Saturday, January 7, 2017

Church in Wales marks 20 years of women priests

From The BBC (with video)-

It comes just weeks before the church marks another milestone - with the consecration of its first woman bishop.

On 11 January 1997, 61 women became priests at services across Wales.

It was a campaign that had lasted over a century, since the first woman was made an Anglican deaconess in Usk, Monmouthshire, in 1884.

"Today it's impossible for me to think of a church in which we don't celebrate and welcome the equal ministry of women," said Bishop of St Asaph Gregory Cameron.

"We really can give thanks for the huge step forward that the Church in Wales took in 1997. We've been greatly enriched by the dedication, service and insight of so many women over this period. May God continue this blessing."

More here-

Norwegian Church passes milestone in modification of its links with State

From The Church Times-

A LAW that will partially disestab­lish the Church of Norway from the State has come into force this New Year.

A Bill first passed eight years ago by Norway’s parliament altered the wording in the constitution. The phrase “the Evangelical-Lutheran religion will remain the state’s pub­lic religion” has been replaced with “the Church of Norway, an Evangelical-Lutheran Church, will remain Norway’s national Church and will be supported as such by the state”.

From 1 January, the Church of Norway’s 1250 clergy ceased to be civil servants employed and paid by the Government. Earlier, in 2012, the State had also relinquished its right to appoint bishops and deans, and to exercise any oversight on doc­trinal matters.

The constitutional shake-up, how­­ever, falls short of full disestab­lishment, as the King of Norway is still required to be a Lutheran, and, unlike any other denomination, chil­­dren auto­mat­ically be­­come mem­­bers of the Church of Norway if one of their parents is a member. Furthermore, the Church will con­­tinue to receive state funding, as do all other religious, and even hu­­manist, organisations.

More here-

Diocese of Bethlehem issues call for election of next bishop

From ENS-

When you gave me the honor of serving as your bishop provisional in March 2014, I pledged to spend several years working with you to discern the Diocese of Bethlehem’s common mission and update and streamline financial, governance and administrative practices. With thanksgiving for your remarkable progress in assuring a faithful future for the diocese, today I am calling for the election of the ninth bishop of Bethlehem.

In consultation with the Rt. Rev. Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, and Judy Stark, a consultant recommended by his office who is a daughter of the Diocese of Bethlehem, the Standing Committee will soon seek members for a search committee to discern a slate of nominees for bishop. In time, the Standing Committee will also name a transitions committee to oversee the new bishop’s consecration and welcome to the diocese. Although the final calendar for the search process will be determined by the Standing Committee, I anticipate that we will elect the ninth bishop of Bethlehem in the spring of 2018 and consecrate and seat that person in the fall of that year.

More here-

Church of the Epiphany, Christ the King Lutheran Church prep for merger

 From Western Massachusetts-

The congregations of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany and Christ the King Lutheran Church will officially join together to become one in the near future. 

Rev. Nathaniel Anderson, priest-in-charge for the Episcopal Church and pastor of Christ the King, told Reminder Publications for the past two and a half years he’s led both churches.

During that time, the two congregations have worshiped together on Sundays, completed social ministry with one another, helped raise money for the homeless, hosted feeding programs and concerts and have had joint Christian education, Anderson.

“Really anything that the church does we’ve been doing together the last two and a half years, which is a really positive experience,” he added.

Anderson said before he started as pastor for both churches, they were independent of one another.

More here-


From First Things-

Allen Guelzo observes in his history of the Reformed Episcopal Church that historians of American Episcopalianism are misled by Anglo-Catholicism's success in establishing “their own vision of Episcopal history, as the single reigning view of the history of the Episcopal Church” (13). It is not, he says, a historical literature rich in self-examination, and h charges that “the easy acceptance of self-congratulation as the primary mode of Episcopal historical discourse has cost Episcopalians an important theological insight into their history,” an insight that will only come by cultivating a Niebuhrian sense of irony (13).

The ironies are ready to hand: “On the one hand, Anglo-Catholicism plunged the Episcopal Church into a world of medievalism, canon law, and prelacy, but at the same time, it allowed the mind of the church to accommodate itself to modernism far more easily than if it had been ruled by the Evangelicals. Similarly, the Anglo-Catholics came to believe that their construction of Anglicanism was irresistible; they did not foresee the strength of the Evangelical resistance, the willingness of one bishop to provoke schism as a response to Anglo-Catholicism, or the ability of the Evangelicals to survive as a movement outside the official boundaries of the Episcopal hierarchy”

More here-

Friday, January 6, 2017

Church Probes Breakaway Bundibugyo Christians

From Uganda-

Rwenzori Diocese Bishop Reuben Kisembo and the church leadership have instituted a committee to investigate claims put forward by renegade Christians in Bundibugyo District who have broken away from their mother diocese seeking to be granted their own.

The disgruntled Christians of the Anglican Church, who recently chased away the archdeacon of their church, claimed oppression, mismanagement of funds and other irregularities by their parent Rwenzori Diocese and want to be granted their own, West Rwenzori diocese.

Speaking to Daily Monitor yesterday, Bishop Kisembo said they had intervened to restore calm among the faithful.

More here-

North Carolina adds two bishop candidates by petition

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of North Carolina is pleased to announce the addition of two petition candidates to the slate of nominees for the 12th bishop diocesan of the diocese.
The additional nominees are:

The Rev. George Adamik – St. Paul’s, Cary, North Carolina
The Rev. Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn – The Episcopal Church, New York, New York

The petition process is allowed per Resolution 201-1 of the 200th Annual Convention, as amended by the 201st Annual Convention, and provides that following the announcement of nominees for the 12th bishop chosen by the Nominating Committee, the Standing Committee accepts nominations by petition for a two-week period.

“Two petition nominations were received,” said Joe Ferrell, president of the Standing Committee. “The Standing Committee certifies these nominees have had the same background checks as were done with respect to the nominees of the Nominating Committee and that each nominee passed the same.”

More here-

Liberal churches are dying. But conservative churches are thriving.

From The Washington Post-

Mainline Protestant churches are in trouble: A 2015 report by the Pew Research Center found that these congregations, once a mainstay of American religion, are now shrinking by about 1 million members annually. Fewer members not only means fewer souls saved, a frightening thought for some clergy members, but also less income for churches, further ensuring their decline.

Faced with this troubling development, clergy members have made various efforts to revive church attendance. It was almost 20 years ago that John Shelby Spong, a U.S. bishop in the Episcopalian Church, published his book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” It was presented as an antidote to the crisis of decline in mainline churches. Spong, a theological liberal, said congregations would grow if they abandoned their literal interpretation of the Bible and transformed along with changing times.

More here-

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Desmond Tutu Joins Advocates To Call For Right To Assisted Death

From NPR-

Desmond Tutu, South Africa's former Anglican archbishop and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recently celebrated his 85th birthday with an interesting message: He wants the option of an assisted death. Tutu has largely retired from public life, but is still considered the moral conscience of South Africa for his leading role in the fight against apartheid. Some were taken aback when Tutu said he wants the option to end his life when he chooses.

"As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life, and that death is a part of life," Tutu said in a recent video. "I hope that when the time comes I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life's journey in the manner of my choice." An assisted death is currently illegal in South Africa. The Supreme Court of Appeal reaffirmed that stance in December when it struck down a lower court's ruling that granted an applicant the right to euthanasia. Tutu, who has lived with prostate cancer for decades and has been in and out of the hospital in recent years, says he supports efforts around the globe to legalize the procedure. "I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love," he said.

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development Welcomes Four New Members to Board of Directors

From Benzinga-

Episcopal Relief & Development welcomes four new members to its Board of Directors: The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves (Diocese of El Camino Real), The Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos Orench (Diocese of Puerto Rico), Mark D. Constantine (Diocese of Southern Virginia) and Meg L. DeRonghe (Diocese of Olympia).

"Effective leadership of Episcopal Relief & Development – whose programs touch millions of people in nearly 40 countries throughout the world – requires board members who are knowledgeable, engaged and proactive leaders in their fields. Our newest board members more than fit that profile," said Neel Lane, Chair of the organization's Board of Directors. "As we live into the new strategic plan for 2017 and beyond, the diversity of perspectives represented on our Board will enable us to rise to the challenges of becoming a more powerful player in the international development space while remaining true to our Episcopal Church roots."

More here-

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


From The Living Church-

The Church today is particularly skilled at transforming articles of faith into principles for action. Once “abstract” theological concepts are now reinvigorated with pastoral insight and practical urgency. So, for instance, the divine perichoresis (the “mutual indwelling” of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is understood to encourage “perichoretic” communities marked by mutual love and empathy. Likewise, the “self-emptying” of Jesus Christ (kenosis) challenges us to “kenotic” forms of mission and ministry — giving ourselves away for the sake of others.

The supreme example of this practical approach to Christian dogma is of course the near-constant reminder that we should be more “incarnational.” “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Therefore, we should “make flesh” or “incarnate” the love of God in the communities within which God has placed us. The mystery of God-with-us provides something like the rationale for St. Paul’s “I have become all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22).

More here-

Anglican Bishop Kicks Against Corruption

From Ghana-

The Right Reverend Francis Benjamin Quashie, Anglican Bishop of the Koforidua, has called for all-out-war against corruption – an awesome challenge to good governance and development.

He asked that the clergy, civil society organizations and everybody, joined the fight to check unethical conduct, bribery, theft and misapplication of state funds.

In his New Year message to Ghanaians, he indicated that this was the way forward to ensure rapid progress and reduce poverty.

It was important, all accepted to work together to build a society based on the values of transparency and accountability, he added.

More here-

Offering Syringes Along With Prayers, Churches Help IV Drug Users

From Kaiser Health-

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, launched its syringe exchange program last November. Shelby Carrothers, a church member, saw the need for one while offering HIV testing during a weekly free hot meal. She discovered that most of the people being tested identified as IV drug users.

Carrothers said that while providing clean syringes is a critical service, “Almost equally important is that we provide a nonjudgmental space to talk about what they’re going through and answer questions that they might otherwise be afraid to ask.”

Sherman Terry, 40, is among those who’ve found help at St. Paul’s. A former IV drug user, he came for a hot meal and has received a lot more.

More here-

Quick-thinking vicar saves parishioner who caught fire during Christmas Day service

From The Telegraph-

A vicar was left with 30 per cent burns to his fingers after rushing to help a parishioner who accidentally set herself on fire during his Christmas Day service.

Reverend Frank Coleman, 58, was delivering his sermon from the pulpit when he spotted the woman had been set alight after leaning on a candle.

She appeared to be  unaware of what was happening until the clergyman rushed towards her and put out the flames using only his bare hands.

More here-

Chalking the Door: Blessing Your Home for Epiphany

From Aleteia-

A beautiful Epiphany tradition will continue at my parish this morning, as a priest will bless chalk and scrawl markings over the door of the church at the start of our 10 a.m. Mass, carrying forth an ancient custom practiced in many homes around the world.

Some background:

The family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.

A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 16. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2016 is the year.

- See more at:

The Reformation 500 years on: do we need 95 New Theses for the 21st century?

From "Archbishop Cranmer"-

‘Protestants’ acquired their name because they were first and foremost, protesters. They publicly declared their dissent. In the expressing of dissent from and rejection of prevailing mores, they understood themselves to be testifying to older, deeper truths. 2017 commemorates the 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 theses – his protest against abuses that were rife in the church of his age. He hammered his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg – such doors serving as the town and church noticeboards of his time.

And so with apologies to Martin Luther (1483-1546), we offer 95 New Theses – now hammered on to today’s ‘virtual noticeboard’ – and a protest against the debilitation of the church. These are offered with gratitude to Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson (The Pastor as Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision, Zondervan, 2015), and Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, (The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, Baker Academic, 2015). The new Theses published here also pick up on my earlier article in Modern Believing (Vol. 55, iss. 3, 2014: ‘Growth and Management in the Church of England: Some Comments’).

More here-

Monday, January 2, 2017

Clergy calls for Peace as country ahead of polls

From Kenya-

Religious leaders across the country have called for peace as the country gets into a critical electioneering period.

Speaking on Sunday at the All Saints Cathedral, Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit cautioned political leaders against making hate remarks through their political rallies, warning that such acts would plunge the country into chaos and violence.

“We need a prosperous nation not a divided nation after elections. We need a team of leaders who will take Kenya to the next level. We will have a peaceful General Election only when the political class approaches it with dialogue, decorum, and follows the rule of law,” he said. 

Ole Sapit further challenged Kenyans to vote leaders who hold interests of the nation at heart regardless of their ethnic background.

More here-

also here-

Cynthia Patterson, wife of Quebec's Anglican bishop, becomes priest

From The CBC-

When Cynthia Patterson was ordained as an Anglican priest in late November, it marked the first time, to her knowledge, that a priest has ever been married to a bishop in Quebec.

Her husband, Dennis Drainville, is the outgoing bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec.

But Patterson's relationship to Anglicanism goes further back than her recent ordination or her marriage.

"We could use that silly expression, you know, 'cradle Anglican,'"  Patterson told CBC Quebec AM.

"But it was much more than going to church every week as a child and as a young person – it was much deeper."

More here-

'Separation of church, state' doesn't mean what atheists want it to mean

From WND-

On Jan. 1, 1802, the people of Cheshire, Massachusetts, sent a giant block of cheese to President Thomas Jefferson, being presented by the famous Baptist preacher, John Leland. John Leland was then invited to preach to the President and Congress in the U.S. Capitol. The subject of his talk was “separation of church and state.”

Baptists had been particularly persecuted in colonial Virginia, as Francis L. Hawks wrote in “Ecclesiastical History” (1836): “No dissenters in Virginia experienced for a time harsher treatment than the Baptists. … They were beaten and imprisoned. … Cruelty taxed ingenuity to devise new modes of punishment and annoyance.”

So many Baptist ministers were harassed, and their church services disrupted, that James Madison introduced legislation in Virginia’s Legislature on Oct. 31, 1785, titled “A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship,” which passed in 1789.


Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2017 New Year message

From ENS-

Recently I stood in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, which was bombed on 14th November, 1940. On the remains of the wall behind the altar are written the words, ‘Father Forgive’ – echoing the words that Jesus prayed as his enemies crucified him. The day after the bombing, the Provost of the Cathedral, an extraordinary man called Dick Howard, made a commitment not to revenge but to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

On Christmas Day that year, Provost Howard preached a sermon that was broadcast across the Empire on the BBC. In it, he called for a new and more Christ-like world after the war.

I started life as a clergyman here in Coventry. I was ordained in the new Cathedral, which was built alongside the ruins. I never imagined I’d work here, but for five years I helped lead Coventry’s global ministry of reconciliation, which grew out of Dick Howard’s vision and now has 200 partners for peace around the world.

More here-

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Meet the captain of the realists on the Church and women

From Crux-

Two months ago, an important Vatican milestone passed in basic silence. Oct. 15 marked the 40th anniversary of Inter Insigniores, a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued under Pope Paul VI, which spelled out the reasons why women cannot be ordained as Catholic priests.

It came in response to the first ordinations of female clergy in the Anglican communion, and ever since it’s remained the basis for the Church’s position, although it was amplified and developed in St. Pope John Paul II’s 1994 document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which the pontiff couldn’t have been more clear: “We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

More here-

When you’re the only one who shows up to church

From Maine-

All of Portland seemed to be in a bad mood that Sunday afternoon not too long ago. The sky was spitting rain in intermittent bursts, frustrating both the people who had gone through the trouble to bring an umbrella and the ones who hadn’t. Longfellow Square had become a knot of traffic; drivers honked at jaywalkers, who cursed back, as I rounded the corner on my way to St. Luke’s Cathedral.

I opened the church door. Inside, it was silent.

Had I gotten the time wrong? I was new to Portland and I’d only been to St. Luke’s, the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, once before – and that was for the busy, colorful morning service. I felt a pang of dismay as I hovered on the threshold, deciding whether to investigate further or just go home. Through the open door, I could smell the distinct fragrance that seems to emanate from every old church: incense, candles, flowers. I stepped inside.

More here-

Two hats, two robes: Beaumont judge doubles as Orange Episcopal priest

From Houston-

A immoderate lover of coffee, Judge Keith Giblin talked fast as he convened his federal magistrate court.

Wrist-shackled and glum, defendant after defendant shambled into the near-empty Beaumont courtroom to hear the bad news. All business, Giblin advised of rights, pledged to appoint defense lawyers and laid out the potential punishment for each offense - punishment, in some cases, entailing sequential life sentences and half a million dollars in fines.

The morning session, lasting less than an hour, reflected modern life at its rawest.

Few if any of the dour souls on the business end of the judicial system likely suspected that the baldish, pudgy middle-aged man on the bench - once a federal prosecutor - is revered in this tough East Texas industrial city as a gentle-hearted saver of souls.

Keith Giblin is a man of many robes.

More here-