to stop offering earthquake coverage nationally since the disasters, which are expected to cost insurers more than $15 billion.
It raises fears that insurers and reinsurers worried about further aftershocks may stop offering earthquake cover throughout NZ, forcing the Government to step in with its own expanded scheme or coverage.
Parts of Japan and California are practically uninsurable for earthquakes because of sky-high premiums.
The Rev. Jacob Fles of Christ Episcopal Church is on administrative leave while the Episcopal Diocese of Maine investigates allegations of misconduct.
In a Sept. 22 letter to "The People of Christ Church," Bishop Stephen Lane said the leave will continue until proceedings by the diocese "under our disciplinary canons have reached a final resolution or accord."
Under the conditions of the administrative leave, Fles will be paid, but he may not function in any capacity as rector of Christ Church or as a priest of the Episcopal Church, and neither Fles nor any member of his family may have any contact or attempt to influence the statements of anyone who may have made allegations against him.
Lane said the complaint alleges "specific instances of conduct, which, if true, would constitute one or more offenses under the church's disciplinary canons."
"I have placed the Rev. Mr. Fles on administrative leave for the health and well-being of the persons involved, including the rector and his family," Lane wrote. "Under our canons, all persons are considered innocent until the evidence demonstrates otherwise."
Fles is not facing criminal charges, according to Gardiner police.
From Alaska via Houston-
If you've lived in Kodiak long enough, your ears may have detected a familiar ringing.
About 20 years ago, school-age musicians delighted local audiences with the stirring, intricate dance of hand bell music at St. James the Fisherman Episcopal Church.
In 2011, nine of those girls and some new friends are reviving the art in Isle Bells, a community hand bell choir preparing for a November concert premiere.
"We have 13 ringers," said Isle Bells director Ella Saltonstall. "That's ideal for five octaves."
The yoga teacher and mother of two learned to ring with the St. James group and has loved the sound ever since.
"They touch your spirit, touch your soul in a way no other instrument does," she said.
Saltonstall decided to get serious after she heard a concert by several skilled bell choirs in Maine.
"I left there thinking, 'I've got to do this,'" she said.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
From The LA Times-
On Sunday, hundreds of preachers are expected to celebrate something called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" by sermonizing about the moral qualifications of candidates for public office. The event is organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization. The alliance is offering legal representation to clergy whose remarks might run afoul of the prohibition of politicking by churches. It's a challenge the Internal Revenue Service should take seriously.
Under the law, not only churches but other so-called 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations must not "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." The restriction, which dates back to the 1950s, is based on a sound principle: that organizations characterizing themselves as charitable and receiving a government benefit should refrain from election activity.
The House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Uganda elects new bishop for the newly created diocese of South Ankole
The House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Uganda sitting at Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo on September 28, 2011 elected Rev. Canon Nathan Ahimbisibwe as the 1st Diocesan Bishop of the newly created South Ankole Diocese. The Diocese was carved out both Ankole and West Ankole Dioceses.
The Rev. Canon Nathan Ahimbisibwe holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Christian Education from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississipi in the USA; a Bachelor of Divinity from Uganda Christian University, Mukono and a Diploma in Education.
He joined the priesthood in 1997 under the Diocese of Ankole and was appointed Canon of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Bweranyangi. Rev. Canon Ahimbisibwe has served as Lecturer at Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara; Tutor of theological Education by Extension in Ankole Diocese; and Director of Admissions/ Lecturer at Uganda Bible Institute. He has also served on various Boards.
It was an honor to be invited by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to speak at the Transitions Conference, held at Lambeth Palace on Sept. 19. I offered the keynote address, bridging the theology and actual practice of women in the episcopate.
The Church of England continues to proceed toward having women in this order of ministry. While England has become accustomed to the ministry of women in the priesthood, it is understood that women in the episcopate will be a major culture shift in the exercise of the ministry itself and in the currently all-male House of Bishops. The matter is still hotly debated and a source of great institutional anxiety, particularly with the coming 2012 General Synod where measures and codes of practice regarding alternative oversight for those who cannot abide the authority of a female bishop will be debated.
The Rev. Randall Day is a believer in the power of social media.
His revelation came on Christmas 2009. He needed to get word out to his church's 400-member congregation about the upcoming service at St. Marks-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.
Fliers went out. Postcards. Emails.
The easiest and cheapest item to produce got his congregation's attention.
"It's just a tool," said Day, 56, about Facebook. "It's not scary. You just go with it."
Religious leaders across Santa Barbara County have put social media to use in fostering community in their congregation, spreading faith, and updating their membership. But they walk a careful line, without clear-cut guidelines from high in their ranks, in deciding how to use the medium.
Social media have the attention of churches.
At seminaries and conferences, he hears about ways the church can put social media to use.
"It's not so much don't-do-this and don't-do-that," Day said. "There's a lot of emphasis on getting you up to speed if you are not already."
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
In an historic move, the Anglican diocese of Rupert’s Land has appointed a Lutheran pastor – the Rev. Paul Johnson – as dean of the diocese and incumbent for St. John’s Cathedral in Winnipeg.
This is the first time that a Lutheran pastor has been appointed dean in an Anglican cathedral in Canada. A dean is the priest in charge of a cathedral (“mother church”) and occupies a senior position in a diocese.
The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have been in full communion since 2001, which means that their clergy may serve in one another’s churches.
In an email sent to clergy Sept. 27, the bishop of the diocese of Rupert’s Land, Don Phillips, informed clergy of Rev. Johnson’s appointment and said that the diocese was “looking forward to this new beginning in the life of our church.”
Interfaith Alliance announced Sept. 26 that the 2011 Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award will be presented Nov. 13 to the Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, the second woman to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, and Public Broadcasting Service anchor Jim Lehrer.
The awards will be presented at a gala dinner in New York City, according to a press release.
"Jim Lehrer and Jane Holmes Dixon represent the best of what Walter Cronkite stood for as one of the most respected journalists of his time and as a citizen of this country deeply committed to protecting religious freedom," the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, Interfaith Alliance president, said in the release.
Gaddy said Dixon "has been a trailblazer within her own church, opening doors for women and members of” the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community “and demonstrating compassionate inclusion in her ministry." Dixon is a past chair of organization's board and member of its staff, and Gaddy said her "impact on this organization and on the nation cannot be overstated."
Calling both Dixon and Lehrer "moral giants in their respective professions," Gaddy said that Lehrer "has set the standard for unbiased, straightforward reporting over the last half-century and currently provides a much-needed model for quiet civility in the midst of loud rancor."
Since his retirement as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, Peter Lee has led a life peripatetic and productive. He recently was named the interim dean of the American Cathedral in Paris. Truly he has answered the invitation, "Follow me."
After leaving Mayo House, Lee served as interim dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and as interim head of General Theological Seminary in New York City. He apparently has an affinity for architectural beauty. Grace ranks among the majestic churches in the world; its presence lifts eyes and allows them to see that which often goes unseen. GTS occupies a campus in Manhattan conducive to repose. The American Cathedral conveys the Word.
In Paris, Lee will replace Zachary Fleetwood, an engaging curate who is a native Virginian and who once was rector of an Episcopal parish in The Plains, which seems a long way from Avenue George V. The cathedral offers a gathering place not only for Episcopalians abroad but for travelers of all denominations. Its congregation is not limited to expats or to Americans living in France but reflects national diversity. Fleetwood departs to become rector of a storied church in Edinburgh.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
From The Christian Science Monitor (Video and links)
The oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, the Dead Sea Scrolls, are now online to everyone in the world with the aid of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Google.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were written between the first and third centuries B.C. They were hidden in 11 caves in the Judean desert on the shores of the Dead Sea in 68 B.C. to protect them from approaching Roman armies. They were not unearthed again until 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd of the Ta'amra tribe threw a rock in a cave and realized something lay inside.
Most of the scrolls are parchment, or specially prepared animal skins, although some are papyrus. Most are written in Hebrew, although some are in Aramaic or Greek.
Since 1965, the scrolls have been on exhibit at the Israel Museum. They have offered critical insights into life and religion in ancient Jerusalem, including the birth of Christianity.
"They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage," said James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
Special services and other events will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in historic Lunenberg, N.S. The gathering will be a time of “celebration, reconnecting, sharing stories, renewing baptismal and ordination vows, and a variety of workshops to equip us in future ministry,” say organizers of Reflecting the Light of Christ.
The celebration will begin with a eucharist on Nov. 30, St. Andrew’s Day. This is the same day that in 1976, the Anglican Church of Canada ordained six women priests from four dioceses.
Today, nearly 37 per cent or 886 out of 2,396 active clergy are female. The Anglican Church of Canada has six female bishops, one of whom is Bishop Sue Moxley of the Anglican diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Bishop Moxley will preside over the eucharist.
Far from slowly dying, the Anglican Church in Barbados is healthy, says Bishop of Barbados Dr John Holder.
The Bishop told Starcom Network Inc. yesterday it was a matter of people choosing which Sunday to attend church.
“I think the Anglican Church in Barbados is healthy,” he said. “The strength is there on the ground, in the parishes. What we normally have in our church is sometimes persons choosing which Sunday, or which hour on a Sunday, they would attend. So you would never get all of them at the same time in the same place.”
Holder, who is also Archbishop of the West Indies, said this had been a regular practice by members of the Anglican faith “for a long time”.
He was responding to Anglican priest David Yarde’s comment that the church appeared to be slowly dying as it was losing members worldwide, with churches overseas being turned into department stores, pubs, theatres and schools.
From The Living Church-
As was the case in 1911, this 400th anniversary year for the King James Version (KJV) has brought forth a flood of positive commentary on the style, affect, and influence of this greatest of English-language Bibles. Although I agree wholeheartedly with most of what has been claimed about the beneficent legacy of the Authorized Version, as both a historian and a Christian it has seemed to me that other sides of the King James Version story deserve a hearing. What follows, therefore, is not an attempt to negate positive assessments, but rather an effort to add sober realism to what sometimes becomes runaway triumphalism.
For a surprisingly numerous cloud of American witnesses, the recent ascension of new translations at the expense of the KJV was long overdue. James H. Hutson, chief of the manuscript division at the Library of Congress, has published a splendid little book providing well-authenticated quotations from the American Founders on religious matters. In this great wealth of fascinating commentary are several surprisingly negative opinions about the KJV. John Adams, for example, once wrote to his son, John Quincy, to attack the notion that any one version of Scripture could count as a true “Rule of Faith.” He began his argument by denouncing “the translation by King James the first” as being carried out by someone who was “more than half a Catholick,” which in 1816 was for Adams anything but a compliment.
Just three weeks ago, the shelves at St. Margaret’s Outreach Center in Palm Desert were bare, and up to 80 families were expected to come by to pick up food boxes.
But with one phone call, and a relationship between two dynamic Palm Desert congregations, those shelves were packed within a few days, according to Chet Hect, the outreach director at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.
“I re-hooked up with Pastor Derek (Fossey of Hope Lutheran Church). We had talked about this idea (of partnering up) and it was just God saying, ‘I need to remind you to call Derek,’’’ Hect said, adding that he also spread the word at St. Margaret’s.
The center, which has reported a 33 percent increase in foot traffic over last year, is mainly feeding families that live close by to the center at 44710 San Pablo Avenue – a change from last year.
The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and his family are celebrating today after finally getting permission to remain in the city after many months of legal and diplomat appeals.
The Rt. Revd Suheil Dawani, who is also Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, today spoke of his delight at finally getting the Residency Permits that as someone born in Nablus in the West Bank must have to stay in East Jerusalem, where St. George Anglican Cathedral and the bishop's offices are located.
"It is with great pleasure, and with God’s help, that I and my family have received our Residency Permits," he said in a statement to his supporters.
"I want to thank all of you, my friends and colleagues throughout the Anglican Episcopal Communion and the Worldwide Christian Community, for your continued support throughout this time. It has been deeply appreciated and most encouraging knowing that we have been kept in your thoughts and prayers as we awaited this most heartening outcome.
Officials at Seabury Western Theological Seminary announced Sept. 23 that the Episcopal Church-affiliated school will move from Evanston, Illinois into space at the Lutheran Center, headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in nearby Chicago.
"Our new quarters, just a few minutes from O'Hare Airport, will not only make it easier for us to attract top-quality faculty and students, but will make tangible our commitment to ecumenical collaboration like that exemplified by our partners at Bexley Hall," Robert Bottoms, who serves as interim president of both Seabury and Bexley Hall, said in a press release.
Bexley Hall, also an Episcopal Church-affiliated seminary, is located on the campus of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.
The move, expected to take place in early December, will provide Seabury with more flexible offices and classrooms, Elizabeth Jameson, Seabury's vice president and chief operating officer, said in the release.
"We will continue to have space for worship at our center," she said. "Renowned liturgist Dent Davidson and scholar John Dally are helping to create what John referred to as 'a striking statement of presence' in the midst of new offices and classrooms."
Seabury sold its property and buildings in Evanston to Northwestern University as part of its 2008 reorganization and has been renting part of that space since the sale. The reorganization included dropping of its Master of Divinity degree program, the training most commonly taken by prospective priests in the Episcopal Church.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The head of the traditional Anglican communion, John Hepworth, has been asked to resign by colleagues in the United States.
It follows controversy over the archbishop's claim he was sexually abused by Catholic priests in his youth, decades ago.
Archbishop Hepworth is world primate of a breakaway group from the Anglican church which has members in several countries including the United States.
He is hoping his church will be allowed to join with the Catholic Church, of which he was once a member.
Archbishop Hepworth says this reconciliation is one reason he went public with his story of having been raped by Catholic priests.
"That was what was driving me. My twin task as a church leader dealing with the Pope, and my own personal story," he said.
Seventy-five years worth of candle wax, incense smoke, and general wear and tear left quite a mark on the Society of St. John the Evangelist monastery in Cambridge. But after an 18-month, $11 million renovation and restoration of its chapel, guesthouse, and monastery buildings, the society’s monks are ready to welcome guests and worshippers again.
Originally built during the Great Depression, the Episcopal monastery just steps from the Kennedy School on Memorial Drive is currently home to nine monks. The guesthouse hosts visitors who come for spiritual retreat, including Harvard students, faculty, and affiliates.’
As part of the restoration, a specialist carefully cleaned each of the chapel’s stained glass windows—depicting the lives of monastic saints—with a solution of ammonia and water.
“We’re seeing colors we’ve never seen before,” said Brother Kevin Hackett, a resident monk and director of communications at the monastery.
Contractors installed new wiring and plumbing and reinsulated the complex for temperature and sound. Guest rooms were refurbished and outfitted with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and a handicap-accessible was bathroom added. The renovation also repaired leaks in the chapel tower, roof, and walls, and replaced the bell that calls the brothers to prayer five times a day.
The only clue that all is not as it should be is the message on the St. James marquee: “Faith Makes All Things Possible. Pray for Our Church.”
St. James parishioners learned Sept. 14 that it is going to take more than prayers to keep their venerable church alive. At an open vestry meeting, an official from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania informed them they have until Oct. 13 to pay off parish debts or face possible closure.
“The bottom line is that we have $20,000 in past due debt. I’m pretty sure we can do that,” said St. James Senior Warden Debbie Paullin. “They’re requiring that we provide to them $3,000 in weekly pledges from parishioners. That will be the difficult thing.”
While she was aware of the parish’s financial difficulties, Paullin said she didn’t realize how serious they were until the end of August, when the former pastor, the Rev. William Hesse, left for a parish in Georgia and she assumed the role of senior warden.
The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in Province IX, in Quito, Ecuador, issued the following Pastoral Teaching:
We, your bishops, believe these words of Jeremiah describe these times and call us to repentance as we face the unfolding environmental crisis of the earth:
How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it the animals and the birds are swept away, and because people said, "He is blind to our ways." (Jeremiah 12:4)
The mounting urgency of our environmental crisis challenges us at this time to confess "our self-indulgent appetites and ways," "our waste and pollution of God's creation," and "our lack of concern for those who come after us" (Ash Wednesday Liturgy, Book of Common Prayer, p. 268). It also challenges us to amend our lives and to work for environmental justice and for more environmentally sustainable practices.
Christians cannot be indifferent to global warming, pollution, natural resource depletion, species extinctions, and habitat destruction, all of which threaten life on our planet. Because so many of these threats are driven by greed, we must also actively seek to create more compassionate and sustainable economies that support the well-being of all God's creation.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Parliament could not discuss the matter because Dokora said it was still before the courts.
Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a close ally of President Mugabe, was excommunicated four years ago for inciting Zanu (PF) violence from the pulpit in political sermons that infuriated parishioners.
Following his excommunication, he claimed he was forming his own Anglican church. Bishop Chad Gandiya, leader of the mainstream Anglican group, has fought to retain control of church property, but a Supreme Court ruling by the Chief Justice gave custody of all church property to Kunonga. Even though Gandiya has appealed the ruling, Kunonga has proceeded to seize mission schools and priests' homes on the church premises. But it is Kunonga's seizure of the Shearlly Cripps orphanage housing 80 children that attracted the attention of Parliament.
Zengeza West MP Collen Gwiyo brought the matter to the House of Assembly this week.
From Pittsburgh (Actually St. Stephen's has "realigned" and Aaron has come back to the Episcopal Church)
St. Stephen’s Episcopal (sic) Church will say farewell to Pastor Aaron Zimmerman today, along with his wife, Andrea and their children, as he has accepted a position at a church in Houston, Texas.
Zimmerman is leaving to serve as the associate rector for outreach and families and young adults at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. St. Stephen's will begin a search for a new assistant rector.
He said he felt it was God’s call for him to take the position, but he wasn’t planning to leave Sewickley.
“We have loved this church and the Sewickley community,” he said. “St. Stephen’s is a vibrant, strong, and full-of-love place. We saw ourselves here for many more years, at least.”
Zimmerman talked about the relocation during a Sewickley ministerial meeting earlier this month, telling pastors from the community that while his family is excited to answer God's calling, they are sad to go.
"We hate to see you go," the Rev. Dan Valentine of St. James Church said.
In June, Zimmerman received a call from a mentor of his who told him that his name had been given to St. Martin’s for the position and that he would be contacted.