Saturday, January 2, 2016

Same sex ruling tops RNA’s Top 10 list

From Georgia- (came in at #23)

The legalization of same sex marriage topped the Religion Newswriters Association’s annual list of Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year.

Pope Francis was named Religion Newsmaker of the Year for the third year in a row. The Syrian immigrant crisis, the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and fatal shootings at a South Carolina church also made the list of Top 10 stories.

The pope earned the Religion Newsmaker of the Year honor this time by enthralling masses and infuriating others with his appeals to the poor and marginalized, his denunciations of greed and environmental destruction and his charismatic presence while visiting the United States, Africa and Latin America.

More here-

Fire Severely Damages Historic Church In West Orange, NJ

From Newark- with video-

A large fire severely damaged a historic church in West Orange, New Jersey.

The blaze broke out around 5 a.m. Friday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Main Street. Video from the scene showed massive flames piercing through the windows and the roof of the church.

“First arriving company encountered heavy smoke and a large body of fire on the second floor,” said West Orange Deputy Fire Chief Albert Souza.

The church has been there for more than 150 years, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“It’s horrible,” said resident Jim Rose. “This was a church that’s been here as long as I have been here.”

More here-

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hospitality is Archbishop's New Year theme

From The Church Times-

THE “most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism” are hospitality and love, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his New Year message.

The Archbishop said that he had been inspired by “extraordinary people” at Marsh Academy, a school in his diocese, including a 14-year-old boy who had fled his home in North Africa after soldiers stormed his school and attempted to abduct him. The boy was rescued by a teacher but fled in fear of a repeat attack. He was one of many children making “desperate journeys” alone to save their lives, Archbishop Welby said. “The hospitality of people here brings love, hope and joy. If we imitate them society becomes a far better place.”

More here-

Grace Episcopal Church to host forum on race relations

From Western NC-

Grace Episcopal Church will host a forum on race relations on Jan. 22 and 23 called, “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice.”

The forum will be live-streamed from Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church in New York City to dozens of locations across 34 states and several provinces in Canada. It will feature twelve keynote speakers with backgrounds in academia, theology, media, grassroots activism and more. All have had a particular focus on race during their careers, according to a press release from Trinity Wall Street.
The press release said that forum topics will provide “life-giving conversations on the racial issues of our time, including structural racism, mass incarceration, and policy change, (for those) interested in a practical, theological perspective on racial equality.”

More here-

Justin Welby to call on public to show refugees generosity and love

From The Guardian-

The archbishop of Canterbury is to call on the public to show generosity and love to refugees as a way of countering hatred and extremism in the world.

In his new year message to be broadcast by the BBC on Friday, Justin Welby will draw attention to Britain’s “long-established tradition of warmth and hospitality”.

British people, he will say, have always welcomed strangers, the poor and the weak: “In today’s world hospitality and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.”

The mounting refugee crisis has preoccupied the Church of England and other faith communities throughout 2015. The leaders of the main religions in the UK have called on the government to increase the number of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution that the UK accepts.

More here-

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Authorities to partiers: Resolve to behave well

From Kansas-

In McPherson, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church will continue its tradition of offering free “tipsy taxi” rides to New Year’s Eve celebrants in McPherson.

“It’s a lot of fun. We get a lot of, of course, interesting people in interesting conditions,” St. Anne’s Father Laird MacGregor said.

Volunteers drive, and there are always two volunteers in a “tipsy taxi.” The rides usually end around 1:30 or 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, MacGregor said.

“I’m probably going to be driving or riding,” said MacGregor, who will be part of a taxi crew tonight.

More here-

Former church treasurer mulling plea offer

From Albany-

HUDSON FALLS - The former church treasurer who was arrested in August and charged with stealing nearly $11,000 from Zion Episcopal Church, is discussing a plea deal in the case.

Thomas Thompson, 59, of Moreau, was arrested Aug. 7 after an investigation by Hudson Falls Police and State Police into the theft of at least $10,888 from the Main Street church’s accounts. That inquiry began after the IRS fined the church for not filing federal tax paperwork that Thompson was supposed to have filed, resulting in several thousand dollars in penalties, according to Hudson Falls Police.

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said his office has been discussing possible resolutions to the grand larceny case, with the amount of restitution that would be paid still at issue. A Washington County grand jury has not been asked to review the case yet, pending a possible plea agreement.

More here-

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Six controversies that rocked churches as men of the cloth got into trouble

From Standard Digital-

Another major episode was when Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Eliud Wabukala was taken to court by church members Joseph Chege, Elijah Waweru, Harrison Ndoro and Erastus Mwangi, over a succession row in the Mt Kenya region.

Wabukala was accused of failing to address protests by members over bullying during the selection of the region's bishop.

The four asked the court to block Wabukala from convening an electoral college to further probe three individuals selected for the regional seat, up until the case is heard and determined.

Cases of pastors involved in road fatalities also took centre stage in news covered.

This included Pastor James Ng'ang'a of Neno Evangelism Centre and Bishop Thomas Wahome Njuguna of Helicopter Ministries.

More here-

J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, The Great War and This Present Darkness

From Christian Week-

In the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks, it is easy to feel a darkness descending. What hope is there when people are willing to do such terrible and heinous things to others?

If there is any comfort in history, it is in knowing that we are not the first to feel this way, or go through this experience.

Two men who experienced the worst that humans can do to each other were J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia.

Both men were soldiers in the British army on the western front in World War One. Tolkien participated in two attacks, in July and October, 1916, including one where he was in combat for 50 straight hours.

On November 8 of that year, he was sent to hospital with trench fever. He never returned to the front—which probably saved his life.

More here-

11 Arrested for Being Gay in Senegal—Is President Obama to Blame?

From The Daily Beast-

Reports from the West African nation of Senegal say that the government has arrested 11 people accused of homosexual acts. If convicted, those accused—who were rounded up at a “celebration of a gay marriage”—face up to five years in prison.

Incidents like this are rare, but not unprecedented, particularly in West Africa. Similar arrests have taken place in Nigeria, Gambia, and Cameroon. But it may be, in part, a backlash against American efforts.

In 2013, in what was seen across Africa as an overbearing attempt to influence policy, President Obama raised the issue of LGBT equality with Senegalese president Macky Sall. But President Sall doubled down, saying that Senegal would decide its own laws—and adding that it had banned the death penalty, thus putting it ahead of the United States on at least one human rights issue. In March, 2014, Senegal sentenced two men to six months each in prison, for the crime of homosexuality.

More here-

Holyoke Episcopal parish initiates mission outreach to Latino worshipers

From Western Mass.-

The Right Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, will visit a diocesan parish here in the process of forming a new mission for Latino worshipers.

MisiĆ³n de Gracia (Mission of Grace) at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 485 Appleton St., is a joint Episcopal-Lutheran congregation funded in part by a $30,000 grant from the United Thank Offering of The Episcopal Church.

Funding for Mission of Grace is also being provided by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Fisher will preach and preside at the 10 a.m. Sunday service. Fisher, who visits all of the 57 congregations in the diocese once every two years, will be greeted by the Rev. Barbara Thrall, rector of St. Paul's.

More here-

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Uganda Pastor Killed Amid Ongoing Islamic Attacks

From Uganda-

Evangelical church members in eastern Uganda are mourning a pastor who was killed  amid ongoing Islamic attacks against Christian converts in the region.

Pastor Bongo Martin was hacked to death when he and other church members resisted an effort by Muslims to take over their land, local Christians said.

The Christians arrived when Muslims reportedly placed a boundary fence with poles and barbed wire around land of the Pentecostal Church Ministry congregation in Nansololo village near Mazuba, in Namudumba District.

More here-

I’m an evangelical preacher. You can’t be pro-life and pro-gun.

From The Washington Post-

In the United States, evangelicals are among the biggest supporters of gun rights. They are the major religious group least likely to support stricter laws. Evangelical Larry Pratt, who directs Gun Owners of America, even argues that all Christians should be armed.

For most of my adult life, I agreed. I believed that we had a God-given right to defend ourselves. I also believed that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms, and that anyone should be able to obtain a gun.

Then, I saw the after-effects of gun violence firsthand. In Pennsylvania, I visited the families of five murdered Amish schoolgirls, as well as the family of the shooter. And I watched as a mass shooting unfolded at the Washington Navy Yard, across from where I lived at the time. These experiences, followed by careful theological and moral reflection, left me convinced that my family of faith is wrong on guns.

More here-

Monday, December 28, 2015

Welby: “Christians face Middle East elimination”

From Evangelical Focus-

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent compared the Daesh to the Biblical King Herod who ordered the massacre of the innocents in an attempt to kill the Christ child, during his Christmas sermon. 

"Today, across the Middle East, close to the area in which the angels announced God's apocalypse, Isis and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression", he said. 

Welby affirmed that because Islamic terrorists are "Confident that these are the last days, using force and indescribable cruelty, they seem to welcome all opposition, certain that the warfare unleashed confirm that these are indeed the end times."

More here-

Spong applauds removal of Confederate flags from St. Paul's on 60th anniversary of ministry

From Richmond-

That the leadership of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church elected recently to remove Confederate images from its walls delights John Shelby Spong, who oversaw the church during a watershed moment in state and local history.

The move took courage, his daughter said Sunday, as did Spong’s decision in the 1970s to support a federal judge’s decision to order and then expand a school busing program aimed at eliminating racial disparities in education.

“Courage is the hallmark of St. Paul’s and of those like my father who have led and lead this remarkable church,“ Ellen Spong said at a service marking the 60th anniversary of her father’s ordination.

More here-

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Anglican Priest Smears the Virgin Mary

From Patheos-

Just when you thought the Anglicans couldn’t stoop much lower, in a disgusting article published, predictably, on Christmas Eve, Anglican priest-journalist Giles Fraser not only publicly denies the Virgin Birth, but he ridicules the idea, proposes that the Blessed Virgin Mary was just another teen fornicator and that it’s probably a good thing that Jesus was a bastard conceived when Mary had a romp with a Roman soldier.

I’m surprised that he didn’t title his article, “That’s Why Our Lady is a Tramp”

The crass arrogance of Fraser’s article in London’s  The Guardian is only superseded by its ignorance. Fraser writes,

More here-

Mansion built for Jesus’ return is on the market for $10M

From The New York Post-

Even Jesus has been priced out of Manhattan.

In Riverdale, The Bronx, on the second highest peak in all five boroughs, sits a mansion fit for a king — and we don’t mean LeBron James.

The house, variously known as Chapel Farm, Fair Hill or Chapel Hill, was built in the 1920s for one special resident to live in: Jesus Christ.

The idea was, when Jesus returned to earth (via the 1 train, presumably), he would decamp to The Bronx and rule from this opulent, 17-room dwelling. It’s a promising sign for those living in the northernmost borough, which will apparently survive the wars, famine, disease, earthquakes and anarchy the Bible predicts to signal the end of days.

And soon, all this could be yours. It’s set to hit the market in February for $10 million.

More here-