Saturday, July 3, 2010

Churches deliver different messages about snakes

From South Carolina-

I received two environmental messages within the last month from unexpected sources - churches. One was troubling; the other was uplifting. Both were about pastors who felt uneasy about snakes.

According to a friend in South Carolina, "The pastor kicked off his Sunday sermon on 'fear' by talking about how scared he is of snakes. Among other things, he said, 'People have told me that snakes are good because they eat rats and mice, but I still take the shovel to them when I see them.'"

My friend expressed his disappointment with the comments that condoned snake-killing behavior.

Ecologists do not typically trust in divine intervention to address environmental issues.

But the coincidence of my receiving another message at the same time was uncanny. Particularly since it provided a more appropriate response from a minister who is also afraid of snakes.

The following are excerpts from an article written by David Meginniss of Christ Episcopal Church, Tuscaloosa, Ala., and reprinted with his permission.

"I've never approved of snake handling. First, it's dubious theology. Just because God says we can do it (handling snakes) does not mean we should do it. But the real objection I have to snake handling is that I don't like them. I know they're beneficial to the environment, but I still don't like them and don't want to handle them. So I was not real pleased when my wife found a snake in one of her blueberry bushes and wanted me to get rid of it. I told her it would probably slither off on its own. 'No,' she said, 'I think it's stuck.'

More here-

WHITTAKER: What will Christianity look like in the future?

From MA-

What will Christianity look like in the 21st century? How will it differ from, for example, Christian faith as expressed in the mid-20th century?

The first response of many American Christians would probably be that Christian faith will not change because it is timeless. But in fact, Christianity has varied significantly over the course of the past 2,000 years.

What seems clear now is that the predictions frequently made 50 years ago concerning the demise of Christianity, and indeed of most forms of religious expression, are not accurate. One of the foremost experts on religion in the United States during the past half-century is Professor Harvey Cox, who retired last year from a long career teaching at Harvard Divinity School.

His book, “The Secular City,” published in 1965, garnered enormous attention for a book on theology. In it, Professor Cox argued that God could be just as present in the secular as in the religious realms of life and that we should not cramp God by trying to confine the divine presence to some particular spiritual or ecclesial sector.

He spoke last week to a group of Episcopal clergy and lay people at an event hosted by the Trustees of Donations, the board that runs an investment fund for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and its parishes that is similar to a mutual fund.

More here-

Standing Committee membership, resignations confirmed by Anglican Communion Office

From Episcopal Life Online-

The Anglican Communion Office has announced that two new members will serve on the Standing Committee beginning with the July 23-27 meeting in London: Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and bishop of Dhaka; and the Rev. Canon Janet Trisk, rector of the parish of St. David, Prestbury, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Trisk was elected at the last Standing Committee meeting to replace Nomfundo Walaza, also from South Africa, and Sarker is the elected alternate for Middle East President Bishop Mouneer Anis, who resigned his membership in February saying that his presence has "no value whatsoever" and that his voice is "like a useless cry in the wilderness."

The July 2 release also confirmed that Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and his elected alternate, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa, have resigned from the Standing Committee.

In April, Orombi wrote a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams raising concerns that the Standing Committee has assumed "enhanced responsibility" and expressing his dismay that its membership includes representatives from the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

Orombi's letter was ambiguous about whether or not he had resigned his membership on the Standing Committee. But the Rev. Canon Alison Barfoot, Orombi's assistant for international relations, confirmed at the time that he was standing in support of Anis' resignation but that he had not, in fact, resigned himself.

Orombi was elected in February 2007 by his fellow primates to represent Africa on the Standing Committee, but he has not attended any of its meetings. Akrofi attended the committee's last meeting in December 2009 as Orombi's alternate.

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Iran also resigned from the Standing Committee in late June, yet no explanation has been given.

More here-

In defense of Thurgood Marshall

From The Washington Post-

In defense of Thurgood Marshall
Not often is a saint of the Episcopal Church attacked in the chambers of the United States Senate, but incredibly, it has happened this week, during the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings. As we prepare to celebrate our cherished American values of equality and justice on Independence Day, we must also rise to defend the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, an Episcopalian who embodied those ideals.

Marshall is an Episcopal saint. He was the first African American to become a justice of the United States Supreme Court and was the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case that struck down the institutional racism of segregated public schools. He was also a man of deep religious principles. Last summer, the Episcopal Church voted to include him in our book of saints, called Holy Women, Holy Men. May 17, the day of the Brown vs. Board decision, is his feast.

During his years in Washington, Justice Marshall and his family belonged to St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, where his widow, Sissy, is still an active member. On behalf of all Episcopalians in the Diocese of Washington, I extend to her my sympathy for the hurtful remarks made this week about her late husband. Let me assure Mrs. Marshall and all Episcopalians that our church is resolute in our gratitude for and admiration of Justice Marshall's legacy, and we pray that we may all receive his exceptional grace and courage to speak the truth.

More here-

Friday, July 2, 2010

Slash spending on bishops’ houses, says task group

From The Church Times-

EXPENDITURE on bishops’ houses is out of control, an official task group has concluded.
The funding for see houses is set every three years. The total spent in 2002-04 was £11 million. In 2008-10, it is forecast to be £21 million. The average maintenance cost of some bishops’ houses is now well over £50,000 a year.

The figures come in a document prepared by a task group on spending, chaired by the Bishop of Lon don, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres. Other members include the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd Andrew Urquhart, and the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith.

The group acknowledges that a number of the houses are Grade I and Grade II listed. It also accepts that much of the expenditure is a result of work on office space in many of the houses, which are used by diocesan staff as well as by the bishop. Such expenditure seldom adds to the value of the house.

It concludes, none the less, that the money allocated in 2011-13 should be capped at £15 million, with a view to bringing it down to no more than £10 million in 2014-16. “There is a compelling need to bring control over this area of expend iture,” the group says.

Official responsibility for the see houses rests with the Church Commissioners, and their board of governors is discussing future strategy later this year.

The task group says: “Our view is that it has no option but to think radically about the future. Past reviews have created much debate but little real change. We think that the time has come when tinkering with the portfolio will not be enough.”

More here-

American worship attendance creeps up in 2010, according to Gallup poll

From Ann Arbor-

According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who self-reported attending a church, synagogue or mosque service weekly or almost weekly was 43.1 percent. This is a slight increase from 42.8 percent in 2009 and 42.1 percent in 2008.

The small increase over the last 2.5 years is statistically significant, reports Gallup, "suggesting that there has in fact been an uptick in religious service participation." The article also notes that economic confidence has increased over this time period, countering the idea that increased church attendance is a reaction to poor economic times.

CNN's Belief blog reported that Trinity College Professor Mark Silk "dismissed the numbers out of hand," suggesting that people tend to exaggerate self-reporting of behaviors commonly regarded as "good." Silk estimates the percentage of Americans who actually attend weekly services "somewhere in the mid-20s," according to CNN.

In the CNN story, Silk did note that a completely unrelated study found that Americans say they are spending more time on "spiritual and religious activities." A Department of Labor survey of how Americans spend their time indicated an increase in minutes spent on spiritual activities each day.

More here-

Grace Episcopal homeless shelter to get makeover

From Wisconsin-

Epic Systems is donating a large chunk of money to Porchlight Inc. to renovate its emergency men's shelter in the basement of Grace Episcopal Church, on West Washington Avenue, where some homeless people and their advocates have criticized conditions (see "Bleak House," 2/12/2010).

"Epic has proposed to pay for fairly significant renovations for the laundry, kitchen and bathroom," says Steve Schooler, Porchlight executive director, adding that Epic has estimated the total cost at around $140,000. But Bern Tan, an Epic employee, says the exact amount of the donation is unknown because "once you start opening walls to bathrooms, you never know what you're going to find."

Tan says the company was prompted to act by Isthmus' article. "We decided this was really a worthwhile cause, because the folks at Porchlight are doing their best," he says. "We just want to help." H. Krueger & Associates will provide free architectural services, and J.P. Cullen & Sons will provide construction services.

Schooler says the renovations won't increase the shelter's capacity, but will greatly improve the space. He hopes work will begin in August and finish by October.

Lewis gets Episcopal license back

From West Virginia-

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia has restored the license of Charleston's foremost reform activist minister, Jim Lewis.

A Thursday notice from St. John's Church Rector Susan Latimer and Senior Warden John Canfield said: "We are pleased to announce that Bishop [Michie] Klusmeyer has issued a license to the Rev. Jim Lewis to officiate within the diocese of West Virginia."

Lewis -- creator of Manna Meal for the homeless at St. John's, and later founder of the Patriots for Peace anti-war group -- temporarily lost his license after complaints that he performed too many services for St. John's members while retired. Negotiations resolved the complaints.

Thursday's announcement also said the historic midtown church plans to "obtain the services of a congregational consultant for the purpose of helping [it] resolve ongoing parish conflicts."

Dolph Briscoe Jr., governor of Texas during 1970s oil boom, dies at 87

From The Washington Post-

Dolph Briscoe Jr., 87, who presided over Texas as governor during the oil and gas boom years before an upset in 1978, died June 27 at his home in Uvalde, Tex.

He had been hospitalized in January and had returned home recently, a family spokeswoman said, but the cause of death was not disclosed.

During the conservative Democrat's two terms as governor from 1972 to 1978, Texas experienced rising oil and gas revenue, and Mr. Briscoe kept his campaign pledge to not raise taxes.

"The necessity of fiscal responsibility in all levels of government is second only to world peace in our survival," he once said.

Mr. Briscoe lost to Attorney General John Hill in the Democratic primary in 1978. Hill lost in the general election to Bill Clements, Texas's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

Years after the bitterness of the 1978 political campaign had worn off, Mr. Briscoe still said he could have defeated Clements.

More here-

Thursday, July 1, 2010

'If you want spiritual help, die only between nine and five'

From The Irish Times-

LONDON LETTER: Chaplains fear patients of faith could go to their deaths alone because of hospital cutbacks, writes MARK HENNESSY

EVERY DAY, Carol English, who works with the College of Health Care Chaplains in London, receives calls from worried chaplains attached to English hospital who fear that accelerating National Health Service cutbacks will see them being made redundant, leaving patients of religious faith facing operations or death without the opportunity of spiritual comfort.

Some have already been let go by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London and the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, while others have had their hours cut dramatically.

The chaplains, who are mostly drawn from the Anglican, Catholic, or other Christian faiths, are “a soft target”, said English, for NHS managers trying to save money, even though the savings made are trifling.

The consequences, however, are not. Under the strict rules that govern the NHS, chaplains fulfil duties that cannot be easily handled by local parish-based priests and clerics. “Already, the cutbacks in the out-of-hours services mean that you should not die out of hours if you want spiritual help. Die only between nine and five,” English said.

More here-

Missioner Leaves Connecticut Diocese

From The Living Church (Geoff and I were seminary classmates)

The Rev. Geoffrey A. Little, who has served as a church planter in the Diocese of Connecticut for more than 18 years, resigned his orders as an Episcopal priest July 1.

Little and his bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, announced his resignation in a joint statement issued June 27.

Little, who served most recently as priest in charge of St. Luke’s in the New Haven neighborhood known as Fair Haven, plans to start a new parish, All Nations Anglican Church, in the same community. It will be affiliated with the Anglican Church of North America.

Little told the New Haven Register that he thinks up to 90 percent of the congregation may follow him to the new parish. Little is not attempting a legal challenge about the diocese’s control of property at St. Luke’s, and the diocese intends to continue providing ministry to members of the parish.

The joint statement by Little and Douglas was both amicable and respectful.

“Geoff’s departure from the Episcopal Church represents a significant loss for the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, and for our urban ministry in New Haven,” the statement said. “Geoff has been a very faithful and hardworking missionary in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut for over 18 years. The diocese is less because of his departure.”

More here-

Woman "priest" appointed chaplain to Britain's House of Commons

From Spero news-

An Anglican woman has been appointed as the new Speaker’s Chaplain in the House of Commons.

Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, 49, is currently Anglican Vicar of the United Benefice of Holy Trinity with St Philip, Dalston, and All Saints, Haggerston, in east London.

She will combine this role with the position of Speaker’s Chaplain and as a "Priest Vicar at Westminster Abbey," according to a release from the House of Commons. Her appointment will begin in September following the retirement of the Rev Robert Wright after 12 years in the role.

Rev Hudson-Wilkin was born and grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Commissioned a Church Army Officer in 1982, her theological training took place on the West Midlands Ministerial Training Course at Queens Theological College in England.

More here-'s+House+of+Commons

Churches Minister to Their Ministers After the Flood

From Nashville-

Area denominations are offering extra help and resources for their clergy following Tennessee’s recent floods. The job of comforting and counseling congregants can be especially difficult after a disaster.

Bishop John Bauerschmidt says a natural disaster is particularly challenging because the recovery effort affects every member of a congregation for months on end.

Bauerschmidt called in a professional crisis counselor to teach Episcopal church workers how to look for signs of disaster-related stress in their congregation and themselves, and when to suggest individuals seek out clinical help. The Bishop says he benefitted from a similar workshop when he was leading a church in coastal Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

“You’re dealing with issues and challenges of such a scale that it’s difficult to find the resources within yourself to deal with them emotionally and spiritually.”

There were quiet murmurs and even tears as Susan Gillpatrick began the session with photos of flood damage.

Gillpatrick is a crisis management specialist with Centerstone. She says church leaders should be on the lookout for signs that they need a break.

More here-

LOS ANGELES: Denial of immigrant rights 'has got to stop,' say interfaith activists

From ELO-

As part of a national push to heighten awareness of the need for comprehensive immigration reform, a group of Christians, Jews and Muslims in Los Angeles declared June 29 a day of prayer and fasting and urged opposition to Arizona's immigration law, due to take effect in a month.

"I've fasted for eight days and our group fully intends to keep fasting until the end of July, when we will be traveling to Arizona to challenge this very un-American, inhumane law," Juan José Gutiérrez told about 50 people who gathered on the steps of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles' Wilshire district.

With passing traffic honking support, Gutiérrez, of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, invoked "the spirit of the great Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. … (and) the sacrifices he made to achieve civil rights, full rights, for all people in America, which we still haven't gotten."

He and others called upon President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to remember that "justice delayed is justice denied. And denying human rights—full rights for immigrants—has gone far enough. It has got to stop and we're making a stand today."

Similar events were planned the same day in New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Hawaii, as part of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition's Isaiah 58 Summer project. The June 6-July 31 project called for rolling vigils throughout the nation, beginning on the East coast and culminating with groups gathering in Arizona to protest implementation of SB1070, which aims to target and deport undocumented people.

Francisco Garcia, a lay leader at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, said he was fasting all day in support of "humane and just comprehensive immigration reform."

More here-

Episcopal church suffers setback in Fort Worth lawsuit

From Ft. Worth via Kansas City-

A local group representing the national Episcopal Church has hit a legal snag in its attempt to take control of the property of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

The 2nd Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the group's attorneys, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of "The Corporation and The Fort Worth Diocese," cannot represent those entities because the entities are also associated with Bishop Jack Iker, the defendant in the lawsuit.

The appellate court noted that there is only one corporation and diocese, which both sides are staking claim to.

The opinion, written by Justice Anne Gardner, says that "a corporation cannot sue itself" and that a judge would be "unnecessarily confused by presentations from two opposing factions who claim to be the 'The Corporation' and 'The Fort Worth Diocese.'"

The opinion also says that the work performed by the attorneys, Jonathan Nelson and Kathleen Wells, in the name of the corporation and the diocese should be thrown out but that the attorneys can represent the individuals who hired them.

What happens next remains to be seen. The group can ask the court to rehear the case, appeal to the Supreme Court or restyle the lawsuit and put it back before Judge John Chupp in the 141st District Court, where it was originally filed.

Read more:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mexico adopts the Anglican Communion Covenant

From ACNS-

Mexico has become the first Communion Province to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant following its VI General Synod in Mexico City on 11 and 12 June.

Secretary General Kenneth Kearon said he was delighted at the decision and labelled The Anglican Church of Mexico's decision as a "significant step" in the life of the Communion.

The Anglican Communion Covenant, a document that outlines the common life and values of the Communion, was described by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams as "Something that helps us know where we stand together and also helps us to intensify our fellowship and our trust." It includes a section that proposes how to address significant disagreements within the Anglican Communion.

The idea of a Covenant was first raised in 2004 and member churches are currently reviewing the latest and final version. "We are delighted to hear that Mexico has agreed to adopt the Covenant," said Canon Kearon. "Provinces were asked to take their time to seriously consider this document, and we are glad to hear from recent synods that they are doing just that."

More here-

Talk about trouble...

From New Zealand-

Disagreement with The Episcopal Church about gay bishops is one thing: but why have those two ordinations provoked such intense antagonism?

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told yesterday’s Q&A session at Te Hepara Pai that she figures that’s about loss of power.

“I think it represents the pain and discomfort of people who used to be at the centre, and who are now finding themselves being moved to the margins.

“In my context, 200 years ago the landed white gentry were in control of a monoculture. ‘Now all of these people have come along and messed with that: how dare they?’”

She told the Tikanga Maori hosted forum that wide swathes of US society were living in anxiety. People who’d once held down jobs for life had seen their employment being exported to China and India, they were enduring economic meltdown – and now the focus of their anxiety was shifting to immigrants from Central America.

Bishop Katherine said that she hoped that “somewhere down the road” TEC and its most hostile critics “will discover the gospel in a new way” that allows them all to find common cause.

“But for that kind of resurrection to happen, death has to take place first.”

More here-

The Anglican power play

From The London Guardian-

The Church of England's House of Bishops is urging it to accept an Anglican Communion Covenant. This would give top leaders of overseas churches more power over the C of E and (strictly in theory) vice versa. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been a champion of greater centralism among Anglicans worldwide, supposedly to strengthen unity. But recent events have exposed the tawdry reality behind talk of "interdependence" and "bonds of affection".

The Communion has long been a family of churches in different parts of the world, with a common heritage of faith but able to make their own decisions. The 1878 Lambeth Conference resolved that "the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches" and "no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof" .

This was repeatedly affirmed at international gatherings, as were the value of freedom and human rights. (While the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior C of E cleric, was expected to convene such events, he had no authority over other provinces.)

On other matters such as contraception, views changed over time. By 1978, though heterosexuality was still treated as the norm, Anglicans worldwide were being urged to study homosexuality and enter into dialogue with gays and lesbians.

More here-

IRAN: Bishop Azad Marshall resigns from Anglican Communion's Standing Committee

From ELO-

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Iran has announced his resignation from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, yet no explanation has been given.

"I can confirm that Bishop Azad Marshall has resigned from the Standing Committee, though I'm not in a position to cite his reasons," Jan Butter, director of communications for the Anglican Communion, said June 29 in a statement e-mailed to ENS.

Marshall's announcement follows that of Middle East President Bishop Mouneer Anis, who in January also tendered his resignation from the Standing Committee saying that his presence has "no value whatsoever" and that his voice is "like a useless cry in the wilderness."

Both Marshall and Anis serve as bishops in the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Butter told ENS that the Standing Committee members will elect a successor to Marshall at their next meeting, scheduled for July 23-27 at St. Andrew's House in London, where the Anglican Communion Office is located.

The Standing Committee usually meets annually but has met biannually for the past three years. It oversees the day-to-day operations of the Anglican Communion Office and the programs and ministries of the four instruments of communion -- the archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates Meeting, and the Lambeth Conference of bishops.

The Standing Committee is made up of 15 members elected from among the ACC and the Primates Meeting. The Primates Meeting also elects alternates who serve when the elected member is unable to attend. The ACC does not elect alternates to the Standing Committee.

More here-

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Diocese of Albany Endorses Covenant

From The Living Church-

The Diocese of Albany’s annual convention endorsed the Anglican Communion Covenant in a 314-76 vote June 12.

Albany joins the dioceses of Central Florida, Dallas, South Carolina and Western Louisiana in endorsing the Covenant.

Albany Via Media opposed the endorsement, and posted a statement from the vestry of Christ Church, Hudson, N.Y., that said the Covenant is “about the exercise of group power through bargaining and voting.”

The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, welcomed the vote.

“As I have stated on earlier occasions, by endorsing the Anglican Communion Covenant, the Diocese of Albany is sending a strong message and signal to the rest of the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion that we greatly value our Anglican heritage and relationships throughout the world, and that we intend by the grace of God to honor that which is asked of us in the Anglican Communion Covenant, worshipping and serving our Lord Jesus Christ, sharing the Gospel in cooperation and close relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the Anglican Communion,” he wrote to clergy and laity of the diocese.

The bishop added that the Covenant does not ask the diocese “to do anything that we are not already doing” or “to be anything other than who we are.”

Zimbabwe: Anglican Bishop Denies Supporting Homosexuality

From Zimbabwe (All Africa)

Anglican Diocese faction leader Bishop Chad Gandiya yesterday said his province did not subscribe to homosexuality, but admitted some provinces condoned gay marriages.

In an interview yesterday, Bishop Gandiya said the Church of Central Province, under which his diocese falls, did not support gay marriages or same-sex relationships.

The bishop's comments come in the wake of a feud his faction has been embroiled in with the rival camp led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who broke away from the CPCA to form the Province of Zimbabwe.

Bishop Kunonga left in 2007, citing the church's alleged dabbling in homosexuality, after the Province of Canterbury appointed a gay priest. "We are not governed by Canterbury, we are only members of the Anglican Communion. Each archbishop is autonomous. There are those provinces that accept women priests and gay priests just as there are those provinces that do not ordain gay priests and women priests," said Bishop Gandiya.

"We do not ordain women priests or gay priests and nobody can tell us as a province to do that because it is our decision."

More here-

Site Connects Pantries, Fresh Food

From CT

Tomatoes and peppers are starting to poke through the freshly tilled soil at Christ Episcopal Church in Ansonia.

Once the vegetables are ripe, they’ll go directly to the The Kathleen Samela Memorial Food Bank, which is housed in the church basement.

Rev. Amy D. Welin hopes the veggies from the 10-foot-by-12-foot church garden won’t be the only fresh produce the food bank sees this year.

Christ Church recently teamed with, which is an online service that connects local gardeners with food banks in their area.

Such partnerships are helping replace cereal and Mac and Cheese boxes with fresh produce at pantries across the country.

Welin said each year gardeners are forced to throw away their extra bounty.

More here-

St. Mary’s-on-the-Hill bell unveiled after rescue

From Buffalo-

If the frantic efforts to salvage the 1,000-pound bell from the wreckage of St. Mary’s-on-the- Hill Episcopal Church took a toll on local preservationist Tim Tielman, he certainly didn’t seem any worse for the wear Monday.

As executive director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, Tielman enthusiastically presided over the unveiling of the 114-year-old bell during his organization’s annual meeting, regaling about 25 participants with his tale of the bell’s salvaging. He invited those in attendance to take turns ringing the bell as it hung from its temporary residence on a tree in a yard on Columbus Parkway.

“This bell of St. Mary’s-on-theHill has been tolling here for over 100 years, and it is . . . here now because this is a thriving, vibrant community,” said Kathy Mecca, a neighborhood resident who was instrumental in finding temporary storage for the bell.

The bell summoned parishioners to the landmark St. Mary’s-on-the-Hill at Niagara and Vermont streets from 1893 until the church’s closing in 1994, after which the neglected building fell into disrepair. On May 5, the bell tower of the building collapsed and Tielman was alerted by someone who had heard about it while monitoring a police scanner.

More here-

Presiding Bishop of TEC welcome in Brisbane, says Primate

From Australia-

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is welcome to visit the Diocese of Brisbane, according to Dr Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane and Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia.

"The Presiding Bishop is welcome to visit the Brisbane Diocese as were four other Primates from around the Anglican Communion who have visited us in the past year," said Dr Aspinall. "Reciprocal visits by Primates and Archbishops are a common and rich part of our Anglican tradition. Discussions will take place with a number of people on topics including leadership, the Millennium Development Goals and human sexuality."

This is an informal visit by Dr Jefferts Schori, who is visiting Australia and New Zealand this month, as the reverberations from her Church's episcopal consecration of a partnered gay woman continue to shake the Anglican Communion. Dr Jefferts Schori's recent visit to England caused a stir when some clergy protested against her invitation to preach in Southwark Cathedral, and she was not permitted to wear her mitre during the service.

Bishop Jefferts Schori is due to preach at Christ Church in the Brisbane suburb of St Lucia on 4 July during a two-week visit to Australian and New Zealand.

"I'm to speak with people there about their conversations around human sexuality and also about their missionary development work - not in the sense of finances but in the sense of leadership development and theological education," Jefferts Schori told members of TEC Executive Council during their June 16-18 meeting in Maryland, according to the Episcopal News Service.

More here-

Monday, June 28, 2010

Action Report: Episcopal Groups Help Katrina Victims

From Louisiana-

These days, Sylvia Blanchard of Gentilly can't help but smile as she looks around her newly repaired home.

"It was like a mircale, it just was a miracle to me, you know I didn't think this would happen."
But there was so little to smile about three years ago about when her husband Anthony, a VIetnam Veteran with three Purple Hearts had a serious stroke that left him disabled on the day the Road Home turned him down for the second time.

"He had a massive stroke, went to the Road Home, and they gave him the run around, and fooled around, and he had a massive stroke, and been down ever since."

"It was one of those cases that just broke my heart," said Connie Uddo of the St. Paul's Homecoming Center. "It literally ripped me in two. I remember driving home and feeling sick to my stomach, crying."

But the despair turned into a celebration last month when the Blanchard home was completed, blessed, and the ribbon cut. The St. Paul's Episcopal Church Homecoming Center joined forces with Episcopal Community Services, and they brought in more than one thousand volunteers to finish the Blanchard home.

"36 volunteer groups on this house over the last two years," said a smiling Connie Uddo. "We finally were doing it, so it was Oh Happy Day!"

More here-

Nigeria: Anglican Primate Visits Converts 150 Years After First Mission

From Nigeria-

Playing host to the primate and his team, the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti and paramount ruler of the Ewi Kingdom said his own grand father came in contact with the Anglican Communion during that time.

According to him, Okoh was the first to visit the ancient palace of Ado-Ekiti a century and a half after.

The Ewi made this known when Ewi-in- Council hosted Okoh and his entourage during his Episcopal visit to the ecclesiastical province of Ondo recently

He said the prayers of the righteous availeth much. According to him, the turbulent past of intertribal wars which ravaged Ekiti land was overcome through the fervent prayers of their fathers and the words of God that prevailed.

He congratulated the primate on his election and asked that God will grant him robust health.

He said the primate came at the nick of time when politicians need to be told of the need to allow votes to count in 2011. The Ewi said Primate Okoh should continue to sensitize the generality of the populace to follow the Anglican example.

He said the Anglican Communion had been of tremendous assistance in all its ramifications especially in the field of education, because it was the Anglican that established Christ school, Ado-Ekiti.

More here-

Feminist theology still has followers

From North Carolina-

About 30 women gathered this weekend to talk about Mother God,Lady Wisdom and other female images of God.

But what many of them shared, apart from an interest in exploring the feminine aspects of their Christian faith, was their age. The youngest was 41. The oldest wouldn't say.

Feminist theology is hardly mentioned in churches these days. At Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, there is still a cadre of women for whom the issue resonates. At Sunday's service, this group highlighted the forgotten women of the New Testament, and particularly the nine women praised by the Apostle Paul, including Junia, Phoebe and Priscilla.

"One of the frustrations I have with the church is that we don't talk to the younger women all that well," said Sheryl Scrimsher, 63, of Durham, a member of the church who attended seminary in the late 1960s, when feminist theology was beginning to challenge male dominance in the church. "We need to make more inroads that way."

Feminist theology peaked in 1980, said Reta Halteman Finger, a feminist theologian and a retired professor of the New Testament from Harrisonburg, Va., who led a workshop at Binkley on Saturday and preached a sermon there Sunday.

Finger, who is 69, suspects other issues, such as rights for gays and lesbians and a growing concern with the environment, have taken center stage in many mainline Protestant churches where feminist theology was once popular.

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Tiny chapel, big hospitality

From new Zealand-

TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was welcomed at three New Zealand churches yesterday: Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral; St Michael and All Angels in Christchurch – and the tiny chapel at Te Hepara Pai, the Christchurch marae which is the spiritual home of Maori Anglicans in the South Island.

In physical dimensions, those first two churches dwarf Te Whakaruruhau (The Protector) the chapel at Te Hepara Pai.

But on the scales of hospitality?

On Sunday, Te Hepara Pai punched way above its weight there.

There wasn’t a big crew at the marae – perhaps 25 tangata whenua in Te Whakaruruhau , with another few folk toiling out in the wharekai, the kitchen and dining room.

But they were determined to honour their guest with the words they spoke at the powhiri, the songs they sang for her entertainment, and the hakari, or meal they laid on for the Bishop and the other manuhiri who accompanied her.

Wharekawa Kaa, who is a leading kaumatua in the south, led the tributes from the tangata whenua. It was a great thing, he said, for Maori and for the church to have Bishop Katharine come to them.

Richard Tankersley and Peter Beck – Dean of Christ Church Cathedral – responded for the manuhiri, the visitors, and Piripi Waretini was Bishop Katharine’s kaiarahi, or cultural guide.

More here-

Helping build faith on island

From Florida-

With access to a computer, telephone and the nearby interstate, Dr. Bob Stevens is in his 12th year of spearheading a growth initiative within the Episcopal Church.

Operating out of DaySpring Episcopal Conference Center, Stevens directs the Dominican Development Group, a nonprofit corporation focused on building churches and schools in part of Hispaniola.

"We try not to impose our views on them," said Stevens, calling that a type of colonialism. "Their decisions dictate what we do."

Stevens had been involved in planning and development of church efforts in the Caribbean nation and worked as a missionary before assuming his current position in 1998. He now travels up and down Interstate 75 to mission meetings a few times a week to explain what he understands the people there need.

With upwards of 300,000 children and limited or no classroom space, the Dominican Republic's dearth of schools has been addressed by Stevens. He has led annual journeys to build churches to which schools are attached.

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Chicago pastor weakens from hunger strike, but his resolve for immigration reform is strong

From The Chicago Tribune-

For years, the Rev. Jose Landaverde has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform, his insatiable appetite for attention to the cause once leading him to camp overnight outside a detention center in Broadview to show that activists like him won't go away until Congress acts on the issue.

His latest campaign is leaving Landaverde, 42, weak and breathless.

Since June 17, Landaverde has been on a diet of water and fruit juice as part of a planned chain of "hunger strikes" meant to draw more urgency to calls for federal legislators to overhaul the nation's immigration system. Landaverde, who has diabetes, took over from another minister, Rev. Martin Santellano, who, supporters say, went 32 days without solid foods.

For years, the Rev. Jose Landaverde has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform, his insatiable appetite for attention to the cause once leading him to camp overnight outside a detention center in Broadview to show that activists like him won't go away until Congress acts on the issue.

His latest campaign is leaving Landaverde, 42, weak and breathless.

Since June 17, Landaverde has been on a diet of water and fruit juice as part of a planned chain of "hunger strikes" meant to draw more urgency to calls for federal legislators to overhaul the nation's immigration system. Landaverde, who has diabetes, took over from another minister, Rev. Martin Santellano, who, supporters say, went 32 days without solid foods.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Priest leaving Episcopal Church in New Haven to follow evangelical calling

From Connecticut-

For the Rev. Geoffrey Little and his wife, Blanca, it’s time to leave one spiritual home and build a new one.

Today will be the Littles’ last day at St. James Episcopal Church on East Grand Avenue, but they’ll continue to serve the Latino community in Fair Haven and Fair Haven Heights.

This week, they’ll open a new evangelical parish, worshiping in a banquet hall at 229 Grand Ave.

Blanca Little, who has run St. James Christian Academy, will open a new school in the fall, running it out of their home on Lenox Street.

“We’re going to open a new church in Fair Haven,” Geoff Little said. “It’s going to be called All Nations Christian Church and it’s going to be associated with the new Anglican Church of North America.”

That affiliation is important to the Littles, because the change is much more weighty than just changing addresses. For Geoff Little, it means resigning as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

The ACNA will give him a refuge as an Anglican who does not accept what he sees as the Episcopal Church’s departure from biblical authority and moral principles, including acceptance of homosexuality.

Little’s main focus has been on spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and bringing new people into the church, an emphasis he believes the Episcopal Church has lost.

“We believe it’s a leading from God,” Little, 49, said of the decision to start a new parish. “It’s a call from God to stay, as we did for 16 years in this parish, and it’s a call from God to leave, and we sense that the Lord was saying our time in the Episcopal Church and with St. James was done and to move on.”

More here- including video-

St. Andrew's Anglican Church to appeal ruling on property

From Tennessee-

Leaders at St. Andrew's Anglican Church left the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee in 2006, but continue to meet at the same church building on Woodmont Boulevard.

The parish holds title to the property, which it bought from the diocese in 1966 for about $15,000.

But the Episcopal Diocese wants the property and sued the breakaway group in November.

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled in the diocese's favor in April. She cited denominational rules, which say that all parish property is held in trust for local dioceses.

What's Next

The parish decided to appeal the court ruling.

Blake Matthews, an attorney for St. Andrew's, says the trust for the diocese isn't mentioned in the deed. So, the diocese has no claim to the property.

"St. Andrew's intends to pursue its appellate rights and continue operating its preschool and church on the property until that process is resolved," Matthews said.

Episcopal Bishop John Bauerschmidt said the diocese can't take possession of the property, valued at more than $1.5 million, until the appeals process is over.

Parishes in at least five other states are involved in similar lawsuits. Most are part of the Anglican Church in North America, a rival denomination. Like St. Andrew's, leaders of those parishes say the Episcopal Church has abandoned its traditional beliefs about sexuality and about Jesus being the only way to salvation.

More here-

Episcopal church on reservation get new life

From South Dakota-

Bishop John Tarrant’s initial message to the Rev. Bob Two Bulls was viewed with skepticism by the pastor of Christ Church Episcopal in Red Shirt Table.

“I was suspicious when I got an e-mail from the land office there at the diocese, saying Bishop Tarrant wanted to meet with me,” Two Bulls said recently, seven months after Tarrant was installed as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota and about 18 months after the diocese officially “closed” Christ Church and eight other small churches on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Since that initial contact, Two Bulls and Tarrant have had three face-to-face visits. They’ve developed a friendship and a change of heart, if not a change of policy, in the diocese’s approach to those nine Pine Ridge congregations.

In 2008, then-Bishop Creighton Robertson announced plans to close Episcopal churches in Oglala, Wolf Creek, Wakpamni Lake, Manderson, Kyle, Potato Creek, Porcupine, Allen and Red Shirt Table because of falling attendance and failing finances. The move sparked controversy throughout the reservation and acrimony within the diocese.

Eventually, each of those properties was declared “inactive” by the diocese, and ownership of them was transferred back to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. But the churches themselves were never officially “deconsecrated” by the diocese, and Tarrant, who was installed as bishop Oct. 31, has since made it clear to Two Bulls and other Pine Ridge Episcopalians that they are free to continue to use the churches for worship services and community events, as members in good standing within the diocese. Tribal officials are supportive of that use, as well.

More here-