Saturday, January 4, 2014

Requiem set for retired Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan Franklin Turner

From Philadelphia-

A requiem Eucharist for retired Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan Franklin Delton Turner is set for Jan. 11 at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

Turner, 80, died on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia.

Turner, a former staff officer for black ministries at the Episcopal Church Center in New York from 1972-1983, was assistant to then Bishop of Pennsylvania Allen Bartlett in 1988 when he was elected suffragan bishop for that diocese.

Out of some 900 men who had up to that point in time been elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, Turner was approximately the 27th black priest elected. He was also the first black bishop of the then-205-year-old diocese. A total of nine candidates were in the running, including the Rev. Nancy Van Dyke Platt of Maine who, if elected, would have been the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion (that distinction fell in early 1989 to the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris).

More here-

Couple married in unique ceremony

From New Zealand-

Steve King and Celia Jardine tied the knot with the ruins of the Christ Church Cathedral as their backdrop.

About 40 peopled gathered beneath the Cathedral Square Chalice to witness the unique ceremony yesterday.

The couple chose to wed in the shadow of the shattered Anglican cathedral because it represented new beginnings, but also held a link to the past.

"Round us is all devastation, but here in the square, it's still alive - it's like the city's beating heart and this is a new beginning for us too," the bride said.

To begin the ceremony, Jardine read out a poem she had written titled The City of our Lives.

"We stand here now in the unfamiliar familiar place, creating memories of our future, dearly beloved. This is the city of our lives, the place which has chosen us to call it home," she read.

The pair then rhymed their way through the wedding vows much to the amusement of their guests.

More here-

After the split: Former Holy Trinity members slowly build Episcopal worshipping community of their own

From South Carolina-

A cradle Episcopalian, the Okatie resident was all but born and raised inside the historic church walls. It's where she was baptized and confirmed, learned the Catechism and the life of Jesus. It's where she was taught the Lord's Prayer and recited it every Sunday.

It's where her parents were married, sitting in the same pew together until her father, deSaussure Pinckney, died 10 years ago. His initials, "DEP," remain in the bell tower where he carved them as a boy.

Nancy Gault also left Holy Trinity. She became Episcopalian when she married her husband more than 40 years ago, and they were married in an Episcopal church in Pennsylvania. There her children were baptized and she served on the vestry.

She and her husband moved to Okatie in the early 2000s, and they had been members of the church for seven years.

Pinckney and Gault left Holy Trinity because they wanted to remain Episcopalian and their church did not.

Read more here:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Church's stance – along with those who support it – is rather confused

From Leicester-

On December 23, the Anglican Bishop of Sherborne, Graham Kings, told Justin Webb on the BBC Today programme that secularism was needed in Egypt, Syria and Iraq to help prevent the murder and persecution of Christians.

This is the usual stance of the Church of England in respect of countries where Islam is the established religion.

The stance of Bishop Tim Stevens in respect of our diverse communities in Leicester is directly opposite.

Here, we are told, in his open letter to the city mayor, that it is the Church of England that embraces all our beliefs and that its headquarters, the cathedral, provides a neutral welcoming space – even for those such as myself who think that the Christian belief in the existence of a God is so much mumbo-jumbo.

The Mercury's editorial opinion piece on December 20 backed Bishop Tim's view with a declaration that "Leicester is not a secular city", supporting this opinion by reference to the presence of so many religious groups here.

In doing so it conflated two different things – secularism and atheism.

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Welby: Good vicars mean growth

From The Church Times-

WHERE a good parish priest is present, churches grow, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested this week.

In an interview on the BBC's Today programme on Tuesday, the Most Revd Justin Welby suggested that he was "extremely hopeful" about the future of the Church of England, despite falling numbers, partly because of "signs of growth in many places".

He said: "Of course there are churches that are doing better and churches that are struggling more, depending on area and on leadership. But the reality is that where you have a good vicar you will find growing churches."

The Archbishop was invited to give the Thought for the Day by the chief executive of Barclays, Antony Jenkins, the guest editor of the programme for the day. In the subsequent interview, the Archbishop acknowledged that "We are falling in numbers and there is a change in attitude towards the Christian faith in the country, that is unquestionable. We need to be quite realistic about that." He also suggested that "We sometimes give the impression at the national level that we are obsessed with a small number of issues."

More here-

Thirty-Nine Articles Revived

From The Living Church-

Nearly thirty years ago when I ventured to publish a small book discussing the Thirty-Nine Articles, having found the existing literature, as I was so brash as to say, “disagreeable,” it was considered a rather self-destructive thing to do. Slowly the Articles had become decentred from the life of the Church of England, which of all the Anglican churches was most likely to have a stake in them, and even clerical subscription could be done on terms that hardly required the subscriber to read them. It seemed to have become established that this document attracted no more than an occasional feisty pamphlet from the disenchanted fringes, beyond which it was left to the historians to get excited about.

Nearly thirty years ago when I ventured to publish a small book discussing the Thirty-Nine Articles, having found the existing literature, as I was so brash as to say, “disagreeable,” it was considered a rather self-destructive thing to do. Slowly the Articles had become decentred from the life of the Church of England, which of all the Anglican churches was most likely to have a stake in them, and even clerical subscription could be done on terms that hardly required the subscriber to read them. It seemed to have become established that this document attracted no more than an occasional feisty pamphlet from the disenchanted fringes, beyond which it was left to the historians to get excited about.

More here-

Graduates provide year of service through Missouri program

From Missouri-

There's a happy buzz at Deaconess Anne House on a chilly December night. The sounds of jokes, laughter and good-natured teasing, along with the tempting odors of a savory dinner, fill the kitchen. The spirited talk continues around the big table and turns to Harry Potter: "What's your house?" asks one, and the others respond. There are, it appears, a disproportionate number of Ravenclaws.

They could be a group of graduate students, sharing a house off-campus, but most students aren't using the dining room as a chapel, dominated by a large icon of Christ Pantokrator. The seven recent college grads living in the house on Sullivan Avenue in Old North St. Louis are engaged in a year of service to others, living in "intentional community," and following a way of life based on the ancient Rule of St. Benedict, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Three months into their fellowship year with the Episcopal Service Corps, they're comfortable together. At dinner, personalities emerge: Michaelene Miller, Anna Lacey and Jillian Smith tend to take the lead in conversation, while Stacey McKnight, Miranda Caulkins, Delilah Papke and Eric Bablinskas are less outspoken. Testing revealed that "there are only three mild extroverts in the group," said Miller, 22.

More here-

Thursday, January 2, 2014

4 in 10 Americans say they attend church, Obama not among them

From Utah-

A new Gallup polls says four in 10 Americans attend worship services, but recent news reports suggested that President Obama is among the majority who don't go to church regularly.

A New York Times story over the weekend highlighted what the president and his family didn't do on Christmas Day — attend a church service.

The report quoted historians saying Obama rarely goes to church and one White House watcher was quoted as saying the president has attended church just 18 times since taking office in 2008.

"Historically, watching the nation’s first family head to church dressed in their Sunday best, especially around the holiday season, was something of a ritual," the Times reported. "Yet Mr. Obama’s faith is a more complicated, more private, and perhaps — religious and presidential historians say — a more inclusive affair."

More here-

Retired teacher runs Coconut Grove Food Bank, helps locals in need

From Miami-

Every Friday morning before sunrise, Flora McKenzie leaves her home in West Kendall to help distribute groceries to people in need in west Coconut Grove, where she grew up.

McKenzie, 66, has been running the Coconut Grove Food Pantry for two years. The program is approved by the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, and many of the supplies distributed are purchased at the USDA food bank in Broward, where supplies can be purchased for almost nothing. Meat can sometimes be as cheap as $0.06.

“I believe this program is really needed in the Grove,” she said.

The food is handed out at Christ Episcopal Church, founded in 1901 by Bahamian settlers and one of the oldest churches in Miami. Most of the volunteers belong to the church and do what they can to help with the program. One volunteer drives a truck to buy the supplies, and they are packed every Thursday evening by another team of volunteers. The perishables are not brought out until Friday morning.

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Author of famous Christmas carol had deep local roots

From Massachusetts-

One of the most famous – and beloved – Christmas carols is blessed with a strong North Andover connection.

Bishop Phillips Brooks, the Episcopal clergyman who wrote the words of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” had deep roots in this community and used to live here during the summer, according to Kathy Stevens, president of the North Andover Historical Society.

Brooks, longtime rector of Trinity Church in Boston and perhaps the most prominent preacher of his day, penned “O Little Town of Bethlehem” after visiting Jesus’ birthplace in 1866. At that time, Brooks was rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia.

When Brooks wrote those now-famous verses — “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie” — he intended them to be part of a carol for a Christmas Sunday school service at his church in 1868.

More here-

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

After banning mini skirts, authorities plan to outlaw big handbags

From Uganda-

Since the beginning of time women have sat back and quietly taken the short end of the stick.

First Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit from the forbidden tree — I guess he had never heard the word “no”. Why was she to blame? Was he not the leader, when did he become the follower? But then again, men have always been the weaker sex. Why else would the Anglican Church of Uganda ban bare shoulders at the altar during a marriage ceremony? Apparently, the push up bras and low bodices serve up a nice pair of mammary glands that keep the priest faltering in his speech, with every breath the bride takes. It was therefore decreed that if you must have a “stylish dress”, you must wear a bolero or a shawl to ensure that the congregates can concentrate during the service.

Read more at:

Former Anglican celebrates his first Christmas as a Catholic priest

From Baltimore-

This Christmas was particularly joyous for Father Albert Scharbach, who celebrated its liturgies just a few weeks after his ordination as a Catholic priest for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

“I feel like myself again, but much more,” Father Scharbach said of his Nov. 15 ordination. “I am humbled and grateful to be part of the gracious exception (the ordinariate) in the life of the church.”
Initially ordained an Anglican priest in 2005, Father Scharbach was ordained a Catholic priest through the ordinariate, established in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI to make it easier to welcome former Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

Equivalent to a diocese but national in scope, the ordinariate allows former Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their liturgical traditions. It accommodates Anglican priests who are already married, such as Father Scharbach.

More here-

Anglican leader: Pope my person of the year

From Ireland-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Pope is his person of the year. Justin Welby, the leader of the Church of england, endorsed the decision of Time Magazine to make Pope Francis its Person of the Year.

"Yes, I would put him as my person of the year," he said in an interview.

The archbishop described the Pope - whom he met earlier this year - as "extraordinary."

"I think it is fair to say the Catholic Church is 20 times bigger than the entire Anglican Communion and I wouldn't want to compare ourselves, or myself to him in any way at all," he said.

"The Pope has been hugely effective, he is an extraordinary man, quite brilliant in what he does. He has changed the sense of direction and purpose of the Catholic Church with his personal example and his words."

Pope Francis, from Argentina, was elected Pope in March at age 76 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He has been praised for his less formal approach as leader of the world's Catholics, refusing some of the trappings of the role and his decision not to live in the official papal residence.

More here-

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Eve Kidnapping: Gunmen Grab One of Nigeria's Top Christian Leaders

From Christian Today-

Peter Akinola, the retired Anglican archbishop of Nigeria whose influence proved instrumental in helping conservative American Anglicans attempt to separate from The Episcopal Church, was kidnapped by gunmen on Christmas Eve.

The former leader of the Anglican Communion's largest province was released hours later "after he convinced his captors he had no money to pay a ransom," reports George Conger in parsing the confusing accounts of the kidnapping offered by Nigerian newspapers.

Akinola, who once presided over the Christian Association of Nigeria and now leads a foundation that offers job training to youths, was kidnapped while driving in the capital of Ogun state in western Nigeria, and driven toward the Benin border before being released.

"I told them am [sic] a retired pastor living in the village and that I don't have money, that I live on pension, that I' am [sic] building the centre with the help of friends around the world and that I don't have money," he told Nigeria's Premium Times in an exclusive interview on Christmas Day. "I just kept praying for safety."

More here-

First Openly Gay Bishop Rt. Rev. Otis Charles of San Francisco Dies April 24, 1926 – December 26, 2013

From San Francisco-

The Rt. Rev. Otis Charles, born April 24, 1926 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, died peacefully on December 26, 2013 at San Francisco’s Coming Home Hospice following a brief illness.  Charles was with family at his bedside at the time of his death.

Charles was the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. Soon after his retirement in 1993 he came out as an openly gay man, making him the first openly gay bishop of any Christian denomination in history. Soon after he and his wife divorced. He relocated to San Francisco, where he helped to found Oasis California, the LGBT Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California. which seeks to open dialogue between LGBT communities and the congregations in which they worship.

Originally from New Jersey, he served first as a priest in Washington, Connecticut. From 1968 until 1982 he was a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church, which developed the 1979 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. In 1971, he was elected Bishop of Utah. He was active in the peace movement, and opposed Nevada and Utah being launching sites for the MX missile. In the >House of Bishops, Charles was chair of the Prayer Book Committee and a member of the Bishops’ Committee on Racism. Charles became Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in 1985. Charles also has significant academic achievements, including a Doctorate of Divinity, and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology.

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Judge impedes Episcopalians' efforts to portray conspiracy to leave church and take assets

From South Carolina-

A circuit judge delivered a blow Monday to local Episcopalians who allege that leaders of a group that disassociated from the national Episcopal Church in 2012 did so as part of a conspiracy to leave and take church assets with them.

Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein denied a motion filed by The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which is the group in eastern South Carolina who remain part of the national church. They had sought to have leaders of the group that disassociated added as parties to a lawsuit between the two camps.

The majority of local parishes and clergy, including Bishop Mark Lawrence, disassociated from The Episcopal Church in 2012 after ongoing theological and administrative disputes. That group then filed a lawsuit against the national church to retain control of diocesan property and identifying marks.

More here-

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last call: Ministry reaping second-career baby boomers

From Chattanooga-

Ray Williams doesn't recommend singing country songs in bars as a prerequisite for ministry, but it worked for him.

"It led me to change my life," he says. "Everybody was saying you ought to be preaching."

The fact that he became an alcoholic and nearly died of alcohol poisoning was also a factor, Williams says.

Today, he is the pastor of One Accord Community Church, a now-thriving congregation in Red Bank that he planted in 2004. Williams, 50, is one a growing number of baby boomers who are making ministry a second career.

A decade-long study of enrollment by the Association of Theological Schools, released in 2009, indicated the fastest-growing group of seminarians were people older than 50. In 1995, according to the study, baby boomers made up 12 percent of seminarians, while today they are 20 percent. Similarly, nearly one-third of students enrolled in Minneapolis-area seminaries are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

More here-

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Warped zeal against Christians

From Charleston SC-

Members of the Christian faith are increasingly under attack in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. Though the main victims of the rising tide of sectarian violence in the region are Muslim civilians targeted by militants from the rival Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, violence against Christians is also increasing.

There is not much that can be done about this distressing trend so long as radical Islamists are free to target people of other faiths in the increasingly chaotic Mideast.

As Michael Gerson points out on our Commentary page, the persecution and murder of Christians have drawn the attention of Pope Francis and England's Prince Charles, who recently said, "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."

Fresh examples include three Christmas Day attacks in Iraq, including a car bomb outside a church service, that killed 37 Christians. And nine nuns were kidnapped early this month in Syria, where there are frequent reports of abductions, torture, mass killings and beheadings of Christians. Violence in Egypt against Coptic Christians peaked last August - for the time being - with the destruction of scores of churches and drive-by killings.

More here-

Rowan's rebuke

From The Economist-

ROWAN WILLIAMS (pictured) and Iain Duncan Smith have several things in common. Although they remain public figures, they are best known for the offices they used to hold: the former as head, until a year ago, of the Church of England and the global Anglican Communion, and the latter as leader, for an unhappy couple of years, of the Conservative Party. Both have a history of delivering rather unfortunate sound-bites. And both believe the Christian faith should have some bearing on public policy, the prelate for obvious reasons and Mr Duncan Smith as a practising Catholic who thinks the state should encourage marriage and families. He is now minister of work and pensions, and responsible for welfare reform.

In recent days they have clashed, and it is the politician's clumsiness which seems to be at fault. The issue is food banks—voluntary organisations where well-wishers can deposit contributions of non-perishable food, and people in dire need can receive help with no questions asked. Mr Duncan Smith has had an abrasive correspondence with one very successful food charity, the Trussell Trust which says it has provided assistance to about half a million people this year. In a leaked letter, Mr Duncan Smith rejected the Trust's claim that his welfare reforms were exacerbating poverty, refused to meet them and commented sarcastically: "Your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I am concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear."

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Wantagh historic black church, diocese locked in legal feud

From Long Island-

The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island is in a court battle to evict congregants of the historically black St. Matthias Ministries church and sell the property in Wantagh.

Congregants of the church contend such a sale would sacrifice a century-old piece of the Island's African-American history. They have countersued to gain title to the property, claiming ownership rights under state law, and arguing they have maintained the site for years without diocese help.

Legal experts say the case, to be heard Jan. 6 in State Supreme Court in Mineola, will likely hinge on how the court interprets the 109-year-old deed to the property. While New York State courts don't referee fights over beliefs or church organization, they can settle property disputes between mother churches and schismatic sects, experts say.

More here-