Saturday, December 21, 2013

Anglican priests to play Vatican team at cricket

From The BBC-

The head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has accepted a challenge from the Vatican to play their first ever cricket match.

Priests from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are planning to compete - appropriately enough - at Lord's in London next September.

The Vatican cricket club, founded in October, includes priests from Australia, India and Pakistan.

It has also been suggested the umpires might be Muslim or Jewish.

But the feeling is that their faith will not matter - as long as they are fair, the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome reports. He adds that anything else just wouldn't be cricket.

Accepting the challenge, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was looking "forward to the possibility that this match may actually raise money for charity", according to Reuters.


More here-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25473150

Ugandans don’t understand homosexuality, says former Anglican bishop

From The Washington Post-

A Ugandan cleric who ministers to homosexuals has criticized the passage of a controversial law that imposes life imprisonment for homosexual acts.

Christopher Ssenyonjo, the former Anglican Bishop of West Buganda, said gay men have done nothing wrong and should not be punished.


He spoke in a telephone interview Friday (Dec. 20), hours after legislators passed the law known as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009.

Lawmakers rejected an alternative proposal for a 14-year-sentence for those convicted of homosexual acts.

“People here don’t understand what homosexuality is,” Ssenyonjo said. “If they did, I don’t think they would have allowed this law.”

Ssenyonjo was defrocked 2002 for his ministry to gay men.


More here-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/ugandans-dont-understand-homosexuality-says-former-anglican-bishop/2013/12/20/7f13dc9c-69aa-11e3-997b-9213b17dac97_story.html

Are Women Priests a Possibility?

From Aleteia -

This week, Pope Francis has scratched his head over the rumor that he would create women cardinals. “Where did such an idea come from?” he mused. It comes from those who, while realizing that women cannot be ordained priests, would like to see women as deacons, and since cardinals are not technically required to be priests, some activists are suggesting that there could be female cardinals. The whole thing is tied in with the debate over women’s ordination, and the Anglican Church has been the frontrunner among historic churches to promote women’s ordination.

In the 1980s, the members of the Church of England were debating the possibility of women priests. Their sister, the Episcopal Church of the USA, had already made the choice as early as 1974, and various other national churches within the Anglican Communion had followed the American initiative.


More here-

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/are-women-priests-a-possibility-5269505576009728

Bay church provides Christmas gifts for inmates' children

From Mississippi-

Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis helped to make Christmas a little merrier for the children of some inmates housed at the Hancock County Jail.

The annual holiday church program brought Santa, gifts and Christmas refreshments to the jail for the children of inmates. It was a chance to bring families together that haven't seen one another in months.

An mp3 player a football and sports gloves all gifts from Santa that came as a surprise to Jamal and Jordan Ragsdale. But the biggest gift of all was getting to see their mom for the first time in a year.

Jamal Ragsdale said, "It's been hard."

His older brother Jordan said, "I really try not to think about it, I try to stay on the positive side."

Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis knows Christmas can be a tough time of the year for the families with a loved one behind bars. That's why it has put this program on for nearly 30 years.

More here-

http://www.wlox.com/story/24276881/bay-church-provides-christmas-gifts-for-inmates-children

Methodist Church defrocks minister who officiated at gay wedding in Hull

From Boston-

United Methodist Church officials defrocked Thursday the pastor who was convicted in a church trial last month for performing the marriage ceremony of his gay son in Hull six years ago.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, pastor of a church in Lebanon, Pa., was stripped of his credentials after meeting with the Board of Ordained Ministry for the church’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

In its decision last month, the jury convicted Schaefer of violating church rules prohibiting gay marriage and suspended him for 30 days, saying he should take that time to decide whether, in the future, he could uphold the church’s rules in their entirety.

Schaefer decided he could not, because he feels church laws are contradictory — on the one hand promising inclusivity and equal ministry to all and on the other discriminating against gay people — and because he felt called by God to advocate for gay people.


More here-

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/12/20/methodist-defrock-minister-who-officiated-gay-wedding-hull/7kMpfkGGpU3puHLxU6U0PP/story.html

Pope warns against mediocrity, gossip in Vatican

From USA Today-

Pope Francis warned Vatican administrators Saturday that their work can take a downward spiral into mediocrity, gossip and bureaucratic squabbling if they forget that theirs is a professional vocation of service to the church.

Francis made the comments in his Christmas address to the Vatican Curia, the bureaucracy that forms the central government of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. The speech was eagerly anticipated given that Francis was elected in March on a mandate to overhaul the antiquated and oftentimes dysfunctional Vatican administration.

Already, heads have started to roll: Just last week, Francis reshuffled the advisory body of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, the office that vets all the world's bishop nominations. He removed the arch-conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a key figure in the U.S. culture wars over abortion and gay marriage, and also nixed the head of Italy's bishops' conference and another hardline Italian, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, earlier axed as head of the Vatican office responsible for priests.


More here-

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/12/21/pope-christmas-address/4155829/

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Anglican and Catholic Churches have finally realised they must change to survive. But is it too late?

From Independent UK-

Have the Christian churches got it at last? Have they understood that it will soon be too late to halt the slow yet relentless decline they have experienced in this country, and on the continent of Europe, for many years? Yes, they are, finally, beginning to face up to reality. For example, the new Pope, Francis, has just published a truly remarkable document, “Evangelii Gaudium” or “The Joy of the Gospel”, in which he asks the Catholic Church to embark upon a fresh chapter of evangelization, and where he describes in great detail how this should be done. And more quietly, but no less insistently, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is engaged in the same task.

Just a word, first, about where one should direct one’s gaze. It is natural to bracket the Pope and the Archbishop together, but so great are the structural differences between the two Churches that this can mislead. In the Roman Catholic Church, everything flows down from the top, whereas in the Church of England authority is widely dispersed. So Popes issue lengthy documents, often of a high quality, in this case an “apostolic exhortation”, and set a new direction. Whereas in the Church of England, archbishops, bishops and the clergy just get on with things. 


To see what this means in practice, listen to Bishop Stephen Cottrell addressing the Chelmsford Diocesan synod last month. His speech, “Evangelizing Effectively: the next steps”, cannot match the breadth, nor the wonderful biblical language of Pope Francis’s exhortation, but it is directed at the same purpose in a very effective and practical manner.


More here-

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-anglican-and-catholic-churches-have-finallyrealised-they-must-change-to-survive-but-is-it-too-late-9016199.html

Welby: Church cannot intervene

From The Church Times-

THE Church in the West cannot intervene in conflicts in places such as Syria and Egypt - unless it is invited to do so, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

"We would be delighted to play a reconciliation role if there is one we can play. If someone in a viable position on both sides says, 'Come and help,' we'll be on the next flight."

But he ruled out any peace mission under present circumstances. "Nothing can be done until people are willing to let something happen. If people want to fight, they fight. When both sides think they can win, they will go on fighting."

Archbishop Welby was interviewed last Friday by Gerald Butt, Church Times Middle East correspondent, who reported to the Archbishop the desire of Christians in the Middle East for more help from the Western Church. The Archbishop acknowledged the plight of Christian communities in the region. Those in Syria were, he acknowledged, "unbelievably threatened at the moment, by both sides, and in great danger".


More here-

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/20-december/news/world/welby-church-cannot-intervene

Clergy Concerns Grow As South Sudan Violence Continues

From Sudan-

Clergy from South Sudan and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion have spoken out about the growing violence in the world's newest nation.

Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS), Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak joined others from various denominations of the churches in South Sudan, and native members from the Dinka and Nuer communities in expressing sadness and concern about the situation there.

The letter, signed by clergy from the country including nine from the ECSSS, stated that they condemned the violence, but that they also "condemn and correct the media statements and reports that refer to the violence as conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Whatever has happened should not be referred to as ethnic conflict and not between the Dinka and Nuer communities. These are political differences among the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Party, political leaders of the Republic of South Sudan."


More here-

http://allafrica.com/stories/201312200464.html

Hingham pastor pens book on navigating the holidays

From Massachusetts-

You can dream of a white Christmas, but you might need the Rev. Tim Schenck to make it a right Christmas.

Schenck’s new book – Dog in the Manger: Finding God in Christmas Chaos – shows how short essays can go a long way toward getting you through the holiday haze.


 “For me, the whole point of the book is to help people navigate the craziness of the holiday season and being able to remember those spiritual anchors in the midst of that craziness,” said Schenck, rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham.


“People are busy. They’re frenzied. They’re overwhelmed. So I’m just trying to bring people back to what’s important but also with a healthy dose of humor.”


More here-

http://www.wickedlocal.com/hingham/newsnow/x348817211/Hingham-pastor-pens-book-on-navigating-the-holidays

Hundreds feel power of sharing at homeless dinner

From North Carolina-

Pope Francis recently lamented that the stock market’s loss of a couple of points at the end of the trading day gathered more attention than the human fate of a homeless person.

At least on Thursday night in High Point, that wasn’t the case.


Between 400 and 500 men and women who have experienced the plight of being homeless were served hot meals and cold beverages by hundreds of volunteers from across the community who gladly gave up one of their evenings to help the less fortunate. The Community Homeless Dinner took place for the first time at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in its Community Life Center north of downtown.


The center was lined with festively decorated, long tables as volunteers crisscrossed the floor serving food and drinks to the guests for the evening.


More here-

http://www.hpe.com/news/x1388440354/Hundreds-feel-power-of-sharing-at-homeless-dinner

Thursday, December 19, 2013

WHO AM I TO JUDGE? A radical Pope’s first year.

From The New Yorker-

On most Wednesdays, the Pope gives a general audience, and this one was packed. It was a balmy October morning, and more than a hundred thousand pilgrims, tourists, and Romans had funnelled into St. Peter’s Square. It was the first of three large gatherings Pope Francis presided over that week for a celebration of the family during the Catholic Church’s “Year of Faith.”

Wooden railings imposed order in the square. I was about thirty yards from the Pope. In front of me were a pair of Vatican ushers in white tie and tails, several clergy, a short man in a yarmulke, and a handsome couple holding hands. Beyond them, Francis, seventy-six years old, in his stark-white cassock and skullcap, seemed energized by the festive crowd. A large man with a ready smile, he read from a brief text in Italian, but with fervor. “What kind of love do we bring to others? . . . Do we treat each other like brothers and sisters? Or do we judge one another?” The throng was silent, listening carefully. After Francis spoke, others summarized the remarks in various languages. Then a line of prelates approached his chair.


More here-

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/12/23/131223fa_fact_carroll?currentPage=all

When Christmas was banned in 17th-century England

From California-

Shall Christmas be banned this year? Hardly will these words hit print before some readers will begin to roll their eyes and blame such a suggestion on another lawsuit by the ACLU, blame their liberal friends for being afraid to offend another religious group or bemoan the general secularization of our society. But the ban on Christmas first began more than 300 years ago, and it was Christians who wanted to see it thrown off the calendar. Welcome to England in the 17th century!

For a great many centuries Christmas had been a religious festival in England, and it was a national holiday. At the time of the Anglican Reformation, the reformers placed the venerable holy day in the reformed liturgy as one of the holy days in the Book of Common Prayer. But many of the Protestants in England were still suspicious of Christmas, and many of these were none too pleased at what they viewed as an incomplete reformation of the church by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. But under the heavy fist of the House of Tudor, Christmas and a great deal of other medieval traditions remained in the church.


More here-

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/social-affairs/20131218/when-christmas-was-banned-in-17th-century-england

Prince Charles 'deeply troubled' by plight of Christians in Middle East

From Catholic News Service-

In a Dec. 17 address at London's Clarence House, the Prince of Wales said the Mideast's Christians were being persecuted by "Islamist fundamentalist militants," and he called upon the followers of Christianity, Judaism and Islam to unite to end the suffering.

"I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by the Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East," said Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

"It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants," the prince said.

"Christianity was literally born in the Middle East," he said, "and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ."

The prince said the festive season was an opportunity for Christians, Muslims and Jews to stress what bound them together and to redouble their combined efforts to "express outrage at all that tears us asunder."

"Surely there is no better time to do so than at Christmas," Prince Charles said, "to remind all of us that the emphasis of the love of neighbor" and the Golden Rule "are the ultimate foundations of truth, justice, compassion and human rights."


More here-

http://www.catholicsentinel.org/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=34&ArticleID=23422

Excommunicated Bishop Kunonga grabs Anglican parish

From Zimbabwe-

Excommunicated Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has reportedly grabbed back the Anglican Church of St Luke in Bvumbura parish in Chikomba District

Last week Kunonga's loyalists forced out parishioners with the help of local traditional leaders, ZANU PF politicians and government officials.

A Wednesday Daily News report quoted Revd Muyengwa Murombedzi, the priest in charge at the parish, saying worshippers were threatened with arrest if they ever returned to the property.

Murombedzi said Chief Chivese and headman Razaro Gombiro Mudavanhu ordered congregants to make way for Kunonga's loyalists, led by the Revd Tirivanhu Gomo.

Kunonga was expelled from the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in 2008 and went on to form the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe.He then seized over 90 properties belonging to the Anglican Church.

However, Kunonga lost control of the St Luke's parish to the main Anglican Church in 2012 following a Supreme Court ruling ending his six-year battle with his successor Bishop Chad Gandiya.


More here-

http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2013/12/excommunicated-bishop-kunonga-grabs-anglican-parish.aspx

Church Gives Away Christmas Trees to Families in Need

From Nebraska (with video)

Some families will not have a Christmas tree this holiday, but a local church is working to change that for some people, and it turns out the need for help is greater than we might think.

Giving back to families in need through Christmas trees is an idea that started a year ago with twelve trees.

"It's just been a great idea and so we want to do it every year," said Shari Shore with the Episcopal Church of Our Savior.

This is how it works: Members of the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in North Platte donate trees, ornaments, and lights.

Volunteers decorate them and then families sign up for the one they want.

A drawing determines who gets what.

"And they want us to come in and see where they are going, to set it up. It's just an absolute fun time," said Shore.

Shore brought the idea up after hearing about so many families in need of a simple Christmas tree.

"So many young moms coming in and saying we're getting all of these wonderful gifts and I'm kind of sad that we don't have a tree," said Shore.


More here-

http://www.1011now.com/home/headlines/Church-Gives-Away-Christmas-Trees-to-Families-in-Need-236485881.html

It's final service at St. James in Aston

From Philadelphia-

Church has been perched atop one of Aston’s landmark green ridges, but it harbors more than 200 years of history. When the parish was established in 1807 in Philadelphia, its rector was William White, the first presiding Episcopalian bishop in the United States.

His chair and a baptismal font from the original church at 7th and Commerce streets, still stand in the red brick church off Concord Road near the intersection of Dutton’s Mill Road.

Parishioners will be able to view them one last time in that location today at 9:30 a.m. when the final service for St. James as an independent parish is celebrated by Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III. After a brief service, they will process in a motorcade 1.5 miles up the road for Mass at Calvary Episcopal Church in the Rockdale section of Aston, the parish with which they’re merging. The St. James congregation will begin services at the 177-year-old church on Mount Road starting 9 a.m. Dec. 22.


More here-

http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/20131214/its-final-service-at-st-james-in-aston

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's Ban Weddings and, While We're at It, Baby Showers Too

From Huffington-

In the past week, a snapshot has gone viral of three girls on a couch showing off their engagement rings while a fourth girl holds her fingers like a gun to her head. I feel her pain.

My second year of law school at Berkeley, when I was broke beyond compare, I was in three weddings -- one in Indiana, one in Chicago and one in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii. I have completely lost touch with two of those brides, and am merely Facebook friends with the third, and for the record, none of them are still married. In fact, of the seven weddings in which I've stood up beside the bride, only two of the marriages have lasted.

Hey, can I have back the thousands of dollars I spent being in your weddings? Because the wedding really is the problem, or more precisely, the desire for a wedding.

If you search Wikipedia for "Wedding Television Shows," you get 32 results. Thirty-two television shows about weddings! About dresses and cakes and venues and bridezillas, venerating the practice of spending more than the cost of a year's education or a house downpayment on a party.


More here-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-alexander/lets-ban-weddings-and-baby-showers_b_4428778.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Baskets of Prayer in Milwaukee

From The Living Church-

The people of St. Luke’s Church in Milwaukee have a way of knowing what their neighbors need — even those they’ve never met.

What’s their secret? They ask. And they hear responses — “Pray for my uncle with cancer” or “Pray for my friend who needs a job” — even from those who never step inside the church.

Since 2010, St. Luke’s has been collecting prayers in an outdoor prayer basket that sits in a wooden box atop a post. Passersby open the box, fill out a prayer request slip, and drop it down a slot into a basket.

Prayer slips are accessible only to a parishioner or staff member with a key. Prayers are then combined with those of parishioners, and each worshiper goes home on Sunday with a prayer request to fulfill.

“This was a way that we came up with to reach out to the community, without knocking on doors or being invasive into their lives,” said Mike Bossow, who built the prayer box. “If they feel they need prayer for something, we can do that for them.”


More here-

http://www.livingchurch.org/baskets-prayer-milwaukee

New Zealand Anglican Church Suffers a Significant Decline; Archbishop Responds to Census Report

From New Zealand-

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand has declined by 17 per cent over the past seven years, according to 2013 Census data on Religious Affiliation released on 10 Dec 2013 by Statistics New Zealand. NZ archbishop Philip Richardson responded in the press release, saying:

The 2013 New Zealand census on religious affiliation contains few surprises. Not even the decline in Anglican affiliation should catch us unawares.

These trends liberate us from notions of self-importance and turn us back to our fundamental calling.

They also situate our Church more on the margins of our society, where we really belong.

My immediate response, then, is thankfulness to God that we are being refined, called to repentance and to a refocusing of our mission. It's an exciting and challenging time to be in Christian leadership.


More here-

http://crossmap.christianpost.com/news/new-zealand-anglican-church-suffers-a-significant-decline-archbishop-responds-to-census-report-7686

They’ll be home for …Fourth Advent

From ENS-

After more than a year in exile, the members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Bay Head, New Jersey, will be home for Christmas.

In fact, the parishioners of the church that Hurricane Sandy swamped on Oct. 29, 2012, will be home for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.


All Saints’ doors will open again on Dec. 21 with a “Service of Light.” The following day, the parish will celebrate its first Sunday Eucharist in the church since Sandy. Diocese of New Jersey Bishop William Stokes will re-consecrate the sanctuary and church’s memorial garden.


It will be a “very, very emotional” two days, the Rev. Neil Turton, All Saints rector, predicted.
“But, as I’ve been warning them in a number of sermons I’ve recently delivered, we are not going back in the way that we were when we left,” he told Episcopal News Service in a recent interview. “It is going to be very different. Do not expect to be what we were because of the circumstances that have changed and shaped us over these last 15 months.”


The 124-year-old church sits three blocks from the ocean and just feet from Scow Ditch, a tidal waterway. Sandy caused close to $4 million in damage to the church and rectory as it drove water toward the church from both the Atlantic and Barnegat Bay. And All Saints is surrounded by still-devastated homes along a stretch of the Jersey Shore where some blocks are still mostly deserted and where, on other stretches, builders toil to restore the communities from Sandy’s body blows.


More here-

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/12/17/theyll-be-home-for-fourth-advent/

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Helena Catholic, Episcopal dioceses hold joint service, pledge cooperation

From Montana-

Members of local Episcopalian and Roman Catholic churches prayed and sang together Sunday during what bishops said may have been the first joint service in Montana.

Bishops of the respective dioceses and local church leaders hosted a choral evensong at St. Peter’s Episcopal Cathedral in Helena to celebrate the Christian Advent season and foster cooperation between the two denominations.

“It’s a gesture of friendship and affection I think,” said the Rev. C. Franklin Brookhart, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Montana.

Brookhart said he invited Bishop George Leo Thomas of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena about a year ago to hold a joint service. Thomas said he joyfully accepted, saying, “It’s good to give witness to the light that comes through ecumenical dialogue.”

“Bishop, it’s nice to be on your turf,” he said to Brookhart before the service began.

Thomas has been bishop at the Helena diocese for the past nine years, and Brookhart has been the Episcopal bishop of Montana for almost 11.


More here-

http://helenair.com/news/local/helena-catholic-episcopal-dioceses-hold-joint-service-pledge-cooperation/article_a93f6c94-6620-11e3-a4c9-001a4bcf887a.html

Trinity Episcopal invites midtown residents to mark tornado anniversary at Christmas Eve services

From Alabama-

Still rebuilding its sanctuary a year after a Christmas Day tornado ripped through Mobile, Trinity Episcopal Church is inviting midtown residents to mark the storm’s anniversary at Christmas Eve services in the Parish Hall.

The church, located at 1900 Dauphin St., will hold two Christmas Eve worship services: one at 5:30 p.m. and a second at 10:30 p.m., which will be preceded by Christmas carols at 10.

"We will mark the anniversary of the storm and give thanks for our community that pulled together in the days and months following the tornado,” said Rev. Bailey Norman, who had been rector only about three months when the tornado hit. “Things definitely look better today than they did just after the storm.”

The church’s sanctuary was hardest hit and is largely being rebuilt. The Parish Hall was also damaged, and has undergone numerous repairs, including a new roof and front wall. After the storm, the congregation worshipped with fellow believers at All Saints Episcopal Church nearby until the Parish Hall could be used.


More here-

http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2013/12/trinity_episcopal_invites_midt.htmlv


Monday, December 16, 2013

Pope Francis takes on allegations and rumors about his papacy: 9 things to know and share

From The National Catholic Register-

Pope Francis has given a new interview in which he tackles several allegations and rumors about his papacy.

These concern allegations that he is a Marxist, rumors that he will soon appoint women cardinals, and proposals to give Holy Communion to those who have divorced and remarried without an annulment.
He also makes several other interesting comments, including plans for an upcoming trip to the Holy Land, breastfeeding in public, and what happened right after he was elected.


Here are 9 things to know and share . . .



More here-

Read more:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/pope-francis-takes-on-allegations-and-rumors-about-his-papacy-9-things-to-k#ixzz2ndjKMePp

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Religion in America’s states and counties, in 6 maps

From The Washington Post-

It goes without saying that religion is big in America. It played a starring role in the founding of the nation and continues to be the source of policy fights. Just this week, a group of Satanists launched a donation drive to erect a monument on Oklahoma’s Capitol grounds, in what some see as a test of the nation’s religious freedoms.

But religion influences local governments in less sensational ways. Some 21 states, for example, are requiring insurers under the federal health-care law to provide exemptions from contraception coverage for employers that object on religious or other grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And 13 states in recent years have banned abortions past 20 weeks, a move influenced at least in part by religious views of when life begins. (Albuquerque, N.M., recently defeated a similar effort.)


With what is arguably the most widely observed holiday of the nation’s most popular religion right around the corner, now seems as good a time as any to look at the state of religion in America’s states and counties. All six of the maps and data below—which depict religious popularity, diversity and adherents—come from the “2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study,” an every-decade research effort sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which gathers statistics for religious groups or scholars interested in such.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/12/12/religion-in-americas-states-and-counties-in-6-maps/

Boko Haram: Military, police thwarting FG’s efforts -Anglican bishop

From Nigeria-

THE Bishop of Osun North Diocese of the Anglican Communion,
Right Reverend A.T Olaoye, at Okuku, has called on the Federal Government to be wary of the military and the police, saying that some of the security agents were thwarting government’s efforts in the fight against insurgency in the country, just as he cautioned the Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, to exercise caution in the implementation of the new education policy for the state.

Olaoye lamented that “it is worrisome to note that we are still battling with the terrorists’ attacks till now”, accusing some officers in the military and the police for allegedly leaking intelligence reports to members of the Islamic group, thereby thwarting the efforts of the federal government in restoring peace in some troubled states in the North.


 Olaoye, who made this known while addressing a press conference as part of the activities marking the 5th anniversary of the inauguration of the Diocese of Osun North, called on Osun State governor Aregbesola to be careful so as not to spark off a religious war. According to him, “the governor should be very careful with the issue of religion”, stressing that “we are not against the policy of the government, but the peace and harmony existing among all the religions should not be jeorpardised.”


More here-

http://tribune.com.ng/news2013/index.php/en/component/k2/item/28605-boko-haram-military,-police-thwarting-fg’s-efforts-anglican-bishop.html

Our Blessed Place

From The Living Church-

Growing up non-denominational, I entered adulthood with a healthy skepticism of rituals. After all, the Old Testament prophets call them “meaningless rites.” In the churches of my childhood, which tended to meet in elementary school auditoriums, we preferred “popcorn” prayer to liturgy and impromptu river dunkings to the sprinkling of holy water. Looking back, I realize that perhaps we had simply created our own set of rituals.

It wasn’t becoming an Episcopalian that changed my mind about the value of ritual; it was moving to Vietnam. As I studied the theory of cross-cultural disciple-making, especially in Symbol and Ceremony by A.H. Mathias Zahniser (MARC, 1997), I realized that the Holy Spirit has always used symbols and ceremonies to nurture the relationship between human beings and God, working through everyday materials such as wine, bread, wind, or fire. As Clark Pinnock said, believers remain malnourished when “we have no place for festivals, dramas, processions, banners, dance, color, movement, instruments, percussion, and incense. There are many notes on God’s keyboard which we often neglect to sound, with the result that God’s presence can be hard to access.”


More here-

http://www.livingchurch.org/our-blessed-place

Historic building deemed unsafe

From Alabama-

Mayor Ian Sanford said he and the City Council need answers about the future of the old Grace Episcopal Church building across from City Hall.

The historic 110-year-old building that was added to the Alabama Historical Commission's list of Places in Peril earlier this year has been posted as an unsafe structure by the Sheffield Building Department.


City Code Enforcement Officer Charlie Grimmitt said the building was posted because of its condition.


The building's north wall has been leaning toward the residence next door for years and the wall facing Montgomery Avenue is also leaning, Grimmitt said.


The mayor said the structure is not exempt from any city ordinances because of its age or status as a historic structure.


Sanford said members of the Colbert County Historic Landmarks Foundation are expected to attend Monday's council meeting and provide an update on their progress in raising money to restore the building.


More here-

http://www.timesdaily.com/news/local/article_57cbb94c-654b-11e3-9833-0019bb30f31a.html

An era of thinning flocks

From Olympia-

The graph the Rev. Birch Rambo holds in his hand tells a story no pastor wants to hear.
 

The blue bars represent baptized members at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Catherine Street, where Rambo has led the congregation since 2008. Other than a bit of an upward surge in 2004, the numbers have hovered around the 500 mark for nearly a decade.
 

The red bars showing actual worship attendance, however, are what concern Rambo — and many leaders of mainline churches around the country facing a similar trend.
 

The graph, dating back to 2002, shows attendance numbers at St. Paul’s have declined slowly but surely over the past decade, from an averaged high of 200 back then to just a tick over 100 people in 2012.
 

The downward trend affects many functions of churches, including the collection plate. In a recent newsletter to congregants, Rambo, 43, said declining attendance helped contribute to “financial predicament” that put the parish checking account in danger of being overdrawn.

While St. Paul’s has savings to draw on, developing a better annual pledge procedure — sometimes referred to as the “fall begathon,” Rambo said with a smile — and church growth is necessary to prevent the money problem from becoming chronic.


More here-

http://union-bulletin.com/news/2013/dec/14/era-thinning-flocks/