Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Coconut On The Head Of Nigerian Christianity By Pius Adesanmi

From Nigeria-

Ambode versus Chaplain...

The media is reporting that Ogbeni Ambode fired a Chaplain for not anointing his wife first or something to that effect. I haven't seen Ambode's denial or clarification. I haven't heard his own side of the story. We also haven't heard from Mrs. Ambode.

If the available and, as yet, uncontested version of this story is true, it is a case of Gambari pa Fulani. I don't see why ordinary Nigerians should be unduly exercised, expending valuable energy on a family affair between Nigerian Christendom and power. Go and spend your energy on coping with recession and stop trying to take sides between Ambode and a Pastor.

What exactly does Nigerian Christendom expect from a Frankenstein she has created and nursed since the 80s? I've been criticized for writing that Christianity died in Nigeria somewhere before the mid-80s.

The beginning of polygamy for Nigerian Christendom. Unable to divorce from the Bible, Nigerian Christianity took a second wife: the politician, the man of power.

More here-

Why young South Koreans are turning away from religion

From South Korea-

 On a warm spring Sunday morning, the rows of pews inside Seoul Cathedral Anglican Church were nearly full with congregants singing a traditional hymn accompanied by a blaring organ.

Among the attendees was Park Hyun-jung, a simply dressed woman in her early 30s, currently taking time away from her career to raise her children, aged two and six.

Park comes from a devout Anglican family and attended church regularly while growing up in Seoul. As she entered adulthood and the challenges of completing university, finding a job and marrying came to dominate her schedule, she started going to church less often. She now only goes two or three times a year.

"I'm so busy trying to raise kids and manage our household. I can't find time to do everything," Park said.

More here-

Process begins to choose next bishop

From New Zealand-

More than 100 Anglican representatives converge on Mosgiel this weekend to start the process of appointing a new bishop of Dunedin.

Dunedin diocese ministry educator Alec Clark said the electoral synod would include priests, ministers and other representatives from churches in Otago and Southland.

The group would gather at Burns Lodge in Mosgiel tomorrow evening, with proceedings running across the weekend until a decision was made about who would replace retired bishop the Right Rev Dr Kelvin Wright.

However, if a decision was not made by Sunday evening, the group would "all go home", Dr Clark said.

Three candidates were in the running for the highest role in the Dunedin diocese and information on them would be presented to those  gathered for discussion, he said.

More here-

Reverend Phillips Emmanuel Adeyemi: An Anglican priest without guile

From Nigeria-

The Church of Nigeria has indeed enjoyed unalloyed fellowship and leadership of distinguishable and irredentist apostles since its inception, from Henry Townsend, who in 1842 led the Church Missionary Society to sow the seed of Anglicanism in Nigeria. This was followed in 1846, by the Great Rev. Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who with the efforts and support of the pioneer Rev. of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Rev. Henry Townsend, Rev. Colmer and Rev. Phillips worked together to consolidate the CMS Missions across Nigeria. These apostolic geniuses laid the solid foundation on which the church today stands, especially among the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria. Through their efforts, the Anglican Church secured its base in Lagos and the Lagos church became a Diocese on December 10, 1919, with F. Melville Jones as Bishop and Isaac Oluwole, Assistant Bishop. Rev. Leslie Gordon Vining succeeded Jones as Bishop of Lagos in 1940, and thus the Anglican Church in Nigeria begun a new life of training and impacting the young and ebullient faithful, many of whom have continued to fly the flag of the gospel of Anglicanism.

More here-

Congregation celebrates groundbreaking of new mosque

From Texas-

Rev. Stephen Carson, of St. Francis Episcopal Church, said he was compelled to attend Saturday's ceremony not only by his faith but also by his humanity.

"There is a lot of ill will for the religion right now," he said. "I would like for them to at least see that not everyone feels that way."

The demonstrations of support by Carson and other Victoria residents was enormously encouraging for many mosque members, Ajrami said.

Ajrami said he is not passing judgment on the person who set the mosque on fire, but he did condemn the act as evil.

Although Victoria resident Marq Vincent Perez is not charged with a crime stemming from the arson, federal investigators have testified that he set the fire. A federal grand jury is currently investigating whether he had a role in the fire, according to court documents.

More here-

Coptic Christians: Islamic State’s ‘Favorite Prey’

From The New York Times-

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

More here-

Friday, May 26, 2017

Church of Scotland in step towards conducting same-sex marriages

From The Guardian-

The Church of Scotland has taken a significant step towards allowing ministers to conduct same-sex marriages as it apologised for historical discrimination against lesbian and gay people.

The Kirk’s general assembly, meeting in Edinburgh, instructed officials to consider changes to church law that would allow ministers to preside over same-sex-marriage ceremonies.

But despite strong support in the church’s governing body, it is likely to be several years before the first same-sex marriage is conducted by a Kirk minister. The necessary legal changes will first be brought to next year’s assembly.

More here-

East Lansing Church Declares Itself A "Sanctuary Church"

From Michigan-

Members of All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing plan to house up to two people whose U.S. citizenship in question.

Rector Kit Carlson said her church voted to become a sanctuary church on Tuesday night. The residents could move in by late summer when the church will complete facilities to accommodate them.

"We don’t draw lines between human beings," said Carlson during a news conference on Thursday. "We don’t draw lines because of their immigration status."

Carlson said the community group Action of Greater Lansing and the American Civil Liberties Union will screen potential residents. She said people with felony offenses on their record will not stay at the church.

More here-

Episcopal Divinity School’s 8-acre campus for sale in Harvard Square

From Boston-

The Episcopal Divinity School is selling its 8-acre campus at 99 Brattle Street in Cambridge’s Harvard Square area as it prepares to decamp for Manhattan’s Union Theological Seminary in late 2018.

Because of its location, the property, which includes more than a dozen buildings totaling 155,374 square feet, will instantly become one of the biggest and most well-positioned commercial listings in the entire Boston region when the school officially puts it on the block sometime after June.

Episcopal Divinity has not disclosed an asking price yet. However, Cambridge Day’s Marc Levy notes that a July 2016 analysis prepared for school trustees said a sale could add $25.5 million to Episcopal Divinity’s assets by the start of the next decade.

More here-

Assembly agrees apology to gay people and accepts same sex marriage report

From Scotland-

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has approved an apology to gay people for the history of discrimination they have faced in the Church.

Commissioners also approved a report which could pave the way to allow some ministers to conduct same sex marriages in the future.

The Assembly voted in favour of instructing the Legal Questions Committee to conduct new research into the availability of legal protection for any Minister or Deacon who refuse to officiate ceremonies as a matter of conscience.

A report of the committee’s findings will be presented to the General Assembly next year for further discussion.

More here-

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral closes doors to public in wake of terror attack

From England-

Officials at Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral took the "unprecedented but considered" decision to close its doors in response to the heightened national terror threat.

Although some services continued to be held at St Philip's and a prayer station was set up in its surrounding square, the building was closed to the general public.

The cathedral's acting Dean, Canon Nigel Hand, said: "At this time, we are committed to the safety and security of our congregations, visitors, staff and the general public.

"Cathedral clergy and staff remain committed to ministering to our local community, and we will, as always seek ways to do so.

"Our prayers remain with all those individuals and their families whose lives have been touched by acts of terrorism, in Manchester and across the globe."

More here-

Holy house hunters! Bidding for Ont. church starts at $1

From Canada (with video)-

Holy house hunters! A historic church in southwestern Ontario has gone up for sale with a starting bid of only $1.

“It was just listed yesterday and we have three showings booked for today,” realtor Roy Rodrigues told CTV Kitchener on Wednesday. “It’s a beautiful property.”

Built in 1871, Saint Jude's Anglican Church in Brantford, Ont., is a National Historic Site. But while the building was erected nearly 150 years ago, its rich 20th century interior that led the now-decommissioned church to receive its historic designation in 1993.

Inside, colourful century-old stained glass windows cast kaleidoscopic light on walls where intricate murals, some as large as 5.5 metres, depict various parts of Jesus’ life. The murals were painted in 1936 by the Browne family, which decorated churches across the country.

“They did it all across Canada,” Nathan Etherington, who chairs Brantford’s Heritage Committee, told CTV Kitchener. “They are the most well-known.

More here-

Church of Scotland to decide on gay marriage

From The BBC-

A proposal to allow Church of Scotland ministers to carry out gay marriages will come before the Church of Scotland's General Assembly later.

The report will say there are no longer grounds to deny ministers the authority to preside over gay weddings.

It will also recommend that the Kirk apologises for failing to recognise and protect the Christian vocation of gay people.

Scotland has allowed same-sex couples to marry since 2014.

However, individual church traditions can each decide whether to participate.

Equal marriage has remained a divisive issue within the Church of Scotland.

The report prepared for the General Assembly invited the church to take stock of its history of discrimination against gay people and to apologise "individually and corporately".

More here-

also here-

Ask an Anglican: What is Anglican Monasticism?

From Conciliar Anglican-

A Very Brief History of Anglican Religious Communities

The history of Anglican monasticism is both long and rich. In some ways, it is also rather complex—not because of anything unique to monasticism, but because of the historical complexities of the medieval west. Most simply stated, by the fifteenth century there were a large number of unofficial monastic movements. The most famous of these is the Devotio Moderna (literally ‘the Modern Devotion’, but also translatable as ‘the Modern-Day Devout’). The Devotio Moderna was primarily expressed in the Brethren of the Common Life. This group produced Thomas à Kempis, whose great work The Imitation of Christ was the most popular devotional in Europe for two hundred years, from the early-fifteenth through the early-seventeenth centuries. The Brethren also educated Erasmus of Rotterdam, the greatest humanist of the sixteenth century; Erasmus was a Catholic reformer who, despite his sympathies with Luther, remained within the Catholic church. He taught in England when Henry VIII was a young king, and Erasmus’s New Testament Paraphrases were among the official texts of the English reformations (right alongside the Book of Common Prayer, the English translation of the Bible, and the Homilies). The Devotio Moderna is thus important not just as a reform movement which inspired other reform movements, but as a reform movement which directly influenced Anglicanism.

More here-

What the Ascension is (and isn’t)

From The Living Church-

Among the easiest and most difficult topics in Christian theology is the ascension of Jesus Christ. The description given in Scripture and in most hymns is quite simple: “As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9) or “God has gone up with a triumphant shout” (Ps 47:5). Any close consideration of this idea, however, raises a number of difficulties. After all, where is this place to which he goes up? Where is heaven? Are we to imagine that Christ shot up into the upper atmosphere and kept on “climbing” the heavens until he reached some unknown location? Is heaven one stop beyond the galaxy? More disturbing, we have to wonder about what happened to Jesus’ material body.

It’s partly due to these absurdities that the idea of Jesus’ ascension is puzzling to many. It’s not made easier by the fact that Jesus speaks of a “departure” to go to the Father and send the Spirit, along with a constant “abiding” with us forever. Similarly, we have to realize that, even in his descent to us in the Incarnation, Christ did not depart from his place with the Father: “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the son of man who is in heaven” (John 3:13). He remained where he was and what he was, even in stooping down to our level, and he did not cease to be among us and be what we are, even in ascending on high. He was ever our God in the heavens and he is ever a human being, remaining with us. The crux remains, though: where is the human body of Jesus?
More here-

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Genocide: The mysterious case of 200 Tutsi killed at Midiho Anglican church

From Rwanda-

Sky-blue is associated with hope and a church extols belief. Put the two together and you have a powerful symbolism that won’t be missed from kilometres away.

St Peter’s Anglican Church of Midiho, in Mukarange Sector, Kayonza District, did just that. The sky-blue theme of its roofing would all but inspire profound belief.

However, to many survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and other citizens, the colour and church itself have done little to dispel the shroud of mystery surrounding the fate of some 200 people killed at the scene 23 years ago.

The church is now open to worshippers but survivors in the area everyday live with the grief of not having been able to accord a decent burial to their loved ones killed at the church during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

There is no dispute that over 200 people were killed from the church in 1994, survivors and some Genocide perpetrators say, but no one seems to know where the bodies are buried.

More here-

Anglican Bishop, Muslim leaders condemn Manchester attack

From Vatican Radio-

A statement signed by the Anglican Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, and representatives of the Muslim community in Salisbury, has been released in response to the attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday 22 May.

The statement denounces the attack in strong language: “We utterly condemn this evil act which is intended to cause an increase in fear, hatred and division in our country and its communities.” Bishop Holtam, along with Rashid Ullah, the Chair of the Muslim Association of Salisbury and Atiqul Hoque, also of the Muslim Association
of Salisbury, say in the statement that they “commit [themselves] to reject absolutely this violence and hatred and the motivation that lies behind it.”

The full text of the statement follows:

More here-,_muslim_leaders_condemn_manchester_attack/1314368

Episcopal Seminary That Stopped Giving Degrees Amid $7.9M Asset Loss to Join Union Theological Seminary

From Christian Post-

Episcopal Divinity School of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a theologically liberal seminary founded in 1974, will move its personnel to Union's campus.

EDS spokesman Jim Naughton directed The Christian Post to a May 19 statement that noted the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas will be the first dean of what is being called "EDS at Union."

In comments that were part of the statement, Douglas explained that she was "excited for the challenge" and that "this isn't the typical bad news of a small seminary closing."

"This is the news that this place believed enough in its mission that it went out and found a way to carry that mission forward in a viable fashion, and found a way for the mission to grow," stated Rev. Douglas.


Presiding Bishop preaches on ‘forgiveness, repentance, healing and reconciliation’ in Haiti

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached a sermon “on the occasion of the liturgical signing of the covenant of reconciliation” on May 23 at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. All clergy in the diocese attended the special liturgy.

“Mutual forgiveness and repentance, healing and reconciliation are hard work and they often take time. Healing and reconciliation do not happen quickly. But it happens, if we are willing, to allow God’s grace to work in us, for God’s grace is sufficient. God is able,” said Curry in his sermon.
On April 24, the Episcopal Church announced that Curry, Haiti Bishop Jean Zache Duracin, Haiti Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir and the diocesan Standing Committee had entered a covenant agreement that “seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the diocese.”

The May 23 liturgy included a formal signing of the covenant, which took effect in April.

More here-

Clergy Should Be Paid

From Free Range Priest-

The Living Church posted an article a few days ago about Episcopal congregations who don't pay their clergy, some of whom report working 40 - 50 hours per week. This is because so many congregations, especially small ones, can no longer afford to pay full or even part-time salaries. Not paying a priest's salary (and benefits) can seem like a blessing for those churches that might otherwise have to close their doors. But at what cost?

1. The devaluing of ordained ministry. 'The laborer deserves to be paid,' 1 Timothy reminds us, especially those who labor at teaching and preaching the Christian faith. Ministry is clearly a spiritual calling, but from the beginning of the church, ministry has been compensated, whether through the community's direct support of food and housing or through wages. Not compensating ordained ministry at all devalues it within the church, and within the larger community. Which has larger consequences, including...

More here-


From The Living Church-

In 1840, John Henry Newman reviewed The Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon for the British Critic (W.E. Painter, 1839), the quarterly journal he edited. Regarding the life of one of the great leaders of the 18th-century evangelical revival, Newman praised Selina Hastings’s devotion and that of her fellow Methodists, amid the “imbecile policy of the Establishment of the day.” Newman claimed that he would much rather say, “Sit anima mea cum Westleio” (“My soul is with Wesley”), than “cum Luthero” or “cum Calvino” or many other possible clever Latin tags. As for the Establishment, Newman wrote elsewhere,

Who would not rather be found even with Whitfield and Wesley, than with ecclesiastics whose life is literary ease at the best, whose highest flights attain but to Downing Street or the levee?

More here-

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fossil fuels fire up an impassioned debate over the Church of England's investments

From The Independent-

God certainly smiled on the Church of England’s investments last year. The Church Commissioners announced a total return of 17.1 per cent for 2016.

That sort of performance in the current climate looks like clear evidence of the divine.

It compares to a still very respectable 8.2 per cent the previous year. Over the past 30 years, the Church's funds have achieved a return of 9.6 per cent per annum. Mammon and God in alliance? Heaven forbid.

Joking aside, the fund had some help last year. The Brexit driven fall in the pound pushed the value of the UK stockmarket higher, chiefly because lots of the companies in it earn their money in dollars.

Which is where it gets interesting. Many of the dollar companies in the FTSE 100 are fossil fuel businesses. Should the Church really be investing in companies that produce material that could yet contribute to the destruction of life on a planet God gave to man in trust (if you follow the teachings of the Bible)?

More here-

Christ Church Cathedral 'holding up city's regeneration' as government intervention calls grow

From New Zealand-

The neglected Christ Church Cathedral is one of about 30 sites being targeted by council for holding up the city's regeneration.

The Christchurch City Council's list comes amid growing calls for the Government to take control of the earthquake-damaged building, which has been sitting derelict in Cathedral Square since the February 2011 tremor.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner wants action on the site before a planned Anglican vote on its future in September, while campaigners have called for immediate government intervention to restore the cathedral.

More here-

‘Total lack of awareness’: Elite NH boarding school bungled previous sexual abuse report

From New Hampshire (Additional links below)-

St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire has become the latest elite boarding school to publish a report outlining “substantiated claims” of misconduct by former faculty and staff members and admitting the school failed to protect students.

At the request of the private Episcopal school, the Boston, Massachusetts-based law firm of Casner & Edwards conducted an independent investigation into 34 allegations of sexual misconduct by former faculty and staff.

Their damning 73-page report found 13 substantiated claims of sexual misconduct by former faculty and staff who were named, 10 other reports of sexual misconduct by former faculty and staff who were not named, and 11 unsubstantiated claims of sexual misconduct by current and former faculty and staff.

“Put simply but starkly, several former faculty and staff sexually abused children in their care in a variety of ways, from clear boundary violations to repeated sexual relationships to rape,” the report said.

More here-

and here (with video)

and here-

and here-

and here-

Children in the Sanctuary

From Huffington-

I share these words in response to something disturbing that has taken place in my synagogue’s sanctuary twice over the last month.

In both cases, a child in the sanctuary made child-like sounds, and in both cases, someone asked the child’s parents to take the child out of the sanctuary. In one case, the person said to the parent, “perhaps your child doesn’t belong in synagogue.” Besides my sense of (and agreement with) the parents’ hurt, these words are also the least synagogue-ish I’ve ever heard. This sentiment has no place in our faith communities, and my response is one of outrage that they were said in the first place.

My response to these wrong reactions to the presence of children within holy space is simple and core to who we are called to be as faith communities: Our sanctuaries are not sanctuaries from children. They are sanctuaries for children.

More here-

Justin Welby: How to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and mean it

From Premier Christianity (Justin Welby)-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby introduces a new prayer movement

Lately I have found myself constantly talking and thinking about prayer. This is not because I am an expert on it, or even particularly good at it. Nor is it because it’s the kind of thing I am paid to do. It’s because I see ever more evidence of the need for it. These words of Jesus in Luke 11 offer us a good foundation for why we pray: “So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Prayer begins by acknowledging that we don’t have what we need, we aren’t who we want to be and we don’t see what we long to see.

Last year the Archbishop of York and I invited people up and down the country to pray for the ten days between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The prayers had just one focus – a request to God for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit so that those who don’t know the love of Jesus might turn, hear his call and themselves becomes his followers.

More here-

Let’s talk about Sunday School

From Episcopal Cafe-

Let’s be honest about Sunday School.

In my experience, clergy and laity widely regard Sunday School as an essential element of a congregation’s programming but equally widely hope that someone else will take responsibility for ensuring that Sunday School happens. This tacit disdain for Sunday School is evident in our delegating responsibility for Sunday School to newly minted and therefore inexperienced curates (in those few remaining parishes fortunate enough to have a curate) and fervent prayers that longsuffering volunteers will serve one more year. The proffered justification that youthful clergy will somehow instinctively relate better to youth and children lacks prima facie credibility. What that justification really communicates is that Sunday School may be necessary but is not one of the rector’s top priorities.

More here-

Diocese of West Texas notified of successful canonical consent process

From The Episcopal Church-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and Registrar of General Convention, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, have notified the Diocese of West Texas that Bishop-Elect Jennifer Brooke-Davidson has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

The Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson was elected Bishop Suffragan on February 25.  Her ordination and consecration service is slated for July 29; Presiding Bishop Curry will officiate.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are "fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ."

More here-

Monday, May 22, 2017

Churches warn South Africa becoming a “mafia state”

From South Africa-

The influential South African Council of Churches has warned corruption is turning South Africa into a “mafia state” under a government that intimidates whistleblowers, local media reported on Friday.

In unusually frank comments from the council (SACC), its secretary general Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana was cited as saying President Jacob Zuma’s government had “lost the moral radar”.

The criticism puts more pressure on Zuma, who in past weeks has faced calls to resign from within his own ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and the opposition amid a slew of scandals that prompted street protests and credit-rating downgrades.

“We have come to recognise that South Africa may just be a few inches from the throes of a mafia state from which there may be no return, a recipe for a failed state,” Mpumlwana was quoted as saying.

More here-

Anglican Pastor In Adultery Storm, Accused Of Having S*x With Married Church Member

From Nigeria-

Reverend Gilbert Sambona, a Zimbabwean Anglican priest with the Manicaland diocese, has been accused of having a romantic affair with a married parishioner.

According to Sunday Mail, Mr Clever Ndiringepi, a church member, claimed that the man of cloth was in an intimate relationship with his wife, Bridget.

In November last year, Mr Ndiringepi wrote a two-paged letter of complaint to the Anglican Manicaland diocese leader, Bishop Erik Ruwona.

“On the 1st of November 2016, I checked my wife’s (Bridget Ndiringepi) phone. I went through Whatsapp chats and came across a disturbing chat between her and a person saved as Mbona Rev, with the cell number +263 773 436 942 on the 31st of October 2016 and Sunday 30th October 2016.

“All these were love messages. It’s undoubted that the two are in love as per attached copies of the chat. I also noticed messages of the same nature between the two, even in my wife’s Netone number.

More here-

Religious leaders call for inclusive dialogue to end South Sudan conflict

From Sudan-

“Without a doubt, the swearing in of the members of the dialogue being organised by the government will mark the beginning of a long march together. Hand in hand, Christians and Muslims looking in the same direction in order to eradicate violence, suspicious, mistrust and hatred,” said Isaac Dhieu, the Episcopal Bishop of Akot diocese.

The conference “will not only strengthen the brotherhood and sisterhood for our citizens, but it will also help to boost the momentum that we support as custodians of the divine law,” he added.

The Bishop denounced the voices that advocate war and glorify violence in the name of reforms.

Last Thursday, the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said the dialogue will kick off its works soon without the opposition figures who declined their appointment.

More here-

I’m a Pastor With Depression. For Years I Thought I Had to Hide It.

From Sojourners-

I was serving as associate pastor to a small church in southern Wisconsin, just a year out of seminary, and I couldn't get out of bed. I slept all the time. I couldn't eat. I couldn't see any future ahead of me. I was filled with a despair I couldn’t put into words. My primary care doctor diagnosed me with anxiety-related depression. It was 2011.

There was no way I could tell anyone about this diagnosis. Forget talking about it in regular conversation — I'm a pastor, for God’s sakes, a leader in the Christian church. I couldn’t be dealing with this. I needed to man up, I told myself — I’d get tough, and pull myself out of this nightmare.

“Demons” have never been part of my religious vocabulary. Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian community, spending my teens as an agnostic, then becoming a Lutheran pastor, at every turn, my faith journey made me wary of terms like that. I mean, it wasn’t like I was living in a scene from The Exorcist, right?

More here-

Rowan Williams: Britons are peering into the abyss after Brexit vote

From Guardian-

Rowan Williams has warned of the dangers of “messianic leadership” arising from disillusion in the political process, saying lessons need to be learned from Germany in the 1930s.

The former archbishop of Canterbury also said many Britons were peering into the abyss following last year’s Brexit referendum. Asked if the country was facing an existential crisis, he told the Guardian: “Yes … we’re certainly not a country at ease with itself.”

He called for a broad consensus on tackling long-term systemic issues facing the UK, such as inequality and alienation. “If we don’t [address these], the spring will coil tighter and tighter,” he said.

Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and chair of Christian Aid, referred to a new edition of a 1943 book, Darkness Over Germany: a Warning from History, published this week, which charts the rise of fascism.

More here-

A Prayer for Donald Trump

From The New York Times (Opinion)-

Given the mess that he’s in and the martyrdom that he hallucinates, it’s only fitting that Donald Trump would turn toward God.

He has fled the country — not a moment too soon! — for his first foreign excursion since taking office, and it’s less a conventional presidential trip than a roving seminar in world religions: Islam (Saudi Arabia is the first stop), Judaism (Israel is second) and Roman Catholicism (the Vatican is the capper).

I’m especially eager for his communion with Pope Francis, an entry in the annals of odd couples that ranks somewhere just above Oscar and Felix, and below Mork and Mindy.

One of them is splenetic. The other is ascetic. One sins. The other redeems. Cue the metaphors and clutch your rosary beads.

More here-

Is the Old Testament dying?

From RNS-

Brent Strawn was teaching at a Methodist church in Atlanta when he asked his class to identify the origin of Jesus’ well-known cry from the cross — “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”


The Emory University professor of the Old Testament was stunned.

How could it be that these mostly older adults, faithful lifelong churchgoers, didn’t know that Jesus was quoting directly from Psalm 22?

That’s when it dawned on him: The Old Testament is dying.

That realization, now a book by the same name, argues that many contemporary Christians have lost biblical fluency and can no longer speak the language of more than half their sacred Scripture.

More here-

Pay for a Priest or a Building

From The Living Church-

In Bethel, Vermont, Christ Church cannot afford a full-time priest. But its buildings — an in-town church and parish hall, plus a historic church for summer use a few miles away in the countryside — are in good shape. So is the congregation’s record of giving thousands a year to the local food pantry and supporting other missions.

Christ Church’s priest, the Rev. Shelie Richardson, is a volunteer who works as a full-time insurance agent. That has freed much-needed cash for buildings and benevolence.

“It’s money we just wouldn’t have available if we were trying to pay for a salary, a reasonable retirement, and all the things that go along with being an employer,” said Nancy Wuttke, Christ Church’s senior warden.

In turning to volunteer clergy, Christ Church ranks among scores of Episcopal congregations exploring what becomes possible when the priest is not paid a penny. Such arrangements can have drawbacks and need careful structure, diocesan officials say. But they also open the door to new vitality, an invigorated laity, and what many regard as a heartening shift in congregational dynamics.

More here-

Saturday, May 20, 2017

'Please help stop these people starving to death' Archbishop aide pleads for Anglicans to act against famine

From Christian Today-

A senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury called on UK Christians to take part in this Sunday's Day of Prayer to End Famine as record numbers of people around the world face death by starvation.

Bishop Anthony Poggo, former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan and now the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advisor for Anglican Communion Affairs, said more than than 20 million people across the globe face starvation.

World Vision UK is among the charities backing the global prayer day, in the hope of mobilising millions of Christians to help prevent mass starvation of children and their communities in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria.

World Vision is also working in Kenya and Ethiopia, where millions more are also facing the threat of famine.

Bishop Poggo said: 'This crisis has the potential to be absolutely catastrophic. 7.5 million people in my home country are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and their fate is shared by millions more across Africa and Yemen.

More here-

Christ Church Cathedral: What if it has to be modern?

From New Zealand-

Stonewalled. Nope, the Bishop won't be taking questions. Neither will the Church Property Trustees (CPT). Even those more distantly connected to the vexed Christ Church Cathedral question declined interview requests from The Press after a few days of "taking advice".

Perhaps that is human and reasonable. The Anglican hierarchy has been under sustained attack ever since it decided to pull down the very symbol of Christchurch – its earthquake-stricken Gothic revival cathedral – and replace it with something cheaper, safer and modern.

But here we are halfway through 2017, still waiting to hear an official response to a Government-backed plan to reinstate the Cathedral with the help of a $10 million grant from the public purse.

More here-

Bishop Sean Rowe: Follow the truth

From Northwest PA-

A leader who bears false witness — who does not acknowledge that we are bound to one another and must care for one another — leads us away from the kingdom of God.

About 2,000 years ago, in a backwater of the Roman Empire called Judaea, lived a ruler named Pontius Pilate. The people were angry about the power of a distant government that paid no attention to them, an economy that perpetuated an enormous gap between the rich and the poor, tax burdens that were unsustainable, and debt that ruined lives. They wanted scapegoats, and Pilate was happy to have them take out their wrath on someone other than himself.

One spring, the religious authorities handed over a troublesome rabbi to Pilate. He questioned him, trying to determine if he deserved to die. The rabbi, whose name was Jesus, told Pilate, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate replied with a question. “What is truth?” he asked.

Today, our president and many elected leaders remind me of Pilate. They would like us to believe that the truth is hard to pin down, that there are “alternative facts” and therefore they do not have to be straight with us. It is easy to understand why. No one wants to tell the truth to angry people, and many of us are angry.

More here-

Church of Scotland expected to back same-sex marriage

From The BBC-

The Kirk's General Assembly - gathering in Edinburgh - will be asked to approve more work on how such weddings could take place in church.

Equal marriage remains a divisive issue within the church.

Since 2014, Scotland has allowed same-sex couples to marry but individual church traditions can each decide whether to participate.

A report on the issue prepared for the General Assembly invited the church to take stock of its history of discrimination against gay people and to apologise "individually and corporately".

Moderator Designate the Reverend Dr Derek Browning said: "On Thursday afternoon the theological forum will be bringing a report to the General Assembly, and this year what they're asking to do is for the assembly, first of all, to consider making an apology to the gay community for things that have have been said in the past and the assembly will have to make up its mind on that.

More here-

Bishop Gene Robinson headed to Chautauqua Institution

From Chautauqua NY-

Retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson will be joining the leadership of the Chautauqua Institution.

Robinson will assume the new role of vice president and senior pastor of Chautauqua Institution, effective Sept. 1. His appointment is part of plans announced this week by President Michael Hill to reorganize the institution’s Department of Religion, according to information on the Chautauqua website at Maureen Rovegno, the longtime associate director of religion, will be promoted to director of religion.

Robinson is currently a fellow at the Center for American Progress. He retired as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2013. A decade earlier, he had become the first openly gay and partnered priest to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Episcopal Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary agree on collaboration

From ENS-

Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) and Union Theological Seminary announced May 19 that they have signed an agreement that will allow EDS to continue as an Episcopal seminary through a collaboration with Union at its campus in New York City beginning in the fall of 2018.

“We had three goals when we began to plan this news phase in EDS’s life,” said the Rev.  Gary Hall, chair of the EDS board. “We wanted to continue providing Episcopal theological education within an accredited, degree-granting program, deepen our historic commitment to gospel-centered justice, and provide financial strength and stability for EDS’s future. Today, I am delighted to say that we have achieved all three.”

“This is an historic moment,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of the Union faculty and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy at Union. “We are honored that EDS has chosen to partner with us and are certain that the stewardship of our deepest commitments will be fulfilled in the years ahead.”

More here-

and here-

Friday, May 19, 2017

Religious statistics: 'Nones’ numerous but a committed Anglican core is flourishing

From The Church Times-

THERE are reasons to be hopeful in a new report that highlights high rates of “nonversion” — the loss of people brought up with a religious affiliation to the “no religion” category — its author argued this week.

Although “C of E” was no longer the “default setting” for British adults asked about their religious identity, there was left a core of committed, practising Christians who shored each other up and were set to become a “creative minority” in the UK, the author, Professor Stephen Bullivant, director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, said.

His report, The “No Religion” Population of Britain, is based on data from the 2015 British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, and the 2014 European Social Survey. Those who identify as “no religion” make up 48.6 per cent of the British adult population.Those claiming a Christian affiliation make up 43 per cent of the population, of which 17.1 per cent are Anglican.

More here-


From Religion Dispatches-

The first out lesbian bishop consecrated by the United Methodist Church has long known that her path would lead to ministry. Bishop Karen Oliveto first felt the call when she was just 11 years old, preached her first sermon at 16, and became a student pastor at 18.

She came out as lesbian in seminary, where she was disappointed to learn that her authenticity around the way she believed God had created her suddenly made her “suspect.”

And even though a church judicial council ruled earlier this month that Oliveto’s consecration violated church law and requires a ministerial review, she remains in good standing with the church and, more importantly, she is more committed than ever to bringing peace, clarity, and acceptance to the United Methodist Church’s decades-long struggle over how to treat LGBTQ congregants and clergy.

More here-

Building Our House on Solid Rock: Messages We Don’t Intend to Communicate

From The Diocese of Washington-

It’s said that we only have one opportunity to make a first impression. That’s something I think about when I drive past our small, often rusty “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs. For there isn’t one congregation in the diocese that describes itself as unwelcoming. Yet might our appearances communicate messages we don’t intend?

What poorly-kept signs unintentionally communicate is that our church is tired, and that we aren’t expecting anyone to pay attention to us, much less visit on a Sunday morning. Sadly, in some of our churches, that message is reinforced when people visit for the first time, not by how we treat them, but what our environment communicates.

In his book, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, Andy Stanley tells of a time when he attended a mid-week bible study at a friend’s church:

More here-

Montreal Is Taxing Churches

From Patheos-

No more religious exemptions, Montreal is taxing churches: For the first time churches in Montreal are being forced to pay taxes, and some church leaders are very unhappy.

CTV Montreal reports that churches and church space not being used explicitly for the purpose of worship is now taxable property, and is to be treated as any other property as far as taxes are concerned.

As one might expect, those benefitting from the tax exempt status enjoyed by churches are not happy. Again, CTV Montreal reports:

Joel Coppetiers, the Minister at the Cote des Neiges Presbyterian church, was shocked when his institution first received a municipal tax bill…

“The indication is there’s not an exemption for the church as a whole, there’s only an exemption for those areas used for public worship and things directly related to it,” said Coppetiers.

More here-

Priest Stabbed During Mass at Mexico City Cathedral

From National Catholic Register-

A Mexican priest is in “delicate but stable” condition after being stabbed in the neck Monday evening at Mexico City’s cathedral, according to government and Church authorities.

Father José Miguel Machorro Alcalá, 55, was stabbed in the neck and torso May 15 at the conclusion of saying Mass at the cathedral.

Witnesses reported that it appeared the attacker’s intention was to slit the priest’s throat.

Authorities detained a suspect at the scene who had reportedly attempted to flee the cathedral. The suspect has been identified as John Rock Schild, who identified himself as an artist from the United States. He is believed to be about 30 years old.

More here-

Episcopal, ELCA presiding bishops issue joint statement calling for prayer, fasting for hunger awareness

From ENS (with video links)

 Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement calling for prayer, fasting and advocacy.

The statement, For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy, calls for fasting on the 21st of each month through December 2018, at which time the 115th Congress will conclude. 

The 21st of each month is targeted because by that time each month, 90% of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits have been used, thereby causing the last week of the month as the hungry week in America.

More here-

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Primate for the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

From Anglican News-

Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem has been elected as the next Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. He succeeds Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, who has held the post since 2007. Archbishop Dawani will serve for a period of two and a half years, to be followed by Bishop Michael Lewis of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. He will serve for the same length of time, ending in May 2022.

The changes were decided upon at a two day meeting of the Synod of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East,  in Amman, Jordan. In a statement, the Synod said: “We congratulate both Archbishop Suheil and Bishop Michael on their appointments, and we give thanks for Archbishop Mouneer’s service as our Primate since 2007....Please uphold the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East in your prayers.”

How fares Protestantism upon its 500th anniversary? Depends on where you look

From Get Religion (with lots of links)

Ed Stetzer of Wheaton College (Illinois) furrowed many a brow with an April 28 Washington Post warning that “if current trends continue” without letup, Americans active in “Mainline” Protestant churches will reach zero by Easter 2039.

Talk about timing.

That bleak forecast – mitigated by U.S. “Evangelical” Protestants’ relative stability – comes in the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation. This massive split in Christianity was sparked by a protest petition posted by 34-year-old German friar and professor Martin Luther on All Souls’ Eve (October 31) of 1517.

The Protestant scenario is rosy at the world level, however, according to anniversary tabulations by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a standard resource for statistics and trend lines from 1900 to the present (media contact here).

More here-