Friday, February 6, 2015

The Evolving Future of Theological Education

From Patheos-

I have been on The Episcopal Church’s Board of Examining Chaplains now for twelve years. I’ve finished my last batch of ordination examinations and as of General Convention next summer, I will have completed my responsibilities.

The examination has evolved over the last twelve years, as has the mechanism for evaluating it. I’ve been an observer and participant in the process.  I’ve heard the debates around the character and value of the examination. I’ve participated in the attendant debates around the shape and efficacy of seminary education.  I’ve also been a part of the “conversations about the conversation” about what the church needs by way of priests and deacons that has never taken place.

I wish that I was leaving the Board this year with a sense that we were somewhere on an upward trajectory, that we were building toward something as a church, that a vision for theological education was taking shape, that there was a fresh resolve to take seriously the task of clergy formation.  Reading one to two hundred essay examinations a year, gives you a sense of how important that could be and how subtle and challenging that process is.

Read more:

Son charged in slaying of priest, wife, child

From Houston-

On the final Sunday in January, Isaac Tiharihondi stood in front of the congregation at the Church of the Redeemer, where his father was an Episcopal priest, and declared before God and the world that he would be sworn in as a U.S. Marine within days.

A dozen parishioners swarmed the 19-year-old to lay hands on him and prayed for his safe return.

But Tiharihondi had not enlisted, and would be confronted about his lies two days later by his parents.

It was then, investigators believe, that Tiharihondi would use a hammer, a baseball bat and a kitchen knife to fatally bludgeon his parents and stab his 5-year-old brother in their Memorial-area apartment. He would later use his family's credit cards to flee the state, according to court records.

More here-

Maryland bishop suffragan faces more charges in fatal accident

From ENS-

A Baltimore grand jury has indicted Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook on 13 counts for allegedly causing the Dec. 27 car-bicycle accident that killed Thomas Palermo.

Five of the charges listed in the indictment handed down Feb. 4 by a Baltimore City grand jury come in addition to those Cook has faced since being charged Jan. 9 with four criminal offenses and four traffic violations.

The new charges include driving while under the influence of alcohol per se (a “per se” DUI charge involves drivers whose blood alcohol limit is above the .08% legal limit and can be charged with drunk driving even if their ability to drive does not appear to be impaired), driving under the impairment of alcohol, texting while driving, reckless driving and negligent driving.

More here-

Head of Episcopal diocese tries to clarify comments on bishop's drinking

From The Baltimore Sun-

The head of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland sought Thursday to clarify what he knew about Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook's drinking, and when he knew it.

Cook, who became the No. 2 leader in the diocese last September despite an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2010, is accused in the December death of local cyclist Thomas Palermo.

She was indicted this week on charges including automobile manslaughter, driving under the influence and texting while driving during an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury.

More here-

Breakaway Anglicans Can Keep Churches Worth $500 Million, Rules South Carolina Judge

South Carolina "Round-up"-

In the "land and building wars" long fought within mainline denominations, the denomination usually wins. But this week, a South Carolina judge ruled that bishop Mark Lawrence and 36 South Carolina parishes had the right to leave The Episcopal Church in 2012 and take with them $500 million in property.

“In all of TEC’s governing documents, no rule exists prohibiting the withdrawal of one of its member dioceses,” Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein wrote in her opinion. As such, she wrote, TEC defendants have no legal or other right to the plaintiffs’ “real, personal, and intellectual property.”

More here-

Christian Century-

From The Blaze-

From Greenville-

Thursday, February 5, 2015

NEWS FLASH! BREAKING EXCLUSIVE! The Blue Book’s color is revealed!

From Seven Whole Days-

If there’s one thing that is the heart of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, it’s the Blue Book. Containing the official reports of various groups, including Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards of the Episcopal Church, the Blue Book is chock full of legislative bonbons and ecclesiastical gems. This year, for the first time, the Blue Book is really more of a Blue “Book,” because it will be published primarily online. This is a very good thing.

However, a few people — including this reporter — like to have a paper version, and today’s announcement about Blue Book online availability contained the tantalizing detail that a paper version “may” be printed and sold by Church Publishing. This got me wondering, what color will the potentially-printed Blue Book be this year? Immediately, I dispatched the 7WD Investigative News Team to ferret out (without the help of Tim Schenck’s ferret) the true color. This is a tradition. For the last two General Conventions, this blog had the first exclusive reports of the book’s color: crimson in 2009 and salmon in 2012.

More here-

Son of Episcopal priest arrested in killing of father and two others in Texas

From Houston-

The 19-year-old son of an Episcopal priest was arrested in Mississippi on Wednesday on charges of killing his father and two other family members this week in their Houston home.

Isaac Tiharihondi was arrested at a motel in Jackson, Mississippi, according to a spokeswoman with the FBI’s Jackson Field office.

Tiharihondi is charged with two counts of capital murder. Israel Ahimbisibwe, 51, Dorcus Ahimbisibwe, 47 and 5-year-old Israel Ahimbisibwe, Jr. were all found dead in their northwest Houston apartment on Monday, Houston police said.

Police have not released a suspected motive for the killings.

More here-

Bishop Cook indicted on vehicular homicide, drunken driving, other charges

From Baltimore-

Episcopal Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook was indicted on 13 charges Wednesday in the death December of cyclist Thomas Palermo in North Roland Park, the Baltimore state's attorney's office announced.

Cook, 58, the second-ranking official in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, is accused of striking Palermo on Dec. 27 with her car as she was texting and driving drunk. The charges include automobile manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident.

The indictment came nearly a month after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced charges against Cook. Cook has been free on bail while awaiting trial; she is scheduled for arraignment March 5.

More here-

and here-

Breakaway Episcopal churches in South Carolina can keep property: judge

From South Carolina-

A breakaway group of Episcopal churches in South Carolina can retain its diocese name after leaving the U.S. Episcopal Church and keep historic church real estate worth $500 million, a judge has ruled.

The Diocese of South Carolina, which consists of dozens of parishes, broke away in 2012 after the larger organization moved to ordain gay clergy and bless same-sex marriages.

In a ruling on Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein said the diocese had the right to leave, and she rejected the Episcopal Church's argument that it had legal interest in the diocese's property.

The diocese owns real estate including historic properties such as St. Philip's Church, first built in 1681, and St. Michael's Church, built the following century, both in Charleston, according to court documents.

More here-

Also here-

and here

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Houston Reels From Killing of Priest, Wife and Young Son

From Houston-

Houston priest, his wife and their young son were found dead in their apartment Monday, victims of a homicide that has shaken the city's Episcopal community as police search for the killer, and a motive.

The Rev. Israel Ahimbisibwe, 52, a towering and highly educated clergyman from Uganda, served as a chaplain at the University of Houston and pastored part-time at a small church, where members said they grew worried after he didn't show up to lead their Sunday afternoon services. They went to his apartment, and when no one answered, they contacted the building's management, who called authorities.

Police and fire personnel entered the apartment at 9:30 a.m. Monday, and found the three bodies. Neighbors told parishioners they hadn't seen the family since Friday.

More here-

Episcopal leader suspected Cook was drunk days before installation as bishop

From The Baltimore Sun-

The leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland suspected that the Rev. Heather Elizabeth Cook — now facing drunken driving and manslaughter charges in the December death of a local bicyclist — was intoxicated at a dinner two days before she was installed as bishop last year, according to the diocese.

The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, head of the Maryland diocese, quickly shared his concerns about Cook's behavior that night with the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the diocese said in a timeline posted on its website this week.

"Bishop Sutton suspects that Cook is inebriated during pre-consecration dinner and conveys concern to Presiding Bishop," it reads. "Presiding Bishop indicates she will discuss with Cook."

More here-

Also latest fro the Washington Post-

Court rules breakaway SC Episcopal churches can keep $500 million in property

From South Carolina-

A S.C. Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that the Diocese of South Carolina that withdrew three years ago from the national Episcopal Church can keep more than $500 million in church property.

The parishes have been at the center of a dispute between the diocese and The Episcopal Church since Bishop Mark Lawrence broke away from the national church in 2012, taking 36 parishes with him.

They filed a lawsuit in 2013 that affected more than $500 million in physical property including some of the nation’s most historic and renowned church buildings, among them St. Michael’s and St. Philip’s in the heart of downtown Charleston. The 46-page opinion issued by Judge Diane S. Goodstein follows a three-week trial last summer.

Read more here:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


From The General Convention Office-

Proposed Resolutions

The Task Force developed two resolutions for consideration by the 78th General Convention (see below, in

order of priority). The Task Force’s first proposed resolution consists of a rewrite of the marriage canon.

This rewrite would make the canon:

• Ordered more practically in terms of pastoral practice;

• Focused on the actual vows made in The Book of Common Prayer marriage rite, rather than on the
purposes of marriage in general;

• Reflective of the theological views expressed in the Task Force’s study and essays; and

• By using gender-neutral language, responsive to both Resolution 2012-A050’s charge that the Task Force“address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couple in states that authorize such,” and to Resolution 2012-D091, referred to the Task Force (see above).

More here-

Bishop accused in cyclist’s death suspected of being drunk at installation festivities

From The Washington Post (Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse)-

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland suspected that Heather Cook — now charged in the drunken-driving death of a Baltimore bicyclist — was drunk during her installation festivities this past fall, a new official timeline shows.

Officials with the diocese, which elected Cook its first female bishop last spring, have said for weeks that they knew before her election of a drunken-driving incident in 2010. However, they have declined to answer questions about whether they had any reason to be concerned about her drinking after she was elected — until the fatal accident in December.

The timeline, which the Diocese of Maryland said Monday it had added to its Web site, says the head of the national Episcopal Church was made aware that Cook may have been drunk during her installation celebration. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was the leader of the Sept. 6 service that consecrated Cook, or made her a bishop.

More here-

Timeline here-

Episcopal Diocese of Alabama unveils guidelines for blessing same-sex unions

From Alabama-

The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama has unveiled guidelines for blessing same-sex unions in a document posted on its web site over the weekend.

The revised guidelines will be presented to the annual convention of the Diocese of Alabama, meeting Feb. 6-7 at Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa.

The blessing requires permission from the bishop, after a process that includes approval by the vestry of a parish - local church leadership.

More here-

Vigil held for murdered reverend and family

From Houston-

Dozens of church members gathered to honor a priest, his wife and their 5-year-old son who were found dead in their Memorial City apartment.

"Sweet sweet people, my goodness," said Ginger Fabian, a church member.

It was around 9:20 a.m. when a maintenance worker found a man, woman and small child dead inside an apartment located behind Memorial City Mall, Houston Police said. The discovery was made in the 870 block of Strey Lane.

The priest's church issued a press release identifying the victims as Israel Ahimbisibwe and his wife Dorcus. The priest was a native of Uganda and served as vicar of Redeemer Episcopal Church, according to members of the church.

More here-

Also here-

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Hope provides opportunities for children to break the generational cycle of incarceration

From Tulsa-

Growing up with a father who was in and out of prison was a defining part of Chace Evan’s childhood.

Evans was 4 the first time his father went to prison.

He remembers one visit in particular he and his mom made to see his father.

“We walked out and I started crying and my mom starting crying, too. I was so confused, sad and angry,” he said.

Evans had a lot of anger issues when he was younger, which he believes stemmed from his father’s incarcerations.

Evans’ mother has also been in prison and she was worried that her son could follow in his parents’ footsteps.

More here-

Influential Church of England evangelical comes out as gay

From Christian Today-

One of the Church of England's most influential evangelicals has come out as gay.

Jayne Ozanne, 46, was a founder member of the Archbishops' Council, the Cabinet-style body at the heart of the established church's governance. She has through a distinguished career and record of service worked closely and prayed alongside senior evangelicals including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton and the present Archbishop, Justin Welby.

More here-

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Minnesota church women count words in Bible spoken by women

From Minnesota-

The Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman began scouring the Bible three years ago to do something that apparently had never been done: the cataloging of every word uttered by every woman in the more than 2,000-year-old holy book.

Meeting in a church library, Freeman and an unlikely research team systematically pored over every Bible chapter, documenting the words on spreadsheets and inserting context and highlights. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.

The results give surprise insights into the lives of women ranging from Abigail to Zipporah. Eve, for example, may be the Bible’s most well-known woman, but she utters only 74 words. Yet an unnamed “Shulamite woman” in the Song of Solomon holds forth with 1,425.

The research, now compiled in a book, is part of a boom in interest in women in scripture.

More here-

Bishop called 2010 DUI arrest 'a major wake-up call'

From Baltimore- (With audio from the 1st hearing)

Standing before an Eastern Shore judge in 2010 after being caught driving drunk, the Rev. Heather Elizabeth Cook and her attorney pleaded for leniency.

Cook was undergoing three different forms of counseling, including Alcoholics Anonymous, her attorney said. And she had voluntarily had an ignition interlock device installed in her car.

"I am regarding this as a major wake-up call in my life, and I'm doing things now that I was not able to do without this motivation," Cook told District Judge John E. Nunn III, according to an audio transcript obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request.

More here-

Church property fight turns on constitutional issues

From Baltimore-

The legal fight playing out between the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and a tiny Middle River congregation is one of dozens of cases nationwide that are testing the limits of religious authority. It's an issue the Supreme Court has confronted more than once.

The Church of the Ascension in Middle River — like many local congregations before it — has argued that because it held the deed for its property, diocesan officials had no right to close the church two years ago, seize the congregation's bank accounts and take control of the real estate.

More here-