From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department- After no one filed for candidacy in this year's City Council race in North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus decided he would seize the day and run himself. Sixty-eight-year-old Claus is one of the biggest evangelists for North Pole, having once run for its Chamber of Commerce.
He is not a North Pole native — he previously lived in Nevada, where he decided to legally change his name after debating the idea on the way to the post office in 2005. The heavily bearded man with a twinkle in his eye and rosy cheeks was walking and praying, he told the Alaska Dispatch News in 2013, when a man yelled, "I love you, Santa.” After that he was sure a name change was a good idea.
The Anglican monk formerly known as Tom O'Connor then decided it would do wonders for his brand if he moved to North Pole, which he did three years ago after running two write-in presidential campaigns and finding out that the name "Santa Claus" can sometimes lead to issues at the airport. (It isn't clear whether security thought the name was suspicious or if they were confused about why Santa was flying commercial instead of on his private sleigh.)
On his recent visit to Utah, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid walked briskly through the Salt Palace Convention Center, taking mental notes of the preparations for the upcoming Parliament of the World's Religions.
In less than two weeks, some 10,000 devotees of 50 faith traditions from 80 countries are expected to fill the halls of the convention facility for the largest interfaith event in the world.
Previous host cities for the event have included Chicago; Cape Town, South Africa; Barcelona; and Melbourne, Australia. This year, the fifth parliament since its first appearance more than 120 years ago in 1893 will be held in the city that is headquarters to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From Mississippi- Earlier this month, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for a gathering of the Anglican Communion in what is expected to be an attempt at healing.
The Anglican Communion has been troubled following the 2003 induction of the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, by the Episcopal Church of the United States. In response to Robinson’s election, the church’s more conservative bishops created a subset within the communion in 2008, the Global Anglican Future Conference, holding their own meetings and creating their own jurisdictions.
“As of now, the GAFCON primates have said that if the Anglican Church of Canada and the U.S. is at the table for the January meeting, they will not attend,” said the Rev. Paul Stephens, rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Tupelo, “And that’s unfortunate.”
The Vatican‘s increasingly high-profile cricket club has set the date for a highly symbolic first match against an all-Muslim team from Britain, organisers said Thursday. In a series of matches this month, the St Peter’s cricket club, made up of mostly South Asian Rome-based seminarians and priests, will also take on a team from Pope Francis’s home town of Buenos Aires and get a chance of revenge against a Church of England XI. But it is the meeting with Mount Cricket Club from Batley, Yorkshire, on October 17 that is likely to attract the most attention, with the Church hoping it will make a small contribution to global inter-faith understanding.
Gene Robinson in Time- The inmates at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility apparently were not the only law breakers Pope Francis met with during his brief visit to the U.S. The Vatican has now confirmed that the pope met privately with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, Ky., who notoriously went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in her jurisdiction.
Davis broke the law and appears to be neither repentant for what she did nor sorry for the decision she made, which landed her in jail for five days. Rather, she seems proud of her act of civil disobedience, vows that she would do it again, and sincerely seems to believe she is taking one on the chin for Jesus. She has become a celebrity among those conservative Christians who condemn homosexuality and the recent Supreme Court ruling declaring marriage equality a constitutional right.
Episcopal Relief & Development and the humanitarian arm of the Episcopal Church of Liberia (ECL-RD) have expanded their gender-based violence prevention and response program through a $680,000 grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.
The initiative is equipping and mobilizing faith leaders, networks and communities to prevent violence against women and girls and to increase survivors’ access to services. Launched in collaboration with Liberia’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and their national campaign, Episcopal Relief & Development and ECL-RD are implementing this three-year program in Grand Cape Mount and Rivercess Counties.
From The Christian Century- I recently had the honor of sitting down with a fourth-generation Mississippian who knows a thing or two about racial injustice because he’s spent his life fighting it: Duncan M. Gray Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi from 1974 to 1993.
We didn’t talk about the controversy over whether the Mississippi state flag, with its Confederate emblem, should continue to be flown over the state and local buildings. I think I know what he would say about that.
What we did talk about was what motivated him, as a Christian, to promote integration in perhaps the most aggressively segregationist state in the nation—at great risk to himself, his family, and his life as an Episcopal priest. We also talked about forgiveness. And love.
“It wasn’t easy,” Gray said, speaking of—and understating—the challenges he and others faced as civil rights activists in Mississippi in the 1960s. “They were rough times.”
In early September, the Anglican Church of Kenya revoked a priest’s license and suspended four others for alleged homosexual activity. It sent a message that there is no room for homosexuality at churches in Kenya.
But there is one place where members of the LGBT community - that is lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people - are welcome for Sunday worship.
Lilian, for whom this is not her regular church, sits in the back. The 28-year-old is lesbian.
“For a long time, I had not attended normal church because I felt like the likes of me are not accepted," she said. "Many people don’t know that I am gay. If they knew, they would look at me differently. But I choose to go where I am accepted, where I do not have to hide my identity.”
From New Jersey- Memories of the destruction and loss caused by Superstorm Sandy three years ago remain embedded in the lives of many. And, the good will and outreach that sprang forth since the storm continues at Holy Trinity Church in South River where the Calico Threads thrift shop steadfastly meets the needs of those in crisis each day.
When the store first opened its doors at 54 Ferry St., large donations of clothing were offered to help ease the devastation from the storm. The church had lost electrical power when they began aiding the storm victims whose homes were flooded in South River.
According to Sandra Rahn, chairwoman of Calico Threads, parishioners delivered food and cleaning supplies with 80 to 90 meals delivered each night.
From ENS- The Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries, with sponsorship and support from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, will hold its International Consultation on Sept. 30–Oct. 5 in Seoul, South Korea with the theme “Celebrating our Partnerships; Uniting our Mission.” The venue selected is the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Nicholas in downtown Seoul. According to the Rev. Bayani Rico, president of the EAM Council, the choice for a Korean venue is in response to the invitation from the Most Rev. Paul Kim, primate and archbishop of the Anglican Church in Korea to join in celebration of its 125th foundation anniversary.
What are we to make of the story that Pope Francis met Kim Davis at the Vatican Embassy during his stay in Washington? The story was first reported by Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican; subsequently, ABC News interviewed Ms. Davis.
Confirming the meeting, but offering no further details, the Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., said “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add.”
Phyllis Tickle, who helped energize the religion publishing market in the 1990s, wrote dozens of books on spirituality and gave voice to a movement that believes Christianity is entering an epochal new phase, died on Sept. 22 at her farm in Lucy, Tenn., north of Memphis. She was 81.
The cause was lung cancer, her daughter Rebecca Tickle said.
Ms. Tickle was the founding religion editor at Publishers Weekly, the leading journal in the book trade, serving from 1991 to 1994. In that post she identified and covered a rapidly emerging market for religious-themed books and helped publishers tap into its profitability.
From South Carolina- When the ongoing lawsuit over The Episcopal Church’s local breakup saga landed before the state Supreme Court last week, several justices peppered questions at an attorney representing parishes that broke away from the national church.
Among those who spoke most was Justice Kaye G. Hearn.
Since the hearing, her relationship with The Episcopal Church and one of its parishes where she worships is raising questions about whether she should have recused herself from the case.
After almost three years of court wrangling, millions in legal fees, a three-week trial, 1,300 exhibits and an unrequited settlement offer, the local Episcopal Church schism landed before the state’s highest court Wednesday.
Attorneys and onlookers packed the Columbia courtroom to hear oral arguments in a legal saga that began when most parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence decided to leave the national church in 2012 after years of locking horns.
In spirited exchanges, several justices questioned the breakaway group’s attorney, Alan Runyan, and took issue with the trial judge’s refusal to allow evidence examining whether The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical religious body that could forbid a bishop or an entire diocese from leaving without its permission.