Saturday, March 2, 2013

Revisiting Marriage

From The Living Church-

As a 12-member task force begins studying whether Christian marriage will incorporate same-sex couples, observers say it’s not certain what the panel’s report will ultimately recommend. The panel’s appointment, announced Feb. 14, honors instructions from the same 2012 General Convention that sanctioned a new rite for blessing same-sex couples. Still, it’s unclear whether the panel will endorse gay marriage or perhaps just create more room in the tradition for those who regard gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships as holy.

“The only bombshell would be if they backed off” the church’s growing support for same-sex relationships, said historian David Holmes, author of A Brief History of the Episcopal Church.

The panel consists of seven men and five women from dioceses in California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Vermont.

When asked what the panel can accomplish and whether there’s a chance it might not endorse same-sex marriage, the Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Bishop of Upper South Carolina, offered only a brief statement.

“Any time there are significant questions in our Church, it is critical that we engage in thoughtful, intentional dialogue,” Bishop Waldo said via email. “It is an important time in the life of the Church for us to address a host of biblical, theological, historical, pastoral liturgical and canonical questions on Christian marriage that face us.”

More here-

Vote to be held over merged Yorkshire diocese

From England-

Members of three neighbouring Anglican church dioceses in Yorkshire are due to vote later on plans to merge into a single organisation.

Under Church of England proposals, the dioceses of Ripon and Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield would combine to become a new Diocese of Leeds.

If approved, the scheme is expected to be placed before the Church of England's general synod in July.

The proposed new diocese could be launched as soon as Easter next year.

'Element of devolution'

The vote follows a six-month consultation period which was held in each diocese in 2011-12.

The plans will be debated by members of each diocesan synod, or church parliament, before a vote is held at about 12:30 GMT on Saturday.

Members will be faced with a yes/no vote to dissolve the three individual dioceses and a simple majority is all that is required for approval.

More here-

Engineers at odds over safety of rebuilding Chch Cathedral

From New Zealand-

The Anglican Church's plans for the Christchurch Cathedral site will be revealed this month, but campaigners are still battling to save the quake-damaged building.

The Great Building Trust has revealed its plans to make the building safe without risking the workers. But the church's own engineers disagree.

Christchurch's Anglican cathedral is still dividing opinions of those within the Church, the city and the experts. The Anglican Church wants it demolished, but there are still people fighting hard to restore it.

“It's a question of will,” says Jim Anderson of the Great Christchurch Building Trust. “Unfortunately the bishop has made it clear she does not [want to save the building], but there are plenty of people who do.”

The Great Christchurch Building Trust says it can make the building safe and has commissioned a report showing how. It would involve pulling down the west wall and porch of the church, then sliding a siege engine, or protective frame, into the building, which would shelter workers as they made the building safe. The engineers who came up with the plan say it's robust.

Read more:

New Archbishop of Canterbury on New Pope

From Religion and Ethics (with video)

BOB ABERNETHY: The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is getting a new leader. Later this month, Justin Welby will take his seat as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader to Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world. Kim Lawton was in the UK this week and spoke with Welby about this important moment in these two Christian traditions.

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: At the historic Coventry Cathedral, Archbishop Justin Welby was attending a conference this week about faith and reconciliation. Welby told me he’s watching the events in Rome closely. He says he believes Catholics and Anglicans have much in common, despite their sometimes tense relationship.

ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury: We have major differences over the ordination of women, things like that. We have historically different understandings of the nature of the church and the authority of the church. But we have a common basis around the need to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

LAWTON: He says he hopes dialogue between the two will continue. Welby will be enthroned as the next Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21, when he officially takes the helm of one of the largest bodies of Christianity. The former oil-executive-turned-clergyman acknowledges it’s interesting that the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church will both have new leaders within the next few weeks.

WELBY: I don’t read too much into it. Benedict XVI was a very remarkable, has been a very remarkable pope. He took over at the age of 78; that’s not the age which most of us would feel we wanted to take on a major new task, and he gave himself, he spent himself on this. But I do look forward very much to meeting the new pope later in the year, and I’m confident that we will find in each other a common love for Christ.

More here-

Archbishop compares C of E to shouting family

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that he has "no magic wand", and that there is "no silver bullet" to resolve the conflicts in the Church of England or the Anglican Communion.

Speaking to the Church Times at the "Faith in Conflict" conference at Coventry Cathedral, Archbishop Welby sought to play down the "huge expectation" that people had placed on his experience of conflict-resolution. He said that he could only "help to set the tone".

He said that he would seek to put his past work in reconciliation to good use. Nevertheless, he continued: "Reconciliation is never ever delivered by one person or a group of people. Reconciliation is something that is done by people in the conflict with each other.

"Sometimes somebody provides marginal help in facilitating that. I have sometimes been able to provide marginal help in facilitating people to reconcile, but they reconcile.

More here-

Calif. Episcopal Church Files Brief Supporting Gay Marriage, Explains Reasoning

From Christian Post-

As the Supreme Court gets set to review a number of cases that will determine the future of gay marriage in America, more than two dozen Episcopal bishops in California signed briefs opposing both Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

"The Episcopal Church has always seen itself as existing in our culture, not outside or above or in opposition to our culture. For over a century, Episcopalians look to the model of Christ transforming culture, rather than, say, Christ against culture," explained the Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, in a statement to The Washington Post.

"On marriage equality, our church has traveled on pilgrimage with our culture. Sometimes we have led in advocacy for marriage equality, and sometimes we have learned from the culture and from leaders outside the church. We have developed rites for blessing and marriage for all, and we have extended the support of the church to LGBT people in the form of premarital counseling and the integration of same-sex couples into loving communities of faith," the bishop added.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Next Pope Should Continue the Work of Benedict XVI

From Yahoo News-

Few popes in the 2,000 years of the Catholic Church have done as much for the cause of Christian unity as has Benedict XVI. I hope that the next pope recognizes the importance of this mission and continues it. Both our Anglican brothers and sisters, and those in the Orthodox churches, should continue to have hope for reunification.

Pope Benedict XVI established three personal ordinariates that allow Christians with Anglican beliefs to rejoin the Catholic Church. In 2011, he created the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to permit members of the Church of England in England and Wales to enter full communion with the Church. He followed that in early 2012 by establishing the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to allow Anglicans in the United States and Canada the same opportunity. In June, 2012, he created the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for Anglicans in Australia.

These actions have returned thousands of Anglican believers to the church. Dozens of deacons and priests have been ordained to serve the new parishes. In many cases, entire parishes chose to unite with Rome under one of the ordinariates. In the U.S. and Canada, 21 communities are so joined. In the United Kingdom, the count is over 50 while in Australia three communities have been reunited with Rome.

Communique from the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission

From ACNS-

The final meeting of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission (AMICUM) took place 22 February to 1 March 2013, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, hosted by the Anglican Communion. Members of the Commission worshiped together morning and evening, and the Eucharist was celebrated according to both traditions. 

he Commission has after five years completed the phase of work mandated to it by the World Methodist Council and the Anglican Communion, and has now prepared a report for both bodies. As the last three words in its title suggest (Unity in Mission), AMICUM aims to foster the unity of the Church so that the Church can engage more fully in God’s mission of love to the world. The report begins and ends with biblical reflections, on our Lord’s prayer for the unity of his people that all might believe, and on the radical nature of Jesus’ ministry as a mandate for mission.

AMICUM has set out key points of agreement concerning the interchangeability of ordained ministries, and the awareness of each Communion’s need of the other. It sees a common, interchangeable ministry as crucial in making the unity of the Church visible.

The report analyses the place of the apostolic tradition and the nature of the oversight (episkope) in the life of the Church. It explores the history of oversight, and the way it has been exercised in the Methodist and Anglican traditions, and the way it is exercised today.

- See more at:

Diocese of South Carolina convention set for March 8-9

From South Carolina-

The Diocese of South Carolina will hold its 222nd annual convention March 8-9 at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence.

This year’s convention workshops are designed to equip the diocese’s lay members and clergy for the work of ministry. Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th bishop of South Carolina, said such workshops would be key parts of future conventions.

This year, three free workshops will be open to the public on Friday, March 8:

- “Youth Ministry for Small Churches” — 2:30-4 p.m., led by the Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator Dave Wright. The program is designed to help small churches do youth ministry like larger churches.

- “The Apologetics of C.S. Lewis,” a primer on how to defend Christianity — 1-2:30 p.m., led by the Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon, the diocese’s canon theologian.

- “Sozo Prayer,” a workshop on inner healing through prayer — 1-4 p.m., led by Kelli Hample, Lisa Fike and Karen Tetrev.

The convention will also feature a sermon by the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, bishop vicar of the Diocese of Quincy (Illinois) of the Anglican Church in North America. He will serve as guest preacher at the opening Eucharist Friday evening at St. John’s, Florence. The Diocese of Quincy left The Episcopal Church in 2008 and the following year was a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America.

More here-

The Episcopal Church’s gay rights pilgrimage

From The Washington Post-

Today the U.S. Supreme Court received friend-of-the-court briefs arguing in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples in two historic cases challenging California’s Proposition 8 and the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” or DOMA. As the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California I signed on to briefs for religious organizations and leaders opposing both Proposition 8 and DOMA. At my invitation more than two dozen Episcopal bishops across the country did so as well. I’d like to tell you why.

First, The Episcopal Church has always seen itself as existing in our culture, not outside or above or in opposition to our culture. For over a century, Episcopalians look to the model of Christ transforming culture, rather than, say, Christ against culture. Even the idea of Christ transforming culture has evolved, so today many Episcopalians look for the divine at work far beyond the reaches of our church buildings, and beyond those who identify as Episcopalians or even as Christians.

More here-

Thursday, February 28, 2013

NIGERIA: Fayemi’s N5m donation tears church apart

From Nigeria-

THE N5million donated to the Millennium Anglican Church, Odo Owa Ekiti by Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, is allegedly tearing the church apart.

It would be recalled that Fayemi donated N5 million to the church during the burial of its late primate, Most Rev. Abiodun Adetiloye  on January 19, 2013.

Shortly after the donation, the leaders and clergy of the church were said to have met where the issue of the donation was discussed.

Members were said to have resolved on how to utilize the money among others.

It was gathered that they agreed that among others, it would be used to renovate the church, buy a bus for evangelism while N1million would be put  into a special account.

However, the Bishop of Ekiti West Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Oludare Oke, was said to have told the members including the vicar, Reverend Mike Ogunniyi, that the N5 million was deposited in a fixed Account because it was an endowment fund and not a gift to the Church alone.

For allegedly failing to heed the advice of the Bishop, the Bishop was said to have ordered the demotion of the vicar from Archdeacon to Canon for alleged insubordination.

More here-

Archbishop Calls Jo Bailey Wells

From The Living Church-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells as his new chaplain, based at Lambeth Palace. Her primary focus will be for the spiritual life at Lambeth Palace and for supporting the Archbishop’s pastoral and liturgical ministry.

“Jo is an outstanding speaker, scholar and pastor, with a very wide experience of the Anglican world,” Archbishop Justin Welby said. “I am delighted that she has been agreed to come and work with me at Lambeth.”

“I am honored and delighted to be joining Archbishop Justin’s team at Lambeth as he takes on a heavy but exciting mantle,” Wells said. “I look forward to supporting him personally and pastorally — above all by praying for his flourishing in that role — and so to facilitating the wider flourishing of God’s people in God’s church.”

More here-

A Bishop And A Rabbi Walk Into a Boardroom...

From New York-

Katharine Jefferts Schori is the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the world Anglican church, with just under two million members. From her office near Grand Central terminal, she also leads churches in Taiwan, Colombia, Germany, and twelve other countries.

Almost seven years after she was elected, the church's first woman leader, she still makes an impression in her magenta blouse and white ecclesiastical collar.

In 2006, Jefferts Schori stepped into the white-hot fight over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. An out gay man, V. Gene Robinson, had been made Bishop of New Hampshire (with Jefferts Schori’s support). Conservatives within the church opposed the leaders’ inclusive approach to homosexuality. Over the next four years, almost a quarter of a million congregants departed, leaving a church that’s about ten percent smaller - and more harmonious.

“Everybody who’s in the Episcopal church today wants to be here,” Jefferts Schori said.

Decision day due on future of Bradford's Church of England diocese

From England-

A decision day which could see Bradford losing its status as a Church of England diocese is getting closer as synod members get ready to take part in a key vote on Saturday.

When the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield simultaneously vote on ‘radical’ reorganisation plans it could lead to a new single super diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales being created.

Bradford synod members will be asked to vote on the plan in a secret ballot held in Skipton on Saturday. At the same time, 12.30pm, synod members of the other two dioceses involved will also be meeting in Harrogate and Wakefield to take part in their final debates and votes, which will then be counted and revealed.

More here-

Executive Council resumes Middle East peace advocacy

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Feb. 27 began its part in the church’s 2013-2015 triennial advocacy for peace with justice in the Middle East.

Council passed a resolution, by a voice vote with two members dissenting, affirming what it called General Convention’s “prophetic witness” expressed in Resolution B019 that bishops and deputies passed in July.

Resolution B019 reaffirmed the church’s official policy, based on resolutions passed at previous conventions, committing to a two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both.

It also affirmed positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories. It called on the church to support “Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East,” and produce an annotated bibliography of resources.

More here-

Va. Supreme Court Hears Appeal Of Ruling Vs. Breakaway Anglicans

From Virginia-

The Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond yesterday heard the oral arguments of an appeal by the breakaway Falls Church Anglicans, seeking to reverse a January 2012 ruling by the Fairfax Circuit Court returning the property of the historic Falls Church in downtown City of Falls Church to the Episcopal Church.

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser, also heard arguments from attorneys representing the national Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Falls Church Episcopal Church.

A final decision from the Supreme Court is expected by the end of April.

The breakaway congregation, which remains under the leadership of the Rev. John Yates and has been worshiping at different locations in Northern Virginia since being forced to vacate the historic church a year ago, was joined in its appeal by an amicus brief from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli which supported the Anglicans on one aspect of their appeal, the disposition of financial contributions made to them while they occupied the historic church.

More here-

On Final Day as Pope, Benedict Pledges Loyalty to Successor

From The New York Times-

In his final hours as head of the Roman Catholic church, Benedict XVI met on Thursday with the cardinals who will elect his successor, urging them to be “like an orchestra” that harmonizes for the good of the Church and pledging that he would behave with “unconditional reverence and obedience” toward his successor.

It was one of the concluding acts of a nearly eight-year, scandal-dogged papacy that, Benedict said on Wednesday, was filled with “light and joy” but also had its darker moments when “the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”

A day after blessing the faithful for the last time as pope, Benedict will leave the Vatican by helicopter on Thursday for the papal summer residence and his retirement will formally take effect at 8 p.m. local time.

After thanking the more than 100 cardinals collectively, the pope greeted each of them, standing before a gilded throne in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace. Draped in a red and gold mantle lined with snow-white ermine, Benedict clasped the cardinals’ hands as they spoke to him, removing their distinctive red skullcaps to greet him and kiss his ring.

More here-

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Holmes Dixon Crossed the Altar, Busted Barriers

From PBS-

Since I’m now in my mid-50s, I can really say I’ve grown up right along with the women’s movement. As a reporter, I’ve had a front seat as women have fought to attain the place in society that was always their due.

One place you might think of as different from the corporate boardroom, the anchor desk or a presidential debate, is the altar. In my lifetime I’ve watched as women moved from one side of the altar, kneeling to receive communion or demurely waiting to kiss the groom, to take their place on the other side, as clerics, just as empowered to preach and teach as their brothers, husbands, fathers and sons.

So it was with sadness and shock that I heard of the passing of Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon early on Christmas morning. She was the second bishop in the Episcopal Church of the United States, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The news that women would be allowed ordination rocked the Episcopal Church when I was a teenager. Holmes Dixon, in her early 40s at the time, headed to seminary to become one of the first women priests in the American church. At a time when many Episcopalians were not sure they could accept a woman presiding at Communion, baptizing babies or running congregations, she plunged right in. She was, by all accounts, a success as a pastor.

More here-

Council considers proposal to stay at church center to further mission

From ENS-

The church’s denominational offices would remain at the Episcopal Church Center in New York if the Executive Council accepts a recommendation it received Feb. 26 from a group of Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society executives.

Of four main scenarios analyzed, “God’s mission of reconciliation is best furthered” by remaining at 815 Second Ave. in Manhattan and consolidating DFMS operations at the church center to free up even more space to rent to outside tenants than the 3.5 floors that are currently leased out, a report to council says. This choice would be “in the organization’s best interests financially, both in terms of budget effect and for long-term investment purposes,” according to the report.

The DFMS, the church’s corporate entity, currently rents 2.5 floors to the Ad Council and one floor to Permanent Mission of Haiti to the United Nations. The church center has nine floors of office space.
The study began in February 2012, five months before General Convention met, when council’s Finances for Mission committee asked DFMS management to study the possible relocation of the church center.

More here-

Thousands jam St. Peter's for pope's last general audience

From The LA Times-

Before tens of thousands of people under clear blue skies, Pope Benedict XVI recalled a papacy full of both joy and difficulty as he held his final general audience Wednesday, the eve of his retirement as leader of the world's Roman Catholics.

Cheers filled St. Peter's Square as Benedict rode his special Pope-mobile amid the crowds who had started gathering early in the morning. National flags fluttered alongside banners bearing the simple word "Grazie," or "thanks."

It was one of the largest crowds to turn out for Benedict in the colonnaded piazza since he was elevated to the papacy nearly eight years ago. The 85-year-old pope, seated under a canopy on the steps of the grand basilica, responded in several languages to the greetings and tributes read to him from around the world.

He thanked the faithful for their support of his decision to bow to his failing health and become the first pontiff in 600 years to give up the post.

More here-,0,2283331.story

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nigeria should be ready for ‘bloody revolution’; the north will break if… says cleric

From Nigeria-

At 82, he is retired but neither tired nor senile. As a courageous cleric, patriot and nationalist of the best hue, Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi, retired bishop of Akure Diocese of the Anglican Communion, enjoys a longstanding reputation for using deep knowledge of theology as an instrument of advocacy for public and private morality.

Like genuine nationalists in the garb of clerics in other climes, who have used their position in the Lord’s vineyard to pursue the good of society, Gbonigi has dedicated his entire life to promoting the reformation and regeneration of his nation’s doddering polity, assured that a society that operates and lives by the ethos of justice and fear of God is the only place on earth where the downtrodden can be uplifted and peace reign.

To enthrone a society where universal happiness shall reign, the spiritual giant has constantly engaged those in authority, sometimes needling them with his caustic criticisms of the sorry state of affairs, and pouring invectives on marauders and upstarts who found themselves on the corridors of power, especially during the years of military rule.

In an interview that lasted over two hours in his country home in Akure, Ondo State, Gbonigi looked through his spiritual binoculars while appraising the parlous state of the nation, saying justice and fear of God are two intangible but critical ingredients that are lacking in the hearts and acts of men and women who currently take charge of affairs of this country.

More here-

Roman resignations

From The Economist-

THE former cardinal Keith O’Brien was unusually outspoken. On gay marriage, euthanasia and abortion he held uncompromising and always widely-published views. But his resignation yesterday following newspaper allegations of “inappropriate contact” with four other priests in the 1980s—allegations that he denies—was muted. “For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended,” he said.

As Britain’s most senior priest, Cardinal O’Brien was eligible to vote in the conclave later this week to decide who will next be pope. Although he was on the verge of retirement, his resignation is a shock. It also goes some way to illustrate how the Catholic church is changing in Britain.

Most obviously, the church is acting more swiftly. When Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former archbishop of Westminster, was interviewed on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, just after the allegations had been printed in the Observer, he suggested it would be up to Cardinal O’Brien whether or not he wanted to attend the conclave and that he was soon to resign anyway. The speed at which Cardinal O’Brien stepped down seems to question this priestly autonomy.

More here-

Tanzania: New Archbishop Elected By Anglican Church of Tanzania

From All Africa-

The Church of the Province of Tanzania has elected Bishop of Mpwapwa Diocese in Tanzania, Jacob Chimeledya as its new Archbishop and Primate.

The announcement was made after elections held during an extra-ordinary meeting convened by the General Synod of the province on February 21.

"I am pleased to let you know that Jacob Chimeledya, the Bishop of Mpwapwa has been elected the Archbishop of Tanzania," said the Revd Agripa Ndatila. "I hope that you will pray for him so that God can be with him in this (new) responsibility that he has been called for."

The Most Revd Jacob Chimeledya takes over from the Most Revd Valentino Mokiwa who has been Archbishop since February 2008.

He will be installed in May this year at a service to be held at the Anglican Cathedral in Tanzanian capital Dodoma.

More here-

Benedict a pope aware of his flaws

From CNN-

One of the Bible's paradoxical statements comes from St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: "Power is made perfect in infirmity."

The poetic statement proclaims that when we are weak, we are strong. Pope Benedict XVI's stepping down from what many consider one of the most powerful positions in the world proves it. In a position associated with infallibility -- though that refers to formal proclamations on faith and morals -- the pope declares his weakness.

His acceptance of frailty speaks realistically about humanity: We grow old, weaken, and eventually die. A job, even one guided by the Holy Spirit, as we Roman Catholics believe, can become too much for us.

Acceptance of human frailty has marked this papacy. We all make mistakes, but the pope makes them on a huge stage.

He was barely into his papacy, for example, when he visited Regensburg, Germany, where he once taught theology. Like many a professor, he offered a provocative statement to get the conversation going. To introduce the theme of his lecture, the pope quoted from an account of a dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an unnamed Muslim scholar, sometime near the end of the 14th century -- a quote that was misinterpreted by some as a condemnation of Mohammed and Islam.

More here-

Executive Council considers next triennial budget process

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council began its three-day meeting here by examining a process to formulate a proposed budget for the 2016-2018 triennium.

The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond, council member from New Hampshire, led his colleagues in a 75-minute exercise that included silence, prayer and 12-minute blocks of table conversation. Council members changed tables for each conversation session so as to encourage a broad discussion as they were asked to consider two questions: “Where does God seem to be leading our church, and what are our hopes and dreams for the future [and] what actions and ministries would help us to realize those hopes and dreams?”  and “What is the appropriate role of the churchwide structure (as opposed to diocesan or local structures) in empowering these ministries and actions?”

The exercise came from a subcommittee created during the council’s last meeting by its Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) to review the triennial process members have used to formulate a proposed triennial budget.

More here-

Methodist, Episcopal event set

From Honesdale PA-

Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale will be the site of an historic event on Sunday, March 3 at 4 p.m.

In the late 1700s, The Methodist movement started by brothers John and Charles Wesley spun off from the Church of England (the ‘Mother Church’ of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the American branch).

Both Wesleys remained priests in the Church of England throughout their lives.

March 3 is considered in the Episcopal Church a date of commemorating the Wesley brothers as important saints of the Church.

The service that afternoon will be a festive service of Holy Communion as United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church move toward Full Communion at their next national conventions.

Full Communion is not a merger, but a recognition of the ministries and mission of each individual church. It particularly allows for the inter-change of ministers between the churches.

More here-

Providence church, hotel avoid clash over bells

From Providence (via Boston)-

 They clang, they clash, they roar. Their clamorous peals can pierce a deep sleep or puncture a conversation.

The shrill ring of the bells of Grace Episcopal Church has shaken downtown Providence for generations, a clarion reminder of a historical landmark that is no less striking than the neo-Gothic structure’s towering brick steeple.

So whenever complaints about the clangor filter back to the church, they are heard, but not necessarily heeded.

“We say, ‘I’m sorry the bells disturb you; they’ve been ringing here in this neighborhood for over 150 years,’ ” said the Rev. Jonathan ­Huyck, rector of the church. “Essentially, the bells were here first.”

Video: Clamor over the clangor

But Huyck and the church are hardly tone deaf to the auditory needs of their neighbors. This is clear from a compromise that Grace Episcopal Church has made with a boutique hotel that stands smack dab in the bells’ sonic ground zero, just across narrow Mathewson Street. Two years ago, at the rector’s request, the bell’s master grudgingly cut back the chiming from four times an hour to twice: on the hour and half past.

More here-

Noted author and wife of Atlanta's Episcopal bishop speaks in Conyers

From Atlanta-

Despite all of her college degrees, numerous other accomplishments and impressive family Life, Beth-Sarah Wright still fell victim to the turmoil and trouble life can sometimes bring. Wright, the wife of the new Episcopal bishop of the diocese of Atlanta, shared the story of her struggle with depression in a book she released a few years ago and will continue sharing her story during a visit to St. Simon's Episcopal Church in Conyers next week.

Wright will speak on the "Power of Prayer" at St. Simon's at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 24.
"Prayer is something very close to my heart because I feel it is a part of our lives as Christians, as believers and people of faith," Wright said.

"But it is also one of the most challenging things to create a fulfilling prayer life. It used to cause me so much fear to pray in public. I would get very nervous and was unsure how to pray. I did some more Bible study on how to pray and came to the conclusion that prayer is a conversation and you being comfortable to talk and communicate with God."

For this daughter of an Episcopal priest, prayer has been crucial to her life but was particularly vital during the time she found herself in the depths of depression.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Letter from Bishop McConnell

From Pittsburgh-

Dear friends in Christ,

Several times in the past year I have spoken of a diocesan-wide conversation concerning human sexuality to take place in early 2013. Now that we are at that point in time, I am writing to let you know the planning for this dialogue is well underway, and that structured conversations will soon begin and evolve through several phases described below. I urge you now, as I will throughout, to prepare for, pray about, and take part in the conversation as you are able.

The reason for this dialogue, as a practical matter, is to help inform my decision as your bishop on how the diocese should approach two issues current in the Church: the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination of partnered gay or lesbian persons. An equally important purpose is for us to come together as a diocese in constructive conversation to find and follow continuing paths to healing and reconciliation.

I have been keenly aware since the early phase of the search process that led to my election, that matters involving sexuality, Biblical authority and related issues have been significant flashpoints in this diocese and have caused a great deal of pain in the way they have been handled. I know that, even years before the 2008 split, a growing division that cut multiple ways made discussing critical issues in an open forum nearly impossible; the conflict created feelings of being marginalized or dismissed, or of being burdened or distracted by continuing tension. Since 2008, those who remained have worked hard and made great strides toward restoring respect and a sense of unity and purpose. However, questions of same-sex blessings and ordaining partnered homosexuals remain part of our unfinished business, and to address them now can understandably reawaken tremendous anxiety. The last thing we want is further injury to an already wounded Church.

More here-

‘Welcome to Duke’

From The Living Church-

In a YouTube video published Feb. 20, the Bishop of North Carolina interviews the Rev. David Marshall, the new director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. Marshall, who was appointed in November, also is a Duke associate professor of the practice of Christian-Muslim relations. The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry interviewed Marshall at the divinity school.

Marshall is an ordained priest in the Church of England, as well as a scholar in the field of Islamic Studies, with a Ph.D. from Birmingham University. In the past seven years he has taught in a variety of settings, including the universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, and Notre Dame in London, and the Cambridge Theological Federation.

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The next Pope must think seriously about married priests – because the celibacy rule isn't working

From The Telegraph-

Recently, I was at a dinner party attended by a distinguished monsignor. The elegant red-haired lady sitting next to me introduced herself. “I’m Gill,” she said. “The monsignor’s wife.”

Gill Newton, a schoolteacher, is married to Mgr Keith Newton, who holds the title of protonotary apostolic – the highest rank of monsignor in the Roman Catholic Church. As head of the Ordinariate, the structure set up by Pope Benedict for ex-Anglicans, he is almost a bishop: he wears a mitre and conducts confirmations. He and Gill have three grown-up children.

The Catholic Church in England has been ordaining married ex-Anglican clergy in significant numbers since 1992, when the C of E voted for women priests. It’s no longer much of a novelty for a parish to have a married man in charge, though he can’t technically hold the title of parish priest. There are well over 100 Catholic priests’ wives in England – and, on the whole, folk in the pews are happy.

The question the Church faces now is: will the next Pope allow married Catholic laymen to become priests? And might he go further, and allow existing Catholic priests to marry (something ex-Anglican priests can’t do after they have been re-ordained)? As events over the past few days have shown, the debate is likely to be an awkward one. Last week, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric, told the BBC: “I’d be very happy if [priests] had the opportunity of considering whether they should be married. Many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy … and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family.”

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Nigeria: Anglicans Warn Against Gay Marriage

From Nigeria-

PRIMATE of Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, Sunday called on Nigerians especially Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion not to embrace the culture of gay marriage now rampant in Europe.

Speaking during the consecration service of Very Reverend Simon Borokini, Venerable Geoffery Okoroafor and Venerable James Odedeji as Bishops of Akure, Egbu and Lagos West respectively, at the Cathedral of St. Jude, Ebute Metta, Lagos, Okoh described homosexuality, lesbianism and gay marriage as great evils that must neither be condoned nor allowed to exist in Nigerian society.

Okoh said: "There are lots of immoralities going on in the world and we do not want our Bishops or our members to be involved in any act of immoralities. I am calling on our clergies not to allow any influence from any quarter to corrupt the church of Christ.

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Priests' plagiarism sees exodus from Anglican church

From Hong Kong-

St John's Cathedral appears to be fighting a losing battle against plagiarising priests - a practise that has already led 17 families of believers to leave the Anglican church.

A former parishioner at the Emmanuel Church in Pok Fu Lam, a St John's affiliate, said four priests were guilty of using sermons from the internet and preaching them as if they were their own.

He said they had been doing so for 18 months.

The Very Reverend Matthias Der, the new dean of the cathedral, confirmed that some priests had persisted with their plagiarism despite his warnings against the practice at his first meeting with them in September.

"There is still bad practice in some of the priests," Der said on Friday, without confirming the number of clergy involved.

"I told my clergy that any kind of use of outside sources needs to be attributed," Der said of the September meeting.

"I understand that when we do research, we will look at other people's writing, but if we are using direct quotes then we need to attribute them. Plagiarism is not acceptable."

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Christian Bookstores Raided, Church Buildings Demolished, Church Leader Beaten in Sudan

From Christian Post-

Having deported scores of foreign Christians and demolished several church buildings in the past few months, Sudan continued ridding the country of Christianity this week by raiding Christian bookshops in Khartoum and arresting Christians, sources said.

Men who described themselves as agents of Khartoum State Security on Monday (Feb. 18) confiscated books, films and archives from the Evangelical Literature Centre, part of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) denominational headquarters, church leaders said.
"They took everything – not a single sheet of paper was left on the shelves," said one church leader. "They took the cinema, old movies and tapes and archives. They filled a big truck with our stuff from the ELC."

When SPEC leaders asked the security agents why they were taking the items away, they replied that they had "orders from above" to confiscate all Christian books, the church leaders said. The clergymen said they understood this to mean the government intends to make Sudan a solely Islamic country.


Virginia Beach church faces Feb. 28 deadline to separate Roman Catholic, Episcopal services

From Virginia Beach-

A Virginia Beach church faces a Feb. 28 deadline to separate its 30-year-old blended Roman Catholic and Episcopal services.

Roman Catholic Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has told the Church of the Holy Apostles congregation to bring its liturgical celebrations into conformity with the Roman Catholic Church, the Diocese of Richmond said in a statement.

In the statement released Friday, DiLorenzo suggested other forms of worship, without the Eucharist, that would allow Catholic and Episcopal parishioners to worship together.

“As the shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond, it is my prayerful desire that this ecumenical community at Holy Apostles continues and flourishes,” the statement said.

Diana Sims Snider, a spokeswoman for the diocese, told The Virginian-Pilot (( that DiLorenzo’s directive “affirms that it needs to happen and it tells them when it needs to happen.”

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Catholic Church helps fill a growing void in Africa

From The New York Times (via the Post-Gazette)

The young woman slept soundly on the church's cool marble floor before the altar, a break from the chaos at home. In the courtyard, neighborhood teenagers filled giant gasoline cans with purified water from a stone fountain. In an aisle, a rail-thin young woman from a nearby slum said she had not eaten since the day before but was expecting sustenance at the church.

Behind its high spiked iron gates in this frenetic megalopolis of anywhere between 11 million and 21 million, the church of Christ the King is protector, feeder and healer.

In the 6 a.m. darkness, this working-class church is already filled with parishioners in shirt-sleeves and T-shirts, a pool of hymn-singing light in a blacked-out neighborhood. Six Masses are celebrated each Sunday for up to 10,000 people, and 102 people were baptized Feb. 16. The parish priest, the Rev. Ikenna Ikechi, dreams of building a multistory community center to accommodate his growing flock. "Our only limitation is space," he said.

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How about a nun for pope?

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

In giving up the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI was brave and bold. He did the unexpected for the good of the Catholic Church. And when it selects a new pope next month, the College of Cardinals should be equally brave and bold. It is time to elect a nun as the next pontiff.

Now, I know this is the longest of long shots. I have great faith in the Holy Spirit to move papal conclaves, but I may be running ahead of the Spirit on this one. Women, after all, are not yet able to become priests, and it is unlikely that traditionalists in the church will suddenly upend the all-male, celibate priesthood, let alone name a woman as the bishop of Rome.

Nonetheless, handing leadership to a woman -- and in particular, to a nun -- would vastly strengthen Catholicism, help the church solve some of its immediate problems and inspire many who have left the church to look at it with new eyes.

Consider, first, what constitutes the church's strongest claim on public respect and affection. It is not its earthly power, the imposing beauty of St. Peter's Basilica or even its determination to preserve its doctrine. Rather, the church impresses even its critics and inspires its most loyal and most dissident members because so many in its ranks walk the talk of the Gospel.

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