Saturday, July 30, 2011

The kingdom of God is bigger than my idolatry

From Kansas-

More and more, we live in a world of extremes. It is a place where one faction of people will oftentimes rebuke and reject another faction because they don’t hold the same position and social views. This has created a toxic culture with an all or nothing approach to many things. It is a culture that if left unchecked, will ultimately lead to the downfall of our society.

When Christians engage in such behavior it becomes a form of idolatry because it makes a political or theological agenda the thing that decides whether or not another group is worthy to be seen with us. It is an idolatry that assumes that because a church takes a contrary position on a complex issue from the one my church takes, then they obviously do not understand the will of God and are therefore not Christian. It is a position that rebukes one community of Christians’ form of offering of worship and prayer to God because it is not like my own church’s worship and prayer. The idolatry of factionalism in the church leaves no room for the Holy Spirit to move among God’s people and open new possibilities for an in breaking of the Kingdom of God among us. It leaves no room for the grace and generosity of God.

When Christians engage in such factionalism against other Christians, not only do they engage in idolatry, but they reject Jesus’ most earnest prayer that they all may be one in him. Most tragic of all is that we become a sad example to the world of a people who have rejected God’s invitation to the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ for the same idolatrous factionalism that is part of the kingdoms of this world. When our four churches gathered this week, we may not have changed the world in any significant way. But we did proclaim to each other and to anyone else who may have witnessed us that God’s Kingdom is bigger than any of our denominations, political agendas or doctrines.

More here-

Church Lady: Camp Able – An emotional experience

From South West Florida-

On July 21 the Church Lady went on a road trip with some folks from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Our destination was Camp Able, a camp designed for persons with special needs. The camp is the creation of St. Mark’s Rector the Rev. Dr. Kyle Bennett whose doctorial thesis was on the theological and social implications of people with disabilities. The camp is all about what you can do, and not what you can’t do. The camp has been a six-day event since 2007. Six days for the staff and counselors and five fun-packed days for people with special needs.

Camp Able is held at the 92-acre Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida’s DaySpring Conference Center in Manatee County. DaySpring is on the north bank of the Manatee River just east of Ellenton. The setting is serene with its acres filled with oak trees covered in Spanish moss, lush greenery and winding paths.

The group from St. Mark’s went to cheer on the talent show, support their fellow parishioners who man the camp and to lend a hand where needed.

More here-

Friday, July 29, 2011

More on John Stott From The Telegraph-

Stott was rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, in the West End of London from 1950 to 1975, and this was the only church in which he served. He had been its curate for five years before he became rector and had attended services there as a child. He accepted no ecclesiastical preferment .

When Stott was ordained at the end of the Second World War, the evangelical wing of the Church of England was small, introverted, backward-looking and divided. Fifty years later there was an evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury; several diocesan bishops of similar convictions; and in all parts of England a network of dynamic churches inspired by the evangelical spirit.

Moreover, these churchmen and churches had a marked affinity with their early 19th-century forebears whose leaders had provided the driving force behind the anti-slavery movement.
The change came about largely through the inspired leadership of John Stott. He turned his own church, located just a few yards from the headquarters of the BBC, into a showplace for a renewed form of evangelicalism. Strong lay leadership at All Souls set him free to become the trainer of others — in particular a new breed of young clergymen who had been influenced by the Christian Unions in their universities and by the Billy Graham Crusades in the 1960s. In the end, Stott viewed the world as his parish.

More here-

Ordinariate welcomes first priest in Scotland

From Indy Catholic-

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham welcomed its first Scottish priest on Sunday. The former Episcopal minister, Fr Len Black, 61 and a grandfather of two, was ordained at St Mary's Church in Greenock by Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley.

Fr Black was an Episcopal minister for 30 years. He served at St Michael and All Angels in Inverness and was also the regional dean of Forward in Faith.

Fr Black delivered his last sermon at St Michael's earlier this year. About a dozen members of his congregation are believed to be converting with him.

Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, ordained Rev Black to the diaconate last month at Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin. Speaking before his ordiation, he said: "The gift of ordination is a great privilege and honour, and for me it is also the culmination of a long journey into full communion with the Catholic Church made possible by the generosity of Pope Benedict."

More here-

St. Peter’s members to build home of love for orphaned South Africans

From The Washington Post-

Twenty-seven members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Arlington County are traveling to South Africa this week on a community-building mission to support children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

The congregation, based off North Glebe Road, has raised more than $52,000 over the past two years through car washes, a bike race, dinners and other fundraisers to help build a home for six children and a caretaker, or house mother, in Masiphumelele, on the western cape south of Cape Town. This week, the families and individuals from St. Peter’s will deliver seven handmade quilts, build a playground, paint a mural and volunteer in other ways for the orphans and the church’s partnering organization, St. Francis Outreach Trust.

“We are not trying to do a one-off mission. We are trying to develop relationships between our community and their community,” said Anna Fernau, the mission’s organizer. “Obviously, we are trying to support them financially, but it is deeper than that. It is what connects us as human beings.”

More here-

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prayers unanswered as Anglicans brace for more cuts

From Australia-

THE Anglican Church's Sydney diocese faces another year of belt tightening and cuts to community services after its investment arm warned of a ''substantial reduction'' in its annual payout.

Two years after it lost $160 million because of a high-risk gearing strategy, the investment arm of the country's largest Anglican diocese has blamed a 71 per cent fall in earnings - to $3.2 million for the year to December - on a ''subdued performance'' by the Australian sharemarket. The result would have been worse if not for a $4.5 million rise in the value of its investment in St Andrew's House.

The Glebe Administration Board, which manages the Sydney diocese's endowment fund, has been on a cost-cutting drive since 2008, when its share portfolio crashed during the global financial crisis. It has cut about 10 full-time staff over the past year.

Read more:

Atheists sue to block 'WTC cross' from 9/11 memorial

From USAToday-

Atheists have sued to prevent cross-shaped steel girders from the destroyed World Trade Center towers from being included in the official Sept. 11 memorial, saying the religious symbol is unconstitutional because its gives "preferential representation" to Christians who died in the 2001 terror attacks.

Workers found the broken, 17-foot-tall cross-shaped beams two days after the attacks, and they became known as the "World Trade Center cross." Saturday, the rusted cross was moved from its temporary home near St. Peter's Church and lowered into its permanent place inside the museum, which is under construction. A Catholic priest gave it a ceremonial blessing.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday on behalf of four members of American Atheists, argues that including the Roman Christian-style cross at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum violates the First and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the New York State Constitution.

"Many of American Atheists' members have seen the cross, either in person or on television, and are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state," the complaint (pdf) states. If the cross is not removed, the group wants a non-religious exhibit included.

More here-

Should Religion Play a Role in Politics?

From The New York Times- (Gary Cutting teaches at Notre Dame)

As our electoral process has begun to accelerate, questions about religious affiliation and calls for candidates to sign pledges supporting religious stances are in the news. Here are some reflections on the general question of the role of religion in our political life.

One view, attractive to many Americans, holds that religion has no place at all. Roughly, the idea is that religion concerns the private sphere: what pertains to me as an individual or as a member of a voluntary community of like-minded individuals (e.g., a church). Political life, by contrast, concerns the public sphere: what pertains to me as a member of a wider community (a city, state or nation) of individuals with diverse views on issues such as religion. This distinction seems necessary once we realize the hatred and violence historically associated with religious disagreements. Unless we simply agree to disagree about matters of such intense division, there is little hope of sustaining a civil society.

More here-

Rev. John Stott, Major Evangelical Figure, Dies at 90

From The New York Times (I had the pleasure of meeting John several times and once having lunch with him. He will be missed)

The Rev. John Stott, one of the world’s most influential figures in the spread of evangelical Christianity over the past half-century, died Wednesday in Lingfield, Surrey, in the south of England. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by Suanne Camfield, a spokeswoman for his publisher, InterVarsity Press.

The religion scholar Michael Cromartie once said that if evangelicals could elect a pope, they would be likely to choose Mr. Stott. Though less known in the United States and hardly a household name outside the evangelical sphere, Mr. Stott, an author, preacher and theologian, was often compared to the Rev. Billy Graham, his American contemporary.

But while Mr. Graham’s influence is rooted in a rousing preaching style and a personal magnetism that has filled stadiums, Mr. Stott’s relied on a proliferation of books — grounded in learning but accessible to all — and the evangelical organization he founded, Langham Partnership International, named after its cradle, All Souls Church at Langham Place in London’s West End.

More here-

In Zambia, Episcopal Relief & Development builds on success of malaria-prevention work

From ENS-

Malaria, HIV/AIDS and acute diarrhea continue to be among the main health challenges in Zambia, yet pneumonia is the second leading cause of mortality among children under five in the Central African country.
Episcopal Relief & Development -- in partnership with the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), Zambia's ministry for health and the Zambian Anglican Council (ZAC) -- is planning to roll out a pneumonia vaccination program in 2012, building local capacity but offering periodic guidance in combating the respiratory condition, Stephen Dsizi, technical director for NetsforLife®, told ENS during a three-day training program in Lusaka, Zambia.

Episcopal Relief & Development has worked in partnership with ZAC -- the body that represents all five dioceses and health and training institutions for the Anglican Church in Zambia – in combating malaria through the NetsforLife® program, an Episcopal Relief & Development-sponsored partnership that has won awards and earned widespread respect for saving millions of lives in Africa. The pilot project was launched in Zambia in 2005, and a decrease in malaria cases of more than 50 percent has been reported in some areas. ZAC includes three representatives from each diocese -- the bishop, one priest and one lay person.

More here-

Church soup kitchen denied state money

From New York-

For the second time in a month, a local soup kitchen has learned that critical funding from the state has been denied.

First, it was the Federation for the Homeless soup kitchen in Monticello. Now, the Guild of St. Margaret Soup Kitchen at Middletown's Grace Episcopal Church has been denied funding it's had for 15 years through the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program. The money — $61,000 to $64,000 — makes up 45 percent of the nonprofit's annual budget.

If something doesn't happen to help the program said volunteer Alvin Hogencamp, "There'll be a lot of hungry people."

He knows hungry: A year ago, he came to St. Margaret's to eat. Now he volunteers to repay the kindness.

Program director Virginia Orgonista has sent letters to volunteers, the parish, politicians — hoping someone will have a route to new funding.

"We pretty much just start from scratch now, I guess," she said,

More here-

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bishop Expresses Dismay Over Handling of Islamic Banking Controversy

From Nigeria-

The Anglican Bishop of diocese on the Niger , Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo, has expressed the displeasure over the way Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Lamido Sanusi have been going about the controversial Islamic Banking.Speaking weekend with Daily Champion during the valedictory service and dedication of projects at St. Christopher's Junior Seminary, 3-3, Nkwelle-Ezunaka, a suburb of Onitsha , the Bishop said that as the name implies, it is clear that Islamic Banking is for Moslems.

He contended that attempt to set it up in Nigeria, a secular state, is a subtle way of propagating Islamic religion, stressing that the term non-interest banking is deceitful as no bank, in-fact noting in life is free.

Bishop Nwokolo called on President Goodluck Jonathan to use his presidential powers to take decisive decision and stop what he called "this evil agenda".

On the menace of Boko Haram sect, he said that it is still akin to Islamic banking, saying that the sect is being used by disgruntled persons to scuttle President Jonathan's reform agenda.

More here-

‘What would Jesus cut?’

From The Washington Post-

In Washington, when you’re in crisis mode, when your back is to the wall, when no solution is in sight, you . . . meet.

So every interest group in Washington is meeting these days — with President Obama, House Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Majority Leader Cantor and House Minority Leader Pelosi, or with other groups, to influence the debt-ceiling debate.

Perhaps the most unusual of the meetings was one Obama had last week with a coalition of Christian religious leaders who urged him not to hammer the poor in trying to reduce the national debt.

It is, one participant said, “an unprecedented coalition,” including leaders from the Episcopal Church, the Salvation Army, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ.

More here-

St Salvador's Episcopal Church worshippers to watch demolition from on high

From Scotland-

Nothing, it seems, will get in the way of worship at the Hilltown's St Salvador's Episcopal Church this weekend — not even the demolition of the Alexander Street multis.

This Sunday the four huge tower blocks will be razed to the ground, forcing local people to evacuate the area for several hours.

This includes the congregation of St Salvador's, which stands in the shadow of the multi-storey blocks and is part of the planned exclusion zone.

However, churchgoers puzzled over where to hold their weekly service have now found a solution.

They have been invited to bring a chair to the Rectory, situated on the Law and to share a house eucharist, have brunch and witness the destruction of the multis from the vantage point.

More here-

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On the presiding bishop's visit to Venezuela

From ENS-

The Diocese of Venezuela jubilantly welcomed in recent days -- July 15-17, 2011 -- the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Province IX official, the Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos-Orench. It is the first visit of a presiding bishop to the Venezuelan diocese since that of the Most Rev. John Maury Allin in the 1980s, as well as the first one since its full incorporation to the Episcopal Church in August 2003. The members of the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Venezuela awaited this encounter with much hope and expectation.

On Friday, July 15th, the first day of her stay, and after being greeted by the Rt. Rev. Orlando Guerrero, diocesan bishop of Venezuela, the presiding bishop had the opportunity to exchange impressions with a varied representation of the Venezuelan Church. First of all, the presiding bishop and Bishop Guerrero discussed diocesan matters, current national affairs and their desire to strengthen the diocesan partnership between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Venezuela.

More here-

Richland church helps raise $13,000 to support food bank

From Washington State-

Thanks to a Richland church, the Tri-City Food Bank's bare shelves will be able to fill up again.

"Food donations are down. Stores are being a lot more conservative in their purchasing, so there's not nearly as many dated items coming in as we've seen in the past," said John Neill, executive director of the Tri-City Food Bank.

That will change after today, when the congregation at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Richland will present him with a check for more than $13,000.

The money was raised as part of a project through the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, which stretches across Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Early this year, Bishop James Waggoner challenged the 41 congregations in the diocese to raise money for a specific charity dedicated to alleviating hunger in their area. The money would be split, half going to the charity of the congregation's choice, the other half going to a Honduran orphanage, El Hogar, an Episcopalian charity.

"El Hogar takes in 200 orphans a year, educates them and teaches them a trade so they have a vocation when they leave at 18," said Sindy Haffner, bookkeeper at All Saints'.

Read more:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Conception Abbey named in second lawsuit

From Nevada-

A second lawsuit was filed last week in Nodaway County Circuit Court alleging that a former monk there, who was also an ordained priest, abused a teenage boy in the early 1980s.

The alleged victim, identified only as John Doe 48, claims in the suit that he was abused by Fr. Bede Parry, a choir director at the abbey and seminary college east of Maryville, and that the abuse consisted of being coerced into various sex acts between 1982 and 1984. Illegal activity described in the lawsuit included oral sex in addition to fondling and kissing.

Parry, 69, is not named as a defendant in the suit, which claims the abbey sought to cover up the assaults, and that Parry's superior knew about the incidents but failed to take appropriate action by removing the monk from his post.

According to the suit, which was filed by attorney Rebecca Randles, the victim was in his mid-teens at the time of the attacks and was taking piano lessons with Parry serving as his instructor. An additional incident involving John Doe 48 is also alleged to have occurred during a summer choir camp hosted by the abbey.

In all, the lawsuit claims that Parry had illegal sexual contact with the youth, said to be in his mid-teens, on at least six occasions over a about a year and a half.

More here-

St. Matthew’s congregation readies to start anew

From Louisiana-

The congregation of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church has been displaced for eight months now.

They still gather to worship, using loaned space at Grace Lutheran Church, but members admit they long to return home.

Home used to be a 112-year-old cypress building nestled under an umbrella of majestic oaks on Barrow Street near Main Street. That building was destroyed in a Nov. 11 fire that burned for hours, fueled by the seasoned and lacquered cypress.

The fire’s cause is classified as undetermined by Houma Fire Inspector Mike Millet, but the church’s insurance inspectors blame faulty electrical wiring.

On Tuesday, church officials and others will meet to discuss plans and potential contractors.

Members say they are grateful to Grace Lutheran for giving them refuge, but they miss having a place of their own.

More here-

Shonekan decries Nigerians’ hypocrisy on religion

From Nigeria-

Former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan, said weekend that it was unfortunate that Nigerians pretend to be the follower of Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed but shamelessly enjoy acts contrary to their teachings.

Shonekan, who spoke at the third session of the first synod of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Sundaba, Kuje, Abuja, insisted that passing the buck would not make the country move forward, but doing the right things at the right time.

He said: “Are we true to the faith wherever we find ourselves; one of the things I have never ceased to be amazed of in Nigeria is how those who claim to believe in Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed, as the case may be, shamelessly relish in doing things that both Jesus and Prophet Mohammed would never approved of.

“Is it about corruption which I alluded to earlier or about not doing the work for which you are paid, whether in terms of quality, timeless, etc? Is it about tolerance of plurality? All around us, the omens are very depressing.”

The Bishop of Kubwa Diocese Anglican Communion Rt, Revd. Duke Akamisoko, said the potential endowments of the people of Nigeria, despite its diverse and infinite nature, had witnessed nothing but under-utilization as a result of indolence, negligence and adverse government policies.

More here-

Congo's victims of war, disease find solace and healing in Anglican church

From ENS-

Thousands of women brutally raped by marauding militiamen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are marred by stigma, frequently abandoned by their families and communities.

At a church guest house in the center of Goma, in the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu, the Rev. Desiré Mukanirwa and his wife Claudaline provide a safe haven for victims of gender-based violence to work through their trauma and carve out a new life. The end goal is the women's integration back into society.

Shouldering immense psychological issues, some of the women become pregnant or find themselves infected with HIV as a result of sexual violation.

"We're helping to heal the wounds of trauma," said Mukanirwa over breakfast one July morning at his Goma home. "We didn't want to shut our eyes. We need action."

Ordained a priest in the Province L'Eglise Anglicane du Congo (Anglican Church of Congo) in 1998, the same year the guest house opened, Mukanirwa told a chilling story about children, one as young as 3, being raped during the Second Congo War (1998-2003).

More here-

From New Orleans-

The poster outside Trinity Episcopal Church on Tuesday evenings reads simply, “Free concert 6 p.m.” What happens inside won’t fit on a sign.

Some say it’s a pilgrimage. Others, a space to find inspiration. One attendee called it “spiritual, yet magical.”

At Organ and Labyrinth, those who step inside the peaceful sanctuary enjoy the rich sounds of the magnificent 5,000-pipe organ from the comfort of a church pew or while walking the labyrinth on the candlelit altar floor.

“No matter what I’m doing, no matter where I am on Tuesday evening, I have to stop and come here,” said Chris L. Price, a regular since the program began five years ago.

Albinas Prizgintas, the church organist and director of music ministries, coaxes a wide repertoire of tunes from the four manual organ console. Selections each week are as varied as “Amazing Grace,” “Fantasia in G Minor” by Bach, a Sousa march, or a piece from the rock group Queen.

More here-