Saturday, June 18, 2011

Conversations about changing the church occupy Executive Council

From ENS-

Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The question of how the Episcopal Church needs to change to fit into the reality of a changing world continued to occupy the church's Executive Council as it concluded its three-day meeting here.
The council met to "talk of hard financial issues and church decline and growth, to address elephants in the room, and to speak truth to one another in love," the members said in a letter to the church issued at the end of the meeting.

"We were attentive to structural matters, keeping in mind that well-functioning structures make mission more easily facilitated and supported," the letter said. "Again our surroundings reminded us that changing the direction of a big sea-going vessel can take more miles than we can currently see and more time than one might assume."

Council met June 15-17 at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute.

Structural change was not the only subject on the council's agenda. It spent its entire final day in plenary session hearing committee and task force reports, and approving a series of resolutions. Among them were resolutions reiterating the church's support for the people and church in South Sudan in the face of increasing persecution and its support for a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine.

More here-

Don't ignore strangers among us

From Alabama-

We don't think much about those on the edge of life.

It's easy to ignore these strangers because we don't re ally see them. We look right through so many as we go about our business. We never think much about the stranger, until we are one.

It was my first Boy Scout summer camp. I wanted to be a Scout more than anything, and even though I was the new kid on the block and by far the youngest in my troop, I was all in. I tried my best to fit, but it didn't work. I was terrible at knots and was always a little uncoordinated doing most everything. Add to that a healthy dose of baby fat, and here was a kid who most of the others wanted to avoid.

Our troop was known for building an enormous three-level tower in the middle of our camp. It was a sight to behold. The entire troop gathered with our adult leaders to put it all to gether. Everyone helped, ev­eryone that is, except me. I didn't have much to offer, at least that is what everyone thought and I was convinced myself. I was given menial sideline tasks, but never in­vited to help directly on the tower. I was in many ways a stranger in the land.

More here-

Christians with celiac’s rejoice: More churches adopt gluten-free communion

From Houston-

For thousands of years, Christians have remembered their Savior through the sacrament of communion, taking in his blood and body through consecrated wine and bread.

But now that celiac disease and gluten intolerance is increasingly common, bread has become a bad word, at least for the one in 133 Americans who can’t eat wheat.

People with celiac disease can find gluten-free options at grocery stores and restaurants, as the gluten-free industry grows to accommodate their dietary restrictions, but when it comes time to break bread at church, it’s not as easy.

Starting this Sunday, Palmer Episcopal Church in Houston will offer gluten-free wafers, eliciting hardy amens from the parishioners who were unable to take communion without getting sick.

“It’s just a way of including folks, and I think that was Jesus’ intention, to open his table,” said the Rev. James Nutter, the church’s rector.

More here-

A message from Executive Council to the Episcopal Church

From ENS-

Models, paintings and photographs of widowed boats line the halls of the Maritime Institute, some showing vessels caught in mid-explosion, others detailed in all their newly launched beauty and power. Scripture often uses the sea as a symbol of danger and chaos, and the boat or ship as a symbol of the safe place God creates for God's people–a symbol for the church.

For the last three days the Executive Council has met among these powerful symbols to talk of hard financial issues and church decline and growth, to address elephants in the room, and to speak truth to one another in love.

The presiding bishop began her opening address by saying she was seeing a "significant rise in readiness for mission . . . for connection to needs beyond the local congregation." The president of the House of Deputies spoke of the need for courageous change and called for a structure that "supports mission and ministry at the most appropriate level - congregation, diocese, province or church center."

These have been reoccurring themes in the addresses of the Council's chair and vice chair this triennium as they have repeatedly urged the Council to be creative risk takers in addressing the challenges facing The Episcopal Church.

Chief Operating Officer Linda Watt said good bye to the Council, reminding members of the Church Center staff's passion for and commitment to the mission of The Episcopal Church.

More here-

Friday, June 17, 2011

Commission shows how Methodists and Anglicans can work together more

From The Church Times-

THE Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) for the Anglican-Methodist Covenant has proposed the establishment of “Covenant Partner ships in Extended Areas” (CPEA) to provide “a greatly enhanced form of shared ministry” between the two Churches.
Its interim report Moving Forward in Covenant, published this week, says that “full and further implementation of the Covenant” has been delayed by both Churches’ being “preoccupied in recent years with ostensibly internal issues”.

It says that “while the Church of England’s process regarding female bishops continues and while there is no clear outcome within the Methodist Church with regard to episcopacy, there is inevitably a sense of hiatus in the structural implementation of the Covenant.”

Given these “concerns and unresolved issues”, it proposes that “a deeper implementation of the Covenant” can be achieved through the establishment of CPEAs.

A CPEA is a form of “shared ministry” in which “ministers of either church can support the worship and outreach of the other”. A CPEA “falls short of” and “is not the same as” interchangeability of minis tries. “CPEAs apply what is permitted under the rules of both Churches to an area wider than the Anglican parish or Methodist local church, extending the provisions to Circuits and deaneries, even in principle to a whole diocese or district, as long as the clergy and people in each place are willing to participate.”

more here-

On shaky ground

From Zealand- (via The Economist)

“HAPPY the country that never makes the front page” we said recently of Australia. Even more apt for its smaller sibling across the Tasman Sea, where usually only stories of rugby, hobbits or whale-strandings trouble even the inner sections of the papers published abroad. A run of earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city, has changed all that. The first, last September, was notable mainly for its miraculous outcome (zero deaths vs 7.1 magnitude and much destruction). No such luck on February 22nd, when a 6.3 magnitude tremor killed 181 people and destroyed the already weakened city centre.

Christchurch is a city under siege, its inner heart crumbling and cordoned off. Aftershocks abound, always bringing with them the reminder of the next big one: there is supposedly a 25-30% chance that it will come sometime soon. A couple of particularly big shakes on Monday collapsed many more buildings and ruined much of the recovery, both in structure and spirit, that had begun to emerge. Further damage befell the massive stone Anglican cathedral after which the city is named, narrowing the prospect of its symbolic restoration.

More here-

Top court refuses to hear appeal over four parish properties

From Vancouver-

The Anglican bishop of New Westminster expressed relief Thursday that the Supreme Court of Canada refused four breakaway congregations leave to appeal a B.C. trial court ruling against them in a property dispute.

The decision by the nation's top court means the trial ruling will stand, putting an end to a challenge launched by a group of conservative dissidents who split from the Anglican Church of Canada over same-sex marriage blessings and how to interpret the Bible.

The trial ruling by a B.C. Supreme Court judge found that the four parish properties -worth $20 million -held by the dissident Anglicans are to be held in trust by the Diocese of New Westminster for those who wish to worship in the Anglican Church of Canada.

That ruling was unanimously upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

"I pray that in time these sad divisions may be healed," the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham said Thursday. "We are thankful that the litigation launched against the Diocese of New Westminster is now at an end. The money, time, and energy taken up by this long and unnecessary conflict can now be directed back to the real work of the church.

Read more:

also here-

The Anglican Ordinariate - A Gift to the Pilgrims and a Gift to the Church

From Catholic Online-

His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, delivered an historic address - summarizing the current state of the Anglican Ordinariate in American - to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday, June 15 at their spring General Assembly in Bellevue, Washington.

Cardinal Wuerl's remarks underscored the fact that clergy and parishes from Episcopal and Anglican jurisdictions in America have, indeed, accepted the invitation from the Holy Father in an apostolic constitution issued in November 2009, "Anglicanorum coetibus."

They will be joining those clergy and parishes from England and Wales who have already been established through the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The Cardinal outlined a process that would include evaluation, screening and formation of former Anglican bishops and priests as well as ways in which U.S. Bishops can aid in the process of bringing in clergy and parishes.

More here-

New monastic group growing strong: Celtic “Soul Friends”

From Delaware-

The Wilmington, DE based religious community “Anamchara Fellowship” is meeting this week for their annual gathering. Founded in 2003 by just 2 women, and canonically recognized by the Episcopal House of Bishops in 2008, this “new monastic” group has been growing yearly and already has 27 members plus external companions.

We strive to be an inclusive community, welcoming men and women, clergy and lay, married, single, or partners in a committed relationship. Members of the fellowship may live in their own homes or in groups as the ability for that arises. Each member must be self supporting, and we are bound to each other by common ideals and a commitment to prayer and service. Our primary ministries focus on catechesis, pastoral care and spiritual direction. (Anamchara Fellowship, home page)

The fellowship follows a Celtic tradition where each new member is assigned by the Formation Guardian, Sister Julian, a one-on-one Anamchara. This “soul friend” according to Abbess Barbara Jean Brown (Sister BJ), “seeks to walk with the seeker and may act as a guide, mentor, and confessor.” Although initially a guiding role, Sister BJ relates that often these relationships develop to the spiritual benefit of both “soul friends.”

Accused Edina Church Vandal Appears in Court

From Minnesota-

Edina Police say they've got their man finally after a rash of vandalism acts against local churches last summer.

36-year-old Malcom Johns appeared in court this morning on felony charges of First Degree Damage to Property--police say there was thousands of dollars of damage to seven churches.

According to court documents, police say the churches, all west of Highway 100, were vandalized with brown spray paint between June 2nd and June 8th.

They had similar graffiti markings, including the number "81" enclosed within a circle, and the letters "SMS" and the number "42" enclosed with a heart-shaped pattern.

Police say they found some spray cans in the ruddy brown color at two of the damaged churches--Good Samaritan Methodist Church and Crossview Lutheran Church. Crime lab technicians say they found fingerprints on the spray cans matching Johns.

More here-

Rector of Christ Church to become bishop of Nebraska Episcopal Diocese

From New Jersey-

The Rev. Scott Barker, rector of Christ Church in the Village of Warwick, has been named as the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

Pending approval by the national Episcopal Church, Barker’s consecration is scheduled for Oct. 8 at the Embassy Suites Omaha-LaVista/Hotel Conference Center in Omaha.

“It’s a daunting change,” said Barker who will be leaving a position as rector of a church with a typical Sunday congregation of 175 for a diocese where he will oversee 51 far-flung churches.

“Nebraska is a huge state,” he said, “and one of my churches will be a nine-hour drive from my office in Omaha.”

One advantage Barker enjoys, however, is that he was born and raised in Nebraska.

More here-

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Supreme Court Denies Leave to Appeal

From The Diocese of Westminster-

Thursday, June 16, 2011 the Supreme Court of Canada released its Decision refusing Leave to Appeal from the November, 2010 decision of the BC Court of Appeal. At that time, the Court of Appeal upheld the Trial judgment which found that the four parish properties under dispute are to be held in trust by the Diocese of New Westminster for those who wish to worship in the Anglican Church of Canada. We are thankful that the litigation launched against the Diocese of New Westminster is now at an end.

The money, time, and energy taken up by this long and unnecessary conflict can now be directed back to the real work of the Church.

We are, and continue to be, respectful of genuine differences of conviction among faithful Christians. In a spirit of mutual respect, it is now time to move forward together.

No member of any congregation in this Diocese need leave the buildings in which they worship. However, the clergy who have left the Anglican Church of Canada must now leave their pulpits. I will work with these congregations to find suitable and mutually acceptable leaders, so that the mission of the Church may continue in these places.

I pray that in time these sad divisions may be healed.

More here-

Wuerl discusses plans for Anglicans seeking to enter Catholic Church en massse

From Pittsburgh-

Some other interested parishes are from the new 100,000-member Anglican Church in North America, comprised primarily of parishes that broke from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in recent years. Still others are from parishes of Anglican heritage that belong to smaller splinter groups or to no larger body at all.

Cardinal Wuerl is a good friend of Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America, who is on record that he doesn’t expect many parishes in his new church to be interested in converting to Catholicism. Many of them identify with the evangelical or charismatic traditions rather than Catholicism. And the ACNA bishop for Anglo-Catholics in that body has said that he’s not interested because of differences with the Catholic Church over papal authority and other doctrinal issues.

Nevertheless, Cardinal Wuerl said that he has had some inquiries from the Pittsburgh area. He was not at liberty to elaborate, he said.

More here-

Top court won't hear Anglican property dispute

This just in fromCanada-

The Supreme Court will not wade into a property fight between the Anglican Church and dissident congregations.

Four British Columbia parishes broke away from the mainstream church over the controversial issue of same-sex blessings.

The Anglican Church had asked the Supreme Court to end the legal squabble over who owns church properties and bank accounts used by dissident congregations.

The high court has granted that request by dismissing the dissident's leave to appeal.

As per its custom, the court did not give reasons for deciding not to hear the case.

The breakaway group has said it would vacate church buildings if the Supreme Court refused to hear their case.

More here-

Link to Supreme Court web page here (scroll down to "Dismiss with costs")

Stillwater breakfast program aims to serve home-cooked food of local origins and connect the community

From Minnesota-

Lee Lennartson took his first bite of scrambled eggs with spinach topped with homemade salsa on Tuesday morning and smiled.

"Pretty good," he said, wiping his mouth with a napkin. "I'll be back."

Lennartson, 72, of Stillwater, was one of 50 people who stopped by Ascension Episcopal Church in downtown Stillwater for a healthy, home-cooked breakfast prepared by volunteers.

The breakfast program, dubbed Our Community Kitchen, is part of Washington County's Living Healthy initiative. Breakfasts made with locally grown ingredients will be offered at the church from 7 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer.

"Our goal is to have a place to gather together and really see what it's like to cook and eat healthy food together," said Kristin Klemetsrud, who prepared much of the meal Tuesday.

Klemetsrud and her husband, Jeff, own Savories Bistro in downtown Stillwater. So many people came to the first breakfast that organizers had to run to the River Market Co-op to buy more spinach and fruit, she said.

"We're trying to expand people's horizons," she said. "I've had so many people try these steel-cut oats (cooked in fruit juice) who have never had them before, and now they're coming back for seconds. Really, in just that short amount of time, we're exposing them to whole grains and a way to cook it that's a little bit more interesting than just a pot of water - the little things that make healthy food taste good."

More here-

Archbishop condemns 'ethnic cleansing' in Southern Kordofan

From ENS-

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan has condemned what he calls a "policy of ethnic cleansing" by the northern government in the border state of Southern Kordofan, where more than 53,000 people have fled the violence and bombardment of civilian settlements since June 5.

Deng said in his June 14 statement that "the most worrying aspect of this conflict" is that fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces from the north and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army from the south "has now transformed into what can only be described as a deliberate strategy to rid Kadugli of its indigenous African and Christian population."

He noted that it is not the first time a policy of ethnic cleansing has been applied in Sudan, referring to Darfur, a remote region of western Sudan where government-backed militias have for the past eight years attacked and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

At the opening of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church's Executive Council meeting in Baltimore on June 15, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called on members to keep the church in Sudan in their prayers.

"The church is being specifically targeted," she said. "Pastors and priests have been captured and tortured. Buildings that the church owns have been destroyed. It is a very terrible situation."

More here-

Changing Churches to Stop the Church From Changing

From Religion Dispatches (Love the T-shirt)

When the Rev. Mark Lewis joined his congregation and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC in announcing that St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Bladensburg, Maryland had decided to take up Pope Benedict XVI on his 2009 invitation to disconsolate Anglican and Episcopal churches to join the Roman Catholic church en masse, the official spin was that the move was motivated by a desire for greater Christian unity—a wish, as Lewis put it, to "enter into full communion with the Holy See of Peter."

At the same time, the small flurry of press releases, letters, statements, and ecclesiological cheat sheets also insisted that the new arrangement for full communion with Rome would allow St. Luke’s to “continue to worship with integrity in the Anglican tradition.”

In practical terms, this means that St. Luke’s will no longer be under the authority of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and parishioners will be educated according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on doctrine and faith practice in general. Thus, the parish has begun to adopt Roman Catholic practices of praying the rosary and saying confession. They’ve even ordered a bigger, better statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM).

More here-

Executive Council begins three-day meeting

From ENS (and yes I'm there (or here))

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council opened its three-day meeting here June 15 by hearing about the rebuilding challenges facing three dioceses: Haiti, Quincy and San Joaquin.

A report about the current state of the Diocese of Quincy was conducted in open session. A question-and-answer period on the needs of that diocese and the initial discussion of the San Joaquin report were both heard during an executive session of council's Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM) and Finances for Mission (FFM) committees, apparently due to the inclusion in both instances of information concerning litigation.

An update of reconstruction efforts in Haiti will be published by ENS on June 16.

After the opening plenary session, council spent the afternoon of June 15 meeting as its five committees. Committee meetings will occupy the entire day June 16.

The final day of the meeting will begin in an executive session during which council will be updated on the report of the A&F093 Task Force, which was formed in 2009 to conduct a comprehensive review of the human resources practices of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the Episcopal Church's corporate entity) relating to all employees, contractors and consultants. In February, council members passed Government and Administration for Mission Resolution 010 directing Episcopal Church Center management to report to GAM at this meeting with recommendations for implementation, a timeline and actions taken to date regarding recommendations contained in the A&F093 Task Force report and in a Joint Audit Committee evaluation of employment and personnel practices.

More here-

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anglican leader warns of another Darfur

From London-Sudan

The head of the Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, warned on Tuesday that unrest in central Sudan risked becoming "another Darfur" and urged international action.

In a statement, Williams said he and other Christian leaders "deplore the mounting level of aggression and bloodshed in South Kordofan state and the indiscriminate violence on the part of government troops against civilians".

"This violence is a major threat to the stability of Sudan just as the new state of South Sudan is coming into being," the archbishop added.

"The humanitarian challenge is already great, and the risk of another Darfur situation, with civilian populations at the mercy of government-supported terror, is a real one."

More here-

Anglican Ordinariate now due in 2012

From Australia-

THE Vatican is aiming to establish an Anglican Ordinariate in Australia by next year, the Holy See’s delegate for the Anglican Ordinariate in Australia has revealed.

Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Peter Elliott, who addressed a Festival introducing the Ordinariate in Melbourne on 11 June, told The Record that there is momentum leading to the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate in Australia with recent events in England and, closer to home, the Torres Strait.
“We have been advised that the Ordinariate will take shape here next year,” Bishop Elliott told an Anglican Ordinariate Festival in Melbourne on 11 June.

“I know that many, including myself, had hoped it would be sooner, but it seems best to take the necessary and somewhat complex steps slowly and surely, inspired and encouraged as we are by recent events in England and the interesting prospects for growth that that are already being revealed.”

He also told The Record last week that a timeline would be announced in due course once this has been approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Australian Anglicans and Catholics working towards an Ordinariate are much encouraged by recent events in England, where the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is expanding every week. The recent ordination of seven former Anglican clergy in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark marked another step forward,” he said.

More here-

New COO: ‘It’s a Leadership Task

From The Living Church-

For the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, joining the staff of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori means leaving his diocese at a time he describes as especially rewarding. Sauls will become the Episcopal Church’s chief operating officer September 1.

“After ten years, I’m beginning to get the hang of this bishop thing,” Sauls, 55, said when addressing his diocesan convention in February.

The new job also means working for a friend who began her episcopal ministry in Nevada soon after Sauls became a bishop.

“We’re contemporaries in the House of Bishops,” he said in an interview with The Living Church. “We first came to know each other in February 2001. I was a brand-new bishop, and she was about to become a bishop.”

The idea of his becoming COO “began with some colleagues at the House of Bishops meeting who approached me and said they thought I would be good at this,” he said.

More here-

Christchurch Bishop fears her clergy are facing “exhaustion of spirit” following more tremors

From ACNS-

In the wake of yet more big jolts in Christchurch, Bishop Victoria Matthews says she fears her clergy are facing “exhaustion of spirit”.

“People are tired. They have been more than magnificent. Let me say that clearly.

“But I am hearing of a deep weariness of the soul, and I'm having to ask people to reach deep into their resources to meet yet another crisis.

“The churches that have stepped up to the plate, and been magnificent so many times before, will have to do it all over again. Because we have got to keep looking after the people of God.
“I'm watching people's eyes, and hearing their words very carefully, and I've been saying to some: ‘You know, you've got to get out and away for a month.’

“And they say: ‘Yes. You're right. I do.’ But after yesterday, getting them to do that is going to be more difficult. Because they are going to want to be with their people.
“That's the story that is front page for me.

“I was talking to an elderly man the other day who’d lived through war, and been evacuated six times in his life. He knows the drills, so to speak.

“But the people who are actually at the front line now… we don't.

“We are a generation who have never been through a war, never lived through a sustained, critical period like this. That makes it really difficult.”

As a young woman, Bishop Victoria twice served three-month stints in Haiti – and while she was there, she lived through a military coup.

More here-

Liturgical Booksellers Trade Show Hits 20 Years

From Publisher's Weekly-

Marking its 20th anniversary, the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE)--serving Catholic, Episcopal, and other liturgical booksellers--drew nearly 114 stores (down from 124 in 2010) to suburban Chicago May 31-June 3. Publishers took up three of the exhibit hall's five aisles, with gift and other vendors making for a total of 104 exhibitors—roughly the same as last year, but bringing far fewer personnel (290 vs. 340). A total of 520 people attended the show, compared to 550 in 2010.

While no one was enthusiastic about a smaller show, many publishers said they took orders, made connections, or did other fruitful business. Bill Falvey, manager of publicity and special sales at Church Publishing, the publishing arm of the Episcopal Church, reported a "small uptick" in sales compared to the previous year. "We've written a lot of orders," said Brian Hughes, senior marketing manager at Oxford University Press. Oxford was doing good business with the New American Bible, revised edition, the Bible for Catholics that is approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and went on sale in March.

The roster of speakers included Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago, who was there to promote his God in Action (Doubleday, May), and Joseph Girzone, author of the bestselling Joshua fiction series. His new novel, The Homeless Bishop, will be published by Orbis in September.

Booksellers were happy to see peers who were there, while also recognizing there were fewer of them. Henrietta Speaks, executive director of the Episcopal Booksellers Association, said the group's membership stood at 70 after a net loss of 10 stores in 2010, the biggest loss in a single year for the trade group. Even so, some stores in the EBA are reporting notable sales gains. "We're beginning to see a little bit of recovery," Speaks said.

More here-

Inside Out and Upside Down: Main Street at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

From Pasadena-

Poised as one of the best churches in the greater Pasadena community, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church shines like a beacon of light. With their community-centric focus throughout the year, parishioners of St. Andrew’s particularly embrace the opportunity to serve during the summer months with events like last Sunday’s “9 Up 12 Down Summer Kick-off Rib Dinner” and the upcoming “Inside Out and Upside Down” Vacation Bible School. This kid-centric VBS workshop is scheduled for five days in early July.

“It is a bible study centered around different themes,” mentioned veteran parishioner Patti Hunt. Known as the “Snack Lady” by many in the church, Hunt has been a happy helper with the Vacation Bible Study for the past ten years.

The Inside Out and Upside Down program is scheduled for July 11- 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There is a nominal fee of $5 per child, and scholarships are available.

More here-

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Female Catholic Priests Defy the Vatican

From Baltimore-

Although the Catholic Church famously refuses to ordain woman priests, a group of women defied the order back in 2002, when seven were ordained in Germany by two Catholic bishops. Since then, according to a fascinating story by NPR, a movement to ordain women as Roman Catholic priests has gone international, as women ordained other women and created a wide network of "Roman Catholic Womenpriests," as the movement calls itself.

Recently, four women were ordained in Maryland (where, on the other side of the spectrum, an Episcopal parish recently decided to join the Catholic Church), in a ceremony held in a Protestant church. According to the Baltimore Sun, the ritual was "full of song and messages of inclusiveness," and the church was full of the ordinands' family and friends, including several husbands (this is another clear move away from Catholic doctrine, since male priests must remain celibate).

In 1994, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the Vatican's stance on female priests, saying that the church cannot ordain women. And in 2008, the Vatican went a step further, saying that any women who is ordained and any bishop who ordains a woman will be immediately excommunicated from the Church.

More here-

Interim Ministry Network helps churches in transition

From Nashville-

The Rev. Molly Dale Smith has some advice for churches that lose their ministers:

Don’t be in a hurry to find a new one.

Instead, Smith suggests that congregations find an interim minister — someone who can fill in for six to 18 months — while they look for a permanent replacement.

That way a church has time to decide what approach it wants to take with their ministry and find the right preacher to meet its needs rather than ending up in a rebound relationship with the new minister.

“A church may need some time to step back and say, ‘Who are we now?’ ” she said.

Smith, a priest associate at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, is one of the featured speakers at the annual conference for the Interim Ministry Network, a national organization with about 1,400 members nationwide. The conference, which kicked off Monday, runs through Thursday at the Millennium Maxwell House hotel in Nashville.

More here-

First woman priest ordained in Cyprus and the Gulf diocese

From ENS-

The Rev. Catherine Dawkins made history in early June when she became the first woman to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East during a service at St. Christopher's Cathedral in Manama, Bahrain.

Dawkins, 34, will serve in the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, which in February this year was granted permission, by the vote of a provincial synod, to ordain and appoint women priests. The decision does not affect the other three dioceses in the province: Egypt, Iran and Jerusalem.

"It is wonderful that women are now able to be ordained in this diocese, and it was an immense privilege to be the first woman to be ordained here," Dawkins told ENS. "I feel hugely privileged that I ... can now embark on this new phase of my ministry."

Dawkins, a British citizen, has now moved to Dubai with her husband, the Rev. Nigel Dawkins, who will begin a new role on July 1 as senior port chaplain with Mission to Seafarers in Dubai.

More here-

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pastor lives in fea

From Zimbabwe-

AN Anglican pastor whose family was recently raided by thugs suspected to be linked to the church’s former leader Nolbert Kunonga says his family now lives in fear.

Reverend Julius Zimbudzana of Anglican’s St Mary’s church in Highlands yesterday recounted how eight men descended on his family’s residence at the church’s premises in an attempt to illegally evict them.

Zimbudzana said the people, led by a man only identified as Chisadza and a woman called Ruth Jacket spent the day at the church’s entrance.
They only left in the evening but returned on Wednesday targeting the pastor’s residence but they failed to produce an eviction order.

He said he had tried to report the case at Highlands police station but was reportedly told that the matter could only be dealt with by “people from above.”

More here-

Gwich'in New Testament finished

From Alaska-

The gold-lettered title of the plain-covered book reads "Vit'eegwijyahchy'aa: Vagwandak Nizii," Gwich'in for, "God: His Good News."

"Remember the words of our Lord are blessed to give and to receive," said St. Matthew's rector, the Rev. Scott Fisher, following the announcement Sunday that the translation of the New Testament to the Gwich'in Athabascan language is available.

The service was a joyous occasion for the diverse congregation. There was an adult Baptism and more than a dozen parishioners were confirmed by Alaska Episcopal Bishop Mark Lattime.

The final highlight was the introduction of the second team of Wycliffe volunteers, Meggie and Pierre DeMers of Healy, who spent 31 years completing the Gwich'in translation of the New Testament.

Parishioners responded with a standing ovation for the couple.

Read more:


From Europe (Rome)

On a sunny April morning in Rome, crowds are bustling past the fashionable shops on Via Nazionale. Few notice the side-entrance to St Paul’s Within the Walls, the striking pink and cream American Episcopal church, or the people who slip in and out discreetly. But descending the narrow steps to the church’s crypt, you feel as though you are entering another world.

In the basement more than 100 young men – there is just one female refugee at the centre that morning – mill about, some playing ping-pong, others sitting about in their ethnic groups chatting. Half of them are sitting quietly in front of a television screen at one end of the crypt. Bizarrely, these young African, Middle Eastern and Asian men in their 20s and 30s are completely engrossed in the British royal wedding being broadcast live.

The crypt doubles as the Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre and it receives up to 250 political refugees a day, most of them from Afghanistan and Somalia. Not to be confused with other immigrant groups such as economic migrants, the people who use the centre have fled political persecution and wars in their homelands and are in the process of claiming political asylum in Italy.

The centre is an important social hub for them to meet others who speak their language. It provides meals, classes and basic provisions such as second-hand clothing.

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Grace St. Luke's Tiffany windows one of largest collections in the country

From Memphis-

During the 1950s and early ‘60s, a one-of-a-kind, priceless piece of art hung in a multi-purpose of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church — behind a basketball hoop, protected by chicken wire and poorly secured.

“We were one rock away from losing a Tiffany,” said Grace-St. Luke’s member Dan Conaway of one of the church’s recently restored stained-glass windows by renowned American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. “The church knew what they had, but (at the time) it didn’t have much value.

That piece of sacred art, now protected by “bullet-proof glass,” depicts robed Jesus holding a shining lantern in stunning, meticulous detail — a Tiffany trademark — and is one of seven windows Tiffany composed for Grace Church at the corner of Vance and Lauderdale before it joined St. Luke’s in 1940. The church’s collection of original Tiffany windows is one of the largest in the country.

“These are very finite, like a Picasso,” said Conaway. “There’s no real way to determine their value. They’re irreplaceable”

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Upstate churches unite to help Alabama tornado victims

From Upper South Carolina-

Parishioners from local churches set out Sunday for a mission trip to Alabama.

Four of the eight churches in the Piedmont Convocation of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina were represented by 26 people. They will help assist areas ravaged by tornadoes that claimed lives and destroyed structures in April.

Parishioners will clear debris and do construction work during the week-long mission trip, said the Rev. Fergie Horvath. She coordinates outreach in the Convocation and is a deacon at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church.

Participants will help in the cities of Fort Payne and Rainsville. She said they are going to those locations because that’s where the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama said they were needed.

There were 35 deaths and more than 1,000 structures destroyed in two tornadoes that tore across the county, she said.

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Great Hall Unveiled at Christ & Holy Trinity

From Connecticut-

The Rev. Kerith Harding, assistant rector of Westport’s Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, called it “a spirit led thing”—the unveiling of the church’s new Great Hall addition today.

Her comments seemed appropriate since it was Pentecost Sunday, the day Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.

Throughout the morning service, a spirit of optimism and looking forward filled the packed church was as the congregation celebrated “New Foundations in Faith,” the fulfillment of the seven years of planning for the new hall.

“My vision is that we we will continue to grow in the new spaces, and that they will be as warm as they have been in this church,” said the Rev. John H. Branson, rector, from the pulpit.

In many ways, the liturgical service marked new beginnings for the 147-year-old church. The pipe organ played for the first time today after more than a year of silence.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Collect for Pentecoat

GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by the sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Diocese of Rochester ordains married man as priest

From New York-

Walking down the aisle Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral, dressed all in white, Scott Caton tightly held the hand of his wife, Bonnie.

He watched his only son, Alexander Scott Caton, recite Scriptures from Jeremiah, and his other five children take prominent roles in the Catholic Mass. Forty-five minutes into the ceremony, Caton knelt down in front of the altar as Bishop Matthew Clark laid his hands on Caton's head, signifying the bestowal of the Holy Spirit.

With that gesture and a greeting of peace, the ceremony marked the Diocese of Rochester's first ordination of a married man.

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Presbyterians praise new policy to disregard sexual orientation

From Arizona-

Hallelujahs are sounding loudly from at least two local churches as members celebrate a long-sought change in the Presbyterian Church to fully include everyone regardless of their sexual or gender orientation.

St. Mark's Presbyterian Church has worked to remove obstacles for openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ordination for more than two decades, and it officially joined the national movement, called More Light Presbyterians, in 2006.

Last month, the change came nationwide.

"It's been been a long wait, and St. Mark's is celebrating," said the Rev. Gusti Newquist. "Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are part of God's good creation, and when God calls them to serve as ministers, we should welcome them gratefully. God calls people to serve in the church and church policy should not be a barrier to answering God's call."

The executive director of More Light Presbyterians will visit St. Mark's at 7 p.m. on Sunday for a public celebration.

More here-