Saturday, October 22, 2011

Utah churches tackle a weighty issue: Obesity

From Utah-

It’s time to cut the fat out of funeral potatoes and shrink the slices of cake — all in the name of God.

Church pews are Utah’s newest battleground to push back against potbellies, starting with the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

With 5,000 members in 25 congregations, it is the first religious organization to formally agree to work with the state and others to prevent obesity among its members.

To Episcopal Bishop Scott Hayashi, emphasizing health is a natural fit for a diocese that established Utah’s first hospital (St. Mark’s) and for a faith that considers the human body a "temple of the Holy Spirit."

"From the beginning of the diocese of Utah, we have been a people who have worked together with God and with each other to save lives," he said recently, noting that the church also supports food pantries, domestic-violence shelters and 12-step programs. "Obesity is one of the ways in which human lives are put in jeopardy."

Hayashi said he will ask members to be healthy — to make healthy food for potlucks, choose smaller plates at coffee hours, offer apple slices and other fruit instead of cookies, grow gardens. And to be active.

More here-

Thieves steal statue from Edmond church

From Oklahoma-

This week thieves targeted a church near downtown Edmond. The crooks stole a concrete statue from a garden in front of the church. Church leaders are actually taking the loss in stride, but haven't given up hope the crooks will have a change of heart.

A large St. Francis statue watches over the garden outside St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Sometime this week thieves snuck onto the property and stole a second St. Francis statue.

"St. Francis down there was smaller statue. You easily could've picked it up. This was actually buried with a foundation in the ground," said the church priest Mark Story.

The thieves apparently tried unsuccessfully to heist the bigger statue.

"You know this stuff happens. It doesn't do any good to get angry about it," said Story. "The value of the loss is not as severe as you know, if somebody really needed it they probably could have come and asked."

More here-,0,1707363.story

Woman accused of stealing $129,000 from a church

From Central Gulf Coast-

A local woman has been arrested and charged with stealing more than $100,000 from a church.

Carla Croud was the treasurer at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Panama City, officials said, and she used her position to cash the church’s checks and keep the money.

Croud was arrested for the first time in this case on Sept. 26 when the church was contacted by the manager of Dodge’s Chicken, authorities reported. The manager told church officials that Croud had been cashing checks at his store for large amounts of cash.

Croud was charged with grand theft and 35 counts of forgery on Sept. 27. Then on Friday, investigators arrested Croud again after an investigation and an internal audit revealed that $129,000 had been stolen, according to a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release. Croud cashed the checks at several local businesses, officials said.

On Friday, Croud was charged with a first-degree felony of grand theft of $100,000 or more. Officials added that the investigation is ongoing and more victims and charges are expected.

More here-

Patt Morrison Asks: George Regas, keeping faith

From The LA Times-

Yep, that was George Regas in that photo — the man in the purple ecclesiastical robe and handcuffs. The rector emeritus of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena chose to get busted this month outside the downtown federal building protesting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few days earlier, scores of mostly conservative ministers across the country had deliberately defied the IRS ban on candidate endorsements by tax-exempt churches. Regas had tripped that wire inadvertently seven years ago, with a sermon that caught the IRS' ear and could have cost All Saints its tax exemption. He's retired from the pulpit, but time has not staled nor circumstance withered Regas' appetite for engagement.

Some pastors are purposely defying the IRS law, evidently to generate a court challenge. You did it accidentally, on the eve of the 2004 election, with your sermon, "If Jesus Debated Sen. Kerry.

I think the L.A. Times are the ones who got me in trouble! They had a section devoted to what happened in religious communities [before] the election. They characterized my sermon as "a searing indictment" of President Bush's war, and I have the feeling that got the IRS involved.

So was it a searing indictment of the war?

It was a blazing indictment of how the war was being executed by the president, but it also had things to say about Kerry. Eventually [the IRS] said the church would retain its tax-exempt status [even though it] judged the sermon a violation of the law.

More here-,0,4840615.column

FAITH AND VALUES: Three Clarksville women heed their calls to ministry

From Tennessee-

Ministry in America has been dominated by men since the founding of our country.

No matter the denomination, the people in charge have been and mostly still are men. Don't think that has held back three Clarksville female ministers from impacting the lives of others.

Rev. Angela Jones, pastor of non-denominational Greenhill Church on Walker Street; Rev. Lisa Martin, Minister of Discipleship at Clarksville Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Golf Club Lane, and Rev. Dorothy Hartzog, Associate Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church on Franklin Street, do not let their gender stand in the way of being ministers.

It was 1985 when Jones mentioned to her husband that she felt the calling to serve in ministry. Her husband, the late Rev. Raliegh Jones, was pastor of the Greenhill Church at that time. As she said, "Although my husband was a traditional Baptist preacher and part of a denomination that did not accept women as preachers or pastors, he knew I was inspired and he supported me."

More here-

Unity, diversity both needed and possible in Episcopal Church

From South Carolina-

Episcopalians in the Columbia-based Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina are watching with heavy hearts as our brothers and sisters in the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina contend with allegations that their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, has "abandoned the communion" of the Episcopal Church.

We appreciate Bishop Dorsey Henderson's clarification that the church's disciplinary board, which he chairs, is merely looking to see if the charges have merit, not prosecuting Bishop Lawrence on the basis of them.

I consider Bishop Lawrence a friend and respected fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the Lord. I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church. Our church has a long history of theological diversity and respect for those with whom we disagree, and we can all benefit from the challenge of addressing these questions openly and in a spirit of mutual charity. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is too often hostile to disagreement and unwilling to engage in honest dialogue with those who have different views. Our churches are not immune from this, and all who follow a loving God have each to ask God to forgive us for any roles we may have played in that hostility over the years.

I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty.

More here-

Friday, October 21, 2011

Executive Council begins budgeting process for 2012 and beyond

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called on the Episcopal Church's Executive Council Oct. 21 to remember as it moves into nine months of work on the church's 2012 and 2013-2015 finances that "budgets are moral documents."

"These budgets should – we should expect that they will – reflect our values both as Episcopalians and as Christians, and they should reflect our understanding of our part in God's mission, given that we are the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society," she said at the beginning of council's four-day meeting at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.

"We should be building budgets that clearly reflect our commitment to mission," she said, calling for stewardship of "human vocational resources," of finances and of creation.

Mission, the presiding bishop said, is about reconciling the world to God and each other in Christ as the Book of Common Prayer says. Jesus refers to "caring for the least of these," she noted, adding that mission is also about baptizing and teaching others about the reign of God in Jesus' work.

"Mission is about transformation because we don't yet live in the fullness of the mission of God," she said.

Jefferts Schori added what she called a caveat. "The dollars identified in a particular segment of the budget do not necessarily reflect the value we place on an area of mission," she said. "The budget overall needs to reflect our commitment to the different varieties of mission but, we are not to judge one part of the budget against another only on dollar value."

More here-

300 religious leaders back Occupy Wall St.

From UPI-

About 300 religious congregations and spiritual leaders have signed a statement supporting the values of Occupy Wall Street activists, a New York church said.

The places of worship and clergy people "support the spirit of Occupy Wall Street," the Rev. Donna Schaper of New York's Judson Memorial Church, affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ, told the online TV Odyssey Networks.

"We're not an organization. We're not trying to join Occupy. We're really here to make a moral and spiritual statement in support of a new democratic energy," said Schaper, whose church came up with the idea.

"Our traditions are clear," the statement says. "The impoverishment of the many for the benefit of the few destroys us all. The cries of our people are clear -- the American dream is compromised, the middle is slipping away, and in our politics, fairness is dissipating.

Read more:

Fire in Trinity's Kitchen

From Trinity Seminary-

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, Trinity School for Ministry experienced a fire in the Commons Hall kitchen. This kitchen has been in the process of renovation and expansion since the beginning of the summer.

As workers were installing the fire suppression hood above the stove, sparks generated by a welding torch caught the paper backing of the ceiling insulation on fire and spread through the entire ceiling area. Thankfully, the fire was contained between the dry wall ceiling of that room and the roof. It did not spread beyond that area though some of the wood rafters were scorched as well.

The building inspector was on site shortly after the fire had been put out and confirmed that there was not any damage that would compromise the structure. A massive cleanup of the entire Commons Hall building is already underway. The new appliances do not appear to have been damaged but some of the new construction will need to be replaced.

Bob Chesky, Trinity's Director of Facilities, commented that "although it is frustrating that we were just days away from completing the project, it is very fortunate that no one was hurt." Please continue to pray for the conclusion of this project.

Trinity Wishes to thank the many firefighters for their quick response.

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal of Property Rulings

From Pittsburgh-

In an order issued October 17, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected an appeal seeking to challenge lower court rulings holding that, under the terms of the 2005 settlement of the Calvary suit, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church was the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. The issues presented to the court had been adequately reviewed and ruled on, first by the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, then on appeal by Commonwealth Court. Each ruling consistently supported the position of the Episcopal Diocese. We hope that all litigation over these issues will now cease.

The Court’s ruling also affirms that the Episcopal Diocese holds the title to the property of a number of parishes where congregations had ceased to actively participate in the Diocese. We will continue to encourage them to return to active participation in the Diocese, and in the meantime to be good stewards of the property. This Diocese remains committed to working through these issues with each of the affected congregations.

More here.

Anglicans Launch Scheme to Improve Education Around Commonwealth

From Singapore-

Anglican Alliance has launched a new scheme to help improve education standards around the Commonwealth.

The scheme will support education administrators from around the Anglican Communion in coming to London to learn about the delivery of education services.

The first four education administrators to take part in the scheme are David Agbo from Nigeria, Jacqueline Glasgow-Browne from St Vincent, Joe Takeli from the Solomon Islands, and Seidu Adam from Ghana.

Agbo, Takeli and Adam work for church education services, while Glasgow-Browne liaises with church schools on behalf of government education services.

They will spend eight weeks visiting education services and specialist education institutions in the UK next year and apply what they have learned to their own national contexts.

Their time in the UK will be split between studying local authority education services, workshadowing senior officials, visiting schools and learning from diocesan education services in two Church of England dioceses.

Their stops include Nottingham University, which has a special unit that works on leadership in education and especially on the role of faith schools.

More here-

El Salvador church partners respond to 'unparalleled' flooding catastrophe

From ENS-

Severe flooding and mudslides caused by tropical rains throughout El Salvador have affected about 150,000 people, cut off dozens of communities and resulted in almost 40 deaths. It has been described by Anglican Bishop of El Salvador Martin Barahona as "a catastrophe unparalleled by other disasters" in the country in recent history.

Hurricane Jova made landfall on Oct. 11 as a Category 2 hurricane over Jalisco, Mexico, where it is responsible for six deaths, but El Salvador "has been the most affected country in Central America," according to the Rev. George Woodward, vice president of Fundación Cristosal, a church partner and nonprofit organization that is working with Episcopal Relief & Development, the local Anglican diocese and other organizations to respond to the disaster.

According to a report from Fundación Cristosal, as of Oct. 17 the flooding had forced 32,243 people to evacuate from 149 communities, caused the contamination of more than 2,200 wells and destroyed almost 3,000 acres of crops. The report said that 261 emergency shelters were operating to serve those in need.

Woodward, rector of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church in San Marino, California, wrote in an Oct. 19 email that the floodwaters have completely cut off access to two of Fundación Cristosal's four partner communities, as well as the international airport.

More here-

Cambridge University's 'first' black student pioneer

From The BBC (Crummell was eventually ordained in the Episcopal Church)

The story of Cambridge University's first officially recorded black student is being told as part of the university's Festival of Ideas.

Alexander Crummell was an American minister and the son of a freed slave who studied at Queens' College, Cambridge, in the late 1840s.

While it appears he was not the first black student at Cambridge, he is the first for whom official records exist.

Cambridge lecturer Sarah Meek said he was seen as an "object of curiosity".

She continued: "One of his servants, when she was dismissed by his wife Sarah, called the Crummells 'black devils', so they were obviously not immune to the kind of prejudice we might imagine."

But at the same time he was a mature student who "was a respected, grown-up figure".

During his university vacations he toured the country delivering anti-slavery lectures, and as a minister gave sermons in local churches.

more here-

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church firm in faith 125 years

From Florida-

It began with the visit of a woman named Lucy Boardman, who stepped off a sailboat in a river town called Melbourne and cheerfully offered to buy a small plot of land to help build what would become Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

The year was 1886. By that Christmas, the church of early pioneers rose out of the thicket of woods that bracketed the south side of Crane Creek.

After two moves and countless prayers during sweltering Florida summers, the congregation is set to celebrate the church’s 125th anniversary.

“The church is actually a little older, but we’re celebrating the building of the chapel. That chapel is the oldest continually used building in Melbourne. We still hold services in that building,” said the Rev. Steve Easterday, spiritual leader of the church and its 1,200 members.

More here-

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Indian tale of transformation opens Melbourne Anglican synod

From Australia-

An Indian woman who transformed herself from a middle-class Hindu to a Christian disciple to the slums of Delhi marked a departure from the traditional opening of Melbourne's Anglican diocesan synod at St Paul's Cathedral on 19 October.

Dr Kiran Martin -- who, in turn, transformed the lives of women who had no addresses into being land titleholders and of young people who had no schooling into university graduates -- was engaged in conversation with the chair of the diocesan Social Responsibilities Committee, Bishop Philip Huggins, in lieu of a sermon during the opening Eucharist of the four-day synod.

Dr Martin, the founder and Director of Asha Community Health and Development Society in Delhi and Visiting Fellow at The Nossal Institute for Global Health at Melbourne University, is on a two-week trip to Australia. In Melbourne, she has had meetings at the Nossal Institute, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Australia-India Institute, ANZ Bank and Victorian Governor Alex Chernov, as well as speaking to students at several Anglican schools.

She told of her conversion to Christianity when she was 18 and of her conversion to improving the lives of slum-dwellers when, as a paediatrician, she initially went to a slum to treat victims of a cholera outbreak in August 1988.

"It was not enough for me to see a patient because some patients would come to see me again and again," she said.

More here-

Reflection: What Steve Jobs Can Teach the Church

From The Anglican Journal-

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Those words could have been spoken by Jesus, but they were uttered by Steve Jobs at the Stanford University commencement in June 2005. He was citing from the final issue of The Whole Earth Catalogue, one of the bibles of his generation back in the 1960s and early '70s.

Steve Jobs was a very complex person. He was a Buddhist and a visionary, almost a mystic, whose most exhilarating experience was walking in a Zen garden in Kyoto, Japan. Intellectually, he was an innovator and inventor, ranking with the likes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Temperamentally, he was a free spirit who integrated his love of design with technology in a user-friendly way.

He was not perfect, to be sure. He could be the best and worst boss at the same time. He was something of a bully, firing and rehiring people the same day, intense, direct, strong-willed, a control freak with a binary view of the world. He did not suffer fools gladly, did not enjoy small talk and would turn off people who did not interest him. His management style will never be touted in leadership books. He would not make a good parish priest, nor would he fit well into most churches, especially ones with lots of rules and regulations.

More here-

Nashville priest honored by White House as "Champion of Change" for work helping prostitutes

From Nashville-

A Nashville priest who founded a recovery program for prostitutes is being honored by the White House.

Becca Stevens founded a residential program called Magdalene in 1997.

It offers participating women free housing, food, medical and dental care, therapy, education and job training for two years, all without government funding.

Seventy percent of the women who join are clean and sober 2 1/2 years after beginning.

Stevens will be honored at a Washington ceremony on Thursday as one of 15 "Champions of Change," according to WPLN (

The St. Augustine's Episcopal Chapel chaplain says she hopes the recognition will inspire others to do similar work.

Recently, she's met with groups interested in the Magdalene model from St. Louis, Atlanta and New Orleans.

More here-

Amherst's Episcopal Thrift Shop to move after fire

From Virginia-

Among the din of a noisy generator and a few dim light bulbs, volunteers began clearing out the Episcopal Thrift Shop in Amherst last week, not knowing where they would reopen.

The floor of the historic first floor of the Goodwin building remained wet as at least two dozen volunteers trooped in and out carrying items to be discarded and depositing them in the back of a Schewel Furniture Co. truck.

A smoke odor hung in the air, and some workers wore paper facemasks.

“We are still looking,” said Ed Hopkins, chairman of the Episcopal thrift committee. “We are anxious to know what Elliott Schewel and John Ware are going to do with the building. Right now, that’s pretty much up in the air.”

A fire the morning of Sept. 24 was caused by an electrical problem on the second floor that was being used as a warehouse. It damaged most of the items in the shop, and the cleaning cost would be high, Hopkins said.

More here-

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Church of England Closer to Appointing Female Bishops?

From Christian Post-

The Church of England may be one step closer to appointing female bishops after a recent vote taken among the church's 44 local dioceses has found that the majority are in favour of a motion to do so, according to the Telegraph.

As a result, the measure will be taken before the Church of England's national assembly, the General Synod, next year in July for a final decision to be made.

While 28 out of the 30 dioceses of England have so far supported the measure, those that have not, such as the diocese of London, are asking for alternative plans that guarantee that their parishes will be overseen by male bishops.

"The legislation does limit the ministry of women bishops, in order to enable those who will not accept them to remain in the Church of England, but we recognise that compromise is a positive part of Anglican life," said campaign coordinator at Women and the Church Hilary Cotton, according to the Telegraph. "Any further limits, as are being suggested in some dioceses, we know would be unworkable as well as unacceptable."

More here-

Gettysburg Soup Kitchen marks 20 years of service

From Gettysburg-

The Gettysburg Community Soup Kitchen recently reached a milestone, logging 20 years of service during which it has served nearly 180,000 meals to its guests. Nearly 10,000 meals have been served thus far in 2011 alone. Established in 1991 as a ministry of The Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace, Gettysburg's Episcopal Church, the Soup Kitchen has been since 1994 a community-based organization supported by more than 60 area churches, more than 15 local groups, businesses and foundations, and countless individual donors, volunteers and sponsors.

According to Mary Daniel, chair of the Soup Kitchen's board and a member of St. Mary's Church, Fairfield, these are exciting times for the organization. Housed since its founding in facilities at Prince of Peace on High Street, the Soup Kitchen is in the process of moving next door to "Peace House," the former St. Francis Xavier Rectory now owned by Prince of Peace. Extensive renovations to Peace House to accommodate the expanded Soup Kitchen facility have been underway for some months and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

More here-

Former Dallas, Fort Worth and Europe Convocation Bishop Donald Davies dies at 91

From ENS-

The founding bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, Archibald Donald Davies, died peacefully on Oct. 16 aged 91.

A requiem will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 21 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, located at 3600 Fall Creek Highway in Granbury, Texas.

Davies served as the bishop of the Diocese of Dallas from 1970 to 1978 and bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth from 1983 to 1985. After he retired from Fort Worth, then-Presiding Bishop John Allin appointed him bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe from 1986 to 1988.

In 1992, Davies left the Episcopal Church to help form the Episcopal Missionary Church, actions which prompted the House of Bishops to give its consent to his deposition in 1994, according to a release from Suzanne Gill, communications officer for the breakaway Fort Worth diocese.

Born in Pittsburgh on April 15, 1920, Davies earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa in 1944 and a master's degree from Western Theological Seminary (now Seabury-Western) in 1947. While earning his doctorate he joined the faculties of Huron College and the University of Tulsa, teaching philosophy and religion for three years.

He was ordained in 1950 and initially served as a rector in the Diocese of Kansas and as campus chaplain at Kansas State University.

More here-

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PA State Supreme Court denies "Anglicans" Petition for Appeal

Here's the link to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Attorney J.B. Burch Returns to Lawrence Case

From The Living Church-

Bishop Dorsey Henderson sent this message to members of the Disciplinary Panel for Bishops on Oct. 17, and released a copy to The Living Church.

Sisters and Brothers,

This message comes with the prayer that you are all well and joyful.

Because I believe that time is of an essence, I have made a command decision and today requested that J.B. Burch assume the work of the Church Attorney in the matter of Bishop Mark Lawrence only; Josephine Hicks continues to work with the other allegations on our “docket.” Mr. Burch has accepted.

J.B. held the equivalent position with the Review Committee under the previous version of Title IV. As “Lay Assessor” to the Review Committee, he did the same work that the “Church Attorney” now does for the Disciplinary Board. While in that position, he did preliminary work on the Bishop Lawrence information, so he is already more than familiar with that information and the task which is now ours.

I have informed Ms. Hicks and she will be in communication with Mr. Burch to arrange for an orderly transfer of that labor and ministry.

Faithfully yours in our Lord,

+Dorsey Henderson

Rappelling engineers begin assessing earthquake damage to Washington National Cathedral

From The Washington Post-

The same engineers who captivated tourists and passersby by rappelling down the Washington Monument began a similar operation Monday at the National Cathedral, the other major landmark to be damaged by an earthquake that shook the nation’s capital.

The “difficult access team” from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. began its work Monday when Emma Cardini emerged at the top of a 234-foot tower. She was joined minutes later by Katie Francis and, using ropes and harnesses, the two women efficiently worked their way down the front of the building.

The inspection is expected to last about two weeks, said Dan Lemieux, who heads WJE’s Fairfax, Va., office and is supervising the project. The engineers are looking for loose, cracked or unstable stones that could pose a risk to people on the ground. Those stones will be removed before the cathedral’s scheduled reopening on Nov. 12.

Last week, stone masons removed 2 tons of stonework from a pinnacle damaged by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 23. Three of the four pinnacles on the 300-foot central tower were severely damaged and the 2-ton section had shifted off its base.

More here-

White House to honor Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene House

From Nashville-

The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Nashville-based Magdalene House and Thistle Farms, will be honored by the White House on Thursday.

Stevens was named one of 15 Champions of Change by the White House’s Office of Public Engagement for her work with former prostitutes. The award is part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Stevens founded the Magdalene program in 1997. Women can live in the residential program for two years at no cost. The program takes no government funding and claims a 72 percent success rate. Thistle Farms is an enterprise where the women create and sell bath and body products to benefit Magdalene House and learn business skills.

More here-

Everyone, Everywhere: Jesus is found in mission, not outreach

From ENS-

In late 2007 the Rev. Zach Drennen, at the time working as a teacher and chaplain at a school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, decided to take a three-month, self-funded sabbatical.
But rather than hike the Appalachian Trail or climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Drennen, who was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2002, decided to spend some time with long-time missionaries William "Gerry" and Nancy Hardison in Maseno, Kenya, where they run the Maseno Mission Hospital and St. Philip's Theological Seminary.

He volunteered at the hospital and taught at the seminary, where he met Anglican Bishop Zakayo Iteba Epusi of the Diocese of Katakwa. It was through that relationship that one year later, in the fall of 2008, Drennen, by now an Episcopal Church-appointed missionary, found himself in Amagoro, a town in western Kenya near the border with Uganda, running the Elewana Education Project, a non-government organization rooted in the diocese that provides education scholarships to students and builds modern computer labs in schools throughout western Kenya. The project also connects Kenyan and American schools through interactive partnerships similar to parish-to-parish companion relationships, including organized mission trips.

"It's going on four years now … I've never held a job as long as this one. It seems to fit me like an old shoe," he said. "I feel very, very called to this."

More here-

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reach for stars, Tutu tells well-wishers in Sophiatown

From South Africa-

IT WAS a celebration of reconciliation and transformation.

More than 100 people crammed into Christ the King Anglican Church in Sophiatown, Joburg, yesterday to celebrate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday.

He waved happily at the congregation as they sang him a spirited Happy Birthday.

Despite feeling unwell, he did his signature dance as he made his way towards the lectern, from where he showed his lighter side and quirky sense of humour.

“I’ve already had three days of celebrations, so when I was informed that the church was organising something, I thought ooh, now it’s going to be an orgy,” he told the congregation.

He urged South Africans to make use of all opportunities afforded to them and help build a democratic country.

“Now the sky is the limit. There is now no longer anything stopping you from being anything you want to be.

More here-

Voice for others Scranton woman relishes role as advocate

From Scranton PA-

Bonita Ferguson wears many hats - some of them Dr. Seuss hats, she joked - on a daily basis, but the one she's most proud of is advocate.

Ms. Ferguson, who acts as primary caregiver for her chronically ill elderly mother, Ann, also is the parish secretary for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Scranton. In her role as a daughter, she advocates bringing a human touch back to home health care. As a church employee, she's become a proponent of showcasing local arts and animal rights.

Defending the dignity of elderly people and helpless animals is something that feels right, Ms. Ferguson said.

"Sometimes they don't have a voice, and that's where I become a loudmouth," she laughed.

A lifelong Scranton resident, Ms. Ferguson's career path has included stints in the treasurer's office at the University of Scranton, in health care at Community Medical Center and with a private practice neurosurgeon and even investments. Eventually, she also earned certification in massage therapy and worked for minor league baseball teams, chiropractors and hair studios, and became a certified nail technician.

When her mother was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma, however, Ms. Ferguson decided to take a step back from herself and devote her energy to caring for her mom.

Read more:

Monday profile: The Rev. Patrick Augustine

From Wisconsin-

The Rev. Patrick Augustine grew up a member of Pakistan's often oppressed Christian minority, but he had to come to the United States to learn humility. As he's done at every stop on his career, Augustine, rector of La Crosse's Christ Episcopal Church on Main Street, has devoted himself to working for peace and reconciliation between people of different faiths.

Though a member of a tiny minority - Christians account for less than 2 percent of the Pakistani population - Augustine was accustomed to privilege.

His father and grandfather had been Anglican priests. His first appointment after the seminary was at one of the nation's oldest and largest parishes in the capital city, where he gave services in English, Urdu and Punjabi to a congregation that included foreign dignitaries.

After monsoon rains devastated a Christian slum, he used his position to bring the peoples' plight to the attention of President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
"God had given me the courage," he said.

Read more:

Episcopal debate leads to probe of SC bishop

From South Carolina-

After years of controversy over Episcopal Church policy of ordaining gays and sanctioning same-sex unions, the conservative bishop of one of the oldest dioceses in the United States finds himself the focus of a rare investigation to determine whether he has abandoned the church.

A church disciplinary board is investigating Mark Lawrence, the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, based on information passed to the national church from parishioners in the diocese.
While the diocese has distanced itself from the national Episcopal Church because of gay ordination and other concerns, Lawrence has repeatedly said he wants it to remain in the Episcopal Church.

"We are working with circumstances that are very, very sensitive about which people have very, very strong convictions," said Bishop Dorsey Henderson, president of the disciplinary board. His recommendation could go a long way toward deciding Lawrence's future.
Henderson said it is rare that there is an investigation into whether a bishop has abandoned the church and stressed that right now it's an investigation and no charges have been made.

Read more:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prayers answered: St. James Episcopal Church latest spared from closure

From Pennsylvania-

Parishioners who attend 9 a.m. Mass today at St. James Episcopal Church are in for some Good News that goes beyond the Holy Gospel.

St. James Senior Warden Dottie Paullin is planning to mount the pulpit and deliver this message:

“Through the hard work of all parishioners and the surrounding community, St. James Episcopal Church is going to be here another 100 years.”

Just a little more than a month ago, an official from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania informed St. James vestry members that if they didn’t raise $20,000 and secure $3,000 in weekly pledges by Oct. 13, the 105-year-old parish was in danger of closing.

The parish was in such debt that it couldn’t afford a pastor. The last pastor, the Rev. William Hesse, left for a Georgia parish at the end of August and since then, parishioners have been relying on a priest paid for through donations to celebrate Sunday services which were reduced from two Masses to one on Sept. 18 to save money.

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Friends, Episcopal congregations to share place of worship

From Maine-

When we at Winthrop Center Friends Church first heard of the need for St. Andrew’s to move out of their Readfield church building, we had no idea we might become the place to which they would move.

But in retrospect, we see how we were becoming open to such a possibility. When the question came to us in June, it did not take long for us to offer to share our church home.

A small congregation in a large, beautiful building, we had been holding sessions to try to discern our direction for the past two years.

Our location is no longer the prosperous village it was in 1883. Friends have had a faith community in Winthrop since 1793, their first structure was a 16-foot-by-24-foot building opposite our present site.

We have deep roots here but had felt the need to at least consider relinquishing it in favor of a more populous area and a more energy-efficient building.

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Kansas City bishop indicted on child endangerment charge

From CNN-

Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn and the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph have been indicted by a grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse by a priest, prosecutors said Friday in Missouri.

The class A misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000 for Finn, 58, and a fine for the diocese, said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker. Both pleaded not guilty Friday.

"The fact that this is a misdemeanor complaint should not diminish the significance of this charge," Peters-Baker said. "This is a significant charge. To my knowledge, a charge like this has not been leveled before."

The prosecution alleges that Finn "had reasonable cause to suspect a child may be subjected to abuse" by Father Shawn Ratigan, a priest from Independence, Missouri, who was indicted in August on 13 counts related to child pornography. Finn "had reasonable cause to suspect a child may be subjected to abuse due to previous knowledge of concerns about Father Ratigan and children," Peters-Baker told reporters. That reasonable cause included the discovery of hundreds of photographs on the priest's laptop, "including a child's naked vagina, upskirt images and images focused on the crotch area and violations of restrictions that were placed on Father Ratigan."

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