Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lutheran church opts to switch sects

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Trauger has ended its relationship with the nation's largest Lutheran denomination in favor of the North American Lutheran Church in part over issues of same-sex marriage and relationships, including those that involve pastors.

St. Paul's pastor, the Rev. Mark Werner, said the break, which also involved broader questions of theology, came after two years of study and prayer. "We are moving on with our ministry," he said.

The 200 active members of the congregation voted on Sunday for the second time to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). For a breakup, two separate ballots are required under the ELCA constitution.

A North American Lutheran Church (NALC) official said 22 Pennsylvania churches have voted to sever their ties to the ELCA, including Lutheran churches in Berlin, Friedens and Hooversville, all in Somerset County, and Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood.

The Rev. Gregory Held, pastor of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Export, said his congregation will vote in September on whether to leave the ELCA. He said the "option" of joining the NALC was still being debated.

Read more:

Kadugli Bishop Appeals to UN to Stop Sudanese Bombings

From VOA-

The Anglican bishop of Kadugli in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state has appealed to the United Nations to send a fact-finding team to investigate credible reports of mass graves and other serious crimes against civilians allegedly committed by Sudanese forces there.

Reverend Andudu Adam Elnail, the Anglican Bishop of Kadugli, detailed the deteriorating situation in his home state at a news conference on Friday.

“In my diocese, my offices all they were burned, and also the cyber cafĂ© with all computers was burned. And my house was shot at and other denominations of churches were burned," he said. "As I speak now, the Catholic Church in Kadugli is occupied by the military. And many people have been killed. They are culling people from house-to-house. Also, some of my congregations, they give me very clear what they saw in the mass graves in Kadugli. And also there was some satellite image was brought to confirm what eyewitnesses they have saw.”

He warned that in the Nuba mountains, which is home to many pro-South Sudan groups, the situation is worsening with aerial attacks that are killing civilians. He added that this is the planting season and warned that the people of Southern Kordofan could face serious food shortages next year because so many have fled and there is no one to farm.

More here-

Pedal for Nets - bringing Skeeter Cheaters to Africa

From Colorado- (with video)

The inaugural Pedal for Nets charity bike ride is hoping to start something big with a small piece of netting. All they need are some cyclists who believe the same.

Pedal for Nets takes place Aug. 14 to 16 around the Longmont area. Riders have the option of riding all three days (140 miles), one or two days, or being a virtual rider. No matter the choice, riders register for $100, all of which goes to buy mosquito nets.

The ride is being organized by St Stephen's Episcopal Church in Longmont because of the need to protect men, women and children from malaria in Africa. Malaria is a deadly mosquito-borne disease that affects millions each year in Africa and around the world. Nearly one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children younger than five years old. Just one $12 insecticide-treated net can save three people from suffering or possible death caused by malaria.

More here-

Retired rector of Grace Episcopal Church dies after car accident in New Bedford

From Mass.-

The Rev. Philip C. Douglas, longtime rector of Grace Episcopal Church who retired from active ministry in 1988, died Thursday in a car accident on Hawthorn Street. Douglas, 88, was driving toward County Street around 8:13 a.m. when he rear-ended a vehicle, police said.

However, the accident was not catastrophic, leading police to believe he may have been in medical distress before the crash.
Paramedics were unable to revive Douglas at the scene. He was later pronounced dead at St. Luke's Hospital. "We're not sure if it was a heart attack or a blackout.

We don't know what happened," said Susan Knight, one of Douglas' three daughters, who remembered her father as a deeply spiritual man who cared about his family and the community.
"He never wanted the recognition. He just wanted to help people without bringing attention to himself," said daughter Nancy Foster.

More here-

Friday, August 5, 2011

Signs signs everywhere signs #31

From my son-

Life for Zimbabwe Anglicans worsens with properties commandeered, priests arrested

About Zimbabwe (from Pakistan)

Clergy and pilgrims hoping to visit the Arthur Shearly Cripps Shrine last week were once again frustrated by excommunicated bishop Dr Norbert Kunonga who now claims to be in charge of the shrine and 78 Anglican churches in Masvingo Diocese.

The Anglican Diocese of Masvingo said its leaders advised Anglican worshippers against taking part in this year’s Shearly Cripps celebrations, scheduled for 29 to 31 July, after a court ruled that Dr Kunonga could not be prevented from attending the shrine.

A diocesan spokesperson told ACNS, “Kunonga got wind of the Diocesan preparations for commemoration of Arthur Shearly Cripps by pilgrims at the Arthur Shearly Cripps Shrine this month end, and he began to counter these efforts.

“He had been distributing flyers, pamphlets and sticking posters in our Churches in and around Chivhu town and Daramombe Mission. The same group which was moving around Chivhu went to Daramombe Mission on Saturday 23 July and put more posters at the Mission and then made a fire next to the entrance of the church and started roasting meat. Thereafter they took one of the Priest-in-Charge’s chickens and disappeared from the Mission.”

More here-

Return Of Maili Cross Called 'Blessing'

From Hawaii (with video)

A congregation in Maili is counting its blessings after its cross is returned, more than a year after it was stolen.

The cross was taken from the St. Philip's Episcopal Church on July 3, 2010.

About two weeks ago, a church member stopped in a small shop along Farrington Highway, called Mom and Pop's Garage Sale. May Holokai saw the cross and returned later with the church's senior warden, Honolulu Police Assistant Chief Debora Tandal to ask for it back.
The owners of the shop gave the cross back to the church with no charge. Sandra and Bernard Reyes said they bought the cross off the side of the road for $18.

Read more:

New rector at St. Francis Episcopal

Congratulations Vanessa (Novato is just north o San Francisco)-

On August 15 the Rev. Vanessa Glass begins her tenure as rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church. She comes to Novato from Grace Cathedral, where she served as senior associate pastor the past five years.

Sponsored in her call to the priesthood by St. John’s Ross, Glass was ordained in 2001 after graduating from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

In addition to her work at Grace Cathedral, Glass has worked in several smaller parishes: as an intern at St. James San Francisco and as an associate at St. Paul’s San Rafael.

She cur-rently serves as co-chair for the Diocese of California’s deputation to general convention. In addition, she is a member and the secretary of the House of Deputies Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity, and she is a Mutual Ministry Review Facilitator. A strong advocate of women’s ministries, Glass is co-founder and former convener of the Women’s Clericus.

More here-

St. Paul's pipe organ being restored to its glory

From Rochester NY-

Being in charge of a $1.2 million project to restore the massive, 84-year-old organ at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rochester has meant more to Matt Parsons than just hard work.

It has been a link to the past.

His great-great-grandfather, Gideon Parsons, helped build the organ, which was constructed in Boston by E.M. Skinner, America's foremost organ company in the early 1900s. His grandfather, Bryant Parsons Sr.; father, Richard; and uncle, Calvin, also have worked on maintaining the 4,474-pipe instrument over the years.

"My great-great-grandfather's signature is on some of the pipes," said Matt Parsons, 31, who is the project manager, "so that was pretty cool to see."

More here-

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New assistant at St. Paul’s faced cultural shift in Anglican Church

From Philadelphia-

When Emmanuel Ato “Manny” Mercer, the new assistant rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, made the 5,700-mile trip from Ghana to Atlanta in 2000, little did he know just how that journey would change his life.

In Ghana as a young man he had attended an Anglican all-boys secondary school. After a mandatory year of national service, during which he taught civics, environmental studies and English in a junior high school, he enrolled in the Saint Nicholas Theological Seminary in Cape Coast, earning a licentiate in theology in 1998.

“Right after seminary I was posted in a little town,” Mercer said in a recent interview. “After two years, I decided to come to the United States to study for a Master of Divinity degree at Emory University.”

His hope was to take what he learned here and return to Ghana and teach at the seminary, but that began to change the first weekend he was in the States.

“When I came to the United States I didn’t know where I was going to worship,” he said.
He found All Saints Episcopal Church on the Internet. It was at All Saints that he began to face the cultural differences that exist between branches of the Anglican Communion in Ghana and the United States. The Communion is a worldwide federation of 38 autonomous provinces, all of which are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and, therefore, each other. An Anglican from one province is welcome to worship or, if ordained, to minister in any other.

More here-’s-faced-cultural-shift-in-anglican-church/

Former judge and her husband become ordained priests at Pleasant Lake church

From Michigan-

Susan Vandercook has had to scrap one of the skills she honed over many years — judging others.

As a newly ordained Episcopal priest, judging people is frowned upon. Even her Facebook attorney “friends” haven’t touched this one with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

“I’ve heard the jokes, and I’ve even preached a sermon on judging others,” said Vandercook, who retired in 2006 as a Jackson County probate judge.

She and her husband, Ross, a retired elementary school principal, were ordained as priests July 2 and are co-rectors at Christ Episcopal Church in Pleasant Lake.

They have presided at funerals and on Aug. 20 will officiate at their first wedding. But more important, the Vandercooks — some believe — might have saved their small church from closing.

More here-

A church in exile: Zimbabwe's Anglicans resilient amid ongoing intimidation from Mugabe's oppressors

From ENS-

A crippled nation at the mercy of tyrannical leaders, Zimbabwe is home to a persecuted yet resilient community of Anglicans who've been victimized, intimidated and run out of their own churches by a state-supported renegade bishop and his allies.

Yet, despite being excluded from all worship spaces in Harare, "the Anglican church is growing, filled with joy, and looking outward," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told Episcopal News Service following a July 29-31 visit to Zimbabwe to show support and solidarity to its beleaguered Anglicans.

"They have experienced the same kind of thing as congregations in Fort Worth and San Joaquin," she noted, referring to attempts by former leaders in those places to take ownership of diocesan property and leave loyal Episcopalians without a spiritual home. "The church is more than a building, and has become stronger and more creative in exile."

More here-

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Muslims Seize Christian Burial Sites in Tanzania

From Tanzania-

Influential Muslims on this East African island have begun building what appears to be a hotel on a 100-year-old burial site owned by an Anglican church, Christian leaders said.

Church leaders with ownership papers for the land told Compass they are disturbed that authorities have taken no action since they filed a police complaint in December about the seizure of the burial site three kilometers (nearly two miles) from Zanzibar city’s airport. Tanzania’s Zanzibar archipelago, including the largest island of Zanzibar (officially known as Unguja), is 99.9 percent Muslim.

“We see that the government is partisan and would not like to see the church grow in Zanzibar,” the Rev. Canon Emmanuel John Masoud told Compass. “The retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadani, who is a member of the Anglican church, was appointed to be a link between the church and the government to facilitate the negotiation process, but it seems that nothing is bearing fruits. Hence the church is not supported in any way.”

More here-

‘Uncle John’ Stott helped to build a worldwide evangelical movement

From The Globe and Mail-

“An evangelical,” said John Stott in a 2006 interview, “is a plain, ordinary Christian” – someone devoted to the person of Jesus, guided by biblical authority, and committed to the well-being of the world God loves. By being just such a “plain, ordinary Christian” in every area of his life and work, Stott helped both individuals and the global evangelical movement grow into something far more than they otherwise would have been.

Eschewing the hucksterism often associated with the religious right, the Church of England pastor, evangelist and author combined faith and reason in the best British tradition of churchmanship. To this he added profound personal devotion, a global vision and winsome communication abilities, transforming the evangelical movement from an often shallow and insular theological backwater into a mature and world-transforming mainstream movement.

Born to an agnostic father and a devout mother in London, England, on April 27, 1921, Stott grew up a conventionally observant Anglican. Challenged by a visiting evangelist at Rugby School to grapple with Pontius Pilate’s question – “What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ? – the 17-year-old invited Jesus into his life. It was not in a bout of emotion, but as a choice whose implications slowly grew on him, through weekly mentoring letters from the evangelist. Stott would later implement this pattern of coaching, modelled on Jesus’ practice, in his own pastoral and international ministries.

More here-

Alabama Churches Unite to Halt Anti-Immigration Law

From Alabama-

Today the leaders of the Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches of Alabama filed suit in federal court to stop the enforcement of Alabama’s Anti-Immigration Law because it prevents the free exercise of religion. The bishops called the new law “the nation’s most merciless anti-immigration legislation.”

Bishop Henry N. Parsley, Jr., of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama; Bishop William H. Willimon, of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church; Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, of the Mobile Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Alabama; and Bishop Robert J. Baker, of the Birmingham Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Alabama, have joined together as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit. Some 338,000 Alabama residents are members of Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches in the state.

Augusta Dowd, an attorney representing Bishop Parsley, said, “These religious leaders seek relief because the law will prohibit, under threat of criminal prosecution, Alabama citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to freely practice their Christian faith.” Archbishop Rodi said “that ‘the love of Christ impels us’ (2 Cor. 5) to live our Christian faith. No law is just which prevents the proclamation of the Gospel message, the baptizing of believers, or love shown to a neighbor in need.”

More here-

After 125 Years, Still Going Strong: St. Luke's Fair

From Long Island-

It started 125 years ago: a small fair on the lawn of St. Luke's Episcopal Church that raised $950 for the community. Now, more than a century later, the St. Luke's Fair continues to provide fun and games, along with great food and expensive prizes, to residents and summer visitors alike.

Year after year, the Fair has attracted not only local and visiting families, but also a fair number of the fairest celebrities who reside on the East End. There have even been a few non-resident celebrities who have stopped by such as Paul Newman and John Lindsay. Last year, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited the fair, no doubt not looking for criminals on the lam. (Whitey Bulger may have been apprehended a lot earlier if he had visited the Fair).

This year, there are going to be some exceptional prizes auctioned off to visitors to the Fair: a South Beach Condo vacation, a private curator-guided tour of the Museum of Modern Art, another private tour of all the backstage facilities at the Metropolitan Opera, gourmet dinners at the 1770 House, the Grill, Cittanuova, and East Hampton Point (a circuit usually pursued by hungry restaurant critics), two dreamy nights at the Maidstone Arms, and much more.

More here-

Heard of a Language Called Christian?

From Christian Post-

If you talk about the rapture or salvation, or say you are blessed or favored, or let’s say you associate belief with doctrine, then you are likely just “speaking Christian” without knowing the real meaning of these terms, says an article on CNN’s belief blog.

“Have you told anyone ‘I’m born again?’ Have you ‘walked the aisle’ to ‘pray the prayer?’ Did you ever ‘name and claim’ something and, after getting it, announce, ‘I’m highly blessed and favored?’” asks CNN’s John Blake in his weekend article.

If this is you, Blake warns, “some Christian pastors and scholars have some bad news: You may not know what you’re talking about.”

The writer quotes two Christian professors to say that many contemporary Christians have become “pious parrots,” constantly repeating Christian phrases they do not understand or distort.

More here-

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shawl ministry offers comfort for those in need

From California-

Maria Norman came to the prayer shawl ministry at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Hemet through a near-death experience.

In 1996, she ended up in the hospital, where her heart stopped.

“You can’t imagine the wonderful feeling to open my eyes to see people from my church. It was beautiful,” Norman said.

Afterward, she joined several ministries that allowed her to give to others the blessing of companionship she felt in the hospital. Among her activities was the prayer shawl ministry.

The group meets one a month over the summer and twice a month the rest of the year to knit and crochet shawls.

The shawls are not just given to people who are sick, but to newly married couples and babies and for such rites as baptisms and confirmations.

“Anybody who asks for one,” said Karen Chalmers.

More here-

Helping the hungry

From Idaho-

The Bible says to feed the hungry, so that's what Coeur d'Alene's St. Luke's Episcopal Church did.

St. Luke's, along with seven other Episcopal churches, raised more than $90,000 through the new "Organizing for Mission" program in March and April, the season of Lent.

"The parish teams went above and beyond, raising 125 percent of their original dollar goal," said Tracey Waring, Organizing for Mission's spokeswoman. "They discovered that they had skills that they had never been able to use before."

Father Pat Bell of St. Luke's Episcopal Church was excited about the amount of money they raised.

"We are extremely thrilled, we raised far beyond than we could imagine," Bell said. "This was just a very gratifying experience."

Fifty percent of the proceeds will be sent to El Hogar in Tagucigalpa, Honduras, which feeds and shelters young homeless boys in Honduras. The remainder will go to a local hunger relief initiative of each parish's choice in North Idaho and eastern Washington.

More here-

Area pastor heading to Tanzania to help kids

From Rochester NY-

Dahn Gandell believes in sustainable change.

The 45-year-old Perinton resident is practicing what she preaches as she embarks today for a two-week mission to Tanzania for Carpenter's Kids, a foundation run by the Episcopal Church that aids schoolchildren with supplies and other necessities.

"We need to do this," said Gandell, the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Honeoye Falls. "The gratitude becomes contagious. And I can tell you this after going there, that this really changes lives. Tanzania is like the U.S. in the 1950s, really very conservative and soft-spoken. Until you can form relationships with people, you can't confront issues in a really honest and truthful way."

Gandell and her husband, David Gandell, sponsor 50 children in Kongogo, Tanzania. For $80 per year per child, they receive a school uniform, backpack, shoes, mosquito net, socks, one meal per day, health care and other necessities. Each person who signs up to sponsor a child makes a five-year commitment to see them through secondary school. The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester sponsors another group of 50 children, while 100 others are supported by people in the Rochester area.

More here-

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Local Church's labyrinth, stations of the cross allow for prayer in the open air

From Michigan-

Sometimes, whispering a prayer on bended knee in a sanctuary or chapel doesn’t cut it.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wyoming offers two open-air sacred places so the public can commune with the almighty immersed in God’s flora and fauna: a labyrinth and Stations of the Cross.

Patterned after the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres in Chartres, France, Holy Trinity’s labyrinth is defined by borders of grass and wildflowers where deer occasionally can be seen foraging in the morning and a symphony of birds are heard chirping at night.

Fittingly, at the center of the labyrinth is a wooden cross, flanked by three benches for meditation.

More here-

Credo: Mark Lewis

Fron D.C.

The Rev. Mark Lewis is married. He also wants to become a Catholic priest. Lewis is the rector of St. Luke's in Bladensburg, the first Episcopalian parish in the U.S. to seek to become Catholic under Anglicanorum coetibus, a process outlined by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 that allows groups of Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church without discarding their liturgical heritage. Raised Episcopalian, the 52-year-old Lewis entered the ministry 10 years ago and has two grown children. He will become Catholic with his parish in October.
Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?

Obviously, I am of the Catholic faith. Even as Episcopalians, we believed we were Catholic Christians. The Episcopal Church is a very broad church. In it you can have very evangelical people, and in it you can also have very high church Anglo-Catholics, of which I was one.

Why did you and your church convert?

I teach Catholic theology to my people. Once the apostolic constitution was announced, it opened a door that had previously been closed to us. I didn't really want to sway them with my excitement, so we looked at it together: "Is this something that is really of interest to us?" We looked at the difference between being a Catholic in the Anglican tradition, and being a Catholic in the Roman tradition. And we realized as a church that we needed to be in communion with the Church of Rome. This was an opportunity we must not pass up.

Did the arguments over homosexuality and female priests influence your decision?

We looked at the ordination of women and the sexuality issues, but we looked at something even more basic than that. I teach that the church interprets Scripture, but as Anglicans we wondered: 'Which church? The church in America?" We realized we needed Apostolic authority. It can't be left up to me or you or the Diocese of Maryland or the Diocese of Washington. Is there room in the faith to have a diversity of theologies? No, everybody can't be right. The Catholic Church has an authority that is not present in the Anglican church, which appealed to us.

Read more :