Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mother who sought sanctuary in church basement is still there 2 years later

From NY Daily News-

Nearly two years ago Juana Tobar Ortega was ordered back to Guatemala by federal authorities, but that was not an option for the mother of four who arrived in the U.S. illegally 25 years ago.
Instead she packed up her belongings and headed to St. Barnabas Church near her Greensboro, North Carolina home, seeking sanctuary. She has been there ever since.

“We need to violate the law in order to do the right thing, and the right thing for me is to be a mother,” Ortega told NBC News earlier this month. “They’re laws created by men who don’t understand what it means to be a mother.”

Since Donald Trump took office as President in early 2017, non-criminal immigrants who arrived here illegally have been given the same treatment as those who’ve been convicted of crimes, according to NBC News. The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has been cracking down on everyone regardless of their potential for violence.

More here-


Appeals court upholds federal tax exemption for clergy housing expenses

From ENS-

In the latest installment in a nearly decade-long effort to have the Internal Revenue Service’s clergy parsonage exemption declared unconstitutional, the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled just the opposite.

A three-judge panel said March 15 that the principal effect of the tax exemption is “neither to endorse nor to inhibit religion, and it does not cause excessive government entanglement.”

Seventh Circuit Judge Michael B. Brennan, writing for the unanimous panel, said “any financial interaction between religion and government — like taxing a church, or exempting it from tax — entails some degree of entanglement.” But, he wrote, only “excessive entanglement” violates the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause. The clause in the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing an official religion, unduly favoring one religion over another, favoring religion over non-religion or vice versa.

More here-


Episcopal cathedral hosts Muslim prayer gathering

From San Diego-

Hundreds are expected to join hands in prayer this week at a San Diego church in response to last Friday’s shooting massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Residents of all faith are invited to gather at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown San Diego to share a meal and stories of interfaith friendships.
Salaam, a local non-profit, is hosting the event along with the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

Salaam unites San Diego’s interfaith leaders to reject Islamophobia and stand against all forms of hate and violence.

“I think it would be a great opportunity for both members of Muslim and Christian communities to come together in solidarity,” said Steve Slocum, founder of Salaam. “I’m expecting the event to have some powerful moments across faith boundaries.”

Salaam is a non-religious, non-partisan organization and has held a number of events in the last year designed to bring people of Muslim and non-Muslim faith together.

More here-

Scott Gunn: The church is dead. Long live the church!

Scott Gunn on Fox News-

Several of my church-going friends shared a recent op-ed from Fox News Opinion on their social media, “Church as we know it is over. Here's what's next." The op-ed says that “the church needs to accept the fate of physical church as we know it, so we can move into the next phase of digital church.”

Yes, the old expectations that people will somehow just show up in churches must die. But the replacement is not digital church. While I love connecting online, it isn’t the same as being part of a gathered community. Church as we know it may be over, but it’s time to reboot church as we know it – and our expectations.

Let’s talk about why digital church isn’t enough, and then I’ll share three ways to change the pattern of declining attendance at church.

Digital church would work fine if church were only about transmitting content or selling a product. But a Netflix vs. movie theater metaphor won’t work for digital church vs. gathered church. We don’t go to church only to watch sermons. We go to church to be part of community, to pray with others, to offer our thanks and praise, and to learn from those around us. Digital church only works when our vision for church is quite small.

More here-


Monday, March 18, 2019

Common ground: Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles and St. Stephen Lutheran Church become one congregation in Arbutus

From Baltimore-

Two congregations gathered in one church on Sunday, March 3. They gave thanks, broke bread, and then packed up.

So began the procession.

Congregants picked up hymnals, candles, communion supplies and other items from the sanctuary and walked out the doors of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, located at 4922 Leeds Ave., singing as they strolled the 0.9 miles to St. Stephen Lutheran Church, at 901 Courtney Road.

Once inside the sanctuary, the space was rededicated as the new home for the two Christian communities, joined together as The Churches of Holy Apostles and St. Stephen.

“It was negating of ego and tradition and self,” said the Rev. Jim Perra, 38, the Episcopal priest from Holy Apostles who now oversees the new church community. “I think it’s breathtakingly beautiful that they made this hard and difficult choice.”

More here-


New Provost for Pittsburgh

From The Living Church-

Bishop Dorsey McConnell has named the Rev. Aidan Smith as provost of Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh.

Smith — dean of advancement and church relations at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge and assisting priest at All Saints in the Brighton Heights neighborhood — becomes provost May 1 for an initial term of two years.

The bishop wrote to cathedral members about the appointment in a letter dated March 15.

“I know that Aidan and his TSM colleagues are proud of how under his watch enrollment grew, new relationships were forged, and the school’s financial health improved,” McConnell said. “I’m overjoyed that he will be bringing this skill set, along with his caring pastoral approach, to Trinity Cathedral.”

More here-


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Suicide Risk Among Pastors and Clergy Members

From Psychology Today-

A few months ago, I screened the film Indivisible, which was based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner. The portrayal of Chaplain Turner’s story of struggle and healing following his combat zone deployment is both refreshing and valuable. The movie highlights the often-hidden struggles of those who serve in ministry roles. For example, as in Chaplain Turner’s case, any one of us can have a crisis of faith, even our faith leaders. In addition, witnessing the struggles of those perceived by some to be exempt from needing to ask for help breaks down stigma.

In light of the suicide death of Inland Hills Pastor Andrew Stoecklein this past Saturday, I am again reminded that those who stand as a beacon of hope may have some under-appreciated vulnerabilities. Those who serve within the clergy are often driven by a deep and abiding mission, a calling that sometimes has its roots in childhood intuition. Many within the clergy derive a great sense of purpose — sometimes even life-saving purpose — from inspiring hope and pointing us to a life of faith and reliance on God.

More here-


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Episcopal House of Bishops March 2019: The Bishops’ Mind of the House Resolution on Lambeth and a statement from the Bishops’ Spouses Planning Group

From ENS-

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church met in retreat at Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, North Carolina. At their March 15 business meeting, they adopted the following Mind of the House Resolution and received a statement from the Bishops’ Spouses Planning Group which follows the bishops’ statement.

Bishops gathered at the Spring 2019 meeting of the House of Bishops are aggrieved and distressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to exclude same sex spouses of bishops from participating in the Lambeth Conference, 2020. We appreciate that all of our bishops diocesan, suffragan, and assistant have been invited, and are concerned by the use of exclusion as a means of building communion.
At this time, the majority of bishops invited plan to attend the conference. Through our presence we will participate fully in the program of the conference, as well as seek to further the conversation around the various cultural expressions of marriage. We intend to build relationships and missional partnerships that will be inclusive vehicles for building communion across the Anglican world in all its beautiful diversity. We will seek to reflect our varied understandings of marriage, as well as our profound commitment to the dignity of all human beings, including the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons.

More here-


Friday, March 15, 2019

Churches That Play Together Stay Together

From Christianity Today-

In its new Households of Faith report, Barna researchers claim that one of the many reasons “vibrant households” stand out from others is because they engage in “meaningful, fun, quality time with both their housemates and extended household members.” That includes playing games together (32%), sharing meals (63% eat breakfast as a family and 75% eat dinner as a family), and enjoying other leisure activities. “These are practicing Christians who know the meaning of play—and indeed, half call their home life ‘playful,’” according to the report.

In other words, the old adage still rings true: Families that play together stay together, and more than that, exhibit signs of strong spiritual health.

The same can be said of the church family.

From softball leagues to book clubs, jazz ensembles to craft nights, churches that play together seem to stay together and grow together, too, adapting more easily to upheaval and building up the camaraderie, compassion, and collective resilience that are essential to a robust church body.

More here-

The ACC: A spurned Instrument of Communion

From The Church Times-

NOT that long ago, meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meant something.
In 1971, at its first meeting, delegates to the Council narrowly passed a resolution that broadly approved of the ordination of women to the priesthood. That resolution gave important momentum to canonical change permitting precisely such ordinations in several Provinces, including Canada.

At a meeting in 1984, a committee of the ACC drafted the basis of what became known as the Five Marks of Mission: a definition of mission which many Anglicans have used in recent years to think about how Christians are to engage with the world. In 2005, in the midst of a fraught moment in the life of the Anglican Communion, the ACC was the body to which Americans and Canadians made genuine and searching presentations about how they understood the actions of their Churches in blessing same-sex unions and consecrating an openly partnered gay man, Gene Robinson, as bishop.

It makes sense that the ACC would be the locus for such work. It is one of four “Instruments of Communion” which help to bring order to the common life of Anglicans around the world. It is the only one of those Instruments — the others are the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself — that includes Anglicans who are not bishops. In general, each Anglican Province sends a bishop, priest, and lay person to the ACC.

More here-


Archbishop of Canterbury brands the British Empire un-Christian and slams the era's 'abuse and exploitation'

From The Daily Mail-

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday condemned the British Empire and dismissed its legacy as ‘un-Christian’.

It was driven by a sense of superiority but was really based on ‘abuse and exploitation’, said the Most Reverend Justin Welby.

He accused Christians who served the empire of carrying out ‘many’ murderous atrocities and advised their modern successors ‘to take seriously the abuses of our history’.

His criticism amounts to a repudiation of much of the history of the Anglican Communion, of which he is the worldwide leader. 

The comments follow the Archbishop’s controversial expressions of regret in 2015 for British actions during World War Two.

More here-

Burglars take $15K worth of items from N. Idaho church

From Idaho-

Members of a church outside of Sandpoint are searching for answers after burglars stole an estimated $15,000 worth of items, including crosses, computers, and donated goods for the homeless.

Churchgoers at Holy Spirit Episcopal, in Dover, discovered the items missing last Sunday morning when they arrived for services. Church members said that a suspect was able to compromise a lock on the main entrance doors to Holy Spirit.

"How could someone violate a church in that manner? And especially a church in Sandpoint?" said Geoffrey Cant, a Holy Spirit member. "Churches should not be subject to that."

Sacramental items that were taken included a tabernacle, chalices, candelabras, and two crosses, among other items. The crosses had a combined value of approximately $5,000, according to estimates by church members. 

In a separate section of Holy Spirit, members said that the suspect went into the vicar's office and stole two desktop computers and a new vacuum. Outside the office, the church had been collecting clothes and other items for a local homeless charity, which were also stolen.

More here-


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Why is our prayer met with God’s silence?

From American Magazine-

The poem “In a Country Church” was penned by the Anglican priest and poet, R. S. Thomas. A man enters an empty church. It is a cold day in the start of winter. He is seeking God. The same act is repeated countless times each day in churches all over the world, ever since there have been churches.

Here is a question to bring to the poem. Does the one who comes to this empty church seeking God find his Lord?

To one kneeling down no word came,
Only the wind’s song, saddening the lips
Of the grave saints, rigid in glass;
Or the dry whisper of unseen wings,
Bats not angels, in the high roof.

More here-


Clergy support ministry rebrands to be more inclusive of women

From Christian Today-

With women now making up nearly a third of the clergy in the Church of England, a 364-year-old support ministry is rebranding to be more inclusive.

Sons & Friends of the Clergy has re-launched as the Clergy Support Trust at the Christian Resources Exhibition North taking place in Manchester today.

The organisation, which dates back to 1655, was formerly two separate organisations - the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy and the Friends of the Clergy Corporation - which merged in 2012.

It is believed that the name goes back to the days when 'sons of clergy' gathered to raise funds for priests who had been left destitute during the rule of Oliver Cromwell.

The change was announced one day after the Church of England marked the 25th anniversary of women priests.

More here-


New Harvard Research Says U.S. Christianity Is Not Shrinking, But Growing Stronger

From The Federalist-

“Meanwhile, a widespread decline in churchgoing and religious affiliation had contributed to a growing anxiety among conservative believers.” Statements like this are uttered with such confidence and frequency that most Americans accept them as uncontested truisms. This one emerged just this month in an exceedingly silly article in The Atlantic on Vice President Mike Pence.

Religious faith in America is going the way of the Yellow Pages and travel maps, we keep hearing. It’s just a matter of time until Christianity’s total and happy extinction, chortle our cultural elites. Is this true? Is churchgoing and religious adherence really in “widespread decline” so much so that conservative believers should suffer “growing anxiety”?

Two words: Absolutely not.

More here-


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

'Kenyan Kiwi' named bishop-elect for Nelson Anglican Diocese

From New Zealand-

Nelson's new Anglican bishop-elect is a proud "Kenyan Kiwi" with a mission to reach out to younger generations.

Reverend Steve Maina-Mwangi was announced as Bishop-elect of the Nelson Diocese this week, replacing Richard Ellena who retired at the end of last year.

The Kenyan-born clergyman was one of three nominees put forward to the Electoral College last year, along with Michael Brantley of Wellington and Nelson's Canon D. Graham O'Brien.
Maina visited his new diocese on Wednesday, joined by his wife Watiri, to formally accept the position before Senior Bishop of NZ Dioceses Archbishop Philip Richardson.

More here-


The Church of England must break its toxic colonial legacy

From Thomas Reuters-

March 12 marks the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women priests within the Church of England. Yet while today marks one milestone, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people remain second-class citizens.

Next year the Anglican bishops from around the world will meet for the Lambeth Conference. Except that a tranche of them, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, will boycott the event because of the toleration (as they see it) some churches show towards ungodly behaviour.

In their eyes, this is because the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the United States (and one or two others) have welcomed and included LGBT+ people in the life and ministry of their churches and support equal marriage.

The Archbishop of Canterbury sits poised anxiously and uncomfortably on the fence between these two blocks.

More here-


House of Bishops opens spring meeting with exploration of the Way of Love

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has begun a four-day deep dive into the Way of Love, which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calls a rule of life for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

Curry explained to the house that the idea for the Way of Love, an intentional commitment to follow Jesus and adopt a set of practices, including turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest, grew out of a meeting of a group of bishops, clergy and laypeople he called together to consider how to help Episcopalians keep Jesus at the center of their lives and at the center of the church.

The question, he said, is how to live in such a way that, “when folk look at Episcopalians, they no longer see those that we celebrated for their power and their glory, but they see those who celebrate the glory and the grandeur and the goodness of God. How do we make that happen?”

More here-


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

St. Stephen’s Welcomes All to YogaMass Service

From Connecticut-

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church will hold a service on Saturday, March 16 ― open to the public ― which integrates yoga with Episcopal Church worship. It will be led by the Rev. Gena Davis, an ordained Episcopal priest and founder of YogaMass.  The service will begin at 5 p.m. in the church’s North Hall at 351 Main St.       
People of all levels of yoga experience are welcome.  Attendees are asked to bring a mat and water bottle. and loose clothing or yoga clothes are recommended.  Chairs will be provided for those who prefer chair yoga.         

More here-


Married Catholic priest to be keynote speaker at Italian Catholic Federation dinner

From California-

The Rev. Gregory Elder, the first canonically ordained and married Catholic priest in the Diocese of San Bernardino, will be the keynote speaker when the Italian Catholic Federation, Branch 217, holds its gala dinner 5-8 p.m. Thursday, March 21.

Elder, who was raised as a Protestant in the Episcopal Church, studied Anglican theology at Oxford after receiving his bachelor’s degree. In 1983 he was ordained as a deacon and an Episcopal priest and served almost 20 years, having been assigned three congregations along with his professorships.

In 2003, he entered the Roman Catholic Church. He applied for a pastoral provision from Pope John Paul II, underwent scrutiny that included interviews, psychiatric examinations, reviews of academic transcripts and letters of reference, which the Most Rev. Gerald R. Barnes, bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino, sent to the Vatican, requesting that the pope confer priesthood to a married priest, under the pastoral provision. The pastoral provision is a seldom-used rule under canon law established by Pope John Paul II, which allows Anglican (Episcopal) priests to become Catholic priests, despite marriage.

More here-


For Priest Turned Professor, 'Holy Envy' Is Key To Appreciating World Religions

From NPR-

From an early age, Barbara Brown Taylor knew that she wanted to live a spiritual life.

"It started early in my life," she says, "a hunger for the beyond, for the transcendent, for the light within the light, the glow within the grass, the sparkle within the water."

Taylor went on to become an ordained Episcopal priest, working as rector of a church. But she later left her job with the church and began teaching the world's religions at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga.

As part of the course, Taylor invited members of different faiths into the classroom to share their beliefs. She also brought her students, who were mostly Christian, to mosques, synagogues and Buddhist and Hindu temples in an effort to help them better understand how various groups worship.

More here-


Monday, March 11, 2019

Michael Curry, church leaders call for national fast amid threat of ‘constitutional crisis’

From Christian Post-

Episcopal Church leader Michael Curry, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis and a group of left-leaning church leaders are calling for Christians nationwide to pray, fast, and apply Lenten spiritual practices to prepare for a "constitutional crisis."

Wallis, joined by Curry, a supporter of same-sex marriage, and about 20 other leaders — who wrote the “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis” declaration launched last year against racism, misogyny, xenophobia and the immorality of political leaders — issued the new call in time for Lent.

In early January, the informal circle of “Reclaiming Jesus” elders — many of whom are leaders of churches and denominations or are former heads of churches — gathered for a retreat in Washington, D.C., for a time of discernment.  

More here-


Local Episcopal priest finds spirituality both in church and while skating in a roller derby

From Kansas-

The rector of Lawrence’s Trinity Episcopal Church admits he has an addiction, but it isn’t one he’s giving up for Lent.

That’s because the Rev. Rob Baldwin’s obsession for the roller derby has opened his eyes to a different world and brought him new life, plus given him plenty of ideas for Sunday sermons.

Baldwin began skating with a roller derby league as a way to spend more time with his first wife. While it didn’t save the marriage, Baldwin was hooked on the sport.

Roller derby is as much of a contact sport as basketball or soccer, Baldwin said. It’s played by two teams of five members roller skating around a track, as skaters play offensively and defensively at the same time. 

“It’s not really a free-for-all brawl,” Baldwin said. “There is contact, but so much more of the sport is about control and blocking people. Making openings for your own people to get through.”

More here-


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Former priest accused of sexually assaulting parishioners taken into custody

From Fresno (ACNA)-

A former Anglican priest accused of sexually assaulting several male parishioners was taken into custody again on Friday.
Jesus Serna had to post a higher bail amount after prosecutors added additional charges against him. He's now facing 18 felony counts.

The district attorney filed charges on behalf of eight victims who they say were violated by the man who was their priest. The allegations range from 2014 to 2018.

Prosecutors say five more victims came forward since the DA and Fresno Police Chief had a news conference. The charges increased the bail to $444,000, and the bond wasn't posted by the 11 a.m. deadline.

His explanation that it was in the process of being posted was not good enough for Judge Jon Kapetan Friday. A deputy handcuffed the longtime Anglican priest and took him to jail, until the bail is processed. 

More here-


Episcopal Diocese of Arizona elects first woman ever to serve as Bishop

From Arizona (with video)-

Preparations are underway for a ceremony full of pageantry. As Jennifer Reddall, the Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona will be consecrated on Saturday with moments of joy but also high emotion.

"This is the next era, this is the next phase in our life in Christ in Arizona, is to come under the leadership of this new bishop," said David Benedict Hedges, Master of Ceremonies for the Consecration service. 

For Bishop-Elect Reddall, this is a major milestone, as she looks forward to bringing her leadership to Episcopalians in Arizona.

"The needs of the church and the needs of the world come together in the office of the bishop," said Reddall. 

March 8 is International Women's Day, and on this day the office of the Bishop has even more meaning. As it will be the first time, the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona has elected a woman to serve as their Bishop. 

More here-


From pets to the priesthood: Lane leads St. Philip's Episcopal into a new era

From Buffalo-

The Rev. Stephen Lane wasted little time stealing the hearts of the congregants at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, one of seven original African-American Episcopal churches in the country.

Lane cut the Sunday service from two hours to one, serenaded churchgoers with gospel music and hosted a chicken-waffle celebration for 300 in honor of Shrove Tuesday — unusual for a traditional Episcopal church. And the faithful of St. Philip’s are eating it up.

“Certainly, he is the best thing that has happened in a decade,” said Constance Eve, 86, a longtime member of St. Philip’s. “He’s fired up and he has vision and fresh ideas. He is Caucasian, but I wouldn’t care if he’s lavender. He is a gift to the community.”

Lane, 61, tells his story as he's probably done many times, but on this winter afternoon there’s an undercoating of glee making his words flow. Lane is seated in the study of his parish office. His new gig was unfolding as he always had thought it might, and if ever there were a match that seemed to be made in heaven, it may just be Lane and this church.

More here-


Friday, March 8, 2019

Cathedral 'should help conservative worshippers avoid women priest-led services'

From Premier-

Wakefield Cathedral was "asking too much" of a congregation member who cannot accept women clergy, a new report has found.

The independent review followed a complaint from one worshipper after the West Yorkshire landmark stopped publishing in advance the names of those who would be presiding over Holy Communion.

Dennis Belk claimed he was being "marginalised" because he was forced to arrive at services without prior knowledge whether there would be a male or female celebrant.

Mr Belk, who described himself as a "traditional Catholic" felt the situation put him in a "compromising position" and argued he had to leave services on three occasions because a woman priest was presiding.

Conducted by Sir William Fittall, the review found cathedral bosses were unreasonable in their expectations of Mr Belk.

More here-


Inside the Politics of Religious Denomination in Nigeria's Southeast

From Nigeria-

All politics, as the political cliché goes, is local. Politicians, in an attempt to woo voters, strive to strike a chord in their hearts. They invoke, and at times, invent social, cultural and even religious similarities between themselves and the voters and then spin convincing tales that can earn them votes.

This strategy, which is some sort of homophily-identifying with people of like minds, worked well for President Donald Trump during the last presidential elections in the United States. He knew his target audience- the ultra-conservative white supremacists, who believed that the problem of the US started and ended with immigration. Mr Trump identified with their aversion to immigration and with a we-are-all-in-this-hole-together kind of rhetoric, he won the election.

Back home in Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari understood this strategy--and it has worked for him. Mr Buhari started working on the strategy since 1999 when he led a team from the Arewa Consultative Forum to the Oyo State Governor's Office, Ibadan, to challenge the government on the perceived unfair treatment meted to the Fulani in the state. It was reported that he asked the then Governor Lam Adesina: 'Why are your people killing my people'? Mr Buhari was later to make many other pro-North - interventions. This, overtime, endeared him to the average northerner who saw him as someone who would always protect their interest. Competence, unfortunately, was secondary.

More here-


Curry: 'We need a Jesus movement today'

From Easton-

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, who gained international attention when he preached at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, delivered a sermon March 3 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina.

Curry is the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.
Sunday’s service brought about 1,000 attendees from around the entire Episcopal Diocese of Easton, which is composed of more than 40 Episcopal faith communities on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
The service was in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese. The Episcopal Diocese of Easton was formed in 1868, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War.

More here-


Lord Habgood obituary

From The Gaurdian-

As archbishop of York, John Habgood, who has died aged 91, pushed through a compromise position on the ordination of women in 1992 that many in the Church of England felt to be a betrayal.

Although he was intellectually and theologically in favour of women priests – telling the General Synod to remember that God was neither male nor female – he nonetheless led the bench of bishops and the General Synod to support his idea that “two integrities” should be allowed within the church: one that could accept women priests and another that could not. It was an awkward squaring of the circle that left women to pay the price.

Over the years Habgood had consistently voted in favour of female priests, but in the final analysis it felt as if his heart was not with his mind. At the crucial General Synod decision on the matter he voted again in favour, but then immediately took action to appoint a group of provincial episcopal visitors – the famous “flying bishops” – who were assigned to minister to those who refused to accept the ordination of female priests. 

More here-


Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches on selflessness at Baptist church

From RNS-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spent the evening of Ash Wednesday at a Baptist church, preaching a Lenten message focused on love and selflessness.

“When love breaks out, we all get set free,” he said to an applauding crowd gathered at Harvest Assembly Baptist Church.

The bishop, who preached on the importance of love at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year in a sermon watched by some 29 million people, continued that theme across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital.

“Imagine the White House — help me, Jesus,” he preached, “imagine the White House, the United Nations, the nations of the world if love was the law of our hearts and our land.”

He noted that in the New Testament passage from 1 Corinthians, often cited in weddings, that speaks of “faith, hope and love,” the Apostle Paul also warns that love “is not selfish.”

More here-


Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Reason for Baptism before Communion

From The Living Church-

In Up With Authority, Victor Austin asserts that rules and authority are needed for us to be our best selves ([T&T Clark, 2010], p. 1). His argument’s foundation comes from Thomas Aquinas, who says that rules, “properly speaking, regard first and foremost the order of the common good” and should reflect God’s nature and purposes (Summa Theologiae, Part I-II, Q. 90, A. 3). “Authority does not come upon us because of some tragic flaw in human beings,” Austin writes. “Rather … authority is [the] manifestation of the glory of being human” (p. 1).

I cite Austin and Aquinas because of the debate occurring throughout the Episcopal Church regarding Communion without baptism, allowing or actively inviting unbaptized persons to receive the Eucharist. This practice has become known by many throughout the Church as Open Communion, which is the wrong terminology. (Open Communion involves allowing baptized Christians from all Christian churches, baptized in the Name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to receive the Eucharist in the Episcopal Church.)

More here-


Bishop Kee Sloan: Lent means more than giving up brussel sprouts

From Alabama-

Bishop Kee Sloan, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, kicked off Lent with an Ash Wednesday sermon at Cathedral Church of the Advent that recalled his childhood vow to give up brussel sprouts.

“When I was a kid, for several years in a row, I gave up brussel sprouts for Lent,” Sloan said. “And for me it was like it checked off a box. We never had brussel sprouts. The few times we had them we were suspicious of them and complained about them, so Mom fixed something else. I was well into my fifties before I realized I really like brussel sprouts. Who knew?”

Sloan now thinks he may have missed the point.

“If we give up something that doesn’t touch us, then I don’t think we get any credit for just checking something off a box,” Sloan said.

More here-


Episcopal Diocese of NWPA Bishop to also take over the Diocese of Western New York

From NW PA (with video)-

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania begins a new leadership role next month.

Bishop Sean Rowe will be doing double duty, not only will he lead Northwest PA, but also act as bishop of the Diocese of Western New York. 

Bishop Rowe will maintain this dual role for the next five years. The bishop has served the Episcopal church in Northwest PA since 2007.

Rowe says, "Fewer and fewer people are attending our churches on Sunday morning.  We know that we have to continue to make our message more relevant to reach people and that we have to do new things in order to do that.  And this is one step in that direction. "

More here-


Worshipers Find Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese’s ‘Ashes To Go’ Locations A Convenient Way To Observe Lent

From Pittsburgh (with video)-

“I think it’s wonderful they came. They take the time to come out here and make life a bit easier for everybody with our hectic schedules,” Moore said.

Two people from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh manned both entrances of the T stop during the Wednesday morning rush, catching people along the way for “Ashes To Go.”

“We’re here because we recognize a lot of people aren’t able to get to their faith communities or maybe aren’t members of a faith community. Last year, I had a bus driver pull over and ask me for ashes when I did this,” said Erin Morey, with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon.

More here-


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

South African pastor’s resurrection stunt draws mockery and memes

From RNS-

When South African Pastor Alph Lukau claimed to have resurrected a dead man recently, the biblical story of Lazarus may have echoed in the minds of his congregation.

But the action that day (Feb. 24) by the senior pastor and prophet at Alleluia International Ministries in Kramerville, Sandton, in Johannesburg, has stirred a storm after the video showing the alleged resurrection went viral.

Lukau, in the video, is seen standing before a coffin that contains the body of a purportedly dead man in a white suit. Lukau calls the man’s name twice, speaks in tongues and touches his body. The man then sits up inside the casket with his mouth wide open. The congregation breaks into wild celebrations and prayers.

The man — whose name is given as “Elliot” — had allegedly been dead since Feb. 22 and his body had been kept at a mortuary.

More here-


Crusader skull stolen from Dublin church recovered

From Ireland-

The skull of an 800-year-old skeleton known as the Crusader, which was stolen from the crypt of an Irish church, has been found.

Vandals decapitated the skeleton, which was interred beneath St Michan's Church in Dublin, during a break-in last week.

On Tuesday, gardaí (Irish police) said they had recovered the skull along with another stolen from the crypt.

The crypt is a popular tourist attraction but tours were cancelled after the break-in.

A Garda Síochána (Irish police force) spokesman told BBC News NI that the stolen skulls were recovered in Dublin but he would not give more details about the circumstances of the find.

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GAFCON gathering claims 'sense of betrayal' at liberal Anglican teaching

From Christian Today-

A gathering of conservative Anglicans organised by the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has called for liberal bishops not to be invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

A GAFCON meeting for Anglicans in 'restricted circumstances' – where practising Christian faith is difficult or dangerous – in Dubai referred in a closing statement to 'the sense of betrayal they experience when the very gospel for which they are suffering is being undermined and denied in other parts of the Anglican Communion. It grieves us that those who reject the clarity and authority of the Scriptures, the universal teaching of the Church, the classical Anglican formularies and the decisions of the Lambeth Conference undermine the credibility of our witness amongst our fellow citizens of other faiths and of none,' the statement said.

It called for representatives of breakaway groups like the Anglican Church of North America and the Anglican Province of Brazil to be invited and warned that 'the fellowship in the Anglican Communion has been torn at the deepest level by those who preach another gospel and those who urge us to continue to "walk together" with them'.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

CCN holds mass prayer for rain

From Namibia-

A large number of people turned up at the University of Namibia’s Hifikepunye Campus on Sunday afternoon to pray for rain and other social challenges affecting the country.

The mass prayer was organised by the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN).

Although an invitation was extended to other churches, only congregants from the Anglican Diocese of Namibia, the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Namibia (ELCIN) turned up.

The prayer was necessitated by the lack of sufficient rainfall since the start of the rainy season, with farmers concerned Namibia could be headed for the worst drought in decades.

Contrary to the norm, many northern communal farmers have entered the third month of the year without even bothering to plough their crop fields.

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Pittsburgh Theological Seminary partners with Episcopal Diocese to offer Anglican/Episcopal studies

From Pittsburgh-

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh have entered into a new partnership intended to change the way clergy and lay leaders are prepared for ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The two organizations are introducing the Anglican/Episcopal Studies Track, a concentration that breaks down the traditional segregating of future priests, deacons, and lay ministers in favor of training them within the same context and course of studies.

The design allows for all those engaged in ministry to enjoy the same substantive academic and spiritual preparation, fully aware of and appreciating each other’s respective role and contribution to mission of the Church.

This training will be enhanced by the ecumenical setting offered at Pittsburgh Seminary.  The program will begin with the Fall 2019 semester.

“The partnership that generated the new Anglican/Episcopal track displays the seminary’s commitment to engage meaningfully with denominational partners,” said the Rev. Dr. David Esterline, seminary president. “The presence of Anglican/Episcopal students has always enriched the learning environment at PTS. By pairing focused attention to Anglican/Episcopal worship, spiritual formation, and tradition with the seminary’s professional degree programs, this new track formalizes a course of study for those seeking to serve within the Anglican/Episcopal tradition.”

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Trinity Church Wall Street acquires Church Divinity School of the Pacific

From ENS-

Church Divinity School of the Pacific, or CDSP, and Trinity Church Wall Street announced March 4 that the New York parish has acquired the Berkeley, California-based seminary.

The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, CDSP president and dean, told Episcopal News Service in an interview that the deal will put the school on a solid financial footing and position it for growth. CDSP and its assets now belong to Trinity, he said, and the value of those assets “will be a fund, among other resources they have, that supports the program at the school and operation.”

“It’ll be starting point of the kinds of funds we need to, say, augment faculty or to provide scholarship funding for students,” he said. “This becomes part of their assets that are poured back into the mission of the school.”

Trinity sees CDSP as part of its strategy “to present and offer the curriculum that will bring new leaders into the world that can gather communities and resource them in a way that we have not been able to do currently,” the Rev. William Lupfer, Trinity’s rector, told ENS in an interview.

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Monday, March 4, 2019

Anglican bishop urges Nigerians to accept President Buhari’s re-election as the will of God

From Nigeria-

Rt. Rev. Humphrey Olumakaiye, Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion), has urged all Nigerians to accept the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the will of God.

Olumakaiye made the call on Sunday at the diocesan rally which was part of the activities marking the Centenary Celebration of the diocese of Lagos at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.

He said God had appointed President Buhari for Nigeria, so the people must try to cooperate and be patient with his government to push the nation forward.

“We know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. We must not do anything that will drag us back as a nation.

“We have taken a bold step forward so let us continue to move forward,’’ he said.

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Mother who sought sanctuary in church basement in 2017 is still there

From North Carolina-

Jackeline Tobar noticed the signs of her mother’s absence immediately. Flowers weren’t blooming in the garden. Furniture wasn’t constantly being rearranged in the living room. And then there was the kitchen.

“She always uses vegetables to cook,” Tobar, 23, said, “but after the first week, the vegetables were still sitting there, rotting.”

That was almost two years ago.

In April 2017, her mother, Juana Tobar Ortega, was ordered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to self-deport to her native Guatemala by May. Instead, she packed up her clothes, left her home and family in Greensboro, North Carolina, and moved into a nearby church where she sought sanctuary.

She has not stepped out the church since.

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tate grant helps Monticello church resurrect altar window

From New York-

A Monticello church’s patron saint is about to go in for some much-needed surgery.

Since St. John’s Episcopal Church was built in 1880, an image of its patron saint has occupied a stained-glass window behind the altar in the sanctuary.

Over time, the St. John’s window has cracked, the lead holding it together has fatigued, and the glass has warped.

But soon, that part of the church will look 140 years younger.

Courtesy of a $10,000 Sacred Sites grant from The New York Landmarks Conservancy, the St. John’s window and the wood around it will be restored to its original state.

It’s not the only stained-glass window at the church that needs rehabilitation, but it is the oldest and most important, according to the Rev. Diana Scheide.

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Thought for the day: is it time to silence BBC preachers who keep women down?

From The Guardian-

And welcome to the amoral maze, where our dilemma of the week is: just how insufferable does a spiritual leader have to be before he or she becomes unqualified to preach at the general public? Or to put it another way, why should the church have a monopoly on excommunication?

The question is not, emphatically, restricted to the case of the ubiquitous prelate, blogger and speaker, Giles Fraser, although with his recent blog – chastising women who fail to stay near home for the future convenience of incontinent fathers – he has done more than most to focus attention on the sort of qualities that should, ideally, distinguish a Thought for the Day contributor from, say, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Actually, since the latter Brexit supporter is hardly less ostentatiously devout, is yet more ostentatiously fertile, is also hired by the BBC to troll its audience and believes – conclusive indicator of divine approbation – that women are designed for bottom-wiping, it seems almost unfair that he is not, like Fraser, invited to provide “reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news”.

More here-


Church of England to hold first service in Farsi after a huge rise in converts

From The Telegraph-

When the Bishop of Loughborough was 13-years-old, her brother was murdered for being a Christian. 

Born and raised in Iran, she was forced to flee her homeland in 1980 on the grounds of religious persecution - a story that is all too familiar for many Iranian Christians. 

Now, as the ordained Bishop of Loughborough, the Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani is leading the Church of England’s growing community of Iranians who have found a home in the Anglican church. 

This unprecedented shift was yesterday marked with a “historical” service at Wakefield Cathedral in Yorkshire, where the Holy Communion scripture was delivered in Persian for the first time to cater for the growing - yet traditionally unusual - new Anglican congregation. 

With the Cathedral packed full of 450 Persian Christians from parishes all over the UK, Rev Francis-Dehqani led the inaugural service, delivered in both Farsi and English.

More here-


Episcopal bishops object to same-sex spouses’ disinvitation to global conference

From Sight-

Three bishops from the Episcopal Diocese of New York have written an open letter to their clergy and parishioners to express their dismay at a request by the Archbishop of Canterbury that two gay bishops not bring their spouses to the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference in July, 2020.

The letter also explains why, despite consideration of boycotting the meeting, all three New York bishops will attend.

“We have concluded that we cannot in conscience remove t
he voice of the Diocese of New York from the larger conversations at Lambeth,” the letter reads, “regarding sexuality and the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the full sacramental life of the church.”

The Lambeth Conference convenes bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion once a decade in Canterbury, England. The issue of homosexuality has dominated the last two gatherings, exposing deep differences between bishops from the global South and the US and Canada.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Anglican Conference Too Gay For Traditional Bishops, Not LGBT Inclusive Enough For Liberal Bishops

From The Daily Caller-

Liberal and traditionalist bishops alike are decrying an upcoming Anglican conference, with traditionalists threatening to boycott over LGBT acceptance and progressive bishops angered by gay spouses’ disinvitation.

Traditionalist bishops belonging to the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) previously decided to boycott the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference in July 2020 to protest the North American and Scottish Episcopal churches’ acceptance of gay marriage. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s recent decision to disinvite the spouses of gay bishops, however, also angered the progressive bishops who will be attending the conference.

“Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be — we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend,” reads an announcement of the decision by Anglican Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon. “But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman.”

More here-


Gay Methodist clergy in Colorado vow to remain “out and loud” after church strengthens LGBTQ restrictions

From Colorado-

After the vote came down Tuesday at the United Methodist Church’s general conference in St. Louis, Greenwood Village-based Bishop Karen Oliveto looked around the room.

She saw bishops crying. Consoling one another. Praying.

The denomination’s first openly gay bishop, Oliveto saw the realization ripple around the room: The church had just voted to strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages.

“The church that has nurtured us, taught us about God’s grace and unconditional love, all of a sudden is narrowing who gets to experience that love,” Oliveto told The Denver Post on Thursday.

“That’s not been our tradition.”

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Congregations Mull How to Keep Sacred Spaces Safe

From Erie-

While the Pittsburgh shooting was the latest and the closest to home for Erie-area congregations, many were already thinking about security before the 2018 massacre.
The Rev. John Downey, dean of Erie's Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul, said his church hasn't made recent changes to security measures, some of which have been in place for about a decade. They include security cameras and a hired security person who watches the doors during Sunday services.
Downey said the cathedral has so far resisted putting up barriers to people by locking doors during the day, except if only one or two staff members are present.
"We're the kind of place that gets walk-ins," he said.
But he understands sites that have locked their doors.
At Almakarim Islamic Foundation, also in Erie, nothing was changed as a result of the Pittsburgh shooting.

More here-