Saturday, May 7, 2011

Primate of Southern Africa: "Climate Change issue is Moral Imperative for All"

From South Africa-

The Archbishop, who is a participant at the World Economic Forum in Africa, has written to his faithful that the issue of climatic change must be regarded as a moral imperative for all and hopes that others at WEF will take heed of his call. His full statement follows:

In one sense, I imagine I might be ‘preaching to the choir’ about climate change, as we sometimes say in the church. But even if we agree on its reality and the dangers which it poses for our planet and our people, we need to make our witness bolder and take more courageous steps to bring others to our state of awareness and to work for real change.

We in the faith communities know that climate change will be hugely damaging to both people and our planet. We know too that it is not only an environmental, economic and social issue but essentially a moral issue. It must therefore be solved through moral principles.

We therefore ask this World Economic Forum to recognize the need to put justice first, in caring for people and planet, and to recognize that real prosperity can only come from making the well being of people and planet our primary concern. In our world today it seems clear that we put prosperity – and profitability – before justice, so that at a time when there is more wealth in the world than ever before, we also have greater poverty and inequality and alarming environmental destruction.

More here-

Diocese wants to evict former parishioners Trial Monday in Anglican church dispute

From Canada-

A battle over scripture has become a war over bricks and mortar at St. Aidan's Anglican Church.

The Diocese of Huron is taking its former parishioners at the Windsor church to court to evict them from the property at the corner of Wyandotte Street East and Westminster Boulevard.

Monday is the first day of trial in a dispute that dates back to 2008 when the majority of St. Aidan's members voted to break away from the Anglican Church of Canada and join the more conservative Anglican Network in Canada.

The rift in the Anglican church began in 2002 when a church in B.C. agreed to perform same-sex marriages and widened to include arguments over scripture interpretation of other issues as well.

Since the split at St. Aidan's, the two factions have been sharing the building. The orthodox majority who voted to break away from the Diocese of Huron kept their existing priest, Rev. Tom Carman.

Read more:

Willie Mays celebrates 80th birthday

From San Francisco-

Not since Jerry Rice grabbed touchdown passes from Joe Montana and Steve Young has the No. 80 been more popular with San Francisco fans than it was Friday night at AT&T Park.

Before the Rockies-Giants game, the franchise hosted an 80th birthday celebration for the definitive No. 24, Willie Mays.

The fans wore orange birthday caps, the diamond was filled with Mays' former teammates from the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and from the Giants, there were video tributes from Commissioner Bud Selig, Hank Aaron, Tony Bennett and former President Bill Clinton, and emcee Jon Miller read a letter to Mays from President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

Bill Cosby, also via the video board, led a toast to the man who hit 660 home runs, and public-address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon got the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to the Say Hey Kid.

Read more:

Calif. high court OKs church property fight

From California (The link to the brief is at the bottom of this post)

An Orange County congregation that broke from the Episcopal Church when the national group ordained a gay bishop can continue a seven-year fight to keep the parish's beachfront property, the California Supreme Court ruled.

By a 6-1 vote, the court on Thursday sent the case involving St. James Anglican Church back to a lower court for trial. The court said in 2009 that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles held the property rights but noted that its decision was not intended to be final.

"Further proceedings are still necessary to finally decide the dispute," the court said in its ruling.
"St. James has been vindicated," Eric Sohlgren, an attorney for the church, said in a statement. "The California Supreme Court has soundly rejected the idea that its prior decision required the people of St. James to move off the property they built and paid for over many decades."

The Rev. Richard Crocker, the church's senior pastor, said he was grateful for the ruling.
"We are looking forward to having our day in court," he said.

St. James officials had signed an agreement to let go of the property if they broke away from the national church, said John Shiner, an attorney for the diocese.

More here-

The Brief is here-

Friday, May 6, 2011

Anglican leader left uneasy by shooting

From Belfast-

The Archbishop of Canterbury said the killing of Osama bin Laden while he was not armed has left him with "a very uncomfortable feeling".

Bin Laden was shot dead in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and it later emerged he was unarmed when US commandos fired at him.

Dr Rowan Williams said: "I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn't look as if justice is seen to be done.

"In those circumstances I think it's also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help.

Read more:

‘Heeeeeere she comes!’ Church rides high tide

From Canada (You got to see this video)-

Not very often you get to see something you never saw before.

Like a church coming around the bend and floating down the river.

That’s the sight that brought hundreds of folks to Newport Landing on Thursday afternoon, from Poplar Grove, Mantua, Tonge Hill, Panuke Road — all over Hants County.

A former Anglican church will be the focal point of the Avondale Sky Winery when it opens this summer, but owners Lorraine Vassalo and Stewart Creaser had to move it from its home in Walton.

Trucking it wasn’t an option because of all the power lines crossing the road.

A good two hours before high tide at 3 p.m., people gathered on the wharf and along the shore, lunching on the offerings of the Avondale United Church Women, who sold sandwiches, coffee and pie.

"We should’ve had 50/50 tickets here," one of them said, surveying the crowd.

Competent-looking men in overalls, manning an excavator and a tandem dump truck, stood by in case they were needed to help get the church back on dry land.

More here-

House of Deputies president calls church to 'courageous change'

From ENS-

Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson told audiences at Episcopal Divinity School May 5 that "the church is stuck in an organizational model" with "a bureaucracy with rules, roles, and relationships that we accept as our social reality."
"The church needs to be a movement. Right now we are an organization. We have a critical mass of 2 million ministers," Anderson said during the 2011 Kellogg Lectures.

Her lectures, collectively titled "Courageous Change: What it takes, and how it happens," combined multimedia with her words. Sean McConnell, Diocese of California canon for communications, produced the multimedia portion of the lectures.

Anderson said in her first lecture that "since we believe in a dynamic God, and by our baptism we participate with God in the quest to reconcile the world," the baptized "are called upon to … create the change that we believe will bring about a reconciled world."

She also said that the church mistakenly thinks that the ministry of the laity is performed only within the walls of the church when "the real job of the laity is to reconcile the world. Out there."

More here-

College for Bishops to raise $15 million to ensure future health, wellness and education of Episcopal bishops

From ENS-

The College for Bishops has announced the formation of a $15 million endowment campaign to ensure the future of the nonprofit organization, which is designed to provide education and formation for Episcopal Church bishops in all stages of their ministry, according to a May 3 press release.

The "Endowing a Sustainable Future" campaign is chaired by the Bishop Clayton Matthews, the Episcopal Church's bishop for pastoral development and managing director of the College for Bishops. He is joined by a group of about 30 other bishops from throughout the United States, the release said.
The campaign is not a "churchwide" fundraiser, Matthews clarified in a May 4 telephone call with ENS.

"This initiative will be directed to specific donors through the bishop's personal networks. There will be no solicitations from dioceses or people in the pew," he said. "The board of directors has been contemplating this for years and we just decided that we had to do it."

Following the dissemination of the press release, discussion, mostly critical, ensued on the Episcopal Café blog, the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv and from individuals posting comments to their own Facebook pages.

"I'm amazed that this would be announced at a time when diocesan, parochial, and mission budgets across the church are being slashed; parochial clergy and staff salaries are stagnant at best; our seminaries are struggling financially; unemployment is widespread; and the wealth disparity in the country is wider than ever," said the Rev. Richard E. Helmer, rector of the Church of Our Savior in Mill Valley, California, in a comment post on Episcopal Café.

More here-

Breakaway Witnesses on Stand at Falls Church Property Trial Today

From Virginia-

Witnesses for the defendant breakaway congregation of the historic Falls Church were slated to take the witness stand today following the testimony yesterday of a husband and wife team that played a major role in keeping the hopes of "continuing Episcopalians" alive to recover their historic church property downtown in the City of Falls Church.

What may be the final phase of the years-long, dramatic trial now underway at the Fairfax Circuit Court over the ownership of the church property is not a dispute over religious doctrine or vestry oaths, Judge Randy Bellows reminded the courtroom. It is strictly a matter of legal rights, he said.

When a Civil War-era Virginia law that had been cited earlier to favor the majority of congregants of the church who defected from the Virginia Diocese of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. was ruled unconstitutional by the Virginia Supreme Court, two of the nine breakaway congregations in the state settled their disputes on terms favorable to the Diocese in recent months.

Now, the remaining seven breakaway congregations, aligned with the recently-formed Council of Anglicans in North America (CANA), are persisting in asserting their legal right to occupy the properties, including The Falls Church, they've held onto since they broke away from the Episcopal Church in early 2006.

More here-

St. James vs. L.A. Diocese property fight back on

From California-

St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach and the Los Angeles Diocese of the Episcopal Church have been fighting over the ownership of a Lido Village church building since 2004, when the local congregation split from the national denomination over the ordination of a gay man as a bishop.

The case has already gone to the state Supreme Court twice on pre-trial questions. After the high court's ruling Thursday morning, the question of who owns the property should finally be heard by a trial court.

Many observers thought the case was over in January 2009, when the Supreme Court issued this opinion: "Although the deeds to the property have long been in the name of the local church, that church agreed from the beginning of its existence to be part of the greater church and to be bound by its governing documents.... When it disaffiliated from the general church, the local church did not have the right to take the church property with it."

Lower courts disagreed over whether that opinion constituted a final ruling; the trial court thought it had a trial to hear, the appeals court said no, it was over, and Thursday, the Supreme Court reversed the appeals court.

In its ruling, the high court said that it never meant to establish ownership of the property two years ago.

More here-

Also here-

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer prompts reflections on the practice

From Houston-

Millions of Americans will gather today to pray for the United States and its leaders, remembering the victims of tornadoes that swept across the South, the national economy and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the National Day of Prayer will also prompt reflections on prayer itself.

"I don't think God's so much interested in you getting the right parking place," says the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of St. Martin's Episcopal Church. "I think all prayers are answered, but it's not always the way we want."

A growing body of research has addressed the issue — whether patients with heart disease are more likely to survive if others pray for them, for example — but the results have been mixed.
That hasn't stopped people from praying.

Almost 60 percent of Americans say they pray at least once a day, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, and Rice University sociologist Michael Emerson notes that those who believe in the healing power of prayer generally embrace studies that confirm their belief, while rejecting those that find no impact.

"Prayer brings a sense of control in an uncertain world," he said. "Whether it works or not, at the level of the supernatural, it works in giving humans a sense of control over their environment."

More here-

Ladies of St. Stephens make pillowcase dresses for Malawi

From Texas-

The Ladies of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church heard an inspiring presentation during their Spring Salad Luncheon Sat., April 30 on how their handiwork helps children in Malawi.

Rev. Debbie Daigle. of Conroe and Madinsonville, told of her mission trip to Malawi, where the children typically have no shoes and are eager for the new clothing in their villages. The dresses made by the ladies are cut from pillowcases. Arm holes are tailored and trimmed, which make the garment no longer look like a pillowcase at all. Each one is unique. Daigle said their next project is short pants for the boys.

Daigle explained the sewing projects are taking place throughout the nation via the Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) Program.

AIDS kills many women in Malawi. When a woman dies, her children will end up on the streets, unless someone helps them. Many are taken in by older women. The pillowcase dresses fill a need for these orphans.

Another relief project supported by the Episcopal Diocese is "Nets for Life", which provides new mosquito nets to families.

According to Daigle, 3,000 children die every day in sub-Saharan Africa. The three factors that make "Nets for Life" effective are: education, insecticide-treated nets, and follow-up with the recipient families to make sure they continue to properly use the nets.

More here-

Pensioner settles out of court after tripping on church doormat

From Scotland-

Parishioner Margaret Graham (78) launched the legal bid against the St Adamnan Episcopal Church in Kilmaveonaig, near Blair Atholl, claiming she'd been injured as a result.

The case, which had been due to be heard at Perth Sheriff Court on Tuesday, did not call after the parties came to an agreement.

No details of the settlement were made available by the court, and when asked by The Courier, Mrs Graham declined to comment.

In her action she claimed she caught her left foot on the doormat as she was preparing flower arrangements for a Sunday service in 2007.

After throwing cuttings on to a compost heap, she was making her way back into the church through the front door when, she alleged, she tripped on the DIY piece of flooring.

More here-

Kenneth L. Chumbley announced as nominee for 11th Bishop of Alabama

From Alabama-

The Rev. Kenneth L. Chumbley, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Springfield, is one of four nominees for the 11th bishop of the Eipsocpal Diocese of Alabama.

The nominees will spend four days in Alabama in June before the July 16 election. The new bishop would take office in November and be consecrated in January.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Chumbley earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Louisville in 1976 and his master of divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary in New York in 1986.

Before being called to Missouri in 1995, he served as assistant rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Bowling Green, Ky., 1986-89, and as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Johnson City, NY, 1989-94.

Chumbley is married to Penny Gordon-Chumbley, who is a business analyst and artist. They have one daughter, Clare, and two grandchildren.

More here-

Minister moms split between pulpit, potty training

From USA Today-

Joe Stewart-Sicking, who has studied Episcopal clergy with young children, calls it the "church-home spillover." He assisted with a recent study of Episcopal clergy, which found that 84 percent of clergywomen said balancing the dual roles was difficult, compared to 61 percent of clergymen.

Clergywomen relayed a number of sticky situations, especially with small children.
"They talk about their 3-year-old seeing them in their clericals and they would tell them, 'Please take that off,'" said Stewart-Sicking, an assistant professor of pastoral counseling at Loyola University Maryland. "They knew that that meant Mommy was going away."
Even when children are in the sanctuary, the distance between the pulpit and the pews can be difficult for some ministers' children.

The Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, recalled one Sunday when her son, Dorian, preferred the company of his mother over his babysitter.

More here-

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pakistan: Bin Laden’s death could spark a conflict between Christianity and Islam

From Spero-

Osama Bin Laden’s death might radicalise a conflict and lead to open warfare between Christianity and Islam, something Pope Benedict XVI strongly opposes. For Aoun Sahi, a Muslim journalist and expert on religion and politics in Pakistan, this “is a real danger.” In his view, the al Qaeda leader killed yesterday by US Special Forces “was not an Islamic leader, but his followers are all Muslim”. Pakistan’s Christian minority might be the first victim of revenge.

Many Catholic leaders share this fear. Although they agree that his death was a “success” in the fight against terrorism, they are also adamant that Christians in their demand for greater protection. Indeed, they insist that Bin Laden’s death should not be the cause of any rejoicing, as the Vatican said in a press release yesterday, because no one’s death should be source of celebration.

A “war of religion” remains the worst fear, stoked by fundamentalist groups bent on avenging Bin Laden’s death, this according to Aoun Sahi, a Muslim and editorialist at The News International, as well as an expert on religion and politics in Pakistan.

Minorities, including Christians, are an easy target of radical groups, he said. Whilst “Osama Bin Laden was not an Islamic leader, his followers are all Muslim” and will probably react to his death with attacks. Pakistan could see this because it is a softer target than the United States or Europe. Its Christian minority (unfairly associated with the US and the West) is a privileged target.

More here-

Blessed John Paul II saved the Catholic Church from going the way of the Anglican Communion

From The London Telegraph-

I’ve been asking myself what future secular historians and sociologists of religion will make of Blessed John Paul II’s long stewardship of the Catholic Church. Let us set aside for the moment his magnificent assault on the foundations of Communism; also, the arguments over the sex abuse crisis.

Volumes have already been written on these subjects. Moreover, secular scholars are unlikely to dwell on the heroic sanctity of the man, which led Pope Benedict XVI to beatify him in a ceremony attended by 1.5 million people. But what they may well say – irrespective of their point of view – is that John Paul II preserved the unity of the Catholic Church at a moment when it seemed likely to fracture.

I was a schoolboy during the last years of Paul VI; what I remember from the time was a sense that the boundaries of Catholicism were being stretched until they seemed likely to snap. The Catholic Church in the 1970s had something of the flavour of the Anglican Communion today. The question of women priests did not tip the Church into schism, but it was a distinct possibility. The Dutch Church had effectively declared UDI from the Vatican; beneath the near-impenetrable jargon of American and European theologians lay fundamental assaults on Catholic belief in the Real Presence, the sacramental priesthood and many other doctrines.

More here-

Pay your tax, Anglican bishop tells members

From Nigeria-

The Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos and Dean, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Reverend Ephraim Ademowo, has urged members to support the state government by paying their taxes regularly.

He made this call during the 31st synod of the diocese, held at Our Saviour’s Church, Tafawa Balewa Square, on Tuesday.

“By paying our taxes, I believe it will go a long way in assisting the government in implementing its projects successfully. The present administration derives much of its revenue from taxes and it is important that we contribute our quota to move the state forward.”

The cleric, however, called on other state governments in the country to emulate Lagos State, especially in the area of revenue generation, warning them not to depend on the Federal Government to develop its domains.

“Let us tell our respective state governors to visit Lagos and emulate the performance of Governor Babatunde Fashola,” he said.

In his remark, Fashola called on the Federal Government to review the allocation of its resources in a way that people could directly benefit from it.

More here-

Bishop Robert M. Anderson dies at 77

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Robert Marshall Anderson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota from 1978 to 1993 and a former assisting bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, died May 3 in Minneapolis of pancreatic cancer. He was 77.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, May 9, at 11 a.m. at St. Mark's Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis. The family has asked that clergy attend but not vest. A reception will follow at the Woman's Club, 410 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis.

Interment will be at the columbarium at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles at a later date. Plans for a memorial service in the Diocese of Los Angeles are pending.

Many of his fellow bishops and others paid tribute to Anderson as word of his death spread.

"The Episcopal Church has lost a great soul. Bishop Anderson prodded and led this church in the midst of many highly significant concerns. He was a leader in developing effective responses to sexual misconduct," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "He was a tireless advocate for Native Americans throughout his ministry. I have powerful memories of his account of a labor action in Southern California, when marchers left bitter herbs in front of hotels who weren't treating their workers with dignity and justice. He told the story filled with both outrage at the injustice and glee at the creative response. That combination of passion and joy characterized his ministry. We will miss his prophetic voice and presence, but I am sure his ministry will continue to resound among us -- and probably in the heavenly courts. May he rest in peace and rise in glory, and may all those who mourn find comfort. He has joined the communion of saints."

More here-

Episcopalians contemplate implications of Osama bin Laden's death

From ENS-

As some people in the United States and elsewhere in the world took to the streets to celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden May 1, Episcopalians began offering notes of caution and reflection to those reactions.

"I am not sorry that Osama bin Laden is dead … But I don't celebrate his death, either," the Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson wrote on his blog.

"That distinction, though subtle, is an important one for Christians who claim to be an 'Easter people,'" Johnson wrote, noting that the al-Qaeda founder's death came one week after Christians marked Easter. "Easter celebrates God's decisive victory over death. We taint that celebration if we find anyone's death a cause for celebration and jubilation, and perhaps especially when that death is violent."

Johnson, who teaches at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, co-chairs the theological resources subcommittee of the Episcopal Church's Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music.

More here-

Episcopal Youth Event is planned to be transformative experience of worship, community and mission

From ENS-

When 1,300 Episcopal youth and their adult sponsors converge on Saint Paul, Minnesota, this summer, they will be welcomed to an event planned to deepen personal faith, build Christian community and create a greater awareness of and commitment to God's mission in the world.

The triennial Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) will take place on the campus of Bethel University June 22-26. The event's design team -- made up of youth and adults -- spent April 30 on the Bethel campus fitting 12 months of conceptual planning into actual physical spaces. It was another in a series of event planning meetings that are also changing the lives of the team members in the process.

'11 in 11'

The Episcopal Youth Event was created by the General Convention in 1982 to "gather and capture the energy and enthusiasm of young people for their church," according to Bronwyn Clark Skov, youth ministry officer for the Episcopal Church.

The event has taken place every three years and has grown in many ways since 1982, according to Skov, who said it is "very cool that we have the 11th Episcopal Youth Event in 2011" and that, as in the past, the event is bound to transform lives.

More here-

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Death of Osama bin Laden: Area clergy urge faithful to pray for their enemies

From Columbus-

At the end of a 10-year hunt culminating with the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, local religious leaders weighed in with various reactions and hopes. While some expressed relief over his death, some tempered the relief with the call to pray for one’s enemies.

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin of Temple Israel (Reform) said: “American Jews feel a particular wave of satisfaction at bin Laden’s death. While our tradition forbids us to rejoice when our enemy falls, we can be relieved that America was successful in its quest for him and for the ultimate justice that this embodies. Our hearts go out to the families of his victims, and we pray that this will provide some closure for them.

“Because of the significant military presence in Columbus, we can feel particular pride in the military and tactical success that this represents,” he said.

Rabbi Brian Glusman of Shearith Israel (Conservative) shared a similar sentiment.
“Within our tradition, we are obligated to kill those who seek to destroy us. I support his death because he continued to pose a threat. However, I’m a little uncomfortable with the amount of celebration.”

For instance, he noted that in the Passover Seder, the celebratory aspect comes from the Hebrews who passed through the Red Sea to freedom. Then the water came crashing down on the Egyptians, their enemies.

Read more:

All eyes on Anglican-Lutheran celebration

From The Anglican Journal-

On May 1, four groundbreaking churches celebrated 10 years of full communion in joint celebrations on the U.S.-Canadian border. The four are the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Two parishes, St. Paul’s Anglican in Fort Erie, Ont., and Holy Trinity Lutheran in Buffalo, N.Y., held simultaneous services at 3 p.m. to honour the call to a common mission first made in the Waterloo Declaration of 2001.

And the celebrations did not go unnoticed in the international church community. “The eyes of the world were on this service,” said the Rev. Donald McCoid, a member of the executive for ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious relations. At the close of ceremonies in Buffalo, he read out congratulatory statements from the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation and the general secretary of the World Council of Churches , who commended the two denominations on their decade of working together in unity and Christian mission. “Years later, your churches have much to celebrate—shared ministries between Anglican, Episcopal and Lutheran parishes in Canada and the United States,” wrote the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. Of the courageous decisions that set this cooperation in motion, he said, “These were truly acts of faith.”

More here-

News of terrorist's death stuns priest, ride organizer

From Central PA-

"It was a long time coming," said Father John Manno, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Montoursville.

Manno got an up close and personal view of Osama bin Laden's handiwork in February 2002, when he served with clergy supporting recovery efforts at ground zero. Manno worked at St. Paul's Chapel, an Episcopal church within yards of Tower Two.

Manno worked eight-hour shifts, offering assistance to firefighters and other workers sifting through the rubble of the Twin Towers. The local priest said he wanted to help at the site because he did his graduate work at Covenant House in New York City.

"It was something I wanted to do because New York was very close to my heart," Manno said.

On the day of the terrorist attacks, Manno was recovering from surgery and using a walker to get around. However, he later was able to go to the site through the efforts of Lycoming County Prison Chaplain and former Trinity Episcopal Church Rector Andy France Jr.

Manno said when he arrived at the site and saw the devastation, it showed him "the effect of human genius when it is coupled with evil."

More here-

Confronting Islamphobia – NY Imam to speak here

From Seattle-

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who wants to build an Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, will headline a conference on “Confronting Islamophobia” May 6-7 at St. Mark’s Cathedral.

Imam Rauf will keynote the conference Friday night with a speech entitled What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right With America, at the Episcopal cathedral on Capitol Hill.

The cultural center has generated controversy in New York City, fanned across the country by frequent denunciations on Fox News. President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have defended the right to put the center at its proposed locale.

Imam Rauf has spent 28 years as Imam of Masjid al-Farah, a New York City mosque.

On Saturday, the conference will include workshops on such topics as “Islamophobia in US Middle East Policy” — led by Kathleen Christison, a former CIA Middle East desk analysis — and “Sharia, Canon law and the Constitution with Sharia scholar Salah Dandon and Jim Brooks, a judge from the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

More here-

Is it morally right to celebrate bin Laden's death?

From CNN-

One newspaper headline eulogy read, “Rot in Hell.” Televised chants echoed:
“U.S.A.! U.S.A!”

Americans spilled into the streets for spontaneous celebrations after news spread that Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, had been assassinated.

Yet another reaction took place in more sober moments as people of faith watched the giddy celebrations with a tangled mix of emotions.

Is it morally wrong to celebrate the assassination of bin Laden in such a festive, patriotic way?

That’s the question that troubled Danielle Tumminio, an Episcopal priest, who fought back tears as she digested the news that bin Laden had been killed.

Tumminio was in New York on September 11, 2001. Her Long Island neighborhood, filled with lawyers, stockbrokers and firefighters, lost scores of people in the attacks.

“I remember coming home and smelling the smoke, seeing the debris and going to the funerals,” Tumminio says. “I actually studied abroad because I wanted to get away from feeling unsafe.”

But when Tumminio saw images of Americans celebrating, she felt something else: moral ambivalence.

More here-

Monday, May 2, 2011

Youth Learn Lessons about Hunger and Homelessness at Christ Church

From Rhode Island-

Hunger is something that happens to other people in other places, or so it is often be assumed. With the economic hardships of recent times, record unemployment and dangerous weather that is becoming startlingly more common than not, the subject of hunger is becoming something that can’t be ignored.

It might have come as a great shock to passers-by of the Christ Episcopal Church, Kings Highway, on Friday to see a shanty town built on the lawn: a row of makeshift dwellings built out of cardboard boxes and a sole pup-tent in the middle.

The effort is part of the outreach of World Vision, an organization devoted to confronting world hunger. The 30-Hour Famine program finds youth groups from churches across the country experiencing a day-and-six-hours in the shoes of the homeless, and instills in the participants a firsthand realization of what going without food or shelter really means.

This is the fourth year that the parish has participated in the challenge. George A. Reiner, a volunteer youth leader with the Rite13 group (11-13 year olds) for Christ Episcopal Church, explained what the kids involved were doing. "We have about twenty eight kids that are going on a hunger fast for thirty hours to raise money for world hunger," Reiner said. "They get people from the parish to sponsor them, and we have two churches (represented) here – Christ Church here in Middletown, and Christ Church in New Brunswick.”

More here-

Tiffany at Trinity

From Vermont-

So how did Louis Comfort Tiffany come to create striking stained-glass windows at a place of worship in Shelburne that has been celebrating Easter Sunday for about 125 years?

The story began when Dr. William Seward Webb and his wife, Lila Vanderbilt Webb, moved to Shelburne in 1886, the year the present chapel for Trinity Episcopal Church was built.

Trinity was founded in 1790 by Deacon Bethuel Chittenden, brother of the first governor of Vermont, Thomas Chittenden. The parish met in houses and barns until a church was built in 1819. That church burned down in the 1860s, so the parish met in Shelburne town hall until the chapel was built in 1886.

The Webbs provided the new little church with a bell, hiring the architect who built the church, William Appleton Potter, to build a bell tower with porte co-chËre, and cover the clapboard worship house with red stone using the then popular neo-gothic style.

More here-

signs, signs, everywhere signs

Church steeples, aging out of fashion, meet their maker

From USA Today-

Atop the tiny, white-columned 1842 church where Glen Likens was baptized, where he married his wife, where their children were baptized, where they still worship on Sundays, the steeple is rotting.

St. Mark's Episcopal in Wadsworth, Ohio, hasn't dared sound the 2,000-pound bell, which has a broken carriage and patched hammer, for a year. It may not sound again — unless a congregation numbering 58 souls in a good week can come up with $30,000.

"It's no easy amount to raise. We absolutely considered taking it off and capping the roof, but voices within the congregation want their bell, their tower. It's symbolic. It's part of our church. We want it to be there for our children's future," says Likens, who volunteers as St. Mark's junior warden in charge of maintenance.

Nationwide, church steeples are taking a beating and the bell tolls for bell towers, too, as these landmarks of faith on the landscape are hard hit by economic, social and religious change.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Churches see some rebound in giving

From The Tribune Review (Pittsburgh)-

The Rev. Carmen D'Amico visits his ill parishioners if they're hospitalized. But if they lie sick at home, he sends another parishioner or a priest who is studying at Duquesne University.

The recession has forced him to serve as pastor at three parishes — St. Benedict the Moor in the Hill District; St. Mary of Mercy, Downtown; and Epiphany, Uptown. And this shepherd almost sounds guilty at the pastoral corners he must cut to serve three flocks.

"I'm always running from one place to the next," D'Amico said. "I always feel (like I'm) rushing, which is not a good thing when you're doing pastoral ministry."

These three city churches are among those nationwide that are still reeling from the impact of the 2008 recession, but some are just starting to heal financially as their collection baskets grow heavier.

"Some churches are beginning to see an uptick, a rebound, but there are still a number of churches struggling," said Brian Kluth, founder of Maximum Generosity Ministry and State of the Plate Research. "You're still dealing with 40 percent of the churches in America having a hard time."

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Cyclists invoke higher power for safety

From Pittsburgh-
They squinted and blinked repeatedly as holy water splashed on their faces. Bicycle owners did the squinting, and the Rev. Mike Wernick, the Church of the Redeemer's priest in residence, provided the holy water as he led the Squirrel Hill-based Episcopal church's first Blessing of the Bikes on Saturday.

The service marked the beginning of a season when sunny skies and rising temperatures spur more cyclists to take to the streets, sidewalks and trails, and when bicycling-related injuries and deaths increase. "It's something fun to do and a way to remember cyclists who have died and ask for God's blessing on all riders," said Squirrel Hill resident William Ogburn, 28, event co-organizer and the church's organist-choirmaster.

Of the 922 bicycle crashes that occurred in a 12-county Southwestern Pennsylvania region between 2005 and 2010, 43 percent occurred from June to August, according to PennDOT data.
Six of the region's 13 bicycling-related deaths in those years occurred during the three-month summer periods, according to data from the state agency, which said that the tally included all deaths in bicycle crashes, including those involving cars and pedestrians.
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Look who’s moving in

From Mass.-

The Sisters of St. Margaret are building a new home in town.

But whatever you do, please don’t call it a convent.

Although technically correct, the term gives people the wrong idea, according to Sister Adele Marie Ryan, the assistant superior.

“When you hear the word ‘convent,’ people conjure up the image of a three-story brick building,’’ said Ryan. “This is going to look like all the other buildings in Duxbury.’’

The future home of the Sisters of St. Margaret will have a traditional coastal look, with a hipped roof, a wrap-around porch, and shingle siding.

And, said Sister Carolyn Darr, “We’re calling it the residence.’’

The nuns have spent the past year working with Marion-based Saltonstall Architects to design the 9,500-square-foot building, which will be on Harden Hill Road, at an oceanfront site that the Society of St. Margaret has owned since 1903.

“We’re no strangers to Duxbury,’’ said Darr, the superior.

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King James Version of Bible turns 400 Monday

From Georgia-

Canaan Baptist Church sits in a storefront off Mike Padgett Highway. There's no pulpit or stained glass in the small, independent Baptist church. Its pastor, the Rev. Mike Andrews, speaks plainly.

That is, except when he preaches.
On Sundays, Andrews teaches from the King James Version of the Bible. He'll read lengthy, eloquent passages of Elizabethan verse, largely unchanged since their publication four centuries ago.

On Monday, the world celebrates the 400th anniversary of that Bible, revered not only as a religious work but also as a literary masterpiece that has shaped language, culture and politics.
To some, the King James Version remains beautiful, poetic and powerful, the only version worthy of reading aloud. To others, it's inaccessible, stodgy and outdated.

Andrews says he falls squarely in the first camp.

"It's the only thing we use. We believe that it's the word of God for English-speaking people," he said, adding with a laugh: "We're old sticks-in-the-mud like that."

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Pope John Paul II's beatification thrills some but concerns others

From The Post-Gazette-

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, Marie Milburn longed to go to his funeral but couldn't. This morning Ms. Milburn, the director of family life at Our Lady of Grace parish in Scott, was scheduled to be among millions in Rome to witness his beatification.

"It's a gesture to express my gratitude to him," said Ms. Milburn, 33. She began reading about him when she was 15 and responded to his challenge to stand up for the gospel and for the marginalized, especially fetuses vulnerable to abortion.

"He was so full of courage, full of hope and joy in Christ, and that touched my life so deeply," she said. "I think there will be some new inspiration that will come from this, for me and for the whole church."

Beatification means that Blessed Pope John Paul II has been found to have shown heroic virtue and that a miracle has been attributed to his prayers from heaven. A further miracle is required for sainthood. And there are some who believe that sainthood should wait.

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