Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ugandan priest: LGBT people are fleeing for Kenya to avoid rampant discrimination

From RNS-

A growing number of LGBT Ugandans are fleeing to neighboring Kenya to escape violence and persecution, a Ugandan Catholic priest says.

People are beaten, raped, evicted and dismissed from their jobs because of their sexual identity or orientation, the Rev. Anthony Musaala said during a talk at All Saints Catholic Church as part of a monthlong visit to the United States and Canada.

Even associating with or advocating for LGBT people may spur discrimination, he said.

Musaala, who spoke at the invitation of the All Saints Parish LGBT Task Force, estimates 500 gay and lesbian Ugandans are seeking asylum in Kenya. He recently met with U.N. officials, seeking increased financial support and human services for resettling “sexual refugees.”

More here-

Fire destroys historical building in Fond du Lac

From Wisconsin- (with video)

The former Episcopal Convent of the Holy Nativity building in Fond du Lac is a total loss after a fire destroyed the historical building Friday night.

Fire crews were called to the fire, located near East Division and Amory Street, around 7:25 p.m.

Firefighters reported heavy smoke upon arrival.

Fond du Lac Fire Division Chief of Fire Prevention, Troy Haase, says the fire was contained to the former convent and no nearby buildings were damaged.

No one is believed to have been in the building and there are no reported injuries. Fire crews are still putting out hot spots from the outside of the building and have not searched the inside.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese to return offices to Downtown’s Trinity Cathedral

From Pittsburgh-

Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell is moving the offices of the Diocese of Pittsburgh back to its historic location at Trinity Cathedral, Downtown, after a 16-year hiatus that overlapped with a major schism in the diocese.

Bishop McConnell said that by moving his and the diocese’s offices from their current Monroeville location, he hoped to raise the diocese’s visibility and involvement in community affairs, and also to reflect the cathedral’s role as the seat or home base for a bishop. The move is expected to be finished by the end of June.

More here-

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Costs of Faith in China

From The Living Church-

During a 10-day visit to mainland China, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the heart of Christian witness is “not in aggressive shouting at people,” but in being “ready to give an explanation for the hope that is within you, but with gentleness and grace.”

On Trinity Sunday he told worshipers at Muen Church, Shanghai, that the Greek word martyroi refers to both a witness and a martyr. In many parts of the world today, to be a witness to Jesus Christ very often means dying for the faith, as with the early Christians.

Archbishop Justin Welby was keen to address how Christians contribute to public discourse. The archbishop said that 1 Peter 3 is clear that “the heart of witness lay not in aggressive shouting at people or any other form of manipulation or disruption, but in lives that were lived so clearly that people would ask why the Christian lived in such a way.”

More here-

If the Church of England wants to avoid extinction, it needs to have a think about 'Thought for the Day'

From The Telegraph-

Estate agents take note: in about 20 years' time, a glut of very nice properties may come on the British property market, complete with period fittings, historic facades, and plum locations in both urban and rural areas. What is more, should you fancy converting your local church or cathedral into luxury flats or a mini-Hilton, the only people likely to argue with you will be your local conservation group.

According to a new report this week, the Church of England is now losing followers at such a rate that it is on the brink of "extinction" within a generation. The number of people identifying themselves as CoE or Anglican has dropped by 1.7m in the last two years alone, and if the slump continues, there'll soon be no one left at all in churches across the UK.

More here-

Princess Charlotte set to be christened

From Sky News-

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, the latest addition to Britain's royal family, will be christened on July 5 near Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham estate in rural eastern England.

Prince William and his wife Kate's daughter, who is fourth in line to the throne after the couple's first child Prince George, was born on May 2.

'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pleased to announce the christening of Princess Charlotte will take place on Sunday 5th July,' read a statement from Kensington Palace, the couple's London residence.

Charlotte's middle names Elizabeth and Diana are a tribute to her great-grandmother the queen and the woman who would have been her grandmother, William's late mother Diana who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

- See more at:

UK Anglicans are in serious decline, say researchers

From The Church Times-

THE decline in the proportion of British people who identify as Anglican has accelerated in the past decade, new analysis from NatCen statisticians suggests.

The proportion who say they are Anglican in the British Social Attitudes survey has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. In the past decade, the proportion has fallen by two-fifths: from 28 per cent in 2004.

The researchers say that the survey results suggest that the number of Anglicans has fallen by as many as 4.5 million over the past ten years, from about 13 million to 8.5 million.

The biggest group remains those who say they have no religion: 49 per cent, up from 43 per cent in 2004 and 31 per cent in 1983.

More here-

St. David's Episcopal Church in Radnor marks its 300th anniversary

From Philadelphia-

 Visitors to St. David’s Episcopal Church in Radnor will feel a sense of peace as they enter the small, white-walled sanctuary in the old stone building surrounded by the tombstones of a centuries old graveyard the church, which is said to have served as a stable for British horses during the Revolutionary War, is marking its 300th anniversary this year.

In 1880 the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a verse about the church, “Old St. David’s at Radnor” and his words ring true today: What an image of peace and rest/Is this little church among its graves!

A larger chapel, finished in 2006 to serve the needs of the 3,300 present-day parishioners, is also clad in Pennsylvania stone and its white sanctuary harkens to the interior of the older church across the street, albeit with a soaring ceiling and polished copper chandeliers, along with a grand pipe organ.

More here-

Ex-Episcopal Bishop's DUI Trial Postponed Until September

From Baltimore-

A judge on Thursday postponed the trial of a former Episcopal bishop charged in the drunken-driving death of a bicyclist to give attorneys more time to work on a plea deal.

Heather Cook's trial was scheduled to start Thursday, but Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Wanda Heard granted her attorney's request for a postponement after Cook waived her right to a speedy trial. The trial is now set for Sept. 9.

David Irwin, Cook's lawyer, told reporters he was in the "earliest of plea considerations'' and has spoken "very, very briefly'' with prosecutors.

"We would hope that we could resolve the case without trial for everybody's sake, most importantly the Palermo family's sake,'' Irwin said, referring to the family of victim Tom Palermo. "To go through the trauma of a trial, my client certainly doesn't want to have to put them through that.''

More here-

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gay marriage, gender identity & the future of religious dissent

From The Tribune Review-

Even LGBT activists were surprised by the margin of victory last week when 62 percent of Irish voters approved a referendum legalizing same-sex marriage. In the United States, a Gallup poll released on May 19 found that 60 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage. Just two decades ago, that number was only 27 percent.

The rapid shift in public support for gay marriage and LGBT civil rights in Europe and the U.S. has left religious conservatives scrambling.

At the time the Irish were voting, a magistrate and former magistrate in North Carolina were filing suit to challenge the state's requirement that magistrates conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in the same manner as other marriage ceremonies. The lawsuit seeks religious liberty exemptions for magistrates with religious objections to gay marriage.

Read more:

Rowan Williams: Blasphemy can provoke violence – and be a progressive force within religion

From New Statesman-

For most of human history – and for rather a lot of the world today – blasphemy is the cardinal case of saying the unsayable. What could be more transgressive than mocking or abusing the all-powerful creator of the universe? But what is interesting in the history of religions is that this isn’t always about attacking or rejecting faith itself.

One regular and significant theme in legends, religious texts and historical anecdotes is that “blasphemous” language, ­language attacking, condemning or mocking God, can be forced out of people who are so ravaged and humiliated by their ­suffering that they turn on God in fury. Ajax in classical myth, Job in biblical narrative – these are figures who say, in effect, “I haven’t deserved this and I didn’t expect this. What claim can God have to be called good or just? And if my sufferings are ­supposed to remind me that life is mysterious and God is stronger than I am and so I ought to submit humbly, I can always refuse to accept these terms. I won’t be threatened into silence. How much worse can it get, anyway? At least I can die with my self-respect intact.”

More here-

Russian Orthodox Church Ends Ties With Protestants Over Gay Marriage

From Radio Free Europe-

The Russian Orthodox Church says it is severing ties with the main protestant churches of France and Scotland over the issue of same-sex unions.

The Moscow Patriarchate said on June 3 that "formal contacts" with the two institutions were pointless after France's United Protestant Church last month voted to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages and the Church of Scotland approved ordaining clergy in same-sex civil unions.

"We regretfully acknowledge, that today we have a new divide in the Christian world, not only regarding theological subjects, but regarding moral issues as well," the patriarchate said in a statement.

More here-

Inclusive women

From National Catholic Reporter-

What next? Now even the Church of England is talking about admitting that maybe, just maybe, inclusive language can be used to describe God. You know, the whole "She Who Is" business.
Next thing, they'll be saying women can image Christ.

Oh, wait, they already did that.

Members of Women and the Church (Watch) meet in Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the archbishop of Canterbury, to talk about women in the Church of England. The palace spokesperson says the group is not an official body but that the archbishop is happy to grant space for its meetings.

Things are very different for Anglican women in England. They have one female bishop to look toward and two more on the way. Just in January, Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane was consecrated a suffragan bishop -- the equivalent of a Catholic auxiliary bishop -- for Anglican diocese of Chester. Married with two children, she is best known as Libby and has created yet another stumbling block -- or yet another excuse -- to complicate ecumenical dialogue.

More here-

Former Episcopal bishop scheduled for trial

From Baltimore (via Seattle)

A trial is scheduled to begin for a former Episcopal bishop in Maryland who is charged in the drunken-driving death of a bicyclist.

Heather Cook's trial is scheduled to start Thursday morning in Baltimore. Cook pleaded not guilty during her arraignment in April.

She resigned from her post with the Episcopal Church, and church officials revoked her clergy credentials.

More here-

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Should a priest refuse to baptise the child of unwed parents?

From The Tablet-

Last week the Daily Mail reported on a vicar who has allegedly refused baptism to a child because his parents are not married. There is some confusion about the facts as the Anglican Diocese of Chester has claimed that the vicar, Revd Tim Hayes, has not in fact refused to baptise the child. The parish appears to be thriving and the policy the vicar has outlined – which is, it would seem, to ask for baptism to happen after the couple get married (which he has offered to celebrate free of charge) – has been in place for over 20 years.

All of us in ordained ministry have faced this problem. For Catholics we know that simply being unmarried would not be grounds for refusing baptism, and Pope Francis early on in his pontificate roundly condemned priests who did this; such grounds would really only be evidence that parents had no intention of bringing their child up in the Christian faith. On the other hand the Catholic Church and other Christian communities are entitled to ask parents to be properly prepared for the sacrament, and classes for this are increasingly common.

More here-

Archbishop Gregory Aymond and others speak up for prisoners returning home: Jarvis DeBerry

From Louisiana-

All those things, the archbishop acknowledged, require us going "beyond our comfort zones." But when we are hesitant to do so, he said, we should ask ourselves, "What happens if we don't say, 'Welcome home?'"

Sunday's event was the brainchild of the Rev. William Barnwell, a retired Episcopal pastor who has been ministering to prisoners since the 1970s, and its chief purpose seemed to prick the consciences of believers, to persuade them to be true to the faith they profess -- and in all situations.

Rhett Covington, assistant secretary in the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said that he often jokes that Jesus must be in prison. He's seen lots of clergy visit prisons to minister to inmates. But when those same people are released from prison, he said, those ministers don't welcome them as members of their church.

More here-

Clergy join push to legalize marijuana in mission of social justice

From Chicago-

The marijuana decriminalization bill that could soon go to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk has an array of supporters, including civil libertarians, prosecutors and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Its supporters also include clergy. Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis are lobbying lawmakers in Illinois and in states across the Northeast as part of a push toward legalization, which they see as a moral cause encompassing issues such as race, fair housing and employment.

To that end, the group, called Clergy for a New Drug Policy, is pushing for legislation to tax and regulate cannabis, refer individuals charged with drug-related crimes to treatment, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and support medical marijuana.

More here-

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Anglican bishop calls on Buhari to defeat Boko Haram in six months

From Nigeria-

The Anglican Bishop of Kaduna Diocese, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to do everything possible to end the Boko Haram insurgency within six months in office.

The Kaduna Diocesan believed that President Buhari could succeed in flushing out the terrorists within six months if he sanitized the armed forces and got them well equipped to terminate the reign of the remaining Boko Haram elements.

Handing this charge in an address delivered at the 20th synod of the church, Bishop Idowu-Fearon warned the President to avoid what he termed the shaky foundation laid by his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, in order to achieve quick and lasting results in the areas of security and the socio-economic well being of the country.

More here-

God is neither 'she' nor 'he' say Anglican priests

From The BBC-

God is neither "she" nor "he" says Watch, a group which represents women in the church.
The organisation has been accused of trying to "rewrite" Christian doctrine by encouraging people to use the female pronoun when talking about God.

Rev Jody Stowell, vicar at St Michael & All Angels Church in Harrow, says she was "dismayed" by recent reports.

"This is not about making God a woman. This is about creating those proper, Biblical images of God," she explains to Newsbeat.

The ideas surrounding which pronouns to use when talking about God were discussed at a committee meeting in Lambeth Palace, according to Hilary Cotton, chair of Watch.

More here-

The unresurrected Dick Whitman: the City of God and the Mad Men finale

From The Living Church-

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t finished Mad Men, read no further.

When I was a young man I used to go to sacrilegious shows and entertainments. I watched the antics of madmen.

~Augustine, The City of God, 2.4

It’s been several weeks since the finale of Mad Men, and the consensus is generally positive: creator and director Matthew Weiner found a way to end the series that has kept people guessing. What has surprised me, however, is that many critics have understood the final episode, “Person to Person,” as largely optimistic in tone, a kind of fitting fulfillment wherein each character “grows” personally in some important way. Take, for instance, Eric Deggans at NPR who calls the final episode “A Love Letter to Fans Filled with Mostly Happy Endings.” Joan becomes her own boss, Peggy finds love, Roger hooks up with a woman his own age, and Don invents one of the most iconic ad shorts from the 1970s. While there certainly is a kind of feel-good vibe in this episode, the vibe seems almost too good to be true. Knowing how good Weiner is with irony and dark humor, the fact that I feel like I’m watching a clip from Love Actually during that final montage makes me wary of agreeing with these positive assessments.

More here-

Monday, June 1, 2015

How churches can attract the 'nones'

From The Desert News-

Churches seeking to recapture the growing numbers of religiously unaffiliated should forget about preserving the past and instead focus on the needs of those who see no need for organized religion, one mainline Protestant thought leader said.

The Rev. Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, church consultant and Religion News Service columnist, and other faith and thought leaders have been responding to whether and how the unaffiliated can be reached after a Pew Research Center study that found those who don't identify with a particular faith, the so-called "nones," have grown as much as some mainline Christian faiths have declined.

Ehrich said the take-away for him is a reminder that the bottom line for faith isn't about buildings or budgets, but the people found inside and outside the walls.


Faith not blurred by tragedy

From Texas-

A Sunday sermon brimful of tragedy and destruction seemed unfitting for a grieving congregation.

The service, centered on the Fall of Jerusalem, described how the Israelites looked over their shoulder and saw their temple burning and destroyed, their city in ruins, the Rev. Milton E. Black said to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd congregation.

“That just doesn’t seem right,” he said. “To preach on the story today in light of the tragedy that we are all experiencing, our readings are not the readings of comfort that we need.”

The church is familiar to the Corpus Christi families swept away early Sunday in a historic flood in Wimberley.

Eight Corpus Christi residents went missing when their vacation river home was ravaged by floodwaters of the Blanco River.

More here-

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Massive cross rises in violent Pakistan port city, home to an often-fearful Christian minority

From Minnesota-

Now towering over this violent port city in Pakistan, where Islamic militant attacks and gangland shootings remain common, is an uncommon sight in this Muslim-majority country: a 42-meter (140-foot) Christian cross.

The cross, being built by a businessman who said the idea came to him in a dream, is rising as Christians here often face discrimination. A tiny minority of Pakistan's 180 million people are Christians who eke out livings in menial jobs like garbage collection.

Christians have faced mob violence in blasphemy cases, which often turn out to be false allegations over personal disputes. Under Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad or other religious Islamic figures can be sentenced to death.

More here-