Sunday, July 23, 2017

Anglican Church stops pastor’s wedding after lady allegedly accused him of dating and dumping her

From Nigeria-

Yesterday in Abakaliki, the wedding between Rev. Elvis Opune of All Saints Anglican Cathedral and Grace Chika Olunze of Umuchoke Mbaitolu, Imo State was aborted by the authorities of the church over alleged double dating.

Opune, his bride, and guests had seated inside the church ultra-modern building at 9.30am for the wedding when one of the priests, Ven. Kingsley Okoro, came in to announce that the wedding will no longer hold and asked everyone in the church to leave.

Okoro, who said that the directive to stop the wedding came from ‘above’, did not, however, disclose the reason for the cancellation of the wedding. The cancellation shocked the parishioners, guests and priests inside the church as they came out and started discussing the matter in groups.

One of the parishioners, who simply gave her name as Helen, however, told Sunday Vanguard that Opune had been accused of dating a girl. The girl was said to have lodged a complaint on Friday night that the priest was dating her and dumped her after promising her marriage.

More here-

Episcopal bishop faces suspension over efforts to sell Newport Beach church

From The LA Times-

An Episcopal Church disciplinary panel has recommended a three-year suspension for the bishop who locked worshippers out of St. James the Great church in Newport Beach after a failed sale attempt two years ago.

The panel also recommended that the shuttered church be restored to its displaced members.

The tentative ruling, which came down late Friday afternoon, determined that the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, was guilty of all allegations brought against him by the congregation during a hearing the panel conducted in March: that he attempted to sell consecrated property without consent of diocesan leadership, that he made several misrepresentations along the way and that he acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman.

The Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees, St. James the Great’s vicar, who has continued to minister to its members, could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

More here-

also here-

Disciples of Christ Elects First Black Female Leader of an American Protestant Denomination

From Christian Post-

The Disciples of Christ have elected an African-American woman to head their church, a first for any Mainline Protestant denomination.

At their biennial General Assembly meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, church representatives overwhelmingly approved on Sunday the election of the Rev. Teresa Hord Owens.

The installation service for Owens was held on Wednesday at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Cherilyn Williams, spokeswoman for the Disciples of Christ's Office of General Minister and President, told The Christian Post that the atmosphere for the General Assembly vote was "joyful and hopeful."

"There was no opposition stated in the business session where she was elected and the social media has been overwhelmingly positive," said Williams.

More here-

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Vatican Journal Jousts Against Imaginary ‘Ecumenism of Hate’ in America

From National Catholic Register (Original article is at link below)-

I was surprised by a recent piece of extended commentary in La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit newspaper that functions as a quasi-official mouthpiece for the Vatican.
Written by the editor in chief, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, and Argentinean edition editor Rev. Marcelo Figueroa, “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism” is a collection of uninformed assertions spiced with malice. It argues that Protestant and Catholic support for American conservatism amounts to an “ecumenism of hate.”

It’s hard to take this seriously. Father Spadaro and Figueroa seem to know very little about the history of religion and politics in the United States. For instance, they say “religion has had a more incisive role in the electoral process and government decisions over recent decades, especially in some U.S. governments.” This is wrong. The great reform movements in our history — abolition, prohibition and civil rights — have been motivated and articulated in explicitly Christian terms. Princes of the Church, such as Cardinals Mundelein and Spellman, were frequent guests at Franklin Roosevelt’s White House.

More here-

Original Article-

Texas Bathroom Bill Has Emotions, and Stakes, Running High

From The New York Times-

And on Wednesday, the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church wrote to the speaker of the Texas House and suggested that if the bill passed, the church would cancel its nine-day General Convention in Austin scheduled for July 2018.

“In 1955, we were forced to move a General Convention from Houston to another state because Texas laws prohibited black and white Episcopalians from being treated equally,” read the letter from Bishop Michael B. Curry and another leader. “We would not stand then for Episcopalians to be discriminated against, and we cannot countenance it now.”

Jeff Moseley, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business, the state’s most influential business lobby, announced that the group was taking its opposition to the bill to the airwaves by making a “seven-figure media buy.” The group has long aligned itself with the state’s conservative causes and issues, and has rarely taken public stands on social issues.

More here-

The death of reading is threatening the soul

From The Washington Post (Philip Yancey)-

I am going through a personal crisis. I used to love reading. I am writing this blog in my office, surrounded by 27 tall bookcases laden with 5,000 books. Over the years I have read them, marked them up, and recorded the annotations in a computer database for potential references in my writing. To a large degree, they have formed my professional and spiritual life.

Books help define who I am. They have ushered me on a journey of faith, have introduced me to the wonders of science and the natural world, have informed me about issues such as justice and race. More importantly, they have been a source of delight and adventure and beauty, opening windows to a reality I would not otherwise know.

My crisis consists in the fact that I am describing my past, not my present. I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (Okay, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.

More here-

Panel: Suspend Bruno, Save St. James

From The Living Church-

In a scathing repudiation of the Bishop of Los Angeles, a disciplinary hearing panel of the Episcopal Church has decided to suspend the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno from ministry for three years, effectively ending his career after more than 40 years of ordained ministry.

The panel also recommended that the St. James the Great congregation be restored to its former church building in Newport Beach, which has been padlocked for more than two years.

In a 4-1 decision, the panel wrote that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church. St. James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”

More here-

Friday, July 21, 2017

Anglican leader to seek Church apology to domestic violence victims

From Australia-

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia hopes the general synod in September will apologise to victims of domestic violence, and for any failure where the Church hasn't "listened to people, or understood the depth of their suffering".

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia says he hopes the general synod in September will apologise to victims of domestic violence, and for any failure from the Church.

On The Drum, Anglican Primate of Australia Archbishop Philip Freier read out an unequivocal apology written by an Aboriginal priest, Father Daryl McCullough, who heads a parish in western New South Wales.

More here-

Trump threatens to change the course of American Christianity

From The Washington Post-

If you want to understand white evangelicalism in the age of Trump, you need to know Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas.

Jeffress is not a household name in the United States, known mainly in Southern Baptist circles. But he has recently gained national attention as a “court evangelical” — my term for a Christian who, like the attendants and advisers who frequented the courts of monarchs, seeks influence through regular visits to the White House.

The court evangelicals are changing the religious landscape in the United States. The Trump presidency is only six months old, but it is already beginning to alter long-standing spiritual alignments. It seems as though Christians are not changing Trump, but rather that Trump could be changing Christianity.

More here-

Conservative clergy attack Barber for saying prayers for Trump ‘border on heresy’

From North Carolina-

Conservative clergy are returning fire at the Rev. William Barber for his criticism of ministers who prayed over President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week.

At a Wednesday news conference in Charlotte, five faith-based leaders said that Barber, the liberal president of the North Carolina NACCP, was misguided and un-biblical when he called the White House prayer “theological malpractice bordering on heresy.”

“The scriptures are exceedingly clear that we are to pray specifically for our leaders,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, which organized the news conference. He also quoted Jesus’ command to pray for enemies. “It doesn’t matter which side of the political aisle you may be on, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, Jesus’ words don’t leave any room for the kind of qualification in our prayers set forth by Dr. Barber.”

Read more here:

National Episcopal Church urges defeat of Texas "bathroom bill"

From The Texas Tribune- (more links below)

In line with concerns that tourism officials have raised about the bathroom bill’s effect on the convention business, Curry and Jennings wrote that the bathroom bill could also keep the national church from holding its 2018 general convention in Austin. A bathroom bill would keep the church from ensuring that “all Episcopalians and visitors to our convention, including transgender people, are treated with respect, kept safe, and provided appropriate public accommodation consistent with their gender identities.

“Because we are currently scheduled to hold our triennial General Convention — a nine-day event that includes as many as 10,000 people — in Austin in July 2018, we are paying especially close attention to the news emerging from your special session,” Curry and Jennings wrote.

The church first raised the prospect of relocating its convention in February in its first letter to Straus. The church moved its convention out of Texas in 1955 because of the state’s segregation laws.

The divisions sowed by bathroom restrictions today ring similar to Jim Crow discrimination from that time, the church leaders wrote.

More here-

also here- 

and here-

Thursday, July 20, 2017

First cathedral offers gay weddings

From Premier UK-

A Scottish cathedral has become the first Anglican cathedral in the country to offer weddings for homosexual couples, after a historic ruling.

St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow is now taking bookings after the Scottish Episcopal Church's governing body, the General Synod, decided last month to let clergy conduct ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Provost of the Cathedral, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth said: "It is hugely exciting to open up wedding services to all couples who want to get married.

"People at St Mary's were part of the campaign to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married in Scotland so it is not surprising that we would want to be able to offer such weddings in the cathedral itself."

More here-

Liturgy for transgender transitions?

From Patheos-

There are liturgies that go with birth, coming of age, getting married, and dying.  Now it is being proposed to develop a liturgy to mark gender transitions.

The Church of England has voted to affirm transgendered individuals and to study developing a liturgy that would solemnize the decision or medical procedures whereby a man assumes a new identity as a woman, or a woman assumes a new identity as a man.

This would seem to stop short of re-baptism, as some transgender activists have called for.
This could go along with other liturgies for contemporary culture.  Some churches offer divorce ceremonies.  What other occasions might call for a liturgical blessing from liberal churches?

More here-

Four arrested protesting health care policy outside GOP senators’ offices

From Kansas-

Before heading to the Capitol, organizers and participants met at nearby St. Mark's Episcopal Church for civil disobedience training. Leaders broadcast directions about getting arrested. Protesters scribbled phone numbers of legal counsel on their arms while hearing songs of solidarity and shared stories.

"What do we want?" the group chanted, practicing for the protests.

"Health care!"

"When do we want it?"


"We're coming together, not just against something, but also for something else," Kerr said. "And that's universal health care."

Faflick, who grew up in Wichita, said traveling to Washington was crucial to show his support for universal health care and tell his senators why they need to say no to an Obamacare repeal.

"I want to be part of the political revolution, and I want to stand for all people and the basic human right that all people deserve access to affordable health care," he said. "Civil disobedience is a very visual step that gets a lot of recognition ... it makes our voices heard in a very loud and very strong way."

Read more here:

More U.S. Protestants Have No Specific Denominational Identity

From Gallup-

Americans have become less likely to identify with an official or formal religion in recent decades, and nowhere is this more evident than in the dwindling percentage who identify with a specific Protestant denomination. In 2000, 50% of Americans identified with a specific denomination; by 2016 that figure had dropped to 30%.

This shrinking proportion of Americans who identify with specific Protestant denominations is the result of two trends.

First, an increasing percentage of Americans are "nones," saying they don't have a specific religious identity of any kind. Since the percentages of Catholics, Mormons and those who identify with a non-Christian religion have stayed roughly the same over time, this "rise of the nones" -- from 10% in 2000 to 20% in 2016 -- has generally been accompanied by an associated decrease in the broad category of Protestants, whose numbers shrank from 57% to 47%. Therefore, there are fewer Protestants of any kind in the American population today, and the pool of those who identify with a specific Protestant denomination is smaller.

More here-

Why Anglicans should pray the rosary

From The Living Church-

Every time I get on an airplane, I pray the rosary. Flying is nerve-racking for me, even after several years of routine air travel. Praying the rosary comforts me and keeps me calm: I feel protected and able to trust that the plane will be a safe place for me, no matter what happens.

I did not grow up praying the rosary. It was not until I became an Episcopalian in my early 20s that I took it up as a serious devotion.

Some people would probably find that surprising. The rosary is not a particularly common devotion for Episcopalians. In fact, the invention of the so-called Anglican rosary in the latter half of the last century was intended to give Episcopalians a way of praying with beads without being associated with anything that seemed too Roman Catholic.

More here-

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Extinction is all around us

From The Washington Post- (Keillor's piece referenced below)

The big news last week was that giraffes and lions are approaching extinction because we humans are turning their habitat into farms and senior high-rises. I read the article and of course thought of the lion who killed a giraffe and brought the corpse back to the den and his wife said, “You can’t leave that lyin’ there,” and he said, “That’s not a lion, it’s a giraffe.”

The truth is that people who love jokes like that — joke jokes, not mere sarcasm, but the How Many Talking Dogs Walking Into a Bar Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb sort of joke — are facing extinction. Women wince at those jokes, men edge away, afraid the joker is an aluminum siding salesman. If you like jokes, you find yourself sitting at the children’s table at Sunday dinner. (What did the fish say when it hit the wall? Dam.)

More here-

We faithful few?

From Episcopal Cafe-

The second voice is that of noted humorist and poetry fan, Garrison Keillor, who writes in his unique wistful style of  a world that is passing away.  Titled “From Giraffes to Episcopalians, World Going Extinct,”Keillor laments its passing.

“Giraffes are dying out because they are a joke, an ungainly mythological-looking amalgamation of a horse and a stepladder. God is not proud of the giraffe. In Scripture, He refers to horses, sheep, cattle, swine, snakes, camels, but nothing about this oddity. Isaiah did not write, “All we like giraffes have gone astray” – their problem isn’t a willful nature, it’s bad design.

As for lions, they used to roam Europe, but do you want to get off your tour bus in Rome and walk into the Colosseum and suddenly hear low raspy sounds and turn and there is the MGM lion 15 feet away with a napkin around his neck? You, a good Episcopalian, about to be martyred by a circus act?

Episcopalians are also facing extinction, along with the rest of the orthodox wing of Christianity that takes the Bible at its word. The Church of the Beautiful Hair is taking over the habitat, humunga-churches where magenta spotlights sway and peroxided men in spangly jumpsuits play Metallica with spiritual lyrics and ponytailed preachers tell the multitude that we are the Chosen and the Lord is going to maximize and monetize us.

More here-

Fuller Theological Seminary closing campuses after decline in admissions

From Christian Today-

The influential US evangelical institution Fuller Theological Seminary has suffered a significant decline in admisisons to its regional campuses, forcing it to close several of its locations. The seminary said it was grieving the loss, but 'retooling for a different world'.

The news of the closure was released in an email to Fuller students on July 17. The largely California-based seminary says it has seen an expansion of its 'global footprint', with enrollments reaching 6,500 a year across 260 courses due to the widened capacity of online and distance-learning teaching.

Fuller's provost Joel Green wrote: 'However, the significant increase in online enrollment has been matched by a decrease in enrollment on our geophysical campuses. To offer one snapshot, while winter quarter online enrollment has increased by almost 50 per cent from 2013-17, enrollment on our regional campuses has decreased by about 30 per cent during the same period.'

He added: 'This shift from our geophysical classes to online brings with it certain challenges. Primary among those is the increasing difficulty of attracting enough students to foster a genuine learning community in some of our regional campus classrooms – a difficulty that has had a negative impact on the financial sustainability of some of our regional campus efforts.

More here-

St. John's Episcopal in Kingsville celebrates its 325th anniversary

From Maryland-

St. John's Episcopal Church in Kingsville, one of the oldest parishes in Maryland, celebrated its 325th anniversary with a day of activities Sunday that included the installation of a new pastor.

The church, which serves residents of Harford and Baltimore counties, began in 1692, before there was a state or even a nation here, according ot Karen Smith Manar, a member of the 325th anniversary committee.

Manar provided the following history of the church:


In 1608, Captain John Smith first explored the land that would become St. John's Parish. In 1692, with the formation of its first Vestry by the Maryland General Assembly, St. John's began as a parish of the Church of England. The parish probably had its beginnings as a "church of logs" built in a clearing at Elk Neck along the Gunpowder River.

More here-


From The Living Church-

After decades of ecumenical dialogue, leaders of the Episcopal and United Methodist Churches recently issued a proposal for full communion between our two churches (see the documents, reporting from Jeff MacDonald, and an editorial on the proposal from The Living Church: “Slightly Less Than Full Communion“). The proposal seeks to heal a division that dates to 1784, when two groups of Anglicans sought contradictory solutions to the crisis posed by the collapse of their church in this land during the Revolutionary War. (A related scheme for reunion is on the table in England as well.)

My earlier essay focused on the key decisions made by the zealous John Wesley and the patient Samuel Seabury, whose actions set significant trajectories for the churches they founded.  The initial break was not inevitable, nor its persistence necessary, but these trajectories toward Methodist zeal and Episcopalian patience factor significantly in the work that remains unfinished before full reconciliation can come.

More here-

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Catholic priest is married with 8 children; here’s how that’s possible

From Wisconsin-

 Food has a way of bringing people together -- in nourishment, in service and in just plain ‘ole good company. The fish fry at Holy Family Catholic Church in Whitefish Bay is one of the best around, according to those who have devoured the golden, fried cod. At the fish fry, there is a sense of community.  Some would even argue it is an extension of family that comes together for the meal and fellowship.

There is one thing that is for sure: It is Father David Zampino’s happy place.

You might not be able to tell just by looking at him, but Father Dave Zampino is unlike most Catholic priests.  He is married, and he has kids -- eight of them!

“My oldest child is David,” explained Father Dave. “My next child is Maria.  Then comes Thomas. Then Elizabeth. Then John Paul. Then Theresa. Then Philip. Then Gianna.”

More here-

Every Day Is Casual Friday

From The Living Church-

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, broke with tradition in late June to allow Members of Parliament to skip wearing jackets and ties in the chamber. Now the Church of England’s General Synod has decided it is in keeping with the modern world for clergy to have the choice of leading worship while wearing casual clothes.

In a similar vein. the Queen wore a dress and hat rather than the traditional robes and crown while presenting the traditional monarch’s speech spelling out the government’s program for the next Parliament. And on a hot day in June, men in the membership enclosure at the Royal Ascot races were allowed to dispense with jackets.

The synod decision needs an Amending Canon, after which it will go to the Monarch for Royal Assent. Many clergy, particularly evangelicals, ignore existing canon law that says “the presiding minister shall wear either a surplice or alb with scarf or stole” at Holy Communion, baptisms, and funerals.

More here-

The other Eastern churches

From Christian Century- (Philip Jenkins)

Most Americans know the basic Christian division between Prot­es­tants and Catholics, and they are at least aware of the Orthodox tradition of the faith, even if they might not be too clear about the exact differences separating them. But besides these three great Christian families there is the distinct (and numerous) group of Orien­tal Orthodox churches, which will be an increasingly visible part of the Western religious spectrum in years to come.

The Orthodox divisions date to fierce conflicts that raged when the Roman Empire was a superpower faced with the clear and present danger posed by Goths and Huns. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox all accept the authority of a series of four church councils that met between 325 and 451 to define Christian doctrine and belief, and in each case the decision was enforced by imperial authority. That sequence of councils culminated in 451 with the Council of Chalcedon, which proclaimed that Christ is both fully divine and fully human. The pro-Chalcedonian churches based in Rome and Constantinople evolved into what we would later call the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. The 16th-century Reformers accepted the Chalcedonian settlement, which was fundamental for Protestants, Catholic and Orthodox alike.

More here-

God is Love. Full Stop.

From Experimental Theology-

Over the summer I've re-read two of George MacDonald's novels. I haven't read a George MacDonald novel since college when they had such a transformative effect upon me.

I know a lot of George MacDonald fans, but not many of them express my degree of enthusiasm for his novels. Most MacDonald fans love Unspoken Sermons, his fairy stories or his children's stories. There aren't very many people who adore MacDonald's novels. Admittedly, they aren't all that good. But I love them, and they had a huge impact upon me.


During High School I had reached the conviction that the deepest confession I could make about God is that God is love. Simple enough, but at that time I still lacked the courage to make that confession unconditional. I lacked the courage to confess that "God is love" full stop.

More here-

Sam Rodman ordained, consecrated bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina

From ENS-

 It was joyful in Durham, North Carolina, on July 15, when the
Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman was ordained and consecrated as the XII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

Rodman was elected on March 4, marking the culmination of a search that began after former bishop Michael Curry was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church at the 78th General Convention in 2015.

Approximately 1,000 people attended and participated the 2 ½-hour service at Duke University Chapel, where Curry returned to North Carolina to celebrate his successor and serve as the chief consecrator. Several bishops served as co-consecrators, including the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts; the Rt. Rev. Rob Skirving, bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Jose McLaughlin, bishop of the Diocese of Western North Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts, retired; and the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of North Carolina. Hodges-Copple served as bishop diocesan pro tempore during the time of diocesan transition.

More here-

Monday, July 17, 2017

Is Synod competent?

From Psephizo-

The General Synod of the Church of England (of which I am a member) met last week in York, and there were many good things about it. We spend most of Saturday afternoon exploring some exciting developments from the ‘centre’ offering resources to dioceses and churches in the task of evangelism and the making of disciples. There was a motion allowing the flexible use of vestments, bringing canon law into line with the reality of variety of practice on the ground. A private member’s motion (PMM) (by Tiffer Robinson) proposed making a sensible change to the allocation of school places, so that clergy moving into tied accommodation are not unfairly penalised. I co-presented the report of the Archbishops’ Council (AC), and it was notable that both suspicion of the Council and reluctance to engage with Renewal and Reform had mostly dissipated.

But there were two other items of business that consumed disproportionate amounts of emotional energy and which have sparked debate ever since, and they tested the competence of Synod. I am not sure that the test was passed.

More here-

Episcopal Church in central N.C. gets new bishop

From North Carolina-

Nearly 55 years ago, a young Sam Rodman stood before the priest at a west Massachusetts Episcopal church with a younger sister on the left and an older one on the right as they were baptized before the congregation.

Rodman was just 4 years old, but the sense of community and goodwill he felt stayed so strongly with him that he drew a sense of purpose in the church. He became a deacon, then a priest, and eventually the acting chief of staff for the Massachusetts diocese.

Saturday morning, Rodman, 58, was back before another Episcopal leader, taking another step in his now lifelong spiritual journey. Dressed in a simple white robe, with a white rope serving as a belt, Rodman stood at the front of Duke Chapel before the leader of The Episcopal Church, who asked the 1,000 congregants in attendance if Rodman should be ordained the bishop for the central North Carolina diocese that includes Charlotte, Greensboro and the Triangle.

Read more here:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

No magic wand

From The Church Times-

SEX in the long grass is not as pleasurable as it sounds. As the Bishops learnt at the Synod, a commitment to a teaching document and a pastoral-practices subgroup does not buy you a great deal of sympathy. Several Synod members voiced dis­satisfaction with the proposed timetable, with several references to the state of the outfield, as well as a lack of confidence in the end result. But the Archbishop of Canterbury was right when he said that three years was “a remarkably short period”. Revisiting the extensive literature on the subject, consulting the most knowledgeable people, listening to all the special-interest groups, liaison with other Anglican Provinces and other de­­nominations, and then composing and agreeing an author­itative text, is not the work of a moment. It is comparable to producing a Ph.D. thesis, knowing that, when you get to your viva, the examiners will be in deep disagreement with each other. After the reception of the Marriage and Same-sex Rela­tionships report in February, which was sniped at by conser­vatives, dismissed by liberals, the Bishop of Coventry, the man in charge of the project, knows that the reputation of the Bishops is on the line.

More here-

It is time to get past the snobbery against pastoral theologians

From American Magazine-

Over the years, I have often heard pastors and teachers say, apologetically, that they were not theologians or academics or that they did not fully understand a book written by some theologian. Such humility may be commendable, but it is misplaced. Let me explain why.

In today’s big graduate theology programs, one sometimes encounters a status snobbery regarding the various theological subspecialties. Dogmatic or systematic theology is assumed to be for the brightest graduate students, those philosophically inclined and willing to tackle how all the doctrines ought to be connected and understood. Then there are people who are not drawn to “big ideas” but take up scriptural and historical studies; they like to focus on specifics and details. And those who go into ethics want to resolve difficult moral situations, to have an immediate impact by addressing particular contemporary problems.

More here-

The Radical Origins of Christianity

From The New Yorker-

Kierkegaard relates a chilling parable in “The Sickness Unto Death.” An emperor summons a poor day laborer. The man never dreamed that the emperor even knew of his existence. The emperor tells him that he wants to have him as his son-in-law, a bizarre announcement that must strike the man as something he would never dare tell the world, for fear of being mocked; it seems as if the emperor wanted only to make a fool of his subject. Now, Kierkegaard says, suppose that this event was never made a public fact; no evidence exists that the emperor ever summoned the laborer, so that his only recourse would be blind faith. How many would have the courage to believe? Christ’s kingdom is like that, Kierkegaard says.

The French writer Emmanuel Carrère doesn’t mention Kierkegaard in his latest book, “The Kingdom” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), but the Danish philosopher—the Danish Christian lunatic, one might say—hovers over the book as God’s face is said to have hovered over the waters during the creation of the world. The Kierkegaard whose work is scarred by the great “offense” of Christianity, by its shocking challenge to reason and empirical evidence; who claimed that modern philosophy amounts to the premise “I think therefore I am,” while Christianity equals the premise “I believe therefore I am”; who writes that the best proof that God exists is the circular proof one was offered as a child (“It is absolutely true, because my father told me so”)—that brilliant, mutilated Christian is the unnamed patron of “The Kingdom.” An amazingly various book, it narrates the author’s crises of religious faith in the nineteen-nineties; combines conventional history and speculative reconstruction to describe the rise of early Christianity; deftly animates the first-century lives and journeys of Paul, Luke, and John; and attempts to explain how an unlikely cult, formed around the death and resurrection of an ascetic lyrical revolutionary, grew into the established Church we know today. “Can one believe that such things are still believed?” Nietzsche asked, scornfully. “And yet they are still believed,” Carrère replies.

More here-

N.C. Rector to Lead in Delaware

From The Living Church-

Brown led among laity from the first ballot, drawing 39 of the 52 votes he would need to win. Clergy first favored Gunn. Brown took the lead among clergy on the second ballot.

A native of the U.S. Air Force who has worked for FedEx Corp. and the investment banking company Coolidge & Co. of Memphis, Brown is a graduate of Duke University, the University of West Florida, and General Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon and priest in 2007, and has served parishes in Tennessee and North Carolina.

“I had no inkling of priesthood until my early thirties, a few years after starting a family, buying a house, and building a career,” Brown wrote in a narrative biographical statement [PDF]. “Though I was ‘successful,’ I was shaken by an urgent question. I knew I could teach my daughters to work hard and find good jobs. But could I, their father, lead them toward a life worth living? What is a life worth living? My priorities were upended. I found myself praying seriously for the first time in my life, and I learned firsthand that honest prayer can rock your world. Within a few years my family and I were at General Seminary marching toward an unexpected future.”

More here-

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Delaware of Bishop Election Results

From Delaware-

Episcopal Election results.

Court rules Episcopal bishop has authority over disputed Newport Beach property

From Orange County-

An Orange County Superior Court judge on Thursday, July 13, ruled in favor of Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno, essentially stating the bishop — as sole administrator of the property — has full authority to do as he wishes with the Newport Beach site formerly occupied by St. James the Great Episcopal Church.

When Bruno decided to sell the property in 2015, the move was met with an objection from the Griffith Co., which had donated the property to the diocese in 1945 with the restriction that the site remain a church. The Griffith Co. developed much of Lido Isle since the 1920s.

However, the diocese’s lawyers argued that the church in 1985 negotiated removal of that use restriction from the deed, granting the diocese the right to sell the property for other purposes.

On Thursday, the trial court upheld the diocese’s claim that there is no restriction on the property.

More here-

Pity Eugene Peterson, the latest victim of social media's theology wars

From Premier-

The translator of The Message version of the Bible and well respected contemplative pastor Eugene Peterson caused quite a stir this week for his statements on gay marriage.

The retired pastor was asked by Religion News Service (RNS) during an interview: "If you were pastoring today and a gay couple in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform their same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?" Peterson had given a one word answer: "Yes".

Cue much rejoicing from LGBT-affirming Christians. Praise was heaped on Peterson. He’d been so brave. On the traditional side there was sadness at another leading Christian who many perceived to have taken the easy way out and sided with the culture, rather than the Bible.

More here-

He served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan before entering the ministry

From Indiana (T. J. served in Pittsburgh most recently)-

After starting the Episcopal Church's ordination process, the Rev. T.J. Freeman quickly found it so frightening he thought it would be safer to serve in the U.S. Army, so he enlisted.

After a tour of duty as a combat soldier in Iraq, Freeman said he returned home suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and feeling broken, dirty and sinful. He was surprised by the response of God, the church and his community.

"This flawed human being is exactly who we need," he recalls learning. "God can work with that."
That is one of the lessons Freeman, 36, carries with him into his ministry as the new rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Fort Wayne.

He began work at the church by leading worship this past Sunday. He still is unpacking, deciding where to hang artwork in his office and trying to find the light switches in the building. But he is excited about the opportunities at Trinity and in Fort Wayne.

More here-

Pope Francis Announces New Path To Sainthood

From NPR-

Pope Francis has introduced a new pathway to Catholic sainthood, recognizing those who sacrifice their lives for others.

The new category, introduced in a official letter from the pope on Tuesday, is "one of the most significant changes in centuries to the Roman Catholic Church's saint-making procedures," Reuters reports.

Before the change, there were three categories that provided a path to sainthood: being killed for the faith (martyrdom), living a life heroically of Christian virtues and having a strong reputation for religious devotion. The process of becoming a saint begins after an individual's death.

More here-


From The Living Church-

Every now and then familiar words in the Book of Common Prayer stand out and speak to me with new force and meaning. That’s been my experience with a phrase in one of the post-Communion prayers. Here’s the prayer in its entirety:

Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen. (1979 BCP, p. 365)

As with so many of the prayers in the BCP, there’s a lot to unpack here. But what stands out for me is the phrase you have graciously accepted us.

For some, the question remains open whether God really accepts them. They worry that if they’ve sinned and haven’t repented, what hope can there be? They live in anxiety and perhaps even fear of what awaits them on the other side of death. An assurance of salvation eludes them.

More here-

Pope Francis allies accuse Trump White House of 'apocalyptic geopolitics'

From The Guardian-

An explosive article written by two close associates of Pope Francis has accused Steve Bannon, the chief White House strategist, of espousing an “apocalyptic geopolitics” whose roots are “not too far apart” from that of Islamist extremism.

The article in La Civiltà Cattolica, which is vetted by the Vatican before publication, lays out a scathing critique of “evangelical fundamentalism” in the US, arguing that, on issues ranging from climate change to “migrants and Muslims”, proponents of the ideology have adopted a twisted reading of scripture and the Old Testament that promotes conflict and war above all else.

The piece was published just days after evangelical leaders met US president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House and “laid hands” on him in prayer following discussions about religious freedom, support for Israel and healthcare reform.

More here-

Friday, July 14, 2017

A church where angels and Darth Vader mingle

From Atlanta (via Washington Post)

Washington National Cathedral stands tall in the nation's capital. It is the city's fourth-tallest building and its highest point, rising 676 feet above sea level atop Mount Saint Alban in Northwest. Its three large towers can be seen for miles. 

A cathedral is the main church in an area headed by an official called a bishop. Washington National Cathedral, officially named the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, is the center of the Episcopal Church in Washington and the nation. People of all faiths, or no particular faith, are among the 500,000 who visit or come to worship each year. Funerals for three presidents and other major services have been held here. 

Construction of the cathedral began in 1907 and continued for 83 years. A major earthquake in 2011 badly damaged some areas. Wall supports called buttresses cracked, and some of the 300-plus angels toppled from on high. Workers are still repairing damage to the Indiana limestone exterior. 

The cathedral was built in the Gothic style, which was popular in Europe from the 12th to 16th century. New building techniques such as buttresses, ribbed ceilings and pointed arches made it possible to have thinner, taller walls with large, colorful windows.  

More here-

Gluten in Holy Communion wafers causes problems for some

From Columbus-

The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio also takes Holy Communion, but it allows members to consume gluten-free wafers, said Canon Lynn Carter-Edmands.

“We’re taking this sacrament seriously in the Episcopal church,” Carter-Edmands said. “The sacrament is meant to be life giving and not a burden and not a health hazard.”

One to two percent of people worldwide have celiac disease and up to 10 percent more might have a heightened sensitivity to gluten, said Dr. Marty Meyer, a gastroenterologist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

Celiac disease is characterized by damage to the small intestine from ingesting gluten, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. The only treatment is a gluten-free diet.

“It doesn’t take a whole lot of gluten to incite the intestinal damage,” Meyer said. “I would tell someone to potentially just see how they feel after taking in a Communion wafer. ... See if over time that’s leading to an issue.”

More here-

US Episcopal Presiding Bishop Curry stands in way of Newport Beach sale

From The Church Times-

THE Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has placed a restriction on the ministry of the Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt Revd Jon Bruno, to prevent his selling a church.

The “partial restriction” was an­­nounced on Thursday of last week, in a statement in which Bishop Curry expressed concern for “the good order and welfare of the Church”.

It follows the imposition of a sanction on Bishop Bruno by the Episcopal Church ecclesiastical dis­ciplinary panel that is considering a complaint of misconduct brought against him by parishioners of St James’s, Newport (News, 23 June). The complaint concerns Bishop Bruno’s unsuccessful attempt to sell St James’s in 2015 (News, 7 April). The sanction came after Bishop Bruno declined to deny that he had again tried to sell the church.

More here-

This is why two black pastors are suing Coca-Cola

From The Denver Post-

William Lamar, the senior pastor at D.C.’s historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, is tired of presiding over funerals for parishioners who died of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

So on Thursday, he and another prominent African-American pastor filed suit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, claiming soda manufacturers knowingly deceived customers about the health risks of sugar-sweetened beverages — at enormous cost to their communities.

The complaint, filed in D.C. Superior Court on behalf of the pastors and the Praxis project, a public health group, alleges that Coke and the ABA ran an intentional campaign to confuse consumers about the causes of obesity.

Lamar and Delman Coates, pastor at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in suburban Clinton, Maryland, claim soda marketing has made it harder to protect the health of their largely black, D.C.-based parishioners.

More here-

Priest arrested in Florida road rage incident after pulling out gun

From ABC-

A North Carolina priest may want to practice what he preaches.

William Rian Adams, 35, was arrested in connection with a road rage incident on Florida's Turnpike near Palm City Wednesday after pulling out a gun, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

According to an FHP report, Adams -- a priest at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, N.C. -- was driving a red Chevrolet Corvette when he "attempted to brake-check" another vehicle, a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck, that was closely following his Corvette.

"As the victim attempted to pass the Corvette, the driver [Adams] pointed a semi-automatic hand gun at them," read the report.

More here-


From The Living Church-

Two concerns loomed large in my mind seven years ago when I moved from Austin, that bastion of progressive hipsterdom, to Tyler, Texas, nestled behind “the Pine Curtain” of East Texas and far more culturally typical of the Lone Star State: First, would I find adequate trails and neighborhoods to keep up my weekly running routine? Second, would I find good places to drink craft beer on tap? Thankfully, providence arranged that a construction sign appeared one day soon after my arrival, announcing the advent of a chain restaurant featuring craft beer. At least there’d be one place for me to have a decent pint with my friends.

In the subsequent three or four years, however, things changed. Flash forward to 2017, a couple of years after our East Texas county went wet, and now we have not one but at least two fine craft breweries in this town of about 100,000 citizens. Thankfully, the global village arrived in full force. No longer am I one of the top craft beer experts in the area. Truth be told, these days I struggle to keep up with the dozens of spots to enjoy a pint, and with the burgeoning craft beer community in Tyler.

More here-

Eugene Peterson Retracts Affirmation of Same-Sex Marriage

From Eugene Peterson's Literary Agent. Various articles can be found in links at the bottom-

Dear friends and supporters of Eugene Peterson,

Eugene is a long-time client of Alive Literary Agency who is best-known as the translator of THE MESSAGE Bible, and the author of the recent AS KINGFISHERS CATCH FIRE and numerous works on spiritual theology. You may be aware of his recent interview by Religion News Service on topics ranging from his mortality, current events and homosexuality. The interview—rare at this stage of his life at 84–was circulated broadly and generated significant controversy because of his one-word response to a very hypothetical question as to whether he would perform a wedding ceremony for a gay Christian couple if he were pastoring today—something he hasn’t done in more than a quarter century. In discussing the interview with him, he told me he was taken by surprise by the query, but that after a long and awkward pause, he responded with an uncharacteristic and simple yes.

On further reflection and prayer, as he says, he would like to clarify and change his response. He has asked me to circulate his revised statement as follows:

Recently a reporter asked me whether my personal opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage have changed over the years. I presume I was asked this question because of my former career as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which recently affirmed homosexuality and began allowing its clergy to perform same-sex weddings. Having retired from the pastorate more than 25 years ago, I acknowledged to the reporter that I “haven’t had a lot of experience with it.”

Statement here-

From RNS-

Christianity Today-


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Episcopal youths forge 'Path to Peace'

From Oklahoma (with video)-

More than a 1,000 young people from around the country learned about the events of April 19, 1995, as they walked through the Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum on Wednesday as part of an Episcopal Church USA youth conference.

The tour and a candlelight vigil at the memorial and museum were among the highlights of the Episcopal Church USA's Episcopal Youth Event 2017 (EYE17) conference continuing through Friday in the metro area.

Youth organizers of the event said the activities at the memorial fit the conference's theme of "Path to Peace."

More here-

Nigerian leaders are financially reckless – Anglican Primate, Okoh

From Nigeria-

The remains of the late former Minister of Education, Prof. Abraham Babalola Borishade, has been committed to mother earth in his home town in Usi-Ekiti, Ekiti State, with the Primate of Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh blasting Nigerian leaders for being too corrupt.

Borishade, who also superintended over the Ministries of Aviation, Culture and Tourism as well as Steel and Power, died on April 26, 2017 at the age of 71.

The interment service for the late professor of Nuclear Physics took place at Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Usi Ekiti, Ido/Osi Local Government area of the state.

Okoh, who delivered his sermon through the Arch Bishop of Ondo
Province and Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Most Reverend George Lasebikan, called on the leaders to live lives worthy of emulation, saying “only what you do well on earth will speak for you after your demise”.

More here-


From The Living Church-

Zeal and patience are virtues of the kingdom, the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work among those who bear the name of Christ and strive together to do his will. He who moved from town to town proclaiming the immediacy of the kingdom also learned to bear with the slow of heart, revealing what they were able to receive. The apostles were commissioned to work wonders and preach with power, but also to forgive sins and celebrate sacraments. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel,” Jesus commanded them (Mark 16:15), but also “wait in the city until the Holy Ghost has come upon you” (Lk. 24:49).

In his poem “Zeal and Patience,” John Henry Newman meditated on the place of the two virtues in the life of St. Paul. His ardent urgency propelled him and his gospel across the known world, until a prison cell kept him fixed in place. He who called himself “the Lord’s prisoner” came at length, Newman surmised, to find a new kind of fellowship with the one who first compelled him to preach:

Lord! who Thy thousand years dost wait
To work the thousandth part
Of Thy vast plan, for us create
With zeal a patient heart. (Verses on Various Occasions, 164)

More here-

Lutherans work to shed stuffy image and kick-start change

From Minnesota-

Redeemer Lutheran Church is not your typical Lutheran outpost. Summer means the bike store and coffee shop are humming, kids camp and Zumba classes are in gear, and the young adults renting its apartments are mentoring children in this north Minneapolis neighborhood.

It represents a new model for the Lutheran Church, which is transforming itself to attract younger and diverse members, be more relevant to neighbors below its steeples and shake its image as a Scandinavian bastion best known for hot dish, Jell-O and Ole and Lena.

Minnesota, with the largest number of Lutherans in the nation, will be instrumental in shaping the future of the faith. Time is of the essence: 37 percent of the churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — the largest denomination in Minnesota and the U.S. — now have fewer than 50 Sunday worshipers.

More here-