Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe'

From The BBC-

They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones.

Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago.

It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which have confirmed their Semitic origin.

These tests back up the group's belief that a group of perhaps seven men married African women and settled on the continent. The Lemba, who number perhaps 80,000, live in central Zimbabwe and the north of South Africa.

And they also have a prized religious artefact that they say connects them to their Jewish ancestry - a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant known as the ngoma lungundu, meaning "the drum that thunders".

The object went on display recently at a Harare museum to much fanfare, and instilled pride in many of the Lemba.

"For me it's the starting point," says religious singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave.

More here-

Bishops, gays and equality - Lords a-leaping

From The Economist-

TO OUTSIDERS, one of the oddest features of Britain’s semi-theocracy is that 26 Anglican bishops have the right to sit in the upper chamber of the legislature, even though their church can claim the active adherence of less than 5% of citizens. But the “lords spiritual” still have clout, especially when the established church acts as an advocate for religion in general. That became clear in February, when the government backed away from a confrontation over the question of whom churches should employ—and, in particular, over which posts can be barred to gays.

The government’s hopes were fairly modest. It was not questioning the right of religious bodies to follow their own beliefs when hiring priests or imams; it merely wanted to clarify that, in recruiting for non-religious jobs (accountants, for example), churches must obey the law and refrain from discrimination against gays. But pursuing even this cautious aim was deemed unwise at a time when many religious leaders, including Pope Benedict, were opposed (and perhaps considering how their flock should be encouraged to vote).

Things are quite different when the lords spiritual have no clear line. On March 2nd the House of Lords voted by 95 to 21 for an amendment to a wide-ranging equality bill that would allow civil partnerships to be celebrated in religious venues with religious language. Such unions have been possible in Britain since 2005 but their character has hitherto been strictly secular.

More here-

Belief in healing through prayer is at the core of his ministry

From Albany-

The Rev. Nigel Mumford: Director of healing ministries for the Albany Episcopal Diocese, based at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, Washington County.

Background: 55. Originally from Plymouth, England. He was a drill instructor with the British Royal Marines. Visited the United States in the 1970s and immigrated in 1980. He was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church in June of 2005, and was later ordained to the priesthood in December 2005. Has been at the center in Greenwich for five years.
He has written several books on healing ministries including "Hand to Hand: From Combat to Healing" and "The Forgotten Touch." He lives in Greenwich with his wife, Lynn, and has two grown stepchildren.

How does your ministry work?

We have a healing service once a week on Tuesdays and a soaking prayer service on Wednesday where we pray over those who need healing. We also have a prayer team of 37 people who pray for those who need healing.

How did you come to the healing ministry?

My sister had dystonia, which is a very unusual disease. Her body was crippled and stuck in the fetal position, but eight times a day, all her muscles would spasm. She was expected to die, but a man prayed for her and she got better almost immediately. Witnessing that miracle changed my life.

Read more:

South Carolina Resolutions Respond to PB

From The Living Church-

The Diocese of South Carolina’s annual convention will consider five resolutions on March 26, three of which stress diocesan authority amid conflicts with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

In proposing one resolution, the diocese’s standing committee calls it a “Response to Ecclesiastical Intrusions by the Presiding Bishop.” That resolution refers to the diocese’s “legal and ecclesiastical authority as a sovereign diocese within the Episcopal Church,” adds that “the Presiding Bishop has no authority to retain attorneys in this Diocese that present themselves as the legal counsel for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina,” and demands that she “drop the retainer of all such legal counsel in South Carolina as has been obtained contrary to the express will of this Diocese.”

Another resolution proposed by the standing committee would add a diocesan canon that says the bishop — or, in a bishop’s absence, the standing committee — is “the sole and final authority with respect to any dispute concerning the interpretation of the Constitution and Canons of this Diocese.”

A caonical revision, also proposed by the standing committee, grants the diocese’s bishop (or standing committee) the authority to “provide a generous pastoral response to parishes in conflict with the Diocese or Province, as the Ecclesiastical Authority judges necessary, to preserve the unity and integrity of the Diocese.”

An explanatory note on that resolution says: “We’ve experienced now as a diocese, in the All Saints, Pawleys Island litigation, the destructive force of such litigation; how it has created animosities and divisions that are not easily healed. It has failed as a positive cohesive force for maintaining the unity of the church and has in fact had precisely the opposite effect. Christians are suing Christians (1 Cor. 6:1-8); the reputation of the church is marred, and vital resources are diverted from essential Kingdom work. None of this is honoring to our Savior.”

More here-

Friday, March 12, 2010

Archaeologists declare nail a ‘fantasy’ crucifixion-relic

From The Church Times-

AN ARCHAEOLOGIST who identified a first-century Roman nail, which has been claimed as a possible holy relic kept by the Knights Templar in Madeira, said last week that it could not possibly have been used in a crucifixion.

Bryn Walters, the director and secretary of the Association for Roman Archaeology, dated the nail as early Roman, after he was visited by two men from Worthing, Sussex. They showed him a highly polished nail, which was kept in a carved box.

Mr Walters said on Thursday of last week that he had been subject to criticism from colleagues, after a story had appeared in the national press, quoting a member of the Knights Templar of Britannia, who described the nail as a “relic from crucifixion”.

Mr Walters said that about seven weeks ago he had been asked to inspect the nail. “It was a Roman nail. There are millions of Roman nails, perhaps billions. It could not possibly be from a crucifixion be cause if it had been hammered in, it would have been bent — and this is dead straight.

“They did not tell me where it came from. I would not accept it as a nail coming from any crucifixion. It was perfectly preserved. It was four inches long, which I would say was a bit short for a crucifixion. A crucifixion pin could be longer than that.

“Most people were strapped to the crucifixion pole, and the nails were hammered in as added torture, but they did not hang by the nails. If the nail was hammered in, it would have had to be pulled out with something like a claw hammer before the body was removed, and that would have left it bent.

More here-

Church opens doors for suicide survivors

From Diocese of Pennsylvania-

Father Michael Knight opened the doors at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Thursday night, offering “sanctuary” to adults suffering with grief.

About 12 people, all struggling in some way since the Feb. 25 suicides of Interboro High School sophomores Gina Gentile and Vanessa Dorwart and all searching for comfort, gathered for about 90 minutes.

“Everyone came with a story to tell,” said Knight, priest-in-charge. “No one wanted to leave.

“It felt like folks came and made a connection with each other and what we are doing,” he continued.

Knight, careful to honor anonymity, said participants were either touched because of a personal connection with the teens, or were touched because it brought back memories of other incidents in their own lives.

“It was a very powerful meeting,” Knight said. “We all had a conversation, a conversation began with, ‘How are you dealing with your grief?’”

Knight said those at the session were grateful for the focus on adults.

Participants ranged in age from about 20 to 70, he said.

Knight will again open the church for prayers, encouragement, counseling or healing the next two Thursdays.

More here-

DALLAS: Special convention affirms Anglican covenant, rejects same-gender liturgies

From Episcopal Life Online-

A majority of delegates attending a special March 6 convention meeting of the Diocese of Dallas at St. Michael and All Angels Church endorsed the Anglican covenant and rejected same-gender liturgies.
Delegates approved two resolutions, including one by voice vote that the diocese "endorses, adopts and enters into the Anglican covenant and thereby affirms our full membership and participation in the Episcopal Church and the world wide Anglican Communion."

The resolution, 2010 SCR-01, urged other dioceses, along with the Executive Council and General Convention, to do likewise. It directed "the Executive Council to form an Anglican Communion Commission to promote closer relationships with churches, dioceses and congregations of the wider Anglican Communion for mutual sharing of the fellowship we have in Christ, for expanding our common mission and ministry as a worldwide communion and for promoting active participation in the Anglican Covenant."

Bishop James Stanton had called for the additional gathering during the October 15-16, 2009 regular convention meeting, at which the Anglican covenant was studied and discussed. The second gathering was planned so delegates would have a chance to consider the covenant, he said during a March 11 telephone interview from his Dallas office.

"The gathering had nothing to do with separation from the Episcopal Church," Stanton added. He said the resolutions would be forwarded to the Executive Council and General Convention "in the hope, as we always hope, that the Episcopal Church as a whole will enter into the Anglican covenant."

The covenant was first cited in the 2004 Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-120) and has been supported by all the instruments of communion as a way for the Anglican Communion to maintain unity amid differing viewpoints, especially on human sexuality issues and biblical interpretation.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese sues Fresno church

From The Fresno Bee-

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on Thursday filed a lawsuit against St. Columba Church that seeks real estate and other assets from the Fresno parish, which was part of a 2007 breakaway movement from the national Episcopal Church.

Already, the diocese has filed similar lawsuits against St. Francis Anglican Church in Turlock and St. Michael's Anglican Church in Ridgecrest, a high desert community in far eastern Kern County. Those parishes also were part of the secession.

"If a person wants to leave [the Episcopal Church], that is their right under the First Amendment, but you don't take property that doesn't belong to you," said the Rev. Jerry Lamb, bishop of the diocese.

The suit against St. Columba, filed in Fresno County Superior Court, and the suits against the other individual parishes are part of a larger legal battle pitting the Episcopal Church against the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.

John-David Schofield, bishop of the rebel diocese, led 40 of its 47 parishes out of the Episcopal Church in December 2007, joining first the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America, and now the newly formed Anglican Church in North America.

More here-

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Zimbabwe Police Fail to Enforce High Court Ruling Against Former Anglican Bishop

From Voice of America-

A Zimbabwe High Court ruling last week against former Harare Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has not ended the plight of parishioners locked out of church buildings by Kunonga loyalists.

Sources in the authorized branch of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa said that the police on Sunday refused to enforce the High Court ruling given by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu which rejected a Kunonga appeal of an earlier ruling.

Kunonga resigned from the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in 2008 and was later excommunicated for disobedience.

Some Anglican parishioners have been holding services in the open while more prosperous parishes have rented space from other denominations or commercial space to worship. Kunonga, whose loyalists have seized control of Anglican churches in the capital with the backing of police, have barred the opposing faction pending a final decision in the courts as to the control of Anglican church property in the vast Harare diocese.

Kunonga is a staunch supporter of President Robert Mugabe - a factor that contributed to the rift between him and the Province of Central Africa.

Anglican Priest Paul Gwese said the Church of the Province of Central Africa is seeking the assistance of political leaders in ending the dispute which he says has worn down Anglican parishioners.

More here-

Pope Gregory's ghost

From The London Guardian-

Pope Gregory VII haunts the English imagination. Like any self-respecting ghost he never fully reveals himself. But he's there, hovering in the background, the spectre of aggressive religious interference.

Gregory's papacy was short (1073-1085) and ended in exile and apparent defeat. But he was responsible, more than anyone else, for the transformation of Rome into a papal monarchy, which claimed the right to depose emperors and absolve subjects of their allegiance. Within 130 years, when King John was forced to surrender his entire kingdom to Pope Innocent III and receive it back as a papal vassal as a way of ending a particularly acrimonious battle with Rome, it seemed as if Gregory's mission was accomplished.

In reality the later Middle Ages saw papal power wane across Europe and the Reformation effectively stamped it out in Britain. Yet despite, indeed because of this shift in political allegiance, the papacy has ever since been a bogeyman for the English, embodying the divided loyalties which apparently make kingdoms fall.

Ghosts can scare us but they have little substance. Contemporary Christian documents on electoral issues are shy, sometimes too shy, of indicating any party political preference. In his recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict reiterated the Roman Catholic teaching that "the church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim to interfere in any way in the politics of states". Nobody reading Choosing the Common Good, the recent publication from the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales will find a secret manifesto there. Those who react badly to papal statements on equality legislation (they tend not to react so badly to statements on economic regulation or international development) need to understand that statements are not infringements. Benedict is no Gregory.

More here-

Desmond Tutu, Insisting We Are 'Made For Goodness'

From NPR-

Our occasional series with people of broad experience turns this week to a man characterized by his faith — and his willingness to fight.

In the era of apartheid, Archbishop Desmond Tutu railed against the injustice and inhumanity of South Africa's government, and his passionate advocacy helped make the change that came to that country in the 1990s.

Now 78, in a magenta habit with a crucifix around his neck, he is the picture of a holy man. But looking back on his boyhood in one of South Africa's black townships, Tutu remembers an urchin with a fondness for marbles and comic books. And even in church, "we had fun," the archbishop tells NPR's Renee Montagne.

The memories linger even now. There's joy in Tutu's voice as he recalls a song he sang as a child: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" the verse asked.

"It was a fantastic thing to have much, much later," Tutu says — "to remember, 'Yes, if God be for us in our struggle against injustice and oppression, who can be against us?' "

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of Tutu's early role models was an Anglican priest — a black South African who "was treated like a big chief when he arrived" on the rural farms where he served in mission churches. And yet he was "an incredible human being ... who had this degree of caring for lesser mortals. And who knows, I was probably seeking to emulate him."

More here-

Anglican Church a Twitter over empty pews

From The Globe and Mail-

Faced with declining enrolment and revenue that will force it to shutter churches on Vancouver Island, the Anglican Church is turning to the social medium where millions of followers already flock: Twitter.

The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia last weekend voted to close seven churches outright and move those congregations to "hub churches." The meeting, during which several members tweeted updates to followers, came on the heels of an ominous recent report that predicted that the once powerful church was headed for extinction unless dramatic changes occur.

In addition to recommending that churches close, the report described Canada as a post-Christian society and urged a change in attitude to attract new members, including embracing modern forms of evangelism.

Among other things, the report suggested members and lay people go "outside the walls of our parish buildings," to talk to people about the church and even invite them to a service. Some clergy have already begun this modern missionary work, using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to reach new followers.

Rev. Christopher Parsons said the notion of evangelism has traditionally struck a raw nerve among churchgoers, but he argued that the status quo hasn't worked for years. "Over the years, the church has been able to rest on its laurels," he said. "You could open the church and its door and people would pour in." That's not happening any more.

More here-

Nigerian Archbishop: Generations Wiped Out by Mass Attacks

From Christian Post-

The Nigerian Anglican archbishop, who oversees the area where more than 500 people were recently killed, grieved over the history lost and said people need to understand the sacredness of human life.

“Some of these communities may never again be recognized in history because generations have been wiped out,” said the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria, in a statement.

"Hundreds of corpses of men, women, children and grandchildren littered the burned houses, roads, bush paths, farm areas and hiding places,” he said.

This past weekend, two predominantly Christian villages in the Jos area were attacked by machete-wielding Muslim extremists. At a superficial level the violence appears to be religiously motivated. Some say the most recent violence is revenge for the attacks on Muslims in January.

But local experts say the conflict is also fueled by competition over resources, land, and jobs in the poverty-stricken area.

“Is there no other way by which matters can be resolved except through this sadistic and cruel way of making peoples’ lives miserable?” Kwashi asked. “For me, as a Christian, human life is so sacred that no one, absolutely no one, should tamper with it, no matter what religious faith you belong to.”

The Nigerian archbishop said people need to be taught that human life is sacred because it is a gift from God.

More here-

Abuse scandal could create a crisis for Pope Benedict XVI

From The Detroit Free Press-

Church abuse scandals in Germany have reached as far as the older brother of Pope Benedict XVI and are creeping closer to the pontiff himself.

Although there has been no suggestion of wrongdoing by Benedict, the launch of an inquiry by German Catholic officials after his brother admitted slapping children years ago is stirring Vatican fears of a major crisis for the papacy.

Benedict, 82, was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. He was brought to the Vatican to head the body responsible for investigating abuse cases. During that time, he was criticized for decreeing that even the most serious cases must first be investigated internally.

Since then, Benedict has taken a strong stand against abuse by clerics in the Catholic Church. Just weeks before he became pope, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger caused a stir when he denounced "filth" in the church and among priests -- a condemnation taken as a reference to clerical sex abuse.

German church officials said Wednesday that they will examine what -- if anything -- Benedict knew about abuse when he was Munich archbishop. "We do not know if the pope knew about the abuse cases at the time," said church spokesman Karl Juesten.

More here-

LOS ANGELES: Mary Glasspool receives required number of standing committee consents in unofficial tally

From Episcopal Life Online- (Note the mjority of Bishops have not yet consented)

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool has received the required number of consents from diocesan standing committees to her ordination and consecration, pending verification by the presiding bishop's office.
The Diocese of Los Angeles announced March 10 that Glasspool had received 61 standing committee consents, in an unofficial tally. A majority of consents, or 56, were required from standing committees in the Episcopal Church's 109 dioceses.

"I give thanks for the standing commitees' prompt action, and for the consents to the elections of my sisters," Los Angeles Bishop Diocesan J. Jon Bruno said on March 10, referring to both Glasspool and Bishop Suffragan-elect Diane Jardine Bruce.

"I look forward to the final few consents to come in from the bishops in the next few days, and I give thanks for the fact that we as a church have taken a bold step for just action."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's office has yet to verify the official number of bishops with jurisdiction who have consented to Glasspool's ordination and consecration.

The Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop, told ENS that the consent process for a bishop-elect lasts the full 120 days as prescribed by the canons of the church, unless that person receives the required majority of consents before the period is over, at which time an announcement can be made. Until the required number of consents is received, or the 120-day period ends, bishops and standing committees are able to change their vote, he said.

More here-

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Six World Vision Aid Workers Killed In Pakistan

From NPR-

Suspected militants armed with assault rifles and a homemade bomb attacked the offices of a U.S.-based Christian aid group helping earthquake survivors in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing six Pakistani employees, police and the organization said.

The assault prompted World Vision, a major international humanitarian group, to suspend its operations in Pakistan. Other aid organizations condemned the attack but said it would not lead them to curtail their own activities.

Extremists have killed other foreign aid group employees in Pakistan and accused such organizations of working against Islam, greatly hampering efforts to raise living standards in the desperately poor region. Many groups have already scaled down operations in the northwest or pulled out altogether.

The attack took place in Ogi, a small town in Mansehra district, which was badly hit by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

"It was a brutal and senseless attack," said Dean Owen, World Vision spokesman in Seattle, Washington. "It was completely unexpected, unannounced and unprovoked."

Islamists often target Christian groups, which they accuse of trying to convert Muslims.

Another World Vision spokesman said the group, which was founded 60 years ago in the U.S. and is one of the world's largest and most well-funded Christian aid organizations, had suspended operations across Pakistan as a result of the attack.

More here-

What Homer Simpson can teach the Catholic Church in Ireland about truth

From Ireland-

The Irish bishops have returned home after last month’s meeting with Pope Benedict in the Vatican, where they discussed what Cardinal Hummes has described as “the painful Irish happenings.”

We were warned that it would shock us, and it did. I remember the day it was released: I sat watching the news reports with my newborn son asleep in my arms. I became so upset that I had to turn the TV off, though I could hardly see the screen by then.

The question asked constantly in the Irish media has been: what should the Bishops now do? But an equally important question is: what should ordinary lay Catholic people now do? A few weeks after the report, I happened to see a re-run of The Simpsons that, oddly enough, answered that very question. It captured perfectly a common reaction amongst some Catholic laity: there is an unfortunate tendency to sweep the abuse scandal under the carpet, or to only mention it in veiled terms.

More here-

Downtown lunch spot Franktuary gets even greener with help of CORO Fellows

From Pittsburgh-

Already a bastion of conscious eating, Franktuary is taking steps to be even more eco-friendly and accessible.
The gourmet hot dog shop already gives 2 percent of all profits to charity; serves the ever-popular grass-finished, organic, all-beef Locavore dog; offers auto-free bike delivery in the Downtown area; and has plenty of vegetarian options, including the tofu frank, salads and soups.

Now, the lunch spot in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, at 325 Oliver Ave., is taking steps to leave an even smaller carbon footprint. With the help of two CORO Fellows, who worked with Franktuary from January until recently, the eatery has starting planning a composting program that will get under way once the warm weather's here to stay; will be temporarily taking chicken products off the menu until a more sustainable poultry source is established; is transitioning from disposable to permanent flatware; and has vowed to move away from Styrofoam cups and containers once the current supply is exhausted. Also, Franktuary has eliminated all high-fructose corn syrups from the beverage case and--at the recommendation of a Fellow with cerebral palsy--Franktuary has lowered the waste/recycling area so that it's more accessible for customers in wheelchairs.

More here-

Anglican Archbishop speaks out after violence

From Episcopal Life Online-

Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi is appealing for prayers after more than 500 people are reported dead in the Jos region of Nigeria where two villages were attacked by gangs during the night of March 7.

"Some of these communities may never again be recognized in history because generations have been wiped out," Kwashi said in a statement posted o the Church Mission Society website. "Hundreds of corpses of men, women, children and grandchildren littered the burned houses, roads, bush paths, farm areas and hiding places."

The archbishop, who provides oversight for 11 dioceses throughout the Province of Jos in the Church of Nigeria, encouraged "all who trust in the Lord to keep praying and never give up."
The full scale of the massacre has yet to be realized as various eye-witness reports and updates continue to surface from human rights agencies and journalists working in the region. While some reports claim that the attacks are religiously motivated, others acknowledge that the situation is far more complex and cite a lack of resources and bad governance as the primary cause.

In his statement, Kwashi said: "I know as of fact of many Christian religious, political and community leaders who are willing and prepared peacefully to arrive at workable conditions for people to live with. I also know as of fact that there are Muslim religious, political and community leaders who are willing to find solutions." Kwashi asked: "Is there no other way by which matters can be resolved except through this sadistic and cruel way of making peoples' lives miserable? For me, as a Christian, human life is so sacred that no one, absolutely no one, should tamper with it, no matter what religious faith you belong to. Human life is so sacred and we have to teach and train people to value it: it is a gift from God."

More here-

Can't Repeat: The 1899 Sewanee Iron Men

From Bleacher Report-

The University of the South can be found in Sewanee, Tennessee. It's an Episcopal Private School that made it's place in the History of College Football in the year of 1899.

It's easy to say that what happened in the early days of College Football didn't count. It's especially easy for fans of big name schools such as Notre Dame, USC and the numerous SEC fans that surround me. Why?

Sewanee created its advantages; they were one of the first schools to start a football program in the South. Another one was that they held school through out the year including the summer, which gave them a long winter break and more practice time than any other school they faced.

You also have to remember that there was no such thing as the NCAA, no passing plays and schools winning strategies even included hiring players. So you had at times 25, 28 even 30 year old men playing for the old alma mater.

There wasn't a crystal ball, no conferences, divisions or a future in the NFL. There was only the game as it existed and that was all the fans needed.

The Sewanee Tigers went 12-0-0, produced a College Football Hall of Famer HB Henry G. Seibels and outscored their opponents 322 to 10. Those 10 points were scored by a John Heisman coached team at Auburn.

More here-

Good Stuff in TEC: Tennessee

St. Francis Of Assisi Episcopal Collects Shoes For Walk In Love

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church Ooltewah will hold a Maundy Thursday service on April 1 beginning at 7 p.m. The guest preacher will be Brother Ron Fender.

Brother Ron is a member of the Brotherhood of St. Gregory which is a community of Episcopal men who live under the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Brother Ron washes and provides therapeutic care for the feet of the homeless in Chattanooga.

As part of the service the membership of St. Francis will present Brother Ron with new and slightly used shoes to be delivered to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen to be dispersed as needed to the homeless in Chattanooga.

More here-

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stanley Hauerwas on America’s God

From the Living Church-

Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, delivered this lecture at Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas, on March 7 as part of a weekend of events cosponsored by the congregation and The Living Church.

I have been asked to address the character of American Protestantism as well as the religious awareness of the American people and the impact that awareness has on society and politics. No small topic. I think it first important to identify the perspective from which I speak. I am a Protestant. I am a communicant at the Church of the Holy Family, which is an Episcopal church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I teach in the Divinity School at Duke University, a very secular university, but before Duke I taught 14 years at the University of Notre Dame. I relate this history only to suggest to you I come from the Catholic side of Protestantism.

I am not sure I can make clear what it means to say I come from the Catholic side of Protestantism, but at the very least it means that I do not think Christianity began with the Reformation. When I was interviewed for possible appointment to the faculty at Notre Dame I was asked what Protestant courses I would teach. I said I did not teach Protestant theology because I thought the very notion was a mistake. Rather I would teach Thomas Aquinas, because his work was crucial for my attempt to recover the virtues for understanding the Christian life. I saw no reason that Aquinas should be assumed to be only a thinker for Roman Catholics.

More here-

Ordinariates come into sharper focus

From America Magazine-

Two recent addresses help to clarify Pope Benedict XVI's personal ordinariate scheme for groups of Anglicans wishing to enter into communion with Rome.

Speaking in Canada, the president of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Cardinal William Levada, said groups of Anglicans entering into communion with the Catholic Church will not be absorbed the way "a teaspoon of sugar would be lost in a gallon of coffee", according to this CNS story. They will "provide a distinct sound within the Church, the way the different instruments in an orchestra blend in a symphony" he told a fundraising dinner.

Levada also said the ordinariates were the "logical fruit" of Anglican-Catholic dialogue: they brought about unity but without absorbing. In this way they offer a model for future corporate unity between the Anglican and Catholic Churches.

Meanwhile, the Australian bishop responsible for receiving the groups of Anglicans who have already applied to be part of the ordinariate scheme in that country has written an interesting letter (dated 13 Feb) to Anglicans considering the move.

More here-

Bethlehem churches' efforts to shelter homeless during winter months commendable

From Bethlehem PA-

Temperatures are starting to climb, most snowbanks have melted away and those of us here in the Northeast are beginning to trade our winter coats for light jackets.

Ah, spring! It's a time when we are no longer forced to cope with crippling snowstorms, ice-covered roads or chapped skin.

And it's also the time when the homeless among us aren't quite as vulnerable as they were during the bone-chilling days and nights of winter.

Recently Express-Times reporter Lynn Olanoff took readers inside a church-based effort in Bethlehem that provides shelter for the homeless from January through March.

The collaborative effort began last year with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and spread to include seven churches before the winter season was over. This winter, the rotating shelter program grew with Trinity Episcopal organizing the program and 11 other churches serving as temporary shelters.

It's a huge undertaking, requiring a stable of volunteers willing to handle a wide array of duties, including coordinating schedules, sleeping in the temporary shelters overnight, cooking dinners or providing breakfasts.

When major snowstorms struck this winter, some volunteers risked treacherous snow-covered roads to reach the shelter, knowing vulnerable people would be forced to sleep outside in dangerously frigid conditions.

more here-

Some neighbors say cathedral bells ring too long

From Louisiana-

St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral in Shreveport has a new set of bells - and some neighbors are unhappy about all the practice the bell-ringers are putting in.

The bells were made by the English foundry that made the Liberty Bell. They arrived late last year.

Some neighbors called KTBS-TV to say the bells sometimes ring for hours on end, especially on weekends. They ring for calls to services, religious holidays and during funerals, and during practice.

The Rev. Michael Millard says the only comments to the church have been positive. He says he'd like to hear from neighbors who are upset so they can discuss the matter.

Millard says the bell tower shutters are closed during practices to help muffle the noise.

more here-

Three bishops-elect receive church's consent for ordination

From Episcopal Life Online-

Bishops-elect in the dioceses of Los Angeles, Louisiana and Upper South Carolina have received the required consent of the wider church for their ordinations and consecrations.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's office March 8 announced successful consent processes for the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles, the Very Rev. Morris K. Thompson of Louisiana and the Rev. W. Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina.

Bruce was elected bishop suffragan on Dec. 4. Her ordination and consecration is planned for May 15.

Thompson was elected 11th bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana on Dec. 5 and his ordination and consecration is set for May 7.

Waldo was elected eighth bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina Dec. 12, 2009. His ordination and consecration is slated for May 22.

Jefferts Schori will be the chief consecrator in each instance, according to news releases due to be posted here.

Under the canons of the Episcopal Church (III.11.4), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to a bishop-elect's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

The consent process for the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, who was elected the day after Bruce as a second bishop suffragan in Los Angeles, has not yet been completed. The diocese said March 3 that Glasspool had received 55 of the 56 standing committee consents needed. That information is unofficial, pending verification by the presiding bishop's office. There is no official information about the number of bishops with jurisdiction who have consented to Glasspool's ordination and consecration, which is also scheduled for May 15. The 120-day process for Glasspool lasts until May 8 and the diocese has been updating the process each Wednesday on its website here.

More here-

Monday, March 8, 2010

Updated: Dallas Affirms Anglican Covenant

From The Living Church-

Delegates to a special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas voted March 6 to adopt and enter into the Anglican Covenant.

The move makes the 30,000-member North Texas diocese among the first dioceses (Central Florida is another) to affirm the Covenant’s call for mutual accountability among worldwide Anglicans.

Delegates also voted 185–101 to disassociate the diocese from General Convention actions last summer that have led to more public blessings of same-sex couples.

The votes followed a call by the chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council to renounce the notion that the gospel “is all about us.”

“The hour is getting late,” said the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, Bishop of Southern Malawi, quoting lyrics from Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

“Time for our games is running out,” the bishop added. “In fact, I believe it has run out already. It is time to focus on Jesus. … It is not about you but about Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

The diocese’s adoption of the Covenant — irrespective of what the Episcopal Church might decide someday on the matter — carried heavily by voice vote.

The convention earlier adopted, 176–147, a motion to affirm diocesan membership not just in the Anglican Communion but also in the Episcopal Church — a signal that the Rt. Rev. James Stanton’s commitment to keep the diocese in the church enjoys majority support.

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Troops deployed as 500 dead in Nigerian violence

From Nigeria-

Troops had been seen in Nigeria's northern city of Jos after at least 500 were killed in a communal violence in the western African country, local residents witnessed on Monday.

A resident in Plateau State, where the tragedy happened, said he had seen armored vehicles and military trucks arrive in the village along with patrolling troops.

The latest military move came after a Nigerian government official confirmed on Monday that at least 500 had been killed in a communal clash in Jos, which followed the crisis on Jan. 17 in the same region when some youths attacked worshippers at St. Michael's Anglican Church in Nasawara Gwom.

Police spokesman in Plateau State Muhammed Lerama has confirmed the latest incident and said the acting Commissioner of Police in the state, Ikechukwu Aduba, would address the press on the crisis on Monday.

Meanwhile, the country's newly appointed Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said all the security services in northern Plateau State and neighboring states should be on red alert so as to stem any cross border dimensions to this latest conflict.

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More Anglicans say Yes to Full Communion: The Restoration of the Church.


a well written February 26, 2010 editorial for the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Beginning of the Reformation´s End", Charlotte Hays described an event which may become more common in the year ahead:

"On a recent evening, about 60 people—ex-Episcopalians, curious Catholics and a smattering of earnest Episcopal priests in clerical collars—gathered downtown for an unusual liturgy: It was Evensong and Benediction, sung according to the Book of Divine Worship, an Anglican Use liturgical book still being prepared in Rome.

"Beautiful evensongs are a signature of Protestant Episcopal worship. Benediction, which consists of hymns, canticles or litanies before the consecrated host on the altar, is a Catholic devotion. We were getting a blend of both at St. Mary Mother of God Church, lent for the occasion.

"One former Episcopalian present confessed to having to choke back tears as the first plainsong strains of "Humbly I Adore Thee," the Anglican version of a hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas, floated down from the organ in the balcony. A convert to Catholicism, she could not believe she was sitting in a Catholic Church, hearing the words of her Anglican girlhood—and as part of an authorized, Roman Catholic liturgy."

As I have written before in "Here Come the Anglicans", the movement is gaining traction. On Wednesday March 3, 2010, members of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) in the United States (who use the organizational name Anglican Church in America) voted to give their "Fiat", their "Yes" of love to the invitation of the Holy Spirit working through the Successor of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI. They will come into the full communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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Madison residents talk homeless shelter issues

From Wisconsin-

Madison residents voiced concerns and brainstormed solutions on how to improve homeless shelters in the city Saturday as a part of the Madison Homelessness Initiative’s “Dialogues on Homelessness.”

The dialogue included past and present homeless individuals, representatives of shelters and concerned residents. The discussion was centered mostly on the Grace Episcopal Church emergency shelter for men run by Porchlight Inc.

“I don’t feel that the shelter is perfect,” Porchlight Director of Operations Brad Hinkfuss said. “It’s a struggle for resources, and it’s a matter of doing the best you can with what you have. This doesn’t mean we don’t think there’s room for change.”

The group also had change on their mind.

Donna Asif, MHI director, said the community is rich with resources beyond money. She said people using the services have much to offer and should join forces with the shelter to make life better for everybody.

“Creativity is a resource and in this community there’s passion, there’s intelligence, there’s experience,” Asif said. “Change means you’re alive and breathing.”

More here-

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Members of the Ordinariate can call themselves 'Anglican Catholics', says bishop

From The London Telegraph-

The news that 100 traditional Anglican parishes in America are joining the Ordinariate is yet another indication that Pope Benedict’s scheme is beginning to take off, and it led me to a recent speech by Bishop Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, who helped persuade the Australian branch of Forward in Faith to vote to convert en masse.

Bishop Elliott is a world-renowned liturgist whose work is admired by the Pope. “The Anglo-Catholic”, a traditionalist US website, has the text of his address to FiF Australia, and I learned more from it about the Ordinariate than I have from any other non-papal document.
Including this rather startling fact: according to Bishop Elliott, members of the Ordinariate are perfectly entitled to call themselves “Anglican Catholics”. Here’s the reference:

… while legally being Catholics of the Roman Rite (i.e. “Roman Catholics”), the distinctiveness of the Anglican patrimony — which is much more comprehensive than mere liturgical deviations from the norms of the Latin Rite — will truly justify the appellation “Anglican Catholic” for our people.

More here-

Responding to the Pope’s Anglican Invitation

From The National Catholic Register-

This past week, the U.S. branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion formally requested entry into the Catholic Church. They did so under the terms of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus , issued last fall by Pope Benedict XVI.

Father Douglas Grandon is a former Anglican priest who became a Catholic in 2003 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. in 2008. His spiritual journey has taken him from Pentecostalism to evangelicalism to the Episcopal Church and finally to Catholicism.

He currently serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Moline, Ill. He spoke with Register senior writer Tim Drake.
Where are you from originally and what is your faith background?

I’m from northern Illinois. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I first heard the Gospel at the age of 14 at a coffee shop that offered free donuts, coffee, pop and a little bit of folk guitar music. I heard the Gospel there and responded to it a few weeks later by attending the Pentecostal church of the fellow I met there. That’s where I was during my high school years.

Later, I joined the Evangelical Free Church, a Scandinavian breakaway church from the Lutheran Church. As I was being drawn toward Catholicism, but was a little too afraid of the Catholic Church, I spent several years in the Episcopal Church. It was there that I met the very fine Episcopal Bishop Edward McBurney.

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Christians terrorised in Iraq and Egypt

From the Church Times-

CHURCH leaders world wide have expressed concern for Christians in Iraq and Egypt during the lead-up to parliamentary elections in both countries later this year.

Iraqi and Egyptian Christians fear for their safety after a number of sectarian killings over the past two months. Many believe they are being deliberately targeted.

Pope Benedict XVI expressed his “deep sorrow” over the recent deaths of Christians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and emphasised his solidarity through “prayer and affection” with “those suffering the con sequence of violence”.

The Pope’s words were described by the Bishop in Cyprus & the Gulf, the Rt Revd Michael Lewis, as a “timely” response to the “tragic re ports of the murderous actions of anti-Christian elements”.

Eight Christians have been killed in Mosul over recent weeks. In one incident, armed militiamen broke into the home of a 59-year-old man and shot him and his two adult sons. In another incident, an engineering student at Mosul University was shot dead, and his friend was wounded.

In a separate attack on a house in the city, the charity Open Doors says that five people were killed when gunmen “forced themselves into the house and gunned down an entire family. They even threw two bodies outside the house as a cruel warning for others.”

So many frightened Christians are now leaving Mosul that the Chaldean Archbishop, Mar Emil Shimoun Nona, has warned of a “humanitarian emergency” in the region. “The situation is dramatic,” he said, and his Church was giving emergency aid, because “the people fled without taking any thing with them.” The Archbishop ex pressed fears that soon Mosul would be “emptied completely of Chris­tians”.

More here-