Saturday, October 29, 2011

Possession by devil seen as a serious phenomenon

From Bowling Green-

The Rev. Christopher Crotty once witnessed someone rise a couple of centimeters off the floor and, with the click of the heel, float 50 feet across the room.

Another time, a person who had not graduated high school instantly knew seven ancient languages. Once, after dabbling in witchcraft, a young person suddenly knew details of his parents’ dating life, things that happened before he was born. Additionally, his hands became very heavy, and he could barely lift his pinkie finger.

Those experiences, Crotty says, can be signs of demonic possession - the hostile takeover of the body by the devil.

As Halloween approaches, people have fun with the idea of hauntings and demon possession, but to some, it’s a very real, very serious phenomenon.

More here-

Religion Flocks to Wall Street

From The American Spectator-

Because they are Americans, the Wall Street Occupiers are suffused with messianic purpose, as are nearly all our nation's American political crusades. But the often raggedy Occupiers themselves do not seem specifically oriented towards organized religion.

Not to worry. Religious Leftists of all sorts have rallied to the Occupiers' bedraggled banners. Guided by the Social Gospel's emphasis on social justice over theological details, these religionists discern God's Kingdom among the squatters' tents and sleeping bags. One group of clergy visited while carrying a mock golden idol shaped like the dreaded Wall Street Bull, the very incarnation of greed.

Praising the Occupation is a gamble for liberal evangelicals, who have tried so hard to appear centrist in recent years, anxious to softly persuade suburban churchgoers to abandon their conservative voting habits. Oldline Protestant elites, along with left-wing Catholic activists, of course welcome the Occupation as a long overdue 1960s reviva

More here-

Episcopal Church face declining membership

From Christian Today-

Although at one time a large and influential religious denomination in North America, a fact sheet published by The Episcopal Church shows that its membership has dipped below two million members.

The survey of membership trends noted that in 2006 there were over 2.1 million “Active Baptized Members” in the church. By 2010, however, the number decreased to less than 1.96 million.

Jeff Walton, communications manager for the Institute on Religion and Democracy and staff member of the IRD’s “Anglican Action” program, believes that many factors have contributed to this decline.

“The Episcopal Church's numerical decline comes from a drop in baptisms, departures sparked by disagreements within the church over the authority of Scripture and the identity of Jesus Christ, and a decrease in evangelism as Episcopalians focus increasingly on social charity,” Walton explained to The Christian Post.

“The spread of universalist theology within Episcopal seminaries has extinguished the urgency of winning souls, and the church has been largely unsuccessful in reaching immigrant populations which are disproportionately attracted to Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches.”

More here-

A taste of England, in Staten Island's New Brighton section

From New York-

Staten Island really is a borough with more than its fair share of outstanding religious structures. Some of the most beautiful and important church campuses in the city are located here. One of the more outstanding is Christ Episcopal Church on Franklin Avenue.

Sited on a wide expanse of lawn and massive lot in New Brighton, the picturesque complex, including the church, parish house, rectory and cloisters, is an outstanding and, on Staten Island, rare example of turn-of-the-20th-century, neo-Gothic ecclesiastical design.

Christ Church was established in 1849; the present church (built 1903-04) and parish house (built 1906-07) replaced earlier buildings on the site. Their size and substantial construction are indicative of the importance of the church’s congregation, which in the early 1900s was regarded as “the largest and most fashionable” in the borough.

More here-

Eau Claire Episcopal Diocese OKs merger with Fond du Lac

From Wisconsin-

The adjacent Episcopal dioceses of Eau Claire and Fond du Lac approved on Oct. 22 the formation of a new diocese in northern Wisconsin.

The formal decision was made by the annual convention of Fond du Lac and a special convention of Eau Claire. The dioceses met separately. The votes in each diocese were cast by orders (lay people voting separately from clergy), and the resolutions had to pass in both dioceses. Bishop Russell Jacobus of Fond du Lac and Bishop Ed Leidel of Eau Claire also concurred with the decision.

The two dioceses must now ask the 77th meeting of the Episcopal Church's General Convention next July to approve what is called "junction." A process to organize formally the resulting new diocese would begin in fall 2012 with a new diocese formed Jan. 1, 2013, according to a Fond du Lac diocesan news release.

"Never before have two dioceses in the Episcopal Church 'junctioned' together," said Leidel in an email posted on the Eau Claire diocesan website. "So, today we begin a new journey to create a new diocese in northern Wisconsin."

He said the diocese would have a new name and a new sense of identity.

More here-

Friday, October 28, 2011

Drama king: Freese sends Cards to Game 7

The reason I'm so tired today-

Don't turn out the lights just yet. The 2011 Cardinals live to fight one more day, one last day. As though it could have been any other way.

Channeling the man for whom he was once traded, David Freese hit an 11th-inning leadoff, walk-off home run to give the Cardinals a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping 10-9 win over the Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series on Thursday night. The win forced an appropriate seventh game in one of the most entertaining and memorable Fall Classics in recent memory.

The Cardinals trailed five times in the game, including by two runs in the ninth and again in the 10th. They were down to their last strike twice, including once against Texas' flame-throwing closer, Neftali Feliz. But an irrepressible club kept coming back, and back, and back.

More here-

New views, ancient rite – Episcopalians reclaim healing ministry

From ENS-

Although Jesus commanded his followers to go out and preach the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2), the Rev. Nigel Mumford wonders if the Episcopal Church has only gotten it half-right.

"The church has done a great job preaching the kingdom, but not a very good job of healing the sick. That's 50 percent of what the Lord told us to do," said Mumford, 57, director of healing ministries at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, New York. "Why is it that we're not doing it?"

Healing prayer is such a strong evangelistic tool, he said. "If we would just do it, the church would grow. We would breathe new life into it, literally."

All it takes is six simple heartfelt words, according to Mumford, that can be offered by everyone, anywhere, wherever and whenever, and as often as possible: "How may I pray for you?"

More here-

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Midcoast chefs demonstration series helps those in need

From Maine-

Top-notch chefs of four Midcoast restaurants are volunteering to share their culinary expertise for a great cause this month in a new four-week Maine Adult & Community Education program, “Meet Your Chefs.” Fifteen participants gather in the kitchen of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Wiscasset one evening each week to learn from the experts how to prepare signature dishes, as well as sample the excellent fare.

Profits of the series fund a free cooking and nutrition program for clients of the St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Help Yourself Shelf food pantry. Certified Holistic Health Coach Julie Hofheimer of Edgecomb is designing and teaching a course this fall that involves learning how to prepare nutritious meals with healthy and inexpensive ingredients. In addition, a $100 donation will be made to St. Philip’s for the generous sharing of the church’s kitchen.

More here-

St. Mark's Episcopal Church wins Erie-based food bank's top award

From North West PA-

St. Mark's Episcopal Church won the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania's top award this afternoon at the agency's 23rd annual Bread Box Awards.

The awards recognized the numerous organizations, businesses, schools and individuals that have coordinated fundraisers and food collections to benefit Second Harvest.

First-place awards were presented in nine categories at the agency's Erie warehouse, 1507 Grimm Drive, today at 1 p.m.

The winners were Wegmans (in the large business category); Jr.'s Last Laugh Comedy Club (small business); St. Mark's Episcopal Church (church); Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (college or technical school); Chestnut Hill Elementary School (elementary school); Fairview Middle School (middle school); Youngsville High School (high school); Tom Jennings (individual); National Association of Letter Carriers (organization).

Awards were based on points earned for creativity, community awareness of hunger issues, and amount of food or funds collected.

More here-'s-Episcopal-Church-wins-Erie-based-food-bank's-top-award-(UPDATE%3A-1%3A55-pm)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Property litigation involving Episcopal Diocese is over

From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Eight years of property litigation involving the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has ended, but most parishes that broke from the Episcopal Church still face negotiations over their buildings.

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week denied an appeal from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which had argued that it owned the property, the Anglican decided diocese it will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, spokesman David Trautman said.

"This whole string of litigation is ended, is done," he said.

The lawsuit was filed in 2003 by Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside, whose leaders believed that Bishop Robert Duncan and many others might leave the denomination and try to take property. According to the Episcopal canons, all property -- including parish buildings -- is held in trust for the denomination.

The split occurred in 2008, when the majority at the diocesan convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Those who wished to remain Episcopalians immediately chose new leaders and continued that diocese. The Anglican diocese argued that it was the legitimate heir to the Episcopal Church property.

Read more:

A summary of Executive Council resolutions

From ENS

A Message from Executive Council

From ENS-

All day long on Thursday, Oct. 20, the Executive Council gathered. Members came from Bogota in the Diocese of Colombia, from Seattle in the Diocese of Olympia, from the Standing Rock Reservation in the Diocese of North Dakota, from St. Thomas in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, all ready for their seventh of nine meetings in this triennium. Some traveled only a little more than an hour by air while others spent 18 hours or more making connections and weathering flight delays. Steve Hutchinson of the Diocese of Utah was the only Council member able to sleep in his own bed in Salt Lake City each night as his colleagues came to meet in his home town.

Each was eager to greet colleagues and friends and dive into the full schedule of the meeting when it officially began on Friday morning. Council members had already become immersed in the papers and reports, budget and financial statements that have been posted to the online community known as the Extranet on a constant basis over the past month. A new norm for Council requests that documents be posted fourteen days in advance to allow for translation into Spanish, the native language of several Council members; simultaneous translators are present at Council meetings to facilitate participation. We are living into a new season of weaving our threads of interdependence together in the spirit of ubuntu – you in me and I in you, the theme of our last General Convention.

This Council meeting was one day longer than the typical meetings in the triennium because Council considered the draft proposed budget that Council will submit to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance at General Convention. Council also approved the 2012 budget for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) and Council's report to the 77th General Convention, commonly referred to as the "Blue Book." Also on the agenda were reports to General Convention from the D020 Task Force, including a resolution responding to the Anglican Covenant, and the INC-055 Task Force, which was charged with studying the United Thank Offering's current and future status.

More here-

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Executive Council renews San Joaquin support, urges new vision of ministry

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council spent part of the last day of its Oct. 21-24 meeting here encouraging Episcopalians to envision new ways of doing ministry.
It pledged continued support to the reorganizing Diocese of San Joaquin, urging the remaining Episcopalians to establish Latino/Hispanic ministry in the heavily Hispanic Central Valley of California.

The council also welcomed a report from its United Thank Offering study group saying that the group and the UTO have developed a much closer working relationship and have resolved many of the concerns that prompted the study. The work is the result of a two-year effort to clarify the organization's relationship to the church, explore of ways to increase giving to the UTO, ways to make UTO better known to others in the church and ways to expand the organization's approach to funding mission activities.

The decisions came on the last day of council's four day meeting here. The council issued a message to the church at the end of the meeting. The text is here.

Encouraging new ministry in San Joaquin

The council agreed to loan the diocese of San Joaquin $285,000 to help pay for its operating expenses next year. The council also decided to grant the diocese $40,000 to help it establish a program of Latino/Hispanic ministry.

More here-

Executive Council submits General Convention resolution saying church is 'unable to adopt Anglican Covenant'

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council will submit a resolution to General Convention next year that would have it state that the church is "unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form."

The resolution also promises that the church will "recommit itself to dialogue with the several provinces when adopting innovations which may be seen as threatening the unity of the communion" and commits to "continued participation in the wider councils of the Anglican Communion" and dialogue "with our brothers and sisters in other provinces to deepen understanding and to insure the continued integrity of the Anglican Communion."

The 77th meeting of General Convention July 5-12, 2012 will decide whether to pass, amend and pass, or reject the resolution. Convention is "the only body that can act on behalf of the whole church in this matter," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said during a post-meeting press conference.

The unanimous decision to submit the resolution to convention came Oct. 24, on the last day of council's four-day meeting here.

A covenant task force, composed of six council members, based its recommendation to council in a report that is available in English here and Spanish here.

Jefferts Schori said the proposed resolution "goes on at significant length and with great care to remind Episcopalians and other Anglicans that we continue in solidarity, building missional partnerships, across the communion and that that is the way in which we understand our relationship – that we are bound to our brothers and sisters across the communion and we will continue to respect that."

Upper S.C. Diocese Urges Reconciliation

From the Living Church-

The Diocese of Upper South Carolina approved a resolution Oct. 22 asking Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Mark J. Lawrence to “come together in person at a mutually convenient time and place in order to strengthen the bonds of our community” and “engage in healing conversation regarding the ongoing tensions between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.”

The resolution asks that the Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo, eighth Bishop of Upper South Carolina, hand-deliver a copy of the resolution to both Bishop Lawrence and Bishop Jefferts Schori.

“The resolution passed very, very easily,” said Sally McKay, who oversees communication for the diocese. “Somebody suggested adding the Diocese of South Carolina and the Presiding Bishop to our diocesan cycle of prayer. It was a friendly amendment that everyone decided was not necessary.”

Upper South Carolina’s resolution follows a guest column Bishop Waldo wrote in The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C.

“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,” Waldo wrote.

More here-

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ex-refugee expresses faith in Queen

From Australia-

Reverend David Piock, a 30-something Anglican priest from St George's in Pearce, was not going to miss seeing the Queen when she attended church at Reid yesterday.

The former humanitarian refugee can remember praying for the Queen while a child in his native Sudan even though he had never even seen her picture at the time.

''We used to pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury as well,'' he said.

''We didn't know them but God knew them.''

Reverend Piock's twin brother is also an Anglican minister. He was ordained in Africa and lives in the Sudanese city of Juba.

Reverend Piock, who cannot be sure of his age due to the civil disturbances that have shaken his country for the whole of his life, did not receive his calling until after arriving in Australia as a refugee. He came by air, having endured long stays in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, and urges other refugees to do the same.

While he has empathy for those who come by boat, he believes the risks of voyaging with people smugglers outweigh any possible advantages.

''We all saw what happened at Christmas Island,'' he said. ''It was really tragic.''

''It is risky to come by boat and you are not allowed by law.

More here-

Priest tackles harsh reality of poverty

From Canada-
Fueled by a desire to help support clean water initiatives in aboriginal communities in the North and the ministries of the local Anglican parish, about 50 runners (and walkers) ages five to the 70s joined the first annual country run in Schomberg, Ont. on Oct. 1.

The run, organized by the Anglican parish of Lloydtown, raised $4,000 that will be shared equally between the parish and the Council of the North, a group of dioceses that promote the mission and ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada in Canada’s North. “We decided to raise money for clean water in the North because we heard that there was a serious issue and we believe it to be an injustice,” says the Rev. Sheilagh Ashworth, rector of the parish, which includes Christ Church in Kettleby, St. Alban’s Church in Nobleton, and St. Mary Magdalene’s, in Schomberg.

“We live in a very beautiful part of the world and we have access to clean water and believe that all Canadians should have access to clean water,” Ashworth told Anglican Journal. The parish’s long-term vision is to forge friendships with communities in the North, she adds. “We are fully aware of our ignorance (about the struggles faced by indigenous communities) and we just want to offer our assistance.”

More here-

Anglican Bishop appeals to GMA to end their strike

From Ghana-

The Bishop of the Koforidua Diocese of the Anglican Church, Rt. Rev. Francis Benjamin Quashie, has appealed to the striking members of the Ghana Medical Association(GMA) to return to work for the sake of the sick and the poor to prevent avoidable deaths.

He also called on the Government to take the strike serious and help find a solution to it and advised political activists to stop calling the doctors names, explaining that , such names as “mass murderers “ and “charlatans “ are not helping the situation and appealed to all Ghanaians to be courteous to each other.

Bishop Quashie was speaking at a thanksgiving service organised at the Koforidua St. Peter’s Cathedral to climax the 30th anniversary of the Diocese on Sunday at Koforidua.

He said the 30 years of the Diocese has seen a lot of success and challenges but God had always seen the church through and urged the members not to allow the challenges to discourage them but rather motivate them to work harder.

Bishop Quashie said currently, the church needed ten additional reverend ministers and by the end of the year, many priests would be hitting the compulsory retirement age of 70 and therefore urged parents to encourage their wards to offer themselves for the priesthood.

More here-

New Jersey bishop announces retirement goal

From New Jersey-

Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey Bishop George Councell has announced that he will retire at the end of 2013.

In an Oct. 21 letter to the diocese, Councell said the timing of his decision has to do with the fact that by the end of 2013 he will have served the diocese for 10 years and will be 64 years old. He also noted that it takes between 18 months and two years to elect and consecrate a bishop.

"Please be assured that no crisis or sudden deterioration in my health has driven me to this decision," he wrote.

Councell announced in August 2007 that he has Parkinson disease. Parkinson is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the part of the brain controlling movement, muscle control and balance. Councell wrote at the time that the disease was progressing very slowly in him.

The bishop said that he had informed the diocesan Standing Committee, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, the church's bishop for pastoral development, about his decision. "We are beginning an orderly transition to a new chapter in the history of our diocese under the care of a new chief shepherd," he wrote.

More here-

Services set for bishop Bertram Herlong

From Tennessee-

When Bertram Herlong was just a boy, the bishop of the Episcopal church in his native Florida laid his hands on him and predicted his future. “Boy, you’re going to go to seminary someday,” the wise bishop told the surprised and skeptical Mr. Herlong. The man was right. Not only did Mr. Herlong become a minister of the Episcopal church, he led Tennessee as the church’s bishop for 13 years before retiring in 2006.

Mr. Herlong died Friday evening at a local hospital after a six-year illness. He was 77.

Mr. Herlong, who lived in Nashville, led the diocese through a time of turmoil and change when Episcopalians were divided over its stances on sexuality and tradition. In 2003, the denomination accepted gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, stirring revulsion in the church. Mr. Herlong did not agree with the church’s decision but, unlike some church leaders nationwide, the bishop chose to remain with the church.

More here-

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Choose Inclusive Justice

From The Living Church-

As a priest of the Diocese of South Carolina I have watched my bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, work with good faith and at great personal cost to keep the diocese, as he says, “intact and in TEC.” I believe that but for the personal deference the members of this diocese feel toward their bishop, many more parishes would have taken formal action to leave the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Lawrence is now the subject of complaints under the revised Title IV that he has abandoned the communion of this church. The list of complaints, dominated by thought crimes and guilt by association, reads like a long-lost text from the Joseph McCarthy era. The only charges with some small semblance of plausibility involve the rejection by the diocesan convention of the revisions to Title IV and the enactment of diocesan legislation removing accession to actions by General Convention which the diocese regards as contravening the Episcopal Church’s own constitution.

Leave to one side the confusion between the actions of the bishop and the actions of the convention. Had these pieces of legislation not been enacted a wave of parishes would have left the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In my view the diocese has pursued a policy which has aimed at maintaining the highest degree of possible communion with General Convention, given the deep consternation of so many in the diocese at the direction of the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Nashotah House seminary to get a new president

From Milwaukee-

There is a certain rhythm to life at Nashotah House Theological Seminary that has remained unchanged over the last century or so.

Seminarians shuttle between the stone buildings, some in the long, black cassocks of the clergy. Their days begin and end in prayer and ancient chant in the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. And they live and work in community, in keeping with the Benedictine spirituality of their founders.

But much is new on the grounds of this Episcopal seminary on the shores of Upper Nashotah Lake that has prepared students in the church's Anglo-Catholic tradition for nearly 170 years. Enrollment is up, driven in part by a distance-learning program that draws students from around the world. The school has christened a new $1.6 million building, its first in 20 years.

And, this week, Nashotah House will install a new dean and president, the Right Rev. Edward Salmon. A retired South Carolina bishop, Salmon will have to balance the school's traditional mission against shifting economic and technological forces, and lead it at a time of great division within the Anglican Communion.

"Our vision is to continue to do, impressively and strongly, what we've done for 170 years," said Salmon, a longtime Nashotah House trustee, who will be installed during a convocation Friday - where former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey is scheduled to speak.

"Sometimes institutions are buffeted by external circumstances," Salmon said. "Our call, regardless of those circumstances, is to raise up a strong priesthood for the church."

More here-

Queen met by cheering church crowds in Canberra

From Australia-

Hundreds of well-wishers hailed Queen Elizabeth II at a historic Canberra church on Sunday where she attended an intimate service ahead of lunch with local luminaries including Geoffrey Rush.

Decked out in their Sunday best and brandishing flags and flowers, an enthusiastic crowd cheered and clapped as the monarch arrived at St John the Baptist Anglican church with Prince Philip for weekend worship.

The queen, 85, is in Australia for a 10-day tour -- her 16th and possibly last of the vast continent -- which will culminate in her opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth on Friday.

She is warmly regarded in Australia, where 75 percent of the then population turned out for a glimpse of her during her maiden visit in 1954, and large crowds have again been a feature of her public appearances on this trip.

Queues began building outside the picturesque sandstone church shortly after sunrise and cheers and applause broke out when the queen emerged from her official vehicle, wearing a primrose-yellow dress and hat with white gloves.

More here-

Church's damage from quake unites faiths

From South Carolina-

We often are impressed when good deeds are accomplished through great sacrifice, but sometimes true grace is found in small gestures.
Sometimes, just when we are inclined to doubt or despair, life's disappointments and inconveniences reveal in our neighbors an essential and deeply rooted humanity.

Ask the parishioners of Grace Episcopal Church about disappointment and they will tell you how it was turned on its head. They will tell you about small gestures and generous spirits. They will share a legend in the making, a story to be told generations from now, to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

They will tell you about the day the earth cracked, a building closed and the people of the church were forced to find sanctuary elsewhere, how a great disappointment turned into a reward that transcended church walls and breached religious and racial ideologies.

The Rev. Canon J. Michael A. Wright, rector of Grace, took note of the symbolism. "Our walls are in need of repair, and what we've discovered is that other walls have come down."

Read more:

Fond du Lac, Eau Claire diocese merger sent to Episcopal Church

From Wisconsin-

A new Episcopal Church diocese encompassing the upper three-fourths of the state could be the result of a planned merger between the dioceses of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire.

The two dioceses approved the merger Saturday, but it still needs to be affirmed by the national Episcopal Church authorities. If approved as expected in summer 2012, work will be done through the fall to bring about the new diocese Jan. 1, 2013.

Discussions for the merger have been ongoing for at least the last four years.

Bishops of both dioceses approved the decision.