Saturday, April 30, 2011

Franklin to become new bishop of Episcopal Diocese

From Western New York-

Pomp and circumstance fit for royalty will mark the Rev. R. William Franklin’s formal introduction to the area this weekend, when he is consecrated and installed as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.

But Franklin had been quietly making his presence known among area Episcopalians for several weeks in a more down-to-earth, typical Buffalo fashion—as a regular at various fish fry dinners during Lent.

“My goal was to try and meet everybody before April 30,” said Franklin, a Mississippi-born theologian and expert in church history who today succeeds the retiring

Bishop J. Michael Garrison.

Franklin has maintained an office at the diocesan headquarters in the Town of Tonawanda since Feb. 15, and he estimates he already has visited in some form or another about half of the 63 congregations in the seven- county diocese.

He’s attended weekend worship, weekday dinners with clergy, deanery committee meetings and, of course, those Friday fish fries — all in an effort to meet people.

“With the clergy, I just want to know their own journey of their life, and then I want to know what people’s hopes and dreams are for the diocese and for the region,” he said.

More here-

Personal ordinariate for former Anglicans to reach nearly 1,000

From London via Boston-

The first personal ordinariate created for former Anglicans who decided to enter the Catholic Church will reach almost 1,000 by the end of the Easter Vigil.

The count of people entering the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham includes more than 60 former Anglican clergy.

The personal ordinariate was established under Pope Benedict XVI's November 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus." It allows the group reception of former Anglicans into the Catholic Church while allowing them to retain much of their distinctive patrimony -- including married priests -- as well as their liturgical practices.

Msgr. Keith Newton, who heads the ordinariate, told Catholic News Service that although he was incardinated into the structure after it was established by Vatican decree Jan. 15, it was only during Holy Week that he felt it was coming alive.

"This is the start of it. The lay faithful moving into the Catholic Church is really the start of the ordinariate. Until now there have been only about a dozen members, but now it is growing to between 900 and a thousand," he said.

More here-

Vatican sees no future for married clergy in Anglican Ordinariate

From The Anglican Journal-

Married priests will be only a temporary aberration within the Anglican Ordinariate, says Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state. Speaking in an interview in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, and in recently published extracts from his forthcoming book, A Great Heart: Homage to John Paul II, Bertone said that although already married Anglican priests will be acceptable under the ordinariate, “the enduring value of celibacy will be reaffirmed, necessitating that for the future, unmarried priests will be the norm in such ordinariates.”

Until then, the procedures developed by Pope John Paul II for the reception of already married Anglican clergy will apply.

Cardinal Bertone added that Anglican clergy seeking full communion with the church of Rome should undergo training with “other diocesan seminarians, thereby ensuing them serious academic, pastoral and spiritual preparation. The acceptance of these Anglicans will be considered in the context of their allegiance to the doctrine and practices of the Catholic church.”

Stately Words for a Modern Couple

From The Living Church-

Wedding couples, even royal couples, at times compose their own wedding prayers. In the British tradition of royal weddings, however, it seems that Prince William and Catherine Middleton are the first to do so:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The prayer helps sum up the prince and his bride, a Facebook-generation couple described by Archbishop Rowan Williams as “deeply unpretentious people” who steered away from an “all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.”

They “wanted something simple and clear and also wanted something with tradition, roots and associations,” he added.

This wedding was in its essentials the same as anyone might expect in any country parish church, enhanced by Westminster Abbey’s exquisite acoustics and its musical resources. The couple chose the 1966 Series One liturgy, which closely resembles the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Liturgy, and a proposed Book of Common Prayer revision in 1928, though the bride did not undertake to “obey.”

More here-

Anglicans play central role at historic royal wedding

From ENS-

An estimated 2 billion people around the world tuned in on April 29 to watch the historic royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, a ceremony infused with British pageantry and steeped in elements of Anglicanism – past, present and future.

The streets of London bulged with thousands of well-wishers – some who'd camped for days to ensure the perfect spot for catching a glimpse of the happy couple, named just before the wedding as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Inside the abbey, the Very Rev. John Hall, dean of Westminster, conducted the service according to a 1966 version of the liturgy of matrimony from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, while Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, as head of the officially established Church of England, presided over the royal wedding and solemnized the marriage.

The Anglican leaders of Scotland, Ireland and Wales were among the 2,000 guests also to attend the ceremony, alongside representatives from other faith traditions, members of the British and foreign royal families, international dignitaries, members of the U.K. Parliament, and a smattering of celebrities, including musician Sir Elton John, and footballer David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl singer Victoria.

More here-

Coastal Empire residents to participate in National Day of Prayer

From Savannah-

The victims of this week’s killer tornadoes that raged through the South likely will be on the minds of those observing Thursday’s National Day of Prayer in Savannah.

Other mortal ills plaguing the nation also will be at the top of the local prayer list, a prayer day organizer said.

“Our society needs so many prayers,” said Shirley Forssell, who is chairwoman of the upcoming 15th annual Skidaway Island National Day of Prayer service, which involves clergy, choirs and members of six Skidaway Island-area churches.

The National Day of Prayer observance dates to 1952 when a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry Truman, declared an annual day of prayer. In 1988 the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.

More here-

Hats and champagne mark royal wedding at York church

From York PA - with video (and the bagpiper is no relation)

Richard Simons arrived in York around 1:30 a.m. Friday with his kilt and bagpipes.

He said it was just enough time to get a few hours of sleep at his sister's home before waking up at 5 a.m. to be among the first to arrive at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Spring Garden Township to help celebrate the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Around 5:30 a.m., nearly 40 people gathered at a royal wedding reception held at the church. They were greeted by hymns played on the bagpipes.

Simons left Northfield, N.J., Thursday night to surprise his father and English-born mother, who now live in York and are members of the church.

"(My mother) was so surprised when she walked into the church when I was playing (the bagpipes). She didn't even think it was me," said Simons.

More here-

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mary Kate Wold named to head Church Pension Fund

From ENS-

The Church Pension Fund Board of Trustees April 28 elected Mary Kate Wold to succeed T. Dennis Sullivan as CPF's president and chief executive officer.

Sullivan, who has been president and CEO for the past seven years, is retiring.

Wold is a finance and operating executive and former law firm partner who most recently served as senior vice president for finance and a principal corporate officer of Wyeth, a pharmaceutical company, according to a CPF press release. She led Wyeth's treasury, tax, procurement, and business process outsourcing organizations.

"Mary Kate Wold has the professional skills, evidence of leadership, and commitment to the church that promise very effective service when she becomes president and CEO of the Church Pension Fund," CPF board chair and retired Diocese of Virginia Bishop Peter James Lee said in the release. "I happily anticipate working with Ms. Wold and look forward to the delight many in the church will experience when they come to know her."

As a member of the Wyeth Investment Committee, Wold was a fiduciary of its
multi-billion-dollar defined-benefit and defined-contribution pension plans. She also served on Wyeth committee that had oversight of the company's benefit and healthcare plans, the release said. She led a reassessment of Wyeth's global insurance programs, and designed and implemented its enterprise risk management system.

More here-

How the Violence of the Tornadoes Brought Churches in the South Together

From Huffington-

Toby Rowe, an Arkansas Episcopalian whose house was destroyed when a massive tornado swept through Vilonia Monday evening, said that among the first people he saw were Church of Christ volunteers passing out boxes containing supplies that families would need in the first 24 hours after losing a home. As clean up from the storms began, three congregations in downtown Little Rock -- Second Baptist Church, First Methodist Church, and Christ Episcopal Church -- put out a call for volunteers to assist in debris removal. Another church is taking in the pets of people who have no place for them now that their owners are living in emergency shelters or apartments rented by their insurance companies. Stories are coming in to denominational offices about church buildings whose roofs have been blown off. In almost every case, church members interviewed say that they are thankful that lives were spared, and they have announced that they are going to rebuild; the focus has not been on the wrath of a God who would allow such a thing to happen.

The amazing thing about this series of storms is that it has done much to bring churches together that historically have had little to do with one another. The response to segregation in the South left many churches at odds with one another when the Civil Rights movement began. Those feelings were very slow to heal. In more recent years, differences of opinion on issues such as gay marriage and the acceptance of Muslims in local communities have once again divided churches.

More here-

The Bishop of London's Sermon

Bishop of London's sermon at the wedding

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development helps southern storm victims

From ENS-

Episcopal Relief & Development said April 28 that it has been in contact with dioceses in the southern part of the United States and is working with local churches to respond in a number of locations after powerful spring storms battered the region.
The New York Times reported that more than 200 people died as at least 100 storms tore through the area during the night of April 27-28. A National Weather Service map showing known damage is here.

By the afternoon of April 28, the Times said, some 269 people had been killed by storms that have swept across the South during the past several days. The National Weather Service said the deaths were the most since a tornado outbreak killed 315 people in 1974.

This most recent wave of destructive weather comes after storms barreled through the Southeast over the weekend of April 16.

More here-

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rev. Hanchey to bless expanded fleet on Sunday

From Virginia-

Sponsored by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Fleeton and Omega Protein, the Reedville celebration has evolved over the last 40 years to include crab potters, pound net fishermen, the menhaden fleet and pleasure boats from the Northern Neck and beyond, said Kristine Gibson on behalf of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

At 3:30 p.m., a parade of boats will proceed up Cockrell’s Creek to the old Morris-Fisher factory tall stack property off Menhaden Road. The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. The parade will be led by the Chesapeake Breeze and the Elva C, escorted by James Vanlandingham and Lisa Gruper on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission patrol boat, said Gibson. Omega Protein will be represented by the Smugglers Point.

Choir members from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Bethany United Methodist Church and the Reedville Chorale will lead the singing under the direction of organist Carina Kline. Participating clergy and the choir will ride to the ceremony aboard the Elva C., the flagship of the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum’s heritage boat collection, she said.

More here-

Royal madness: TV tells us we care about the nuptials across the Pond. But do we?

From San Jose-

The sun was bright and birds were flitting about on a morning fit for a Disney princess as friends Cindy James and Norm Dean sat and sipped outside a Starbucks in downtown Oakland on Tuesday, boldly and blissfully ignoring the royal wedding.
"No, I don't really think much about it," said James, 46, of Antioch, when pressed to think about it. "Here, our celebrities are our royalty. That's who people in America care about. Their every move is all over the magazines in the stores. So do we really need to borrow that kind of thing from across the pond?"

Cheeky American.

It's now down to a matter of hours before William and Kate tie the knot. Are you sitting on pins and needles, preferably commemorative ones with the official image of the royal couple emblazoned on each tiny point? Or, are you feeling a bit blase? If the latter, you may be in the majority. Despite the onslaught of TV and Internet coverage in the weeks leading up to the wedding and expectations of nearly 2 billion viewers worldwide, some media surveys show that little more than 20 percent of Americans plan to watch the nuptials in full, and certainly not in the wee hours Friday when it airs live -- although DVRs and YouTube may indeed go into regal overdrive.

More here-

Archbishop of Wales in 'significant change' warning

From The BBC- (video)

The Archbishop of Wales is urging officials to be open to "significant change" ahead of a large-scale review.

Dr Barry Morgan said the Church in Wales must adapt to cope with the decline in clergy, waning investments and falling congregations.

Three independent experts are to assess its use of buildings and financial resources.

The church's organisational structure could also change, he warned.

In a speech at a meeting of the church's governing body at Swansea University, Dr Morgan said: "It is envisaged that the group will ask fundamental questions about the life of the Church in Wales and make specific recommendations.

"In commissioning such a review, we will all have to be prepared to take seriously its findings and to be open to the possibility of significant change in our structures, ministry, use of buildings and other resources if it is seen to be in the best interests of the church and its mission to the people and communities of Wales as we look ahead to the next decade.

More here-

Charity offers support to former Anglican priests

From England-

The St Barnabas Society, a charitable organization based in England and Ireland, has offered £100,000 for Anglican priests who have entered the Catholic Church.

"This is a very generous gesture widely appreciated”, the Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev Vincent Nichols said. "It is a tangible expression of generosity that the Holy Father asks us to show to those who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church”.

Recently, 20 priests and 600 lay people from different areas of England were admitted to full communion with the Catholic Church. Among the first to join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, are five former Anglican bishops and their wives.

Most of the priests who have left the Anglican parishes, and therefore no longer entitled to financial remuneration, are financially supported by the Ordinariate. On 15 April, the Ordinariate announced that they received £100,000 from the St Barnabas Society. The organization considers the economic support vital for the Anglicans welcomed to the Catholic Church, since many do not only lose their jobs but also housing. The economic contribution is distributed through the clergy and religious, depending on individual needs, in the period that goes from their entry into the Catholic Church to Easter, ordination, Pentecost.

The St Barnabas Society is supported by donations from Catholic congregations, individuals and inheritance, and during the year has also spoken in support of other priests and religious from other religions who have converted to Catholicism.

Alabama Nominates Four in Bishop Search

From The Living Church-

The Diocese of Alabama has nominated four people, including its bishop suffragan, in the search for its 11th bishop.

The diocese’s search committee asked the nominees five sets of questions that addressed such topics as vision for ministry, spiritual disciplines, church growth, and handling conflict. The questions about conflict and unity became, for some nominees, shorthand for church debates about sexuality.

The nominees are:

The Rev. Kenneth L. Chumbley, 57, rector, Christ Church, Springfield, Missouri. “The strife in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion over human sexuality has challenged the church, including my parish,” he wrote. “But we have handled the issue well. As the rector, I have sought calmly and objectively to inform people about the issues and how Scripture, reason, and tradition treat human sexuality. I have also sought to be an example of warmth and compassion to all people, regardless of sexual orientations.”

The Rev. Clare Fischer-Davies, 55, rector, St. Martin’s Church, Providence, Rhode Island. “Congregations that say they have no conflict remind me of couples who say they never fight,” Fischer-Davies wrote. “Subterranean conflict can be far more damaging than open warfare. In my experience, often the most trouble making members of congregations talk about how much they hate conflict.”

The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, 55, Bishop Suffragan of Alabama. “The way this part of our Lord’s Church is set up is that the will of God is not delivered from on high through the hierarchy, or reduced to a book, even a very Good Book — we work out the will of God together, learning from each other, teaching each other, trusting the Spirit of God at work in Scripture, Tradition and Reason,” Sloan wrote. “I think the form of a conversation is very often more important than the content of the conversation. It is the love of God in Jesus Christ that brings and keeps us together, and I believe the way our Lord’s followers interact should reflect that love.”

The Rev. William C. Treadwell III, 50, rector, St. Paul’s Church, Waco, Texas. “To quote a friend of mine, ‘As a son of the south I tend to round the edges of things.’ Honestly, I find that very often this is a positive character trait and helps with the ministry of reconciliation,” Treadwell wrote. “I had the great blessing of growing up in a house with a father whose ministry was largely committed to working with churches struggling with conflict. Therefore the language of conflict resolution is my native tongue.”

Henry Luce Foundation Awards $350,000 Grant to Episcopal Divinity School

From New York/Mass.-

The Henry Luce Foundation of New York awarded the Episcopal Divinity School a grant of $350,000 over a four-year period to fund a dedicated program of interfaith studies.
The grant will be used to enlarge faculty training, expand curriculum, and develop online continuing education in other faith traditions.

The Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President and Dean of Episcopal Divinity School, said, “We are extremely grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for this generous grant. It is a major vote of confidence in our mission to produce graduates who are competent in diverse religious traditions and who will be capable of exercising their ministries in multifaith communities.”

“Our priorities for the first year,” said Dean Ragsdale, “are to hire a scholar to teach the history of Islam, and to design and coordinate a program for faculty that integrates field visits to the many interfaith resources in the Boston area. We are particularly interested in hiring a female Islamic scholar, because the public voices about Islam in the current media environment tend to be men.”

More here-

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ex-Anglican priest, father of eight, gives up job to become Catholic

From London via Boston-

It's a brave decision for Ian Hellyer to give up his job when he has to provide for eight children and his wife is pregnant with the couple's ninth child.

But Hellyer is losing no sleep over his decision. He believes he is answering God's call to become a Catholic priest in the newly created Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

On Palm Sunday, he formally gave up his 20,000-pound ($33,000) yearly salary as rector of four Church of England parishes in the Dartmoor area of southwest England.

On Holy Thursday, during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Benedictine Buckfast Abbey in Devon, he was confirmed by Abbot David Charlesworth. His wife, Margaret, and children, who are already Catholic, were his sponsors.

Hellyer then made his first Communion as a Catholic, joined by 12 members of the ordinariate group he will lead after his ordination to the Catholic priesthood June 17. The small faith community will be based at the abbey.

"I truly feel that this is God's call, and there has been nothing to make me think that it isn't," he told Catholic News Service April 20.

More here-

Magdalene And Thistle Farms Offer Prostitutes A Chance For Regrowth

From Huffington-

For many women on the street, prostitution was where they turned when they had no other options. But in Nashville, Tenn., there is another choice for these women -- Magdalene.

Magdalene is a private residential rehab center that takes its motto of "love heals" very seriously.

Founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who knows the horrors of abuse from her own childhood, Magdalene is a sanctuary for women with criminal histories of prostitution and drug addiction.

At Magdalene, women receive two years of free housing, therapy, medical care, education and employment -- everything they need to prepare them for the transition back into a community.

More here-

Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran leaders issue pastoral letter for 10th anniversary of full communion

From ENS-

Anglican, Episcopal and Lutheran leaders in the United States and Canada have issued a joint pastoral letter to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the churches' full-communion relationships saying that they "look forward to the development of fuller relationships that will lead to a common mission, ministry, and witness in the world."
"Called to Common Mission," the full-communion agreement between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and "The Waterloo Declaration," between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, both took effect in 2001. But no formal agreements exist between the different denominations across the border, a situation the leaders hope to change.

On May 1, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, Anglican Church in Canada Archbishop Fred Hiltz and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan Johnson will participate in unique simultaneous liturgies on either side of the U.S.-Canadian border.

Johnson will preside and Jefferts Schori will preach at St. Paul's Anglican Church, Fort Erie, Ontario. Hanson will preside and Hiltz will preach at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Buffalo, New York (Diocese of Western New York). Both services will begin at 3 p.m. EDT.

The celebrations will include elements of the worship services of the four denominations.

"Ten years ago, when Lutherans and Anglicans in Canada and in the United States embarked on journeys of full communion with one another, we pledged our commitment to unity in Christ for the sake of the mission of Christ's church," the leaders said. "On this anniversary, we rejoice and give thanks for those places of cooperation and ministry that our agreements have enabled ... As we continue this journey, we call upon our pastors, bishops, and denominational and congregational leaders to active engagement in God's mission and an increase in their capacity for multiplying ministry in the world."

More here-

Lawmakers, illegal immigrants speak out at immigration reform rally in Redwood City

From California-

The national issue of immigration reform took center stage at a Redwood City church Tuesday, where a meeting featuring lawmakers and illegal immigrants facing deportation took on aspects of a political rally and a church service.

The event at St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Clinton Street was part of the "Campaign for American Children and Families" national meeting tour.

Speakers urged the 200-plus attendees, who were mostly Latino, to register to vote and sign a petition to prod President Barack Obama to take a stand against the deportation of illegal immigrants and their children.

U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Redwood City Vice Mayor Alicia Aguirre were among the public officials in attendance.

Local religious leaders started the event with a prayer. "This is a faith issue," the Rev. Anna Lange-Soto said.

Redwood City resident Andrea Villa, 25, was one of three illegal immigrants who spoke Tuesday about wanting to stay in the United States because of the opportunities here.

More here-

Battle Between Episcopal Church and Defectors Comes to Trial

From Falls Church-

The almost five-year legal conflict between the Episcopal Church in the U.S. (ECUSA) and breakaway congregations affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) began its latest phase in the Fairfax County Circuit Court Monday. It may be the final chapter in the battle, among other things, over the historic Falls Church property.

The almost five-year legal conflict between the Episcopal Church in the U.S. (ECUSA) and breakaway congregations affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) began its latest phase in the Fairfax County Circuit Court Monday. It may be the final chapter in the battle, among other things, over the historic Falls Church property.

The opening statements between the two sides (totaling more than 20 lawyers between them) were made in front of Judge Randy I. Bellows. Elaine Cassel, one of the lawyers representing the ECUSA, argued that a previous ruling supporting the ECUSA's ownership of the property was correct because it was "reasonable to assume the organization was united to the higher [church] authority" and that the congregation was bound to the general church rule and would need to seek approval before separating.

The lawyers for CANA, representing nine breakaway congregations in Virginia, responded with a lengthy and detailed explanation of why the ECUSA claim to the property was not legitimate according to both the church's constitution and Virginia law, arguing that the wider diocese did not have possession of the building and were simply using the word Episcopal as a "magic talisman" to grant them rights over any building with the word in it, violating, they claimed, Virginia code 57-7.1 and Green V. Lewis.

More here-

Too Messy Even for Liberals

From The American Spectator-

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey famously declared himself a "gay American" at a 2004 press conference, where, flanked by his parents and wife, he resigned in disgrace after a male staffer alleged sexual harassment. He subsequently went through a bitter public divorce and sought ordination to the priesthood in the highly inclusive Episcopal Church. But now even that denomination's extremely liberal Newark Diocese is rejecting McGreevey, apparently citing his messy divorce, not his homosexuality.

After McGreevey's confession to have appointed his purported homosexual lover as an aide (the adviser insisted he was the victim of unwanted sexual advances), the then still married New Jersey Governor stepped down from office and later began attending the Episcopal Church's General Theological Seminary in New York. He had quickly renounced his lifelong Roman Catholicism to join a more accommodating denomination. But apparently even New Jersey Episcopalians still have some ordination standards.

Episcopal Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith has declined public comment about McGreevey's rejection as an Episcopal priest. But the New York Post, in an April 25 story headlined "Heaven Can Wait," quoted anonymous sources within the diocese about the church's decision to decline ordaining McGreevey at this time.

More here-

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stolen ashes of Alameda man may have turned up

Some resolution to a previous posting from California-

The last of what appear to be the ashes of an Alameda man that were stolen the day of his funeral may have been located, police said Monday.

A groundskeeper discovered a box containing ashes Friday outside Christ Episcopal Church at 1700 Santa Clara Ave. in Alameda, police Lt. Sean Lynch said.

Police are operating on the belief that the ashes are those of Marvin Kent Hockabout, who was 74 when he died Jan. 21.

Hockabout's ashes were in boxes inside a backpack that was stolen from the church's altar March 5, shortly before his funeral.

The ashes had been unattended for only about 10 minutes, relatives said. It's not known whether the thief knew what was in the backpack.

Four days after the funeral, a man contacted the church, saying he had found a box containing some of Hockabout's ashes on the 400 block of 29th Avenue in Oakland, just across the Park Street bridge to Alameda.

The church and its grounds had been thoroughly searched after the theft. Investigators believe someone may have dropped off the box with the latest batch of ashes sometime after the search.

Read more:

Jim McGreevey, Ex-NJ Gov, Denied Priesthood By Episcopal Church

From Huffington (A different spin from the report just below)

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey- who famously resigned the office in 2004 after coming out as a "gay American" and admitting to extramarital affairs- was denied in his bid to be a priest in the Episcopal Church, according to The New York Post.

Reports vary as to why McGreevey was rejected.

The Post cites one source from the Episcopal Diocese of Newark claiming "It was not being gay but for being a jackass -- [McGreevey] didn't come out of the whole divorce looking good." McGreevey had a messy public divorce with Dina Matos, with whom he has a daughter and pays child support.

More anonymous sources within the church told the Post McGreevey's sudden dedication to the Episcopalian church seemed like an obvious attempt to rehabilitate his public image.

Others claim that it is perfectly normal for aspiring priests to be told that they need more experience and education before joining the priesthood. McGreevey received his Masters In Divinity from the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea after quitting the Governor's office.

More here-

Gay ex-NJ governor's path to priesthood is blocked

From New Jersey (Newark)

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who abruptly resigned in 2004 after declaring himself "a gay American" and admitting an extramarital affair with a male staffer, has had his pursuit of the Episcopal priesthood put on hold indefinitely.

The New York Post reported Monday that the church has deferred his bid to join the clergy.
The church, which accepts gays and women into the clergy, wants McGreevey to wait so he can put more distance between his possible ordination and the fairly recent turmoil in his life: his coming out in a nationally televised speech, his resignation and a messy divorce from his wife, Dina Matos, in 2008.

The Rev. William Sachs, director of the Center for Interfaith Reconciliation in Richmond, Va., said it's "not unusual" for people to be deferred. Sachs said church officials would be interested in how someone with McGreevey's baggage would handle the ministry.

"How would he apply what he's learned to his ministry? Does he translate from being the person he was in the political realm to being in ordained ministry," Sachs asked. "It doesn't surprise me there would be an instinct to defer."

Neither McGreevey, a Democrat, nor the Episcopal Diocese of Newark would comment on his potential ordination, saying the process is confidential.

More here-

Keeping the faith

From Philadelphia-

From extra pews to coffee lounges, area congregations work toward worship spaces that emphasize community, even as declining enrollment forces other churches to close.

As area church leaders tend their growing flocks, they require room for Bible study and choir practice - and sometimes, for cozy lounges with couches and coffee bars.

It's not about worshipping in Starbucks. Instead, pastors seek to reassure new members who are uncomfortable with traditional churches and offer common ground to those returning after years away from organized religion.

Ryan Regina, co-owner of the Voorhees, N.J.-based church construction company Big Sky Enterprises, said pastors tell him that "I can make an announcement from the pulpit that this Saturday . . . we're going to feed the homeless, but it's more powerful if people ask each other (in the church cafe), 'Hey, are you going out to help on Saturday?' "

These are no small stakes in a nation where 44 percent of the faithful no longer worship in the churches they grew up in, according to the 2009 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's "Faith in Flux" report.

In a related national trend, mainstream denominations such as the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church continue to lose members, as they have for years, according to the National Council of Churches' 2011 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.

More here-

Episcopal Church property dispute returns to Fairfax courtroom

From Fairfax VA-

An ongoing legal battle between the Anglican District and Episcopal Diocese of Virginia that has already been heard by the state's highest court is once again being played out in Fairfax County, where it originally began. The opening arguments in the case began Monday in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

Six weeks have been allotted for trial in the case of seven Virginia churches that broke away from the Episcopal Church in early 2007 to join a more conservative Anglican Church.

Of the original 11 churches that broke away from the Episcopal Diocese in 2007, seven continue to fight to retain their properties, estimated to be worth as much as $40 million.

To date, both the Anglican District and Episcopal Diocese have spent in excess of $3 million each in litigation costs, according to officials on both sides of the dispute.

Last June, the Virginia Supreme Court stated that a controversial Civil War-era Virginia law called the "Division Statute" was applied incorrectly in the case by the Anglican Church.

More here-

Monday, April 25, 2011

Virginia Property Dispute heads to court

From WTVR Richmond (with video)

...a years-long fight between the episcopal church and several conservative congregations is back in a courtroom today. it's happening in fairfax today... the fight started when a group of churches broke away -because of what they felt was a liberal attitued on homosexuality and other issues. today's hearing starts what could end up as a -six week- case over who owns the properties the churches are on. a c-b-s 6 update to a story we've been following for more than a year now... today -could- be the day where we learn -if- the supreme court will fast-track attorney general ken cuccinelli's lawsuit over the health care law. a decision could come any day now... the supreme court met on friday to discuss cases currently before the court. currently, virginia's lawsuit is separate from a similar challenge filed by 26 other states... but both lawsuits could get rolled into one before the supreme court.

Riots in the North not because of election results - Anglican Primate

From Nigeria-

THE Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has contended that the recent riots in the North might not be as a result of the outcome of the recent presidential election.

In his Easter message on Sunday, the archbishop said it looked more like the riots were planned to take place regardless of the outcome of the election.

In his Easter message, the head of the Anglican Communion called on President Goodluck Jonathan to, therefore, investigate the riots properly and punish those who are found to have had a hand in it.

“I wish to say clearly that the recent killings, looting, burning, harassment of Nigerians in the North have no bearing with the largely peaceful, transparent and credible elections just conducted. It seems that the crisis had been planned to take place irrespective of the credibility and integrity of the elections and their results.

“I call on government not to gloss over the crisis, but to establish the root cause, the instigators, perpetrators and active participants and their motives and intensions, with a view to bringing justice upon them.

More here-

Delaware religion: A rockin' rebirth

From Delaware- (with video)

It's a good bet that Brad Kellum will be the only Delaware pastor to take the stage this morning and launch into a heavy-metal medley that starts with Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" as a fog machine shrouds the musicians in mist.

It will be Kellum's third "ResurROCKtion" Easter, and he believes he will attract more teens and twentysomethings than most churches on this holiest day on the Christian calendar.

He's been running ads on Philadelphia rock station WMMR-FM and made his church's business card look like a backstage concert pass.

"I'm inviting you to an Easter service at North Life Community Church I know your Mom ain't never been to," he told listeners in the radio spots. "Our live band will be covering songs from Ozzy, Zeppelin, U2, Disturbed and more ... ResurROCKtion, it will rock the hell out of you."

If this sounds edgy and rebellious, that's the idea. For the 37-year-old pastor, who will wear a black T-shirt for the concert, this is Jesus' great commission (Matthew 28:19): To preach the Gospel to a new generation wary of the church.

More here-

Combined congregation marks second Easter in Allendale church

From Northern New Jersey

As Christians around the world commemorated the resurrection of Jesus Christ Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Church in Allendale was celebrating its own new beginning. It was the second Easter in the parish, which was created in early 2010 when two smaller congregations — Good Shepherd in Midland Park and Epiphany in Allendale — joined forces.

As the church bells chimed 10 times Sunday morning, acolytes and choir members began walking down the aisle, leading the 100-plus parishioners in singing, “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia.”

Signs of renewal were everywhere — from the altar lilies to the women’s summery straw hats to the green buds on the trees outside. Through the open windows, the twittering of birds harmonized with the music of the organ and voices raised in hymn.

More here-

Lengthy dispute between Episcopal Church and congregations lands back in Fairfax courtroom

From The Washington Post-

A years-long fight between the Episcopal Church and several conservative congregations is back in a Fairfax County courtroom.

Several prominent congregations with roots back to Colonial times, including Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church, voted in 2006 to split from the Episcopal Church and align with a group of conservative Anglican churches. The congregations disagreed with what their members felt was liberal Episcopal doctrine on homosexuality and other issues.

In 2008, Judge Randy Bellows ruled the breakaway congregations were entitled to the church property under a unique Virginia law dating back to the Civil War. But the Virginia Supreme Court overturned that ruling and sent the case back to Bellows.

The retrial begins Monday and is expected to last six weeks.

Our View: Interfaith coalition makes a difference

From Wisconsin-

Not all the members of NAOMI, an interfaith group, celebrate Easter. But the Christian holiday celebrated on Sunday has us thinking about local acts of charity, and in particular the impressive work that this coalition has done to make our communities better, more caring places.

NAOMI -- the full name is North Central Area Congregations Organized to Make an Impact, so you'll understand if we pWDH - Body Copy to use the acronym -- has been around for a little more than a year. In that short time, the group's volunteers have played a role in moving the public debate around Marathon County's criminal justice system, and they've worked to help struggling families get the help they need.

It is faith-based activism, and it is working. The group includes people from Catholic, Episcopal and Jewish faith communities, and members have divided their efforts into task forces around mental health, dental health, treatment instead of prison and family advocacy.

More here-

Musings: Easter morning and the sanctuary is dark

From St. Louis-

The winds passed over the Episcopal Church of St. Stephen at the corner of North Clay Avenue and Darst Road in Ferguson on Friday, leaving it undamaged.

However, like so many residences and businesses and institutions, the church was without electrical power. That’s not such a disaster, but when thoughts turned to Sunday, it became clear a pall would be cast on the proceedings. Given the forecast of more gloomy weather outside and the opacity of the stained glass windows within, the nave and sanctuary of the church would be gloomy themselves, not to mention dark.

What to do?

At first, the rector, the Rev. Steve Lawler, sent out an email scrubbing the Easter service for 2011. He wrote that the church was undamaged, and asked the members of the congregation to help their neighbors who were suffering one way or another.

As for Sunday morning, Lawler wrote, “I will let you know as soon as possible about services tomorrow. Suffice it to say, if we have not power, we will have not services.”

Then it occurred to him, “Why not?” Why not indeed. A hard-working team came together and joined him, and together they set about creating a place of worship in the roomy parish hall. A second email appeared on Saturday announcing the service would go on.

More here-

Episcopal Divinity School Sells Portions of Campus to Lesley University

From Boston-

The Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) has sold select portions of its campus in Cambridge, Mass. to Lesley University, thereby eliminating underused property, reducing operating costs and growing its endowment.

McCall & Almy, a Boston-based commercial real estate brokerage, represented EDS in the transactions.

When first consulted by EDS, McCall & Almy was presented with a 200,000 SF portfolio of residential, administrative and educational buildings on eight acres of land within a few blocks of Harvard Square. With an ongoing budget deficit that posed challenges to the institution's endowment, McCall & Almy presented the Board of EDS with several options for consolidating its assets and reducing its liabilities, with solutions ranging from relocation to identifying potential users for select campus buildings.

More here-

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Have a Blessed Easter

Churches welcome Easter parade of visitors


North Hills residents recently received large, green postcards depicting a crown of thorns transforming into a garland of flowers. They were invitations to attend Orchard Hill Church in Franklin Park today for Easter services.

The independent evangelical church, which normally has about 2,000 in attendance each weekend, drew 12,000 on Christmas Eve. The Rev. Kurt Bjorklund, the senior pastor, doesn't think he will have that many today, but he's making sure that everyone in the region knows they will be welcome. He hopes that the postcards reinforce invitations that he encourages members to extend to friends.

"We find that many who come at Easter and Christmas find some value and will come back," he said. "It ends up being an introduction or reintroduction for people who have been too busy to get to church or have been burned by something that happened in a church in the past."

Easter, which celebrates the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead, has from ancient times been the holiest day on the Christian calendar. Although Catholics are required to attend Mass every Sunday, there is a traditional emphasis on Easter attendance as a minimum standard of faith. People usually interpret that as Easter Sunday, rather than the 50-day Easter season. The Orthodox, who share the date with western Christians this year, have similar expectations.

Read more:

Christianity is everywhere now, and no longer dominated by the West

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Today, a third of the world's people will join together in the largest and most globally inclusive religious celebration of all time. It's called Easter, and this year more than 2 billion Christians from virtually every nation in the world will join the celebration on the same day -- something that happens only about once every four years because Eastern Christians and Western Christians calculate the date of Easter in slightly different ways.

Easter is the single most important holiday in the Christian calendar, marking the day when Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was killed by the Roman authorities who governed Palestine. Christians view the resurrection of Jesus as promising their own eternal life with God, but they also see it as a metaphor for life in this world. Around the globe, Christians view the resurrection of Christ as bringing "new life" to people who are weary, oppressed and beaten down by life's burdens.

Read more: